Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, May 25.
1. ‘Earmarks’ are back, but not all Alabama lawmakers are participating
- It has a new name and many new requirements, but the process known as earmarking, or designating federal funds for distribution at the request of members of Congress, is now officially back on Capitol Hill.
- This spring, the House Appropriations Committee invited all House members to submit proposals for “Community Project Funding,” a new term for the age-old practice of earmarking that has been banned by rule for the past ten years. In a new effort at ensuring transparency, those proposed projects have now been published member by member.
- Earmarks were the way of Washington until 2011 when House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP conference banned them. This came after multiple instances of misuse of earmarks reached the national political discussion, including the so-called “bridge to nowhere” famously railed on by the late Sen. John McCain when he was running for president in 2008. However many privately complained that, without earmarks, Congress simply ceded its constitutional authority over the nation’s pursestrings to the executive branch.
- Alabama’s House delegation was split on the prospect of placing community projects in the budget.
- Read more from Mary Sell and me about who submitted projects, who didn’t, what those projects are and what members had to say about it HERE.
- (Note: this article is for those with an ADN Insider subscription. Not yet an ADN Insider or has your subscription lapsed? See about subscribing HERE.)
2. Ivey signs ‘vaccine passport’ ban
- Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday signed legislation banning so-called vaccine passports as Alabama becomes the latest state to try to prohibit proof of a coronavirus vaccination to enter a business, school or event.
- The legislation by Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur would prohibit government entities from issuing “vaccine or immunization passports” or other “standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying immunization status.” The bill makes exemptions for child immunization forms and “other applicable state law.”
- The new act would also prevent people from being denied entry to businesses, universities, and state agencies if they have not been vaccinated for COVID-19. However, the legislation does not specify any penalty for violations.
- The Alabama House of Representatives last week voted 76-16 for the bill after stripping language that would have exempted health offices and nursing homes and adding language saying universities cannot require students to have vaccines developed after Jan. 1, 2021. The Senate approved the bill earlier in the session by a 30-0 vote.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
3. Mask requirement expiring in Birmingham
- Alabama’s largest city will let its COVID-19 face mask requirement expire after Monday in what officials said was a step toward returning to pre-pandemic normalcy.
- Begun more than a year ago and most recently extended in early April, before the state dropped its mask requirement, the rule will end at a time when fewer patients are hospitalized with the illness caused by the new coronavirus since early April 2020.
- Noticeably more people have worn masks in the city than in outlying areas, and Mayor Randall Woodfin said the end of the requirement was a sign that vaccinations were making a difference.
- The head of the area chamber of commerce, the Birmingham Business Alliance, said member companies were split over whether the requirement should continue.
- “One-third said get rid of it,” Ron Kitchens, chief executive of the organization, told WBRC-TV. “And one-third said let’s keep it a little while and one-third said whatever leadership decides, we support.”
- Read more HERE.
4. As deadlines slip, Biden agenda faces assessment
- President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is hitting roadblocks. A policing overhaul after the killing of George Floyd is up in the air. An effort to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol faces the blockade of Republican opposition in Congress.
- It’s a pivotal time for many aspects of Biden’s ambitious agenda. The first quarter of his presidency already passed, the White House and Congress have been unable to meet Memorial Day deadlines set by the administration on key priorities.
- While lawmakers quickly approved Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package and senators confirmed the top ranks of the administration with Biden’s nominees, the next legislative priorities on the White House’s agenda will be a longer slog.
- The sweeping infrastructure investment, in particular, faces a crucial moment: The White House is assessing whether the president can strike a bipartisan deal with Republicans on his American Jobs Plan, a top domestic priority, or try to go it alone with Democrats if no progress is made over the next week. Biden’s allies in the House and Senate are preparing for all scenarios.
- “This is going to feel like a tightrope walk all the way until it gets to Biden’s desk,” said Jim Kessler, executive vice president of Third Way, a centrist think tank.
- Read more HERE.
5. Blinken says US will aid Gaza without helping Hamas
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed Tuesday to “rally international support” to aid Gaza there while keeping any assistance out of the hands of its militant Hamas rulers.
- The 11-day war between Israel and Hamas killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and caused widespread destruction in the impoverished coastal territory. The truce that came into effect Friday has so far held, but it did not address any of the underlying issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something Blinken acknowledged after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
- Blinken will not be meeting with Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and which Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization.
- “The United States will work to rally international support around that effort while also making our own significant contributions.” He added that the U.S. would work with its partners “to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from the reconstruction assistance.”
- Read more HERE.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Earmarks’ are back, but not all Alabama lawmakers are participating
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey signs ‘vaccine passport’ ban
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Birmingham mask mandate expiring
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As deadlines slip, Biden agenda faces crucial assessment
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Blinken says US will aid Gaza without helping Hamas
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Morgan County online sales tax split could be duplicated in other areas
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Work begins on $365M project to improve Mobile ship channel
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Biden betting on wage growth, while GOP warns of inflation
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Blinken off to Mideast to push peace talks after Gaza truce
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ageless wonder Mickelson wins PGA to be oldest major champ
AL.COM – Alabama Capitol riot suspect Lonnie Coffman drove by Ted Cruz’s home, court records say
AL.COM – 3rd grade reading law on list still awaiting Gov. Kay Ivey’s signature
AL.COM – Alabama high school sports group not aware of any transgender athletes
AL.COM – Vaccinated students, staff at UA no longer need to mask, school says
AL.COM – Steve Marshall criticizes federal school guidelines promoting 1619 Project
AL.COM – Blanchard says Brooks received ‘liberal loot;’ Brooks says her campaign ‘getting zero traction’
AL.COM – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs bill to prohibit ‘vaccine passports’
AL.COM – Changes to teacher sick leave, yoga, literacy efforts coming to Alabama schools
AL.COM – Department of Defense commission evaluating renaming Confederate bases to visit Alabama
Montgomery Advertiser – Patient care at forefront as 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron participates in exercise
Montgomery Advertiser – Court docs: Man arrested after Capitol riot has militia ties, sought meeting with Ted Cruz
Montgomery Advertiser – Track the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, including forecast and storm names list
Decatur Daily – Morgan County online sales tax split could be duplicated in other areas
Decatur Daily – Experienced boaters advise safety on the water
Decatur Daily – Area school district, private schools gain new pre-K classrooms
Times Daily – Tuscumbia asks the public to “chuck the junk” on June 19
Times Daily – Rotarians announce plans for special needs park
Times Daily – Multiple special sessions are likely
Anniston Star – Morgan County online sales tax split could be duplicated in other areas
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham Promise about to graduate second class of students
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Family: Jeffco student not allowed to participate in gradutation after attack, calls punishment unfair.
WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Survey shows Birmingham companies want a hybrid work model
Tuscaloosa News – University of Alabama fans catch softball fever at Rhoads Stadium
Tuscaloosa News – University of Alabama lifts mask mandate for faculty, students who are vaccinated
YellowHammer News – Republican Rick Pate to seek second term as Alabama Ag commissioner
YellowHammer News – Alabama Forestry Association endorses Kenneth Paschal in HD 73 special election
YellowHammer News – Alabama officially bans vaccine passports — Law takes immediate effect
Gadsden Times – Day one of rendering plant case hearing: Mayor Guyton, others take witness stand
Gadsden Times – Etowah County Health Department: Second COVID-19 vaccine doses available Tuesday
Dothan Eagle – Italy probes cable car crash as lone child survivor recovers
Dothan Eagle – The Latest: WHO considers ways to strengthen urgent response
Dothan Eagle – US restricting visas, taking other action over Tigray crisis
Opelika-Auburn News – Global stocks mixed in muted trading, echoing Wall St close
Opelika-Auburn News – Actor Gerard Butler visits police while filming in Georgia
Opelika-Auburn News – As Congress returns to funding earmarks, who will benefit?
WSFA Montgomery – B’ham man indicted on capital murder, aggravated child abuse of 2-year-old boy
WSFA Montgomery – Ivey signs bill to ban ‘vaccine passports’ in Alabama
WSFA Montgomery – Mangled: When military members are ordered to move to a new assignment, their possessions sometimes arrive in pieces
WAFF Huntsville – Trash Pandas and City of Madison finalize payment plan
WAFF Huntsville – Calhoun Community College will offer free training for plumbing certifications
WAFF Huntsville – The 2021 Alabama Jubilee kicks off Memorial Day weekend
WKRG Mobile – Mayor optimistic Pensacola Bay Bridge will open by weekend
WKRG Mobile – Embattled former Gov. Siegelman gets law license back
WKRG Mobile – Last few days to submit comments on proposed truck toll bridge
WTVY Dothan – Geneva County commission approves selling of smokeless tobacco in jail commissary
WTVY Dothan – Brian Smith selected as Geneva County EMA Director
WTVY Dothan – Coffee County EMA reminding residents of alert system
WASHINGTON POST – Justice Dept. releases part of internal memo on not charging Trump in Russia probe
WASHINGTON POST – Airlines shun Belarus airspace leaving locals feeling more trapped than ever
WASHINGTON POST – Passengers aboard airliner diverted to Belarus describe confusion and panic
NEW YORK TIMES – ‘An Out-of-Body Experience’: Inside India’s Covid Crisis
NEW YORK TIMES – State Revenues Pour In, Raising Pressure on Biden to Divert Federal Aid
NEW YORK TIMES – Belarus Is Isolated as Other Countries Move to Ban Flights
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Amazon Nears Deal to Buy Hollywood Studio MGM
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Belarus Flight Diversion Worries Airline Industry; ‘We’re in Uncharted Territory’
WALL STREET JOURNAL – Emerging-Market Bonds Prove Covid Resistant
Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)