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Justice Breyer gives Biden the chance to fulfill a major campaign promise
The White House reaffirmed President Biden’s commitment to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Plus: The administration punts student debt cancelation back to Congress — again.
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President Joe Biden made history when he picked Vice President Kamala Harris as his running mate during the 2020 presidential campaign. And before this year’s midterm elections, he’ll have the chance to do so again by keeping his promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court if a vacancy arises.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Justice Stephen Breyer, the oldest justice and one of three liberals to sit on the high court, is expected to announce his retirement in an appearance with Biden later today.
Speculation abounds on who the president will nominate to replace Breyer, who has served on the bench for 27 years, although Ketanji Brown Jackson, a circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the powerful District of Columbia Circuit, is on the shortlist of several qualified Black women candidates. The list also includes Minnesota federal district court judge Mimi Wright and Michelle Childs, an Obama-appointed judge on the South Carolina’s district court.
The White House didn’t have much to say on the news after it broke in deference to Breyer, whom they said deserved the space to announce his retirement on his terms and be honored for his legacy. But President Biden said he’d have more to say once Breyer made it official.
Pete Williams at NBC News was the first to report Breyer’s retirement.
The president won’t shift the balance of the court’s conservative supermajority with his nominee. But he will be able to infuse it with some youth and melanin, both of which are in short supply.
Biden will also avoid a showdown with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who had previously indicated Senate Republicans would most likely not confirm a nominee if they retook the upper chamber in this year’s midterms. This is unlikely to matter now since Democrats control the Senate and, depending on whom Biden nominates, an institutional Republican or two could cast a vote in favor of confirmation as well.
And as I mentioned earlier, it will also be a campaign promise fulfilled for him to run on as he travels the country attempting to stump for vulnerable congressional Democrats.
Congress already had a full plate heading into Wednesday before the responsibility of confirming a new justice was added to it:
The House and Senate have to reconcile their differences on legislation to compete with China, invest in American research and development and shore up the nation’s supply chains.
Democratic leadership is planning another bite at the Build Back Better apple, albeit much smaller than the first time around.
The government runs out of funding in mid-February, which means Republicans and Democrats will have to pass a spending bill
to fund the government for the upcoming year. (If not, we’ll be staring at the prospect of another shutdown or Congress will kick the tire down the road again with a stopgap measure.)
A working group of Senators is discussing a fix to the way Congress certifies presidential elections after Donald Trump attempted to deploy former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the confirmation process would crowd out the administration’s legislative priorities.
“We have to walk and chew gum at the same time here in the White House,” she said. “We are entirely capable of doing more than one thing at once.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly wants the Senate to confirm a nominee in a month. “In the Senate, we want to be deliberate, we want to move quickly, we want to get this done as soon as possible,” he said in a brief statement on Wednesday.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California seemed to wonder what’s the rush though: “With six months until Justice Breyer departs the court, the Senate Judiciary Committee will have ample time to hold hearings on President Biden’s nominee.” (Feinstein posted a follow-up tweet, perhaps after a staffer read the feedback on the Senator’s first statement, that indicates she wouldn’t hold up the process.)
Senate Republicans have a few cosmetic delay tactics at their disposal the initial proceedings once Biden announces his nominee. But Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appeared resigned to the reality that if Democrats are as united around the president’s selection as they’re expected to be, then the nominee will be confirmed even against total Republican opposition.
“Elections have consequences,” Graham said in a statement. “And that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court.”
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Congress asks Biden once again to cancel student debt
A group of more than 80 House members and Senators sent President Biden a letter on Tuesday calling on him to release a memo that outlines the administration’s legal authority to cancel up to $50,000 of federal student loan debt.
“For generations, young people have been encouraged to pursue higher education as a tool for economic and social mobility,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, the enduring weight of student loan debt has negated opportunities for many borrowers to truly transform their lives and our country.”
“It pains me to hear how repaying their federal loan debt is preventing [graduates] from having a viable savings account, purchasing a home or even having kids,” Dr. James L. Moore III, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at The Ohio State University, said to Supercreator. “We need the Biden administration to outline a path forward for the millions of Americans who are struggling to repay their federal college loans, as well as construct a plan to fix America’s fractured higher education financing system.”
A spokesperson at the Education Department said the agency’s focus is on continuing to deliver immediate relief for those struggling with debt and making permanent changes that reduce indebtedness and make college more affordable. “The Department is also continuing to work closely with the White House to review additional options with respect to debt cancellation,” the spokesperson said.
Jen Psaki declined to comment on Wednesday when she was asked if the administration planned to release the memo. She did point the pause announced in December through this May as an action that Biden and Harris have taken to support borrowers who are still coping with the pandemic.
“No one has paid or been required to pay a single dime of federal student loans since the president took office a year ago,” she said before calling on Congress to pass a bill forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt.
But progressives I spoke to tell me the point of asking Biden to use executive action is to overcome the fact that there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do so. Surely, the White House knows this despite its public messaging to the contrary.
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Glossier’s CEO: We got too big too soon
Supercreator OGs who paid close attention to my discontinued Michael’s Pick series know Glossier is one of my favorite consumer brands.
From its Balm Dot Com and Milky Jelly Cleanser to its Mask Duo and Priming Moisturizer, the products lived up to the branding’s hype.
So I was disappointed when news broke that the company laid off 80 employees, representing one-third of its workforce.
One employee who was laid off seemed unsurprised to learn of their fate.
“The company has been doing bad,” the employee, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about their experience, said. “They hired way too many people all at once, in a nutshell.”
Glossier CEO Emily Weiss said as much in the internal email announcing the news, which Supercreator obtained:
We have also made some mistakes. Over the past two years, we prioritized certain strategic projects that distracted us from the laser-focus we needed to have on our core business: scaling our beauty brand. We also got ahead of ourselves on hiring. These missteps are on me.
Weiss said while the layoffs touch every area of the company, Glossier’s technology team was most impacted.
“We are shifting our technology strategy to leverage external partners for parts of our platform we’re currently maintaining internally.”
A statement from a Glossier spokesperson called the decision difficult but necessary. “We’ve always been a people-powered organization and are grateful to all of our current and former team members for their contributions.”
Glossier was founded in 2014 after Weiss built its companion blog Into The Gloss into one of the industry’s leading editorial websites. The company bottled up the blog’s cool ethos into an extensive range of cult favorites and legitimized the disruptive direct-to-consumer business model that many online startups adopted.
But during the summer of 2020, when the country was grappling with a racial reckoning in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, a group of former Glossier retail employees published a post sharing their experiences working at the company’s New York City Flagship store.
The company posted an apology and public acknowledgment the former employees experienced and published a plan of action. But for many people, the damage was already done.
Wednesday’s news adds another blemish to its once-sterling reputation.
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Today in Politics
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing this morning. Later today, he’ll receive a weekly economic briefing.
Vice President Harris traveled from DC to Palmerola, Honduras overnight. This morning, she will attend the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Xiomara Castro and followed by a meeting with Castro. The vice president will return to DC this evening.
Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff will join Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for a safety-related announcement.
The House is out.
The Senate is out.
Read All About It
Rani Molla on why more Americans than ever are quitting their jobs:
Part of what makes this rise of new businesses important is that it encompasses a broader segment of society than in years past. Women, Black Americans, and those without college degrees are starting a much larger share of online microbusinesses than before the pandemic, according to data from Venture Forward, a research initiative from GoDaddy, a web domain company that’s increasingly offering other small business tools. Women started 57 percent of those businesses since March 2020 compared with 48 percent before; Black Americans founded 26 percent, up from 15 percent pre-pandemic; and Americans without college degrees founded 44 percent compared with 36 percent. In 2020, the rate of women and people of all ethnicities starting businesses of all types increased sharply, according to Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship (2021 data will be out in February).
Dan Solomon on Tony Romo:
We watch football because we want to see incredible things happen. The sport is designed to be watched on television in a way that makes those jaw-dropping moments seem downright epic. When the game gives us two young quarterbacks engaged in the finest postseason performance football has ever seen, Romo’s hyperventilating is the appropriate reaction. We have seen countless sportscasters keep their cool. In the biggest moments, Romo loses his, and watching football is more fun because of it.
Brian Resnick on the mysteries of memory:
What’s puzzling, and a bit provocative, is that artificial intelligence is getting remarkably good at predicting which images the human brain is going to remember, even outperforming our own human intuitions. Which is making scientists wonder: Can they help engineer more memorable images — for classrooms, for maps, for the memory-impaired? Can they help design a more memorable world? So much our minds encounter eventually slips away. Maybe we can control what sticks.
Michael Waters on the new personal website:
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