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Wake Up To Politics - July 25, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: The week ahead in politics
Wake Up To Politics - July 25, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Monday, July 25, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 106 days away. Election Day 2024 is 834 days away.

I hope you had a great weekend. It’s good to be back in your inbox.

What to watch this week

Welcome back to another week of waking up to politics. Let’s take a look at what you can expect in the world of politics in the week ahead:

Congress is racing to complete a slew of priorities before leaving for its August recess. This will be the House’s last week in session before recess; the Senate will stay in town through next week.

As you’ll see below, the Senate will hold a procedural vote today on the CHIPS Act, a bipartisan $280 billion package to supercharge semiconductor chip manufacturing in the U.S. — which has been falling behind in recent years, even though the chips are an essential component in electronic devices.

Both chambers are expected to grant final approval to the bill this week and send it on to President Biden’s desk.

The Senate is also likely to take up the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to ensure federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages that picked up 47 Republican votes last week. So far, five Republican senators have endorsed the measure; it will need 10 GOP supporters to clear a filibuster and get through the upper chamber.

In the next two weeks, Democrats are also hoping to make progress on a reconciliation package (a bill that is immune from the 60-vote filibuster threshold and can be passed with party-line support). The measure is expected to include two major provisions: a two-year extension of the enhanced subsidies Democrats passed in 2021 to aid 13 million Americans with their health care premiums under Obamacare, and a plan to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is one of the five Republican senators to endorse the same-sex marriage bill. (Gage Skidmore)

Meanwhile, two major indicators will give us a better idea about the state of the American economy. The Federal Open Markets Committee, which is made up of the Federal Reserve board of governors and other key policymakers, will meet this week to discuss once again increasing interest rates.

Watch for an announcement Wednesday on how high of a rate hike they settle on; the committee is reportedly leaning towards increasing its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, which is the same increase it imposed in June.

The Fed uses interest rate hikes to combat soaring inflation, since higher interest rates generally mean people will spend less money, which hopefully means prices will go down. It can be a tricky balance, though: if they hike interest rates too high, the economy could constrict too much and spiral into a recession.

We will get a sense Thursday of how the Fed is doing at managing that balance, when the Commerce Department will release its data tracking America’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the past three months. If the numbers show decreasing GDP, as is expected, that would mean the U.S. economy meets the textbook definition of a recession: two consecutive quarters of GDP decline.

The White House is already pre-butting the numbers, noting that the federal government uses a different definition, taking other indicators into account, such as unemployment (which has been shrinking).

The Biden administration’s ability to respond to the new GDP report could be somewhat complicated by the president’s continued bout with Covid. Per his doctor, he has been responding well to the Paxlovid antiviral pill and his symptoms are improving.

Fed chair Jerome Powell will help decide whether to raise interest rates once again this week. (Federal Reserve)

Finally, former President Donald Trump will be back in Washington for the first time since leaving office. Trump will come to town Tuesday to address a summit put on by the America First Policy Institute, a group created by former aides to help plan for a possible second Trump administration.

Trump’s return to the Swamp comes at a pivotal moment for the ex-president, as members of the Republican establishment appear (not for the first time) to be rethinking their support after the January 6 hearings have uncovered new details of Trump’s role in stirring up the Capitol riot — and his inaction as it raged on.

Just this past weekend, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal — two major conservative media organs owned by Fox News proprietor Rupert Murdoch — editorialized that it’s time for the GOP to move past Trump. (He is still the party’s early 2024 frontrunner, however.)

The January 6 hearings are on pause until September as the panel returns to fact-finding; per vice chair Liz Cheney, that could include issuing a subpoena to Ginni Thomas, the right-wing activist wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Other investigations of Trump, including a probe led by Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis, are also heating up.

More news you should know

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon was convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress by a jury Friday, over charges stemming from his refusal to cooperate with the House January 6th committee.

  • Bannon is slated to be sentenced in October, although he is likely to appeal the verdict. Each count carries a minimum prison sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year.

Amid fears of a global food crisis, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal to once again allow Ukrainian grain to be shipped via ports Russia had been blockading — which Russia promptly violated by launching a missile attack at the Ukrainian port of Odessa.

  • The Biden administration also announced that the U.S. will send its 16th round of military aid to Ukraine since the war began, this package totaling $270 million. The war’s 150th day was Saturday.

Monkeypox is now a “public health emergency of international concern,” the head of the World Health Organization declared, although a WHO advisory panel deadlocked on whether that was the right call. The outbreak has spread to 74 countries, infecting more than 16,000 people globally, per the CDC.

  • Here in the U.S., where almost 3,000 cases have been recorded in 44 states, the Biden administration is considering its own public health emergency announcement.
Trump ally Steve Bannon was convicted for contempt of Congress on Friday. (Gage Skidmore)

And a few more stories for your radar:

  • “White House clash with Pelosi over Taiwan spills into the open” (Politico)
  • “Newsom raises his profile with hardball tactics, starting with a gun bill” (New York Times)
  • “Liz Cheney braces for primary loss as focus shifts to 2024” (Associated Press)

What’s going on in Washington today

All times Eastern. Click on an event’s time to watch it.

President Biden is in Covid isolation. He will receive his daily intelligence briefing virtually (9:30 am) and will virtually address the annual conference of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (12:30 pm).

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Indianapolis to meet with Indiana state lawmakers to discuss abortion (11:30 am), as the state legislature convenes for a special session to consider a series of restrictive abortion laws. After the meeting, Harris will return to Washington.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will be joined by White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha at her daily press briefing (3:10 pm).

The Senate will convene (3 pm) and hold a procedural vote to advance the CHIPS Act, which would provide $52 billion in subsidies for domestic manufacturers of semiconductor chips. The chips are an essential component in just about every electronic device, but only 12% of them are currently made in the U.S., down from 37% in 1990.

The House is out until tomorrow.

The Supreme Court is out until October.

Before I go...

Here’s a lighter news story, about the “Covid super-dodgers” — people who have yet to contract the virus, 2+ years into the pandemic — and all of their theories about how they’ve made it into the exclusive club.

And I appreciated the disclaimer at the end of the article: “This is a developing story. Any subjects interviewed about not testing positive for covid might well, at this very moment, be testing positive for covid. They knew this might jinx it.”

President Biden, of course, is one example of someone who was long in this club as well — until he wasn’t.

Here’s the story from the Washington Post.

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.

— Gabe