👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended Biden’s immigration strategy, saying “the border is closed. We are expelling families, we are expelling single adults and we have made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children.” Nearly 100,000 migrants were detained at the border in February. Mayorkas, in part, blamed Trump for the record number of migrants seeking entry into the country from Mexico and Central America, saying “there was a system in place in both Republican and Democratic administrations that was torn down during the Trump administration, and that is why the challenge is more acute than it ever has been before.” In 2019, the Trump administration cut more than $500 million in aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in an effort to slow the migration to the U.S. White House officials will travel to Mexico and Guatemala this week for what administration officials described as “ongoing discussions on how to manage an effective and humane plan of action on migration.” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NPR / CNBC)
- 👑 Portrait of a President: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge. “The Biden administration is scrambling to control the biggest surge in 20 years, with the nation on pace for as many as 2 million migrants at the southern border this year — the outcome Biden said he wanted to avoid.” (Washington Post)
2/ More than 800 unaccompanied migrant children have been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days. The average time in custody is 130 hours, which exceeds the 72-hour legal limit. As of Saturday, Department of Health and Human Services was housing approximately 15,500 unaccompanied migrant minors, including more than 5,000 unaccompanied minors who are being held in a Customs and Border Protection tent holding facility not designed for long-term custody. (CNN / CBS News)
3/ The Biden administration secured hotel rooms to hold around 1,200 migrant families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The $86 million contract is for six months near border areas, including in Arizona and Texas. (Axios)
4/ Department of Homeland Security officials requested airplanes to transport migrants to states near the Canadian border for processing. Customs and Border Protection officials requested the air support from Immigration and Customs Enforcement after 1,000 members of families and unaccompanied minors crossed the Rio Grande on Friday. At the time, there were another 1,000 migrants that officials had been been unable to process. In recent days, CBP has used ICE planes to transport migrant families from the Rio Grande Valley, where facilities are overcapacity, to the El Paso area. (Washington Post)
5/ Border agents in the Rio Grande Valley were authorized to release adult migrants and families from custody before they have been given a date to appear in court. The move is “intended to mitigate operational challenges” by reducing the time immigrants spend in custody. Migrants are typically given a “notice to appear” before they are released or sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detention. (NBC News)
6/ The U.S. seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases is up at least 5% in 27 states. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, said the U.S. could experience “another avoidable surge” as states lift restrictions too early, warning Americans to continue to wear masks, avoid crowds, and wait to travel, even if they’ve been vaccinated. Lifting restrictions is a “serious threat to the progress we have made,” Walensky said. “We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road.” (CNBC / Bloomberg / Axios)
😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~123,546,000; deaths: ~2,721,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,856,000; deaths: ~543,000; fully vaccinated: ~12.8%; partially vaccinated: ~24.9%
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club has been partially closed after some of its employees were infected with the coronavirus. Trump moved to Mar-a-Lago after leaving Washington in January. (Associated Press / Washington Post)
7/ AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine provided strong protection against Covid-19 in a large clinical trial. The AstraZeneca vaccine was 79% effective over all in preventing symptomatic infections, 80% effective in participants aged 65 and over, and 100% effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization across ages and ethnicities. The company plans to apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA in the first half of April. If authorized, it would be the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the U.S. (Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
- 💡 Why J&J’s shots aren’t reaching more arms. (Politico)
8/ The Justice Department said evidence from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol supports charges of seditious conspiracy against some defendants. Sedition is the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government. People who conspire to “oppose by force the authority” of the government or use force “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States” can be charged with sedition. “I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Michael Sherwin said, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.” Sherwin also reiterated that prosecutors were examining Trump’s role in inciting the mob that marched to the Capitol. “It’s unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th. Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?” Sherwin said. “We have people looking at everything.” Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, are preparing to start plea discussions with many of the more than 300 suspects charged in the riot. (New York Times / Washington Post)
9/ The House Oversight Committee held a hearing on legislation that the House passed last year to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. Democrats argued that Washingtonians are treated as second-class citizens, performing the responsibilities of citizens but not receiving representation in Congress in return. Republicans, meanwhile, are uniformly opposed to the idea, claiming that the legislation violates the Constitution and accused Democrats of backing it in an attempt to improve their majorities in the House and the Senate. A new national poll finds that 54% of likely voters think D.C. should be a state, a record high level of support. (NBC News / New York Times / CBS News / Washington Post)
10/ The White House is considering a $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package as part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. That effort is expected to be broken into two parts, rather than trying to push a single package through Congress. One plank would be focused on infrastructure, roads, bridges, and several climate change initiatives. The other would be centered on reducing economic inequities through investments in paid leave, universal pre-K, and community college, and extending the Child Tax Credit. Advisers are expected to present the proposal to Biden this week. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)
11/ The Education Department canceled $1 billion in student loans for 72,000 students defrauded by for-profit schools. The move reversed a Trump administration policy that had provided only partial relief. Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos overruled department officials on student loan forgiveness in 2019, which Congress tried to overturn last March. Trump vetoed the measure. (Associated Press / Axios)
12/ Betsy DeVos earned at least $225 million in outside income while Trump’s education secretary. DeVos’s exact income is unclear because her income was reported in such wide ranges, with many assets being reported as “over $5 million” or “over $1 million.” (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington / Forbes)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.