The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden's strategy to lower gas prices

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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.



We’re getting some oil from the ~secret stash~:



The White House announced this morning that it will release 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S.’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower the rising cost of gas at the pump. 

Will that oil be replenished?: Yes, 32 million barrels of the oil will eventually be returned to the reserve once prices lower. 

Are other countries doing the same?: Yes, “Tuesday's announcement was made in concert with China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom, which will also tap into their own strategic reserves.” This discussion has reportedly been in the works for weeks. 


Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage, “Inflation reached its highest level in more than 30 years in October. And as it has risen, Biden’s approval rating has fallen precipitously.” What could happen now:

It’s a pretty quiet Tuesday of the holiday week. 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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Biden’s decision to simplify things just a lil’ isn’t every Democrats’ choice:

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE sidestepped a battle over the leadership of the Federal Reserve by disappointing progressive allies and sticking with Jerome Powell, whom former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE nominated as Fed chairman four years ago.”

Why Powell was an enticing pick — the alternative would have been more of a fight: “Senate aides predict Powell will easily have enough votes to secure confirmation … and warned that Biden would have had a much tougher fight on his hands had he instead picked Lael Brainard, the only Democrat on the seven-member board and the favorite of a number of progressives.”

Biden’s consolation prize to progressives: Biden nominated progressives’ favorite, Lael Brainard, as the vice chair.


Alex Jones, Roger Stone, you’re on deck.:

Via The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch, “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot is subpoenaing Trump ally Roger Stone and far-right radio host Alex Jones along with others who helped plan and finance the rallies that preceded the attack on the Capitol.” 

Why Stone?: “Stone, one of several Trump confidants to be pardoned by the former president, was set to speak at rallies on both Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 and reportedly used members of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers as personal security that day.”

Why Jones?: “Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist, also spoke at both rallies and facilitated a donation to provide what he described as ‘80 percent’ of the funding for the rally near the White House on Jan. 6.”


Let’s go splitsies:

Via The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Shayna Jacobs, “The Republican National Committee is paying some personal legal bills for former president Donald Trump, spending party funds to pay a lawyer representing Trump in investigations into his financial practices in New York, a party spokeswoman said Monday.” 

How much?: “In October, the RNC made two payments totaling $121,670 to the law firm of Ronald Fischetti, a veteran defense attorney whom Trump hired in April.”   

Is it related to his campaign?: No, “there has been no indication that either investigation involves Trump’s time as president or any of his political campaigns.” 

The full story:


How so, from The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch and Harper Neidig:


Via The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib, “They want to focus voter attention on three I’s: inflation, immigration and identity politics—specifically, whether Democrats now are the ones practicing identity politics.” 


To reinstate the mandate or not, that is the question:

Via The Hill’s John Kruzel, “The Biden administration on Tuesday asked a federal court to reinstate a workplace vaccine mandate that was put on hold earlier in November.” 

Details of the case: “In court papers filed overnight, the administration urged a Cincinnati-based federal appeals court to lift a court order blocking the public health rule, which requires larger businesses to have employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing and mask-wearing.” 

The full story: 

Read the court papers filed: If you’re into that kinda thing …

Some restrictions are back in place in Europe:

Via The New York Times’s Patricia Cohen and Melissa Eddy, “Europe’s already fragile economic recovery is at risk of being undermined by a fourth wave of coronavirus infections now dousing the continent, as governments impose increasingly stringent health restrictions that could reduce foot traffic in shopping centers, discourage travel and thin crowds in restaurants, bars and ski resorts.” 

Especially in Austria: “Austria has imposed the strictest measures, mandating vaccinations and imposing a nationwide lockdown that began on Monday.” 

What to expect:


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 47,890,888 

U.S. death toll: 772,440 

Breakdown of the numbers:


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 451 million shots have been given. 

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.56 million doses 

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

Breakdown of the numbers:




The cheese stockpile


The best time of the year at Union Station:


Christmas wreaths at Union Station


A look at the new DCA airport setup:


Thanksgiving travel 



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

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

4 p.m. EST: President Biden, first lady Jill BidenJill BidenWhite House holiday decorations available for 360 tour via Google Street View The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Biden and Harris host 'family' Hanukkah celebration with more than 150 guests Bidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence MORE participate in a service project at DC Central Kitchen.  

5:55 p.m. EST: President Biden and first lady Jill Biden leave for Nantucket, Mass.


Today: Closing arguments in the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Livestream: 

2 p.m. EST: President Biden delivers remarks on the economy. Livestream: 

3:15 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiUS expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report Joe Biden: The Brian Williams presidency Biden plan for free at-home tests faces hurdles MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream:

3:30 p.m. EST: State Department Spokesperson Ned Price holds a press briefing. Livestream:


Today is National Espresso Day and National Cashew Day!

Give me a tune — ‘It’s the most consumer-focused day of the yeaaar’:

Via The New York Times’s Wirecutter compiled a list of the best Black Friday Deals: 


A few of the best Amazon deals: 

A few of the best Target deals:

Some sales directly from manufacturers:

And to make you smile during this holiday week, here’s a flamingo perfecting the skill of standing on one leg: