Your Trifecta of News Highlights for Monday morning, December 14:
Monday is the real Election Day for President. Joe Biden will win (again) when the Electoral College gathers in state capitals to cast their votes. The weekend was spiced with more court losses for President Trump, beginning Friday night at the U.S. Supreme Court, when the Justices refused to even consider a totally unprecedented election challenge by the state of Texas. If someone tells you that President Trump still has a good chance in the courts, they are just flat wrong. As I wrote this weekend, if this was a title fight in boxing, the referee would have stopped it long ago. But don't look for the President to stop his crusade, which raises distinct questions about why so many GOP lawmakers and elected officials are fighting so hard to throw out millions of votes, when there is simply no proven evidence of election fraud. The Trump / GOP record in court as of Sunday afternoon was 1 win and 59 losses. In baseball, going 1-for-59 at the plate is a batting average of .017 - (and yes, that’s bad). Does the election fight end with the Electoral College for many Republicans? Stay tuned.
HISTORY REMINDER: Sunday marked 20 years since Al Gore conceded defeat to George W. Bush, after the landmark Bush v Gore ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In my stories for this morning in 2000, I wrote: "With little hint of the tooth and nail post-election fight for the presidency, the Vice President stepped up and publicly acknowledged his defeat....Gore said he disagreed with the Supreme Court decision that ended this race, but added there was no reason to fight on."
The virus vaccine arrives. If not for President Trump's continued election fight, the rollout of the vaccine for the Coronavirus would be by far the biggest news story right now. I could even imagine a nationwide address from the Oval Office about it. But, that’s not where things are right now. Still, the release of the vaccine couldn't come at a better time, as the daily number of Coronavirus deaths is up 62 percent so far in December in the U.S., to an average of over 2,400 deaths per day. Hospitalizations are at record levels. ICU's are filled and overflowing. And the daily number of new virus cases is averaging over 212,000 cases per day, up dramatically in the last three months. The nation could go over 300,000 Coronavirus deaths as early as Monday.
CDC Warning: "Probably for the next 60 to 90 days, we're going to have more deaths per day than we had in Nine Eleven, or that we had in Pearl Harbor," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said last week.
Congress tries to wrap up work for 2020. It's that familiar time in the halls of Congress. Everyone wants to get the heck out of town, especially the lawmakers who won’t be in office next year. But there's a lot still on the Legislative To-Do List. Negotiations aren't yet done on a series of funding bills for the federal government - those spending bills were supposed to be completed by October 1. There's still no final deal on a Coronavirus relief measure, though we expect details on a new plan from a bipartisan group of moderates. It's expected President Trump will veto a bipartisan defense bill in coming days. And a government shutdown deadline is on Friday night. Other than that, everything is just fine (insert eye roll emojis). The new Congress convenes on January 3 (in less than three weeks).
WHY A TRUMP VETO? This defense bill is very popular. It has a 3 percent pay raise for the troops. It has dozens and dozens of local military projects, as lawmakers bring home the bacon. And it passed by large bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. But the President doesn't like a bipartisan provision in the plan letting the Pentagon rename military bases and facilities named after Confederate leaders. He also wants non-defense provisions inserted on "Section 230" to crack down on social media companies. And the President came up with a new reason on Sunday, saying the defense authorization bill would help China. I have no idea what the President is talking about.
CHINA? If you go through the House floor debate on the defense bill, one key Republican says the measure 'takes important steps forward to confront China' - that's from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), who will be the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee in 2021. And the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), agrees as well that the bill is tough on China. In other words, the President's cry about "CHINA" doesn't hold water with GOP lawmakers.
DUPREE RULE OF THUMB: If work on Capitol Hill slides into this next weekend, lawmakers could still be on Capitol Hill until December 23 or so. A punt into February on the Omnibus is still a possibility as well.
SINE DIE ADJOURNMENT DATE POOL: We used to have those on Capitol Hill. Not anymore.
The House meets at 1:30 pm on Monday.
The Senate convenes at 3 pm.
President Trump has no public events on his schedule.
As always, Jamie Dupree develops insights and commentary that flows right down the middle of the plate. Thank you for your continued insights and context. I am sharing your new work with my colleagues and friends.
Spot on, as usual. Can't wait to read more