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Manchin and Sinema continue to stand in way of Build Back Better and voting rights – live | US news

Today so far

Chuck Schumer, the senate majority leader, said Thursday that he wants to pass Democrats’ two sweeping voting bills in time for the 2022 election. But that looks increasingly more difficult the longer Democrats delay.

Advocates don’t think the window to do anything about the 2022 elections has passed, but it is rapidly closing.

In Texas, a state that has some of the most gerrymandered maps in the country, the period for candidates to file for office next year ended on Monday. Overseas voters will begin to get mail-in ballots for the state’s 1 March primary in January. And the state’s voter registration deadline is 31 January.

Those fast-approaching deadlines puts Democrats at a huge disadvantage. Courts will likely be more hesitant to step in and make sweeping election changes now that the election process is well underway since doing so could potentially mean changing ballots and risk voter confusion.

Several provisions in the Freedom to Vote Act would require states to make significant overhauls to the way their elections are run, including implementing systems for same-day and automatic voter registration. Those changes take time to implement, and while it’s not impossible, would be increasingly difficult to do ahead of fast approaching spring primaries.

“I think that it’s doable. But if we want to ensure that it’s done correctly and well, it’s going to take some time and definitely some resources,” Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser at the Democracy Fund, said back in November.

“So the sands in the hour glass are slipping away and it is not something that if it’s not passed relatively soon, I don’t think there are ways in which many facets of the bill would be able to be implemented well.”

Democrats want voting rights bill before 2022 elections, Schumer says

France will dramatically tighten restrictions on travel from Britain to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant, effectively banning all non-essential journeys.

The government announced in a statement that incoming travellers would require “an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated” from midnight on Saturday (11pm GMT Friday).

“People cannot travel for tourism or professional reasons,” it said, adding that the British government had itself said that the UK would face “a tidal wave” of new infections fuelled by the Omicron variant.

France had therefore “chosen to reinstate the need for an essential reason for travel from and to the UK”, it said.

In addition, all arrivals from the UK will need a negative PCR or antigen test taken within the previous 24, rather than 48 hours, and will have to quarantine in France for seven days – reduced to 48 hours if they can produce a new negative test.

US hospitals brace for potential Omicron surge in January

A wave of new Omicron cases is beginning to surge in America and could peak as early as January, the Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) has warned, as states are scrambling to prepare for overloaded hospitals. The US has passed 800,000 deaths, including 1 in 100 Americans over the age of 65.

The Omicron variant accounted for nearly 3% of Covid cases in the US as of Saturday – up from only 0.4% the week before, according to data from the CDC. The variant is expected to continue rising rapidly, based on the experiences of other countries and could be dominant within weeks.

“I suspect that those numbers are going to shoot up dramatically in the next couple of weeks,” Céline Gounder, infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at New York University and Bellevue Hospital, told reporters on Wednesday. She expects an Omicron wave to peak in late January and then come down sometime in February.

In a meeting with state health leaders on Tuesday, the CDC presented two scenarios, based on models, for how the variant might drive infections in the next few weeks and months. Omicron and Delta cases could peak as soon as January or a smaller surge of Omicron could happen in the spring.

Centrist senators throw up roadblocks for Build Back Better and voting rights

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