👋 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/ The Senate is expected to vote Thursday on a short-term spending bill to avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through Dec. 3. Democrats and Republicans, however, disagree on language in the House-passed measure regarding Afghan refugee benefits and funding for Israel’s Iron Dome. Congress must pass a funding bill before midnight Thursday to avoid a shutdown. The short-term government funding bill does not address raising the debt ceiling to prevent a first-ever default. (Politico / CNBC / Washington Post / CBS News)
2/ The House passed a standalone bill to lift the debt ceiling, which Senate Republicans are expected to reject. On Monday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have funded the government into Dec., and suspended the debt ceiling until Dec. 2022. A group of moderate House Democrats, meanwhile, threatened to oppose the standalone measure, saying it was a pointless political maneuver with Senate Republicans firmly opposed. “We have a responsibility to uphold, to lift up, the full faith and credit of the United States of America — that’s what we have to do,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. She noted that lawmakers had already voted to raise the debt limit last week, when the House passed the spending bill, adding: “If they’re concerned about how it might be in an ad, it’s already in an ad.” (CNBC / Politico / New York Times)
3/ Biden canceled a trip to Chicago to promote Covid-19 vaccinations in order to try and broker a compromise with two moderate Democratic senators threatening to sink his economic agenda. In a series of private meetings at the White House, Biden met with Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin in an attempt to salvage the two infrastructure bills. So far, Sinema or Manchin are unwilling to agree to the topline cost of the proposed $3.5 trillion education, climate, healthcare, and tax plan until the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package first passes the House. Manchin released a statement that suggests an agreement on the budget reconciliation package wasn’t close, saying: “I cannot – and will not – support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces.” The planned vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure package, however, was already moved from Monday to Thursday after it became clear that there was no House-Senate agreement on the $3.5 trillion bill, which House progressives are demanding that the Senate pass before they’ll support the infrastructure proposal. White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the meetings as “constructive” and that they “agreed that we are at a pivotal moment [and] need to continue to work to finalize the path forward.” Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, held out the possibility that the House could delay Thursday’s vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, accusing moderate Senate Democrats of “completely” disrupting the timeline for approving Biden’s economic agenda. She added: “We take it one step at a time.” (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Hill)
4/ The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection issued 11 subpoenas to organizers of the pro-Trump rally outside the White House that turned into the riot. The committee is seeking documents and testimony as part of its investigation into the insurrection at the Capitol, communications between Trump White House associates and organizers of the “Stop the Steal” rally, as well as Trump’s actions before, during and after the riot. The subpoenas announced today come a week after the committee issued subpoenas targeting former Defense Department official Kash Patel and adviser Steve Bannon. (Washington Post / Axios / ABC News)
5/ Trump plans to sue to block the release of his White House records to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump is expected to cite executive privilege to block both his White House records, as well as to prevent Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, Steve Bannon, and Kash Patel from testifying to the select committee. While Biden holds final authority over whether to shield specific documents, Trump can then file lawsuits in an attempt to block their release. (The Guardian)
6/ Trump lost a legal effort to enforce a nondisclosure agreement against Omarosa Manigault Newman, who wrote a tell-all book about working in his administration. Trump had filed the lawsuit against Manigault Newman, a former White House aide and “Apprentice” star, claiming she violated a nondisclosure agreement she had signed during the 2016 campaign to not reveal private or confidential information about his family, business, or personal life. An arbitrator, however, said that the nondisclosure agreement was “invalid under New York contract law,” and that the terms of the NDA “pertaining to confidential information and non-disparagement are vague and unenforceable.” (New York Times / CNBC)
7/ A former Trump White House press secretary accused Trump of abusing his staff, placating Putin, and making sexual comments about a young, female press aide. Among the many allegations in her new book, Stephanie Grisham recounts a meeting between Trump and Putin during the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in 2019 where Trump told Putin: “Okay, I’m going to act a little tougher with you for a few minutes. But it’s for the cameras, and after they leave, we’ll talk. You understand.” Grisham also writes that Trump once called her from Air Force One to inform her that his penis was neither small nor shaped like a toadstool, as Stormy Daniels had alleged in her 2018 book. After serving as press secretary where she never held a televised briefing with reporters, Grisham worked in Melania Trump’s office. (New York Times / Washington Post)
8/ A Trump donor accused one of Trump’s longtime top aides of repeatedly groping her and making unwanted sexual comments at a Las Vegas charity event last week. Trashelle Odom said Corey Lewandowski “repeatedly touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful.” She added that “Corey bragged multiple times about how powerful he is, and how he can get anyone elected, inferring he was the reason Trump became President.” Four first-hand witnesses at the event corroborated Odom’s allegations. Odom’s husband, John Odom, said that he wanted “accountability now” from Lewandowski and that they are exploring their legal options “to make sure he cannot harm anyone else.” Separately, South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem dismissed a conservative media outlet’s claim that she is having an extramarital affair with Lewandowski, calling the rumors “total garbage and a disgusting lie.” (Politico / Washington Post)
poll/ 51% of Texas voters say Gov. Greg Abbott does not deserve to be reelected. 36% of Texas voters disapprove of Abbott’s handling of the situation at the Mexican border, 50% disapprove of his response to the coronavirus, and 53% disapprove of how he’s handled the issue of abortion. (Quinnipiac)
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