Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. US Economy Adds Record 4.8 Million Jobs In June
The US economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June, according to federal data released on July 2, but a surge in new Coronavirus infections and a spate of new closings threatens the nascent recovery. Two key federal measurements showed the precarious place the economy finds itself in three and a half months into the pandemic as the country struggles to hire back the more than 20 million workers who lost their jobs in March and April. While companies have continued to reopen, a large number of Americans are finding their jobs are no longer available. The unemployment rate in June was 11.1 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, down from a peak of 14.7 percent in April but still far above the 3.5 percent level notched in February. And another 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance for the first time last week and more than 19 million people are still receiving unemployment benefits, stubbornly high levels that show how many people are struggling to find or keep work. The Congressional Budget Office said the Coronavirus pandemic gave such a shock to the labor market that it would not fully recover for more than 10 years.
2. President Donald Trump Withdraws The US From The World Health Organization
The US has formally notified the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the World Health Organization, following through on an announcement President Donald Trump made in late May. The move, however, would not be effective until July 6, 2021, officials said, leaving open the possibility that, should President Trump lose reelection, a Joe Biden administration could reverse the decision. The former vice president promptly indicated he would do so. “Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage,” Biden announced on Twitter.
3. Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Trump Administration On Obamacare Birth Control Mandate
The Supreme Court ruled on July 8 that the Trump administration may allow employers and universities to opt-out of the Affordable Care Act requirement to provide contraceptive care because of religious or moral objections. The issue has been at the heart of an intense legal battle for nine years, first with the Obama administration sparring with religious organizations who said offering contraceptive care to their employees violated their beliefs, and then with the Trump administration broadening an exemption, angering women’s groups, health organizations, and Democratic-led states. July 8th’s decision greatly expands the ability of employers to claim the exception, and the government estimates that between 70,000 and 126,000 women could lose access to cost-free birth control as a result.
4. House of Representatives Passes Landmark $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Reform Bill
The House of Representatives on July 1 passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would sharply increase spending on roads and transit, push for deep reductions in pollution, direct billions to water projects, affordable housing, broadband and schools, and upgrade hospitals and US Postal Service trucks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats were making good on a promise to rebuild America with “green, resilient, modern and job-creating infrastructure,” adding that the Moving Forward Act “shows that everything in our country is connected, from the education of our children to the technologies of the future to the road map to get there.” The bill is meant, in part, to address the expiration in September of a law authorizing spending on highways, transit, and other transportation programs. Backers, including Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), said the bill represents an ambitious, years-in-the-making push to buttress and expand aging infrastructure in a sustainable way. The bill’s passage “is proof that finally, there is a majority of us in Congress who won’t accept the status quo and instead are willing to fight for a new vision” that puts “millions of people to work in jobs that cannot be exported, while harnessing American-made materials, ingenuity, and innovation,” DeFazio said.