👋 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 Supreme Court – again – refused to block the Texas law that bans most abortions in the state after six weeks, but agreed to hear legal arguments over the nation’s most restrictive abortion law on Nov. 1. The court said it would focus specifically on whether the federal government has the authority to challenge the unusual way in which the Texas legislature crafted the law, which deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it. The court, however, turned down a request from Texas to use the cases to decide whether to overturn the right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, generally thought to be around 22 to 24 weeks. In December, the court will also consider a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. Mississippi is explicitly asking the court to overturn Roe. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / ABC News)
2/ Kyrsten Sinema won’t support raising taxes on businesses, high-income earners, or capital gains, potentially derailing the revenue-increasing provisions needed to finance Biden’s social safety net and climate plan. Democrats had hoped to pay for much of their plan by raising the corporate tax rate to 26.5% from 21%, moving the top personal income rate to 39.6% from 37%, and increasing the capital gains tax rate for those earning at least $400,000. The plan would also add a 3% surtax on income above $5 million. Instead, Biden’s advisers said that they are now pursuing a range of ideas to raise new revenues, including a new minimum tax on corporations, targeting America’s roughly 700 billionaires who don’t pay taxes on their unrealized gains, taxing stock buybacks, closing loopholes for high income Americans, and increased IRS enforcement. Sinema reportedly appears open to an excise tax on stock buybacks and a 15% minimum corporate tax rate. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / NBC News)
3/ Five veterans on Kyrsten Sinema’s advisory board resigned from their roles, accusing her of “hanging your constituents out to dry.” In a letter to Sinema, the veterans accused the Arizona Democrat of “answering to big donors rather than your own people.” The group criticized her opposition to parts of Biden’s social safety net, education, climate, and tax plan, refusal to change the Senate filibuster to protect voting rights, failure to support prescription drug negotiations, and for not voting on the Jan. 6 commission. They added: “You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress.” (CNN / New York Times / The Hill)
4/ The White House, intelligence agencies, and Pentagon concluded “no country will be spared” from the effects of climate change, according to a series of four reports from the Biden administration on the threat of climate change. Together, the reports show that the effects of climate change will be wide-reaching, with rising temperatures, droughts, and extreme weather likely increasing the risks of instability and conflict within and between countries over food and water supplies, which could also lead to the displacement of tens of millions of people around the world. The top-level conclusion of the Financial Stability Oversight Council report is that climate change is an “emerging threat” to the stability of global markets and the economy, while the National Intelligence Estimate warns “that climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to U.S. national security interests.” (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Axios)
5/ The House voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Nine Republicans voted with all 220 Democrats to pass the resolution and send the matter to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to prosecute Bannon. Attorney General Merrick Garland declined to say whether he would move forward with charges, instead saying the Justice Department would “make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution.” Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000. (CNN / Associated Press / CNBC / Politico / New York Times)
6/ Rudy Giuliani’s former associate was convicted on six counts related to “influence buying” campaign finance schemes. Lev Parnas – a key figure in Trump’s first impeachment – was charged with conspiring to funnel $325,000 in donations to a pro-Trump super PAC on behalf of his company, Global Energy Producers, to give the appearance of a successful business and “obtain access to exclusive political events and gain influence with politicians.” In reality, the money came from a loan his business partner, Igor Fruman, had taken out on his Florida condo. Fruman previously pleaded guilty. Parnas faces up to five years in prison for each of five counts and a sixth count for falsifying records to the FEC, which carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence. (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
poll/ 41% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the presidency, compared with 52% who disapprove. In July, 48% approved while 45% disapproved. (CNBC)
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