Texas Democrats Leaving State To Block Voting Restrictions Bill

Road sign reading Texas

Road sign reading Texas

Democratic lawmakers in the state of Texas are reportedly leaving the state today in order to break the quorum required to pass new voting laws. The governor had called the special session into order primarily for the purpose of passing the legislation.

From the Texas Tribune:

Upping the ante in both the legislative fight at home and the national debate over voting rights, most House Democrats are expected to board a flight out of Austin headed for the U.S. capital without a set return date.

At least 51 of the 67 Democratic representatives — the number needed to break quorum — were in the process of leaving, most arriving at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Monday to board a chartered flight.

The House is set to reconvene Tuesday morning, but the absent Democrats would mean there will not be enough members present to conduct business under House rules.

Texas Democrats are hoping to find some (any) leverage to force their way to the negotiating table as them say they’ve been shut out of drafting of the voting bill.

News Round-Up: April 8, 2021

Hunky guy snaps a gym selfie
Hunky guy snaps a gym selfie
(image via kenneth-in-the-212)

Some news items you might have missed:

Kenneth-in-the-212: Kenneth’s weekly ‘Mask4Masc’ feature is a winner with all kinds of inspiration this week (plus more at the link).

TVLine: NBC’s streaming platform Peacock has ordered a reboot of the landmark queer TV series Queer As Folk.  Described as a “vibrant reimagining,” the new Queer as Folk will center on a diverse group of friends in New Orleans whose lives are transformed in the aftermath of a tragedy. The original QAF debuted on Britain’s Channel 4 in 1999 and ran for 10 episodes. The American version was created for Showtime and lasted five seasons (from 2000 to 2005).

Axios: A new Gallup poll shows more Americans identify as Democrats by the largest margin since 2012. Per the recent survey, 49% say they support Democrats, 40% support the Republican Party and 11% say they are Independents with no partisan leaning.

(graphic via Gallup)

Instinct Magazine: Grammy-nominated singer Kehlani shared this past weekend during an Instagram Live chat that she identifies as a lesbian. “You want to know? You want to know what’s new about me? I finally know I’m a lesbian,” said the singer.

Herald Leader: A southern state is actually making it easier to vote? Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) signed into law Wednesday a significant election reform bill that will make it easier for Kentuckians to vote early, bucking a national trend of more restrictive election laws in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

The Gaily Grind: The office of embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz released a statement purportedly written by female staffers defending the pro-Trump lawmaker amid his ongoing sex trafficking scandal. Despite being signed by “The Women of the Office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz,” not a single woman is named in the statement.

Instagram: Just a quick reminder that baseball is back – and I ain’t mad 🙂

Polls: 40 Point Gap Between Those Who Will Or Won’t Get Vaccinated

Top health officials say the U.S. will begin making booster shots for COVID vaccines available for folks 8 months after they become fully vaccinated

At this point, the most powerful weapons in science’s arsenal to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are the vaccines approved to combat the virus.

But will Americans take it when it becomes available to them?

From CNN:

In an average of Axios/Ipsos polls taken in January and February, 74% of Democrats said they’d either been vaccinated, or were extremely or very likely to get vaccinated as soon it’s available to them. Just 51% of Republicans said the same thing. Independents were in the middle of these two groups at 61%.

When Gallup asked respondents whether they would agree to get vaccinated if the vaccine were available to them right now, the partisan gap stood at 40 points (91% for Democrats and 51% for Republicans) in their most recent poll.

CNN goes on to report that those partisan differences could be dangerous for Republicans since friendships have become filtered by political leanings more than ever.

A 2020 Pew Research Center poll showed 59 percent of Trump supporters said a lot of their close friends voted for Trump, 30 percent said some of their close friends did, and only 10 percent of Trump backers said few or none did.

If Democrats get vaccinated but Republicans choose not to, it could lead to breakouts in those communities that lean conservative.

Read the full report here.

At this writing, there have been 27,428,733 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 475,786 COVID-19 related deaths.

There are currently 67,023 people hospitalized due to the virus.

In related news, Politico reports that doctors, nurses, and public health groups are trying to build confidence in Covid-19 vaccines on social media using coordinated campaigns to combat anti-vaccination disinformation.

Dems Announce Surprise Call For Impeachment Witnesses Then Backtrack

Well, here on the west coast, we woke up to the surprise news that the House Managers prosecuting the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump were going to call witnesses.

Five Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to hear witnesses at Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

And, suddenly, it appears they’re now folded and the two legal teams are moving to closing arguments with a possible vote by the entire Senate today.

From ABC News:

After an 11-hour scramble, the Senate has determined it will be calling no witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The written testimony of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., — one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump — was admitted into evidence, instead of moving further with the process for hearing from witnesses.

Neither the Trump legal team nor the House impeachment managers made any further motions. The parties mutually came to the agreement to admit Herrera Beutler’s statement and not request further witnesses.

Closing arguments are underway, for which each side is allotted two hours.

Dems Outpacing Repubs In Fundraising For Georgia Senate Runoff

A prosecutor in Georgia is reportedly in the early stages of investigating Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the election results in the state

A highway sign reading Georgia where Democrats are leading in fundraising ahead of the upcoming Senate runoff elections

The two Democratic candidates in the Georgia Senate runoff races for U.S. Senate are far outpacing their Republican opponents in fundraising.

From Fox News:

Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is taking on Republican Sen. David Perdue, took in more than $106 million from Oct. 15 through Dec. 16, according to his latest campaign finance report.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Kelly Loeffler, was close behind with a little over $103 million.

Perdue reported $68 million over the same two-month span, with Loeffler collecting just under $64 million. Three of the campaigns reported their financial data on Thursday. Loeffler submitted hers a day earlier.

The two races will determine which party will control the Senate in 2021.

If the Democrats win both seats, there will be 50 Dems and 50 Republicans in the chamber, but with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris – who serves as president of the Senate – control would swing to the Democrats.