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Congress certifies Joe Biden's Electoral College win

A joint session of Congress ended a day of siege on Thursday by officially certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win in the November election, the final step ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.

The bottom line: Despite some Republican lawmakers' challenges — and the brutal rampage of the Capitol by supporters of President Trump — the final votes in Congress confirm that Biden will be the 46th president of the United States.

The big picture: The vote came hours after the typically procedural process devolved into mass chaos, with armed, pro-Trump rioters storming the Capitol, forcing House and Senate lawmakers into multi-hour lockdowns.

  • The day's violent events impeded several Republicans' plans to challenge the Electoral College votes in battleground states.
  • Multiple House and Senate Republicans had planned to object to the Electoral College votes in at least three states: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania — with an additional three on the table.
  • But the objectors only made it to Arizona and Pennsylvania, with several Republican lawmakers deciding to give up their challenges after the protests erupted inside the Capitol.

Between the lines: Although we knew from the start that the certification debate wouldn't change the election results, the day's events revealed how much work needs to be done to heal the country.

  • The Republicans who sought to object to the election results succeeded in shaking many Americans' confidence in their democracy, especially among those who believe Biden's presidency is illegitimate.
  • It also drew battle lines for the 2024 GOP presidential primary, and put a target on the head of many pro-Trump dissenters who refused to take part in undermining Biden's victory.

Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the proceedings and ultimately announced that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received the required majority votes, is a top target.

  • His declaration —in which he fulfilled his constitutional duty — went directly against Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the election results.

What's next: The House and Senate will recess at the end of this week through the inauguration.

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

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GOP party leaders face internal revolt for failing to stand up for Trump

The GOP is getting torn apartby a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

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The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

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Why made-for-TV moments like Amanda Gorman matter during the pandemic

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

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Russian police arrest over 3,000 protesters demanding Navalny's release

Russian police on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations that began in the eastern regions of Russia spread west to more than 60 cities. At least 3,324 of people were detained and tens of thousands of others protested into the night despite the presence of law enforcement and extremely low temperatures, per the OVD-Info group, which monitors political arrests.

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Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and Jeff Flake

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump, per AZCentral.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of Trump loyalist Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

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DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

A Texas man who has be charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

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Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."

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