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Pro-GOP group places billboards near closed schools where Dem races are at stake in 2022

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A pro-Republican group in a dozen congressional districts controlled by Democrats is putting up advertisements targeting the issue of reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News reported Thursday.

On Thursday, the American Action Network (AAN) is unveiling a new issue advocacy campaign that calls for House lawmakers to support the safe reopening of U.S. schools, Fox News reported. The advertisements, which were first shared with Fox News, will appear in 12 districts represented by Democrats viewed as possibly weak in the 2022 midterm elections and who voted recently against the Reopen Schools Act sponsored by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa).

The legislation would have provided full federal funding to schools that reopen for in-person learning during the pandemic and punished those that stay closed.

President Joe Biden’s administration, amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, has been pushing for schools to reopen soon, though teachers unions in major cities across the country have been fighting aggressively against this, calling for more protections and more vaccination of teachers. This has put Biden, seen by many as an ally of unions, in an awkward position as Republicans turn up the heat against him and Democrats for the slow march toward school reopenings and continued closures.

“Kids are falling behind, yet liberals in Congress seem not to care,” AAN president Dan Conston charged in a statement.

“[E]ven though the science shows it’s safe for children to return to school, teachers unions continue to keep students locked out of their classrooms,” Conston said, citing studies such as one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicating that, when mask-wearing and social-distancing policies are practiced, the risk of COVID-19 spreading in schools remains low.

RELATED: CDC Director: Vaccinating teachers ‘not a prerequisite’ for safely reopening schools

“Liberals in Congress — awash in teacher union cash — are picking the unions over America’s kids,” he added. “Our children have fell behind enough, it’s time Congress supported safely reopening schools now.”

Across the country, several teachers unions are demanding more COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and other protection measures before returning to in-person learning. The CDC is expected to publish new and more detailed guidance later this week on reopening schools, according to Fox News.

Part of the new AAN campaign features billboards nearby shut-down schools in the districts of Democratic Reps. Andy Kim (N.J.), Susan Wild (Pa.), and Elaine Luria (Va.). Moreover, this trio and nine other House Democrats will also be hit with digital advertisements in their districts and what the AAN calls “grassroots phone calls to their district offices,” according to Fox News.

The other nine others are Reps. Josh Harder (Calif.), Cheri Bustos of (Ill.), Haley Stevens (Mich.), Chris Pappas (N.H.), Tom Malinowski (N.J.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Education and Labor Committee chair Bobby Scott (Va.), Abigail Spanberger (Va.), and Ron Kind (Wis.), Fox News reported.

The AAN, a nonprofit advocacy group founded in 2010 along with its sister organization, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), raised more than $215 million during the 2020 election cycle, according to Fox News. The latter was the largest spender among outside organizations supporting House Republicans, and the AAN spent millions advocating for conservative policies in Washington, D.C., as Fox News pointed out.

In order to retake the Democrat-controlled House in 2022, Republicans only need to flip five seats. In the 2018 midterms, Democrats ended eight years of GOP control in the lower chamber, however, Republicans surprised pollsters in 2020 by eating away at the Democratic majority. A phenomenon that has often repeated itself in contemporary politics is that the party in control of the White House typically loses House seats during the first midterm elections of the new administration.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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