Day 358: "It's hard to process what's actually happening right now."
1/ The White House will provide 10 million free coronavirus tests a month to U.S. schools to help keep classes in person. The expanded testing initiative comes as the country is seeing an Omicron-driven surge of cases that risks overwhelming the nation’s hospitals. At a Senate hearing, Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the FDA, warned that the nation needs to ensure police, hospital, and transportation services aren’t disrupted by the wave, saying “It’s hard to process what’s actually happening right now, which is, most people are going to get Covid.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, added that the Omicron variant will infect “just about everybody” regardless of vaccination status, adding that “If you’re vaccinated, and if you’re boosted the chances of your getting sick are very, very low.” (Washington Post / NBC News /Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
2/ Inflation increased 7% in 2021 – the fastest pace in 40 years. Consumer price rise exceeded 6% year over year for third straight month. While high, on a month-to-month basis, prices rose 0.5% in December, which was lower than the 0.8% measure in November and 0.9% in October. Biden said that “demonstrates that we are making progress in slowing the rate of price increases,” but conceded that the report “underscores that we still have more work to do, with price increases still too high and squeezing family budgets.” Joe Manchin, meanwhile, called the report “very, very troubling.” Manchin has repeatedly warned “a historic expansion of social programs” like Build Back Better would only feed inflation and has cited high prices as one of the reasons he won’t back the legislation. (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
3/ The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to voluntarily provide information about his communications with Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said he wanted to hear about discussions McCarthy had with Meadows ahead of the attack, along with McCarthy’s communications with Trump during and after the violence. “It appears that you may also have discussed with President Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution, impeachment, or removal under the 25th Amendment,” Thompson wrote. “It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation from office.” In particular, the panel said it was interested in a phone call that McCarthy had with Trump during the riot asking Trump to send help, which McCarthy previously described as “very heated.” McCarthy is the third GOP lawmaker the panel has asked to testify. The others, Jim Jordan and Scott Perry, have rejected the committee’s requests to sit for an interview or provide documents. Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, appeared before the committee virtually. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico / CNN)
4/ The Jan. 6 committee issued subpoenas to two of Trump Jr.’s advisers. In letters to Andy Surabian and Arthur Schwartz, the committee said it had “reason to believe that you communicated with both organizers and speakers at the rally held on the Ellipse.” The panel also issued a subpoena for Ross Worthington, who helped draft Trump’s Jan. 6 speech for the rally at the Ellipse, which preceded the attack on the Capitol. The subpoenas require the three men to provide documents by Jan. 24 and appear for depositions between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. (CNN / Politico / CBS News)
5/ Trump abruptly ended an interview with NPR after he was pressed on his baseless claims of election fraud and repeated lies that the 2020 election was “rigged.” Trump hung up on “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep nine minutes into the scheduled interview after Inskeep pushed back against false election claims, noting “Your own lawyers had no evidence of fraud, they said in court they had no evidence of fraud, and the judges ruled against you every time on the merits.” Inskeep also asked Trump whether he would endorse only Republican candidates in the midterms who are pressing his case that the 2020 contest against Biden was stolen from him. Trump responded: “They are going to do whatever they want to do — whatever they have to do, they’re going to do,” adding that the candidates “that are smart” are going to press his case. Trump then hung up. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR)
6/ Mitch McConnell called Biden’s speech on changing the filibuster to pass voting rights and elections legislation “profoundly unpresidential,” adding that the speech was a “rant” that was “incoherent, incorrect, and beneath his office,” and “unbecoming of a President of the United States.” In his remarks in Atlanta, Biden backed changing the filibuster to ensure voting rights are protected, framing the issue as one that has historically received bipartisan support and accusing Senate Republicans of lacking the “courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect the right to vote.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, said the Senate will vote on rule changes to the filibuster by Jan. 17. (NBC News / CNN / Axios)
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