WEATHER: Philadelphia: mostly cloudy, high of 41; Harrisburg: cloudy, high of 40; Pittsburgh: cloudy, high of 39.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, played a significant role in the crisis that played out at the top of the Justice Department this month when then-President Donald Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and backed down only after top department officials threatened to resign en masse, the New York Times reports.
* The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is calling on Perry to resign following a New York Times article that put him at the center of the latest revelation about Trump’s refusal to accept President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. The group released a statement Sunday calling for Perry to step down after an “attempt to use the Justice Department to overturn the results of the 2020 Election,” PennLive reports.
* Pennsylvanians who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions can apply once again for extra, federally funded weekly unemployment checks, which had been suspended in December as Congress argued over whether to continue the program, the Inquirer reports.
* State Rep. Jeff Pyle, a conservative Republican from Western Pennsylvania, is facing calls on social media for his resignation and censure from colleagues for a Facebook post mocking the appearance of recently departed Health Secretary Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who has been nominated to serve in the Biden administration, the Inquirer reports.
* Two men arrested in November after they traveled to the Philadelphia convention center where votes in the 2020 presidential race were being counted were sent back to jail after their bail was increased due to their participation in the rally near the U.S. Capitol that turned deadly earlier this month, the AP reports.
* Thousands of drug and alcohol recovery homes in Pennsylvania are still operating without state oversight, Spotlight PA reports.
* Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday said he would elevate two officials involved in his administration’s response to the coronavirus to replace the departing Dr. Rachel Levine as his health secretary and physician general. Wolf said he intends to nominate a deputy chief of staff, Alison Beam, to take over as secretary of the Department of Health. Wolf, meanwhile, elevated Dr. Wendy Braund, the COVID-19 response director for the department, to acting interim physician general, the AP reports.
* A Democratic state lawmaker criticized Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout as muddled on Friday – saying other states are doing a much better job at distribution and communication – while unions representing police and prison guards expressed outrage at having been shoved farther back in line for COVID-19 shots, the AP reports.
* From his frequent attacks on Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s agenda to the impulse of critics to dismiss him as an acolyte of the man who appointed him, President Donald Trump, McSwain has had a tenure that coincided with a moment in which the Justice Department, the role of prosecutors, and the criminal justice system became a central focus of political debate. He stepped down from his post Friday, making way for a successor whom President Joe Biden will appoint in the coming months. But despite the fractious times in which he served, McSwain, a 51-year-old West Chester Republican, insists that he still viewed his job – and his tenure in it – as entirely apolitical, the Inquirer reports.
* Pennsylvania’s chief advocate for crime victims announced Friday that she will resign her position, saying it was “untenable” to remain in the high-profile job amid a political feud with legislative Republicans, Spotlight PA reports.
* Patrick Solano, a World War II combat veteran from Pittston Twp. who served in the administrations of nine Pennsylvania governors, has died at age 95, PennLive reports.
* The Citizens’ Voice urges Congress to include much-needed aid for municipalities and states in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: … Ken Davis, Senior Director, Duane Morris Government Strategies … Corey Pellington, Deputy Executive Director & Chief Operations Officer for the PA Democratic Party … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to firstname.lastname@example.org
9 a.m. - the PA House Commerce Committee will meet. Room G50, Irvis Office Building, Harrisburg.
11 a.m. - the PA House Liquor Control Committee will meet. Room 205, Ryan Office Building, Harrisburg.
12 p.m. - the PA House will reconvene. Main Capitol, Harrisburg.
1 p.m. - the PA Senate will reconvene. Main Capitol, Harrisburg.
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KICKER: “Scott Perry has disgraced southcentral Pennsylvania, failed his country, and betrayed the trust of anyone who cares about our democracy. He is a stain on our Congress and must resign immediately. If he fails to do so, Leader McCarthy must remove him from his committee assignments, and the NRCC and PA GOP must formally refuse to spend on his behalf.” – Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills. From PennLive.