FEMA administrator Brock Long knocked down multiple misleading or false media narratives during an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday.
The interview covered a wide range of topics, including FEMA’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the preparations for the landfall of Hurricane Florence.
“The fact is,” Mitchell said, “Just as after Katrina, where there was infrastructure in parts of New Orleans, that is a federal responsibility. These are American citizens.”
“Uh, no, you’re actually wrong on that,” Long shot back. “It’s not a federal responsibility to upkeep the infrastructure. Actually most of the infrastructure in this company is owned by the private sector.”
Long also noted that FEMA put “over $2 billion in food and commodities” on Puerto Rico after the storm, but that grocery stores and retailers have to help with the recovery as well.
Mitchell then tried to hit FEMA on the death toll in Puerto Rico, which Long explained is largely due to deaths that occurred from lack of infrastructure or accidents during repairs.
“When it comes to the indirect deaths … the indirect deaths for any event are typically greater in many cases,” Long said. “You have [in] people who died after the storm passed because they fell off their roof making repairs, they died in car crashes because the stoplights were off, you have chainsaw accidents, you have accidents with people cleaning up debris.”
Finally, Mitchell referenced Sen. Jeff Merkley’s claim that FEMA re-appropriated money from hurricane response to ICE detentions.
Not only were the $10 million funds in question already set to expire at the end of the year, but they could not be used for disaster relief purposes because of appropriations rules.
“Right now, that money has nothing to do with what you see behind me,” Long said of the story, gesturing to the FEMA employees sitting behind him. “It does not pay for this response, it is not coming out of the disaster relief fund, it has no impact on our efforts to be prepared in Florence.”
“Unfortunately, we have a congressman that is playing politics on the back of Florence. There’s no story there,” he concluded.
According to the White House pool report, Awbrey spoke in support of the border wall during a roundtable meeting near the border in McAllen, Texas.
“The Border Patrol right now, their hands are tied, and these immigrants know it,” Awbrey reportedly said, pointing out that immigrants are often smuggled across the border by coyotes.
The president is visiting the border with immigration officials amid the third week of the government shutdown. Trump is demanding Congress pass a spending bill containing $5.7 billion in funding for the border wall, but Democrats are refusing to budge.
Omar’s campaign gave $223,000 to Tim Mynett’s company, E. Street Group, LLC, from August 2018 through June 2019, mainly for fundraising consulting. But on April 1, the campaign began paying for Mynett’s travel.
On April 7, Mynett allegedly told his wife that he was having an affair with Omar and was in love with her, according to his wife’s divorce filing.
“We believe Representative Ilhan Omar may have touched the third rail of campaign finance law: disbursing campaign funds for personal use. It’s a brazen act Representative Omar was caught doing before in Minnesota and all of the evidence we’ve seen tells us she’s probably doing it again,” National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) investigator Tom Anderson said.
President Donald Trump declared the investigation into Russian conspiracy and obstruction of justice “case … closed” on Wednesday after special counsel Robert Mueller delivered a statement about the conclusion of the probe.
Mueller stated in a Department of Justice (DOJ) press conference on Wednesday that his office did not find evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but reiterated that they did not reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice. Mueller appeared to leave that decision up to Congress, noting a longstanding DOJ regulation that prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime.
Despite Mueller leaving the door open for the Democratic-controlled House to draft up impeachment proceedings, Trump seemed to celebrate Mueller’s statement in a tweet.
Trump’s tweet seemed to echo a comment from Mueller during the presser, during which he said, “These indictments contain allegations. And we are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.”
White House press secretary also released the following statement on the matter:
“The Special Counsel has completed the investigation, closed his office, and has closed the case. Mr. Mueller explicitly said that he has nothing to add beyond the report, and therefore, does not plan to testify before Congress. The report was clear—there was no collusion, no conspiracy—and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction. Special Counsel Mueller also stated that Attorney General Barr acted in good faith in his handling of the report. After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.”
President Donald Trump is expected to sign a memorandum Thursday enforcing restrictions on welfare benefits for non-citizens, The Daily Caller has learned.
The memo directs government agencies to enforce legislation signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 that requires sponsors of immigrants to the U.S. to reimburse the government for any welfare benefits received by the person they are sponsoring.
Immigrant sponsors will be informed by agencies that they are required to pay back the money, and that they will be sent to collections if they fail to do so. Agencies will have 90 days to update their guidance and will report back to the president on their progress in 180 days.
Sponsor repayment of welfare benefits was enacted under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, but has remained largely unenforced. The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Patty Murray.
“This executive action will dramatically curb ‘welfare tourism’ and protect U.S. benefits for U.S. families,” a senior administration official told The Daily Caller. “It will also ensure that immigrant sponsors cannot continue the practice of bringing in large numbers of welfare-dependent immigrants: because they will be financially liable.”
The memo also requires enforcement of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which asks government agencies to consider the sponsor’s income when determining whether or not a non-citizen is eligible for welfare benefits. Because the agency would be bundling the sponsor’s and immigrant’s income, some immigrants may no longer meet the eligibility criteria.
That act was cosponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.
The administration says enforcing these two laws will help protect welfare benefits for American citizens. According to a poll conducted by America First Policies, 73 percent of Americans support the idea that immigrants to the U.S. should be able to support themselves financially.
“This is shifting the burden away from the taxpayer and asking people to be self-sufficient,” a senior administration official told the Caller. “We have our own citizens who are struggling.”
The White House says, citing a 2015 study from the Center for Immigration Studies, that 58 percent of all households headed by a non-citizen use at least one welfare program.
President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration plan, presented to the American people last week, follows a similar theme. The plan, which revamps the legal immigration system, would give priority to immigrants who earn higher wages and are financially independent.
While the new immigration plan is unlikely to succeed in the Democrat-controlled Congress, the administration has been taking other executive actions to claim smaller victories on immigration reform.
“This is part of a larger effort to do what it can on it’s own,” the official said of the administration’s actions.
Attorney General Bill Barr decided in April that asylum seekers who reach the “credible fear” threshold are no longer eligible to be released on bond, meaning they could be held indefinitely while awaiting court proceedings. The move sought to curb a method that some illegal immigrants use to gain entry to the U.S. despite not having legitimate asylum claims.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is also supporting measures to make sure that illegal immigrants are not able to take advantage of public housing benefits. Current law prevents illegal immigrants from using public housing benefits, but they have been able to skirt the rules by living with American citizens who receive housing subsidies.
HUD will begin evicting families who allow illegal immigrants to live with them in government-subsidized housing.
Shortly after those two actions were revealed, the president signed a memorandum recommending sanctions on countries that have a high rate of visa overstays. The administration will place travel restrictions on countries whose residents overstay their visas in the U.S. by a rate of 10 percent or higher.
“This is part of the Trump Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating illegal immigration,” a senior administration official said at the time.