Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It’s Friday! We keep you informed about the latest developments in politics, policy, and trends. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver were the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please share the Morning Report with your friends and let them know what you think. 75 Thursday,
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 837,664; Tuesday, 839,500; Wednesday, 842,322; Thursday, 844,562; Friday, 846,488.
Can things get worse for President BidenJoe BidenGallego on Jan. 6 rioters: ‘F— them’ Psaki: Why is GOP afraid of presidential debates? Biden calls on employers to mandate vaccines despite Supreme Court ruling MORE? It is hard to imagine how the president could sound defeated during a visit to Capitol Hill after the Sens. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaManchin says he won’t vote to ‘eliminate or weaken the filibuster’ Democracy is on life support — and the GOP wants to pull the plug Biden: ‘I don’t know whether we can get this done’ MORE (D-Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin says he won’t vote to ‘eliminate or weaken the filibuster’ Democracy is on life support — and the GOP wants to pull the plug Biden: ‘I don’t know whether we can get this done’ MORE (D-W.Va.) dealt a death blow to his push to enact sweeping voter rights and election reform proposals.
“I hope we can get this done. The honest to God answer is I don’t know if we can get this done,” Biden told reporters while exiting a Senate Democratic luncheon, delivering a similar line three times before finally departing the Capitol (The Hill).
Roughly an hour before Biden delivered a plea to Senate Democrats, it was Sinema who put to rest any speculation that Democrats will be able to move on the pair of packages that would overhaul American elections. The Arizona Democrat, who is very selective when it comes to topics, tried to thread a needle. She reiterated her support for the twin bills but did not want to remove protections for minorities.
“I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” Sinema said, adding that she has had “long-standing support” for the 60-vote threshold. It is the belief I still hold. It is the belief I have shared many times in public settings and in private settings.”
“Eliminating the 60-vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy,” she added (The Hill).
According to Politico, a number of Senate Democrats were wholly unaware of Sinema’s speech when Biden greeted them during his rendezvous to the upper chamber. At one point during the 90-minute meeting, Manchin asked Biden if the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) ever broke Senate rules to change them, to which Biden responded: “We are in different times now.”
Hours later, Manchin himself followed Sinema’s lead and issued a statement citing Byrd, vowing that he will not “vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” putting the cherry on the rank-tasting sundae for Biden (The Hill).
Nevertheless, Biden hosted the pair at the White House on Thursday night for a discussion that lasted 75 minutes (CNN). The White House called their discussion “a candid and respectful exchange of views about voting rights.”
Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Sinema, Manchin curb Biden’s agenda.
Carl Hulse, The New York Times: Sinema rejects changing filibuster, dealing Biden a setback.
The Hill: Democrats’ filibuster gambit unravels.
The Associated Press analysis: Biden overshoots on what’s possible in divided Washington.
Also playing a role in the Democratic debate over the rules are external forces that are truly outside their control. Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden’s desperate pitch to keep minority voters Business executives urge Senate to bypass filibuster to pass voting rights Former colleagues honor Reid in ceremony at Capitol MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday night said that Democrats will take up the voting rights and election reform proposals on Tuesday, missing his deadline of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the process. Due to snowstorms in the Northeast, Schumer had to delay his plans.
Adding to the complications, Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy & Environment — Manchin raises hopes on climate spending The Hill’s 12: 30 Report: Snow day in DC Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE (D-Hawaii) tested positive for COVID-19, putting Democrats one vote down until Sunday at least.
Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal: Biden’s Georgia speech is a break point.
As The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in his latest Memo, Thursday’s one-two punch of the voting rights effort going down and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the White House’s vaccine directive for large employers compounds issues for Biden. Already facing problems from rising inflation, the omicron variant and inability to pass Build Back Better, the president was already in trouble.
Despite this, the party sees the fight for voting rights as a worthwhile one and could reap political dividends. Biden made the observation to reporters that it took time for any other civil rights bill to pass.
“If we miss the first time, we can come back and try it a second time. Biden stated, “We missed this time.” “As long as I have a breath in me, as long as I’m in the White House, as long as I’m engaged at all, I’m going to be fighting to change the way these legislatures have moving.”
Politico: Democrats start building their 2022 case assuming Build Back Better will fail.
The Washington Post: Senate rejects Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Holmes Norton: Cruz effort to block DC student vaccine mandate ‘crosses the line’ The Hill’s Morning Report – For Biden, it goes from bad to worse MORE‘s (R-Texas) bill to impose sanctions over Russian pipeline project.
The Hill: On Saturday, the expanded Child Tax Credit expires, and millions of families will stop receiving monthly payments intended to benefit them during the pandemic and beyond.
LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: Thursday’s big headlines: defeat of the administration’s vaccine mandate for big companies but a victory for its requirement that health care workers in facilities that receive federal funds must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The conservative majority of the Supreme Court stopped the administration’s vaccine or-test rule by Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This covered employees at large companies and was supported by states and companies who argued that the government had overstepped OSHA’s statutory sway.
“Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most,” the Supreme Court opinion reads. “COVID-19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. This kind of universal risk is not different from the daily dangers we all face from crime and air pollution or any other communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life — simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock — would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization” (The Hill and Crain’s Detroit).
Justices, however, upheld the administration’s separate vaccine mandate covering workers at health care facilities that receive government funds, including resources through Medicare and Medicaid (The Associated Press).
CNN published text of the rulings HERE.
Despite the court’s rejection of the November OSHA requirement, the administration believes its effort resulted in the inoculations of millions more employees while employers formulated policies during the pandemic’s omicron surge, effectively protecting most fully vaccinated and boosted workers from severe illness. The rule would have applied to 84 million people (The New York Times).
Should the world anticipate annual COVID-19 booster shots? Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: Biden strategizes with Senate Dems Scientists, medical professionals defend Fauci after heated exchanges with Republicans Doctors call out Spotify over ‘false and societally harmful assertions’ on Joe Rogan show MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday it remains an open question because even if humans get vaccine doses every year or two, the shots need to be effective against the ever-mutating coronavirus. The hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine that could block all future variants is underway (NBC News).
> Tests, masks: More COVID-19 tests and high-quality masks will be available to Americans, Biden said on Thursday. The government purchased an additional 500 million tests for distribution to the public when the first tranche of 500 million are gone (The Hill), he said. The administration next week will announce how free high-quality masks will be available to help protect against the highly transmissible omicron variant, he added (The Hill).
> D.C.’s proof of vaccination: Washington’s requirement for proof of at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 12 and older to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, conference centers and sports venues takes effect Saturday morning. Proof of a second dose will be required in the nation’s capital beginning Feb. 15, Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserOhio Republican sparks condemnation for comparing DC vaccine mandate to Nazi Germany The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden champions filibuster reform, but doesn’t have the votes Conservatives push for boycott of GOP club over DC vaccine mandate MORE (D) has ordered. The Washington Post reviews what residents, workers and visitors need to know.
The Hill: Nearly 3,000 unvaccinated U.S. Army soldiers received written reprimands for not following Pentagon requirements, the Army disclosed on Wednesday.
The Associated Press: Delta Air Lines Inc. reported Thursday that approximately 8,000 employees tested positive for COVID-19 in the past month. The carrier sustained $408 million in losses in the final quarter of 2021 but predicts recovery later this year.
Australia on Friday canceled a visa for the second time for tennis star Novak Djokovic, who is preparing to compete in the Australian Open with a bid for a record 21st major title. Monday’s tournament starts. The country’s immigration minister may make a decision in the “public interest”. This could lead to Djokovic being deported. Djokovic, who previously contracted COVID-19, is not vaccinated against the coronavirus, in violation of Australian requirements. He is expected to appeal (NBC News and ESPN).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: The Justice Department on Thursday arrested and charged Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes with seditious conspiracy, a rarely used part of the law, in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. Ten other members or associates were similarly charged, authorities said (The Associated Press). Rhodes will appear in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District this afternoon. He is accused of guiding a months-long effort to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the swearing-in of Biden, which culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol (The Washington Post and The Hill). Right-wing interviewers were told by Rhodes that there was no plan for the Capitol to be stormed and that members who did so went rogue.
The House Select Panel investigating Jan. 6 events and the causes of the insurrection issued subpoenas for Google through parent Alphabet, Facebook, Meta; Twitter; as well as Reddit. The committee is reportedly interested in social media posts and messages that could disclose who was in contact with the Trump White House before, during and after the Jan. 6 attacks (The Guardian).
> Redistricting: A recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court to strike down legislative district maps hints at the relevance of state courts in the future of the nation’s political trajectory, The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports. Both Democrats and Republicans have turned to the states to present their cases and to change the structure of Congress in the coming decade, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision virtually exempted the federal judiciary.
> Debating debates: The Republican National Committee is preparing to change its rules to require presidential candidates seeking the party’s nomination to sign a pledge to not participate in any debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, it informed the commission on Thursday. The nonprofit, founded by the two parties in 1987 to codify the debates as a permanent part of presidential elections, describes itself as nonpartisan. But Republicans have complained for nearly a decade that its processes, formats and decision making favor Democrats (The New York Times).
The Hill: Fox News’ Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonGlenn Beck says he has COVID-19 for second time Fox News tops ratings for coverage on Jan. 6 anniversary events The Hill’s 12: 30 Report: Biden comes out swinging in 2022 MORE extends his GOP influence.
Axios: Former President TrumpDonald TrumpGallego on Jan. 6 rioters: ‘F— them’ Psaki: Why is GOP afraid of presidential debates? Democracy is on life support — and the GOP wants to pull the plug MORE invited guest speakers to his Saturday rally in Arizona. They share a common trait: adherence to Trump’s false claims that he won Arizona and the election in 2020. This is part of Trump’s wider political strategy to silence or defeat GOP candidates and keep his supporters in his camp.
The Hill: Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoGallego on Jan. 6 rioters: ‘F— them’ Pressures aligning on Biden, Democrats to forgive student loans Overnight Defense & National Security — Nation marks 1 year since Capitol riot MORE (D-Ariz.) said it is “past time” Sinema and the Senate protect voting rights. He has not ruled out challenging Sinema in 2024.
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Omicron’s impact in China may finally give us a supply-chain crisis, by David Fickling and Anjani Trivedi, columnists, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3trmoaX
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 11 a.m.
The Senate convenes for a pro forma session at 11: 20 a.m. Members will return to Washington on Tuesday.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. Biden will deliver remarks about the bipartisan infrastructure law at 12: 30 p.m. He will depart for Wilmington, Del., at 6 p.m.
Vice President Harris at 10: 20 a.m. will ceremonially swear in Rufus Gifford to be U.S. chief of protocol at the State Department. He was confirmed by the Senate in December (Washington Blade).
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 11: 45 a.m. and will include Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.
NORTH KOREA: Pyongyang fired at least two ballistic missiles on Friday, its third test in less than two weeks, just hours after warning of a strong reaction to the “provocation” of a U.S. push for new sanctions as punishment for the previous missile tests (Reuters).
FEDERAL RESERVE: Biden will nominate former Fed governor Sarah Bloom Raskin to be the central bank’s top banking regulator (The Wall Street Journal). … “Difficult to thread the needle” was the phrase repeated this week by analysts and news media to describe the central bank’s 2022 challenge to tighten the spigot on its stimulative monetary policy (without choking off economic growth) while raising rates in an attempt to tame inflation (without crushing demand). On Thursday, market-watchers said there is plenty of uncertainty about whether the central bank has what it takes. Market-watchers said that there is a lot of uncertainty about whether the central bank has what it takes. “Whether the Fed is able to thread this historically difficult policy needle is shaping up to be one of the most consequential economic storylines of 2022” (Fox 5 Atlanta). … Lael brainard was nominated by Biden for the Federal Reserve vice-chair. She stated that the central bank would not reduce financing to fossil fuel industries or penalize banks, while weighing the climate impacts on financial institutions and the U.S. economy. “We would not tell banks which sectors to lend to or which sectors to not lend to, but we do want to make sure that they are measuring, monitoring and managing their material risks in many large financial institutions,” Brainard (pictured below) said Thursday (The Hill).
JUSTICE: California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomWhy California needs a Latino state supreme court justice The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden champions filibuster reform, but doesn’t have the votes Equilibrium/Sustainability — NASA hires climate scientist for key new role MORE (D) on Thursday denied parole to Sirhan Sirhan, 71, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 in Los Angeles as the senator campaigned for the presidency. After years of being denied parole, Sirhan was released in August from San Diego prison. Prosecutors had declined to weigh in (The Associated Press).
Tech: Executives from Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon met Thursday with White House officials to discuss recent open-source software security vulnerabilities (Verge and US News & World Report).
EDUCATION: College enrollment dropped by 3.1 percent in 2021, with a total loss of 465,300 students, according to a report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Enrollment has fallen by more than a million students since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. During the fall 2021 semester, enrollment at public four-year colleges fell by 3.8 percent (251,400 students). Private for-profit, four-year college enrollment dropped by 11.1 percent (65,500 students) (The Hill).
BRITISH ROYALS: Queen Elizabeth II removed honorary military titles and royal patronages from Prince Andrew, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday. The queen was urged in a letter to take such action by more than 150 army and navy veterans. A U.S. judge said Wednesday that a civil lawsuit can proceed alleging the royal’s sexual assault of a then-17-year-old girl. The Duke of York will not continue to perform any public duties. He is defending the case as a private citizen ,”, the palace statement said. Andrew’s lawyers have said their client, 61, never sexually abused or assaulted accuser Virginia Giuffre and that he “unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him” (The Associated Press).
And finally … A rousing standing ovation for this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! With the negative headlines about grievances, disputes and losses in mind we created a few puzzle questions for January’s
Here’s everyone who went 4/4 as 2022 begins: Jeremy Serwer, Patrick Kavanagh, David E. Letostak, Steven Abern, Nick Favorito, Leslie Wustack, Marc Luca, Michael Fessenden, Tom Wingfield, Terry Pflaumer, Len Jones, Mary Anne McEnery, Tom Oshe, Tim Burrack, Mark Roeddiger, Steve James, Chris Guarino, Shaun Donnelly, Lori Benso, Allen Reishtein, Candi Cee, Mary Wright, Michael Romage, Ken Sparks, Michael Bingham, Randall Patrick, Ki Harvey, John Donato and Lou Tisler.
They knew that a hot mic caught a fed-up Anthony Fauci referring to Sen. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallScientists, medical professionals defend Fauci after heated exchanges with Republicans The Hill’s Morning Report – For Biden, it goes from bad to worse Fauci says it’s ‘stunning’ that senator doesn’t know his financial records are public after calling Republican a moron MORE (R-Kan.) as a “moron” during a