7 Things: $1.9 trillion in coronavirus stimulus moves forward, Trump was never going to testify, McCutcheon has a backup prison plan and more …
7. Joe Biden is just “not Trump”
- President Joe Biden continues to wake up and think, “What would Trump do?” and then do the exact opposite. On Thursday, he announced that he will raise the cap on refugees we allow to enter the country in the middle of a global pandemic.
- Biden is not offering just a token increase here either. He is taking former President Donald Trump’s 15,000 this year, the lowest since the creation of the Refugee Act, and increasing it to 125,000 in the next fiscal year.
6. Colorado wants Biden to punish Alabama
- Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) is still pushing for President Joe Biden to reverse the decision to move the U.S. Space Command to Huntsville and has argued that space command can better serve the country by staying at Peterson Air Force Base.
- Polis sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting that the decision to move U.S. Space Command be reviewed. Officials in Colorado have tried to say that the decision was political, despite the Air Force continuing to insist that Redstone Arsenal is the best location.
5. Democrats take an unprecedented step, talk of “norms” disappears
- The U.S. House of Representatives voted 230-199 to remove U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) from her two assignments on the education and budget committees, limiting her ability to participate in the legislative process. This comes even after she offered public apologies for previous comments.
- The moves are important as they show Democrats are willing to use their power as the majority to remove political opponents, and that could be a very dangerous weapon when used in this way both now and in the future. Every Alabama Republican legislator voted to keep Greene on her committees. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) voted to remove her.
4. Protection for businesses passes
- The bill brought forward by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) that would protect businesses in Alabama from frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic has passed in a 28-1 vote in the Senate. State Senator Vivian Figures (D-Mobile) was the only “no” vote.
- This legislation doesn’t protect businesses entirely. Lawsuits for “wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct” would still be allowed. Orr says that this just protects “good actors.”
3. Apparently there’s a backup prison plan
- After Governor Kay Ivey has signed a contract to build new prisons in Alabama, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said the House is working on a backup plan to build new prisons that would be owned by the state.
- McCutcheon said that they need “some information on the lease agreements” for the prisons that Ivey has contracted. He went on to say that the House plan “would be a state bond issue where the state would actually own the facilities,” but he added that they’re also moving carefully due to the lawsuit brought against the state by the U.S. Department of Justice.
2. Trump is being called to testify
- The impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump is set to begin the week of February 8, and now U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the lead impeachment manager, is requesting Trump to testify under oath at the trial.
- Raskin sent a letter to Trump and his legal team saying that he’s being asked to testify due to his “disputing of these factual allegations,” arguing that Trump’s defense goes against “incontrovertible facts.” The request is that Trump faces cross-examination and testify by February 11. Trump senior advisor Jason Miller has confirmed, though, that Trump won’t be testifying at the trial.
1. $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill clears huge hurdle
- Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote that allowed Democrats to move forward with their massive coronavirus stimulus plan without the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster if Democrats stay united. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to agree today, clearing the bill for final passage and President Biden’s signature.
- While Democrats moved their bill and are prepared to enact it with a simple majority, Republicans picked up a couple of wins along the way such as GOP amendments that blocked illegal aliens from receiving stimulus checks, voiced opposition to the ending of the Keystone XL pipeline, and bans on fracking. In a strange moment, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) helped strip a $15 minimum wage provision from the bill.