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Wake Up To Politics - June 1, 2021

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 525 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,253 days away.

Happy June and welcome back from the long weekend. In case you were checked out from the news over the past couple of days, here’s a quick recap of the top stories to know:

In Washington, Senate Republicans voted on Friday to block creation of a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. A procedural vote on the measure failed 54-35, falling six supporters short of the 60-vote threshold it needed to clear to avert a filibuster.

Six Republicans — Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), and Ben Sasse (NE) — joined all present Democrats in backing the commission. Nine Republican senators and two Democrats missed the vote.  

Friday’s vote marked the first successful piece of legislation filibustered in the Senate under the Biden era, a landmark moment in a presidency that is likely to be shaped by use of the procedural tool — and debate among Democrats about whether to eliminate it.

In Texas, Democratic members of the state House staged a walkout on Sunday night that effectively blocked passage — for now — of SB 7, a bill that would alter the voting process in the state. According to the Washington Post, the measure “would have made it illegal for election officials to send out unsolicited mail ballot applications, empowered partisan poll watchers, and banned practices such as drop boxes and drive-through voting that were popularized in heavily Democratic Harris County last year.”

The bill also “would have barred early-voting hours on Sunday mornings, potentially hampering get-out-the-vote programs aimed at Black churchgoers,” the Post reported.

A 100-person quorum was needed for the bill to pass on Sunday, the last day of the legislative session; all 67 Democrats in the 150-person body walked out, ensuring that the voting changes could not be approved. But the measure is not dead yet: Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) announced plans to call a special session of the state legislature, with SB 7 at the top of the agenda.

Texas Democrats hold a press conference on SB7 on Sunday. (Jay Janner/AP)

In Israel, a tentative coalition has formed to oust longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office. The country, which operates under a parliamentary system, has undergone four election cycles in the past two years, as neither Netanyahu nor his rivals have been able to stitch together a governing coalition constituting a majority of the Knesset, Israel’s multi-party parliament.

But the leaders of two of the Knesset’s key parties, Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party and Naftali Bennett of the right-wing New Right party, announced on Sunday that they had formed a far-reaching “national unity government” with six other parties across Israel’s ideological spectrum. Under a power-sharing agreement, Bennett would serve as prime minister for the next two years and then Lapid would hold the post for the two years after that.

According to the Times of Israel, the new coalition leaders plan to inform Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as early as today that they are able to form a government, meaning it could be sworn in next week. If the arrangement moves forward, Netanyahu — a close ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump who has long been the dominant figure in Israeli politics — would surrender the premiership for the first time in 12 years.

Policy Roundup: Education

A rotating group of student journalists offer daily policy briefings. On Tuesdays, Kirsten Shaw Mettler breaks down the week’s top education news.

New bipartisan security legislation would subject universities’ foreign transactions to federal review. In the name of national security, the bill would require increased transparency and regulation of foreign donations to universities. In October 2020, the Trump administration released a report claiming that American universities “massively underreported” foreign funding, especially from Russia and China.

The Education Department has thrown out a Trump-era policy that restricted the oversight of student loan companies. On Friday, Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray announced the creation of a “streamlined and expedited process” for any federal, state or local authorities to request information on student loan companies. Cordray says that the new policy will help keep loan institutions accountable to student borrowers.

COVID-19 stimulus funding prevented higher education budget cuts, a report found. Between fiscal year (FY) 2020 and 2021, state tax funding for higher education decreased by 2.3 percent. However, federal spending largely compensated for those shortfalls, allowing per-student state higher education appropriations to actually increase by 2.9 percent for FY 2020. Preliminary estimates project that public colleges will experience budget declines in FY 2021.

Richard Cordray, the Biden administration’s point man on student loans. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) 

More education headlines, via Kirsten:

Investment into K-12 school construction and renovation will likely not be included in a possible bipartisan infrastructure package. President Biden had originally called for investing $100 billion into school infrastructure.

Newly released national testing results show that 4th grade science competency is declining.

New York City will not offer remote learning for the 2021-22 school year.

🔒 Gabe’s Picks

What I’m reading and watching this morning. This section is currently available to readers who have used their unique referral link to refer other subscribers or donated to the newsletter. Thank you so much for your support!

Here are two interesting reads, both from Politico, on the state of the two political parties and how former President Trump is looming over both of them:

Monday was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. President Biden will visit Tulsa today to mark the centennial.

  • Here is a piece of visual journalism from the New York Times that painstakingly shows what the massacre destroyed.
  • This article in the New Yorker tells the story of the two Black women writers who “have not received the recognition they deserve for chronicling” the massacre.

Something to watch: Iowa and New Hampshire have been stationed at the front of the presidential nominating process for decades. But now Nevada is trying to jump the line. Read more from the Associated Press.

Quote of the day: “All is well despite some crazy people in this world.” — Dr. Anthony Fauci in one of his emails from the early pandemic months newly obtained by the Washington Post

Photo of the day: Vietnam veteran Mike Holy and his wife Miriam Holy visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Monday to mark Memorial Day.

(Matt McClain/Washington Post)



What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern.)

President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9:30 a.m. before traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma. At 1:50 p.m., he will arrive in Tulsa. At 2:45 p.m., he will tour Greenwood Cultural Center. At 4:15 p.m., he will deliver remarks there to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. Biden will then return to Washington, D.C., arriving back at the White House at 8:30 p.m.

  • White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a press gaggle during the Air Force One flight to Tulsa.

The Senate will convene at 11:30 a.m. for a brief pro forma session.

The House will convene at 3 p.m. for a brief pro forma session.

The Supreme Court will release orders at 9:30 a.m. and may announce opinions at 10 a.m.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mountain Time in New Mexico’s 1st congressional district, where a special election is being held to fill the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury and Republican state Sen. Mark Moores are facing off in the Democratic-leaning district, in a race that could offer some signs of the political landscape ahead of the 2022 midterms.

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