Wake Up To Politics - March 16, 2021
Good morning! It’s Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 602 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,330 days away.
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Checking in on the vaccine rollout
Just a year after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, almost 10 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines are administered around the world each day. Here’s the latest on the vaccine rollout:
The numbers. More than 71 million Americans — 21.4% of the nation, or more than 1 in 5 — have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the CDC. More than 38 million Americans, or 11.5% of the country, are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, vaccination rates are soaring in the United States: an average of 2.7 million doses are administered in the U.S. each day, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
Almost 30% of the vaccine doses that have been administered around the world have been in the United States. Furthermore, 64.1% of Americans who are 65 years of age or older have received at least one vaccine dose. Some evidence suggests the effects of that vaccination spike may already be showing: University of North Carolina professor Zeynep Tufekci noted on Twitter that hospitalizations of people in that age range have fallen sharply in recent weeks, although it is possible that other factors (such as changes in behavior and seasonality) could be partially responsible as well.
Around the world. While vaccinations in the U.S. are speeding up, most countries around the globe are experiencing rocky rollouts of their vaccines. A number of European countries — including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain — suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday, further complicating a continent-wide vaccine push that had already been plagued by shortages and other issues.
The AstraZeneca shot, which has yet to receive authorization in the United States, had been crucial to the European vaccine strategy. But countries are halting its use amid reports that some recipients have developed dangerous blood clots. According to the company, there have been 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people who have received the vaccine across Europe. Health agencies are currently investigating the reports, but so far no link has been established between the vaccine and the blood clots.
According to a statement from AstraZeneca, the number of blood-clotting incidents is “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines.”
Hesitancy. More and more Americans are indicating a willingness to take the vaccine. According to a survey by Pew Research Center earlier this month, 69% of U.S. adults now plan to get — or have already gotten — the vaccine, up from 51% in September. After concerns by some experts about a racial disparity in reluctance to receive the vaccine, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll shows that there is little difference among racial groups: 73% of Black people and 70% of White people said they either planned to take the coronavirus vaccine or had done so already.
However, experts are now focusing their concerns about vaccine hesitancy on another group: Republicans. 49% of Republican men said in the NPR/PBS poll that they did not plan to take the vaccine, the highest proportion for any demographic group. (The next-highest were Trump supporters, with 47% not planning to be vaccinated; white men without college degrees at 40%; and white evangelical Christians at 38%).
The Biden administration is reportedly mulling ways to urge Republicans to take the vaccine as part of a broader PR push that will soon be unveiled. One question remains whether President Biden will draft his predecessor into joining the push to urge vaccinations. “Well, if former President Trump woke up tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of vaccine, certainly we’d support that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, while noting that he did not “need an engraved invitation” to take part.
Eligibility. Mississippi will today become the second state to make all adult residents eligible to receive the vaccine, joining Alaska. Biden has promised to direct all 50 states to make every adult citizen eligible for the vaccine by May 1.
BORDER CRISIS: “Nearly two months into his first term, Biden faces a growing political threat from the upheaval at the border and is drawing criticism from across the spectrum. Centrist Democrats are nervous about attacks casting them as soft on border security. Liberals and immigration activists are sounding alarms about how migrants are treated. And Republicans are increasingly laying the groundwork for immigration-centric attacks in the midterm elections.” Washington Post
THE CABINET: “The Senate on Monday confirmed New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, making her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet department and the first to lead the federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for nearly two centuries.” Associated Press
CAPITOL RIOT: “The Justice Department has arrested and charged two men who allegedly assaulted Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray during the riot at the U.S. Capitol, as authorities continue working to determine whether the assault was a direct cause of Sicknick’s death.” ABC News
All times Eastern.
President Joe Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. before traveling to Pennsylvania. At 3:30 p.m., Biden will visit a small business in Chester to promote the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The president will then travel to Wilmington, Delaware, where he will stay the night.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Colorado. They will visit a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Plan De Salud Del Valle, Inc., in Fort Lupton and participate in a listening session with small business owners at Maria Empanada in Denver. Harris and Emhoff will then return to Washington, D.C.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press gaggle aboard Air Force One on the flight to Pennsylvania.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be in Tokyo, Japan, for the first leg of their trip to Asia. The two secretaries will participate in a “2+2” meeting of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Japanese Defense Minister
Nobuo Kishi. Later, they will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. Following Leader remarks, the chamber will begin consideration of the nomination of Isabella Guzman to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The chamber will hold a cloture vote to advance Guzman’s nomination at 12 p.m., before recessing until 2:15 p.m. for weekly caucus meetings.
After the caucus meetings, the Senate will vote on Guzman’s confirmation and a cloture vote to advance the nomination of Katherine Tai to be U.S. Trade Representative.
The House will convene at 12 p.m. for one-minute speeches from 15 lawmakers of each party. The chamber will then recess until about 3 p.m., when it will reconvene to consider five pieces of legislation under “suspension of the rules” (a fast-track procedure that requires bills to receive two-thirds support):
- H.R. 1085, a resolution to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the U.S. Capitol Police and those who protected the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 attack
- H.R. 1799, the PPP Extension Act (which would extend the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses through June 30)
- H.R. 485, the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
- H.R. 1651, the COVID–19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act
- H.R. 1652, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund ActThe Supreme Court is not in session.
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