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On the roster: McConnell shuts door on boosted stimulus checks – Long lines in Georgia on last day of early voting – Biden transition faces budget hurdles from Trump admin – Goat-a run, doc!
MCCONNELL SHUTS DOOR ON BOOSTED STIMULUS CHECKS
Fox News: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again blocked quick action on $ 2,000 coronavirus stimulus checks on the Senate floor Thursday as he traded harsh words with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. McConnell, R-Ky., in floor remarks lambasted the House-passed bill for $ 2,000 stimulus checks as ‘socialism for rich people.’ The comments were his most direct to date on his opposition to President Trump‘s request that stimulus checks be boosted from $ 600 in the recently passed stimulus. … The uproar over the stimulus checks came on what was scheduled to be a relatively tame Thursday in the upper chamber, as it’s prioritized overriding President Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate had no scheduled votes for Thursday. McConnell filed a ‘cloture petition’ on the NDAA veto override Wednesday, which cannot be voted on until two days after it is filed. The Senate is currently scheduled to take its cloture vote — meaning a procedural vote to end debate — on the NDAA Friday, which would set up a final vote Saturday.”
Pelosi all but certain to be reelected speaker – AP: “There’s little doubt that Nancy Pelosi will be reelected House speaker when the new Congress convenes Sunday. It could take a high-wire act for her to get there, largely thanks to the pandemic. The only woman in history to serve as speaker, the California Democrat has a reputation as a formidable vote-counter and wily deal-cutter. Those skills have helped her fend off threats and cement her as leader of her party in the House since 2003, and seem likely to carry the day on Jan. 3, when the Constitution requires the new Congress to begin. … The full House elects the speaker, and Democrats will have the chamber’s smallest majority in 20 years in a vote in which Republicans are certain to vote unanimously against her, joined by Democratic defectors. Democrats will have a 222-211 edge, with one race still undecided and one vacancy after Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., died Tuesday after battling COVID-19.”
Pergram: 117th Congress may offer some surprises due to the pandemic – Fox News: “Some college bowl games are canceled. The NFL is struggling to finish its regular season without canceling a game. People celebrated holiday parties on Zoom. Yet the 117th Congress begins Sunday at noon, Eastern Time. The Constitution dictates that. And everyone has to be there in person. … Opening day is usually a wildly festive affair with receptions in the House Office Buildings and thousands of family and friends descending on the Capitol. The House is keeping this year’s event as low-key as possible. Freshmen members are issued only one ticket for a guest to watch the ceremonies from the gallery. The House won’t issue any guest tickets to returning members. … Starting the new Congress is inherently messy in a pandemic.”
[Ed. note: Our endearingly human desire to apply linear timeframes to a non-linear existence is silly, right? The world Friday won’t really be any different than it is today (except for your tax bill). But we all, even the cynics among us, will feel different for being in 2021 rather than 2020. And that’s not so silly at all. It’s the start of the 22nd year of the third millennium of the Christian Era. Sounds like as good of a time as any to check in on ourselves and those we love. Are we happy and healthy? Are we loving each other more than before? Are we making progress in the effort to be the people we are capable of being? It’s a time to be with the ones you hold dear and be at rest, consider the bounty we enjoy and greet the future expectantly and with good cheer. And while Brianna and I both love you dearly, gentle readers, we will do exactly that Friday. Fox News Halftime Report will return Monday with more Georgia coverage than the Cincinnati secondary. Tomorrow, though, we’ll be counting our blessings – with you high on our lists.]
THE RULEBOOK: EVERY FOUR YEARS
“The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21
TIME OUT: WHY BLACK EYED PEAS ON NYE?
WREG: “At the inception of a new year, the tables of the American South are adorned with the traditional meal of black-eyed peas, cabbage and cornbread. Depending on where you are, the peas may have okra in them, and the cabbage may become collard greens. The meat is usually a smoked and salted pork, with a bone-in ham being the general favorite. The greens are thought to be a reference to the money that folds, the cornbread is said to imitate gold, but the peas are said to be lucky. … But have you ever wondered how this tradition got to the United States? In the 17th century, at the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, black-eyed peas were a west African crop that made its way into the gardens of the United States. … The Civil War is generally considered where the American tradition of eating black-eyed peas became widespread.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.
LONG LINES IN GEORGIA ON LAST DAY OF EARLY VOTING
Fox News: “Georgians stood in long lines on Thursday to vote on the last day to vote early in the state’s Senate runoff elections Senate runoff elections that could determine which party gets the majority in the upper chamber. Hundreds of people were lined up on the morning of New Year’s Eve to vote. Reporters and locals alike posted videos and photos of residents waiting to vote on Thursday morning. As of Thursday morning, more than 2.8 million Georgians voted early. More than 1.9 million people voted early in person and nearly 900,000 people have voted by mail. Nearly 5 million Georgians voted on Election Day. Republican Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are facing reelection, on Wednesday shared a plan to recruit more than 8,000 poll watchers with Fox News in what they called the ‘largest and most aggressive ballot security and voter integrity operation in state history.’”
Youth voter turnout remains high from November – WaPo: “More than 281,000 voters under 30 have already cast their ballots in the runoffs, rivaling the historic early turnout of young voters in Georgia at this point in the November election. It is an unusual level of enthusiasm for an age group that typically has low rates of voting — particularly in runoff elections, which historically draw much less attention than presidential races. But this race has garnered enormous attention because of the high stakes for Senate control… The turnout of these young voters is crucial in Georgia, which saw the highest November turnout of young voters among the 12 states where voter participation data is available, accounting for a larger share of the electorate compared with 2016 in each of those states, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm. Georgia also has among the youngest electorates in battleground states.”
BIDEN TRANSITION FACES BUDGET HURDLES FROM TRUMP ADMIN
Roll Call: “President-elect Joe Biden‘s transition is warning that a lack of cooperation from the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget is making it difficult for the incoming team to determine coronavirus-related spending needs and could delay the fiscal 2022 budget process. ‘There are also health and economic repercussions to this obstruction. OMB is integral to our federal government efficiently and effectively addressing COVID. OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic,’ Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden-Harris transition, said Wednesday. The start of an administration often leads to a delay in the first release of the president’s budget from the usual February date, but Abraham indicated the lack of assistance from current OMB officials could further complicate things next year.”
Britain prepares for underwhelming relationship with Biden – Politico: “Boris Johnson has a problem named Joe Biden. Although the U.K. has now sealed a trade deal with the European Union, covering $ 900 billion in tariff-free goods and services annually, the British prime minister’s hopes for a new arrangement with the United States are confronting the reality of a transatlantic relationship that is now anything but special. Johnson allies fear his courtship of Donald Trump is now a liability in a Democratic Washington, along with his advocacy for a break with the EU against the advice of Trump’s predecessor. And while Biden’s tight-lipped transition team won’t reveal its plans for the U.K., interviews with 16 officials and former officials on both sides of the Atlantic make clear that Brexit has changed the dynamic.”
Biden plans for coronavirus memorial at inauguration – AP: “President-elect Joe Biden is planning a lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to honor those killed by the coronavirus the day before he is sworn into office on Jan. 20. The Presidential Inaugural Committee said Thursday that it would hold the event the evening of Jan. 19, calling it the ‘first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool to memorialize American lives lost.’ It is also inviting communities around the country to join Washington in lighting up buildings and ringing church bells at 5:30 p.m. in ‘a national moment of unity and remembrance.’”
Report: Trump had intel briefing on Chinese bounties – NYT
Pelosi names Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben first woman House chaplain – Fox News
Trump returning to White House ahead of Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve party – Fox News
Take a look at Roll Call’s 2020 photo picks of the year – Roll Call
AUDIBLE: RESPECT EARNED, RESPECT GIVEN
“I have not met her yet, but if I ever do, I’d definitely shake her hand and say, ‘Thank you for setting the example that you can be in your 20s and still make a difference in your country.’” – Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., explaining to Fox News that although they couldn’t be further apart on political issues, he respects what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accomplished at her young age. He will replace Ocasio-Cortez, 31, as the youngest member of the House at age 25.
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GOAT-A RUN, DOC!
WGME: “Three police officers went above and beyond the call of duty to help rescue a goat that had run into the chilly ocean after fleeing from the parking lot of a veterinary’s office in Belfast [Northern Ireland] on Tuesday. According to police, the goat had escaped from its owner in the parking lot of the Belfast Veterinary Hospital and Sgt. Fitzpatrick, Cpl. Spencer and Ofc. McFadden responded to the area to help capture the wayward animal. … ‘The 4-year-old goat led Sgt. Fitzpatrick, Cpl. Spencer and Ofc. McFadden on a long walk on the ocean front before educating the officers on the fact that goats could swim,’ Belfast police said in a Facebook post. The temperature outside was 28 degrees with a water temperature around 40 degrees, but police say that didn’t stop the goat from wading into the sea despite Sgt. Fitzpatrick and Ofc. McFadden’s best efforts to dissuade the goat.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“What does make me humble is the undeserving good fortune that I’ve had, and I’ve had more than my share. It starts with friends and family and great colleagues here at Fox, and as I said last year at this time at the top of the list of things that matter is to be able to do what you love for a living.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) in his 2015 New Year’s message aired on Fox News’ All American New Year.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.