👋 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/ Global Covid-19 cases topped 100 million – less than three months after the world hit 50 million cases and just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. case. The U.S. accounts for more than 25 million infections. (NBC News / CNN / CNBC)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~100,092,000; deaths: ~2,152,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~25,408,000; deaths: ~425,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Several hundred Biden staffers have been administered the coronavirus vaccine “to ensure a COVID-safe working environment around the president and key leaders who have national security and continuity of government responsibilities.” (Axios)
2/ The Biden administration plans to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the goal of having enough supply to vaccinate nearly the entire U.S. population by the end of the summer. The administration says it’ll buy an additional 100 million doses each from Moderna and Pfizer. The purchases would be in addition to the 400 million combined doses the companies had already committed to providing to the U.S. and would increase available supply by 50%, bringing the total to 600 doses by this summer. Weekly allocations of coronavirus vaccines will also increase by roughly 16% next week – about 1.5 million additional doses. The weekly allocation is expected to go from about 8.6 million doses to about 10 million doses. (NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)
3/ Mitch McConnell dropped his demand that Democrats promise to preserve the filibuster, easing a stalemate that prevented new senators from being seated and party leaders from negotiating a power-sharing agreement. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to meet McConnell’s demands. McConnell, however, said he received “assurances” from two centrist Democrats – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – that they opposed getting rid of the procedural tool Republicans could use to obstruct Biden’s agenda. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
4/ The House formally delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate, charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly Capitol riot. House impeachment managers walked the article of impeachment through National Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate to present the article to the secretary of the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over the trial, like he did for Trump’s first impeachment trial. Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside. Biden, meanwhile, said Trump’s impeachment trial “has to happen” because there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.” Trump is the first U.S. president to have been impeached twice and will be the first to be tried after leaving office. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)
5/ Senate Republicans voted en masse in an attempt to dismiss the impeachment charge against Trump as unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. All but five Republican senators endorsed the effort, signaling that the Senate does not have the votes to convict and that the proceedings will likely end with Trump’s acquittal. “Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Rand Paul argued on the Senate floor earlier, adding that the trial would “drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol, the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history.” To convict Trump, it would require 67 members of the 100-member Senate. Trump’s trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 9. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)
6/ The Pentagon restricted the commander of the D.C. National Guard’s authority ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, requiring higher-level sign-off to deploy the guard. Maj. Gen. William Walker told House Appropriations Committee members that his authority to quickly deploy the guard was removed ahead of the riot and he needed approval from former Army secretary Ryan McCarthy and acting defense secretary Christopher Miller before dispatching troops. The acting chief of the Capitol Police, meanwhile, apologized to Congress for the security failures on Jan. 6, acknowledging that the department knew there was a “strong potential for violence” but “failed to meet its own high standards” to prevent what she described as a “terrorist attack.” Capitol Police officers are discussing holding a no-confidence vote targeting department leaders. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN)
poll/ 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” while 42% disapprove. 52% want the Senate to convict Trump, while 44% do not. (Monmouth University)
poll/ 50% of Americans say they have a great or fair amount of trust in the federal government to provide accurate information about the coronavirus – up from 40% two weeks ago. (Axios)
Biden signed four executive orders aimed at advancing racial equity for Americans. The measures direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development “to take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies,” direct the Department of Justice to end its use of private prisons, reaffirm the federal government’s “commitment to tribal sovereignty and consultation,” and combat xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal)
The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Blinken promised a harder line against Russia and a review or Trump’s policy toward North Korea, which he described as “a problem that has not gotten better; in fact, it’s gotten worse.” (New York Times / Politico / NPR / CNBC)
Biden will suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land. (Wall Street Journal)
The Justice Department rescinded a Trump-era memo that established a “zero tolerance” policy for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued the new memo to federal prosecutors across the nation, saying the department would return to its “longstanding principle of making individualized assessments in criminal cases.” (Associated Press)
A federal judge in Texas blocked Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause.” Biden’s executive action ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt most deportations for 100 days, allowing ICE to overhaul its enforcement priorities. (Washington Post / New York Times)
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