“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
🦠💰 COVID Relief Update
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider the Biden-backed $1.9T COVID relief bill at 9:30 a.m. ET this morning, after which the measure will head to the House floor for a full vote.
🤿 A deeper dive…
The $1.9T proposal includes, among other things: $1,400 in direct payments to Americans making under $75K per year, extra money for vaccine distribution, funding to state and local governments, and a provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 over the next five years. (Full breakdown)
Democrats are pushing the overall measure through Congress under a process called reconciliation that would let them avoid a filibuster from Senate Republicans, which requires 60 votes to overcome.
By late Wednesday, not a single Republican in either Congressional chamber had publicly expressed support for the legislation, with many coming out against it.
Republican lawmakers have largely criticized the “completely partisan process,” and objected to spending hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds on state and local governments and other policies unrelated to the pandemic.
They also cited a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report that found the $15 minimum wage increase would reduce employment by 1.4M workers – though the report also found 900k people would be lifted out of poverty.
If passed today, the bill heads to the Senate.
The Senate parliamentarian – a nonpartisan referee who decides whether certain provisions can be included in bills under reconciliation – ruled last night that the proposed minimum wage increase doesn’t comply with budget rules, and cannot be passed in the Senate through reconciliation.
A minimum wage raise by Congress to $15 an hour would change lives — as it changed mine
Questions about the rating system we use? Learn more
Share Today’s Dose of Discussion
🤸 Ex-U.S. Olympics Coach Charged
Former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert was charged yesterday afternoon in Michigan with 24 felonies for alleged human trafficking and sex crimes.
Police discovered the body of Geddert just a few hours after the charges were publicized. His death was ruled a suicide.
More: Apart from two counts of sexual assault, Geddert was charged with 20 counts of human trafficking stemming from allegations that he profited off the forced labor of young gymnasts.
Even More: Geddert also faced an additional count of lying to police regarding his knowledge of abuses carried out by former U.S. gymnastics doctor and convicted sex offender Larry Nassar. The remaining charge pertains to running a criminal enterprise.
🏛️ Legislative Action
The Senateconfirmed former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as the Secretary of Energy in a 64-35 vote (14 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats). Granholm was sworn in late Thursday. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
The Housepassed the Equality Act in a 224-206 vote largely along party lines (3Rs joined all 221 Ds). The bill amends existing civils rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
❄️ Winter Storm Fallout
President Bidendeclared a major disaster in Oklahoma due to last week’s severe winter storms. The state joins Texas and Louisiana under an active disaster declaration, which unlocks federal assistance for the affected areas.
Five out-of-state board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – including the chairwoman and vice-chairman – have resigned. There are 16 total board members.
⏰ Catch Up Quick:
The U.S.carried out a military airstrike in eastern Syria along the Iraqi border last night in retaliation for a recent rocket strike in northern Iraq that injured several Americans, according to the Pentagon. (Left-Center|Right-Center)
The FDAapproved storing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at standard freezer temperatures (-13ºF to 5ºF) for up to two weeks. This counters previous requirements for storage between -112ºF and -76ºF.
🗽 Live from New York…Manhattan prosecutorsofficially received former President Trump’s tax documents dating back to 2011 after a SCOTUS decision this week allowed for their release. |A former aide to NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo published a Medium post on Wednesday detailing an environment of sexual harassment and bullying fostered by Cuomo among his staff. (Cuomo’s response.)
📝 The Law of the Land
India introduced new regulations yesterday requiring social media companies and digital streaming websites to erase content deemed unlawful by authorities (including content that affects “the sovereignty and integrity of India”).
The laws also compel social media companies to assist investigations by India’s law enforcement agencies. They are set to take effect within three months.
More: Australia’s Parliament passed the final amendments to its News Media Bargaining Code, effectively forcing Facebook and Google to pay traditional media companies for their content. (The background.)
Meanwhile… EU countries are facing a June deadline to adopt national versions of a bloc-wide law passed in 2019 that allows news publishers to demand payment for reuse of their content.
Over the past week, the two have become inseparable, spending most of their time sleeping and cuddling near the heater.
“Cows don’t usually cuddle with dogs too much, they kind of push them away… [Mickey] is always curious about the cows and the calves, but this one is the same size as him, so he likes it.“ – Bonnie
📣 Calling All Dog Lovers
Town & Trail delivers all natural, human-grade treats — perfect for any dog.
Taking a less is more approach, Town & Trail treats are made from USDA beef and contain only five human-grade ingredients. These naturally shelf-stable treats are rooted in South African tradition and are air-dried, keeping healthy protein and nutrients in — and gross chemicals out.
💰 Apple Pay… Apple bought a company every three to four weeks for the past six years, per chief executive Tim Cook (~100 companies in total).
📺 Off the Grid… Google TV, which is set to launch later this year, will include a “Basic TV” mode that disables all apps, content recommendations, and Google Assistant support for users interested in preserving privacy or using external streaming services.
Axalta’s 68th Annual Automotive Color Popularity Report found white to be the most popular car color in 2020 for the tenth straight year, making up 38% of all new cars sold. In second place was black with 19%, followed by gray with 15%.