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The Quirky Story of how Presidents Came to Pardon Turkeys

Hot Topics | November 25th, 2020

George H.W. Bush may have been the first US president to formally pardon a turkey, but the origins of this fun annual tradition go back to the late 19th century when gifting a turkey to the president became a national symbol of good cheer. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, various presidents sent their turkey gifts to live at nearby zoos or farms, before Bush 41 started the annual tradition in 1989. 

We are thankful for you, our dear readers, as well as the journalists whose reporting provided this week’s headlines:

Expect science to rule the day

  • Joe Biden’s transition team has advised the president-elect to allow career scientists rather than political appointees to take on the role of updating the public on the pandemic. Celine Gounder, a Biden task force member and infectious diseases specialist told STAT: “It may not be exciting in a sexy TV way, but it’s exciting to me that this is a return to science.” Scientists who may be tapped for these briefings include Nancy Messonnier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) respiratory disease chief and Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director (STATPOLITICO)

All industry eyes on Biden

  • On Friday, President Trump announced a “most favored nation” rule that would tie the price of drugs offered under Medicare Part B to lower prices in other developed countries. The Trump administration bypassed the normal policymaking process, which leaves the rule open to legal challenges from the pharmaceutical industry. Ultimately, it will be up to the Biden administration to finalize or not finalize the rule, which is why some this policy as a bargaining chip that President-elect Biden could use to negotiate with the industry. (The Washington Post)

A Thanksgiving like no other

  • Various government officials have issued a number of warnings and recommendations this week intended to help Americans celebrate Thanksgiving safely amid the ongoing pandemic. On Monday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned Americans to avoid indoor holiday celebrations with people outside of their immediate household. The White House coronavirus task force issued its own warning, saying the “aggressive, rapid, and expanding” spread of COVID-19 requires a “significant behavior change” from Americans. (The HillThe Hill)

The priorities and perils of a COVID-19 vaccine

  • Priorities: The CDC is expected to move essential works ahead of older adults and people with high-risk medical conditions on the COVID-19 vaccine priority list, reflect how Black and Latino essential workers have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. (STAT) Once a COVID-19 vaccine candidate receives emergency authorization, the first doses could be injected within 48 hours. (The Hill)
  • Perils: Some health officials are worried they do not have enough money, guidance and appropriate facilities to store Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Once a vial of Pfizer’s vaccine is thawed and diluted, it must be used within six hours. Rural counties where population is sparse may not be able to administer a full shipment of the vaccine. Maryland estimates up to 5% of the vaccine the state is allotted could spoil and go unused. (POLITICO)

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Lame duck Congress is driving a news cycle that is anything but boring

Hot Topics | November 20th, 2020

One of the lesser-known perks of being a U.S. Congressperson is access to your own private subway system. There are three subway lines that are independent of the Washington D.C. Metro that help shuttle Congresspeople from the congressional office buildings to votes in the U.S. Capitol. 

We’re confident the trains were running frequently this week, judging by the top healthcare Policy News headlines:

Lame duck drug pricing policymaking

  • The Trump Administration took steps this week to advance a “most favored nation” drug pricing proposal, that would lower the price of drugs covered by Medicare Part B to the prices paid by other countries. However, the administration’s plan to position the policy as an interim final rule, bypassing the standard policymaking process, would leave the proposal vulnerable to lawsuits and delays. (POLITICOThe Hill)

A not-so-seamless transition

  • On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, appeared on Today. His comments hinted that the refusal of the Trump administration to begin the presidential transition process could harm the government’s pandemic response, and slow the rollout of a future vaccine. Later in an unrelated announcement, President-Elect Joe Biden was more explicit in his remarks, sounding an alarm that “more people may die if we don’t coordinate” with the Trump administration. (POLITICOThe Hill)
    • Read more: While an official transition has yet to begin, the President-Elect’s team has reached out to nearly all of America’s leading public health organizations. (STAT)

Ready, set, vaccinate 

  • Coming on the heels of positive results from the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, federal health officials announced that all 50 states will have access to some doses of a potential vaccine within 24 hours of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Assuming both vaccine candidates receive an EUA, the federal government expects to have enough supply to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, or about 6% of the population. (The Hill
    • Read more: The FDA has received a fair amount of criticism for issuing EUAs without disclosing the data that informed these decisions. In a statement this week, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn committed to share the data and other information that informs decisions to authorize, revise or revoke an EUA. (STAT)

Wheelings but no dealings on Capitol Hill

  • As another week of Congress’ lame duck session draws to a close, negotiations on another large COVID-19 relief bill remain at a standstill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused each other of stymying negotiations. (The Hill)

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Welcome to this week’s Hot Topic from Goodfuse’s weekly email newsletter, Policy News from Goodfuse!

Hot Topic | November 13th, 2020

This January when President-Elect Joe Biden takes up residence at the White House, he will be joined by his two German Shepherds Champ and Major. The future First Pets will join a long line of furry and not-so-furry friends that accompanied past presidents to the White House. While the Biden’s dogs likely won’t raise many eyebrows, several past presidents kept pets that were a little more on the wild side. This notably includes Theodore Roosevelt whose menagerie included a lizard, a pig, a badger, a hyena and a pony, among others. Other notable presidential pets included Thomas Jefferson’s grizzly bear cubs and Calvin Coolidge’s pet raccoon named Rebecca.

The takeaway here is that the real animal house is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

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Welcome to this week’s Hot Topic from Goodfuse’s weekly email newsletter, Policy News from Goodfuse!

Hot Topic | November 6th, 2020

As the United States anxiously awaits for a winner to be projected in the 2020 presidential election, it’s easy to forget it used to take much, much longer to determine the next president of the United States. Before 1845, each state had the freedom to choose its own Election Day. In the early 19th century, state-chosen election days were spread out over the course of an election year. Even when Congress established “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November” as our national Election Day, results could take weeks or even months to be finalized. In 1876, it took four months to declare Rutherford B. Hayes the winner. Even into the 20th century, it was not uncommon for it to take some time for election officials to determine a winner. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was declared the winner two weeks after Election Day.

We hope we won’t be waiting as long as our friends in the 19th and 20th centuries for a winner to be projected in Tuesday’s race. As the counting continues, we invite you to email us at YourTeam@goodfuse.com to sign up for this weekly “insider only” newsletter featuring fun-to-read round-ups of Hot Topics, breaking news and some quirky facts to make your Fridays Goodfused.

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Vote! Then read our latest Hot Topic from Goodfuse’s new weekly email newsletter, Policy News from Goodfuse!

Hot Topic | October 30th, 2020

It’s week 8 of the 2020-2021 NFL season, which means it’s that time of year when all your friends can talk about is their fantasy football team. If you’re more of a policy wonk than a gridiron guru, don’t worry because Policy News has you covered. This fall, you can enthrall your friends with updates from your Fantasy Congress league. Combining the competitive thrill of fantasy football with the politicking of the United States government, Fantasy Congress gives you and your friends the ability to create a league and draft members of Congress to your teams. Points are earned based upon what your legislators do each week. For example, earn 3 points when one of your legislators participates in a roll call vote or 0.5 points for each time a legislator is mentioned in a news article. The player in a league with the most points at the end of the season (a predefined number of weeks) wins!

Policy News is not affiliated with the creator of Fantasy Congress, but more importantly, takes no responsibility for any lost productivity you may experience at work from playing the game.

Do you already play Fantasy Congress? Want to read more? Email us at YourTeam@goodfuse.com to sign up for this weekly “insider only” newsletter featuring fun-to-read round-ups of Hot Topics, breaking news and some quirky facts to make your Fridays Goodfused. Let us know if anyone on your team is mentioned in any stories from this week’s headlines!

A special note from Your Goodfuse Team:

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3: A friendly reminder that the window to return a ballot by mail has closed. Election officials are encouraging Americans who are planning to vote to either vote in person or hand-deliver their ballot to an official drop off site to ensure their vote countsFor additional information regarding voting in your jurisdiction, please visit www.vote.org or contact your local Board of Elections. Lastly, voter intimidation is a crime. If anyone is attempting to suppress your right to vote, you can report the incident to the non-partisan Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (Spanish), 1-888-API-VOTE (Asian Languages), or 1-844-YALLA-US (Arabic). More information about protecting your right to vote can be found on the website of the Election Protection coalition.

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Welcome to the first Hot Topic from Goodfuse’s new weekly email newsletter, Policy News from Goodfuse! 

Hot Topic | October 23rd, 2020

As we enter the home stretch of the 2020 presidential race, we can expect the question of who will call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home for the next four years to continue making headlines. However, the fact that the White House is still standing as the home of our nation’s president is something we all take for granted. 

When Harry Truman took office in 1945, the White House was falling apart – literally. In 1946, the Truman family piano fell through the floor of what is now the Private Dining Room! The addition of a third floor, steel roof, plumbing work and electrical retrofits had taken a toll on the building. Truman wanted to save the White House, even though it was more expensive than building a new residence for the president. Preservation work required contractors to gut the entire interior leaving only the outer walls. If you thought your last home renovation was messy, check out some photos from the mid-century construction job for comparison.   

As you may expect, the race for the White House cropped up in this week’s headlines. Want to read more? This “insider only” newsletter can be delivered directly to your inbox each Friday and will be jam-packed with fun-to-read round-ups of Hot Topics, breaking news and some quirky facts to make your Fridays Goodfused! 

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