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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*
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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Washington on high alert as QAnon theory marks tomorrow | Why March 4 is significant | Capitol Police increases security, obtained evidence of a ‘possible plot’ | Threats to lawmakers nearly doubled | Biden, Dems reach COVID relief package deal | Phase out stimulus checks more quickly | Pence breaks silence on election results | What’s next after Tanden’s withdrawn nomination | Biden vows vaccine doses for all American adults by end of May
We are all a little on edge about March 4:
Via The Hill’s Chris Mills Rodrigo, “Authorities will be on high alert Thursday over a QAnon conspiracy theory prediction, but according to experts, chances of violence appear minimal compared to the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6.” https://bit.ly/3bbQ6XV
The significance of March 4: “Some segments of the convoluted theory’s community have been claiming for months that former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE will return to the White House on March 4, which was the date of presidential inaugurations up until 1933.”
What to know about the day: https://bit.ly/3bbQ6XV
Late this a.m. — Capitol Police is preparing for a possible plot to breach the Capitol:
Via CNBC’s Dam Mangan, “The U.S. Capitol Police Department said Wednesday that it has obtained intelligence showing a ‘possible plot to breach the Capitol’ on Thursday “by an unidentified militia group.’” https://cnb.cx/3bS5EPK
Keep in mind — we don’t know much: “Due to the sensitive nature of this information we cannot provide additional details at this time,” Capitol Police said in a statement.
HOW CAPITOL POLICE IS PREPARING:
Via ABC News, The United States Capitol Police said in a statement: https://abcn.ws/30mjGnz
"The Department is aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining March 4th and continues to work with all of our law enforcement partners. Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th. The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce."
Happening on Capitol Hill — lawmakers have been receiving lots of threats:
“Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman plans to tell lawmakers on Wednesday that threats against members of Congress have nearly doubled in the past year.” https://bit.ly/2OeIKdc
The numbers: “Pittman said that there has been a 93.5 percent increase in threats to members in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same period last year.”
National security officials testify about intelligence related to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3sMgais
It’s Wednesday! 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 email@example.com — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.
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CORRECTION: Tuesday’s 12:30 Report misstated a tidbit about Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin warns about inflation as Democrats pursue Biden spending bill Overnight Health Care — Biden mandate faces Dem resistance Exporting gas means higher monthly energy bills for American families MORE (D-W.Va.). Manchin yelled to reporters “never,” and added, “Jesus Christ! What don’t you understand about never?” Manchin was referring to ending the filibuster. https://bit.ly/3raRHCN
NEWS THIS MORNING
Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTo advance democracy, defend Taiwan and Ukraine Jan. 6 committee getting 'significant cooperation' from top Pence aide: CNN More voters would pick Trump over Biden if election were held today: poll MORE opens up on the 2020 elections:
Former Vice President Pence, who presided over the joint session of Congress to certify the election results when a mob stormed the Capitol, wrote an op-ed in The Daily Signal today breaking his silence over the election results. https://dailysign.al/2PkmkaT
Excerpt: “After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election.”
On presiding over the election result certification: “That’s why when I was serving as presiding officer at the joint session of Congress certifying the Electoral College results, I pledged to ensure that all objections properly raised under the Electoral Count Act would be given a full hearing before Congress and the American people.”
The full Pence op-ed: https://dailysign.al/2PkmkaT
INTERESTING READ — ‘IS TRUMP MOUNTING A COMEBACK — OR FINALLY FADING?:
Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage: https://bit.ly/2MMpdAy
LATEST WITH THE COVID RELIEF PACKAGE
Dems have a deal!:
Via Politico’s Burgess Everett, “Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden settled a last-minute debate over Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, choosing to keep federal unemployment benefit payments at $400 per week but phase out the measure's $1,400 stimulus checks more quickly.” https://politi.co/2Oj9kSq
Timing: “The breakthrough comes just a few hours before Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is hoping to kick off debate on the Covid aid bill. One Senate Democratic aide said the chamber is now waiting only on official scores from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to confirm its bill doesn’t run afoul of the rules of budget reconciliation, the process that allows passage of the package with a simple majority.”
IN THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION
The confirmation had been Neera, now it’s far in the distance:
The White House announced last night that Neera TandenNeera TandenBiden should seek some ideological diversity Conservatives target Biden pick for New York district court GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE has withdrawn her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). https://bit.ly/3e61d6r
Why: Tanden had been facing scrutiny for her controversial tweets, where she attacked both Republicans and progressive Democrats.
Examples of Tanden’s tweets, many of which have been deleted: “Tanden compared Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) to Voldemort and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMcConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal Democrats seek to avoid internal disputes over Russia and China GOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' MORE (R-Texas) to a vampire and insinuated that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill White House 'strongly opposes' Senate resolution to stop Saudi arms sale MORE (I-Vt.) benefited from Russian hacking in the 2016 election.”
What now for Tanden: “Tanden is expected to be appointed to an administration role that does not require Senate confirmation.”
What this means for Biden: “Tanden is Biden's first Cabinet nominee to be withdrawn from consideration, making this an early blow for the president. The White House spent the past two weeks insisting there was a path to confirmation for Tanden and vowed to fight for her, even as her prospects dimmed.”
TIDBIT — TANDEN MET WITH SEN. MURKOWSKI THIS WEEK:
“Tanden met with Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Congress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills MORE (R-Alaska) this week in a last-ditch bid by the White House to attract Republican support for her nomination that would be necessary to overcome Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s (W.Va.) ‘no’ vote. Murkowski seemed surprised by the news and said Tuesday evening that she had not yet made up her mind about whether to support Tanden. The White House, she said, had not consulted her before pulling the nomination.” https://bit.ly/3e61d6r
"They never asked," Murkowski said.
WHO COULD BE UP NEXT IN THE HOT SEAT:
A top candidate is Shalanada Young, a congressional staffer who President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE nominated as the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. https://on.wsj.com/3rh1cQU
Step right up and get your ticket. Only $170 (!):
Via The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi, “Reporters who cover the White House may soon be paying what amounts to an admission fee to do their jobs. Starting Monday, the White House’s press office said it will start charging journalists for coronavirus tests, which are required for anyone entering the White House grounds.” https://wapo.st/2OgW3tB
How much are we talking?: “The proposed cost for each test: $170.”
For context: “With dozens of journalists at the White House each day, the fees could add up to tens of thousands of dollars flowing from newsrooms, many of them small and cash-strapped, into government coffers.”
Who has been paying for the COVID tests until now: The White House
LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
Good work, team!!:
Via STAT News’s Nicholas Florko, “President Biden pledged Tuesday that the federal government will have enough doses of the coronavirus vaccine to inoculate all adult Americans by the end of May.” https://bit.ly/3b9GLQs
What changed: The announcement came after a deal between drug maker Merck and Johnson & Johnson. Merck will help manufacture J&J’s vaccine.
The previous timeline: The Biden administration had previously said that the U.S. would have enough vaccine doses for Americans by the end of July.
Keep in mind: “It’s not clear, however, whether all adults willing to be vaccinated will actually be able to get a shot by May. Lack of supply has been just one of the factors slowing down the current mass vaccination campaign, Biden acknowledged.”
What we know about the new partnership and timeline: https://bit.ly/3b9GLQs
Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 28,724,165
U.S. death toll: 517,000
Breakdown of the numbers: https://cnn.it/2UAgW3y
Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 78.6 million shots have been given.
Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.94 million doses
For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.
Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH
When having the House, Senate and White House may just not be enough:
Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Liberal Democrats are growing more and more worried that the Senate will serve as a legislative graveyard for President Biden’s agenda unless he and other centrists rally behind doing away with the filibuster.” https://bit.ly/3uNgO0O
Keep in mind — the Senate will likely pass the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package: “The Senate is expected to pass it this week, and when it becomes law it will serve as an unmistakable victory in Biden’s first 100 days.”
Yes, but: “Yet this initial victory will cover up for fears among Democrats that big-ticket items passed in the House will die in the Senate unless the party greases the gears for change by ending the filibuster.”
What to expect: https://bit.ly/3uNgO0O
Getting traction — lol, this is great:
This tweet has more than 1.1 million likes already.
The House and Senate are in. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C.
9:50 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief.
Noon: The Senate meets. The Senate’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3sLLCNy
Noon: First votes in the House. The House’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3bSstmm
1:45 p.m. EST: President Biden holds a bipartisan meeting on cancer. Vice President Harris also attends.
6 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House.
Thursday: The Hill is hosting a virtual event on “Trust and Communication” with the COVID-19 vaccine. Details, speakers and how to RSVP: https://bit.ly/382lxlH
WHAT TO WATCH:
This morning: “National security and counterterrorism officials testify before two Senate committees about intelligence gathering related to the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack.” C-SPAN livestream: https://bit.ly/3bbrm20
11 a.m. EST: The White House COVID-19 Response Team held a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3b9H7GC
12:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiAustralia joins US in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Biden Supreme Court study panel unanimously approves final report White House: Biden would veto GOP resolution to nix vaccine mandate MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/2MGERx9
5 p.m. EST: President Biden participates in a virtual event with the House Democratic Caucus. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3be02Am
IN LIGHTER NEWS:
Today is National Mulled Wine Day. It’s also National Cold Cuts Day.
Ummmm, hard click on this story:
Via CNet’s Amanda Kooser, “Scientists discovered a wild space hurricane above the North Pole: Instead of raining water, the plasma hurricane unleashed electrons, researchers say.” What we know: https://cnet.co/3rczDIL
And to break up your Wednesday afternoon, here are cats who are ready for a spa day: https://bit.ly/3e7erQG