The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden favors vaccines, masks over lockdowns as omicron nears

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Get vaccinated and cross your fingers (and toes!):



The U.S. is bracing for the COVID-19 omicron variant to inevitably spread throughout the nation after it has been detected in more than a dozen countries. 

Do the current vaccines protect against the variant?: We don’t know yet, but it’s likely it will offer at least some protection. 

How long until we know?: About two weeks. 

Is there anything we can do in the meantime?: Get vaccinated and boosted. President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE also recommended that people wear masks in indoor public settings, though he did not call for mask mandates. 

Who is eligible for a booster? Every American adult: All Americans 18 and up are eligible for a COVID-19 booster. Yes, but: “Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 80 percent of fully vaccinated people have not received one yet.” 

Should we expect more lockdowns?: Not at this point. During Biden’s remarks yesterday, he emphasized vaccines, not lockdowns. 

More on what to expect, via The Hill’s Peter Sullivan:


Via The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach, “When the variant now known as omicron first appeared ... scientists were stunned. This was the weirdest creature they’d seen to date. It had an unruly swarm of mutations. Many were known to be problematic. ... But there had never been a variant with so many of these mutations gathered in a package.” 

From Texas A&M University virologist Benjamin Neuman: “We have seen these mutations in other strains, in twos and threes, and each time they were a little harder to neutralize, but didn’t spread particularly well. Now, all together? It’s a complete black box.” 

The full story:


Via The New York Times’s Cora Engelbrecht, two people tested positive for the omicron variant last week in the Netherlands. 

Why the timing matters: “It suggests that the variant was already present in the country for at least a week before the arrival of two flights from South Africa on Friday, and before the World Health Organization labeled Omicron a ‘variant of concern.’ ”


Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage:


“The Biden administration is facing heavy criticism for its decision to impose a travel ban on South Africa and several nearby countries in the wake of the omicron variant, reigniting a debate from some of the earliest days of the pandemic.” More from The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel:


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 48,441,663 

U.S. death toll: 778,667 

Breakdown of the numbers:


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 454 million shots have been given.

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.85 million doses 

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

Breakdown of the numbers:

It’s Tuesday and the last day of November! 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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Mark Meadows is cooperating:

Via The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch, “Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has reached an initial deal to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, providing documents and agreeing to testify before the panel.” 

Timing: “The tenuous agreement comes as the committee announced Monday that it will hold a vote later this week to censure former DOJ attorney Jeffrey Clark after he failed to cooperate with the committee.”


Just chat, they said. Talk it through and you’ll both feel better, they said.:

Far-right Rep. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Boebert asked Jewish visitors to Capitol if they were doing 'reconnaissance': report GOP Reps. Greene, Clyde accrue nearly 0K in combined mask fines MORE (R-Colo.) started a firestorm in the House by making anti-Muslim comments toward progressive “squad” member Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarSenate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Overnight Defense & National Security — DOD watchdog to review extremism screening Omar calls for closure of Guantánamo Bay prison after 20 years of 'lawlessness and cruelty' MORE (D-Minn.). 

^ Leaving the GOP scrambling: Via The Hill's Cristina Marcos: 

Some wildly inappropriate comments started the controversy: During an event, Boebert recalled getting into a Capitol elevator when a Capitol Hill police officer ran over. 

In Boebert’s words: "I look to my left and there she is, Ilhan Omar, and I said, 'Well she doesn't have a backpack, we should be fine.' So we only had one floor to go and I say, do I say it or do I not? And I look over and I say, 'Look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today.' Don't worry, it's just her staffers on Twitter that talk for her. She's not tough in person." Watch Boebert’s full comments: 

More from the encounter, from CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: 

Boebert then apologized for the comments: She tweeted, “I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction.”


It ended with Omar hanging up on Boebert. 

Omar’s account: “Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Representative Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments. She instead doubled down on her rhetoric, and I decided to end the unproductive call.” Omar’s full statement: 

Boebert posted a video after the call: “I told Ilhan Omar that she should make a public apology to the American people for her anti-American, antisemitic, anti-police rhetoric. She continued to press, and I continued to press back.” Watch her full response on Instagram:

Keep the government open and pay your bills. Seems easy, right?:

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, congressional leaders are entering December with two monumental tasks: avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week and raise the debt limit before Dec. 15.

Where government funding stands — no one is really stressing: “Democratic and Republican aides predict the short-term funding measure, which would last until Jan. 21 or Jan. 28, will pass relatively easily by the end of the week.”  

The debt limit is a slightly trickier challenge: “Some budget experts have speculated that the Treasury Department might have flexibility to push the expiration of the debt limit until January or February.” 

How this could play out:


Piecing together Jan. 6 from President Trump’s perspective:

Via Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Three federal appeals judges are set to hear arguments Tuesday in a case that could determine whether Jan. 6 investigators can piece together Donald Trump’s mindset and movements as a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol.” 

Keep in mind: “House investigators are attempting to obtain a voluminous batch of documents concerning Trump’s meetings, call records and decisions in the weeks preceding the riot — documents they say are essential both to understanding how Trump tried to subvert the 2020 election and to preventing new threats to the transfer of power.”  

The full story: 

Watch live — here’s a livestream of the arguments:


Omg, Pupatella is coming to Capitol Hill!!:


Pupatella is coming 


Well, this is adorable:


The last decoration 




Senate hideaway



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

9:30 a.m. EST: President Biden received the President’s Daily Brief. 

10 a.m. EST: Vice President Harris participated in a virtual rally for the Build Back Better Act.

11:30 a.m. EST: President Biden left for Minnesota. 

11:35 a.m. EST: Vice President Harris ceremonially swore in Jonathan Eric Kaplan as U.S. ambassador to Singapore and David L. Cohen as U.S. ambassador to Canada. 

12:30 p.m. EST: Senators meet for weekly caucus luncheons.

3:50 p.m. EST: President Biden visits Dakota County Technical College. 

6:30 p.m. EST: First and last votes in the House. The House’s full agenda today: 

8:05 p.m. EST: President Biden returns to the White House.


10:45 a.m. EST: President Biden signs a series of bills into law. Vice President Harris and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughWe have a golden opportunity to restore and reform VA hospitals The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Schwarzenegger donates 25 tiny homes to homeless vets in LA MORE attend. Livestream: 

12:30 p.m. EST: The White House COVID-19 response team holds a press briefing. Livestream: 

1 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team Virginia's Youngkin gets the DeSantis treatment from media On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet MORE speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One. Livestream: 

4:30 p.m. EST: President Biden delivers remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure law and how it will improve the supply chain. Livestream:


Today is National Mousse Day.

And because you read this far, here’s a high-tech cat launching pad: