The Biden administration strikes its first significant deal with Republican members of Congress, and it’s for an infrastructure package. But progressive Democrats say the deal doesn’t offer enough to win their support.
Meanwhile, the search for answers begins after a terrifying and sudden residential building collapse in Surfside, Florida. The death toll is uncertain but as many as ninety nine people are missing.
And lastly, a new analysis of government data shows that almost everyone who’s dying of the coronavirus in the United States now is unvaccinated. Which means those deaths don’t need to happen at all.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
This report from the political sausage factory comes from the Washington Post. President Joe Biden signed off yesterday on a bipartisan agreement crafted by ten senators that would pump hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending into infrastructure projects across the country. We have a deal, Biden said alongside the five Democrats and five Republicans who had negotiated for weeks on a package to revitalize the nation’s road and transit systems, while upgrading broadband and investing in other public-works projects. The proposal was crafted by Senators Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio; Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona; and eight others in the Senate. The new agreement is nowhere near as expansive as the $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan, Biden’s own infrastructure measure that he detailed in April. But Democratic leaders have made it clear that they hope to push through a separate package encompassing priorities such as climate initiatives, paid leave and expanded education.
The Post says the bipartisan agreement will spend $973 billion over five years, with $579 billion of that being new spending. That includes $312 billion for transportation projects, $55 billion for water infrastructure and $65 billion for broadband. The Congressional Progressive Caucus polled its ninety five members on the infrastructure package and found a strong majority prepared to vote against the bill without a separate package that moves simultaneously and includes key priorities, such as funding for eldercare, expanding Medicare, and affordable housing. Because bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake helps no one – except a few politicians.
Cause Unknown In Florida Condo Collapse
This report of crumbling infrastructure comes from the Miami Herald. Lightning streaked the skies yesterday afternoon as search-and-rescue teams picked their way through a pile of rubble nearly two stories high – the remains of a collapsed twelve-story condo – hoping to hear the cries of survivors. As many as ninety nine people are reported missing. The oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo crumpled with a bang a little after 1:30 am, trapping an unknown number of sleeping residents inside the wreckage. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called it, "a terrible, terrible nightmare." Footage of the sudden collapse looked eerily similar to a demolition, minus the flash of explosives. The cause is unknown, with one expert deeming it "an oddity of biblical proportions."
According to the Herald, nearly twelve hours after the collapse, the death toll was uncertain. Officials confirmed at least one death, and said thirty five people were pulled from the wreckage, with ten injured people treated at the scene and two sent to a hospital. Officials estimated that fifty five units were involved in the collapse. Surfside Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer said the building was undergoing a required forty-year recertification to ensure its structural integrity, and that the building’s roof was being redone. It is unknown if any construction activity contributed to the disaster. President Biden said it’s up to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency so federal resources, including FEMA help, can be deployed. Here’s hoping they find more survivors.
Vaccines Drive Down Covid Fatalities
We’re in a new phase. The Associated Press reports that nearly all Covid-19 deaths in the US now are in people who weren’t vaccinated. It is a staggering demonstration of how effective the shots have been. It’s also an indication that deaths per day – now down to under three hundred – could be practically zero if everyone eligible got the vaccine. An AP analysis of government data from May shows that breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than twelve hundred of more than eight hundred and fifty three thousand Covid-19 hospitalizations. That’s about zero point one percent.
The AP analyzed figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Director Doctor Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday that the vaccine is so effective that nearly every death, especially among adults, is, at this point, entirely preventable. She called such deaths particularly tragic. About sixty three percent of all vaccine-eligible Americans – those twelve and older – have received at least one dose, and fifty three percent are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Experts predict the preventable deaths will continue, with unvaccinated pockets of the nation experiencing outbreaks in the fall and winter. In Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation – with only thirty three percent of the population fully protected – hospitalizations and deaths are rising. To the extent that people aren’t getting vaccinated because they can’t get paid time off, that must be addressed, so we can beat Covid once and for all.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
The Guardian reports that a First Nation in Canada’s Saskatchewan province is treating a defunct residential school as a crime scene following the discovery of seven hundred and fifty one unmarked graves. The total of unmarked graves discovered in the past month is about one thousand, with experts predicting more will come as provincial governments announce funding to help Indigenous communities conduct their own searches. This reckoning is long overdue.
Politico reports that the Biden administration unveiled a raft of measures to prevent people who lost income during the pandemic from losing their homes yesterday, including by extending nationwide eviction and foreclosure bans until July 31st. Maybe it’s time to commit to keeping everyone in their homes permanently – sound good?
According to the Washington Post, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that the House will form a select committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to form a bipartisan commission. The panel will provide recommendations to prevent similar attacks in the future. Keeping Donald Trump’s movement far from power should help.
The New York Times reports that Rudy Giuliani faces the possibility of disbarment after a court ruled yesterday that he made demonstrably false statements while fighting the results of the 2020 election on behalf of Trump. The New York State appellate court suspended Giuliani’s law license after finding he had sought to mislead judges, lawmakers and the public. Better late than never!
AM QUICKIE - JUNE 25, 2021
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn