👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ The Republican health care proposal would undermine coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. States could could opt out of requiring insurers to cover essential health benefits. As well as do away with requiring insurance companies to charge the same price to everyone who is the same age. The result might be a market that is much more affordable for healthy people, but would become largely inaccessible to anyone who really needs help paying for medical care. (New York Times)
- House Republicans rekindled health care talks. The White House and the Freedom Caucus discussed a proposal to revive the bill, which would cast aside the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing conditions provision. (Washington Post)
- Trumpcare revival talks are falling apart ahead of Pence’s meeting tonight. Conservatives are blaming Paul Ryan for blocking the White House bill, while the Freedom Caucus is making unreasonable demands that are losing net votes. (Axios)
2/ Assad apparently “gasses” civilians days after Tillerson suggested he could stay in power. In a series of airstrikes, helicopters dropped what is likely sarin gas in an attack on the city of Khan Sheikhoun – the signs of trauma suggest it’s a nerve agent, like sarin. The Trump administration has shifted from their accommodationist tone, to blaming the Assad regime and Obama for the attacks. (The Daily Beast)
- Spicer said Syrian chemical attack is a “consequence” of Obama “weakness.” Despite the attack, the Trump administration has said that it is up to the people of Syria to pick a leader and that their priority is not getting Assad out of office. (CNN)
- McCain blames the Trump administration’s decision to no longer prioritize ending the Syrian civil war. He called it “another disgraceful chapter in American history.” The Trump administration has doubled down on prioritizing the fight against ISIS over ending the Syrian civil war and getting rid of Assad. (CNN)
3/ The Trump administration is considering steps for “extreme vetting.” Foreigners entering US could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social media passwords and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology. (Wall Street Journal)
4/ Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies. In an effort to improve relations between the police and the communities they serve, the Obama administration negotiated reform agreements with troubled police forces. Sessions directed his staff to look at whether the consent decrees adhere to the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime. The sweeping federal review could affect consent decrees nationwide. (New York Times)
5/ Trump revoked the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order Obama put in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws. Advocates say the order rolls back two hard fought victories for women in the workplace: paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims. (NBC News)
6/ Trump signs internet privacy bill, gutting rules that prohibited internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from sharing your web browsing history with other companies. The rules would have required wireless and broadband providers to get your permission before sharing your sensitive, private information. (CNET)
- The Normal Person’s Guide to Internet Security. A quick and dirty guide to basic internet security for the normal internet user. (What The Fuck Just Happened Today?)
7/ The State Department cut off funding to the UN’s family planning agency that works on maternal and reproductive health. In 2016, US funding prevented an estimated 320,000 unintended pregnancies, averted almost 100,000 unsafe abortions, and provided about 800,000 people with access to contraception. (BuzzFeed News)
8/ Trump urged investigators to scrutinize alleged spying on his transition team. Trump’s administration is concerned about the Obama administration’s role in unmasking identities in intelligence reports. Trump is facing two congressional investigations into Russia’s alleged meddling in the election. The FBI is also conducting its own investigation. (Wall Street Journal)
- Susan Rice may “be of interest to us” the Senate Intelligence chairman says. Republican lawmakers are asking the Senate Intelligence Committee to force Rice to testify under oath after a report from Bloomberg suggested Rice requested the identities of people connected to Trump be “unmasked” on dozens of occasions. (Washington Post)
9/ California’s Senate passes “sanctuary state” bill – gives middle finger to Trump. The bill limits state and local police cooperation in enforcing federal immigration laws in order to protect local immigrant populations. Jeff Sessions has said the administration will use federal funds to crack down on “sanctuary cities” and states that choose not to comply with federal immigration laws. (CNN)
poll/ Trump approval rating plummets. 34% of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance. (The Hill)
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