Jan 20, 2021: Trump OUT, Biden IN
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Donald Trump is out, and Joe Biden is in, after decades of striving for the highest office in the land. The 46th President will be inaugurated today at noon, at the age of 78.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the police are busy violently re-establishing the status quo, by arresting essential union employees outside of a picket line protest on Monday in Queens and battling with Black Lives Matter protesters elsewhere in the city.
And lastly, the Democrats have put together the first potentially big piece of legislation of their new majority term, a sweeping voting rights bill that could re-enfranchise millions of formerly incarcerated people.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
By the time you hear this, Donald Trump will have just a few hours left as president of the United States. Everything else aside, that’s great to say out loud. He’s done! He’s gone!
That means the big day has finally come for Joe Biden, who has been half-heartedly seeking to be President for decades at this point. Biden will be inaugurated in the middle of a heavily militarized green zone on the Capitol Steps at noon, at the age of 78, and will then retire to the White House, where his Peloton bike will probably be waiting for him if it clears the cybersecurity guys.
D.C. is a ghost town right now, as federal authorities learned their lesson about domestic insurrection about two weeks too late and have locked the place down. At the moment, there don’t appear to be any big plans for right wing protests, but we’ll have to see how the day goes.
Trump, for his part, is going out with a whimper. In a video address on Tuesday night, he listed his so-called accomplishments and vowed that the movement he started was quote “only just beginning.” endquote. How lasting his impact is remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that he inspired horrible things during his time in office.
And now he’s gone -- by the time you hear this, he’ll probably be boarding his last Air Force One flight to Florida before he loses his plane privileges, slinking off back to the familiar comforts of Mar A Lago coronavirus superspreader swamp parties, where, with any luck, he’ll rot away quickly.
Cops Enforce Status Quo
In New York City, however, it’s business as usual. And by that we mean the cops are beating up essential workers and cracking down on protesters. This is the status quo, and a sure sign of what we have to look forward to for the next four years.
On Monday night, for instance, the NYPD arrested several peaceful striking workers at the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market in New York City. The workers there were demanding a small raise of $1 per hour, with an extra 60 cents thrown in for health care benefits. Their bosses had offered them 32 cents.
For some context, these workers are the backbone of the largest produce market in the country, many of whom make just $40,000 a year despite union pay minimums, which is far from sufficient to support a family in New York.
The NYPD responded, and early on Tuesday morning, the union representing the striking workers posted video of cops rushing the picket line and making arrests as strikers chanted “hands up, don’t shoot.”
This may be shocking, but it’s not really outside of the norm. Also on Monday night, the NYPD cracked down on Martin Luther King Jr. Day protests at City Hall Park, attacking protesters with batons and making violent arrests.
The cops aren’t going to change their behavior unless they’re forced to. And despite the changeup coming in Washington, it looks like the rest of the country is going to go on just like it was.
Democrats Try For Voting Rights
But lastly, some encouraging news: The Democrats are reportedly setting up their first chance to flex their new majority in the House and Senate with a sweeping voting rights bill, introduced on Tuesday in the Senate by Oregon’s Jeff Merkley.
The Senate Bill, which is called the For the People Act, is a close mirror of a concurrent bill introduced earlier this month in the House. If the Democrats can push it through, it could be one of the first major victories of the Biden administration.
The bill would do a couple crucial things: make online, automatic, and same-day voter registration mandates for every state, and also restore voting rights to anyone who is not currently incarcerated. That alone would re-enfranchise millions of voters, and combined with new, easier ways to register could strike a devastating blow to the GOP’s key voter suppression tactics in upcoming elections.
The test now becomes whether the Democrats can wield their new power to pass laws effectively enough to get this through both the House and Senate. McConnell isn’t going anywhere, and it’s a given that he’ll use every dirty trick at his disposal to keep these bills from becoming law, because he knows if he does it’ll throw more congressional races into the mix despite the GOP’s constant gerrymandering.
What we’ll learn soon as well is how much energy the new president will put behind the bill. Here’s hoping he comes out of the gate strong on this one.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Speaking of the Senate and passing bills: remember yesterday’s story about current Majority Leader Schumer already kowtowing to former Majority Leader McConnell? It just got worse: McConnell is reportedly pressing to get a guarantee that Democrats won’t end the filibuster in the two parties agreement for how the split Senate will work.
The United States Passed 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the last full day of Trump’s disastrous term. He previously claimed that he’d have done a good job if he kept deaths to 100 or 200,000. Those tragic numbers speak for themselves.
Senator Josh Hawley, last seen egging on the riot that stormed the Capitol building on January 6, used his time today to delay confirmation of Joe Biden’s pick for the Department of Homeland Security. To be fair, the DHS probably shouldn’t exist in the first place, but it’s good to know which side Hawley is still on: the one that’s actively seeking a coup.
And finally, Trump released his final list of pardons and grants of clemency on Tuesday. The list is mostly a good lineup of cases that have been pushed by criminal justice advocates for years, perhaps in an attempt to give the big guy a little goodwill as he exits office. True to form, though, Trump reportedly had to be talked out of handing out pardons to his own kids and Republican lawmakers on his last day in office.
That’s it for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie Today! Sam will be with you later.
JAN 20, 2020 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn