The Hill’s 12:30 Report — What we know about the Chinese balloon
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*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha–breaks down crying hysterically.
TALK OF THE MORNING
SNL had by far the best explanation for what happened — ‘The balloon was somehow able to get past our West Coast Anti-Balloon Defense System, the Seattle Space Needle’:
^ The full “Saturday Night Live” segment is pretty funny.
What a weird few days in geopolitical news. Over the weekend, a U.S. military fighter jet shot down the Chinese balloon that had been traveling across the United States.
Where?: Off the coast of South Carolina.
Footage of the balloon being shot down: From The Wall Street Journal
Sky News explainer on how the balloon was shot down
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explains the Biden administration’s process for shooting down the balloon: Including why it was a complicated procedure. Watch the clip from NBC’s “Meet the Press” — it starts around the 40-second mark
As a precaution: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) paused flights from three nearby airports.
What’s China saying about the balloon being shot down?: China’s foreign ministry called it an “obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.” More from NPR
Happy Monday, friends! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.
This was apparently not the first Chinese balloon in the U.S. … :
A senior U.S. defense official said that similar balloons flew over the U.S. during the Trump administration — and once earlier in the Biden administration.
FWIW: Former President Trump denies the reports that similar balloons flew over the U.S. during his administration. From Trump’s Truth Social post: “China had too much respect for ‘TRUMP’ for this to have happened, and it NEVER did. JUST FAKE DISINFORMATION!” Read his full post and denial
The Biden administration is offering to brief Trump officials: Bloomberg reports that the U.S. didn’t know about the prior balloon flights until after Trump left office.
‘WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT CHINESE BALLOON SIGHTINGS DURING TRUMP PRESIDENCY’:
From The Hill’s Julia Mueller
CNN’S STEPHEN COLLINSON SAID IT WELL:
“The Chinese balloon saga threatens to be a watershed moment in the world’s dangerous new superpower rivalry: For the first time, Americans experienced a tangible symbol of the national security challenge from Beijing.”
“[The] balloon created a sudden moment when the idea of a threat by China to the US homeland was neither distant, theoretical, unseen, or years in the future. And it underscored how in today’s polarized America, Washington’s first reaction in the face of a threat is to point fingers rather than unify.”
‘BALLOON INCIDENT REVEALS MORE THAN SPYING AS COMPETITION WITH CHINA INTENSIFIES’:
Analysis from The New York Times’s David E. Sanger
ASIDE FROM THE SEVERITY OF THE SITUATION, THIS WAS A STRANGE AND FUNNY SAGA:
@dieworkwear tweeted: “imagine shooting down the spy balloon and it explodes in a giant cloud of pink smoke and glitter and then you hear a family in the distance cheering”
@LeighGiangreco tweeted: “I feel like the balloon is the first time in a long while that DC has experienced a West Wing plot rather than a Veep plot. It’s a classic CJ b-plot while Josh butts heads with Congress on Covid benefits.”
🥊 In Congress
Lots of opinions and disagreements:
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is publicly pressuring Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) not to cave by cutting a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.
Keep in mind — they’ve been butting heads for some time: Scott tried to oust McConnell as the Senate GOP leader. McConnell then took Scott off the powerful Commerce Committee.
How this spat is escalating, via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton
‘FIVE WAYS A FEDERAL DEBT DEFAULT COULD HURT AMERICANS’:
1. “Recession is almost certain.”
2. “Federal benefits in danger.”
3. “Interest rates spike.”
4. “Inflation could lower – but at a steep price.”
5. “Stock market takes a tumble.”
Explainer for each of these fun ramifications, from The Hill’s Aris Folley
🎤 In the White House
Everyone’s favorite night of intently listening to an hourslong speech, planned applause breaks and people watching on C-SPAN:
President Biden will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday.
When?: Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST. C-SPAN livestream
The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Brett Samuels predict what Biden will and *will not* say:
What Biden will likely mention: The debt limit, police reform, the war in Ukraine, the economy and immigration.
What Biden will likely NOT mention: The classified documents scandal, the investigations into his son Hunter Biden, former President Trump and Republican leaders, the Department of Justice investigation into Trump’s handling of documents and Democrats recently removed from House committees.
BIDEN’S JOB PERFORMANCE POLLING ISN’T PARTICULARLY HIGH:
Sixty-two percent of Americans don’t think President Biden has achieved much in his first two years in office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Announced this morning:
Vice President Harris announced a nearly $1 billion investment in Central America.
Details from The Hill’s Rafael Bernal and Brett Samuels: “The investments are meant to create job opportunities in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three countries that over the past two decades played a large role in shifting migration patterns in the Western Hemisphere.” What we know
🏢 In Turkey
This is horrible:
CNN reports that “more than 2,300 people have died and rescuers are racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble after a devastating earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria, leaving destruction and debris on each side of the border.” What we know
Photos of the earthquake’s aftermath: Compiled by The Atlantic
STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT BIDEN:
“Jill and I were deeply saddened by the news of the devastating earthquakes that have thus far claimed thousands of lives in Turkiye and Syria … At my direction, senior American officials reached out immediately to their Turkish counterparts to coordinate any and all needed assistance. Our teams are deploying quickly to begin to support Turkish search and rescue efforts…” More from Biden’s statement
🦠 The COVID-19 numbers
Cases to date: 102.4 million
Death toll: 1,106,824
Current hospitalizations: 23,797
Shots administered: 669 million
Fully vaccinated: 69.2 percent of Americans
Writer Ashley Spencer tweeted: “Screaming at Lizzo pulling a tiny flask out of her purse and taking a big swig after losing Song of the Year, then going on to win Record of the Year approximately 30 seconds later. #Grammys.” Watch
‘Grammys 2023: The Best, Worst, and Most WTF Moments’: From Rolling Stone
The House is in. The Senate is out until Tuesday. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C.
- 9:30 a.m.: Biden received his daily briefing.
- Noon: Biden returns to the White House from Camp David.
- 6:30 p.m.: First and last House votes. Today’s House agenda
- 3 p.m. Tuesday: The Senate meets. Tuesday’s Senate schedule
All times Eastern.
📺What to watch
- 2 p.m.: Harris hosts a meeting to discuss migration from northern Central America. Livestream
- 2:15 p.m.: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese give a press briefing. Livestream
- 9 p.m. Tuesday: Biden delivers his State of the Union address. Livestream
🍦 In lighter news
Today is National Frozen Yogurt Day!
And to leave you with a guaranteed smile, here’s a dog experiencing a car wash. There’s nothing to see here.
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