House Democrats Block Bill to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline, Promote ‘American Energy Independence From Russia’

House Democrats Block Bill to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline, Promote ‘American Energy Independence From Russia’

House Democrats Block Bill to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline, Promote ‘American Energy Independence From Russia’

Matt Gaetz explains why he joined Democrats in opposition

By Nathan Worcester

March 2, 2022 Updated: March 3, 2022

Legislation promoting U.S. energy independence from Russia has been blocked by House Democrats.

House Republicans introduced the “American Independence from Russian Energy Act” on Feb. 28, a measure meant to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, boost domestic oil and gas production, and prevent President Joe Biden’s executive branch agencies from halting energy leasing on federal land and water, among other provisions. Yet on March 1, the legislation was shot down in a 221–202 vote, almost entirely along partisan lines.

“Getting our pipelines expanded is huge,” Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee and a co-sponsor of the measure, told The Epoch Times. “We’re having to import Russian energy to the New England states because we don’t have pipelines that can carry Pennsylvania natural gas up there.”

U.S. crude oil imports from Russia more than doubled in 2021, rising to an average of 209,000 barrels per day from a daily average of roughly 76,000 per day barrels in 2020, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time on his choice to vote down the legislation.

Republicans on the floor voiced near-unanimous support for the measure, with Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) describing U.S. reliance on Russian oil and petroleum products as “unconscionable.”

By contrast, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said Republicans “talk about energy independence, yet … are the ones who have consistently voted against and opposed green and renewable energy here at home, which is the fastest way to achieve real energy independence.”

The 220 Democrats who voted the legislation down were joined by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who said the measure could open up the northwest Florida coast to drilling, potentially impeding military testing and related missions that take place east of the Military Mission Line.

Westerman told The Epoch Times that Gaetz’s objection was a “totally illegitimate concern.”

“I don’t know where he got the misinformation, but it talks about the Western Gulf [of Mexico],” he said. “It is not going to allow drilling around Florida.”

A spokesperson for Gaetz explained the congressman’s concerns to The Epoch Times.

Although the bill doesn’t specifically authorize drilling near Gaetz’s district, it keeps the president and his cabinet from freezing the new drilling lease sales on federal land or water. Any withdrawal of those federal holdings from drilling would have to be authorized by Congress.

The spokesperson said this language could be used to undermine a September 2020 memorandum from then-President Donald Trump extending the drilling moratorium off Florida’s northwest coast until 2032.

“The Congressionally approved moratorium is set to expire in June of 2022,” the spokesperson said, referring to the original Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act that made the area off-limits for drilling.

“It would be foolish to respond to Russia’s aggression by rendering America less capable to defeat Russia or anyone else,” the spokesperson said. “Protecting the Gulf Test Range is in America’s best interest.”

The spokesperson told The Epoch Times that Gaetz is on record as favoring more U.S. energy production to undercut Russia, drawing attention to a passage in Gaetz’s 2020 book, “Firebrand”:

“Asia’s largest consumer of energy, China, is right next to Asia’s largest producer, Russia. They are building bridges to one another that could well imperil the free world.

“We can beat Russia and other fossil fuel foes just by keeping the price of oil perpetually low.”

Westerman, who said he supports an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes oil, gas, nuclear, solar, and wind, pointed out that greenhouse gas emissions fell during the Trump administration.

“I don’t think Putin gives a rip about environmental goals, or anybody’s economy other than his own,” he said.

The legislation instructs the secretary of the interior to immediately restart the oil and gas lease sales required by the Mineral Leasing Act, which Biden first froze through Executive Order 14008 in January 2021.

In addition, it specifically instructs the secretary to hold at least four oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada, and “any other state in which there is land available for oil and natural gas leasing under the [Mineral Leasing] Act.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to three key bureaus and agencies of the Interior Department involved in mining and drilling authorization—the Bureau of Land Management, the Ocean Energy Management Bureau, and the Office of Surface Reclamation and Enforcement—but didn’t receive a response by press time.

“Democrats blocking the Act yesterday from even being considered demonstrates how unserious they are about truly addressing the crisis in Ukraine,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, a nonprofit energy industry association, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“We have the energy resources to starve Putin of revenue and lower prices for Americans if the president would just take action within his power now. For example, the government is holding up hundreds of federal permits in the Permian Basin, America’s most prolific oil region. Most are ready to go but are being held up for more climate change analysis.”

Representatives for the U.S. branch of Fridays for Future, the international climate movement started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the legislation by press time.


Why Is the U.S. Still Importing So Much Russian Oil and Petroleum Products?

Why Is the U.S. Still Importing So Much Russian Oil and Petroleum Products?

By Jim Geraghty, National Review
February 15, 2022 9:52 AM

Here’s a flashing neon sign that U.S. energy policy has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Throughout 2021, the U.S. has imported 12 million to 26 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products per month from Russia — that same country we keep enacting new sanctions on, in an effort to deter Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions. The most recent month from the Energy Information Agency’s figures is November 2021, at 17.8 million barrels. Last spring, imports of Russian oil hit the highest level in a decade; in August, Russia became the second-highest exporter of oil to the United States. Think that might be a reason Putin feels so confident?

And judging from yesterday’s White House press briefing… if the administration has any solid plans to stop importing Russian oil, they’re being awfully quiet about them.

Q Wouldn’t it be difficult, though, for the U.S. to continue to import Russian oil after all of the rhetoric that we’ve put forward about Russia needing to not invade Ukraine and pressuring Germany to, you know, come out strongly on Nord Stream 2 and possible punishments for Russia if they were to take this step? Wouldn’t it be tough for the U.S. to continue, in that event, to import Russian gas?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, again, it’s a hypothetical. I’m just telling you what we have been very, very clear, the President has been clear, our national security advisor has been clear — we all have been clear, either from this podium or direct communication with Russia, whether it’s with the President or its leadership, that if they were to invade — and in coordination, in lockstep with our European Allies and partners, that’s how we’re moving forward here — that there would be there would be severe, decisive economic consequences. I cannot speak more to — more to that.

In this context, the German hesitation to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline makes a little more sense. If the U.S. is going to keep buying and importing Russian oil as an invasion of Ukraine looms, why should Germany stop buying Russian oil and natural gas?

As Daniel Yergin lays out, the U.S. has the energy resources to step into pole position on oil and natural gas.


CDC Lowers Speech Standards for Children

CDC Lowers Speech Standards for Children

By Naveen Athrappully

February 22, 2022  Updated: February 22, 2022  The Epoch Times

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lowered its standards of childhood speech development, a decision that has many people worried about the way milestones are measured in kids.

CDC added two new child development milestones at 15 and 30 months. Earlier, children aged 24 months were expected to know about 50 words. But in the new update, the CDC raised the time period to 30 months, lowering the established standard of speech development. In the update, the CDC linked to research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that influenced the organization in setting up the modified benchmarks.

“Application of the criteria established by the AAP working group and adding milestones for the 15- and 30-month health supervision visits resulted in a 26.4 percent reduction and 40.9 percent replacement of previous CDC milestones,” reads an abstract of the AAP study, published on Feb. 8.

“One-third of the retained milestones were transferred to different ages; 67.7 percent of those transferred were moved to older ages.”

The AAP, based on recommendations from the CDC, convened experts and revised child developmental checklists. The original milestone followed standards that only 50 percent of children were expected to achieve, the organization said. These guidelines were deemed unhelpful to families who were worried about their kids’ development.

Milestones were updated to ensure that at least 75 percent of kids are able to achieve them, according to Jennifer Zubler, an author of the study. Because many children were unable to achieve the previous milestones, it was decided to establish new, lower milestones.

Literacy advocate Karen Vaites points out that, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, children speaking fewer than 50 words by 24 months is still a worrisome situation. She had previously spoken against forcing kids to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the negative effects that the masks have on speech and learning.

“Masks impede language development, and they also impede the process of kids learning how to read,” Vaites said in a Jan. 18 tweet. In another Twitter thread from late July, she shared her experience of observing a kindergarten room during a reading class; in the thread, she insisted on the importance of children seeing the movement of a teacher’s mouth and vice versa.

In some situations, parents and clinicians choose a wait-and-see approach regarding children’s development, which ends up delaying diagnosis.

“The earlier a child is identified with a developmental delay the better, as treatment as well as learning interventions can begin,” Paul Lipkin, a member of the AAP Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and Council on Children with Disabilities, said in a statement. “At the same time, we don’t want to cause unnecessary confusion for families or professionals. Revising the guidelines with expertise and data from clinicians in the field accomplishes these goals.”

Lea Themea, who has practiced speech pathology for close to three decades, believes that the CDC guidelines have been updated to better clarify what parents should look for as developmental progress in their kids.

“I think these guidelines look at how the language is used, because you could have a 2-year-old that can label all their colors and count to 10, but they’re not saying them to actually communicate,” she told ABC6.

Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News medical contributor, drew parallels between the CDC quietly lowering speech standards to an incident from last summer, when the AAP began “deleting stuff” from its website about the importance of facial recognition in childhood development while also pushing masks on children.

Saphier insisted that face masks were “negatively impacting children” and cited studies conducted in the UK, United States, and the Netherlands to point out that kids during the pandemic are performing poorly on “gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and overall communication.”



Rep. Jordan: Durham filing shows Trump was right about being spied on

Rep. Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Jordan: Durham filing shows Trump was right about being spied on

By Mark Moore, New York Post

February 13, 2022 3:42pm Updated


The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that a blockbuster new federal filing proves ex-President Trump’s claim he was being illegally spied on and the Russian collusion tale is a hoax.

​​Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio noted Special Counsel John Durham alleged in Friday’s legal filing that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign paid an Internet company to “infiltrate” servers at Trump Tower and the White House to try to tie Donald Trump to Russia.

“Yep, there was spying going on, and it was worse than we thought because they were spying on the sitting ​p​resident of the United States,” Jordan told “Fox & Friends.” “And it goes right to the Clinton campaign. So God bless John D​urham​.

“​His investigation is taking a long time. But we’re getting to ​now what we all suspected,” Jordan said. “The only thing we didn’t understand was it was worse than we thought​.”

In May 2019, Durham was tasked by Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, with investigating the origins of the FBI’s probe into allegations that the then-president colluded with Russia to win the election.

Rep. Jim Jordan claimed that Special Counsel John Durham’s filing proves that former President Donald Trump was being spied on.Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press

Rep. Michael Turner ​(R-Ohio) ​said Sunday that Durham’s investigation uncovered a “whole new level of corruption and is of grave concern.

“I mean, this is a threat to our democracy itself,” Turner said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”​ “It doesn’t matter really which political campaign this is or which political party this is. This is so wrong and allegations of such ​a ​level of illegal activity that goes directly to our faith in our own government that the truth must be found​.”

Turner predicted that Durham’s probe​ could implicate former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey.

“I think that what we see is not just political shenanigans or opposition research that you would see in the normal campaigns where people are trying to find information out about their opponents​,” Turner said. ​

According to a filing from Durham, Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid a company to “infiltrate” servers at Trump Tower and the White House.AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File

“This is where ​the ​government is being used, where information that’s political opposition research that is false is being made up, is trying to be placed into the government, into the FBI, to undertake criminal investigations that are absolutely false​,” he cont

Trump seethed in a statement Saturday that Durham’s filing “provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.​

“​This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution,” said Trump, who beat Clinton to score the White House in an upset in 2016.

“In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death​,” he said, suggesting that the Clinton campaign’s action​ amounts to treason.

rump claimed in a statement that those who were involved in the alleged “spying operation” should be “subject to criminal prosecution.”AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

​Jordan said Trump is right that Durham’s filing provides “indisputable evidence” that he was being spied on.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in history,” Jordan said. “So President Trump’s statement yesterday, I think, is right on target. This is truly unprecedented, truly something that has never happened in the history of our great country.”

Durham’s motion Friday was related to the case of Michael Sussmann, a former Clinton campaign lawyer who has been charged with lying to the feds.  Sussmann allegedly told the FBI that he wasn’t working for the Clinton campaign when he handed the agency documents that purportedly linked the Trump Organization to a Kremlin-tied bank two months before the 2016 election, according to Fox News.

Sussmann has pleaded not guilty in his case.

​In Durham’s Friday filing, he said Sussmann “had assembled and conveyed the allegations to the FBI on behalf of at least two specific clients, including a technology executive (Tech Executive 1) at a U.S.-based internet company (Internet Company 1) and the Clinton campaign​,” according to Fox News.​

The document adds Sussmann’s “records reflect” that he “repeatedly billed the Clinton Campaign for his work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations.”​

In the filing, Durham said the tech executive in July 2016 worked with Sussmann, an investigative company retained by Law Firm 1 for the Clinton campaign, ​cyber researchers and workers at a number of internet companies to “assemble the purported data and white papers.

“In connection with these efforts, Tech Executive-1 exploited his access to non-public and/or proprietary Internet data,” the filing ​says. “Tech Executive-1 also enlisted the assistance of researchers at a U.S.-based university who were receiving and analyzing large amounts of Internet data in connection with a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract.”

“Tech Executive-1 tasked these researchers to mine Internet data to establish ‘an inference’ and ‘narrative’ tying then-candidate Trump to Russia,” Durham states in the documents, according to Fox News.

“In doing so, Tech Executive-1 indicated that he was seeking to please certain ‘VIPs,’ referring to individuals at Law Firm-1 and the Clinton campaign.”​​

Post requests for comment from several people associated with the Clinton camp were not immediately returned Sunday.


FBI confirms there was no insurrection on Jan. 6

FBI confirms there was no insurrection on Jan. 6

by Conn Carroll, Commentary Editor, August 20, 2021 12:16 PM

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “insurrection” as: “an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence”

By that definition, there was no “insurrection” at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the FBI. Reuters reports :January 6, 2021

The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result, according to four current and former law enforcement officials.

"Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases," said a former senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. "Then you have five percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages."

This report is a devastating blow to President Joe Biden and Democrats, who have attempted to make the existence of an “insurrection” on Jan. 6 a key issue in the 2022 midterm elections. Reuters does note that some “cells of protesters,” including members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, did coordinate to “break into the Capitol,” but the FBI found “no evidence that the groups had serious plans about what to do if they made it inside.”

None of this excuses the violent riot that happened on Jan. 6. The FBI has arrested 570 rioters and each and every one of them should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But that is what the event was: a riot, just like so many other riots. Trying to politicize it and turn it into something it wasn't won’t make the Capitol any safer.



Supreme Court to Decide Whether Second Amendment Protects Concealed Carry of Firearms

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Second Amendment Protects Concealed Carry of Firearms

Ken Blackwell 26 APR 2021

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will decide a core gun rights issue: Whether the Second Amendment requires states to give permits to law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Concealed Carry
The Second Amendment protects “the right to keep and bear arms.” The Supreme Court held in its 2008 landmark decision District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment guarantees that right for private citizens. In its 2010 follow-up case McDonald v. City of Chicago the Court held that the right to bear arms applies against state and local governments the same way it does the federal government.

But both of those cases involved a law-abiding citizen who wanted to keep a single handgun in his home for personal protection, which would be the absolute floor of what the Second Amendment could possibly provide. It left all other issues for future cases as to how far the right to keep and bear arms extends.

Perhaps the most heavily debated follow up issue is what a citizen’s Second Amendment rights are when he leaves his home. Given the popularity of concealed carry permits, one of the questions concerns carrying weapons as people go about their daily lives.

Most states provide permits to all qualified applicants. However, a few states claim the authority to require citizens to prove special circumstances to qualify for a permit, such as having an abusive ex-spouse or being a prosecutor who fears retaliation from the criminals he is prosecuting.
New York has such restrictions. In Monday’s order, the justices granted review in a constitutional challenge to New York’s law, with the petition arguing that the Second Amendment entitles them to concealed-carry permits for purposes of general self-defense only, without any special circumstances.

Second Amendment supporters have been trying for more than a decade to get the High Court to weigh in on this issue. The Court has repeatedly denied petitions from various challengers. Given both Heller and McDonald were 5-4 decisions, experts suspected that moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy and moderate-conservative Chief Justice John Roberts were the reasons gun-rights supporters did not have the votes to tackle this issue.
The is the first major petition on the Second Amendment to be considered since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the seat formerly held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Evidently Second Amendment supporters now at least have support from the necessary four justices to grant review, though it is not yet clear whether they have the additional support for five votes to prevail in the case.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is representing the challengers. Clement also argued before the Court in the Heller and McDonald cases, and is regarded as one of the top litigators in the nation on this issue.

The Biden Administration has not yet expressed a view on the case. It will likely be argued late this year, with a decision expected by June 2022.
The case is New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, No. 20-843 in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ken Blackwell is the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and is currently on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association and also the Distinguished Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council.


WSJ Opinion: An American Epidemic of ‘Covid Mania’

WSJ Opinion: An American Epidemic of ‘Covid Mania’

The problem isn’t only the overreaction to the virus but the diminution of every other problem.

By Joseph A. Ladapo
April 19, 2021 6:30 pm ET

What are the lessons of Covid-19? It depends who you ask. Some believe politicization of the pandemic response cost lives. Others believe a stronger U.S. public-health system would have reduced Covid-19 deaths significantly. Still others say lockdowns should have been longer and more stringent, or that they were ineffective. But one lesson that should transcend ideological differences: Don’t put one illness above all other problems in society, a condition known as “Covid mania.”

Illustration: Chad Crowe

The novel coronavirus has caused suffering and heartbreak, particularly for older adults and their loved ones. But it also has a low mortality rate among most people and especially the young—estimated at 0.01% for people under 40—and therefore never posed a serious threat to social and economic institutions. Compassion and realism need not be enemies. But Covid mania crowded out reasoned and wise policy making.

Americans groaned when leaders first called for “two weeks to slow the spread” in March 2020. Months later, many of these same Americans hardly blinked when leaders declared that lockdowns should continue indefinitely. For months Covid had been elevated above all other problems in society. Over time new rules were written and new norms accepted.

Liberty has played a special role in U.S. history, fueling advances from independence to emancipation to the fight for equal rights for women and racial minorities. Unfortunately, Covid mania led many policy makers to treat liberty as a nuisance rather than a core American principle.

Covid mania has also wreaked havoc on science and its influence on policy. While scientists’ passion for discovery and improving health has fueled research on the novel coronavirus, Covid mania has interpreted scientific advancements through an increasingly narrow frame. There has only been one question: How can scientific findings be deployed to reduce Covid-19 spread? It hasn’t mattered how impractical these measures may be. Discoveries that might have helped save lives, such as better outpatient therapies, were ignored because they didn’t fit the desired policy outcome.

A prime example is mask research. However one feels about wearing masks, look at the evidence from California. Despite a mask mandate imposed last April and steady, high rates of compliance, California experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases over the winter.

Mandating masks may help in some settings, but masks are not the panacea officials have presented them as. In September, then-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield declared that “this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine.”

The statement was remarkable because he made it before seeing vaccine trial data. Those data and data from people who have recovered from Covid clearly demonstrate that this statement is false. Immunity is far more effective than whatever efficacy masks may offer.

Covid mania is also creating new conflicts over vaccine mandates. The same people who assured the public that a few weeks of lockdown would control the pandemic now argue that vaccinating children, for whom no vaccine has yet been approved, is essential to end the pandemic. Children account for less than 0.1% of Covid deaths in the U.S. Is enough known about vaccines to conclude that their benefits outweigh potential risks to children?
“Yes” is the answer of a salesman, not a scientist. Mandating a vaccine for children without knowing whether the benefits outweigh the risks is unethical. People who insist we should press on anyway, because variants will prolong the pandemic, should be reminded that a large reservoir of unvaccinated people in the U.S.—and in the world—will always exist. We cannot outrun the variants.

The good news is that recent state legislative efforts in Utah, Tennessee and Ohio to ban vaccine passports may burst the Covid mania bubble. If passports are banned, then risks from Covid must be assessed in the same way other risks—such as playing a sport or starting a new medication—are considered. In many places throughout the country, zero has become the only tolerable risk level. Why else are people who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid still asked to wear masks? Reasonable policies cannot sprout from unreasonable levels of risk tolerance.

The pandemic has been devastating for many Americans, but policies grounded in Covid mania have compounded the harm and delayed a return to normal life. The challenges ahead require rational decision making that considers costs and benefits and keeps sight of the countless things in life that matter.

Dr. Ladapo is an associate professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Climate Czar Exposes His Ignorance

Climate czar and intellectual midget, John Kerry, told Climate Summit John Kerryattendees that “… we have to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.”
Here’s what would occur if all CO2 was removed from the atmosphere:
– All trees and plants would die and therefore, there would be no photosynthesis and no oxygen sources.
– Without plants, the main source of food in the food chain, no food would exist whatsoever and everything would die of starvation.
– Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas that helps to trap heat in our atmosphere. Without it, therefore, our planet would be inhospitably cold.
Below is an explanation of photosynthesis for middle schoolers. Obviously, this is above Kerry’s IQ level.

How to curb public unions’ out-of-control power

How to curb public unions’ out-of control power

Philip K. Howard

Special to USA TODAY

It’s time to rethink the role of public employee unions in democratic governance.

Public union intransigence has contributed to two of the most socially destructive events in the COVID-19 era. Rebuilding the economy after the pandemic ends also will be more difficult if state and local governments have to abide by featherbedding and other artificial union mandates.

Public employee unions are politically impregnable, but their corrosion of first principles of democratic governance may leave them open to constitutional attack.

The lack of accountability imposed by union contracts has corroded democratic trust. The nearly nine-minute suffocation of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, every second shown on video, touched off protests around the country and social anger that may impact race relations for years.

But Chauvin should not have been on the job, and he likely would have been terminated or taken off the streets if police supervisors in Minneapolis had the authority to make judgments about unsuitable officers. Chauvin had 18 complaints filed against him and a reputation for being “tightly wound,” not a good trait for someone carrying a loaded gun.

But police union contracts make it very difficult to terminate officers. Of 2,600 complaints against police in Minneapolis since 2012, only 12 resulted in any sort of discipline and no officers were terminated. A 2017 report on police abuse nationwide revealed that union contracts make it extremely difficult to remove officers with a repeated history of abuse.

Teachers unions wield similar power. Dismissing a teacher, as one school superintendent told me, is not a process, it’s a career. California ranks near the bottom in school quality but is able to dismiss only two out of 300,000 teachers in a typical year.

Because of COVID-19, teachers unions have adamantly refused to allow teachers to return to work for a year, harming millions of students.

Because many parents can’t work if children are not in school, teachers unions are also impeding our ability to reopen the economy.

Yet most parochial and private schools in the U.S. have reopened, without serious consequences, as have schools in Europe. It is safe to reopen schools, according to the Centers for Disease Control, as long as teachers and students follow certain protocols. Unions now say they’ll put a toe in the water, starting in the Spring, when another school year is almost over.

The bottom line is inescapable: Public employee unions do not serve the public’s best interests.

How did public employee unions turn into public enemies? Until the 1960s, collective bargaining was not lawful in government. It’s hardly in the public interest to give public employees power to negotiate against the public interest.

As President Franklin Roosevelt put it: “The process of collective bargaining… cannot be transplanted into the public service…. To prevent or obstruct the operations of Government …. by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.”

Public union power is largely an accident of history, one of the many unintended effects of the 1960s rights revolution. The first shoe to drop was Executive Order 10988 in which President John F. Kennedy, as payback for political support, permitted collective bargaining for federal employees.

Public unions soon demanded similar rights from states. Without any serious debate, New York in 1967 permitted collective bargaining, followed by California in 1968.

Unions gained strength with every new administration. The rhetoric was virtuous: Who can be against the rights of public employees? But the velvet glove of rights barely disguised the political iron fist.

Public employees represent almost 15% of the work force, probably the largest organized voting bloc. For more than 50 years, generations of political leaders have promised whatever it would take to get their support, including shields against accountability and rich pensions and benefits. In Illinois, a state now actuarily insolvent, 20,000 public employees enjoy pensions of more than $100,000 per year.

A political solution is almost impossible. Union contracts have long tails, tying the hands of successive political leaders. Their political power also is different from that held by other interest groups; political leaders are powerless without their cooperation.

As labor leader Victor Gotbaum once put it, “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”

Public unions wield this power not just to get benefits, but to dictate how government works. After 80 meetings trying to cajole teachers back to work, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot concluded that “they’d like to take over not only Chicago Public Schools, but take over running the city government.”

Democracy can’t work if elected officials lack the ability to run government. As James Madison put it, democracy requires an unbroken “chain of dependence… the lowest officers, the middle grade, and the highest, will depend, as they ought, on the President.” By shackling political leaders with thick contracts, and eviscerating accountability for cops and teachers, public unions have removed a keystone of democratic governance.

Public unions are not a problem anticipated by the framers of the Constitution. But Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Known as “the Guarantee Clause,” the provision has never been asserted in this context.

The history of the clause suggests that, by guaranteeing “a republican form of government,” the framers meant to ensure that government would be accountable to voters and not to a monarch or other unaccountable power.

Public unions have severed a key link between voters and governance. They are immune from accountability, collect tribute in the form of featherbedding work rules and excessive pensions, and control what they do day-to-day instead of what voters need.

Philip K. Howard is founder of Campaign for Common Good.

Wisconsin GOP Congressional Delegation: Keystone XL Letter to Biden


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressmen Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Bryan Steil (WI-01), Tom Tiffany (WI-07) and Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05) sent a letter to President Joe Biden expressing their support for completion of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, support 11,000 U.S. jobs and lower the price of gas at the pump. TC Energy, the company responsible for operating the pipeline, has also pledged that the Keystone XL pipeline would be carbon-neutral by the year 2023. Despite this, and pushback from Jason Kenney, Premier of the Canadian province of Alberta where the pipeline begins, Biden has chosen to abandon the project and these benefits.

The Keystone pipeline system is currently made up of four phases that have been completed in steps since 2010, phase 1, 2, 3a and 3b. Construction of the final phase, commonly known as Keystone XL, was halted by the Obama administration, restarted by the Trump administration and will be again shut down by the Biden administration.

“Joe Biden ran his campaign with the promise to govern as a moderate, but he has broken that promise on the first day of his Presidency with the radical step of shutting down construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Grothman. “With the stroke of his pen, he has stifled 11,000 high-paying jobs, further reduced the amount of oil imported into the U.S. and has cancelled the hope of gas prices going down at the pump. This is a sad day for working Americans and a sad day for those who believed they voted for a moderate President.”

“The Keystone pipeline would support thousands of good-paying jobs and generate billions of dollars in economy activity,” said Rep. Gallagher. “Halting construction of this project not only hurts our economy, but undermines American energy independence and drives up costs for working-class Americans. This is a step in the wrong direction and I urge the Biden Administration to reconsider.”

“So much for unifying the American people. In his first hours in office, President Biden has destroyed thousands of good-paying jobs, including many in Wisconsin, by halting the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This construction project would help grow jobs in Wisconsin and support our communities. Instead of working to create family-supporting jobs, Biden is spending his first day eliminating jobs,” said Steil.

“President Biden’s decision to rip up the Keystone permit on the first day of his term is a rejection of bipartisanship, a slap in the face to Wisconsin employers and workers who rely on this project for their livelihoods, and our friends in Canada, particularly their indigenous community,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany. “The president is putting American energy security and thousands of family-wage jobs at risk at a time when we can least afford it.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has devastated our economy and countless Americans have been put out of work by onerous mandated shutdowns. President Biden has an opportunity to signal that access to good-paying jobs is truly a priority for his administration, by reconsidering his decision to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Fitzgerald.