10 Things in Politics: Vaccine woes touch everyone — even the agency that helped develop them

Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. I’m Brent Griffiths. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day.

Send your tips and thoughts to [email protected] or tweet me @BrentGriffiths.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The agency that helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine can’t vaccinate all of its workers.
  • Lawmakers will grill those behind the GameStop stock fiasco later today.
  • Tom Steyer praises the Biden administration’s early climate actions.

1. FIRST THING FIRST: Vaccine struggles are being felt by many. Case in point, we’re starting this morning off with an exclusive scoop on how the agency responsible for distributing COVID-19 vaccines can’t get enough for its own workers.

The National Institutes of Health has been at the forefront of the coronavirus vaccine work. Internal emails obtained by Insider show the agency has “exhausted” its vaccine supplies after vaccinating 3,000 of its employees.

  • What we don’t know: It’s not clear how many NIH employees who worked directly on the vaccine have received the shot. We do know that NIH Director Francis Collins, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Kizzmekia Corbett, the lead scientist on the vaccine project, have all received it.

Not all agencies are created equal: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided last year that the workers at the Bureau of Prisons, the Indian Health Service, the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs should be first to get vaccinated.”

  • Where those efforts stand: “At the VA, 68% of workers were vaccinated as of February 10. The State Department had vaccinated 11,500 people both in the US and abroad as of January 28, according to an agency spokesperson.”

Read their entire report here.

2. Millions of Texans remain without power: At least 20 people have died from weather-related incidents. One couple said they had been without power for 61 hours. Hospitals, per the Texas Tribune, are running out of water. It didn’t have to be this bad. FEMA is sending generators, fuel, water, and blankets among other assistance.

  • Former Gov. Rick Perry wrote that Texans would rather endure than join the federal energy grid: “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” Perry, a Republican who was also Energy secretary, wrote in a blog post.

3. Tom Steyer dishes on Biden’s environmental efforts: “Across the board, he’s lived up to what he said he was going to do, including Paris,” said Steyer, the former presidential candidate and billionaire climate activist.

He added that he’s been in touch with the Biden administration, but was noncommittal on what his role will be, including as a potential ambassador or working in D.C. Read the entire exclusive interview here.

4. Lawmakers are set to grill those behind the GameStop stock craze: A stonk boi, hedge fund managers, a Reddit official, and the top executive of the Robinhood app that helped make their saga possible will all testify before Congress this afternoon. Here’s how you can watch.

5. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s moment is over: Cuomo was once hailed for his pandemic response. Now, he’s facing a slew of recriminations. Fellow New York Democrats in the state Senate are preparing to strip him of his emergency powers, per The New York Times. The FBI and the US attorney in Brooklyn are probing the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, per the Times Union.

6. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:

  • 10:45 a.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference.
  • 11:15 a.m.: Vice President Harris holds a virtual meeting with top women lawmakers and advocacy organizations to discuss the stimulus plan.
  • 12:00 p.m. The House Financial Services Committee’s GameStop hearing.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Jen Psaki holds the White House’s daily press briefing.

7. Biden’s immigration plan will be introduced in Congress later today: “The package would provide an 8-year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people — slashed to three years for eligible farmworkers; people brought to the US as children; and those who were granted temporary protected status for fleeing natural and manmade disasters.” Read the details here.

8. Rush Limbaugh’s legacy: The conservative talk radio host died Wednesday at the age of 70. He announced last year that he had advanced lung cancer. President Trump said Limbaugh’s show was a major reason he was able to win the Republican nomination. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich added that the GOP would have never broken Democrats’ stranglehold on the House in 1994 without the man who became the nation’s most popular talk radio host.

From the obits: 

  • “Limbaugh mocked Democrats and liberals, touted a traditional Midwestern, moralistic patriotism and presented himself on the air as a biting but jovial know-it-all who pontificated ‘with half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair,’ as he often said,” Marc Fisher writes in The Washington Post. 
  • “He became a singular figure in the American media, fomenting mistrust, grievances and even hatred on the right for Americans who did not share their views, and he pushed baseless claims and toxic rumors long before Twitter and Reddit became havens for such disinformation,” Robert D. McFadden and Michael M. Grynbaum write in The New York Times.

9. Naomi Osaka bested Serena Williams in the Australian Open: Williams grew emotional while contemplating retirement after losing in straight sets in the semifinal of the major tournament. “I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone,” Williams said.

10. Our Happy place: Adam Sandler marked the 25th anniversary of his smash hit “Happy Gilmore” by recreating his iconic drive. Sandler called out fictional golf pro Shooter McGavin, played by Christopher McDonald, who responded in kind. And we know somewhere, Bob Barker is saying Happy’s had enough. 

One last thing. 

Today’s trivia question: Today’s question comes from Meredith McGehee. Current senators are deceptively quick (as this author can attest), but once a senator set a world record for the 100-yard-dash for seniors. Who is it? Hint: He also ran … for president. Email your response and a suggested question to me at [email protected]

  • Yesterday’s answer: President Nixon redesigned the White House guard uniforms before relenting amid withering criticism. True to one of the barbs, Iowa high schoolers and a Utah college later used them to outfit marching band members. But that’s not even the craziest part. The state of Utah went against none other than Alice Cooper when they bid for them. Alas for the rocker, this time school was not out.

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