I’m Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from Wake Up To Politics world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, May 28, 2020. 159 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
The death toll from coronavirus in the United States surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday, a tragic milestone that came less than four months after the pathogen was first reported in America. As of 8 a.m. Eastern Time, 100,442 deaths and nearly 1.7 million cases of the virus have been reported in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. No other country has reported more than 40,000 deaths or 450,000 cases.
More Americans have now died from the coronavirus than in every armed conflict post-World War II, including the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The coronavirus death toll is more than 34 times as much as that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
--- What the future may hold, via the Washington Post: “There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away. Even after a vaccine is discovered and deployed, the coronavirus will likely remain for decades to come, circulating among the world’s population.”
“Experts call such diseases endemic — stubbornly resisting efforts to stamp them out. Think measles, HIV, chickenpox.”
--- Another bleak milestone: About 2.1 million unemployment claims were filed last week, the Labor Department reported this morning. With those claims included, more than 40 million Americans — or one in four workers in the nation — have now filed for unemployment in the 10 weeks since the coronavirus outbreak took hold.
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today to undo the legal protections shielding social media companies from being held liable for content posted on their sites. The companies currently have broad immunity from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. But Trump's order, according to the New York Times, “would allow the Commerce Department to try to refocus how broadly Section 230 is applied,” arguing that the companies forfeit their protections by engaging in “selective censoring” and expressing political bias.
The order “would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they move to suspend users or delete posts,” the Times reported.
Trump's move comes days after Twitter attached a fact-check to a pair of his tweets for the first time, warning that the president was spreading “potentially misleading information.” The move did not have unanimous support throughout Silicon Valley: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News that he didn't agree with the action, arguing that social media companies should not be the “arbiter of truth” online.
House Democrats postponed a vote to reauthorize key parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Wednesday after a last-minute bipartisan outcry. The legislation, which easily passed 80-16 in the Senate, lost support from Republicans when President Trump announced his opposition to the measure on Twitter.
“If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it,” he threatened, claiming that the surveillance authorities being re-upped by the measure had been used against him as part of “greatest political crime” in American history.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Obama-era Justice Department abused FISA by surveilling his former campaign aide, Carter Page, although the authorities used against Page are not the expired ones being renewed by the bill in question.
Democratic leaders needed Republican votes on the bill after the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has about 100 members, said they would oppose it due to a lack of civil liberties.
--- Earlier in the day: 69 House members cast votes by proxy on a resolution calling for sanctions against Chinese officials for their treatment of the Uighur minority, marking the first time members of Congress voted remotely.
The proxy voting plan has faced opposition from House Republicans, who have filed a lawsuit calling the rules change unconstitutional.
*All times Eastern
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will receive a briefing on the 2020 hurricane season at 2:30 p.m.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold a press briefing at 2 p.m.
The Senate will hold a pro forma session at 11 a.m.
The House will convene at 9 a.m. and vote on five pieces of legislation:
- H.R. 6168 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2020
- S. 3414 – Major Medical Facility Authorization Act of 2020
- S. 3084 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to modify the limitation on pay for certain high-level employees and officers of the Department of Veterans Affairs
- H.R. 6782 – TRUTH Act, as amended
- H.R. 7010 – Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, as amended
The chamber may also vote on H.R. 6172, the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, after postponing a vote on the measure Wednesday.
The Supreme Court justices will hold their weekly conference.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will attend a virtual fundraiser.
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