👋 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 Pentagon rejected Poland’s offer to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S. for delivery to Ukraine, saying “we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one” because there are “a range of logistical operational challenges” that would come with delivering the warplanes. U.S. officials added that they were blindsided and not consulted by the Polish government ahead of the public proposal, which attempted to shift the responsibility for delivering the aircraft. Russia’s Defense Ministry warned on Sunday that any country supporting Ukraine’s air force would be considered a participant in the conflict. (Politico / CNN / Axios / Associated Press / Washington Post)
2/ Congressional leaders reached a bipartisan agreement to send $13.6 billion in new humanitarian, military, and economic aid for Ukraine. The package is part of the $1.5 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September, which must pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. The Biden administration had requested $6.4 billion in aid for Ukraine. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)
3/ House Democrats stripped Biden’s $15 billion coronavirus relief package from the $1.5 trillion government funding bill amid disputes about how to cover the cost. More than a dozen lawmakers objected to how the bill would have clawed back about $7 billion in previously approved but unspent funds from state governments to offset some of the cost of the supplemental pandemic response measures. Republicans had opposed allocating more money for the pandemic until earlier funding were spent. Lawmakers from affected states, however, refused to let the spending package move forward, threatening to vote against the motion unless the earlier funds their states were supposed to receive were protected. After deliberating with lawmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Covid-19 funding would be dropped and that lawmakers would instead proceed with voting on just the government funding package, which includes the emergency aid to Ukraine. “It is heartbreaking to remove the Covid funding, and we must continue to fight for urgently needed Covid assistance,” Pelosi said. “But unfortunately that will not be included in this bill.” (Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
4/ Biden directed the federal government to explore the possible uses and regulations for cryptocurrencies. The executive order instructs federal agencies to produce a series of reports to better understand the risks and opportunities presented by digital currencies, including the impact on financial stability and the climate. (Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times)
5/ The Biden administration restored California’s authority to set its own tailpipe pollution standards for cars, which are stricter than federal standards. In 2019, the Trump administration revoked California’s waiver that allowed it to enforce more stringent rules. The EPA also withdrew the Trump-era regulation that blocked other states from adopting the state’s greenhouse gas standards. At least 15 states and the District of Columbia follow California’s vehicle standards. (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press)
6/ The Senate approved a $107 billion overhaul of the Postal Service – the largest reform in nearly two decades. The Postal Service Reform Act requires retired postal service employees to enroll in Medicare, impose new transparency standards, and repeals a requirement to pre-fund retirement benefits 75 years in advance. The bill passed with bipartisan support and heads to Biden’s desk to be signed. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)
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