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Welcome to your weekly run-down of all the big news, strange rules and interesting happenings from the world of US politics.
US President Joe Biden hit another one of his own stretch goals in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic this week.
It was four weeks late, but 70 per cent of American adults have now received at least one coronavirus vaccination. A tick over 60 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Despite the milestone, the New York Times reported that there was no celebration at the White House.
With the end of America’s summer of freedom now in sight, Biden returned to something that’s become a familiar feature of his presidency so far — a sobering address to the nation about COVID-19.
Australia has been neck deep in its fight with the delta variant of coronavirus for a while now, but the battle in the US is just heating up.
Keep in mind, the US has vaccination rates that were last week announced as the trigger for the easing of restrictions in Australia.
There’s been a fourfold increase in new daily cases in the US compared to last month, with the latest outbreak concentrated in states with the lowest vaccination rates.
Florida broke its own record for current hospitalisations. At the moment, there are more than 1,500 people ending up in hospital with COVID-19 every day.
Hospitals across the state have reported having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways.
Congress has had its own brushes with the worsening pandemic.
Republican senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, tested positive this week, despite being fully vaccinated.
Graham had been one of about a dozen senators who attended a gathering on the houseboat of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.
The boat is named, we kid you not, “Almost Heaven“.
Thankfully, all the senators were vaccinated, and none have tested positive since Graham announced his own infection and mild symptoms.
But unlike largely-unvaccinated Australia, lockdowns aren’t the balm that’s being applied to tackle the surge across the US.
With vaccines available to all who want them (and a majority of the population already with one in their arms) some corners of the country are losing patience with the holdouts.
New York, America’s biggest city and among the most vaccinated, announced this week that people will need to show proof of vaccination to do things like dine indoors or head to the gym.
Some of America’s biggest companies are doing the same.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Disney and Walmart have all implemented versions of a vaccine mandate for staff.
And Biden has done the same, with rules now requiring all federal workers to get a vaccine or take regular coronavirus tests.
But well before these fresh efforts to blunt the spread of the Delta variant and preserve America’s return to normalcy were rolled out, the opposition to them was in the making.
At least 34 states have introduced laws that would prevent requiring residents to show proof of vaccination and at least 13 have already passed versions of them into law.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis (who features frequently in polls as Republican voters pick who to run for president in 2024 behind Donald Trump) has been vocal in his opposition to anything that resembles a vaccine mandate.
“In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision,” he said when signing a bill into law in May.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott (another who is talked about as a potential Trump successor) issued an executive order that introduced $1,000 fines for any businesses that enforce mask or vaccine mandates,
According to NPR, a third of all new COVID-19 cases in the US were in just two states — Florida and Texas.
And it was governors like DeSantis and Abbott that Biden had in his sights at his address to the nation this week, despite his previous efforts not to turn the vaccination drive into a partisan battlefield.
Delta might be surging in the US, but so is the number of people getting vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the number of people getting their first shot rose 31 per cent compared to a week ago. The total number of vaccinations is up 16 per cent.
It’s up even more in the states, mostly in the south, that are awash with new cases of the Delta variant.
Outside of the politics of the pandemic, ordinary Americans appear to have taken things into their own hands.
Here’s the deal with … New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
A five-month investigation by New York’s Attorney-General Letitia James into allegations of sexual harassment against Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was handed down this week.
It found Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women inside and outside the state government, and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers.
In pre-recorded remarks, Mr Cuomo denied all of the accusations against him and the findings of the investigation (but a slideshow of him hugging and kissing people in what he said were benign settings was heavily criticised).
The campaign to oust Cuomo began the moment the allegations broke, but some of the biggest Democratic names said they’d wait until the investigation finished.
So once the findings dropped, Cuomo’s support from amongst his biggest Democrats allies collapsed.
First House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Cuomo to resign, then the President did the same.
But with James not referring the case to criminal prosecutors, and Cuomo seemingly digging in, the signs are all pointing to one conclusion.
Just like the presidential process, if Cuomo is impeached and convicted, he’d be removed from office.
One of the saddest moments of the 2016 election cycle came courtesy of one-time frontrunner Jeb Bush.
It’s NEVER a good sign when you’ve got to ask your audience for applause:
But his son might have delivered us a more embarrassing political moment. We’re talking about George P. Bush.
P. Bush is running for Texas Attorney General at the 2022 elections. Surely in his campaign announcement he’d mention his father (a former state governor), his uncle (a former US president) or his grandfather (also a former US president)?
You know who he did mention?
If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris could bury the hatchet, one can understand why P. Bush worked hard to court the man who trampled — repeatedly — over his own father on his way to the Oval Office.
But P. Bush got a harsh lesson that just kissing the ring at Mar-A-Lago doesn’t earn you the endorsement every Republican hopeful wants.
Trump eventually endorsed P. Bush’s Republican opponent Ken Paxton in the race, even though Paxton is facing criminal indictment on fraud charges and is under investigation by the FBI for corruption.
That’s the kind of news that you’d probably want to take with a stiff drink. P. Bush has plenty of stubbie coolers lying around for the occasion, at least:
Burning down the House
Representative Cori Bush stole the national spotlight this week for using old school activism to force legislative action.
For five nights, the first-term Democrat from Missouri slept on the steps of the US Capitol to protest the end of a federal moratorium on evictions enacted at the start of the pandemic.
Many of her Democratic colleagues had already given up on the issue, boarded planes and headed home for a long summer recess.
The 45-year-old single mother of two was evicted three times and lived out of her car prior to becoming a congresswoman,
Bush waited in rain, wind and Washington’s wicked humidity. Local activists joined up with her, as did a few progressive Democrats, including her pal Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Critics on the right, and even some on the left, scoffed at the approach.
But Bush’s refusal to budge paid off.
On Tuesday, Biden said he’d re-issue a 60-day eviction ban in regions with notable coronavirus surges.
It’s by no means a complete solution. Landlords can try going through the courts, and legal experts have already said the order lacks teeth.
Yet for now, Bush is back at home, sleeping in her own bed, reassuring those watching her that she’s not done fighting.