👋 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/ The U.S. is on track to surpass Biden’s goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 shots by Friday. Just over 99 million shots have been administered since Biden took office, and the country is averaging nearly 2.5 million injections per day. 65% of people age 65 or older had received at least one shot and 36% have been fully vaccinated. The Biden administration is reportedly looking toward the middle of May to relax travel restrictions with Mexico and Canada, and on inbound international travel from the U.K., Europe, and Brazil. (NBC News / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg)
😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~121,595,000; deaths: ~2,687,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,659,000; deaths: ~540,000; fully vaccinated: ~11.8%; partially vaccinated: ~22.7%
2/ Biden agreed to send about 2.5 million of doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Mexico. The announcement of the vaccine deal follows a recent call where Biden asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico whether more could be done to limit the flow of migrants coming to the border. Today, Mexico announced that it will limit travel across its northern and southern borders starting March 19, and deploy sanitary control measures at both borders to slow the spread of Covid-19. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the discussions over vaccines and border security were “unrelated” but also “overlapping.” When asked if the vaccine offer to Mexico had “strings attached,” Psaki replied that there were “several diplomatic conversations — parallel conversations — many layers of conversations” at play. The U.S. will also send about 1.5 million doses to Canada. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
3/ An inspector general’s report found no evidence to support a Pennsylvania postal worker’s claim that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots during the presidential election. Richard Hopkins initially alleged that he overheard plans to backdate ballots received after Nov. 3 and pass them off as legitimate. Hopkins later released a sworn affidavit recanting those allegations. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans, however, repeatedly cited the initial allegation to press baseless claims of voter fraud in the election. (Washington Post)
4/ A dozen House Republicans voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to three police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol when it was attacked by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6. Several of the lawmakers objected to the use of the term “insurrectionists” in the resolution, while others objected to the use of the word “temple” to describe the Capitol. (Washington Post)
5/ 21 Republican-led states sued Biden for revoking the Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. The lawsuit alleges that Biden exceeded his authority to revoke the permit because of a 2011 provision that required Obama to approve the pipeline or issue a determination that it wasn’t in the national interest. Obama ultimately rejected the application, but Trump approved it. Biden then revoked the approval. Several of the states aren’t even near the proposed pipeline path. (NBC News)
6/ The Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as health and human services secretary, the first Latino to lead the department. The vote was 50-49. Susan Collins was the only Republican to support Becerra’s nomination. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)
7/ The Senate confirmed William Burns to be Biden’s CIA director. Ted Cruz had delayed Burns’ nomination in an effort to pressure the Biden administration to issue sanctions to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany. After Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a “strong declaration” suggesting future sanctions, Cruz said he would no longer delay Senate confirmation. (Politico / CNN)
8/ New York prosecutors investigating Trump’s business practices sent new subpoenas to local governments near Trump’s Seven Springs as part of an inquiry into whether the value of the Westchester County property was improperly inflated to reduce his taxes. District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has also subpoenaed material from people who worked with Trump to develop the property. Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is scheduled to meet again with Michael Cohen for the eighth time. (Associated Press / Washington Post)
9/ Putin wished Biden “good health” after he agreed that the Russian leader was a “killer.” Biden also pledged that the Kremlin is “going to pay” for Russian interference in the 2020 election, which was detailed in a declassified intelligence report. Russia recalled its Washington ambassador after Biden’s comments, and warned of the possibility of an “irreversible deterioration of relations.” (New York Times / Reuters / CNN)
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