👋 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.
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1/ Nearly 10 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid during the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 80 million people are now covered by Medicaid – nearly a quarter of the entire U.S. population. Federal health officials attributed the boost in enrollment to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, approved by Congress in March 2020. That law gave states extra federal money to help cover Medicaid costs as long as the states didn’t remove any enrollees until after the coronavirus public health emergency was declared over. (Washington Post / The Hill / New York Times)
2/ The Biden administration is weighing whether to end a Trump-era policy that directed border officials to immediately expel the majority of immigrants crossing the border. The policy, known as Title 42, allows border agents to turn away migrants before they have the opportunity to seek asylum and was established through the CDC to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in holding facilities. The White House is considering ending family expulsions as early as July 31. (Axios)
3/ Officials in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office have reportedly grown frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the Trump Organization’s CFO. Allen Weisselberg is a key figure in prosecutors’ efforts to indict Trump due to his central role in nearly every aspect of the Trump Organization. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s investigators have been pressing Weisselberg to provide evidence implicating Trump as they scrutinize Trump’s business practices before he was president, including whether he inflated the value of assets to obtain bank loans and deflated the value of those same assets for tax breaks. Officials also believe Weisselberg continues to regularly speak with Trump. (Washington Post)
4/ The U.S. is preparing more sanctions against Russia in response to the poisoning of Aleksei Navalny. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the timing of the sanctions or what they would include would come “as soon as we develop the packages to ensure that we’re getting the right targets.” Biden imposed sanctions on Russia for the poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny, which were directed at Putin and the oligarchs who support him. (New York Times)
5/ The Biden administration will make gender confirmation surgery available to transgender veterans through Veterans Affairs health care coverage. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said that “for far too long, and for far too many,” respect and care “were not the norm for our LGBTQ+ community and our veterans,” adding that is why the VA is “determined to continue down that path. The path of progress.” The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates there are approximately 134,000 transgender veterans. (CNN)
6/ Trump suggested sending Americans infected with Covid-19 to Guantanamo Bay in an effort to suppress the number of cases on U.S. soil. During a February 2020 meeting as administration officials were discussing whether to bring infected Americans home for care, Trump reportedly asked: “Don’t we have an island that we own?” and “What about Guantánamo?” Trump brought it up a second time, saying “We import goods,” “We are not going to import a virus.” Aides eventually scuttled the idea of quarantining Americans on the same base where the U.S. holds terrorism suspects. (Washington Post)
7/ Joe Manchin told an electric utility trade group that the Biden administration’s pledge to cut carbon emissions is too “aggressive.” Manchin, whose home state is a major coal producer, defended coal-fired power plants at Edison Electric Institute’s 2021 conference, arguing that coal is being “singled out by environmentalists” as a polluter. “This is a global climate,” Manchin said. “Some of our environmental friends […] they make [us] believe we are polluting the whole climate.” The Biden administration, meanwhile, has set a goal to cut carbon emissions in half from 2005 levels by 2030, with a 2035 goal for the nation’s electric utilities to convert to 100% clean power. Manchin, however, told EEI that “I’ve always been very, very cautious about” transitioning to a net zero economy, adding that “you cannot eliminate your way there, [but] you can innovate your way there.” (HEATED / Utility Drive / RTO Insider)
poll/ 80% of Americans support requiring a photo ID to vote, while 18% oppose the idea. 71% support making in-person early voting easier, while 16% say it should be made harder. And, 50% said voting by mail should be made easier, while 39% saying it should be made harder. (Monmouth University)
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