By Elpidio R. Estioko
The second impeachment trial of now former president Donald Trump begins Tuesday, February 10, 2021 and to impeach him, two thirds vote (or a total of 67 senators with 17 GOPs joining the Democrats) of the senators seating as jurors is needed.
Prior to the Senate trial, the House of Congress impeached Trump with 11 GOP congressmen joining the Democrats. Now, in the Senate, they need 17 GOP senators to impeach him of the crime of insurrection.
Will this be possible? If GOP senators vote for the truth, as they now claim to be a party of truth as advocated by GOP #3 House Rep. Liz Cheney from Wyoming and be swayed by concrete evidence arising from the January 6 riot, then the 17 votes, I guess, will easily be attainable.
Well, another possibility is: if the 5 senators who voted for the constitutionality of the Senate trial led by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who by the way registered the sole vote to impeach Trump in his 1stimpeachment trial; and the 10 senators working with President Joe Biden on bipartisan COVID legislation agree for bipartisanship and be swayed to vote to convict Trump, then that brings us to 15 and will only need two more to join the Democrats in convicting Trump. Is my math accurate? Appropriate?
Maybe we can also expect the vote of four Republican senators who are not running for reelection in 2022 to impeach Trump. The latest who announced he is not running is Sen. Richard Shelby, 86, of Alabama, who said he will not seek a seventh term. The other three are: Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina; Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who believed Trump committed impeachable acts.
I know it takes guts to do it but if they do it for the sake of the American people, then that will be great! This will uphold the rule of law, that no one is above the law and will preserve the tenets of democracy. It will also put an end on Trump’s power and his scary personal agenda by not giving him another chance to run for any public office in the future that may prod his blind supporters to desert him.
It will be a brief trial, apparently, with four hours of debate on the first day, four hours of presentation of evidence the following day and expectedly within the week, they will be able to vote whether they will impeach Trump or not. The discussions revolve around the constitutionality of the trial considering that Trump is no longer in office and the issue of defining the words “inciting” and “insurrection”: semantics… of course!
On the first day, Democratic impeachment managers superbly made their case while Trump’s legal team poorly handled their defense. As a result, GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy from Louisiana joined the five GOP senators who initially voted that the trial is legal and constitutional.
While the trial is unfolding, US President Joe Biden is busy discharging his executive function within the first 100 days of his office which started on January 20 after his inauguration characterized as the era of hope, reconciliation, and unity.
He considered the corona virus pandemic as a national emergency! As a national emergency, he has doubled his efforts in making sure it will be addressed fully to stop the spread of the virus or totally eradicate it.
He mobilized FEMA to launch a massive vaccination program and harnessed the National Guard to also assist in the vaccination centers. He ordered CDC and the emergency agencies to utilize sports stadiums as vaccination centers, in addition to already identified vaccination areas.
Coupled with these efforts, he announced that schools can now reopen safely. When he said safely, he emphasized that there must be few people in the classroom, and they must observe social distancing.
Also, he said that there must be enough ventilation in the classroom to avoid the spread of the virus.
In his article in The Hill, Justine Coleman quoted President Biden in an interview aired last Sunday: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could as soon as Wednesday lay out the requirements for schools to reopen.”
Biden told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell in an interview that aired in part before the Super Bowl that he believed “it’s time for schools to reopen safely,” after calling it a “national emergency” that about 20 million American children have not been in a classroom for almost a year.
“You have to have fewer people in the classroom,” he said. “You have to have ventilation systems that have been reworked. Our CDC commissioner is going to be coming out with science-based judgement within I think as early as Wednesday as to lay out what the minimum requirements are.”
With these pronouncements, schools and other stakeholders across the country are weighing in if they must reopen in-person instruction.
Teachers unions and school districts have disagreed whether current plans are safe for children and staff to return to in-person learning, particularly in Chicago and Minneapolis. In Chicago, the country’s third largest school district, it was resolved… with the two parties, the Chicago Teachers Union, and the school district, agreeing to resume on an agreed date. The district expects to start vaccinating teachers and other school staff in mid-February.
Also, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $2 billion plan to reopen elementary schools for the youngest students starting on February 16 “faced pushback from some state legislators and school district leaders who said there was not enough time or funding to implement the new health and safety requirements. The California Teachers Association also called on Newsom to slow the spread of the virus in the state and vaccinate more people before reopening schools, saying vaccines for school employees are “a key element to safe in-person school reopening.”
With roughly four months left in this academic year, the issue continues to divide parents, as some demonstrate in favor of school reopening and others raise health concerns.
Biden, who has pledged to work closely with educators and teachers’ union leaders on plans to reopen schools said during a press conference on January 25: “We need new ventilation systems in those schools, we need testing for people coming in and out of the classes, we need testing for teachers as well as students. It’s not so much about the idea that teachers aren’t going to work,” he added. “They just want to work in a safe environment and as safe as we can rationally make it. And we can do that, and we should be able to open every school, kindergarten through eighth grade, if, in fact, we administer these tests.”
In an article in US News, Lauren Camera wrote Biden details plan for reopening schools. “The plan is part of a sprawling proposal to curb COVId-19 in the US and get the country’s economy and school systems back up and running. The United States is committed to ensuring that students and educators are able to resume safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible, with the goal of getting many K-8 schools safely open in 100 days.”
Biden has called on Congress to provide at least $130 billion in dedicated funding to K-12 schools, as well as $350 billion in flexible state and local aid that would help districts avoid lay-offs and close budget gaps.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers said: “Finally, we have a president who is committed to doing what educators, parents and students have yearned for since the first weeks of the pandemic – a real national plan to crush COVID that follows the science and secures the resources to make in-school learning safe.”
Biden’s plan also proposes $35 billion in emergency stabilization funds for colleges and universities, where enrollment is down 20% in 2020 compared to 2019, especially among community colleges, which serve the largest number of low-income students.
“Reopening and keeping colleges open is critical to ensuring that all Americans have a shot at a college credential – but it must be done safely, to protect the health of students, faculty, staff, and the broader community,” the plan states.
The pandemic is still here and rising, but unlike the previous Trump administration where there was no federal master plan to address it, the present administration of Biden considers it as a national emergency and a master plan to arrest it is in place!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ email@example.com.