Beltway Insider: Biden’s Budget, Trump CPAC, COVID, Vaccine, Cuomo, Saudi, Yemen, MARS, Tiger Woods

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President Biden's $1.9T budget, America's Rescue Plan, has passed the House, clearing the first hurdle toward becoming law, with republican senators vowing to argue the spending package is bloated with democratic redundancies and little direct Coronavirus aid.


The President's job approval rating, according to the website, for the period ending February 28, 2021, decreased by 0.1% to 54.4% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness increased by 0.2% percentage points to 38.3%. A slight 3% of the population polled have no opinion. Ratings are calculated weekly.


Beltway Insider: Biden’s Rescue Plan, Trump, Texas, COVID, Vaccine, Immigration, Khashoggi, MARS

Biden's Budget Advances

President Biden's $1.9T budget, billed as America's Rescue Plan, cleared the first hurdle passing the House with nearly all representatives, save two democrat defectors, voting along party lines. The bill advances to the Senate where it faces a greater challenge.

After the House of Representative votes, 219 to 212, the President congratulated Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her "extraordinary leadership."

"With their vote, we are one step closer to vaccinating the nation.  We are one step closer to putting $1,400 in the pockets of Americans.  We are one step closer to extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are shortly going to lose them.  We're one step closer to helping millions of Americans feed their families and keep a roof over their head.  We're one step closer to getting our kids safely back in school," President Biden said.

America's Rescue Plan advances to the Senate where democrats hold a majority with Vice-President Harris, casting what is expected to be tie-breaking vote, as the chamber is split 50-50.

Taking up arguments this week, the expectation is the bill will take effect before March 14, 2021, when provisions set in place by former President Trump are set to expire.

Biden, who has advocated for a federally minimum wage increase to $15 from the current $7.25, has faced repeated pushback and has said, if necessary, the legislation would be dropped from the bill to advance the budget.

Fighting for $15

Democrats have already faced a set back to the plan, as the Senate Parliamentarian leader, Susan MacDonough, squashed the minimum wage increase legislation from the rescue plan.

By Thursday before the House of Representative vote, "The Senate parliamentarian told lawmakers Thursday that the proposed increase didn't comply with Senate rules for inclusion in the relief bill," reports The Wall street Journal.

Faced with political wrangling and the possibility of drawn-out arguments, the democrats decided to pull the federal minimum wage increase which would bring the current federal minimum wage to $15.00.

"Parliamentarians are essentially the umpires of the Senate, ensuring that lawmakers follow the rules that govern how legislation moves forward. In recent years, the most difficult calls have involved bills passed through budget reconciliation, which allows the Senate to end debate and call a vote with the support of a simple majority," reported The Washington Post.

A non-partisan and essentially a federal employee not subject to election, the position is a line-by-line review of all legislation to ensure both parties maintain the law, the questioning of both need and position have been challenged with previous parliamentarian. Both parties have in the past vocally opposed the parliamentarian's decision.

"Most Democrats upset at MacDonough's ruling on Thursday pushed less extreme responses, such as overruling her. If Vice President Harris chose that path, Democrats would still need votes to do so, and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has publicly vowed to oppose going against the parliamentarian," The Washington Post reported.

Pelosi and other vocal members of the House of Representatives have vowed to "Fight for $15."

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Trump, GOP Leaders, Address CPAC

Former President Trump grabbed headlines this week as the keynote speaker at the annual conservative Political Action committee gathering and as expected has declared himself the leader of the Republican Party.

"In a speech to a group of conservative activists, Trump also plans to argue that the Republican Party is "united," despite GOP lawmakers who say the party needs to move past the ex-president whose single term ended with fruitless election protests and the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. "The only division is between a handful of Washington DC establishment political hacks, and everybody else all over the country," Trump plans to say, according to excerpts released by his office," USAToday reports.

McConnell's Bad Politics

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Washington's most powerful republican, delivered a scathing condemnation, as did many of his constituents, of former President Donald Trump for his part in the January 6, Capitol Siege, and yet he refused to vote for his impeachment.

Moreover, McConnell has continued to express strong public support for the former president, while not contradicting his immediate responses on the Capitol Siege and the former president's culpability, he certainly appears to be backing away from his sentiment.

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he would "absolutely" support former President Donald Trump if he became the GOP presidential nominee in 2024, a notable commitment following his recent blistering critiques of the former President," CNN reports.

Coronavirus Totals

The infection rates of the coronavirus have continued to decline around the world. The weekly account confirms that a while infection rates have slowed early accounts of deaths may have resulted in additional coronavirus deaths which were never attributed.

A new strain, a mutation, has created global concern for leaders around the world are determining the best direction for the protection of the population. The importance of maintaining personal protective practices is imperative to controlling the spread.

For the week ending February 28, 2021, coronavirus cases globally increased by 2,708,500 confirmed cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases worldwide to 113,777,400 people with a total worldwide death toll of 2,524,800 deaths, an increase of 64,800 over the past week.


Infections rates in the United States are also on the rise. For the week ending February 28, 2021, the total confirmed cases rose to 28,572,000 people with new confirmed cases increasing by 479,400 this week alone with an average of 68,485 cases daily. The coronavirus has claimed 511,800 total deaths, a weekly increase of 14,400 deaths. (Data from The New York Times).

FDA Approves Third Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration has approved for emergency use authorization to a third coronavirus vaccine, the Janssen CoviD-19 developed by Johnson & Johnson, a single shot vaccine, which can be stored up to three months and does not need extreme cold storage.

President Biden said, "Today, after a rigorous, open, and objective scientific review process, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for a third safe and effective vaccine to help us defeat the COVID-19 pandemic — the Janssen COVID-19 (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine. This is exciting news for all Americans, and an encouraging development in our efforts to bring an end to the crisis."

With a total population of 328million needing vaccination, and approximately 50million fully vaccinated Americans, a third vaccine is a boost to creating herd immunity. The statistics on the J&J vaccine are lower creating only a 72% overall efficiency rate in combating the virus.

The Pfizer and Moderna, two shot dosage, vaccines are still considered the most effective at 95%. It is expected the J&J vaccine will be used to vaccinate those who are harder to reach, in rural and other isolated communities.

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NY Governor Accusers Detail Sexual Harassment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is facing an inquiry into his mismanagement of the coronavirus Nursing Home deaths, is also facing increased pressure to resign as two former aides have detailed inappropriate comments and sexual harassment.

With no term limits on his current position, the third term governor who was once considered a possible presidential candidate, and an expected easy reelection for a fourth term, is now facing backlash from members of his own party who are striking out against his strongarm muscle tactics used to silence those who balk at his political machine.

"But public dissent is now spreading through New York political circles — and notably within Cuomo's own party — as a growing number of rising politicians calculate that they can succeed without the help of the governor's machine. Assemblyman Ron Kim (D) of Queens, who has been critical of Cuomo's handling of nursing home data, said the governor threatened to "destroy" him earlier this month if he did not retract his comments," reports The Washington Post.

Cuomo who, as would be expected, has repeatedly denied the allegations of sexual harassment, backroom bullying, and as admitted his style is aggressive. Gone unchecked aggressive politics often becomes steamrolling politics and destroying all who question or challenge.

The sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo coming from a former aide, Lindsay Boylan, who had access to the governor, traveled with him and whom she has said kissed her without consent. A second accuser Charlotte Bennett has come forward with similar, albeit more aggressive, allegations and has said she wanted to "counter the way Mr. Cuomo wields his power."

'"This is not just an aggressive politician. This is someone who has a narrative, and if you do not publicly agree with that narrative, he will threaten you," said Monica Klein, a liberal activist who previously worked for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), a fierce rival of the governor. "What that means is dissent is silenced,"' The Washington Post reports.

New York Attorney General Leticia James has investigated the allegation that Cuomo underreported the nursing home death and released a report recently stating "that among those findings were that a larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than the New York State Department of Health's (DOH) published nursing home data reflected and may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent."

Her office released an additional statement regarding the Governor Cuomo's sexual harassment investigation stating "To clarify, I do not accept the governor's proposal. The state's Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral. While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per Executive Law. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted."

"Mr. Cuomo said in a statement to The Times on Saturday that he believed he had been acting as a mentor and had "never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate." He said he had requested an independent review of the matter and asked that New Yorkers await the findings "before making any judgments,"' The New York Times reported.

Saudi Sanctions 

The Biden Administration released this week the official report on the murder and dismembering of Washington Post reporter, Jamal Khashoggi, which explicitly implicates the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the death.

Biden has backtracked on his campaign promise in which he said they must be held accountable to determining his administration is unable to proceed with charges without alienating a key ally in the region.

The reports states bin Salman sent a hit squad to lie in wait at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Those who carried out the hit have been sanctioned by former President Trump.

Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis

Khashoggi isn't the first murder committed and sanctioned by the Saudi government nor is it the first time the United States has looked the other way. Saudi neighbor Yemen is daily facing with the worst humanitarian crisis in its challenged history.

Starving the Yemenites, stopping humanitarian aid and assistance, murdering the infants and children, crippling a people through continued bombing raids and emotional devastation, the Saudi government now have imposed a no-fly zone over the withering nation which stops any air drops of humanitarian aid.

"American complicity in the Yemen war goes beyond providing training and intelligence support, and selling billions of dollars in weapons to the UAE and Saudi Arabia … The US is looking the other way while its allies commit war crimes and avoid responsibility for instigating the world's worst humanitarian crisis. "Washington shared intelligence, refuelled aircraft, sold weapons, and provided diplomatic cover. Now, almost six years after the Saudi intervention, the war in Yemen is nothing short of a disaster. It has further destabilised the Middle East, empowered Iran, and sullied the United States' global reputation," reports the South China Morning Post.

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Perseverance Provides MARS 360

Nasa's MARS Perseverance rover, equipped with more than a dozen cameras, has sent back the first 360-degree images of the Jezero Crater landing zone to the Jet propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover got its first high-definition look around its new home in Jezero Crater on Feb. 21, after rotating its mast, or "head," 360 degrees, allowing the rover's Mastcam-Z instrument to capture its first panorama after touching down on the Red Planet on Feb 18. It was the rover's second panorama ever, as the rover's Navigation Cameras, or Navcams, also located on the mast, captured a 360-degree view on Feb. 20," reported.

Tiger Woods

Pro Golfer Tiger Woods, who survived a devastating rollover this week, has said he has no memory of the automobile crash that could have cost the two-time Master's Tournament champion his life.

While the prognosis on his recovery is positive, his injuries are still listed as "serious but stable" and he has been moved to Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, where he is expected to stay throughout the remainder of his medical recovery and rehabilitation. Woods' long-term prognosis which includes the possibility of returning to pro-golf remains questionable.


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