In Case You Missed It: Week of Nov. 8

FILE – President Joe Biden walks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington,, Oct. 28, 2021, during a visit to meet with House Democrats. The $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signs into law on Monday, Nov. 15, represents a historic achievement at a time of deeply fractured politics. But the compromises needed to bridge the political divide suggest that the spending might not be as transformative as Biden has promised for the U.S. economy. Photo by Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo.

Banon indicted for contempt of court 

For the first time since 1983, the United States Department of Justice levied charges of contempt of congress against former Trump administration adviser Steve Banon on Friday, according to the Associated Press

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Public Affairs said in a statement that Banon faces two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol, one for failing to appear for a deposition and another for refusing to provide documents to the committee. 

The House committee called upon Banon, who has been a private citizen since 2017, because it believes “Bannon had information relevant to understanding events related to Jan. 6,” the DOJ said. 

David Shoen, Banon’s lawyer, said that Banon did not refuse to comply with the House committee’s subpoena. Banon decided not to appear for his deposition after former President Donald Trump’s legal team assured him he had the privilege to withhold information for the sake of public safety. 

Banon was taken into custody on Monday morning and, after appearing before Federal Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather, Banon was ordered to surrender his passport and was released without bail. 

Beto seeks change for Texas 

“It’s time for change,” former congressman Beto O’Rourke told The Texas Tribune when he announced his campaign challenging Governor Greg Abbott in the 2022 election. 

O’Rourke told the Texas Tribune that Gov. Abbott has, “stopped listening to and trusting the people of Texas.” He is running for governor to improve issues of public education, health care and failed infrastructure in Texas, criticizing Gov. Abbott for “abandoning” his constituents. 

“He doesn’t trust women to make their health care decisions, doesn’t trust police chiefs when they tell him not to sign the permitless carry bill into law, he doesn’t trust voters so he changes the rules of our elections,” O’Rourke said. 

Gov. Abbott said that O’Rourke is “hostile to the state,” claiming that in his last campaign he exposed himself as “not so much a democrat,” and associated him with other national politicians who are unpopular in Texas, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York and President Joe Biden. 

Gov. Abbott’s re-election campaign manager Mark Miner said the “contrast for the direction of Texas couldn’t be clearer, and said that the last thing Texans need is “President Biden’s radical liberal agenda” coming to the state “under the guise” of O’Rourke. 

Miner and Gov. Abbott said that O’Rourke has “more in common with President Biden than he does with Texans,” but O’Rourke disregarded his critics, saying that in his third political campaign he will partner with “anyone, anywhere, anytime — regardless of political party or position of power” as long as they are making progress in Texas. 

Bipartisanship changes Americans lives ‘for the better’ 

President Joe Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday in front of a crowd of state governors, mayors and congressional lawmakers from both political parties on the White House Lawn, according to the Associated Press

Biden said the money for money for public infrastructure like roads and bridges represents America in motion again, and a success of lawmakers focusing on “getting things done” rather than insisting on “getting everything we want.” His initial proposal was an infrastructure bill more than twice the size. 

“I ran for president because the only way to move our country forward in my view was through compromise and consensus,” Biden said. 

Senator Rob Portman commended Biden for his willingness to negotiate with members of the Republican Party, and said the bipartisan support for the bill “comes because it makes sense for our constituents.” 

“The approach from the center out should be the norm, not the exception,” Sen. Portman said. 

According to Reuters, Biden joked that Sen. Portman was able to support the bill without facing disapproval from the Republican Party because he is not seeking re-election, calling him a “hell of a good guy.” 

“I know I’m not hurting you, Rob,” Biden said in front of the crowd, “because you’re not running again.” 

The Associated Press reported that Biden waited to take the final step to sign the infrastructure bill into law for almost two weeks after it was approved in congress on Nov. 5, so that lawmakers returning from a congressional recess could celebrate in a “splashy bipartisan event.” With the president’s signature, the bill immediately takes effect and will change Americans’ lives “for the better,” Biden said. 

Republican Senate Leader, Mitch McConnel, did not attend the event on the White House lawn with his colleague Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schummer, but commented that the nation is in desperate need of the infrastructure money. 

On Tuesday, Biden celebrated the infrastructure deal from an almost century-old bridge in New Hampshire that became the first of two bridges that cross the Pemigewasset River to be “red listed” for repair in 2014. 

There, Biden said the bill is about issues that are both profound and affect ordinary people, like “How do I cross the bridge in a snowstorm?” 

“This may not seem like a big bridge, but it saves lives and solves problems,” Biden said. 

New Hampshire, alone, will receive more than $1 billion in federal funds for highways from the infrastructure bill, and $225 million for bridges. According to the Biden Administration, the bill is the single largest investment in the country’s bridges since the creation of the national highway system. 

After the event, the Associated Press interviewed university professors in history, economics and engineering who said that the nation needs to “be sober” about the work that still needs to be done. 

University of Virginia Engineering Department history professor Peter Norton expressed mixed feelings about the bill because it doesn’t address the “emergency” of climate change.” 

“Most of [the bill] is more of the same,” Norton said. 

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