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Wake Up To Politics - July 1, 2021 (+)

Good morning! It’s Thursday, July 1, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 495 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,223 days away.

Happy July!

The House voted Wednesday to form a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The vote was 222-190, nearly along party lines, with two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney  (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL) — voting alongside every Democrat in favor of the panel.

The select committee will be made up of 13 members; according to the resolution approved on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will appoint eight members, including a chairman with subpoena powers, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will choose the other five.

However, the resolution gives Pelosi veto power over McCarthy’s picks — a provision added in response to Democratic fears that the GOP leader will tap fierce Trump allies such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has been openly lobbying for a spot on the committee.

Trump supporters breach the Capitol on January 6. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg)

McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday that he had yet to decide whether his caucus would participate in the panel and appoint members. Pelosi’s office has indicated that she is considering appointing a Republican as one of her picks for the panel, although her options are likely limited to Cheney and Kinzinger.

According to Punchbowl News, McCarthy has threatened to strip any Republican of their committee assignments if they accept an appointment from Pelosi. Cheney and Kinzinger both already face serious primary challenges after their vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump earlier this year.

The temporary House committee — which has no deadline to submit its findings — will be the most significant effort launched by Congress to investigate the root causes of the worst attack on its grounds since the War of 1812. A previous attempt to create an independent, bipartisan commission to examine the attack was blocked by a Senate filibuster.

The Rundown

What else you need to know to start your day.

The Trump Organization and a top executive are facing charges. According to the New York Times and other news outlets, a grand jury in Manhattan filed criminal indictments on Wednesday against President Trump’s family business and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. The charges are expected to be unsealed around 2 p.m. today, according to NBC News.

Weisselberg surrendered to authorities at about 6:20 a.m. this morning; he is expected to appear in court along with representatives of the Trump Organization this afternoon.

The indictments — which are not expected to target Trump himself — come after a yearslong investigation conducted jointly by the Manhattan district attorney and the New York attorney general, examining various allegations against Trump’s company, including claims that Weisselberg failed to pay taxes on benefits he received from Trump, such as a free apartment and leased cars.

Allen Weisselberg surrenders to authorities this morning. (Jefferson Siegel/New York Times)

More news to know:

  • NYC mayor’s race. “A day after New York City’s Board of Elections sowed confusion in the Democratic mayoral primary by releasing new tallies and then retracting them, it issued a new preliminary tally of votes suggesting that the race between Eric Adams, the primary night leader, and his two closest rivals had tightened significantly.” New York Times
  • Passport change. “Starting immediately, an applicant for a U.S. passport can simply check ‘M’ or ‘F’ as their gender – without needing to provide medical certification if that gender doesn't match their other documents. And soon, applicants will have the option to select a gender option that isn't male or female, the State Department said Wednesday.” NPR
  • RIP. “Donald H. Rumsfeld, whose roles overseeing the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and efforts to transform the U.S. military made him one of history’s most consequential as well as controversial Pentagon leaders, died June 29 at his home in Taos, N.M. He was 88.” Washington Post

Policy Roundup: Legal

On Thursdays, Wake Up To Politics contributor Anna Salvatore catches you up on the week’s top legal headlines:

The Supreme Court issued eight decisions in the last week, many of which involved the liberal justices voting with conservative ones. In Penneast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey, the court ruled 5-4 that a company can construct a natural gas pipeline between Pennsylvania and New Jersey without the states’ permission. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the federal government can give this permission directly to the company. He was joined by Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Brett Kavanaugh, and Sonia Sotomayor.

Another important opinion was TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, in which five conservative-leaning justices limited the scope of a class-action lawsuit against a credit-card company. The company had been mistakenly labeling some of its users as potential terrorists and drug traffickers. In what the New York Times called a “spirited dissent,” Justice Clarence Thomas joined the liberals in arguing that “such misdeeds deserve redress.”

Two other decisions deserve special attention as well: Yellen v. Confederated Tribes, in which the court ruled 6-3 that Indian Tribes can receive federal COVID relief; and Johnson v. Guzman Chavez, in which the conservatives ruled that Congress can treat immigrants more harshly who came back into the U.S. after being deported.

In a divided opinion on Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld the Center for Disease Control’s eviction moratorium during the pandemic. Landlords are prohibited from evicting certain tenants until July 31, the day the policy is set to expire. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined their three liberal-leaning colleagues in ruling that the CDC had authority to issue a temporary moratorium. A lower court had previously voted to overturn the policy, holding that the agency had overstepped its bounds.

Housing activists protest pandemic-era evictions. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

The justices issued two news-making orders this week on transgender rights and police brutality. In one of the orders, they declined to overturn a lower court ruling that let a transgender student use his high school’s male bathrooms. In the other, the justices directed lower courts to re-examine a case from St. Louis where police officers had handcuffed a man and knelt on his neck until he died. “Lawyers for the man’s parents had urged the high court to take up the case in the wake of George Floyd’s murder,” wrote the Los Angeles Times, “and to rule that this police tactic represents an unconstitutional use of excessive force.”

More legal bulletins from Anna:

  • President Biden announced his fifth round of judicial nominees for the federal courts. According to CNN, “Biden is on the fastest pace for judicial confirmations in a first term in more than 50 years,” as he has confirmed seven new judges and nominated 32 in total.
  • A federal judge temporarily blocked a Florida law targeting social media companies. The law, which was set to go into effect today, would have penalized social media companies for blocking posts by politicians.
  • Justice Stephen Breyer will be closely watched today as the Supreme Court wraps up its term. A Washington Post analysis found that 9 of the last 11 justices to retire from the court did so in the final two weeks of the term. Breyer is 82 years old.

🔓 Gabe’s Picks

My top reads and recommendations.

Survey of the day: C-SPAN released the latest results of their Presidential Historians Survey on Wednesday, showing how presidential historians and biographers rank the U.S. commanders-in-chief. The new rankings showed Barack Obama moving into the top 10 (rising two spots from 2017) and Donald Trump debuting on the list at 41 out of 44.

  • Other interesting changes from the last survey in 2017: Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton each dropped down four spots, George W. Bush moved up four spots. Today’s Covid read: This piece from The Atlantic on Delta and other COVID-19 variants, and why just because a new strain is more infectious, it doesn’t mean it’s deadlier or more severe.

    Something I just learned: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a Trump ally who played a leading role in shepherding the former president’s conservative judicial picks, has voted for more of President Biden’s judicial nominees than any other senator, according to National Journal.


What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)
Executive Branch
→ President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Surfside, Florida, to visit the site of the condo building collapse that has killed at least 18 people, including a 4-year-old and a 10-year-old. The Bidens will depart the White House at 6:55 a.m. and land in Florida at 9:30 a.m.

At 10:05 a.m., they will receive a command briefing from Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), local leaders, and first responders. At 11 a.m., they will thank the first responders and search and rescue teams who have been working to find the 145 bodies that remain missing. At 12:30 p.m., they will meet with the families of the victims and the missing individuals.

At 3:50 p.m., the president will deliver remarks at St. Regis Hotel in Miami, Florida. At 5:20 p.m., the Bidens will depart Florida, arriving back at the White House at 7:50 p.m.

U.S. public health officials will hold a press briefing at 1:30 p.m. on the federal COVID-19 response. The briefers will be Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.

→ White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a press gaggle aboard Air Force One during the flight to Florida.

Champlain Towers South, the Surfside condo building that partially collapsed last week. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Legislative Branch
The Senate will convene at 11 a.m. for a brief pro forma session.
The House will convene at 9 a.m. and resume consideration of H.R. 3684, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, a $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill.

The chamber will hold a final vote today on the bill, which would allocate $343 billion in funding for roads and bridges, $117 billion for drinking water programs, $109 billion for public transit, $95 billion for passenger and freight rail, and $51 billion for wastewater infrastructure, all over five years.

(The measure is running along a separate process from both the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the Democratic reconciliation bill, as it extends infrastructure programs that must be reauthorized periodically and are currently set to expire on September 30.)
Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court will release its final opinions for the term at 10 a.m. The two cases awaiting rulings are Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a challenge to Arizona’s election laws which is the most significant voting rights case before the court in almost a decade, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, a challenge to California’s requirement that non-profit organizations disclose the identity of their donors.

The justices will also meet for their final weekly conference of the term.

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