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Wake Up To Politics - April 22, 2020

I’m Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, April 22, 2020. 195 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

A request: The next episode of the Wake Up To Politics Podcast will be focused on the impact coronavirus is having on millennials and Generation Z. If you are in either of those age cohorts, I’d love to include your comments in the episode: please send me a voice memo with your thoughts on how the pandemic is affecting you.

I’ll also be interviewing TIME national correspondent Charlotte Alter, who has written a book on millennials in politics, so if anyone has questions for her, please send them my way in a voice memo as well. Thanks so much!

And if you haven’t yet listened to any episodes of the podcast, I hope you'll consider it. I'm really proud of the work we’ve done covering different aspects of how coronavirus is intersecting with politics — including last week’s episode which included interviews with aides to both the Trump and Biden campaigns. A lot of the previous episodes — on topics like polling, gerrymandering, and campaign finance — also make for great listening while we're all stuck at home.

You can subscribe to the podcast and listen to past episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or Stitcher!

Senate passes $484 billion relief package

POLITICO: “After two weeks of stalemate and days of frenetic negotiations, the Senate approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill on Tuesday afternoon with the House set for passage later this week.”

“The agreement centers around providing $380 billion for small businesses and also includes $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for disease testing. It comes after a brutal conflict between party leaders over how to pass a massive bill with the Senate in recess. A pair of conservative Republicans senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, railed against the process on Tuesday afternoon but allowed the bill to go through without objecting.”

“The House is expected to take up and pass the legislation on Thursday with overwhelming bipartisan support, per senior House aides.”

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the accord just an hour before the Senate tried to pass the agreement and rapped Democrats for blocking a previous proposal to give money to small businesses.”

. . . “[Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer responded that the legislation ‘is significantly better and broader’ than McConnell’s bill by catering to businesses without access to large financial institutions and providing more health care money than Republicans initially sought.”

--- Although the Senate passed the relief package by voice vote, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has signaled plans to force a recorded vote when the House takes up the legislation on Thursday. After Massie called for a recorded vote on the $2.2 trillion package passed earlier this month, requiring a quorum of 215 House members to travel to Washington for the vote, congressional Republicans were so infuriated that some even donated to his primary challenger.

--- President Trump has already promised to sign the package into law once it is approved by the House.

The Rundown

Trump’s immigration order: “President Trump said on Tuesday that he would order a temporary halt in issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the United States, but he backed away from plans to suspend guest worker programs after business groups exploded in anger at the threat of losing access to foreign labor.”

“He cast his decision to ‘suspend immigration,’ which he first announced on Twitter Monday night, as a move to protect American jobs. . . Mr. Trump said that his order would initially be in effect for 60 days, but that he might extend it ‘based on economic conditions at the time.’” (New York Times)

--- The president wrote on Twitter this morning that he will be signing the executive order today.

--- Trump's framing of the order as a move to protect American jobs from immigrants comes as 25% of Americans said in a Gallup poll released this morning that they believe it’s “very likely” or “fairly likely” they will lose their job in the next year, a 45-year high. Additionally, a study by Pew Research Center found that 43% of Americans have either lost their jobs or received a pay cut due to the coronavirus outbreak.

CDC Director warns second wave could be even worse: “Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season.”

“‘There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,’ CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. ‘And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.’”

“‘We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,’ he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, [he added].” (Washington Post)

First U.S. coronavirus deaths were weeks earlier than previously thought: “Two coronavirus-infected people died in Santa Clara County on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17, the medical examiner revealed Tuesday, making them first documented COVID-19 fatalities in the United States.”

“Until now, the first fatality was believed to have occurred in Kirkland, Wash., on Feb. 29.” (Los Angeles Times)

Study finds no benefit from malaria drug promoted by Trump: “A malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported.”

“The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19, which has killed more than 171,000 people as of Tuesday.”

“The study was posted on an online site for researchers and has not been reviewed by other scientists. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia paid for the work.” (Associated Press)

FDA approves at-home coronavirus test: “Regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the first coronavirus test that lets people collect a sample at home.”

“The authorization of the diagnostic — developed by testing giant LabCorp — marks the first time the agency has cleared an at-home Covid-19 test and caps weeks of back-and-forth between the agency and startups who sought to develop their own versions of the tests that would allow for at-home sample collection.”

“LabCorp’s test will initially be made available to health care workers and first responders who might have been exposed to the virus. Patients can collect samples at home if the test is recommended by a health care provider after they’ve completed a questionnaire about Covid-19.” (STAT)

Correction: Tuesday’s newsletter misstated the name of the restaurant chain that returned the $10 million loan it had received as part of a program intended to support small businesses. The restaurant chain was Shake Shack.


President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pene, and Second Lady Karen Pence will participate in a tree planting ceremony in recognition of Earth Day and Arbor Day at 12 p.m.

President Trump will also have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 1 p.m. and receive his intelligence briefing at 2:30 p.m.

Vice President Pence will also participate in a call with the American Legislative Exchange Council at 1 p.m. and lead a Whtie House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 3 p.m.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will hold a press briefing at 5 p.m.

The Senate is not in session.

The House will meet for a pro forma session at 1 p.m.

The Supreme Court has no conferences or arguments scheduled.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will participate in a virtual Earth Day event and a virtual fundraiser.

*All times Eastern

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