10 Things in Politics: What Sen. Patrick Leahy's health scare shows
Good morning! Thank you for joining us for our first week of 10 Things in
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President Biden and first lady Jill Biden paid their respects last night to slain Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed during the Capitol riot. Sicknick will continue to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, the fifth American ever to receive such a tribute.
Here's what you need to know:
- Democrats are just one heartbeat away from losing control of the Senate
- The chances of a bipartisan relief deal are fading
- A Capitol riot suspect wants to go on vacation in Mexico
1. AN AGE-OLD PROBLEM: Washington long ago descended into a gerontocracy. It's a sign both of longer life expectancies and the allure of seniority. But it also means higher risk, especially when parties hold threadbare majorities - even more so during a pandemic.
My colleague Kayla Epstein explores this in her exclusive report this morning.
Here's a peek at what she found: Remember if Democrats lose just a single seat, they lose control of the chamber.
- Key stats: "Six senators - five Democrats and an Independent who caucuses with them - are over age 70 and also represent states with a Republican governor who would have the power to appoint a temporary replacement … A total of 301 senators have passed away before finishing their terms."
One crucial point, how would governors respond to a vacancy?: Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont jolted Washington during a health scare last week. Both Vermont and Massachusetts are controlled by Republican governors who would name temporary replacements. A special election would then be held.
- But winning in a blue state is not guarantee: Democrats learned this the hard way in the Obama era when Republican Scott Brown won in a shocking upset to replace the deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.
2. House impeachment managers say Trump is "singularly responsible" for deadly riot: In an 80-page brief, nine House Democrats recount a vast timeline of Trump's behavior before, during, and after the insurrection. Part of the argument is a vivid description of Trump's reportedly delighted reaction to seeing the riot delay the counting of Electoral College votes. (The New York Times)
- Trump's team is sticking by its belief that its unconstitutional to impeach a former president: They argue it's "moot" to try to convict Trump; and that punishing the president for his speech at a rally before the riot would violate his First Amendment rights.
3. Democrats are plowing ahead with Biden's relief plan: Every single Senate Republican voted against fast-tracking the package, which they argue is a partisan maneuver.
- Some unresolved issues: How large will stimulus checks be, and how many Americans will get them? Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia also said he doesn't support a $15 minimum wage, which could imperil its inclusion in the $1.9 trillion package. Check out my colleague Kimberly Leonard's exclusive report.
4. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- 9:30 a.m.: Vice President Kamala Harris swears in Pete Buttigieg as Transportation secretary. He is the first openly gay Cabinet secretary in history.
- 10:00 a.m.: Miguel Cardona, Biden's pick to be Education secretary, faces his Senate confirmation hearing.
- 10:30 a.m.: Isabella Casillas Guzman, Biden's pick to be Small Business Administrator, faces her Senate confirmation hearing.
- 11:00 a.m.: The White House's pandemic response team and public health officials hold a news briefing.
- 2:00 p.m.: Michael Regan, Biden's pick to lead the EPA, faces his Senate confirmation hearing.
- 3:00 p.m.: The House Rules Committee considers a measure to strip Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments.
5. Jeff Bezos will step down as Amazon CEO: Bezos will not leave the company he turned into a $1.56 trillion behemoth, but will take a new role as executive chairman. He'll also be able to spend more time on his other ventures such as his philanthropy, or his other two companies: the rocket maker Blue Origin and The Washington Post.
- Close confidant Andy Jassy will replace him: Unlike Bezos, Jassy is more outspoken on political issues and has written about police brutality, immigration, and LGBTQ rights. Elana Jassy, his wife, donated to Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign in 2016 and later to Hillary Clinton as well.
- From the archives: Insider's profile on how as CEO Jassy built Amazon Web Services CEO into a $40 billion business.
6. House Republicans punted a decision on Taylor Greene's future: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with Greene, but no decision was made on whether she would lose committee assignments for embracing conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, more GOP senators denounced the congresswoman with one labeling her as "nutty."
- Snow really?: Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said he can't speak about Taylor Greene's past comments because "Travel in this weather it's been a little rough looking at any news or whatever." Blaming the weather is nothing new for the former football coach who once pinned a loss on the wind.
7. A Capitol riot suspect wants to go vacation in Mexico: Federal investigators say Jenny Cudd livestreamed a video after the riot where she mentions breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. She also boasted, "F--- yes, I am proud of my actions." Her lawyers pointed to her lack of a criminal record and that she had "planned and prepaid" for the work retreat.
8. Putin critic Alexei Navalny was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison: The 44-year-old was immediately detained after he returned to Russia following a poisoning attempt that left him in a coma. The opposition leader said Putin, who he blames for the attack, will be remembered as nothing but an "underpants poisoner."
9. A lot more Americans need to get vaccinated before we return to normal: Dr. Anthony S. Fauci told CNN that about 70% to 85% of Americans need to get vaccinated, but that a greater reopening to pre-pandemic norms could also be affected by new variants. Right now, less than 2% of Americans have been vaccinated.
One last thing.
10. Dolly won't say "pardon me" to get the vaccine: "I don't want it to look like I'm jumping the line just because I donated money," Country music legend Dolly Parton told the Associated Press. "I'm very funny about that." (She donated $1 million that help fund Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine research.)
Today's trivia question: Jim Wilson correctly answered yesterday's question. His question for you all, what first lady was a former professional dancer? Email your response and a suggested question to me at email@example.com
- Yesterday's answer: President Reagan owned Rex. As for the bonus, the King Charles spaniel's posh doghouse was partially assembled by a direct descendant of Rutherford B. Hayes.
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