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For every week the government is closed, 10 children with cancer will be denied access to clinical trials, according to a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“There are four new protocols [clinical trials] ready to start next week, and they won’t be starting during the shutdown if we’re still shut down,” John Burklow told

The NIH has put 75 percent of its 14,700 employees on indefinite leave. The 1,400 clinical trials currently in progress will continue, but new trials that would include 200 people — 10 of them kids with cancer — will have to be delayed until the government funds the institution.

“Just to be clear, we aren’t turning patients away permanently — we would be delaying their admission, since we are not enrolling new patients at this time,” Burklow told AFP.

As both Republicans and Democrats seek to blame each other for the government shutdown, the conservative media has been playing up the spectacle of veterans being denied access to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Monuments were kept open during the last government shutdown — however, that was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In addition to the estimated $300-million-a-day hit to our economy, 800,000 federal workers are not getting their paychecks, and the loss of access to national parks, medical research, disease prevention and food safety are areas where the public may feel the direct impact of the government shutdown.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) furloughed 9,000 employees and cut back on the flu vaccination program.

“The vast majority of the CDC is actively in the process of shutting down,” CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said. “We’ve gotten really good at trying to find outbreaks, but our strong network is getting weaker. … This is spotty.”

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration says it will have to delay investigations into violations. While meat inspections will continue, the Food and Drug Administration will inspect few if any of the nation’s estimated 20,000 food facilities. In addition, no new medical treatments will be considered by the Administration during the shutdown

While the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment has not been delayed, the standoff over funding the law is still threatening the health of Americans in ways that will only get worse as the impasse continues.


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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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