The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Biden navigates pressures from Dems

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–> A midday take on what’s happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha–breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Breaking: Rush Limbaugh dies | Biden navigates pressures from Dems | Balks at $50k student loan forgiveness, offers $10k | Energy prices skyrocket in Texas | COVID cases drop | Four reasons | First two FEMA mass vaccination sites open in Calif. | Trump unleashes on McConnell | Calls him ‘dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack’ | Trump Plaza demolished | MLB pitchers and catchers report | Adam Sandler recreates Happy Gilmore swing



Well, I can’t give you $50K, but how about $10K?:  

 said he doesn’t have the power to relieve $50,000 in student loan debt but said he would sign off on forgiving $10,000 per borrower. 

In Biden’s words: “I do think in this moment of economic pain and strain that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, No. 1. And No. 2, I’m prepared to write off the $10,000 debt, but not [$50,000],” Biden said.

How it would happen: Biden’s press secretary said he would sign off on forgiving $10,000 of student loan debt if Congress passed the bill.

Keep in mind: “A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen.  (Mass.) reintroduced a measure earlier this month calling on Biden to forgive up to $50,000 in federally held student debt per borrower. Supporters argue that Biden has the authority and responsibility to forgive student debt as the coronavirus pandemic roils the U.S. economy and imposes the greatest burden on those least able to afford it.”

Where Biden stands on the COVID timeline:

Via Politico’s Chris Cadelago and Natasha Korecki, “President Joe Biden touched down in Middle America on Tuesday and started laying down markers. People who want a vaccine will be able to get one by the end of July, he promised. Within 100 days, close to every schoolchild in America will be able to go back five days a week. A pathway to citizenship would be essential to any immigration reform bill.”

“They were the type of pledges that could come back to haunt a politician. But Biden is, if nothing else, a seasoned politician. And often, during his CNN town hall, the pledges came with caveats.”

It’s Wednesday. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to [email protected]  — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel  and  Facebook.

Did someone forward this to you? Want your own copy? Sign up here to receive The Hill’s 12:30 Report in your inbox daily:    

The cold news — hope you like more snow?: The Washington, D.C.-area is under a winter storm watch later today through Thursday night. The full forecast from the Capital Weather Gang:

The warmer, happier news — Spring is coming!: MLB pitchers and catchers report to spring training today. What to know 





Rush Limbaugh has died:

Via Fox News’s Brian Flood, longtime conservative talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh has died at the age of 70.

How the announcement was made: His wife Kathryn announced it on his radio show.

Keep in mind: “The radio icon learned he had Stage IV lung cancer in January 2020 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by at the State of the Union address days later. First lady then presented America’s highest civilian honor to Limbaugh in an emotional moment on the heels of his devastating cancer diagnosis.”


Awkward conversations are coming:

Via The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis, “Wary of inflaming tensions within his own party, House Republican Leader  (Calif.) is staying silent about his frantic Jan. 6 call to then-President Trump as rioters raided the Capitol. But he may not have that luxury forever.”

What to expect: “That heated phone call — which Democratic prosecutors made part of the official impeachment record — is almost certain to be investigated by the 9/11-style commission that Speaker  (D-Calif.) is promising to examine the events surrounding the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.” 

Timing: “Congress is moving quickly. Leadership sources said a bill to create an independent commission could come this week.”

What’s going on with the COVID-19 relief package?:

Via The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda, “A multitude of House committees advanced portions of the [coronavirus relief bill] last week, and House Majority Leader  (D-Md.) told colleagues on Tuesday that the plan is for the bill to be considered on the House floor next week.”  

The tricky part: When the bill heads to a 50-50 Senate. Democrats will need all senators in its caucus to vote for the bill. Yes, we’re talking about you, Sens.  (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) 

Where each line item stands — Including the minimum wage, stimulus checks and unemployment benefits:


Cases are dropping at a pretty good clip:

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson explains four reasons: “social distancing, seasonality, seroprevalence, and shot.”  

The full explanation — and what we should interpret from the numbers

Open sesame!:

“The first two mass vaccination sites run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened Tuesday in California, part of the Biden administration’s effort to ramp up the federal government’s role getting vaccines in arms.” 

Where the sites are located: At the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and California State University Los Angeles


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 27,759,887 

U.S. death toll: 488,295 

Breakdown of the numbers


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 56.1 million shots have been given.

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.67 million doses 

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million. 

Breakdown of the numbers:  



What’s next, the locusts?:

“At least 20 people have died as a record-breaking winter storm slams the South and Midwest this week, plunging them into subzero temperatures and knocking out power in millions of homes.”

‘Texas produces more power than any other state. Here’s why it went dark anyway’:

Via CNN’s Matt Egan, “A deep freeze this week in the Lone Star state, which relies on electricity to heat many homes, is causing power demand to skyrocket. At the same time, natural gas, coal, wind and nuclear facilities in Texas have been knocked offline by the unthinkably low temperatures.” 

Yikes: That sent electricity prices to rise more than 10,000 percent (!) 

Why there are issues: “’The extreme cold is causing the entire system to freeze up,’ said Jason Bordoff, a former energy official in the Obama administration and director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. ‘All sources of energy are underperforming in the extreme cold because they’re not designed to handle these unusual conditions.’ ” 

The full reasoning is worth reading

From the Texas Tribune — ‘No, frozen wind turbines aren’t the main culprit for Texas’ power outages’:

Via The Tribune’s Erin Douglas and Ross Ramsey, “Frozen wind turbines in Texas caused some conservative state politicians to declare Tuesday that the state was relying too much on renewable energy. But in reality, the lost wind power makes up only a fraction of the reduction in power-generating capacity that has brought outages to millions of Texans across the state during a major winter storm.” The full story


Man, Trump would be the perfect person to invite to a Comedy Central Roast:

Former President Trump unloaded on Senate Minority Leader  (R-Ky.), days after McConnell gave a scathing speech about the former president. 

How Trump released his message: Through a statement from his Save America super PAC 

From Trump’s statement — yikes, he does not hold back: “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again …  He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.”


Via Politico’s Matthew Choi, Marianne LeVine, Meredith McGraw and Gabby Orr, “A person familiar with the crafting of the statement confirmed that it could have been far worse. An earlier draft mocked McConnell for having multiple chins, the person said. But Trump was convinced by advisers to take it out. ‘There was also a lot of repetitive stuff and definitely something about him having too many chins but not enough smarts,’ the person said.”

This morning — the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was demolished:




Back story to the demolition: Via CNN:


For all you Happy Gilmore fans — he’s still got it!:

This video has more than 14 million views since yesterday. 





The House and Senate are out. President Biden and Vice President Harris are at the White House.  

11:30 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief. 

12:30 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris have lunch together. 

3:30 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris meet with labor leaders to discuss the COVID relief plan and infrastructure. 

You’re invited — Thursday: The Hill is hosting a virtual event, “Prioritizing the Patient.” Details and how to RSVP:


11 a.m. EST: The White House’s COVID response team held a press briefing. Livestream

12:30 p.m. EST: Press briefing from White House press secretary  and Deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology Anne NeubergerLivestream

2 p.m. EST: Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas holds a news conference on counterfeit face masks. Livestream


Today is National Cabbage Day.

And because you made it this far, here’s a dog apologizing for stealing his friend’s treat:

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