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Aggregating and archiving news from both sides of the aisle.

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Biden wrests control of Trump's spotlight and makes first big bet of presidency

Preview: • What's in Biden's economic rescue package • $2,000 stimulus payments back in play • Lisa Monaco tapped to secure inauguration

Senate postpones first confirmation hearing for crucial position in Biden administration

Preview: The first confirmation hearing for a crucial position in the Biden administration has been postponed.

DC attorney general explains why he believes Trump Jr. broke the law

Preview: The DC attorney general's office has notified President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., that it would like to interview him as part of its investigation into misuse of his father's inaugural funds. Representatives for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rehearsal for Biden inauguration ceremony pushed back a day amid security concerns

Preview: The rehearsal for the inauguration ceremony will be delayed a day amid heightened security concerns, acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told CNN Friday morning.

Watergate icon compares Trump and Nixon's final days in office

Preview: Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein discusses how President Donald Trump's final days in office compare to President Richard Nixon.

Opinion: Would a Senate trial kick Trump out of the GOP or just make him a martyr?

Preview: The die is cast. The House impeached President Donald Trump Wednesday for inciting an insurrection against the United States government, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided the trial should take place next week, when Senate Democrats will be in charge of the chamber.

Secret Service director reminds employees to be nonpartisan ahead of inauguration

Preview: US Secret Service director James Murray sent an agency-wide memo on Wednesday reminding all employees to remain professional and act in a nonpartisan manner as they carry out their duties for next week's inauguration.

Scaramucci: Trump is the domestic terrorist of the 21st century

Preview: Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci tells CNN's Anderson Cooper why he believes President Donald Trump will be viewed as a domestic terrorist by historians in years to come.

As an officer lay on the Capitol floor after being Tasered in the neck, what the rioters said was chilling: 'Kill him with his own gun'

Preview: As DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone lay on the ground at the US Capitol building, stunned and injured, he knew a group of rioters were stripping him of his gear. They grabbed spare ammunition, ripped the police radio off his chest and even stole his badge.

What we know about potential armed protests ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration

Preview: Washington, DC, and states across the country are heightening security and preparing reinforcements this week ahead of potential armed protests from Saturday up to at least Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

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Biden's stimulus plan could drive out funds from Asia to the U.S., JPMorgan says - CNBC

Preview: Biden's stimulus plan could drive out funds from Asia to the U.S., JPMorgan says  CNBC Here's what's in Biden's $1.9 trillion economic rescue package  CNN Third stimulus checks: Here’s how $2,000 direct payments became $1,400  KNWA Biden’s stimulus proposal would boost these tax credits for families  CNBC Biden puts $2000 stimulus payments back in play  CNN View Full Coverage on Google News

Since The Capitol Attack, Trump’s Approval Rating Has Plummeted At A Record Rate - FiveThirtyEight

Preview: Since The Capitol Attack, Trump’s Approval Rating Has Plummeted At A Record Rate  FiveThirtyEight Trump explodes at Nixon comparisons as he prepares to leave office  CNN Was Trump's Rally Speech Protected by the First Amendment?  Bloomberg Republican senators shouldn't flub this chance to show Trump his actions have consequences  NBCNews.com Opinion | Has Trump's Reckoning Come Too Late?  The New York Times View Full Coverage on Google News

What we know about potential armed protests ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration - CNN

Preview: What we know about potential armed protests ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration  CNN Washington to close metro stations, Delta bans guns to D.C. ahead of inauguration  Yahoo News Following Trump's Second Impeachment, Security Concerns Ahead Of Biden's Inauguration  CBS Los Angeles Cancel the traditional inauguration  The Washington Post Editorial: Is America safe for democracy again? It must be.  Houston Chronicle View Full Coverage on Google News

Rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers, prosecutors say. A note left by the ‘QAnon Shaman’ is evidence. - The Washington Post

Preview: Rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers, prosecutors say. A note left by the ‘QAnon Shaman’ is evidence.  The Washington Post Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol | TheHill  The Hill ‘QAnon Shaman’ Capitol rioter wants pardon from Trump  Fox News Right Now You Can Get a 5G Phone With Top-of-the-Line Features for Less Than $300  Daily Beast Capitol rioters planned to capture and kill politicians, say prosecutors  The Guardian View Full Coverage on Google News

At least seven injured after New York City bus plunges off overpass - Daily Mail

Preview: At least seven injured after New York City bus plunges off overpass  Daily Mail Bus is dangling from New York overpass after accident that left at least seven people injured  CNN MTA Bus Crashes And Hangs Off Edge Of Cross Bronx Expressway  CBS New York Multiple Injuries as Bus Drives Off Cross Bronx, Dangles from Overpass  Spectrum News NY1 New York bus suspended from expressway after Bronx crash  Guardian News View Full Coverage on Google News

Nation's capital being turned into 'fortress Washington' ahead of inauguration - ABC News

Preview: Nation's capital being turned into 'fortress Washington' ahead of inauguration  ABC News National Guard at Capitol Authorized to Use Lethal Force in Aftermath of Mob  U.S. News & World Report Missouri National Guard going to Washington D.C. to assist with security  fox2now.com Our national security apparatus failed last week. Officials hope it will be ready for Inauguration Day.  Washington Post Inaugural Security Is Fortified in D.C. as Military and Police Links Are Eyed in Riot  The New York Times View Full Coverage on Google News

Florida waitress uses subtle signs to save boy, 11, from abusers, police say - cleveland.com

Preview: Florida waitress uses subtle signs to save boy, 11, from abusers, police say  cleveland.com Waitress credited with helping boy after noticing bruises  Yahoo! Voices Florida waitress rescues boy from abusive home after passing him note, police say  Fox News Orlando Waitress Flavaine Carvalho Hailed As Hero For Helping Abused Boy  CBS Miami 'Do you need help?' Orlando server uses secret sign to help rescue abused boy, police say  WKMG News 6 ClickOrlando View Full Coverage on Google News

Man pleads guilty after drone hits LAPD helicopter, conviction 1st of its kind - NBC News

Preview: Man pleads guilty after drone hits LAPD helicopter, conviction 1st of its kind  NBC NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

Billionaires backed Republicans who sought to reverse US election results - The Guardian

Preview: Billionaires backed Republicans who sought to reverse US election results  The Guardian

Biden Appoints Former C.I.A. Deputy to Return to Job - The New York Times

Preview: Biden Appoints Former C.I.A. Deputy to Return to Job  The New York Times Biden taps David Cohen to be CIA deputy director  CNN Biden to appoint David S. Cohen as deputy director of the CIA  The Washington Post Biden to name another Obama veteran as CIA deputy director  POLITICO Biden announces coronavirus relief plan as priority to kick-start US economy – live  The Guardian View Full Coverage on Google News

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Stephen Colbert Has A Way To Trick Mitch McConnell Into Removing Donald Trump

Preview: "The Late Show" host joked how Democrats "messed up" in seeking the president's ouster.

Horned Capitol Rioter Wants Pardon From Trump: Only There At 'Invitation Of President'

Preview: Jake Angeli’s attorney claimed Donald Trump had “an obligation” to pardon his client, who he said "loved" the president.

Trump’s Legacy Through The Eyes Of Those His Presidency Hurt

Preview: From inciting violence to separating families, the repercussions of the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric will be felt for a long time.

Capitol Rioters Meant To 'Capture And Assassinate' Officials, Court Filing Says

Preview: The prosecutors’ assessment comes as prosecutors and federal agents have begun bringing more serious charges tied to violence at the Capitol.

Chris Hayes Has 1 Simple Request For Donald Trump’s ‘Elite Enablers’

Preview: It's the only way the country will be able to move forward from the president's "ceaseless, pounding" election lies, said the MSNBC anchor.

Coronavirus Vaccine Effort Falls Behind In The Deep South

Preview: In Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina, less than 2% of the population has received its first dose of a vaccine.

Peter Navarro's White House Departure Is Already A Brutal Meme

Preview: This image was practically made to be a meme.

New York City Bus Left Dangling From Overpass After Crash

Preview: The driver is in serious condition and eight passengers suffered minor to non-life threatening injuries, according to the New York City Fire Department.

Rex Tillerson Reveals The Tactics He Used To Make Trump Focus On Important Matters

Preview: The former secretary of state resorted to pictures, charts and big bullet points to engage with the uninformed and easily distracted president.

GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville Gets A Blunt Reminder About The Constitution

Preview: The newly elected Alabama senator suggested delaying Joe Biden’s inauguration and got taken to task on Twitter.

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Police officers describe their ordeal during Capitol riot

Preview: In new interviews, D.C. police officers are describing their ordeal defending the U.S. Capitol from insurrectionists, and the Morning Joe panel discuss some of the first-hand accounts.

Report: Some Democrats in Congress are worried their colleagues might kill them

Preview: “Members right now are not talking about, ‘I’m worried my colleagues will get me killed in some indirect sense,’” says NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin. “They’re worried that members quite specifically either participated in the attack itself or future ones.”

Shanty Tok is the only performance of masculinity I want in 2021

Preview: In shanties, we find something both extremely manly and subversively tender. In other words, the opposite of Trump's vitriol.

Trump's coup was foiled by key Republicans — but their ranks are shrinking

Preview: Trump’s campaign of denial was abetted by his fellow Republicans. What will they do next?

Trump's election lies got him impeached and cost him millions

Preview: Millions of dollars left on the table in favor of lying about the election. What a bad deal.

Trump's GOP is one choice away from becoming a full-blown fascist movement

Preview: If you think that these violent elements of Trump’s base will leave with him, you haven’t been paying attention.

Trump incited a riot in Washington. But insurrection started in the states.

Preview: To paraphrase Justice Brandeis, the states have been laboratories for anti-democratic experiments that put the rest of the country at risk.

Black people tried to tell y'all about Trump. So yeah, we've got jokes now.

Preview: There's a longstanding legacy of Black people laughing to keep from crying while just trying to survive in a country founded on their dehumanization.

The GOP owes America an apology after the attack on Congress

Preview: Where's the mea culpa from GOP officials?

Dr. Vin Gupta calls Biden’s covid-19 relief plan ‘the type of think big, disaster mindset’ we need

Preview: On President-elect Joe Biden’s economic recovery and covid-19 relief plan, Dr. Vin Gupta says "It's the type of the think-big, disaster mindset that we've needed along since the beginning of 2020."

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As Eligibility for Coronavirus Vaccines Expands in U.S., So Does Confusion

Preview: Amid a shifting rollout, at least 28 states have begun vaccinating older people, prompting questions about which groups get priority.

Disneyland as a Vaccination Site? Airports as Test Centers? The Travel Industry Pitches In

Preview: Devastated by the pandemic, many travel companies have become part of an ad hoc relief effort.

Biden Picks Former F.D.A. Chief to Lead Federal Vaccine Efforts

Preview: Dr. David Kessler, who helped speed the development and approval of AIDS drugs in the 1990s, will become the top science official at Operation Warp Speed.

Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus: 8 Key Details of Plan

Preview: The president-elect is rolling out a large spending package aimed at helping battle the virus and alleviate the economic toll it has taken.

When is Inauguration Day 2021? What You Need to Know

Preview: Washington is preparing for unrest, and planners urge people not to attend during a pandemic, but virtual events are intended to keep up the spirit of celebration.

Senate Balances Impeachment Trial With an Incoming President

Preview: Senate leaders were working to agree on a dual track to try the departing president at the same time it considered the agenda of the incoming one, an exercise never tried before.

Trump's Ideas Flourish Among State and Local Republicans

Preview: As President Trump prepares to exit the White House, his ideas, including falsehoods and conspiracy theories, continue to exert a gravitational pull among grass-roots G.O.P. officials.

After Second Impeachment, Giuliani Vows to Support Trump

Preview: White House officials are universally angry with Rudolph W. Giuliani and blame him for both of President Trump’s impeachments. But he remains one of few people still willing to join Mr. Trump in the foxhole.

Inaugural Security Is Fortified in D.C. as Military and Police Links Are Eyed in Riot

Preview: Dozens of people in Washington on the day of the attack on the Capitol were said to be on a terrorism watch list.

Capitol Riot Investigation: Man Who Carried Confederate Flag Arrested

Preview: A federal prosecutor said that a retired Air Force officer who stormed the Senate chamber holding zip ties had intended to “take hostages.”

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To Celebrate Wikipedia’s 20th Birthday, Try Editing It

Preview: If you use Wikipedia, you should consider editing it, too.

Justice Department Filing Says “Strong Evidence” Capitol Rioters Intended to “Capture and Assassinate” Lawmakers

Preview: The American public is now entering a new phase of understanding about the events of last week.

What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in <em>One Night in Miami</em>

Preview: Did Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, and Muhammad Ali really all party together?

How Biden Can Calm the Storm

Preview: Mostly, by not being Donald Trump.

The Casual Marvel Fan’s Guide to <em>WandaVision</em>

Preview: What’s that symbol? Didn’t Vision die? And can a robot make babies?

Harold Bornstein Showed What Fealty to Trump Was Worth

Preview: As with most of the president's supplicants, it only earned the doctor disdain.

Joe Biden’s First COVID-Relief Bill Isn’t Screwing Around

Preview: He can't possibly expect the GOP to go along with this—but that might be a good thing.

Reconstruction Offers No Easy Answers for How to Handle the Trump Insurgency

Preview: The last time we had a national debate over treason, the Confederates got away scot-free.

Is There Any Chance the Senate Will Convict?

Preview: The trial won’t start until Biden is president.

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Everything is awful. Here’s a Q&A with a philosopher about why cats rule.

Preview: Philosopher John Gray explains why we’re doing it wrong and we should live more like cats. (Dogs, not so much.) Humans might be the smartest animal on this planet, but are we the wisest? Wisdom, after all, isn’t really about knowledge. Humans are the only creature on earth capable of building a rocket ship or developing a vaccine. That makes us intelligent, not wise. To say that someone is wise is to say they understand something about how to live. For instance, I know I’m being an asshole when I wake up grumpy and act impatiently with my wife and son. But often I still behave like a grumpy asshole. My problem isn’t a lack of knowledge so much as a lack of wisdom. I simply can’t take my own advice. A new book by the esteemed British philosopher John Gray, called Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, offers a somewhat provocative suggestion: If we’re looking for models of wisdom, we should look at cats. According to Gray, humans think too much. Indeed, we invented philosophy in order to divert ourselves from the anxieties created by our overactive minds. Cats, on other hand, have nothing to learn from philosophy because they have no need for diversion. They’re among the wisest animals because they’re spontaneous and playful and content with whatever life presents them. And they’re too immersed in the present to worry about what might happen in the future. Cats aren’t exactly unique in this regard (a fact Gray happily admits), but they do seem to stand out. I should say that Gray’s book is obviously not an empirical study, and it’s not presented that way. It’s self-consciously light, and Gray definitely projects some of his own beliefs onto cats. But the tongue-in-cheek tone makes the book all the more accessible. If we accept the conceit of Gray’s book and just look at how cats live, then maybe we can learn a thing or two. In that spirit, I reached out to Gray to talk about why our feline friends are so much wiser than we are, and why all animals, especially cats, may not be able to teach us how to think, but they can absolutely teach us how to live. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. Sean Illing If cats could talk, what do you think they would tell us? John Gray I guess the first question is: If they could talk, would they find us sufficiently interesting to talk with? I try to imagine in the book whether cats would philosophize at all if they had the intellectual capacity to do it. And if they did, I’m certain it would be for very different reasons than humans philosophize. Sean Illing Why do humans philosophize? John Gray I think it’s a search for quietude, for a state of calm. And if that’s the case, then you have to ask why humans have such a need for calm. Humans are rather anxious and restless by nature. That’s what makes us so different from cats, to get back to your original question. Unless cats are hungry or mating or directly threatened, they default to a condition of rest or contentment or tranquility — basically the opposite of humans. So if cats could philosophize, my guess is they’d do it for their own amusement, not because of some deep need for peace. Philosophy is such a human thing because it comes from this anxious search for answers, for freedom from anxiety, and really freedom from our own nature. But of course that’s not achievable. If you yearn for tranquility, you’ll spend your life in turmoil because that’s not what life is like. The ease with which cats live is such a lovely alternative to humans in that sense. There’s a natural rhythm or flexibility to their day-to-day life that’s rarely achieved by humans. We’re obviously very different from cats, but I do think we can learn something about how to live from them. Sean Illing I live with a cat and a dog, and the biggest difference I notice is how manic the dog seems in comparison to the cat. The cat is cool to the point of indifference, whereas the dog always seems to need some kind of external stimulation. It’s so clear that dogs have become, well, more human and the cats have remained cats. John Gray Exactly. Cats have remained non-human. They’re like aliens, in a sense. They have a mind and they can get to know us, but they remain alien to us. Of the four cats I had, one of them in particular was extraordinarily subtle in her responses to me and my wife. She reacted differently to each of us. But the cat never looks for validation from us, the way, say, dogs do. Cats are living their own lives and that’s why they seem so indifferent to us. Sean Illing Do you think cats are capable of loving humans in the ways dogs seem to be? Johny Gray I think they can come to love humans, but unlike us, they can love humans without needing them. They come to love us in the sense of enjoying our company. They may even delight in it and sometimes they’ll initiate games and play and some kind of communication with us, but at bottom, they don’t really need us and we know it. They can love us without needing us. That’s an almost impossible contradiction for humans, I think. Sean Illing I want to go back to what I consider the genius of cats, which is their imperviousness to boredom. Wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, every moment is complete and perfect — or at least it seems that way. Why can’t humans live like that? Why can’t we see the folly in our anxiousness? Johny Gray That’s the big question, isn’t it? When humans aren’t in immediate pain or experiencing immediate pleasure, we’re bored. If not immediately, then soon. And all of our pleasures — sex, drinking, good food, whatever — all become boring after a while. Why is that? When cats are not immediately under some direct threat, they revert to being content. The sensation of life itself is enough for them. One of the thinkers I discuss in the book is the French philosopher Pascal. He says a great deal of human activity is basically diversionary. He says if you put human beings in a situation where they have nothing to do, they’ll be intensely unhappy. They’ll do things like gamble or start wars or really anything to escape the condition of inactivity. This is just a fundamental fact about humans. I know a few really rich people, people who don’t have to sweat to keep their money. And they all know this about themselves. They know boredom is a threat. One of them told me recently that the only way he can feel excitement is gambling, because then he knows he can lose everything and that excitement wakes him up from the lethargy of life. But this is a problem for basically everyone who isn’t in desperate poverty or in desperate need. Sean Illing And where do you think this pathology comes from? Are we too self-aware to be happy? John Gray I think it comes from the shock of self-consciousness and the revelation of mortality. If you don’t have an image of your self, as I’m fairly sure cats don’t, then you won’t think of yourself as a mortal, finite being. You may, at some point, sense something like death, but it’s not a problem for you. When death happens for cats, they seem quite ready for it. They certainly don’t waste their lives worrying about death. Sean Illing Other animals fear death, but worry is a very different thing. You fear what’s right in front of you. But worry is an act of imagination, something you can only do if you’re anxious about the future. John Gray Yeah, and I think there’s something uniquely human about anxiety over death and constantly thinking of ourselves as mortal. This is where our incessant need for storytelling comes from. If you sit around considering your own mortality, you’ll be driven to invent stories about an afterlife so that the stories you fashion for yourself can carry on after death. This is what religions have done. And it’s what so-called transhumanists do today. They imagine all these technological solutions to death and they hope that our minds will persist after our bodies fade away. Cats have no need for these games. They don’t have this problem because they don’t have the concept of death. They die, of course, but they don’t fret over the idea of death. This need to divert ourselves is deeply human. So at the end of the book, when I give my 10 feline tips for living, I just say that if you can’t live as freely as cats, and most of us can’t, then by all means return to the human world of diversion without regret and stay in it. Take up politics. Fall in love. Gamble. Do all the things humans do and don’t regret it. And you know, maybe that’s what a cat would say if it could philosophize. It would say, “Don’t struggle to be wise because it doesn’t lead anywhere.” Just take life as it comes and enjoy the sensations of life as cats too. And if that’s too austere for you, then you can always immerse yourself in the human world of illusion and distraction. Sean Illing In defense of humans, I’ll concede that we’re awkward and anxious and self-pitying and all those things, but we also have the capacity for transcendent love and art and spirituality, and none of those things are available to cats. So maybe the benefits of thinking outweigh the costs? John Gray That’s true, and I do think that all the troubles of being human are worth the price. But I’d also say that we should look around the world of nature and study how other creatures live and maybe incorporate the lessons into our own lives. There are, after all, lots of ways to live, lots of ways to be human. Cats, like other animals, are wise in all kinds of ways, and it’s worth reflecting on that and it’s worth pushing back on the Western idea that the good life is really the intellectual life. That’s such an impoverished view of the good life, and I find it easier to see that through the eyes of a cat. Sean Illing If you had to distill the best of feline philosophy in a single commandment, what would it be? John Gray Live for the sensation of life, not for the story you tell about your life. But never take anything, including that commandment, too seriously. That’s the great lesson from our feline friends. No animal is more spontaneously playful than cats. Which is why, if they could philosophize, it would be for fun.

How to avoid another election year like 2020

Preview: Trump supporters near the US Capitol following a “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. | Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images What America needs to do to avoid the next election crisis, according to a new report. The 2020 election somehow managed to be both a success and a stunning failure. The pandemic, the threat of foreign interference, misinformation, changes at the US Postal Service, fears of voter intimidation and violence — any or all of it could have upended the vote. The worst did not happen. Election administrators adjusted rules to protect health and guarantee people had options for how to cast their vote. Voting infrastructure was secured, and foreign adversaries failed to substantively disrupt the voting. Voter turnout hit historic highs, a record number voted early and by mail, and about 160 Americans participated in the democratic process. The crisis, instead, came after the polls closed. President Donald Trump refused to concede, fomenting conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, mounting dozens of frivolous lawsuits, and delaying the presidential transition. He tried to pressure officials, most notably Georgia’s secretary of state, to change the vote in his favor. Trump’s Republican allies backed him up, and some opinion polling showed more than half of Republicans believed Trump was the rightful winner of the election. On January 6, a mob breached the US Capitol, interrupting — if only temporarily — the certification of the electoral votes for Joe Biden’s win. Now, thousands of armed National Guard troops are deployed to the Capitol, turning the seat of government into a fortress on the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. This almost unfathomable split screen of the 2020 election raises an obvious challenge: how to prevent this from happening again. The National Task Force on Election Crises, a bipartisan group of experts, lawyers, and voting advocates, tried to grapple with this question in the aftermath of the 2020 election. On Friday, they released a final report on what went right; what went very, very wrong; and what reforms need to be undertaken to try to make democratic institutions more resilient going forward. Those reforms include the expansion of voting options like vote-by-mail and early voting, better control of disinformation on social media, and changes to laws like the Electoral Count Act and Presidential Transition Act. The report’s authors note that America’s democratic institutions held largely because enough people — election officials, secretaries of state, especially — did their constitutional duties and withstood pressure from Trump and his allies. The courts, too, dispatched with meritless lawsuits. Even though the attempts to overturn the election were ultimately unsuccessful, the report notes, they “likely caused lasting damage, not only to the acceptance of the 2020 election outcome, but to the perceived legitimacy and long-term stability of American institutions and our system of government.” And the institutions may not hold next time. “We need to structure all of the relevant institutions so that they are positioned to hold in any crisis,” Adav Noti, a member of the task force and senior director of trial litigation and chief of staff at Campaign Legal Center, told me. Even with this goal of preparing for and preventing the next crisis, the task force report acknowledges that the worst can — and might — happen again. Some things worked in 2020. A lot didn’t. Here’s what needs to be strengthened. The report focuses on three big areas where reforms are needed: election administration, election laws, and the news ecosystem — specifically how social media companies and media companies respond to disinformation. It also offers some general recommendations, including a congressional commission on nonpartisan election reform. Election administration The coronavirus pandemic forced states and voters to rethink how they voted. The task force recommends those methods — mail-in voting, early voting, drop boxes, even curbside voting — should be made more permanent. “The more options that voters have to vote safely and securely,” the report says, “the more likely that crises, ranging from a future pandemic to cyberattacks to ones we cannot envision, will not overwhelm our election systems or limit the ability of Americans to exercise their right to vote.” Another crisis could happen, and rather than scrambling to change rules and laws, both election officials and voters will be prepared and know their options. And it strengthens US democracy by potentially increasing voter access and participation, bringing more people into the democratic process. Another big reform the report’s authors suggest is expanding the pre-processing of ballots. In the 2020 elections, different states had different rules on when they could start to open mail-in ballots and when they could begin to tally them. States like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could not begin to process ballots until Election Day, which delayed the final tally. Other states like Florida processed ballots as they come in. That made for uneven reporting of results, and a delay in the overall announcement of the winner of the presidential election. And that created a window for misinformation to go into overdrive. A lot of this stuff, as the task force notes, requires money. The authors say Congress needs to allot more money to states and localities to manage and secure elections. Additional funding will also ease perennial problems of US democracy, like long lines or voting machine malfunctions. Voting is critical infrastructure, and it should be treated as such. Electoral laws When Trump refused to concede the election — and really, before then, when he basically said he wouldn’t concede if he lost — journalists, civil society groups, and experts were trying to game out what, if anything, he could actually do try to stay in power. Would he try to get the Supreme Court to decide the election? Could he successfully pressure states not to certify the votes (something he tried)? Or pressure state legislators to appoint alternate electors? Could he get Congress to object to the electoral count? Could he get Vice President Mike Pence to do, well, anything? The usual ho-hum work of certifying votes and Congress’s certification of the count went under the microscope. And suddenly everyone wanted to know what the Electoral Count Act of 1887 had to say. The problem is that the law is outdated and very ambiguous. As Noti put it, if there’s a major election dispute in the future — say, Congress doesn’t certify the election results — there should be clear answers on how to resolve these issues. The task force is realistic that this isn’t a simple task, and suggests this may take a complete revamping of the century-old legislation, and potentially even constitutional amendments. For example, the task force recommends making clear what counts as a legitimate objection — i.e., not just “I don’t like the results” — and potentially distinguishing a clearer role for the courts in any election disputes. It also recommends reforming legislation regarding the aftermath of the election, specifically the Presidential Transition Act, which governs the transfer of power from one administration to the next. This law has been updated many times over the years, but in 2020, Trump’s refusal to concede delayed the General Service Administration from “ascertaining” the rightful winner and beginning the process. Here, the task force recommends that Congress potentially clarify a trigger for a transition to begin, rather than leaving it to the discretion of officials. Social Media In so many ways, 2020 was an outlier because Trump was the incumbent president. He complained of election fraud before anyone had even voted, and he fomented that lie afterward in his defeat. That created a crisis in American democracy, and an apparent disconnect on whether the 2020 election was free and fair. Experts on the task force acknowledged this is a major challenge, especially when the source of disinformation comes from the president himself. The deep polarization of the country and the divided media ecosystems aren’t exclusively election problems, but they contributed to the crisis this year. Overall, the task force credits social media companies with being more aggressive this time around, learning the lessons of 2016, especially regarding foreign disinformation. But it also questioned the efficacy of some of those changes. For example, Twitter labeled certain posts as containing misleading or disputed information, including plenty belonging to the president. However, the authors of the report saw limitations on the effectiveness of this approach. For one, it wasn’t always done very quickly, giving time for conspiracy theories to spread across social media. And it still left conspiracy theories out in the public domain. The task force recommends deleting those posts as a more effective tactic than labeling. It also suggests removing engagement metrics from posts, the idea being that if a lot of people liked or shared it, an unsuspecting person might be more likely to believe it legitimate. And it suggests removing things like trending lists, where algorithms can sometimes elevate conspiracy theories. The task force, in general, recommends transparency — from social media companies as well as traditional media companies, including on how media outlets call elections. The big picture: Prepare for 2022 or 2024, and every election after The task force report offers some big-picture recommendations, knowing that this is just the start, not the end, of the soul-searching about this election. A lot of the recommendations are fairly straightforward, but they’re also not going to be easy, given how polarized the country was, and still is, around the very act of voting. And, as the authors point out, the fact of chaos was not exactly surprising, from pandemic interruptions to a president who has always said he would never concede. Some of those challenges were better managed than others. The institutions were strained and battered, but they did prevail. But the 2020 election should help us understand that’s not a guarantee. “[T]he opportunity and outcome of this reprieve must not be taken for granted. This election was also a warning,” the authors write. “There is no guarantee the institutional structures that held this time will not crumple if exposed to the same stress again.” Read the full report from the National Task Force on Election Crises here.

How Georgia went blue

Preview: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock greet each other onstage during a campaign event on December 28. | Paras Griffin/Getty Images Democrats flipped two long-shot Senate seats in Georgia. Can they do it again? Everything went right for Democrats in Georgia on January 5. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock became the first Democrats Georgia voters elected to the Senate since 2000, two months after President-elect Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992. Neither race was super close. Both Democrats won with margins outside of Georgia’s threshold for a recount; Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have both since conceded. How did the Democrats do it? “Black voters showed up at stratospheric levels and white voters did not,” Cook Political Report editor David Wasserman told Vox. “You saw really big shifts in heavily Black counties.” Ossoff ran 88,000 votes behind Perdue and 100,000 votes behind Biden in the general (Warnock’s numbers are harder to parse because he was one of 20 candidates in an all-party primary in November). The New York Times’s Nate Cohn estimated the Black share of the electorate went up by around 2 points from November, but added the caveat that he wouldn’t know for sure until full data is released in the coming weeks. It will take more time to unpack exactly what happened. Georgia’s demographic change, Atlanta’s fast-growing suburbs, and years of work by voting registration groups are all huge parts of the story. There’s also the fact that the Georgia Republican Party was at war with itself throughout the Senate race, as President Donald Trump tore into Republican officials in the state over his own November loss. With the 2022 midterms on the horizon, Democrats want to replicate their success in other states — particularly North Carolina, another Southern Sunbelt state with an open Senate seat in the next midterm cycle. Democrats see increasing opportunity in states with growing suburbs that are trending blue. They want to continue to supercharge Black turnout in Sunbelt and Rust Belt states alike, which organizers say will be contingent on whether Biden and the new Congress can deliver on their promises of economic relief and racial equity. Of course, favorable demographics are just one piece of the puzzle; they’ll also need to find the right candidates and heavily invest in states they want to win. “Treating Georgia the same as any other Sunbelt state is a mistake in some regards, but there are things we learned from Georgia that absolutely can be replicated,” Democratic pollster Molly Murphy told Vox. Megan Varner/Getty Images Voters stand in line on January 5 in Atlanta. Georgia’s suburbs are trending toward Democrats Going into the 2020 Senate race cycle, many national Democrats thought they’d have more luck beating Republican incumbents in states like Maine, North Carolina, or even Montana — all of which they lost. Democrats weren’t counting as much on Georgia, even as Perdue repeatedly warned fellow Republicans that the state was going to be close. To understand why Democrats ultimately flipped Georgia, and why Ossoff and Warnock far surpassed their November margins, you have to understand the particulars of Georgia. A big part of the story is Atlanta’s fast-growing suburbs, which are experiencing some of the most exponential growth in the entire country. Between 2010 and 2019, the metro Atlanta area’s population grew from about 5.3 million people to more than 6 million, according to data from the US Census Bureau, reported by Curbed. That spike in population put the Atlanta metro area fourth in growth nationwide, behind Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix. Though Democrats have been making tremendous gains in various suburbs during the Trump era, growing suburbs don’t automatically translate to Democratic wins. Case in point: Democrats were able to flip Senate seats in Arizona and Georgia but still fell short in Texas — losing that state’s Senate seat and 10 Republican-held House seats they attempted to put in play. Still, Republicans are worried about the long-term trends in suburbs. “Republicans for the first time in memory lost the suburban vote in 2018,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told Vox this fall, adding, “There is no sign at all that they are moving back toward Republicans. If anything, they are voting more strongly for Democrats today.” That trend continued in 2020, with suburbs and smaller cities in key states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin helping swing the election decisively toward Biden. As these states swung from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020, the source of Biden’s strength came largely from suburbs while Trump stayed strong in rural areas, according to a Brookings analysis. Trump has only accelerated the suburban backlash against Republicans in many parts of the country, particularly repelling suburban women who dislike Trump’s macho insults and recklessness. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images People holding signs for Ossoff and Warnock on January 5 in Marietta, Georgia. Black vote surged, while white turnout didn’t quite match it One group deserves a lot of credit for Democrats’ victory in Georgia: Black voters. This January, Black voters showed up in massive numbers, both in suburban counties outside Atlanta and in more rural ones around the state. This could be in part due to Warnock’s deep ties to the Black church, which has been working to mobilize voters since the civil rights movement. No matter the reason, Black voters proved incredibly consequential. While the whiter suburbs north of Atlanta’s metro area shifted toward Biden in the November general election, Wasserman noticed the places that were overperforming for Warnock and Ossoff in January were the more heavily Black southern Atlanta suburbs, including Rockdale, Clayton, Douglas, and Henry counties. Predominantly Black rural counties, too, voted strongly for the Democrats. Turnout in majority-white counties largely remained consistent with November, Wasserman said, while turnout in majority-Black counties favoring Democrats was much higher. “By relative standards, it was spectacular in January,” he added. In other words, even though white voter turnout would probably have been good by the standard of lower-turnout runoffs in the past, it was eclipsed by the enthusiasm of Black voters. Voting rights groups laid the framework for a win in Georgia by organizing there for years, especially focused on low-propensity voters. In the runup to Georgia, these groups focused on turning out youth voters and voters of color. It took many months of work; organizers started reaching out to prospective voters a full year before the January 5 runoffs happened. “Our persuasion beginning in January 2020 was to make them believe that voting mattered at all,” Nsé Ufot, CEO of the voting rights group New Georgia Project, told Vox. “That’s not a September conversation, it’s not an October conversation.” Ufot’s group knocked on more than 2 million doors, made more than 6.7 million calls, and sent more than 4 million texts urging people to vote ahead of the runoffs. A larger coalition of progressive voting groups coordinated by America Votes knocked on more than 8.5 million doors, made about 20 million phone calls, and sent over 18 million texts. They were also aided by Georgia’s 2016 automatic voter registration law, which data shows has helped register millions of people through the state’s DMV. The Georgia secretary of state’s office said that of the over 7.5 million people registered to vote ahead of the 2020 election, more than 5 million registered through the DMV’s automatic registration process. Georgia organizers told Vox another big factor was the Democratic Party actually making an investment in the state, a big difference from past years. “I think the answer is, Georgia is competitive when we compete,” Working Families Party senior political strategist Britney Whaley told Vox. Whaley and other in-state organizers told Vox there was a massive difference between pre-November and from November to January in the investment the national party poured into Georgia. The Georgia Senate races set records for being the most expensive Senate races in American history: over $829 million combined spent on both races, according to OpenSecrets (the Ossoff/Perdue race was slightly more expensive than the Warnock/Loeffler matchup). Pre-November, “Georgia was at the bottom of that list,” Whaley said. “Now, when it was the only pathway to win, it was the only pathway to the Senate, that’s when you saw an influx of investment on both sides.” Democratic investment and a relatively smooth campaign for both Ossoff and Warnock is only part of the story. Republicans certainly worked hard to leave a negative impression about both Democratic candidates, but the GOP was also busy with an all-consuming intraparty battle between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger over Trump’s November loss. Trump expended far more energy trying to get Raffensperger to overturn the result of the November election — at one point phoning the secretary of state to “demand” he find more than 11,000 votes for him that didn’t exist — than he did campaigning for Perdue and Loeffler. Some Republicans feared Trump’s constant complaints about a “fraudulent” November election and insinuations that Georgia election officials were corrupt would make his supporters stay home. It’s hard to quantify exactly how much Trump’s rhetoric impacted the Georgia runoffs, but it was undoubtedly a factor. “It’s hard to say in a race that had everything that one thing was the difference-maker,” a Democratic pollster told Vox. “I don’t think Ossoff or Warnock made any mistakes ... but it would be impossible to say that these victories would have been achievable had Trump not been doing what he was doing, had Loeffler and Perdue not been blowing every way with the wind.” Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images President-elect Joe Biden rallying with Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on January 4 in Atlanta. Could Democrats flip other Southern states? As Democrats look to a slate of 2022 midterm House and Senate races, they have several opportunities, as well as challenges. As far as Senate races go, there are eight states both parties view as competitive: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Those can be pretty evenly split into Rust Belt states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) and Sunbelt states (North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada). New Hampshire is closer to the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin grouping, but the New England state is much smaller and whiter than any other on this list. The 2020 elections showed Democrats are making gains in most Sunbelt states and could build on their success in states with growing suburbs and diverse voting populations. Democrats most immediately need to think about recruitment and who they want to have run for these seats. Warnock and new Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly — who both won special elections — will once again have to defend their seats. As far as other potential pickup opportunities in Sunbelt states, Democrats need look no further than an open Senate seat in North Carolina. The state has a smaller share of Black residents compared to Georgia — around 22 percent compared to Georgia’s 32 percent — and its larger rural population also makes it a tough state for Democrats. Democrats saw North Carolina as one of their four likeliest flip opportunities of the 2020 cycle, but they failed to turn the state blue at the presidential or Senate level. “Democrats need to find other states that fit a similar profile, and to my mind there’s one — it’s North Carolina,” Wasserman told Vox. “Democrats should be winning North Carolina if they’re winning Georgia, but they’re not.” Democrats weren’t helped in the 2020 Senate race by running Cal Cunningham, a candidate tarnished by a sexting scandal. Multiple sources Vox spoke to said they thought Cunningham’s scandal sank him in the race. Political experts say wins in North Carolina hinge on ensuring high levels of Black voter turnout — which helped propel former President Barack Obama and former Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan to win the state in 2008. Investing in the state and passing policy reforms like automatic voter registration could also be a boon in increasing voter participation. More immediately, national Democrats may want to consider elevating a Black candidate in a state like North Carolina. After all, the last time Democrats won a Senate race in North Carolina was 2008, the same year Obama flipped the state. Some names being discussed include former US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley. Democrats ran a dynamic Black candidate in South Carolina and still came up short, but many want to see North Carolina Democrats shake up their recruitment and run someone other than a moderate white man. “Can they find their Raphael Warnock to drive out Black voters to the same extent Obama drove out Black voters?” Wasserman said. That’s still very much an open question.

Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus plan, explained

Preview: President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 7, 2021. | Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images Biden has unveiled his opening bid in a proposal to rescue the economy. President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled his opening bid on Covid-19 relief and economic recovery: a $1.9 trillion stimulus deal meant to help the United States address the health and economic crises induced by the pandemic. The proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, is divvied up into three buckets: $400 billion for dealing with the coronavirus, including vaccines and testing; $1 trillion in direct relief to families; and $400 billion in aid to communities and businesses. It includes money for testing, vaccines, and public health workers; $400 a week in extended federal unemployment insurance through September; rental assistance; emergency paid leave; and funding for reopening schools, among other items. And, as Democrats promised when campaigning in Georgia, Biden’s plan would send out another $1,400 in stimulus checks, bringing the total this year to $2,000. “We need to tackle the public health and economic crises we’re facing head on,” Biden said in a tweet on Thursday. “That’s why today, I’m announcing my American Rescue Plan. Together, we’ll change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge toward economic recovery, and invest in racial justice.” The incoming Biden administration is sorting its approach to the economy into two stages: rescue and recovery. This is the “rescue” part of the equation, meant to address the immediate crisis. The details on the recovery plank are still to come. Lawmakers have already passed two sweeping Covid-19 relief bills, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March and an additional $900 billion in relief in December. Biden’s proposal is a follow-up to those and signals a rather ambitious push on addressing the pandemic and the economy — even though the plan is likely to change before it’s signed into law, if it is at all. Overall, this is a big deal. The $1.9 trillion in relief Biden is proposing is more than double the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Democrats passed in 2009 in the wake of the Great Recession. The size and scope of this proposal is a reflection of some lessons Democrats have learned: In 2009, many lawmakers believed they’d have a chance at another bill to deliver more help, but they never did. So the recovery was slower and more uneven than it could have been had they been more ambitious at the outset. With that in mind, many Democrats and progressives plan to push the Biden administration and congressional leaders to go even further. Their mantra is that the real risk is doing too little — not too much. “When Democrats passed the recovery act in 2009, it was smaller than was necessary, and a lot of members thought there was going to be another bite at the apple. There wasn’t,” one Democratic aide said. “Members who were around in that time period are very much cognizant of that lesson.” What Biden wants on the economy right now Biden’s proposal for the American Rescue Plan is largely focused on immediate relief: measures necessary to help the country address the pandemic and its economic fallout. After all, the economy getting back to normal is contingent on getting the virus under control, which at this point means vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Here’s a rundown of some of what Biden is proposing: A national vaccination program and scaled-up testing. Biden is pushing to invest $20 billion in a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, tribes, and territories, including creating community vaccination centers and mobile vaccination units. He is also advocating for $50 billion to expand testing, including rapid tests, expanded lab capacities, and help for schools and local governments. And he is pushing for an additional $10 billion to manufacture pandemic supplies domestically, as well as $30 billion to the Disaster Relief Fund for supplies and protective gear. A public health jobs program and funds toward addressing health disparities. Biden’s proposal looks to fund 100,000 health workers to expand the public health workforce. He also wants to increase funding for health services to underserved populations and those who live in congregate settings, such as nursing homes. Money for reopening schools. Biden’s proposal calls for $130 billion to help schools reopen safely, $35 billion in funding for higher education, and $5 billion for governors to use to support educational programs for those hardest hit by Covid-19. Emergency paid leave: Biden is calling for changes his team says will expand paid sick leave to 106 million more Americans, including renewing the expired requirement for employers to provide leave and expanding emergency paid leave to federal workers. Bigger stimulus checks. Biden is proposing adding $1,400 to the latest round of stimulus checks so that they total $2,000. His plan also expands eligibility for the checks to adult dependents left out of previous rounds and to mixed-immigration status households. Extended unemployment insurance. Under the current stimulus packages, the unemployed are eligible for an additional $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits through March 14. Biden’s plan increases that amount to $400 through September and also continues extended benefits to people who have exhausted benefits or wouldn’t normally qualify, such as contractors or freelancers. Housing assistance. The president-elect’s plan calls for extending eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through September, directing $30 billion toward rental assistance, and $5 billion in emergency assistance to secure housing for the homeless. Food benefits. The plan includes extending the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September, investing $3 billion in the special supplemental nutrition program for WIC, and providing US territories with $1 billion in nutritional assistance. Child care assistance. The plan calls for a $25 billion emergency stabilization fund for child care providers and an additional $15 billion to the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program. Tax credits for children and low–income workers. The plan expands the child tax credit — another important one for Democrats — to $3,000 per child up to age 17 and $3,600 for children under age 6. And, it increases the earned income tax credit from about $530 to $1,500 and expands eligibility. Support for small business. Biden is proposing $15 billion in grants to hard-hit small businesses and leveraging $35 billion in government funds into $175 billion in loans and investment in small businesses. Support for state and local governments. Biden’s plan calls on Congress to provide $350 billion in funds for state, local, and territorial governments. It’s framed as money that will help pay frontline workers, reopen schools, and get people vaccinated. It also requests $20 billion in relief for public transit agencies and $20 billion to support tribal governments’ pandemic response. A $15 minimum wage. Biden’s proposal asks Congress to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour as well as ending the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities. It also calls on employers to provide hazard pay. This is an opening bid, and some Democrats want to go bigger Biden’s proposal is likely just the beginning of Democratic debate on how to bolster the country’s public health crisis response and economic recovery. More than nine months into the pandemic, thousands of people are dying each day of Covid-19, and millions of people are still out of a job. “Given the urgency of the moment, I think there is a good argument for doing as much as possible as quickly as possible and continuing to push for more,” said Angela Hanks, deputy executive director of the progressive group Groundwork Collaborative, which released an estimate before last month’s stimulus bill was passed suggesting that it would take $3 trillion to $4.5 trillion to really get the economy moving. Discussions are underway among Democrats and progressives inside and outside the legislative process about how to do more. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) sent a letter to Biden calling on his administration to push to include “baby bonds” in an economic recovery package. “We urge you to ‘go big,’ with a bold vision for racial and economic justice,” they wrote, arguing that baby bonds, which would create federally funded savings accounts for every child in America, “represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the racial wealth gap and unleash economic opportunity for every American.” Student debt cancellation — an increasingly important issue on the left — is absent from Biden’s plan. Biden has said he supports Congress canceling $10,000 in federal student debt, but that’s not in Thursday’s proposal. He has come under pressure, including from many Democrats in the House and Senate, to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt. That’s not the only thing Biden can do on his own. If he can’t get Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, he could require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage. There is a long list of actions he can take unilaterally to boost the economy, as well as putting people in place across the executive branch who can enact an agenda to create a fairer, more prosperous economic landscape. “There’s a lot that actually can absolutely be done without Congress,” said Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute. Biden’s plan nods at automatic stabilizers — tying social safety net mechanisms, such as expanded unemployment insurance, to certain economic conditions. That way, Congress doesn’t have to haggle about them all the time. But the idea is likely to get more attention in the coming weeks. A number of lawmakers have called for automatic stabilizers, including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Ideally, you have a social safety net that exists to activate in times of crisis, and we don’t have to rely on policymakers to act just in time or after,” Hanks said. “It also means that in those moments of crisis, you’re not worrying about the immediate impact on things like unemployment insurance and you can focus on other areas you didn’t anticipate.” For example, like a global pandemic. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is about to chair the Senate Budget Committee, has indicated he wants to go big from his new perch. That includes on budget reconciliation, which could ultimately be the mechanism Democrats use if they can’t get enough Republicans on board with their agenda. “It is absolutely imperative that the Congress not lose sight of the fact that working families in this country are facing more economic distress today than at any time during the Great Depression,” Sanders recently told Politico. “What Congress has got to show the American people is that … it can handle more than one crisis at a time.” Budget reconciliation could be on the horizon The general line from the Biden team and many Democratic lawmakers is that they want to give Republicans a chance to get on board with the agenda and pass Covid-19 relief through regular order, which would mean needing 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster. After all, that’s what happened throughout 2020. But if they can’t make it work, they’ll go another route. “We need to know as early as we can, are [Republicans] serious about wanting this to go forward,” one Democratic aide said. “The disagreement will be how long we wait before we switch if we are going to be switching [tactics]. The best possible outcome here is that Republicans praise it and it’s bipartisan.” Budget reconciliation — a process that exempts from the filibuster legislation primarily dealing with taxes and spending — is likely an option. (Vox has a full explainer on what it is.) In the current scenario, legislation passed under budget reconciliation could pass with 50 Senate Democratic votes plus tie-breaker Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect. My colleague Dylan Matthews recently ran down a list of what Biden can do with budget reconciliation, and while it’s not everything in the recovery plan, it’s a lot of it. And plenty of experts say there are ways to finagle the rules. “Looking through the Biden plan, as best I can tell, almost anything in it besides the minimum wage increase they can do through reconciliation,” said Marc Goldwein, senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. He said there are a few areas where it could get tricky — namely, state and local aid and vaccination money. “They have to get a little creative, but it’s not even that hard.” Democrats have two potential reconciliation bills to work with, one for the 2021 fiscal year and one for 2022. If they go that route, there will be a push on the left to make the proposal even bigger — that’s certainly, for example, what Sanders wants. “I’m going to use reconciliation in as aggressive a way as I possibly can to address the terrible health and economic crises facing working people today,” he told Politico. That translates to spending on areas such as infrastructure, climate, and other parts of Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan. But there are also moderate Democrats to contend with — getting to 50 votes means that the Joe Manchins and Kyrsten Sinemas of the world need to be on board. One Democratic policy adviser noted that a lot of the agenda is pretty uncontroversial, including expanded unemployment and state and local aid — among the caucus. Other elements, not so much. “It’s kind of a matter of what we think we can get away with and what we can push the envelope on and what we can convince 50 senators of, including our dear friend Mr. Manchin, on the floor,” the person said. On a call with reporters earlier this week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he looked forward to soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer putting some legislation on the floor, in a test of whether soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans will take the same approach he did under the Obama administration — obstruction at every turn. “If that’s his view of moving on anything, then we’ll have to find a way through reconciliation or something else. But I think you give them the chance,” Brown said. Brown also said he believes there is “way more” consensus among Democrats than people may think. “My job is to find out what we can do together, find out what arguments work, are the most persuasive with them, and how I can figure out with them to make everything that we’ve come out with more palatable,” he said. Biden and the Democratic Party are in a position many thought was unlikely after the November elections, when the probability of a double victory in Georgia’s Senate run-off elections seemed small: They have an opportunity to take some big swings at helping the economy, ultimately, helping people. Now we know what Biden’s opening bid to do that looks like. Over the days and weeks to come, the country will see how it plays out.

Olivia Nuzzi and Sam Sanders talk about the final days of the Trump White House

Preview: Vox Conversations takes on the last week, and last four years, of Donald Trump’s America. New York magazine Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi has been covering Donald Trump’s White House since 2016. In the inaugural episode of Vox Conversations, Nuzzi talks to guest host Sam Sanders, host of NPR’s It’s Been a Minute, about her experience reporting on an unprecedented administration. “The people who became rabid Trump supporters,” Nuzzi says. “It’s not as though they just acquired their capacity to believe the things he had them believe or that he encouraged them to believe or that he promoted on June 16, 2015. They had that capacity before that. “Maybe they believed in birtherism. Maybe it predates that. Maybe it predates the Tea Party, the racist response to Obama’s election. Maybe it dates back to Newt Gingrich, maybe it dates back to Barry Goldwater. But he did not create those people who descended on the Capitol, you know, he activated them. And I don’t think — maybe they will run off and lie dormant for a while, but I doubt it. I don’t think that they go away.” Olivia and Sam also talk about what it’s like covering an administration that made anonymous sourcing even more of the norm, the Trump administration’s unclear policy agenda, and where we go from here. Listen to the entire conversation here: In the tradition of Ezra Klein’s conversational and intimate interviews, Vox Conversations brings you new weekly discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause listeners to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light. It’s also your go-to spot for five years’ worth of Ezra’s conversations with guests from Barack Obama to Isabel Wilkerson. If you have thoughts about the show or suggestions for future guests or guest-hosts, email us at voxconversations@vox.com.

How all 50 state capitals are preparing for possible insurrections of their own

Preview: Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate in front of the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on November 7, 2020. | Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images “We’re definitely planning for more [activity] than normal,” one police officer told Vox. State capitals across the US are preparing for possible attacks on their legislatures in the coming days similar to the insurrection at the US Capitol last week, hoping a larger law enforcement presence and extra security measures will stave off the worst. The FBI sent an internal memo on Sunday warning all 50 states that “armed protests” at their capitals are being planned by far-right extremists, potentially leading to a repeat of what happened January 6 in Washington, DC. As a result, state capitol buildings are on “high alert,” with local law enforcement and, in some cases, state National Guard troops mobilizing into action. It’s an alarming situation, but every one of the 26 state law enforcement agencies I called — some of them the city’s police, others the state capitol’s security team — said they were prepared, though most wouldn’t divulge their plans. “We’re definitely planning for more [activity] than normal,” Lt. Krag Campbell of the Juneau Police Department in Alaska told me. “We are prepared to respond in the appropriate manner as we have always done in the past,” said Lt. Mark Riley of the Georgia State Patrol. “Our primary concern will always be the safety of everyone who works at or visits the Capitol grounds.” Each state is responding in its own way with little federal support, partly because the threat is thought to be greater for some states than others. For example, there’s intelligence that Minnesota’s and Michigan’s capitols face a credible threat of violence, while the FBI doesn’t believe Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island will experience a major riot. However, all states are preparing for the possibility of violence. All states say they’re ready, but some states are in more danger than others Just like at the US Capitol, all 50 states have increased the police presence surrounding their legislatures. In Connecticut, State Capitol Police Department spokesperson Scott Driscoll told me that K9 teams are conducting extra security sweeps around government buildings and have augmented the number of visible forces inside and outside those campuses. Further, bike rails have been placed on the north and south sides of the Capitol building, creating a barrier between potential rioters and law enforcement. Meanwhile, Michigan State Police spokesperson Shanon Banner said that while the force usually doesn’t comment on its pre-riot planning, “I can confirm that out of an abundance of caution, we have already increased visible [police] presence at the Capitol, and these resources will remain in place for at least the next couple of weeks.” On Tuesday, the Michigan State Capitol Commission banned the open carrying of weapons in the building. And Arizona has put up fences around the Capitol complex, Kameron Lee, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, told me. That move, along with an enhanced law enforcement presence, was also done “out of an abundance of caution.” Minnesota is one state that may be facing the greatest threat. In response, Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, activated the state’s National Guard on Tuesday. That force plans to be on duty assisting local law enforcement in protecting the Capitol this weekend. “We will always support Minnesotans’ First Amendment rights to peacefully protest, but anyone involved in violent, illegal activity will be held accountable,” Walz said at the time. “We are tracking reports and monitoring the situation closely to enhance our response and change tactics as needed.” Luckily, not every state is facing a potentially riotous weekend. Along with the New England states mentioned above, officials in Kentucky, Hawaii, and Kansas told me that as of now, they have no indication of future violence. Of course, they and others are still planning for the worst — just in case. “We have the manpower in place,” Lt. Terry Golightley of the Kansas Capitol Police told me, “and we will have additional supporting officers” at the legislative building. Campbell, of the Juneau Police, also said the department has increased its patrol presence along the city’s streets, which normally feature no more than seven officers. The hope is that all this preparation actually works. If rioters with violent designs do descend on state capitals, there should be enough law enforcement agents in place to stop them from causing harm. If these preparations fail, though, the nation could see similar scenes to the ones that played out in Washington, DC, last week.

Trump won’t say the one thing that could really calm down his followers

Preview: Trump talks to reporters on January 12 in Washington, DC. | Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images The president refuses to distance himself from the election lies that motivated the Capitol riot. The official White House Twitter account on Wednesday evening posted a lengthy video of President Donald Trump denouncing violence and calling for calm ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday. But it didn’t take long for the Trump administration and its allies to undermine his message. In the more than five-minute video, Trump says things like, “I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw” when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol last week while Congress was in the process of certifying his Electoral College loss to Joe Biden, leaving at least five people dead. Alluding to threats of violence against state capitols and the presidential inauguration, Trump said, “There must be no violence, no lawbreaking, and no vandalism of any kind.” One thing Trump does not say, however, is acknowledging the reality that his loss to Biden was legitimate and not the result of any sort of election fraud. On the contrary, despite a complete lack of evidence, it appears Trump and some of his acolytes still believe the election was stolen from him. Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt reported for the New York Times on Wednesday evening that “on Air Force One on Tuesday, during a trip to the southern border at Alamo, Texas, the president repeatedly said of the election to people traveling with him, ‘I won.’” Then on Thursday morning, one of the few White House officials still willing to publicly defend Trump, Peter Navarro, went on Fox News and spread the same sort of lies about the election that inspired the rioters. “The Democratic Party did violence to this country by attacking a president who I believe was legally elected on November 3,” Navarro said, adding that “74 million Americans out there” are “pissed off” like him. “We know that there were irregularities in this election,” host Maria Bartiromo replied, citing no evidence, and despite the fact that Trump’s own government officials have characterized the 2020 election as the most secure on record. Peter Navarro: “The Democratic Party did violence to this country by attacking a president who I believe was legally elected on November 3,” “74 million Americans out there” are “pissed off” like him. Maria Bartiromo: “We know that there were irregularities in this election.” pic.twitter.com/NFqdKQTjFK — Eric Kleefeld (@EricKleefeld) January 14, 2021 If Trump was really concerned about preventing another explosion of violence, he would acknowledge to his followers that his loss to Biden was legitimate and his claims of election fraud were made up, and properly concede the election. But he’s not doing that. “All Donald Trump has to say to calm tensions down is one sentence: ‘The election was not stolen’” Trump’s new video was posted hours after a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives voted to impeach him on a count of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in last Wednesday’s riot, including a speech he delivered to thousands of his followers just before it in which he invoked “fight” or “fighting” more than 20 times. While the House debated the article of impeachment on Wednesday, Trump released a tweet-like statement to Fox News that struck a similar note to his subsequent video, generically denouncing violence while abstaining from retracting any of his election lies. The riot and Trump’s defiant response to it have turned him into a pariah like never before. On Friday, Twitter permanently banned his account, citing tweets he posted on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that potentially provided “encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts.” The Times reports that Trump’s aides “have warned him that he faces potential legal exposure for the riot.” Even if Trump isn’t prosecuted, he’s done significant damage to his brand. The PGA Tour announced on Sunday it’s moving an upcoming tournament from the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and financial and banking companies ranging from the online payment processing company Stripe to Deutsche Bank, which holds a significant amount of Trump’s personal debt, have announced in recent days that they’ll no longer do business with him. Although he now has less than a week left in his term as president, Trump still has political motives for trying to distance himself from the unrest. Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker reported for the Washington Post on Wednesday that Trump was persuaded to film the video the White House posted on Wednesday evening by aides who told him “it could boost support among weak Republicans” ahead of a possible impeachment trial in the Senate. Even so, Trump doesn’t appear to be totally sold that taking a stand against violence is the right move for him. The Times reported that even after the video was recorded and posted, “Trump still had to be reassured, according to administration officials.” Trump’s video has to be viewed through this prism of his own self-interest. As House impeachment manager Ted Lieu (D-CA) said on MSNBC on Thursday, “All Donald Trump has to say to calm tensions down is one sentence: ‘The election was not stolen.’” Not only has Trump been unwilling to do that, but Navarro’s comments indicate the extent to which incendiary lies about the election continue to hold sway in the White House.

WandaVision is at its best when it gets weird

Preview: Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision. | Marvel Studios Marvel’s buzzy new Disney+ series wraps an intriguing superhero mystery in throwback sitcom trappings. The future of Marvel has arrived — and it looks nothing like the 13 years of Marvel storytelling we’ve come to know. Gone are the intergalactic warlords, shirtless demigods, immensely powerful Infinity Stones, time travel, and even the Avengers, at least for now. Marvel’s newest release, the kickoff to its Phase 4 era of movies and the post-Iron Man and Captain America chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a half-hour, laugh-tracked, black-and-white sitcom called WandaVision. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprise their roles as superheroes Wanda Maximoff and Vision (hence the title WandaVision). Instead of working to save the world, they’re perplexingly living as a charming pair of newlyweds in the world of a fictional TV show set in the fictional town of Westview. Their identities as superheroes are a secret, and their lives are suddenly playing out in a sitcom they don’t really understand or realize they’re part of. There’s no explanation of how Wanda and the reanimated Vision — who died in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War — ended up starring on their sitcom, or who is producing it. They don’t really know, either; every time they’re asked about their personal histories or any significant dates of note, including the year they’re currently living in, they blank. There’s no explanation for where all the other Avengers went, nor do Wanda and Vision seem to understand they’re trapped in a television show. The only thing we do know is that this show, all of its smiles, and all of its feel-good goofs, isn’t at all what it seems to be. Marvel made the first three episodes of the show available for critics. And here are my initial thoughts on the good, the bad, and what we’ve seen so far. The show’s very clever show-within-a-show gimmick works, but has its drawbacks Marvel Elizabeth Olsen in WandaVision. WandaVision drops its viewers right into the middle of Marvel’s most ambitious experiment yet: The telekinetic Wanda Maximoff and her synthezoid boyfriend Vision are, for whatever reason, stars of a vintage sitcom that borrows heavily from I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, and Bewitched. WandaVision uses the visual gags and slapstick humor of these throwback series to tell the couple’s comic book story of trying to fit in with the world around them. The sitcom is a show within the bigger show — a mystery of how these characters got to this point since we last saw them on the big screen together. And the focus of the first three episodes is more about the sitcom and Wanda and Vision living their strange sitcom lives than the overarching Marvel adventure. The format allows Bettany and Olsen to lean into different aspects of their characters than we’ve previously seen in Marvel’s films. That mostly means comedy and romance. Bettany gets to be goofy. Olsen gets to be warm and charming. The set design, the performances, and the specific feel of a multi-camera sitcom — WandaVision’s pilot was filmed in front of a live studio audience — reflect a love for these indelible shows. But sometimes that love gets in its own way. Because Bettany and Olsen are playing their comic book characters as if those characters were unnaturally placed into a sitcom, it feels as though the performances are never fully allowed to be earnest. The conceit that this sitcom isn’t part of reality, and the characters are supposed to be unnaturally existing in this sitcom world, provides cushion to jokes that don’t land or timing that doesn’t quite work since the default tone is to be stilted and strange. But the real meat and payoff of the show, and what we’re told to take seriously, is the central mystery of why these characters are stuck in what appears to be an alternate reality. And there’s much more gimmick than mystery-solving in the first three episodes. I hope WandaVision gets even weirder The best parts of the first three episodes are when WandaVision unapologetically leans into its weirdness — like a very strange scene featuring a bird in episode three. Perhaps that’s because I feel like all live-action television could be improved with more avian creatures. But the more unexplained moments the show throws at us, and the more it pushes up against what feels like horror, the more it allows the sitcom device to really hammer home its uncanny artificiality. The result is that the sitcom beats feel even stranger, maybe even more menacing — in a way that goes beyond “these characters sure are acting unnaturally.” It makes you realize the intense desperation for these characters to be “normal,” and the tragedy that “normal” is the one thing they’ll never be able to be. When the characters sink back into their comedic shtick, then, it feels even more unnerving. Elizabeth Olsen finally has more to do Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff has been a character in the MCU since 2015’s Age of Ultron, and has had maybe 15 minutes of actual screen time in those five years and multiple movies. Wanda has rarely gotten to be anything other than a grieving, angry soul (like when she lost her brother in Ultron and when she confronted Thanos in Infinity War), or someone who’s in love with Vision. WandaVision gives her much more to do. While Vision is in the name and Bettany’s Vision is a lead character, the show is really all about Wanda. The format of mimicking legendary sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Bewitched allows Olsen to dip into slapstick comedy and rom-com territory that Marvel’s movies haven’t had room for. Olsen’s hammy charm offensive — which strives to walk a line between a frazzled Lucille Ball and a smirky Barbara Eden — is fun to watch. At times, her performance made me forget that this show fits into a bigger MCU design, and I kinda wished that a Wanda and Vision sitcom was a real thing. The mystery at the heart of the show is pretty intriguing Marvel Studios Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen in WandaVision. What keeps this show going is figuring out what’s actually happening. After 90 minutes of WandaVision, I still don’t know who the villain is or how our heroes are going to get back to reality. Could the fake sitcom be a manifestation of Wanda’s grief over losing her brother and Vision? Is there a different character who’s manipulating everyone involved? Is Nick Fury involved? Are the supporting actors in this sitcom Skrulls or S.W.O.R.D.? Does this whole setup have something to do with that pesky reality Infinity Stone? I have my guesses, which haven’t changed much from what I picked up on from the show’s trailer. But I appreciate that even though WandaVision borrows more than enough material from the comic books, I don’t know everything that’s happening — a very different experience than Marvel movies, where we know many of the big beats going in and get through the entire plot, villain, motivation, and resolution in about two hours. WandaVision feels like it’s going to get better After seeing the first three episodes, I think WandaVision is a show whose early going is going to seem better in hindsight, once it has some time to unspool. The foundation the show is clearly working toward in the first three installments really comes to life in episode three — the oddities, the central mystery, and the very suspicious supporting characters all start to come together. I imagine that when everything starts locking into place, the first episodes will take on a new meaning. Until that happens, WandaVision’s debut is an intriguing, visually captivating world with a lot of question marks, one that’s full of potential but also requires a bit of patience. The first two episodes of WandaVision’s nine-episode series will premiere on Disney+ on Friday, January 15.

Why the best referees for Twitter and Facebook may be the people who work there

Preview: Donald Trump boards Air Force One on January 12, 2021. | Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images The big platforms finally policed Donald Trump. But there’s no one — really — to police the platforms except their owners and employees. Who convinced Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg to kick Donald Trump off of their platforms last week? Activists and organizers at Twitter and Facebook say it was pressure from employees. PR reps for the companies say that’s not the case, and that the leaders of those companies made the call on their own. Kevin Roose thinks the answer is somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, the New York Times tech columnist says, the calls were partly the result of employee lobbying. “An underreported part of the Twitter-banning-Donald-Trump decision was that the day before, a group of hundreds of Twitter employees had basically sent a letter to Jack Dorsey making it clear that they didn’t want to work at a company that provided a platform for an insurrectionist,” Roose told me on this week’s episode of Recode Media. “And employees at Facebook have been agitating for harsher punishments for Donald Trump for years. And these companies live and die on their ability to recruit and retain top talent. That’s a large part of what drives them to make these decisions.” On the other hand, Roose says, it is also very much a personal decision for the two men: “I think that, presented with something like a mob at the Capitol, I think they saw a very clear kind of fork in the road for them. Do they want to be the kind of company, the kind of executive who allows this to happen on their platforms, or do they not want to be? Ultimately, I think that in some cases it comes down to a judgment call about what you want to tell your kids and grandkids.” The debate over who gets credit for deplatforming the president of the United States won’t get settled anytime soon — if ever — since it requires access to the inside of Dorsey’s and Zuckerberg’s brains. But there’s a larger, more important point here: The reason the answer matters is that the companies Dorsey and Zuckerberg own and run have enormous impact on our lives. And there’s no reasonable expectation that anyone outside their companies will have any meaningful impact on how they run them. That was the point Roose made in his most recent Times column, and the main throughline of our conversation, which you can hear below or on the podcast platform of your choice. The aftermath of the Capitol riot gave us plenty of other ideas to talk about as well. So on this one, you’ll also find us discussing why Roose thinks Trump’s forced departure from social media is a one-off event, not a slippery slope; why YouTube has a major-but-mostly-unexamined role in creating the environment that got us to last week’s debacle; and why Reddit, surprisingly, could provide a model for a less toxic — or at least less dangerous — form of social media. I wish I could tell you that I leavened this week’s episode with something fun and light, but that would be false advertising: After talking to Roose, I also talked to NBC News reporter Ben Collins, who had already warned us about the enormous dangers of the QAnon cult last fall. But since QAnon was a major driver in the Capitol riot (see, among many others: Ashli Babbitt, the woman shot and killed by a police officer while storming the building), I had Collins back to explain the way QAnon has shape-shifted from a fantastical conspiracy theory about child sex slavery to a fantastical conspiracy theory about election fraud and Trump’s dangerous attempt to harness it. The only good news available here: At least many more of us are paying attention to this global information pandemic.

A running list of corporate responses to the Capitol riot

Preview: The events at the Capitol are causing companies to pull their political donations. | Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Corporate America wants to distance itself from Trump. Is it too late? The insurrection at the Capitol has inspired companies to make their thoughts on the matter known. Many brands have announced that they have decided to stop supporting Trump-adjacent bodies, or to stop donations to lawmakers and groups that have expressed support for the baseless claims that the election was a sham. Our corporate overlords have decided to make their stance clear by way of making public statements, pulling funds, and other actions. These types of moves are a part of a larger pattern in the past few years — remember all the brands that suddenly had opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement around June 2020? As Meredith Haggerty previously wrote for The Goods, the days of the silent brand presence are over. In times of unrest and uncertainty, corporations clearly feel vulnerable. They don’t know if we’ll turn on them for their silence. It’s a high-stakes situation — taking a stand against President Trump could lose or gain a brand thousands of customers, depending on which brand and how the stance is expressed. It sometimes feels like corporations respond more promptly to the concerns of Americans in uncertain times than our legislative bodies do. Yet it can be of little comfort and vaguely condescending to have a brand let people know they’re on their team. Posturing aside, the decisions brands make can have a serious effect on our lives. Is corporate America really going to turn against the GOP, which arguably has been its biggest ally? The insurrection may have spawned a new turning point — brands don’t want to be caught in the fallout of a potentially traitorous act. The decisions are mostly symbolic but could kick off real change in the future. Here, we’ve compiled information about corporate and brand responses to the insurrection, and their repercussions. We don’t yet know how long these decisions will last or what their future ramifications will be, but as we learn more, this story will be updated with new information. 3M According to Popular Information, 3M said it will pause its “federal and state political expenditures for the first quarter of the year.” Airbnb In a statement, Airbnb said it would “withhold support” from lawmakers who voted against election certification. Amazon In a statement, Amazon said that they will suspend their PAC contributions from those who voted against election certification. American Airlines According to Popular Information, American Airlines said it will take a “three month pause” on political giving. American Express In an internal memo, the CEO of American Express said that the company’s PAC will no longer support those who objected to the results of the election. AT&T According to Popular Information, AT&T, which has made the largest contributions to Republicans who voted against election certification, will suspend contributions. Bank of America Bank of America said that in the next election cycle, it will “review [its] decision making criteria” when it comes to making donations. Blackrock According to the Washington Post, Blackrock is stopping its political donations. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has announced that it is suspending PAC contributions to lawmakers who voted to challenge the election results. Boeing Boston Scientific Boston Scientific has stated it will temporarily suspend its PAC contributions. BP BP says it will halt PAC contributions for six months. The US Chamber of Commerce According to the New York Times, the US Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest business lobbying group in the country, said that it will no longer contribute financially to those who objected to the certification of the election results. Charles Schwab Charles Schwab said it will stop its PAC donations for the rest of 2021. Citibank According to an internal memo obtained by Popular Information, Citibank said it will suspend its PAC contributions for three months. CME Group In a statement, CME Group said that they will suspend all of their PAC contributions for “the foreseeable future.” Coca-Cola Coca-Cola announced it will suspend its political contributions, but will donate to President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee. It also condemned the violence. Comcast In a statement, Comcast said that it will suspend contributions to those who voted against the certification of the election results. Commerce Bancshares Commerce Bancshares said in a statement that it is suspending “all support for officials who have impeded the peaceful transfer of power.” ConocoPhillips The gas company ConocoPhillips said it is halting its donations and reviewing its giving practices. Deloitte Deloitte has announced that it will suspend its political contributions. Deutsche Bank Deutsche Bank, to whom Trump currently owes over $300 million, has stated it will no longer do business with the president going forward. It also will refrain from doing business with those who voted against the certification of the election results. Dow Chemical Company Dow Chemical Company is suspending its corporate and employee PAC contributions for one election cycle. Ernst & Young In a statement to Popular Information, Ernst & Young that they are immediately suspending PAC giving. ExxonMobil ExxonMobil, the second-largest contributor to senators who voted against election certification, said it is reviewing its PAC contributions. Facebook Facebook told Popular Information that it will pause its PAC donations for “at least the current quarter.” Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company is suspending its employee political action committee, due to the 2020 presidential election and the insurrection at Capitol Hill. General Motors General Motors released a statement saying that its “PAC contributions will be evaluated to ensure candidates align with our core values.” Google According to the New York Times, Google will suspend ads about “candidates, the election or its outcome, the upcoming presidential inauguration, the impeachment process, the Capitol riots, or planned protests about any of these subjects.” This is to go into effect on January 14th, and last until at least January 21st. Goldman Sachs In a statement to the New York Times, Goldman Sachs said it plans to stop all political donations. H&R Block In a statement, H&R Block said it is halting its PAC donations. Hallmark Hallmark is requesting refunds from Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) to return their PAC contributions, in light of their votes against election certification. Hilton Hilton has announced that it will suspend its PAC contributions indefinitely. Intel According to the Wall Street Journal, Intel will be suspending donations to those who objected to election certification. JPMorgan Chase JPMorgan Chase said that it will pause PAC contributions for six months. KPMG In a statement to Vox, KPMG said that they are “imposing a moratorium on contributions” to members of Congress who did not support election certification, and will re-evaluate their PAC giving. Lehigh University Lehigh University has stripped Trump of his honorary degree, which was awarded in 1988. Marriott As first reported by Popular Information, Marriott said it is no longer donating to members who voted against election certification. Mastercard In an internal announcement obtained by Popular Information, Mastercard said that it has suspended PAC contributions to members who voted against the certification of the election. McDonald’s In an internal memo reported on by Business Insider, the CEO of McDonald’s condemned the insurrection at the Capitol, stating that it was “an attack on all those things that people cherish and associate with America. That includes McDonald’s.” Microsoft Microsoft told Popular Information that until it reviews the events at the Capitol, it will not be making political contributions. Middlebury College Middlebury College is considering revoking Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s honorary degree, which was awarded in 2005, on account of his role in “fomenting the violent uprising against our nation’s Capitol building.” Morgan Stanley According to Business Insider, Morgan Stanley will suspend all PAC donations to those who voted against certifying the results of the election. Nike In a statement, Nike said that they will suspend PAC contributions to those who voted against the certification of the election results. Northrop Grumman In a statement to Defense News, Northrop Grumman said they are pausing their PAC contributions. PGA of America PGA of America has announced that it will no longer host the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club. The Trump Organization says this is a breach of contract. PricewaterhouseCoopers In a statement to Popular Information, PricewaterhouseCoopers said that they will suspend contributions to those who voted against election certification. Shopify Shopify has closed two online stores tied to Trump’s organization and his campaign. Signature Bank Signature has said it is closing President Trump’s personal accounts with the bank, and has called for him to resign in the wake of the events of the Capitol. Simon & Schuster Simon & Schuster has dropped Sen. Hawley’s book deal. Stripe Stripe said it will stop processing online payments for Trump’s campaign website, although the Wall Street Journal reports that Stripe is still processing payments through third parties. UnitedHealth Group According to Popular Information, UnitedHealth Group said it will pause its donations “to federal candidates.” Verizon In a statement to Reuters, Verizon said it will suspend contributions to those who objected to election certification. Visa In a statement to Popular Information, Visa announced that it will temporarily suspend all its political donations. Wagner College Wagner College has stripped Trump of his honorary degree, which was awarded in 2004. Walmart In a statement to Axios, Walmart said that they will indefinitely suspend PAC contributions to those who voted against election certification. The Walt Disney Company In a statement to Axios, Disney said that they will pause their political contributions in 2021. Zillow In a statement to Vox, Zillow said that they will be withhold their PAC support from those who objected to the certification of the election results.

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