The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Pressure builds as UK approves COVID-19 vaccine


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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.



How about a round of applause for Pfizer?!:


The United Kingdom just approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for distribution.

When the doses will be available in the U.K.: Starting next week (!) “The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine -- enough to vaccinate 20 million people. [The British health secretary] told the BBC that an initial 800,000 doses would be available in the UK next week.” More from CNN: https://cnn.it/3lCX9Lq 

Everyone is looking at you, FDA: This puts pressure on U.S. regulators to quickly follow and authorize the vaccine in the United States. 

^ For context from Stat: “The fact that the U.K. approved a vaccine developed by an American company — in partnership with a German one — before the United States could pour fuel on the already tense relationship between President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE and the FDA, which has taken a more deliberative process in reviewing vaccine data.” https://bit.ly/2VFbPiB

Does this mean the U.K. will receive more doses?: “While the go-ahead bodes well for Britain, which broke from the European Union’s regulatory orbit to approve the shot early, it will have no effect on the distribution of the hundreds of millions of doses that other wealthy countries have procured in prepaid contracts.” More from The New York Times: https://nyti.ms/2Vstiuw 


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 13,741,687 

U.S. death toll: 270,881

Breakdown of the numbers: https://cnn.it/2UAgW3y

It’s Wednesday — 9 days left to keep the government funded. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com  — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel  and  Facebook.

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It’s like pulling a tray of cookies out of the of oven and everyone starts looking over wanting one:

Via The Hill’s Jonathan Easley and Harper Neidig, “Chatter about President Trump's pardon plans is heating up, with top allies to the president publicly calling for him to preemptively grant clemency to confidants, family members and even himself.”  

Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityPoll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Book claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election 9 Republicans not named Trump who could run in 2024 MORE publicly urged Trump to pardon himself and his family: “The president out the door needs to pardon his whole family and himself because they want this witch-hunt to go on in perpetuity. They’re so full of rage and insanity against the president,” Hannity said on his radio show. The clip from Hannity’s show: https://bit.ly/3mwchLR

The problem with potentially pardoning himself: “It’s unclear whether courts would interpret as constitutional a blanket self-pardon by a president.”  

What happened with Nixon: “In 1974, when former President Nixon was considering a self-pardon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, the Justice Department (DOJ) issued a memo finding that it would be unconstitutional. Nixon was ultimately pardoned by former President Ford, though he was never charged for his role in Watergate.” 

Trump is already teasing a 2024 run:

During a White House Christmas party yesterday, President Trump alluded to a potential 2024 presidential run. https://bit.ly/2L0jNAF

He told supporters: “It’s been an amazing four years. We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.” 

Getting traction:

Via The Hill’s Tal Axelrod, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating a potentially criminal scheme involving paying a bribe to people either in or affiliated with the White House in exchange for an unknown person receiving a presidential pardon, according to court documents that were unsealed Tuesday.” https://bit.ly/2JD9IZO 

Read the unsealed court documents with redacted names: https://bit.ly/2VqXciL

Keep in mind: “It was not immediately clear for whom the pardon would be granted or where the bribe would be directed, and the documents provide no indication President Trump was aware of the plot.” 

President Trump tweeted last night: “Pardon investigation is Fake News!” https://bit.ly/36w0tUf  



Republicans just wanna feel involved, y’know?:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, Tensions are rising between Senate Republicans and President-elect Joe Biden’s team over the lack of communication in choosing the upcoming administration’s Cabinet picks. https://bit.ly/2Jm3qhs

The complaint: The Biden team isn’t coordinating with Senate Republicans in its nominations —  and unless Democrats win both Georgia Senate run-offs, Biden will need Republicans to confirm his Cabinet.  

From Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Senate is where dreams go to die Federal government to observe Juneteenth holiday on Friday Joe Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on sweeping election bill MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE (R-Ky.): “I really am a little surprised ... that there hadn’t been at least some consultation. I mean, some of these problems can be avoided and people, you know, saved from the embarrassment if there would simply be some consultation on who they’re thinking about.” 

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs MORE (R-N.D.) summed it up well: “Unless you’re putting all your eggs in the ‘We’re going to win them both in Georgia’ basket, that would be a wise thing to do.”



Via Politico’s Nahal Toosi, Tyler Pager and Andrew Desiderio, “Concerned about Republicans slow-walking confirmation hearings for Cabinet appointees and hollowed-out federal agencies, Biden and his aides are eager to place mid- to lower-level officials across the federal government, particularly in national security roles, to ensure his administration can begin to enact his agenda immediately, according to three people familiar with the situation.” 

Op-ed: https://bit.ly/3qn4wKs


The holidays are quickly coming up. I’m just saying…:

“Pressure is building on Capitol Hill for Congress to pass a fifth coronavirus relief bill, even as there’s no clear path, yet, to an agreement.” https://bit.ly/3omE8yB

Where negotiations stand: “With time running out before lawmakers leave until January, several factions in both the House and Senate are circulating offers that they hope will break the months-long stalemate between Senate Republicans, Democratic leadership and the White House.”


9 days until government funding runs out — how many times have I said that over the years??: 

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Sanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package | Weekly jobless claims rise for first time since April Shelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior MORE (R-Ala.) said yesterday that a government funding deal is unlikely by next Friday’s deadline. https://bit.ly/3qoW914

Congress’s options: “Congress has until Dec. 11 to pass either an omnibus, which would include all 12 of the fiscal 2021 funding bills, or a continuing resolution (CR) that continues fiscal 2020 spending levels.”  

Shelby’s prediction: “Shelby, tipping his hand to the likelihood that Congress brushes up against that deadline, predicted that lawmakers would still be in Washington for another couple of weeks.”



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Joe in a boot:

This is a pretty funny AP photo.



Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3mAsqjo




Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3of3WMJ


The House and Senate are in. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C.

Today: Vice President-elect BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE and Vice President-elect Harris receive the President’s Daily Brief.

Today: Vice President-elect Biden holds a virtual roundtable with small business owners and works. 

11:45 a.m. EST: Three roll call votes in the Senate. The Senate’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3ob9bgo

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump and secretary of state Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE have lunch together. 

2 p.m. EST: The House meets. 

2:05 p.m. EST: A Senate confirmation vote if cloture is invoked.  

6:30 p.m. EST: First and last votes in the House. The House’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/2KUmqnn


12:15 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PencePence buys .9M home in Indiana There is no pandemic recovery plan without the arts and culture Karen Pence confirms move back to Indiana: 'No place like home' MORE speak at the Virtual Military Spouse Employment Business Summit in Washington, D.C.

12:15 p.m. EST: HHS Secretary Alex Azar testifies on Operation Warp Speed and the coronavirus vaccine plans. Livestream: https://bit.ly/37raTDL 

2 p.m. EST: Mark KellyMark KellyCentrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Tensions grow between liberals and centrists on infrastructure MORE (D-Ariz.) will be sworn in to the Senate. Vice President Pence attends. 

5 p.m. EST: Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the U.S. Capitol! Livestream: https://bit.ly/3ofYj0R 

4 p.m. EST Thursday: CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperPolice investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide Mississippi governor: Biden goal of 70 percent of US vaccinated by July 4 is 'arbitrary' Energy secretary: Adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid MORE interviews President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. https://cnn.it/3g0Bqvv


Today is National Fritters Day.


Why your social media is flooded with screenshots of music charts:

Spotify released its annual analysis of each user’s top-played songs and artists.

How to find your stats, if you use Spotify: https://cnet.co/39wgThj

And because you made it this far, here’s a dog spreading holiday cheer: https://bit.ly/3oew82q



Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3oew82q

Watch: https://bit.ly/3oew82q