10 Things in Politics: You could get a stimulus check by late March — Trump's defense begins
Good morning! Welcome to 10 Things in Politics. I’m Brent Griffiths. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day. Programming note: Monday is Presidents’ Day, so we’ll be back with your regularly scheduled programming on Tuesday.
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Here’s what you need to know:
- Democrats’ stimulus plan includes major changes to Obamacare
- 3 GOP senators met with Trump’s impeachment defense team
- A Democratic megadonor is on the outs over his role in the opioids crisis
1. THE STIMULUS CALENDAR: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package by early March. Democrats’ plan leaves little room for error, but if everything goes according to plan a House floor vote could come in less than two weeks.
The goal is to have a new law before unemployment benefits expire for millions of Americans. And if checks get out at roughly the same pace they did previously, many Americans could have the $1,400 payments by late March. Check out the ambitious timeline here.
- Some Republicans still hope for a bipartisan deal:
Amid the impeachment trial, House committees have been drafting and debating language for the massive bill. Just yesterday, the powerful House Ways and Means Committee approved the $1,400 direct payments.
The package, as my colleague Kimberly Leonard points out in an exclusive report, includes some of the most consequential changes to Obamacare in more than a decade.
- What it means for you: Millions of middle-income people have been shut out of Obamacare since they earn more than $51,000. The relief plan aims to change that through greater subsidies and by having the federal government pick up more of the tab for many Americans. Of particular note, the government would pay 85% of laid-off workers’ premiums for the expensive COBRA plan through September.
- In short: “If you recently shopped for health insurance but found it unaffordable, you might want to give it another shot soon.”
2. Three GOP senators met with Trump’s lawyers last night: Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah huddled with Trump’s team last night, per CNN. Cruz said they did discuss strategy, which comes just before the former president’s team mounts its defense later today. Their arguments are expected to be extremely brief, perhaps using just three to four of the allotted 16 hours.
- Some Republicans praised Democrats’ presentation. But Trump’s looks close to acquittal all the same: “With Republican positions hardening and President Biden’s agenda slowed by the proceedings, Democratic senators began signaling that they had seen enough, too, and members of both parties were coalescing around a plan to bring a quick end to the trial with a vote on guilt or innocence as early as Saturday,” The New York Times reports.
- Democrats closed by emphasizing how Trump is “overwhelming guilty”: “I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose. Because he can do this again,” Rep. Ted Lieu of California said. (ICYMI: Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island read from an incredible report from my colleagues Elvina Nawaguna and Kayla Epstein on the Black Capitol staff who cleaned up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists. Read it for yourself here.)
3. Trump’s COVID-19 was worse than we knew: Officials were so worried about the president before he was taken to Walter Reed that they believed he would need to be put on a ventilator, per The New York Times. Trump’s inflamed lungs and low blood oxygen level show his health was far worse than the public was told last October.
4. The Biden administration will let around 25,000 asylum-seekers into the US: Announced moments ago, Department of Homeland Security officials say they are working “quickly” to reverse Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. Read the details here, from Insider’s Charles Davis.
5. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- 11:15 a.m.: Biden and Vice President Harris meet with a bipartisan group of governors and mayors to discuss the stimulus plan.
- 12 p.m.: Trump’s second impeachment trial resumes.
- 12:30 p.m.: Jen Psaki holds the White House’s daily news briefing.
6. Washington moves of the week: Biden nominated deputies for the Departments of Energy and Labor — David Turk and Julie Su. The White House budget office has a new federal personnel director, Pam Coleman. Freshmen lawmakers on Capitol Hill are staffing up, from former Atlanta attorney Steven Parker joining Ossoff’s team to Steve Guest’s new gig as Cruz’s special comms advisor. The full, exclusive list of the latest hirings in D.C.
7. A Democratic megadonor is on the outs. He reportedly helped “turbocharge” sales of OxyContin: Martin Elling, a former McKinsey & Company partner, has donated nearly $2 million mostly to Democratic causes over the past two decades. Elling is also a key figure in McKinsey’s effort to help boost the sales of Purdue Pharma’s drug. My colleague Dave Levinthal has more details on five and six-figure checks Elling cut as recently as last year.
8. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office released more than 9,000 COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes: Some Republicans are now calling on the Democratic governor to resign after reports on how his administration handled nursing homes during the pandemic, including an admission that the state withheld the actual death toll for those in such facilities. Per the Associated Press, the new number of recovering patients sent back early in the pandemic is more than 40% higher than the state health department previously reported. Cuomo will be at the White House later today for a meeting about the stimulus package.
9. Enough shots to immunize most of America: Biden’s announcement that the administration will purchase another 200 million doses of COVID-19 shots means the U.S. has now ordered 600 million doses, enough for the entire US adult population. But the new supply won’t be delivered until July, so you may have to wait just a little bit longer.
10. A “Love Story” for Valentine’s weekend: Taylor Swift unveiled the rerecorded version of her smash hit more than 12 years after its initial release. It is also the lead single for the rerecord of her sophomore album “Fearless.” (Listen here.)
Today’s trivia question: Claire Wisniewski correctly guessed yesterday’s question. Will she stump you today? Her question, the Secret Service found what world leader on Pennsylvania Ave. drunk and in his underwear trying to hail a cab to get a pizza? Email your response and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Yesterday’s answer: The Surrat boarding house, where John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators plotted the Lincoln assassination, is now a Chinese restaurant.
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