The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 463,477; Tuesday, 465,072.

 

The total number of U.S. confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpassed 27 million.



House Democrats today begin to lay out their case to Senate jurors alleging that former President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE last month encouraged a mob to attack the Capitol as well as the lawmakers inside. His actions, they will argue using video, violated his oath of office and amounted to an insurrection against the U.S. government that warrants conviction, even if Trump is now a private citizen (The Hill). 

 

Trump’s lawyers, including Bruce Castor (pictured below), are demanding dismissal (The Hill) while blasting the trial as “political theater” (The Hill). House Democrats respond that Trump is wrong that he cannot be convicted of an impeachment charge once he’s left office (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Legal scholars are not all of like mind about whether the indictment in this week’s Trump trial is constitutional, although many, including some prominent conservative legal experts, say the Framers intended that the Constitution’s impeachment punishment extend to former officials.   

 

What leaders in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle appear to agree on is that a fast-paced trial is optimal. It’s their belief that the outcome is all but certain: They predict Trump will likely be acquitted, as he was by senators at the conclusion of his first impeachment trial a year ago (The Hill).

 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in The Memo that the Trump trial poses political risks right and left. “I think both parties realize it is in their self-interest to put this behind them. It is a political calculation,” said Matt Gorman, a former communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Democrats realize they have a very tight timetable on the COVID package and Republicans don’t want to spend weeks talking about Donald Trump and his involvement in Jan. 6.”

 

Politico: Trump aides expect the former president to emerge in public after the trial to seek revenge against Republicans he believes crossed him.

 

The Hill: Georgia officials on Monday confirmed a “fact finding” inquiry into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.

 

Reuters: Fox News asks for dismissal of $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed by election technology company Smartmatic alleging the network made false claims that it rigged the 2020 election.

 

The Associated Press: Thomas Caldwell, 66, who worked for the FBI after retiring from the Navy, according to his lawyer, is accused by authorities of being a leader in the far-right Oath Keepers militia and involved in the Capitol siege. Caldwell denies being part of the group.

 

 

 

 

> COVID-19 relief: House Democrats on Monday released legislation proposing a round of $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 and couples earning $150,000, deciding against cutting back the thresholds for who should receive monies in the next round of stimulus checks. 

 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released Democrats release data showing increase in 'mega-IRA' accounts MORE (D-Mass.) released the blueprint on Monday night. The development comes after an outcry from progressives who opposed changing the threshold to those making up to $50,000 and couples making up to $100,000, as supported by Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (D-W.Va.).

 

Also included in the package is a $15-per-hour minimum wage, a win for House progressives. However, the provision is not likely to survive in a final bill, as the Senate parliamentarian is likely to rule that a wage hike cannot be passed by Congress through reconciliation (The Hill). 

 

The Hill and The Washington Post: House Democrats’ COVID-19 relief bill includes $1,400 checks, as proposed by the president.

 

House Democrats also unveiled legislation to provide millions of families with up to $3,600 in direct payments per child, expanding on the child tax credit provision included in the coronavirus relief measure advancing through Congress. The estimated price tag is $117 billion per year.

 

The tax credit included in President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal would be increased for one year. But lawmakers want to make the increased amount permanent and send monthly payments directly to households, rather than paying in a lump sum at tax time. It is one of several competing proposals in the House and Senate dealing with the child tax credit (Yahoo Finance and Insider).

 

The Hill: Democrats include temporary Affordable Care Act expansion in a House COVID-19 relief bill to be marked up later this week.

 

Meanwhile, the stylings of the stimulus package could be affected by the arrival of two new Democratic moderates in the Senate — Sen. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperManchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium It's time for US to get serious about cleaning up space junk Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE (Colo.) and Mark KellyMark KellyHarris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Poll: Two-thirds of AZ Democratic voters back primary challenge to Sinema over filibuster MORE (Ariz.) — who, along with Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), will temper just how aggressively Democrats can push ahead with the plan. 

 

The strengthened moderate rump group was on display last week when those four and Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats say they have the votes to advance .5T budget measure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE (D-Mont.), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 Trump says he'd like to see Chris Sununu challenge Hassan Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  MORE (D-N.H.), Gary PetersGary PetersBiden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former longtime Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87 GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate MORE (D-Mich.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowBiden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former longtime Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87 Energy chief touts electric vehicle funding in Senate plan MORE (D-Mich.) voted to block illegal immigrants from getting direct stimulus payments, as The Hill’s Alexander Bolton notes.

 

The Hill: Senate Democrats likely to face key test of unity on 2022 budget.

 

Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal: Biden’s bipartisan hopes need not die now.

  

The Hill: Investors are banking on Biden's proposal to buoy an economic rebound in the second half of 2021. A setback in Congress could undermine the Wall Street rally. 

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: Rep. Ron WrightRon WrightPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE (R-Texas) on Sunday died at age 67, becoming the first sitting member of Congress to succumb to complications from COVID-19.

 

Wright announced on Jan. 21 that he contracted the disease and said that he was dealing with mild symptoms. Days later, he was transferred to Baylor Hospital for treatment. In 2019, the late Texas congressman was diagnosed with lung cancer, putting him in a high-risk category.

 

“Congressman Wright will be remembered as a constitutional conservative. He was a statesman, not an ideologue. Ron and Susan dedicated their lives to fighting for individual freedom, Texas values, and above all, the lives of the unborn,” his office said in a statement (The Hill). 

 

In late December, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-La.), who had not yet been sworn in as a House member, died of COVID-19 at age 41 only weeks after winning his election (NBC News).

 

The Hill: Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegChasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE is in quarantine after a possible COVID-19 exposure.

 

> School reopenings: The messaging surrounding reopening classrooms for in-person instruction has proved problematic for the Biden administration, creating stumbling blocks less than three weeks after taking office.

 

As The Hill’s Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes write, the administration is trying to navigate the tricky politics of school reopenings as elected officials clash with teachers unions in Democratic strongholds across the country over how quickly to reopen classrooms.

 

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Hunter Biden blasts those criticizing price of his art: 'F--- 'em' MORE has publicly talked down a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pointing to schools that observe social distancing and mask wearing as low transmission zones. Psaki has also brushed back CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' Publix will require employees to wear masks MORE on several occasions for stating that the science supports the notion that teachers can return to classrooms before they’ve been vaccinated.

 

The situation has Republicans out for blood and arguing that Democrats are letting politics and not science drive policy on school reopenings, with students across the country struggling as they deal with virtual learning for nearly a full year.

 

The Associated Press: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) lifts mask mandate without public health input.

 

CNBC: New York aims to reopen Broadway, large venues, with extensive COVID-19 testing, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoUniversity of Michigan says all students, faculty, staff must be vaccinated by fall term Cuomo signs legislation making baseball the official sport of New York CNN's Cuomo tells restaurant owner: 'You sound like an idiot' for denying service to vaccinated customers MORE (D) says.

 

 

 

 

> Cases vs. variants: Daily cases of COVID-19 continued to fall on Monday as the U.S. reported 79,000 new infections, marking the second day in a row of sub-100,000 cases since early November, marking a positive trend in the U.S.’s battle with the virus. 

 

Despite the downtick in cases, the progress could be turned on its head as variants of the virus spread across the U.S. and become more ingrained. While cases and hospitalizations are dropping, they are still at extremely high levels, and they could start rising again as a variant first identified in Great Britain spreads, as The Hill’s Peter Sullivan writes. According to a study, the U.K. variant is doubling every 10 days in the U.S. and could become the predominant strain by next month, putting the onus on the U.S. to ramp up vaccinations and mitigation techniques in the coming weeks. experts say.

 

The Hill: Health officials warn COVID-19 eradication unlikely.

 

The Associated Press: New variants raise worry about COVID-19 virus reinfections.

 

Reuters: Does the world need new COVID-19 vaccines? “Jury is out,” Oxford's vaccine trial chief says.

 

 

 



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IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Senate passes .1 billion Capitol security bill Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE (R-Ala.), 86, announced on Monday that he will not run for reelection to a seventh term in the Senate, becoming the fourth Senate Republican to decide against a bid in 2022 (WTVY and The Hill). 

 

“Today I announce that I will not seek a seventh term in the United State Senate in 2022. For everything, there is a season,” Shelby said in a statement. “Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today. I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all.” 

 

Shelby, the top Senate GOP appropriator, made the decision amid speculation that he could retire after a lengthy career in the upper chamber. Once a conservative Democrat, Shelby switched parties in 1994 and has helmed top committee posts throughout his time in office, including the Rules and Intelligence panels. 

 

News of his pending retirement has also sparked questions about who could run to fill his seat in the ruby-red state. As The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes, Reps. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksDOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Ex-Sen. Jones rips Mo Brooks over 'irony' remark on Texas Democrats getting COVID-19 Justice in legal knot in Mo Brooks, Trump case MORE (R-Ala.) and Gary PalmerGary James PalmerMo Brooks launches Senate bid in Alabama Former Trump officials eye bids for political office The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending MORE (R-Ala.), Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), and Shelby’s former chief of staff Katie Boyd Britt are considered top contenders. 

 

The Hill: Brooks expresses interest in running for Shelby's Senate seat.

 

The Associated Press: Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim GriffinJohn (Tim) Timothy GriffinTrump faces test of power with early endorsements Trump announces new tranche of endorsements The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending MORE (R) drops a gubernatorial bid to run for attorney general, highlighting Trump's continued power in the GOP.

 

Politico: New Jersey’s Phil Murphy (D) is the only governor up for reelection. The pandemic may haunt him.

 

 

 

 

******

 

ADMINISTRATION: The Senate on Monday voted 87 to 7 to confirm Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today Overnight Defense: Biden says US combat mission in Iraq wrapping by year's end | Civilian casualties in Afghanistan peak amid US exit | VA mandates COVID-19 vaccine for health workers Overnight Health Care: New round of vaccine mandates | Health groups call for mandates for all health workers | Rising case count reignites debate over restrictions MORE, a former White House chief of staff to former President Obama, to be secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department (The Hill). McDonough is an experienced government manager but not a military veteran (The Washington Post). 

 

The vice president will ceremonially swear in McDonough at 1 p.m. at the White House.

 

The “no” votes came from GOP Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David Hawley228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Trio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Atlanta-area spa shootings suspect set to be arraigned MORE of Missouri, Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonChuck Todd is dead wrong: Liberal bias defines modern journalism Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis MORE of Arkansas, Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund MORE of Iowa, Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallAdvancing T-cell testing can help parents can make informed decisions on COVID vaccinations House GOP leaders say vaccine works but shouldn't be mandated Rand Paul introducing measure to repeal public transportation mask mandates MORE of Kansas, Rick Scott of Florida, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Ted Cruz of Texas. A handful of GOP senators, some of whom are interested in running for president in 2024, have voted against many of Biden’s nominees to date. Hawley has voted against confirming all of them. 

 

 

 

 

> Justice Department: NBC News reports that Biden will ask nearly all Trump-era U.S. attorneys to resign. The process could start as early as today.



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! 



OPINION

Corporations should stop funding climate science deniers in Congress, by Elliott Negin, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3jwqqrp

 

We must protect women’s sports, by Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyWill Pence primary Trump — and win? Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis MORE, opinion contributor, National Review. https://bit.ly/3p8Oq5q



WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

 

The Senate convenes at 1 p.m. and will begin the Trump impeachment trial. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a confirmation hearing at 9:15 a.m. for Neera TandenNeera TandenThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Schumer back down on his deadline? Biden's budget vacancy raises eyebrows White House releases staff salaries showing narrowed gender pay gap MORE to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

 

The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden, Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenFed chief holds firm amid inflation concerns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden MORE will meet with business leaders in the Oval Office at 1:45 p.m. to discuss the administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure. 

 

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 12:45 p.m.

 

INVITATIONS to The Hill’s Virtually Live events

  TODAY at 1 p.m., “Complex Generics & the Prescription Drug Landscape.” Reps. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchShakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Democrats debate shape of new Jan. 6 probe On the Money: Tech giants face rising pressure from shareholder activists | House Democrats urge IRS to reverse Trump-era rule reducing donor disclosure | Sen. Warren, Jamie Dimon spar over overdraft fees at Senate hearing MORE (D-Vt.) and Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieHillicon Valley: US, UK authorities say Russian hackers exploited Microsoft vulnerabilities | Lawmakers push for more cyber funds in annual appropriations | Google child care workers ask for transportation stipend Lawmakers push for increased cybersecurity funds in annual appropriations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal 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 at 1 p.m., “COVID-19 & the Opioid Epidemic.” Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLobbying world Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers blast FBI's Kavanaugh investigation as 'sham' MORE (D-R.I.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris Senate starts infrastructure debate amid 11th-hour drama MORE (R-Ohio), Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues Bipartisan lawmakers back clean electricity standard, but fall short of Biden goal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-W.Va.) 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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ELSEWHERE

COURTS: Even with the challenges of a narrowly divided Senate, Biden has opportunities to try to counter Trump’s success at filling the judiciary because a growing number of federal judges have announced upcoming departures. There are currently 57 vacancies in the federal district and appellate courts and another 20 seats that will become vacant in the coming months. At least 25 of those vacancies were announced since Biden’s inauguration (The Hill).  

 

U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Thomas Donohue's sudden departure as CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce comes just weeks into Biden’s presidency as the powerful business lobbying organization adapts to the Democratic-led Congress and White House. Chamber President Suzanne Clark is set to replace Donohue, who is leaving more than a year earlier than he previously announced after more than two decades at the helm. Clark will set the tone for the Chamber's relations with the new administration and Capitol Hill (The Hill).

 

STATE WATCH: The Biden administration is seeking to withdraw a federal lawsuit challenging California’s net neutrality law. The Justice Department Monday filed to dismiss the case, which the Trump administration launched in 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Telecommunications industry trade groups continue to challenge the law in the same court (Bloomberg Law). … The water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Fla., in Pinellas County was hacked and levels of sodium hydroxide (lye) set to a “dangerous” level, but the breach on Friday was caught before public safety was threatened, according to local and state authorities, the FBI, and the Secret Service, all of whom are involved in the investigation (WTSP).



THE CLOSER

And finally …   Social media is still burbling with superlatives about canine charmer Chunky Monkey, one of the stars of Sunday night’s Puppy Bowl XVII, a championship between adoptable dogs who played for “Team Ruff” and “Team Fluff” (New York Post … with video).

 

As The Cut reported, the black and white, 15-month-old Chunky Monkey is a mix of chow chow, irish red and white setter with a “gentle soul” and came from nonprofit Green Dogs Unleashed in Troy, Va. She impressed viewers with a competitive mood described as “very zen” — she fell asleep shortly after walking onto the field. 

 

The real winners of the game were the 70 families who brought home champs as a result of the popular competition. According to Animal Planet, every dog in every Puppy Bowl gets adopted by the time the show airs.