12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Blue states continue to loosen COVID-19 restrictions

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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.



Drop it, drop it, low:



Via The New York Times’s Lisa Lerer, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Astead W. Herndon, “Gov. Kathy Hochul will drop New York’s stringent indoor mask mandate on Wednesday, ending a requirement that businesses ask customers for proof of full vaccination or require mask wearing at all times, and marking a turning point in the state’s coronavirus response, according to three people briefed on her decision.” https://nyti.ms/3BnwiMV

Massachusetts is jumping in on the fun:

Via WCVB News Boston, Massachusetts is lifting its mask mandate for schools at the end of the month. https://bit.ly/3rEQjeE  

The official end date: Feb. 28  

What we know about the policy change: https://bit.ly/3rEQjeE 

Tell me more, Tony!:



President Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told the Financial Times yesterday that the U.S. is exiting “full-blown” pandemic phase of COVID-19. https://bit.ly/3rBNJG0 

In Fauci’s words: “As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19. Which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated. There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus.”


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 77,058,413 

U.S. death toll: 909,070

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


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 544 million shots have been given.  

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 265,547 doses  

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

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

It’s a beautiful, sunny Wednesday in Washington, D.C. 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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Three words that worked as a fire starter:

“legitimate political discourse”  

Via The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez, when the Republican National Committee (RNC) censured two Republicans for serving on the committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, its members justified the insurrection as “legitimate political discourse.” https://wapo.st/3GKwIhq  

“Those three words have since sparked a massive backlash among GOP senators who fear the resolution could jeopardize the party’s fortunes in the midterm elections. The move has also led to days of attempted political cleanup by the Republican National Committee over the language and the accompanying censures.”   

Clean-up crew on aisle 6: “While RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and party officials say they did not intend to defend violent insurrectionists in the resolution — which passed the committee of grass-roots members overwhelmingly — the words have been widely criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.”   

The full story: https://wapo.st/3GKwIhq


Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and his niece, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel have texted a few times since the censure. https://bit.ly/34rySFi  

^ Yes, they’re related, if you didn’t know that.  

OK, so what’s the tea?: Romney wouldn’t give details of the conversation, but said:   

“We’ve exchanged some texts. … I expressed my point of view …  I think she’s a wonderful person and doing her very best.”   

More from The Hill’s Jordain Carney: https://bit.ly/34rySFi

Mitch is sharing his boundaries:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) broke with the Republican National Committee (RNC) with regards to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. https://bit.ly/3rF0zn7  

In McConnell’s words: “It was a violent insurrection with the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election. … That’s what it was.”




The RNC censured Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for serving on the House select committee to investigate the attack on Jan. 6, 2021. The RNC has received a lot of criticism for the move. https://bit.ly/3rF0zn7 


Nope, McConnell’s House counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed with the RNC’s censure. https://cnn.it/3GBsyIj


Via The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Hanna Trudo: https://bit.ly/3oCjOvp


‘OH BABY, why don’t you just meet me in the middle?’ … We’re losing our minds ~just a little~:

If you want a little distraction from work–> https://bit.ly/33ebquQ 

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Senate Democratic moderates are urging their leadership to tack to the center by moving bills to the floor that can pass with strong Republican support, but it’s creating tension with liberals who don’t want to abandon the core components of Build Back Better, voting rights legislation and other progressive priorities.” https://bit.ly/3HDaMGc  

Has the message been received?: “Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) appears to have heard the message from moderates in his caucus loud and clear.”  

So, now what?: “This week, Schumer is stressing plans to vote on legislation that has bipartisan support, such as ending the use of forced arbitration clauses to avoid sexual harassment and assault lawsuits, a bill to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure and a measure to improve U.S. competitiveness with China.”   

What happens now that Democrats seem more open to bipartisan legislation: https://bit.ly/3HDaMGc


Republicans are salty with Biden’s qualifiers:

Republicans are criticizing President Biden for vowing to select the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, arguing it promotes racial quotas. https://bit.ly/3B8HQTS  

A few examples of Republicans slamming Biden’s promise: “Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) characterized Biden’s promise as a case of ‘affirmative racial discrimination,’ suggesting the eventual nominee would be cast under a shadow as ‘the beneficiary of this sort of quota.’ Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) accused the administration of being ‘race-obsessed.’”   

Democrats are already firing back at Republicans on and off Capitol Hill: Democrats are accusing Republicans of using ‘political race-baiting’ to activate their base. 

How this is playing out, via The Hill’s Mike Lillis: https://bit.ly/3B8HQTS




“The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue, in my view.” More from Biden’s comments that day: https://cbsn.ws/3GCoRT0 


Wait, I love this:

The Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic posted a video yesterday, “There’s a brass band rockin out outside the Capitol right now. This needs to be a daily thing” Video — they’re really talented!: https://bit.ly/35UrW3T 




The Chicago Tribune tweeted, “Whether it’s beer, wine or liquor, alcohol can be a great way to relax with friends and family, enhance a meal, celebrate a special occasion and more.” https://bit.ly/33c5BOs  

Journalist Taylor Lorenz added, “Cool, will check it out” https://bit.ly/3oEfFan 


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

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

10:30 a.m. — noon EST: First and last votes in the House. The House’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3J5X5jk  

11:30 a.m. EST: Two roll call votes — a cloture vote and a confirmation vote. The Senate’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3GB9b23  

2:15 p.m. EST: Another confirmation vote in the Senate.  

2:30 p.m. EST: President Biden participates in a roundtable with CEOs of electric utilities to discuss the Build Back Better Act. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also attends. 


11 a.m. EST: The White House COVID-19 Response Team held a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3HF5QR4  

12:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/337QCF6




Today is National Pizza Day!  

To celebrate, here’s a list of pizza deals today: https://bit.ly/3gvEe53

And to further distract you from your work, here’s a dog who sees himself on TV. “I’m a star! I’m a star!”: https://bit.ly/3gxB2Wj

Tags 12:30 Report Adam Kinzinger Anthony Fauci Censure Charles Schumer COVID-19 covid-19 restrictions jan. 6 Jen Psaki Jennifer Granholm Joe Biden Josh Hawley Kathy Hochul Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney mask mandates Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney New York Pizza Roger Wicker Ronna McDaniel Stephen Breyer

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