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April 07, 2021
What A Day
Senate Parliamentarian Funkadelic

In This Episode

  • Senate Democrats got the green light to pass more bills with a simple majority vote. On Monday, the Senate’s parliamentarian ruled that the Dems can pass more budget reconciliation bills this year — the same process they used for the relief bill.
  • We explain what this means. President Biden wants states to make all adults eligible for vaccines by April 19th. The new date is two weeks sooner than his previous goal.
  • And in headlines: St. Louis jail uprising, Iran and the US take steps to resume nuclear deal, and Kim Kardashian West becomes a billionaire.




Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, April 7th, I’m Akilah Hughes.


Gideon Resnick: And Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, where all our jokes for today are fully lifted from Fox’s late night show, Gutfeld.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, you know, we’re just trying out some conservative comedy. We like to be conservative with our comedy like they are. So . . .


Gideon Resnick: We really want to conserve the amount of comedy that we’re giving.


Akilah Hughes: On today’s show:


[clip of President Biden] Beginning April 19th, every adult in every state, every adult in this country is eligible to get in line to get a COVID vaccination.


Akilah Hughes: All right. Well, that was interesting, but it was also President Biden yesterday moving up the date again for when states should make COVID shots available to all adults. We’ll talk about what returning to normal life could look like. And you know, what even IS normal nowadays. And some headlines.


Gideon Resnick: But first, on Monday, Senate Democrats were handed an important detour around the filibuster, which is a big deal if they want to pass President Biden’s infrastructure bill with a simple majority. And it has to do with our dear old friend, the Senate parliamentarian, a.k.a. Parliamentarian Funkadelic. [music: We want the funk] That’s right, she has got a cool theme song. It is Elizabeth MacDonough. You can think of her as the non-partisan referee, I guess, in the Senate. And we know that she previously said that a minimum wage hike couldn’t be included in the COVID relief bill while Democrats passed that via reconciliation. And so reconciliation, as a reminder, is the process by which the Senate can pass legislation pertaining to the budget with just a simple majority, i.e. 51 votes. So the more recent takeaway is this: MacDonough ruled that that simple majority vote process could be used more than once a fiscal year. So translation: President Biden’s 2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure plan could maybe be passed while avoiding a filibuster.


Akilah Hughes: Oh, my gosh. Too good to be true. So obviously, this ruling seems really great for the president, but there are still a lot of twists and turns that need to happen before Democrats can get around Republicans who continue to stonewall the idea. So what do we know about what’s going to happen next?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so for the immediate future, Senate Democrats are not exactly saying how this could come into play. A spokesperson for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in part that, quote ‘Some parameters still need to be worked out.” Though it is conceivably possible that the ruling could allow for something like this infrastructure package to be broken into smaller pieces, but at least two important things to keep in mind for now. One is that this would still require getting every Senate Democrat on board to reach 50 votes, and once again, Senator Joe Manchin has some issues. He is specifically questioning one part of the infrastructure plan as it currently stands: raising the corporate tax rate as high as Biden has suggested.


Akilah Hughes: OK, so what we’re saying is we don’t need to fix any trains. We don’t care about Texas and the snowstorm. It’s all about making it cheaper for corporations. Great.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Then here is the second thing: other top agenda items like H.R.1 or gun violence legislation, for example, would likely not be able to pass this way. So you had some progressives being happy that this new ruling came down, but hope that it also wouldn’t put a damper on filibuster reform or these other major bills. We’re going to keep following that, but also on the Biden to do list: continuing to expedite vaccine distribution.


Akilah Hughes: That’s exactly right. So if you need some good news in the fight against coronavirus, here is some. President Biden announced yesterday that by Monday, April 19th, all adults in America should be able to get vaxxed up. Most states have already opened it up anyway, but, you know, it’s still good news. And this puts Americans on the fast track so that all adults can get in line for a vaccine. This is a full two weeks before his last deadline, so under-promise and over deliver seems to be the way forward, rather than the last administration’s policy of over-promise and never deliver, only embarrass.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we will be out of it by Easter.


Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Whatever Easter of your choosing.


Gideon Resnick: It’s, it’s your pick. Yeah, it’s up to us.


Akilah Hughes: A miracle.


Gideon Resnick: And to your point, Biden’s one 100th day in office is at the end of the month, meaning he will meet his beefed up goal of 200 million shots by deadline.


Akilah Hughes: Yes, but as you mentioned before, it’s a race between variants and the vaccine, so we’re still not out of the woods yet. In a number of states—Michigan most notably right now—the virus is still not under control. And nationally, case counts have been climbing again. According to the CDC, the average daily rate was over 8% higher during the last week compared to the week before. And there’s no doubt that more openings will lead to more spread while we’re in this uncomfortable period where we still haven’t reached any kind of herd immunity. According to Health and Human Services, it’ll take until the end of summer to even have 700 million doses ready to go and delivered for people to take advantage of.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we are getting there, but there still is some time. And even with that knowledge, states are sending opening notifications faster than the vaccine websites load.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I can attest. [laughs] And President Biden is urging a lot of patience in the meantime:


[clip of President Biden] Let me explain it in a single word: Time. Time. Even moving at the record speed we’re moving at, we’re not even halfway through vaccinating over 300 million Americans.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, wow. Well, that acknowledgment hasn’t stopped officials like California governor and the French Laundry’s most infamous diner, Gavin Newsom, from announcing that the state could be reopening fully this summer.


[clip of Gavin Newsom] With the expectation of an abundance of doses coming in from the federal government through the end of this month and into May, we can confidently say by June 15th that we can start to open up as business as usual.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and all of this is with that huge asterisk that says hospitalizations stay low and vaccine availability stays high.


Gideon Resnick: Right. And California, you’ll remember, was the first state to announce its lockdown orders. So this does seem like a major move in a more national sense. What is Newsom say that reopening will actually look like?


Akilah Hughes: OK, so the good news is that it isn’t entirely haphazard. You know, the mask mandate still going to be in effect for some time, and the move is going to be statewide instead of county by county like the more frustrating color-coded guidance of the past. So less confusion and hopefully more safe fun on the horizon. And Gavin really needs that, given that he could be facing a recall election in the fall, so all press is good press. We will keep you posted on more re-openings, but that’s the latest for now.


Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about getting back out into the world. It’s been a long time and it’s still not time yet, but with lockdown down restrictions getting lifted and vaccinations becoming way more widespread, at some point soon things will start to go back to, quote “normal.” The last year has been overwhelmingly tragic, and it’s also led people and companies to make big changes to maintain “business as usual” despite extreme circumstances. I’m thinking of working from home, wearing masks everywhere, eating outside, adopting pets.. So Giddy, as we move towards our new normal, which pandemic era innovations are you looking forward to leaving behind, and which ones do you think might stick around?


Gideon Resnick: Hmm. I think the big one is there was this early fight over whether you could take drinks from restaurants in to-go cups and just leave with them.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, only in New Orleans, you know. That was the day before.


Gideon Resnick: Right. This was something that was unfamiliar, I guess, in a lot of places. And it kept a lot of bars and restaurants going for a while, this idea that, you know, you didn’t have to put yourself at risk or other people at risk, people working there at risk by congregating inside. You could just go, buy the drink, walk back to your house, maybe the park, and drink the drink that they made.


Akilah Hughes: Maybe the park. Just in the park. Sure.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, just, just possibly.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I mean, it sounds pretty great. You know, I think that, like, there probably were fewer public intoxication problems because there was not really a ‘public.’ [laughs] “Get your drink and get the hell out of here!” [laughs]


Gideon Resnick: Right.


Akilah Hughes: I think that that may be the only hindrances. You know, people just going to get it like it’s a cheeseburger and eating it on the sidewalk, and then proceeded to get super drunk and, you know, walking in front of traffic or something. So, yeah, definitely, you know, with some safety barriers, I’m on board with that for sure.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we’ll deal with that as it comes. But same question for you. What what are you thinking about here?


Akilah Hughes: I mean, I definitely think that we should all be singing “Imagine” five minutes into a crisis forever. [laughs] Now that I know that that is super effective, and changes the trajectory of a crisis—why would we leave that behind? But I guess in all seriousness, like, I think, you know, masks will probably be a thing for a long time, especially with travel. And, you know, I was a person who was a travel masker, mostly because I just got sick on planes and I was just like: that’s my life, I get second planes. And now I’m like: I don’t ever want to get sick! Like a year without getting sick was really beautiful for me. It was very eye-opening. I realized other people make me ill. So that’s one thing. I also think that, you know, I hope that we leave behind people who are working from home having to pay for things like trash bags and like, you know, extra paper plates, if that’s how they’re living, or paper towels. I just think that, like, I didn’t realize how much money is being spent in an office, or they were, you know, they had their own trash bags, and you know, janitorial staff. I just feel like I respect it so much more and I also do not want to pay for trash bags ever again in life. If we go back to an office, heads up, you know: Jon Lovett, if you’re listening, I’m stealing trash bags. They are not cheap! And yeah, you know, I hope that people are still looking out for each other. Zoom can kick rocks, though. Like, sorry, Zoom. You know, everybody who got rich on Zoom like it was Dogecoin like: good for you, but oh my god it’s hellish, I’m so tired of looking at people on my computer.


Gideon Resnick: That’s very real. Yeah.


Gideon Resnick: So yeah, I look forward to that one day. But just like that we have checked our temps. Stay safe, take the good with you into the future and leave all the crap you can’t stand behind. And we will be back after some ads.


Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Incarcerated people in a St. Louis jail staged an uprising over the weekend, which was the second demonstration inside the facility in two months. Sixty inmates were able to get out of their cells on Sunday night, setting fires and breaking windows on the third floor. From those windows, many were heard yelling for new court dates. During the pandemic, court cases and proceedings in St. Louis have been hugely delayed, leaving many people who can’t afford cash bail locked up in legal limbo. St. Louis mayoral candidate Tishaura Jones tweeted that the uprising signaled the need for immediate change to the city’s justice system, and she called for pretrial detainees to be moved out of jails. By the way, the election in St. Louis was yesterday. Jones was leading in early totals as we went to record.


Akilah Hughes: Oh, well, good luck. The U.S. and Iran are taking their first steps to rejoin the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. Current members of the deal agreed to create a joint commission to 1) bring the U.S. back on board after Trump pulled out in 2018, and 2) get Iran to comply with the deal’s limitations on nuclear enrichment. Iranian officials have refused to meet directly with the U.S., so current members of the deal have been shuttling between two hotels to talk to envoys from the US and Iran. Both countries say the talks are headed in the right direction. President Biden previously promised to rejoin the deal, which would also mean lifting the over 1,500 sanctions that Trump imposed on Iran during his presidency.


Gideon Resnick: Kim Kardashian West is the newest member of the COVID-safe private island that is the list of the world’s billionaires. Forbes released the list yesterday, and Kardashian just made it at number 2,774 [sic] out of 2,755—we’re not counting. Her net worth increased by over 200 million last year, mostly thanks to her businesses KKW and Skims, plus reality TV endorsement deals, plus the general rule that rich people had a different kind of 2020 than pretty much everyone else did. To put that numerically, Forbes said the combined net worth of billionaires reached 13.1 trillion dollars this year, up from 8 trillion dollars last year. Don’t spend it all in one place, you guys, because you can’t. Because it would take so long that you die of old age one million times. Amazon founder and expert money hoarder Jeff Bezos topped the list with 177 billion dollars. To be fair, he has hinted at vague plans to donate one rusty JFK half dollar to fight world hunger.


Akilah Hughes: Wow, so generous. Once again, history has vindicated the people whose kitchens have a source drawer. The U.S. is now facing a ketchup packets shortage following a year where restaurants came to rely more on takeout orders. As ketchup packets became more rare, the prices went up, increasing by 13% since January 2020. If you use your car like a garbage can, now might be a good time to sell it. Personally, I’d estimate the Kelley Blue Book value of the packets in my cup holder to be $5,000 dollars.


Gideon Resnick: Wow.


Akilah Hughes: Heinz is the undisputed leader in the sweet tomato condiment space. But pandemic-riven demand drove big chains like Long John Silvers and Texas Roadhouse to switch to division 3 ketchup brands for their packets. Del Monte, God bless you, but I’d rather scrape the crust off an ancient Heinz bottle cap from someone’s World War 2 bomb shelter, quite frankly. Um, Heinz plans to resolve the crisis by ramping up ketchup packet production by 25% or about 13 billion packets a year. That should be enough for me to make at least a few servings of my famous dish, “ketchup, ala swimming pool.”


Gideon Resnick: I like the idea that people went to Long John Silvers and they’re like: you know what the problem is here, is that we don’t have Heinz.


Akilah Hughes: That’s the real deal breaker for LJS. And those are the headlines.


Akilah Hughes: One more thing before we go this week on Takeline, host Jason Concepcion and Renee Montgomery discuss the impact of the MLB pulling the All-Star Game and MLB draft out of Atlanta in response to the restrictive voting law, SB 202.


Gideon Resnick: Then they’re joined by director and writer Travon Free to chat about his recent Oscar nomination.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, give it a listen and subscribe to Takeline on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, flip us a JFK half dollar, and tell your friends to listen,.


Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just the expiration dates on ketchup packets like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out. Subscribe at I’m Akilah Hughes.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon, Resnick.


[together] And congratulations, billionaires!


Akilah Hughes: Thank you so much for your limited contributions to society and your overwhelming ability to just hoard that money.


Gideon Resnick: You’ve done great, and it’s, it’s time that you take a day off.


Akilah Hughes: What a day is a production of Crooked Media.


Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.


Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.


Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.


Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.