10 Things in Politics: Texas amps up vaccine fight

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Here's what we're talking about:

With Phil Rosen.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

1. A TEXAS-SIZE FIGHT: Texas is ready to mess with President Joe Biden over vaccines. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's declaration outlawing all private companies from imposing vaccine mandates sets him and his state on a collision course with the federal government, further raising the tension between the White House and Republican governors over pandemic policy.

Here's what you need to know:

Legal experts expect Biden to win this fight: ​​"I would not take it seriously as a legal measure," a University of Texas law professor, Sanford Levinson, told The Dallas Morning News, "unless very surprisingly this argument that Biden just doesn't have the power, that the Labor Department just doesn't have the power, prevails — and I don't think that's the case."

Another Texas law professor had this to add:

Steve Vladeck

This is about a lot more than Texas: American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, is based in Fort Worth; Southwest Airlines also calls the state home. Large numbers of Alphabet and Facebook employees are also in Texas, per Reuters. Both tech companies have pledged to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. And Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks are among the NBA teams requiring fans to be fully vaccinated or show a negative test. All of these entities would now appear to be under conflicting federal and state orders on vaccines.

Abbott's action shows where the right stands: Texas has been among the conservative vanguard in pandemic policies. But even that was not enough to please some of Abbott's primary challengers, who felt the governor's previous ban on vaccine mandates by local governments did not go far enough.

Check out how one of Abbott's primary challengers responded:

Don Huffines tweet

Other serious vaccine-related challenges remain: "Experts in vaccine behavior fear that the country is bumping up against the ceiling of persuadable people," The New York Times reports. Here are where things stand in the US's vaccination efforts.


2. Democrats are set to slash Biden's $300 billion plan to build millions of homes: The White House hoped to fight the housing crisis with its $3.5 trillion social-spending package, but opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema has forced Democrats to shrink the plan. And as party leaders prepare a revised package, $300 billion set aside for housing aid is under siege. Overall, the funds could create more than 2 million new homes, according to estimates from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. More on the Democratic infighting over what to keep and what to cut from the $3.5 trillion spending plan.


3. Insider sues Biden administration over Trump's records: The lawsuit seeks to compel the General Services Administration to provide the names of nine staff members who worked for Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the months after they left office. In response to previous requests, the agency released the names of some staffers who continued to work for Trump and Pence, including the Trump aides Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino. More on Insider's fight to reveal how taxpayer money is being spent.


Jon Gruden.

4. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigns amid email scandal: Gruden, who was already under fire for using racist language in a 2011 email, resigned Monday after additional messages came to light showing he called the NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell, a "pussy" and mocked the gay NFL draftee Michael Sam. Gruden's messages, described by The New York Times, were said to be sent to Bruce Allen, then the president of the Washington Football Team, when Gruden worked for ESPN. The NFL obtained more than 650,000 emails from Washington as part of a massive investigation into the franchise's culture. Here's how the latest revelation is playing out across the NFL.


5. Stephanie Grisham doesn't want forgiveness: Grisham, the former high-level Trump aide who published a searing tell-all, told Insider she's "under no illusions" that critics would forgive her for the prominent role she played in Trump's White House. Instead, she wants to stop Trump from winning in 2024, warning that a victorious Trump's "first thought process is going to be revenge and retribution." More on what Grisham says is ahead, including why Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump might not return to the White House.


Southwest Boeing 737-800

6. Southwest cancels hundreds of more flights: Southwest canceled more than 350 flights on Monday, continuing a difficult stretch for the airline that it has blamed on weather and air-traffic-control issues, the Associated Press reports. The Federal Aviation Administration did push back on Southwest's claim about air-traffic-control issues, saying "some airlines" had issues getting their crews in the right place. Here's where things stand as stranded passengers try to get home.


7. Evergrande crisis continues to spook markets: Markets expect the deeply troubled Chinese company to miss its third round of bond payments in three weeks, Reuters reports. Traders are now turning their attention to other distressed developers as worries about a wide fallout continue to escalate.


8. Kim Jong Un touts North Korean military might: Kim used a rare public display of the country's weapons to try to divide the US from South Korea while accusing the US of "continuing to create tensions in the region with its wrong judgments and actions," the AP reports. North Korea has sent a series of mixed signals in recent weeks.


9. A COVID-19 pill took its next step toward becoming a reality: Merck requested FDA authorization for its pill, the next step toward rolling it out to the public. Merck and its fellow developer Ridgeback Biotherapeutics say the pill "significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death" from COVID-19 in a late-stage trial. If cleared, it would be the first oral antiviral in use for COVID-19.


10. Bond is underperforming at the box office. The latest James Bond film, "No Time To Die," is the first sign of turbulence for the latest wave of blockbuster hopefuls. The action film earned $56 million in its US opening weekend, below some analysts' expectations. This could hint at trouble for would-be hits in a crowded Hollywood market that is still recovering from the pandemic. And yet, Bond is performing up to par globally.

Today's trivia question: The Bidens attended their nephew's wedding to the reality-TV star Meghan King on Monday. Who is the first and only president to get married at the White House?

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