Day 154: "Our great democracy."
1/ Senate Republicans blocked debate on the For the People Act, an amended version of the voting rights legislation that passed the House in March. The vote to start debate on the voting legislation, failed 50-50 on party lines — 10 votes short of the supermajority needed to advance the bill and begin open debate in the Senate. Mitch McConnell called the bill, which would expand early voting, end partisan gerrymandering, make it easier to vote by mail, and make Election Day a federal holiday, a “partisan power grab.” Hours before the vote – and after weeks of saying he would vote against election reform unless it had bipartisan support – Sen. Joe Manchin finally agreed to vote to begin debate on the legislation in a show of unity against the GOP move, saying he reached a compromise with the other members of his party “to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy.” Republicans, however, were unwilling to even debate voting rights. Earlier in the day, Biden urged the Senate to pass the voting rights bill, saying “we can’t sit idly by while democracy is in peril — here, in America. We need to protect the sacred right to vote and ensure ‘We the People’ choose our leaders, the very foundation on which our democracy rests.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki added that “this fight is not over, no matter the outcome today, it’s going to continue.” (Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)
2/ Sen. Kyrsten Sinema defended her opposition to nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster, saying “we will lose much more than we gain.” In an op-ed, Sinema – choosing to defend the filibuster over democracy – argued that eliminating the legislative filibuster would weaken “democracy’s guardrails” by “cementing uncertainty, deepening divisions and further eroding Americans’ confidence in our government.” Sinema also warned that a majority-rule Senate would lead to “ricochet” legislating, suggesting that Republicans would roll back any Democratic policy gains. Joe Manchin has also said he opposes getting rid of the filibuster. Following the failed vote on the For the People Act, Manchin was asked about the possibility of reforming the filibuster. He laughed and replied: “No guys, listen, I think you all know where I stand on the filibuster.” (Washington Post / The Hill / New York Magazine)
3/ The White House does not expect to meet Biden’s goal of having 70% of all adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. The U.S., however, has hit the vaccination target among adults ages 30 and older, and is expected to reach that threshold for those 27 and older by Independence Day. More than 175 million Americans have received at least one shot, and more than 150 million Americans are fully vaccinated. About one-third of Americans say they have no immediate plan to get vaccinated. (NBC News / CBS News / New York Times)
4/ The highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant is spreading in under-vaccinated pockets and will likely become the predominant strain in the U.S. within weeks, according to a new analysis. The variant, first identified in India, accounts for at least 14% of all new infections in the U.S. and studies suggest it’s around 60% more transmissible than the original strain that emerged from Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Dr. Anthony Fauci called the Delta variant the “greatest threat” to the nation’s attempt to eliminate Covid-19. (Bloomberg / NPR / CNBC)
5/ Trump asked aides in 2019 to look at what the Justice Department and the FCC could do to punish “Saturday Night Live” and other late-night shows for mocking him. After watching a rerun of SNL in March 2019, Trump tweeted that the episode was “not funny/no talent” that kept “knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of ‘the other side.’” He then asked: “Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this?” According to people familiar with the matter, Trump then asked advisers and lawyers about what the FCC, the courts systems, and the Department of Justice could do to investigate the shows. Trump reportedly had to be repeatedly advised that the shows are satire, a form of protected speech. (Daily Beast / Business Insider)
poll/ 43% of Iowans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, with 52% disapproving. (Des Moines Register)
poll/ 26% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing – down 10 points from March. (Gallup)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.