Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider’s app for news on the go — click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s what we’re talking about:
With Phil Rosen.
1. THE PRESIDENCY: Democrats fear the presidency has grown too powerful. Party leaders like Rep. Adam Schiff of California crafted an array of proposals designed to give lawmakers more tools to thwart any president who tries to mimic Donald Trump’s pursuit of sweeping executive power. But nine months into the Biden administration, and with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, none of the legislation introduced to prevent a Trump 2.0 — perhaps literally, should Trump run again — has been enacted. It doesn’t appear likely to pass anytime soon either.
Here’s a look at where things stand:
Democrats’ attention is focused elsewhere: “For the moment, the Biden administration and congressional leadership appear more focused on domestic-policy spending, and even supporters of the anti-Trump measures acknowledge that they’d be tough to pass through a Senate with a slim Democratic majority,” my colleague writes.
Legal experts worry about the legacy of Trump’s actions: “There is a road map for any president to abuse any of these powers in the same way or potentially worse ways,” said Elizabeth Hempowicz, the director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight.
- This clash is nothing new: Congress and the White House have long butted heads over issues of oversight and even presidential power. Legal fights continue to be waged over the subject. For instance, a Texas federal judge ruled over the summer that President Barack Obama overstepped his authority in creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program.
2. Senate Republicans block a bill meant to avoid a debt default: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led all of his fellow GOP lawmakers to block a measure that would have averted both a debt default and a government shutdown. Since GOP lawmakers filibustered the proposal, it failed to get the necessary 60 votes to pass. Lawmakers now have just days to avoid a government shutdown and perhaps only weeks to avoid a catastrophic default.
- Democrats may be changing their debt-ceiling strategy: Top lawmakers have made clear the party can’t afford to have the government shut down on its watch, Politico reports. It’s still unclear what they’ll pursue, but it could involve nixing a debt-ceiling hike for now so they can focus on the more-immediate shutdown threat. More on where things stand.
3. Insiders say Doctors Without Borders reserves some high-risk assignments for nonwhite workers: Doctors Without Borders is perhaps the best known of all international relief organizations. But an Insider investigation in collaboration with the nonprofit radio show and podcast “Reveal,” based on interviews with about 100 current and former staffers in nearly 30 countries and a review of thousands of pages of documents, has found that a segregated, two-tiered workplace is firmly ingrained within the organization. Read the full investigation about what life is really like for some doctors inside the massively popular nonprofit.
4. R. Kelly faces life in prison after being found guilty in his sex-crimes trial: Jurors in Kelly’s federal criminal trial convicted the R&B singer of racketeering and sex trafficking. Prosecutors said he directed employees to procure women for sex and sexually abused women over nearly 25 years. More on the verdict.
- An accuser reacts: “I’ve been hiding from Robert Kelly due to fear and threats made against me, and I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and start the healing process,” a woman who testified under the pseudonym “Sonya” said of the verdict.
5. Killings spiked in cities across the country: The US in 2020 saw one of its largest-ever one-year increases in homicides, per new FBI data, The New York Times reports. “Although major crimes were down overall,” The Times said, “there were an additional 4,901 homicides in 2020 compared with the year before, the largest leap since national records started in 1960.” Some cities including Milwaukee; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Memphis, Tennessee, recorded their most homicides ever, but police chiefs and criminal experts say it’s hard to pinpoint a single cause for the spikes.
6. Biden touts booster shots by getting one: He received a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on live TV, encouraging eligible Americans to follow suit too. Biden, who is 78, is eligible for the booster because he’s over 65 and it’s been more than six months since he received his second jab (on January 11). More on the president’s defense of the US’s vaccination strategy.
- There is a bipartisan hue to the latest shots: McConnell announced soon after Biden’s jab that he too had received a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “It was an easy decision to receive a booster,” one of the nation’s most powerful Republicans said on the Senate floor.
7. Reagan’s attempted assassin to be granted “unconditional release” next year. John Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan, a police officer, a Secret Service agent, and the White House press secretary James Brady in 1981. The court accepted Hinckley’s insanity plea and in recent years has granted him increasingly more freedom, ultimately letting him live full time with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2016. Here’s what his lawyer and the judge have said about the case.
8. Top Fed officials exit amid stock-trading scandal: The Boston Fed Chair Jerome Powell previously said “no one” at the central bank was happy about the situation.‘s president, Eric Rosengren, and the Dallas Fed’s president, Robert Kaplan, announced plans to resign amid controversy over their trading, though Rosengren cited health reasons for his exit. The two men had purchased stock in several big-name firms including Apple, Alibaba, and Tesla, which prompted calls by activists and former Fed officials for them to step down or be fired.
9. New York hospital workers face the first major test of a vaccine mandate: Several hospitals in the state have said the mandate is causing staffing shortages that will force them to curtail care, The Washington Post reports. Thousands of unvaccinated employees are likely to lose their jobs after the mandate kicked in early this morning. New York is one of six states that have said healthcare workers must get the shot or lose their job.
10. Can you solve Insider’s crossword?: Check out our new puzzle, which will challenge your knowledge and provide some much-needed stress relief. Inside you’ll find clues on politics, tech, pop culture, and more.
- Check out today’s puzzle:
Today’s trivia question: This week marks the anniversary of the first televised presidential debate. Where did it take place? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at email@example.com.