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Dems worry a COVID outbreak among House members could cost Pelosi her job

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As Nancy Pelosi gears up for another run at the speakership in the House, there is one factor that she cannot control that could cost her the powerful seat: the coronavirus.

Working with a slim majority of Democrats and facing several in her own party who will oppose her, Pelosi does not have much wiggle room.

Thus, a COVID-19 outbreak among House members—in which several Democrats were sick and unable to come into work—could result in Republicans voting for Kevin McCarthy to reign as speaker, despite Democrats holding the majority, as reported by The Hill.

“Let’s say, just theoretically, we had six or eight people out with Covid and the Republicans have none. They probably could elect [Kevin] McCarthy,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky) told the Hill in its report on this subject.  

An outbreak among members over the holidays is a big fear among the Democrats, especially since three of their own: Pennsylvania’s Conor Lamb, Maine’s Jared Golden and Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin are all set to oppose Pelosi in her bid.

“We’re in a health care crisis, right? No one can get sick. That’s the X-factor here,” said one House Democrat anonymously told The Hill. “We need everyone to be healthy. … That’s the big fear.”

So far 35 members of the House have gotten COVID-19 since the outbreak began—including 5 members that tested positive just this week.

“There’s the usual suspects who make it part of their brand to vote against her,” Jim Himes (D-Ct) told the Hill. “But I think there’s an awareness — and there’s certainly a message coming from within the caucus — that this may not be a year for the usual branding.”

With opponents in her own party, perhaps more than usual, and the possibility of COVID keeping her loyal members at home, Pelosi may face a devastating re-election failure in the coming weeks.

Read the full report here.

You can follow Ben Wilson on Twitter @BenDavisWilson

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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