“President Biden will meet with Senate Democrats on Thursday amid a push for his party to change the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation,” The Hill reports.
“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is warning senators to plan to stay in town through the weekend to consider changes to the filibuster,” Politico reports. “The vote could also take place on MLK Day as Schumer seeks to maximize the pressure campaign on his members.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tore into President Joe Biden for his Tuesday election reform speech, calling his rhetoric “unbecoming of a president of the United States of America,” Politico reports.
Said McConnell: “I have known, liked, and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at that podium yesterday.”
“This is one of those defining moments, it really is. People are going to be judged: Where were they before, and where are they after the vote? History is going to judge it. It’s that consequential.” — President Biden, speaking to reporters on voting rights legislation.
“The majority decides in the House; the majority decides in the Supreme Court; and the president, of course, is a majority of one. Only in the Senate does the minority restrain the power of the majority.” — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), quoted by The Hill, defending the filibuster.
“I don’t want to delude your listeners: This is an uphill fight, because Manchin and Sinema both do not believe in changing the rules.” — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, quoted by Politico, acknowledging that voting rights legislation is likely to die.
Walter Shapiro: “Democrats spend a disproportionate amount of time wailing about the unfairness of a Senate in which Wyoming has the same representation as California. Of course, this mismatch is impossible to justify, except on the practical grounds that the one-state-two-votes principle is deeply embedded in the Constitution.”
“Democrats might be better served by examining why Manchin and Montana’s Jon Tester have prospered in Trump states rather than creating fantasy worlds where the Senate is suddenly transformed into an equalitarian body.”
“Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that the bipartisan working group talking about changes to the Electoral Count Act is also considering a broad range of elections reforms,” Politico reports.
“The Maine Republican told reporters the group is looking at raising the bar for challenging a state’s electoral count, beyond the current requirements of one member of the House and one member of the Senate. But the lawmakers are considering updates to the Election Assistance Commission, an agency that provides guidance and grants to state and local election officials, as well as expanding the grant use for purposes such as training and voting machines.”
“In addition, Collins said the group is examining suggestions from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for how to protect election officials from harassment.”
Steve Inskeep: “For about six years I’ve been asking Donald Trump for an interview. It never happened until the former president came on the line today. Tomorrow on ‘Morning Edition’ we’ll hear what he said, up to the moment that he hung up on me.”
“After Inskeep told the ex-president that his fraud claims have repeatedly been proven false, the reporter asked Trump if he’ll refuse to endorse any Republican candidates who dispute his lies about the 2020 election.”
“Then, Trump ended the call.”
The conversation with NPR’s Steve Inskeep was abruptly cut short when Trump hung up, but it’s still worth listening to. The ease with which Trump repeats his lies about the 20202 election — even in the face of contradictory evidence — is still remarkable.
We all know Trump’s verbal cues for lying. He points to the “many people who are saying” and suggests some imaginary “very strong” evidence will prove his point “like nobody’s seen before.” When presented with the facts, Trump simply dismisses them with “frankly, a lot of people are questioning that.”
But this interview was not only nonsensical and insane, it was also boring. And that’s probably the worst thing possible in Trump’s mind. After using just nine of the allotted 15 minutes, Trump apparently realized he had made a mistake.
White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci was caught on a hot mic calling Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) “a moron” during his testimony before the Senate Health Committee on the omicron variant of the coronavirus, The Hill reports.
“You’re so misinformed, it’s extraordinary… What are you talking about?” — Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking to Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) at a Senate hearing.
Dr. Fauci sparred with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) during a Senate hearing after the senator attacked the doctor for appearing to disagree with scientists who said the coronavirus originated from a lab in China, NBC News reports.
Said Fauci: “What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue, is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there, and I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family, and my children, with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.”
U.S. inflation in 2021 was the highest since 1982, with December consumer prices up 7% from a year earlier, CNBC reports. The big problem for President Biden and Democrats is that wage growth was up only 4.7% over the same period.
Wall Street Journal: “Economists estimate the Labor Department’s consumer-price index—which measures what consumers pay for goods and services—rose 7.1% in December from the same month a year ago, up from 6.8% in November. That would mark the fastest pace since 1982 and the third straight month in which inflation exceeded 6%.”
New York Times: Inflation expected to climb again as policymakers await elusive peak.
“Supply-chain backlogs are roiling the new home market, upending efforts to accelerate construction, limiting home-buyer choices, and causing some new owners to move into unfinished homes,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Housing costs jumped last month, as higher prices continued to constrain aspiring home buyers and push up the demand for apartment and home leases,” the New York Times reports.
“The relentless increase in housing costs, which typically move slowly and remain high once they rise, could continue to put pressure on the Federal Reserve because it could prolong price gains.”
The House Select Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection invited Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to appear before the panel, Politico reports.
New York Times: “The letter to Mr. McCarthy is the committee’s latest attempt to learn more about Mr. Trump’s actions as mob rioters stormed the building for hours on Jan. 6 and his mind-set in the days that followed. It made Mr. McCarthy, a California Republican, the highest-ranking lawmaker the panel has pursued in its inquiry.”
“In particular, the panel said it was interested in a phone call that Mr. McCarthy had with Mr. Trump during the riot.”
“The select panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is homing in on Donald Trump Jr.,” Politico reports. “The committee issued subpoenas for two close advisers, Andrew Surabian and Arthur Schwartz, to former President Donald Trump’s eldest son on Tuesday, an indication that they’re inching ever closer to the Trump family.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci said the omicron coronavirus variant will infect “just about everybody” regardless of vaccination status, the Washington Post reports.
But he added those who have been vaccinated will “very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well,” and avoid hospitalization and death.
A senior White House adviser told PBS Newshour that a federal website to order Covid-19 rapid tests “should be online by this weekend.” Tests should start to arrive by the end of the month.
“The White House announced Wednesday that the administration is making a dedicated stream of 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests available to schools starting this month to ease supply shortages and promote the safe reopening of schools,” the Associated Press reports.
Washington Post: “Last year, the administration said it was providing $10 billion for school-based testing. Nonetheless, before the omicron variant began racing across the country, relatively few districts even attempted testing for students and employees absent symptoms of covid-19.“
“Experts point to confusing guidance on when testing is needed, difficulty implementing programs and lack of interest on the part of schools, plus test shortages.”
“Scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19′s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S., at which point cases may start dropping off dramatically,” the AP reports.
“The reason: The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa.”
“West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that he is “extremely unwell” after testing positive for the coronavirus, forcing him to postpone his State of the State address,” the Washington Post reports. Justice is fully vaccinated and boosted and has been a big proponent of urging citizens to get their shots.
“Public-school attendance across the U.S. has dropped to unusually low levels, complicating efforts to keep schools open, as districts also contend with major staff shortages,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Many students in kindergarten through 12th grade are out sick because of Covid-19 or are being kept home by anxious parents, as the Omicron variant surges, officials say. Remote learning often isn’t being offered anymore for students who are home. Empty desks create a quandary for teachers, who must decide whether to push ahead with lesson plans knowing a large number of their students will need to catch up.”
Washington Post: “As Americans push into a third winter of viral discontent, this season has delivered something different: Amid the deep polarization about masks and vaccines, amid the discord over whether and how to return to pre-pandemic life, a strange unity of confusion is emerging, a common inability to decipher conflicting advice and clashing guidelines coming from government, science, health, media and other institutions.”
“On seemingly every front in the battle against the coronavirus, the messages are muddled: Test or don’t test? Which test? When? Isolate or not? For five days? Ten? Go to school or not? See friends and resume normal life, or hunker down again — and if so, for how long, to what end?”
Politico: Democrats call for Covid strategy reset as cases spike.
“Congress often talks tough about reining in Wall Street. But now there’s growing pressure on Capitol Hill to curb lawmakers’ own trading,” CNBC reports.
“Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) who has emerged as a leading voice on the issue, plans to introduce legislation by the end of the week that would require members of Congress – along with their spouses and dependents – to put their assets in a blind trust. But he’s not alone. There’s some bipartisan support in Congress for limiting members’ trading activity.”
“Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) ex-girlfriend testified Wednesday before a federal grand jury investigating him for sex crimes, a major development that suggests the Department of Justice may be moving closer to indicting him,” NBC News reports.
“The ex-girlfriend, whose name is being withheld by NBC News to respect her privacy, has been in talks for months with prosecutors about an immunity deal. Under a possible deal, she would avoid prosecution for obstruction of justice in return for testifying in the investigation into whether Gaetz in 2017 had sex with a 17-year-old female for money and whether months later he and others violated a federal law prohibiting people for paying for prostitutes overseas.”
“Legal sources familiar with the case say Gaetz is being investigated for three distinct crimes: sex trafficking the 17-year-old; violating the Mann Act, which prohibits taking women across state lines for prostitution; and obstructing justice.”
“Facing a potentially lethal threat to his leadership, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Wednesday offered a contrite apology in Parliament for attending a garden party at 10 Downing Street while the country was under lockdown,” the New York Times reports.
“He acknowledged that he had deeply offended the public, even as he claimed that he had not breached his government’s regulations on gatherings during the early days of the pandemic.”
Said Johnson: “I want to apologize. I know there are things we simply did not get right, and I must simply take responsibility.”
BBC: “Leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer has called for Boris Johnson to resign.”
“Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) manipulated and sexually assaulted the teenage girlfriend of his younger brother when she was a student at the Christian academy where he taught, the woman said she has told police,” Bridge Michigan reports.
Zachary Gorchow breaks down the scandal: “First, he had sexual contact with his sister-in-law – yes, his sister-in-law – for years while married.”
“Second, Mr. Chatfield’s prolific fundraising and spending of that money is about to get rare scrutiny for a politician’s funds. In my nearly 20 years of covering Michigan government and politics, I have not seen any legislator who could raise money like he did, hauling in so much money that he created four PACs just so he could provide quadruple the maximum contribution to candidates he could with one PAC.”
“Third, while hypocrisy runs rampant in politics, Mr. Chatfield has taken that trait to a new extreme.”
“Russian and NATO officials said that they remained far from agreement after four hours of talks on Wednesday that the United States and its allies hoped would hold off a further Russian invasion of Ukraine and calm tensions between Moscow and the West,” the New York Times reports.
Robinson Meyer: “There is only one climate-change story that really matters in the United States right now. It is that, nearly a year after President Joe Biden took office, the Democratic Party has still not passed the great substance of its climate policy through Congress. Every day that goes by, the party takes another step toward political catastrophe and planetary misgovernance. Time is running out. By the end of the summer, the midterm campaigning season will begin in earnest and the window to pass major legislation will have closed.”
“It is really that simple. Given the United States’ importance in the global economy—it is the second-largest emitter of carbon pollution annually, and one of the planet’s biggest producers of oil and natural gas—its ability, or lack thereof, to pass climate policy will set the standard for the rest of the world.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “said he will run for another term as the chamber’s top GOP leader at the end of the year, shutting down the possibility of a shake-up in the Republican chain of command,” The Hill reports.
Ron Brownstein: “The last four times a president went into midterm elections holding unified control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, as Joe Biden and Democrats do now, voters have revoked it.”
“It happened to Donald Trump in 2018, Barack Obama in 2010, George W. Bush in 2006 and Bill Clinton in 1994: All lost control of at least one congressional chamber, crippling their ability to advance their legislative agendas. In fact, no president who went into midterms with unified control of government has successfully defended it since Jimmy Carter in 1978, when Democrats were still cushioned by the enormous margins they amassed in the backlash against Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal.”
Former President Donald Trump told One America News that politicians who don’t disclose their booster shot status when asked in interviews are “gutless.”
Said Trump: “Well, I’ve taken it. I’ve had the booster. Many politicians — I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get the booster?’ — because they had the vaccine — and they’re answering like — in other words, the answer is ‘yes’ but they don’t want to say it. Because they’re gutless. You gotta say it – whether you had it or not. Say it.”
Tim Miller spent a week listening to Steve Bannon’s podcast. “What I found was that their effort to overthrow the government has been undeterred by the initial setback of Joe Biden being inaugurated. While Republican elites try to minimize the events of Jan. 6th, the War Room and their minions have continued to take the coup both literally and seriously. In their view the Biden “regime” is illegitimate and the regime’s medical establishment has covered up nearly a half a million deaths from the COVID vaccines.”