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7 Things: Federal workers will need to be vaccinated or tested, DOJ seeks to make temporary pandemic voting rules permanent, $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill seems doomed and more …

7. United States abortion laws are extreme, but not in the way you think

  • Next term, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider new abortion regulations in the country that would limit abortions to 15 weeks for elective situations. Currently, abortions are allowed until 20-24 weeks in some states.
  • The Charlotte Lozier Institute has reported that out of 50 countries in Europe, 47 limit abortions to at least 15 weeks. There are also eight countries that only allow abortions for specific medical or other reasons. This data is being used to highlight how much more extreme the abortion laws in the United States are compared to countries that are considered more progressive.

6. Orr: We need protection on health care decisions

  • State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) is highlighting how the ban on vaccine passports is becoming more important as coronavirus cases rise across the state and there is more discussion over mandatory vaccinations.
  • Orr brought up legislation to ban vaccine passports in the last legislative session. He’s said that this issue, though, is “about letting people make that health care decision on their own and the civil liberties of Alabamians.” Orr went on to add that it’s “troubling” to see the political hostility toward those who don’t wish to be vaccinated.

5. McConnell is encouraged by Ivey

  • U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has voiced support for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, saying that he was “encouraged” by what she said about the vaccination rates in the state.
  • McConnell was referencing Ivey’s statements where she said discussed the false information surrounding the coronavirus vaccine and encouraged people to get vaccinated. McConnell added that there are “people practicing medicine without a license” by “giving bad advice. And that advice should be ignored.”

4. COVID-19 related closures are back

  • In South Alabama, all “Dauphin Island municipal building lobbies will be closed to the public,” according to Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier. The decision to close buildings to the public is due to the increase in coronavirus cases in the area.
  • Collier has said that he’s not sure when buildings will reopen to the public, and he’s also working with other city officials to determine if there needs to be a cancellation or rescheduling of events set to take place in the community. Collier said, “[W]e are kind of going back to where we were when things were at explosive levels six to eight months ago.”

3. Smaller infrastructure deal appears to be close to reality

  • After U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) announced that she was opposed to a $3.5 trillion “infrastructure” package pushed by her fellow Democrats, it became clear that the fallback bipartisan deal was the only path forward.
  • The objection does not seem to be all that steadfast with other Democrats saying they won’t pass either bill if they can’t pass both, and Sinema says she is willing to negotiate. As of now, the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill includes money for roads, bridges, railroads and airports, along with water, power and broadband infrastructure.

2. States who don’t keep COVID exemptions in voting could be sued by the DOJ

  • Many states adopted new, allegedly temporarily, voting regulations during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to keep voting safe. Some of this involved extending qualifications for absentee or mail voting, but now the Department of Justice has indicated that states could be sued if they rescind these regulations.
  • A document released by the DOJ outlines protection for mail-in voting and reads that their “enforcement policy does not consider a jurisdiction’s re-adoption of prior voting laws or procedures to be presumptively lawful; instead, the department will review jurisdiction’s changes in voting laws or procedures for compliance with all federal laws regarding elections, as the facts and circumstances warrant.”

1. Biden to order federal workers and contractors to get the vaccine or get tested

  • With President Joe Biden preparing to call for a federal workforce that is vaccinated or tested regularly, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is opposing such mandates but is continuing his push for more people to get the coronavirus vaccine. He said that he knows “people who thought the vaccine wasn’t needed,” but some of those same people have “gotten the COVID in the last five months and they didn’t make it.”
  • Tuberville said he’s not in favor of federal mandates for the vaccine but does support masks being worn in schools. He supports, more than anything, wearing N-95 masks, but ultimately “we can’t disregard this virus. It’s back to some degree.”