👋 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/ House Democrats plan to combine a short-term government spending bill with the suspension of the debt limit in an effort to avert a government shutdown. The stopgap funding bill would last through Dec. 3, 2021, and the debt ceiling would be suspended through Dec. 2022. Mitch McConnell, however, reiterated that Republicans “will not support legislation that raises the debt limit.” The Republican threat is in protest of the Democrats decision to pursue trillions in new spending to overhaul federal healthcare, education, climate, immigration, and tax laws. McConnell called it “an effort to exploit this terrible yet temporary pandemic as a trojan horse for permanent socialism.” Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, warned that “a reckless Republican-forced default could plunge the country into a recession.” Congress has until the end of September to ratify a new spending agreement or risk a shutdown. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen previously warned that, under current conditions, the department will reach its borrowing limit some time in October, which would cause “irreparable harm” to the U.S. economy. The House is expected to vote on the package this week. (Wall Street Journal / The Hill / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)
2/ The Senate’s parliamentarian blocked the Democrats’ plan to use the $3.5 trillion social and climate package to provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 8 million immigrants. Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, ruled that the proposal is “by any standard a broad, new immigration policy” and that “changing the law to clear the way to (Legal Permanent Resident) status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact.” In a three-page memo to senators, MacDonough noted that under Senate rules, provisions are not allowed in such bills if their budget effect is “merely incidental” to their overall policy impact. (Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / CNN)
3/ More than 675,000 people in the U.S. have died of Covid-19, surpassing the country’s 1918 influenza pandemic death toll. The U.S. accounts for about 14% of total Covid-19 deaths globally despite the widespread availability of vaccines. Roughly 25.3% of eligible Americans (those 12 years and older) remain unvaccinated – or about 72 million people. (CNN / Bloomberg)
4/ The U.S. will lift travel restrictions on foreign visitors fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Starting in November, international travelers will be allowed to enter the U.S. if they can show proof of vaccination before boarding the plane and that they have tested negative for the virus within three days of their flight. The move rolls back a blanket ban on travel for non-U.S. citizens imposed by the Trump administration. (NPR / CBS News / New York Times / CNN)
5/ The Biden administration began deporting Haitian migrants from a Texas border city where about 14,000 migrants had gathered under and around a bridge after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. More than 320 migrants arrived in Port-au-Prince on three flights Sunday, and the Department of Homeland Security is expected to run five to eight flights a day to deter Haitians who are overwhelming Del Rio, Texas. Customs and Border Protection also plans to have at least 400 agents and officers in the Del Rio area and is prepared to send more. (Washington Post / Business Insider / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / New York Times)
6/ The Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 1 on Mississippi’s restrictive abortion law, which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case has been blocked by lower courts because it directly violated Roe v. Wade’s protections for pre-viability abortions. The 1973 ruling established that a woman has the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the first six months of pregnancy, when the fetus cannot survive outside the womb. The justices said they wanted to hear arguments on whether all bans of pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional. A ruling is expected next year. Earlier this month, the justices allowed Texas to move forward with its near-total abortion ban. (Politico / NPR / CNBC / CNN)
poll/ 70% of Americans disapprove of the restrictive Texas abortion law that allows “private citizens to use lawsuits to enforce this law rather than having government prosecutors handle these cases.” 81% say they disapprove of giving $10,000 to “private citizens who successfully file suits against those who perform or assist a woman with getting an abortion.” Meanwhile, 54% disagree with the Supreme Court allowing the Texas law to go into effect, while 39% agree with the court. (Monmouth University)
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