Good morning — it’s Monday. Grab your coffee or tea. With Democrats soon to assume control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, advocates believe they have a path toward D.C. statehood.
Today’s weather: Skies become mostly cloudy as a storm system passes to our south, where all of its precipitation remains. Highs are mostly in the mid-40s. Winds are light and variable.
Here are the top stories for Monday
Howard Liebengood, a U.S. Capitol Police officer, has died. The agency did not list a cause of death, but two law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that Liebengood, 51, died by suicide over the weekend while he was off-duty. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to release details that were not being made public.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser had a stark message for Americans on Monday: Do not attend Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in Washington.
With the combined threats of spreading the coronavirus in a city that reached its highest average daily new-case rate Monday and of violence from those who deny the election result, said Bowser (D), Americans who would ordinarily flock to Washington should stay home.
The right-wing groups threatening to mass before and during the inauguration are different from the protesters the city normally welcomes, Bowser said. “People coming to demonstrate peacefully are very different from the people who stormed the Capitol,” she said.
When a reporter asked whether she was scared of what might happen Jan. 20, Bowser said, “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy, because we have … factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”
In an effort to make the city inhospitable to guests, Bowser said she is also “likely” to extend the mandated closure of indoor dining — which was introduced in December to address rising coronavirus cases and was set to end this coming Friday — through Jan. 24 in the interest of public safety around the inauguration. She said she would decide Tuesday.
Bowser said she will be briefed by the FBI daily on threats to the city.
RICHMOND — All the pomp and ritual that usually accompanies the start of a Virginia General Assembly session will be compressed into one mundane action this week for Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) and his colleagues.
“I’ll just open up my laptop,” Bagby said.
Virginia’s General Assembly kicks off its 2021 session on Wednesday with 402 years of tradition flying out the window yet again because of the coronavirus pandemic. As they did during last year’s special session, the House of Delegates will meet online in a giant videoconference; the Senate meets in person but under strict distance requirements in a spacious room at the Virginia Science Museum.
Coronavirus figures released by the District, Maryland and Virginia on Monday showed 7,744 additional cases in the region and 43 deaths.
More than 12,000 people from the District, Maryland and Virginia have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Those who have died include activists, writers, firefighters and pastors. They worked in grocery stores, drove public buses and taught children. Read about their lives here.
Reported cases: 202
Reported deaths: 4
In the past seven days, the District has reported 2.089 new cases.
Reported cases: 3,012
Reported deaths: 29
In the past seven days, Maryland has reported 21,884 new cases.
Reported cases: 4,530
Reported deaths: 10
In the past seven days, Virginia has reported 35,850 new cases.
The Maryland men’s basketball team faced No. 12 Illinois on Sunday night without its starting point guard and leading scorer. The Terrapins’ struggling frontcourt had to compete against another elite big man, and previous editions of that matchup had not gone well. But the Terps managed to turn the game into a back-and-forth battle before securing a needed 66-63 win in Champaign, Ill., against one of the Big Ten’s top teams.
Maryland (7-6, 2-5 Big Ten) trailed 61-59 with less than two minutes to play, but sophomore guard Hakim Hart nailed a three-pointer with 1:20 to go to give the Terps a lead they would not relinquish. Hart committed a foul on Illinois’ next possession, but Da’Monte Williams missed both free throws. Senior guard Darryl Morsell made a driving basket with 33 seconds to go, extending the Terrapins’ advantage to three points and capping his excellent evening.
After sophomore forward Donta Scott missed the front end of a one-and-one, Illinois had a chance to tie the score on its final possession, but Illinois star Ayo Dosunmu missed his three-point attempt, and the Terps held on.
In December 1972, not long after winning a U.S. Senate seat from one of Delaware’s oldest political hands, Joe Biden began traveling to Washington to introduce himself around town.
Strapping and handsome, Biden had just turned 30, the minimum age to become a senator. Now, almost 50 years later, he is about to become the nation’s oldest president at 78. Back then, he was the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history, according to the Senate website.
Worried people would think he was a congressional page, Biden stuck out his right hand to everyone he encountered, even elevator operators.
“Hi, I’m Joe Biden,” he’d say, “the new senator from Delaware.”
Someone stole Robbie Pruitt’s mountain bike off the rack of his Honda Odyssey in September. Pruitt visited a local bicycle store in Ashburn, Va., the next day only to find there were very few bikes in stock available to buy.
Pruitt, an assistant rector at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Leesburg, Va., posted on a private Loudoun County Facebook page that he’d fix anyone’s bicycle free. In the post he also said he was accepting unwanted bikes, which he’d fix and donate to people in need.
He ended with: “Hope and pray this bike met the need of the person who took it.”
Larry Rendell Brock, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, was arrested in Texas and charged with one count of knowingly entering a restricted building and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct, prosecutors said.
Brock identified himself to the New Yorker last week as the man photographed in the well of the Senate chamber wearing a green combat helmet, tactical vest, and black and camo jacket. The photo shows the man holding a white flex cuff, used by police by restrain subjects, prosecutors said. The man in the photo was also recorded apparently exiting the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“Build Back Better” will never achieve the renown — or infamy — of “Make America Great Again.” But President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign slogan does offer a pithy summary of what Democrats hope to accomplish now that they will control both chambers of Congress as well as the White House.
The same is true at the state level in Virginia and Maryland as their general assemblies prepare to convene Wednesday for their regular annual sessions.
Democrats lead both chambers of both legislatures, and lawmakers say they aim to provide more than just short-term relief from the coronavirus and the recession it triggered. They also want to make structural changes in the economy, schools, criminal justice system and race relations to address inequities and other shortcomings exposed by the crises of 2020.
The most recent federal stimulus could keep Metro operating at current levels for a year, eliminating the need for drastic service cuts the transit agency had floated because of declining revenue during the pandemic.
Metro expects to receive about $610 million from the $900 billion federal stimulus Congress passed last month, the transit agency said Friday in a statement to The Washington Post. That would also likely allow it to avoid shedding additional bus and train operators through buyouts or layoffs, according to a Metro official briefed on the stimulus.
Board members are expected to roll back much or all of a cost-reduction proposal at a Thursday meeting. That plan had aimed to save nearly $500 million by closing 19 Metro stations, eliminating weekend rail service and cutting bus service by half. While those cuts are likely off the table, Metro warned the stimulus money was a temporary fix.
A decade’s worth of developments packed themselves into the period between the ends of the 2019 and 2020 NFL seasons for the Washington Football Team. Coaches were changed, a name was dropped, lawsuits were filed, comebacks were made — and there was even some football played. That’s a lot of churn to end up with the same foundational question that never seems to go away:
Who’s the quarterback?
Let’s go this far: Taylor Heinicke has to be on the roster, right? The news that Alex Smith couldn’t start Saturday night’s 31-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the NFC playoffs at FedEx Field because of the calf strain in his nearly amputated right leg was a downer in the hours before kickoff. As immobile as Smith appeared to be in the victory that clinched the NFC East title — he was about as nimble as a grand piano without wheels — for three years, he has represented Washington’s best chance to win.
Two police officers with the Rocky Mount, Va., police department have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation after the town discovered they attended the Wednesday riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The Rocky Mount Police Department said in a statement Sunday that it had notified federal authorities of the off-duty officers’ presence at the event, in which a large crowd breached the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the presidential election results.
The Rocky Mount department said that though it “supports all lawful expressions of freedom of speech and assembly by its employees,” it “does not condone the unlawful acts that occurred that day.”
Statements released Sunday by the Capitol Police and its union did not specify a cause of death for Liebengood, who had been with the department since April 2005 and was assigned to the Senate Division. A former co-worker said he was often assigned to the Delaware entrance of the Russell Senate Office Building — his favorite posting.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a longtime Republican critic of President Trump, on Sunday blamed him for inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol and slammed GOP members of Congress for lending credence to Trump’s false allegations of election fraud.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Hogan said, “There’s no question in my mind that [Trump] was responsible for inciting this riotous mob.”
He added that as a lifelong Republican, he has been “embarrassed and ashamed” by members of the GOP who fueled the false allegations of election irregularities that brought thousands to Washington on Wednesday.
With Democrats soon to be in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, advocates of making Washington, D.C., the 51st state believe they are on the brink of a historic opportunity.
Seven months after the House of Representatives passed a D.C. statehood bill for the first time, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) says the unprecedented assault on the U.S. Capitol adds to the urgency of the cause: D.C. residents, she said, risked their lives on Jan. 6 to defend a Congress that affords them no voting representation.
But D.C. statehood still faces a number of high hurdles, not only in the narrowly divided Senate but in public opinion. A 2019 Gallup poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans opposed D.C. statehood.
Why isn’t D.C. already a state? What does the Constitution say?
Washington, D.C.’s founding is enshrined in the Constitution, which provides that the District — “not exceeding 10 Miles square” — would “become the Seat of the Government of the United States.”For a brief period after the city’s creation in 1790, residents enjoyed voting rights and were allowed to cast ballots as residents of Maryland or Virginia. But those rights ended shortly after Congress moved into town and the new Capitol in 1800 and passed the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801. The act stripped D.C. residents of their rights to vote in all federal elections.