India death toll rises by thousands; Jury unable to reach majority verdict in Jack De Belin case; Bert Newton has leg amputated; New advice on airborne spread of COVID-19



By 9News Staff, Associated Press10 May 2021 06:30India’s daily COVID-19 cases have dipped from the highs of recent days, with 366,161 new positive results.A further 3754 people have also died, according to the India Health Ministry, bringing the total death toll to 246,116.Health experts fear case numbers are being underreported as the country’s health system continues to stagger underneath the massive burden.India’s Supreme Court said on the weekend it would set up a national task force consisting of top experts and doctors to conduct an “oxygen audit” to determine whether supplies from the federal government were reaching states. Complaints of oxygen shortages have dominated the top court recently, which just stepped in to make sure the federal government provided more medical oxygen to hospitals in the capital, New Delhi.

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Scotland’s future on a ‘knife edge’: Nicola Sturgeon admits SNP hopes of majority will go down to wire as Boris Johnson blasts her plan for new independence referendum as ‘irresponsible and reckless’



Nicola Sturgeon was today aiming to push ahead with plans for a second Scottish independence referendum as Boris Johnson set himself on course for a dramatic constitutional clash with her in his defence of the Union as the tight election count resumed in Scotland today. 

The tense parliamentary contest looked on track for a record turnout, despite fears that the pandemic and poor weather would dent voter numbers – with the Scottish National Party leader admitting her hopes of a majority were on a ‘knife edge’, but it is ‘almost certain’ the SNP will win its fourth term in power at Holyrood.

Ms Sturgeon said ‘when the time is right’ she will offer Scots ‘the choice of a better future’ in a second referendum on independence – but Mr Johnson hit back, insisting he would not back the ‘irresponsible’ move, and senior minister George Eustice warned it was the wrong time to be considering another plebiscite.

Achieving the 65 seats needed for an outright victory in Scotland could make it harder for the PM to refuse, but if the SNP falls short of that target it could still achieve a majority for a referendum with the help of the Greens.

With 49 of the 73 constituency results declared in Scotland by noon today, the SNP had 40 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two. 

The SNP made it to 40 seats this morning as they held Aberdeenshire East in the only result declared so far on Saturday. Gillian Martin retained her seat with 18,307 votes, with Conservative candidate Stewart Whyte taking second place on 16,418 votes. The Liberal Democrats won 3,396 votes and Labour 2,900.

Some constituencies are still to be counted today, when the crucial regional list results of 56 regional MSPs will also be declared. Traditional overnight counts were abandoned after Thursday’s election due to Covid-19. 

Ms Sturgeon, who comfortably defeated Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to claim Glasgow Southside yesterday, said afterwards: ‘My focus, if we are re-elected as the government, is to get back to work to steer the country through the crisis and into recovery.

‘That remains the case. But once the crisis is over, and if there is a majority in the parliament for an independence referendum, people should have the right to choose our future. Scotland’s future should always be in Scotland’s hands.’

Speaking about the prospect of winning an overall majority, the SNP leader said: ‘It’s certainly not impossible, but nor is it guaranteed.

‘That was always going to be on a knife edge, it comes down to a small number of votes in a small number of seats, so at this midway point it is certainly still there as a possibility, but I have never taken that for granted.

‘It is a long shot, to say the least, in a PR (proportional representation) system, to win a majority – you effectively have to break the system. I would like to do it, but I have never been complacent about that.’

It comes as Labour this morning blamed the pandemic for ‘restricting’ the opportunities’ for its politicians to campaign across Britain after the Conservatives racked up a string of stunning poll victories in the local elections.

Labour will hope for better results today after a bruising Friday. With results in from 84 of 143 English councils, the Tories had a net gain of seven authorities and 173 seats, while Labour had a net loss of four councils and 164 seats.

In London’s mayoral contest, Labour’s Sadiq Khan goes into today with a lead of 24,267 first preference votes over Tory rival Shaun Bailey after the first seven constituencies declared, a closer contest than many had predicted.

Labour was thrashed in the Hartlepool by-election, with Jill Mortimer securing a majority of almost 7,000, while Tory Ben Houchen won a second term as mayor of Tees Valley with a whopping 73 per cent share of the vote.

And the Tories gained control of a series of councils, including Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Dudley, Harlow and Nuneaton and Bedworth – reversing the mid-term slump often suffered by governing parties.

With the Conservatives also winning seats across the West Midlands, senior figures were confident that the region’s mayor Andy Street will secure a second term in office when returns there are announced today. 

Meanwhile counting began of the 714,745 votes cast in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Mayoral elections this morning, with incumbent Andy Burnham widely expected to win the poll. Burnham won 63.4 per cent of the votes cast in 2017 and turnout is up around 5 per cent on the last election, to 34.7 per cent.

The outcome of the first round of voting is expected around 3pm, although with Mr Burnham running for a second term and nine candidates in all, the election could go to a second round, with second preference votes also then counted to decide the winner.

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Majority Support Fencing Around the U.S. Capitol



A majority of Americans support the fencing around the U.S. Capitol, a Politico/Morning Consult survey released Tuesday revealed.

The survey asked respondents about the fence that security officials constructed around the U.S. Capitol following the January 6 protest, noting the move has “restricted public access to Capitol grounds” and asking for their opinion.

A majority, or 55 percent, said it is “necessary for the Capitol to be protected so the security fence should remain even if this comes at the expense of public access to the Capitol.” Nearly one-third said public access to the Capitol is necessary, concluding the fence should be removed “even if this comes at the expense of Capitol security.” Thirteen percent expressed no opinion on the matter.

Opinions tend to drastically differ on party lines. Seventy-three percent of Democrats say the fence is necessary, followed by 51 percent of independents, and 31 percent of Republicans, the majority of whom say it is more necessary for the public to access the Capitol.

The survey, taken March 12-15, among 1,993 registered voters, has a margin of error of +/- 2 percent. It comes as security officials signal they will scale back the fencing, which has remained in place for weeks, in phases.

Acting House sergeant-at-arms Timothy Blodgett said in a memo this week that “there does not exist a known, credible threat” to justify the fence remaining in place as it has been for weeks.

Per the AP:

Members of Congress have described their unease at arriving for work each day in what can feel like a war zone, with checkpoints and National Guard troops lining the perimeter fence. The absence of tourists snapping photos of the Capitol dome or constituents meeting with representatives is an emotional loss on top of coronavirus restrictions, they said. The security perimeter extends far beyond the Capitol itself through neighboring parks and office buildings.

Lawmakers are also debating whether to launch a bipartisan commission to study the massive security failures that occurred Jan. 6 and how to respond to them long-term. Pelosi on Monday released a draft proposal for a commission that Republicans rejected last month, writing in a letter to colleagues that “we must get to the truth of how the January 6 assault happened, and we must ensure that it cannot happen again.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is among GOP lawmakers who have called out Democrat hypocrisy for condoning a wall to protect themselves but not the American people.

“You protect what you love,” Boebert said in a recently released ad outside the U.S. Capitol. “President Trump built a big, beautiful wall because he loves America and he wanted to secure our country and protect us from drugs, illegal aliens pouring into our communities, and sex traffickers.”

“Democrats, they fought him every step of the way. And now, welcome to Fort Pelosi where Democrats decry walls from within their own, heavily guarded razor wire wall,” she continued. “Democrats don’t want to protect you, because they don’t care about you.”

“But they’ll spare no expense protecting themselves,” she added, demanding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to “tear down this wall”:



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Re-elected WA Premier Mark McGowan vows to use increased majority with ‘great responsibility’


Premier Mark McGowan is set to enjoy unprecedented dominance in Western Australia, after winning an increased majority for the Labor party in the state’s parliament. 

Labor is expected to claim up to 53 out of 59 lower house seats on the back of a stunning 16.9 per cent swing.

It is a nightmare scenario for the Liberals, who are set to be reduced to just two or three seats and lose their opposition status to the Nationals.

With 43 per cent of lower house votes counted, Labor has almost three times the number of first-preference votes of the Liberal party.

No government in WA has enjoyed a parliamentary majority of such a scale.

Promise to govern with ‘great responsibility’

The huge win vindicates Mr McGowan’s tough response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with voters ignoring a Liberal campaign against handing Labor “total control”.

“The magnitude of what happened today is not lost on me,” the 53-year-old premier said in his victory speech.

“With it comes great responsibility. We will continue to deliver stable, competent, responsible and caring government for all West Australians.”

Mark McGowan and his family arrive at the party’s election night event at the Gary Holland Community Centre in Rockingham.

AAP

“I promise to work for everyone across Western Australia over these coming four years,” he said. 

“You’ve put your trust in my government and I promise we won’t let Western Australia down.”

He said the result, coming after the year of the pandemic, shows that resilience will be rewarded.

“Today is an endorsement of perseverance, hard work, optimism and never giving in.”

Deputy Liberal leader Libby Mettam and David Honey have retained their safe seats of Vasse and Cottesloe respectively.

But Labor remained ahead early on Sunday in the blue-ribbon Liberal seats of Nedlands, Churchlands and Carine.

The notion that a safe western-suburbs seat such as Nedlands could fall to Labor would have been unthinkable even 12 months ago.

Labor supporters celebrate at the Gary Holland Community Centre in Rockingham.

Labor supporters celebrate at the Gary Holland Community Centre in Rockingham.

AAP

Federal Labor lauds result

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese described Mark McGowan’s landslide victory as “quite extraordinary” and said it was not just about how WA Labor has handled the pandemic with its stiff border closure.

“It’s about the way WA Labor have run the economy, they have produced surpluses, they have created jobs and they have kept West Australians safe,” Mr Albanese told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“This is primarily about Western Australia, but it has to be good news for federal Labor as well.”

He said the fact a branch of the Liberal party has essentially been wiped off the map shows that they are going to struggle with a lack of resources to run an effective campaign over the next year when a federal election is due.

“They can fit people in a Mini,” Mr Albanese quipped.

Liberals vow to rebuild

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup called Mr McGowan within two hours of polls closing to formally concede, having lost his own marginal seat of Dawesville.

Mr Kirkup is the first WA Liberal leader to lose his seat since the 1930s and has reiterated that he will not seek re-election at a state or federal level.

“Obviously what has happened with respect to Dawsville is devastating and across the state,” he told the media.

“It is a loss that will be difficult to bear. 

“It is a loss that all of us feel. But in so doing we must remember that 2021 is not an end but a beginning.

“When I took up the leadership some 15 or 16 weeks ago, I did so knowing the risks,” he told party faithful on Saturday night.

“I did so understanding what it may cost.

“We are now at a crossroads where we must rebuild.”

“We must do all we can. The next four years will be the most difficult for the Liberal Party that we have ever experienced,” he said.

“But we must not shy away from the task ahead of us because the people of Western Australia depend on it.”

Zak Kirkup is the first major party leader to lose his seat at an election in about 88 years.

Zak Kirkup is the first major party leader to lose his seat at an election in about 88 years.

AAP

Fellow Liberal David Honey would not say who would lead the party, while former leader Mike Nahan said it would be a period of “cleansing” for the Liberals.

“It will be up to us to get our act into gear,” he said.

“Unfortunately we (have) very few seats to work with.”

A call by the Liberals to open WA borders while the state continued to deal with COVID-19 had done “immense” political damage, Dr Nahan added.

Retiring Liberal MP Dean Nalder said there were real concerns about the influence of conservative powerbrokers over the party.

“There seems to be this sense of anger (among voters),” he told Perth radio 6PR.

“Some people feel that we lost sight of our values as a Liberal party and we need to regain that.”

Former Liberal MP Murray Cowper said the party would require a root-and-branch overhaul in the wake of the result.

“We have a house on fire – do we let it burn to the ground and rebuild from the ground up?,” he told Seven News.

Dr Nahan said the party had failed to pull together as a team, potentially leaving it with nothing more than a “tennis team” in parliament.

Former premier Colin Barnett rejected suggestions the party had been doing well enough to win government before the pandemic struck.

“I doubt that was the case,” he told ABC radio.

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Polls close in Western Australia, Mark McGowan expected to be returned with big majority



Polls have closed in the Western Australia state election with the Labor Premier Mark McGowan expected to be returned with a resounding and increased majority.

The Premier told reporters on Saturday he wasn’t “getting ahead of himself” and would await the outcome after the polls closed at 6pm in the evening local time.

“I don’t take anything for granted, obviously we have to see how people vote. Our polls are notoriously inaccurate so we will see what happens tonight,” he said.

Mark McGowan’s seat of Rockingham has 87 per cent of votes in his favour with 901 votes counted as of 10pm AEDT. 

More than 750,000 people voted prior to polling day.

With Labor expected to comfortably win a second term, the focus will be on how many seats the already-depleted Liberals manage to save.

Mr McGowan said Western Australians should continue to back his government as it had made the “tough decisions” during the coronavirus pandemic which had saved lives and protected the economy.

“We want to make sure Western Australia continues to be the strong exciting welcoming prosperous state that it is and we want to continue on that pathway,” Mr McGowan said.  

A Newspoll published in The Weekend Australian newspaper has Labor leading the Liberals 66 to 34 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

It would reduce the Liberals to as few as three seats if that result was replicated at the ballot box.

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup is at risk of becoming the first WA Liberal leader to lose his seat since the 1930s.

The 34-year-old holds the seat of Dawesville by a margin of just 0.8 per cent and has vowed to quit politics if he is voted out.

Such a result would likely spell disaster for other Liberal MPs vying to save their seats.

It would also suggest Mr Kirkup’s decision to concede defeat a fortnight before polling day, and to warn against giving Labor “total control” was a tactical failure.

Mr Kirkup defended the strategy, saying he was simply levelling with voters.

“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” he said as he cast his vote at at Falcon Primary School.

“The risk of a Labor party landslide is a real one. We know that Labor – if they get too much power, if they get too much control – will go too far and make mistakes.”

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Dems use slim majority to push $1.9T bill through Senate


(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 5:35 PM PT – Saturday, March 6, 2021

Top Senate Democrats steered the upper chamber to the left as they used their slim majority to pass Joe Biden’s massive coronavirus relief bill. On Saturday, the Senate voted 50-to-49 to pass the nearly $2 trillion package. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) missed the vote for personal reasons.

This came after senators toughed it out in Washington D.C. by hashing out differences in more than 24 hours of deliberations, delays and backdoor deals.

“It’s been a long day, a long night, a long year, but a new day has come and we tell the American people: Help is on the way,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated. “When Democrats assumed the majority in this chamber, we promised to pass legislation to rescue our people from the depths of the pandemic and bring our economy and our country roaring back. In a few moments, we are going to deliver on that promise.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) almost knocked Democrats’ momentum off its tracks over issues he had with extending unemployment benefits. Manchin even signaled support for Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) proposal to extend benefits through mid-July instead of mid-September. However, Joe Biden allegedly used the power of the high office to twist Manchin’s arm and keep him in-line with the Democrat Party.

“Voters gave Senate Democrats the slimmest possible majority,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated. “Voters picked a president who promised unity and bipartisanship. Democrats’ response is to ram through what they call ‘the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation’ on a razor-thin majority.”

Republicans in the upper chamber decried Democrats’ efforts to push through what some have branded a “liberal wish list.” Many in the GOP criticized proposals that aim to bail out struggling blue states and fund programs unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, they condemned leaders in the Democrat Party for apparently not including Republicans in negotiations on what should be in the package.

“We could have worked together to speed up victory, but our [Democrat] colleagues made a decision their top priority was not pandemic relief, it was their Washington wishlist,” McConnell noted. “So, Mr. President, colleagues, I strongly recommend a no vote.”

In the meantime, the bill is expected to head back down to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives Tuesday to vote on the amended bill. However, some Democrats fear more progressive members won’t support the bill after senators stripped the proposal to hike the federal minimum wage.

If the bill is passed without any hiccups, it will be sent to the White House for final approval.

MORE NEWS: One Dead, Several Injured Following Car Crash In Ga. Post Office



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Majority of citizens optimistic about EU but want reform: poll – POLITICO



Confidence in the European Union has increased over the past year although a significant number of citizens expressed a desire for reform.

Two-thirds of EU citizens said they were optimistic about the future of the EU, an increase of 5 percentage points compared to June 2019, according to a survey commissioned by the European Parliament.

That figure varied among countries, but more than half of respondents in each member state expressed optimism, ranging from 89 percent in Ireland to 52 percent in France.

While just 39 percent said things were going in the right direction in the EU, from 77 percent in Ireland to 23 percent in France, that represents a 7-point increase since October 2019.

The survey also found a widespread desire for reform, however.

Just over a quarter of respondents (27 percent) said they were in favor of the EU as it is, while 44 percent expressed support for the EU “but not in the way it has been realized until now.” About a fifth (22 percent) expressed skepticism about the EU but said they could change their opinion if “radical reform” was brought in. Only 5 percent said they were entirely opposed to the idea of the EU.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority — 72 percent — believe that the EU’s post-pandemic recovery plan will help their country recover more quickly from the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

That figure was highest in Ireland and Malta, at more than 90 percent, and lowest in France and Finland with 62 percent in each. Nevertheless, citizens’ economic outlook for this year was pessimistic, with more than half (53 percent) thinking the situation will be worse by the end of 2021.

The survey polled between 500 and 1,600 people in each EU country. Polling took place in November and December 2020, meaning the results do not take into account the EU’s performance in vaccine procurement or recent troubles such as the Ireland border row.



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‘Majority passing ‘partisan’ COVID-19 bill,’ says Senate Minority Leader McConnell


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks during a news conference following a Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 6:54 AM PT – Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Top Republican lawmakers are blasting Democrats for casting them aside to pass their own coronavirus bill.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) alleged his Democrat colleagues are launching a partisan campaign against the GOP. His assumption came after Democrats in the Senate voted 50-to-49 to advance the budget resolution, inching closer to passing Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion bill.

“It looks like the majority is going to have us vote on the motion to proceed to the budget this afternoon, they’ve chosen a totally partisan path,” he stated. “I can’t remember a budget in the time that I’ve been here that either side has ever voted in a bipartisan way, so we’re off to a totally partisan start.”

McConnell said Republicans attempted to reach across the aisle Monday when a group of 10 senators met with Biden to propose their nearly $620 billion bill.

While aiming to reach a bipartisan compromise, the Republican senators, including Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), tried to come together on several issues. They proposed sending up to $1,000 stimulus checks to Americans and give those out of work an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits.

Additionally, the Republican group pushed for 1$60 billion to bolster vaccination efforts, testing capacity and protective equipment.

McConnell claimed Biden was interested in scoring a bipartisan victory, but not members of his staff nor Democrat lawmakers.

“I think our 10 members laid out a proposal that could have gotten broad bipartisan support and given the new administration a chance to get a bipartisan victory here early,” explained the Kentucky lawmaker. “But they are in the majority in the House and Senate, and life is a series of choices and they’ve chosen.”

Meanwhile, Democrats in the upper chamber are planning to pass the bill through a budget resolution, which is filibuster proof, when it gets back to the upper chamber. They are hoping to send the bill to the White House by March before this round of coronavirus aid is set to expire.

MORE NEWS: Democrats begin fast-track process to pass COVID relief without GOP



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Pelosi reelected speaker despite narrow majority



If this is in fact Pelosi’s last term as speaker — as she has signaled — it would cap a remarkable House career spanning more than three decades, including leading the Democratic Caucus for nearly 20 years and becoming the first, and still the only, woman to ever wield the speaker’s gavel.

Now Pelosi must lead one of the slimmest House majorities in decades — Democrats hold just 222 seats in the House to Republicans’ 211, with two vacancies — through the final days of President Donald Trump’s tenure before preparing to usher in a new era under President-elect Joe Biden.

“We have the most capable speaker in modern times,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said in an interview amid the multihour vote. “She is clearly the most capable and competent speaker — to bring a large group of people with diverse backgrounds and political ideology together, and function as one.”

In some ways, this was the most challenging speaker’s bid for Pelosi yet as she had to meticulously lock down every vote, with nearly zero room for error due to razor-thin party margins, rebellious Democrats and the potential for last-minute absences due to the coronavirus.

With Republicans flipping a dozen seats in November, Pelosi could only afford a handful of defectors within her caucus this time around, not the 15 Democrats who didn’t back her bid in 2019. Pelosi is the sixth speaker in history to win with fewer than 218 votes.

“We are just an extremely slim amount of votes away from risking the speakership to the Republican Party,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who in the past has been vocal about the need for transition to new leadership but voted for Pelosi Sunday. “It’s bigger than any one of us.”

The day also wasn’t without some coronavirus-related drama. In a sign of just how delicate the vote count was, and with a recognition of the surging pandemic, House officials constructed a special plexiglass box in the chamber Sunday so that members who tested negative for the coronavirus but were quarantining after exposure — two Democrats and one Republican — could still cast their vote.

The move sparked outrage and head-scratching among lawmakers and House officials, some of whom openly questioned whether the speaker’s vote mattered more than the safety of lawmakers and staff.

“To build a structure like that, in the dark of night, to only protect the votes that Speaker Pelosi needs to get reelected speaker, is shameful,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee.

The mechanics of the floor vote also looked far different than two years ago, when Pelosi returned to the speaker’s chair for a historic second time after losing the majority in 2010. While each member still stood one by one to cast their vote, only a few dozen lawmakers from each party were supposed to be on the floor at one time.

On the Democratic side, lawmakers mostly sat several seats away from each other, though many Republicans flouted health guidelines and sat shoulder to shoulder in the chamber.

Several members did use their moment in the spotlight to deliver personal accolades to the speaker: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), for instance, described Pelosi as “the finest speaker in the history of the United States.” And Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) followed his vote for Pelosi with an “of course.”

But overall the tone of the day was less celebratory than in 2019, as the public health crisis and other tragedies remained top of mind for members of both parties.

Several members were spotted wearing pins honoring Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who died Tuesday due to coronavirus complications.

And Pelosi initially missed that her name was called to voice her vote because she had been turned around in her seat talking to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who is mourning the death of his 25-year-old son, announced earlier this week. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) offered Raskin his condolences before voting for McCarthy, which led some in the chamber to clap.

The vote on Sunday caps off an intense behind-the-scenes lobbying blitz over the last several weeks by Pelosi, 80, and her allies to secure full support within the caucus, including from some longtime outspoken critics of the speaker. Senior Democrats were painstakingly managing attendance up until the final hours — even reaching out to offices multiple times to confirm lawmakers would be present.

In the end, Democrats had only one absence — 84-year-old Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who is battling pancreatic cancer. Two Republicans weren’t present to vote — Reps.-elect David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), who both tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days.

Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, who also tested positive for the coronavirus recently, was cleared from quarantine at midnight and traveled to Washington to cast her vote.

Pelosi successfully flipped several of the Democratic defectors who didn’t support her 2019 effort, including Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Jason Crow (D-Colo.).

But not every returning Democrat ended up voting for Pelosi, despite stark warnings from senior party members that they should do so.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) became the first defection of the day, casting his vote for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). He was followed by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who picked House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries for speaker. Both Golden and Lamb weren’t expected to support Pelosi.

Three other Democrats who didn’t support Pelosi in 2019 — Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey — all voted “present.”

Pelosi’s fourth term as speaker comes two years after a group of Democratic rebels tried to block her path to the gavel, only backing down after she agreed to a four-year term limit atop the House.

But in many ways since then Pelosi has only consolidated more power, positioning herself as the leading adversary to Trump during a chaotic 116th Congress that started under the longest government shutdown in history, eventually led to the impeachment of the president before being quickly consumed by the coronavirus that effectively shut down the nation for the last nine months.

Pelosi did not face a challenger this time but has been repeatedly questioned about whether this in fact would be her last term.

“What I said then is whether it passes or not, I will abide by those limits that are there,” Pelosi told reporters in November about the deal she cut with Democratic rebels in 2018. “I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have, but I made the statement.”

With the speaker’s vote over, the House will focus on the final gasps of Trump’s term, including potential chaos on Wednesday when Republicans make one last, doomed attempt to overturn Biden’s victory results as Congress meets to certify the election results.

The effort has zero chance of success but will ensure a long day, possibly bleeding into the next, filled with drama. Republicans spent most of Sunday openly warring with each other over Trump’s attempts to subvert the election.



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Weakened Nancy Pelosi Wins Another Term as Speaker with Less than a Majority in House



A severely weakened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won re-election on Sunday with only 216 votes, less than a majority of 218 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

After voting concluded according to C-SPAN’s count, Pelosi had 216 votes and an emboldened House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) secured 209 votes. Two members, both Democrats, voted for somebody else and three members—also Democrats—voted present.

The fact that Pelosi could not even get a majority of members in the U.S. House of Representatives to vote for her—since the House has 435 voting members, a majority is 218—is a sign of how much weaker she is since the 2020 congressional elections in November saw massive losses for House Democrats.

Some of the members who voted “present,” such as Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), framed their vote as against Pelosi.

But technically, Spanberger actually helped Pelosi secure the speakership by voting present. That lowered the total number of votes Pelosi needed to win, as a candidate needs to win a majority of those present and voting for a person. Members of Congress know this, and Pelosi did not actually need Spanberger’s vote in the end, but her claims to have voted for “new leadership” are dishonest as she in effect helped Pelosi secure another term. If she wanted to express opposition to Pelosi, Spanberger and the others who joined her would have actually voted for a different person.

Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) were the other two who voted “present.”

While Republicans picked up a number of seats from Democrats, they did not secure a majority—something McCarthy is moving towards recapturing for the GOP in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. But Pelosi’s weakness on display right off the bat in this very first vote means her hands are tied on major pieces of legislation.

While each member of the so-called “squad” did vote for her, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO) withheld their votes until after the roll was called then came into the chamber to vote for her at the very end. The symbolic move seems to indicate they are the ones who put Pelosi over the top, as had they thrown in against Pelosi the San Francisco Democrat would not have had the votes she needed to win re-election.

That same dynamic will play out on partisan votes on key measures in the coming months and next two years, whether it be rule votes or on actual legislation, where Pelosi will be forced to ensure if she is trying to pass a partisan measure to make sure she has her conference locked up. She can only afford a handful of losses, strengthening not just Republicans’ hands in key negotiations but also both sides—self-proclaimed moderates and radical socialists—of the Democrat conference.

Pelosi, who is 80 years old, also worked with the U.S. Capitol’s attending physician to help certain members who were supposed to be in quarantine set up a special way for them to vote for speaker—signaling just how tight this vote was.

House Republicans mocked her for it, with one aide saying her actions amounted to turning the speakership vote into a “super spreader event” for the coronavirus pandemic and with House Administration Committee ranking emmer Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) comparing the odd plexiglass structure she erected to the “Popemobile.”





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