Posts tagged with "Roll Call"

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause likely to last only a few days

April 14, 2021

On Tuesday morning, federal officials said they expected the recommended pause in administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to last only a few day—and said it should not impact the United States’ vaccination goals, Roll Call reports.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced early on March 13 that the they were recommending a pause in Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations after six female patients out of the 6.8 million Americans who had received the vaccine to date reported the development of a rare type of blood clot six to 13 days after vaccination. The women were between the ages of 18 and 48.

The Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Peter Marks, told reporters on a call that the pause is necessary to educate providers about the type of blood clot caused by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, called a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

Standard blood clot treatment does not work for this type of clot, which, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, occurs in the brain’s venous sinuses. Such a clot prevents blood from draining out of the brain. As a result, blood cells may break and leak blood into the brain tissues, forming a hemorrhage—and leading tio a life-threatening stroke.

The experts warn that, if the standard course of treatment is followed for a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, it could cause further harm or even be fatal, Roll Call reports.

Marks said there is no known link to birth control or contraceptives. The only hypothesis health officials mentioned is that the adenovirus vaccine creates an extreme immune reaction in some people that causes platelet clots.

The CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is set to meet on Wednesday, March 14, to review these cases and discuss the potential significance.

CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat told reporters that anyone who was vaccinated with this one-shot vaccine a month ago or more should not worry. But anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in the past few weeks should watch for symptoms including severe headaches, leg pain, or abdominal pain that differs from typical post-vaccination symptoms.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said these reactions are extremely rare and should not deter Americans from getting vaccinated for COVID-19. The pause is due to regular safety monitoring, she said.

“The message to patients who haven’t been vaccinated is to continue to get vaccines that may still be available to them,” Woodcock said.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters the delay would not have a significant impact on the U.S. vaccination plan. The one-shot vaccines from Johnson & Johnson make up less than 5% of recorded shots in arms to date.

The U.S. has secured enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer to continue vaccinating 3 million people per day, Zients said. States and the federal government plan to work quickly to get anyone scheduled for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine rescheduled for a two-dose shot by Moderna or Pfizer.

The pause will immediately impact the places that receive vaccines directly from the federal government: retail pharmacies, community vaccination clinics, mobile vaccinations units and FEMA-run sites.

The move could shutter some mass vaccination sites. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is working with states to find other vaccines.

“FEMA is committed to helping the President’s goal to ensure everyone who wants to be vaccinated can be. In alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, effective immediately FEMA will stop administering this vaccine at our pilot Community Vaccination Clinics, as well as via our Mobile Vaccine Units,” said Acting Administrator Bob Fenton in an emailed statement. “We are working with our state partners to determine the path forward and find alternative vaccine options for these sites.”

Georgia, North Carolina, and Colorado have reportedly shut vaccination sites because of adverse events experienced by people receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Several states—including Maryland, New York, and Ohio—confirmed Tuesday morning that they would pause administering the vaccine.

Research contact: @rollcall

‘Plan B’ for minimum wage is pitched as Senate prepares to vote on aid package

March 2, 2021

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said on February 26 that he would draft a “Plan B” to boost the federal minimum wage through the tax code since language intended to do the same that was included in a pandemic relief package has been given a thumbs-down by the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian.

According to a report by Roll Call, the Oregon Democrat issued a statement saying his proposal would impose a 5% penalty on the payroll of “big corporations” if any of their workers “earn less than a certain amount.” The penalty would increase over time and also apply in cases where companies replace those workers with contractors, he said.

For small businesses, Wyden said he would offer an income tax credit equal to 25% of wages—up to $10,000 per employee—if those businesses “pay their workers higher wages.”  Details of the proposal were not immediately available.

The move came in response to guidance from the Senate parliamentarian Thursday evening, February 25, that a proposal to raise the hourly federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025 would violate rules under the budget reconciliation process, which Democrats are using to avoid a Republican filibuster.  The so-called Byrd Rule prohibits including measures in a reconciliation bill if their budgetary impact is “merely incidental” to their underlying policy objective.

Wyden said he was offering an alternative plan to raise wages through the tax code in an effort to avoid a procedural objection. “We couldn’t get in the front door or the back door, so we will try to go through the window,” he said in his statement.

President Joe Biden had proposed the minimum wage boost as part of his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. But he said earlier this month he did not expect the wage measure to survive in the package under Senate rules.

“While conversations are continuing, I believe this ‘Plan ‘” provides us a path to move forward and get this done through the reconciliation process,” Wyden said. “We can’t continue to have millions of workers—workers who are disproportionately people of color, women and essential workers like fast food workers and home health aides — earning starvation wages.”

According to Roll Call, the Retail Industry Leaders Association—which represents big-box store chains like Best Buy, Target,  and Home Depot, quickly denounced Wyden’s proposal as an assault on business.

“Threatening businesses with a whopping payroll tax increase … should be a non-starter for anyone who cares about economic recovery and getting furloughed workers back on private sector payrolls,” said Austen Jensen, the trade group’s SVP for Government Affairs. “This shouldn’t be brought up under a 50-vote scenario or a 60-vote scenario; it’s a terrible idea.”

The House, which passed the aid package  on Friday, has included the minimum wage provision despite the adverse ruling from the Senate’s parliamentarian. However, RollCall points out, the wage measure will have to be stripped out when the bill reaches the Senate unless Democrats decide to overrule the parliamentarian. The White House issued a statement Thursday night saying Biden would respect the parliamentarian’s guidance.

Research contact: @rollcall

Delta won’t allow DC-bound passengers to check guns ahead of Biden’s inauguration

January 15, 2021

Delta Air Lines won’t allow travelers flying to the airports serving the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to check their firearms on flights ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC on Thursday, January 14.

The policy, which starts this weekend and runs through next week, follows the January 6 deadly pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol; as well as a spate of politically motivated disturbances on flights and at airports, reports NBC News. Law enforcement officers who are authorized to carry firearms will be exempt.

“We’re all on high alert based on the events over the last couple of weeks in Washington,” Bastian said in an interview on CNBC’s early morning show, “Squawk Box.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that it will take a zero tolerance policy for travelers who are unruly or interfere with flight crew duties, fining them up to $35,000.

Airlines, airports, and hotels are ramping up security ahead of the inauguration. Several airports said they will add more police, while airlines are increasing staffing and booking overnighting crews at airport hotels. American Airlines said late Wednesday it will suspend alcohol sales for D.C. flights.

In addition to the firearms restrictions, Delta has put 880 people on its no-fly list for not complying with its mask requirements and has banned others from flying with the airline for harassing other passengers or unruly behavior related to the U.S. election results, a spokesman told Reuters.

Last week, supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump heckled Utah Senator Mitt Romney on a Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Washington. D.C.

Research contact: @NBCNews

House impeaches Trump for instigating mob attack on Capitol

January 15, 2021

One more time with feeling: House Democrats in their second impeachment of President Donald Trump accomplished what they couldn’t in their first: They kept their party unified and brought some Republicans on board, Roll Call reports.

The chamber on Wednesday voted 232-197 to approve a single article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for encouraging his supporters who attacked the Capitol last week.

The article outlines Trump’s impeachable conduct, describing how for months leading up to the January 6 joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College votes, he “repeatedly issued false statements” alleging widespread fraud and saying state and federal officials should not certify the results.

Trump reiterated those false claims in a January 6 speech at a rally for his supporters outside the White House in which he also “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged— and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,’” the resolution says. 

“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts,” the resolution reads.

The impeachment article also cites Trump’s “prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification,” like his January 2 phone call threatening Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find enough votes to overturn the state’s results, as it notes he “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power,” Roll Call notes.

Wednesday’s vote makes Trump the first president in history to be impeached twice. The House first impeached him on December 18, 2019, on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. The Senate acquitted Trump of both charges on February 5, 2020.

Trump has seven days left in office, and a Senate trial won’t occur in time to remove him any earlier.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump “must be convicted by the Senate, a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”

Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a note to his conference Wednesday refuting media press reports that have suggested he plans to support impeachment, but the Kentucky Republican left open the possibility he may reach that conclusion.

“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell saidm, according to the Roll Call report. 

Ten Republicans, including the No. 3 in House GOP leadership, Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, voted to impeach Trump.

All 222 Democrats supported the impeachment resolution as well.

Republicans besides Cheney who voted to impeach Trump include Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse of Washington, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton and Peter Meijer of Michigan, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Tom Rice of South Carolina and David Valadao of California.

The bipartisan support is different from the first time the House impeached Trump, when no Republican supported either article.

The impeachment vote split the GOP leadership team, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise voting against the article and Cheney voting for it.

McCarthy in a floor speech said Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol,” but he argued against impeachment, saying it would “further fan the flames of partisan division.”


Pelosi declined Wednesday morning to tell reporters when she planned to transfer the impeachment article to the Senate, which will determine how quickly the chamber can begin a trial.

The Senate is out of session until Jan. 19. McConnell on Wednesday rejected Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s request to use a 2004 emergency convening authority to bring the Senate back early, McConnell’s spokesman confirmed.

Whether or not the trial is held while Trump is still in office, lawmakers have said they intend to invoke Amendment 14 of the U.S. Constitution, which, under Section 3, would bar Trump from holding public office ever again.

Section 3 reads: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Research contact: @rollcall

Roll Call exclusive: States plan to independently vet COVID-19 vaccine data

September 18, 2020

Governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, are publicly raising doubts about the FDA’s and the CDC’s ability to withstand pressure from President Donald Trump to develop a coronavirus vaccine at warp speed, Roll Call reported exclusively on September 17.

Those same officials are expressing skepticism about federal reviews of potential COVID-19 vaccines—with some going so far as to plan to independently analyze clinical trial data before distributing a vaccine, in a sign of how sharply trust in federal health agencies has fallen this year.

The wariness—which public health experts call highly unusual if not unprecedented—could undercut the goal of a cohesive national immunization strategy and create a patchwork of efforts that may sabotage hopes of containing the coronavirus.

State plans to review the data indicate how deeply any appearance of political meddling could disrupt vaccination and cost lives Roll Call says.

And it’s not a surprise that some red states appear more likely to rely on the Trump Administration, while blue states may scour the data and be more cautious about vaccinating their residents immediately.

CQ Roll Call contacted state health departments in 50 states and the District of Columbia and received substantive responses from a dozen:

  • Seven jurisdictions indicated that they would analyze the data independently: California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Michigan, New York, Oregon and West Virginia.
  • Another two—Montana and Wyoming—said they would only administer a vaccine that completed clinical trials and an outside committee’s review.
  • Three states —Arizona, Georgia and Oklahoma— indicated they would accept federal recommendations as usual.

 “The president says he’s going to have a vaccine. CDC is talking about a vaccine in early November. How convenient. It’s going to be an Election Day miracle drug,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said earlier this month.

Cuomo referenced the FDA’s emergency use authorization earlier this year of a drug touted by Trump, hydroxychloroquine, which the agency later withdrew after finding the drug was not effective against COVID-19 and could lead to dangerous heart conditions. “Some people are concerned that the vaccine may wind up being hydroxychloroquine,” he said, adding that the state health department will review the research before recommending that New Yorkers take any vaccine.

Nearly 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Research contact: @rollcall

Trump Administration cuts off funding to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in five states

June 25, 2020

The Trump Administration is doing its level best to close—or at the very least, slow down—coronavirus testing nationwide by cutting off support to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites on June 30; and leaving operation and funding of those sites to the states—even as cases spike in several parts of the country, Politico reports.

This is not the first time that the Administration has tried to offload control of the drive-thru sites to the states—but the last effort was suspended in April when governors in the states affected objected strongly.

The 13 sites—in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas—are the last federally run sites out of 41 originally established across the country. Seven sites are in hard-hit Texas, where cases are climbing.

Taking the offensive on Thursday, June 24, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir told Roll Call that the sites were always meant to be a temporary solution as the country worked to ramp up testing capacity in traditional health care settings.

What he didn’t mention was that, with a looming election challenge, Trump has seen the pandemic as a drag on the economy that he simply wants to go away.

Indeed, in early March, the president transferred responsibility for flattening the line on the coronavirus pandemic to the states—and, specifically, to the governors. He will neither wear a mask nor recommend one; and he has been unwilling to release nearly $14B in Congressional funding for testing and tracing efforts to combat COVID-19. However, he continues to brag that his pandemic effort is the best ever executed.

Already protesters are piling on: Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, tells Politico that it’s not the right time to shift responsibility for the sites to the states—especially those near emerging hot spots in Texas

“The federally supported testing sites remain critically needed, and in some place like Houston and Harris County, TX and in other hotspots, are needed now more than ever,” Becker said in an email. “This is not the time for the federal government to walk back prior commitments on testing.”

Even Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is critical of the plan, noting,. “It’s pretty clear to me, and I think it’s clear to all of us, that with the uptick of cases, now is not the time to retreat from our vigilance in testing,” he said. “I believe that they need to extend that federal support in Texas, at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed.”

So what will be the outcome? HHS says there is no going back: Gigroir recommends that the state governors can use CARES Act funding to maintain operations at the current federally supported testing sites.

Research contact: @politico

Joe Scarborough calls Trump out on COVID-19 liability waiver for supporters at Tulsa rally

June 15, 2020

Many Trump supporters are so zealous that they say they’d walk through fire for him. But would they expose themselves to something equally as dangerous–COVID-19?

That’s what they are being asked to do next Friday night, when the president presides over his first rally in nearly three months in Tulsa. In fact, Trump is demanding that members of his loyal base insulate his campaign from accountability by signing a liability waivers for COVID-19, if they want to attend the June 19 event, Roll Call reports.

“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” the online registration form for the public says. “By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”

The BOK Center is the large indoor arena in Tulsa that will be the site of the June 19 Trump campaign rally. ASM Global manages the venue, says Roll Call.

The White House and congressional Republicans are focusing on including limitations on liability for coronavirus-related claims in any economic aid package. It was not immediately clear how that might apply to political campaigns.

But MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, the host of Morning Joe,  spelled out the possible consequence of attending Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa amid the coronavirus pandemic by taking to his Twitter feed to rewrite the liability waiver for fans wanting tickets. 

Scarborough’s redraft was short and to the point:

“TRUMP: Come to Our Rally. PS. It could kill you, but that’s your problem.

The coronavirus has killed more than 116,000 people nationwide, and at least 14 states are experiencing a surge of new cases following the easing of restrictions.

Scarborough expanded on the waiver on Friday’s broadcast, which he co-hosts with his wife Mika Brzezinski, saying, “Donald Trump is standing alone more and more every single day on this issue of race.”

Research contact: @rollcall

Senate panel votes to require Pentagon to assign new names to bases dubbed for Confederates

June 12, 2020

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee has approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Pentagon to rename bases and other assets that are named after Confederate military leaders, a source confirmed to The Hill.

The move comes as Americans have hit the streets for 16 nights straight to protest the murder in Minnesota of George Floyd on May 25—and to assert that Black Lives Matter.

The amendment, offered by committee member Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), was approved by voice vote on Wednesday, June 10, during the committee’s closed-door markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the source familiar with the situation told The Hill.

The amendment would give the Pentagon three years to remove the Confederate names.

The news, which was first reported by Roll Call, comes after President Donald Trump said he would “not even consider” renaming the Army bases, insisting on his Twitter feed:

It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.

Just two days before Trump’s tweets, an Army spokesperson said Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were “open” to renaming the 10 bases that are named after Confederate military officers.

Specifically, the bases, which are in Southern states, are Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.

During a briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also said Trump would veto the NDAA if the massive policy bill mandated changing the names of the bases.

The inclusion of the amendment to force the Pentagon to change the base names, coupled with McEnany’s veto threat, potentially puts the White House on a collision course with Congress over what’s generally considered a must-pass bill. Republicans disinclined to confront the president still have opportunities to strip the amendment if they want, such as when the bill hits the Senate floor as soon as next week.

Research contact: @thehill

Rich man, poor man: Fed legislators are worth 10X more than voters

March 5, 2018

The median net worth of an adult American is $44,900 , based on findings of a Business Insider study released in June 2017. That’s less than one-tenth of median net worth of a federal legislator, according to a study by Roll Call released on February 27.

The people’s representatives just keep getting richer, and doing so faster than the people they represent. Indeed, according to Roll Call’s data, the median minimum net worth (meaning half are worth more; half less) of today’s Senators and House members was $511,000 at the start of this Congress, an upward push of 16% over just the past two years. The total wealth of all current members was at least $2.43 billion when the 115th Congress began.

The political news source noted, “The disparity becomes clear after examining the most recent financial disclosures of virtually every current lawmaker. The news is not likely to do them any good during a midterm campaign year when disapproval of Capitol Hill remains in record territory and sentiment remains strong that politicians in Washington are far too disconnected from the lives of their constituents.”

For every 13 members of the U.S. Congress, Roll Call found, one may fairly be dubbed a “1 percenter,” the term of derision imposed by liberal groups on the richest 1% of Americans. Data from the Federal Reserve pegged the net worth threshold for these people at $10.4 million in 2016, a mark exceeded by 26 Republicans and 17 Democrats during this session of Congress.

Specifically, more than half of the collective worth of Congress is held by 12 members, Roll Call documented. Among the 10 richest member of the current U.S. Congress are the following:

  1. Darrell Issa (R-California): $283M
  2. Greg Guianforte (R-Montana): $136M
  3. Jared Polis (D-Colorado): $123M
  4. Dave Trott (R-Michigan) $119M
  5. Michael McCaul (R-Rexas): $113M
  6. John Delaney (D-Maryland) $93M
  7. Mark Warner (D-Virginia): $93M
  8. Vern Buchanan (R-Florida) $74M
  9. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut): $70M
  10. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) $58M
  11. Tom Rooney (R-Florida): $55M
  12. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Indiana): $50M

Below this rung of the phenomenally prosperous is a thicker belt of the merely flush— the 153 House members (13 more than in the previous Congress) and 50 senators who are millionaires, at least on paper. This stands in contrast to the 7.4% of U.S. households that had amassed a net worth above $1 million in 2016, their home values included, according to the Spectrum Group investment research firm.

By coincidence, 38% of the women in Congress are millionaires—identical to the share of millionaires in the total membership.

The congressional millionaire ranks skew old, “reinforcing how many people enter politics only after they’ve assured themselves of a solid financial footing.” Roll Call said. A little more than half of the five dozen lawmakers born before the end of World War II are worth more than $1 million, as are 43% of the Hill’s Baby Boomers (or the five out of eight members born between 1946 and 1964). But among the quarter of the membership from Generation X and the handful of Millennials, only 20% are millionaire.

At the other end of the spectrum are nearly one-quarter of the members (123),  whose financial disclosures reflect a negative net worth. For many this is true only on paper, because they owe plenty on their home mortgages, which must be reported while the value of their real estate is not. (Neither is their annual $174,000 government salary.)

And in the middle are the “typical” members, with senators boasting a significantly better median net worth ($1.4 million for Republicans, $946,000 for Democrats) than House members, where the median figure for both caucuses is just north of $400,000.

A very similar figure, $397,000, is the minimum net worth disclosed on the essentially identical form for 2016 filled out by Vice President Mike Pence, who spent a dozen years as a federal legislator from Indiana.

President Donald Trump’s most recent form, however, describes a chief executive far richer than anyone in the legislative branch-—worth at least $1.1 billion at the time of his election.

Research contact: davidhawkings@cqrollcall.com