TOP BIDEN AIDES BEGIN TALKS WITH MODERATE SENATE LAWMAKERS ON CORONAVIRUS RELIEF PACKAGE: Top aides to President Biden began talks yesterday (January 24th) with a bipartisan group of at least a dozen moderate U.S. senators on Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Republican lawmakers are questioning the size of the package, particularly sending everyone a new $1,400 payment, while some Democrats are urging the president not to spend too much time trying to reach bipartisan consensus amid the coronavirus crisis, including the ongoing economic fallout. Independent Senator Angus King of Maine said there was, quote, “absolute consensus” during the talks that the top priority was speeding up vaccine distribution and expanding Covid-19 testing and contract tracing.
HOUSE SENDING TRUMP IMPEACHMENT ARTICLE TO SENATE TODAY, MORE REPUBLICANS OPPOSE: House Democrats will bring the sole article of impeachment that was passed against former President Donald Trump to the Senate this evening (January 25th) ahead of a Senate trial that is expected to begin in two weeks. That comes as a growing number of Republican senators are saying they’re opposed the having a trial with Trump no longer in office, lowering the chances that enough Republicans would side with the Democrats to convict, or on a separate vote that would bar Trump from holding federal office again. The Democratic-led House impeached Trump on one charge of “incitement to insurrection” one week after the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Threats Against Lawmakers: Meanwhile, AP cited a U.S. official as saying federal law enforcement is looking at number of threats aimed at members of Congress as Trump’s impeachment trial gets closer, including talk of killing or attacking lawmakers outside the Capitol. That has led Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to say they want some of the more than 25,000 National Guard troops that were brought into Washington, D.C., ahead of President Biden‘s inauguration to remain. AP cited the Guard Bureau as saying all but 7,000 will have gone home in the coming days, and that their number will continue to go down in the coming weeks to about 5,000 guardsmen, who are expected to remain until mid-March.
CDC REVIEWING DATA SUGGESTING U.K. CORONAVIRUS MUTATION COULD BE MORE DEADLY AFTER ALL: Health officials have been saying that the new mutated coronavirus variation first seen in the U.K. and which has been detected in several places in the U.S. is more contagious, but not more deadly. But now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conferring with British health officials about a new report from the U.K. that now suggests it could be deadlier after all. However, the data is not conclusive.
Vaccine Supply Concerns: Top health officials in the new Biden administration expressed concern yesterday (January 24th) about vaccine shortages, but expressed optimism that the situation would be improve. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Fox News Sunday, “I think that the supply is probably going to be the most limiting constraint early on, and we’re really hoping that after that first hundred days we will have much more production.” She said she hoped the supply problems would be eased by March as more vaccines get delivered.
Biden to Reinstate Travel Restrictions, Add South Africa: President Biden will today reinstate coronavirus travel restrictions on non-U.S. travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and 26 other European countries, and add South Africa to the restricted list because of a worrisome virus mutation that’s shown up there. Trump is reversing an order former President Donald Trump issued in his final days in office that called for easing the travel restrictions.
FIVE KILLED, INCLUDING PREGNANT WOMAN, IN INDIANAPOLIS MASS SHOOTING: Five people were killed in a mass shooting in Indianapolis early Sunday (January 24th), among them a pregnant woman whose unborn child also died. Police responded to a report of someone shot just before 4 a.m. and found a “juvenile male” with gunshot wounds. They then got information that led them to a home less than a block away, where they found five people who’d been shot to death, including the pregnant 19-year-old woman, a 13-year-old girl, and an 18-year-old man. The other two victims, one male and one female, were both 42 years old. All the victims except the pregnant woman had the same last name. The juvenile is expected to survive. Police said it didn’t appear to be a random shooting. They didn’t as of yesterday have any named suspects, but said they believed more than one attacker could have been involved.
CHICAGO TEACHERS VOTE AGAINST RETURNING TO CLASSROOM, DESPITE DISTRICT ORDERS: The Chicago Teachers Union said Sunday (January 24th) that its members voted against returning to in-person classes over coronavirus concerns, despite district officials having ordered them to go back to classrooms and contending that refusing to return would amount to an illegal strike. Chicago public school officials wanted kindergarten through eighth grade teachers and other staffers to go back to schools today to get ready for some 70,000 students to come back for part-time in-school classes starting on February 1st. But the teachers’ union said it’s concerned about the health of its members, believing the district’s coronavirus safety plan isn’t good enough and that vaccinations should be more widespread before they go back. They therefore called on their members to continue teaching from home instead.