1/ More than 5,400 K-12 schools stopped in-person instruction at some point last week due to the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus-related shutdowns during the 2021-2022 school year had previously peaked at about 2,800 in November. Meanwhile, classes in Chicago’s school district, the third largest in the country, have been canceled since last Tuesday after 73% of teachers voted to stop reporting to work amid concerns over the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. (Washington Post / New York Times)
2/ The Biden administration will require private health insurers to reimburse people for up to eight over-the-counter Covid-19 tests per month beginning Jan. 15. Under the new policy, Americans will be able to either purchase home testing kits for free under their insurance or submit receipts for the tests for reimbursement, up to the monthly per-person limit. PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health provider will continue to be covered by insurance with no limit. (Associated Press / Politico)
3/ Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Rep. Mo Brooks asked a federal judge to dismiss three lawsuits alleging that they incited the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, two members of the Capitol Police, and a group of House Democrats have each accused Trump of inciting the insurrection. The suit filed by Swalwell also named Giuliani and Brooks. The suit from 11 House Democrats claimed Trump and Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, which prohibits interference in Congress’s constitutional duties. During a hearing on the lawsuits, Trump argued he has “absolute immunity” from liability in the three civil suits and claimed that his speech outside the White House before the riot – urging attendees to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol “to make your voices heard” – were protected by the First Amendment. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, however, repeatedly highlighted that Trump’s last words were “‘go to the Capitol,’” but that Trump waited two hours to ask people to stop the violence. “What do I do about the fact the president didn’t denounce the conduct immediately?” Mehta continued: “Isn’t that, from a plausibility standpoint, that the President plausibly agreed with the conduct of the people inside the Capitol that day?” (Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / CNN)
- Fox News hosts were more influential in Trump’s White House than previously known. “There were times the president would come down the next morning and say, ‘Well, Sean thinks we should do this,’ or, ‘Judge Jeanine thinks we should do this,’ ” said Grisham, referring to Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro. (Washington Post / Rolling Stone)
4/ Rep. Jim Jordan will not cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, calling it an “unprecedented and inappropriate demand.” Jordan – one of the 147 lawmakers who took part in the effort to raise objections to certifying Biden’s victory – declined to comply with the Dec. 22 request to appear before the panel to discuss his communication with Trump on Jan. 6. In November, however, Jordan told the Rules Committee that he had “nothing to hide” regarding the bipartisan committee’s investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Axios)
5/ The Republican National Committee spent nearly $720,000 in donor money in October and November to pay Trump’s legal bills. In total, the Republican Party spent $3 million between September and November. (ABC News)
6/ The Senate confirmed 41% of Biden’s nominations – the lowest first-year confirmation rate among the last three presidents. 75% of Bush’s first-year nominees were confirmed, while 69% of Obama’s and 57% of Trump’s were approved during their first year in office. 171 of Biden’s 2021 nominations are still awaiting a vote. (CNN)
7/ The past seven years have been the warmest on record “by a clear margin” and 2021 was the fifth-hottest ever, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. The hottest years on record were 2020 and 2016. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, meanwhile, increased 6.2% in 2021 compared to 2020. Coal burned for electricity increased 17% in 2021 – the first annual increase in coal-fired electricity in the U.S. since 2014. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Reuters / CNN)
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