👋 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 walked back his threat to veto the bipartisan infrastructure deal if lawmakers don’t also pass the rest of his infrastructure proposals – which include tax increases, climate policy, health care provisions, and investments in child care – through budget reconciliation, which would bypass the 60-vote filibuster threshold. In a statement, Biden said it “was certainly not my intent” to create the impression he was threatening to veto “the very plan I had just agreed to.” He added: “Our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem.” Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, continued to pressure Biden and congressional Democrats to further weaken the link between the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the spending bill, warning that Biden and his party want to “hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process.” Biden “has appropriately de-linked a potential bipartisan infrastructure bill from the massive, unrelated tax-and-spend plans that Democrats want to pursue on a partisan basis,” McConnell said, adding that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi should follow suit and that Biden should “make sure they follow his lead.” Pelosi, however, has said she would not take up either proposal in the House until both get through the Senate, and Schumer plans to have the Senate vote on both measures next month. (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / CBS News / CNBC)
2/ Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation to create a select committee to probe the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The House is expected to vote on it Wednesday. (Washington Post)
3/ Biden ordered airstrikes Sunday against “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups” near the border between Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said the militias were using the facilities to launch drone attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. The Biden administration called the strikes an act of “self-defense.” (Associated Press / Reuters)
4/ The Supreme Court rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, which prohibited transgender students from using the restroom and locker room facilities that reflect their gender identity. The Supreme Court left in place lower court rulings that found the policy unconstitutional. (CBS News / ABC News / Politico / NBC News)
5/ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that federal laws against the sale and cultivation of marijuana may no longer make sense. As the court declined to hear the appeal of a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary that was denied federal tax breaks, Thomas, one of the court’s most conservative justices, wrote that the “prohibition […] of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach.” Thomas added that “the federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.” (NBC News / CNBC)
6/ A federal judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the FTC and a coalition of 48 state attorneys general. The cases accused Facebook of creating a monopoly over social networking by buying nascent rivals, like Instagram and WhatsApp, to limit competition, as well as stifling would-be competitors by cutting off their access to its data and systems. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said the lawsuits were “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly. The White House, meanwhile, is crafting an executive order aimed at using federal power to actively promote competition throughout the U.S. economy. (NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico)
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