The 116th Congress … 126 House Republicans Back Trump’s Bid To Overthrow The Government … For The Record: Biden Won. Trump. Lost. The. Election. … A Light At The End Of The Tunnel … Time’s Person Of The Year … FB: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.
Capstone National Partners
… started with a government shutdown, and it’s ending with the institution [pretty much] paralyzed by its efforts to put in place policies to help Americans rebound from the coronavirus. The same set of policies have been bedeviling the leadership — self-described dealmakers all — for more than six months.
So, Today …
Senate Averts Midnight Government Shutdown, Clears short-term spending bill …
The vote buys lawmakers and the White House more time to negotiate broader spending packages, but those discussions remain bogged down.
Senate Passes Defense Bill (NDAA) … The Senate just sent this year’s massive defense policy legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk, passing the NDAA with a veto-proof 84-13 majority. Included in this year’s measure is a provision that would “require millions of business entities to reveal their owners to the federal government in an attempt to deter the use of anonymous shell companies by criminals evading anti-money laundering rules,” a hard-fought victory for what one transparency advocate called one of the most “remarkable coalitions of odd bedfellows that Washington, D.C., has ever seen.”
The president must decide whether to make good on multiple threats to veto the $741 billion annual bipartisan bill that funds the Pentagon, knowing both chambers of Congress have the votes to override.
The 117th Congress
Politico “Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a blunt message for her junior members: I need your vote on Jan. 3. That’s the opening day of the 117th Congress, and Pelosi was making her pitch ahead of the crucial floor vote for speaker. No one on Capitol Hill believes Pelosi is really at risk of losing the gavel.”
126 House Republicans Back Trump’s Bid To Overthrow The Government
NOTHING TO SEE HERE, JUST AN ATTEMPTED COUP BY THE PRESIDENT AND HALF OF ALL REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE (The Hive)
Axios “In what President Trump called “the big one,” 126 House Republicans and 17 attorneys general signed a court filing supporting the Texas lawsuit that seeks to invalidate millions of votes that President-elect Joe Biden won. Election law experts say the lawsuit has no chance. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of House Judiciary, said “That’s all theater just to keep the fundraising going.”
RUSHING TO JOIN TRUMP’S WAR AGAINST DEMOCRACY … House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and 19 other GOP lawmakers were added Friday to an amicus brief that had been filed to the Supreme Court. The addition of these members brings the total to 126 of 196 House Republicans who support the lawsuit seeking unprecedented judicial intervention in the results from the swing states that backed President-elect Joe Biden.
WHAT IS THE “Texas Lawsuit” … Texas AG Ken Paxton (who could use a favor from Trump) is suing the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on behalf of the residents of his state. His argument, in essence, is that the electoral systems in those states, which tabulated victories for President-elect Joe Biden, burdened Texans because [mumbles for a while] and therefore those results can’t be trusted. And, therefore, whaddya know, Trump probably gets a second term in office.
With Trump pressing Republicans to join Paxton’s fight, many have, often arguing that the claims should be taken seriously, if not literally. Sure, the result is throwing out the vote in a number of states, but we’re just asking questions! Is that so wrong?
Experts are generally of the opinion that Texas has no basis to sue, lacks the evidence necessary to sustain its claims, relies on faulty rhetoric and analysis and won’t have its lawsuit heard by the court. Otherwise, it’s swell.
The GOP Goes Down A Dangerous Road
Atlantic “Donald Trump did not win the 2020 election. That outcome has been obvious for more than a month now, and yet the president and his supporters refuse to accept the result. Instead, they’ve pushed baseless claims of fraud and chosen to attack the democratic system.
Perhaps more troubling, few members of the Republican establishment are willing to challenge this antidemocratic stance: Only 27 of 249 congressional Republicans have publicly acknowledged President-elect Biden’s victory.
With this, the party is setting a particularly troubling precedent, our writers warn.
The president’s supporters were never going to accept the results. “When they say the 2020 election was stolen, Trumpists are expressing their view that the votes of rival constituencies should not count.”
To humor them, the GOP is abandoning electoral democracy. “This embrace of the president’s attempt to overturn the results of the election is both shocking and horrifying.”
The party is headed down a dangerous road. “In elections going forward, not trying to steal the election will be seen as RINO behavior,” one strategist told Ronald Brownstein.
… according to former national security adviser, John R. Bolton. With that milestone passed, he says, Republicans must disband the “circular firing squads now blasting away in Georgia, Arizona and elsewhere” and think about the party’s future — which should include nominating a “non-boomer” for president in 2024. Bolton writes: “Rather than ‘America First,’ Trump’s true slogan is ‘Trump First,’ so his fantasy will not end easily. Nonetheless, starting with the resolution of the electoral college vote, Republicans, and all Americans, can take significant steps to move beyond Nov. 3, without endless, debilitating reargument of what happened.”
“A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans. Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signs off, as expected, on the expert committee’s recommendation. In a 17-4 vote with one abstention, the government advisers concluded that the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for emergency use in adults and teenagers 16 and over.” AP
This comes as the pandemic is RAGING. 15.6 MILLION Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, 292,179 AMERICANS HAVE DIED.
Covid Death Could Top 9/11 Toll Each Day For Next 3 Months
Axios “Each day for the past two days, the COVID death toll in the U.S. (3,124 on Wednesday, 3,067 yesterday) eclipsed American deaths on the opening day of the Normandy invasion during World War II: 2,500, AP points out. And it topped the toll on Sept. 11, 2001: 2,977.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a CFR virtual event: “[P]robably for the next 60 to 90 days, we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor.”
Pfizer And Moderna To Trump’s Vaccine Summit: “Hell No”
VF “Not an insignificant numberof people are wary of taking a drug that was developed under the Trump administration. That wariness likely has something to do with the president’s penchant for lying all the time, as well as his varying claims over the course of the pandemic that the virus could be treated with hydroxychloroquine, or that people should inject disinfectant into their veins. At this point, despite it going against every inclination in his body, it would probably be wise for Trump to step aside and let other people from the administration, like perhaps Anthony Fauci, communicate to people the lifesaving importance of the vaccines about to be available, both so they can hear it from an actual health professional and so they don’t associate the drugs with Donald Trump.
Instead, the president has apparently decided to host a “vaccine summit,” the purpose of which is seemingly to take credit for the vaccines. … And the two companies who will soon bring their drugs to the market want nothing to do with it.
Last month, the Trump administration rushed to take credit for the news that Pfizer’s vaccine was 90% effective in early trials, despite the fact that the manufacturer had only struck a deal with the government on vaccine distribution, not development. And in related news, Team Trump was apparently given the opportunity over the summer to buy 100 MILLION additional doses of Pfizer’s forthcoming vaccine but decided to pass, a decision that doesn’t look great in retrospect.”
Which is why THIS doesn’t engender confidence …
White House Orders FDA Chief To Authorize Vaccine Or Submit His Resignation (this is not an Onion Headline)
WaPo “The message from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows came as the Food and Drug Administration prepared to clear the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine, according to three people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss what happened. The warning came on the same day President Trump tweeted that the FDA is “a big, old, slow turtle,” while exhorting Commissioner Stephen Hahn to “get the dam vaccines out NOW.”
Axios “Delivery companies are facing two heavy lifts at once this year: unprecedented demand for holiday shipping + complex logistics for coronavirus vaccine distribution, transportation.”
FedEx’s regional president of the Americas tells Axios via email that delivering the vaccine is “among the most important work in the history of our company.” So far, on-time deliveries are running well ahead of last year’s snowy holiday season, per ShipMatrix.
For the two weeks of Nov. 22 through Dec. 5, including Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, UPS achieved 96% on-time delivery, FedEx was at 95% and the Postal Service was at roughly 93%.
UPS imposed shipping limits on big retailers like Macy’s and Gap to prevent them from overloading the network.
What’s next: It all gets more complicated as soon as vaccines are ready for shipping. Through Operation Warp Speed, UPS is providing logistics support for eight of the 10 leading vaccines currently in clinical trials. UPS added new technology like proprietary sensor tags that track and monitor the status — including temperature — of every package in its network.
UPS will deliver vaccines in the eastern half of the U.S. and FedEx will handle the West. UPS created a vast “freezer farm” for -80°C storage at its logistics hub in Louisville, where it will also produce more than 24,000 pounds of dry ice per day. Each day, UPS will deliver a 40-pound box of dry ice to all Pfizer dosing sites that lack their own freezer capacity.” [Just interesting.]
Axios “In a long tradition, the new president is TIME’s Person of the Year. Reflecting the year and our times, a vice president is included this year for the first time.
TIME editor in chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal writes: “For changing the American story, for showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are TIME’s 2020 Person of the Year.”
Politico “President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to visit Georgia next week to campaign for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock is a sharp reminder of a seismic shift in the state’s Democratic politics. Not long ago, state Democrats ran screaming from national figures. Now, they’re embracing them. Of course, it makes sense for the Senate candidates to tie themselves to Biden, who became the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the state since (by @12,000 votes) 1992. And the Jan. 5 runoffs will determine control of the U.S. Senate (see below) — and the fate of Biden’s legislative agenda.
Balance of Power in 117th Senate … And House.
And …. Transitions
WaPo “BREAK UP Facebook” has proved a popular rallying cry in papers, on podcasts, on the Internet and even on Capitol Hill. Whether the demand holds up in court is a more dubious proposition — but one that suddenly seems sure to be tested in the coming years as 46 state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission battle with the technology behemoth over what the enforcers allege are anticompetitive acquisitions and behavior. The sister complaints filed Wednesday afternoon are full of anecdotal morsels assembled to show that Facebook has systematically marched toward, as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reportedly used to shout at the end of team meetings, “domination!” The company and its leader, according to the lawsuits, went from trying to win on the merits of a more secure, more appealing site to believing “it is better to buy than compete.” The government’s two primary cases in point: Instagram (purchased in 2012) and WhatsApp (2014), from which prosecutors suggest Facebook ought to be forced to divest itself.”