The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden travels to Georgia in Hail Mary move

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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 TODAY

What a wasted opportunity today will be if Joe Biden shows up in Georgia today wearing ANYTHING but a full Bulldogs get-up.

 

 

President BidenJoe BidenFox News reporter says Biden called him after 'son of a b----' remark Peloton responds after another TV character has a heart attack on one of its bikes Defense & National Security — Pentagon puts 8,500 troops on high alert MORE is traveling to Atlanta today to advocate for the two voting rights bills he is trying to push through Congress.  

Are these expected to pass?: It’s not likely. Republicans are united in their opposition and can block the bills with a filibuster.  

^ That’s where the talk of changing the filibuster comes in: Democrats can change the rules of the filibuster, but they need all 50 Democrats on board to do so. But so far, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaPoll: 30 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Congress is doing Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law Democrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams MORE (D-Ariz.) are not supportive of changing the rules. https://bit.ly/3K181QE  

Which leads us to today: President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Georgia to publicly advocate for changing the Senate’s filibuster rules.

Will Biden call for the filibuster to be removed?: No, Biden won’t go that far, an official told The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3ncTfMU

WATCH BIDEN’S REMARKS LIVE:

He is scheduled to speak at 3:45 p.m. EST. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3fei2f2

THE EXPECTED THEME OF BIDEN’S REMARKS:

President Biden is expected to call the voting rights votes “a turning point” in the U.S.   

Excerpt shared by the White House: "Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?” https://bit.ly/3ti9ewH 

^ IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THE GEORGIA BULLDOGS REFERENCE:

Georgia beat Alabama last night in the College Football Playoff National Championship. https://bit.ly/3FfskpJ  

Tidbit: Here is one very happy congressman in the Capitol today. He even has the football to match! Photo: https://bit.ly/31Lk574

It’s Tuesday. 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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SOME CONTEXT TO TODAY’S PUSH — BIDEN ROLLS THE DICE ON VOTING RIGHTS:

“[T]he heightened focus on voting rights is a significant gamble for [President Biden]. The congressional math to pass either of the two bills that would strengthen voting protections is extraordinarily difficult.” https://bit.ly/3qfOrYK 

“The only semirealistic alternative is reform of the filibuster. Progressives have been clamoring for such a move since the start of the Biden presidency. But its chances are close to nonexistent so long as Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinEven working piecemeal, Democrats need a full agenda for children Poll: 30 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Congress is doing Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) hold to their stated positions opposing such a change.”  

Add that all up and: “[I]t is easy to see how Biden could raise progressive expectations by talking up the need for voting rights legislation, only to disappoint those hopes if nothing actually happens.” 

Read Niall Stanage’s full column in The Hill: https://bit.ly/3qfOrYK

TIDBIT ON WHO WILL ~NOT~ BE ATTENDING:

 

Stacey Abrams

 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage tweeted, “Biden, leaving the White House to travel to Atlanta, is asked about Stacey Abrams not attending today's speech. ‘We got our scheduling mixed up,’ he says. Ok.” https://bit.ly/3qfhKuw  

Why the eyebrow raise: Some voting rights and civil rights groups aren’t attending Biden’s speech today because of their frustration with the White House’s lack of attention to the issue. More from the New York Times’s Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein: https://nyti.ms/3fb5uVF

NEWS THIS MORNING

*Awkwardly waves from the back* — uhh, hey guys:

This morning ahead of President Biden’s speech, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) doubled down on his support of the filibuster. https://bit.ly/3qiFgqQ  

In Manchin’s words: “We need some good rules changes to make the place work better. But getting rid of the filibuster doesn’t make it work better.”

IN CONGRESS

The eager beavers are champing at the bit:

Via The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong, “Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Schumer requests Senate briefing on Ukraine amid Russia tensions Biden rushes to pressure Russia as Ukraine fears intensify MORE (D-Calif.) isn’t showing her cards, but the longtime Democratic leader has vowed that this year will be her last at the top of the party, auguring a fast-approaching power vacuum that younger lawmakers have been salivating to fill for more than a decade.” https://bit.ly/3r52fEY  

What could happen: “A new generation of ambitious Democrats is looking to push aside the old guard of octogenarians — Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat Fury over voting rights fight turns personal on Capitol Hill  MORE (D-Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) — but the veteran No. 2 and No. 3 leaders have been forecasting a different scenario, reaching out to their colleagues to gauge support about staying on, even if Pelosi calls it quits.”  

OOH, A NEW LITTLE FRIEND IN THE HOUSE:

Politico’s Olivia Beavers posted a video of a mouse near the House floor. Video of the tiny mouse scurrying away: https://bit.ly/3fd4ikF  

^ Watch out if you start seeing any lawmakers wearing tall hats. Maybe this mouse is the “Ratatouille” of policymaking. ;)

The COVID-19 situation on Capitol Hill:

Via The Hill’s Cristina Marcos, “COVID-19 is once again surging among members of Congress, upending a sense of normalcy that had been slowly returning to the Capitol in recent months.” https://bit.ly/34zSdE1  

For context: “At least 21 House members and four senators have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-December despite being vaccinated. That includes eight House members who have announced their diagnoses since Friday.”   

The protocols in the House: “As the House returns to session this week for the first time since mid-December, Democratic leaders will restore social distancing protocols for floor votes and are urging everyone to upgrade their masks to the more protective KN95s or N95s instead of cloth or surgical masks.”   

What this means on Capitol Hill: https://bit.ly/34zSdE1

LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

FYI, you might want to consider wearing KN95 masks if you can:

 

KN95 masks

 

Via The Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun and Rachel Roubein, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering updating its mask guidance to recommend that people opt for the highly protective N95 or KN95 masks worn by health-care personnel, if they can do so consistently, said an official close to the deliberations who was not authorized to speak publicly.” https://wapo.st/3zMzQXU

You know, I’d be OK with not setting any new records for a bit. ... On three, everyone yell, ‘let’s go, mediocrity!’ — 1, 2, 3!:

 

 

Via The Hill’s Peter Sullivan, “The United States on Tuesday set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with more than 145,000 people in the hospital with the virus.” https://bit.ly/3ti0Ayf  

The previous record: 142,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in January 2021   

Keep in mind about the vaccine: “People who are vaccinated and especially those who received their booster shots are well protected against severe disease and hospitalization from the virus. But the sheer number of cases of COVID-19, fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant, means that even a small percentage leading to hospitalization causes a surge that strains hospitals.”

CASE NUMBERS:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 61,615,996 

U.S. death toll: 839,763

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

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 520 million shots have been given.  

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.17 million doses  

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

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

NOTABLE TWEETS:

A new coin in town:

 

Maya Angelou

 

From Presidential historian Michael Beschloss: “The Maya Angelou quarter is now available:”  

Photo of the new coin, which is the first to feature a Black woman: https://bit.ly/3HOUl9a

Landing in style:

From Real Clear News’s Philip Wegmann, here’s a sped-up video of Marine One landing on the south lawn of the White House. Watch: https://bit.ly/3HOLFjc

ON TAP:

The House and Senate are in. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Atlanta today.  

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

10:40 a.m. EST: President Biden left for Georgia. 

2:40 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris pay their respects at the crypt of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King

3 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris visit the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. 

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

WHAT TO WATCH:

11:45 a.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiSchumer requests Senate briefing on Ukraine amid Russia tensions Biden rushes to pressure Russia as Ukraine fears intensify Pelosi requests all-member briefing on Ukraine MORE speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3qeR3WU  

3:45 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris deliver remarks on voting rights. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3fei2f2

IN LIGHTER NEWS:

Today is National Milk Day

All the time, Martha. All the freaking time.:

Twitter user @marthajsharpe tweeted, “Do you ever think about a sandwich you ate years ago? Like out of nowhere.” The tweet has more than 51,000 likes since yesterday. Clearly, people can relate. The full tweet: https://bit.ly/31LUw5U

And because you made it this far, here’s a dog who watches squirrel videos intently to relax: https://bit.ly/3FlXWtH

^ Hat tip to The Hill’s Al Weaver for finding this gem.