👋 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/ Mitch McConnell blocked a House-passed bill to increase stimulus checks in the coronavirus relief package from $600 to $2,000, saying instead that the Senate would “begin a process” to consider bigger payments. The Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (Cash) Act passed the House with a bipartisan 275-to-134 vote. Trump, responding to the Senate developments, tweeted for McConnell to act unless he and other Republicans have a “death wish.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian)
2/ The House voted to override Trump’s veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act – the first time a chamber of Congress has agreed to override a Trump veto. In a string of tweets, Trump wrote “WE NEED NEW & ENERGETIC REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP,” calling them “weak and tired,” and the override vote “a disgraceful act of cowardice.” Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote Wednesday on the military policy bill. Bernie Sanders, however, promised to filibuster the override vote of Trump’s veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Politico / Axios)
3/ Trump signed the coronavirus stimulus package and spending bill to avert a government shutdown, but not before two unemployment programs expired, guaranteeing a delay in benefits for about 14 millions of unemployed Americans. The legislative package will provide $900 billion for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, funds for schools, small businesses, hospitals, and direct payment checks for families. The package also extends unemployment benefits, the federal moratorium on evictions, and funds the federal government through September. Trump, however, blindsided lawmakers when he called the bill a “disgrace” days earlier, which was negotiated by his own Treasury secretary. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)
4/ The CDC predicts that the U.S. will see 400,000 coronavirus deaths by the time Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, 2021. U.S. case numbers surpassed 19 million Saturday, meaning at least 1 in 17 people have been infected. The virus has killed more than 332,000 people – or 1 in 1,000 have died. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the FDA, said that the U.S. is facing a “a grim month ahead of us.” Biden, meanwhile, will deliver an address on the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday as the nation experiences what Dr. Fauci described as a surge in cases “that has just gotten out of control in many respects.” (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News / Axios / CNN)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~81,747,000; deaths: ~1,785,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~19,449,000; deaths: ~337,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Biden plans to invoke the Defense Production Act after he takes office to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines and personal protective equipment. (CNBC)
5/ Trump issued 26 new pardons, including for Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner’s father, Charles. Manafort, who admitted his crimes and initially agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller but then lied to prosecutors, spent nearly two years in prison for bank and tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering conspiracies before being released because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stone, meanwhile, never cooperated after lying to Congress to protect Trump and was sentenced for obstruction of Congress and threatening a witness. Stone’s sentence was later commuted by Trump – days before he was set to surrender. The wording of the pardons for Manafort and Stone referred to the Mueller investigation as the “Russian collusion hoax,” “prosecutorial misconduct,” and “injustice.” Of the 65 pardons and commutations that Trump has granted, 60 have gone to people with a personal or political connection to Trump. (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Axios)
6/ Biden accused Trump and his political appointees of obstructing the transition of power “in key national security areas.” Biden said his transition team had encountered “roadblocks” from political appointees in the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department, saying “It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility […] We need full visibility […] in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.” (Washington Post)
- Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert sued Mike Pence in federal court. Gohmert and several other Republicans, including the Republican slate of electors from Arizona, want to permit Pence to overturn Trump’s defeat by ignoring Biden’s electors and count Trump’s losing slates instead when Congress meets to count Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The lawsuit challenges the 1887 Electoral Count Act, alleging that the law unconstitutionally prevents Pence from exercising his authority to choose which votes to count. (Dallas Morning News / Politico)
7/ Since Jan. 20, 2017, Trump’s donors have contributed $10.5 million to his businesses. About $8.5 million came from the Trump campaign and various entities that Trump directly controls, while another $2 million came from other Republican candidates and committees. (HuffPost)
8/ Americans named Trump and Michelle Obama the most admired man and woman of 2020. Trump’s first-place finish ends Barack Obama’s 12-year run as most admired man. (Gallup)
poll/ 16% of Americans are satisfied with the direction the country is going – down from 21% in November. Trump’s job approval rating stands at 39% – down from 43% in November. Biden’s transition, however, is 65% – higher than Trump’s in 2016. (Gallup)
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