Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. I’m Brent Griffiths. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Insider’s exclusive interview with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
- House lawmakers abruptly changed plans over new threats to the Capitol.
- Biden is taking another swing at his “cancer moonshot.”
1. CAPITOL POLICE WARNS OF VIOLENCE: House lawmakers abruptly scuttled their plans for today, shifting scheduled votes to last night amid potential threats. Senators will continue their plans, but the Capitol Police is stepping up security in a complex already protected by fencing and thousands of National Guard troops. Everyone is uneasy less than two months after the deadly January 6 riot.
- Why today: Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory refuse to accept the election result or the 20th Amendment. The 20th Amendment, among other things, had in 1933 moved inaugurations from March 4 to January 20. Some QAnon adherents believe it doesn’t apply to them and that there’s been no legitimate president since Ulysses S. Grant.
Unclear how serious the threats are: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner told CNN the latest moves are “I think, a bit of an overabundance of caution. At least, I’m hopeful.” Some law-enforcement officials just see it as online chatter that has yet to move beyond talk, the network reported.
- One Republican wants Trump to calm things: “I think President Trump has the responsibility to tell them to stand down. This threat is credible,” Rep. Michael McCaul told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
2. Our exclusive interview with Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg: It’s not usually a coveted slot for political up-and-comers, but Secretary Pete has embraced the role. His biggest test will be helping pass a massive infrastructure package. He’ll be at the White House later today to discuss the topic.
He’s also looking to elevate the status of the mammoth federal agency, with one of his former campaign aides even overhauling the department’s social media presence into a meme machine.
More on our exclusive interview here. (And we’ll have more tomorrow!)
- Key quote: “Transportation, in addition to being one of the most important and consequential pieces of domestic policy, in my view is also one of the most fun,” Buttigieg told us.
3. Some 16 million fewer Americans will receive stimulus checks: Biden and Democrats cut a deal to reduce the number of Americans eligible for $US1,400 ($1,797) checks in his $US1.9 ($2) trillion relief plan. Individuals making more than $US80,000 ($102,702) would no longer qualify; couples making more than $US160,000 ($205,405) are also out. $US400 ($514) a week in federal unemployment assistance would run through August. Moderate Senate Democrats have pushed for more targeted aid.
- What’s next: The Senate is expected to pass the relief plan this weekend, but it could take a while. GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has vowed to force Senate clerks to read every word of the final bill out loud, a process estimated to take 10 hours. Following that, there is to be 20 hours of debate and another “vote-a-rama.”
4. The Pentagon waited 3 hours to send troops to Capitol during the riot, the DC Guard commander says: Maj. Gen. William Walker testified that shortly after receiving a call for support, he was ready to send roughly 150 Guard troops to the Capitol. He said they could have been there in about 20 minutes, but he needed approval from Pentagon leadership. He didn’t receive that approval until 5:08 p.m. on January 6, long after the Capitol was breached.
- We’re also learning more about what federal authorities were doing before the riot: Internal Homeland Security department emails obtained by Insider show officials monitoring hotel bookings and social media posts before the 6th. Our exclusive report has more from the 34 pages of documents.
5. Biden wants to expand his “cancer moonshot”: He met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss how they can continue the work he did as VP. Part of the meeting was to introduce his top science advisor, Eric Lander, who would spearhead the effort. Past presidents have typically selected physicists for the position to get advice on nuclear weapons, but Biden wants to bolster efforts to find treatments and cures.
- Fun fact: Sen. Dick Durbin, who was at the White House meeting, told us: “Obama used to give us apples at the White House. Do you know what Biden gives? Chocolate chip cookies. In cellophane with a presidential seal on it.”
6. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he won’t resign: Cuomo repeatedly apologized, saying he was “embarrassed” by his behavior, but vowed: “I never touched anyone inappropriately.” Two accusers rejected his effort to show contrition.
7. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- 10:00 a.m.: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee votes on Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to be Interior Secretary.
- 12:45 p.m: Jen Psaki holds the White House daily news briefing.
- 2:00 p.m.: Biden, Vice President Harris, and Buttigieg, meet a bipartisan group of House lawmakers to discuss infrastructure.
- 2:00 p.m.: The CBO releases its long-term budget outlook.
8. House Democrats passed a sweeping voting-rights bill and a criminal justice overhaul: Democrats passed their flagship democracy reform package “H.R.1” without Republican support by a 220-210 vote. Rep. Bennie Thompson was the sole Democrat to oppose the measure. The House also passed a police reform bill named after George Floyd by a 220-212 vote with two Democrats, Reps. Jared Golden and Ron Kind, opposing it.
- What’s next: Democrats previously passed both bills only for the Republican-led Senate to ignore them. Now, they still face an uphill battle with Democrats narrowly in charge.
- Oops!: One Republican, Rep. Lance Gooden, voted for the policing bill. He later tweeted that he “pushed the wrong button.”
9. Watchdog finds Elaine Chao misused her office as Transportation Secretary: Investigators found that Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell, used her office staff to support her family’s business, including helping with tasks for her father – like editing his Wikipedia page. The DOJ declined a request to open an investigation.
10. Battle royal: Meghan Markle said Buckingham Palace “perpetuated falsehoods” about her. The latest clip from her and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey came after The Times of London reported that several of Markle’s former staffers accused her of bullying. Markle and Harry deny the claims, but Buckingham Palace says it will investigate the matter.
One last thing.
Today’s trivia question: Today’s question comes from Eldon Smith. What was the first US state to grant women the right to vote? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at [email protected].
- Yesterday’s answer: John Tyler was the first president to suffer a veto override.