6 min read

What the government did this week

Wake Up To Politics: This week in governing
What the government did this week

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Friday, September 9, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 60 days away. Election Day 2024 is 768 days away.

Congrats on makingit to the end of another week. It was a big one here at Wake Up To Politics, including a one-on-one sit-down with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. In case you missed it, here’s my piece on the Murphy interview, which includes his insights on the midterm elections, the 2024 presidential race, and his work on youth mental health.

I was also especially proud this week of my piece on Vice President Kamala Harris, a deep dive into her tenure thus far that came in response to a bunch of reader questions.

If you want to support my ability to do things like go to New Jersey to interview the governor or publish in-depth answers to reader questions, I’d be grateful if you’re able to donate or set up a monthly donation to support my work. (Or you can check out the WUTP merch store to get a little something in return.)

Nothing is ever expected, but every little bit is appreciated. And even if you’re not able to donate, you can also help WUTP by forwarding this newsletter to a friend and encouraging them to subscribe. If you’re new here, you can click this button to sign up:

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you had a great week and have an excellent weekend. Now, let’s jump into the news!

What the government did this week

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to take a look at what your leaders in Washington have been working on this week. Let’s dive in:

Legislative Branch

➞ Veterans: The Senate unanimously passed a bill to permanently authorize and expand the federal Solid Start program, which aims to reach out to and assist veterans in their first year of transitioning from military to civilian life.

  • The Senate also unanimously passed a bill creating an online system to allow veterans to file complaints about their VA health care and to track the status of the complaint, in order to increase transparency at the VA. The bill already passed the House in a 411-1 vote, so it now goes to President Biden’s desk.
  • Finally, the Senate unanimously approved a bill renaming a VA clinic in Mishawaka, Indiana for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), who was killed in a car crash last month. It had already passed the House unanimously, so it now goes to Biden’s desk.

➞ Health care: The Senate unanimously passed a bill that expands the use of New Access Point grants, which fund the creation of new sites to offer health care to medically underserved populations. The bill will allow the grant funding to go towards the development of mobile medical clinics across the country.

➞ Environment: The Senate unanimously passed a bill allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to cover 100% of the costs for airports to purchase fire equipment that won’t discharge perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are a class of chemicals that don’t naturally break down and can be toxic for the environment and for public health.

➞ Judges: The Senate confirmed two new Biden appeals court judges. Andre Mathis was confirmed to the Sixth Circuit in a 48-47 vote, whileJohn Lee was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit in a 50-44 vote. The Senate has now confirmed 79 Biden judges since the beginning of his administration.

The late Rep. Jackie Walorski with an Air Force lieutenant. (U.S. Air Force)

Executive Branch

➞ Vaccines: The Biden administration announced its plans for the future of Covid vaccines. An updated version of the vaccine, geared at targeting the Omicron variant, began to be distributed. Officials also announced that the new shots would be the beginning of a yearly schedule of Covid vaccines, mimicking the flu vaccine timetable. The U.S. bought more than 170 million doses of the updated shot, which will be made available to Americans free at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and other locations across the country.

➞ Monkeypox: The Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $19.8 million contract to AmerisourceBergen, which will allow for a significant increase in shipments of the monkeypox vaccine.

➞ Ukraine: The State Department announced $675 million in new military funding for Ukraine, as well as $2.2 billion for longer-term investments in the militaries of Ukraine and 17 of its neighbors.

➞ Baby formula: The government also coordinated the 21st and 22nd missions as part of “Operation Fly Formula.” Together, the two missions will bring more than 6 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of overseas baby formula to the U.S.

What else you should know

RIP: Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday at age 96 after reigning over the United Kingdom for 70 years, since 1952. She was the longest-reigning monarch in British history and the world’s longest-serving head of state. Her son, King Charles III, has succeeded her on the British throne.

  • President Biden, the 14th U.S. president to serve during Elizabeth’s tenure, has ordered flags lowered in the U.S. until her funeral, which he plans to attend.

Trump investigations: The Justice Department signaled its plans to appeal U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling that a third-party “special master” should be appointed to review the documents seized during the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago. In its new filing, the DOJ also asked Cannon to reconsider her decision, which they said “irreparably injured” the public by requiring the agency to pause its criminal investigation into Trump.

  • Meanwhile, ABC News scooped that the federal grand jury investigating January 6 has expanded its probe to examine Trump’s political group, Save America, and its fundraising activities.

Bannon: Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon pleaded not guilty Thursday to new charges from New York state that he laundered money and defrauded donors to his “We Build the Wall” organization. Trump pardoned Bannon for similar charges at the federal level on his last day in office, but that clemency does not apply to state prosecution.

Queen Elizabeth II with Harry Truman, the first of more than a dozen presidents she met with. (National Archives)

Today at a glance

All times Eastern.

President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (8:30 am), travel to Licking County, Ohio (9 am), and deliver remarks at the groundbreaking of a new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility (12:15 pm). Then he’ll travel to Wilmington, Delaware, where he’ll spend the weekend (1:35 pm).

  • Context: Biden’s remarks will highlight the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which invested $52 billion in the semiconductor industry to fund new plants like the one in Ohio.

VP Harris spent the night in Houston, Texas. She’ll speak with astronauts who are on the International Space Station (10:55 am) and then chair her second National Space Council meeting from NASA Johnson Space Center (2:20 pm). Then she’ll travel back to Washington, D.C. (4:40 pm).

First Lady Biden will participate in the Philadelphia Phillies’ sixth annual “Childhood Cancer Awareness Night” game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (6:30 pm).

Second Gentleman Emhoff and White House Covid-19 coordinator Ashish Jha will host a virtual roundtable with youth leaders to discuss the new Covid-19 vaccine shot (2:30 p).

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a press gaggle during the Air Force One flight to Ohio.

The Senate is out until Monday.

The House is out until Tuesday.

The Supreme Court is out until September 28.

Before I go...

Here’s something that struck me: It’s from a piece in The Atlantic marking Queen Elizabeth’s death, which I thought put into perspective the incredible longevity of her life and reign:

“She was six weeks older than Marilyn Monroe, three years older than Anne Frank, nine years older than Elvis Presley—all figures of the unreachable past. She was older than nylon, Scotch tape, and The Hobbit. She was old enough to have trained as an army driver and mechanic in the last months of the Second World War. Very few Britons can remember life without her: Fewer than 150,000 people are older than 95 in this country.”

Keep reading, via The Atlantic.

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