The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney keeps leadership post; Dems to punish Greene

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 441,324; Tuesday, 443,355; Wednesday, 446,885; Thursday, 450,797.

Wednesday began for House Republicans with deep divisions over Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyCheney on Trump going to GOP retreat in Florida: 'I haven't invited him' RNC raises nearly M in record off-year March donations Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE of Wyoming, who voted last month to impeach former President TrumpDonald TrumpUS gives examples of possible sanctions relief to Iran GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban MORE, and Georgia newcomer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose conspiratorial declarations include her insistence that victory was stolen from Trump in November.


Cheney easily retained her No. 3 post in leadership after a secret vote by conference colleagues, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Republicans deliver a commonsense climate plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Waters on Chauvin guilty verdict: 'I'm not celebrating, I'm relieved' MORE (R-Calif.) chose not to discipline Greene. House Democrats today will vote to remove the Georgia congresswoman from all committee assignments as punishment for what Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhen it comes to Georgia's voting law, keep politics out of business Pelosi to offer even split on 9/11-style commission to probe Capitol riot Senate GOP crafts outlines for infrastructure counter proposal MORE (R-Ky.) agreed this week are “loony lies.”


The Associated Press: Defend or rebuke? House GOP faces difficult vote over Greene.


Cheney, a mainstream conservative and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, forcefully swatted away a challenge to her standing as conference chair. Taking aim at her were House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Ariz.). The vote of 145 to 61 ended a four-hour marathon meeting during which Cheney (pictured above) explained but would not apologize for her statement that Trump on Jan. 6 betrayed his oath as president and should be impeached. 


McCarthy, who yearns to be Speaker if Republicans can win the House majority next year, spoke of unity while defending the only woman on his leadership team. 


“Trust me. You elected me leader. Let me lead ... Trust me with the team that I've put together," McCarthy said, according to two sources familiar with his remarks. The California Republican reminded colleagues that while Republicans lost the White House, they managed to gain strength in the House as a result of 2020 contests.


None of you lost your seats with this leadership team,” he said pointing to the room.


One GOP member told the Morning Report that Wednesday’s meeting represented a major moment for the embattled GOP leader, describing his closing address as the “best speech I have heard McCarthy give.”


“It means a lot for McCarthy. Shows how he’s going to lead — trying to pull people together to form a governing coalition,” the lawmaker said. “He pushed Greene to renounce her crazy stuff and single handedly saved Cheney.”


The Washington Post: McCarthy moves to keep House GOP intact, with protection for Cheney, Greene. 


Politico: Cheney to keep her leadership position after tense GOP meeting.


A House GOP aide told the Morning Report: “It’s an important moment for the party. ...You saw which side won. It wasn’t Donald Trump’s side, and it wasn’t close.” 


McCarthy (pictured below), who has both assailed and praised Trump and recently met with him in Florida to seek his backing for House Republican candidates next year, chose not to take action against the Georgia congresswoman, who predicted before last month’s Capitol riots that Trump supporters would make Jan. 6 “our 1776 moment.” 


PolitiFact: What Greene has said about conspiracy theories.


Despite McCarthy’s interventions to try to stave off proposals for expulsion, censure and other consequences, House Democrats today plan to vote to take away Greene’s committee involvement, The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong detail. Fewer than a dozen House Republicans are expected to vote with the Democrats, a GOP lawmaker predicted (The Hill).


The Hill: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden: US to hit 200M vaccine target on Wednesday | House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package | FDA finds multiple failures at J&J plant House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package House Democrats eye passing DC statehood bill for second time MORE (D-Calif.) blasts McCarthy for “cowardly” response: Her staff refers to him as “McCarthy (Q-CA).”





> COVID-19 relief: President Biden tried to tamp down worries among Democratic lawmakers that he might cave to a group of Republican senators when he advised them on Wednesday to “go big” with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. But he said he’s willing to reduce or target income eligibility for his proposed $1,400 relief checks, a concession that might attract some Republican support (The Associated Press and The Hill).


“I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to the American people,” he said in the Oval Office on Wednesday.


Nonetheless, as The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, Biden’s ambitious push to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour could run afoul of Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, who has final say about what policy provisions are germane and can be included in a measure that clears the Senate with a simple majority under budget reconciliation rules. 


MacDonough is a Democratic appointee, but in the past she has taken a strict approach to requirements that can shield legislation from needing at least 60 votes in the Senate to move ahead. Her judgment about procedure and provisions could shape Biden's relief agenda. 


Politico: Democrats' push to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour runs into roadblocks.


The Hill: Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOn The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Lawmakers reintroduce bill to invest billions to compete with China in tech MORE (D-N.Y.) vows Democrats are “united” after meeting with Biden.


CNBC: American warns 13,000 employees of furloughs as airlines prepare to lose federal aid next month.





More in Congress: The Democratic and Republicans leaders of the Senate agreed to an organizing resolution for the 50-50 upper chamber, a deal that took weeks to iron out (The Hill). ... The House on Wednesday voted 218 to 212 to adopt a budget resolution that would allow Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without Republican support. Two Democrats, Reps. Ed CaseEdward (Ed) CaseMORE (Hawaii) and Jared Golden (Maine), voted against the measure (The Hill). … Democratic senators will hold a marathon session known as a vote-a-rama beginning on Thursday, the first for the Senate in four years (The Hill). 


CORONAVIRUS: More good news emerged on the vaccine front on Wednesday, with a new study suggesting that the shot produced by AztraZenaca and Oxford University may reduce the transmission of the virus, potentially a major breakthrough as case totals stabilize in the U.S. 


According to researchers at Oxford, volunteers in the British study were regularly given nasal swabs to detect COVID-19 in an attempt to determine whether it could still be transmitted. The swabs that came back positive showed a 67 percent drop among those who were vaccinated. 


“That’s got to have a really beneficial effect on transmission,” Oxford lead researcher Sarah Gilbert told the New York Academy of Sciences on Wednesday (The Associated Press).


Adding to the positive developments, the study also showed that a single dose of the AstraZeneca shot offers strong protection from the virus for three months. The news lends credence to the British government’s plan to delay giving second doses of the vaccine for up to 12 weeks. The initial recommendation was to give a second dose four weeks later.


Meanwhile, daily case counts continued to fall. The U.S. reported 117,000 new positive cases on Wednesday, the fourth day in a row that less than 125,000 cases were reported. The seven-day rolling average sits at 136,000, the lowest mark since Nov. 12 (The Washington Post).


The Hill: Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations falling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The Associated Press: Britain to test mixing and matching of COVID-19 vaccines.


> School reopenings?: CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyMichigan COVID-19 surge rivals previous rise US to expand 'do not travel' warning to 80 percent of countries amid COVID-19 spike The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax MORE said on Wednesday that vaccinating teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools, arguing that social distancing and mask-wearing make it possible for in-person teaching to return across the country. 


“Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools,” Walensky said during a press briefing, noting that is that case even though a CDC advisory committee has put teachers in the “1B” category for getting vaccines — the second priority group for vaccination. 


“I also want to be clear that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that ... safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” she said. 


The comments come amid a heated back-and-forth between parents and teachers, with some teachers unions calling for instructors to be vaccinated before they return to in-person teaching.


The Associated Press: San Francisco sues its own school district to reopen classes.





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ADMINISTRATION: Top Senate Republicans said Wednesday that votes on Biden’s Cabinet picks will likely sit on a shelf until after the Trump impeachment trial, which begins next week and has no set timeline.


Republicans, now in the minority, are pointing to the Senate schedule to explain the holdup, arguing that Democrats chose to take up a budget resolution, which will eat up the Senate’s schedule this week (The Hill).


Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban Senate GOP crafts outlines for infrastructure counter proposal On The Money: Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl | Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term | Left-leaning group raises concerns about SALT cap repeal MORE of South Dakota, a member of Republican leadership, said there might be time on Monday to vote on a Cabinet nominee, and he mentioned Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE, Biden’s choice to lead the Agriculture Department. Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, was Agriculture secretary for eight years in the Obama administration and has bipartisan backing to return to a job he knows well.


“I think most of our members feel like until impeachment is done, other business probably shouldn't get done now,” Thune added.


Meanwhile, the United States has been without a Senate-confirmed attorney general since Dec. 23. The nomination of Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandSenate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote Sherrod Brown: Teenager killed in Columbus police shooting 'should be alive right now' Watch live: Garland announces investigation of Minneapolis police MORE, a federal appellate judge and Biden’s choice to lead the Justice Department, is expected to be in limbo for several more weeks (The Hill). Republican senators in 2016 blocked his nomination to the Supreme Court for nearly a year, refusing to meet with him or hold a confirmation hearing during an election year.


Three days ago, former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban Overnight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution MORE (R-S.C.) held sway over the panel and refused Democrats’ request to convene Garland’s confirmation hearing Monday under incoming Chairman Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinCornyn, Sinema to introduce bill aimed at addressing border surge Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee Bipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge MORE (D-Ill.) (The Hill). 


“Democrats do not get to score political points in an unprecedented act of political theater on one hand while also trying to claim the mantle of good government on the other,” Graham told Durbin, referring to Trump’s second impeachment trial (MSNBC).


The situation changed a bit on Wednesday when Senate leaders in both parties finally reached an agreement about the operational rules of the 50-50 Senate, a delayed deal that spells out Democrats’ majority control, including in committees. But Garland may still have to wait because Durbin needs the consent of committee Republicans to waive rules requiring that the panel’s hearings be announced and advertised a week in advance.


The Senate is scheduled to be in recess the week of Feb. 15, which means that Garland may not win confirmation until the last week of February, more than one month after Biden’s inauguration. Durbin said such a vacancy could pose a threat to national security. “It’s the last major element of our national security team. I think it should be a high priority,” he said.


USA Today: Garland, 68, if confirmed, faces a dual burden of reclaiming Justice’s independence from the White House while resetting the department’s law enforcement mission.


Reuters: Biden to pursue nuclear arms control, seeks to engage China, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says.


The New York Times analysis, David Sanger: Biden demands Russia and Myanmar reverse course but years of sanctions fatigue and a decline in American influence may make it difficult for the president to deliver on promises.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Selling the stock market short, by Kevin Haeberle, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3je3xZG


Earmarks are good, by Annie Lowrey, staff writer, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/3cDziKp


The House meets at 10 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a confirmation hearing at 10 a.m. for Boston Mayor Marty WalshMarty WalshBiden's policies are already hurting workers — and there's more hurt coming Unions struggle to secure wins under Biden New Boston Mayor Kim Janey: 'We cannot go back to normal' on racial equity MORE (D) to be secretary of Labor. 


The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden is set to virtually address the Washington-based National Prayer Breakfast. They will visit the State Department and speak with Secretary Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenThe era of climate statecraft is here Biden administration working with Congress to provide 0 million for civilian assistance in Afghanistan US targets state-owned Myanmar timber, pearl businesses with new sanctions MORE and with employees and foreign service officers to thank them for their continued service. Biden will make remarks at 2:45 p.m. and return to the White House.


The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. 


Economic indicator: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on claims for unemployment benefits during the week ending Jan. 30. The filings for jobless benefits are expected to remain high. 


White House Council of Economic Advisers member Jared BernsteinJared BernsteinSummers says inflation indicators 'flashing red alarm' Press: GOP making big mistake on infrastructure Prices jump 0.6 percent in March, highest increase since 2012 MORE speaks at 9 a.m. as part of The Washington Post’s virtual “New Government: First 100 Days” series. Registration is HERE.


INVITATIONS to The Hill’s Virtually Live events

  Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 1 p.m., “Complex Generics & the Prescription Drug Landscape.” Reps. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchHouse Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Democrats gear up for major push to lower drug prices MORE (D-Vt.) and Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieLawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Lawmakers debate role of prescription drugs and generics in health care costs MORE (R-Ky.) and the Food and Drug Administration’s Sally Choe talk with The Hill's Steve Clemons about how complex generic medical alternatives can impact and potentially enhance the American health care system. RSVP HERE


  Thursday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m., “COVID-19 & the Opioid Epidemic.” Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution Democrats seek Barrett's recusal from case tied to conservative backers For a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game MORE (D-R.I.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHarris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs How to save the Amazon rainforest MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyThe Memo: Hunter Biden and the politics of addiction OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Native groups hope Haaland's historic confirmation comes with tribal wins | EPA asks court to nix Trump rule limiting GHG regs | Green group asks regulators to block use of utility customers' money for lobbying  Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack MORE (R-W.V.) and a panel of experts will discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the opioid epidemic and the path to saving lives. RSVP HERE


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube


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COURTS: A Supreme Court ruling Wednesday in a multimillion-dollar dispute over a collection of religious artworks will make it harder for some lawsuits to be tried in U.S. courts over claims that property was taken from Jews during the Nazi era. The justices sided with Germany in a dispute involving the heirs of Jewish art dealers and the 1935 sale of a collection of medieval Christian artwork called the Guelph Treasure. The collection, called the Welfenschatz in German, is said to be worth at least $250 million (The Associated Press).


INTERNATIONAL: Canada on Wednesday declared that the Proud Boys are a terrorist entity, pointing to their role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair indicated that the riot was the tipping point for the decision. “Their intent and their escalation toward violence became quite clear,” Blair said (The Associated Press). … In Myanmar, police formally charged Aung San Suu Kyi and key allies on Wednesday, alleging that the longtime Burmese politician and leader possessed walkie-talkies that were obtained illegally. The military detained her  as part of a coup d'état launched on Monday (The Associated Press). 


STATE WATCH: California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomGovernors call on Biden to back shift to zero-emission cars by 2035 NPR journalist discusses home affordability in California California Democrats weigh their recall options MORE's (D) team is preparing for a potential recall election as his rivals gather signatures at a brisk pace (The Hill).


ENTERTAINMENT: In the world of movies, television and music, nominees for the 78th annual Golden Globe Awards, announced on Wednesday, include plenty of veteran stars and standout newcomers. The Associated Press has the complete list. … Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are tasked with giving the Feb. 28 show, airing on NBC, a wry vibe from two coasts (Variety and The Hill). … The GameStop and Reddit stock market events have already been optioned for movies by Netflix and MGM (Deadline and The Verge). … Robinhood wants to repair its brand identity in the financial world after a headline-grabbing trading brouhaha, which has sparked interest among congressional investigators and the Securities and Exchange Commission (crisis communication of choice: a Super Bowl ad) (CNBC and The Hill). … And speaking of the Super Bowl, Canadian artist The Weeknd will entertain on the world’s biggest stage during the halftime show. The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, has won three Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards and nine Billboard Music Awards (NBC Sports). Sunday’s NFL version of the national anthem will be a duet performed by artists Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church, preceded by a performance of “America the Beautiful” by Grammy Award-winning artist H.E.R. (Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson) (NBC Sports).  





And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Female lawmakers are much in the news because of things they’ve said (as in, outspoken or out of line?).


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners take a newsletter bow on Friday.


Can you correctly match these House members with their statements?


1. Marjorie Taylor Greene


2. Liz Cheney


3. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezKerry: China described climate change as 'crisis' for the first time Left feels empowered after Biden backtracks on refugees Ocasio-Cortez: Chauvin 'verdict is not a substitute for policy change' MORE  


4. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Biden dispatches Cabinet members to sell infrastructure plan Watch live: Biden Cabinet officials testify on infrastructure plan MORE


5. Speaker Pelosi



A. “I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you [Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzChauvin likely to face uphill battle in expected appeal Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote MORE (R-Texas)] almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out. … Happy to work w/ almost any other GOP that aren’t trying to get me killed. In the meantime if you want to help, you can resign.”


B. “This war on our second amendment is going to continue and must be fought. I am told that Nancy Pelosi tells Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE several times a month that ‘we need another school shooting’ in order to persuade the public to want strict gun control.”


C. “The enemy is within the House.”


D. “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President."


E. “Those who are bent on choosing [the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell vents over 'fake news' Democrats seek Barrett's recusal from case tied to conservative backers Court packing legislation straight out of Maduro's playbook MORE’s] successor have no decency. They have no honor. They have no integrity. … They want to take away our healthcare. They don't want to help people who are in trouble. They don't care about people who are unemployed. All they want to do is win. But what do they win? What have they won for this Nation? They just want to benefit themselves. … They are a disgrace to this Nation.”