by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Friday, July 22, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 109 days away. Election Day 2024 is 837 days away.
Happy Friday! Thanks so much for reading Wake Up To Politics today and throughout the week — I hope you had a good one.
I like to close off every week by walking you through the substantive policies enacted in Washington over the past week, to give you an idea of what actually got done and what your leaders have been working on.
The “week in review” feature will be below — but first, two important pieces of news from yesterday:
Two things you should know
1. President Biden has Covid. After avoiding the virus for the past two years, the 79-year-old president tested positive on Thursday. According to a letter from his doctor, he is “currently experiencing mild symptoms,” including a dry cough, runny nose, and fatigue.
“I’m doing well, getting a lot of work done,” Biden said in a video tweeted out from his official account. “It’s going to be okay.” Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden have so far both tested negative.
2. The House January 6th committee held its final hearing for the summer. During Thursday night’s hearing, which aired in primetime, the committee examined former President Trump’s actions during the 187 minutes between the beginning of the Capitol riot and his sending a message telling the rioters to go home.
The panel showed live and recorded testimony from White House insiders, who said Trump stayed in his dining room watching television throughout the riot, more concerned with whether Republican senators would vote to overturn the election than with the safety of the Capitol.
Trump never contacted any national security or law enforcement officials to order them to quell the riot. “You’re the commander in chief, you’ve got an assault going on the Capitol of the United States of America, and there’s nothing?” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained in disbelief. “No call? Nothing? Zero?”
Meanwhile, the panel revealed, members of then-Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail were inside the Capitol, fearing for their lives. “There were calls to say goodbye to family members,” an unnamed White House security official told the committee.
The panel also showed outtakes of the two video messages Trump eventually sent on January 6 and 7, including one in which he struggled to acknowledge the election outcome. “I don’t want to say the election is over,” Trump said. “I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election is over, OK?”
This was originally slated to be the committee’s last hearing, but lawmakers said Thursday that the panel will resume its presentations in September. “Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said.
What the government did this week
Every Friday here at Wake Up To Politics, we like to take a step back and offer you an idea of what got done in Washington in the week that was:
🌎 President Biden announced three new actions to address climate change:
- $2.3 billion in funding to increase infrastructure resilience in the face of heat waves, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and other disasters
- Expanding a program to bring air conditioning equipment and community cooling centers to low-income communities
- A proposal to power three million homes in the Gulf of Mexico through wind energy.
Codifying court decisions
📜 The House voted on a series of bills to codify Supreme Court precedents in light of the reversal of Roe v. Wade:
- The Women’s Health Protection Act, codifying Roe and the right to abortion, passed 219-210 (with no Republicans in support and one Democrat opposed).
- The Ensuring Access to Abortion Act, protecting the right to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion, passed 223-205 (with three Republicans in support and no Democrats opposed)
- The Respect for Marriage Act, codifying the rights to same-sex and interracial marriage enshrined in Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia, passed 267-157 (with 47 Republicans in support and no Democrats opposed)
- The Right to Contraception Act, codifying Griswold v. Connecticut and the right to birth control, passed 228-195 (with eight Republicans in support and no Democrats opposed)
Hostages and immigration
⛓️ Biden signed an executive order to bolster efforts to bring home Americans being wrongfully detained or held hostages abroad.
- In the order, he declared a national emergency on hostage-taking, while calling on agencies to identify new strategies to secure such Americans’ release and impose sanctions if necessary.
- At the same time, the State Department unveiled a new designation that will be added to its travel advisories for certain countries: “D,” warning of a risk of wrongful detention by a foreign government.
🛂 The Departments of State and Homeland Security also announced a change to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which has been allowing Afghan nationals who worked with the U.S. military to receive American visas.
- Afghan SIV applicants will now only need to file one form, an attempt to expedite the process amid major delays.
🧑⚖️ The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Biden administration from implementing immigration enforcement guidelines that would have given ICE agents broad discretion to decide whether to arrest illegal migrants.
- The 5-4 decision was issued in a brief order, with the justices announcing they would hear the case in full this December. It was Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s first vote on the court; she dissented.
Guns and safety
❌ The House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill banning the sale, manufacture, or transfer of assault weapons on a party-line vote. It was the first time such a measure had been considered by the panel since the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
- The committee also advanced a measure that would allow gun manufacturers and sellers to be sued when their products are sued to commit crimes. The bill would lift a liability shield for gun manufacturers that has been in place since 2005.
👮 Biden unveiled his “Safer America Plan,” which outlines his request for Congress to spend $37 billion to support crime prevention, which would go towards hiring 100,000 new police officers and creating a grant program to help cities and states both prevent violent crime and identify “non-violent situations that may merit” a non-police response.
💉 The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approved the Covid-19 vaccine by Novavax. The shot, which was not made using mRNA technology, will be available to all American adults “in the coming weeks.” It is the fourth Covid shot to be approved in the U.S.
📞 The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a revamped National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can now be reached by dialing 988. The move was initiated by a bipartisan 2020 law and aided by $150 million in the recent bipartisan gun control law.
🏢 HHS also reorganized its pandemic response, creating a new Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Respons that will take the lead from the beleaguered CDC.
🍼 Both chambers of Congress passed a bipartisan bill to lift tariffs on baby formula imports through the end of the year, to decrease costs amid the national shortage. The measure passed unanimously in the Senate and 421-2 in the House. It now goes to Biden’s desk.
- The Agriculture Department announced new steps to expand baby formula access for recipients of a program for low-income families that leads to more than half of U.S. formula purchases, including by opening the way for them to use their benefits while shopping for formula online.
- The Department of Health and Human Services coordinated two more flights of government-sourced formula, bringing the equivalent of 800,000 8-ounce bottles into the U.S. from overseas.
Tech and privacy
⚡ The Senate voted 64-34 to advance a major bipartisan bill to boost the U.S. semiconductor industry. Semiconductor chips are an essential component for electronic devices, but only 12% of them are manufactured here in the U.S.
- The $250 billion measure would provide tax breaks and funding to domestic chip manufacturers, along with other steps to increase scientific research as part of a broader effort to make the U.S. more competitive with China.
🔒 The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a landmark online privacy bill by a bipartisan vote of 53-2. The first federal legislation of its kind, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act would impose limits on companies collecting digital data and require them to allow consumers to opt out of targeted advertising.
- The measure would also prohibit targeted advertising aimed at minors and allow consumers to sue companies for improperly using or selling their data.
- The Senate confirmed Michelle Childs to a seat on the powerful D.C. appeals court. The vote was 64-34; she tied for receiving the most bipartisan support of any Biden judicial nominee.
- Other bills passed by the House included measures to increase bike trails on public lands and to authorize that the Gateway Arch in St. Louis be lit up with the colors of the Ukraine flag.
- Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
- The Biden administration announced that it has signed up 1 million low-income households for a program offering up to $30/month off eligible Americans’ internet bills.
- Staffers in eight House ofifices began to unionize.
What’s going on in politics today
All times Eastern. Click on an event’s time to watch it.
President Biden is in isolation but will receive his daily intelligence briefing virtually (10:30 am), followed by virtual meetings with his economic team to discuss gas prices and with his senior advisers to discuss his legislative agenda.
Vice President Harris will participate in a conversation as part of the National Urban League annual conference (12:30 pm).
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold her daily press briefing (3 pm). She will be joined for the second day in a row by Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 coordinator.
The Senate is out until Monday.
The House will briefly convene for a pro forma session (9 am). No legislative business will be conducted.
The Supreme Court is out until October.
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.