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Wake Up To Politics - April 5, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: Biden calls for war crimes trial
Wake Up To Politics - April 5, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 217 days away. Election Day 2024 is 945 days away.

Catch up

What you need to know to start your day.

President Biden has joined a chorus of other world leaders in accusing Russia of war crimes. Pointing to the reports of mass killings in Bucha, Ukraine, Biden told reporters on Monday that Russian president Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal” who “should be held accountable” in a trial. “This guy is brutal,” he added.

  • Biden also said he is eyeing new sanctions in response to the atrocities in Bucha. The European Union is expected to propose new sanctions against Russia today as well, while Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will address the United Nations to detail his war crimes allegations against Putin.
  • Meanwhile, as Russia appears to retreat from Kyiv and redouble its focus on Ukraine’s eastern region, U.S. officials believe “even uglier fighting” could be on its way, per the Washington Post.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson advanced on Monday, with the support of three Republicans. The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on Jackson in an 11-11 vote (along party lines), meaning the full Senate had to vote to discharge her nomination from the panel to the Senate floor. The discharge vote was 53-47, with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT) joining all 50 Democrats in support.

  • Murkowski and Romney both announced that they also plan to support Jackson in her final confirmation vote later this week. (Collins had already announced her support.)
  • “While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make on the Court, I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity,” Romney said.
Sen. Mitt Romney is one of three Republicans who is supporting Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Pete Souza)

Bipartisan Senate negotiators struck a $10 billion Covid aid agreement on Monday. The new package contains funding for the U.S. to buy new test, vaccines, and therapeutics to combat the pandemic, as well as funding to research emerging variants.

  • All of the money in the package is repurposed out of funds left over from previous Covid aid bills, so there will be no new spending — a chief demand of the Republican negotiators.
  • The package does not include any funding for global aid to assist other countries with their Covid responses, as the Biden administration had sought.

Policy brief

Each morning, WUTP’s team of contributors rotate to offer a briefing on the latest news in a different policy area.
   It’s Tuesday, so Kirsten Shaw Mettler is here with the week’s top education headlines:

The Biden administration announced new protections for transgender youth. In recognition of Transgender Day of Visibility last week, the administration unveiled a number of steps to support transgender individuals. In the education space, the Justice Department sent a letter to state attorneys general reiterating earlier statements from the president that transgender youth are to be protected under Title IX, a law regarding sex-based discrimination in schools.

  • The administration’s actions came as nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in state legislatures across the U.S. this year, per NBC News. Many of the measures have targeted transgender youth, such as Florida’s recent restrictions on school curriculums and Utah’s sports ban.
The Biden administration announced new steps to protect transgender students. (Negowetti)

More than 90 Democrats have sent a letter to President Biden asking for student loan forgiveness to be extended. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), ad other lawmakers asked the president to extend the Covid-era suspension on student loan past the current May 1 deadline.

  • The legislators also called for the administration to make broader movements on student debt cancellation.

New CDC data paints a bleak picture of student mental health. 44% of high school students report feeling persistently sad or hopeless in the past year, according to CDC research on the impact of Covid-19 on young Americans. Students from historically marginalized background reported even higher rates of sadness.

  • “These data echo a cry for help,” Dr. Debra Houry, a top CDC official, said.

Look ahead

How your leaders in Washington are spending their time today. (All times Eastern)

Biden’s day: Receiving his daily intelligence briefing (10:15 am), delivering remarks on the Affordable Care Act (1:30 pm). Former President Barack Obama will also deliver remarks at the ACA event, his first visit to the White House since leaving office in 2017.

  • At the event with Obama, Biden will announce a new Treasury Department regulation to fix what’s known as the “family glitch” in the ACA. Under the current regulations, Americans are ineligible for the ACA’s health insurance tax credits if anyone in their household has “affordable” employer-based insurance.
  • However, the law only takes into account affordability for the employee — not whether it’s affordable to add dependent family members as well. Even if there’s a high cost for adding family members to their relative’s employer-based plan, those dependents are still unable to access ACA tax credits.
  • The change being announced today will allow family members to qualify for the tax credits if it is too expensive for them to be added to their relative’s plan. The White House is calling it “the most significant administrative action” to improve the ACA since its enactment, projecting that nearly 1 million Americans will be able to access more affordable insurance and 200,000 uninsured Americans will be able to gain coverage.

Harris’ day: The veep will join Biden for his intel briefing and will also speak at the ACA event. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also be in attendance, along with a slew of Cabinet members.

Also at the White House: Press secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing (3:30 pm).

  • Plus, the Biden administration’s public health team will hold a press briefing to provide an update on the federal Covid-19 response (3 pm). HHS secretary Xavier Becerra, CDC director Rochelle Walensky, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, and White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients will participate.
Former President Barack Obama will return to the White House today for the first time since stepping down in 2017. (Pete Souza / White House)

On the Senate agenda: Voting on a motion to proceed to consideration of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination, the next procedural step in her path to the Supreme Court.

  • Earlier in the day, the chamber will also vote to discharge the nomination of Julia Gordon to be the commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) from the Senate Banking Committee, which tied when voting on her.

On the House agenda: Voting on these 10 pieces of legislation...

  • H.R. 6387, the School and Daycare Protection Act
  • H.R. 5633, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Transparency Act
  • H.R. 1540, the REPORT Act
  • H.R. 4209, the DHS Illicit Cross-Border Tunnel Defense Act
  • H.R. 4476, the DHS Trade and Economic Security Council Act
  • H.R. 5689, the Resilient AMERICA Act
  • H.R. 5641, the SPEED Recovery Act
  • H.Res. 831, a resolution calling for a Center for Democratic Resilience to be established within NATO
  • H.R. 1218, the Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act
  • H.R. 2501, the Spectrum Coordination Act

Also on the Hill: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify before the House Armed Services Committee on the Defense Department’s 2023 budget request (9:30 am).

At the Supreme Court: No action today.

What else is going on: The United Nations Security Council will convene to discuss Ukraine’s allegations of Russian war crimes in the town of Bucha (10 am). Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will address the meeting.

Links to watch for yourself: Biden/Obama eventWH briefingCovid briefingSenate session House sessionDoD hearingSecurity Council meeting

Before I go...

Here’s a lighter story to start your day: In 2005, Flamingo No. 492 escaped from a Kansas zoo. The bird had been presumed dead, due to the difficulties of it surviving outside the zoo’s walls.

But last month, it was spotted in a Texas port, where it has apparently been living for several years with another flamingo that is believed to have been blown north from the Caribbean during a tropical storm.

“Its journey would fit snugly into a Pixar movie script,” the New York Times writes in a write-up of the unlikely story.

Thanks to the WUTP reader who sent this story my way. If you see a story that makes you smile and should be featured in the newsletter, send it over to gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe