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Labor unions fear Democrats’ Green New Deal poses job threat

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Labor unions fear Democrats’ Green New Deal poses job threat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Labor unions say they are withholding support for a Green New Deal unveiled by Democrats last week to transition the American economy away from fossil fuels, arguing the loosely-defined plan could kill jobs if its architects aren’t careful.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) hold a news conference for their proposed “Green New Deal” to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    The cool response from unions underscores the challenge facing Democratic presidential hopefuls who support aggressive action on climate change but must also win back the blue-collar voters that swept President Donald Trump to victory in 2016.

The Green New Deal is a non-binding Congressional resolution introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey that would legislate government-led investment in clean energy infrastructure with the goal of making America carbon neutral within a decade.

Democratic presidential hopeful Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren have already thrown their support behind it.

The resolution’s backers say the plan – once fully sketched out in the legislation – would create jobs in much the same way as President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s by putting Americans to work on transformative government-led projects.

It also calls for a “just transition” for current fossil fuel workers – from coal miners to pipeline workers – through guarantees of healthcare, jobs, and job training.

Union officials told Reuters they were skeptical.

“We will never settle for ‘just transition’ language as a solution to the job losses that will surely come from some of the policies in the resolution,” said Yvette Pena O’Sullivan, executive director of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), whose members work in construction and other industries.

    Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers (UMWA), which represents workers in the coal industry, echoed the concerns.

    “We’ve heard words like ‘just transition’ before, but what does that really mean? Our members are worried about putting food on the table,” he said.

LIUNA and UMWA said they were not contacted for input on the resolution before it was released.

    Sean McGarvey, president of the North America’s Building Trades Unions, representing construction workers across all sectors including energy, said his staff had been contacted by Markey’s office about the Green New Deal, but said his members are skeptical of “green job” promises.

    Members “working in the oil and gas sector can make a middle-class living, whereas renewable energy firms have been less generous,” he said at a pipeline safety event last week.

APPALACHIAN BACKLASH

Democrats backing the resolution are seeking to highlight the contrast in their position with the Trump administration’s vocal support for drilling and mining and its skepticism about the causes and impacts of global warming.

Trump’s approach was warmly received in 2016 in parts of Appalachia and the Rust Belt, which have been suffering from manufacturing and mining jobs losses.

Trump’s Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton struggled to sell her clean energy agenda in those regions, and suffered politically after saying her policies would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

The Sunrise Movement, a youth organization backing the Green New Deal, plans to launch a multi-state campaign in March to drum up support, featuring stops in Michigan, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

    “A lot of places struggling with joblessness are fossil fuel dependent places that suffer from poor air and water quality. Guaranteeing the right of clean air, water and jobs is something we think a lot of people can get behind,” said Stephen O’Hanlon, a spokesman for the group.

Unions have expressed support in the past for more moderate approaches to addressing climate change, including cap-and-trade systems to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s offices did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Richard Valdmanis and Sonya Hepinstall

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Barr to discuss executive privilege in Russia report: spokeswoman

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Barr to discuss executive privilege in Russia report: spokeswoman

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, U.S. April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr plans to address whether executive privilege was invoked by the White House in the Russia report to be released on Thursday and also elaborate on Justice Department communications with the White House over the past several weeks, a Justice Department spokeswoman said on Thursday.

“He’ll address whether that was invoked and what that looked like,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, have planned a news conference on Thursday morning before the release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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Top Congressional Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly

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Top Congressional Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly

Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives at his office in Washington, U.S., April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday called on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify publicly about his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized Attorney General William Barr for writing what they called a “slanted” summary letter and for planning a press conference before the expected release of the report detailing the probe’s findings on Thursday.

“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement.

(This story has been refiled to correct the sequence of events of press conference and report.)

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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Left will continue to ‘believe in Russia collusion’ even after Mueller report release, Byron York says

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Left will continue to 'believe in Russia collusion' even after Mueller report release, Byron York says

The Russia collusion narrative is unlikely to go away even after the Robert Mueller report is released later today, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York predicts.

“A lot of Democrats have invested the last two years of their life in believing that there was collusion between Russia to fix the 2016 election. Don’t think they gonna give it up just because of this,” York told “Fox and Friends”.

“A lot of Democrats have invested the last two years of their life in believing that there was collusion between Russia to fix the 2016 election. Don’t think they gonna give it up just because of this.”

— Byron York

The prediction comes as Washington, D.C. is bracing for the release of the Mueller report that according to Attorney General William Barr didn’t establish collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

IN MUELLER REPORT’S RELEASE, TRUMP LOOKS FOR VINDICATION, BUT NEW FIGHTS LOOM

York pointed out that after Barr outlined the report’s conclusions in a letter and quoted Mueller stating that the evidence didn’t establish a conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, many Democrats began doubling-down on the collusion charges.

“Immediately people on the left said maybe he couldn’t prove a criminal conspiracy but maybe there was some other sort of conspiracy. Or maybe he couldn’t prove to beyond a reasonable doubt but maybe there is evidence that the rest of us can believe,” York said.

“I really think we have already seen and they already tipped their hands that they are going to continue to believe in collusion.”

“I really think we have already seen and they already tipped their hands that they are going to continue to believe in collusion.”

— Byron York

On the obstruction of justice charges, York says those opposing President Trump will have even more to talk about after the report release as Mueller himself didn’t reach a conclusion about obstruction charges.

“If the Barr summary is pretty accurate, Mueller did not reach a conclusion about obstruction. That’s a question right there. He is a prosecutor. He has all the evidence. Why didn’t he reach some sort of conclusion?” he said.

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

“There will be a lot of ammunition, we know that already for Trump’s critics who say that firing James Comey or the Lester Holt interview or something else was proof of obstruction right there in front of our eyes. So I don’t think that argument is going to go away at all.”

Lastly, even if the Mueller report doesn’t find wrongdoing by Trump, it’s unlikely to end the talk of impeachment by Democrats even as the 2020 election nears.

“If you believed in impeachment before the Mueller report, why would you stop believing in it now?,” York said, pointing that there’s a conflict within the Democratic Party on how to proceed with this.

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“You have a lot of the leadership like Nancy Pelosi wanting to move on, these are the more senior people wanting to move on, wanting to focus on the legislative agenda,” he continued.

“But you are going to have the investigative committees, the judiciary committee, the intelligence committee investigating this stuff all the way until the next election.”

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