What Happened, What You Missed: November 1-5


COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children Ages 5-11 Commence

Children ages 5-11 started receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky gave the go-ahead on Tuesday night.  Walensky’s authorization followed a recommendation by a CDC advisory committee earlier that day as well as authorization from the Food and Drug Administration the previous week. The Biden administration has already confirmed that it has procured enough Pfizer vaccine doses to support vaccination for the country’s 28 million children that are 5-11 years old.  However, vaccine hesitancy is likely to remain as much of a concern in children as it is in adults. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, only a third of parents said they would get their kids vaccinated right away, while another third are opting for a “wait and see” approach.

Administration Issues New Rules on Vaccination Requirements

On November 5, the Biden administration issued a pair of rules that lays out vaccination requirements for 100 million American workers. The first rule, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), stipulates that organizations with 100 or more employees must ensure that their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022, or that they test negative for COVID-19 at least once a week.  The second rule, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), requires that all health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs must make certain that eligible staff is also fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.  Unlike the OSHA rule, the CMS rule does not have the option to opt-out of getting the vaccine by testing weekly.  While health care providers are supportive of the intent of the CMS rule, some are worried that the new requirements could exacerbate the industry’s staffing shortage.

House Tees Up Votes for Social Spending, Infrastructure Bills Today

The House is expected to vote Friday on both the $1.75 trillion social and climate spending package and bipartisan infrastructure bill.  The vote follows a busy Thursday night where Democratic leadership hammered out last-minute deals with caucus members on state and local tax deductions, drug pricing, and immigration.  Democrats can only afford to lose three votes on the social spending bill, as no Republicans are expected to vote for it.  However, the fate of the social spending bill remains uncertain in the Senate, where centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has declined to offer his support until the Congressional Budget Office provides an estimate on how the measure will impact the deficit.  The social spending measure will also require approval from the Senate parliamentarian, who must decide whether the updated bill can advance in the upper chamber through budget reconciliation.

Dems on Alert after GOP Sweeps Statewide VA Races

Democrats are preparing for a tough 2022 midterm election after Republican candidates won elections for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in Virginia on November 2.  Some pundits say the results mark a return of the swing-state status of Virginia, which hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004.  However, other pundits point out that in 10 of the last 11 gubernatorial races, the winner came from the opposite party as the president, indicating that the results are simply indicative of a longer pattern.  Nonetheless, Democrats are fearful that enthusiasm for Republican candidates in Virginia could preview what was already expected to be a difficult 2022 midterm election for the party.  Some Democrats in Washington have responded to the election by pledging to work together on passing high-priority items like the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill to show voters they can deliver on policy promises.

ICYMI: Capitol Police Prevail over Lawmakers in Congressional Football Game

At Wednesday’s Congressional Football Game, a team consisting of members of Congress lost to the Capitol Police team 26-6.  First started in 2004 to raise money for the Capitol Police Memorial Fund, the annual tradition took on a different meaning this year after more than 130 officers were injured in the January 6 riot on the Capitol.  This year’s game was played before an audience of 2,000 at Audi Field, while games in years past were played at Gallaudet University and the DC Armory.  The game raised over $600,000 this year.

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