This is my update for Saturday, February 13th. Not a whole lot of news on the stimulus front, a study came out yesterday indicating that the $1,400 stimulus checks would allow 22.6 million Americans to pay their bills for at least four and a half months, I’ll leave a link to the study in the description below if you’re interested in checking that out.
Obviously the big news in D.C. today is that former president Trump was acquitted today by the Senate, no surprises there, the final vote was fifty-seven to forty-three, obviously following short of the two-thirds majority, sixty-seven votes required to convict.
All 48 Democrats and two Independents voted to convict. Seven Republicans voted to convict as well, Bill Cassidy, Richard Burr, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey. We heard some more kind of interesting reports of the events of January 6, they didn’t really seem to have any effect on Senate Republicans. The reports center around a phone call Trump supposedly had with top House Republican Kevin McCarthy during the attack on the capital, where McCarthy wanted him to tell the attackers to go home, Trump told him that those people were from antifa, and then McCarthy obviously pushed back on that.
And then Trump supposedly says something to the effect of, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” There were also reports that Trump knew Mike Pence was being targeted and still refused to act, and this new information led the impeachment team to push for witnesses. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, said “this is an additional, critical piece of corroborating evidence further confirming the charges before you, as well as the president’s willful dereliction of duty.
For that reason, and because this is the proper time to do so under the [Senate impeachment rules], we would like the opportunity to subpoena congresswoman Herrera [Beutler] regarding her communications with [Kevin McCarthy] and to subpoena her contemporaneous notes.”
Congresswoman Herrera Beutler was one of just ten Republicans in the House to vote for Trump’s impeachment, and she issued a statement last night confirming some of the details of these reports and calling on others who were around Trump and Pence at the time to publicize any information they might have.
Now again, I don’t think this would have changed anything in terms of Trump’s conviction, the vote to consider witnesses was just 55-45, with all 48 Democrats, both Independents, and Republicans Romney, Murkowski, Graham, Collins, and Sasse. But the trial took another unexpected turn when Democrats agreed to simply enter Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record without calling her as a witness.
So they voted to allow witnesses, everything looked like it was trending in that direction, and then they canceled that plan at the last minute and immediately moved on to closing arguments to wrap up the trial. And then the Senate voted, and Trump was acquitted, so this whole impeachment ordeal ended very predictably.
In terms of COVID-19, news also broke yesterday that Moderna received approval from the FDA to put 14 doses in each vial rather than 10, so it’s still the same vial, they just want to load more of the vaccine into each shipment. Moderna’s vaccine makes up around half of all the doses that are going out, so as long as there aren’t any issues a 40 percent increase in their delivery is going to bump our overall distribution by something like 20 percent.
Now that’s not going to happen overnight, Moderna issued a statement saying that it could take two or three months to adjust the dosage, but it’s still a good sign in terms of our long-term vaccine outlook. On the other hand, the entire vial has to be used within six hours of opening, so we’ll need to distribute these doses much more efficiently if we want to take advantage of the extra supply.
Vaccination is obviously a slow process, but we’re trending in the right direction at least, you can see here that the average number of doses per day has generally been increasing since the end of 2020. Keep in mind that around 70 to 90 percent of the population needs to develop resistance to the virus in order to reach the point where herd immunity starts to minimize transmission, and at our current pace that could take us until the end of the summer, if not even longer.
So this is good news, as I said we’re moving in the right direction, but we still have a lot of vaccinations ahead of us in 2021. That’s all I have for you today, bit of a slow news day with the impeachment trial wrapping up and the House off this weekend before moving toward a floor vote on the COVID relief package in the next two weeks.
Now that impeachment is over, the Senate will be ready to pivot to their role in passing the stimulus bill, and as I mentioned yesterday there have been reports that Senate Democrats may bypass the committee process entirely to put the bill to a vote as soon as possible.