The Hill's 12:30 Report: World braces for high-stakes US-Russia talks

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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.  

 

TALK OF THE MORNING

It’s a big, big deal if these talks don’t go well:

via GIPHY

 

Via The Wall Street Journal’s Ann M. Simmons, “Russian and U.S. officials meet Monday to discuss the large-scale buildup of Russian troops at Ukraine’s border, as Washington seeks to avert an invasion of the country and defuse one of the most serious geopolitical crises between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.” https://on.wsj.com/3JWSa5h 

Meanwhile: Russia has deployed roughly 100,000 troops on the border of Ukraine.  

Where things stand: “The Biden administration has signaled it is unwilling to cede to Moscow’s demands and has threatened retaliation against Russia if it were to invade Ukraine. As a result, the likelihood of a breakthrough on Monday is low, according to officials.”  =

The full story: https://on.wsj.com/3JWSa5h

‘CAN THE WEST STOP RUSSIA FROM INVADING UKRAINE? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW’:

Via The New York Times’s Dan Bilefsky: https://nyti.ms/3JZlZm3

Tidbit

 

Sign asking Biden a question 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3qe4zu8

Happy Monday! 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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NEWS THIS MORNING

An omicron vaccine could be ready by March:

Via CNBC’s Spencer Kimball, “Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Monday said a vaccine that targets the omicron variant of Covid will be ready in March, and the company’s already begun manufacturing the doses.” 

More from Bourla’s interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: https://cnb.cx/3qb9VpE

The Supreme Court said nahhh dawg:

Via The Hill’s John Kruzel, “The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a defamation lawsuit brought by former Trump campaign official Carter Page against the Democratic National Committee and others linked to the controversial Steele dossier.” https://bit.ly/3F73DvL

IN CONGRESS

If you listen closely, you can hear some Democrats walking into the Capitol quietly humming

‘Whatever happened to, the boy that I once knew? The boy who said he'd be true? Oh no, oh no, oh no, no, no, no, no’:

--> https://bit.ly/3GgXoqC ;)  

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Senate Democrats are growing less and less confident about whether Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden to meet with CEOs to discuss Build Back Better agenda Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year Gallego went to New York to meet Sinema donors amid talk of primary challenge: report MORE (D-W.Va.) wants to strike a legislative deal with President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE.” https://bit.ly/3F8PKwV 

Signals Manchin is giving: “The lack of negotiations with Manchin since Congress returned from the Christmas recess and Manchin’s definitive statements of opposition are raising serious doubts about whether he would be willing to support any version of the Build Back Better Act, which would provide new funding for health care, child care and a host of other initiatives.”  

The gist of how Dems are feeling: Either in the dark or skeptical about Manchin’s intentions  

What we know: https://bit.ly/3F8PKwV

*Starts drumming on my laptop* — It’ssssssss voting rights week!:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Democrats are hitting a crucial stretch in their push to pass voting rights legislation ahead of the 2022 election.” https://bit.ly/3tdIfmf 

Happening in the next week: “With Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowing to bring up a vote on changing the Senate rules to allow Democrats to pass voting rights on their own by Jan. 17, Democrats have a matter of days to come up with a deal that unifies their entire caucus.”  

The White House is getting involved: President Biden and Vice President Harris are traveling to Georgia tomorrow to deliver remarks on the bill. https://bit.ly/3tdKYMg  

Republicans will likely use the filibuster to block the bill — then what?: Democrats are discussing rule changes to pass the legislation, including possible changes to the filibuster.  

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

LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

The secondary impacts of omicron are pretty bad:

Via The Associated Press’s Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Terry Tang, “The current explosion of omicron-fueled coronavirus infections in the U.S. is causing a breakdown in basic functions and services — the latest illustration of how COVID-19 keeps upending life more than two years into the pandemic.” https://bit.ly/32X8qD3 

Some examples: “Ambulances in Kansas speed toward hospitals then suddenly change direction because hospitals are full. Employee shortages in New York City cause delays in trash and subway services and diminish the ranks of firefighters and emergency workers. Airport officials shut down security checkpoints at the biggest terminal in Phoenix and schools across the nation struggle to find teachers for their classrooms.” 

INTERESTING READ IN NEW YORK TIMES — ‘AS AN E.R. DOCTOR, I FEAR HEALTH CARE COLLAPSE MORE THAN OMICRON’:

From Craig Spencer, an emergency room doctor in New York City: https://nyti.ms/3HTGEpQ

CASE NUMBERS:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 60,090,637 

U.S. death toll: 837,664 

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

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 519 million shots have been given.  

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.23 million doses 

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

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

GETTING TRACTION

Nooo, Danny Tanner!:

Actor and comedian Bob Saget died on Sunday at the age of 65, according to his family.  

What happened?: Saget was found dead in his hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando in Florida. Investigators did not find any signs of foul play or drug use, according to the sheriff.   

Why he was in Orlando, Fla.?: According to CNN, “Saget was in Florida as part of his comedy tour. According to tour dates pinned to his Twitter account, he performed Saturday night at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.” More on Saget’s life and death, via CNN: https://cnn.it/3HRPtQG  

Saget posted a selfie early on Sunday morning: Here’s his last tweet: https://bit.ly/3JVztiw

DISNEY’S FORMER CEO BOB IGER POSTED:

“Devastating news about Bob Saget today. He graced ABC with his presence in 2 hit shows: Full House & America's Funniest Home Videos, making us laugh & smile a thousand times over. Hard to accept that someone so full of life is gone so suddenly.” https://bit.ly/3352QOP

NOTABLE TWEETS:

I have tears in my eyes from watching this:

Keep in mind, the first 10 seconds of the video do not have sound. It’s not an issue with you or your device (she writes wishing she had known this earlier lol.) 

 

Falling polar bear mascot 

Watch: https://bit.ly/3JSFCMB

Thanks a lot, Alex:

 

Close gas station 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3nb5I3s

This is pretty cool. Check out the menu from 1861:

 

Menu from 1861 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/34vSM1D

ON TAP:

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

9:30 a.m. EST: President Biden returned to the White House from Camp David.  

10:30 a.m. EST: President Biden received the President’s Daily Brief.  

3 p.m. EST: The Senate meets.  

5:30 p.m. EST: A cloture vote on a Senate confirmation. The Senate’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3HRzOAU  

6:30 p.m. EST: First and last votes in the House. The House’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3HRzOAU

WHAT TO WATCH:

1:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul Qatar emir to meet with Biden at White House next week White House underscores action amid violent crime streak MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3zKBwkF  

2:30 p.m. EST: State Department Spokesman Ned Price holds a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3FcBnYB  

10 a.m. EST Tuesday: “Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciKid Rock releases anti-Biden, anti-Fauci single with a 'Let's go, Brandon' chorus Fauci: Omicron-specific vaccines 'prudent' but may be unnecessary Conservative pundit says YouTube blocked interview with Rand Paul MORE, along with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyDemocrats call on CDC to release demographic breakdowns for long-term COVID-19 patients Study finds high levels of omicron-fighting antibodies four months after Pfizer booster Antisemitic fliers left at hundreds of Miami Beach homes MORE and others, testify on the federal response to new COVID-19 variants before the Senate Health Committee.” C-SPAN livestream: https://bit.ly/3zKgBhZ

IN LIGHTER NEWS:

Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

You have my undivided attention, TB:

Taco Bell is offering a $10 a month subscription for tacos. Customers with the subscription can receive one free taco for 30 consecutive days. https://cnn.it/3tsXCHF  

But the fun doesn’t stop there: “A variety of tacos are included in the subscription, including a soft taco, spicy potato soft taco, crunchy tacos and its Doritos tacos.”  

Details of the taco subscription: https://cnn.it/3tsXCHF

And because you made it this far on a Monday (which, by the way, I’m proud of you for that), here’s a dog with some serious Jenga skills: https://bit.ly/3GfDZpM