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Wake Up To Politics - May 25, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: George Floyd’s death, one year later
Wake Up To Politics - May 25, 2021

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 532 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,260 days away.

It has been one year since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s death — captured by a 17-year-old in a video that would shake the world — sparked a reckoning over race and policing in America.

According to the New York Times, more than 30 states and dozens of large cities have passed police reform bills since Floyd’s killing, including limits or bans on neck restraints (like the one used to kill Floyd) enacted in 16 states.

These new measures to reform policing, and related calls to “defund” law enforcement entirely, are now facing a reckoning of their own, after a 33% increase in homicides last year in major American cities.

Floyd’s family will travel to Washington, D.C., today to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and President Biden at the White House. While many states have recently enacted police reform bills, progress on a federal measure has been slow; Biden had called for a bipartisan bill to be passed by today, a deadline that will slip.

“While we are still working through our differences on key issues” — namely qualified immunity — “we continue to make progress toward a compromise and remain optimistic about the prospects of achieving that goal,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) said in a joint statement on Monday.

According to Punchbowl News, the bipartisan trio will meet again this week to continue their negotiations.

Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

The Rundown

More headlines to know this morning.

TRUMP THROWBACKS: “The Justice Department on Monday released more of a key legal memo concluding that former President Donald Trump did not commit obstruction of justice through his alleged attempts to thwart federal investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia.”

“However, top Justice officials filed an appeal to try to keep the majority of that nine-page legal opinion under wraps, despite a judge’s order earlier this month requiring that the legal memo be released in its entirety.” Politico

  • “Key impeachment witness Gordon Sondland sues Mike Pompeo and U.S. for $1.8 million in legal fees” Washington Post
  • “Ex-WH counsel McGahn agrees to testify before House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors next week” CNN
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: “President Joe Biden on Monday announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would double the funding available to help cities and states prepare for extreme weather disasters, to $1 billion this year from $500 million in 2020.” CNBC
  • “Biden denounces rise in antisemitic attacks amid Israel-Gaza conflict” NBC News

CAPITOL HILL: “National Guard personnel will fully depart the U.S. Capitol grounds this week, military and congressional officials said Monday, bringing an end to the security mission that began when armed troops were dispatched to help quell the attack by supporters of former president Donald Trump.” Washington Post

  • “Infrastructure talks near collapse” Politico
Shana Knizhnik/Twitter

Gabe’s Picks

What I’m reading and watching this morning.

An interesting read: “America’s Bluest State Loves Its Republican Governor” The Atlantic

A fun read: “Weightlifting, Gatorade, birthday calls: Inside Biden’s day” Washington Post

A book I’m reading: “Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else” by Jordan Ellenberg Amazon

Fact of the day: “Biden’s approval rating” — about 54% — “is the most consistent through the early part of his presidency of any president since World War II.” CNN

Video of the day: Check out Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) singing on the streets of Brooklyn... (Click the photo to watch)

Evy Mages/Washingtonian

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Policy Roundup: Education

The week’s top economic news, by Kirsten Shaw Mettler.

A federal judge has ruled that former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will have to testify in a student loan class action lawsuit. Approximately 160,000 borrowers are suing the Education Department and former Secretary DeVos, alleging that they were defrauded by for-profit colleges. The judge cited “exceptional circumstances” in his decision, which will require the former Cabinet member to sit for a three-hour long deposition. The Biden administration has worked with former Secretary DeVos’ personal attorney in attempts to block the subpoena for her testimony.

International college students are struggling to come to American campuses for the fall. According to the Institute of International Education, there was a 43% drop in new international students last year. The legacy of the Trump administration’s stricter visa policies combined with COVID-19 travel regulations are creating challenges for international students. The Biden administration has begun to ease restrictions on international students coming to the United States for the fall term.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has introduced legislation to redistribute large, private college endowments. Called the Ivory Tower Tax Act, the bill would significantly increase endowment taxes in order to fund apprenticeship programs. The proposal comes after many colleges have faced large endowment losses from COVID-19. Currently, almost half of college endowment spending is for financial aid.

Andrew Harnik/AP


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

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will receive their daily intelligence briefing at 10:15 a.m. Later, at 1:30 p.m., they will meet with the family of George Floyd to mark the anniversary of his death.

Biden will then make a quick trip to Wilmington, Delaware, touching down in his hometown at 6:50 p.m. and departing back for Washington, D.C., at 8:10 p.m.

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in the Middle East. This morning, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. At 12:30 p.m., he will hold a press availability in Jerusalem.
  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press briefing at 12:30 p.m.
  • U.S. public health officials will hold a press briefing at 1:30 p.m. on the COVID-19 response.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. Following Leader remarks, the chamber will resume consideration of the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. At 11:45 a.m., the Senate will vote on her confirmation, followed by a cloture vote to cut off debate on the nomination of Kristen Clarke to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

The chamber will then recess until 2:15 p.m. while each party holds their weekly caucus meeting. At 2:30 p.m., the Senate will vote on Clarke’s confirmation.

  • The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on the Federal Reserve’s regulation of the financial system. Fed vice chair Randal Quarles will testify.

The House will convene at 12 p.m. for a brief pro forma session.

  • The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on the National Institutes of Health budget request for FY2022. NIH Director Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci will testify.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

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