7 Things: Senate rules impeachment of past president constitutional, Marsh’s lottery plan includes casinos for current players, GOP says it will hold Shelby’s seat and more …
7. WHO says coronavirus didn’t come from a lab — China agrees
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus didn’t come from a lab in Wuhan, China. Instead, the team investigating the origins of the coronavirus thinks it’s more likely that the virus came from an animal.
- Members of the WHO spent four weeks in Wuhan, and the leader of the mission, Peter Ben Embarek, said that this didn’t change the understanding of the virus, but it “added details to that story.” Embarek added that “the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population.”
6. Offering more to police officers, firefighters and more first responders
- Legislation has passed through the State House of Representatives that would have cities and counties reimburse police officers and firefighters for their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTDS) treatments, specifically their insurance co-payments.
- The bill sponsored by State Representative Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) would also set up disability payments for those who are unable to work due to PTSD. This legislation passed in a 98-0 vote.
5. Biden’s focus on white nationalism in the U.S. military is for show
- Much like the Biden administration’s decision to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline, their decision to have the entire military “stand down” while they attempt to root out extremism is bound to find very few instances is extremism in the ranks for obvious reasons. Administration officials know this and have told The Hill that they don’t expect a large number of extremist members to be revealed, saying, “[T]here’s a limit to what we’re going to be able to obtain.”
- The main issues with the clearly political move are that there are already programs in place to punish and separate individuals associated with extremists and the reality that there is not a real issue of rampant extremism in the ranks of active duty or veterans as a whole. In 2019, there were 68 domestic terrorism investigations that involved active or former members of the military out of the 1.3 million on active duty and 18 million veterans.
4. Biden administration standards for open schools are ridiculous
- President Joe Biden’s administration has maintained that they want to have most schools for in-person classes within the first 100 days of office, but now there have been more details explained on what an “open school” actually means.
- During a press conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked what their definition of an “open school” is, and Psaki clarified that Biden just wants at least a “majority of schools” reopened in the first 100 days. She advised they’ll consider schools operating on “at least one day a week” in-person as an “open school.” It’s already been recommended that at least K-8 schools could reopen safely without teachers being vaccinated.
3. Senator Rick Scott: Shelby’s seat will stay red
- U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has said that U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) seat will stay Republican, even though Shelby has announced he won’t be running for reelection in 2022.
- Scott described Shelby as a “lion of the Senate,” and he emphasized that with Democrats holding the majority in the U.S. Senate, “the people of Alabama will demand Senator Shelby’s successor uphold the same conservative principles that became his trademark.”
2. Lottery, sports betting and a special interests protection setup for casinos
- State Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has proposed his lottery bill that would allow for five casinos located in Birmingham, Mobile, Greene County, Macon County, and either Jackson or Dekalb Counties; the latter facility would be run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
- The legislation is a constitutional amendment, so it not only has to pass through the legislature but also has to be approved by voters in Alabama. Sports betting would also be allowed at the casinos. The bill will be considered today by the Senate Tourism Committee.
1. Impeachment trial ruled constitutional
- The U.S. Senate has decided to move forward with the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump after a 56-44 vote ruled that the trial is constitutional. Six Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward with the process. U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) previously supported U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) motion that the impeachment is unconstitutional, but he said Tuesday, “House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not.”
- Even with Cassidy’s vote, there is still no chance Democrats will be able to get a conviction of the former president. It seems rather obvious that the audience for this trial is not the 100 senators in the room, but rather the people who are watching at home and listening to those who are commentating on the events of the day as House impeachment managers play clips from the January 6 rally and the riot that followed.