September 28, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett has a reasonably clear path to the Supreme Court, and top Republicans reportedly know it.

President Trump formally nominated the 7th Circuit Court judge to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday. And with Republicans firmly in the Senate majority, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are "so confident" in Barrett's confirmation that they're already dreaming up her appeals court replacement, Axios reports.

Republican senators nearly universally said they'd like to vote on Trump's Ginsburg replacement even before he announced it would be Barrett. Just Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) definitively said they would rather not consider a nominee, citing the 2016 precedent in which Republicans refused to consider former President Barack Obama's election year nominee. But two senators won't be enough to keep Barrett off the bench before Election Day.

If Barrett is quickly confirmed after her mid-October hearings, it's possible Republicans could quickly shove her 7th Circuit replacement through the Senate as well. That would be "the cherry on top" of conservatives' Supreme Court victory, and "one that McConnell won't pass up," a GOP Senate aide told Axios. McConnell and Republicans are reportedly considering nominating Kate Todd, a White House lawyer who was also on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist, to fill Barrett's slot. Todd is "a favorite of White House counsel Pat Cipollone," Axios writes, though an administration official said no one is formally in consideration for the appeals court yet. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:09 a.m.

White House officials and 16 moderate Democratic and Republican senators discussed President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan on Sunday, The Washington Post reports, with several lawmakers saying they want to see aid targeted to those who are most in need.

The hourlong Zoom call was organized by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and led by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. Biden has called for unity and wants to see bipartisan support for his plan, and prior to the call, Deese told reporters "we're at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy. Without decisive action, we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serious than the crisis we find ourselves in."

There was agreement on the need to spend more money on producing and distributing vaccines, the Post reports. The consensus is not there when it comes to $1,400 checks, though, and some lawmakers want to narrow it down so the money goes to the neediest families, instead of Americans who make $75,000 or less, as was done during the last two rounds of COVID-19 relief. Some Republicans have also complained about the proposal including an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"There are still a lot of unanswered questions, most notably, how did the administration come up with $1.9 trillion dollars required, given that our figures show that there's still about $1.8 trillion left to be spent," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told the Post. "We hope to get more data documenting the need from them." Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) described the call as a "genuine, open discussion," and said the proposal's $1.9 trillion price tag "isn't Monopoly money. Every dollar that we're talking about here is being borrowed from our grandchildren. We have a responsibility to be stewards."

People involved with the call told the Post the White House officials listened and promised to get answers to lawmakers' questions. While Biden and others may be holding out for a united vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suggested the use of a procedural tool that would let Democrats push the package through. The Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaker. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2021

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills 38-24 on Sunday night, securing the team's spot in Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Chiefs are now heading to their second consecutive Super Bowl, hoping to become the eighth NFL franchise to win back-to-back titles. The Chiefs were down 9-0 to start, but led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the team made a quick comeback, scoring 21 straight points. The Chiefs also had one of their longest plays of the season, with a 71-yard pass from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill.

The Buccaneers won three straight road games to get to the Super Bowl, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-26 earlier Sunday. Quarterback Tom Brady will be making his 10th Super Bowl appearance — his first away from the New England Patriots. Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl in 2002, during the team's first — and until now, only — appearance.

Super Bowl LV is set for Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, airing on CBS. This will be the first time in NFL history the team from the host city will play in the Super Bowl. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2021

There could soon be another Huckabee in the Arkansas Governor's Mansion.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former President Donald Trump's second White House press secretary, is expected to announced on Monday that she will run for governor of Arkansas, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News. Her father, Mike Huckabee, served as Arkansas' governor from 1996 to 2007.

Due to term limits, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) will be out of office in 2022, and Sanders has been thinking of throwing her hat into the ring since leaving the White House in 2019, NBC News reports. Her time as press secretary was tumultuous, with Sanders, a Trump loyalist, regularly accusing the media of spreading falsehoods and later admitting to federal investigators that she couldn't back up her assertion that FBI agents told the White House they had no confidence in former FBI Director James Comey. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2021

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced on Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Lopez Obrador tweeted that he is experiencing mild symptoms and has received medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he said. "We will move forward." The president added that he will continue to work through his illness, and a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for Monday will still take place.

Mexico has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with the country recording more than 1.7 million cases and at least 149,084 deaths. Close to 30 public hospitals in Mexico City have reported they are at 100 percent capacity, and residents there have been encouraged by the mayor to stay home as much as possible. Lopez Obrador has been criticized throughout the pandemic for his slow response, the fact that he rarely wears a mask, and the scarcity of testing across the country. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2021

President Biden is expected to lift restrictions on transgender service members in the military as early as Monday, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

This would reverse a ban former President Donald Trump announced via tweet in 2017, which blindsided former Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Pentagon has said there are about 9,000 service members who identify as transgender, with independent estimates putting the number closer to 16,000, the Journal reports.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was asked by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) if he would support lifting restrictions on transgender service, and Austin indicated that he would. "I truly believe ... that if you're fit and you're qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve," he said. "And, you can expect that I will support that throughout." Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2021

President Biden will soon reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and 26 European countries that allow travel across open borders, a senior U.S. public health official told Reuters on Sunday.

During his last days in office, former President Donald Trump lifted the restrictions on Europe and Brazil, effective Tuesday, and Biden's order rescinds this. Additionally, Biden is adding South Africa to the list, due to the spread of a new COVID-19 variant in the country that is 50 percent more infectious.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's principal deputy director, told Reuters the agency is "putting in place this suite of measures to protect Americans and also reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic." Because there are "more contagious variants emerging," Schuchat added, "it's not the time to lift restrictions on international travel." Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2021

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers will square off for the NFC title on Sunday, followed by the AFC championship between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Both games are expected to be competitive, with all four teams viewed as legitimate contenders. The winners will meet in two weeks for Super Bowl LV. For neutral fans, here's a breakdown of why all four potential Super Bowl matchups are intriguing.

Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs — This would pit two of the NFL's best quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes — against each other, and it's likely a dream matchup for State Farm's advertising team, but it would also be a treasure for anyone interested in sports history. The Packers beat the Chiefs in the first ever Super Bowl in 1967.

Packers vs. Buffalo Bills — Buffalo and Green Bay, both mid-sized cities in the Great Lakes region, are home to two of the most ardently loyal, passionate fan bases in the NFL. The enthusiasm would be infectious.

Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — There aren't a lot connections between these two franchises, but who wouldn't want to watch a rematch between Mahomes and Tom Brady after the latter eked out a win over the Chiefs in the AFC championship game two seasons ago when he was still with the New England Patriots.

Bills vs. Buccaneers — The Bills and Brady go way back, having played twice per year during his Patriots days, and it generally hasn't been pretty for Buffalo — the future Hall of Famer is 32-3 against his longtime rival. On the one hand, that could set it up a storybook ending for the Bills and their fans, who may have a chance to capture their first ever Super Bowl victory by getting revenge on their nemesis. On the other hand, Bills fans may prefer to just avoid Brady altogether. Tim O'Donnell

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