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Wake Up To Politics - July 13, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: Texas Democrats flee to block voting bill
Wake Up To Politics - July 13, 2021

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 483 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,211 days away.

Democratic members of the Texas state legislature fled Austin to block a Republican effort to enact new voting restrictions. At least 51 of the 67 Democrats in the Texas state House of Representatives flew to Washington, D.C., on Monday night, denying state Republicans of the quorum needed to convene a special session and advance the legislation.

The Texas Democrats previously walked out of the state Capitol in May, ensuring that the voting restrictions could not be passed during the legislature’s regular session, which led Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) to order the special session. In a local TV interview on Monday, Abbott threatened to arrest the Democratic legislators upon their return to Texas.

This is the first time since 2003 that Texas Democrats have left the state in order to “break a quorum.”

The voting measure Republicans are attempting to pass, House Bill 3, has been stripped of some of its most controversial provisions since the regular session in May. The bill would still ban drive-through voting and prohibit local election officials from extending early voting hours or sending a vote-by-mail application to someone who hasn’t requested one, while also introducing new ID requirements for voting by mail and

However, the measure would no longer restrict early voting on Sundays or include a provision that would have made it easier for election officials to overturn election results based on allegations of voter fraud.

Texas House Democrats hold a press conference after landing in Washington, D.C., on Monday night. (Shuran Huang/Texas Tribune)

The Rundown

More top stories to know this morning.

CORONAVIRUS: “Representatives of Pfizer met privately with senior U.S. scientists and regulators on Monday to press their case for swift authorization of coronavirus booster vaccines, amid growing public confusion about whether they will be needed and pushback from federal health officials who say the extra doses are not necessary now,” the New York Times reports.

  • No decision was made during the meeting on whether the booster shots would receive approval. U.S. health agencies have so far dismissed the need for such additional vaccinations, despite Pfizer’s claims that they could boost immunity and countries such as Israel beginning to offer booster shots to their citizens.
  • Meanwhile: The FDA issued a warning on Monday that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can lead to an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome, after officials identified about 100 suspected cases of the rare neurological condition among recipients of the one-dose shot.
  • More Covid news: Confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. soared 47% last week, the largest one-week rise since April 2020.

INFRASTRUCTURE: “Several GOP senators who initially endorsed a bipartisan infrastructure deal are warning they may ultimately vote against it as it moves through the legislative process, a sign of the daunting hurdles ahead as proponents try to push the massive proposal through the evenly divided chamber by next month,” CNN reports.

ECONOMY: “Inflation surged in June at its fastest pace in nearly 13 years amid a burst in used vehicle costs and price increases in food and energy, the Labor Department reported Tuesday,” according to CNBC. “The consumer price index increased 5.4% from a year earlier, the largest jump since August 2008, just before the worst of the financial crisis.”

An Israeli man receives a third dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine after the country approved Covid booster shots. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Policy Roundup: Education

On Tuesdays, Wake Up To Politics contributor Kirsten Shaw Mettler catches you up on the week’s top education headlines:

New CDC guidance urges a return to in-person learning, but still calls for some mask use. On July 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that K-12 schools should return to in-person learning for the fall and acknowledged the impacts of pandemic learning loss. The agency’s recommendations say that vaccinated students can go maskless in the fall, but called for continued mask use for unvaccinated individuals.

Student loans may be returning in the fall. Due to the pandemic, student loans were first paused without interest in March 2020, but monthly payments are currently scheduled to return in October. Education Department are reportedly urging President Biden to extend the payment pause until 2022. Advocacy groups and Democrat members of Congress are also pushing for an extension of the relief period.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on government aid and religious schools. The court announced on July 2 that they will rule on a Maine case regarding the exclusion of schools offering sectarian education from public tuition programs. The case comes only a year after Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, in which the Supreme Court ruled against public funding restrictions for religious institutions.

A mother dropping off her child for a return to in-person school in California. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

More education policy headlines, via Kirsten:

  • Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, a major student loan servicer, said that it will not be renewing its contract with the Department of Education.
  • The Biden administration is currently reviewing a backlog of student debt claims.
  • Yale University’s drama school has gone tuition-free.


What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)
Executive Branch
→ President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9:30 a.m. Later, he will travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 2:50 p.m., he will deliver a speech on voting rights at the National Constitution Center, before returning to Washington, D.C.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press gaggle aboard Air Force One during the flight to Philadelphia.

Legislative Branch
The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and vote at 11:30 a.m. on the nomination of Uzra Zeya to be Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

Zeya was a 27-year career diplomat until she resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service during the Trump administration and became President and CEO of the Alliance for Peacekeeping.

Following the vote on Zeya’s confirmation, the Senate will hold a cloture vote to advance the nomination of Julie Su, California’s top labor official, to be Deputy Secretary of Labor. The chamber will then recess until 2:15 p.m. for weekly caucus meetings. At 2:30 p.m., the chamber will vote on Su’s confirmation.

The House will briefly convene at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session.


The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing at 2:30 p.m. on anticompetitive conduct in prescription drug markets.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement.

Press conferences:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will hold a press conference after the caucus lunches; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will then speak to reporters as well.

Reps. Marc Veasey (D-TX) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. with the Texas Democratic state legislators who left the state to block a GOP voting bill during a special session of the legislature.
Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court is not in session.

In the States
The Texas State Legislature will convene at 11 a.m. for a special session ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) to consider a Republican voting bill.

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