Tuesday News: Back the Blue or else...


GOP BILL WOULD PUNISH CITIES FOR CUTTING POLICE BUDGETS: Republican lawmakers want the state to discourage local governments in North Carolina from cutting funding for law enforcement. North Carolina state Sen. Chuck Edwards unveiled legislation Monday that would reduce state funding to any local government that cuts spending for its police or sheriff’s departments. The goal is to make it more difficult for local officials to heed calls to “defund the police” and shift money to social services and other programs. Edwards’ bill, Senate Bill 100, would apply to cities, towns or counties that cut salaries or other expenses for law enforcement by more than 1% of the government’s budget that year. “The Police Funding Protection Act seeks to encourage cities and counties not to defund their law enforcement agencies,” said Sen. Danny Britt, a Republican from Lumberton who is co-sponsoring the legislation.

NC CRACKING DOWN ON OUT-OF-STATE VACCINE HUNTERS: The state has shifted its policy on vaccinating people from across state lines, saying vaccine providers no longer have to offer COVID-19 inoculations to people who don't live, work or spend "significant time" in North Carolina. The move follows a shift in U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance last week – guidance that top state health officials said once required vaccinators to take all comers, provided they met the state's tiered vaccine eligibility plan. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said 2.72 percent of the first 1.1 million first doses administered in North Carolina went to non-residents. That works out to just under 30,000 shots. It's not clear how many of those people traveled to North Carolina just to get the vaccine, as opposed to working here or staying in the state long term despite having a home address somewhere else. But there are some indications of "vaccine tourism," with people crossing into North Carolina just to get a shot.

THE NC GOP IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE, STILL BLINDLY DEDICATED TO DONALD TRUMP: The vote was by the party’s central committee, which consists of about 30 of the party’s top officials. “We felt it was important for the party to make a statement that we disagree with the vote,” said NC GOP Chairman Michael Whatley, who said he spoke with more than 100 party leaders and activists in the state since the impeachment vote. “The overwhelming sentiment was disapproval of the senator’s vote.” Burr’s vote was met with immediate condemnation Saturday from several North Carolina Republicans, including the chairman of the NC GOP and a candidate running for Burr’s seat in 2022. Wake County Republicans issued an official censure on Monday, too. “It says a lot about the fractures that have been exposed by the Trump trial vote,” Goodwin said in a telephone interview. “The 2022 primary election and more and more of the general election itself is going to be a vote on whether the Republican Party itself is going to become even more aligned with Trumpism or shed that.”

PELOSI PLANS 9/11-STYLE COMMISSION TO EXPLORE JAN 6 INSURRECTION: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House would move to establish an independent commission to investigate what led to a mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — one similar to the body that studied the 9/11 attacks for 15 months before issuing a sweeping 585-page report. Two days after former president Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate of inciting the deadly attack, Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled in a letter to Democratic colleagues that the House would soon consider legislation to form a commission to “investigate and report” on the attack and interference in election proceedings, as well as an appropriation to pay for enhanced security features on the Capitol grounds. Retired Army Gen. Russel Honoré, who was tapped by Pelosi to assess security after the attack, indicated in his “interim reporting” the necessity for improved safety measures, Pelosi said. Supporters of the commission say such an initiative will have broader authority than those committees to pursue testimony from those in Trump’s orbit — voices that were not part of the impeachment inquiry. The commission will not be under the time constraints of those committee investigations as it produces its findings. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who along with six other Republicans voted to convict Trump, said many questions remain unanswered after the trial. “Why was there not more law enforcement, National Guard already mobilized, what was known, who knew it, and when they knew it, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again in the future,” Cassidy said on ABC News’s “This Week.”

BIDEN SET TO GO ON TOUR TO PROMOTE PANDEMIC RELIEF PACKAGE: President Biden is set to seize the spotlight this week after weeks of attention on former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial. Mr. Biden is beginning a more public sales pitch for his domestic agenda, with his first set of work trips outside Washington. The president plans to fly to Milwaukee on Tuesday to participate in a CNN town hall, where he will most likely outline specifics of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, including sending $1,400 checks to individuals who meet certain income thresholds. On Thursday, Mr. Biden will travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to tour a Pfizer manufacturing site and meet workers producing the coronavirus vaccine. The travel is the president’s first time leaving Washington for work since Inauguration Day. The White House has been balancing safety precautions with the need to sell an ambitious agenda to constituents across the country. Democrats in the House plan to spend this week finalizing Mr. Biden’s stimulus proposal to pump nearly $2 trillion into the economy, including direct checks to Americans and more-generous unemployment benefits, with the aim of holding a floor vote as early as next week. The Senate is expected to quickly take up the proposal as soon as it clears the House, in the hopes of sending a final bill to Mr. Biden’s desk early next month. Federal Reserve officials have signaled that they planned to keep holding rates near zero and buying government-backed debt at a brisk clip to stoke growth. As President Biden presses ahead with plans for a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, he and his top economic advisers are brushing aside warnings that acting aggressively to stimulate a struggling economy will bring a return of the monstrous price increases that plagued the nation in the 1970s. After years of dire inflation predictions that failed to pan out, the people who run fiscal and monetary policy in Washington have decided the risk of “overheating” the economy is much lower than the risk of failing to heat it up enough.