Congress passed a stop-gap funding bill to once again narrowly avoid a government shutdown. The fate of Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court continues to deliberate. Lastly, two familiar names throw their hats in the ring for high-profile 2022 races, while one decides to sit it out.
- Federal government lives to see another day — The Senate passed a stopgap spending bill Thursday that avoids a short-term shutdown and funds the federal government through Feb. 18. Some Republicans opposed to Biden’s vaccine rules wanted Congress to take a hard stand against the mandated shots for workers at larger businesses, even if that meant shutting down federal offices over the weekend by blocking a request that would expedite a final vote on the spending bill. However, the Senate eventually approved the measure by a vote of 69-28. The Democratic-led House passed the measure by a 221-212 vote. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.
- The Supreme Court debates abortion law — The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments in which the court was asked to overturn a nationwide right to abortion that has existed for nearly 50 years. The justices were being asked to overrule two seminal decisions — Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey — in the context of a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. The court’s Roe and Casey precedents say a state can regulate but not ban abortion before the point of viability, at about 24 weeks. All six conservative justices, including three appointed by former President Donald Trump, indicated they would uphold Mississippi’s law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said reversing Roe and Casey would damage the court. She asked: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” The fate of the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion throughout the United States and its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe, probably won’t be known until late June.
- Dr. Oz and Stacey Abrams in, McConaughey out — Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and leading voting rights activist, said Wednesday that she will launch another campaign to become the nation’s first Black woman governor. Without serious competition in a Democratic primary, the announcement could set up a rematch between Abrams and incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Their 2018 contest was one of the most narrowly decided races for governor that year and was dominated by allegations of voter suppression, which Kemp denied. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and television personality, is running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican, according to an op-ed published Tuesday in the Washington Examiner. Oz is an Ohio native who attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He rose to fame as a frequent guest of Oprah Winfrey, eventually launching his own syndicated daytime TV talk show in 2009. Actor Matthew McConaughey announced Sunday in a video message on Twitter that a future in political leadership is not in the cards — right now. After acknowledging that he had taken time exploring politics and considered a run for the governor of Texas, McConaughey said he’s decided to focus his efforts in the private sector.