National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 52 (January 9–15)
As I write this on Martin Luther King Jr Day, I am thinking about all his family is doing to further his work regarding advocacy for voting rights and reformation of the filibuster. It’s hard to feel like we’re making progress, as Mr. King notes in his op-ed, particularly given the voting rights news below. But the voting rights fight is not over, and we owe it to our fellow Americans to keep it up.
Standard standing reminders still apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m mostly summarizing the news within my area of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a COVID test!–but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. And, of course, for the things that are within my lane, I’m offering context that shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!
Cleanup in Aisle 45:
As seems to be true every week, there are a lot of Election Rejection updates to report, and some of them are even promising. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Updates. The Justice Department had a busy week–they announced the creation of a new unit to address domestic terrorism, and for an encore they charged the head of the Oathkeepers with seditious conspiracy for his role in January 6. Also in January 6 news, the panel has begun to subpoena social media, which has the capacity to prove very interesting over the next few weeks. They’re also still negotiating with Mike Pence about interviews while Kevin McCarthy refuses his own interview request, which is probably going to mean another subpoena. Meanwhile, Trump hung up on the good people at NPR when his narrative was questioned on the 2020 election, and is also back to pestering courts to halt the NY AG investigation, which he claims is a political attack.
- 2024 Election Rejection News. Though it’s depressingly early for this nonsense, we’re also already seeing a lot of concerning groundwork for 2024. The biggest story is that the RNC is now refusing to work with the org that runs Presidential debates because the latter refuses to make various changes to the format per Republican demands. Lindsey Graham also had a soundbite on Fox News this week about how he won’t support McConnell anymore as Senate leader unless McConnell “ha[s] a working relationship with President Donald Trump,” referring to Trump in the same interview as “the leader of the Republican Party.” This is an incredibly striking thing for a sitting senator to say about his own congressional leader, but it’s even more disturbing in context–Trump has been out of office for over a year, and has not even formally announced plans to rerun. (I’m not gonna lie, I had to double-check the date of that article before linking it, because it reads like a 2019 fever dream.)
We did also see a bit of progress on the Biden Rebuilding front. Here’s what has happened:
- Biden’s Omicron Microprogression. The Biden administration announced several supports regarding testing this week. On Monday, it announced that private insurance companies will now be required to reimburse the cost of antigen testing starting on January 15. He also said he would provide 10 million free tests to schools on a monthly basis, explicitly to ensure schools remain in-person and open during the crisis. Finally, he’s also deploying military medical personnel to six states to address hospitalization crises, which we’ll talk more about below.
Your New Normal:
- Recent Senate Dysfunction. As I mentioned above, most of the Senate dysfunction this week is about federal voting rights legislation to combat increasing state laws designed to suppress votes. Though Biden expressed support for blowing up the filibuster, unsurprisingly Sinema and Manchin are both refusing to cooperate. Senate leader Chuck Schumer is now talking about exploiting a loophole to skip the filibuster argument altogether, though this process has been kicked out to Tuesday due to the combination of a winter storm and a positive COVID test.(For those of you wondering about Build Back Better, by the way, I’m sad to report that it now seems pretty dead in the water.)
- State of the COVID-19. All around the country, case rates are still in the stratosphere as I type this, and high hospitalization rates are prompting some providers to begin enacting crisis standards of care again. In many states with the earliest infections, death rates are also climbing. Nonetheless, Dr. Anthony Fauci and related officials are starting to treat the virus as endemic for vaccinated populations, saying that it is highly transmissible but nondeadly. And as foreseen by prophecy, the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s work vaccination mandate as unconstitutional, because apparently workplace safety is unamerican.
- Recent Medical Resilience. I do have a bit of positive medical news for you as well. Maryland saw the first successful organ transplant for a human patient using a genetically modified pig heart, which is potentially groundbreaking news for organ transplant. And in less groundbreaking but still edifying news, Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli is now officially banned from the pharma industry for life, as well as out $64M, per a final court settlement.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this Shiba Inu food critic as well as a more consistently improved government. I’ll be back next week with more restructured and improved news, and I hope you will be back as well–but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me wind right here in a jar!