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Politics On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears

01:50  30 november  2021
01:50  30 november  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Omicron Variant: Germany, Czech Republic Report Suspected Cases After U.K. Confirmation

  Omicron Variant: Germany, Czech Republic Report Suspected Cases After U.K. Confirmation Several countries, including the U.S., Japan and Israel, have announced travel restrictions to avoid the mass spread of the latest COVID variant.Germany's Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration said Saturday that an individual who traveled to Germany from South Africa is suspected to be infected with the Omicron variant.

Happy Monday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Scotland Officials Concerned Omicron Variant Has Community Spread as 6 Cases Confirmed

  Scotland Officials Concerned Omicron Variant Has Community Spread as 6 Cases Confirmed Countries throughout the world are taking action to prevent a proliferation of the variant as scientists are still working to determine the danger it poses. Some nations like Japan have decided to block any foreign visitors in an effort to stop the highly mutated variant from entering its borders even as cases began popping up around the globe, AP reported.For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.New cases in Portugal and Scotland might already point toward local spread of the variant outside of southern Africa.

On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears © Associated Press/Seth Wenig On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears

Today's Big Deal: President Biden says a new, more infectious variant is "cause for concern, but not cause for panic."

We'll also look at the looming debt ceiling deadline and the key players for Biden's big spending bill in the Senate.

But first, find out what it takes to throw a White House holiday party amid a pandemic.

Americans face at least 2 weeks of uncertainty as scientists work to answer 3 key questions about the new Omicron variant

  Americans face at least 2 weeks of uncertainty as scientists work to answer 3 key questions about the new Omicron variant Americans face at least two weeks of uncertainty before major questions may get answered about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. © Steve Pfost/Newsday/Getty Images Stony Brook, N.Y.: Robert Baird, of Centereach, New York is given a booster shot as members of the community are administered the COVID-19 vaccination and booster at Stony Brook University Research and Development Park in Stony Brook, New York on Nov. 17, 2021.

For The Hill, we're Sylvan Lane, Naomi Jagoda and Aris Folley. Reach us at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane, njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.

Couple Arrested After Leaving Quarantine, Boarding Flight Following South Africa Vacation

  Couple Arrested After Leaving Quarantine, Boarding Flight Following South Africa Vacation Sixty-one passengers on South African flights tested positive for COVID-19 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Thirteen of them are said to have the Omicron variant.Caroline Pimenta had a layover in Amsterdam on Friday with her husband, Andres Sanz, and was put in a hotel for mandatory isolation after she tested positive after vacationing in Cape Town, the couple told TV3.

Let's get to it.

Biden says lockdowns not needed 'for now'

  On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears © Provided by The Hill

President Biden said Monday that his administration was not recommending further restrictions on businesses or in-person gatherings to combat the coronavirus pandemic amid concerns about the new omicron variant.

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room, Biden described vaccinations as the best possible tool to defeat the virus and any emerging variants. He said his administration would outline a strategy to combat COVID-19 during the winter months later this week.

Biden later told reporters that "lockdowns" were off the table "for now" as his administration weighs measures to respond to the omicron variant, much about which remains unknown.

Face masks again mandatory in England amid variant spread

  Face masks again mandatory in England amid variant spread LONDON (AP) — New measures to combat the new omicron variant of coronavirus came into force in England Tuesday, with face coverings again compulsory in shops and on public transport. From Tuesday morning, all travelers returning to the U.K. must also take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Previously they had been able to take a lateral flow test and there was no requirement to isolate. The reintroduction ofFrom Tuesday morning, all travelers returning to the U.K. must also take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Previously they had been able to take a lateral flow test and there was no requirement to isolate.

"If people are vaccinated and wear their mask, there is no need for the lockdown," Biden said.

The background:

  • Lockdowns refer to closures of or restrictions on businesses, schools and other in-person gatherings. The federal government generally cannot impose such steps but can recommend them for states or cities.
  • When the coronavirus raged last year, many states and cities implemented restrictions on businesses and large gatherings to stop the spread of the virus.
  • Officials have curbed such restrictions as coronavirus vaccines have become widely available in the U.S.

Biden described the omicron variant as a "cause for concern" but not panic, encouraging Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated or received their booster shots to do so immediately.

Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels have more here.

LEADING THE DAY

No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline

New Poll Shows That Concern About Omicron Variant Is Split Down Party Lines

  New Poll Shows That Concern About Omicron Variant Is Split Down Party Lines Democrats were more than twice as likely as Republicans to agree that the Omicron COVID-19 variant "poses a serious risk to all Americans."A poll released on Tuesday by YouGov found that Democrats were much more likely to be concerned about the new variant than Republicans. Although 80 percent of Democrats said they were "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" about Omicron, only 35 percent of Republicans agreed.

Congress is only a couple of weeks away from hitting the Dec. 15 deadline to raise the federal debt limit, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) don't appear to be anywhere close to a deal.

  • Democrats insist that Schumer will not burn up a week of Senate floor time to use the budget reconciliation process to raise the debt limit with only Democratic votes.
  • And Republicans say there's no way that McConnell will be able to round up 10 Republican votes to quash an expected filibuster from conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and allow Democrats to pass debt limit legislation with a simple majority under regular order.

The big problem, according to senators and Senate aides, is that there aren't any easy ways forward. Alex Bolton tells us why here.

Omicron? Many Americans give it a shrug

  Omicron? Many Americans give it a shrug The dangers of the Omicron COVID-19 variant are unknown. But many Americans aren't very worried.Then came reports a new fast-spreading COVID-19 variant, Omicron, raising the specter of a new wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

I'VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU

Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill

All eyes will be on the Senate following the Thanksgiving break, as Democrats in the chamber seek to pass a massive social spending and climate package that is a key component of President Biden's economic agenda.

Fauci Says COVID Could Be Controlled Not Eliminated With Vaccines Amid Omicron Spread

  Fauci Says COVID Could Be Controlled Not Eliminated With Vaccines Amid Omicron Spread "Better control is what I think we need to look for and then we can get back to some form of normality to our lives," Dr. Anthony Fauci said."I don't think there's a chance you're going to eradicate this because we've only eradicated one virus for humans in history and that was smallpox. Elimination is tough," he said on Friday during a TV appearance with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Network. "I'm not so sure we're going to be able to do that, at least not in the near future. That's aspirational.

The House passed a version of the package shortly before Thanksgiving and the Senate is expected to take up the legislation after the holiday break. Lawmakers are hoping to get a bill to Biden's desk by the end of the year.

But Senate Democrats face challenges in passing the measure. They will need to make changes to the House bill in order to accommodate the priorities of both moderates and progressives.

They may also have to make some changes to the bill in order to comply with the rules for the budget reconciliation process, which Democrats are using to prevent a Republican filibuster.

Additionally, Senate Democrats will have to withstand criticisms from Republicans who are seeking to sink the bill.

Naomi takes a look here at five senators to keep an eye on during the debate on the bill.

NEW DIRECTIONS

Treasury redirecting rental assistance funds to address backlogs

The Treasury Department is planning to shift federal rental aid from some jurisdictions with unused funds as other areas stare down to areas staring down a backlog of requests.

The department said on Monday that the office has begun a process to reallocate available aid from grantees that have unused funds, as it works quickly to distribute more than $46 billion in assistance allocated to states during the pandemic.

Read more from Aris here.

Good to Know

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. © Provided by The Hill Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday said that he will bring President Biden's spending bill to the Senate floor once the parliamentarian finishes reviewing it and that it is his "goal" to pass the roughly $2 trillion bill by the end of the year.

Here's what else have our eye on:

  • President Biden is under fresh pressure from climate activists after rejecting their push to replace Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
  • Senate Republicans are struggling to save funding for construction of former President Trump's long-sought wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as Democrats press forward with plans to rescind nearly $2 billion in funding for his signature project.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered Amazon and eight other large retailers to send information to the regulatory agency about supply chain disruption factors and the steps they have taken to mitigate the disruptions.
  • President Biden on Monday met with 10 CEOs from major retailers and grocers to discuss the holiday shopping season, touting the success of last week's Black Friday sales.
  • Federal workers who do not comply with the Biden administration's coronavirus vaccine requirement will not face serious penalties such as suspension or removal until January.

That's it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill's Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We'll see you tomorrow.

Fauci Says COVID Could Be Controlled Not Eliminated With Vaccines Amid Omicron Spread .
"Better control is what I think we need to look for and then we can get back to some form of normality to our lives," Dr. Anthony Fauci said."I don't think there's a chance you're going to eradicate this because we've only eradicated one virus for humans in history and that was smallpox. Elimination is tough," he said on Friday during a TV appearance with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Network. "I'm not so sure we're going to be able to do that, at least not in the near future. That's aspirational.

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