The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Obama Is … Biden His Time    

The real standout in the 2020 Democratic field is Barack Obama—and he has yet to give his powerful endorsement to anyone. Plus: What’s up with the Freedom Caucus?

Michael Sohn / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Thursday, May 23.

‣ The Senate reached a bipartisan deal on a $19 billion disaster-relief package, which includes $900 million in funding for Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump has reportedly signed off on the legislation, despite the fact that it contains no border-related funds.

‣ A 10-year-old died in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services last September, the sixth known immigrant child to die in U.S.-government custody.

‣ The administration announced a new $16 billion bailout to help U.S. farmers affected by the Chinese tariffs.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

Alex Wong / Getty / A l l i b u m / Shutterstock / Katie Martin / The Atlantic

Splitting the Bill: The U.S. and South Korea will soon start negotiating a new agreement on how to pay for U.S. troops stationed in Korea. Trump wants South Korea, and other American allies, to pay up. If he gets his way, here’s how America’s relationship with its allies could be transformed, Uri Friedman reports.

Where’s Barry?: Among Democratic 2020 presidential candidates, one figure looms large: Barack Obama. The former president has stayed notably silent as his party’s primary heats up, and don’t expect to hear from him anytime soon, reports Edward-Isaac Dovere. Obama is writing a book, playing golf, and raising millions for his foundation—but likely won’t endorse anyone until next year.

Freedom Isn’t Free (Anymore): The House Freedom Caucus was founded by fiscally conservative representatives who distrusted the party establishment. It’s now a fierce defender of a president who spends generously and enforces the party’s status quo. When Justin Amash, a representative from Michigan who helped establish the group, called for Trump’s impeachment on Saturday, the caucus was silent against Trump’s attacks on Twitter. “Freedom Caucus members seem to have left no doubt about whom they now consider their boss,” writes Elaina Plott.

What Women Want: Critics of the new spate of laws limiting abortion in states such as Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri have argued that the measures are part of a “war on women.” But in most of these places, white women express at least as much opposition to legal abortion as white men, and in some cases even more, reports Ronald Brownstein.

The Future of Christianity in the Middle East

(Alexandra Rose Howland)

The number of Christians living in Iraq has plummeted since the United States invaded the country in 2003. And with the ever-present threat of discrimination and persecution, more and more of them are facing an impossible decision: stay or go.

The Almakos had been in Detroit for less than three months when they heard that the Islamic State was marching eastward toward Karamles. The terrorist group and its precursor had long been active south of the Nineveh Plain. Still, Catrin and Evan had believed that their town was safe. They frantically tried calling and texting their family members. They were now 6,000 miles away from everyone they loved. No one answered.

Ideas From The Atlantic

I’m a Republican and I Oppose Trump. Now What? (J. W. Verret)
“If the Democratic Party is smart enough to nominate a moderate candidate who is respectful of Republican ideas, voters like me will have an opportunity to become an important part of the coalition that gets a candidate elected to replace Trump. And if we do, we will have a seat at the table throughout the first term.” → Read on.

Impeachment Is a Refusal to Accept the Unacceptable (Quinta Jurecic)
“To respond appropriately to Donald Trump’s behavior is to risk appearing absurd, because his own conduct is so extreme that any proportionate reaction could be deemed an overreaction.”  → Read on.

Critics of the Catholic Church Should Understand How Institutional Change Actually Takes Place (Susan Bigelow Reynolds)
“The most difficult part of transforming structures of sin is imagining what our institutions would look like without them. But like other social sins—racism, nationalism, sexism—the subject is not the same as its distortion. The solution to racism, for example, is not to abolish human difference but (among other things) to transform the laws and practices and false narratives that uphold white supremacy.” → Read on.

El Salvador Mocks the Victims of the El Mozote Massacre (Raymond Bonner)
“Just as the victims have been struggling for justice, the perpetrators of the atrocities, and their supporters, have been doggedly seeking to continue the immunity they have long enjoyed.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

What Reparations for Slavery Might Look Like in 2019 (Patricia Cohen, The New York Times) (🔒 Paywall)
‣  Microplastics Are Changing This Major Southern River (Megan Jamerson, Southerly)
Senior Military Officials Rebel Against Trump Plan to Pardon Troops Accused of War Crimes (David S. Cloud, The Los Angeles Times) (🔒 Paywall)
What It’s Like to Live Under an Abortion Ban (Katy Fallon, The New Republic)
The Sinking Collusion Ship (Victor David Hanson, National Review)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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