New spending showdown could shut down government.
Dems float bill to create SCOTUS code of ethics after corruption scandals exposed.
Russian mercenary leader met with Putin days after mutiny.
New spending showdown could shut down government
Fresh back from a two-week July 4 vacation, Congress is again facing a budget fight. Just weeks ago, a last-minute bill to raise the debt ceiling narrowly averted a disastrous federal default. Now, hardline House Republicans who were dissatisfied with the spending cuts they won in that fight are asking for more. Once again, their aim is to shrink spending on environmental programs and government assistance for the poor. Republicans also want to roll back new spending for the Internal Revenue Service which Congress passed last year to help the agency pursue wealthy tax cheats.
If a new budget or a stop-gap spending bill is not agreed by Oct. 1, when the federal government’s fiscal year starts, it will force a partial government shutdown. This shutdown could affect several federal functions, halting pay to members of the military, snarling air traffic control, and shuttering national parks.
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Senate Democrats announce bill to create Supreme Court code of ethics after corruption scandals exposed
The last few months have brought explosive revelations about the conduct of several Supreme Court Justices which have raised concerns about ethics and possible corruption in the court. Reporting from anti-corruption publication ProPublica revealed that Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito had received lavish travel gifts and had lucrative financial dealings with wealthy Republican donors. Neither Justice disclosed these gifts or transactions in their mandatory annual disclosure form, nor did either Justice recuse themselves when cases involving these donors or their companies came before the court.
Now members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are planning to bring forth legislation that would impose a code of ethics on the court that are similar to ethics requirements for federal judges on lower courts. The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act will give the court 180 days to draw up a formal code of ethics (which does not presently exist) and clarify rules about when Justices must recuse themselves due to personal or financial conflicts.
Russian mercenary leader met with Putin days after mutiny
A Kremlin spokesperson has confirmed that Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner mercenary group, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia just five days after Prigozhin led a short-lived mutiny. On June 24, hundreds of Prigozhin’s mercenaries embarked on a march to Moscow with the intent of deposing high-ranking military commanders who Prigozhin considered his rivals.
While the uprising was brief, it was not bloodless. There were some skirmishes between Wagner troops and regular Russian military units, during which at least 6 Russian pilots were killed. Despite labeling Prigozhin a traitor, Putin allowed Prigozhin to go to exile in Belarus without facing charges.
This leniency was remarkable enough given Putin’s ruthless reputation. A meeting between Prigozhin and Putin just 5 days later is nothing short of extraordinary. Many Kremlin watchers believe that the rebellion and Prigozhin’s slap on the wrist have undermined Putin’s authority in Russia. However, some wonder whether Putin is using Prigozhin to shift the blame for Russia’s shambolic Ukraine invasion onto his generals rather than himself.