Good morning, everyone.
Below we detail the labyrinth of Covid policy in the state, talk about America's newest holiday tradition, the government shutdown, and generally try to shine some light in the darker places.
In other red-blooded news, if you haven't seen our Pierce Brosnan Shrine scroll to the bottom of this email to cleanse your palate of the politics. You can follow us on Twitter (@realpamphleteer), LinkedIn (@realpamphleteer), or Instagram (@realpamphleteer) for additional content.
Thanks for reading.
🂠 THE LABYRINTH OF COVID POLICY
Yesterday, the office of Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower suspended all Covid exemptions put into motion following Tennessee’s Extraordinary Session III.
What does this mean? Prior to Tennessee’s Covid Special Session, the Federal government created a stipulation mandating that all companies seeking Federal contracts require their employees to be fully vaccinated. During the session, our legislature enacted laws that made it illegal for employers to require proof of vaccination and allowed employees to receive unemployment benefits if they were fired due to vaccination status. But in order to protect Tennessee businesses who operate using Federal funding, lawmakers added exemptions for companies that would lose their Federal contracts if they adhered to Tennessee State Laws banning mandates which conflicts with Federal law.
What happened to change this and what does the Comptroller have to do with it? The Tennessee Comptroller is in charge of granting exemption status to companies who operate under Federal contract. Exemptions were granted by the Comptroller following the Covid Special Session, but yesterday those exemptions were revoked. The reason for this is because of a Federal Court ruling made by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove on November 30th. The ruling temporarily blocks Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for Federal contractors in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Why only those three states? The plaintiffs involved in this case are from those three states, so this can be looked at as a major stride in the eyes of Americans who oppose vaccine mandates in the state of Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky only. In response to this preliminary injunction, the Tennessee Comptroller went ahead and voided all the exemptions granted by his office to companies under Federal contract as the exemptions originally granted before this ruling are no longer legal according to Tennessee law.
How does this affect Tennesseans? If you are an unvaccinated employee who works at a company that operates under a Federal contract, you are now protected by Tennessee State Law in two ways:
- You do not have to provide proof of vaccination to your employer.
- If you are terminated due to non-vaccination status, you can collect unemployment benefits.
That said, this is only a temporary block of Biden’s vaccine mandate for Federal contract employees. Also, as cases filter through the American court system, it is unclear what rulings will affect what actions retroactively. If you were terminated for not providing proof of vaccination status to an employer who was granted an exemption by the Tennessee Comptroller, that employer’s actions were technically legal at the time. Pending court rulings, outcomes regarding actions taken by employers that were Federally mandated are in limbo.
- Some Tennesseans are left fending for themselves as they got caught in limbo due to Federal contract exemptions. 150 employees who opted for religious exemption at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) were not “fired,” but placed on indefinite unpaid leave. Six workers have sued the company.
- As of November 29th, the Biden administration called to delay firing unvaccinated Federal employees until next year.
- Tennessee lawmakers continue to question the necessity of Extraordinary Session III given the recent court rulings.
- Tennessee benefited by leaving federal unemployment program early (Main Street) About 22,000 Tennesseans were on unemployment Oct. 9, 2021 compared with the 162,000 receiving benefits in early May 2021. Employers hired more than 750,000 workers between May 11 and Sept. 11 and are hiring an average of 6,200 workers per day.
- State of emergency still in place despite governor’s move (Lookout) Despite Gov. Bill Lee’s recent decision to let his executive order lapse, several state departments continue to operate with an eye toward the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Alcohol restrictions for unenclosed entertainment transportation vehicles are now in effect (Channel 5) Violating the ordinance is subject to the issuance of a Metropolitan civil citation which, upon adjudication, carries a $50 fine. Starting in April, entertainment vehicles will need a certificate and permit from the MTLC to operate.
- Sara Beth Myers Wants to Unseat District Attorney Glenn Funk (Scene) The career prosecutor says there’s a ‘fundamental disconnect’ between Funk’s rhetoric and Nashville’s reality
- 📸 Look inside Goo Goo Chocolate Co.'s immersive new $2M facility (Southern Kitchen)
- American Paper & Twine property sells for $17M (Post)
- Wedgewood-Houston properties sell for $2.65M (Post)
- New images released for planned Midtown project (Post)
- Charlotte entity pays $10.95M for Priest Lake storage facility (Post)
- Condo building with sub-$200K units eyed for north side (Post)
- Bill Miller unveils three new projects in downtown's Southern Turf building (Biz Journal)
⑆ JUST ANOTHER GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
The threat of a government shutdown has become something of a holiday ritual alongside Thanksgiving and Christmas. You gather with friends and family over a Thanksgiving meal and return from the holidays to meet a hysterical press cycle warning of an imminent government shutdown if a deal isn't made by some date. This week is no different. Tomorrow is the deadline for lawmakers on the Hill to pass a spending bill preventing yet another government shutdown.
Typically, the party that makes the demands receives the flack for the shutdown. Let's take a brief look at recent government shutdowns.
October 2013 Shutdown
In October 2013 under President Obama, Congressional Republicans attempted to strip the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of funding, lining up against the spending bill that would fund it. After 13 days, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid got together and cut a deal that would minimize funding to the ACA and enforce harsher limits on who would be eligible. The Republicans received the flack for this one.
January 2018 Shutdown
In January 2018, President Trump oversaw a 3-day shutdown as Democrats and Republicans squabbled over DACA and the DREAM Act, which both dealt with protecting illegal immigrants and providing them a path to citizenship. You might remember this period of Trump's Presidency for the ever-present PR campaign talking about "Dreamers", and Nancy Pelosi's self-righteous grandstanding filibuster to force a vote on immigration issues which is Left-speak for how can we increase our voter base.
It was a contentious period wherein Trump worked to enforce established law and build a border wall while Democrats employed the classic and catty "Orange Man Bad" strategy. If you take it from the press, the Republicans were in the wrong here — for "moral" reasons — but Democrats initiated the shutdown.
December 2018 Shutdown
In December 2018, Trump demanded $5.7 billion to go towards the border wall. Reactions from Democrats were predictable. They said no, and ultimately, the longest government shutdown in US history began. It lasted for 35 days and cost the nation $5 billion dollars. After a temporary stopgap bill opened the government back up, the border wall received $1.375 billion in funding. Unpleased, Trump declared a state of emergency on the Southern border to free up capital for the completion of the wall.
By the end of his Presidency, Trump would complete 455 miles of wall, only 55 of which had been previously unwalled. As soon as Biden took office, he lifted the state of emergency, halted construction of the border wall, and declared his intention to strengthen and reinstate DACA. Since then, the US has seen the most border-crossings in its history. History will judge this one.
In December 2019, following Trump's impeachment for "colluding with foreign agents", Trump begrudgingly signed a stopgap spending bill funding the government into the next year.
The December 2020 funding debate hinged around the size of stimulus checks in the midst of the pandemic. Lawmakers ultimately settled on $600 checks which was more an insult than help in a lot of ways and despite the efforts of lawmakers like Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) to vouch for $1200 checks.
Which all brings us to tomorrow. Republicans have begun to bark about how they will force a shutdown over Biden's vaccine mandate. If we're to judge by the actions of Newsmax and Fox News, two supposed bastions of Republicanism and little indentations where anti-vaccine mandate sentiments collect, then there's no reason to believe that Republican politicians will actually stick to their guns fighting the mandates. Newsmax recently parted ways with host Steve Cortes who refused the vaccine. Fox News provides employees the option of getting vaccinated or undergoing daily testing. Neither of these draw hard lines on the issue, and it's difficult to see how politicians chummy with the two networks would differ in practice.
A grand-standing effort by Republicans on the Hill would contribute no more to the movement against vaccine mandates than what is happening in the courts and on state and local levels. It's all theatre. Republicans cradle a delicate basket of momentum heading into the 2022 midterms due to Glenn Youngkin's victory in Virginia, inflation concerns, and the general incompetence of the Biden administration. Initiating a government shutdown would do the party no favors. Or, to take it from Mitch McConnell directly, “We won’t shut down.”
🐴 FROM A HORSE'S MOUTH
Unaware of how a Democracy works, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said, “The fact that they want to walk right up to a government shutdown over a public health issue should frighten the American public. That’s exactly what they’re advocating here.”
What should we do with the American people who don't agree with the mandates? Maybe we'd be better off without them, Pete? Care to go on record with that one?
OTHER UPCOMING DEADLINES
- Dec. 15th – Treasury’s deadline to raise the debt limit
- Dec. 31st – Schumer’s deadline to pass Biden’s Build Back Better
- Dec. 31st – Deadline to pass National Defense Authorization Act
- The US Supreme Court hears a case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, that could potentially overturn women's constitutional right to an abortion as enshrined in 1973's Roe v. Wade decision. At issue is an MS law that bans abortions after 15 weeks undermining the 24-week limit set in Roe v. Wade. A final decision on the fate of Roe v. Wade is not expected until summer.
- The Maxwell case continues into its fourth day as Maxwell's defense has a difficult time separating her from Epstein. In the Jussie Smollett case, one of the brothers who Smollett allegedly asked to help orchestrate the attack testified and laid out the details of their communication.
- Women’s Tennis Suspends Events in China Following Allegation Against Government Official. Organization’s chief executive expresses ‘serious doubts’ about the safety of Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis player at the center of global concern over her well-being.
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
🖼 At the Frist, Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City is running until January 30 and American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918–1939 until January 2.
🐅 Predators vs. Bruins @ Bridgestone Arena, 7p, $43+, Info
Around the Web
▉ Lockdown wasn't worth it Aside from its effects on health, education and the economy, lockdown represents the greatest infringement on civil liberties in modern history.
☁︎ Down Memory Highway with Wright Thompson Reflections on the well-worn road one writer could drive with his eyes closed
⚖︎ The world according to Éric Zemmour He is more interested in being himself than the president
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Words of Wisdom
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