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Wake Up To Politics - December 1, 2020

It’s Tuesday, December 1, 2020. Inauguration Day is 50 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.


Dr. Scott Atlas, a controversial coronavirus adviser to President Donald Trump, has resigned his White House post. Atlas, a former Stanford radiology professor without any experience in epidemiology, joined the federal government for a 130-day detail in August after Trump saw his frequent appearances on Fox News.

  • Atlas quickly grew to become Trump’s closest pandemic adviser, even as he clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
  • During his White House tenure, Atlas emerged as a chief critic of several strategies promoted by public health experts to mitigate the coronavirus, such as wearing masks and closing businesses. He also promoted a “herd immunity” strategy to combat the pandemic by allowing it to spread through most of the population.
  • “I worked hard with a singular focus—to save lives and help Americans through this pandemic,” he wrote in a resignation letter to the president on Monday. “As you know, I always relied on the latest science and evidence, without any political consideration or influence.”

Campaign 2020

Arizona and Wisconsin became the final battleground states to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Monday. All six states in which President Trump contested his defeat have now formally declared Biden as the winner. The president is continuing his legal challenges, however: his campaign filed a lawsuit to the Wisconsin Supreme Court this morning challenging the state’s certification.

  • Trump’s legal challenges have allowed him to greatly expand his campaign coffers: his political operation has raised about $170 million since Election Day. The bulk of those contributions have gone to “Save America,” a new political action committee Trump set up in mid-November.
  • Those funds could be tapped if Trump decides to run for the presidency again in 2024. According to Fox News and the Daily Beast, he is flirting with announcing a repeat bid before or even during Biden’s inauguration on January 20.


A bipartisan group of senators will unveil a $908 billion stimulus proposal today, after months of stalled negotiations on a relief package for the U.S. economy. According to the Washington Post, the new proposal will include $300 billion in funding for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, $240 billion for state and local governments, and about $50 billion to assist with vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing and tracing.

  • The bipartisan group is composed of moderate senators from both sides of the aisle, including Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
  • The package will not include a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks, although it will provide $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits.
  • Congress is facing several key deadlines before the end of the year. Government funding is set to lapse on December 11, while key coronavirus relief measures — including unemployment benefits for about 12 million Americans — are set to expire on December 26.

The Biden Transition

President-elect Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is facing a chilly reception on Capitol Hill. Neera Tanden, who leads the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, has deleted more than 1,000 messages from her Twitter account since the beginning of the month — including many which attacked Republican senators.

  • But it may be too late for Tanden, who will need GOP support for her confirmation if Democrats do not win both Georgia runoffs next month. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called Tanden “radioactive,” while Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) acknowledged that it “might be a challenge” to approve her nomination.

The president-elect is expected to roll out more Cabinet picks in the weeks ahead. According to CNN, Biden has narrowed his shortlist for Defense Secretary down to three contenders: veteran Pentagon official Michèle Flournoy, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and retired Army general Lloyd Austin.

  • The Congressional Black Caucus is pushing for Johnson or Austin to become the first African-American Pentagon chief, while a growing number of Democratic lawmakers are urging Biden to appoint Flournoy as the first woman to hold the position.


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump has no public events scheduled.

  • Vice President Mike Pence will lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 3 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will introduce their economic policy team at 12:30 p.m. in Wilmington, Delaware.

  • Biden and Harris will also receive the Presidential Daily Briefing.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will meet with FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn at 9:30 a.m. to push him to fast-track approval of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, according to Axios.

  • The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will hold a virtual meeting at 2 p.m. to discuss who should be prioritized in receiving coronavirus vaccines.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. The chamber will vote at 11 a.m. to confirm Taylor B. McNeel as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi and advance the nomination of J. Philip Calabrese to be a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio.

  • The Senate will recess at 12:30 p.m. for caucus meetings. The chamber will return at 2:15 p.m. and vote to confirm Calabrese and to advance the nomination of Kyle Hauptman to be a member of the National Credit Union Administration Board.

The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on oversight of the CARES Act, the coronavirus relief package passed in March, featuring testimony from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, at 10 a.m.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments by teleconference in two cases:

  • Nestlé USA v. Doe I (10 a.m.): Former child slaves from the Ivory Coast are suing Nestlé — an American food manufacturing giant — for supporting human rights abuses on the cocoa plantations where they worked. They are suing under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to sue Americans in U.S. courts for torture, extrajudicial killings, and crimes against humanity.
  • The two main questions are 1) whether U.S. corporations can be sued under the ATS, since usually government officials are targeted; and 2), whether the ATS applies when the harmful conduct happened outside the U.S.
  • CIC Services v. Internal Revenue Service (11 a.m.): A rare tax case has arrived at the Supreme Court! Today the justices will examine the Anti-Injunction Act, a law which explains when taxpayers are allowed to challenge a tax determination by the IRS. They will determine whether this law prevents people from challenging other types of mandates by the IRS.

— Supreme Court summaries contributed by Anna Salvatore

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