👋 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/ House Democrats plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday and send it to Biden so he can sign it before key unemployment aid programs expire on Sunday. Despite united Republican opposition and a narrow Democratic majority, Nancy Pelosi said she is confident they have the votes to pass one of Congress’s largest-ever economic relief bills. House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries said he was “110% confident” the package will pass. Millions of Americans are expected to receive direct payments of up to $1,400 this month. Expanded unemployment benefits would also be extended through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. The “American Rescue Plan” will also increase the tax break to $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under the age of 6. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / ABC News)
- Biden’s won’t out his name on the next round of stimulus checks in an effort to speed distribution. Distribution of an earlier round of coronavirus stimulus checks were delayed because Trump decided to add his name to the memo line of the checks. (New York Times / Bloomberg)
2/ The coronavirus relief bill will expand subsidies for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, making health insurance affordable for 1.3 million more Americans who could not afford insurance under the original law. The changes, however, will last only for two years. (New York Times / Associated Press)
3/ Since the pandemic, about 700,000 mothers have dropped out of the U.S. workforce in states where most students are learning from home. The participation rate of mothers in the labor force was about 18 percentage points lower than fathers’ before the pandemic. Last year, the gap widened by 5 points in states offering mostly remote instruction. About 10 million mothers living with their school-age children were unemployed in January, roughly 1.4 million more than in the same period last year. Separately, a national study found that younger children have fallen behind on reading skills during the pandemic. Second graders were 26% behind where they would have been, absent the pandemic, in their ability to read aloud accurately and quickly. Third graders were 33% behind. (Bloomberg / New York Times)
4/ More than 3,400 migrant children are in Customs and Border Protection custody – triple the number two weeks ago. More than 1,360 of the children have been detained in border facilities longer than the maximum 72 hours permitted by law despite being referred for placement in shelters by Homeland Security. Of those, 169 children are younger than 13. Around 2,800 are awaiting placement in shelters suitable for minors, but there are just under 500 beds available to accommodate them. Border agents, meanwhile, encountered about 78,000 migrants at the border in January — more than double the same time a year ago and higher than in any January in a decade. (New York Times / CNN)
5/ The Biden administration is “not ending family detention” despite recent court filings and public comments condemning migrant family detention. Instead, a senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said the agency will release some families more quickly and expand the number of family detention beds in order to move families through the process faster, including for deportation. “ICE does maintain and continues to a system for family detention,” the ICE official said. “We are not closing the family detention centers.” There are more than 100 families in a facility near San Antonio and over 350 in a South Texas facility. The number of immigrants taken into custody by ICE officers, meanwhile, fell more than 60% in February compared with the last three months of the Trump administration. (NBC News / Washington Post)
6/ The Biden administration notified the Supreme Court that it was dropping its defense of the Trump-era expansion of the “public charge” rule, which made it more difficult for immigrants to obtain permanent residency if they were likely to need benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or federal housing aid. In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the public charge definition to include anyone likely to require a broader range of government benefits for more than 12 months in any three-year period. The Justice Department notified the court that the Biden administration agreed with the local governments challenging the policy. (NBC News / CNBC)
7/ Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a Republican-backed bill into law that makes it harder to vote by cutting the state’s early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. Republicans in the state House and Senate approved the changes over the opposition of all Democratic legislators, saying election integrity must be protected. They noted, however, that Iowa has no history of election irregularities and that November’s election saw record turnout with no evidence of widespread voter fraud. (Des Moines Register / CNN / NBC News)
8/ The Georgia Senate passed a bill to repeal no-excuse absentee voting and require more voter ID. Under the legislation, voters would need to be 65 years old or older, absent from their precinct, observing a religious holiday, be required to provide care for someone with a physical disability, or required to work “for the protection of the health, life, or safety of the public during the entire time the polls are open,” or be an overseas or military voter to qualify for an absentee ballot. In addition, Georgians would need to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or other identification. The legislation heads to the Georgia House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNN / NPR)
9/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed documents from a company that loaned the Trump Organization $130 million for its Chicago skyscraper and are examining whether the company misled lenders or insurance brokers about the valuation for certain properties. The subpoena to Fortress Investment Management was issued late last year. (CNN)
10/ The Republican National Committee brushed aside Trump’s cease-and-desist demand, saying it has “has every right to refer to public figures” while fundraising. Trump’s attorneys had asked the RNC and other GOP organization to stop using Trump’s name and likeness in fundraising appeals. The RNC, however, will move part of its spring donor retreat to Mar-a-Lago from a nearby hotel. (Politico / Washington Post)
poll/ 70% of adults say they support Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, while 28% oppose the legislation. (Pew Research Center)
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