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Wake Up To Politics - April 23, 2020

I’m Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, April 23, 2020. 194 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Editor's note: 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 or questions in the episode: please send me a voice memo with your thoughts on how the pandemic is affecting you and your generation.

(I'd especially love to hear from any students or classes who might want to participate!)

Trump changes tune on reopening (again)

President Donald Trump has repeatedly vacillated between calling for the U.S. economy to reopen ("we can't let the cure be worse than the problem"), claiming that deciding when to do so was his responsibility alone ("when somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total"), urging caution and deferring to the governors ("you are going to call you own shots"), and criticizing governors for moving to slowly ("LIBERATE").

On Wednesday, he tried out a new tune: criticizing a governor, Georgia's Brian Kemp, for moving too quickly in attempting to reopen. "I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he is doing," Trump said of his political ally's decision to open some businesses in his state. "I think it's too soon."

Kemp announced earlier this week that barbershops, hair salons, gyms, bowling allies, and tattoo parlors in Georgia could open on Friday, followed by dine-in restaurants and movie theaters on Monday.

Coronavirus: Latest updates

New unemployment numbers — Another 4.4 million people filed for jobless benefits in the past week, the Labor Department reported this morning, bringing the total of new unemployment claims to more than 26 million in the past five weeks.

Trump signs order limiting immigration — President Trump signed a proclamation Wednesday limiting immigration to the United States for the next 60 days to the coronavirus pandemic.

"In order to protect our great American workers, I've just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States," Trump said at his daily press briefing. "This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens."

The proclamation suspends the approval of new immigrant visas — although it includes broad exceptions for several employment categories, including health care professionals, as well as children or spouses of U.S. citizens. Immigrants already in the U.S. will also not be affected by the order.

The Trump Administration — Washington Post: "Under Trump, coronavirus scientists can speak — as long as they mostly toe the line": "Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a candid warning Tuesday in a Washington Post interview: A simultaneous flu and coronavirus outbreak next fall and winter 'will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,' adding that calls and protests to 'liberate' states from stay-at-home orders — as President Trump has tweeted — were 'not helpful.'"

"The next morning, Trump cracked down with a Twitter edict: Redfield had been totally misquoted in a cable news story summarizing the interview, he claimed, and would be putting out a statement shortly."

"By Wednesday evening, Redfield appeared at the daily White House briefing — saying he had been accurately quoted after all, while also trying to soften his words as the president glowered next to him."

Phase Four negotiations — Politico: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday insisted that flailing state and local governments should be able to 'use the bankruptcy route' rather than receive aid from the federal government — signaling renewed opposition to a top Democratic demand for the next coronavirus relief package."

"In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, the Kentucky Republican also expressed concern about adding billions more to the national debt in addition to the nearly $3 trillion Congress has already sent out the door to combat the economic and public health challenges of the pandemic."

2020 Central

Polling roundup — A slew of battleground state matchups between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were released on Wednesday:

Biden allegation roils #MeToo movement — Politico: After making it more socially acceptable for sexual assault survivors to come forward and helping bring down dozens of powerful men, the #MeToo movement is facing a new challenge: how to grapple with the allegations against Biden without tearing itself apart. Celebrity #MeToo activists have publicly fought over Reade’s claims."

"Supporters of President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by multiple women, have seized on Biden and other Democrats’ past comments about believing women’s accusations as proof of hypocrisy. And victims fear that what they see as the botched handling of Reade’s allegations by fellow activists, the media and politicians has threatened one of the movement’s hardest-fought gains."

"The debate is complicated by another factor: Some worry about the prospect of inadvertently advancing the political fortunes of a president who has been accused of assault himself, and is deeply loathed by feminists and Democrats."

The costs of in-person voting — Associated Press: "Health officials in Wisconsin said they have identified at least seven people who may have contracted the coronavirus from participating in the April 7 election, the first such cases following in-person voting that was held despite widespread concern about the public health risks."

"The infections involve six voters and one poll worker in Milwaukee, where difficulty finding poll workers forced the city to pare nearly 200 voting locations back to just five, and where voters — some in masks, some with no protection — were forced to wait in long lines for hours."

  • An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released this week found 67% of voters favor a mail-in voting option for the November elections.
  • For more information... listen to the Wake Up To Politics Podcast episode on mail-in voting, featuring an interview with Vote at Home Institute CEO Amber McReynolds.


President Donald Trump has no public events scheduled.
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 participate in a call with the Department of Housing and Urban Development "stakeholders" on COVID-19 response at 11 a.m. and lead a White House Coroanvirus Task Force meeting at 3 p.m.

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

The Senate will meet for a pro forma session at 5:30 p.m.

The House will convene at 10 a.m. to vote on H.Res. 935, establishing a Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and H.R. 266, the Senate-passed $484 billion package providing funding for small business loans, hospitals, and coronavirus testing.

  • Members will vote in eight groups, divided alphabetically. "Members are asked to come to the Floor only during their voting group's window and to return to their offices until their voting group is called for the next vote," the Majority Leader's office said. "Members are encouraged to use the voting machines while voting and not vote by card in the House well."
  • The House will recess for 30 minutes in between the two votes to allow for a cleaning of the chamber.

The Supreme Court will release opinions at 10 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will participate in a virtual fundraiser.

*All times Eastern

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