The Week in Review: May 10-14
CDC: Vaccinated Americans Do Not Need to Wear Masks Indoors, Outdoors
On May 13, the CDC announced people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors. However, the CDC still recommends individuals continue to wear masks while in large crowds or while riding in planes, trains, or buses. The update comes as US virus cases reach their lowest rate since September 2020 and COVID-19 deaths reach their lowest point since April 2020. However, some warn the new guidance is likely to cause confusion, as there is no simple way for businesses or others to determine an individual’s vaccination status.
House GOP Replaces Cheney with Stefanik as Conference Chair
Republican members of the House of Representatives voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her role as House Republican Conference on May 12 in a closed-door meeting. The effort to remove Cheney from her House leadership role follows the Wyoming Congresswoman’s public criticism over former President Donald Trump. On May 14, House Republicans voted to install Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as Cheney’s successor. While Stefanik has the backing of former President Trump, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), some Republican members including Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) have raised concerns over Stefanik’s moderate voting record.
Over 100 Republicans Threaten to Form Rival Party
Over 100 former Republican officials issued a joint statement on May 13 threatening to create an alternative party if current GOP elected officials continue to espouse falsehoods about the 2020 General Election. Among the influential Republicans to sign the letter are former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, and former Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. The statement also outlines 13 core principles based on preserving democracy, supporting market-based economics, and maintaining ethical governance.
Nominations for HHS Deputy Secretary, CMS Administrator Advance
On May 11, the confirmed 61-37 Andrea Joan Palm to serve as Deputy of Health and Human Services. Palm previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Obama Administration and had most recently served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Two days later, the Senate voted 51-48 to advance the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Brooks-LaSure’s nomination was previously stalled due to a hold from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in protest of the Biden Administration’s decision to rescind Texas’s Section 1115 Medicaid waiver. The procedural vote to advance Brooks-LaSure’s nomination indicates she is likely to be confirmed soon. Notably, Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Democrats in the vote to bring Brooks-LaSure’s nomination to the floor.
ICYMI: Jurisdictions Use Cash, Beer to Urge Vaccinations
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced the state will give away $1 million each to five vaccinated Ohio residents as a way to entice more Ohioans to get vaccinated. DeWine’s announcement comes as state and local governments are creating incentives to encourage more people to get their shots. In Washington, DC, for instance, individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Kennedy Center on May 4 were offered a free beer. Additionally, West Virginia began offering a $100 savings bond for state residents aged 16-35 who receive a vaccine shot.