👋 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/ U.S. Covid-19 hospitalizations are at the lowest point since Thanksgiving as the rate of coronavirus vaccinations has accelerated. Hospitalizations declined by nearly 30% in the last three weeks to 91,000 patients – the lowest number since Nov. 28. More than 27 million Americans have received their first shot – higher than the total number of reported U.S. infections – and more than 6 million are fully inoculated. (ABC News / Washington Post)
Biden’s Covid-19 Response Team is considering sending masks directly to Americans. The Trump administration scrapped a similar plan last year, opting instead to send cloth masks to nonprofit organizations and state agencies. (NBC News)
Mitt Romney proposed sending at least $3,000 per child to millions of American families as a means of combating child poverty. Romney’s proposal would provide $4,200 a year for every child up to the age of 6 and $3,000 per year for every child 6 to 17. Democrats have drafted similar legislation that would provide $3,600 a year for children ages 0-5 and $3,000 a year for children aged 6-17. (Washington Post / CNBC / Axios / HuffPost)
2/ Weekly unemployment claims fell to 779,000 – the lowest level since the end of November. While claims remained well above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000, it was the third consecutive decrease in initial claims. (Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
3/ House impeachment managers requested that Trump testify under oath during his own Senate impeachment trial next week about his involvement in the events that led to the Capitol riot Jan. 6. “In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath,” Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Trump. The letter comes two days after Trump’s legal team “denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment.” House impeachment managers invited Trump to testify either before or during his actual impeachment trial. The Senate could also seek to compel Trump’s testimony by subpoena. Trump’s defense team, meanwhile, rejected the invitation, accusing Democrats of waging a “public relations stunt.” (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Associated Press / Axios)
- A voting technology company filed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, several of the network’s prominent hosts, Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell. In its 276-page complaint, Smartmatic argues that Giuliani and Powell “created a story about Smartmatic” and that “Fox joined the conspiracy to defame and disparage Smartmatic and its election technology and software.” (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
4/ Biden will halt and reverse several Trump administration foreign policy initiatives, including planned troop withdrawals in Germany and support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. “America is back, diplomacy is back,” Biden said at the State department, adding that his administration would work toward “reclaiming our credibility and moral authority.” Biden also pledged to strengthen relationships with U.S. allies, saying they have “atrophied from four years of neglect and abuse” under Trump. (Bloomberg / CNBC / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Axios / The Guardian)
- Biden is expected announcement that he intends to allow more refugees into the United States this year. Trump steadily lowered the annual cap on refugees from the 110,000 in 2016 to a record low 15,000. (New York Times)
poll/ 39% of Americans on average are satisfied with life in the U.S. – the lowest in two decades. (Gallup)
poll/ 61% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of his job in his first days in office. Nearly all modern presidents have had approval ratings averaging 55% or higher over their first three months in office. Trump’s approval rating, however, never surpassed 50%. (Associated Press)
What’s next: The House will vote on whether to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments; and a “vote-a-rama” is underway in the Senate, a sort of free-for-all amendment procedure as part of the budget reconciliation process, known as “the worst part of the United States Senate.”
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