What Now?! – 2/17/2021

“The NAACP on Tuesday morning filed a federal lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, claiming that they violated a 19th century statute when they tried to prevent the certification of the election on Jan. 6,” the New York Times reports.

“The civil rights organization brought the suit on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). Other Democrats in Congress — including Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) — are expected to join as plaintiffs in the coming weeks.”

Politico: “The lawsuit, filed Tuesday morning in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Trump and Giuliani, in collaboration with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, conspired to incite the riots to keep Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. It claims they did so in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era statute designed to protect both formerly enslaved African Americans and lawmakers in Congress from white supremacist violence.”

“Former President Donald Trump might have easily avoided conviction at his second impeachment trial — but he could find it a lot tougher to beat the several serious criminal and civil probes that he now faces,” CNBC reports.

“And at least one of those investigations carries the potential for Trump to be sent to jail if convicted.”

“That would be an unprecedented event in American history, as no ex-president has ever been charged with a crime, much less locked up for one.”

“Joe Biden will make his case for a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan directly to the public on his first official trip outside of Washington since becoming president in an attempt to pressure Congress into closing negotiations over the package,” the Financial Times reports.

“Biden’s planned visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Tuesday follows the swift conclusion of the impeachment trial against Donald Trump… The end of the proceedings will allow Biden to recapture the full attention of lawmakers for his economic agenda, which aims to combat the fallout from the pandemic with a massive new injection of government spending.”

Washington Post: Biden seeks to return attention to combating the coronavirus with televised town hall.

USA Today: “States will receive their biggest boost yet in coronavirus vaccine doses this week, a 23% increase over the previous week and a 57% increase since President Joe Biden took office… The White House also announced that it’s doubling to 2 million the number of doses being sent directly to local pharmacies.”

The Hill: “The White House on Monday announced a program to extend mortgage relief and a moratorium on home foreclosures through June as thousands of Americans continue to struggle to keep up with payments during the coronavirus pandemic.”

According to the White House, over 10 million Americans are behind on their mortgage payments.

Punchbowl News: “After sometimes bitter debates and months of delays, Congress passed five key Covid relief bills last year with big bipartisan margins.”

“Yet now with Joe Biden in the White House calling for another nearly $2 trillion in federal aid to ‘crush the virus’ and finally get the U.S. economy back on its feet, Republicans are balking.”

“Senior House GOP lawmakers and aides tell us that it’s possible just a handful of Republicans — single digits, perhaps — will vote for the Biden proposal. The Budget Committee will consider it this week, and it’s expected on the floor next week.”

Bottom line: “Republicans are adrift at the moment. The lowest common denominator to get back on the same page will be opposing Biden and his agenda — especially a package of this size. We saw them do this in 2009 with the stimulus. And we expect the same here.”

Politico: “The pandemic has disrupted lives and exacerbated inequities and a raft of public and private surveys show clear political potholes and opportunities because of it. The coronavirus is spawning sweeping policy prescriptions from Democrats and Republicans alike, from billions in school reopening funds to the creation of a federal child allowance. And it’s prompting pollsters to loosely coin emerging voter demos like ‘women in chaos’ and ‘families in crisis.’”

“Within the GOP, there is a belief that the pandemic and resulting turmoil make Biden and Democratic incumbents especially vulnerable among those demographics.”

President Joe Biden’s effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour “is facing an unexpected roadblock: Biden himself,” the AP reports. “The president has seemingly undermined the push to raise the minimum wage by acknowledging its dim prospects in Congress, where it faces political opposition and procedural hurdles.”

“As Democrats try to plot a way forward to raise the minimum wage to $15-an-hour, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) announced that he’s working on a separate bill to increase the long stagnant minimum wage while ‘ensuring businesses cannot hire illegal immigrants,’” NBC News reports.

“Romney said he’s working on the bill with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and it also includes a provision for the minimum wage to ‘increase automatically with inflation.’”

Dr. Anthony Fauci told Axios that he feared Covid-19 could get him, particularly during the Trump administration “when I was going to the White House every day, when the White House was sort of a super-spreader location.”

Former President Donald Trump put out a very long statement attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Said Trump:”The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm.”

He added: “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.” Trump also promised to “back primary rivals” of some incumbent GOP senators.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) position on former President Donald Trump “put the minority leader at odds with the bulk of his own party,” Politico reports.

Said Johnson: “From my standpoint, Leader McConnell speaks for himself. In this case, I don’t believe he speaks for the conference, and I think he needs to be a little careful. You know when I speak, I do actually try and take in mind how it might reflect on the party.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tries to explain his vote to acquit former President Donald Trump in the Wall Street Journal. “There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone. His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended.”

“I was as outraged as any member of Congress. But senators take our own oaths. Our job wasn’t to find some way, any way, to inflict a punishment. The Senate’s first and foundational duty was to protect the Constitution.”

Jeff Flake: “We didn’t convict him. We should have, but we didn’t. Let’s not compound the grievous injury to the country and our party by continuing to embrace him, for Trumpism is the opposite of conservatism. We all know that, too. There is nothing to gain by making a pilgrimage to Florida.”

“There is no enlightened mystic at Mar-a-Lago — just a diminished man who lost an election and couldn’t accept it. There is no redeeming his behavior. And let’s not continue this tragic charade by further humiliating and debasing ourselves.”

Ian Millhauser notes that filibuster reforms happen regularly and suggest four changes that could help make the Senate function more smoothly:

  • Make fewer bills subject to the filibuster.
  • Reduce the power of individual rogue senators.
  • Make it easier to break a filibuster.
  • Reduce or eliminate the time it takes to invoke cloture.

“New police radio dispatches and security footage from the January 6 US Capitol riot paint an even sharper picture of how the insurrectionists at times showed little fear of the police as they launched a large and coordinated attack,” CNN reports.

“Leo Brent Bozell IV, the son of conservative activist L. Brent Bozell III, was captured on video inside the Senate chamber during the attack on the U.S. Capitol and has been charged with three federal offenses,” the HuffPost reports.

The Huffington Post has a running tally with profiles of the 57 Republican lawmakers and officials who have been identified as attendees of the protests that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“Many have since sought to avoid responsibility for their part in it all. Of the 57 GOP officials identified as being at the rally, afterward at least 20 pushed the false conspiracy theory that ‘antifa,’ or leftist anti-fascists, actually started the violence — a claim that’s been rendered increasingly absurd with the arrests of about 200 Trump supporters since Jan. 6.”

“In an emergency vote Monday night, North Carolina’s Republican Party voted unanimously to censure Sen. Richard Burr, just two days after the retiring Republican cast a ‘guilty’ vote in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial,” the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Burr called it a “truly sad day” for state Republicans. He added: “My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation.”

CNN anchor John Berman accused North Carolina Republican Party chair Michael Whatley of “canceling” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) by censuring him over his vote to convict former President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.

Said Berman: “We hear a lot from people in the Republican Party about cancel culture. You know, you are canceling Richard Burr for his impeachment vote which he says was a vote of conscious.”

Whatley rejected the assertion, saying the “cancel culture” is “entirely different” than the party’s decision to censure Burr.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) said that Hispanics are “very good workers” but implied they are not Americans in comments she made during a congressional hearing on vaccine distribution, the American Independent reports.

Said Lesko: “I worked with people that are Hispanic. I mean they’re very good workers. You know, we’re compassionate people, but for goodness sakes, we have to take care of American citizens, or people that are here legally, first.”

Jonathan Bernstein notes that bringing back earmarks comes with real benefits but only minor disadvantages:

“The downsides are even more marginal. Earmarks are budget-neutral — they offer instructions about how to disburse money that is already being appropriated — not new funding. In a way, they do add an arbitrary element to government spending, giving advantages to those lawmakers who sit on key committees or otherwise have the ability to bargain for them. Those who think spending should be purely by formula might not like that. But defenders of earmarks will point out that government spending formulas are never neutral or nonpolitical, and that direct decisions by the people’s representatives are a more democratic way of allocating funds than turning the decision over to the bureaucracy.”

“A new-old ritual is taking shape in the Biden White House, one that starts with bulky briefing packages, war-gaming the ‘what-ifs,’ and Oval Office discussions about how to talk to this or that particular U.S. ally or adversary,” the AP reports.

“Twelve times since he took office, President Joe Biden has dialed up a world leader after reinstituting what was a long-held White House standard mothballed by Donald Trump: vigorous preparation. Gone are unnecessary digressions and over-the-top cajoling or haranguing of fellow heads of state.”

CNN: “As Biden settles into a job he has been seeking on-and-off for three decades, the daily routine of being president — with a phalanx of Secret Service agents, regular updates on the nation’s top secrets and an ever-present press corps — has come more naturally for him than for his more recent predecessors.”

“He has established a regular schedule, including coffee in the mornings with the first lady, meetings and phone calls from the Oval Office starting just after 9 a.m. and a return to his residence by 7 p.m. As he walks home along the Colonnade, he’s often seen carrying a stack of binders or manila folders under one arm. He still brings a brown leather briefcase into the office.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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