The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Senate begins marathon vote-a-rama before $1.9T COVID-19 relief passage


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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.


The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Senate vote-a-rama begins | Dems near agreement on unemployment benefits | Reduce boost to $300 | Republicans try to make Dems miserable before passing $1.9T COVID-19 relief | US economy adds 379K jobs in Feb., doubles predictions | Pope’s first international travel in a year, arrives in Iraq | CDC delays guidelines for vaccinated Americans | National Cheese Doodle Day



The phrase vote-a-rama still feels to me like an ‘SNL’ skit on Congress: 

The Senate has begun a marathon vote-a-rama before passing the massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with a simple majority through budget reconciliation. 

Lol, this is accurate: Via Politico’s Caitlin Emma, Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “The protracted ordeal, known as “vote-a-rama,” is widely despised by members of both parties and guaranteed to leave sleepless members running on fumes just ahead of the bill’s passage in the upper chamber, likely Saturday. But there's no way around it.” 

What happened this morning to kick off votes: “Had [Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)] wanted to delay the start of votes, he could have objected early this morning and forced votes to start late tonight. But Senate agreed to start earlier. Voting will end when senators stop offering amendments.” (Via CNN’s Manu Raju


Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney


Via C-SPAN: 

Exclusive footage of tired senators grumbling to each other in a few hours



NEW — we could be looking at unemployment benefits of $300 instead of $400:

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Senate Democrats are nearing an agreement within their caucus to reduce the boost in federal unemployment benefits in the COVID-19 relief bill to $300 from the $400 included in the House bill.” 

Who is leading the charge: Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Sunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters MORE (W.Va.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrats say they're committed to reducing emissions in Biden plan Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? Congress sends 30-day highway funding patch to Biden after infrastructure stalls MORE (Del.).

What we know about the potential agreement: “The ‘contours’ of the emerging deal call for keeping the weekly unemployment benefit at $300 but extending it to Oct. 4 to avoid the so-called August cliff.” 

^ As a compromise to progressives: “In a concession to liberals, the deal would also make up to $10,200 in unemployment compensation exempt from taxes. The tax break would apply to benefits received in 2020.”

Happy Friday! 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 — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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ExxonMobil sets emission reduction plans for 2025



We’ve announced plans to reduce the intensity of our emissions, which we expect to reduce our absolute upstream greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30%, compared to 2016 levels. 

See details here.

I meeean, I wouldn't guess that Ron Johnson is making new friends today:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is grinding the gears of the Senate to a halt as it seeks to move forward with President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.”

What Johnson is doing: “First, he’s forcing the Senate clerks to read the entire piece of legislation, a delaying tactic that irritated Democrats and even some Republicans. Then, he wants Republicans to sign up for shifts so they could potentially force hundreds of amendment votes.” 

For context on Johnson: “It is just the latest step by Johnson, who is up for reelection in a state narrowly won by Biden, to burnish his Trump credentials, whether that’s by repeating unfounded theories about the Jan. 6 attack or becoming the face of GOP opposition to the coronavirus bill that is broadly popular even among Republicans.”


Take that estimate and DOUBLE IT, baby:

The economy added an astonishing 379,000 jobs in February, more than double what economists had predicted.

^Wow — compare that to: The economy added just 49,000 jobs in January.

The unemployment rate: Dropped from 6.3 percent to 6.2 percent.

For context: “The latest jobs data — covering the first full months of the Biden presidency — points to early signs of improvement for an economy still struggling to dig itself out of a deep hole.”


White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary MORE downplayed the strong jobs’ report.  

He tweeted: “If you think today's jobs report is ‘good enough,’ then know that at this pace (+379,000 jobs/month), it would take until April 2023 to get back to where we were in February 2020.”

A House Democrat sues Trump:

Via The Hill’s John Kruzel, “Former President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE, his eldest son and several of his allies were sued on Friday by Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP ekes out win in return of Congressional Baseball Game Greene heckles Democrats and they fire back on Capitol steps Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod MORE (D-Calif.) over their role in the run-up to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.”

Details: “The 65-page complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., accuses Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksBlack Hawk pilot shot down in Somalia jumps into Alabama Senate race Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (R-Ala.) and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of inciting the riot and violating a number of federal and D.C. laws.” 

Read the lawsuit 

What this means for former Trump: “The lawsuit is the latest instance of potential legal exposure for the former president. Trump also faces a criminal probe in Georgia for pressuring officials to overturn President Biden’s electoral win and is under investigation in New York for possible financial crimes and civil violations related to his businesses.”


Expect CDC guidelines soon for vaccinated Americans:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been working for weeks on a series of guidelines for vaccinated Americans — and had been expected to release them yesterday.

But the guidelines have still not been released: Via Politico’s Erin Banco, “The CDC was told to ‘hold off on releasing’ the recommendations, one of those sources said. The reason is still unclear but one senior [White House] official said the guidelines were still being finalized.” 

What we know about the behind-the-scenes process: “There is no evidence to suggest that the Biden White House is trying to suppress the CDC guidelines or override the judgement of CDC scientists.”


Via CNN’s Jen Christensen


Via CBS News, “Pope FrancisPope FrancisRetired pope says he hopes to soon join friends in 'the afterlife' Religion and the G-20: With faith, we can move mountains The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE arrived in Iraq on Friday, the first visit by a pontiff to the country. He ended his personal coronavirus lockdown and left Italy for the first time in more than a year.” Video of the pope walking off the plane


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 28,828,931 

U.S. death toll: 520,422 

Breakdown of the numbers


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 82.6 million shots have been given. 

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 2.04 million doses

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

Breakdown of the numbers:



ExxonMobil sets emission reduction plans for 2025



We’ve announced plans to reduce the intensity of our emissions, which we expect to reduce our absolute upstream greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30%, compared to 2016 levels. 

See details here.



Fact-check: true:




The full photo of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg meeting with President Biden

Today in ‘taking-a-catchy-interior-décor-buzzword-and-taking-it-too-far’:


No walls bathroom



See the full listing


The Senate is in. The House is out. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C.

9 a.m. EST: The Senate first met. The Senate’s full schedule today

9:50 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief.

12:15 p.m. EST: President Biden has lunch with Vice President Harris in the private dining room.

2:15 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris receive an economic briefing with Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters US deficit hits .8 trillion, second largest in history Financial oversight panel unveils climate risk plan MORE

5:30 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris receive a closed press COVID-19 briefing.


11 a.m. EST: The White House COVID-19 Response Team held a press briefing. Livestream 

12:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden remarks on Taiwan leave administration scrambling Buttigieg aims to use Tucker Carlson flap to spotlight paternity leave Biden injects new momentum into filibuster fight MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream 

3:15 p.m. EST: President Biden participates in a roundtable on the American Rescue Plan. Livestream 

8 p.m. EST: No. 1 New York Times best-selling authors Amie Parnes (a reporter at The Hill!) and Jonathan Allen are hosting a live discussion on their new book, “Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency.” Details and how to watch live


Today is National Cheese Doodle Day. A true national gem. 

Tomorrow is National Oreo Day and Sunday is National Cereal Day!

Getting traction — Sorry, honey, I’m gonna be home late tonight. No, really, it’s the cat’s fault:


Cat on a train



And to kick off your weekend, here’s an elephant mother whose baby doesn’t want to wake up: 


Sleeping elephant