NEED TO KNOW: From GOP blocking the Insurrection Bill to war crimes of Israel we bring you The most important national and international stories for May 28, 2021.
1. The Senate Republicans voted today to block the January 6 bill which was created to further investigate the involvement of former President Trump in the January 6th insurrection. The House passed this bill previously this month, but an overwhelming majority of Republicans was needed to get it through the Senate – which did not occur. The bill calls for an independent commission created by the Democratic leaders of Congress to further probe the origins and mishaps of the insurrection, an action heavily opposed by GOP leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy. The bipartisan bill resulted in a 54-35 vote and was unable to break the threshold of GOP support and be passed through Congress. Republican Senators who voted YES: Cassidy, Collins, Murkowski, Portman, Romney, and Sasse. Senators not voting: Blackburn (R-TN) Blunt (R-MO) Braun (R-IN) Burr (R-NC) Inhofe (R-OK) Murray (D-WA) Risch (R-ID) Rounds (R-SD) Shelby (R-AL) Sinema (R-AZ) Toomey (R-PA). The failure to pass the bill occurred even after the mother of the late police officer, Bian Sicknick, met with many GOP leaders to urge them to pass the bill. This strong opposition has led many Democrats to advocate for eliminating the filibuster, which will allow them to pass this bill on their own.
2. President Biden gave a speech in Northern Virginia with Governor Ralph Northam on the progress Virginia and the United States are making to fight Covid. He emphasized the declining number of cases and the increasing amounts of vaccinated adults and children, which has risen to almost 50%, meaning nearly 166 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated. Biden highlighted the improvement we are making as a nation and urged unvaccinated people to do so as soon as possible, including children aged 12-15 who are also now eligible. The president cited the common goal of defeating Covid-19 as bringing the nation together, “This is the first real evidence that we’re able to do it. The American people are more ready to come together…” While many Americans are getting vaccinated and the cases of Coronavirus are decreasing, the question of the origin of the virus still remains and is being investigated currently.
3. The U.N. rights Chief has stated that the Israeli violence against the citizens of Hamas in Gaza might be considered a war crime. The 11-day violent attack killed at least 248 people in Gaza, including 66 children. 12 people died in Israel, including two children. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, also chimed in to say a possibility of war crimes being committed is something the UN is looking into. She stated, “Airstrikes in such densely populated areas resulted in a high level of civilian fatalities and injuries, as well as the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure…such attacks may constitute war crimes.” The U.N. took a vote to intensify the scrutiny of Israeli violence against Palestinians and was passed with a 24-9 vote. The solution calls for the creation of a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” which is a group that will permanently monitor Israeli-Palestinian relations in the area of Gaza and the West Bank.
4. Senate wrap-up and look ahead: The Senate adjourned at 12:52 p.m. and will meet for two pro forma sessions on Tuesday, June 1st at 11:30 a.m. and on Thursday, June 3rd at 11:00 a.m. The Senate will then return for business on Monday, June 7th, 2021 at 3:00 PM and resume consideration of the nomination of Julien Xavier Neals to be U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey. At 5:30 PM, the Senate will proceed to a vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Neals nomination.