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Home » Biden is expected later this month to outline a second massive spending bill, focused this time largely on the social safety net

Biden is expected later this month to outline a second massive spending bill, focused this time largely on the social safety net

Prince Hamzah bin Hussein worked with “foreign entities” to destabilise the state, Ayman Safadi said.

The prince had earlier released two videos to the BBC, claiming he was being held under house arrest.

He denied conspiracy, but accused Jordan’s leaders of corruption and incompetence.

Sixteen people, including a former adviser to King Abdullah and another member of the royal family, were arrested on Saturday for allegedly threatening security.——–

In his videos, Prince Hamzah, the king’s half-brother, said he had been told he could not go out or communicate with people.

The move is thought to follow a visit by the prince to tribal leaders, where he is said to have garnered some support.

Prince Hamzah’s message in full
His mother, American-born Queen Noor, has said she is praying for what she called innocent victims of “wicked slander”.

What is the prince accused of?
Responding to the fallout on Sunday, Mr Safadi said Prince Hamzah had used the videos to distort facts and incite empathy, according to the state news agency, Petra.

He told a news conference that the prince had been liaising with foreign parties about destabilising the country and had been being monitored for some time.

The prince is accused of seeking to mobilise “clan leaders” against the government.

But the plot had been “nipped in the bud”, Petra quoted the deputy PM as saying.

Mr Safadi went on to allege that a man with links to foreign security services had offered Prince Hamzah’s wife, Princess Basmah, a flight out of Jordan. He did not specify which foreign security service was apparently involved.

Jordanian Prince Hamzah bin al-Hussei, president of the Royal Aero Sports Club of Jordan, and his wife Princess Basma attend a media event to announce the launch of “Skydive Jordan”, in the Wadi Rum desert on April 19, 2011
image captionPrince Hamzah, pictured with Princess Basmah in 2011, is a keen sky-diver
Mr Safadi said officials had tried to discourage the prince rather than take legal action against him, but that Prince Hamzah had “dealt with this request negatively”. He noted that dialogue was ongoing.

Regional powers including Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have voiced support for King Abdullah in the wake of the operation.

The United States, which is allied with Jordan in its campaign against the Islamic State (IS) group, described the monarch as a key partner who has its full support.

What’s behind this?
Tensions within the royal household had been visible for some time, Jordanian journalist Rana Sweis told the BBC.

“The former crown prince is also seen as popular. He has a very candid resemblance to his father, King Hussein, and he is also very popular with the local tribes,” she said.

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Jordan has few natural resources and its economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also absorbed waves of refugees from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

However, high-level political arrests are rare. The country’s powerful intelligence agency has gained extra powers since the pandemic began, drawing criticism from rights groups.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, his wife Queen Rania, Queen Noor, mother of the groom, Crown Prince Hamzah, the groom, his bride Princess Noor, Sherif Asem bin-Nayef and his ex-wife Firouzeh Vokhshouri, parents of the bride, attend the royal wedding on May 27, 2004 in Amman, Jordan
image captionKing Abdullah and his wife Queen Rania (pictured far right) attend the wedding ceremony of Prince Hamzah and his first wife Princess Noor (left) alongside Hamzah’s mother Queen Noor (centre) in 2004
Who is Prince Hamzah?
The oldest son of the late King Hussein and his favourite wife Queen Noor, Prince Hamzah is a graduate of the UK’s Harrow School and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He also attended Harvard University in the US and has served in the Jordanian armed forces.

He was named crown prince of Jordan in 1999 and was a favourite of King Hussein, who often described him in public as the “delight of my eye”.

However, he was seen as too young and inexperienced to be named successor at the time of King Hussein’s death.

Instead his older half-brother, Abdullah, ascended the throne and stripped Hamzah of the title of crown prince in 2004, giving it to his own son.

The move was seen as a blow to Queen Noor, who had hoped to see her eldest son become king.

Who else has been arrested?
Others detained on Saturday include Bassem Awadallah, a former finance minister, and Sharif Hassan Bin Zaid, a member of the royal family.

Mr Awadallah, an economist who was educated in the US, has been a confidant of the king and an influential force in Jordan’s economic reforms.

He has often found himself pitted against entrenched government bureaucracy resistant to his plans, observers say.

No members of the armed forces were said to be among those detained over the alleged plot.

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Sunday that President Biden’s new spending plan is still sorely needed despite a strong March jobs report and a variety of other positive economic signs in recent months.

Deese, the architect of Biden’s “American Jobs Plan,” told “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace that compared to before the pandemic, the United States is still behind. He said the president’s $2 trillion-plus spending plan could help get the U.S. economy back to where it was in early 2024.

“The jobs numbers in March were certainly a welcome sign. It’s good to see the economy starting to improve, and we certainly think it’s a sign that the economic and vaccination strategy that this administration has put into place from Day One is starting to have an impact,” Deese said.

“But we have a long way to go,” he added. “We still are down 8.4 million jobs from where we were a year ago. We have millions of people out of work. More than 2 million women have left the labor force because they’ve had to choose between caring for their family members and their jobs, and so we have a long way to go.”

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Friday, Jan. 22, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Friday, Jan. 22, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“What our plan says is let’s keep the economy going. Let’s see more job creation — that’s a really good thing for the economy,” Deese said. “But let’s also think to the longer-term about where those investments [are] that we can make that will really drive not just more job growth, but better job growth. Not just job growth in the short term, but job growth in the long term by investing in our infrastructure. By investing in our research and development in a way that we haven’t since the 1960s.”

Deese, a former senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, played a leading role in trying to get the president’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package across the finish line. He said in January that he aimed to help get Republicans on board with the plan, but no GOP members of Congress voted for it.

Now Biden is pushing a $2 trillion-plus spending package, which is billed largely as an infrastructure bill but addresses many issues beyond crumbling highways and bridges. That’s drawn harsh criticism from Senate Republicans, many of whom have lined up to oppose the president’s plan.

“This plan is not about rebuilding America’s backbone. Less than 6% of this massive proposal goes to roads and bridges,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week. “It would spend more money just on electric cars than on America’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, and waterways combined.”

Indeed, the White House’s summary of the American Jobs Plan says it will spend “$115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways roads and main streets that are in most critical need of repair” out of the total $2.2 trillion.

President Biden speaks about the March jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House, April 2, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Biden speaks about the March jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House, April 2, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

McConnell’s definition ignores other elements of the plan that address infrastructure, including broadband, pipes and schools. But in all, Biden’s plan still directs well under half of its funding to priorities that are not infrastructure, a Fox News analysis found.

Wallace challenged Deese on whether the bulk of the Biden spending plan, which the White House is selling as an infrastructure bill, is actually for infrastructure. Deese argued that there needs to be a broader definition of infrastructure for the modern world.

“I think we really need to update what we mean by infrastructure for the 21st century,” he said. “If you look at that number on housing, what we’re talking about is construction, building housing all around the country to help make sure that there are more affordable housing units for people to access jobs and access economic opportunity.”

Deese added: “We’re talking about construction to build things like VA [Veterans Administration] facilities, our schools and community colleges — putting people to work, construction work that really needs to be done to meet commitments that we have to our veterans and others.

“We believe that the infrastructure of our care economy is something to take very seriously,” Deese also said, referencing the $400 billion in the Biden spending plan for home care for elderly and disabled people. “For anybody out there… who are parents who are taking care of an elderly parent or an adult child with disabilities, they know that if you don’t have an infrastructure of care to support your loved ones, you can’t effectively work, you can’t effectively interact in the 21st century economy.”


Wallace also asked Deese how much the president is willing to come down from his initial $2 trillion-plus proposal, in light of Biden and other administration officials suggesting they would be open to working with Republicans to pass an infrastructure bill. But Biden and his officials made a similar suggestion on coronavirus relief, only to ultimately circumvent Republicans and avoid substantive negotiations.

“Some people have said it’s too much, some people have said it’s too little,” Deese said of the spending package. “We want to have this conversation. We’re starting this outreach already.”

But Deese added that “we’re not going to negotiate that on this show,” as he refused to provide any benchmarks for how much the president is actually willing to compromise.

Biden is expected later this month to outline a second massive spending bill, focused this time largely on the social safety net

Zaraki Kenpachi