This week was A Lot, and I think we’re all pretty weary. Suffice to say, a new government is not a perfect government, and we have work to do. I’m here if anyone needs anything.
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 an All Star game!–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:
We continue to get updates on Election Rejection, with further updates on last week’s new salvo. Here’s what I have for you:
- New Voting Suppression Laws (cont). Outlets are beginning to report that the corporate backlash in Georgia created by the state’s oppressive voting law is shaping the discourse in several other key states around the country. As we’ve discussed before, these laws are part of a concerted, organized attempt to curtail voter turnout in subsequent elections. Now companies in other states are counter-organizing, eager to avoid the profit loss created by responses like the sudden departure of Major League Baseball, and it should make for a more complicated fight on this front overall.
We are continuing to track stories on the Biden Rebuilding fronts as well. Here’s what has happened in the past week:
- Infrastructure Week? Almost immediately after unveiling his infrastructure plan last week, President Biden signaled that he would be open to reducing its scope, presumably because Joe Manchin is being a Joe Manchin about both the infrastructure bill and, more broadly, the idea of removing the filibuster. Since a new Senate ruling creates a workaround on the filibuster issue, Biden is stuck working with Manchin on the filibuster issue.
- Responsible Gun Legislation. The Biden Administration also tackled responsible gun rules this past week, passing six executive orders on the subject and calling our current legal structure “an international embarrassment.” Though it’s a good start, the orders also highlight the ways in which his jurisdiction is limited on this issue; though the President can do things like limiting ghost guns, it’s really up to Congress to pass meaningful reform.
- Dismantling the Deportation Machine? Immigration is an area where the executive branch does have a lot of power, and unfortunately, this was another bad week for immigration news. At the time that I type this, there are still 445 kids separated from their parents due to the Trump zero tolerance policy; there was also a story about a deported unaccompanied minor getting kidnapped that is highlighting the unique risks of mass deportation of minors. Nonetheless, the number of unaccompanied minors keeps increasing, and hit record numbers last month–though March 2021 was also the highest number of border detentions in two decades in general. President Biden also never finished dismantling the 15,000 person refugee cap, which is putting us on track to have the lowest number of refugee resettlements in American history. And Biden also reportedly is considering the Tuscon police chief to head CBP.
Your New Normal:
- Gross Congressional (Non-)Updates. We didn’t get a lot of new legislation with Congress on recess, but we did see another week of gross Matt Gaetz news. The latest is that he’s said to have sought a blanket pardon from Trump before January rolled around, and outlets have also noted that he voted against legislating revenge porn while part of the Florida legislature–one of only two members of the Florida House to do so. Finally, and unsurprisingly, his current House has opened an ethics investigation.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news remains a mix for yet another week. On the negative side: 1) Johnson and Johnson is only releasing 700,000 doses next week, and won’t make their April goal, due to the contamination issues from last week; 2) Vaccines are still not reaching all demographics equally, and immigrants are facing particular barriers; 3) The Supreme Court has struck down another pandemic restriction on in-person services; 4) News broke that Trump officials were definitely changing CDC guidelines for political reasons last year; and 5) the more virulent UK strain is now the dominant COVID strain in the U.S., creating a plateau on viral containment. But on the more positive side: 1) All adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination on April 19; 2) We vaccinated a record number of people today; and 3) The Biden administration is creating a new fund that will cover burial costs for families.
- Black Lives Still Matter. This was another terrible, painful week regarding police violence against Black Americans. The ongoing Chauvin trial increasingly highlights police aggression, though I think a unique low point was hit when Chauvin’s defense team claimed that saying “I can’t breathe” is a form of resisting arrest. But even as the Chauvin trial continues, we saw another fatal police shooting in Minneapolis yesterday during a routine traffic stop, this time with the police officer claiming that she meant to tase the decedent instead of shooting him. Understandably, protests are ongoing in Minnesota as I type this. As Rev Jacqui Lewis put it, “We can’t even finish trying one police officer before another murder.” Then, just to punctuate the other two stories, the Biden administration put its proposed police oversight commission on hold yesterday.
- Recent State Resilience. Though there are some scary pieces of legislation brewing in statehouses right now, we actually saw a couple of cool laws this week that deserve their own mention. In Kentucky, legislators voted to expand voting rights, making some of the state’s COVID-related changes more permanent. Meanwhile, Maryland voted to expand police accountability considerably, which is a welcome step in the correct direction especially given the paragraph above.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are still no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this unimpressed frog 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 happy photos of yourself!