Good morning! It’s Friday, July 16, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 480 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,208 days away.
Congratulations on making it to the end of another week. In case you missed it, I hope you check out my deep dive on the Child Tax Credit in Thursday’s newsletter. This an important one to know about and understand — the program is a pretty significant re-alignment of U.S. anti-poverty efforts — so I’d love if you gave it a read if you didn’t see it yesterday.
I’m leading off with the latest on infrastructure this morning. Then I have a few more quick stories for you, and then I’ll be back in your inbox bright and early on Monday. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great weekend!
Schumer pushes infrastructure talks along
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on Thursday that the Senate will hold its first procedural vote this coming Wednesday on the bipartisan infrastructure package.
The only problem? There is no bipartisan infrastructure package yet, as the measure is still being drafted by a group of moderate Democratic and Republican senators. The group has agreed to topline numbers — valuing the package at $1.2 trillion over eight years, $579 billion of which will be new spending — but a range of disagreements remain.
As they have for weeks, the group is finding it difficult to agree on ways to finance their package. The senators had previously signaled that one of their “pay-fors” would be spending about $40 billion in beefing up IRS enforcement — a move that Democrats say could bring in about $140 billion over 10 years and help close the “tax gap.” But Republicans appear to have nixed the idea, leaving negotiators scrambling to find a new funding alternative to take its place.
On the other infrastructure “track,” Schumer also said that he was instructing Democrats to finalize the details by Wednesday of the $3.5 trillion package they will attempt to advance through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process to enact President Joe Biden’s “soft infrastructure” policies.
Democrats are expected to use the massive reconciliation package to move forward just about every one of their lingering legislative priorities. Among the issues they are slated to address:
- Health care (expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing, and expanding Medicaid coverage in states that opted not to do so under Obamacare)
- Climate (funding a “clean energy standard,” which would aim to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 2035)
- Education (offering four more years of guaranteed public education to all Americans, including two years of free pre-K and two years of free community college)
- Immigration (creating a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors)
- Poverty (extending the enhanced Child Tax Credit, the new monthly payments to most families)
- Taxes (increasing taxes for corporations and the highest-earning Americans, plus levying a tax on imports from countries that lack aggressive climate policies)
In setting both of his Wednesday deadlines, Schumer is attempting to prod along the simultaneous sets of infrastructure talks — both of which have dragged on for weeks while Congress is running out of time to pass the plans this summer.
“The time has come to make progress, and we will,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday, flashing a hint of impatience as he tried to push his colleagues to wrap up their prolonged negotiations.
More top stories to know this morning.
Coronavirus cases rising. “COVID-19 deaths and cases are on the rise again globally in a dispiriting setback that is triggering another round of restrictions and dampening hopes for a return to normal life,” the Associated Press reports.
- Here in the United States, all 50 states are currently seeing an uptick in new cases as public health officials redouble their efforts to battle misinformation and convince more Americans to get vaccinated in an attempt at combatting the more infectious (and now dominant) Delta variant.
- Some jurisdictions are beginning to bring back some Covid restrictions as cases increase: officials in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous county, announced on Thursday that the locality would be reinstating its indoor mask mandate (regardless of vaccination status) effective 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.
Breyer isn’t going anywhere (for now). “Justice Stephen Breyer has not decided when he will retire and is especially gratified with his new role as the senior liberal on the bench,” he told CNN, breaking his silence amid pressure from some Democrats to step down and allow President Biden to appoint a new justice.
- When asked to name the factors which will guide his decision of when to step down, Breyer answered: “Primarily, of course, health. Second, the court.”
A frightening statistic. “Deaths from drug overdoses soared to more than 93,000 last year, a staggering record that reflects the coronavirus pandemic’s toll on efforts to quell the crisis and the continued spread of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the illegal narcotic supply,” the Washington Post reported based on new data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
- “The death toll jumped by more than 21,000, or nearly 30 percent, from 2019,” according to the Post.
What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)
→ President Joe Biden will participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) Leaders’ Virtual Retreat at 7:30 a.m. The meeting will focus on ending the COIVD-19 pandemic and supporting the global economic recovery.
At 10 a.m., he will receive his daily intelligence briefing. At 12:20 p.m., he will have lunch with Vice President Kamala Harris. At 1 p.m., he will receive a briefing from members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team on the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of vaccinations.
At 2:30 p.m., Biden will depart for Camp David, where he will spend the weekend. At 3:45 p.m., he will receive his weekly economic briefing from the presidential retreat.
→ Vice President Kamala Harris will join Biden for his 10 a.m. daily intelligence briefing and a 12:20 p.m. lunch. At 1 p.m., she will meet with women leaders on voting rights, including representatives of the Black Women’s Roundtable and the National Council of Negro Women. At 4:20 p.m., she will deliver remarks at a virtual finance event for the Democratic National Committee.
→ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 12:30 p.m.
→ U.S. public health officials will hold their weekly COVID-19 press briefing at 11 a.m. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, and Dr. Anthony Fauci will participate.
→ The Senate is not in session.
→ The House will meet at 9 a.m. for a brief pro forma session.
→ The Supreme Court is not in session.
As always, I try to be transparent with you and correct the record when human error finds its way into the newsletter.
There are two corrections from the week of June 28 that I wasn’t able to correct last week because I was away:
- In the June 30 newsletter, I listed the wrong home state for Gov. Jared Polis due to a typo. He is from Colorado.
- In the July 1 newsletter, I omitted part of a sentence when sharing a report about Sen. Lindsey Graham. It should have said that he “has voted for more of President Biden’s judicial nominees than any other Republican senator.”My apologies for those mistakes, and my thanks to the readers who pointed them out.
This week, many of you pointed out two errors in Wednesday’s newsletter: an item about Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff should have said he was visiting a program “providing children with daily meals,” and I incorrectly wrote the phrase “toe the line” as “tow the line.”
One reader noted that the latter error is an example of an “eggcorn,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase either on its own or as part of a set expression.” I hadn’t heard of that term before, so I thought I would share it with all of you.
None of us are perfect, of course, so I try to include these corrections to make sure I’m always leveling with you, the reader, and keeping your trust, and as a reminder that we all (myself certainly included) have more room for improvement and — always — more to learn.
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