DC Prepares For Trucker Convoys Protesting Vaccine Requirements
The National Guard is preparing to respond to potentially disruptive protests. Meanwhile, lawmakers working on a mental health bill face a ticking clock. And from the Florida capital: the state Senate confirms a controversial surgeon general nominee.
Pentagon Approves Requests For National Guard As Trucker Convoy Eyes D.C.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved requests from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police for National Guard assistance ahead of trucker protests expected to arrive in the area soon. Up to 700 National Guard personnel will be deployed to help control traffic at designated traffic posts and points leading to the Capitol. ... Truck drivers protesting vaccine requirements are expected to depart Pennsylvania on Wednesday morning and drive to the D.C. area, arriving late Wednesday or Thursday. The demonstration protesting vaccine requirements and other issues is inspired by truck driver protests in Canada. (Watson, 2/23)
More from Congress —
Lawmakers Face Pressure To Pass Mental Health Legislation
Lawmakers hope to produce legislation to address growing mental health and substance use needs this year as deadlines approach, but the issue is competing for attention with other national priorities in a compressed election-year schedule. Congress has until March 11 to extend a restriction on fentanyl-related substances, a large group of synthetic opioids that are responsible for most drug-related deaths. And a dozen Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration programs also must be reauthorized by the end of the fiscal year in September. The programs include the community mental health services block grant, mental and behavioral health education and training grants, and evidence-based programs within the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory. (Raman, 2/23)
Readers And Tweeters Have Mental Health Care On Their Minds
KHN gives readers a chance to comment on a recent batch of stories. (2/24)
Meanwhile, in Florida —
Florida Surgeon General Confirmed Despite Controversy
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo was confirmed to his position Wednesday, as Senate Republicans approved the nomination of the state’s top doctor over criticism that his opposition to coronavirus mandates is too aligned to the politics of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Ladapo, who was appointed by DeSantis in September, has drawn intense scrutiny over his shared resistance with the governor to COVID-19 mandates for vaccines and masks and other health policies endorsed by the federal government. (Izaguirre, 2/23)
Florida Senate Approves DeSantis' Controversial Pick For Surgeon General
Ladapo, 43, and DeSantis share many views on Covid-19, including that face masks don’t prevent spread and that governments should not require vaccines, in part because he said they have not been proven to prevent transmission. Ladapo also stood behind DeSantis as the Republican governor hammered President Joe Biden’s rollout of federal vaccine mandates in December and supported DeSantis’ criticism of the Biden administration for limiting the nationwide distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments. Those treatments were found to be less effective at treating the Omicron variant. (Sarkissian, 2/23)