Senate Republicans are expected to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as early as today, after defeating a Democratic filibuster on Sunday evening and setting up a full vote for Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to a U.S-brokered ceasefire, after weeks of fierce fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh [na-gor-no kar-ah-bakh]. Previous ceasefires have been... shall we say, temporary, so we’ll see how much good this one does.
And lastly, a fresh COVID outbreak hits the executive branch, this time running rampant among Vice President Mike Pence’s staff.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s latest pick for the Supreme Court, could see a full confirmation vote in the Senate as early as today. Barring a dramatic switch in personal priorities by multiple Republican members of Congress, she will almost certainly be confirmed.
Republicans led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been pushing hard for Barrett’s confirmation, overwhelming lackluster Democratic resistance. On Sunday night, Republicans successfully voted to blow past a Democratic filibuster, despite the fact that Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski stood with the Democrats. And that’s as far as Murkowski’s courage went, as she’s expected to vote with her party tomorrow.
McConnell is expected to keep the Senate in session overnight to hit the minimum 30 hours between votes, and then push for a full Senate confirmation vote on Monday night. He’s got the votes to do it, which means Trump could have sealed off the seat just hours after you hear this.
As I’m sure you know, that would give the GOP a 6-3 conservative majority on the court. The only way back, of course, is to pack the court with new judges. Nothing in the constitution forbids that, but Democrats are still scared to commit to it, for reasons that are probably only understandable if you have terminal centrist brain.
But to even get to that point, we’ve got to take the White House and the Senate Back.
Shaky Ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh
Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a ceasefire brokered by the U.S. that should have begun by the time you’re hearing this.
The State Department release a statement on Sunday announcing that leaders from both countries had agreed to a quote “humanitarian ceasefire” in the conflict which flared up dramatically at the end of September.
The two countries have been in conflict over the semi-autonomous, contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan even though most of its inhabitants are Armenian.
In late September, the Azerbaijani military launched major strikes against Nagorno-Karabakh, prompting the Armenian military to retaliate. The politics of the region are chaotic and ugly, as both parties are backed by various rival regional powers. Azerbaijan, for instance, is heavily supported by Turkey, and has used indiscriminate shelling and banned cluster munitions against civilian populations in the region. Armenian forces have also shelled Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, killing numerous civilians as well.
Prior ceasfires, however, have been pretty short lived. The conflict has been simmering for decades, with tensions periodically flaring up, but the recent clashes are the most severe in years. It could be that the Trump administration is just looking for a foreign policy feather in its cap right before the election, but any pause in the violence will be a relief for civilians living near the front lines.
VP Pence's Staff Copies White House and Contracts Corona
A new outbreak of coronavirus has hit the executive branch: this time, it’s Pence’s team that has it. The VP himself, of course, is going about his day like nothing is wrong, because he is a soulless automaton who knows nothing other than “sit in chair, blink, get oddly-straight haircut.”
To set the stage here: Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short and at least three other members of his staff have tested positive for the disease. Despite the fact that Short is in close daily contact with Pence, the VP isn’t going to stop campaigning, refusing to quarantine because he claims he’s essential personnel. There really isn’t any other word for that than “grossly negligent,” but hey, it’s Pence.
It’s also pretty in line with what the rest of the White House is thinking. In a live interview on Sunday, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said quote “we’re not going to control the pandemic.” endquote. Meadows’s reasoning, as told to CNN’s Jake Tapper, is that the coronavirus is a contagious disease, which, fact check: true! But what he was essentially saying is that the administration was instead going to focus on vaccines and treatments for the disease, rather than try to control its spread.
This has been de facto White House policy for basically the entire duration of the pandemic, as it’s far easier to hold out hope for miracle cures than it is to actually implement productive public health policy. But it’s still a bit shocking to hear it laid out in such plain terms.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Axios reports that Trump plans to almost immediately fire the CIA director, FBI director, and Secretary of Defense. While we’re not going to lose sleep over a bunch of spies losing their jobs, it does suggest that he would replace them with even more barbaric sycophants if he wins another term.
Throughout all this political drama, the pandemic grinds on: Utah’s ICUs are preparing to ration care as new virus cases shatter records and a flood of patients overwhelm existing networks. The state’s doctors see no indications that their spike will slow down, which could set up a grim outlook for many patients in a matter of weeks.
Some good news from Washington State: the Department of Agriculture successfully vacuumed the first nest of murder hornets out of a tree near the city of Blaine. So that’s one thing we can worry about a little bit less.
And finally, early voting began in many states over the weekend, and the first numbers coming in are staggering, especially in swing states like Texas. In that state, for instance, 6.4 million people have already voted, which is almost as many as 2012 and 2016 with more than a week to go before the election.
That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today! Stay tuned for the full show with Sam later today.
OCT 26, 2020 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn