Nikki Fried Welcomes Biden’s Job-Killing Executive Mandates to Florida
Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is praising President Joe Biden’s recent executive order mandating the federal government to “Buy American” by purchasing more U.S.-manufactured goods and services.
If AG Commissioner Nikki Fried is really serious about challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2022 mid-term election, there is a real good chance that she will have a serious primary race to get past first.
She is the top elected Democrat in the state, but if Rep. Charlie Crist, former Rep. Gwen Graham, or even disgraced former Republican Rep. David Jolly decide to run against her and Gov. DeSantis, Fried’s gubernatorial candidacy could be ‘fried’ on arrival.
Wait, let’s not forget about Sen. Lauren Book, whose stock continues to rise, and is not as Progressive, nor as toxic as some of the aforementioned potential candidates like Jolly.
One thing is for sure, all of these potential gubernatorial candidates are in lock-step with the Biden administration that just killed off thousands of American jobs and is governing more like Adolf Hitler than an American president as it continues to set a record of the number of executive orders he is signing in the first days and weeks of his presidency. READ MORE
Considering how the COVID pandemic has impacted the Florida economy, private sector jobs are still up under DeSantis.
Prior to the pandemic, “Florida businesses created 10,300 new private-sector jobs in November 2019. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate of 2.6 percent continues to exceed the nation’s rate of 1.6 percent. Florida’s unemployment rate of 3.1 percent represents a drop of 0.2 percentage point over the year. This is while 200,000 people entered Florida’s labor force, a growth of 1.9 percent in the past year.”
The job outlook can only get better from here, so expect Fried and others to focus on blaming DeSantis for COVID deaths and not job creation. They don’t have another choice.
Also, expect them to somehow find a way to place DeSantis at the Capitol riot and blame him for inciting the event.
Wait, was that really DeSantis sitting at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk?
Attention Moms and Dads
We have all had our share of diaper duty over the years, and I am sure most (if not all) of you have complained about the cost of diapers, right?
Debbie Wasserman Schultz @DWStweets–The Senate must do its duty and convict former President Trump. But Congress will consider all options to disqualify those who engaged in insurrection against the United States from ever holding future office.
Mario Diaz-Balart @MarioDB–Heartbroken over the tragic passing of an extraordinary friend, colleague, mother, & wife. Nilda Pedrosa was my Chief of Staff for many years— she touched the lives of many and leaves behind an everlasting legacy. Praying for her husband, children, & entire family.
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani @AnnaForFlorida–Walki
Matt Gaetz @RepMattGaetz-I’m going to Wyoming on Thursday to offer a strong defense of the America First agenda that President Trump championed and that made our country better.
“Scott votes against Biden nominee who’s open to re-join Iran nuke deal” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio usually see eye-to-eye on the issues, but when it came down to voting to confirm an Obama administration retread to be Secretary of State who backed the Iran nuclear deal, Sen. Scott voted against the nomination while Rubio supported it. Antony Blinken, one of President Joe Biden’s top national security advisors, was confirmed by the Republicans-controlled Senate by a 78-22 vote majority vote. Blinken supports the controversial Iran nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden championed, and when President Donald Trump decided to leave the agreement because of Iran’s continued violations of the terms of the pact, Blinker stated that “getting out of the Iran nuclear agreement was a mistake.” Sen. Scott stated that he voted against Blinken because he couldn’t support someone who is “open to re-joining the disastrous Iran Deal or willing to return to Obama-era appeasement policies.” Scott added that those Obama/Biden policies “did nothing to promote freedom and democracy in Cuba and throughout Latin American,” specifically in Venezuela, we presume. Blinker recently stated that revisiting the agreement and signing the U.S. back on would be predicated on what Iran was willing to do to make right by their past actions.
“Democratic Rep. Lauren Book Pushes for Diaper Tax Cut” by The Floridian’s Jim McCool – With 1 in 3 American families in need of diapers as a result of shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) is moving to remove the sales tax on diapers, and other hygienic products through SB 806. If passed, SB 806 would make Florida the fifteenth state to lift such tax on hygienic products such as these. With diapers not being covered under programs like food stamps, the estimated monthly payment of $70-$80 for the product still burdens low-income families. The Tampa Bay Times reported that single moms or dads, ‘Spend 6% of total annual pay.’ And in worse situations, can be as much as 14%. Senator Book is pushing this issue under her, Pro-children and families agenda. The Senator reinforced the bill by claiming, ‘It’s time to stop taxing Florida families for these essential healthcare items.’ Book also added that we should stop taxing, ‘…the health, safety, and dignity of families.’ Florida Democrats continue to believe that this must be done to compliment the ever-lowering prices of feminine hygiene products in Florida since 2017. Along with families’ and women’s products, Senator Book is simultaneously leading the fight for Medicaid expansion, providing tampons to all public schools, and keeping children safe from sexual predators in Florida.
“Scott Files Term-Limits Constitutional Amendment” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R), who has received a level of scrutiny over his objection to certifying the election results of the 2020 presidential election, has also had ethics complaints filed against him. The argument is that his objections “lent legitimacy” to the storming of the Capitol that took place on January 6th, 2021. However, the Lone Star state Senator has disregarded the complaints, and he’s since shifted his focus to reintroducing legislation that would ensure a Constitutional amendment that would impose congressional term limits. Joining him in making the case for term limits if Florida Senator Rick Scott (R), who threw his support behind the legislation that would limit U.S. Senators to two six-year terms and Congressional members to three two-year terms. Commenting on the need for term limits, Senator Scott expressed that “Washington is more dysfunctional than ever, and I’m fighting every day to make reforms in the best interest of American families.” He added that “Career politicians are never going to make the tough choices needed to get our nation on a successful path” because “they care more about politics and their next election than the future of this country.” Asserting that “this has to end now,” Scott concluded that “we need to reimagine government and term limits are the right place to start.”
“Wasserman Schultz: GOP Must be Held Accountable For Capitol Riot” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) is joining her Democratic colleagues in the House in voicing that House Republicans must be held accountable over the riot that took place on January 6th in the Capitol. Florida Rep. Al Lawson Jr. (D) has also weighed in on the conversation, commenting that Republicans were complicit in allegedly allowing Trump to incite the riot and attempt to “overturn our democracy” as Florida Rep. Val Demings (D) has argued. Rep. Wasserman Schultz, during an interview on CNN, asserted that “the Senate must do its duty and convict former President Donald Trump.” She added that “Congress will consider all options to disqualify those who engaged in insurrection against the United States from ever holding future office.” Lawson Jr., earlier this year, added that his “Republican colleagues who sat back and watched as the president instigated this anarchy are a part of the problem.” Moreover, he stressed that “they have been complicit and should be ashamed of themselves.” Republicans have even faced infighting regarding the matter, and this will likely result in some incumbent GOP members being “primaried” by possible Trump supporters interested in unseating them.
“Gaetz Supports Ousting Cheney From Chair Position” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Republicans have been at odds since January 6th when rioters stormed the Capitol. Subsequently, President Trump (R) was impeached for a second time for allegedly inciting the riot. Some of his Republican “allies” voted in favor of impeaching the President, one of those Republicans being is Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (R). Since then, Republicans who staunchly support the 45th President such as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) have warned that Cheney does not accurately represent the “competing vision for America that puts America and American people first” during an interview with Sean Hannity on FOX News. In making a distinction with Cheney, Gaetz referred to her as an “America Last” politician. As a result, the Florida lawmaker assured that taking into account that “the media is against us as an institution on the political right,” it’s time for the “America First” Republicans to fight for the future of the party.” He has argued that leftists want “to control ALL media” in the past, and he believes that having this level of infighting does not do well for the GOP’s political future. According to Gaetz, this means that Cheney should not have the leadership position she currently has within the party. “I’m going to Wyoming on Thursday to offer a strong defense of the America First agenda that President Trump championed and that made our country better,” Gaetz asserted.
“Allen West says Biden will castigate Republicans as racists (Video)” by Texas Politics’ Javier Manjarres – The Texas Legislature’s 2021 session just kicked off and there is already pressure to steer away from the group’s 2019 “purple session” and move into a more conservative and principle direction. Texas GOP Chairman Allen West sat down with Texas Politics to discuss how Texas Republicans are looking for legislators to pass more conservative-minded measures. West also says that he’s not buying President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s push for “unity,” saying that Republicans and Conservatives were going to “castigated and demonized” as racists if they did not conform with Biden’s agenda.
“Castro Delivers Impeachment Articles to Senate” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – On Monday evening, Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-D) joined eight of his House colleagues in delivering the Senate with Donald Trump’s impeachment article. Earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-D) named Castro as one of nine impeachment managers picked to seek Trump’s conviction for the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. Alongside Castro are Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin (MD), Diana DeGette (CO), David Cicilline (RI), Eric Swalwell (IA), Ted Lieu (CA), Stacey Plaskett (NY), Madeleine Dean (PA), and Joe Neguse (CO). Pelosi has sought to ensure representation for her caucus’ various constituencies. Pelosi’s choice represents the second time a Texas Democrat has helped prosecute a case against now-former President Donald Trump. Rep. Sylvia Garcia was on the House team for Trump’s first impeachment. This impeachment trial will begin in the Senate during the week of Feb. 8. Last night on Twitter, Castro reaffirmed his conviction that the President “must be tried, convicted and held accountable.” Castro and his fellow impeachment managers face the uphill battle to secure the 67 votes needed in the Senate to convict Trump. The chamber, which acquitted Trump in his first impeachment trial, is currently split 50-50.
“Bugged by censorship, Florida Republicans seek to punish Big Tech” by Orlando Sentinel’s Gray Rohrer – A pair of Florida GOP lawmakers are attempting to follow through on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to punish Big Tech companies for purportedly censoring conservatives. Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Randy Fine filed bills Tuesday that would prohibit the state and local governments from doing business with Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google and its parent company, Alphabet, starting July 1. “What prompted me to draft this legislation was the lifetime ban of the President of the United States — the duly elected and non-removed President of the United States — forever, including after he was a private citizen, coupled with the sudden shutdown of competitors of companies by their fellow Big Tech companies,” Fine, R-Brevard County, said in an interview. Fine was referring to the decision by Facebook and Twitter to bar former President Donald Trump from their platforms indefinitely after he incited a mob of his supporters to ransack the U.S. Capitol as Congress prepared to certify his loss in the Electoral College to President Joe Biden on Jan. 6. Amazon and Apple also refused to host or allow Parler, a conservative alternative to Twitter that refused to take down posts advocating violence against politicians, Jews and blacks, on their platforms. In its decision, Twitter said that after “close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
“Trump opens ‘Office of the Former President’ in Florida” WFLA – Former President Donald Trump opened an “Office of the Former President” to announce his plans from his new base in Florida as he remains barred from most social media. A statement from the office Monday night said it will manage Trump’s correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities to “advance the interest of the United States.” The office will also “carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration through advocacy, organizing, and public activism,” the statement says. The announcement came on the same day the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate an impeachment article charging Trump with inciting insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. The Senate trial is expected to start on Feb. 9. Trump left Washington, DC, for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach on Wednesday morning, hours before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“Palm Beach County commissioner slams Desantis for Florida’s Publix vaccination plan” by Fox Business’ Lucas Manfredi – Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay slammed Florida Gov. Ron Destantis on Tuesday for his decision to make Publix pharmacies the sole COVID-19 vaccine distributors in the area. “I’m absolutely disgusted that the governor of this state has 100% taken the ability to vaccinate our residents in Palm Beach County out of the hands of our public health officials and our medical officials and given that authority to a corporate entity,” McKinlay said at Tuesday’s commission meeting. According to the county’s health director, Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach is “very, very low on vaccine,” noting that the majority of doses are primarily going to 67 Publix pharmacies in the county as part of a pilot program with the state. “We’re the only county where all this vaccine is going to Publix, until [DeSantis] chooses other counties to do this,” Alonso said. “Right now, that vaccine, Moderna, is going to Publix. That’s not in our hands.” Alonso said the Palm Beach County Health Department will receive enough vaccine to finish first doses through Feb. 5. After that, the health department will only receive vaccine for second doses. McKinlay’s critcism against Desantis came shortly after he announced during a news conference in Vero Beach that 11 Publix pharmacies in St. Lucie County and eight in Indian River county would being offering COVID-19 vaccines later this week.
“University of Florida modifies ‘tattle button’ after pushback from students, faculty” by Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran – The University of Florida reversed course on a “tattle button” that allowed students to report complaints about professors who altered a class’ format from in-person to online, after pushback from students and faculty. The controversy came after the school introduced the option on GatorSafe, a campus app, to report professors who made discretionary changes to course modality while trying to juggle the hurdles of teaching during the coronavirus pandemic. The feature was later modified to remove the specific professor complaint function but students are still allowed to send in general complaints but by providing their own reasoning to accompany it. A spokesperson for the university, Steve Orlando, told Fox News in an interview Tuesday that the app feature was intended to be a method of feedback for students to report any issues with faculty not showing up to teach in-person classes or other issues pertaining to dual-modality classes, or “Hyflex” courses, that take place both in-person and online. “If we have agreed to offer these in-person classes, we’ve entered into an agreement with the student and if an instructor failed to show up to teach that class in person, we would consider that a violation of the trust and the agreement between the student and the university,” Orlando said, adding that it was important to give students the option to express concerns about their experience with classes. Orlando said the university received a little over a dozen complaints but none of them were targeted toward any specific faculty members not showing up, and were instead about issues with the modality or format of the classes.
“Florida veteran organizes ‘MAGA Patriot Party,’ former president’s campaign says it has ‘no affiliation’” by WFLA’s Allyson Henning – A new political group called the MAGA Patriot Party National Committee filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission Monday. The party’s address is listed in San Antonio, Texas, but 8 On Your Side has learned the organizer lives just south of the Tampa Bay area in Punta Gorda. James Davis is a military veteran and former pastor. He currently works for a local government agency in Sarasota County. The veteran says he started the grassroots movement on Jan. 7. “I was just someone who watched this last election and was a lifetime Republican and just felt like, I felt like they turned their backs on me,” said Davis. “We wanted to send a message to the Republican Party that we want them to represent us and what the people are saying. Also, we want to have an alternative for those Republicans that refuse to listen to the people they represent.” Davis felt he had to stand up for what he believes in. “My whole fighting back has to do with trying to stay within the constitutional rights that we have as citizens and do it through the political system,” said Davis. 8 On Your Side talked with political science professor Frank Alcock about what this recent filing could mean for the Republican Party. “Probably not much. I imagine the chances of this fizzling are pretty high,” said Alcock. The New College of Florida professor said, however, one thing that makes this party filing stand out from others in the past is the “Donald Trump factor.” “If he wanted to give them a go ahead, I am sure they would get some pretty serious numbers. It would just be disastrous for the Republican Party because it would split their votes and in half, which I think, they don’t wanna see that and I think neither does Donald Trump,” said Alcock.
“Northern District of Florida Picks Side in Creasy Split” by National Review’s Bradley J. Andreozzi and Anthony F. Jankoski – In the aftermath of Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, Inc.—the Supreme Court decision from July that held the TCPA’s government-debt exception to be an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech—the country’s district courts cannot agree on whether they may adjudicate TCPA claims alleging conduct that transpired during the life of the exception (i.e., during the period from November 2, 2015 to July 6, 2020). Recently, the Northern District of Florida weighed in on the issue, concluding that it did have subject-matter jurisdiction over TCPA conduct that, according to the complaint, occurred between October 2019 and February 2020. In the case, Rieker v. National Car Cure, LLC, the defendant argued that the district court lacked jurisdiction over this time period because the version of the statute on which the TCPA claim was based contained the government-debt exception, which was later pronounced invalid. Case No. 3:20-cv-5901, at *1 (N.D. Fla. Jan. 5, 2021); see also Creasy v. Charter Commc’ns, Inc., 2020 WL 5761117 (E.D. La. Sept. 28, 2020) (adopting this reasoning). In response, the plaintiff emphasized that Barr invalidated only one provision of the TCPA and allowed the rest of the statute to stand. Id.
After noting that not a single circuit court has addressed this issue, the Northern District sided with those districts that have said they will hear TCPA claims originating from the roughly four-year period that the government-debt exception remained on the books.
“Assistant Public Defender Wants Florida to Ban Executions of Mentally Ill People” by Bay News’ Mitch Perry – Allison Miller is the capital case coordinator working in the Public Defender’s office in Florida’s 6th Judicial Circuit (Pinellas-Pasco County). She believes it’s wrong to execute death row inmates with serious mental illnesses, and so she and a colleague recently wrote up a draft of a bill that she presented last week to the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation. “(In) the bill that I’ve proposed, the Legislature would define what qualifies as a serious mental illness. But then the court system would function as the gatekeeper,” she told Spectrum Bay News 9 on Tuesday inside a courtroom in the Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater. “Whatever case the defense attorney would think is appropriate or would qualify for ineligibility because the defendant is seriously mentally ill, that motion would be filed, and then it would be argued by both parties. And the judge presiding over that case would make that decision.” The language in Miller’s proposed bill strongly resembles the exact same law that lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature in Ohio passed and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed earlier this month. And it’s been embraced by St. Petersburg Republican State Sen. Jeff Brandes, who says he will craft his own bill on the issue before the regular Florida legislative session begins in March. “I fully support the idea of ending the death penalty for those who are mentally ill,” he said. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, that executing people with intellectual disabilities violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but it allowed the states to define “intellectual disability.” In the ruling, it was stated that the Eighth Amendment should be interpreted in light of the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.”
“Campus ‘Intellectual Freedom’ Bill Backed In Florida Senate” by News Service of Florida’s Ryan Dailey – A controversial Senate proposal that would require Florida state colleges and universities to survey students about “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” on campus cleared its first hurdle Tuesday. What isn’t clear is what would be done with the survey data if the bill ultimately passes. The measure, championed by Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, would have the State Board of Education and the state university system’s Board of Governors adopt surveys that students would answer anonymously. Rodrigues’ bill did not pass in previous years when he filed it as a member of the Florida House, and it did not get heard in the Senate during the 2020 legislative session. But after he was elected to the Senate in November, Rodrigues said he likes the proposal’s chances during the upcoming 2021 session under a “more conservative Senate that will hear bills like this.” The Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee voted 6-4, along party lines, to approve the measure (SB 264) on Tuesday. Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, has filed a House version of the bill (HB 233). Rodrigues cited similar surveys performed by universities in other states, like one given to students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in March. That survey found most of the nearly 1,100 participating students perceived “political liberals” to be a majority on campus. Rodrigues also pointed to instances of “mainstream” political conservatives being “shouted down” at speaking engagements.
“Florida Olympics? State official’s proposal to bring 2021 Games to Sunshine State draws skepticism” by WFLA’s Melissa Marino – Could the journey to Tokyo become the journey to Florida? That’s what one top state official is hoping for. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee on Monday encouraging them to relocate the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the Sunshine State. “Seventy percent of Japan says they don’t want the Olympics,” Patronis said. “My attitude is, come to the state of Florida where our arms are open.” Patronis said his movement to bring the Olympics to Florida began after reports surfaced recently that leaders in Japan “‘privately’ concluded that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place.” Japanese officials have since denied the reports. In his letter to the IOC, Patronis cites Florida’s tourism numbers as well as the state’s management of tourist destinations and sporting events during the pandemic as reasons for the committee to consider Florida as a safe destination for the games. “I think Orlando is very attractive. I think Tampa is very attractive. I think Miami is attractive. All of which have the ability to contribute,” Patronis said. Ed Turanchik believes pulling it off is logistically impossible, especially just months away from the summer games. “It’s a massive event. Logistically – transportation, security – all those things are just extraordinarily complicated,” he said.
“WHITE HOUSE: Florida should close bars, restaurants, gyms to slow COVID spread” by Daytona Beach News-Journal – Florida bars, indoor dining, gyms and any other indoor spaces where masks are not worn 100% of the time should be closed down to stop the spread of COVID-19, according to a White House Coronavirus Task Force Report. The recommendation comes as the state is seeing a slight decrease in new coronavirus cases, test positivity and hospitalizations. The report, which was officially released on Jan. 17, was just recently made available following a News-Journal public records request to the Florida Department of Health. The state did not respond to questions about how, if or when the recommendations will be put into effect. But it’s unlikely that the state will go into another shutdown of any kind, according to State Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, chair of the committee on Pandemics and Public Emergencies. “You have to look at the economic impact,” Leek said. “The most at-risk should stay at home instead of forcing us into further economic ruin.” Social distancing, wearing a mask, and taking care of oneself are still critically important, Leek said. But he said he would not force a shutdown on every person in the state, especially based on just one report when there are several other factors to consider.
“Florida has vaccinated more than 1 million seniors, Gov. DeSantis says” by NBC’s Erin O’Brien – More than 1 million people 65 years and older have been vaccinated in Florida, according to Governor Ron DeSantis. When it comes to the vaccination of seniors, Florida leads the nation. “The state’s reporting now shows that we have vaccinated more than one million seniors, which accounts for nearly 70% of Florida’s total vaccinations to date and is leading the nation in this all-important effort,” DeSantis said. When Florida began its vaccine rollout, Gov. DeSantis announced his Seniors First initiative that worked to prioritize the vaccination of seniors. Guidance from the CDC has since changed to follow DeSantis’ lead. Currently, more than 260 Publix locations across 20 counties in Florida are vaccinating seniors. For a list of all vaccination sites at Publix locations in Florida, click HERE. In addition to Publix, the State has increased vaccine access by using places of worship, hospital partnerships and more as state-run vaccination sites.
“Forty-five Republicans vote against proceeding with Senate impeachment trial” by Fox News’ Morgan Phillips – Senators were sworn in as jurors to President Trump’s impeachment trial Tuesday as the Senate voted 55-45 to end debate on Sen. Rand Paul’s point of order arguing that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional now that Trump is out of office. Five GOP senators voted not to dismiss the impeachment trial of President Trump: Susan Collins, Maine, Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, Ben Sasse, Neb., and Pat Toomey, Pa., and Mitt Romney, Utah. They voted with all 50 Democrat senators to table the point of order. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has indicated he has an open mind on whether Trump should be convicted, voted against ending debate. Paul, R-Ky., had told reporters earlier that he would make a point of order alleging that the trial is contrary to the Constitution — an argument that multiple Republican senators have made. That forced a vote on the point of order, requiring senators to go on the record about whether they believe the trial is constitutional. The Senate also passed its pre-trial organizing resolution 83 to 17, and the impeachment trial will be adjourned until Tuesday, Feb. 9, as Sen. Republican leader Mitch McConnell had been pushing for. Paul said he expected his resolution to prove there would be “no chance” of impeaching the president in the Senate. “I think there will be enough support on it to show there’s no chance they can impeach the president,” Paul told reporters Tuesday. “If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding it shows they don’t have the votes and we’re basically wasting our time.”
“Federal judge blocks Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations” by Fox News’ Brittany De Lea – A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden’s attempt to put a moratorium on deportations for 100 days. After Texas sued over the policy, the judge blocked Biden, via a temporary restraining order, from moving forward for 14 days. Texas’ lawsuit claims that the administration would be violating an agreement it has with the Department of Homeland Security – and would require at least 180 days’ notice, as well as consultation, prior to implementing changes in immigration policy. It is unclear whether those terms are enforceable, but similar agreements were struck with several other states under the former administration. The U.S. district judge implemented a nationwide injunction because a geographically-limited order would not adequately protect Texas’ interests due to “the free flow of movement” of illegal aliens from other states. Fox News exclusively reported over the weekend that an email sent last week to ICE officers called for stopping “all removals” and to “release them [undocumented immigrants] all, immediately.” The U.S. district judge implemented a nationwide injunction because a geographically-limited order would not adequately protect Texas’ interests due to “the free flow of movement” of illegal aliens from other states. Fox News exclusively reported over the weekend that an email sent last week to ICE officers called for stopping “all removals” and to “release them [undocumented immigrants] all, immediately.”
“Rubio doubles down on criticism of Trump impeachment trial: ‘It’s not even constitutional’” by Fox News’ Michael Quinlan – Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., doubled down Tuesday on statements he made over the weekend calling next month’s impeachment trial of former President Trump “stupid”. “It’s not even constitutional,” Rubio told “Your World” host Neil Cavuto. “Logic tells you that.” “The automatic consequence of impeachment and trial, if you’re convicted, the automatic consequence of it is you’re removed from office,” Rubio added. “That’s the automatic consequence of this process. “How can you put someone through a process where the automatic consequence is impossible?” Rubio asked. “You cannot remove Donald Trump from office [because] he’s not in office.” Cavuto suggested that Trump expressed approval of the riot when he tweeted on the evening of Jan. 6 that “[t]hese are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”
“Retirements shake up 2022 map as Republican senators eye exits” by CNN’s Alex Rogers, Manu Raju and Ted Barrett – Senate GOP leaders are bracing for more retirements within their ranks, as a handful of senior Republicans decline to commit to running again — following four tumultuous years in the Trump era and facing a polarized political climate ahead. Three Republican senators have already decided to retire in 2022, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, whose announcement on Monday stunned his colleagues and ignited an all-out scramble in both parties to line up candidates to fill the crucial seat. But in interviews with CNN, several other GOP senators sidestepped questions about their political futures or made clear they were truly undecided about running again, including Sens. John Thune of South Dakota, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Richard Shelby of Alabama. Thune, 60, said he would make his announcement “at some point in the future” while brushing aside questions about his thinking. Johnson, 65, said he didn’t think he had to decide “for a while.” Grassley, 87, said he would make his announcement in “several months.” Shelby, 86, said, “I’ll let you know.”
The party out of power typically gains seats in a president’s first midterm election, but Republicans will have to defend 20 of their Senate seats in 2022, while Democrats only have to defend 14 seats. And the retirements of Portman, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey have given Democrats greater hope of winning those seats and retaining their slim Senate majority. The Republicans’ decisions have sparked primaries that could cost millions and bruise whoever emerges as the party’s nominees against the Democrats.
“Biden announces purchase of 200M vaccine doses” by CNN’s MJ Lee, Kate Sullivan and Maggie Fox – President Joe Biden announced a series of measures on Tuesday aimed at ramping up coronavirus vaccine allocation and distribution, including the purchase of 200 million more vaccine doses and increased distribution to states by millions of doses next week. With those additional doses, Biden said there would be enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans — nearly the entire US population — by the end of summer or early fall.
He described efforts to combat Covid-19 as a “wartime undertaking.” “We now have a national strategy to beat Covid-19. It’s comprehensive. It’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial, and it is detailed,” he said. As part of the new efforts announced Tuesday, the US will buy 100 million more doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 100 million more from Moderna — the two-dose vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer and Moderna are working to step up production, and Biden said that the additional doses will be available this summer. The new purchase will increase the planned Covid-19 vaccine supply from 400 million to 600 million, an official told reporters on a call on Tuesday ahead of Biden’s remarks.
“US government urges Americans not to travel abroad after new testing requirement goes into effect” by CNN’s Jennifer Hansler – The US government is urging Americans not to travel abroad after new restrictions went into effect Tuesday requiring all passengers traveling by air to present negative Covid-19 tests taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. “Seriously reconsider going overseas right now,” acting Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee told reporters on a call Tuesday. “US citizens who choose to go abroad, whether it’s for a holiday or a genuine emergency, everyone needs to be prepared to be potentially seriously disrupted in their trips.”
“If you cannot easily access a Covid-19 test, or if you test positive, you will end up overseas for much longer than you planned,” Brownlee added. “If that happens, you will be responsible for covering your own lodging and medical costs during that time.” The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Marty Cetron, said on the same call that the “bottom-line message is this is really not a time for people to be engaging in discretionary travel, and that all travel should be postponed until we get a better handle on getting this virus under control, and accelerating our vaccination strategies.”
Despite the warnings, Brownlee said the State Department is not considering issuing a global Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory and will continue to issue advisories on a country by country basis. The department issued the worldwide warning against international travel last March and lifted it in August, but it said at the time that it continued “to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.”
“Video Investigation: Proud Boys Were Key Instigators in Capitol Riot” by WSJ – WATCH VIDEO.
“Biden’s Climate-Change Policy Targets Oil Industry” by WSJ’s Timothy Puko, Ken Thomas and Andrew Restuccia – The oil industry is emerging as a primary target of President Biden’s climate policy, setting the stage for a confrontation that could shape the future of the energy sector. The president is expected to issue an executive order Wednesday that would suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land, people familiar with the matter say, in what is widely seen as a first step toward fulfilling Mr. Biden’s campaign pledge to stop drilling on federal lands and offshore. Drilling on federal lands accounts for roughly 9% of U.S. onshore production, but oil industry leaders see a curtailment on future development as a significant threat. Oil companies want to maximize their access to land and federal permits to help grow and sustain operations, and they plan to resist Mr. Biden’s efforts through lawsuits and lobbying Congress. “The early actions of the administration are unilaterally shutting down and restricting the ability of American oil and gas producers to run their operations,” said Anne Bradbury, chief executive of the American Exploration and Production Council, which represents independent U.S. oil companies. “The scope and the lack of consultation with industry stakeholders has been alarming.” In addition to a possible ban on new leases, Mr. Biden issued orders on his first day in office last week for a wide-ranging review of policies that former President Donald Trump had intended to ease restrictions on oil and other industry.
“Sen. Patrick Leahy Has Left the Hospital and Returned Home” by WSJ’s Siobhan Hughes – Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), who is set to preside over the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, left George Washington University Hospital hours after he was taken for evaluation for feeling unwell, an aide said on Tuesday. “After getting test results back, and after a thorough examination, Sen. Leahy now is home,” a spokesman said. “He looks forward to getting back to work,” the aide said. Mr. Leahy, 80 years old, felt unwell while in his Capitol office this evening, the aide said. “Out of an abundance of caution, the Attending Physician recommended that he be taken to a local hospital for observation,” the aide said earlier in a statement. Mr. Leahy is the longest-serving Senate Democrat, having first been elected in 1974. He is third in line for the presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). The Constitution directs the chief justice of the United States to preside when the president is tried before the Senate, but is silent regarding former presidents. Chief Justice John Roberts presided over Mr. Trump’s first trial, which occurred when he was president. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in an interview with MSNBC that Chief Justice Roberts didn’t want to preside over the second trial, so the duty fell to Mr. Leahy as Senate president pro tempore. Chief Justice Roberts has declined to comment. More broadly, Mr. Leahy’s health issue highlighted the precarious nature of the Democratic majority. Democrats and Republicans each control 50 seats, with their majority due solely to the ability of Ms. Harris to break ties.
“Pennsylvania GOP pledges full allegiance to Trump” by POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein – Pennsylvania once stocked D.C. with a steady stream of establishment Republicans. Now, in the wake of Donald Trump’s reelection defeat, it’s better known for its GOP hard-liners — among them, Scott Perry, the congressman who recently made headlines for his behind-the-scenes efforts to assist Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The state GOP’s transformation from the party of former Sens. Arlen Specter and John Heinz — and Govs. Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge — to a bastion of Trump loyalists has been decades in the making. But the shift has perhaps never been so obvious as in the past two months when Republicans here were repeatedly thrust into the spotlight for their role in trying to override President Joe Biden’s victory. GOP state legislative leaders called on Republican congressional members to object to the Electoral College results or “delay” their certification. Every House Republican in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, save one, obliged, voting to invalidate their state’s Electoral College votes. State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2022, traveled to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and even advertised a bus to take protesters there. In the weeks after the deadly riot, a right-wing state representative, Daryl Metcalfe, said on Facebook that the FBI called his office asking about the day of the insurrection and referred to the agency’s tip line as a “snitch” line.
“Rep. Buddy Carter signals support for federal privacy legislation” by Politico’s Ben Leonard – Rep. Buddy Carter signaled support on Tuesday for federal tech privacy legislation, indicating a willingness to work with the Biden administration on such a measure. Carter (R-Ga.), who sits on the House Energy and Commerce tech subcommittee, said at a Tuesday POLITICO Live event on ethics and artificial intelligence that “we need to look at” privacy legislation, saying it could ease concerns and build public confidence in AI. Currently, the United States does not have a federal digital privacy law on the books, leaving tech data available in some cases, for example, to the U.S. military as well as foreign nations. There is also no robust government oversight of AI algorithms, allowing tech firms to call the shots. Lawmakers have previously voiced bipartisan concerns about facial recognition technology and other AI-related concerns, but broad federal privacy legislation has stalled. Carter cited concerns about artificial intelligence in light of China’s broad use of AI facial recognition and other technology for surveillance. “People are naturally and rightfully concerned,” Carter said. “In order for it to succeed, we’ve got to have a buy-in if you will by the general public. We need them to have confidence in that.”
“‘Dead on arrival’: Trump conviction unlikely after GOP votes to nix trial” by Politico’s ANDREW DESIDERIO, BURGESS EVERETT and MARIANNE LEVINE – Nearly every Senate Republican declared Tuesday that putting a former president on trial for impeachment is unconstitutional, indicating that the House’s case against Donald Trump is almost certain to fail. The procedural vote, forced by Sen. Rand Paul, underscores the significant hurdles facing the House’s impeachment managers, who will need to convince at least 17 Republican senators in order to secure a conviction. Paul’s motion to declare the trial unconstitutional ultimately failed because Democrats opposed it; however, 45 GOP senators voted to affirm the Kentucky Republican’s view, delivering an early and possibly fatal blow to the House’s case. Some Republicans said the vote did not necessarily indicate their views on the merits of the House’s case against Trump, in part because Paul’s motion focused on a narrow procedural question. But Paul’s effort reflects the widespread belief among Republicans that the Senate should not hold an impeachment trial because Trump is now a private citizen and therefore is not subject to the punishment of removal from office — though that view has been strongly challenged by legal scholars across the political spectrum. Just five GOP senators — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey — voted with all 50 Democrats to affirm the trial as constitutional and allow it to move forward.
“Yellen, Rice tout economics as key to fixing American inequality” by Reuters’ Andrea Shalal – Dismantling racial inequalities that have plagued the United States since its founding will boost economic growth and create new jobs for everyone, top advisers to President Joe Biden said Tuesday, laying out a central tenet of the new administration’s agenda. Biden’s top domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said there was clear evidence that fixing inequality was essential for the overall U.S. economy to thrive and prosper. “These aren’t feel-good policies,” Rice told reporters at a White House briefing ahead of executive actions planned by Biden to promote racial justice reforms. “The evidence is clear, investing in equity is good for economic growth.” The U.S. economy had lost $16 trillion over the last 20 years because of discrimination, Rice said, citing figures published by Citigroup here in September 2020. Closing the gaps in income and opportunity could “add $5 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next five years, and over six million new jobs for all Americans,” she said. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in her welcome letter to staff, said a central goal of the agency should be harnessing the U.S. economy to right past wrongs.
“Biden speaks to Putin for first time since taking power: White House” by Reuters’ Trevor Hunnicutt, Steve Holland – U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for the first time since taking office and raised concerns about Russian activities including the treatment of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the White House said. A White House statement said the two leaders agreed to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension of the New START arms control treaty between the United States and Russia by Feb. 5, when the current pact expires. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced the phone call between the two leaders at her daily briefing. It came as Biden adjusts U.S. policy in a more robust way toward Russia after his predecessor, Donald Trump refused to take on Putin directly. At the same time, Biden sought to repair the strained alliance between the United States and Europe by stressing in a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that Washington would abide by the NATO treaty’s mutual defense pact. “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to collective defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and underscored his commitment to strengthening transatlantic security,” a White House statement said.
“U.S. says $35 billion more in pandemic loans approved, trying to fix program snags” by Reuters Staff – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on Tuesday said it had approved 400,000 more pandemic relief loans worth $35 billion and was trying to fix issues operational snags with the program raised by lenders. The SBA launched the third round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) this month, but significant changes to its rules, process and technology platform, has caused problems that were slowing approvals, a bank group said on Tuesday. Companies looking to apply for a second PPP loan were encountering technical hurdles the American Bankers Association said, while lenders are also receiving a “high number of incorrect error messages” when they submit loan applications. Reuters reported this month that government officials had pressured large lenders earlier to go live with the latest round of the program despite many unresolved issues. The SBA said on Tuesday that a review of first-time loans found anomalies – “mostly data mismatches and eligibility concerns” – in approximately 4.7% of the lender-submitted data. “These concerns will require follow-up between the lender and the borrower so that borrowers can access a second round of loans,” the SBA said, adding it would provide guidance to help lenders work through the problems they’re encountering.