Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. In A Major Defeat For The Democratic Party, Voting Rights Legislation Narrowly Fails In Senate
Voting legislation that the Democratic Party and civil rights leaders say is vital to protecting democracy collapsed late on January 19 when two senators refused to join their party in changing Senate rules to overcome a Republican filibuster after a raw, emotional debate. The outcome was a stinging defeat for President Joe Biden and his party, coming at the tumultuous close to his first year in office. Despite a day of piercing debate and speeches that often carried echoes of an earlier era when the Senate filibuster was deployed by opponents of civil rights legislation, Democrats could not persuade holdout senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to change the Senate procedures on this one bill and allow a simple majority to advance it. “I am profoundly disappointed,” Biden said in a statement after the vote. However, the president said he is “not deterred” and vowed to “explore every measure and use every tool at our disposal to stand up for democracy.”
2. Omicron Surge Spurs New Coronavirus Relief Push In Congress
Hotels, fitness clubs, tour bus companies, and minor league baseball clubs are part of a long line of businesses seeking billions of dollars in new COVID relief aid in response to the Omicron variant surge, if they can overcome opposition from many Republicans who say Congress has already given enough. Lobbyists for the businesses say their campaign has taken on new urgency as the Omicron variant sweeps across the country, forcing many companies to scale back or shut down operations as employees call in sick and customers cancel orders and reservations. A few Republican lawmakers support more relief funding for targeted industries, but most are generally opposed to spending more funds to help struggling businesses. These opponents say that the government has already provided sufficient relief, including more than $900 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program, and that more government spending will fuel inflation and budget deficits. “The U.S. government has no money to give anyone,“ said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). ”In the past two years, Congress piled on several trillion dollars to our already substantial deficit. This unprecedented accumulation of debt is causing today’s inflation and will continue to wreak havoc in the future.”
3. Gallup Poll: Republican Party Overtakes Democratic Party In Party Identification For The First Time Since 1991
On average, Americans’ political party preferences in 2021 looked similar to prior years, with slightly more US adults identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic (46%) than identified as Republicans or leaning Republican (43%) overall. However, the general stability for the full-year average obscures a dramatic shift over the course of 2021, from a nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a rare five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter, the largest advantage for the Republican Party since 1991.
4. Inflation Rate In US Hits Highest Level Since 1982
The US Inflation rate hit its fastest pace in nearly four decades last year as pandemic-related supply and demand imbalances, along with stimulus intended to shore up the economy, pushed prices up at a 7% annual rate. The Labor Department said on January 12 that the consumer-price index, which measures what consumers pay for goods and services, rose 7% in December from the same month a year earlier, up from 6.8% in November. That was the fastest since 1982 and marked the third straight month in which inflation exceeded 6%. The so-called core price index, which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy, climbed 5.5% in December from a year earlier. That was a bigger increase than November’s 4.9% rise, and the highest rate since 1991. On a monthly basis, the CPI increased a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in December from the preceding month, decelerating from October and November.