👋 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/ Kamala Harris will takeover efforts to address illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Harris will work in the near term to slow the flow of “irregular migrants” by addressing “the root causes” that prompt them to leave their home countries. Long-term, Harris will be responsible for establishing a “strategic partnership” with Mexico and countries in the Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala – that is “based on respect and shared values, to enhance prosperity, combat current corruption, and strengthen the rule of law.” (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / CNBC)
- Biden transition officials said the Trump administration didn’t increase capacity for child migrants despite warnings until just days before the inauguration. “They were sitting on their hands,” one transition official said. “It was incredibly frustrating.” (NBC News)
2/ Gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans in 2020, making it the deadliest year for gun violence in at least two decades. The next-highest recent year for shooting deaths was 2017, when nearly 16,000 people were killed. In 2020, people purchased about 23 million guns – a 64% increase over 2019 sales. (Washington Post)
3/ Biden extended the special enrollment period for purchasing Affordable Care Act health plans by three months, until Aug. 15. The second extension will help enrollees take advantage of the enhanced subsidies in the Covid-19 relief package. (NBC News / Washington Post)
4/ Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell clashed during a Senate Rules Committee hearing on a Democratic plan to overhaul federal elections and expand voting rights. The legislation under consideration is S. 1, the For the People Act, which would make it easier to vote, enact new campaign finance laws, and end partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. It passed the House earlier this month with no Republican support, but faces steep odds of passing in the 50-50 Senate, where it will need at least 60 votes to advance. “Today, in the 21st century, there is a concerted, nationwide effort to limit the rights of citizens to vote and to truly have a voice in their own government,” Schumer said, calling Republican state legislators’ efforts to restrict voting access an “existential threat to our democracy” reminiscent of Jim Crow segregationist laws. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” McConnell told the Rules Committee that the bill “is a solution in search of a problem,” which would create an “implementation nightmare” for election administrators and officials, and is “an invitation for chaos.” Joe Manchin, meanwhile, demanded that any voting rights legislation be bipartisan, saying “We should not at all attempt to do anything to that will create more distrust and division.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Members of the Oath Keepers coordinated with the Proud Boys and other paramilitary groups in advance of Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. According to new evidence filed by the Justice Department, Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, said in private messages on Facebook that he coordinated with Proud Boys leadership, saying “I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers, and Proud Boys. We have decided to work together and shut this shit down.” A week later, Meggs sent a private message that said: “Trump’s staying in, he’s gonna use the emergency broadcast system on cell phones to broadcast to the American people. Then he will claim the insurrection act […] Then wait for the 6th when we are all in dc to insurrection.” (Politico)
- Trump and Trump Jr. hired an attorney to represent them in the lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, which alleges that Trump and his associates “directly incited the violence” during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by putting out “a clear call to action” and then “watched approvingly as the building was overrun.” (Daily Beast)
6/ The U.S. dropped 11 points in a global ranking of political rights and civil liberties over the last decade. The U.S. earned 83 out of 100 possible points, putting it on par with countries like Panama, Romania, and Croatia, and behind countries such as Argentina and Mongolia. A decade ago, the U.S. received a score of 94 out of 100. (The Guardian)
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