1/ Talks between Biden and Joe Manchin reportedly soured over the size and scope of the $1.75 trillion climate and social safety net legislation. Manchin continued to push for spending reductions, including eliminating the measure’s expanded child tax credit – a federal program that sends monthly tax credit checks to roughly 35 million families with young children. The final child tax credit payments went out today and the program is set to expire at the end of this year, unless lawmakers reauthorize it as part of the Build Back Better Act. Manchin, however, denied that his resistance to the bill was related to the inclusion of the child tax credits, telling reporters: “I’m not negotiating with any of you all, okay? […] This is bulls—. You’re bulls—. Okay. I’m done, I’m done!” Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, hasn’t said he’ll delay work on the bill, but the unresolved disputes with Manchin make it increasingly likely that Democrats will miss their self-imposed deadline to pass BBB before the end of the year. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / NBC News / The Hill)
2/ The House voted to hold Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress over his refusal to cooperate with the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The former White House chief of staff initially provided numerous documents to the committee before he abruptly stopped cooperating with the panel a day before his scheduled Dec. 8 deposition, claiming executive privilege. The matter now goes to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue criminal charges. Before the vote, lawmakers shared a series of text messages – from Fox News personalities, Trump Jr., and unnamed lawmakers – sent to Meadows as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, urging him to get Trump to end the violence. At least half a dozen people, including Rep. Jim Jordan, reached out during the riot to Meadows to get Trump to intervene. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / ABC News / CNBC)
3/ A federal judge dismissed Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block Congress from obtaining his tax returns. In April 2019, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal first requested six years of Trump’s tax returns to review the effectiveness of the presidential audit program. A federal law gives the chairman of the committee broad authority to request any person’s tax returns. The Treasury Department, however, refused to provide the documents at the time and the Trump Justice Department supported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s refusal to turn over the tax returns. Trump’s lawyers immediately appealed the decision. Separately, Trump’s longtime accountant testified before a New York grand jury investigating Trump’s financial practices. Donald Bender helped prepare Trump’s taxes and the financial statements used to obtain loans. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)
4/ The Senate approved a $768 billion defense spending bill. Biden is expected to sign the measure, which will increase the Pentagon’s budget by roughly $24 billion more than he requested. (Politico / New York Times)
5/ The House passed legislation to raise the federal debt limit by $2.5 trillion, sending the bill to Biden for his signature. The Treasury Department had set a Wednesday deadline to extend the country’s borrowing authority, saying it was using so-called “extraordinary measures” to delay the threat of a default. The action came a week after party leaders reached a deal to allow a one-time-only change to Senate rules to increase the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote, instead of the 60 votes needed to move most legislation through the Senate. The $2.5 trillion figure punts the threat of a default until after next year’s midterm elections. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / CBS News)
6/ The CDC warned that the Omicron variant is rapidly spreading in the U.S. and that “everything points to a large wave” coming as soon as January. The CDC detailed a “a triple whammy” scenario where an Omicron wave, coupled with Delta and influenza cases could overwhelm health systems, particularly those with low vaccination rates. While the Delta variant remains the dominant strain in the U.S., accounting for 96% of sequenced cases, the Omicron variant now makes up 3% of all sequenced Covid-19 cases in the U.S. – up from less than 0.1% in early December. Omicron has been detected in 33 U.S. states. In Europe, Omicron is expected to be the dominant variant by mid-January. Based on the available data so far, health officials say booster doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines are likely to offer a substantial increase in protection against the Omicron variant. (Axios / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)
poll/ 60% of Americans say they feel “worn out” by how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted their daily lives, and 45% feel “angry” about it. (Monmouth University)
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