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Wake Up To Politics - April 5, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: The stories I missed
Wake Up To Politics - April 5, 2021

Good morning! It’s Monday, April 5, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 582 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,310 days away.

I was off last week for Spring Break, catching up on some much-needed rest and a break from Zoom classes. It turns out the news did not take a break with me (as has generally been the case in recent years — the example that haunts me most is when James Comey was fired while I was on a school camping trip without WiFi.)

So I’m leading off this week with a recap of some stories I missed — and what to watch for as they develop. Thanks for your understanding last week and I hope everyone who celebrates had a nice Easter or Passover!

The stories I missed (and what to watch next)

Another attack at the Capitol. A driver rammed into a security barricade at the Capitol on Friday and lunged at two Capitol Police officers with a knife, killing one and injuring the other. The suspect, who was also killed, has been identified as Noah Green, a 25-year-old man from Indiana who suffered delusions and was a follower of the Nation of Islam. His motive remains unclear.

The slain officer was William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force. Evans was the second Capitol Police officer to die in the line of duty this year, after Brian Sicknick died from injuries sustained during the January 6 riot. (A third officer died by suicide in the aftermath of that attack.)

What’s next? “This attack, combined with the violent events of the January 6th insurrection, have left our officers reeling,” Capitol Police union chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement on Saturday. Warning of a potential exodus from the force, Papathanasiou called for an increase in security measures at the Capitol. The attack came just as some of the fencing put up around the complex after January 6 was beginning to come down.

The Biden administration is also reportedly planning new efforts to combat domestic terrorism in light of the incident, including an increase in funding to prevent further attacks.

The car that crashed into a Capitol Hill barrier on Friday. (Scott Applewhite/AP)

Biden unveils his infrastructure plan. President Joe Biden announced his $2 trillion “American Jobs Plan” on Wednesday, a sweeping proposal to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure. According to a White House summary, the plan would modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads, repair 10,000 bridges, retrofit 2 million homes, and create millions of jobs in the process. The proposal also includes investments in the fight against climate change and in boosting child and senior care, as well as a promise to eliminate lead pipes from the American water supply.

What’s next? First, an actual bill has to be written from the loose summary of proposals. Then, it has to be passed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is aiming to vote on an infrastructure package by July 4, but there will be several pitfalls along the way. Armed with the slimmest of majorities, Democratic leaders will need to hold together progressives who say the proposal is too small and moderates who are calling for reinstatement of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.

Democrats are likely to have to use the reconciliation process to pass the package in the Senate along party lines; Republicans appear unlikely to lend their support to another big spending package, especially one with a major corporate tax increase. Reconciliation can generally only be used used once a year, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is reportedly eying a loophole that would allow Democrats to push through another package by amending the budget resolution used to pass the Covid relief bill. The Senate parliamentarian is expected to decide soon whether Schumer can move forward with the tactic.

Biden unveils his infrastructure plan during a speech in Pittsburgh. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Georgia passes voting bill. Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) signed SB 202, a sweeping election reform law that adds an ID requirement for absentee voting, expands in-person early voting in most counties, and gives the state legislature more authority over the Georgia elections board.

The measure sparked an outcry from Democrats and from leading companies in Georgia, including Delta and Coca-Cola. The MLB also moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the law. Former President Donald Trump decried the “woke cancel culture” and called for boycotts of those businesses, while President Biden called the law “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

What’s next? In the short term, a raging debate will continue over what exactly the new law will do and how it will impact voting. While civil rights groups have warned that the law will make it harder for voters of color to cast ballots — and have filed a lawsuit to that effect — it remains unclear how voter turnout in Georgia will be impacted. Nate Cohn of the New York Times wrote this weekend that evidence suggests that making voting more or less convenient often has little effect on turnout or electoral outcomes.

In the longer term, watch for more election bills to advance in Republican-controlled states and for the fight over whether Democrats should eliminate the Senate filibuster to pass the “For the People Act” — their own election reform package — to continue to simmer.

Georgians protest the new voting law. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times via Redux)

Oh, and a few more things...

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a top Trump ally, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him. With few GOP defenders and reports on his sex life mounting, Gaetz’s career appears increasingly imperiled.
  • More than 3 million coronavirus vaccines are being administered in the United States each day. While the vaccines are proving to be highly effective, a new surge in cases is materializing as unvaccinated young people continue to spread the virus and states move forward with loosening restrictions.
  • The crisis at the southern border has not abated, as monthly border crossings reached a 15-year high in March when agents arrested more than 170,000 migrants. Government estimates show that the U.S. is on track to encounter more than 2 million migrants attempting to cross the border by October.

That should bring you mostly up to speed on what happened in politics while I was gone. And don’t worry: I’ll be continuing to all of these stories — and more — in the days and weeks ahead.

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All times Eastern.
Executive Branch
President Joe Biden will arrive at the White House at 11:30 a.m. after spending the weekend at Camp David. At 12 p.m., he will receive the President’s Daily Brief. At 1 p.m., he will deliver remarks “on the tradition of Easter at the White House.” First Lady Jill Biden will also attend.

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Oakland, California, at 11:40 a.m. While in Oakland, she will tour a “facility that highlights the benefits of the American Jobs Plan to invest $111 billion in our nation’s infrastructure to ensure access to clean drinking water.” She will also hold a listening session with California leaders and an Oakland small business owner. At 5:20 p.m., Harris will depart for Los Angeles, where she will remain overnight.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Eugene, Oregon. At 4:15 p.m., he will tour a vaccination site with Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and meet with clinic and county health leadership and other community partners working on distributing vaccines. At 5:15 p.m., Emhoff will convene a listening session with legal aid attorneys and advocates to discuss the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and provisions of the American Rescue Plan and American Jobs Plan.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will deliver remarks on the COVID-19 response at 2 p.m.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will deliver her first major address since taking office at 11 a.m., speaking at an event on the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. According to Axios, Yellen will call for a global minimum corporate tax rate during the speech.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press briefing at 1:30 p.m.

U.S. public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, will hold a press briefing at 11 a.m. on the COVID-19 response effort.

Legislative Branch
The Senate will convene at 2 p.m. for a brief pro forma session.

The House will convene at 12 p.m. for a brief pro forma session.

Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court will release orders at 9:30 a.m. and may announce opinions at 10 a.m.

The Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota will hold the sixth day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at 10:15 a.m. Chauvin has been charged with killing George Floyd, whose neck he knelt on for nine and a half minutes in May 2020.

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