Housing And Urban Development Department Secretary Ben Carson Testifies To Senate Committee On Department's Budget
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Ben Carson’s Spending Habits Called Into Question By House Oversight Committee

The Housing and Development secretary used $31,000 in taxpayer money to buy a dining room set for his office. 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s spending habits are being called into question.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is requesting that Carson turn over several documents after Helen Foster, HUD's former chief administrative officer, filed a complaint alleging that she was demoted for “refusing to abet in exceeding” a $5,000 budget to redecorate his office.

Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), sent a letter to Carson on Wednesday (Feb. 28), requesting “all documents and communication referring or relating to Foster” dating back to last August. In addition, the letter asks for documents and communications relating to redecorating and furnishing Carson's office.

Carson has until March 14 to produce the documents.

The request came one day after the New York Times reported that Carson spent $31,000 in taxpayer money last year to buy a dining room set for his office. Carson's spending matters are even more controversial as the department of housing is expected to face massive budget cuts.

In her complaint, filed with the Office of Special Counsel, and reported by CNN, Foster says HUD’s acting secretary, Craig Clemmensen, commissioned her to decorate the office last March. Foster says that she was told that Carson’s wife, Candi, wanted to assist her.

Despite informing Clemmensen that $5,000 was the legal spending cap, Foster asserts to being repeatedly pressured to find a way to get Carson “access and funds for the project.” Foster also says that she was told that $5,000 wasn’t enough to buy a “decent chair.”

"There was a sense of 'we are not going to take no for an answer,'" a former HUD employee told CNN of the decoration debacle. "There was a lot of staff time spent on this.

"The most frustrating part of all this was spending so much time on this issue," added the ex-employee. "Instead of focusing on HUD's mission, we were talking about furniture for the Secretary's office."

According to The GuardianFoster's complaint goes on to accuse HUD of violating laws “protecting whistleblowers from reprisals.” Furthermore, Foster claims that she was essentially punished for pointing out a $10 million budgeting shortfall, and blocked from handling a Donald Trump-related freedom of information request because she was assumed to be a Democrat.

Foster wants a public apology, compensatory damages, and for her HUD position to be reinstated.

*Update: Carson canceled his $31,000 dining set order amid growing controversy. 

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Senate To Propose Two Bills That Might End Government Shutdown

Since Dec. 22, more than a handful of federal workers have yet to clock in. Under Donald Trump's order, agencies that fall within the federal government's banner were closed until a resolve concerning immigration and a border wall between Mexico and the United States was agreed upon by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.

While on the latter's end a proposal of $5.7 billion to fund the wall was met with contention by the Democrats, both parties plan to meet on Thursday (Jan. 24) to propose two bills that might speed up the end of the shutdown. According to TIME, the Republican's proposal still includes the multi-billion dollar request for the wall, but they would agree to give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients a "three-year reprieve" from being deported. The Democrats want to re-open the government until Feb. 8 as a means of gathering more time to reach a resolution.

TIME also notes that the Democrats might not agree to the GOP's plan because, on the subject of DACA and TPS recipients, a formidable plan of action to protect them has yet to be implemented. "The President's proposal is one-sided, harshly partisan, and was made in bad faith. It's like bargaining for stolen goods," Senator Chuck Schumer said.

Per ABC News, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed the dire position the country is in under Trump's position. "We can't have a president, every time he has an objection, to say I'll shut down government until you come to my way of thinking," Pelosi said. "Understand, that is part of the point of this. If we hold the employees hostage now, they're hostage forever."

The proposals both need 60 votes, which would possibly lead to ending the shutdown.

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Sen. Kamala Harris Announces Her Run For Presidency

Sen. Kamala Harris has announced she's running for president in 2020.

The announcement is somewhat expected from the California Democratic senator who has not-so coyly led up to Monday's announcement (Jan. 21) by way of the press run she's conducted earlier this month as part of her book tour.

In a video clip posted to her social media prior to an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, Sen. Harris called on her supporters to "claim their future."

"Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren't just words. They're the values we as Americans cherish. And they're all on the line now."

"The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values," Harris continued. "That's why I'm running for president of the United States. "I'm running to lift those voices, to bring our voices together."

I'm running for president. Let's do this together. Join us: https://t.co/9KwgFlgZHA pic.twitter.com/otf2ez7t1p

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 21, 2019

Harris is the first black woman to throw her hat in the 2020 presidential ring. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have announced exploratory committees. Harris, however, has bypassed that.

Harris gained national attention (and favor) during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing when she grilled the future Supreme Court justice about sexual assault allegations leveled against him by Dr. Betty Ford.

 

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Democratic Senators Juggle With Whether To Retweet Cardi B's Government Shutdown Video

Cardi B gave her two cents on the partial government shutdown, which is now in its 27th day, in a video shared to her Instagram page. The Grammy-nominated rapper said that our country is in a "Hellhole" and discussed why she is scared of what is to come. She also explains that she feels badly for the thousands of government employees who are working without pay.

Her thoughts held merit, and even got people online talking about how they'd like her to run for president in 2020. Democratic senators were also interested in what she had to say, with some writing on Twitter that they were thinking about retweeting her sentiments although she used explicit language. Her comments included, "I don't want to hear any of y'all motherf**kas talkin' 'bout, 'Oh, but Obama shut down the government for 17 days,' Yeah, b***h! For healthcare!" and "This sh*t is really f**kin' serious, bro."

"(Trying to decide whether or not to retweet the Cardi B video)," tweeted Brian Schatz, the Democratic Senator for Hawaii. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy replied, writing "Omg, I had the same argument with myself 30 minutes ago!" Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer waited to see if the two would retweet, commenting "Guys, I’m still holding my breath. Are you gonna RT Cardi B or not?"

Ultimately, the Senators decided against the retweet, but wouldn't that have been something?

Omg, I had the same argument with myself 30 minutes ago!

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 17, 2019

Guys, I’m still holding my breath. Are you gonna RT Cardi B or not?

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 17, 2019

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I know a lot of ya do r watch the news so I’m letting ya know shit getting real .....I ain’t going to say nothing much tho I don’t want mofos to off me.....ANYWAYS TWERK VIDEO OUT NOW

A post shared by CARDIVENOM (@iamcardib) on Jan 16, 2019 at 2:41pm PST

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