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US Representative Massie’s stunt shows why Congress should vote from home

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New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez’s recent coronavirus diagnosis occurred three days after US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) amazingly tried to demand that House members travel back to Washington, DC during a national health emergency just to take a recorded vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, writes John Pudner. 

Fortunately other Members opposed his floor measure, but regardless, Rep. Velázquez was one of those who ended up traveling across the country to be present for the vote in the Capitol while everyone is worried about spreading the disease. Even worse is that the virus appears particularly deadly for older Americans.

This means she was crossing paths with many other Members of Congress, of which 147 are 65 or older according to a recent study. As a Democrat she presumably had some level of interaction with a few of the Democratic Leadership. The average age of Democratic leaders is 72 verses the average age of Republicans in leadership which is just 48. SHe was also in close proximity to Democratic Chairs and Ranking Members, who average 68 years old. This number is nine years higher than the average age of their Republican counterparts at 59.

Reports state that when Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) suggested early in March that his Democratic colleagues should leave Washington to avoid risking catching this Coronavirus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) immediately quashed the idea, saying:

“We are the captains of the ship. We are the last to leave.”

This is a false dilemma, a fake choice between letting Congress 'captain' the ship by meeting in person to overcome political maneuvering and avoiding members flying into DC and flying back to every area of the country potentially spreading the deadly infection.

A captain going down on a ship by themselves is isolated and helping save others until drowning. The true analogy is setting a bad example by telling others to stay at home and instead not only commuting to work but actually flying to work. Models show the rate of spread can either mean 40,000 deaths by 10 April, or 10 May, or neither, or much later based on decisions like Congresswoman Pelosi’s.

The simple solution is to allow a virtual Congress that can vote and do all this political maneuvering and procedures by video conference or other methods.

After Friday’s (3 April) vote there was bipartisan disdain for Rep. Massie all day with the president tweeting: “Looks like a third-rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress.”

During a National Emergency the last thing we needed was Rep. Massie demanding a recorded tally instead of a voice vote. However, if Speaker Pelosi and other leaders would stop their stubborn insistence that Congress do everything in person then challenges could play out with each Member back in their home district and communicating - by phone for now - with their actual constituents.

It can take a crisis to make necessary changes. Let’s hope in this case it results in members of Congress living among their constituents instead of in the swamp that is currently under stay at home directives.

John Pudner, Executive Director of TakeBack.org, was a George W. Bush campaign aid. 

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Scotland extends hospitality restrictions until 2 November - PA Media

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Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland, which include the closure of pubs and restaurants in the central belt area and a curfew on indoor hospitality elsewhere, are to be extended until 2 November, PA Media reported on Wednesday (21 October), citing Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, write Sarah Young and Andy Bruce.

 

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Coronavirus risks running out of control in Germany, warns Soeder

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The leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Soeder (pictured), warned on Wednesday (21 October) that the coronavirus is at risk of spiraling out of control in Germany, writes Paul Carrel.

While Germany’s infection rates are lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating and hit a daily record of 7,830 on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

“Corona is back with full force ... the second wave is here,” Soeder told the Bavarian state assembly, adding caution and prudence were required.

On Tuesday, residents in the Bavarian district of Berchtesgadener Land went back into lockdown, the first area in Germany to do so since April.

Soeder said he nonetheless wanted to keep open borders with neighbouring countries. Bavaria borders Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. He was also determined to keep the economy functioning and schools and nurseries open as long as possible.

“Our priority is to avoid a blanket lockdown,” he told the Bavarian state assembly, adding that he would introduce a “dark red” alert level with tougher restrictions for areas in Bavaria that have 100 new cases per 100,000 people over seven days.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was staying in quarantine at home until Oct. 29 after a bodyguard tested positive for the virus.

Steinmeier, whose role is largely ceremonial, has now twice tested negative for the virus, the spokeswoman added.

“There is light on the horizon,” said Soeder. “Of course, the vaccine will come, of course the situation will be very different in spring next year ... There is a tomorrow after corona.”

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Commission approves €2.3 million Czech scheme to support health SPA facilities affected by coronavirus outbreak in the Karlovy Vary Region of Czechia

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The European Commission has approved a CZK 62 million (approximately €2.3m) Czech scheme to support providers of SPA medical procedures and curative rehabilitation treatments in the Karlovy Vary Region (Czechia) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that health SPAs in the region are currently facing due to the drop in the number of patients caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

This scheme complements a scheme to support health SPA facilities in the whole of Czechia that the Commission approved in August 2020  (SA.58018). The Commission found that the Czech scheme for the health SPA facilities in the Karlovy Vary Region is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €800,000 per company as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2021.

The Commission concluded that the scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58198 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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