The biggest news of the week technically hasn’t happened yet, which makes drafting interesting to say the least. Think of it as a holiday gift, along with that extra hour of sunlight we’re getting back on Sunday–sure, Monday will be extra sleep-deprived, but it’s also the Ides of March, so we’re getting off light. (See what I did there?)
Standard standing reminders still apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m mostly summarizing the news within my area of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a stimulus payment!–but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. And, of course, for the things that are within my lane, I’m offering context that shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!
Cleanup in Aisle 45:
Another week, somehow yet another story about Election Rejection, even though half the country is sick to death of it by now. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Redux. Those who followed the immediate insurrection aftermath may recall that QAnon started naming March 4th as another date of attack pretty quickly, latching onto the fact that it used to be the date of inauguration. And as it would happen, March 4th was also last Thursday. As the date approached, officials increasingly expressed concern that there may be further insurrection planned at the Capitol building complex–so much so that the House shifted its work schedule and canceled Thursday’s floor plans. After the date, it was announced that the National Guard will remain in place for the next two months.
We also saw a bit of movement on the Biden Rebuilding fronts. Here’s what has happened in the past week:
- Dismantling the Deportation Machine? We did get some positive news on immigration fronts this week. The Biden Administration is converting family detention centers back into 72-hour processing facilities per their original legal purpose. It also announced it is creating a temporary protected status for displaced Venezuelans, which we should have set up years ago. However, the administration is still struggling to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors, who are coming to the U.S. in unprecedented numbers.
- Confirmation Tango (continued). We saw some interesting developments on the confirmation front, though not as many as last week. After voting on Neera Tanden for the Office of Management and Budget was postponed amid growing opposition, eventually her candidacy was withdrawn. Meanwhile, Tom Cotton is delaying Merrick Garland’s final vote, but it will move forward sometime this week anyway. Finally, Miguel Cardona was confirmed as Secretary of Education.
Your New Normal:
- Stimulus News. Democrats continued to fight about the $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9T stimulus package after the package itself passed in the House last Friday, and eventually the Senate parliamentarian decided that it couldn’t be included in the Senate version for procedural reasons. In a move to keep the Democrats united enough to pass something, President Biden ended up limiting who qualifies for the stimulus and keeping employment benefits at $300 per week. The final version in the Senate passed on Saturday in a 51-50 vote entirely along party lines. It’s now headed back to the House, which could vote on the new version as soon as tomorrow.
- State of the COVID-19. Both Texas and Mississippi decided to end mask mandates for all businesses this week, which as health experts note is a pretty garbage way to apologize for utility failures. This is particularly true as infection rates rise worldwide, although they are still going down in the U.S. for now. Meanwhile, in vaccine news, Biden is hoping to have enough doses to vaccinate all adults by the end of May, in part because Merck is helping Johnson and Johnson produce their single-dose vaccine. But vaccine rollouts are still having a lot of issues, particularly regarding equitable distribution. Adding to the pile, several American Catholic officials have forbidden or discouraged parishioners from receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because something something stem cells. (It is worth noting, however, that this is not the Vatican’s position.) Finally, the CDC issued new guidance today for people already vaccinated, clarifying what are and are not considered best practices.
- Recent Legislative Resilience. In addition to the stimulus bill mentioned above, the House passed a couple of other promising pieces of legislation in the past week. First on the roster was the For the People Act, which is a very comprehensive voting rights act bill passed in response to coordinated state efforts to expand voter suppression and a pending Supreme Court case. (If this bill passed in the Senate, this could potentially curtail Supreme Court damage, but it’s unlikely to succeed unless the filibuster is removed or altered.) The House also passed The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a policing overhaul bill first passed in 2020. The new version was passed just as the trial began of George Floyd’s killer, highlighting the strong need for reform–which this bill does not comprehensively do, but it would be a start.
So that’s what I have for this week, and it was a bit lighter than many weeks but I’m okay with that. For making it through, you deserve this bear family crossing the street and a more consistently improved government. I’ll be back next week with more restructured and improved news, and I hope you will be back as well–but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me sunglasses for sunny days!