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January 1, Republicans and Democrats clash over push for amnesty for millions of unauthorized immigrants in $3.5T budget proposal



Happy Friday Americans,

Republicans are sounding the alarm over an addition to the $3.5 trillion budget proposal that includes a “pathway to citizenship” for those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, those under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), essential workers, and farmworkers. “Granting amnesty, citizenship, voting rights, and welfare for millions of illegal aliens is not just a simple ‘budget’ item,” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said. It is unclear how many undocumented immigrants would receive citizenship or what the specific requirements would be. The budget reconciliation bill requires 51 votes, meaning that Democrats are potentially able to pass the measure without bipartisan support.

A record number of Americans died of a drug overdose last year. Over 93,000 — nearly a 30% increase from 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase was driven by the prevalence of fentanyl in addition to pandemic-related stressors and problems accessing care, officials said. The data is still provisional, as states are still reporting their numbers to the CDC. Ten states are predicted to have at least a 40% rise in drug overdose deaths from the previous year: Vermont, Kentucky, South Carolina, West Virginia, Louisiana, California, Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Virginia. “If current trends continue, illicit drugs will soon kill more Americans every day than COVID-19,” NPR’s Brian Mann said.

In California, lawmakers approved the first state-funded guaranteed income plan in the US with no restrictions on how it’s spent: $35 million for monthly cash payments to qualifying pregnant people and young adults who recently left foster care. The measure passed unanimously, marking bipartisan support for an idea that is gaining momentum nationwide. “If you look at the stats for our foster youth, they are devastating,” Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk said. “We should be doing all we can to lift these young people up.” Guaranteed income programs were briefly seen in the US during the 1960s and 1970s, but they have recently been making a resurgence. Programs have been announced in New Orleans; Oakland, California; Tacoma, Washington; Gainesville, Florida; and Los Angeles.

You may want to check your cabinets. Johnson & Johnson is recalling five of its sunscreen products after low levels of the carcinogen benzene were found. A report released in May by independent laboratory Valisure found that “27% of samples … contained detectable benzene and some batches contained up to three times the conditionally restricted FDA concentration limit of 2 parts per million.” Benzene can cause cells to stop working and result in a loss of white blood cells. Long-term exposure can lead to excessive bleeding or Leukemia. The affected products include four Neutrogena sprays — Beach Defense, CoolDry Sport, Invisible Daily Defense, and UltraSheer – and Aveeno’s Protect + Refresh sunscreen. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling all lots of these specific aerosol sunscreen products,” the company said in a statement.

The Biden administration is launching an effort to relocate thousands of Afghan interpreters and translators who worked for the US throughout its decades-long military campaign in Afghanistan and are now in fear for their safety. “At President Biden’s direction, the United States is launching Operation Allies Refuge to support relocation flights for interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their families who have supported the United States and our partners in Afghanistan and are in the SIV application pipeline,” a senior administration official said. “Our message to those women and men is clear: There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us,” President Joe Biden said.

Lastly, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer — the oldest member of the high court — has responded to months of calls for him to retire while Democrats still control the Senate. In a CNN interview published Thursday, Breyer said that he had not decided when he would step down. Progressives have been calling for Breyer to resign, but when asked what factors he would consider for his potential retirement, the 82-year-old said there were two. “Primarily, of course, health. Second, the court,” he said.

Be well,

Fraser Dixon


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