OnPolitics: Jan. 6 committee subpoenas 5 GOP members of Congress

Hello, OnPolitics readers,

President Joe Biden on Thursday marked a grim milestone of 1 million American lives lost to COVID-19 by ordering flags on government buildings to be flown at half-staff for five days. 

"One million empty chairs around the dinner table," Biden said in a statement. "Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic. Jill and I pray for each of them."

The White House relied on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Johns Hopkins University, which showed U.S. deaths from the pandemic approaching 1 million Thursday morning.

The president also urged Congress to approve more funding to fight the pandemic and warned that the U.S. risks losing its place in line for new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines for the fall when a new variant could hit.

It's Amy and Chelsey with today's top stories out of Washington.

5 House GOP members subpoenaed by Jan. 6 committee

The select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol subpoenaed five Republican lawmakers Thursday, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

The remaining four members of Congress are Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania; Jim Jordan of Ohio; Andy Biggs of Arizona; and Mo Brooks of Alabama. All were issued subpoenas after failing to  comply voluntarily with the committee's investigation, according to Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

In a statement, Thompson said the committee wished to allow the lawmakers the opportunity to discuss information pertaining to the insurrection ahead of scheduled hearings next month. 

"Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th," Thompson said.

In its formal summons for McCarthy's testimony, the committee said McCarthy had been in communication with former President Donald Trump "before, during, and after the attack on January 6th." McCarthy  indicated Thursday that he would not comply with the subpoena.

"Look, my view on the committee has not changed," he said. "They're not conducting a legitimate investigation. It seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents."

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Will blaming Republicans for inflation work for Biden?

The White House’s initial strategy for dealing with inflation was to assure Americans that rising prices were a short-term problem fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.

But after inflation hit a 40-year high, President Joe Biden is trying a different, two-pronged approach: Promise Americans that high prices are the administration’s top priority and blame Republicans for failing to offer a plan to give Americans relief.

The problem with that line of attack: Democrats, not Republicans, are in charge in Washington. Blaming the party out of power for the current state of affairs is seldom a winning strategy, political analysts said.

“There’s just not a lot of evidence that these kind of arguments play to a president’s advantage,” said William Howell, political scientist at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. “In unified or divided government, presidents are held accountable for objective measures of the economy – fairly or not.”

The state of inflation: Overall consumer prices edged up 0.3% from March. Record-high gas prices – the average price per gallon was $4.40 on Wednesday, according to AAA – and a baby formula shortage add to the angst many American households feel.

Biden sought to reassure Americans that he understands the pain inflation inflicts.

“I come from a family where, when the price of gas or food went up, we felt it,” he said at the White House on Tuesday. “It was a discussion at the kitchen table.”

 Astronomers unveiled Thursday the first-ever image of the supermassive black hole lurking at the center of our galaxy. Take a look at that image here. -- Amy and Chelsey