Today brings an unusually consequential suite of morning news programming as four of the five Sunday shows will be granted an audience with the most powerful politician in Washington, a Democrat named Joe. No, not Biden. The other guy, the one who momentarily finds himself as the tiebreaking vote in a 50/50 Senate and is taking advantage. Joe Manchin will chat with “This Week,” “Meet the Press,” “State of the Union,” and “Fox News Sunday” about his influence over the Dems’ COVID relief package, which produced two modestly fiscally conservative tweaks to the House bill this week. He’ll also address for the 8,000th time his refusal to eliminate the filibuster, which means his party’s ambitious voting-rights bill is dead on arrival unless and until he and Kyrsten Sinema change their minds.
He’s not the only newsworthy West Virginian on tap this morning. Gov. Jim Justice is set for “Face the Nation” to discuss his state’s excellent progress on vaccinations and his surprising reluctance to lift its mask mandate at a moment when other red states like Texas are easing restrictions. He’ll also be pressed on Manchin’s effort in stimulus negotiations to pare down beefed-up federal unemployment benefits. As a Republican, does Justice support that move on deficit-reduction grounds? Or, as a post-Trump Republican, does he think it’s more important to get working-class people as much aid as Congress can manage ASAP?
One of the red-state governors who *did* lift his state’s mask mandate is also scheduled this morning. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves will talk to “State of the Union” about his decision, which came at a moment when his state’s positivity rate is still north of 10 percent. Members of Biden’s COVID team are also booked to counterprogram Reeves and beg other governors not to move too quickly on lifting restrictions while vaccine-resistant variants are becoming more prevalent. The ubiquitous Anthony Fauci will speak with “Face the Nation” while Michael Osterholm, the most doomsaying member of the White House’s advisory panel, will sit down with “Meet the Press.” The full line-up is at the AP.