Hill to Hall Feb. 13–15

Feb. 13: Portland withdraws from FBI anti-terror task force

The Portland City Council voted 3-2 to withdraw from the FBI’s task force aimed at uprooting terrorism, citing a “deep distrust” with the program’s ability to investigate potential threats without infringing on civil rights, according to The Oregonian. The Joint Terrorism Task Force gives Portland law enforcement the ability to access federal agencies’ information on potential terrorist activities and is supported by Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, Mayor Ted Wheeler and law enforcement officials in Portland. Residents and activists said the task force has targeted left-leaning groups as potential terrorist threats while treating organizations like the KKK as victims, according to Willamette Week.

Feb. 14: Senate confirms William Barr as Attorney General

The United States Senate confirmed William Barr in a 54-45 vote as the second attorney general to serve under the Trump White House. Barr served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush from 1991–1993. Barr was appointed in place of Matthew Whitaker, who acted as temporary attorney general after President Donald Trump requested Jeff Sessions’ resignation on Nov. 7 after Sessions recused himself from the Mueller investigation. Barr has come under scrutiny for a memo he published supporting Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. Barr said the act should not be considered obstruction of justice.

Feb. 14: Bezos backs out of plans for HQ2 in New York City  

Amazon CEO and owner Jeff Bezos announced the company would be pulling out of plans for a secondary headquarters in New York City after local opposition from union workers and vocal criticism of the $1.5 billion in incentives toward Amazon, according to CNN. Freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D–New York, also criticized the headquarters installation after complaints of inhumane conditions with no resolution in Amazon warehouses. The headquarters project was supported by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as 70 percent of New York residents due to the project’s sizeable projected income and potential creation of 25,000 jobs. Plans for the headquarters will continue in northern Virginia.

Feb. 15: Trump declares national emergency over southern border

President Trump said he would declare a national emergency to facilitate the building of a southern border wall. Contradicting previous statements that he would not declare an emergency, Trump said he would direct over $6 billion toward a border wall when Congress refused his requests, according to Politico, which previously culminated in a 35-day government shutdown. Trump said he declared the emergency because the nation faces a so-called acute crisis, but later attributed the move to expediency, saying “I didn’t need to do this. I would rather do it much faster,” according to The Atlantic.