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Wake Up To Politics - June 29, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: Scorching temperatures elevate climate debate
Wake Up To Politics - June 29, 2021

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 497 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,225 days away.

On a June day in Portland, Oregon, the average high temperature is a balmy 73 degrees.

On Monday, thermometers in the city shot 40 degrees above that, hitting a high of 116 degrees and becoming the third consecutive record-setting day for heat in Portland.

And it wasn’t just Portland. Amid a so-called “heat dome” across the Pacific Northwest, temperature records were also shattered on Monday in cities such as Salem, Oregon (117 degrees), and Seattle (108 degrees) and Olympia (110 degrees), Washington.

Plus, Canada saw its highest temperature ever recorded in the entire country on Monday, as a town in British Columbia reached 118 degrees — higher than the record temperatures of cities like Atlanta and Las Vegas well to its south.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, search-and-rescue teams continued to dig through the rubble of a collapsed condo building in Seaside, Florida. At least 11 people have been found dead and 150 more remain unaccounted for.

Scientists say to expect more extreme events like these as human-caused climate change worsens. It is too early to definitely say what caused the Florida building collapse, but experts are already pointing to rising sea levels caused by climate change as a possible contributing factor.

In the Pacific Northwest, the connection is more obvious: scientists are unequivocal in warning that scorching temperatures like the ones recorded this week will only become more common as the impact of climate change increases.

“What was once a 1/100 year event might now be a 1/20 year event,” climate scientist Zeke Hausfather wrote on Twitter. “If we keep warming the planet by the end of the century it might a 1/5 year event.”

A map showing the temperature departures from average on Monday. (Tropical Tidbits)

The twin disasters in the PNW and near Miami put the climate debate roiling Washington into sharp relief. As temperatures skyrocketed in Portland and Seattle, protesters affiliated with the youth-led Sunrise Movement took to the White House on Monday to call for President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leaders to push for a more expansive climate agenda.

Many of Biden’s most sweeping climate proposals — such as a national “clean electricity standard” and $300 billion in tax credits for renewable energy projects — were left out of the bipartisan infrastructure plan he endorsed last week.

Democrats are expected to push for an additional spending package, which could cost as much as $6 trillion and will be pushed through using the one-party reconciliation process. Lawmakers are currently haggling over what will go in the second package, with progressives making a major push to keep climate at the forefront of the process.

Progressives in the House and Senate have adopted “no climate, no deal” as their mantra in the negotiations, threatening to oppose Biden’s prized bipartisan package if satisfactory climate provisions are not included in the reconciliation bill. (The bipartisan plan does include $73 billion to modernize power infrastructure, $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers, and $7 to .5 billion for electric buses.)

The ties between climate change and infrastructure are more than just political. Brooke Jarvis, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, chronicled more than a dozen examples from just the past few days of infrastructure across the world crumbling as a result of climate-induced disasters — including power cables melting in Portland due to the record heat, causing the city’s streetcar system to halt service.

“Big day for noticing how much infrastructure we’ve built for a world we no longer live in,” Jarvis wrote on Twitter.

Power cables in Portland melted by the record heat. (Portland Streetcar)

The Rundown

What else you need to know to start your day.

SCOTUS. “The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a legal battle over the rights of transgender students, handing a victory to Gavin Grimm over the Virginia school board that denied him the right to use the boys’ restroom.” Washington Post

Congress. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Democrats to back off their plans to tie a bipartisan infrastructure deal to a larger bill filled with their priorities, warning that both efforts could collapse if they carry through with their plans.” CNN

Tech. “A D.C. federal court on Monday dismissed antitrust suits by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general seeking to break up Facebook's social networking monopoly, dealing a massive blow to regulators' attempt to rein in Silicon Valley's giants.” Politico

Transgender student Gavin Grimm scored a win at the Supreme Court on Monday. (Getty Images)

Policy Roundup: Education

On Tuesdays, Wake Up To Politics contributor Kirsten Shaw Mettler offers a briefing on this week’s top education news:

The appointment of a higher education official has stalled over student debt disagreements. President Biden’s nominee for Under Secretary of Education, James Kvaal, had his Senate hearing in April, but has still yet to be confirmed. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has reportedly put a hold on the proceedings in order to pressure the Biden administration to take more aggressive action on student loans. Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been pressuring Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student debt for all borrowers.

Indiana University has been sued for requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. After it announced that all 100,000 students, faculty, and staff would need to be vaccinated against coronavirus for the fall, eight students have sued Indiana University, alleging that the mandate violates state law and constitutional rights. Such legal battles are happening at colleges across the country, especially in Republican-controlled states.

Scores of young people are not getting vaccinated. Teenagers and 20-year-olds are getting COVID-19 vaccines at markedly low rates, a major factor in the Biden administration’s expected failure to meet its July 4 vaccination target. The White House has partnered with colleges, utilized social media platforms, and given out free incentives to get young people vaccinated.

A Michigan teenager receives the COVID-19 vaccine. (Getty Images)


What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern.)
Executive Branch
→ President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9:30 a.m. before traveling to La Crosse, Wisconsin. At 1:30 p.m., he will tour La Cross Municipal Transit Utility. At 2 p.m., he will deliver remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure package, and then return to Washington, D.C.

→ Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai at 1:50 p.m.

→ First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Texas for a pair of events with athletes aimed at promoting vaccinations. At 5:15 p.m., Biden will tour a vaccination site in Dallas with Emmitt Smith, a former Dallas Cowboys running back. At 7:45 p.m., Biden and Emhoff will join the Houston Astros for a vaccination event at Minute Maid Park.

→ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press gaggle aboard Air Force One during the flight to La Crosse.

Legislative Branch
The Senate is not in session.

The House will convene at 10 a.m. The chamber is scheduled to vote on 10 pieces of legislation, including:

The other bills scheduled for votes are:

  • H.R. 567, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act
  • H.Res. 186, a resolution calling for the immediate release of Trevor Reed, a U.S. citizen currently imprisoned in Russia
  • H.R. 2471, the Haiti Development, Accountability, and Institutional Transparency Initiative Act
  • H.R. 1500, the Global Learning Loss Assessment Act
  • H.Res. 402, a resolution urging the Biden administration to facilitate aid for India to respond to COVID-19
  • H.R. 3385, the HOPE for Afghan SIVs ActJudicial Branch
    The Supreme Court will release opinions at 10 a.m.

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