The biggest stories from Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Sept. 20 include reaction to the latest immigration numbers, indictments in a $250 million COVID-19 fraud scheme, and two bills being considered to change presidential elections. Watch the video above for more details on each story.
Biden responds to new immigration record
President Biden responded to newly released numbers from Customs and Border Protection that show Border Patrol agents have encountered more than 2 million illegal crossers at the southern border since last October. That’s the highest number ever in a fiscal year.
President Biden said fewer immigrants are coming from Central America and Mexico and put most of the blame on three specific countries.
“What’s on my watch now is Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua and the ability to send them back to those states is not rational,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.
As controversial bus charters and flights continue transporting migrants from border states to Democrat-led cities like New York and Chicago, Republican leaders said they support those efforts.
“There’s been a good deal of talk about what some of the governors have done to transport illegal immigrants up to other parts of the country. I personally thought it was a good idea,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, the chamber’s minority leader, said.
The Democratic Caucus, however, detested the move.
“The behavior of individuals like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott is radical, reckless, regressive and reprehensible,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, the House Democratic Caucus Chair, said.
Justice Department charges 47 in COVID-19 pandemic fraud scheme
The Justice Department charged 47 defendants in a $250 million dollar COVID-19 pandemic fraud scheme that stole money from a children’s nutrition program.
“The defendants went to great lengths to exploit a program designed to feed underserved children in Minnesota amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudulently diverting millions of dollars designated for the program for their own personal gain,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
Prosecutors said the defendants used their nonprofit to recruit people to open food distribution sites around the state of Minnesota and then fraudulently claimed to be providing children with thousands of meals per day.
According to the Justice Department, the accused perpetrators used the money to buy luxury cars, jewelry and houses. The defendants are facing a range of charges including money laundering, bribery and wire fraud among others.
The Presidential Election Reform Act
The House Rules Committee held a hearing on a bill designed to prevent problems with the presidential election and certification, similar to those encountered in the 2020 election.
- outlines how states and courts should extend voting times in case of a catastrophic event,
- spells out how governors should certify the appointment of electors, and
- clarifies that the vice president has no discretionary power when certifying election results; their role is purely ministerial.
This House bill goes much further than a similar proposal in the Senate that has strong bipartisan support. The two chambers will need to work out the differences to get it passed into law.