BURR & TILLIS VOTE TO STOP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF DONALD TRUMP: Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis both voted to acquit Trump in his first impeachment trial in early 2020. Both voted to certify the election results Jan. 6, recognizing Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden. On Tuesday, both were supportive of a Republican motion calling the impeachment trial unconstitutional. Sen. Rand Paul forced a procedural vote in the Senate on the trial’s constitutionality. It was killed by Democrats and five Republicans, but Burr, Tillis and 43 other Republicans backed his view. “This is a civilian now. A charge like this would go to the Justice Department and be referred for prosecution. Unfortunately, that’s not what they’re doing,” Burr told reporters at the Capitol on Monday. Tillis told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that “on the broader issue of impeaching a private citizen, I think, is an issue where the Senate needs to create a record that the majority of us are against it.”
BERGERMOORE AND COOPER SAY THEY WILL TRY TO WORK TOGETHER THIS YEAR: Moore said overwhelming bipartisan support in 2020 for bills that meted out $3.6 billion in coronavirus funds from the federal government signals more bipartisanship early this year as lawmakers distribute another tranche of COVID-19 funds. And locating money for expanded rural broadband coverage also should be well received. Berger and Cooper have said they've talked many times since the election about working to find areas of agreement. Cooper said he anticipates a new way to approach the state budget that relies on improved communications. “I think we all want to be able to get to a budget that we can agree on,” Cooper told the AP last month. During the legislature's one-day meeting Jan. 13 to elected leaders, Berger said he would accept Cooper's commitment to “expand common ground where it may exist.” But he also told Senate colleagues that Republicans would not veer away from conservative fiscal policies to reach it. “The voters chose divided government. That’s where we are. And so we will have to govern accordingly,” Moore said.
NC'S GREEN AND CONSTITUTION PARTIES LOSE BALLOT ACCESS AFTER LOW VOTE COUNTS: Two political parties are no longer recognized in North Carolina. Decertification of a political party happens automatically when a party fails to poll at least 2% of the entire state’s vote for governor or president in the latest general election. Neither the Green Party nor the Constitution Party met that criteria. In 2020, Green presidential candidate Howie Hawkins won 12,195 votes or 0.22% of the vote for president, while Constitution candidate Don Blankenship won 7,549 votes or 0.14% of the vote. NC State Board of Elections spokesman Pat Gannon said voters of the two parties will automatically be re-registered as unaffiliated voters. From there, they have a choice of joining the remaining three parties: Republican, Democratic or Libertarian. They may also remain unaffiliated. The NC Board of Elections last recognized the Constitution Party on June 6, 2018. The party’s formation happened after state lawmakers, in 2017, lowered the number of voters’ signatures required to form a new party.
TRUMP JUDGE BLOCKS BIDEN'S 100 DAY FREEZE ON DEPORTATIONS: A federal judge in Texas blocked President Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause” on Tuesday in a ruling that may point to a new phase of conservative legal challenges to his administration’s immigration agenda. Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee, granted a temporary restraining order sought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, saying the state had demonstrated a likelihood of facing immediate harm from Biden’s pause. The court order will be in effect for 14 days while Tipton considers a broader motion by the state for a preliminary injunction. Though the order is temporary, the state’s lawsuit portends more legal challenges by Biden opponents, appealing to a judicial branch reshaped by the confirmation of hundreds of Trump appointees. Paxton, a close Trump ally, celebrated the ruling as a “victory” on Twitter and declared Texas “the FIRST state in the nation to bring a lawsuit against the Biden Admin. AND WE WON.” In one of his first executive actions, Biden ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt most deportations from the interior of the United States for 100 days. The pause was intended to allow ICE to overhaul its enforcement priorities, amid intense criticism from Democrats that President Donald Trump had used the agency to terrorize immigrants who had not committed violent or other serious crimes. Texas argued that the moratorium would place an unfair burden on the state and that the measure violated an agreement Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) had signed with Ken Cuccinelli, then serving as acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, less than two weeks before Biden was sworn in.
GLOBAL VACCINE SHORTAGE HAS BRITAIN AND THE EU FIGHTING OVER DOSES: For months now, wealthy countries have been clearing the world’s shelves of coronavirus vaccines, leaving poorer nations with little hope of exiting the pandemic in 2021. But a fresh skirmish this week has pitted the rich against the rich — Britain versus the European Union — in the scramble for vials, opening a new and unabashedly nationalist competition that could poison relations and set back collective efforts to end the pandemic. The European Union, stung by its slow progress on vaccinations, threatened this week to tighten rules on the shipment of Belgian-made shots to Britain. British lawmakers, in turn, have accused their European counterparts of a blackmail campaign that could embitter relations for a generation. And poorer countries, already at the back of the line for vaccines, could face even longer waits if the intense squabbling among rich countries drives up prices for everyone else. At the core of the problem are production delays at separate factories in Belgium that make the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the one developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. With a new and more contagious coronavirus variant fueling a surge of cases in several European countries, those delays have undermined efforts to get shots into millions of people’s arms, ratcheting up the global competition for doses. But the notoriously tricky manufacturing of vaccines is only part of the problem. Public health experts say the entire global system of buying doses, pitting one country against another with little regard for equity, is unfit to the task of ending a pandemic that respects no borders. Many European countries, rich and poor, have been hoping that the arrival of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine would hasten the pace of vaccinations, owing to its lower price and simpler storage requirements, compared to those from Pfizer and Moderna. But AstraZeneca told the European Union at a teleconference last week that it was going to slash its scheduled deliveries to 31 million doses by the end of March, less than half of the 80 million doses the bloc had been expecting.