Where Things Stand: The Rewards Of Forcing The Desperate To Return To Work

This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) speaks with US President Donald Trump (L) during a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in Dallas, Texas, on October 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read ... Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) speaks with US President Donald Trump (L) during a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in Dallas, Texas, on October 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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May 5, 2020 11:49 a.m.

The governors of Texas and Iowa will soon be rewarded for their reopening efforts with a visit to the White House this week.

Politico Playbook reported this morning that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds are both expected at the White House this week. While both Republican governors have made outsized efforts to reopen their states, they’ve also both enacted policies that forced workers to choose between risking their lives to return to work or risk losing their unemployment benefits.

Employers of furloughed workers in both states have been asked to report to the government when workers don’t present a valid excuse for not returning to work when called back. If they don’t present a valid excuse, like having the coronavirus or caring for a family member who’s been diagnosed, refusing to return is considered voluntary quitting and the worker will lose his or her unemployment benefits.

While it’s not clear why the two governors have been given this special White House treat, it’s a bit of a coincidence that the two states to enact this strict policy are also the two reaping a reward. And other states are following suit. Just this week, Ohio launched a new website encouraging employers to report staff who refuse to work amid the pandemic so they lose their unemployment benefits.

Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following today:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Josh Kovensky is working on a story about a new study on infection rates rising faster in rural areas.

Kate Riga is covering the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the case involving Republican members of the legislature challenging the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Tierney Sneed is looking into a CNN report that claims Attorney General Bill Barr is pushing the administration to back off of its efforts to nuke Obamacare in a pending Supreme Court case.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

The White House has told officials on its coronavirus task force team they must receive “express approval” from newly minted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before accepting any congressional request for testimony, TPM has confirmed. The news comes after reports came out over the weekend that Dr. Anthony Fauci was going to be blocked from testifying before Congress. We’ll continue monitoring this story.

In an interview with National Geographic, Fauci shut down Trump and other Republican-pushed conspiracy theories that the coronavirus was created in a lab in Wuhan, China. Fauci said the theory doesn’t hold up to what is scientifically known about the virus. We’ll see if Trump has a reaction to these latest remarks.

If You Read Anything On COVID-19 Today, Read This

Kate Riga reports on the unfolding backlash to a mask proclamation in Oklahoma. Last week the mayor of Stillwater, Oklahoma mandated customers frequenting newly reopened stores and restaurants wear protective masks while inside. Just hours later the city was forced to change the order after violent threats were made against restaurant and store employees.

Earlier coverage of reopening clashes and stay-at-home protesters:

Today’s Rundown

After enduring a full day with no events on his pubic schedule yesterday, Trump has a busy Tuesday ahead of him:

10:00 a.m. ET: Trump left the White House to travel to Phoenix, Arizona. He’s scheduled to arrive at the Honeywell International, Inc. around noon today where he will participate in a discussion on supporting Native Americans.

1:15 p.m. ET: The President will tour the company’s mask production assembly line.

1:30 p.m. ET: Trump will speak at the facility briefly before heading back to Washington, D.C. He’s scheduled to be back at the White House by 9:30 p.m. ET.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Trump Whines That He’s ‘Treated Worse’ Than The Assassinated Abraham Lincoln — Cristina Cabrera

What We Are Reading

Amazon VP Resigns, Calls Company ‘Chickenshit’ for Firing Protesting Workers — Jason Koebler

Here’s Cuomo’s Plan For Reopening New York — Jesse McKinley

Three Russian Doctors Treating The Coronavirus Have Fallen Out Of Windows In Just Over A Week — Christopher Miller

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