July 24, 2021

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POLITICO Playbook PM: White House draws a line on vaccination passports – POLITICO – Politico

11 min read

Because the pandemic looks likely to be under control this year, President JOE BIDEN has been spared the ferocity of a libertarian backlash against mask mandates, lockdowns and other measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 that some governors have faced. (Remember the time militiamen plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. GRETCHEN WHITMER over her response to Covid?) Biden’s timing has been good. For the most part he’s on track to be known for overseeing the lifting of these measures and the return to normalcy.

The White House today confirmed reports that the country is ahead of schedule when it comes to vaccine eligibility. All adults will now be able to get in line by April 19, rather than May 1, the original goal.

Per CNN, in remarks this afternoon, “Biden is expected to credit the governors’ effort to meet his May 1 deadline for this change” and report “that 150 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered within his first 75 days in office, in line with a stated goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.”

But despite the progress, the White House keeps a close watch on rumblings from the right over Covid restrictions. The latest fear is a federal vaccine passport. ANTHONY FAUCI and others have previously said these sorts of vaccine ID systems would be voluntary and come from the private sector — to be used for concerts and sporting events, for example. But the concerns about government databases and privacy abuses have persisted.

Today press secretary JEN PSAKI made the White House position crystal clear.

“The government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” she said. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

IN MEMORIAM — “Congressman Alcee Hastings, after career of triumph, calamity and comeback, dies at 84,” South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Hastings crusaded against racial injustice as a civil rights lawyer, became a federal judge who was impeached and removed from office, and went on to win 15 congressional elections, becoming Florida’s senior member of Congress. … In late 2018, Hastings was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. …

“The Democratic congressman was a singular figure in South Florida politics; he repeatedly broke barriers and made history — not always positively. … His agenda was broader than race. Hastings advocated on behalf of women’s rights and LGBT people, and he was keenly interested in world affairs, championing Israel and serving as chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the Helsinki Commission.” Family statement

“Hastings’ death narrows Dem majority, sets off race for his seat,” by Matt Dixon and Ally Mutnick

Good Tuesday afternoon.

CAPITOL ATTACK LATEST — “Capitol Police officer killed in ramming attack to lie in honor in Rotunda,” CBS: “A ceremonial arrival will take place on Tuesday, April 13, at 10:30 a.m. on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol, followed by a congressional tribute ceremony at 11 a.m., Schumer and Pelosi said. Members of the U.S. Capitol Police will have a viewing at noon, and members of Congress will be invited to attend from 12 p.m. through 6 p.m. A ceremonial departure will occur at 6:30 p.m. Attendance will be limited to invited guests due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Billy Evans’ family’s statement

— THE STEP BACK: “Understaffed and overtaxed, Capitol Police reeling from trauma of body and mind,” by Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu: “Last week’s attack on the Capitol Police is spiking fears among lawmakers about the mental health toll 2021 has exacted on the officers asked to protect them. …

“Members of Congress have wrestled for months over whether and how to overhaul Capitol security, with occasional partisan scuffles but mostly cross-aisle concern about safety and sufficient support for Capitol Police. The loss suffered on Friday could lend new momentum to efforts at better mental-health resources for a department that hadn’t yet found its footing after the riot.”

WAPO’S BEN TERRIS and JOSH DAWSEY go deep and delicious on post-Trump life in post-Trump D.C.: “Trump got evicted from ‘the swamp.’ Some of his people are trying to stick around”: “Several former Trump officials told the Washington Post that the job climate was even more difficult than they believed it would be, and both former vice president Mike Pence and Trump have kept a coterie of staffers still on their payrolls, some because they have not been able to find other work. Some seem to have disappeared.

“Kirstjen Nielsen, the former head of Homeland Security who is linked to the family separation scandal at the border, sold her house in Washington, according to a person familiar with the decision, and moved in hopes that fewer people would recognize her in public. Mark Meadows, the president’s former chief of staff, changed his longtime cellphone number. A number of other Cabinet secretaries have struggled to find jobs.” Plus: Ben Carson’s new think/do tank and Reince Priebus’ actual fish tank

FILIBUSTER WATCH — “Kyrsten Sinema Defends Filibuster as Pressure Mounts From Progressives,” WSJ: “‘When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,’ she said in an interview after two constituent events in Phoenix. ‘I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.’ …

“Ms. Sinema said she didn’t want to talk about hypotheticals, such as bringing back the ‘talking filibuster’ where senators must be present and talking on the floor to block bills. … Ms. Sinema supports both pieces of [voting-rights] legislation, but she has signaled no interest in carving out a special exception to the 60-vote threshold for voting-rights bills.”

CLIMATE FILES — “Putin Plans to Attend Biden Climate Summit Despite ‘Killer’ Jibe,” Bloomberg: “The Kremlin is working on Putin’s address to the virtual summit [April 22-23], though there’s been no final decision on his participation … Putin’s involvement would be his first public engagement with Biden as U.S. president amid deep strains in relations.”

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Authorities: Navy medic shoots 2, is shot and killed on base,” AP

DEEP DIVE — “U.S. Bet Big on Covid Vaccine Manufacturer Even as Problems Mounted,” NYT: “Emergent and government health officials have long touted their partnership as a success, but an examination by The New York Times of manufacturing practices at the Baltimore facility found serious problems, including a corporate culture that often ignored or deflected missteps and a government sponsor, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, that acted more as a partner than a policeman.

“Previously undisclosed internal documents and interviews with current and former federal officials and former company employees depict a factory operation that was ill-equipped to take on such a mammoth manufacturing task, despite Emergent’s having received a $163 million federal contract to improve the facility and prepare it for high-volume production.”

WAITING FOR A HAND — “The U.S. government approved trillions in aid. Many hard-hit families have yet to receive it,” WaPo: “Interviews with dozens of researchers and Americans still waiting for aid reveal ongoing problems with disbursing the $1,400 stimulus payments, processing 2020 tax refunds, administering unemployment insurance checks, and dispensing housing aid to people behind on rent and utilities.

“As the Biden administration vows to deliver a more equal economic recovery, one of its biggest challenges is getting money into the hands of people who are still jobless or underemployed, so they don’t fall further behind. Experts say the administrative stumbles underscore the need for massive upgrades in technology, more staffing and clear program guidelines so the nation isn’t caught flat-footed for the next crisis.”

IRAN NOT SO FAR AWAY? — “World powers seek to bring US back into Iran nuclear deal,” AP: “The meeting in Vienna of envoys from Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and Iran came as the U.S. was due to start its own indirect talks with Iran. … Russia’s delegate, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that the initial talks were ‘successful.’ … At the meeting, participants agreed to establish two expert-level groups, one on the lifting of sanctions and one on nuclear issues.”

IX LIVES — “Biden administration announces next steps in overhauling Title IX campus sexual assault rules,” NBC: “In a letter released by the Education Department, the [public] hearing is described as a chance for students, parents, school officials and advocates to weigh in before the Biden administration offers its proposal for how K-12 schools and colleges receiving public funding must respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

“The department has not yet announced a timeline for the hearing but plans to share more details in the coming weeks. The hearing will occur over multiple days and include a virtual component … After the hearing, the department intends to begin a formal process known as ‘proposed rule-making’ to rewrite the Title IX rules, which would include another round of public comments.”

FORBES’ @AndrewSolender: “NEW: ex-Trump official Lynne Patton fined $1000 and barred from federal employment for 48 months for violating the Hatch Act by using her HUD role to create a video for the 2020 RNC.” More

BUTTIGIEG REALLY MAKING THE PRESS ROUNDS — “Buttigieg on Biden Infrastructure: Yeah It’s Big, but Very Much Needed … And Major and I Are Good!!!” TMZ

AFTERNOON READ — IMMIGRATION FILES: “What’s best for Pascual?” WaPo: “His Guatemalan parents sent him to the U.S. for a better life. Then they wanted their 9-year-old back.”

DATA DOWNLOAD — “The wage gap that threatens Biden’s climate plan,” by Kelsey Tamborrino: “President Joe Biden’s efforts to sell the country’s workers on his climate agenda will face a major hurdle, data obtained by POLITICO show — a big wage gap between the new green energy jobs and the old fossil fuel ones.

“Energy industry workers employed by solar and wind power companies earn significantly less than those who mine coal or drill for natural gas, according to data compiled by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’s clean energy think tank. For example, the median wage for solar workers is $24.48 an hour compared with $30.33 for those employed by the natural gas sector, which amounts to a roughly $12,000 annual wage gap. … Energy workers on the whole earn more than the typical American.”

TOP-ED — “What an analysis of 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Capitol insurrection tells us,” by Robert Pape in WaPo: “The Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), working with court records, has analyzed the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans, from 250 counties in 44 states, arrested or charged in the Capitol attack. …

“[T]hey are 95 percent White and 85 percent male, and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties. … But by far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.”

2022 WATCH — “Ohio race: Another candidate jumps into the most competitive GOP Senate primary in the country,” Fox News: “Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno … declared, ‘I’m running to represent the people of Ohio in the United States Senate to protect the American dream for the next generation.’ … In his video, Moreno spotlights how at age 5 he left his native Colombia and boarded a plane with her mother and siblings bound for America. ‘My parents came here legally because they wanted us to see in America we could accomplish anything,’ he noted.” Launch video

— Beaufort, N.C., Mayor RETT NEWTON, a Democrat, launched his Senate campaign today. Launch video

BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Surveillance Nation,” BuzzFeed: “A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that employees at law enforcement agencies across the U.S. ran thousands of Clearview AI facial recognition searches — often without the knowledge of the public or even their own departments.”

CLICKER — “American Flags Are Not Useful Political Clues, And Other Lessons From Google Street View,” NYT: “We recently showed Times readers images culled from Google Street View of 10,000 neighborhoods around the United States. Could readers guess, we wondered, how residents in a given place voted in the 2020 presidential election just by eyeballing a typical street scene? …

“Most Times readers appeared to recognize the relationship between population density and politics (the denser a community, the more reliably Democratic it is, in general). But as a group, Times readers did show a subtle bias in their guesses, toward Mr. Trump.”

THE NEW FAMILY BUSINESS — “Chelsea Clinton podcast to launch April 13,” AP: “iHeartMedia announced Tuesday that “In Fact with Chelsea Clinton,” hosted by the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will premiere April 13. Chelsea Clinton will draw upon her background in politics, international relations and public health as she interviews guests ranging from Jane Fonda to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.”

REPORT CARD … BARACK OBAMA’S March Madness losing streak almost came to an end this year. The former president picked Baylor to take home a national title in his annual bracket — he just had it in the wrong one. Obama selected the Bears to take home the hardware in the women’s tournament, but they were ousted by UConn in the Elite Eight. Stanford claimed victory over Arizona in the end. In the men’s bracket, he chose the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, who went down in flames against a buzzsaw Baylor team in the national championship Monday night. Overall, Obama correctly picked two of the Final Four teams on the men’s side (Gonzaga and Baylor), but only one for the women (Stanford). Props, though, for having one team correct in each championship game.

TRANSITIONS — Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) is joining Giffords as a senior adviser. She was vice chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in Congress. … Daniel Silverberg is now a managing director of corporate practice at Capstone LLC. He most recently was national security adviser to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. … Wrede Smith is joining McGuireWoods as an antitrust partner. He most recently was at Arnold & Porter and is a DOJ antitrust alum. …

… Maurice Turner is now cybersecurity fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. He most recently was senior adviser to the executive director at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. … Ryan Dalbec is now a legislative manager at The Assistance Fund. He previously was a legislative aide for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and is a David Young alum.

WEEKEND WEDDING — Evan O’Connell, head of media relations at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and a Joe Sestak and Amy Klobuchar alum, and Anna Garmash, a manager in the digital transformation practice at Atos Consulting, got married in Paris last weekend. They met in college at Sciences Po Paris. Pic

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