👋 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/ House Republicans passed their tax bill, which would cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over 10 years in a rewrite of the tax code. The bill also cuts the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%, collapses the number of tax brackets from seven to four, and eliminates or scales back many popular deductions of individuals, including the state and local tax deduction, medical expenses deduction, and student loan deductions but would double the standard deduction. The bill passed with 227 votes in favor and 205 against. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)
2/ The Senate tax bill would raise taxes on the middle class while giving large cuts to millionaires over the next decade, according to analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation. Taxpayers would see their taxes cut by 7.4% on average in 2019, but by 2027 their taxes would rise by an average of 0.2%. Those making between $20,000 and $30,000 would have their tax bills rise 25.4% by 2027 while people earning over $100,000 continue to receive tax cuts. (Washington Post / The Hill)
3/ A radio newscaster accused Al Franken of kissing and groping her without consent during a 2006 U.S.O. tour of the Middle East before he took public office. Franken apologized to Leeann Tweeden, saying he doesn’t remember the events of a kiss rehearsal “the same way” as she described. Franken added that a photo of him with his hands over a sleeping Tweeden’s breasts “was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.” (New York Times / Washington Post / KABC)
- Mitch McConnell immediately called for an Ethics Committee investigation of Al Franken after allegations that he groped a woman in 2006. “As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this,” McConnell said. “Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.” (Politico)
4/ The Alabama Republican Party is sticking with Roy Moore despite at least nine women accusing him of inappropriate, unwanted sexual behavior. Mitch McConnell has called Moore unfit to serve in the Senate and has threatened him with an ethics investigation if he is elected in the December 12th special election. Moore responded to McConnell’s threat in a tweet: “Bring. It. On.” (NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)
5/ Senate Republicans are exploring the legal feasibility of a second new special election in Alabama in order to save the Republican seat. The plan would call for Luther Strange – who was appointed to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacant seat – to resign, causing a new special election in Alabama. Recent polling has the Democrat Doug Jones leading Moore by at least 12 points in the race. (Politico)
6/ The Trump administration lifted the ban on hunters importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, reversing a 2014 rule put in place by the Obama White House. Elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. (ABC News / NBC News)
7/ A bipartisan group of senators introduced new gun control legislation to improve state and federal agency compliance with the existing background check system. The bill penalizes agencies that fail to report relevant records while incentivizing states to improve their overall reporting. (CBS News / The Hill)
8/ Jared Kushner forwarded emails about a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” to campaign officials, according to a letter the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Kushner’s lawyer. Kushner received emails in September 2016 about Russia and WikiLeaks, but failed to turn them over to lawmakers with the rest of his documents on November 3rd. In the letter to Kushner, Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein wrote: “There are several documents that are known to exist but were not included.” Kushner has been asked to turn over all relevant documents by November 27th. (Business Insider / Politico)
- Carter Page delivered his subpoenaed documents to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Page has interviewed with both committees in past weeks as part of their parallel investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. election. He declined to comment on his interactions with Mueller’s team. (The Hill)
9/ The Keystone Pipeline was shutdown after leaking 210,000 gallons of oil in Marshall County, South Dakota. The spill is equivalent to about 5,000 barrels of oil. Regulators in Nebraska will vote Monday on whether to approve the permit and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. (CNN)
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