1/ The Senate started debate on voting rights legislation even though the measure appears all but dead – a day after Democrats failed to meet their symbolic deadline to pass election reform by Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Consideration of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act kicked off with Chuck Schumer warning “the eyes of the nation will be watching what happens this week in the United States Senate.” Republicans, however, are determined to filibuster the bills. While Democrats plan to vote on changing Senate rules in order to pass the legislation, they lack the votes needed due to opposition from Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, despite both saying they support the bills. Debate is expected to continue into Wednesday or Thursday. Once it ends, the Senate will vote on a motion to end debate and move to a final vote on the bills, which is expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Senate Democrats are reportedly leaning toward voting on the revival of the so-called “talking filibuster” – which Sinema and Manchin won’t support either – that would, after lengthy debate, require a simple majority to advance any bill toward final passage. Schumer, however, made clear that the election reform vote and the associated filibuster reform would go forward, regardless if it’s guaranteed fail, saying: “If Republicans choose to continue the filibuster of voting rights legislation, we must consider and vote on the rules changes. Long odds are no excuse for this chamber to avoid this important issue. Again, members of this chamber were elected to debate and to vote. We’re going to vote.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
2/ Top career officials at the Census Bureau warned of “unprecedented” meddling by Trump’s political appointees in 2020. Officials wanted to address “an unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters” and “direct engagement” by political appointees with Wilbur Ross, who was then the secretary of the Commerce Department, which oversees the bureau. At the time, the Trump administration was pressing the bureau to end the count weeks early so that if Trump lost the election in November, he could still use the census numbers used to redistribute political representation in the House before leaving office. Ross, meanwhile, said he had no recollection of the memo. (New York Times / NPR / CNN)
3/ A fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose may not be sufficient at preventing breakthrough Omicron infections, according to a preliminary study in Israel. The early data suggests that a fourth dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine can bring an increase in antibodies, but the level of antibodies needed to protect against infection from Omicron “is probably too high for the vaccine, even if it’s a good vaccine.” (Bloomberg / Reuters / CNN / New York Times)
5/ The Biden administration accused Russia of sending a group of saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to execute “an operation designed to look like an attack on them or Russian-speaking people in Ukraine.” The intel suggests that the group might “carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy-forces,” providing Putin with a pretext for sending some or all of its 100,000 troops stationed outside of Ukraine over the border. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of seven U.S. senators arrived in Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian leaders in what they say is a show of commitment to the country as an “increasingly belligerent Russia” has massed troops near portions of the border. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)
poll/ 47% of Americans prefer the Republican Party, while 42% prefer the Democratic Party. In the first quarter of 2021, an average of 49% of Americans preferred the Democratic Party, compared to 40% for the Republican Party – a net swing of 14 points. (Gallup)
poll/ 60% of voters age 18-29 prefer the Democratic Party, compared to 36% of young Americans who prefer the Republican Party. 53% of the voting group turned out to vote in the 2020 presidential election. (Axios)
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