Biden course-corrects in defining 'new normal': The Note

Practical and political considerations are being taken into account.

November 30, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

In outlining what comes next in terms of the pandemic, it's telling what President Joe Biden says won't be happening.

There will not be shutdowns or lockdowns, the president said. There will not be "chaos and confusion" in efforts to fight the omicron variant, he added, in a promise that may prove harder to keep.

While familiar calls for masks and vaccinations are the main weapons in the fight, "I expect this not to be the new normal," Biden said.

Long gone from the president's rhetoric are suggestions that the nation is close to declaring "independence from the virus," as he famously said way back on the Fourth of July.

Also gone are any suggestions that he would order another shutdown if his top scientists recommended it, as he said as a candidate during the first summer of COVID.

The kinds of travel bans once decried as xenophobic are now on the table and being put into place. The Biden administration is urging federal agencies to delay until January any suspensions or firings related to defiance of vaccine mandates, ABC News' Anne Flaherty reports.

These mark the latest indications that practical -- and yes, even political -- considerations are being taken into account at an uncertain moment for a pandemic-weary country. The policy movements are small but potentially significant, with White House credibility on the pandemic under strain.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

A day before the House was scheduled to come back to session, tensions between Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Ilhan Omar escalated Monday after both congresswomen released accounts of a phone conversation they had following Boebert's comments suggesting Omar, who is Muslim, was a terrorist.

Both accounts of the call described Boebert's refusal to make a public apology to Omar, which appeared to escalate the tone of the conversation.

PHOTO: Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks in Minnesota on April 20, 2021, and Rep. Lauren Boebert speaks in Washington, July 29, 2021.
Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks in Minnesota on April 20, 2021, and Rep. Lauren Boebert speaks in Washington, July 29, 2021.

In a video posted to Instagram, Boebert said she told the Minnesota congresswoman "she should make a public apology to the American people for her anti-American, anti-Semitic, (and) anti-police rhetoric." The exchange led to Omar hanging up on what she described as an "unproductive call."

"I believe in engaging with those we disagree with respectfully, but not when that disagreement is rooted in outright bigotry and hate," Omar said in a statement following the incident.

In her account of the interaction, Boebert said "rejecting an apology and hanging up on someone is part of cancel culture 101," while adding that she "will continue to put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists."

The fallout marks the second time in recent weeks that a Republican made derogatory remarks about a member of the progressive "squad," causing Democrats to ramp up pressure on House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to hold members of his party accountable. McCarthy has yet to publicly comment on the incident.

The TIP with Benjamin Siegel

Moderate Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York on Monday announced a bid for governor, a development that could complicate Gov. Kathy Hochul's efforts to fend off a primary challenge.

The centrist is the 18th House Democrat not to run for reelection next year -- either to retire or seek another office -- and his gubernatorial bid could give Republicans an opening to target his Long Island congressional seat in the midterms. It also puts Democrats on the defensive as they struggle to defy history and successfully maintain their three-seat majority in the House of Representatives in 2022.

PHOTO: In this Oct. 26, 2021, file photo, Rep. Tom Suozzi speaks at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
In this Oct. 26, 2021, file photo, Rep. Tom Suozzi speaks at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via AP, FILE

Suozzi joins a crowded gubernatorial field already dominated by Hochul, a moderate Democrat from upstate New York, and Attorney General Tish James, a Brooklyn progressive. His entrance into the field could complicate Hochul's ability to consolidate suburban and upstate voters.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. On Tuesday morning, ABC's Anne Flaherty describes the White House response to the new omicron variant. Then, ABC's Terry Moran explains why an Amazon warehouse in Alabama has been given a second chance at a union vote. And Brian Hioe, a journalist based in Taipei, breaks down China's latest aggressions toward Taiwan.


  • President Joe Biden signs several bills related to veterans at 10:45 a.m. Then, at 11:30 a.m., he departs the White House en route to Rosemount, Minnesota, where he'll tour Dakota County Technical College at 3:50 p.m. ET and give remarks on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law at 4:30 p.m. ET
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki gaggles aboard Air Force One en route to Minnesota.
  • At 12:30 p.m., the White House COVID-19 Response Team and public health officials hold a briefing.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence gives remarks at 11:30 a.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., ahead of oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. on United States policy on democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. to examine CARES Act oversight of the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, focusing on building a resilient economy.
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