Supreme Court to hear twin challenges to Biden vaccine mandates
At the Capitol, Biden blasts Trump in Jan. 6 speech
The fight over Coronavirus vaccinations goes to the U.S. Supreme Court today. Trump bristles over Biden’s Jan. 6 speech at the Capitol. And the Cheneys stand united against the GOP. This is “Regular Order” for January 7, 2022.
SUPREME COURT. President Biden's effort to get more people vaccinated against the Coronavirus faces a big test today at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Justices will hear a pair of challenges to vaccine mandates, which Republicans have loudly denounced. "Congress did not provide OSHA with the authority that it claims here," GOP lawmakers argued in an amicus brief.
PRIVATE COMPANIES. The first case before the justices deals with the OSHA rule for businesses with more than 100 employees, which requires those companies to get their workers vaccinated. If you don't get the vaccine, then workers must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, and wear a face mask.
HEALTH CARE. The second case focuses on a different COVID vaccine mandate, for workers at health care facilities which get money from Medicare or Medicaid programs. In cases from Missouri and Louisiana, opponents of the mandate argue the feds have no such power to require vaccinations.
JUDICIAL NERD NOTE. Technically, these cases are not on the 'merits' of the mandates, but on requests for a 'stay' - to hold off on their implementation. So far, state vaccine mandates have been allowed to stand by the Court - but this involves whether Congress has given such power to the federal government.
COVID RELIEF. Bipartisan talk of Congress possibly approving more COVID aid has alarmed some House Republicans, who believe too much has been spent already. So they're asking for a full accounting. "Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent by this administration," said Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX).
LETTER. In a seven page letter, GOP lawmakers asked the feds to detail how much money remains from the 2021 COVID relief law, as well as earlier aid packages. "American taxpayers deserve an honest and detailed accounting of where the $6 trillion in COVID-19 relief passed by Congress has been spent and how much remains," the letter states.
RESTAURANTS. Meanwhile, lawmakers in both parties want to offer more aid to restaurants and bars, which obviously have suffered during the pandemic. "Restaurants are tired and out of resources," argues the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which claims over 150,000 restaurants and bars could close in coming months.
MONEY. The $28.6 billion approved for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was handed out quickly last year - going to just over 101,000 establishments. One plan would funnel another $60 billion into that program - but it’s not clear if that can get real traction at this point.
JANUARY 6. President Biden took direct aim at Donald Trump on Thursday, ridiculing the former President's reaction to his election loss in 2020. "Here's the truth," Biden said in a blunt speech at the Capitol. "His bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can't accept he lost."
WEB OF LIES. Mr. Biden pointedly noted Trump's never-ending false claims of election fraud, many of which motivated his supporters to storm the Capitol. "The former President of the United States has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election," Biden said. "We must be absolutely clear about what is truth, and what is a lie."
TOURISTS. Earlier this year, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) downplayed the Jan. 6 events as akin to a 'normal tourist visit.' Without naming the Georgia lawmaker, President Biden threw his words back at him. "This wasn't a group of tourists,” Biden said. “This was an armed insurrection.”
WORDS. The speech was notable for the obvious effort to put Trump in his place. "He’s not just the former President, he’s the defeated former President," Biden said at one point. Biden said the phrase ‘former President’ 16 times.
BIDEN. It was certainly the most forceful address I've seen Biden make. He was back in the building that he clearly cares for, and his voice signaled his disgust with the events of Jan. 6, 2021 - and with Donald Trump's lies.
TRUMP. After Biden spoke at the Capitol, the former President reprised his role as a firehose of election disinformation. Issuing four different written statements, Trump again repeatedly claimed he was the victim in 2020 - of ‘corrupt elections’ and rigged elections, saying "the Big Lie was the Election itself."
MORE CLAIMS. "Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election," Trump said, spouting new theories of ballots being sold in Georgia for $10 each, darkly hinting at election malfeasance by questioning Biden's victory margins, as he said 'the real insurrection...took place on November 3rd.'
THE BIG LIE. Thursday was a fresh reminder of the never-ending false charges of election fraud from Trump. No evidence - and I mean absolutely nothing - has surfaced to back up his wild claims. But Republicans are eating it up. That's my column this week for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
LIZ CHENEY. One GOP family stood apart from Trump. “Even in the aftermath of January 6th, the former President continues to make the same false claims that he knows caused violence,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Thursday. “The Republican Party must reject his lies.”
DICK CHENEY. Cheney’s father - the former Vice President - joined in reprimanding the GOP. "I am deeply disappointed at the failure of many members of my party to recognize the grave nature of the January 6 attacks and the ongoing threat to our nation," Dick Cheney said in a written statement.
HOUSE FLOOR. The Cheneys were the only two Republicans to show up for a moment of silence on the House floor on Thursday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi eagerly greeted them in the Well of the House.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS. If I had told you a year ago that Democrats would be warmly embracing Dick Cheney and his daughter against Donald Trump, many of you would have laughed at the idea. But now, the enemy of your enemy is definitely a friend.
GOP. With House and Senate GOP leaders away from the Capitol on Thursday, most Republicans kept their comments to press releases or social media. The big exception was Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Since they were the only game in town on Jan. 6, they got a lot of press attention.
GAETZ-GREENE. Holding court at a news conference, Gaetz and Greene suggested the FBI played a role in inciting violence on January 6. "We are here to expose the truth," Gaetz told reporters, while Greene complained that Trump voters had ‘smeared constantly’ over January 6.
CRUZ. Gaetz and Greene blasted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for labeling January 6 a 'violent terrorist attack.' "I think that was very irresponsible of him to call them terrorists," Greene said. "We didn't find it particularly factual or sincere," added Gaetz. (Cruz backtracked last night.)
THE MODERN GOP. What an unprecedented time this is for the Republican Party. On this anniversary of the January 6 attack, the party showcased the Cheney Family versus Gaetz and Greene (plus Trump).
VP HARRIS. The opening lines of the January 6 speech by Vice President Kamala Harris aggravated the living daylights out of some GOP lawmakers. First let's give you the full quote, and take it from there.
HARRIS. "Certain dates echo throughout history, including dates that instantly remind all who have lived through them — where they were and what they were doing when our democracy came under assault. Dates that occupy not only a place on our calendars, but a place in our collective memory. December 7th, 1941. September 11th, 2001. And January 6th, 2021."
GOP. It was too much for some Republicans. "Fear-baiting and truth-twisting at its finest," said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ). "Kamala Harris should be ashamed of herself," said Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX). "Today @VP made history as a national disgrace," added Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL). Check their quotes.
REGULAR ORDER. One year ago, I was just starting this Capitol Hill newsletter. I went back yesterday and read through my coverage of the attack on the Capitol - it was spot on. This was from January 7, 2021. The past year was chock full of news. And the coming year will be as well. Get a subscription for ‘Regular Order.’
WINTER WEATHER. With snow moving in overnight, federal government offices in the Washington, D.C. area are closed on Friday, the second day this week. Hopefully, no one else gets stuck on the highway for 24 hours.
CLIO THE MUSE. In his Capitol speech, President Biden noted the 1819 sculpture that I drew upon for my daily 'Muse of History.’ "Above us, over that door leading into the Rotunda, is a sculpture depicting Clio, the muse of history. In her hands, is an open book in which she records the events taking place in this chamber below. Clio stood watch over this hall one year ago today, as she has for more than 200 years. She recorded what took place. The real history. The real facts. The real truth."
MUSE OF HISTORY. January 7, 1856. On this date, Clio was treated to a barnburner of a session in the Old House Chamber. The House still had not agreed on a Speaker - and the 95th, 96th, and 97th ballots were also inconclusive. After those votes, the House careened into a debate about whether to allow in immigrants who were Roman Catholics. "I hope that, should this Republic stand a thousand years, a Roman Catholic priest never will be a member of Congress," Rep. William Russell Smith of Alabama declared to applause from the galleries. There has only been one - Rep. Robert Drinan (D-MA) - who was elected in 1970.
The House meets next on Monday.
The Senate meets at 12 noon but has no votes.
President Biden’s daily schedule link.
See the full Regular Order archive.