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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: Senate vote-a-rama begins | Dems near agreement on unemployment benefits | Reduce boost to $300 | Republicans try to make Dems miserable before passing $1.9T COVID-19 relief | US economy adds 379K jobs in Feb., doubles predictions | Pope’s first international travel in a year, arrives in Iraq | CDC delays guidelines for vaccinated Americans | National Cheese Doodle Day



The phrase vote-a-rama still feels to me like an ‘SNL’ skit on Congress: 

The Senate has begun a marathon vote-a-rama before passing the massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with a simple majority through budget reconciliation. 

Lol, this is accurate: Via Politico’s Caitlin Emma, Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “The protracted ordeal, known as “vote-a-rama,” is widely despised by members of both parties and guaranteed to leave sleepless members running on fumes just ahead of the bill’s passage in the upper chamber, likely Saturday. But there’s no way around it.” 

What happened this morning to kick off votes: “Had [Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)] wanted to delay the start of votes, he could have objected early this morning and forced votes to start late tonight. But Senate agreed to start earlier. Voting will end when senators stop offering amendments.” (Via CNN’s Manu Raju)


Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney:


Via C-SPAN: 

Exclusive footage of tired senators grumbling to each other in a few hours



NEW — we could be looking at unemployment benefits of $300 instead of $400:

Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Senate Democrats are nearing an agreement within their caucus to reduce the boost in federal unemployment benefits in the COVID-19 relief bill to $300 from the $400 included in the House bill.” 

Who is leading the charge: Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden’s Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Progressives won’t oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill MORE (W.Va.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperBiden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing Democrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda MORE (Del.).

What we know about the potential agreement: “The ‘contours’ of the emerging deal call for keeping the weekly unemployment benefit at $300 but extending it to Oct. 4 to avoid the so-called August cliff.” 

^ As a compromise to progressives: “In a concession to liberals, the deal would also make up to $10,200 in unemployment compensation exempt from taxes. The tax break would apply to benefits received in 2020.”

Happy Friday! 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.

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ExxonMobil sets emission reduction plans for 2025



We’ve announced plans to reduce the intensity of our emissions, which we expect to reduce our absolute upstream greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30%, compared to 2016 levels. 

See details here.

I meeean, I wouldn’t guess that Ron Johnson is making new friends today:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is grinding the gears of the Senate to a halt as it seeks to move forward with President BidenJoe BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants MORE’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.”

What Johnson is doing: “First, he’s forcing the Senate clerks to read the entire piece of legislation, a delaying tactic that irritated Democrats and even some Republicans. Then, he wants Republicans to sign up for shifts so they could potentially force hundreds of amendment votes.” 

For context on Johnson: “It is just the latest step by Johnson, who is up for reelection in a state narrowly won by Biden, to burnish his Trump credentials, whether that’s by repeating unfounded theories about the Jan. 6 attack or becoming the face of GOP opposition to the coronavirus bill that is broadly popular even among Republicans.”


Take that estimate and DOUBLE IT, baby:

The economy added an astonishing 379,000 jobs in February, more than double what economists had predicted.

^Wow — compare that to: The economy added just 49,000 jobs in January.

The unemployment rate: Dropped from 6.3 percent to 6.2 percent.

For context: “The latest jobs data — covering the first full months of the Biden presidency — points to early signs of improvement for an economy still struggling to dig itself out of a deep hole.”


White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainKlain on Harris breaking tie: ‘Every time she votes, we win’ Murkowski never told White House she would oppose Tanden Who is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? MORE downplayed the strong jobs’ report.  

He tweeted: “If you think today’s jobs report is ‘good enough,’ then know that at this pace (+379,000 jobs/month), it would take until April 2023 to get back to where we were in February 2020.”

A House Democrat sues Trump:

Via The Hill’s John Kruzel, “Former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams ‘partisan actions’ to ‘curtail access to ballot box’ MORE, his eldest son and several of his allies were sued on Friday by Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellChina has already infiltrated America’s institutions Democrats don’t trust GOP on 1/6 commission: ‘These people are dangerous’ The Memo: New riot footage stuns Trump trial MORE (D-Calif.) over their role in the run-up to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.”

Details: “The 65-page complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., accuses Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Democrats don’t trust GOP on 1/6 commission: ‘These people are dangerous’ Trump to reemerge on political scene at CPAC MORE (R-Ala.) and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of inciting the riot and violating a number of federal and D.C. laws.” 

Read the lawsuit: 

What this means for former Trump: “The lawsuit is the latest instance of potential legal exposure for the former president. Trump also faces a criminal probe in Georgia for pressuring officials to overturn President Biden’s electoral win and is under investigation in New York for possible financial crimes and civil violations related to his businesses.”


Expect CDC guidelines soon for vaccinated Americans:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been working for weeks on a series of guidelines for vaccinated Americans — and had been expected to release them yesterday.

But the guidelines have still not been released: Via Politico’s Erin Banco, “The CDC was told to ‘hold off on releasing’ the recommendations, one of those sources said. The reason is still unclear but one senior [White House] official said the guidelines were still being finalized.” 

What we know about the behind-the-scenes process: “There is no evidence to suggest that the Biden White House is trying to suppress the CDC guidelines or override the judgement of CDC scientists.”


Via CNN’s Jen Christensen:


Via CBS News, “Pope FrancisPope FrancisReligious leaders reassure faithful over Johnson & Johnson vaccine Biden can build on Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq Bishops discourage Catholics from receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccine if alternatives available MORE arrived in Iraq on Friday, the first visit by a pontiff to the country. He ended his personal coronavirus lockdown and left Italy for the first time in more than a year.” Video of the pope walking off the plane:


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 28,828,931 

U.S. death toll: 520,422 

Breakdown of the numbers:


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 82.6 million shots have been given. 

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 2.04 million doses

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

Breakdown of the numbers:



ExxonMobil sets emission reduction plans for 2025



We’ve announced plans to reduce the intensity of our emissions, which we expect to reduce our absolute upstream greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30%, compared to 2016 levels. 

See details here.



Fact-check: true:




The full photo of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg meeting with President Biden:

Today in ‘taking-a-catchy-interior-décor-buzzword-and-taking-it-too-far’:




See the full listing:


The Senate is in. The House is out. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C.

9 a.m. EST: The Senate first met. The Senate’s full schedule today:

9:50 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief.

12:15 p.m. EST: President Biden has lunch with Vice President Harris in the private dining room.

2:15 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris receive an economic briefing with Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenDebt to break WWII record by 2031 Inflation debate heats up over Biden relief bill Biden cautious in making Trump tax returns decision MORE

5:30 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris receive a closed press COVID-19 briefing.


11 a.m. EST: The White House COVID-19 Response Team held a press briefing. Livestream: 

12:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOn The Money: Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill | Stocks sink after Powell fails to appease jittery traders | February jobs report to provide first measure of Biden economy Biden called off second military target in Syria minutes before strike: report White House says Shalanda Young could serve as acting OMB director MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream: 

3:15 p.m. EST: President Biden participates in a roundtable on the American Rescue Plan. Livestream: 

8 p.m. EST: No. 1 New York Times best-selling authors Amie Parnes (a reporter at The Hill!) and Jonathan Allen are hosting a live discussion on their new book, “Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency.” Details and how to watch live:


Today is National Cheese Doodle Day. A true national gem. 

Tomorrow is National Oreo Day and Sunday is National Cereal Day!

Getting traction — Sorry, honey, I’m gonna be home late tonight. No, really, it’s the cat’s fault:




And to kick off your weekend, here’s an elephant mother whose baby doesn’t want to wake up: 




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