👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time, dismissing an effort by Texas and 17 other Republican-led states that challenged the entirety of the 2010 healthcare law. The group argued that the ACA’s individual mandate requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty became unconstitutional after Congress got rid of the penalty in the 2017 tax cut package. They claimed that the entire law, which provides healthcare coverage for about 31 million Americans, should fall – including protections for people with preexisting conditions – because the individual mandate was central to the ACA. In a 7 to 2 vote, the court said the group of states failed to show how they suffered the sort of direct injury that gave them legal standing to bring the case. The court, however, didn’t actually rule on whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but suggested it would be difficult for any challengers to try again on the same legal theory. In a tweet, Biden called the decision a “big win for the American people,” adding that “with millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD” – a reference to the 2010 ACA signing ceremony where Biden turned to Obama and said: “This is a big fucking deal.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Politico / NBC News / CNN)
2/ Mitch McConnell rejected Joe Manchin’s voting rights compromise offer, which focused on expanding early voting, requiring voter ID, ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections, having at least 15 consecutive days of early voting, and making Election Day a public holiday. McConnell’s pledge all but guarantees that Republicans will filibuster the voting bill that Chuck Schumer plans to send to the floor Tuesday. The bill will need 60 votes to proceed over a filibuster. (Politico / Axios / Washington Post / Bloomberg)
3/ The Biden administration will invest $3.2 billion to advance the development of antiviral pills to treat Covid-19 and other viruses. The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will speed up clinical trials and fund the research and production of oral antiviral drugs that could be taken at home. (NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post)
4/ The Education Department canceled more than $500 million in federal student loan debt for 18,000 borrowers who were defrauded by the now-defunct, for-profit ITT Technical Institute. The college chain closed in 2016 after making exaggerated claims about its graduates’ employment and earnings prospects after graduation. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)
5/ The House voted to repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq. The 2002 authorization was repeatedly applied beyond its original intent despite the Iraq War ending nearly a decade ago. Chuck Schumer said he will also put the authorization to a vote this year. Earlier this week, Biden said he supports repealing the authorization. Mitch McConnell, however, said he did not support repealing the authorization, calling it “reckless.” The bill would need the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass. (Politico / New York Times)
6/ Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, but 14 Republicans in the House voted against the proposal. Harris also signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in her capacity as President of the Senate. The law goes into effect immediately, making Friday (tomorrow) the first federal Juneteenth holiday in American history. [Editor’s note: In observance of Juneteenth, there will be no WTFJHT update tomorrow (June 18). As a reminder, WTFJHT publishes Monday-Friday, except on federal and market holidays, including some other random days, like Biden’s and WTFJHT’s birthdays.] (Reuters / New York Times / Washington Post)
7/ A Florida GOP congressional candidate threatened his Republican opponent with “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” that would make her “disappear.” During a 30-minute call that was secretly recorded, William Braddock repeatedly warned a conservative activist not support Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat. Braddock called Luna “a fucking speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.” In the recording, Braddock added: “I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life […] But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done.” (Politico / Washington Post)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.