Liveblog - In case you missed it: Headlines 02/18/21

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Biden Administration:

  • President Biden is set on Friday to announce a total of $4 billion in contributions to COVAX, the vaccine alliance trying to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries, a senior administration official told reporters.
  • Biden will make the announcement during a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders about the pandemic.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will need preapproval from a senior manager before trying to deport anyone who is not a recent border crosser, a national security threat or a criminal offender with an aggravated-felony conviction, according to interim enforcement memo issued by the Biden administration Thursday.

Congress:

  • The Texas Democratic Party is calling on Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to resign or be expelled from office after the Republican lawmaker flew to Cancun, Mexico, for a family vacation in the middle of a deadly winter storm that has left millions of Texans without water and electricity.
  • Send a few bucks if you can: Colorado state Rep. Donald Valdez (D) on Thursday announced that he will challenge Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) for her seat in 2022, calling the first-term congresswoman a “threat to democracy” and blaming her for helping incite the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
  • Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., reintroduced the Equality Act in the House of Representatives on Thursday, with a vote on the sweeping LGBTQ rights bill expected next week.
  • The move brings the bill one step closer to potentially establishing the first federal discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Specifically, it would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces, public funding and jury service.

COVID-19 Updates:

  • Pfizer launches COVID-19 vaccine trial in pregnant women.
  •  As states lift mask rules and ease restrictions on restaurants and other businesses because of falling case numbers, public health officials say authorities are overlooking potentially more dangerous COVID-19 variants that are quietly spreading through the U.S.
  • “Now is not the time to fully open up,” said Karthik Gangavarapu, a researcher at Scripps Research Institute whose team works closely with San Diego health officials to watch for mutant versions of the coronavirus. “We need to still be vigilant.”
  • Covid-19 cuts U.S. life expectancy by a year in first half of 2020, biggest drop since WWII.

Voter Suppression:

  • Spoiler Alert: Whenever the GOP uses the word, integrity, when it comes to voting and/or elections, they really mean voter suppression; they just cannot say it outloud. They fool NO ONE.
    • The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Wednesday announced that it is forming a new Committee on Election Integrity that will advocate for “election transparency.”
    • Arizona Republican lawmakers have launched a “full-scale assault” on democracy, a coalition of voting rights groups in the state warned Tuesday, pointing to the introduction of a flurry of bills that would restrict ballot access and overhaul the state’s election system in the wake of major GOP losses there in the 2020 election. 
    • The RNC, along with state parties and lawmakers across the country, are aiming to change voting and election laws. The move comes after a number of states in the middle of a pandemic before last year’s election made an unprecedented shift to vote-by-mail, which the former president repeatedly assailed as “fraudulent” without any evidence.
    • Republicans in 33 states introduce 165 bills to restrict voting access.

White ISIS/MAGAts/Wing Nuts:

  • Sister Wife Ivanka Trump passes up Senate bid against Rubio.
  • Republican voters take a more favorable view of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene than Liz Cheney, and believe the freshman lawmaker is more representative of the GOP than the House Republican leadership figure, according to new polling data.
  • The latest data released by Quinnipiac University pollsters on Wednesday found that 17 percent of Republicans voters had a favorable view of Greene (R-GA), while 20 percent said they viewed her unfavorably.
  • Check the new and not so improved Parler: The FBI has released new photos of suspects in the U.S. Capitol riots as it tries to apprehend dozens who remain at large.

Other headlines:

  • As the Manhattan district attorney’s office steps up the criminal investigation of Donald J. Trump, it has reached outside its ranks to enlist a prominent former federal prosecutor to help scrutinize financial dealings at the former president’s company, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.
  • The former prosecutor, Mark F. Pomerantz, has deep experience investigating and defending white-collar and organized crime cases, bolstering the team under District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. that is examining Mr. Trump and his family business, the Trump Organization.
  • A surge of Republicans quitting the party to renounce Donald Trump after the deadly Capitol riot could hurt moderates in next year’s primaries, adding a capstone to Trump’s legacy as president: A potentially lasting rightward push on the party.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday signed a bill prohibiting an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected during an ultrasound with very few exceptions, becoming the latest Republican to sign a so-called heartbeat bill.
  • Dolly Parton asks Tennessee not to put her statue at Capitol.
  • Bob Dole, the former longtime Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, said Thursday that he has stage 4 lung cancer.
  • Last week’s initial jobless claims soared to 861,000, despite more states and cities lifting restrictive business measures amid a decline in the number of coronavirus cases. Economists had predicted around 773,000 first-time claims for the week ended Feb. 13. Data for the previous week was revised up to 848,000 from 793,000.

Ms. G

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