Thank you for all the feedback on yesterday’s column. Very heartening. Most of all, I’m glad to hear it proved useful for some folks.
Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, January 14.
1. House impeaches Trump
- President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for a second time, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the U.S. Capitol.
- With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 on Wednesday to impeach Trump.
- The Alabama delegation voted along party lines, with Republican Reps. Jerry Carl, Barry Moore, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer voting against the impeachment resolution and Democratic Rep. Terry Sewell voting for it.
- Just 10 Republicans voted for impeachment. However, that number is actually relatively high, considering no Republicans supported Trump’s 2019 impeachment and just five Democrats voted to impeach President Bill Clinton back in 1998.
- The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said.
- In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote” in a Senate impeachment trial. It would take 17 Republican senators voting with Democrats to convict Trump. That’s a pretty high bar, especially after the president has already left office.
- Read more HERE.
- The Advertiser’s Brian Lyman has more reaction from the delegation HERE.
2. Space Command to locate at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal
- We broke some big news yesterday.
- The permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Command will be at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal, the Air Force announced.
- President Donald Trump established the U.S. Space Command in December 2018. It is designed to conduct “operations in, from, and to space to deter conflict
- In its announcement, the Air Force said Huntsville “compared favorably across more of these factors than any other community, providing a large, qualified workforce, quality schools, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial and recurring costs.”
- “Additionally, Redstone Arsenal offered a facility to support the headquarters, at no cost, while the permanent facility is being constructed,” the statement said.
- This has been a long time project for leaders in Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey, Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Mike Rogers in particular.
- Read more and see reaction from state leaders HERE
3. Orr files COVID liability bill
- Legislation to give businesses and other groups liability protection from civil lawsuits related to COVID-19 is expected to be a priority when Alabama lawmakers convene their 2021 session next month.
- Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, this week pre-filed the bill he said is intended to provide protection from frivolous lawsuits to entities that followed COVID-19-related safety guidelines. Orr said it is not an “immunity bill” for businesses.
- “It provides a safe harbor for those entities that acted pursuant to (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines and guidance,” Orr said.
- It does not protect businesses that did not make efforts to keep employees six feet apart or provide for other precautions, Orr said.
- “That could rise to the level of being reckless, or willful, and is not protected activity,” Orr said.
- Entities covered by the legislation include businesses and nonprofit groups, health care providers, educational institutions, churches, governmental bodies and cultural institutions.
- Full story from Mary Sell HERE.
4. State working to fix overwhelmed vaccination hotline
- A state vaccination hotline was quickly overwhelmed by thousands of callers seeking immunizations during the coronavirus pandemic, many calling before their time.
- Officials are trying to fix the problem, a top Alabama health leader said Wednesday.
- Dr. Karen Landers, the assistant state health officer, told a news conference the hotline, run by a contractor, was not able to handle the initial demand when it began operating, despite having 100 lines and 165 workers trained to answer calls. The phone number received 1.1 million calls in its first day.
- Besides adding additional capacity to the hotline, Landers said workers are trying to get an online system in place so people can make reservations for vaccinations without calling.
- But even if the problems are resolved, she said, all the vaccine doses the state has received so far have been spoken for.
- “What vaccine we have in Alabama we will give,” Landers said during a briefing with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.
- Landers said more than 87,000 people had been vaccinated as of Monday in Alabama, which has a population of 4.9 million. The first doses went to health care workers, and the hotline was flooded after the state opened up appointments for people 75 and older.
- Full story HERE.
5. Capitol investigators try to sort real tips from noise
- Potential threats and leads are pouring in to law enforcement agencies nationwide after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The challenge is now figuring out what’s real and what’s just noise.
- Investigators are combing through a mountain of online posts, street surveillance and other intelligence, including information that suggests mobs could try to storm the Capitol again and threats to kill some members of Congress.
- Security is being tightened from coast to coast. Thousands of National Guard troops are guarding the Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Governors and lawmakers are stepping up protections at state houses after an FBI bulletin this week warned of threats to legislative sessions and other inaugural ceremonies.
- A day before the deadly attack on the Capitol, the FBI sent an intelligence bulletin warning of potential violence to other agencies, including the Capitol Police. But officials either did not receive it or ignored it — and instead prepared for a free-speech protest, not a riot. It took nearly two hours for reinforcements to arrive to help disperse the mob. Five people died, including a Capitol officer.
- Full story HERE.
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