1/ The Biden administration will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that lifted the nationwide Covid-19 mask mandate on public transport if the CDC decides to extend the requirement, which is set to expire May 3. The Justice Department and the CDC “disagree with the district court’s decision and will appeal, subject to CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health,” the department said in a statement. Following the Florida judge’s ruling that struck down a federal mask requirement on airplanes, trains, buses, and other public transportation, TSA said it would stop enforcing mask mandates, as did most major U.S. airlines on domestic and some international flights. Earlier, Biden said Americans should decide for themselves whether to wear masks, saying the decision to mask is “up to them.” (New York Times / CNBC / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The Supreme Court ruled that the Pentagon may take disciplinary action against an Air Force Reserve officer who refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus on religious grounds. Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Dunn, who was seeking to avoid being shifted to the Individual Ready Reserve, said he decided that the coronavirus vaccine violated his faith after seeing Biden speak about it, which led him to conclude that “the vaccine ceased to be merely a medical intervention and took on a symbolic and even sacramental quality.” The Supreme Court, however, issued a brief, two-sentence order refusing to intervene. Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissented. After being ordered to choose among being vaccinated, resigning, or refusing the vaccine in writing, Dunn instead sent a one-word memorandum to a two-star general: “NUTS!” (New York Times / The Guardian / Bloomberg)
3/ The Biden administration plans to scrap a Trump-era rule that allowed healthcare providers to refuse performing abortions or other medical services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs. The so-called “conscience rule” was unveiled by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2018 and finalized in 2019, but it never took effect after dozens of states, cities, and advocacy groups sued. Trump’s HHS said the rule fulfilled a “promise to promote and protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious liberty.” HHS is expected to rescind the rule as soon as the end of this month. (Politico / Reuters)
4/ Biden will restore stricter environmental standards for approving new pipelines, highways, power plants, and other infrastructure projects, reversing another Trump-era environmental rollback. The rule requires federal agencies to assess the climate impact of projects under the National Environmental Policy Act. The 1970 law required an assessment of the environmental consequences of federal actions, like oil and gas pipelines. In 2020, Trump claimed that the regulations needlessly hindered infrastructure projects, exempting projects from review to speed up the approval process. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
5/ The Education Department will grant federal student loan borrowers additional credit toward loan forgiveness. The changes would apply to an income-based program for repaying student loans and bring more than 3.6 million people – nearly 10% of all student loan borrowers – closer to debt forgiveness, including 40,000 who will be immediately eligible. The current income-based repayment program allows borrowers to pay a capped percentage of their income on loans for 20 to 25 years and then have the rest of the balance forgiven. A 2021 study, however, found that 32 borrowers out of eight million enrolled in the program successfully had their debt forgiven. The program has existed since 1992. The department, meanwhile, promised to address “historical failures in the administration of the federal student loan programs.” (Washington Post / NPR / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC)
6/ A federal judge allowed a group of Georgia voters to move forward with their attempt to disqualify Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for reelection, citing her alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The effort is based on the Constitution’s 14th Amendment – know as the “Disqualification Clause” – which bars members of the Confederacy from holding office, as well as any person who has taken an oath to protect the Constitution and “engaged in insurrection” against the United States or “given aid or comfort” to its “enemies.” District Judge Amy Totenberg denied Greene’s request to stop the lawsuit, saying “This case involves a whirlpool of colliding constitutional interests of public import.” (New York Times / ABC News / CNN)
poll/ 70% of the 111 candidates Trump has endorsed for governor, federal office, attorney general or secretary of state believe that the 2020 election was fraudulent. (FiveThirtyEight)
Democrats’ worst Trump nightmare. “Unless we see big structural changes in the Democratic party’s coalition,” the 2024 outcome could be “Donald Trump winning a filibuster-proof trifecta [House, Senate, White House] with a minority of the vote.” (Axios)
Democrats are sleepwalking into a Senate disaster. “Overall, the combination of decreasing incumbency advantage and a poor national environment for Democrats means we should probably expect Democrats to control between 46 and 47 Senate seats after 2022.” (Slow Boring)
5 plot twists that could upend the midterms. “The House is about as good as gone for Democrats, but holding the Senate is still within reach if things break their way. Republicans are also poised to make gains in governor’s races.” (Politico)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.