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Wake Up To Politics - June 10, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: Biden, Boris, and “the special relationship”
Wake Up To Politics - June 10, 2021

Good morning! It’s Thursday, June 10, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 516 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,244 days away.

The alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom has long been known as “the special relationship.” President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will kick off the latest iteration of that centuries-long friendship when they meet in England today. But how the “special relationship” will fare in their hands remains an open question.
Biden and Johnson don’t have much in common. The 78-year-old moderate Democratic president and the 56-year-old brash Conservative prime minister are separated by generation, ideology, and style.

Johnson shared much more with Biden’s predecessor, his fellow populist Donald Trump; in fact, Biden called the prime minister a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump in 2019. (He didn’t mean it as a compliment.)

Tensions have already broken out between the two leaders. Their meeting today has been shadowed by a dispute between the United Kingdom and the European Union over a trade deal involving Northern Ireland.

According to the Financial Times, U.S. officials — at Biden’s direction — issued an “extraordinary diplomatic rebuke” to their British counterparts at a recent meeting, accusing the UK of “imperiling the Northern Ireland peace process over Brexit.”

White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan told the BBC that Biden, an Irish Catholic, has “deep” concerns about violence potentially erupting in Northern Ireland amid the dispute. Biden has previously spoken about his opposition to Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which Johnson championed.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with former President Donald Trump in 2019. (Doug Mills/New York Times)

Still, Biden and Johnson will attempt to show the world that the ties between their two countries remain strong. Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday that the pair would issue a “refresher” of the Atlantic Charter, the 1941 document signed by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill that set out American and British goals for after World War II.

“There will be an updated statement of principles between the US and the UK as free societies and free peoples speaking out about what we believe in in this 21st century,” Sullivan said. Biden and Johnson will also view the original Atlantic Charter, which is now 80 years old, during their visit.  

Coronavirus will be a main point of discussion during the meeting. According to CNN, Biden and Johnson “are expected to commit...to working to open up travel between the US and UK and lifting restrictions that were put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The network also reported that the president and the prime minister will “announce a new travel task force that will explore options and make recommendations on how to safely resume international travel.”
Biden will also make some news about vaccine distribution. In a speech delivered from England at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time, Biden will sketch out an update on his plans to send vaccines around the globe. According to the Washington Post, the president will announce that the US is buying 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to send to 92 countries.
The doses will be distributed by Covax, a World Health Organization initiative, with 200 million doses going out this year and the final 300 million being distributed in the first half of next year.

Biden’s announcement — which the White House hailed as “the largest-ever purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country” — will be a gesture of goodwill before more meetings with allies at the Group of Seven (G7) Summit, which is taking place in England this week.

The Rundown

What else you need to know to start your day.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: “President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday revoking a Trump-era order aimed at banning TikTok, the popular video app, as well as WeChat and eight other communications and financial technology software applications.” NBC News

TRUMP REVISITED: “The US Park Police did not clear racial injustice protesters from Lafayette Park to allow for then-President Donald Trump’s march to St. John's Church last June, but instead did so to allow a contractor to install a fence safely around the White House, according to a new inspector general report.” CNN

  • “The cable news network CNN revealed Wednesday that it waged a secret court battle with the Trump administration over a Justice Department demand for one of its reporter’s email records — and ultimately agreed early in President Biden’s tenure to turn over a ‘limited’ set of materials.” Washington Post

INSIDE CONGRESS: “A group of Jewish Democrats in the House is publicly feuding with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) after she tweeted about ‘unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,’ in reference to investigations by the International Criminal Court.” Axios

  • “The Congressional Black Caucus is blocking membership to Rep. Byron Donalds, a Republican from Florida who has tried to join the organization, a source familiar with the CBC's plans told BuzzFeed News.” BuzzFeed News
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is provoking controversy once again. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Policy Roundup: Legal

A rotating group of student journalists offer briefings on a different policy area each day. On Thursdays, Anna Salvatore breaks down the week’s top legal news:

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that certain refugees who entered the U.S. unlawfully are not eligible for green cards. In her unanimous opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that immigrants must be “admitted” into the U.S. in order to become lawful permanent residents. “Admission” has a very specific definition, she said; it means that a refugee was inspected and approved by an immigration officer.

As a result, refugees with temporary protected status do not qualify for green cards if they skipped the formal admission process. Monday’s decision could affect as many as 320,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Yemen, Haiti, and other countries the U.S. has labeled “unsafe,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Senate confirmed President Biden’s first two judicial nominees on Tuesday. By a 72-28 vote, senators approved the nomination of former prosecutor Regina Rodriguez to the District of Colorado. They also approved the elevation of Julien Neals, a Black country administrator, to the District of New Jersey by a 66-33 vote. CBS News notes that there are still five vacancies on New Jersey’s district court, four of which were deemed “judicial emergencies” by the Judicial Conference of the U.S.

Biden and his Justice Department are increasingly at odds with each other. Just this week, the White House criticized the department’s decisions to subpoena reporters for leak investigations, grant Social Security benefits to Puerto Ricans, and continue defending President Trump from defamation charges. “Other cases on the horizon are poised to potentially further the divide,” Politico reported, such as a lawsuit about the legality of California’s private prisons. These tensions were predictable; Biden has consciously sought distance from the department after President Trump’s coziness with Attorney General Bill Barr. Now Biden is getting just what he asked for.

Biden listens as Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks after his nomination was announced. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

More legal headlines, via Anna:

  • The 8th Circuit blocked a Missouri law on Wednesday that would have banned abortions after eight weeks, holding that “bans on pre-viability abortions are categorically unconstitutional.” (The Supreme Court may change this next term.)
  • A California judge ruled on Friday that the state’s ban on assault weapons violates the Second Amendment. In a controversial analogy, he likened AR-15s to Swiss Army Knives as the “perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”
  • The Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider the male-only military draft until “Congress actively weighs the issue.”
  • According to the New York Times, Democratic lawyers “are trying to enforce election laws in part by losing on purpose in federal court.”


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

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are in Cornwall, England, for the first full day of their first foreign trip since taking office. At 8:30 a.m., the president will receive his daily intelligence briefing. At 10 a.m., both Bidens will be greeted by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson. At 10:10 a.m., the president and the prime minister will view the Atlantic Charter, the 1941 U.S.-U.K. joint statement, before meeting formally at 10:15 a.m.

Finally, Biden will deliver remarks on the COVID-19 vaccination program and the effort to defeat COVID-19 globally at 1:15 p.m.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Tallahassee, Florida. At 10:55 a.m., he will visit a local vaccination clinic and participate in a listening session with health center workers and local community members.

The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m. and resume consideration of President Biden’s judicial nominees. At 11:30 a.m., the chamber will hold a cloture vote to cut off debate on the nomination of Zahid Quraishi to be a U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey, followed by a cloture vote on the nomination of Kentaji Brown Jackson to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the powerful D.C. Circuit. At 1:45 p.m., the Senate will vote on Quraishi’s confirmation

If confirmed, Quraishi will be the first Muslim-American federal district court judge.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the Defense Department’s 2022 budget request with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at 9:30 a.m.

The House is not in session.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray at 10 a.m.

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on unaccompanied children at the border with officials from the Departments of State and Homeland Security at 2 p.m.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

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