It’s Monday, December 7, 2020. Inauguration Day is 44 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
President-elect Joe Biden unveiled the members of his health team this morning, announcing the appointees who will help him combat the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Biden announced plans to nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- Becerra, who served in Congress for 14 years before becoming California’s top law enforcement officer, has limited health care experience but has taken a lead role in defending the Affordable Care Act while serving as AG.
- He was something of a surprise pick for the post, having been long considered a contender to be Biden’s attorney general. But Becerra emerged as a possible HHS Secretary after two other possibilities, Govs. Gina Raimondo (D-RI) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), fell out of contention.
Biden also announced his other top public health advisers: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, as CDC Director; Dr. Vivek Murthy returning to his Obama-era role as Surgeon General; and Jeff Zients, Obama’s former National Economic Council Director, as the White House Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci will serve as Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to the President, in addition to his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which he has held since 1984.
- A Yale professor, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, will advise Biden on health care disparities as chair of the COVID-19 Equity Task Force.
— Rudy Giuliani tested positive for coronavirus and has been hospitalized in Washington, D.C.
— President Donald Trump held his first post-election rally in Georgia on Saturday. He focused as much on his false claims of victory as the upcoming Senate runoffs.
— It is a critical week in Congress, as negotiators race to seal agreements on government funding and coronavirus relief.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to wrestler Dan Gable at 12 p.m. He will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 12:45 p.m.
- Pence will lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 2 p.m.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Briefing and meet with transition advisers.
The Senate is not in session.
The House will convene at 12 p.m. The chamber will vote on seven pieces of legislation:
- H.Res. 1100 – A resolution reaffirming the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Mongolia, as amended
- H.Res. 512 – Calling for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws, as amended
- H.Res. 823 – Condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights, as amended
- H.Res. 189 – A resolution supporting sustained United States leadership to accelerating global progress against maternal and child malnutrition and supporting United States Agency for International Development’s commitment to global nutrition through its multi-sectoral nutrition strategy, as amended
- H.R. 8428 – Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act of 2020, as amended
- S. 461 – HBCU PARTNERS Act, as amended
- S. 1153 – Stop Student Debt Relief Scams Act of 2019
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases:
- Hungary v. Simon (10 a.m.): When a foreigner injures another foreigner outside of the United States, then the resulting litigation typically happens abroad. To take one example, we would expect ex-Hungarian nationals suing the Hungarian government to bring their case in Hungarian court.
- But that’s not the case this morning. Because American courts are able to review certain international law violations, ex-Hungarian survivors of the Holocaust are suing their former government in the U.S.— even though they did not first bring a lawsuit in Hungary. Today the Supreme Court will decide whether an American court must decline the survivors’ case until they try their luck in Hungary.
- Germany v. Philipp (11 a.m.): The justices will hear another case this morning about when foreigners are allowed to sue in U.S. courts, this one involving a dispute from a German art sale during the Holocaust.
- Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, foreigners generally cannot sue foreign governments in the U.S., with one of the exceptions being when a country (let’s say Germany) violates people’s property rights under international law. The Supreme Court will consider when exactly this exception comes into play.
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