The 2nd highest-ranking House Republican just got his first vaccine dose as Mitch McConnell raises alarms about the Delta variant

kevin Mccarthy steve scalise
Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise

  • House minority whip Steve Scalise, the second-highest ranking House Republican, revealed that he got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Sunday.
  • Scalise previously said he hadn’t been vaccinated because he had COVID-19 antibodies.
  • The congressman called the vaccines “safe and effective” and cited the rapidly-spreading Delta variant as a reason for getting vaccinated.
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House minority whip Steve Scalise, the second-highest ranking House Republican, revealed that he got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Sunday amid growing concern over the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.

For months, Scalise told reporters he would get vaccinated “soon,” but said he thought he had some immunity to the coronavirus because he had antibodies from what he believed was a mild infection.

This week, Scalise struck a different tone, calling the COVID-19 vaccines “safe and effective.”

“Especially with the Delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” he told Nola.com, according to a report that was published on Tuesday. “When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.”

The Delta variant, which is significantly more contagious and dangerous than other strains of the virus, currently accounts for about 83% of all new COVID-19 cases in the US, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

“This is a dramatic increase” from early July, she said.

Unvaccinated people infected with the Delta variant are twice as likely to be hospitalized than those infected with the Alpha variant, another dominant strain. Experts say vaccinated people are largely protected against Delta. The Pfizer vaccine is 88 percent effective in protecting against the Delta variant, research has shown.

Scalise, for his part, said that he supported the US Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorizations for the COVID-19 vaccines.

“It was heavily tested on thousands of people before the FDA gave its approval,” he told Nola.com. “Some people believe that it might have been rushed. That’s not the case. I’ve been vocal about that for months. I know their process has high standards. The FDA approval process is probably the most respected in the world.”

But, he argued, Americans shouldn’t feel “shamed” into being vaccinated.

About 68.3% of US adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 59.5% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The New York Times. But vaccination rates vary widely across communities. Republican voters are much less likely than Democrats to be vaccinated and many red states, including Scalise’s home state of Louisiana, have vaccination rates far below the national average.

Republican lawmakers have faced pressure to urge Americans to get vaccinated as cases spike in unvaccinated communities.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has recently stepped up his vaccination advocacy, warning that “we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall … that we were in last year” if more Americans aren’t vaccinated as soon as possible. He also urged people to “ignore all of these other voices that are giving demonstrably bad advice.”

“There’s no good reason not to get vaccinated. We need to finish the job,” McConnell said earlier this month. “I know there’s some skepticism out there, but let me put it his way: It may not guarantee you don’t get it but it almost guarantees you don’t die from it if you get it.”

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Republicans seem determined to learn absolutely nothing from our bizarre post-pandemic economy

steve scalise
Steve Scalise, pontificating about inflation to the Chair of the Federal Reserve without asking any questions.

  • The pandemic economic recovery is weird, but it can teach us a lot about things like inflation, wages, and inequality.
  • But to learn those lessons – and make good policy based on them – legislators have to acknowledge them and pay attention.
  • Republicans have demonstrated that they have zero interest in any of that.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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You have to feel a little bit sorry for Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

On Tuesday he testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and it was a waste of his time. Both Democrats and Republicans failed to ask productive questions about how the Federal Reserve is responding to the weird economic dislocations caused by the pandemic – inflation being foremost among them. Most lawmakers were just trying to make a political point.

But Republican House members – especially Minority Whip Steve Scalise – were most responsible for turning the hearing into a worthless mess. Instead of asking questions about Federal Reserve policy or even the economy generally, GOP members pitched fits about government spending, lockdowns (which are ending in even the most cautious states), and the Wuhan Lab leak theory.

Yes, we know Chairman Powell has literally nothing to do with investigating the origins of the pandemic. But I guess someone should tell House Republicans.

It’s too bad we didn’t get to hear Powell’s thoughts, because the current, bizarre economy has lessons for us – about worker behavior, supply chains, the housing market, and the future of work. But Republicans aren’t interested in learning them. GOP economic orthodoxy does not leave room to adapt to extraordinary situations, not even a once-a-century pandemic recovery. And, in large part, because instead of happening under Donald Trump this economy – one hot enough for workers to have options and get higher wages – is happening under a Democratic president.

You can take the GOP to Congress, but you can’t make it think

Let me say this again: Neither party – Republicans or Democrats – had great questions at the Powell hearing. But while Democrats were trying to draw Powell into saying he supports Biden’s infrastructure plan – which any Fed chair would avoid so as not to seem partisan – at least they were trying to make a case for doing something to sustain our economy. Their comments were not useful, but they were relevant.

The Republican performance was abysmal because none of them were engaging with the strangeness or the opportunity of our economic reality. Scalise (the ringleader of the stunt queens) spent half of of his questioning time patting the Trump administration on the back for its handling of the economy and complaining about how lockdowns ruined that run – as if the lockdowns were for funsies and not a consequence of a deadly virus spreading everywhere. When he talked about inflation, it was only to berate Powell and argue against government spending. There were no questions.

The other half of the time, Scalise just pontificated about the role of government benefits in holding back the labor market – a constant GOP complaint that has been solidly debunked. When Powell tried to explain how quickly the labor market would come back – “I strongly suspect labor supply and job creation will be moving up well over this year” – Scalise ignored him. Scalise, after all, was not looking for actual knowledge.

When Powell mentioned that workers were hesitant to go back to the labor market for a variety of factors, including a lack of childcare and fear of the virus. See, we’re learning from this economy: It’s pretty clear that widespread childcare programs could help people out of work get back to it faster. But the GOP hates any government program – even ones that could help parents get back to work – so they just ignore the entire lesson.

Funkyeconomy

For the first time since the 2008 financial crisis we’re seeing inflation all around us. Houses are so expensive that experts fear those higher prices are going to creep into the rental market, even in small American cities. World trade is just coming back after factories were forced to shut down for months, so key goods like semiconductors and cars are in short supply. Low-wage workers are demanding higher wages because the labor market has tightened as jobs open faster than employers can fill them.

Yet in the face of all this inflation interest rates remain low. The bond market is telling us – at least so far – that this wonky economy will return to normal. But there’s no denying that things are deeply weird. As Powell keeps saying in interviews and hearings: “We have to be humble about our ability to understand the data.”

This is a time watch closely and learn.

Consider the psychology of this moment. Workers – who’ve lived through a horror show of a year – are deciding not to return to jobs that made them unhappy. After a decade of low wage growth and dissatisfied workers, quit rates are hitting historic highs. You might think the precariousness of the pandemic would make people crave any kind of stability now that life is normalizing, but that’s not what’s happening. Instead Americans are taking risks and trying to find better jobs. Honestly, you have to hand it to us. It takes guts.

How to sustain a strong economy, make sure workers are supported, and possibly start to reverse decades of inequality without causing runaway inflation or an economic disaster is critical. The way Powell is thinking about balancing those issues is extremely important. We know that there are millions of vacant jobs, and millions of workers to fill them but does The Fed think that this YOLO attitude workers have is going to slow that process down? Does that mean wages will creep up higher for longer? Is there a point at which The Fed is worried about wage growth because of its impact on prices?

It would be good to know how Powell is thinking about this an a myriad of funky things the economy is doing right now. Maybe we could even apply the lessons we learn about rising wages to the fight against inequality. Who knows? Either way, no matter what the answers are to these questions, Republicans aren’t listening. It’s impossible for lawmakers to make good economic policy if they do not learn from the data, and they have already decided to waste this crisis.

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Senior Republican leader Steve Scalise refuses to admit the 2020 election wasn’t ‘stolen’ from Trump

President Donald Trump greets Rep Steve Scalise(L) R-LA upon arrival at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, Louisiana on January 14, 2019.
President Donald Trump greets Rep Steve Scalise(L) R-LA upon arrival at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, Louisiana on January 14, 2019.

  • House Minority Whip Steve Scalise refused to say that the election was not “stolen” from Trump.
  • Scalise conceded that Biden is the “legitimate” president.
  • But he baselessly claimed that some key states violated the law in administering the election. 
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House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the third highest-ranking Republican, on Sunday refused to admit that the 2020 election wasn’t “stolen” from former President Donald Trump. 

Repeatedly pressed on the issue, the Louisiana lawmaker attempted to have it both ways by eventually conceding that President Joe Biden is a “legitimate” president, but baselessly insisting that a few key states violated the law in their election administration.

Trump and his allies have failed to provide any evidence to support their false claims of widespread voter fraud. In dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits, Republicans have made unsubstantiated claims of double-voting, voting by non-citizens, and votes cast on behalf of dead people – all of which have been rejected by the courts. Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, announced in December that the government had not found any evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections.

“Clear this up for me,” ABC News host Jonathan Karl said to Scalise. “Joe Biden won the election. He is the legitimate president of the United States. The election was not stolen, correct?”

“Look, Joe Biden’s the president,” Scalise replied. “There were a few states that did not follow their state laws. That’s really the dispute that you’ve seen continue on.” 

Many Republicans, Scalise included, continue to claim that Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin – four swing states Trump lost – implemented illegal election procedure changes. These tweaks were designed to make voting safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, but GOP lawmakers allege that they allowed for widespread voter fraud.

State officials have repeatedly rejected these claims and condemned the politicians making them, and the Supreme Court threw out a related lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general. Republicans had lost 59 of 60 lawsuits they brought by January 6, the date that Congress convened to certify the election results and a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in an insurrection inspired by the president. 

When Karl pressed Scalise to concede that Biden is “the legitimate president of the United States,” Scalise agreed that “once the electors were counted,” Biden became the legitimate president. But he again refused to say the election wasn’t stolen. 

“Once the electors are counted, yes, he’s the legitimate president,” Scalise said. “But if you’re going to ignore the fact that there were states that did not follow their own … laws, that’s the issue at heart, that millions of people still are not happy with and don’t want to see happen again.” 

Scalise’s comments come just a week before Trump is scheduled to take the stage at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and will reportedly reassert himself as the leader of the Republican party. Scalise said he recently met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago during a fundraising trip to Florida. 

Scalise’s office didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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House Republicans scoff at new security measures in place at the US Capitol less than a week after Trump provoked a violent insurrection

AP lauren boebert
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., center, smiles after joining other freshman Republican House members for a group photo at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

  • A number of House Republicans sparred with Capitol police Tuesday over new security measures that were implemented in the wake of the Capitol siege on January 6.
  • Reporters at the Capitol building saw GOP lawmakers — including Reps. Lauren Boebert, Louie Gohmert, and Steve Scalise — scoffing at the newly installed metal detectors at the US Capitol.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A number of House Republicans are flouting the new security measures put in place at the Capitol building in the wake of a violent insurrection attempt on January 6, according to reporters covering Capitol Hill.

After pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol building last week, Capitol police implemented new safety protocols, including newly installed metal detectors and mask requirements.

Reporters present at the US Capitol on Tuesday night watched GOP lawmakers push past or blatantly walk around metal detectors, as the chamber votes on a resolution to call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would allow the vice president and some members of Trump’s cabinet to depose the president.

GOP freshman congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who has engaged with QAnon conspiracy theories, refused to walk through the metal detector and allow Capitol police to search her bag, according to reporter Marc Rod. Boebert was later allowed to enter the chamber; it’s unclear if her bag was searched.

Boebert was on the radar of the DC police after the freshman congresswoman released an ad saying she will “carry my firearm in DC and in Congress.”

Read more: DC police will reach out to a GOP freshman congresswoman who released an ad in which she appeared to walk around the US Capitol with a handgun

“It’s our job in Congress to defend your rights, including your Second Amendment, and that’s exactly what I’m here to do,” Boebert continued in the ad.

Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III said Boebert would be “subjected to the same penalties for everyone else that’s caught on the District of Columbia street carrying a firearm unlawfully.”

HuffPost’s Matt Fuller tweeted that he saw “about 10 Republicans walk around the magnetometer” – among them, GOP Reps. Ralph Norman, Scott Perry, Jeff Duncan, and Steve Stivers, who told Capitol police that he believes metal detectors are unconstitutional.

GOP Reps. Markwayne Mullin and Steve Womack also refused to walk through the metal detectors, CNN’s Manu Raju tweeted, with both Republican lawmakers sparring with Capitol police over the new safety protocol.

Rep. Steve Scalise was photographed by Raju with his arms crossed in front of the magnetometer, calling the new protocol “untenable” because it “impedes the ability of members to come and vote. This is our job.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert walked around the metal detector, Fuller reported, telling police as he passed by: “You can’t stop me; I’m on my way to a vote.”

Aside from those who argued with Capitol police, GOP freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter, complied with the new security measure. She thanked officers for their work while yelling at reporters present in the building, asking them where they were when people “burned the building and looted… do you guys remember that?”

Before entering the chamber, she turned back and said “all the media and all the liars and them, they’re not great.”

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