The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden vs. Trump, part II


Presented by Facebook




A Tale of Two Principals:

Midterm elections are fought as referenda on the incumbent president. But that assumes that the last president has left the stage – and all signs indicate that won’t be the case next year. 

Former President Trump re-emerges Saturday at CPAC, both in person and in the form of a golden statue. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban It's not 'woketivism,' it's good business MORE’s efforts to exorcise Trump from the GOP have failed entirely, and incumbents are already seeking his blessing; to whit, Trump late Thursday endorsed Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenate aims to pass anti-Asian hate crimes bill this week Trump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle MORE (R-Kan.), who is up for re-election next year. Close Trump allies see that as a sign that the establishment still fears Trump’s power.


Golden Trump statue at CPAC


Watch: https://bit.ly/3sp0y42

On the other hand, President BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE is signaling a team approach to the midterms. He’s installed top allies at the Democratic National Committee, and he’s holding off forming his own re-election bid until after the midterms, in part to avoid competing for the hard dollars his own side will need to defend its narrowest of majorities. “This is classic Joe Biden,” a member of Biden’s inner circle tells us. “He is not about himself. He is about helping others and that includes other Democrats.”

A president’s first midterm is usually tough for his party. But if those elections become a proxy battle between an incumbent president whose approval rating is north of 50 and a defeated ex whose favorable ratings sank after the insurrection he inspired, history can turn out a different way.


Happy Friday! I’m Reid Wilson, filling in for Cate, 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 @PoliticsReid.

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Covid relief set to pass house:

The House is set to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Friday after a marathon round of votes likely to last late into the night. The package will not include a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, after the Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision doesn’t conform to Senate rules. Expect a party-line vote on final passage; Republicans are likely to oppose the bill en masse. 

The bill represents the first major marker ahead of the midterm elections. Republicans are casting it as a giveaway to liberal interest groups and big blue states. Democrats point to provisions that are broadly popular among three quarters of voters. But the real test is ahead: How well can the Biden administration sell the package once it’s signed into law? Biden and his team of Obama administration vets recall all too well that the 2009 relief package, among the most significant measures Obama signed into law over his entire eight years, didn’t win them enough credit among voters ahead of the 2010 “shellacking,” to borrow Obama’s phrase.

Commission collision:

So much for hopes of bipartisan cooperation on a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection. House Democrats hope to vote on legislation creating an investigative panel before they leave for recess in mid-March, but Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House readies for Chauvin verdict House GOP's McClain responds to Pelosi calling her 'that woman' GOP struggles to rein in nativism MORE and Senate Minority Leader McConnell are feuding over the commission’s makeup. McConnell doesn’t want a Democratic majority on the panel. Pelosi said she’s “disappointed” at McConnell’s response. 

The Hill’s Jordain Carney on the back-and-forth.

Lee Hamilton and Tom Keane, the bipartisan co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, both suggested a balanced panel. Our question: Who’s today’s Tom Keane? What elder statesman would mollify both Republicans who want to downplay Trump’s complicity and centrists/independents/Democrats? Does that person exist in today’s Republican Party?

Becerra beware-a:

Republicans are a single vote away from sinking OMB director-designate Neera TandenNeera TandenFive ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet White House delays release of budget plan MORE’s nomination. Tanden meets with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Monday to try to win over the one vote that could save her.

Meanwhile, conservatives are turning their attention to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), Biden’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services. Their primary objection is to Becerra’s support for abortion rights, but many are couching opposition in terms of his lack of experience – never mind his 30 years in government. 

Story here, from The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. 



Hey, Abbott!

Via The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant, President Biden heads to Houston today to survey damage from the winter storm that left millions without power in Texas last week. He’ll spend most of the day with Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit an area food bank and a mass vaccination site, and Abbott is expected to lobby Biden to add dozens of counties to the emergency declaration the White House issued last week. Story here

Today’s edition of All Politics Is Local, brought to you by the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Granholm, Yucca Mountain opponent, confirmed as energy secretary”


Cate is back Monday, so it’s my last chance to shine a spotlight outside the Beltway. A whirlwind tour: 

California: The Newsom administration has agreed to pay SKDKnickerbocker, the Democratic consulting firm with close ties to the Biden team, the balance of a $35 million contract for voter education and outreach. The firm signed the deal last year with then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Republicans, you can imagine, are not happy. Speaking of Newsom, proponents of a recall say they’ve collected 1.8 million signatures to get on the ballot. They need 1.5 million to be valid, and their goal is 2 million by the mid-March deadline. Newsom aides now expect the recall to qualify.

Utah: The state Senate has approved a bill that would make it harder for voters to change their party registration. Republicans think a bunch of Democrats changed their registration to meddle in the 2020 Republican gubernatorial primary that Gov. Spencer Cox (R) won over former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R). A study of those who did change their  registration last year shows 91 percent are still registered Republicans.

New Mexico: A bipartisan group of legislators backs a bill to create an independent redistricting committee to redraw congressional and legislative district lines. House Speaker Brian Egolf (D), who would decide whether the bill hits the floor, is no fan, imperiling the bill’s chances. Republicans, bookmark this one next time Democrats accuse you of failing to back redistricting reform. Egolf isn’t standing in the way of a measure to legalize recreational marijuana, which hit the floor earlier this week. 

New Jersey: Legislators are considering a bill to prohibit former prosecutors from running for public office for three years. The bill comes from state Sen. Richard Codey (D), known in Trenton as one of Chris Christie’s chief antagonists during his eight years as governor.



Internet regulations need an update



It's been 25 years since comprehensive internet regulations were passed.

But a lot has changed since 1996. We support updated regulations to set clear guidelines for protecting people's privacy, enabling safe and easy data portability between platforms and more. 

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Eviction moratorium unconstitutional:

The CDC’s temporary halt to evictions in the midst of the pandemic is unconstitutional, a federal judge in Texas ruled Thursday. Judge John Barker sided with landlords and property managers who sued over the moratorium first issued in September and extended through March.

Studies show a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offers substantial protection against the coronavirus, prompting new calls for prioritizing mass vaccination with one dose over the current two-dose regime authorized by the FDA. Anthony Fauci says he still thinks the U.S. should stick to the two-dose approach.


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 28,415,626 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus, up 77,476 from yesterday. 

U.S. death toll: 508,359 Americans have died. 2,238 died yesterday alone.

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


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 68.3 million shots have been given.

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.31 million doses.

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.

Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH


Buttigieg beats the traffic:



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


His husband was watching: 


Chasten Buttigieg comments on husband riding bike


Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3sp0NvY


The House is voting on the coronavirus relief package. The Senate is out for the weekend. President Biden is in Houston, where he’ll visit the Harris County Emergency Operations Center, the Houston Food Bank and a FEMA mass vaccination site. He’ll be back at the White House tonight. Vice President Harris is in D.C. with no public events.

2 p.m. EST: Secretary of State Tony Blinken meets virtually with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau. He’ll meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later today. Blinken held virtual meetings with his Mexican counterparts this morning.


3:30 p.m. EST Sunday: Former President Trump speaks at The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. This is Trump’s first public speech since leaving office.  Livestream: https://bit.ly/2ZKxrvG


Today is National Pistachio Day. And for weekend planning purposes, tomorrow is National Kahlua Day and Sunday is National Chocolate Souffle Day!

And to get your weekend off to the right start, here’s a pretty chill cat: https://bit.ly/3qMSSYS