National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 37 (September 26 — October 2)
Folks, thanks for bearing with me through a rough week. Your reward is… well actually, the news is pretty terrible this week too, for the most part, so I don’t even have a good consolation prize. Better luck next week!
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 debt ceiling!–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:
This was a pretty quiet week for Election Rejection news, as most eyes were on current Congressional drama. Here’s what happened:
- Election Rejection Collection. There were some stories this week about gerrymandering in Texas; the state released new districting maps that appear pretty blatantly designed to favor white voters. Similarly, some of the Facebook whistleblowing hubbub relates back to the role it played on January 6, though that testimony is of course much broader than that because Facebook’s misdeeds are too. And Trump aides are already dodging subpoenas in the House’s January 6 investigation. But for the most part, this was a fairly quiet week for election rejection.
This was also a relatively quiet week for Biden Rebuilding news, though there were a few odds and ends. Here’s what I have for you:
- Deportation Détente. Immigration remains in the news for another week, though only some of that is Biden’s doing. The Department of Homeland Security released new arrest and deportation guidelines, the main takeaway being that arrests of low-threat undocumented individuals are now discouraged. I’m sure this was in response to public pressure over the Haitian population, but I’m a bit perturbed by the fact that it took this administration nine months to get to “don’t arrest Grandma just for being here.” Meanwhile, in the Senate, Tom Cotton tried to use an emergency stopgap funding bill to prohibit funding to Afghan refugees because of who he is as a person. Thankfully, that measure got overturned by fifty senators who presumably wanted to sleep at night.
Your New Normal:
- Current Senate Dysfunction. You may recall that last week, everyone was worried that we would be plunged into a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic. The good news is, Congress ended up passing a partial stopgap on Thursday, so that didn’t happen. (That said, the stopgap is a limited and temporary measure that will still leave parts of the government furloughed.) The bad news is, the debt ceiling issue is still in play, despite the stopgap measure, and if we don’t fix it we’ll start seeing consequences as soon as October 18. Between the high stakes and the fact that the infrastructure vote was postponed, Congress this week was pretty much all about the debt ceiling. But it was still incredibly dysfunctional–Republicans want the Democrats to deal with the debt problem through budget reconciliation so that the GOP won’t be involved, which the Democrats don’t want to do for a variety of reasons. So a bill passed in the House, but in the Senate we keep seeing the Democrats introduce bills that the Republicans then filibuster so that the Senate can’t fix the debt stuff. This is presumably so that during election season, the GOP can campaign on the fact that the Democrats fixed the catastrophic debt stuff, which apparently is a bad thing to half the country. Also, for some reason, everybody’s talking about a trillion dollar coin? I don’t even know, y’all, the last week in Congress has been weird.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news has some dark landmarks this week. We officially passed 700,000 deaths in the United States, and apparently have also officially seen more COVID deaths in 2021 than we did in all of 2020. But there were also a few stories about the effectiveness of vaccine mandates for increasing vaccination rates, which is kind of nice to see. And Youtube officially started banning antivaccination misinformation, which is definitely nice to see.
- Recent Healthcare Resilience. For yet another week, I have good news about how people are responding to the reproductive rights crisis in Texas. Perhaps in partial response to a massive women’s march in DC, the Biden administration undid a Trump-era provision that prohibited clinics from providing abortion services. But I’m excited to have a second health story as well: in groundbreaking global news, today the WHO endorsed the world’s first malaria vaccine.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve these doggos at a Sox game and a bear interest piece about 480 Otis as well as 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 your thoughts about Fat Bear Week!