👋 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/ Biden pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 – double the country’s prior commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement – saying “the signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable and the cost of inaction keeps mounting.” As of 2019, U.S. emissions were about 13% below 2005 levels. “This is the decisive decade,” Biden said during an Earth Day summit with 40 world leaders. “This is the decade that we must make decisions to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. This is a moral imperative. An economic imperative. A moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.” About 85% of current global emissions come from outside the U.S. The United Kingdom recently announced plans to reduce its emissions by 78% by 2035, while the European Union pledged to cut 55% of its emissions by 2030. China, the world’s largest emitter, pledged to reduce coal consumption starting in 2025 as part of an effort to reach net zero emissions by 2060. (NPR / New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The Senate passed legislation denouncing discrimination against Asian communities in the U.S. The bill will also appoint an official in the Justice Department to review and expedite Covid-19-related hate crime reports. The vote was 94-1, with Sen. Josh Hawley voting in opposition. The legislation is expected to pass in the House before heading to Biden’s desk for a signature. (Axios / Washington Post / CNN)
3/ The House voted along party lines to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. The legislation would enfranchise more than 712,000 Americans, giving the 51st state one representative in the House and two senators. The White House, the Capitol, and the National Mall would remain a federal district. An identical bill passed the House in 2020, but died in the then-Republican-controlled Senate. The legislation would likely require at least 10 Republican Senators to vote in support to clear a 60-vote threshold for passage. It’s unclear if all Senate Democrats support the bill, which Republicans have called a Democratic power grab. (NBC News / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Axios)
4/ The average daily number of coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. dropped 11%. Over the past week, 3.02 million doses per day were administered – the biggest downturn in the seven-day average since February when winter storms forced vaccination sites to close and delayed shipments nationwide. (Washington Post)
- poll/ 29% of health care works have considered leaving their profession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 55% of health workers are burned out. (Washington Post)
5/ An Office of Professional Responsibility investigation found that a Capitol Police official radioed “all outside units’ attention” on the morning of Jan. 6, that they should not be “looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, describing the radio broadcast during a House Administration Committee hearing on security failures around the Capitol attack, added that the radio transmission directed police to “only looking for any anti-Trump” protestors. Capitol Police, meanwhile, said the call “has been misquoted and is lacking […] necessary context.” (Politico / CNN)
6/ The Trump administration delayed approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed the investigation into the delay, according to a Housing and Urban Development inspector general report. “Delays and denials of access and refusals to cooperate negatively affected the ability of the [Office of Inspector General] to conduct this review,” the report said. Inspector General Rae Oliver Davis, appointed by Trump, found unprecedented bureaucratic hurdles set by the White House, including former senior administration officials in the Office of Management and Budget refusing to provide requested information about decision-making related to the relief funds. (Washington Post)
7/ Biden is expected to formally acknowledge that the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in the early 20th century constituted genocide. A bipartisan group of more than 100 House members called on Biden to become the first U.S. president to recognize the World War I-era deportation, starvation, and massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in modern-day Turkey as genocide. Turkey, meanwhile, has denied that the killings constituted genocide, saying that Armenians rose up against the government. (New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)
8/ Biden is expected to propose almost doubling the capital gains tax rate for people earning more than $1 million, increasing the rate they pay on that income from 20% to 39.6%. The proposal would help pay for Biden’s American Family Plan, which would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for universal pre-kindergarten, expanded subsidies for child care, a national paid leave program, and free community college tuition. Biden will detail the American Family Plan in a joint address to Congress on April 28. (Bloomberg / New York Times)
9/ Senate Republicans released an outline for their own $568 billion infrastructure plan. Democrats, however, rejected the counteroffer to Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure spending package, calling the GOP proposal “totally anemic” and an “insult.” Elizabeth Warren added that “the Republican proposal does not meet the moment.” (CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)
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