Yet another tragic COVID milestone

This piece was originally published in the February 22, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

500,000

The number of lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States, as of this afternoon

Vaccines save lives.

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IN THE NEWS

  • The U.S. passed half a million deaths from COVID-19 today. It’s a horrifying thought — to have lost 500,000 individual, unique, full lives to a raging pandemic — and a thought that would have been unimaginable to most Americans just a year ago. The New York Times marked this milestone with a jarring visual representation of how many deaths occurred at each point in the past year.
  • The Supreme Court cleared the way for New York prosecutors to obtain Trump’s tax returns this morning. This is the closest anyone’s gotten to accessing his highly suspicious tax returns since Trump took office in 2017.
  • Whether or not the Senate is allowed to pass a $15 minimum wage could come down to the decision of one person: The Senate parliamentarian. The parliamentarian — a role that doesn’t usually get too much attention — is the chief enforcer of Senate procedure. That means it’s up to them whether giving the American people a living wage is something that can be done through the budget reconciliation process. In other words, the parliamentarian gets to decide whether or not we can pass a $15 minimum wage with just 51 votes.
  • Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders and Majority Leader Schumer have repeatedly said that keeping the minimum wage increase in the final bill is a top priority. On Saturday, Sanders made a compelling case that it should be permitted to pass through the reconciliation process and expressed his confidence that the parliamentarian will agree. Keep an eye out for an official ruling as early as tomorrow.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • As Ted Cruz did the walk of shame back from his escape to Cancún last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was using her platform to help his suffering constituents back in Texas. With the help of her 23.2 million social media followers, Ocasio-Cortez organized a fundraiser for several Texas-based charities and nonprofits that are working to help people affected by the brutal power outages and freezing temperatures. As of Sunday evening, the fundraiser has garnered more than $5 million in donations for these groups. If you’d like to help, you can learn more about Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraising efforts here.
  • Ted Cruz, on the other hand, has used the great power that comes with being a U.S. senator to actively oppose helping people. A CAP Action analysis of Cruz’s Senate record found that he voted against a collective $52.6 billion in disaster relief funds during the Obama administration alone. He even voted against disaster relief for communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, earning himself a scolding from then-Governor Chris Christie. That’s not to mention the other ways he’s allowed people to suffer for political gain (does the phrase “2013 government shutdown” ring a bell?).
  • If it’s Sunday, you can expect to find a morning news lineup packed with right-wing election deniers. Despite these guests’ refusal to acknowledge the reality that Joe Biden — the current president — won last November’s election, these conspiracy peddlers somehow keep getting invited back on national television to spout their baseless talking points. Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) repeatedly refused to answer one simple question: “The election was not stolen, correct?” At some point, networks have to start reflecting on the value of allowing these liars on TV and think about the impact of providing them with another national platform on which to spread these dangerous ideas.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will take up the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) to lead the Interior Department tomorrow. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Indigenous Cabinet secretary and the second-highest ranking Indigenous person to serve in the federal government. Before being elected to Congress in 2018, Haaland spent years advocating for public lands and tribal rights in New Mexico. Activists are thrilled at the potential for an Interior Department that could finally begin to make amends for the grave atrocities committed against indigenous people by the federal government. Despite her stellar qualifications for the role and the fact that she has received praise from people across the political spectrum, several Republican senators have indicated they plan to put up a fight against Haaland’s nomination.

WHAT WE’RE READING (AND WATCHING)

This piece was originally published in the February 22, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

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