A bill from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-09) to end the COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration passed the Senate on Wednesday.
The legislation now heads to President Joe Biden for his signature. The resolution, HJR 7, was first filed in January. It received bipartisan support: 68 senators voted for the resolution, with 23 against. Both Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema voted for it.
“Looking forward to Joe Biden signing this to finally end this national nightmare,” tweeted Gosar.
Biden won’t veto the measure — meaning that the end of the emergency could come more quickly than anticipated. The Biden administration promised to end the emergency declaration on May 11.
The president’s goodwill on a Republican-led bill has some Democratic leaders frustrated. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI-08) told Fox News in a statement that the Biden administration hasn’t been communicating with House Democrats.
“The White House’s lack of communication with House Democrats has been frustrating,” said Kildee. “Going forward, we’re going to need greater clarity out of the administration. They’ve got to do better.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (R-TX-37) issued similar remarks, saying that Biden’s approval of the resolution was surprising. Doggett remarked that he desired more consistency from the administration.
Their confusion is understandable. Biden has consistently voiced opposition to the resolution, even in response to the Senate’s passage of it. However, a White House spokesperson informed outlets that the president would sign the resolution.
“The President strongly opposes HJ Res 7, and the administration is planning to wind down the COVID national emergency and public health emergency on May 11,” said a Biden spokesperson. “If this bill comes to his desk, however, he will sign it, and the administration will continue working with agencies to wind down the national emergency with as much notice as possible to Americans who could potentially be impacted.”
The House passed the resolution in February, 229-197. Gosar praised God at the time for its passage.
Only two Arizona congressmen voted against the resolution at the time: Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-07) and Greg Stanton (D-AZ-04).
The Senate’s approval came just over three years after President Donald Trump initially declared the emergency, on March 13, 2020.
An end to the emergency means that relaxed rules on Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs will be tightened up — that includes waivers allowing providers to operate out of alternative settings, or forgo application fees or criminal background checks.
It also means that the student loan repayment pause would resume, if not for the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program which is before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) currently. Repayments are scheduled to resume either 60 days after the SCOTUS ruling or after June 30.
However, lifting the emergency wouldn’t impact Title 42 immigration policy according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Title 42 allows for the expedited expulsion of illegal immigrants under the interests of a public health emergency.
It appears that Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-09) wasn’t a white supremacist posing a real threat of violence after all.
On Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) was captured engaging in a friendly conversation with Gosar. This interaction occurred a little over a year after she accused Gosar of white supremacy and threats of violence for posting a meme video portraying her and other Democrats as slain anime villains. Her claims of fear resulted in Gosar’s censuring and removal from two committees.
Ocasio-Cortez later clarified to reporters that the floor conversation with Gosar concerned Democrats’ support for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) or Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08) as House Speaker. She toldMSNBC that Gosar spoke to her to keep GOP leadership “honest,” dispelling McCarthy’s claim that he had Democrats’ support.
McCarthy reportedly told Republicans that he had promises of votes from Democrats to secure the speakership.
The fallout from Gosar’s meme occurred in November 2021. Ocasio-Cortez derided Gosar, insisting that the meme portrayed Gosar’s “fantasy” of killing her. She also claimed that institutions don’t protect women of color.
“White supremacy is for extremely fragile people and sad men like him, whose self concept relies on the myth that he was born superior because deep down he knows he couldn’t open a pickle jar or read a whole book by himself,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez.
Rather than an apology, Gosar posted another meme mocking Democrats’ sensitivity.
Outcry from Democrats resulted in Gosar’s censure, which took four hours of debate to reach.
The congressman was removed from two committees: the National Resources Committee and the Oversight and Reform Committee. Gosar’s censure broke an 11-year dry spell for censures. Only two Republicans voted with Democrats to censure Gosar: Reps. Adam Kizinger (R-IL-16) and Liz Cheney (R-WY).
During the censure vote, Ocasio-Cortez claimed the meme was an incitement to violence. Since the meme’s posting, Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t been subject to any publicized attacks.
Although Gosar ultimately removed the offending video, he didn’t apologize for the meme.
Republican Reps. Paul Gosar (AZ-04) and Andy Biggs (AZ-05) joined an amicus brief with 15 other lawmakers to prevent future airplane mask mandates.
Specifically, the lawmakers challenged the CDC’s legal authority to issue a mask mandate for airplane travel in Health Freedom Defense Fund v. Biden. They contested that Congress hadn’t and couldn’t grant the CDC the authority for such a mandate.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) led the amicus brief, joined by Biggs and Republican Reps. Barry Moore (AL-02), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Bill Posey (FL-08), Brian Mast (FL-18), Andrew Clyde (GA-09), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Matt Rosendale (MT), Dan Bishop (NC-09), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Chip Roy (TX-21), Bob Good (VA-05), and Alex Mooney (WV-02).
Sen. Rand Paul (KY) also joined the amicus brief. These Congress members represent 13 different states.
The case is before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals currently.
The Florida Middle District Court ruled against the Biden administration in April, finding that the CDC exceeded its statutory authority and failed to follow notice and comment rulemaking. Following the loss, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a joint statement with the CDC pledging an appeal of the ruling.
“The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health,” stated the DOJ.
The lawsuit follows legislative attempts to end the mandate and prevent future ones, and years of aggressive crackdowns on resistance to mask-wearing on flights.
Last July, Biggs and Paul introduced legislation to prohibit mask mandates for public transportation. Neither version of the legislation made it to a committee in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
For two years, airlines put passengers who refused to mask up on their “no-fly list.” In February, Delta Airlines asked other airlines to share their no-fly lists to expand its own.
Negative public response to the move caused the company to backtrack. By April, Delta began removing people who refused to adhere to masking requirements from its no-fly list.
Last December, the CEO of Southwest Airlines testified to the Senate his doubts about masks’ ability to prevent COVID-19 transmission in airplanes. The fully vaccinated, double-boosted CEO caught COVID-19 a day after that testimony.
Congressmen Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) joined 128 congressmen in a petition asking the federal government to investigate foreign investment in U.S. farmland.
The request letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) named Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, and Saudi Arabia as top foreign investors of interest. Most notably, the letter cited China’s purchase of farmland just 20 minutes from the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, where the military hosts critical drone technology. Approximately three hours west of that base is Minot Air Force Base, one of the nation’s three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) defense sites.
As of 2020, foreign owners and investors accounted for 37.6 million acres — nearly 3 percent of farmland. Since 2015, foreign ownership has increased by about 2.2 million acres annually. When the federal government began tracking foreign ownership of farmland in 1979, foreigners owned 5.6 million acres of farmland of the 1.4 billion acres of privately held farmland.
The congressmen asked the GAO to evaluate the trends and details of foreign ownership, provide data collection methods on foreign ownership, disclose procedures ensuring proper disclosures of foreign acquisitions and sales of farmland, evaluate whether foreign ownership filtered through a U.S. charter company or corporation is accurately labeled as foreign ownership, disclose review methods ensuring foreign-owned land doesn’t pose a national security threat, suggest improvements to strengthen reporting of foreign ownership, and disclose interagency and nongovernmental partnerships that ensure accurate disclosures of foreign ownership.
Each year, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) issues a data report on foreign-owned farmland. The 2021 FSA report hasn’t been published yet.
On Friday, Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) turn over all records concerning an Arizona man accused of working as a federal informant: Ray Epps.
In a press release, Gosar said it was suspicious that Epps was never arrested or charged with a crime despite inciting illegal activity. Last January 5 and 6, Epps encouraged and directed protestors to breach the Capitol building.
“If the Department of Justice has nothing to hide and is genuinely interested in what happened on January 6, they should release every piece of information relating to Ray Epps’ involvement on that day,” stated Gosar. “Then and only then will the American people know what really happened.”
The first to question Epps’ January 6 involvement was Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) last October. Massie asked Attorney General Merrick Garland whether federal agents were present and encouraged protestors to go into the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Further details about Epps’ January 6 involvement were uncovered through investigative reporting by Darren Beattie, Revolver News founder and former White House speechwriter.
Epps appeared on the FBI Capitol Violence Most Wanted List within several days of the January 6 riot. The public and mainstream media identified him quickly. However, the FBI didn’t arrest or charge Epps. Last July, they removed Epps from their list.
A year later, this July, TheNew York Times featured Epps in an article discussing how accusations of federal informacy ruined his life. Epps said that he and his wife plan to file a defamation lawsuit against those levying accusations of government collusion. Elsewhere, he cited Revolver News and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson as the main sources of many of his problems.
Epps also claimed to the outlet that he avoided arrest because he reached out to the FBI on January 8, the day that the agency included his picture on their Most Wanted list. After less than an hour on the phone, and a March 2021 in-person interview with federal agents, the FBI reportedly cleared Epps of wrongdoing.
In January, the House’s January 6 Committee revealed that they spoke with Epps. According to their account of the private interview, the committee said that Epps denied any involvement as a law enforcement informant or employee.
Epps was the former president of the Oath Keepers Arizona chapter. The Oath Keepers are a militia organization that believes the federal government is controlled by figures attempting to take away American rights. According to archives of the chapter website, Epps served as president from 2011 until at least 2014. Another individual, Gerald Rhoades, served as the chapter’s vice president.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was arrested for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot. Although 10 other Oath Keepers faced charges as well, Epps didn’t.
AZ Free News reached out to Epps for comment, and to ask him about his thoughts on the trials against January 6 participants. He didn’t respond by press time.
Extended Notes on the Timeline:
January 5-6, 2021: In one video, Epps advanced along the path where his group of fellow protestors pushed back the barricade around the Capitol. In another video, Epps declared that he and other protestors were “holding ground” while inside restricted Capitol grounds.
January 8, 2021: The FBI includes Epps in their Capitol Violence Most Wanted list, identified as the now-deleted Photograph #16. Epps claimed in a later interview with New York Times that “a family member” notified him that same day that “the FBI issued a be-on-the-lookout alert in his name.” The FBI never identified Epps by name. Epps told the outlet that he called the FBI tip line to turn himself in, and spoke with agents for less than an hour. Epps wasn’t arrested.
January 11, 2021: The Arizona Republicinterviews Epps. At the time, Epps refused to comment on whether he knew he was on the FBI’s list. Epps denied that he wanted people to go “into the Capitol,” as he said in video evidence, but rather “go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they [the protestors] went in.”
March 2021: Epps reportedly spoke again with federal agents, this time in person. He told them that he tried to calm down protestors, not incite them, as confirmed by a New York Times review of interview transcripts, which weren’t shared.
January 11, 2022: The House’s January 6 Committee discloses that they spoke with Epps, though they don’t publicize the interview. FBI official Jill Sanborn refuses to give details about Epps to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
March 29, 2022: The DOJ promises to provide a “disclosure” about Epps to several individuals facing charges related to the January 6 riot. An attorney for Epps, John Blischak, toldPolitico that Epps provided “a full disclosure” to the House January 6 Committee.
July 13, 2022: New York Times features Epps in “A Trump Backer’s Downfall as the Target of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory,” discussing how allegations of federal conspiracy ruined his life.
August 30, 2022: Shortly after the Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump posted a debunked claim about Epps’ wife previously working for Dominion Voting Machines on his Truth Social account. Epps’ wife worked for an unaffiliated company, Dominion Enterprises.