Good morning! It’s Friday, July 23, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 473 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,201 days away.
The Summer Olympics kicked off this morning in Tokyo. “In these moments, we are more than our cities or states or backgrounds,” First Lady Jill Biden, who was at the Opening Ceremony, wrote in a piece for NBC News. “We are more than our jobs or our political parties. We are united. We are all, first and foremost, Team USA.” 🇺🇸
The top headlines to know this morning.
AMERICA AND THE WORLD: “Top Iraqi and U.S. officials plan to issue a statement calling for U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by year-end, both nations’ officials said, but would reaffirm the need for a U.S. military presence to help Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State.” (Wall Street Journal)
→ “The United States launched overnight airstrikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan, a move that reflects Washington’s intentions to continue supporting Afghan forces with combat aircraft until U.S. forces withdraw next month.” (CNBC)
→ “President Joe Biden announced new sanctions Thursday targeting a top Cuban military official and a unit of the government's repressive state security apparatus, which he said was responsible for the brutal crackdown on historic protests across the island this month.”
→ “The United States and Germany have announced a deal to allow the completion of a controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions. The agreement aims to stanch fears about European dependence on Russian energy, but it was immediately assailed by critics who said it doesn’t go far enough.” (Associated Press)
LEGAL NEWS: “Mississippi’s attorney general told the Supreme Court on Thursday that Roe v. Wade was ‘egregiously wrong’ and should be overturned as she urged the justices to allow a controversial law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks to go into effect.” (CNN)
→ “Nearly three years after Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation to the Supreme Court, the F.B.I. has disclosed more details about its efforts to review the justice’s background, leading a group of Senate Democrats to question the thoroughness of the vetting and conclude that it was shaped largely by the Trump White House.” (New York Times)
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: “Tracy Stone-Manning, President Biden’s pick to be the top public lands manager, moved one step closer to becoming director of the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced her nomination solely with Democratic support. For weeks, Republicans have adamantly called on Biden to withdraw Stone-Manning’s nomination due to her decision as a University of Montana graduate student to send a letter on behalf of eco-saboteurs in 1989.” (Washington Post)
Policy Roundup: Health
On Fridays, Wake Up To Politics contributor Ellen Burstein offers a roundup on the week’s top health news:
U.S. life expectancy experienced its largest one-year drop since World War II, fueled by Covid deaths and opioid overdoses, the CDC said Wednesday. Life expectancy at birth dropped by 1.5 years, bringing it down to 77.3 years. Hispanic Americans experienced the largest drop in life expectancy, followed by white Americans and Black Americans. Opioid deaths increased by 30 percent to 93,000, an all-time high. An increase in diabetes, homicides, and signs of alcohol abuse like chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, also contributed to the drop.
- Experts told NBC News that the fall in life expectancy was exacerbated by structural failures in the U.S. healthcare system. “What happened in the U.S. did not occur in other comparable countries despite Covid-19 being a global pandemic,” said Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Several states negotiated a historic $26 billion dollar settlement to resolve opioid death lawsuits. Drug distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp., and Cardinal Health Inc., along with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, were accused of ignoring an influx of opiate prescriptions and of minimizing their addictive qualities.
- The states that signed on to the deal — Tennessee, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Delaware, and Connecticut — must use the funds on services to combat addiction such as treatment and education programs. In exchange, the four companies are released from all civil liability in the ongoing epidemic.
More health headlines, via Ellen:
- A study in Denmark found that cases of schizophrenia linked to marijuana abuse are increasing.
- Democratic senators introduced legislation to hold social media companies accountable for medical misinformation.
- A “superbug” fatal fungus has been spreading at two Dallas hospitals and a Washington, D.C. nursing home.
- A New York City pilot program that’s dispatching social workers and EMTs instead of police to individuals experiencing mental health crises showed signs of decreasing hospital costs and of increasing engagement with mental health services in its first weeks.
- More hospitals across the U.S. are requiring workers to get the Covid vaccine as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to ravage large swaths of the country.
- Americans owe $140 billion in medical debt, more than twice as much as previous figures, according to a new study.
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What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)
→ President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 10 a.m. At 12 p.m., he will have lunch with Vice President Kamala Harris. At 7:45 p.m., he will deliver remarks at a campaign rally for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe in Arlington, Virginia. The rally for McAuliffe, who previously served as Virginia governor from 2014 to 2018, will be Biden’s first in-person campaign event since becoming president.
At 8:45 p.m., Biden will travel to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to spend the weekend there. He will arrive at 9:40 p.m.
→ First Lady Jill Biden is in Tokyo, Japan, for her first solo international trip since taking office. At 1:30 a.m., she met with Emperor Naruhito of Japan at the Imperial Palace. At 7 a.m., she attended the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
→ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 12:30 p.m.
→ The House and Senate will next convene on Monday.
→ The Supreme Court is on recess until October.
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