Day 420: "Not a close call."
1/ The White House will wind down a Covid-19 program that pays to test, treat, and vaccinate people who don’t have health insurance unless Congress approves more funding. The Biden administration also warned that the U.S. will soon run out of funding for future Covid-19 booster shots, new treatments, and testing efforts if the spending legislation remains stuck in Congress. Last week, lawmakers declined to add $22.5 billion in pandemic funding to the government spending bill because of a dispute over whether $7 billion should come from funds already allocated to states. As a result, uninsured Americans will no longer be able to submit claims for tests or Covid treatments starting next week. The government will also cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments to states by 30% after cancelling an order for hundreds of thousands of treatments. “We want to be clear, waiting to provide funding until we’re in a worse spot with the virus will be too late,” a senior administration official said. “Importantly, when you consider the cost of all these investments compared to the cost of what we will prevent in terms of hospitalizations, death and damage to our health care system and our economy, it is not a close call.” (NPR / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News / Politico / New York Times)
2/ Biden signed a $1.5 trillion government spending bill that will provide $13.6 billion in additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The bill also funds the government for the current fiscal year. “With this bill,” Biden said, “we’re going to send a message to the American people, a strong message that Democrats and Republicans actually come together and get something done right now and to fulfill our most basic responsibilities to keep the government open and running for the American people.” The funding legislation did not include supplemental coronavirus relief that was originally included. (The Hill / CNBC / Washington Post)
3/ The Russian Foreign Ministry sanctioned Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and other top officials in response to sanctions imposed by Washington on Russian officials. Others sanctioned include White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Biden’s son Hunter Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and CIA Director William Burns. White House press secretary Jen Psaki shrugged off the announcement, joking that the sanctions wouldn’t have much of an impact because “President Biden is a junior, so they may have sanctioned his dad, may he rest in peace.” Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, ridiculed the sanctions on her, tweeting: “I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award.” (CBS News / The Hill /New York Times / NBC News / The Guardian)
- Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN
4/ A nine-page document found in the possession of the former leader of the Proud Boys outlined a plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6. The document, titled “1776 Returns,” was broken into five parts — Infiltrate, Execution, Distract, Occupy, and Sit-In — and recommends recruiting at least 50 people to enter seven government buildings on Jan. 6 for purposes of “causing trouble.” The document, however, does not specifically mention attacking the Capitol building itself. A federal judge, meanwhile, ordered Enrique Tarrio to remain jailed pending trial on charges that he conspired with followers to obstruct certification of Biden’s electoral college victory. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)
5/ The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas attended the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally to protest Biden’s election. Ginni Thomas said she attended the rally in the morning but got cold and left before Trump addressed the crowd and before a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol. In December, Ginni Thomas was among a group of conservative leaders who co-signed a letter criticizing the work of the bipartisan House committee as “overtly partisan political persecution” and called for House Republicans to expel Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from their conference for joining the committee investigating the attacks. The next month, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s effort to block a congressional subpoena for White House records related to the certification of the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6 riot. Instead of recusing himself from the case, Clarence Thomas was the only justice to say he would grant Trump’s request. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)
6/ Joe Manchin, who has taken more money in political donations from fossil fuel interests than any other senator, said he is “very reluctant” to see the proliferation of electric vehicles. The centrist Democrat said he has “a hard time understanding” why the federal government would invest in a network of electric car charging stations, which Biden’s championed as part of his plan to grow the EV market in order to tackle the climate crisis. “I’ve read history, and I remember Henry Ford inventing the Model-T, but I sure as hell don’t remember the U.S. government building filling stations,” Manchin said. “The market did that.” Biden’s Build Back Better plan included half a trillion dollars in clean energy tax credits, as well as rebates for electric car purchases to speed up adoption. Manchin’s opposition, however, has stalled efforts to pass major climate legislation so far. (The Guardian)
7/ A Democratic super PAC accused Trump of violating campaign finance law by spending his existing political funds on a 2024 presidential run without declaring himself a candidate. Federal rules require those who raise or spend more than $5,000 in support of a presidential campaign to register with the FEC. (New York Times)
poll/ 52% of Americans don’t expect Biden to run for re-election in 2024, while 29% believe he’ll pursue a second term and 19% are undecided about his future. Among Democrats, 41% said they believe Biden will run again, while 32% disagree. (Wall Street Journal)
poll/ 39% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of “the situation with Russia and Ukraine” – up from 34% two weeks ago. Biden’s approval on Russia and Ukraine among independents also climbed 12 points to 38%. (Yahoo News)
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