RollCall “Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened her weekly press conference Thursday that emphasized the work of coronavirus relief legislation markups in the House amid Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial in the Senate, and then previewed the upcoming schedule that shows more daunting work ahead.
The speaker made some news … announcing that she would award the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police officers and other law enforcement who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6. This is the highest honor Congress can bestow on someone — or in this case, someones.
On the minimum wage debate, Pelosi was asked point-blank whether the increase would be in the Covid relief bill that the House sends to the Senate. “Yes, it will. We’re very proud of that,” she replied. Pelosi also reiterated that she’s aiming for the House to pass it by the end of February.
BUT IN THE SENATE … SEN. SINEMA: NO MINIMUM WAGE HIKE IN RECONCILIATION —
Politico “We’ve spent a lot of time writing about Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) veto power over the Biden agenda. But it’s another moderate Democrat who is flexing right now — and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won’t be pleased. … In an interview with our Burgess Everett, Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) had this message for the Democratic Party: That minimum wage hike you want to include in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill? Forget it.
“What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term Covid relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sinema said in a telephone interview this week.“ This is a big deal. Without her vote in the 50-50 Senate, the relief bill fails.”
BGov “The House Ways and Means Committee advanced legislation that would infuse households with hundreds of billions of dollars of cash through direct payments and tax credits, a key plank of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 relief package. The panel on Thursday approved measures providing $593.5 billion in benefits, most of which is made up of $1,400 stimulus payments, along with advance tax credits for children that will be sent to households on a monthly basis. The measures passed on a 24-18 party-line vote.
A dozen House committees are working on different elements of Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue proposal, and Thursday’s component is one of several under the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means panel. The committees plan to complete their work on Friday, with the full House voting on the overall package the week of Feb. 22.”
theSkimm “House Democrats wrapped up their case against former President Trump. Walk me through it.
Yesterday, House impeachment managers tried to seal their message: that Trump incited the Jan 6 Capitol siege. They showed videos of rioters saying things like “we’re fighting for Trump.” And argued that the former president was “not a man who showed remorse,” pointing to his speech telling rioters: “We love you. You’re very special.” Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told senators that if Trump’s ever elected into office again and there’s another attack, “we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.” Meanwhile, Republican senators appeared unmoved by the arguments. And several GOP lawmakers were reportedly in and out of the chamber throughout the day.
Trump’s defense team is up. Today, they’re expected to argue that Trump’s comments are protected by the First Amendment. His lawyers could claim (once again) that the whole trial is unconstitutional because Trump’s OOO. And they could do it all in one day. Meaning, Trump could be acquitted as soon as tomorrow. It’s a decision that could have larger implications.
What do you mean?
The Republican Party’s fracturing. Dozens of former GOP officials are reportedly fed up with Trump’s rhetoric and Republican lawmakers’ refusal to stand up to him. Now, over 120 GOP officials including former Reagan and both Bush admin officials are reportedly working to form a third party. And to prioritize “principled conservatism” that would aim to endorse center-right politicians and leave Trump’s politics behind.”
WaPo “The tightly argued and emotionally raw presentations by House impeachment managers have raised the stakes for Republican senators sitting in judgment of Donald Trump. If the former president’s actions that led to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol are not judged as impeachable, are there any penalties that Republicans are prepared to impose to hold him accountable?
Perhaps it doesn’t matter what kind of defense Trump’s legal team presents. Twice now, 44 Republicans have voted against even proceeding with the trial on the grounds that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who is no longer in office. Although six Republican senators voted to go ahead with the trial, it is not known whether all six are prepared to vote to convict Trump. Even if they are, the House managers need 11 more Republicans from the remaining 44 — a high hill to climb. Raskin reminded senators on Thursday that the constitutional question is not at issue at this point and that they are obligated to make their judgments based on the facts and arguments presented by the two sides in their presentations. Will many or any of them accept that and proceed on the terms to which they swore an oath, to be impartial jurors and not partisan representatives?
NYT: “If Mr. Trump is not convicted, the managers want to ensure that he remains so politically radioactive that he cannot be the same force he once was — if not the pariah they think he ought to be, then at least a figure that many mainstream Republicans and their corporate donors keep at arm’s length. In effect, if the Senate will not vote to formally disqualify him from future office, they want the public to do so.”
Axios “America will likely know former President Trump’s fate by mid-afternoon tomorrow.
Democratic leaders told senators that they expect to hold the Q&A portion of the trial tonight, then recess until 10 a.m. tomorrow. They expect a final vote around 3 p.m.
Trump’s team used just 3 of their 16 hours before resting their case. Their bottom line: “It is constitutional cancel culture,” said Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen.
Alternative Reality … It’s So, 2019
— Politico “[Today] Trump’s attorneys kick[ed] off their defense of the former president — and with some, um, “alternative facts.” His attorneys began by arguing that Trump wasn’t responsible for provoking the Jan. 6 insurrection, as expected. But then attorney Mark Van Der Veen (note: not BRUCE CASTOR) said the former president encouraged his supporters to respect the Electoral College count. He also said the first rioter arrested was an antifa leader, not a Trump backer. Both are false. He also falsely said that Trump’s first tweets after the protesters descended on the Capitol called for protesters to “stay peaceful with no violence.” In reality, Trump’s first tweet was: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
Mounting Evidence That Trump Knew Of Danger To Pence
Politico ““[Sen. Tommy] Tuberville’s recollection is a new and potentially significant addition to the timeline of Trump’s reaction to the violent mob of his supporters as it stormed the Capitol. Aides to the House impeachment managers, entering the second day of opening arguments, indicated the new details may come up before they rest their case Thursday and turn the trial over to Trump’s defense team. …
“Tuberville’s recollection of the call is the first indication that Trump was specifically aware of the danger Pence faced as the mob encroached on the Senate chamber. Just as significantly, the call occurred at virtually the same moment Trump fired off a tweet attacking Pence for lacking ‘courage’ to unilaterally attempt to overturn the presidential election results.”
WSJ: “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to wield the department’s broad powers to tackle potential risks to the financial system posed by climate change while pushing tax incentives to reduce carbon emissions. Ms. Yellen is looking to a veteran of the Obama administration, Sarah Bloom Raskin, as the leading candidate for a new senior position that would head a new Treasury climate ‘hub.’”
Politico “Facing a rapidly approaching April deadline to act, Democrats are instead coalescing around a targeted effort to pass popular immigration bills that already have bipartisan backing, including legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented group known as Dreamers and immigrants from war-torn areas.
“The plan is sure to anger some Democrats, who have long pushed for a massive revamp of the nation’s immigration laws and see quick action under Biden as their most likely chance. But several Democrats told Politico they’re confronting the political reality — two chambers with very narrow margins — and don’t see a clear path to passage for a major bill.”
CNBC “… All-America Economic Survey focusing on the Biden agenda finds his approval rating at a sky-high 62%, beating the first presidential ratings of Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.”
BGov “A federal agency overseeing elections is set to approve new voluntary standards for voting machines that include a call for a paper trail for each ballot cast so that all votes cast can be recounted and audited. The standards developed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission follow the contentious 2020 election in which former President Donald Trump’s campaign challenged results in key states.
The new EAC standards — known as Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0 — would call for all new voting systems to provide “software independent” election results. Voting systems in some states — including Delaware, Georgia, and Pennsylvania — have been moving in this direction already, and more than 90% of American voters were able to cast ballots last year on systems with paper trails.
“U.S. secures enough vaccine for 300 million people by the end of July,” WaPo: “President Biden … announced the deals for 100 million more doses from Pfizer and German company BioNTech and 100 million more from Moderna. The expectation, Biden said, is that the additional doses will be delivered by the end of July.
“The purchases increase available supply by 50 percent, bringing the total to 600 million doses. Because both products are two-dose regimens, that would be enough to fully vaccinate 300 million people.”
— BUT, BUT, BUT … NYT: “President Biden warned that logistical hurdles would most likely mean that many Americans will still not have been vaccinated by the end of the summer.”
“The effort to make Harriet Tubman the face of the $20 note got a bipartisan push this week as two senators urged Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen to prioritize the planned redesign that stalled during the Trump administration. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) , and Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), sent a letter to Ms. Yellen this week making the case that America’s currency should reflect the diversity of the country. They lamented that the plan put in place by the Obama administration in 2016, to unveil a $20 note design in 2020 with Ms. Tubman’s image on the front, was not carried out by former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.”
Axios “Facebook is dialing back the volume of political content in users’ news feeds — the latest lurch for the world’s digital public square. Facebook, having captured a vast chunk of the digital ad business and trained users to view its stream of posts as a one-stop shop for all their informational needs, now says it plans to limit its distribution of posts about politics and broaden its situational bans on political ads … for a small percentage of people in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week, and the U.S. in the coming weeks.”