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April 15, 2021
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  • President Joe Biden is set to impose sanctions on Russia for its alleged involvement in the SolarWinds hack and efforts to undermine American elections, according to sources, even as his administration works to assuage tensions between the two countries as Moscow builds up military troops near Ukraine. According to the sources, Biden will sanction about a dozen Russians, expel as many as 10 Russians from the United States and bar U.S. financial institutions from buying new sovereign debt. (Bloomberg)
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel on vaccination policy said it does not have enough information to assess the risk of the side effects of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, keeping a pause in its distribution in place until it meets again in another week or two. The White House has said the United States has enough supply of other vaccines to meet Biden’s goal of delivering 200 million doses in the president’s first 100 days. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said he will not run for re-election after serving 13 terms in the chamber. Brady’s exit was expected since he was term-limited in his role as the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, and will likely kick off a competitive primary campaign in a district that is currently drawn as safe for the GOP. (The Texas Tribune)
  • In a party-line vote, the House Oversight and Reform Committee advanced legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state, paving the way for a likely vote on the House floor next week. The measure faces dim prospects in the evenly divided Senate, due to the legislative filibuster and the fact that not all Democratic senators have expressed support. (The Washington Post)

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White House & Administration

Blinken in Afghanistan to sell Biden troop withdrawal
Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Thursday to sell Afghan leaders and a wary public on President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all American troops from the country and end America’s longest-running war.


U.S. and Allies Plan Fight From Afar Against Al Qaeda Once Troops Exit Afghanistan
Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper, The New York Times

American troops are set to leave Afghanistan no later than Sept. 11, but the Pentagon, American spy agencies and Western allies are refining plans to deploy a less visible but still potent force in the region to prevent the country from again becoming a terrorist base.


How Biden’s team overrode the brass on Afghanistan
Lara Seligman et al., Politico

The military spent more than a decade urging three different American presidents to stay in Afghanistan. With President Joe Biden’s decision this week to withdraw all U.S. forces by Sept. 11, they finally lost the battle.


Intelligence Chiefs Warn of Russian Troops Near Ukraine and Other Threats
Julian E. Barnes, The New York Times

The Russian military buildup at the Ukraine border and in Crimea could provide enough forces for a limited military incursion, the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, told senators on Wednesday as he and other senior officials outlined a range of threats facing the United States.


Biden’s delay on refugees baffles and frustrates allies
Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, The Washington Post

President Biden sent a stark message in February to foreigners fleeing oppression, persecution and danger: The United States stands ready to help them once again.


Biden rolls back Trump’s anti-abortion curbs on family planning funds
Alice Miranda Ollstein, Politico

The Biden administration on Wednesday moved to unwind former President Donald Trump’s anti-abortion restrictions on federal family planning funds.


White House names Erika Moritsugu as Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison
Arlette Saenz, CNN

President Joe Biden on Wednesday named Erika Moritsugu to a senior-level Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison position, the White House announced in a statement.


Kamala Harris faces diplomatic pitfalls in tackling migration from Central America
Noah Bierman and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times

Republicans have been pounding Vice President Kamala Harris for weeks, asking when she’ll travel to Central America and Mexico to begin face-to-face talks about curbing the flow of migrants seeking to enter the United States.


Rare bipartisan Senate vote advances measure to address anti-Asian hate crimes
Shawna Chen, Axios

In a rare bipartisan vote of 92-6, the Senate advanced legislation aimed at improving anti-Asian hate crime tracking and identification.


House committee approves bill to study slavery reparations for first time
Savannah Behrmann, USA Today

Legislation to create a commission to study slavery reparations for Black Americans cleared a House committee Wednesday in a historic vote — making its way to the full House for the first time more than three decades after it was initially introduced.


Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC
Caitlin Reilly, Roll Call

The Senate voted 53-45 Wednesday to confirm Gary Gensler as Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, potentially opening the door to increased political and climate risk disclosures from companies.


Inside Nancy Pelosi’s War With AOC and the Squad
Susan Page, Politico

How the House speaker put Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her place.


Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform
Alexander Bolton, The Hill

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is asking Democrats to look for GOP dance partners, both as a defense for attacks next year that his party is unwilling to work with Republicans, and as a step toward possibly limiting the filibuster.


Democratic Lawmakers to Present Plan to Expand Supreme Court
Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal

Democratic lawmakers plan to introduce legislation on Thursday that would add four seats to the Supreme Court, an initiative that has slim hopes of passage but reflects progressives’ impatience with President Biden’s cautious approach toward overhauling a court that turned to the right during the Trump administration.


Few Americans Who Identify As Independent Are Actually Independent. That’s Really Bad For Politics
Geoffrey Skelley, FiveThirtyEight

If you’ve ever been in a conversation about politics, you’ve probably heard someone say, “I don’t like either party” or “Politics is just so ugly these days.” That person also may have claimed not to identify as a Democrat or a Republican but as an independent instead.


U.S. could have 300 million extra vaccine doses by end of July, raising concerns over hoarding
Adam Taylor, The Washington Post

The United States is on track to have gathered an oversupply of hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses by as soon as July, even while many countries in the developing world will have to wait years to vaccinate a majority of their population, according to a report released Thursday by the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.


Iran’s Top Leader Signals Nuclear Talks to Resume Despite Natanz Sabotage
Farnaz Fassihi and Megan Specia, The New York Times

Iran’s top leader said Wednesday that his country would keep negotiating with world powers over how to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, quashing speculation that Iran’s delegation would boycott or quit participating in protest of the apparent Israeli sabotage of a major uranium enrichment site.


Officer arrested, charged with second-degree manslaughter in killing of Daunte Wright
Matt McKinney, Star Tribune

Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly A. Potter was arrested late Wednesday morning at the offices of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency said in a statement.


Prosecutors: No charges for officer in Capitol riot shooting
Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press

Federal prosecutors will not charge a police officer who shot and killed a woman as she climbed through the broken part of a door during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.


Prosecutors Disclosed New Evidence That The Oath Keepers Were Ready To Bring A Stash Of Firearms To The Capitol
Zoe Tillman, BuzzFeed News

The day after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, surveillance video from a hotel in Virginia showed participants in the alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy carrying what appeared to be rifle cases and an object under a sheet that had the “outlines” of a rifle, a federal prosecutor told a judge on Wednesday.


Matt Gaetz’s Wingman Paid Dozens of Young Women—and a 17-Year-Old
Jose Pagliery and Roger Sollenberger, The Daily Beast

As new details emerge about Rep. Matt Gaetz’s role in an alleged sex ring, The Daily Beast has obtained several documents showing that the suspected ringleader of the group, Joel Greenberg, made more than 150 Venmo payments to dozens of young women, and to a girl who was 17 at the time.


Shades of 2016: Republicans Stay Silent on Trump, Hoping He Fades Away
Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

It was a familiar scene on Sunday when Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, tried to avoid giving a direct answer about the caustic behavior of former President Donald J. Trump.


Pennsylvania GOP launches ‘super MAGA Trump’ primary
Holly Otterbein, Politico

The likely GOP candidates in Pennsylvania’s open Senate race come in three familiar flavors: anti-Trump, Trumpy and Trumpiest.


Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson looking at US Senate race
Travis Fain, WRAL

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, one of the more popular Republican politicians in North Carolina, is “seriously considering” a jump into the state’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.


Elise Stefanik leans a little harder into New York governor’s race
David M. Drucker, The Washington Examiner

Rep. Elise Stefanik is warming to the idea of running for governor of New York but plans a patient process to consider the next steps in her political career, a period of decision-making that could last through early 2022.


Rutherford says he won’t run for Md. governor in 2022; commerce secretary launches bid
Erin Cox, The Washington Post

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) has decided not to seek the state’s top job in 2022, creating a wide-open GOP primary and leaving Gov. Larry Hogan’s extensive political operation without an heir apparent. Hogan, who is term-limited, is set to leave office in 2023.


As some states rush to redistrict, gerrymandering fight moves to back burner
Michael Macagnone, Roll Call

Illinois redistricting advocates are having a hard time convincing state lawmakers to be patient.


Red states on U.S. electoral map lagging on vaccinations
Russ Bynum, The Associated Press

With coronavirus shots now in the arms of nearly half of American adults, the parts of the U.S. that are excelling and those that are struggling with vaccinations are starting to look like the nation’s political map: deeply divided between red and blue states.


Conservatives propose revised sex ed rules in LGBTQ pushback
Bob Christie, The Associated Press

Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a ban on any HIV/AIDS instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle” as they faced a lawsuit, they have approved revamping the state’s sex education laws to make them some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues.


The C.E.O.s Who Didn’t Sign a Big Defense of Voting Rights
Andrew Ross Sorkin et al., The New York Times

Amazon, BlackRock, Google, Warren Buffett and hundreds of other companies and executives have signed a new statement opposing “any discriminatory legislation” that would make it harder for people to vote.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Will Revitalize American Airports
Kevin M. Burke (Airports Council International), Morning Consult

President Joe Biden acknowledged the urgent need to invest in airports during his campaign for the Democratic nomination last year.


Mr. President, your misinformation on Georgia’s voting law is dangerous
Gabriel Sterling, The Washington Post

“Someone is going to get hurt.” I made that prediction four months ago regarding misinformation about the 2020 election. I was horrified to see it come true on Jan. 6.


Why Biden Won’t Build Bridges to the GOP
Karl Rove, The Wall Street Journal

President Biden is selling his American Jobs Plan as an upgrade of the nation’s infrastructure. But most of its spending goes nowhere near infrastructure.


Republicans will keep up the craziness until they pay a real price
James Hohmann, The Washington Post

John Boehner first realized “the crazies” were taking over the Republican Party during the 2008 financial crisis, two years before the tea party wave made him speaker of the House and seven years before Donald Trump descended a golden escalator to run for president.


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