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One year later
Biden and Harris speak on Jan. 6. Plus: The president and vice president plan a voting-rights tag team next week and why Republicans are suddenly on board with reforming an antiquated election law.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Thursday evening.
Joe Biden was in the Senate longer than I’ve been alive before becoming former President Barack Obama’s vice president in 2008 and winning the presidency himself in 2020. Kamala Harris was a formidable local prosecutor and state attorney general in California prior to her ascent to VP. But it was as a US Senator where she earned a reputation as a no-nonsense powerhouse during confirmation hearings.
So it’s no surprise both feel a personal connection to Capitol that was attacked by a mob sent by Donald Trump to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election.
“On that day, I was not only vice-president elect, I was also a United States senator,” Harris said from a large, round black stage in the middle of Statuary Hall during a speech to mark the day. “And I was here at the Capitol that morning, at a classified hearing with fellow members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Hours later, the gates of the Capitol were breached.”
Harris said she had left the Capitol by then.
“But my thoughts immediately turned not only to my colleagues, but to my staff, who had been forced to seek refuge in our office, converting filing cabinets into barricades.”
The vice president compared the dark moment to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 before speaking to the fragility and strength of democracy.
“You see, the strength of democracy is the rule of law. The strength of democracy is the principle that everyone should be treated equally, that elections should be free and fair, that corruption should be given no quarter. The strength of democracy is that it empowers the people,” she said. “And the fragility of democracy is this: that if we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand; it will falter and fail.”
Biden picked up where his partner left off, warning Americans that autocracies like China and Russia are betting that democracy’s days are numbered.
“They’ve actually told me democracy is too slow, too bogged down by division to succeed in today’s rapidly changing, complicated world,” the president said. “And they’re betting — they’re betting America will become more like them and less like us. They’re betting that America is a place for the autocrat, the dictator, the strongman.”
Donald Trump infatuation with autocrats, dictators and strongmen motivated him to promote the “Big Lie” that his election was stolen, despite, as Biden noted, House and Senate Republicans who won their elections were on the same ballot. None of them were challenged though.
“He’s not just a former president,” Biden said. “He’s a defeated former president — defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.”
Trump issued a zany statement after the speeches, listing the litany of lies that have already been rebuked. And his supporters — in media and in government — have come to his defense accusing Biden, Harris and congressional Democrats of politicizing the day.
“Maybe he learned what it looks like to meet the moment,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked for a reaction to Trump’s statement at her daily press briefing this afternoon. “I guess we’ll see.”
ICYMI: Here’s my post on the aftermath of Jan. 6 last year:
Biden and Harris to talk voting rights next week
I mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter the White House said President Biden would speak on voting rights in a “larger format” soon.
Now we know soon is next Tue. Jan. 11, when he and Vice President Harris will travel to Georgia to make the case for two pieces of legislation that would protect and expand the right to vote.
The location is notable because it’s Georgia flipped the Senate blue last year, giving Democrats control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress. It’s also home to Democratic Sen. Rafael Warnock, who is one of the architects of the Freedom to Vote Act. Warnock is also up for reelection this year against Herschel Walker, a former football star that seems to have little show for politically besides a Trump endorsement. (Truth be told, that may be all he need when you consider the former president’s chokehold on the Republican electorate, Biden’s plunging poll numbers with independents and Georgia’s anti-voter law.)
Details on the substance of the speeches are sparse. But the White House said in a statement you can expect Biden and Harris to “speak to the American people about the urgent need to pass legislation to protect the constitutional right to vote and the integrity of our elections from corrupt attempts to strip law-abiding citizens of their fundamental freedoms and allow partisan state officials to undermine vote counting processes.”
The ECA isn’t a voting rights law
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine convened a Zoom call late Wednesday afternoon to discuss reforming the Electoral Count Act. The ECA outlines the vice president and Congress’s role in certifying presidential elections. But it doesn’t clarify if the VP has the power to refuse to certify elections, as Trump claimed former vice president Mike Pence could do in 2020. Supporters of the reform say it would prevent another attempted coup in the future.
Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah and Roger Wicker of Mississippi joined Collins on the call. The news of the bipartisan Zoom call was first reported by Sophia Cai and Andrew Solender at Axios.
If I had to describe the dynamic in the Senate, it usually starts with Democrats introducing a policy proposal and Republicans coming out in complete opposition to it. When Democrats update their proposals to generate party consensus, threaten to play hardball or public opinion shifts in support of the legislation, Republicans come back with nominal counterproposals that seem like solutions but not for the problems Democrats initially set out to fix.
This is a quintessential case in point.
Republicans have used wonky Senate rules to prevent a mere debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom To Vote Act for the past year. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is fed up with the inaction so he’s set a deadline for Martin Luther King Jr. Day this month to pass the two bills, which have already cleared the House. If Republicans block them again, Schumer said he’s going to open debate on changing the rules so voting rights can pass for a simple majority with no Republican support.
Schumer doesn’t currently have the votes to change the rules. Two members of his caucus are opposed. The wild card here is the president though. As I mentioned earlier, he’s been in the Senate for hella years and respects the institution. But he has grown frustrated with Republicans so he’s softening his stance on keeping the status quo. And as we get closer to the midterms, there’s a chance Biden could issue a full-throated game-changing endorsement of the rules change.
Senate Republican leadership doesn’t want that. So they’ve floated the possibility of jumping on board the ECA reform train.
But the Electoral Count Act isn’t a voting rights law. And as you’re reading this state legislatures in Michigan, Georgia, Texas, Montana, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have proposed or passed laws that would make it harder to vote.
“The president has been crystal clear that the pending voting rights legislation, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, are essential for protecting the constitutional right to vote, the rule of law and the integrity of our elections against un-American attacks based on the Big Lie,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said to Axios. “There is no substitute. Period.”
Jen Psaki doubled down on the administration’s position this afternoon during a press briefing.
Bates did not respond to a request from Supercreator when asked to clarify the path forward since Republicans are a no on the pending legislation, Manchin and Sinema are a no on reforming the Senate rules without Republican support and the White House is a no on reforming the ECA.
Spokespeople for Collins and the senators who participated in the call did not respond when asked why they were confident that reforming the ECA would protect the voting rights of voters for feel targeted the anti-voter laws and proposals in the states I referenced earlier.
Today in Politics
President Biden gave his speech on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack this morning then received his daily intelligence briefing.
Vice President Harris spoke at the Capitol too. Then she held a ceremonial swearing in of the new US Ambassador to Spain in her ceremonial office.
The House is out. The Librarian of Congress moderated a conversation between historians to “establish and preserve the narrative of January 6th.” House members then shared reflections of the day.
The Senate is in to debate the nomination for Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. Senators also held a moment a silence to mark the one year attack on the US Capitol.
This evening members of the House and Senate will hold vigil on the steps of the Capitol to mark the one-year anniversary of the insurrection.
Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your guide to the politicians and power brokers shaping how you work and live in the new economy. Send me tips, comments, questions — or just say hi: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In The Know
The COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t increase preterm delivery risk, according to new research. [Mallory Locklear / Yale News]
A study looked at more than 40,000 pregnant people found that vaccination during pregnancy was not associated with preterm birth or small-for-gestational-age (SGA) when comparing vaccinated with unvaccinated pregnant people.
The trimester when a person received a vaccine and the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses received were also not associated with increased risk of preterm birth or SGA.
Vice President Harris is looking to fill a Hispanic outreach position on her team ahead of the 2022 midterms (and a possible 2024 presidential run if Biden doesn’t seek reelection. [Hans Nichols / Axios]
The role will help Harris reconnect with Hispanic voters who are turned off by her efforts to solve the root causes of migration at the southern border.
Related: The vice president has a new communications director. [Amie Parnes / The Hill]
Jamal Simmons, a veteran Democratic operative, will replace Amy Etienne, who stepped down last year. Harris is also expected to name a new press secretary soon following the resignation of Symone Sanders, one of the administration’s highest-profile spokespeople, resigned as well.
First Lady Jill Biden indefinitely postponed her trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky to survey damage from last month’s deadly storms.
She was scheduled to travel with Deputy FEMA Administrator Erik Hooks but delayed the visit due to severe weather forecasts.
“I’m deeply honored and humbled to lead the federal government’s largest statistical agency,” Santos said. “I’ve spent the majority of my career with organizations dedicated to delivering credible and informative statistical analysis for the public good. Census Bureau data have been essential to that work. It is such an immense privilege to join the Census Bureau and its very talented team.”
Cardona will participate in a variety of events throughout the weekend celebrating the efforts of educators this past year and plans to visit an Indiana school.
Alabama and Georgia will compete in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Mon. Jan. 10.
The Progressive Caucus — an almost-100-member group of lawmakers who represent the most left-leaning wing of the Democratic Party — voted to endorse the Judiciary Act of 2021, which would expand the US Supreme Court from nine justices to 13.
“After thoughtful consideration, the Progressive Caucus membership has determined that the urgent work to restore American democracy must include expanding the Supreme Court,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Caucus chair said in a statement. “As a co-equal governing body, Congress cannot sit by while this attack on the constitution continues unchecked. I am proud that our Caucus is joining the fight to expand the court and restore balance to the bench.”
Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Sen. Ed Markey of Oregon sent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a letter urging the agency to help save people from unfair heating and energy costs this winter. [@RepBowman / Twitter]
“Temperatures are dropping and people shouldn’t face the additional hardship of paying exuberant utility costs as Omicron increases,” Bowman said. “Let’s keep people housed and warm.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib announced she will run for reelection in Michigan’s newly redrawn 12th District. [Mychael Schnell / The Hill]
The seat will be open because Brenda Lawrence, the state’s only Black member of Congress is retiring, as I reported yesterday.
“I’m excited to continue to fight for our residents and engage with new neighbors in Wayne and Oakland Counties,” Tlaib, who currently represents the 13th District, said in a statement. “I am excited about the opportunity to expand our work to include more communities that want the same access to a better quality of life, including clean air and water, affordable housing, economic justice, and more.”
“To-go drinks were a critical revenue stream for New York’s bars and restaurants during the pandemic, helping many small businesses across the state pay their rents or mortgages,” Hochul said in a briefing that accompanied her State of the State speech.
Cristina Nichole Iglesias, a 47-year-old inmate in a North Texas prison, could become the first transgender person to receive gender-affirming surgery while in federal custody. [Lauren McGaughy / The Dallas Morning News]
Iglesias is serving a 20-year sentence for threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction against the British government. She was transferred to a women’s prison in Fort Worth in May 2021.
The New York Times acquired subscription sports site The Athletic in a deal valued at around $500 million.[Jessica Toonkel / The Information]
The acquisition is part of NYT’s goal of reaching 10 million subscribers by 2025.
Membership platform Patreon said creators earned $1.5 billion through subscriptions between Nov. 2020 and Dec. 2021. [Kaya Yurieff / The Information]
The company is now focused on maintaining its growth as competitors attempt to attract creators and their fans.
Adam Mosseri, head of the social app, also announced two other views: Home and Favorites, which ranks content based on how interested it thinks you are and lists accounts that you want to make sure you don’t miss things from.
About one quarter of all teachers — who represented about 4 percent of US workers — were non-white and 9.4 percent were Hispanic and Latino, compared with 16 percent and four percent, respectively, in 1990.
Read All About It
In the end, Pence would not go along, leaving to the judgment of history whether he should be regarded as a great hero for rejecting pressure to execute an election coup or more of an ambiguous figure thanks to his previous loyalty to a scofflaw president. There was certainly every reason for Trump to hope against hope that Pence could at least be counted on to throw some sand in the gears of the process leading to Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. And that might be enough to constitute a “strategy” for a seat-of-the-pants presidency built on Donald Trump’s narcissism and the willingness of subordinates to tell him what he wanted to hear at any cost.
Chris Crowley on stuffed peppers:
I’ve always liked stuffed peppers — maybe I was indoctrinated early on by my dad, who would take bell peppers and fill them with rice, ground meat, and tomato sauce. As I struck out on my own, I found there was a much wider world of stuffed peppers out there: chiles rellenos made with blistered poblanos and (even better) chiles nogadas swimming in walnut sauce, shrimp-stuffed green peppers I ate at dim sum banquet halls, deep-fried gochujang with a beef filling. The possibilities are endless, really, which is why you should commit to helping me with an important goal I’m setting out to accomplish: making stuffed peppers the hot dish of 2022.
Katie Heaney on when girl power meets sobriety:
It’s simply much healthier for women (like everyone) not to drink than to drink, but this fact alone can’t fill a best-selling book or launch a for-profit recovery program or, perhaps, convince as many people to stop. The belief that we can radically change our own lives for the better, as the direct result of some “new” philosophy or financial investment or weight-loss regimen, is essential to the self-help genre, and in that respect, Quit Like a Woman is no different. But where other gurus may encourage readers to spend money on what amounts to empty promises, Whitaker’s pitch — that your life will improve if you stop drinking or even drink less — is hard to object to, given alcohol’s many harms. Still, it’s unclear how, exactly, sobriety may confer the sort of sociopolitical influence Whitaker seems to envision (“What if we all rejected the poison — then what? I’ll tell you what: world domination, bitches”), particularly for women who aren’t already advantaged, as so many Tempest members are.
Bryan Walsh on the great population growth slowdown:
The freedom to choose desired family size should be a human right, but ****there’s some evidence that many people aren’t having as many children as they would like to. Surveys in the US show that the stated ideal number of kids in a family has stayed a little above 2.5 since the mid-2000s, even as actual fertility rates have declined. Whether because of delayed partnership and marriage, economic concerns, or changing lifestyle preferences, there are forces keeping population growth below the level that people say they want.
Rich Cimini on what really happens during an NFL head-coaching interview:
This might surprise some people, but there usually isn't a lot of X's-and-O's talk. They will touch on general philosophy and might get into positional requirements (height, weight, speed), but the candidate isn't going to use a whiteboard to break down third-down blitz packages. The focus is leadership and whether the candidate has the people skills to galvanize the organization.
The interview isn't a one-way street; candidates come with their own set of questions. They need to know what they might be getting into.
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