DRIVING THE DAY
For decades, MARTIN LUTHER KING III has heard his fathers words invoked by politicians across the ideological spectrum on behalf of all sorts of positions even ones antithetical to his beliefs.
Everyone believes or says they believe in the words and values of Dad, but they try to extract various portions to make it fit their narrative, MLK III told me on Sunday. I have to constantly challenge people and say, No, that’s not what dad meant; this is what Dad meant. I have to push back because every politician, every elected official is going to be out making statements about how I loved Dr. King, I support Dr. King, and then theyre voting against voting rights.
Thats why today, as Americans mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the family of the late civil rights leader is cutting through the usual lofty invocations to make a specific ask: No celebration without legislation.
[CORETTA SCOTT KING], when she was working so many years to make sure that there was a King holiday, her vision of it always was a day of action a day on, not a day off, ARNDREA WATERS KING, MLK IIIs wife, told me. There was no way that we, in good conscience, could celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. this year without [progress on] the legislation that was the cornerstone of his legacy.
Today, Arndrea, MLK III and their 13-year-old daughter will take part in the D.C. Peace Walk across Washingtons Frederick Douglass Bridge and hold a press conference with House Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Congressional Black Caucus Chair JOYCE BEATTY (D-Ohio) aimed at ramping up pressure on Democrats to move voting rights legislation forward ahead of a planned Senate vote on Tuesday. Thats an uphill effort: Neither the Freedom to Vote Act nor the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act have anywhere close to 60 votes in the Senate, and Sens. KYRSTEN SINEMA and JOE MANCHIN arent budging in their opposition to reforming the filibuster.
Be that as it may, the Kings dont hold moderates on the Hill solely responsible for the lack of forward movement.
What weve seen with President [JOE] BIDEN is what happens when he puts his full force and power behind an issue like infrastructure. What we want to see is that same power and passion being put behind voting rights, said Arndrea Waters King. We hope that [Monday] is a working day for President Biden.
The Kings know that the short-term outlook doesnt look good. But they see keeping the faith and pushing it forward, no matter the odds as central to maintaining the late Dr. Kings legacy.
Had he lived, we would be a fundamentally different place, MLK III said of his father. [But] if he just arrived today as a 93-year-old man, he would certainly be very frustrated, but not deterred. He understood that you had to look at the long game. Hed certainly be disappointed that we seem to be going around in a circle. Not only have we been down this road so many times, we are people who will not give up. We’re not going to give in, we’re not going to give out.
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IS TRUMPS VACCINE SUPPORT A LIABILITY? NYTs Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman have a must-read piece on the long-brewing feud between former President DONALD TRUMP and Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS, which burst into public view recently in a dispute over a seemingly unrelated topic: Covid policies.
The big question: Has the GOP base shifted so far to the right on pandemic politics that they no longer see Trump as sufficiently conservative? The doubts Mr. Trump amplified about public health expertise have only spiraled since he left office. Now his defense of the vaccines even if often subdued and almost always with the caveat in the same breath that he opposes mandates has put him uncharacteristically out of step with the hard-line elements of his partys base and provided an opening for a rival.
The wide-angle view of Trump vs. DeSantis: At its core, the dispute amounts to a stand-in for the broader challenge confronting Republicans at the outset of midterm elections. They are led by a defeated former president who demands total fealty, brooks no criticism and is determined to sniff out, and then snuff out, any threat to his control of the party. That includes the 43-year-old DeSantis, who has told friends he believes Mr. Trumps expectation that he bend the knee is asking too much. That refusal has set up a generational clash and a test of loyalty in the de facto capital of todays G.O.P., one watched by Republicans elsewhere whove ridden to power on Mr. Trumps coattails.
The collision of Trumpism and the pandemic is also front and center in David Siders new profile of KRISTI NOEM. In 2020 and 2021, the South Dakota governor became an unexpected Republican sensation and Fox News staple for her theatrical defiance of mask and vaccine mandates. But sustaining the GOPs interest has proved more difficult as the pandemic lingers on, Siders writes.
Theres one person in particular whose interest Noem is fighting to hold. [I]n the time of Trump, with a celebrity kingmaker still firmly in charge of the GOP, shes also running to stay on his radar as a potential asset. [O]ne Trump ally told me that there is a widely held appreciation for Noems star quality. If Trump runs and decides to select a woman as a running mate, Noem may benefit from critical comments NIKKI HALEY, the former U.N. ambassador, made about Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol last year. But there is also a sense in Trumpworld, after watching Noems first term as governor, that she may not be seasoned enough for a national campaign, another person close to Trumps operation said.
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Speaking of Trump, our own Meridith McGraw and photographer Mark Peterson are out with a vivid photo essay capturing the surreal, crass, conspiracy theory riddled, carnival atmosphere at the former presidents campaign rally over the weekend. Its worth clicking through to check out the whole thing.
Christie Disinger (left) and friend waiting to get into Trump’s rally in Florence, AZ, Saturday, January 15, 2022. | Mark Peterson/POLITICO
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
A visitor walks by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 16. | J. David Ake/AP Photo
THE NEW SOUTHWEST CENTRISM Sen. MARK KELLY is the subject of a lengthy new profile from the Arizona Republics Yvonne Wingett Sanchez that offers as good a glimpse as any into how the freshman Democrat aims to position himself as he heads into what is likely to be a highly competitive reelection campaign this fall. In short: Kelly aims to run as a pragmatic centrist, even as the NRSC blasts him for being too liberal and hiding behind KYRSTEN SINEMA.
Interestingly, theres at least one GOP senator who disagrees with the NRSCs depiction of Kelly: Utahs MITT ROMNEY. Mark recognizes, like I do, that for something to become the law, it requires Republicans and Democrats to agree, Romney told the Republic. We don’t always agree, but hes a person who is reliable and you can trust him to follow through with this word. (You can probably expect to see that quote in pro-Kelly ads this fall.)
YOUNGKIN STIRS MASK CONTROVERSY On Sunday, his first full day in office, Virginia Republican Gov. GLENN YOUNGKIN endured a wave of pushback among education leaders and Democratic pols over his executive order aimed at allowing parents to opt their children out of any and all mask requirements at K-12 schools.Andrew Cain and Eric Kolenick have the details for the Richmond Times-Dispatch
JEN VS. GLENN: In a sign of how quickly Democrats have rallied around the issue, White House press secretary JEN PSAKItook a shot at Youngkin on Twitter after he criticized Arlington Public Schools decision to continue mandating masks:Hi there. Arlington county parent here (dont believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong). Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant.
OFF TO UKRAINE With Ukraine under threat of a Russian invasion, a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators led by Sens. ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio) and JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-N.H.) has traveled to the country in an effort to reaffirm the U.S. commitment, per a release. Also taking part: Sens. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-Conn.), KEVIN CRAMER (R-N.D.), AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minn.), CHRIS MURPHY (D-Conn.) and ROGER WICKER (R-Miss.). The senators plan to meet with Ukranian President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY later today.
MORE RELIEF PAYMENTS? The latest coronavirus surge has businesses in some industries looking to Congress for more money, WSJs Brody Mullins reports. While most Republicans oppose yet another round of pandemic relief payments, lobbyists for those seeking aid, which includes restaurants and Broadway stage productions, contend that their clients were left out of previous relief efforts or didnt get nearly enough to cover losses.
Even so, some of the money allocated for businesses in last Marchs $1.9 trillion relief package has not yet been used, Boston Globes Jim Puzzanghera writes. Much of that money comes from $350 billion set aside for state and local governments, which recently have been given more flexibility in how they can spend it. Economically hard-hit states received all of their funding last year, but 30 states only got half. The rest a total of $105 billion will be sent this spring. And many states still havent spent all the money that theyve received.
THE WHITE HOUSE
A DAY OF SERVICE In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, PresidentBiden devoted a few hours on Sunday to community service. At a food bank in Philadelphia, he and first lady JILL BIDEN stood at a U-shaped conveyor belt along with others, helping to pack 27-pound boxes of food for people experiencing hunger and food insecurity, report the Philly Inquirers Alfred Lubrano and David Gambacorta.
SIMMONS MEA CULPA JAMAL SIMMONS, VP KAMALA HARRIS new communications director, has already apologized for decade-old tweets in which he described seeing undocumented folks talking on MSNBC and wondered why ICE is not picking them up. Now, Simmons is slated to meet with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this week to explain past tweets about immigrants as he continues to face pressure from Latino leaders and organizations, CBS News Ed OKeefe reports.
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ARE SUPPLY-CHAIN PROBLEMS ABOUT TO GET WORSE? Amid an increase in Covid cases, China, home to about a third of global manufacturing, [is] impos[ing] sweeping lockdowns in an attempt to keep the Omicron variant at bay, NYTs Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher report. The countrys zero-tolerance policy has manufacturers already on edge from spending the past two years dealing with crippling supply chain woes worried about another round of shutdowns at Chinese factories and ports.
What that means for the U.S.: If extensive lockdowns become more widespread in China, their effects on supply chains could be felt across the United States. Major new disruptions could depress consumer confidence and exacerbate inflation, which is already at a 40-year high, posing challenges for the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve.
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
FALLOUT FROM COLLEYVILLE The man who held four people hostage inside a Colleyville, Texas, synagogue on Saturday was a British national armed with a gun purchased on the street, President Biden announced. Dallas Morning News Kelli Smith and Todd Gillman have the latest, including news that on Sunday, police in England detained the mans two teenage sons in connection with the attack.
From Texas Tribunes Alexa Ura: While what occurred Saturday appears to have been an isolated incident, it was not a standalone occurrence, as Jewish Americans have been publicly targeted and terrorized with increased frequency in recent years. They are us. Theres no distinction. Anywhere they are in danger, we are, [Rabbi SCOTT] HAUSMAN-WEISS, the founding rabbi of the Congregation Shma Koleinu, said Sunday morning in an interview, describing the reverberations of attacks on Jewish communities.
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
N.K. HOLDS FOURTH MISSILE LAUNCH OF 2022 Via APs Kim Tong-Hyung: North Korea on Monday fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea in its fourth weapons launch this month, with the apparent goal of demonstrating its military might amid paused diplomacy with the United States and pandemic border closures.
STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What’s really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who’s up, who’s down, and who really has the presidents ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider’s guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe today.
WEEKEND WEDDING Emma Posey, the coalitions manager of conservative staffing nonprofit American Moment, on Friday married Jackson Waters, the incoming campaigns director of American Reformer and a postulant for the Anglican priesthood. The couple, who wed in Columbus, Georgia, met at the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature in 2019 and began dating the week prior to the start of the pandemic. Pic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Former first lady Michelle Obama Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) WaPos John Wagner former FCC Chair Newton Minow (96) Robert F. Kennedy Jr. POLITICOs Steve ShepardJoanne KenenTommy Joyce Steve Rabinowitz of Bluelight Strategies Precision Strategies Mike SpahnScott GoodsteinJohn Hoyt Kelly Byrne-MartinAl ShofeRachel Bovard of the Conservative Partnership Institute NBCs Gabe Gutierrez and Alex Moe Daily Mails Nikki SchwabAlyssa FrankeHannah Ledford of the Fairness Project Brookings Bill GalstonKousha Navidar The Van Aucker Group Robert Lewis Jr.David AvellaHaris AlicCapitolWorks Chris JonesJeremy Pelofsky of Finsbury Julie AldermanKeisha ParkerAmit Jani CNNs Kwegyirba CroffieElizabeth Hays Bradley … Julie Barko Germany … John Seabrook … Edelmans Katherine Wiet and Kurt Hauptman … Karlygash FaillaceAlyssa Roberts … John M. Gillespie … Noelani Bonifacio … Tegan Millspaw Gelfand … Mark PieschelJoseph BergerRebecca Buck Andrea Klaric Jenner & Blocks Sam FederMaury PovichPatrick Butler of Kirkland & Ellis North American Millers Associations Kim Z Cooper Stephen Gilmore Becca SobelMary Clare Rigali
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