👋 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/ Officials in charge of Capitol security on Jan. 6 blamed “intelligence failures” by the federal government for the “coordinated, military-style” attack on Congress that threatened the peaceful transfer of power. Testifying before a joint bipartisan committee of senators, former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said he never saw a Jan. 5 FBI report warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and wage “war” on Jan. 6. “A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event, and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police,” Sund said. “But none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.” Former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving said that while they were informed that Congress would be a target and some protesters could be armed, “the intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on the Capitol, nor was that contemplated in any of the inter-agency discussions that I attended in the days before the attack.” Acting D.C. police chief Robert Contee added that he and Sund called the National Guard for help after the mob stormed the building, but a top Pentagon official said he would recommend against deploying the National Guard for fear of the “optics” of armed troops in front of the Capitol. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / USA Today / BuzzFeed News / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The House is expected to approve Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal this week, after the House Budget Committee advanced the bill on Monday. The House will likely pass the bill, which includes $1,400 in direct payments to Americans, money for vaccine distribution and funding to state and local governments, in a party-line vote. It’s unclear, however, whether raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 will be included in the final Senate version of the legislation. Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10, but only if businesses are required to use the E-Verify system designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. (CBS News / USA Today)
3/ The Biden administration is preparing sanctions to punish Russia for poisoning and jailing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as well as the SolarWinds hack on government agencies and private companies. The administration is calling the SolarWinds operation “indiscriminate” and “disruptive,” which was not equivalent to the kind of espionage the U.S. conducts. The U.S. is expected to coordinate sanctions with European allies in the coming weeks. (Washington Post / Politico)
4/ Democrats accused Sen. Joe Manchin – a conservative Democrat – and Republicans of having a “double standard” when it comes to confirming the women and people of color that Biden has nominated. Manchin said he was opposed to Neera Tanden becoming the first Asian American woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget because of her past tweets attacking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Democrats, however, argued that after Trump, there is no justification for having someone’s tweets disqualify them. Manchin has also indicated that he was having doubts about Deb Haaland, who would become the first Native woman to run the Interior, while Republicans have accused Haaland of being “radical,” because of her support for progressive environmental policies and opposition to new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, pointed out that Manchin had voted to confirm Jeff Sessions – Trump’s first attorney general – despite accusations of racism throughout his career. Rep. Grace Meng added that “in the past, Trump nominees that they’ve confirmed and supported had much more serious issues and conflicts than just something that was written on Twitter.” Manchin responded, saying “I’m all about bipartisanship. I really am […] This is not personal at all.” Republicans have also pushed back on Xavier Becerra – Biden’s choice to run the Heath and Human Services Department – citing his views on expanding health care and abortion access to unauthorized immigrants. (Politico / The Guardian)
The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships. (Axios)
The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary. The vote was 92-7. (CNN)
Georgia Republican David Perdue will not run against an incumbent Democrat, Senator Raphael Warnock, in 2022 – one week after filing paperwork for a new campaign and days after visiting with Trump. (New York Times / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNBC)
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