China’s Growing Threat to U.S. National Security in the Crosshairs of Congress

Illegal Immigrants

While the Chinese Communist Party’s possibly imminent invasion of Taiwan could spark a war in the region, experts and lawmakers in Congress on Thursday expressed that the Taiwan issue is just one part of a broader Chinese strategy countering the U.S.

U.S.House lawmakers raised the alarm about the Chinese communist government’s threat to the U.S. via cyber security and the border crisis at two separate hearings Thursday.

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CDC Estimates Decline in U.S. Overdose Deaths in 2023, Totals Remain ‘Staggering’

Woman with pills

Provisional estimates show drug overdose deaths declined about 3.1% nationwide, but multiple states reported increases of more than 20%.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s provisional estimated overdose deaths in 2023 declined about 3.1% to 107,543. That’s down from 111,029 in 2022. Two out of every three deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, a cheap and potent opioid smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.

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Trump Holds Lead over Biden Heading Toward November

Donald Trump and Joe Biden in front of the White House (composite image)

With less than half a year until the 2024 presidential election, former President Donald Trump holds a sizable lead over incumbent President Joe Biden in several swing states.

While the overall national polling varies and shows a tighter race, Trump holds significant leads in several swing states.

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New York Court Strikes Down Order Banning Transgender Athletes

A judge has struck down a New York county’s ban on transgender athletes from participating in female sports, saying the county executive exceeded his authority by issuing the directive.

The ruling by state Supreme Court Judge Francis Ricigliano overturns an executive order signed by Nassau County Chief Executive Bruce Blakeman in February that requires any sports team seeking to use a county facility to provide information on “the biological sex at birth of the team members/participants.”

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Terrorist Watch List Apprehensions at Northern Border Continue to Break Records

Illegal Immigrants Northern Border

The number of known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) apprehended at the northern border in the first six months of fiscal 2024 continue to outpace those apprehended at the southwest border.

There have been 143 KSTs apprehended at the northern border through the first six months of this fiscal year compared to 92 at the southwest border, according to the most recent CBP data.

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Telehealth, Rural Physician Bills Clear Committee

Telehealth

Legislation to make permanent the extension of telehealth services for federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics has passed the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill of U.S. Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., and the Rural Physician Workforce Preservation Act he authored are also under consideration by the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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Report Finds Farmers Growing More Concerned About Economy

Work Farmer

U.S. farmers’ confidence in the economy cratered in April, according to the latest monthly report from Purdue University.

The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer for last month, which was released Tuesday, fell 15 points from March. At 99, the current score is the lowest the barometer has dropped since it reached 97 in June 2022.

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The 2024 Sunset of the Trump Tax Cuts Becoming Election Year Issue as Inflation, Cost of Living Climbs

Donald Trump

The sweeping Trump-era tax cuts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are set to expire next year, setting up the tax debate as a potentially key political issue this election year.

While illegal immigration and inflation top Americans’ list of concerns, both parties are increasingly talking about the Trump-era tax cuts, which President Joe Biden has said he will allow to expire next year.

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Combined Social Security Trust Fund Projected to Deplete Reserves by 2035

Social Security

Two reports released Monday show that the U.S. combined Social Security trust fund is projected to deplete its reserves by 2035.

The Trustees for Social Security and Medicare released annual reports on Monday. The Trustees projected the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund will exhaust its reserves in 2036. The Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund was projected to be insolvent by 2033.

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Elevated Gas Prices Poised to Rise More This Summer

Pumping Gas

Gas prices have been elevated in recent months heading into summer, when prices are expected to rise even more.

According to AAA, the average national price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.65 per gallon, up from $3.59 a month ago. The prices have fluctuated in recent days and are lower than the all-time high of $5.02 in the summer of 2022. However, prices overall have risen significantly this year and are on pace to rise more in the summer months.

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Northern Border Apprehensions Continue to Break Records

ICE Arrest

Despite being stretched thin and understaffed, Border Patrol agents at the northern border continue to apprehend a record number of illegal border crossers.

In the busiest northern border sector of Swanton, Border Patrol agents made history by apprehending the greatest number of illegal border crossers in sector history of 1,109 in March, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. While the numbers are significantly lower than those apprehended at the southwest border, they are out of the ordinary for the northern border and its busiest sector. By comparison, agents apprehended 37 illegal border crossers in March 2021.

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Government Sets Rules for Spy Agencies Buying Commercial Data on Americans

People on phones

The government has put together new rules to guide how U.S. spy agencies buy and use mounds of highly personal information from smartphone apps, automobiles and other connected devices.

The new framework policy, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, does not require agencies to get a warrant before buying or searching commercially available information, or CAI.

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Police Union Pushes Back over Claims About University of Connecticut Protesters

UConn Division of University Safety

The union representing University of Connecticut police is pushing back on claims officers injured pro-Palestinian protesters when they broke up an encampment last month and arrested more than two dozen people.

The Connecticut Police & Fire Union, which represents UConn police, said the claims about the April 30 encounter made by another union in a letter to school leaders was an “unconscionable attack” on the officers who were just “doing their jobs” by shutting down the “unauthorized” encampment on school grounds.

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Senate Bill Would Ban Student Loan Forgiveness for Protestors Convicted of a Crime

Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill that would ban student loan forgiveness for protestors convicted of a crime while protesting on U.S. college campuses.

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House Republicans Seek Transparency on Number of Foreign Nationals in U.S. Illegally

Alejandro Mayorkas With Immigrants

A group of 17 Congressional Republicans led by U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, is calling on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to provide information on “the total number of illegal aliens currently residing within the United States.”

In a letter to Mayorkas, whom they voted to impeach in February, the Republican lawmakers argue, “The American people deserve an exact accounting of the number of illegal aliens residing in the country, especially if the federal government’s policies have caused that number to surge since the previous estimate.”

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Independents Have Little Trust, but Pick Trump Over Biden on Economy

Donald Trump

Newly released polling data spells bad news for President Joe Biden this election year.

Gallup released new polling data that showed independent voters trust former President Donald Trump more than Biden when it comes to the economy. About 34 percent of independents say they trust Biden to do the right thing for the economy, compared to 45 percent who trust Trump.

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Reports: 2023 Was a Record Year for Natural Gas Consumption

Natural Gas Plant

2023 was a record year for domestic natural gas consumption, and its supply wouldn’t have been possible without record U.S. production, led by Texas, according to several reports.

Texas produced the equivalent of one-third of the natural gas consumed last year, with Texas producers breaking multiple records last year, The Center Square reported.

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Biden Administration Defends Treatment of Veterans Despite IG Report

Dept of Veteran Affair Secretary Denis McDonough

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs pledged to protect veterans and address any problems identified by federal watchdogs after an Inspector General report raised concerns about the physicians employed by the VA.

Press Secretary Terrence Hayes responded to an inquiry from The Center Square about recent IG reports. The reports in question said that the healthcare wing of the VA was paying doctors to care for veterans even after those doctors had been disqualified for safety reasons.

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Americans Less Confident About Economy, Poll Shows

Stressed Workers

Americans are less confident about the economy, according to a new survey.

Gallup’s recently released economic confidence rating dropped from March to April as inflation remains elevated. Just after the polling was conducted from April 1-22, the federal government released underperforming Gross Domestic Product data.

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Houses Passes Bill to Protect Domestic Oil Production, Protect Iñupiat Community

Alaska North Slope

The U.S. House passed another a bill to advance domestic energy production, this time in response to cries for help from an indigenous community living in the Alaska North Slope.

The bill’s cosponsor, a Democrat from Alaska, did not vote for her own bill. It passed with the support of five Democrats, including two from Texas who are strong supporters of the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.

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Connecticut Wrangles over Spending Controls amid $1 Billion Surplus

Connecticut Capitol

Connecticut will end the fiscal year with a record surplus, according to a new report, which is fueling calls by progressive Democrats to roll back the state’s spending controls.

The consensus revenue forecast, released by the Office of Policy and Management and Office of Fiscal Analysis on Monday, shows the state is likely to close out the fiscal year more than $645 million above initial budget projections. That’s a roughly $1 billion surplus through 2026, according to the report.

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Bill Would Alert Immigration When Non-Citizen Tries to Buy Guns

Gun Store

Nearly 15 million people living in or entering the country illegally are on an FBI list prohibiting purchase of firearms.

However, the National Instant Criminal Background Check system isn’t required to let immigration authorities know if one of those 14.8 million is an applicant and in America. Legislation is proposed to change it.

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DEA Warns over Growing Prevalence of Xylazine in Illicit Fentanyl Supply

Bags of confiscated fentanyl

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has issued another warning about the growing prevalence of a veterinary sedative in illicit fentanyl supply. 

For years, dealers have been mixing xylazine, a non-opioid tranquilizer approved for animal use, with fentanyl and other drugs to increase potency and profits. 

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Congressional Probe Opened on ‘Mealy-Mouthed, Spineless College Leaders’

US Rep Virginia Foxx

For “mealy-mouthed, spineless college leaders,” actions will have consequences, the North Carolina congresswoman leading a key U.S. House of Representatives committee said Tuesday amid ongoing college campus disruptions.

The war between Israel and Hamas has led to significant demonstrations or encampments on at least four dozen campuses nationwide, a national observer of such activity reports. U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., with support of House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said the Committee on Education and the Workforce she chairs has opened a congressional probe and on May 23 will hear from presidents of Yale and Michigan and the chancellor of UCLA.

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Congress’ Inaction on Debt ‘Irresponsible’ Says Former Comptroller

David Walker

The former U.S. Comptroller General said Congress’ failure to address the federal debt burden was “irresponsible.”

David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States and a member of the Main Street Economics Advisory Board, said recent economic data should prompt lawmakers to take action before the debt problem gets worse. 

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Elevated Inflation, Poor GDP Growth Raise Concerns

Grocery store prices

Federal data released Friday showed that inflation remains elevated. The figures came out on the heels of other data showing the U.S. Gross Domestic Product underperformed in the first quarter of this year.

Both the inflation and GDP data points raised concerns among economists and renewed criticism of President Joe Biden among Republicans.

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More than 1.7 Million Illegal Entries in First Six Months of Fiscal 2024

Illegal Immigration

More than 1.7 million foreign nationals have illegally entered the U.S. in the first six months of fiscal 2024, the greatest number for this time period in U.S. history.

The 1,733,496 who illegally entered in the first six months of the fiscal year outnumber the 1,547,866 who illegally entered in the first six months of fiscal 2023 by more than 185,000.

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Wildlife Groups Threaten Feds with Lawsuit over Wolf Protections

Gray Wolfs

by Chris Woodward   A coalition of animal welfare and wildlife advocacy groups plans to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over gray wolf protections, pointing to the killing of a wolf in Wyoming as an example of why the species needs more protection. In 2021,…

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California Border Fentanyl Seizures Double as Texas Strengthens Border

California seized over one million fentanyl pills just last week, more than was seized in all of February, highlighting how much smuggling of drugs and illegal immigrants has shifted to California since Texas strengthened its border.

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom increased the California National Guard’s San Diego border region presence from 40 to 60 soldiers for narcotics operations.

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Economist Uses Big Mac Price Index to Analyze Inflation, Impact of Food Costs

Big Mac Burger

In addition to measuring foreign exchange rates, an economist is using the price of a hamburger to examine inflation.

The Economist magazine developed the Big Mac index in 1986 as an informal way to determine the “purchasing power parity” of different countries and currencies. B. Ravikumar, senior vice president and deputy director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, recently used the Big Mac index to analyze the U.S. consumer price index, which is widely used as the authoritative inflation measurement.

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Business Group Plans to Sue After FTC Bans Noncompete Contracts

Contract Talks

The Federal Trade Commission issued a final rule Tuesday to ban noncompete contracts that prevent employees from joining rival companies in a move that immediately drew a legal challenge.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark said the measure was illegal and would hurt businesses and workers.

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Biden Signs $95 Billion Foreign Aid Bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid bill Wednesday, ending a months-long trudge through Congress.

“It’s a good day for America, it’s a good day for Europe, and it’s a good day for world peace,” Biden said to kick off his remarks after the signing.

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Meadows, Giuliani and Other Former Trump Aides Indicted in Arizona 2020 Election Probe

An Arizona grand jury on Wednesday indicted former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, and five other former aides to former President Donald Trump on felony charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

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University Antisemitism Reaches Fever Pitch with Calls for Violence Against Jews

Anti-Israel protest

A Jewish Yale student was reportedly stabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag during a pro-Hamas protest on campus over the weekend, the latest incident highlighting the ongoing tensions on college campuses since the Hamas terror group attacked Israel Oct. 7 and ignited an ongoing war.

Amidst ongoing calls for violence, lawmakers have ramped up calls for accountability for the taxpayer-funded universities as well as groups supporting Hamas, which the State Department has officially labeled a terrorist organization.

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Fraud Costs the Federal Government up to $521 Billion a Year

Money Waste Government

The federal government loses up to $521 billion a year to fraud, according to a first-of-its-kind estimate from a Congressional watchdog. 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, which serves as the research arm of Congress, estimated annual fraud losses cost taxpayers between $233 billion and $521 billion annually, according to a new report published Tuesday. The fraud estimate’s range represents 3% to 7% of average federal obligations. 

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Lawmakers Decry U.S. Military’s Drift to DEI Culture

Pentagon

The U.S. military’s ongoing embrace of the far-left culture war has drawn increased attention and ire from lawmakers.

Despite Pentagon officials waving off concerns, a steady stream of evidence has shown that the most progressive ideas on race, gender and sexuality have become the norm, in particular within the administrative parts of the U.S. military.

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International Money Fund Warns on U.S. Debt ‘Something Will Have to Give’

Congress Spending

The International Monetary Fund warned the United States that government spending and increasing national debt are not sustainable and could hurt the global economy.

The Washington, D.C.-based group that represents 190 member countries also called the U.S. economy “overheated.” The debt warning follows several other high-profile calls to address growing U.S. debt.

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Report: Federal Agencies Not Safeguarding Unaccompanied Minors

Another inspector general report has found that the federal agency responsible for caring for unaccompanied minors (UACs) brought into the United States is continuing to fail to vet sponsors and protect the children’s safety and well-being.

A Texas advocacy group is again renewing its call for state lawmakers to investigate and implement oversight measures since the majority of UACs are being housed in Texas.

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Report: Biden has Taken over 200 Actions Against U.S. Oil

Oil Drilling

President Joe Biden and his administration have taken over 200 actions against the U.S. oil and natural gas industry as energy prices have gone up, according to a new report. 

“President Biden and Democrats have a plan for American energy: make it harder to produce and more expensive to purchase,” the Institute for Energy Research states in a new report. “Since Mr. Biden took office, his administration and its allies have taken over 200 actions deliberately designed to make it harder to produce energy here in America.”

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Johnson Sets Up Ukraine Showdown Vote

Mike Johnson

The U.S. House is expected to vote on funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan this weekend, a controversial climax to months of battling in both chambers.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has arranged the vote for this weekend, likely on Saturday, despite calls from many in his own party to abandon funding for Ukraine, which is set to receive about $60 billion in foreign aid in its war against Russia’s invasion if the measure passes this weekend.

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Connecticut Committee Advances Bill Proposing Increased Threshold for Felony Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Connecticut House Bill 2570, which proposes increasing the threshold for felony unemployment insurance fraud from $500 to $2000, advanced from the Joint Judiciary Committee on Apr. 5 by a vote of 24-13. The Joint Labor and Public Employees Committee approved the bill with a vote of 8-4 on Mar. 7. The bill is now pending consideration before the full Connecticut House.

Under current law, a fraudulent payment, benefit, or contribution is a class A misdemeanor if it amounts to $500 or less or a class D felony if it amounts to more than $500. The bill increases these thresholds to $2,000 or less for a class A misdemeanor and more than $2,000 for a class D felony.

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Connecticut Lawmakers Approve 2.5 Percent Raises for State Workers

Worker at Desk

Tens of thousands of Connecticut state workers could be getting a bump in their paychecks with lawmakers advancing a proposal to give them a 2.5% across-the-board pay raise.

A proposal approved by the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee on Friday would authorize a 2.5% wage increase for an estimated 46,000 state employees that was hammered out in negotiations earlier this year by Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration and the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which represents unionized workers.

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NO TRIAL: Senate Democrats Quickly Dismiss Impeachment Articles Against Mayorkas

Within 20 minutes of convening to hold an impeachment trial of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Democrats in the Senate steamrolled through motions and voted to dismiss the first article of impeachment brought against him.

Shortly thereafter, they dismissed the second article as well, without ever hearing evidence or conducting a trial.

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Majority of Voters Polled Believe U.S. is Being Invaded at Southern Border

CBP Officer chasing illegal border crossers

The majority of American voters polled believe the U.S. is being invaded at the southern border. 

The findings come after Texas counties have led the national conversation on invasion, introducing the term and making the case for Texas’ constitutional right to self-defense. 

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Compensation Rate Increase for Veterans with Disabilities, Survivors Proposed

Disabled Veteran

Federal legislation has been proposed, led in part by a North Carolina congressman, to increase the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and military survivors under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, known by the acronym COLA Act, could go into effect as soon as Dec. 1, with adjustment parallel to the annual COLA adjustment to Social Security benefits, as determined by the Social Security Administration.

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Report: Chronic Absenteeism in Public Schools a National Crisis

Empty Classroom

A record number of students are skipping school, propelling chronic absenteeism to a national crisis, according to an analysis of public-school attendance data.

The analysis comes as public school districts nationwide are laying off teachers, citing high inflationary costs, budget deficits, and spending decisions related to federal COVID-era funding, which is running out after schools received windfalls in federal subsidies for three years.

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Feds, Scientists Take Fire for Allegedly Hiding COVID Origins Truth

CO'VID testing stie

A Republican-led Congressional committee says a scientist and top advisor to Anthony Fauci used his personal email to hide evidence related to the origins of COVID-19.

Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, sent a letter to the National Emerging Infectious Disease Institute asking for more information about these communications.

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Report: States with Low Taxes, Fewer Restrictions Tops for Economic Outlook

Work Meeting

States with lower tax rates, lower debt and fewer government restrictions generally have stronger economic outlooks, according to the latest report that ranks states from best to worst based on how friendly their policies are to economic growth.

The American Legislative Exchange Council released its “Rich States Poor States” report Tuesday. The report ranks states based on “economic outlook” using 15 factors.

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