👋 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/ Joe Manchin refused to endorse Biden’s $1.75 trillion social policy and climate package, saying he wants time to “thoroughly understanding the impact it will have on our national debt, our economy and the American people.” House Democratic leaders had planned to bring both the social safety net and separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bills to a vote this week. Manchin also rebuked liberal House Democrats for holding up a vote on the infrastructure legislation, saying “it’s all or nothing, and their position doesn’t seem to change unless we agree to everything. Enough is enough.” Manchin added: “Holding that bill hostage is not going to work to get my support of what you want.” The White House, meanwhile, said the House plan “is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care and housing.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
2/ A majority of Supreme Court justices seemed willing to let abortion providers in Texas challenge the state’s abortion law – the most restrictive in the nation. The justices are considering two cases: one brought by abortion providers in Texas, and the other by the Justice Department. The court’s focus isn’t directly on abortion rights, but rather on an unusual provision designed to thwart legal challenges by making the law only enforceable by private citizens rather than the state government. “There’s a loophole that’s been exploited here,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh said, agreeing with Justice Elena Kagan, who said the entire purpose of S.B. 8 was “to find the chink in the armor” of court precedent regarding judicial review. Justice Amy Coney Barrett added that the law was designed to prevent the abortion providers from presenting a “full constitutional defense.” The Justice Department, meanwhile, argued that the Texas law conflicts with a constitutional right established by Roe v. Wade, warning that if the Texas law remains in effect, “no constitutional right is safe. No constitutional decision from this court is safe.” Kavanaugh, however, characterized the Justice Department’s lawsuit as “irregular” and “unusual,” asking what authority the federal government has to sue over a state law. “The reason we’ve done it here,” federal solicitor general, Elizabeth Prelogar, argued, is because the law is “so unprecedented, extraordinary and extraordinarily dangerous for our constitutional structure.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
3/ Biden warned world leaders at global climate summit that “climate change is already ravaging the world,” saying “we are standing at an inflection point in world history.” Biden said the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland – widely seen as the most important international climate negotiations since the 2015 Paris climate accord – kicks off a “decisive decade” for combating climate change, which he called an “existential threat to human existence as we know it.” Biden warned that “none of us can escape the worst that is yet to come if we fail to seize this moment.” National climate pledges currently remain too weak to collectively meet the 2015 Paris agreement goals to keep average global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Biden, however, apologized for the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord under Trump, saying: “I guess I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize.” (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times)
4/ During the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, a Trump attorney blamed Pence for the violence for refusing to block certification of Trump’s election loss. “The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” the lawyer, John Eastman, wrote to Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel. Eastman sent the email while Pence, Jacob, and other advisers were under guard in a secure area. Rioters, meanwhile, chanted “Hang Mike Pence” while storming the Capitol complex. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)
Notable: The Washington Post’s three-part investigative series about the causes, costs, and aftermath of Jan. 6. “The consequences of that day are still coming into focus, but what is already clear is that the insurrection was not a spontaneous act nor an isolated event. It was a battle in a broader war over the truth and over the future of American democracy.” (Washington Post)
Trump “greatly objected” to the Post’s findings, calling the 37 findings “fake news.” (Washington Post)
5/ Trump is trying to prevent Jan. 6 investigators from accessing handwritten memos from his chief of staff, call logs, files of top aides, White House visitor records, and drafts of election-related speeches, the National Archives revealed in a court filing. Trump has tried to block about 750 documents out of nearly 1,600. Among them are hundreds of pages from “multiple binders of the former press secretary [Kayleigh McEnany] which is made up almost entirely of talking points and statements related to the 2020 election,” according to the court filing. The records also include three handwritten notes from then-White House chief of Staff Mark Meadows about the events of Jan. 6, including two pages listing briefings and telephone calls about the Electoral College certification. Trump sued to block release on Oct. 15 and has asked a federal judge to issue an emergency order blocking the National Archives from transmitting them to the committee. (CNN / Associated Press / Politico)
poll/ 30% of Republicans believe violence may be necessary “to save our country,” compared to 11% of Democrats, and 17% of independents. Among those who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump – which it wasn’t – 39% support resorting to violence. (Washington Post / The Guardian)
poll/ 33% of Republicans say they will trust the results of the 2024 presidential election regardless of who wins, compared to 82% of Democrats. Overall, 62% of Americans say they will trust the results of the 2024 election. 81% Americans believe there is a “serious threat” to democracy, including 89% of Republicans, 80% of independents, and 79% of Democrats. (NPR / Marist)
poll/ 32% of Americans think the infrastructure and social spending bills will hurt people like them, while 25% think they will help them, and 18% think the bills won’t make a difference. Overall, 69% of Americans say they know little to nothing about what’s in both bills. (ABC News)
poll/ 42% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president – down from 53% in April. 54% say they disapprove of Biden’s performance, up 6 points since August. (NBC News)
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