👋 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/ Biden and Democratic congressional leaders are pushing for a vote this week on the social spending and climate bill. An agreement could also allow the House to pass a separate $1.2 trillion bill to upgrade the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports, and Internet connections, and send it to Biden’s desk as soon as this week. Together, the two packages could dislodge roughly $3 trillion in economic spending initiatives. Chuck Schumer said there were three to four open issues on the social safety net and climate change bill, but Democrats were “on track to get this done.” Joe Manchin added that he believes a compromise on the package will come together this week. Negotiators are still working out the details for how to pay for the package after Kyrsten Sinema rejected increasing the marginal tax rates on corporations, capital gains and individuals. Sinema, however, has indicated that she is open to a minimum tax on corporations and has not ruled out a tax hike on billionaires. And, while it’s unclear what level of new taxes Manchin will support, he’s indicated that he supports Biden’s proposal to roll back some of the Trump tax cuts for high earners and corporations, as well as the White House plan to tax the investment incomes of billionaires. The bill, initially drafted at $3.5 trillion, is expected to ultimately cost between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion. Biden said he wants a deal this week before he travels to Europe at the end of the week for the Group of 20 summit and a climate conference. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / CBS News / CNN / CNBC)
2/ A team of Trump advisers and lawyers setup a “war room” at a D.C. hotel in an effort to overturn the 2020 election in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 rally and attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The group – Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, former NYC police chief Bernard Kerik, conservative lawyer John Eastman, One America News reporter Christina Bobb, retired Army colonel Phil Waldron, Boris Epshteyn, and others – set out to pressure Pence into blocking or delaying certification of Biden’s victory, while also publicizing alleged evidence of voter fraud and urging members of state legislatures to challenge and decertify their results. They called the set of rooms and suites at the Willard hotel the “command center,” which was located a block from the White House. The Trump campaign later reimbursed Kerik’s firm for more than $55,000 for rooms for the legal team. The congressional panel investigating Jan. 6 also cited Bannon’s involvement at the “‘war room’ organized at the Willard.” (Washington Post)
3/ Organizers for the Jan. 6 March for Trump and Stop the Steal rallies held “dozens” of planning meetings with members of Congress and White House staff. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Lauren Boebert, Rep. Mo Brooks, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, Rep. Andy Biggs, and Rep. Louie Gohmert or their staffs were reportedly involved in planning conversations leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection in which Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to object to the electoral certification. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was involved in the conversations surrounding the protests. Organizers also claim that Gosar offered them “several assurances” about a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests. No pardons were ultimately issued. (Rolling Stone)
4/ U.S. Customs and Border Protection determined that 60 CBP agents “engaged in misconduct and were subject to discipline” after sharing violent and obscene posts in secret Facebook groups. The CBP Discipline Review Board recommended firing 24 agents for “serious misconduct,” including an agent who posted “offensive images of an alt-right and white supremacist symbol and sexualized images of a Member of Congress.” Of the 60 employees found to have committed misconduct, two were fired, and 43 were suspended without pay. (CNN / Washington Post)
5/ The Russia-linked hackers behind the SolarWinds hack that infiltrated nine U.S. government agencies last year has launched another campaign to steal sensitive information stored in the cloud. Biden imposed sanctions on Moscow in April for the SolarWinds attack. The following month, hackers began targeting more than 140 technology companies, including those that manage or resell cloud computing services. Of the companies targeted, 14 were compromised. (New York Times / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)
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