12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Biden delivers omicron update ahead of holidays

President Joe Biden
Associated Press-Evan Vucci

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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.

 

HAPPENING THIS AFTERNOON

Make it rain at-home tests: 

President Biden is delivering remarks this afternoon to update Americans on the omicron variant in the U.S., including the announcement of making rapid COVID-19 tests available to Americans for free. 

Watch Biden’s remarks live: He is scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m. EST. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3Eu8pTP

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM BIDEN’S REMARKS:

Free rapid tests for all: The U.S. will purchase 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests that will be free to Americans. https://bit.ly/3EiwrRx

When will those rapid tests be available?: Starting in January  

How people can obtain these tests: The Biden administration will create a website where Americans can order them to their homes. More from The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel: https://bit.ly/3EiwrRx

Biden’s message on omicron — if you’re vaccinated, you could still get the variant, but it would likely be mild: Via NPR’s Jaclyn Diaz, “Biden will also seek to assure Americans who are vaccinated and boosted that they have a high degree of protection against severe illness. But he will also make clear that it will not be unusual for vaccinated people to get COVID because of the new variant, and that they will likely experience no symptoms or mild symptoms.” https://n.pr/3FcP8at

THROWBACK — JEN PSAKI MOCKED THIS IDEA JUST A FEW WEEKS AGO:

During a press conference in early December, NPR’s Mara Liasson asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki why rapid tests are not given for free to Americans. Psaki sarcastically responded, “Should we just send one to every American?” Why that statement was a big deal, from The Atlantic’s Benjamin Mazer https://bit.ly/32o2MZM

It’s Tuesday. Today is the shortest day of the year — or to spin it, every day through June is a little longer!  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 cmartel@thehill.com  — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel  and  Facebook. 

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PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Hill’s 12:30 Report will be off for the rest of the week. We will publish a quick update next Monday — and then we will be back on Jan. 3. Enjoy the holidays and stay safe, my friends!

LATEST WITH COVID-19

Omicron is officially the big cheese, the head honcho, the big man on campus:

73.2 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States are the omicron variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://bit.ly/3Figj3L

For context: The omicron variant made up 12.6 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases just a week prior. 

Is this surprising?: No, the variant is very contagious. But vaccinated people are protected from serious illness.

‘THE U.S. FACES ANOTHER COVID CHRISTMAS AS OMICRON FUELS A RISE IN CASES’:

How the U.S. is responding, via The New York Times’s Campbell Robertson, Mitch Smith and Giulia Heyward: https://nyti.ms/3ee17J0

 

OP-ED — ‘NO, VACCINATED PEOPLE SHOULD NOT CANCEL THEIR HOLIDAY PLANS’:

From Washington Post columnist Dr. Leana Wen: https://wapo.st/3EgIpLw

WHERE WE STAND:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 51,118,897 

U.S. death toll: 808,051

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

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 495 million shots have been given.

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.64 doses

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

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

 

THE LATEST WITH BIDEN’S AGENDA

No more mister nice Chuck:

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Senate Democrats are signaling they plan to take more of a hardball approach to pressuring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their climate and social spending agenda after months of kid-glove treatment failed to deliver his vote.” https://bit.ly/3eaI4iI 

How so: “Democrats are threatening to drive a wedge between Manchin and his many lower-income constituents who stand to reap billions of dollars in federal benefits if Build Back Better passes, including an enhanced child tax credit, lower Medicare-negotiated prescription drug prices and subsidies to cover the cost of child care.” 

What to expect: https://bit.ly/3eaI4iI

 

TIDBIT — BIDEN AND MANCHIN SPOKE ON SUNDAY NIGHT: 

Via Axios’s Hans Nichols, “President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) spoke Sunday night after negotiations around the Build Back Better plan disintegrated over the weekend, a person familiar with the call tells Axios.” https://bit.ly/3pflxHH

What happens now?:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Democratic leaders are facing painful decisions and intra-party tensions as they look for a path forward on President Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending bill.” https://bit.ly/3Fi6rqP

During the holidays: “Democrats are spread out across the country for roughly two weeks, giving them time away from each other after a tense year to decompress and brainstorm. But they are already floating potential next steps as they prepare to go back to the drawing board to figure out what components of Build Back Better could still survive.”

Plan B (well, is it C? D? W?): “Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is floating a package that would tie together prescription drugs, clean energy, the beefed up child tax credit and ObamaCare tax credits. Such a bill, according to Wyden, could be permanently paid over a 10-year period through the same revenue sources that his committee has already pieced together…” 

What to expect: https://bit.ly/3Fi6rqP

‘BIDEN SEARCHES FOR A PATH THROUGH DEEPENING GLOOM’:

Read Niall Stanage’s column: https://bit.ly/3ec1dRc

 

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Bringing some new puppy energy into the White House:

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3GYTC55 

^ The Bidens have a new German Shepherd puppy named Commander. The puppy was a birthday gift to Biden from his brother and sister-in-law. https://cnn.it/3EhujJy

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Bruuuuuuutal:

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/33BhnSb 

That’s a pretty cool stat:  

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3yUp2qn 

 

ON TAP:

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

10:05 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief.

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

1 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3ebLgKO  

2:30 p.m. EST: President Biden delivers remarks on the omicron variant. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3Eu8pTP

Just announced — Jan. 6: Former President Trump is holding a news conference from his Mar-a-Lago resort on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Details: https://bit.ly/32lyuH5

IN LIGHTER NEWS:

Today is National Fried Shrimp Day. I’ll let Bubba from “Forrest Gump” tell you all of the other ways you can prepare it: https://bit.ly/3yLNtGz

It’s like ‘Slime Time Live’ but with mayo — I feel *physically ill* reading this:

Via CBS Sports’s Steven Taranto, The North Carolina Tar Heels and South Carolina Gamecocks are playing in the Dec. 30 football game, named the “Duke’s Mayo Bowl.” 

The worst part: The head coaches of the two teams have agreed to a mayonnaise bath if their teams win. Yes, like instead of Gatorade.  

Here’s the full story, because I think I might gag if I read more: https://bit.ly/3pfyZLK

And to leave you on an adorably festive note, here are rescue dogs choosing their Christmas gift: https://bit.ly/3qbW1md

Those smiles!

Tags COVID-19 D.C. Donald Trump FDA human infrastructure Infrastructure package Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin Omicron variant Pandemic rapid tests Ron Wyden U.S. Census Vaccines Washington West Virginia

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