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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths each morning this week: Monday, 826,064; Tuesday, 827,749; Wednesday, 830,284; Thursday, 832,148; Friday, 833,988.
After the speeches, what next?
Events on Thursday to mark a year since the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol underscored the fragility and uncertainty in America’s future.
Even President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' MORE — who blamed the deadly insurrection on former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE and a mob of extremists, militia members and former military who embraced Trump’s “web of lies” — sidestepped his usual instinct for lofty optimism during a fiery 25-minute address in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
It was Biden’s most sustained and eviscerating attack on Trump since taking office. He never uttered his predecessor’s name but he assailed him in decidedly personal terms and mocked Trump’s supporters as the antithesis of patriots who are at best misled and at worst dangers to the country.
“I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” the president vowed. “You can’t love your country only when you win.”
The Associated Press: America is a nation of two peoples when it comes to remembrances of events on Jan. 6, 2021.
The speech reprised Biden’s passionate campaign rhetoric about risks to America, which helped him defeat Trump, and Democrats said they had waited a year for the president to land those punches, reports The Hill’s Amie Parnes. But the former president remains such a potent influence over his party that House and Senate Republicans skipped Thursday’s events in Washington, and many believe Trump could become the 2024 GOP presidential nominee.
The New York Times: Biden condemns Trump as Washington splits over Jan. 6 attack.
The Hill: Biden takes on Trump.
The Hill, Niall Stanage: The president tackles Trump head-on.
NBC News interview with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMan who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia MORE (D-Calif.) reflecting on events in the Capitol a year ago: “I saw in their eyes something I had never seen before. The trauma, the fear of it all.”
Wyoming conservative Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks Supreme Court rejects Trump's bid to shield records from Jan. 6 committee MORE, an outcast in her party because of her condemnations of Trump and the Republicans who still back him, added drama to Thursday’s events by standing alone on the GOP side of the House floor, accompanied by her father, former Vice President Dick CheneyDick CheneyKinzinger welcomes baby boy Sen. Ron Johnson: Straight from the horse's mouth Budowsky: When Dr. King, Rep. Cheney came to Washington MORE, himself a former House member.
Liz Cheney is insistent that Trump can never be allowed near the Oval Office again. In return, the former president is working to defeat her for reelection in Wyoming.
During an interview with NBC’s “Today,” she said her conservative colleagues should “make clear that a president who engaged in those activities can never be president.” By embracing Trump or simply ignoring him, they damage the nation, she added. “That's how democracies die, and we simply cannot let that happen."
Dick Cheney told ABC’s Jonathan Karl before entering the House chamber that he is “deeply disappointed” in the Republican leadership and its handling of the events during and after Jan. 6, 2021. “It’s an important historical event,” he said, referring to the anniversary of the insurrection. “You can't overestimate how important it is.”
The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong reported that Pelosi, a critic of the former vice president during the Iraq War who last year invited Liz Cheney to be a member of the House select panel investigating the events of Jan. 6, told reporters, “We were very honored by his being here,” adding, “I was happy to welcome him back and to congratulate him on the courage of Liz Cheney.”
Vice President Harris commended Liz Cheney, telling PBS’s “NewsHour” during an interview, “I applaud her courage to speak truth.”
Politico: Harris on Jan. 6, 2021, was inside the Democratic National Committee when a pipe bomb was discovered outside.
The Atlantic: The identity of the Jan. 6 pipe bomber remains a mystery, despite video of the bomber’s movements.
From Florida, Trump reacted to Thursday’s pummeling from Washington with a string of statements repeating his falsehood that he lost in 2020 because of a “rigged” election. He blasted Biden for what he called “the incompetent job he is doing.” He accused Democrats of using the events of Jan. 6 to “stoke fears and divide America.”
Biden on Thursday briefly foreshadowed a Tuesday speech about voting rights he plans to deliver in Atlanta with Harris to bolster efforts by Senate leaders on Jan. 17 to put reform legislation opposed by Republicans on the floor. The president said proposed and adopted state laws backed by the GOP in the last year suppress and subvert democracy in order “to win more votes.” He said federal legislation would remedy the “undemocratic” and “un-American” efforts led by Republicans in the states.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia voting rights groups issued a Thursday statement urging Biden and Harris to skip their Atlanta visit next week if they don’t have a plan to enact federal voting protections. “Such an empty gesture, without concrete action, without signs of real, tangible work, is unacceptable,” the groups wrote.
The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports why Democrats are dubious about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week MORE’s (R-Ky.) sudden openness to weighing proposed changes to an 1887 Electoral College law.
Harris told PBS that interest in changing the Electoral College law is “not a solution to the problem at hand.” She repeated that the administration believes federal law is required to “guarantee the freedom and right of every American to have access to the ballot to be able to vote.” She urged Congress to send the president the John LewisJohn LewisArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash Lawmaker arrested amid voting rights protest says he'd 'do it again' MORE Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, both of which Republicans say they oppose.
Altria is working to create a more sustainable future — aligned with the expectations of society and our stakeholders. Learn about the goals we’ve set and the progress we’re making at Altria.com.
LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: The U.S. Navy removed its first group of sailors over their refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the service announced.
Twenty sailors were ousted from the service as part of entry-level separations, meaning they were all completing initial training periods as part of their first 180 days of active duty. No other separations have taken place, though others in the service who have longer tenures could be on the chopping block in the next six months if they decide against receiving the jab (Navy Times).
As Military Times notes, Navy commanders were ordered on Dec. 15 to begin the separation process for sailors who have refused to get vaccinated. As of Wednesday, 5,268 active-duty and 2,980 Reserve sailors are not vaccinated.
The Washington Post: White House, U.S. Postal Service finalizing plans to begin shipping coronavirus test kits to U.S. households.
The Wall Street Journal: Unable to get COVID-19 tests, Americans carry on, go to work, get on flights.
> Case jump: The World Health Organization said on Thursday that a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases were recorded over the last week as the omicron variant of the coronavirus swept the planet, representing a 71 percent jump from the previous seven-day stretch. However, in a sign that omicron is likely a milder variant, the number of weekly deaths across the globe declined.
“Last week, the highest number of COVID-19 cases were reported so far in the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said (The Associated Press).
In New York, the wave of infections is also showing that severe outcomes are largely being spared for patients. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Northwell Health, the state’s largest hospital network, said that roughly 10 percent of recent COVID-19 patients are spending time in the intensive care unit, down from 25 to 35 percent during other surges of the virus.
In addition, fully vaccinated individuals are faring much better than those who are not, with their stay averaging a total of four days compared to two weeks for unvaccinated patients.
Fox 5 Baltimore: Omicron is now the dominant coronavirus strain in Maryland; 74 percent of COVID-19 patients in the University of Maryland Medical System are unvaccinated. Only 2 percent in the hospital system were those who had gotten booster shots.
The Hill: Florida is sending 1 million free COVID-19 tests to elderly communities.
> International: Italy announced on Wednesday that it would mandate COVID-19 boosters for anyone ages 50 and up, with the requirement taking effect immediately and lasting until June 15. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said that the new directive was intended to “keep our hospitals functioning well and at the same time keep open schools and business activities” (Reuters).
The Associated Press: Novak Djokovic spends religious day in detention in Melbourne.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Harris has a new message maestro.
Jamal Simmons, a longtime top Democratic communications aide, is set to take over as the vice president’s communications director, sources told The Hill. As The Hill’s Amie Parnes writes, the move represents a communications reset for Harris after a rocky first year headline-wise, including a rash of departures from her senior communications staff.
Simmons, a widely respected figure in Democratic circles, has been involved in national politics since former President Clinton’s administration, having served as deputy communications director for the former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Equilibrium/Sustainability — Artificial camel nose sniffs out hidden oases Al Gore: Emissions reductions hinge on AI measurements from space MORE’s 2000 presidential campaign (The Hill).
> Union politics: Republicans are refreshing a line of attack on Democrats this week as they attempt to tie the majority party to teachers unions amid the strife in Chicago between top officials and union leadership over the teachers’ opposition to in-person learning during the omicron surge.
The GOP is going to the mat over the push away from in-person learning by targeting vulnerable lawmakers as the move to virtual classes grows despite evidence showing harm to children over the past two years since the pandemic moved instruction out of schools. It’s a strategy that was successful for Republicans ahead of the Virginia elections in November, having blamed Democrats and teachers’ unions for the state’s school shutdowns in 2020.
The decisions in Chicago have shone a spotlight on the issue after teachers voted roughly two-to-one to move classes to virtual settings despite condemnations by Mayor Lori LightfootLori LightfootChicago students protest for virtual learning, COVID-19 stipends School infrastructure is a children's human rights issue — it's time the US acknowledges that The Hill's Morning Report - Biden champions filibuster reform, but doesn't have the votes MORE (seen below). The city on Wednesday filed an unfair labor practices complaint over a union’s latest maneuver.
“We have taken some action in that direction,” Lightfoot said. “We’d rather resolve this at the bargaining table. We are considering all of our options, and we’ll make a determination shortly as to what levers we’re going to pull, depending on whether or not we make significant progress at the bargaining table.”
> 2022 watch: The Oregon Elections Division ruled on Thursday that Nicholas Kristof, a former New York Times columnist, is ineligible to run for governor because he failed to meet the state’s residency requirement.
According to the state’s constitution, gubernatorial candidates must have resided in the state for at least three years prior to an election. Kristof, a homeowner in both Oregon and New York, voted in the Empire State in the 2020 election, forcing him off the ballot ahead of the 2022 midterms.
“The rules are the rules and they apply equally to all candidates for office in Oregon. I stand by the determination of the experts in the Oregon Elections Division that Mr. Kristof does not currently meet the Constitutional requirements to run or serve as Oregon Governor,” Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said in a statement.
Kristof is expected to appeal the decision (The Hill).
From those not allowed to run to those who don’t want to, former Rep. Sean DuffySean DuffyRebecca Kleefisch raises .3 million in Wisconsin gubernatorial bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden unleashes on Trump and GOP Ex-Rep. Duffy rejects Trump entreaties, won't run for Wisconsin governor MORE (R-Wis.) announced on Thursday that he will not launch a campaign for either the Madison governor’s mansion or the Senate this year, saying that now is not the time to do so for familial reasons.
“Hopefully I’m not riding off into the sunset,” Duffy told conservative radio host Jay Weber. “I’m just running into the sunset right now. If an opportunity presents itself, I’d like to come back and partake in Wisconsin politics.”
Duffy, who has nine children, served in Congress for five terms before retiring in 2020 (The Hill).
Politico: GOP picks final four in 2024 convention search.
The Hill: New Hampshire Republicans advance map with substantially redrawn districts.
Reid Wilson, The Hill: Pentagon flub delays Hawaii redistricting.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
A year later, don't sweep Capitol riot under the rug, by Quin Hillyer, columnist, Washington Examiner. https://washex.am/3tclkr8
Chicago and its fights with teachers have exhausted parents like me, by Jackie Spinner, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3G6FIO4
Altria is working to create a more sustainable future — aligned with the expectations of society and our stakeholders. Learn about the goals we’ve set and the progress we’re making at Altria.com.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House returns to work on Monday.
The Senate convenes at noon and will hold its next vote on Monday.
The president this morning will receive the President’s Daily Brief. At 10:45 a.m., he will deliver remarks about the December jobs report issued by the Labor Department. Biden and first lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks Jill Biden adds to communications team in lead-up to midterm elections Harris invokes MLK in voting rights push, urges Senate to 'do its job' MORE will fly to Colorado to visit in the afternoon with families impacted by wildfires in Louisville, Colo. They will travel from Colorado to Las Vegas and remain overnight in order to attend a memorial service on Saturday for the late Sen. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Biden hits one-year mark in dire straits 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act MORE (D-Nev.).
The Supreme Court beginning at 10 a.m. holds special hearings today on challenges to the administration’s vaccine-or-testing mandate aimed at large employers and a vaccination requirement for certain health care workers (The Associated Press).
Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. will report on employment in December.
➜ INTERNATIONAL: Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a televised address on Friday that he has instructed law enforcement to shoot to kill “terrorists” after days of intensely violent protests in the ex-Soviet nation. “Those who don’t surrender will be eliminated,” Tokayev said of the “terrorists” and “militants” who have taken to the streets to protest high fuel prices, representing the largest demonstrations since the country gained independence. In total, 26 protesters have been killed and 18 wounded during the unrest, with more than 3,000 people having been detained (The Associated Press).
➜ ECONOMY: The U.S. labor market remains historically tight (The Wall Street Journal) ahead of the release of government data this morning expected to show a strong employment picture as 2021 ended. Economists expect 422,000 jobs were added in December, double the pace in November, according to Dow Jones. The rapidly spreading omicron variant did not impact hiring in December, but it is expected to show up as a drag in January, the report added. Across-the-board increases are expected, led by the leisure and hospitality industry (CNBC and The Associated Press). The president has high hopes he can describe an encouraging report this morning (The Hill).
➜ WOLVES: Twenty of Yellowstone National Park’s renowned gray wolves (one seen below in the park) roamed out of federal land where hunting is barred and were killed in recent months — the most shot by hunting in a single season since the predators were reintroduced to the region more than 25 years ago, according to park officials. An estimated 94 gray wolves remain in Yellowstone as wolf trapping season begins. Fifteen wolves were shot after roaming across the park’s northern border into Montana, according to figures released to The Associated Press. Five more died in Idaho and Wyoming. The killings mark “a significant setback for the species’ long-term viability and for wolf research,” park officials said. Advocates for the wolves object to the eagerness of Montana hunters to kill the animals near the park’s border. Under new rules, Montana hunters can use bait such as meat to lure in wolves for killing and trappers can now use snares in addition to leghold traps. (National Geographic explains why gray wolves, almost extinct in the last century, were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995.)
And finally … Let’s finish this week with a tale of generosity, ingenuity and the life-sustaining bonanza of bread during a major traffic jam.
By now, everyone knows that a major snowstorm trapped famished, cold travelers in their cars for too many hours on Monday and Tuesday on I-95 in Virginia. While staring at the back of a Schmidt Baking Company truck while stranded, Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, got a bright idea about 16 hours into their ordeal.
Inside that truck was food, and around them were cars filled with hungry people. It took just a few phone calls and suddenly there was truck-to-car bread delivery for the misbegotten, with the blessing of Chuck Paterakis, one of the owners of Baltimore’s H&S Bakery, which operates Schmidt Baking Company, who returned a call to the couple.
“It was an easy decision,” Paterakis said of his blessing to share with anyone who was stuck and hungry a bag of rolls and a loaf of bread from the truck. If it had been his family stranded on the interstate for a day, “I would want someone to offer their products,” he added (The Washington Post).