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As other GOP lawmakers move on, Georgia's senators are stuck fighting the last war

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: David Perdue
Sen. David Perdue addresses the crowd during a campaign rally at Peachtree Dekalb Airport on Dec. 14, 2020 in Atlanta, Ga.Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally recognized Joe Biden as the president-elect, and so did Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., (who nevertheless is going ahead with his hearing today on election “irregularities”).

But there are still two big Republican exceptions when it comes to next month’s Georgia runoffs: Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler still haven’t recognized Biden's victory — and thus are stuck fighting the last war of 2020.

“I will never stop fighting for @realDonaldTrump because he has never stopped fighting for us!” Loeffler tweeted yesterday.

President Trump has conditioned Republicans to always keep up the fight and never concede.

But what happens when GOP Senate leaders and other rank-and-file senators do just that?

And what happens to the Republican senators who are still fighting the last fight?

Meanwhile, campaigning in Georgia on Tuesday, Biden went after Perdue and Loeffler for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

“You know who did nothing while Trump, Texas and others were trying to wipe out every single one almost 5 million votes you had cast here in Georgia in November? Your two Republican senators,” Biden said yesterday.

“They stood by, in fact, your two Republican senators fully embraced what Texas was telling the Supreme Court. They fully embraced nullifying nearly 5 million Georgia votes. You might want to remember that come Jan. 5. I will try to be generous here in the spirit of the season. Maybe your senators were just confused. Maybe they think they represent Texas.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

16,793,406: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 195,677 more than yesterday morning.)

304,683: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 3,245 more than yesterday morning.)

222.70 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

112,816: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

20: The number of days until the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.

35: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

The Roads Scholar

At 11:45 a.m. ET today, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will announce their pick for Transportation secretary — fellow 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

NBC’s Biden team learned of additional Cabinet movements yesterday: former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for Energy secretary, as well as former Obama EPA head Gina McCarthy to be Biden’s domestic climate coordinator.

Filled Cabinet positions

State: Tony Blinken (announced)

Treasury: Janet Yellen (announced)

Defense: Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin (announced)

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas (announced)

HHS: Xavier Becerra (announced)

Agriculture: Tom Vilsack (announced)

Transportation: Pete Buttigieg (announced)

Energy: Jennifer Granholm (confirmed)

HUD: Marcia Fudge (announced)

Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough (announced)

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (announced)

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines (announced)

OMB Director: Neera Tanden (announced)

U.S. Trade Representative: Katherine Tai (announced)

Unfilled Cabinet positions

Attorney General: Doug Jones, Sally Yates, Merrick Garland

Interior: Deb Haaland

Commerce: TBD

Labor: Andy Levin, Bernie Sanders, Marty Walsh

Education: Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Randi Weingarten. Sonja Santelises, Linda Darling Hammond

CIA: Michael Morell

EPA: TBD

SBA: TBD

Other top Biden staffers

Chief of Staff: Ron Klain (announced)

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan (announced)

Climate Envoy: John Kerry (announced)

Domestic Policy Council Director: Susan Rice (announced)

National Economic Council Director: Brian Deese (announced)

Surgeon General: Dr. Vivek Murthy (announced)

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dr. Rochelle Walensky (announced)

Covid-19 Czar: Jeff Zients (announced)

White House Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield (announced)

White House Press Secretary: Jen Psaki (announced)

VP Communications Director: Ashley Etienne (announced)

VP Chief Spokesperson: Symone Sanders (announced)

Georgia Runoff Watch by Ben Kamisar

We’ve told you all about the massive TV and radio ad spending in the Georgia Senate runoffs in other Runoff Watches, but today’s, we want to talk about the reopening of another frontier.

As Politico first reported, social media giant Facebook lifted its political ad ban for Georgia, noting the “importance of expressing voice and using our tools to reach voters ahead of Georgia’s runoff elections.”

The decision comes days after Google ended its own ban — both companies paused political ads in the hopes of fighting disinformation surrounding the results of the November elections (that disinformation fomented furiously nonetheless, fueled by the president’s repeated and unfounded claims of widespread fraud).

Now, campaigns and interest groups will be able to go back to advertise on key digital platforms (but in the case of Facebook, only in Georgia) with less than one month to go, giving them a key arrow in their messaging and fundraising quiver.

The Lid: 2 legit 2 quit

Don’t miss a deep dive yesterday into why the share of Americans doubting the election’s legitimacy could have long-lasting effects.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s where Covid relief bill talks stand going into today.

The White House counsel warned Trump against firing Christopher Wray.

A Trump appointee has ousted the acting director of Voice of America just weeks before inauguration.

The Washington Post traces Sen. Ron Johnson’s arc into one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in the Senate.

Sanders ally Nina Turner is running for the House seat expected to be vacated by Marcia Fudge.

Here’s what the inauguration might look like in a pandemic era.

Trump’s neighbors in Mar-a-Lago are getting a little NIMBY about him actually living there full time.

The New York Times looks at how Trump appointees influenced the CDC at the centers’ most critical moments.

A Kansas Republican mayor is resigning after threats following discussions of a mask mandate.

Don’t sleep on the big governors’ races in the next two years.