Here’s what we’re talking about:
- Some Black Lives Matter activists feel Congress is sidelining them in the push to pass police reform
- Belarus has sparked an international outcry
- The Trump-inspired battles over new voting laws will shape the 2022 races for governor
One thing to look out for today: President Joe Biden plans to meet with members of George Floyd’s family at the White House this afternoon.
1. One year later: A year after George Floyd’s murder, activists who propelled the issue of police reform into the national discourse find themselves sidelined. Some Black Lives Matter activists say the White House and lawmakers in Congress have shut them out of negotiations.
Biden had urged Congress to send him a bill to sign today. Insider dived into where policing talks stand and what’s behind the holdup.
- The “defund the police” movement continues to lead to cold shoulders: “We want people who we know are going to fight for our vision, as opposed to settle for mediocrity,” said Amara Enyia, a policy and research coordinator for The Movement for Black Lives, who added that her organization’s efforts to talk to lawmakers had been stymied by calls to reallocate funding away from police departments.
Where talks stand: Lawmakers continue to struggle with the future of qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that largely protects officers from civil lawsuits. Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat of South Carolina, raised eyebrows when he suggested a deal would not have to include an overhaul of qualified immunity. Clyburn told Insider he expected both sides to offer compromises, adding, “I just don’t want to see a good deal sacrificed on the altar of a perfect deal.”
- More-progressive House lawmakers have signaled they would question a deal without such changes: Last week, Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and eight other House colleagues wrote to House and Senate leadership expressing concerns over qualified immunity. In a narrowly divided House, losing that many votes would kill a bill.
- A year after Floyd’s death, calls for justice for the victims of police violence persist: “If you keep my brother’s name ringing, you’re going to keep everybody else’s name ringing,” Terrence Floyd said at a rally over the weekend.
2. Infrastructure talks are on the verge of collapsing: Biden’s negotiations with Republicans may stall out in their third week, as both sides continue to struggle to agree on the level of spending or even the basic definition of infrastructure. “The ball is in Republicans’ court,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said, after Biden’s team trimmed its proposal Friday to $1.7 trillion from $2.3 trillion. The White House has a self-imposed Memorial Day deadline for a deal.
- GOP lawmakers are growing frustrated: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia told The Washington Post that the White House appeared to not be listening to the GOP by continuing to insist on funding for “social infrastructure” and on paying for the plan with corporate tax hikes, which Republicans have repeatedly called a dealbreaker.
3. Belarus sparks international outcry: The European Union ordered all EU-based airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace and barred Belarusian airlines from entering EU airspace a day after the strongman President Alexander Lukashenko ordered a military jet to intercept a civilian plane to imprison one of his frequent critics. The opposition journalist Roman Protasevich was taken into custody after the Lithuania-bound flight he was aboard was grounded in Minsk over a bogus security threat. The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, called it a “hijacking.”
- Biden added to the global pile-on: The president echoed calls for Protasevich’s release, adding that the US condemned what happened “in the strongest possible terms.” Senators are urging Biden to go further by prohibiting US flights over Belarus.
4. The Trump-inspired battles over new voting laws will shape the 2022 governors races: The governorships of all the states where Donald Trump contested election results are up in 2022. The elections will test the staying power of the lies about the 2020 election that were spearheaded by Trump and are being codified into state policy by GOP lawmakers. The GOP nominees for Senate and governor in 2022 could cement a new party identity.
5. DOJ appeals the full release of secret Barr memo: Biden’s Justice Department is fighting a federal judge’s order to release a pivotal 2019 memo about why Trump wasn’t charged with obstruction of justice over the Russia investigation, CNN reports. Some portions of the memo were released Monday, but they did not shed new light on then-Attorney General Bill Barr’s decision.
6. Secretary of state arrives in the Middle East amid cease-fire: Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel earlier this morning, kicking off a tour that is meant to shore up a cease-fire following the worst fighting between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 Gaza War, the Associated Press reports. Blinken is the highest-ranking US official to visit the region since Biden took office. Blinken also plans to visit with the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, who has no power in Gaza, and the neighboring Egypt and Jordan.
7. State Department issues its highest warning against travel to Japan, just months before the Olympics: Americans are warned against travel because of the state of Japan’s coronavirus outbreak, a fact that continues to be a flashpoint in local opposition to hosting the games, which are set to begin July 23. A state of emergency in Tokyo has been extended through the end of the month.
- US says it still plans to go: The US Olympic & Paralympic Committee told Reuters it was “confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff” would be sufficient.
8. Amazon could announce a roughly $9 billion deal to buy MGM: A sale of MGM to Amazon would signal the tech company’s move to expand its Amazon Prime streaming inventory to include MGM’s extensive array of big-name movies and TV shows. These include the James Bond, Hobbit, Rocky, and Pink Panther franchises alongside “Legally Blonde” and “A Star Is Born.” The deal, per The Wall Street Journal, would be Amazon’s second-biggest acquisition in its history.
9. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pledged half their wealth to charity — but some are moving slow: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not the only Giving Pledge signatory to take things slow. Elon Musk, who signed the pledge in 2012, has donated only $100 million so far — less one-tenth of 1% of his current net worth. Part of the problem is the record-setting pace of the stock market over the past few years, which has made the superrich even richer. The Giving Pledge’s slow charitable roll is also encouraged by the US tax system, which perversely rewards rich donors for their procrastination.
10. A couple just moved into a 3D printed house: The 1,012-square-foot concrete home, located in the Netherlands, is one of five planned homes that are meant to be part of a “commercial housing project.” The home’s builders say this kind of experiment could be a sustainable home-building option to alleviate housing shortages. Check out the $1,400-a-month bungalow here.
Today’s trivia question: Today marks the anniversary of the start of the Constitutional Convention. While James Madison is called the father of the document, how long did it take to figure out who had the job to actually write the whole thing down? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at email@example.com.