👋 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/ Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage if Congress doesn’t fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program by Friday. CHIP covers 9 million children across the country, but Congress failed to authorize new funding in September. (NBC News)
2/ Current government funding expires at the end of the day Friday. House Republicans are working toward passage of a stripped-down, temporary funding measure to keep the government funded through January 19th. The current plan includes $2.85 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which lapsed in October. (New York Times)
3/ Two measures intended to stabilize the Affordable Care Act markets were kicked to next year after conservatives in the House said they wouldn’t support the legislation. The inclusion of the ACA fixes as part of the year-end spending deal was a promise Mitch McConnell made to Susan Collins in order to get her vote on tax reform. (Bloomberg / Politico)
4/ Trump won’t sign his “big, beautiful” tax cut before Christmas due to a technical snafu. He will sign the bill on January 3rd so that automatic spending cuts to Medicare and other programs don’t take effect. (Bloomberg)
5/ Trump’s personal tax cut could save him as much as $15 million a year. Jared Kushner could see his tax burden cut by $12 million, while five other members of Trump’s inner circle will see benefits worth as much as $4.5m from changes to the estate tax. (The Guardian)
6/ Democrats tapped a constitutional law expert as their leader on the House Judiciary Committee. Jerry Nadler takes over as the ranking Democrat on the panel following the resignation of John Conyers. The Judiciary Committee would be responsible for initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump if Democrats win back the House in 2018. (Politico / Washington Post)
7/ The White House counsel knew Michael Flynn had probably violated two federal laws in January. Don McGahn learned on December 29, 2016, that Flynn had counseled Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, not to retaliate against economic sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. McGahn then researched federal laws dealing with lying to federal investigators and negotiating with foreign governments. He also warned Trump about Flynn’s possible violations. (Foreign Policy)
January 24th: Flynn lied to the FBI in an interview.
January 27th: Sally Yates told McGahn that Flynn was in a “compromise situation”
January 27th: Trump asked James Comey to pledge his loyalty. He declined.
February 13th: Flynn was fired.
February 14th Trump asked Comey to shutdown the FBI investigation into Flynn.
May 9th: Trump fired Comey.
8/ Jeff Sessions asked the FBI to reexamine evidence in the dormant Uranium One deal. Trump and some Republicans have called the 2010 deal to sell U.S. uranium mining facilities to Russia’s state atomic energy company corrupt, because several people involved had contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton, however, wasn’t involved in the decision while secretary of state, the State Department official who approved the deal has confirmed. (NBC News)
9/ A secret group of House Republicans has been investigating Justice Department and FBI officials for what they believe is corruption as it relates to the handling of a dossier describing allegations of Trump’s ties to the Kremlin. The group hasn’t informed Democrats about its plans. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said committee rules require cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, but it requires that Paul Ryan enforce them – that hasn’t happened. (Politico)
poll/ Voters prefer Democrats by 10 points on a generic 2018 midterm election ballot. The 44% to 34% preference by voters is the party’s largest lead of the year. (Politico)
Al Franken will step down on January 2nd following allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior and groping. (Reuters)
The Trump administration has approved the commercial sale of weapons to Ukraine, which will be used by Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement. (Washington Post)
The GOP tax bill will open up oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Alaska and the federal government could make about $1 billion from leases and sales in the area over the next decade. (ABC News)
Russian trolls promoted autocracy and fear during key events in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They infiltrated the online conversations of millions of Americans on Facebook and Twitter. (NBC News)
The United Nations General Assembly rejected Trump’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, to demand that the US rescind its December 6th declaration on Jerusalem. (The Guardian)
“Fox & Friends” was named the “most influential” show in media because Trump watches it. Trump congratulated the hosts in a tweet: “You deserve it - three great people! The many Fake News Hate Shows should study your formula for success!” (The Hill)
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