New Zealand budget 2022: Ardern offers $1bn in sweeteners to tackle cost of living ‘storm’

PM says budget, which includes major spending on climate and health care reform, aims to ensure long term ‘economic and social security’

Weekly $27 cash payments, fuel discounts and half-price public transport are among the short-term sweeteners offered up by New Zealand’s government in its latest budget, as it tries to juggle the cost-of-living crisis with big-ticket spending commitments, including $11.1bn of healthcare system reform and $2.9bn responding to the climate crisis.

“While we know the current storm will pass, it is important we take the hard edges off,” prime minister Jacinda Ardern said in remarks accompanying the budget’s release.

Continue reading...

Mike Pence to defy Trump and campaign with Georgia governor Brian Kemp – live

  • Former vice-president likely to draw ire of Trump in Georgia
  • Trump has endorsed Kemp’s rival David Perdue in primary
  • Sign up to receive First Thing – our daily briefing by email

Lloyd Austin, the US defense secretary, held a call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday in which he called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, the Pentagon said.

During the call Austin also “emphasized the importance of maintaining lines o...

‘Feels like the good old days’: Joe Biden welcomes Barack Obama back to White House – as it happened

  • Former president returns to mark 12 years of Affordable Care Act
  • Confirmation week continues for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
  • Sign up to receive First Thing – our daily briefing by email

Ivanka Trump will testify before the January 6 committee this afternoon.

The Guardian confirmed that former president Donald Trump’s oldest daughter, and former senior White House adviser, will speak to the panel virtually.

Continu...

Biden expected to announce ban of Russian oil imports – US politics live

Reports that a bipartisan bill seeking to ban the import of Russian oil could make it to a vote in the House this week

Senator Ron Johnson is now backtracking from his comments on Breitbart News Radio, in which he discussed repealing and replacing Obamacare - the Affordable Care Act - if Republicans win the White House and the House and senate majorities in 2024.

“For example, if we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare — I still think we need to fix our health-care system — we need to have the plan ahead of time so that once we get in office, we can implement it immediately, not knock around like we did last time and fail,” he said on air Monday.

Continue reading...

Harry Reid obituary

Veteran Nevada senator who shepherded and protected Obamacare on its difficult passage into law

During a long, combative career in US political life, Harry Reid, who has died aged 82, made his most telling contribution as Democrat majority leader in the Senate. There, in 2010, he pushed through and then vigorously defended President Barack Obama’s groundbreaking healthcare reforms.

Given the huge strength of Republican feeling against “Obamacare”, the president needed a streetfighter to drive his measures through to the statute book – and Reid was the man for the job. Quietly spoken but toughened by a hard early life and years spent swimming in the shark-infested waters of Nevada politics, he fought through the deeply polarised atmosphere that surrounded Obama’s health reforms to shepherd the Affordable Care Act through the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Continue reading...

Republicans slap down Manchin’s voting rights compromise – US politics live

  • Mitch McConnell says proposal is ‘rotten to the core’
  • Manchin’s plan tries to attract bipartisan support in Senate

Christopher Staudinger reports for the Louisiana Illuminator and Floodlight, a nonprofit that partners with the Guardian:

One morning in September, word of layoffs began to spread quickly through Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in the small industrial community of Garyville, Louisiana.

Related: A US oil company cut nearly 2,000 jobs – and reaped $2.1bn in pandemic benefits

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Most of the city’s attention was focused on the supreme court yesterday, as the justices dismissed a Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act. However, there were also some significant developments on Capitol Hill.

Democrats can change the packaging, but their plan for a power-grab of America’s electoral system is still rotten to the core. My full statement: https://t.co/HLRuDSZ3lS

Continue reading...

Joe Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday – as it happened

  • ‘Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments,’ president says
  • ‘It is time to move forward,’ Biden says after supreme court decision
  • Supreme court votes 7-2, preserving healthcare for millions
  • House votes to repeal measure that gave Bush authority to invade Iraq
  • New York grand jury stores up trouble for Trump Organization executives

1.01am BST

12.16am BST <...

US failing to offer ‘Havana syndrome’ sufferers adequate care, diplomats say – live

  • Officials ‘invalidating our injuries and experiences’, letter states
  • Biden says US must redouble efforts to investigate virus origins
  • Senate Republicans want to lower cost of $1.7tn infrastructure plan

Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, was on the front lines of the protests and election disinformation fueled by Trump’s “Big Lie” about election fraud as the battleground state’s chief election official.

In a new interview with the Associated Press, Benson warns that the ongoing disputes and conspiracy theories around the 2020 election are only the beginning of what she sees as a sustained attack on American democracy that will culminate in a renewed attack on election legitimacy in 2024.

AP: Across the country, we are seeing several GOP-controlled legislatures seeking to exert more control over election officials. How concerned are you that we could end up seeing more of these outside ballot reviews like in Arizona or even takeovers of local election offices?

BENSON: I feel very strongly that the battles that we saw around 2020’s election ... was just the beginning of what is clearly turning out to be a multi-year, strategic, nationally coordinated, partisan assault on the vote in our country and on our democracy. And we will see another battle in the 2022 elections around that truth and around the security of the vote, around access to the vote. But it’s also all going to culminate, I believe, in an effort to try again in 2024 what those democracy deniers attempted to do in 2020 but failed. And in 2024, the bad actors, I believe, will be more coordinated, more strategic, better funded and will have the benefit of doing this work for a number of years. I’m deeply concerned about the future health of our democracy.

Democrats Move to Fulfill Biden’s Election Promise on Healthcare ‘Public Option’

Two Congressional Democrats are pushing to create a “public option” for healthcare coverage to compete with private health insurance plans, and aim to introduce legislation by the end of the year, NBC News reports.

A federal public option will help lower health care costs and guarantee that health care is a right not a privilege.@FrankPallone and I plan to work with our colleagues to craft comprehensive legislation to create a federal public option. https://t.co/Df0YmgEN35

Unlike 2009, @JoeLieberman isn't around to kill the public option. But now Democrats have thinner majorities, no hope of Republican support and are guaranteed to face an assault from health industry groups who are prepared to fight this. https://t.co/nMXYoQzPhG

Continue reading...

Madam Speaker review: how Nancy Pelosi outwitted Bush and Trump

John Boehner calls the Democrat the most powerful House speaker ever. Susan Page’s authoritative biography shows why

John Boehner, a Republican predecessor, concedes that Nancy Pelosi may be the most powerful House speaker in history. Pelosi provided George W Bush with the votes he needed to prevent a depression, as Republicans balked. She helped make Obamacare the law of the land.

Related: On the House review: John Boehner’s lament for pre-Trump Republicans

Continue read...

Fauci hits back at rightwing criticism and says attacks on him ‘bizarre’

Scientist forced to defend himself from attacks by Trump allies and says ‘I can’t be bothered with getting distracted’

Anthony Fauci has described attacks on him from Republicans as “bizarre”, after a barrage of criticism from senior GOP figures.

Related: ‘There is a solution’: a Covid survivor’s life-or-death battle for Medicare for All

Continue reading...