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GOP says Booker may face ethics review

The Senate's top two Republican lawmakers say Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) might be subject to an official review by the Senate Ethics Committee for releasing documents labeled “confidential” related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s past work at the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Hugh Hewitt on Friday that Booker's decision — which the Democratic senator acknowledged violated the Senate rules — was “unusual” and that he wouldn't be surprised if it was reviewed by the Senate Ethics Committee.

“Let me just say this. When you break the Senate rules, it’s something the Ethics Committee could take a look at. And that would be up to them to decide. But it’s routinely looked at the Ethics Committee,” McConnell said.

Pressed if he thought the committee should look into Booker “expeditiously,” McConnell demurred.

“I don’t order, the majority leader doesn’t order the Ethics Committee to take matters up. They do it on their own initiative. ... But they have an obligation to look into violations of the Senate rules, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did,” McConnell said.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 GOP senator, separately re-tweeted a video of Booker saying he “knowingly” violated the rules, adding: “This is likely a matter for the Senate Ethics Committee.”

Cornyn went on to tweet the rules for the Senate Ethics Committee.

(1/2) The Senate Select Committee on Ethics is authorized to receive and investigate allegations of improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate, violations of law, violations of the Senate Code of Official Conduct and violations of rules and regulations of the Senate

Booker quickly hit back at Cornyn saying he was "threatening an ethics investigation" because Democrats "exposed this sham process." 
 
"I stand by my actions. I released 28 'committee confidential' documents to the public yesterday. Today I will be releasing more," Booker added in a tweet.

Booker sparked a rhetorical firestorm on Thursday when he decided to release emails from Kavanaugh's work as a lawyer for President George W. Bush that were marked “committee confidential,” meaning they hadn't been cleared for public distribution.

Booker released a total of six tranches of documents on Thursday. The first, though Booker called it “committee confidential,” had been publicly cleared for release by Bill Burck, the lawyer for President George W. Bush.

Booker subsequently shared five sets of documents that were still classified as “confidential.”

Booker is seen as a possible 2020 candidate for president, a fact Cornyn pointed to on Thursday in criticizing his actions.

THEHILL.COM

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/405541-gop-says-booker-may-face-ethics-review

Brett Kavanaugh Refers To Birth Control As ‘Abortion-Inducing Drugs’ At Confirmation Hearing

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee defended his support of Priests for Life on the third day of his hearing.

On the third day of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he referred to contraception as “abortion-inducing drugs.”

Judge Kavanaugh was responding to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday about his 2015 dissent in the Priests for Life v. HHS case. Kavanaugh had sided with the religious organization, which didn’t want to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Priests for Life, a Catholic group that opposes abortion rights, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013 over the provision under the Affordable Care Act that required certain health care providers to cover birth control. The group argued that the provision was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ― the same premise of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit in 2014.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against Priests for Life in 2014. When the group tried and failed to get a full court hearing the next year, Kavanaugh dissented to lay out why he would have ruled for them.

This year, the group celebrated Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“We at Priests for Life have personal experience of Judge Kavanaugh’s approach to religious freedom, because he sided with us when we had to defend our religious freedom in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Father Frank Pavone, the organization’s national director, said in July.

“At a time when these freedoms need more defense than ever,” he went on, “we urge the Senate to conduct a swift and fair confirmation process, focused on the excellent qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh, and not on the politics of personal destruction that the Democrat Left are such experts at carrying out.”

Following Kavanaugh’s remarks on Thursday, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said it was “no wonder” activists have been so emphatic in protesting his nomination.

“Kavanaugh referred to birth control ― something more than 95 percent of women use in their lifetime ― as an ‘abortion-inducing drug,’ which is not just flat-out wrong, but is anti-woman, anti-science propaganda,” Laguens told HuffPost. “Women have every reason to believe their health and their lives are at stake.”

“Let me break it down for you, Brett,” she went on. “Birth control is basic health care. Birth control allows women to plan their futures, participate in the economy, and ― for some women with health issues like endometriosis ― allows them to get through the day.”

Bob Bland, co-president of the Women’s March, called Kavanaugh’s potential ascent to the Supreme Court “an emergency, all-hands-on-deck moment for women across America.”

“We know Brett Kavanaugh is against abortion, and now we know he thinks birth control is abortion,” Bland said Thursday.

Cruz, who brought up the Priests for Life case at Thursday’s hearing, used language similar to Kavanaugh’s when he referred to contraception as “abortifacients” at a 2013 summit. The religious right’s use of terms like “abortifacient” and “abortion-inducing drugs” has long been criticized by medical and pro-abortion rights communities.

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HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brett-kavanaugh-birth-control_us_5b917b79e4b0162f472b3cb8

Unemployment claims fall to 49-year low

The number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment benefits fell to near a 49-year low last week, as the labor market continues to show strength. 

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 203,000 for the week ending Sept. 1, a drop of 10,000 from the previous week, the lowest level since December 1969, the Labor Department said on Thursday. 

The four-week moving average, which is a better indicator of where the job market is headed, was 209,500, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week, the lowest level for this average since Dec. 6, 1969 when it was 204,500.

The economy, which grew at a robust 4.2 percent pace in the April through June quarter, is chugging along despite headwinds from President Trump's trade policies. Trump has applied steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and duties on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. 

A separate report released on Thursday, showed private-sector businesses added 163,000 jobs, the fewest since Oct. 2017. 

But the job market appears strong along with the unemployment rate expected to fall to the mid-3 percent range. 

“The job market is hot," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, who oversees the ADP data.

"Employers are aggressively competing to hold onto their existing workers and to find new ones. Small businesses are struggling the most in this competition, as they increasingly can’t fill open positions," he added.

The government is set to release the August jobs report on Friday with expectations that around 200,000 jobs were created last month. 

THEHILL.COM

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/405316-unemployment-claims-fall-to-49-year-low

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