National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 42 (October 31 — November 6)
Well, Election Day came and went, and… uh… it had a lot of concerning attributes. It’s likely that we’re starting to see voter suppression tactics play out on the ground, and wouldn’t you know it, suddenly the GOP trusts the election process more. We have a lot of work to do, folks.
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 reconciliation package!–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:
Though it’s a bit better than the previous week, the Election Rejection front is still quite a battleground. Here’s what happened this week:
- Election Rejection Eruption. In light of Trump and company’s repeated attempts to block subpoenas regarding the January 6 insurrection, the January 6 panel is obviously losing patience–given the circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that they’re starting to really make it rain subpoenas. This is, of course, in addition to the Biden administration’s lawsuit regarding the new Texas voting law, which was also filed this week, and the Georgia grand jury regarding potential Trump era criminal election interference charges. All told, there’s a lot to watch right now.
This was also a strange week for Biden Rebuilding news, as the reconciliation and infrastructure situation has had several twists and turns. Here’s what I have for you:
- Infrastructure Updates. It was a busy week, particularly in the House, regarding the joint legislative package. First several provisions of the Building Back Better Act got added back in as part of ongoing negotiations, such as some family and medical leave and a provision that lowers prescription prices. Then, after several setbacks for scheduling a vote, eventually a deal was brokered for potentially voting on the Building Back Better Act sometime in the next few weeks. As a result, the House passed a final version of the infrastructure bill on Friday night as a result. Six members of the Progressive Caucus voted against the bill, mistrusting that there would be a vote on the other bill, but thirteen GOP members voted yea and the bill passed anyway. Not coincidentally, now several rabid Republicans are tweeting that their colleagues’ vote to fix crumbling infrastructure makes them ‘traitor’ ‘communists,’ because we live in a garbage timeline. Also, somewhere in there, Senate Republicans yet again blocked debate on passing voter protection laws, which makes the third or fourth time in the past month.
Your New Normal:
- Election Day 2021. Election results this year were a mixed bag, to say the least. Virginia’s gubernatorial race went to the racist dogwhistle man instead of the Democrat incumbent, despite the state going to Biden only a year ago by a comfortable margin. New Jersey, in contrast, squeaked out a narrow Democrat win in its own gubernatorial race. In Minneapolis, a referendum for creating an alternate public health crisis response did not fare well, though I think the media’s claims that this heralds “the demise of defunding the police” are a bit premature. Here in Boston, we elected our first mayoral woman of color, which I’m pretty excited about. And in Atlanta, the mayoral race is going to a runoff.
- State of the COVID-19. By far, the biggest news this week is the pediatric vaccine–after the Pfizer vaccine was officially approved by the FDA last Friday, it got the okay from the CDC by the following Wednesday. This cleared the way for implementation of the pediatric vaccine to begin this week. Most people I know consider this extremely positive news, but it somehow still resulted in Ted Cruz getting into a fight with Big Bird, because protective vaccines remain partisan in this garbage timeline even when we’re discussing children. On a related note, a federal judge has stayed the federal vaccine mandate for work environments, despite the fact that it creates exemptions for medical and religious reasons and almost certainly is constitutional. But there are some other bright spots as well; travel bans are being lifted for vaccinated travelers from many countries as of today, and both Merck and Pfizer have made strides towards a form of effective pill-based treatment for COVID.
- Same Sex Survivor Social Security. The Biden Administration announced this week that it will be abandoning defense of a Trump-era policy barring survivors from receiving social security benefits if our history of marriage inequality barred them from meeting the formal requirements. This is a much bigger deal than might be obvious, because social security policy looks at federal definitions of marriage, which have only included same-sex couples for about six years. In fact, the plaintiff in Obergefell, the court case that resulted in full marriage equality in the U.S., was denied survivor benefits because his spouse died only three months later. This policy was likely leaving a lot of people behind.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this ecstatic digging puppo 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 more sunlight because I already miss it!