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Republicans struggle to explain their beef with Biden’s Supreme Court promise
Plus: The First Lady leads a care package service event at the White House.
When President Joe Biden nominates the Black woman next month to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois will oversee her confirmation hearing.
In an interview on Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week, Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and serves as the second-ranking Senate Democrat, responded to criticism from Republicans and polling that question President Biden’s promise to nominate the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Durbin said they should recall when Ronald Reagan announced he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court and Donald Trump announced his intention to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a woman nominee as well as evidence that it’s not the first time a president has signaled what they’re looking for in a nominee.
”And I would just say, the bottom line is this: If they have achieved the level of success in the practice of law and jurisprudence, they’ve done it against great odds,” Durbin said of the Black women candidates up for the nomination. “They’re extraordinary people, usually the first of anything in the United States turns out to be extraordinary in their background. And the same is true there.”
Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, said on Saturday that Biden’s promise is in line with traditions of both parties and our nations.
“President Biden has established one of the strongest track records ever when it comes to choosing extraordinarily qualified and groundbreaking nominess — as the American Bar Association ratings for his 42 confirmed nominees demonstrate,” Bates added.
Durbin said he has reached out to Senate Republicans to let them know the nominee will be available to get to know them.
“It’s going to be a deliberate process but we're not going to get bogged down,” Durbin said. “Amy Coney Barrett broke all records in terms of nomination to approval in the Senate. We want to make sure that we have a timely nomination that’s handled in a responsible, professional way.”
Over on CNN’s State of the Union, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire had this to say when anchor Dana Bash asked if Biden’s nominee will be an affirmative action quota pick (emphasis mine):
Sununu: “Well, look, I’m never for quotas. I think he just — in the opportunity of bringing somebody to the US. Supreme Court, it’s an amazing opportunity. And it always has to be on merit.
Bash: But is this a quota?
Sununu: Oh, I will just say, as a governor, I don’t — I don’t see things as quotas like that. No, I mean, there’s a very limited number of individuals. You want folks with a diverse set of backgrounds, of course. So, in that sense, no, I would agree it’s a quota. You want somebody that brings a different perspective. And whether it’s a person of color, whether it's a woman or a male, whatever it might be, you want a variety of perspectives.
Bash: You’re OK with him saying, I’m going to nominate a Black woman?
Sununu: If that’s what he feels like the Supreme Court needs, and that’s what gets confirmed by the Senate, then that's the process. I think the most important thing, what every American wants, is a civil, respectful process on both sides as we move forward. That would be a nice breath of fresh air for America. And I think that’s what everyone hopes for.”
Gov. Sununu’s office did not respond to a request for clarification on his position.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined This Week after Sen. Durbin and said she would welcome the appointment of a Black woman to the court. But she called Biden announcing his intention to fulfill a campaign promise “clumsy at best,” which “adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be.”
Collins said the difference between Reagan and Biden is that the former said he would like to appoint a woman while the latter made a pledge as a candidate.
A spokesperson for Sen. Collins did not respond to a request from Supercreator for further explanation.
First Lady Biden hosts governors’ spouses for a care package service event
Rare are the weekends that President Joe Biden spend at the White House. He prefers to escape DC for one of his homes in Delaware or the Camp David presidential retreat.
But this weekend the president stuck around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday for a worthy cause: First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff hosted dozens of governors’ spouses and the spouses of Defense Department civilian and military leadership at a care package service event. The packages were for 1,000 national guardsmen and women who are activated around the country in support of missions related to COVID, inclement weather and natural disasters.
“I want you to take your time. I want you to look through the different rooms,” the Dr. Biden said to the spouses, urging them to stick around afterward. “Every day I discover something amazing and wonderful and beautiful. And I just think it’s so great that we all came together instead of eating [lunch]. Even more important that we come together and yet we do something together especially for our military.”
The care packages included a box of Fudge Stripes cookies, a handmade blank card for soldiers to write home with, a bag of Starbucks Caffe Verona beans, a small bag of Cracker Jack, a packet of tissues, a camouflage drawstring bag, Nerds (yes, the candy!) and a seven-foot paracord survival bracelet to use as a tie-down in case of emergency.
A Marine veteran instructed the spouses — in full drill sergeant voice, of course — to start by filling the bottom corners of the boxes or all the items wouldn’t fit. He also told a quick story about how a Beanie Baby had saved lives in Iraq when a Marine gave one to a child. The following day, the child warned him not to go down a particular road because of an improvised explosive device.
Just before volunteers at the end of the line closed the boxes with packing tape, two tucked in red, white and blue gaiters, hand-written thank you notes, and a card from the White House as final touches. A colleague said the first lady invited reporters to come around the table and pitch in as upbeat music — including the Eddy Grant song “Walking on Sunshine” — played in the background.
The event, which was in partnership with the nonprofit Operation Gratitude, was the first of three National Governors’ Spouses’ Program events that the first lady will attend over the weekend. Dr. Biden last partnered with Operation Gratitude during the transition from the Trump administration to President Biden’s at another care package service event at the DC Armory.
President Biden dropped by about an hour into the event for an unannounced visit as the volunteers were almost done assembling the care packages.
“I wish you were all here having lunch,” he said to the spouses in a nod to pandemic precautions. “When [his late son] Beau was in Iraq for a year, he said it was a really big deal when he would get these packages. Thanks for all you’re doing.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Sunday morning. Welcome to Supercreator, your daily 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.
TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden and the first lady will travel to Mount Vernon, Virginia this evening to attend the National Governors Association’s black-tie dinner. They will return to the White House tonight.
Vice President Kamala Harris is in DC and has no public events on her schedule.
— US defense officials have seen indications that Russia has moved blood supplies near Ukraine’s border, another signal Russia plans to invade the neighboring country. A Ukrainian official disputed the report as untrue and an “element of information and psychological warfare” to “spread panic and fear in our society. [Natasha Bertrand, Oren Liebermann and Matthew Chance / CNN]
— Medicare beneficiaries have pressed the Biden administration to adjust the service’s rules so it will pay for the rapid tests they use at home. The White House said last week that it is looking at options in addition to the free testing sites. [Amy Goldstein and Christopher Rowland / WaPo]
— The Kamala Harris mug President Biden bought during an unscheduled shopping trip to an independent boutique is sold out. “Thank you for supporting my shop, supporting the small and local makers who sell their creative products in our shop and for supporting women-owned businesses,” Honey Made owner Viboonrattana Mu Honey said in an Instagram post. [CBS News via WTOP]
AGENCIES & DEPARTMENTS
— The Federal Communications Commission announced a $1.2 billion investment to expand broadband service across 32 states. One million new areas will be served by 23 companies and the FCC committed to doubling the number of audits and verifications it performs to test speed and latency this year compared to 2021. [Emma Roth / The Verge]
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not commit to the March 1 deadline the Progressive Caucus set to pass the Build Back Better Act. “That is an aspiration that they have,“ Pelosi said. “We will pass the bill when we have the votes to pass the bill.” Pelosi mentioned the other priorities including legislation to fund both the government and chip research and manufacturing in the US. The White House has also avoided setting a deadline for a vote. [Caroline Vakil / The Hill]
STATE & LOCAL
— TikTokers trolled Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s new governor, by sending pre-written emails containing song lyrics to a tip line Youngkin created for conservative parents to snitch on teachers accused of teaching critical race theory. A spokesperson for Youngkin called the claims “misinformation” and said the email address was set up as a resource for parents, teachers and students to relay questions and concerns. [Ja’han Jones / MSNBC]
— Republican lawmakers in Virginia have introduced at least eight bills to amend a 2021 law that legalized adult possession of small amounts of weed and created a path for retail sales to begin in 2024. The changes could include moving up the retail sale start date and deprioritizing licenses for people who have been convicted of marijuana crimes. [Denise Lavoie / AP News]
— LGBTQ+ advocates have had to return to the drawing board on more inclusive and widespread parental leave policies after the Build Back Better Act stalled in the Senate. Employer policies don’t always equally cover people with sexual orientations and gender identities who seek parenthood through adoption, surrogacy or other means. [Jacob Fulton / NBC News]
— More than 60 percent of borrowers say student loan debt has negatively impacted their mental health. “When people aren’t able to pay their bills or their student loans as quickly as they should, there is a level of shame and sometimes guilt,” Aja Evans, a licensed mental health counselor, said. “That can quickly turn into feeling bad about yourself and not feeling like you can present who you truly are to other people because you’re worrying about the financial stresses in your life.” [Carmen Reinicke / CNBC]
— ICYMI: Kim Kardashian saw her net worth increase to an estimated $1.8 billion following a new funding round that doubled the valuation of her shapewear and underwear label Skims. The brand Kardashian launched in 2019 is now worth $3.2 billion. [Jemima McEvoy / Forbes]
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Ronda Kaysen on TikTok DIY influencers:
[Emily] Shaw is among a cadre of young influencers who offer an alternative to the glossy image of home makeover shows popularized by networks like HGTV. In this world of home improvement, there is no professional duo like Chip and Joanna Gaines to swoop in and hold a hapless homeowner’s hand as they tear down walls and slap up shiplap. Instead, these influencers on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are luring a younger generation eager to figure out how to fix up their homes on their own, on an extremely tight budget.
Relying heavily on Dollar Store finds and Home Depot lumber, these influencers reject the idea that an Instagram-worthy living room requires a four-figure, or even a three-figure budget. Renters and homeowners can learn how to turn Ikea dressers or yard-sale lampshades into sassy centerpieces. Ms. Shaw renovated her parents’ living room, dining room, kitchen, patio and family room for a cool $1,000, showing that with enough elbow grease and sandpaper, almost anything can be worthy of a big reveal.
Sarah Zhang on the coronavirus:
To make predictions about viral evolution even harder, the fitness landscape is continuously being remodeled as our mix of immunity shifts through vaccination and infection by new variants. This in effect changes what it means for the virus to be fit. Some mountains will sink; some hills will uplift. Still, the virus is extremely unlikely to mutate so much that our immunity against severe infection is reset to zero. As more and more of the world gains initial immunity from vaccines or infection, that will dampen the most severe outcomes. Whether future variants will still cause huge numbers of infections will depend on how quickly the virus can keep evolving and how well our immunity holds up after repeated exposures. Unlike other pathogens that have been criss-crossing the fitness landscape in humans for a very long time, the coronavirus has only just gotten started.
Jason Gay on the quiet joys of the very early, early morning club:
The benefits are obvious: My home is quieter, as is the world, and my head. Nobody’s reaching out to me at 4 a.m. Email has slowed to a halt. Texts are nonexistent. Emergencies are waiting until 8 a.m. It’s just me, the thoughts sloshing around my mind, and the low hum of the refrigerator. I can actually feel my brain moving around inside of my head, excitedly. Or maybe that’s the caffeine.
Spears grew up in both Mississippi and Louisiana, two states that fall into the region where people speak in what linguists call Southern American English. Southern accents have been used for decades in film and television, but the dialect also has a certain lexicon, pronunciation, and syntax that make it unique, according to the University of Georgia.
In the past few years, Spears’ social media presence has drawn attention as she fought to terminate a 13-year conservatorship. Some have interpreted her posts as secret messages from Spears to her fans, while others have used the posts to question the singer’s mental health.
Thomas doesn’t ever expect to meet Britney Spears, but also said that no one deserves to be spoken about the way she has. In some ways, the “Britney’s Southern Translator” series has been an educational public service to viewers who simply didn’t know what the star was saying.
Spencer Kornhaber on Spotify:
What’s more, the company now finds itself where few companies intend to be: as a figure in the culture wars. For years, musicians have spoken out about Spotify’s technology and business practices, but those complaints have rarely reached the level of visibility that Young’s now have. That is surely because [musician Neil] Young is taking a stand on the highly politicized issues of vaccine skepticism, leading conservative commentators to defend [podcaster Joe] Rogan with familiar rhetoric about cancel culture. Competing hashtags such as #SpotifyDeleted and #ThanksJoeRogan are now trending.
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