No $2,000 checks or Section 230 repeal in the spending bill. Like so many of President Donald Trump's policy tantrums, his opposition to the new government funding bill turned out to be nothing more than a pointless spectacle. After rightfully objecting to all the fluff packed into the latest omnibus spending and COVID-19 relief measures, wrongfully demanding that the legislation repeal Section 230, and promising to use his veto power, the president has now signed into law the original measure passed by Congress last week.
The COVID-19 measure includes expanded federal unemployment benefits and instructions to give $600 to every American under a certain income threshold. It was attached to a larger spending bill that funds the necessary functions of the government—and much, much more—through September 2021.
In a transparent attempt to save face, Trump stated Sunday that his signature on the spending package came with "a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill."
But this is not a real stand against the legislation. It's merely a symbolic move mixed with some nonsense ("redlining" doesn't mean anything in this context, for example). Congress doesn't have to do anything about Trump's post-signature demands and—with him nearly out the door—is not expected to.
"This is a win for congressional leaders, especially Pelosi & Schumer," commented former Politico reporter John Bresnahan. "Trump gets a vote Dems wanted anyway. Section 230 will remain intact. A 'redlined' document from Trump (that's not even a real thing) or his rescissions mean nothing since he's gone on Jan. 20."
In his Sunday statement, Trump noted that the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote today on a measure to raise the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 (a measure he initially rejected but recently has insisted on). He also claimed that Congress was continuing to take seriously his allegations of voter fraud (it is not) and said that Congress would eventually do his bidding on Section 230 (perhaps, but not as part of this legislation and only because both ruling parties want to destroy this speech-protective law anyway). The White House statement concluded:
Big Tech must not get protections of Section 230! Voter Fraud must be fixed! Much more money is coming. I will never give up my fight for the American people!
Despite the spin he's trying to put on it, however, Trump's deal making here was a dud. He's getting none of what he asked for and signing the bill into law anyway, because he doesn't have enough support to do otherwise.
Europeans are just as wacky as us. A new study suggests that "the overall level of conspiracy thinking in Europe is equal to or slightly lower than the United States, contradicting the notion that conspiracy theories is [sic] an especially American phenomenon."
"Conspiracy Thinking in Europe and America: A Comparative Study," published December 16 in the journal Political Studies, looks at conspiracy theory beliefs across nine countries and 11,523 respondents. Researchers also found that "people more inclined to conspiracy thinking position themselves towards the right of the political spectrum, engage in magical thinking, feel distrust towards public officials and reject the political system."
In addition, they found that "the country context in which respondents reside has hardly any effect as predictor of levels of conspiracy thinking or as a moderator of individual-level determinants. Heterogeneity in conspiratorial thinking seems to be largely a function of individual traits."
"Drug paraphernalia" is now decriminalized in Washington, D.C. The Opioid Overdose Treatment and Prevention Omnibus Act of 2018 became law last week, removing criminal penalties for possessing accoutrements for drug use and allowing harm reduction groups to hand out supplies without fearing arrest.
"This legislation will 100% save lives," Queen Adesuyi of the Drug Policy Alliance told ABC7, pointing out that shared or unsanitary supplies were especially dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What people often forget is that people use drugs in a whole bunch of different ways. I think in a time like now, where we're dealing with a compounded public health crisis, with COVID-19 on top of the increasingly worsening overdose crisis in DC, it's not a better time than now to finally get past stigma.
Israel is opening 24/7 vaccination sites. The United States should, too. https://t.co/FV0vuGYyEN
— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) December 28, 2020
- Immigrant detainees are reportedly asking to be deported to avoid catching COVID-19 inside immigrant detention facilities where the virus runs rampant.
- "Los Angeles police and prosecutors can no longer blanket entire areas of the city with gang injunctions and must instead use them in a more targeted, deliberate way under the terms of a court settlement reached last month," reports KTLA.
- A Washington Post investigation finds that "over the past five years, the D.C. government has spent millions of dollars settling dozens of police misconduct lawsuits — settlements that, even as officers acknowledge no wrongdoing, document a trail of nonfatal encounters that went painfully wrong."
- People are buying curated bookcases for their Zoom backgrounds.
- "In a majority decision, the Constitutional Court of Romania has struck down a legislative amendment that effectively banned the subject of gender studies in university education as unconstitutional," reports Jurist.