Good morning! It’s Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 643 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,371 days away. It has been exactly one year since the 2020 Iowa caucuses.
House Republicans arrive at a crossroads
On one side stands Marjorie Taylor Greene, a first-term Georgia congresswoman who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, indicated support for executing prominent Democrats, cast doubt on the Parkland school shooting, and made a series of racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.
On the other stands Liz Cheney, a representative from Wyoming and scion of a once-prominent Republican family, who seemed destined to one day become speaker of the House (or even president) until she endangered her own political career by becoming one of 10 Republicans to vote for the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
And trapped in the middle are the rest of the House Republicans, and their leader, Kevin McCarthy of California.
The House GOP Conference will hold an in-person meeting today to decide what to do about Greene and Cheney, attempting to mend the rifts that have plagued the conference since the end of the Trump era. Will Greene be stripped of her committee assignments? Will Cheney be removed from her post as conference chair? Some combination of both?
The answers to those questions could emerge later today — when they do, they will send an unmistakable signal about the future of the Republican Party after Trump.
Here’s what we know so far about where Greene stands:
- McCarthy met with Greene for two hours on Tuesday night, and then huddled with the House Republican Steering Committee — the panel that would make the ultimate decision about revoking her committee assignments.
- According to Politico Playbook, McCarthy gave Greene three options: She could denounce QAnon and apologize publicly, she could step down from her committees voluntarily, or she could face removal by her Republican colleagues. It appears no decision was made by the Steering Committee yet, but based on Greene’s initial response to the controversy, it seems unlikely that she agreed to apologize.
- Democrats, particularly upset that Greene was placed on the Education and Labor Committee, are attempting to force McCarthy’s hand on the committee assignments. The Rules Committee will meet today to advance a resolution that would remove Greene from her committees by a vote of the full House, a vote Republicans are hoping to avoid (and say would set a dangerous precedent going forward).
And here’s the latest on Cheney:
- Per Politico, at least 107 House Republicans — more than half — have privately indicated that they would support removing Cheney as conference chair on a secret ballot. It is unknown whether Republicans will force such a vote at today’s meeting, or merely debate the proposition.
- Meanwhile, Cheney also faces a firestorm back home for her impeachment vote. The Washington Post described a bubbling “rebellion” from Wyoming voters angered by her break with Trump; ten county-level Republican parties in the state have censured Cheney for the vote.
- One of her congressional colleagues, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), traveled to Wyoming last week to hold an anti-Cheney rally that drew between 750 and 1,000 attendees. Donald Trump Jr. addressed the crowd by speakerphone.
While the decisions facing House Republicans today revolve around two women, there is one man who looms over them all: Donald Trump. The former president has made his preference in the intraparty battle clear. According to Greene, Trump expressed his support for her in a phone call this weekend; per the New York Times, he has told allies that Cheney is high on his post-presidential target list.
On the flip side, many Senate Republicans have urged their House colleagues to go in the opposite direction, following the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who issued statements bashing Greene and defending Cheney this week.
“Our party isn’t big enough to have both conservatives and kooks,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told reporters Tuesday.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) also framed the choice facing House Republicans as nothing less than a decision about the future of the GOP. “Do they want to be the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility, free markets, peace through strength and pro-life,” he asked Tuesday, “or do they want to be the party of conspiracy theories and QAnon?”
“I think that is the decision they’ve got to face.”
IMPEACHMENT: The House impeachment managers outlined their case against former President Donald Trump in an 80-page brief filed on Tuesday, arguing that he bears “unmistakable” responsibility for the January 6 attack at the Capitol. “President Trump’s pursuit of power at all costs is a betrayal of historic proportions,” the managers wrote. “It requires his conviction.”
- Trump’s lawyers responded in a 14-page filing, asserting that the former president’s claims about election fraud and his remarks at a rally before the riot are protected by the First Amendment. They also argued that the Senate cannot constitutionally convict a former president, “rendering the article of impeachment moot and a non-justiciable question.”
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: Two new Biden Cabinet secretaries were confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation and Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security. Both confirmations were historic: Buttigieg was the first openly LGBT American to be confirmed to a Cabinet-level post, while Mayorkas became the first Latino and the first immigrant to oversee the Department of Homeland Security.
- The Biden administration announced plans to begin shipping COVID-19 vaccines directly to pharmacies. The first round of 1 million doses will be sent to 6,500 stores starting next week, with plans to add more locations as time goes on.
CONGRESS: Both the House and Senate voted Tuesday to advance a pair of budget resolutions that would open the door for Democrats to approve a coronavirus stimulus package through the budget reconciliation process, which would skirt the filibuster in the Senate.
- Every Democratic senator voted to advance the measure, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has expressed reservations about parts of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package (including the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour). The procedural vote on Tuesday was an early test of his potential support for the final product.
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In Tuesday’s newsletter, I listed the wrong home state for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He is from California.
- My apologies for the error and thanks to Ann Schultis of Parkville, Missouri, for being the first to point it out.
All times Eastern.
President Joe Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 5:30 p.m. in the Oval Office.
Vice President Kamala Harris will ceremonially swear in Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation at 9:30 a.m. in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Later, she will join Biden for the President’s Daily Brief.
First Lady Jill Biden will host a virtual event at 3:30 p.m. with spouses of senior Defense Department and military leaders to discuss the administration’s support for military families.” She will also hold an event at 4:45 p.m. thanking the National Cancer Institute for their work, ahead of World Cancer Day tomorrow.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press briefing at 1:30 p.m. in the White House briefing room.
U.S. public health officials will hold a press briefing at 11 a.m. to “provide public health updates and discuss the status of the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.”
- Participants in the briefing will include Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the president; Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the chairwoman of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
The Senate will convene at 9 a.m. and resume consideration of S.Con.Res. 5, the Senate version of the budget resolution that will allow Democrats to pass a stimulus package by majority vote through the reconciliation process.
The chamber is required to debate the resolution for 50 hours, 31 of which remain. There is no limit to the number of amendments that can be offered to a budget resolution, which means the debate will be followed by a “vote-a-rama” on potentially hundreds of amendments.
- The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation vote on Commerce Secretary nominee Gina Raimondo at 9:30 a.m.
- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation vote on UN Ambassador nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield at 9:45 a.m.
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation vote on Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm at 10 a.m.
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona at 10 a.m.
- The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Small Business Administrator nominee Isabella Guzman at 10:30 a.m.
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee Michael Regan at 2 p.m.
The House will convene at 1 p.m. and resume consideration of H.Con.Res. 11, the House version of the budget resolution that will open the door to the reconciliation process.
The chamber will debate the resolution for three hours, followed by a final vote around 5 p.m.
- The House Rules Committee will meet at 3 p.m. to debate H.Res. 72, a resolution to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of her committee assignments.
- The House Republican Conference will meet at 4 p.m. to discuss the futures of Greene and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).
The late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed attempting to protect the Capitol during the January 6 attack, will continue to lie in honor in the Capitol rotunda today. Members of Congress and Capitol Police officers will be able to pay their respects from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
- A tribute ceremony, including remarks from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by a ceremonial departure at 11:30 a.m before Sicknick’s interment at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Supreme Court may release opinions at 10 a.m. The court has several unresolved cases, including California v. Texas, a challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”).