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Wake Up To Politics - May 31, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: Nine questions for Summer 2022
Wake Up To Politics - May 31, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 161 days away. Election Day 2024 is 889 days away.

Welcome back to WUTP. I hope you had a chance to catch your breath over Memorial Day — and to take time to honor those who have served and sacrificed for our country.

Before we dive into the news, I have a favor to ask: Every once in a while, I like to send our surveys to get your feedback on how Wake Up To Politics is doing.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m also taking some time this summer to think through ways to grow and expand the newsletter — and I want your help shaping the future of what WUTP will offer.

Here’s a brief survey asking you for some feedback. If you’re able to take just a few minutes and answer those questions, I’d really appreciate it.

Nine questions for Summer 2022

With Memorial Day behind us, the summer is officially here.

Summers usually start out sleepy in Washington — Congress is rarely in session, the president often goes on vacation — but the season is known for throwing political curveballs.

Here are some questions facing the political world as Summer 2022 begins:

1. Will lawmakers hatch a deal on gun control? In the wake of the tragedies in Uvalde and Buffalo, at least 12 mass shootings took place across the United States over Memorial Day weekend, according to the Washington Post. Will they shock lawmakers into action?

A bipartisan group of 10 senators is set to meet over Zoom today to discuss a possible gun control compromise. After promising action to families in Uvalde, President Biden expressed confidence Monday that the two parties could come to an agreement: “I think things have gotten so bad that everybody is getting more rational about it,” he said. “At least that’s my hope and prayer.”

2. What will we learn about the Uvalde police response? The Uvalde gunman was inside Rooms 111 and 112 at Robb Elementary School for 78 minutes before police officers stopped him. For much of that time, even as terrified students pleaded for them to intervene in 911 calls, the officers waited in a hallway and declined to rush into the classroom, a miscalculation that an official later admitted was “the wrong decision.”

The Justice Department announced Sunday that it will conduct a review of the law enforcement response in Uvalde, at the request of the city’s mayor. It’s a rare step for the agency; parents in Uvalde, and observers across the country, will be watching closely for a full accounting of what wrong at Robb Elementary as 19 students and two teachers were killed.

President and First Lady Biden visit with families in Uvalde, Texas impacted by last week’s shooting. (White House)

3. Is the tide turning in Ukraine? As Russia racks up wins in eastern Ukraine and considers another campaign in Kyiv, there are some signs that Moscow’s assault against its neighbor could be picking up after an array of early setbacks.

Politico described the war as a “race against time,” with Ukraine hoping they can hold out against Russia at least until more Western weapons can arrive. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. is expected to announce this week that it will send long-range rocket systems to aid Ukraine.

4. Will the Supreme Court overrule Roe? Perhaps the most consequential decision of the summer will come from the Supreme Court, which is wrestling with the fate of American abortion rights. An incredibly rare leaked decision draft showed the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave the legality of abortion up to the states.

With the final decision expected sometime in June (likely in the final week of the month), we’ll soon see whether the anti-Roe majority has held — or if the court’s liberals were able to change any minds after the leak. Meanwhile, within the court, the hunt continues for the leak: CNN reported this morning that the court is now requesting clerks fork over their private cell phone records.

Advocates protest outside the Supreme Court as the justices wrestle with their abortion decision. (Gabe Fleisher / Wake Up To Politics)

5. Can Democrats revive “Build Back Better”? As the White House seeks to defend its economic record, President Biden penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning that outlined his plan to fight inflation. Much of the plan (cutting prices for prescription drug prices, child care, elder care, and housing) is the skeleton of the “Build Back Better” plan that has been bottled up in Congress by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) for months.

Now, there are some signs that Manchin is getting serious in talks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: the duo is reportedly making progress on a possible $1 trillion deal. Many Democrats believe an economic package could be a much-needed boon for the party, amid turmoil in the White House (as reported in a blockbuster NBC story out this morning) and worries about big losses in the November midterms.

6. Will Biden offer student debt relief? Speaking of Biden’s economic plans, the president continues to face pressure from his left flank to make good on a campaign promise to cancel at least $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

Per the Washington Post, the current White House plan would cancel that amount of debt for all Americans earning less than $150,000. Biden had been considering making the announcement during his University of Delaware commencement speech this past weekend, but it got pushed back after Uvalde.

Sen. Joe Manchin holds the fate of Biden’s economic agenda in his hands. (Nathan Posner / Wake Up To Politics)

7. What will the Trump investigations find? Another marquee event this summer will be the House January 6 committee’s public hearings, which will kick off on June 9 in primetime and continue throughout the month. Democrats hope that the hearings — and new details provided by witnesses — will hurt the GOP’s standing and bring the Capitol riot back to the top of American minds.

But the January 6 panel isn’t the only Trump-focused investigation set to heat up this summer: a special grand jury in Georgia is set to begin hearing testimony this week as part of a probe into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state. Plus, a new subpoena suggests the Justice Department’s January 6 inquiry now has former Trump White House officials in its sights.

8. Can Trump knock off Liz Cheney? As those investigations intensify, former President Trump continue to seek to assert his dominance over the Republican Party in a slew of summer primaries. But there have been a few publicized setbacks, most recently in Georgia, that have had some Republicans doubting whether Trump is the GOP kingmaker he once was.

Moving past his Georgia losses, Trump identified his next major target with a Saturday rally in Wyoming, where he’s hoping to unseat Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), his highest-profile GOP critic in Washington. Cheney faces Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman in a primary on August 16; another test of Trump’s power will come that same day, as Kelly Tshibaka boasts his endorsement in challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK).

Former President Trump with Liz Cheney challenger Harriet Hageman during a rally in Wyoming this weekend. (Hageman campaign)

9. And what’s the X-factor we’re not talking about? I’ve listed most of the political storylines we’re expecting to dominate the headlines in the weeks ahead. But the summer months are known for offering unforeseen challenges that often catch Washington off-guard, from Hurricane Katrina in the Bush era to a stare-down with Syria under Obama to the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal last year.

If history is any guide, Summer 2022 is sure to offer its own unexpected crisis (or two, or three). Hang on and keep reading Wake Up To Politics throughout the summer to see what it might be.

What’s going on in Washington today

All times Eastern

President Biden: There’s a lot today, so let’s take it one by one...

  • Receives his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am).
  • Meets with New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern (12 pm). They’ll discuss the Indo-Pacific region, climate change, and “countering terrorism and radicalization to violence both off and online.”
  • Has lunch with Vice President Harris (12 pm). When they took office, Biden said they would have lunch once a week, but this is only their third of the year.
  • Meets with Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell (1:15 pm). The rare meeting between the two comes after a new report found inflation slowed somewhat in April, but remains at an elevated level.
  • Meets with BTS, the South Korean boy band (3 pm). The president and the band are set to discuss Asian representation and addressing anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination.

Vice President Harreis: Meets with New Zeleand prime minister Jacinda Ardern (10:30 am) and has lunch with Biden (12 pm).

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: Holds her daily press briefing (2:30 pm).

Senate: Convenes briefly for a pro forma session (11 am), quick meetings during which no legislative business is conducted and few members are in attendance.

The House: Also convenes briefly for a pro forma session (11 am).

The Supreme Court: Releases orders, which indicate which cases the court has decided to hear (9:30 am).

Links to watch for yourself: Senate pro formaHouse pro forma

Before I go...

I want to add a word of thanks to those soldiers who gave the “last full measure of devotion” (as Lincoln put it) in order for us to have the freedoms and liberties to which we hold dear.

And to their families, who have sacrificed so much as well.

To mark Memorial Day, I ventured over to Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 400,000 American service members are buried.

Here’s a picture from the wreath-laying ceremony that took place at the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tombstone’s epitaph reads: “Here rests in honored glory, an American soldier known but to God.”

And here’s a picture of the rows and rows of little white graves that blanket the cemetery, each one marking the final resting place of another American hero:

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe