Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who until now has stuck to her initial statement and refrained from commenting during the impeachment trial, broke her silence briefly on Wednesday. She noted the Trump Administration had withheld aid from several countries in 2019, most of which had been notified of the hold. Sinema questioned President Donald Trump’s defense team as to why the administration failed to notify Ukraine when its Congressionally-approved aid was withheld by the White House.
Deputy Counsel to the President Patrick Philbin told Sinema the previous holds were meant to send a signal to those governments, whereas the Ukraine aid was held because President Trump wanted time to address concerns he had about corruption in Ukraine. This contradicts testimony from Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, who said that Ukraine had made the necessary anti-corruption changes to get the aid released.
Sen. Martha McSally, who joined her colleagues to ask two questions Wednesday, later tweeted, “I’ve heard enough. It’s time to vote.”
I-10 Gets Vote Of Confidence In Both Capitols
An Arizona House Panel advanced a bill Wednesday to widen the last section of I-10 between Chandler and Casa Grande. Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said this was an important step, and setting aside state funds for the project will make it easier to lobby Washington for federal funds.
Meanwhile, in Washington, House Democrats unveiled a $760 billion plan to invest heavily in infrastructure improvements like the I-10 project.
In a statement, former Phoenix Mayor Rep. Greg Stanton praised the plan, saying the federal government needs to do its part in addressing badly needed infrastructure projects.
“We’re stepping up to make sure Congress does its part to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century,” Stanton’s statement said.
Rep. Blackman Cancels Federal Land Management
Rep. Walt Blackman, R-Snowflake, submitted a bill that would neuter the federal government’s power over Arizona’s land management. His bill, HB 2252, would nullify the power of agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to make regulations. That power would instead be vested to a state agency.
Blackman’s bill contends that Article 1, Section 17, of the U.S. Constitution does not grant the Federal Government authority to manage lands within a state’s boundaries. It goes on to assert that because this power is not enumerated, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution grants this power to the states.
Originally scheduled for a hearing Wednesday, a last-minute cancellation of the meeting by the House Federal Relations Committee delayed the bill’s public airing for now.
AZ Lawmakers Celebrate Signing of Trade Agreement
Arizona Lawmakers cheered the signing of the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement Wednesday as a “historic victory.”
In a tweet, Sen. Martha McSally said it’s a victory for American workers, especially Arizona farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers.
Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix, tweeted, “With the USMCA, we have demonstrated that even in the most divided times, Congress can still come together in a bipartisan way to deliver real results.”
Statistics from the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) show Arizona took in $9.8 Billion of revenue exporting to Mexico and Canada in 2018. The USMCA also highlighted the benefits to Arizona’s dairy sector and auto parts manufacturing.