The Morning Dispatch: Can the Biden Administration Deter Russia?

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Both chambers of Congress passed a continuing resolution Thursday night that, once signed into law by President Joe Biden, will avert a shutdown and fund the government at current levels through February 18, 2022. The House voted 221-212 to pass the stopgap measure yesterday evening, and—after rejecting an amendment 48-50 that would’ve defunded the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandates—the Senate advanced the CR 69-28. Lawmakers now have about 11 weeks to work out a longer-term budget for fiscal year 2022.

  • President Biden outlined his administration’s plan to combat a potential winter COVID-19 surge driven by the Omicron variant, announcing Thursday he is extending the federal mask mandate on planes and public transportation through March 18, 2022, and requiring anyone flying into the United States—regardless of nationality or vaccination status—to test negative within one day of departure. He also said the Department of Health and Human Services will issue guidance in the coming weeks requiring private health insurers to reimburse the cost of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. Several more cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in the United States: Five in New York, and one each in Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, and California.

  • The Biden administration on Thursday reached an agreement with the government of Mexico to restart the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols—or Remain in Mexico policy—that require asylum seekers along the southern border to wait outside the United States for their claims to be processed. The Department of Homeland Security reiterated yesterday that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas believes the program “has endemic flaws” and “impose[s] unjustifiable human costs,” but U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered the Biden administration to reimplement MPP in August after Mayorkas terminated it in July.

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