10 Things in Politics: White House links Trump anti-Asian rhetoric to violence

Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics.  Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day. Send your tips and suggestions to [email protected] or tweet me @BrentGriffiths

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Top Democrats blame Trump and others for the spike in crimes against Asian Americans.
  • These are the 14 Republicans who could help change gun laws after another mass shooting.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over the company’s opposition to a unionization effort.

With Jordan Erb

1. FALLOUT FROM ATLANTA: The White House and top Democrats blamed former President Trump and others who pushed anti-Asian rhetoric during the pandemic for the national spike in hate crimes against the Asian American community. Their condemnations come in the wake of Atlanta-area shootings that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.

  • Key quotes: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “there’s no question” Trump’s use of the phrase “Wuhan virus” and others “elevated threats against Asian Americans.” 

Democrats are condemning the attacks against Asian Americans:

What we’ve learned about the attacks: Police arrested a suspect and charged him with murder and assault for the killings. (A timeline of the attacks.)

  • More details: Robert Long told police that his attack was not racially motivated, officials said. He claimed to have a “sex addiction” and targeted the spas since he viewed them as a temptation. 

Will Congress act to change gun laws?: If Democrats hope to pass any changes after another deadly mass shooting, they’ll need help from GOP lawmakers. Here are 14 key Republicans to watch, per Insider’s exclusive report.

  • Sen. Pat Toomey: “Think of Pat Toomey as the Joe Manchin of the gun control debate. Democrats will be courting the Pennsylvanian, who has supported expanding background checks in the past but is currently playing coy about his stance on current legislation.”
  • Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan: He was one of the original Republican co-sponsors for HR 8 in 2018, a bill that would expand background checks. He supports expanding background checks as well as red flag, or extreme risk laws.
  • Read the rest of our exclusive report.

2. China plans to ask for a rollback of Trump policies later today: Beijing plans to ask Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan to drop Trump-era sanctions and restrictions on Chinese companies and individuals, The Wall Street Journal reports. The two sides will meet today in Alaska, an opportunity for both world powers to try to reset relations under Biden’s presidency. More on what to expect.

3. IRS pushes federal tax filing deadline to May 17: More than 100 congressional lawmakers had asked the IRS to extend the April 15 cutoff amid the pandemic, as it did last year. Tax professionals also expressed concern about keeping the usual date. 

  • Meanwhile, the Treasury Department says 90 million Americans have gotten their stimulus payments: The first round covers people who provided direct deposit information on their 2019 or 2020 tax returns. The IRS has also mailed out more than 150,000 paper checks. You see the status of your payment here.

4. Inside Merrick Garland’s bid to boost the morale of those spearheading Capitol riot cases: He spent part of his first day as attorney general praising prosecutors who are spearheading the historically large DOJ effort to investigate and charge those involved in the January 6 insurrection. Garland has a personal connection to the US attorney’s office in Washington, where he tried drug trafficking, public corruption, and fraud cases as a line prosecutor in the early 1990s. Our exclusive report details how the Trump era left the office struggling.

5. 12 Republicans voted against honoring the Capitol Police response to deadly riots: The House overwhelming passed a bill calling for officers to receive Congressional Gold Medals, but a small group of conservative lawmakers opposed it due in part to its description of January 6 as an “insurrection.” A list of the 12 lawmakers in question.

  • Some are trying to ignore what happened: One lawmaker, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, proposed his own bill that lauded officers without evening mentioning the attack. His legislation only offers that Officers Brian Sicknick and Jeffrey Smith, who both died in connection to the riot, as having “passed in January 2021.”

6. Democrats see Biden’s resistance to filibuster reform cracking: There is a growing belief inside the White House that the president’s agenda is at risk if the Senate’s rules are left unchanged, Politico reports. Biden’s embrace of a talking filibuster has heartened Senate Democrats looking for rules changes, but they are still a long way from agreement on what those might entail.

  • One of the disagreements remains over what policy may spark the change: Senate Republicans have yet to filibuster anything under Biden, but that’s expected to change soon. Some lawmakers want to see Democrats pick a fight over sweeping voting rights legislation. “It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in the society,” Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia told The Washington Post.

7. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:

  • 10:00 a.m.: Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials testify before the Senate.
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on anti-Asian violence.
  • 11:30 a.m.: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy holds his weekly news briefing.
  • 12:00 p.m.: The Senate holds a confirmation vote on Xavier Becerra’s nomination to become HHS secretary.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Jen Psaki holds the White House’s daily news briefing with HUD secretary Marcia Fudge.
  • 3:15 p.m.: Biden delivers remarks on the state of vaccinations 

8. Sen. Bernie Sanders slams Jeff Bezos over Amazon unionization: The Vermont senator questioned why the Amazon CEO would stand in the way of employees organizing. “Jeff Bezos has become $77 billion richer during this horrific pandemic, while denying hundreds of thousands of workers who work at Amazon paid sick leave,” Sanders said. He questioned Bezos in absentia as he declined to participate in the hearing about wealth inequality in America. Much of the hearing was devoted to the unionization effort, which Amazon has aggressively pushed back against.

9. Ohio attorney general sues over a major part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan: Republican Attorney General Dave Yost argues that the law imposes “unconstitutional” restrictions on how the $350 billion in state and local aid can be spent. At issue is a provision that bars states from using federal relief money to pay for the cost of tax cuts. Ohio’s lawsuit could be just the first in a series of GOP-led legal fights.

10. NASA is test-firing the world’s most powerful rocket stage: The test is a critical step towards the next moon mission. The rocket is part of NASA’s Artemis program, a roughly $30-billion effort to put people on the moon for the first time since 1972. If the hot fire succeeds, the rocket could be ready to fly as early as November.

You can watch the test this afternoon here.

One last thing.

Today’s trivia question: Today’s question comes from Eldon Smith. Virginia gave us eight presidents, the most of any state. The swing state of Pennsylvania gave us “Scranton Joe [Biden]” and who else? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at [email protected]

  • Yesterday’s answer: President Truman was the first to receive shamrock from an Irish official. He was out of town in 1952, but the Irish ambassador John Joseph Hearn began what became a yearly St. Patrick’s Day tradition.

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