1/ Jill Biden said that two years of tuition-free community college – her signature legislative initiative – is “no longer” part of the Build Back Better agenda, telling a group of educators that she is “disappointed” that the provision was dropped because of necessary “compromises.” In October, Joe Biden told lawmakers that community college would likely not be in the bill. Democrats also didn’t include it in the roughly $2 trillion version that passed the House last year. “Congress hasn’t passed the Build Back Better legislation yet. And free community college is no longer part of that package,” the first lady said during an appearance in Washington before the Community College National Legislative Summit. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
2/ New Jersey and Delaware will no longer require students and school employees to wear masks. New Jersey’s new policy will take effect the second week of March, while Delaware’s indoor mask mandate for public and private K-12 schools and child care facilities will end on March 31. The Democratic governors of New York and Connecticut also said they’re re-evaluating school mask mandates. The White House, meanwhile, said its “advice to every school district is to abide by public health guidelines. It continues to be at this point that the CDC is advising that masks can delay, reduce transmission.” (New York Times / NPR / CNN)
3/ Biden’s top science adviser bullied and demeaned subordinates, and created a hostile work environment, according to a White House investigation. Eric Lander, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, apologized for his behavior following the two-month investigation, which found “credible evidence” that he created a toxic work environment. While swearing in political appointees on Inauguration Day, Biden pledged to fire anyone who disrespected their colleagues “On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.” The White House declined to comment when asked whether Biden would seek Lander’s resignation. Lander, however, promised “check-ins” to ensure “that every employee knows how to report conduct that concerns them.” (Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
4/ The North Carolina Supreme Court blocked the state’s new Republican-drawn congressional map, ruling 4-3 that they violate the state constitution. The new map could have given Republicans control of 11 of the state’s 14 districts and would likely have helped Republicans gain at least two seats in the state’s delegation. The state Supreme Court gave the General Assembly until Feb. 18 to submit a new redistricting proposal. (Politico / CNN)
5/ Pence rejected Trump’s claim that he could have “overturned” the results of the 2020 election, saying Trump is “wrong” and that the Republican Party needs accept the outcome. His comments came after Trump called on the Jan. 6 committee to investigate why Pence didn’t “overturned the election,” asserting that Pence had the “right” to do so. Speaking at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters conference, Pence called it “un-American” to suggest one person could have decided the outcome. The Republican Party, meanwhile, declared the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol “legitimate political discourse” in a resolution censuring GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating on the House Jan. 6 committee. (CNN / ABC News / New York Times / NPR / NBC News / Washington Post)
6/ The National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence that should have been turned over to the agency when he left the White House. The Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes, and other written communications related to a president’s official duties. The documents from Trump’s Florida resort included letters from Kim Jong Un, which Trump once described as “love letters,” as well as a letter from Obama. The Archives said Trump’s representatives are “continuing to search” for additional records. (Washington Post)
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