Daily Politics Update

Public support increases political capital

Lance Lambert, 10-26, 21, Fortune, Biden’s year-one disapproval rating is sky-high, historically speaking, https://fortune.com/2021/10/26/biden-disapproval-rating-clinton-bush-trump/ When it comes to presidential politics, no metric is more closely watched than the sitting president’s approval rating. The more Americans who back the president, the more political capital that the commander-in-chief wields. But once it drops off, it rarely bounces all the way back.

Low approval means low capital

Lance Lambert, 10-26, 21, Fortune, Biden’s year-one disapproval rating is sky-high, historically speaking, https://fortune.com/2021/10/26/biden-disapproval-rating-clinton-bush-trump/ When it comes to presidential politics, no metric is more closely watched than the sitting president’s approval rating. The more Americans who back the president, the more political capital that the commander-in-chief wields. But once it drops off, it rarely bounces all the way back. That’s why so many Democratic officials are fretting about the recent drop in President Joe Biden’s approval rating. As of Tuesday, just 43.5% of the nation supports the job he’s doing—down from 53% on his first day in office, according to FiveThirtyEight. But there’s arguably a metric that is just as important: a president’s disapproval rating. That represents the share of voters who disapprove of how the president is doing. For Biden, the metric is flashing red. Last week, that disapproval rating for Biden rose above the all-important 50% threshold for the first time. As of Tuesday, it sits at an all-time high of 50.9%. That’s a historically high disapproval rating for a president who is not even at the one-year mark. At the same point in their first term, Presidents Jimmy Carter (30.1%), Ronald Reagan (35.3%), George H.W. Bush (22.9%), Bill Clinton (44.2%), George W. Bush (9.1%), and Barack Obama (41.7%) all had much lower disapproval ratings. The only recent president with a higher disapproval rating at this point in his tenure was the man Biden beat in November: Donald Trump, at 56.7%.

Any Republican alienation links are non-unique: There is no Republican support for Biden’s agenda

Catherine Rapbell, 10-25, 21, Opinion: Democrats’ risky strategies show they never learned their lessons from Obamacare, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/25/democrats-risky-strategies-show-they-never-learned-their-lessons-obamacare/ That doesn’t mean Democrats should waste time chasing un-gettable Republican votes for Biden’s package, as they did during the 2010 Obamacare negotiations. This time around, Republican leadership made abundantly clear that they planned to block Biden’s agenda at all costs. And in any case, any Democratic priorities Republicans were willing to support have already been peeled off in the separate bipartisan infrastructure package.

No chance for a filibuster carve out on voting rights

Ed Kilgore, 10-25, 21, New Yorker, POLITICS OCT. 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/can-democrats-gut-filibuster-after-reconciliation-is-done.htmlCan Democrats Gut the Filibuster After Reconciliation Is Done? It’s a fraught time for Democrats in Washington as negotiations over the infrastructure and reconciliation bills wind a complicated path toward success, failure, or still further delay. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill for October 31, but that won’t happen until a deal on the Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill is more or less in place, at least in sufficient detail to satisfy progressives. Beyond this self-imposed deadline, Democrats hope that a big breakthrough in the coming days will help Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe win a close race on November 2. If and when this huge hurdle for Democrats is overcome, another may appear almost immediately. There is a school of thought among frustrated voting-rights advocates that once all the wheeling and dealing over money matters is done, Joe Biden and congressional leaders will — and most definitely must — pivot to a full-court press to reform the Senate filibuster so that their top priority can be addressed before the 2022 midterms. That means moving the two outspoken filibuster defenders among Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, to reverse their long-held position, as Ron Brownstein explains: [O]nce reconciliation and infrastructure are completed, many hope Biden and other party leaders can intensify pressure on Manchin and Sinema to find some way to exempt voting-rights legislation from the filibuster. “The fact that reconciliation has stretched this long has definitely been harmful to the efforts to move Manchin and Sinema on voting rights and the filibuster,” says Eli Zupnick, a spokesperson for the liberal advocacy group Fix Our Senate. “My theory, and I think everyone’s theory throughout … is that once [the White House] got through reconciliation, they felt they could expend political capital with Manchin and Sinema in a way that they could not with reconciliation hanging out there.” In other words, the theory goes, when the Build Back Better agenda has been salvaged, it will be time to lower the boom on Manchin and Sinema and obtain, if not a full abolition of the legislative filibuster, at least a carve-out for voting rights. That would enable Democrats to enact some version of the recently filibustered Freedom to Vote Act, and the soon-to-be-filibustered John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in the very near future. There’s only one problem with that theory and with the raised expectations for success it creates: There is zero actual evidence that there is anything Biden or congressional Democrats might have done to Manchin and Sinema to move them on voting rights that they have withheld up until now. As for progressive opinion: Is there any term of abuse for these two senators that has not been uttered repeatedly? What’s left to say about them that will suddenly bend their steely determination to defend the filibuster, the very instrument of the power they hold in this Congress? Keep in mind that both Manchin and Sinema have been categorically negative about a filibuster carve-out for voting rights or for anything else for a long time now. Sinema could not have been much clearer on the subject in her definitive statement on filibuster reform in a Washington Post op-ed: To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the For the People Act (voting-rights legislation I support and have co-sponsored), I would ask: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority? Her position is that voting-rights legislation enacted via a party-line vote is essentially worthless. Joe Manchin, who is himself the chief architect of the Freedom to Vote Act legislation Republicans filibustered to death just a few days ago, has been even plainer, saying he “can’t imagine” a carve-out he would support for voting rights or anything else. It’s not like either of these senators hasn’t thought about it or expressed an opinion on it. It would take an abrupt 180-degree turn for them to support it. It’s also unclear what sort of “boom” Biden or anyone else could lower to change their minds. Joe Manchin represents the second-Trumpiest state in the union (trailing only Wyoming), based on the percentage the 45th president won in 2020. It would help him immensely back home to say no to any ultimatum by his fellow Democrats. And so that means even if Sinema flipped (and in her case, she seems to have decided an independent persona is her own path to reelection and glory), it wouldn’t matter. Both these obstinate Democrats, moreover, will be needed between now and 2024 in future Senate votes. Their leverage doesn’t end with the Build Back Better negotiations. Democrats really need to manage expectations intelligently on this subject: The voters most invested in voting-rights legislation will need to enter the next two election cycles feeling positive, motivated, and even excited if the Donkey Party is to increase the currently very slim odds it can hold onto its governing trifecta next year and the presidency in 2024. If, as I suspect, a filibuster carve-out for voting rights is doomed for the time being, they need to spend more time talking about what they can do judicially and administratively to resist GOP voter-suppression measures, and also focusing on those state-level midterm contests that could help turn the tide in this and so many other areas. Leading Democratic constituencies to think federal voting-rights legislation is just around the corner may backfire.

Sienna ready to deal

Mike Lillis, 10-21, 21, The Hill, Neal says Sinema is ready to deal, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/577913-neal-says-sinema-is-ready-to-deal The head of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee said Thursday that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), one of the centrist holdouts resisting President Biden's sweeping economic agenda, is ready to get a deal. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said he spoke with Sinema for roughly 30 to 40 minutes Thursday morning in an effort to break the impasse over Biden's massive social benefits package. According to Neal, Sinema indicated that a failure to pass the president's top agenda item is not an option. "I started the conversation with that. I said, 'Kyrsten, this has got to pass.' She said, 'I couldn't agree more,' " Neal told reporters outside the Capitol. Sinema has balked at several of the revenue raising provisions designed to help cover the full cost of the social spending bill, which includes a broad expansion of health care benefits, safety net programs and efforts to combat climate change. Her opposition has infuriated liberals on and off of Capitol Hill, who are accusing her of coddling corporations and other well-heeled interests at the expense of her own constituents. Negotiators are eying a package in the range of $2 trillion — down from the initial $3.5 trillion favored by Biden and House Democrats. But Sinema has reportedly rejected several of the major offset provisions, including proposed tax hikes on corporations and wealthy individuals. Neal said he made the case for keeping both the corporate tax hike and the international minimum tax in the package. Sinema did not agree, he said, but nor did she push back. "I made the argument for efficiency in tax policy, and the way you do that is simplicity of corporate increases, and pointed out that not only are they efficient, but they weren't punitive — [that] this was still good pro-growth economics," Neal said. "She didn't say no, she just listened to what I had to say." Asked if he is willing to accept a corporate rate lower than 26.5 percent — the figure featured in the House package — Neal hinted that he was. "I want a deal," he said. And on the topic of the international minimum tax, Neal pointed out that a growing number of countries have agreed to adopt it as a way to limit offshore tax havens. "I think that what the Ways and Means Committee accomplished on the international side makes a great deal of sense. And 15 percent was a reasonable level," Neal said. "I made the argument for it again in terms of efficiency, harmonization and the fact that 146 nations around the world have agreed to our proposal." On the spending side, Neal said Sinema ranked her own policy priorities, putting the shift to renewable fuels at the top, followed by an extension of the child tax credit, and then an expansion of paid medical leave. Both Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have argued for a much smaller spending amount, in the range of $1.5 trillion, but Neal said he's still pressing for something a bit higher. "I did point out that in my judgment we needed $2 trillion, at least," he said. Following the call, the staffs for Neal and Sinema have agreed to continue talking, Neal said. He cautioned that an agreement is not imminent — "I still think there's a long ways to go," he said — but he also pressed Sinema on the urgency of getting an agreement in the not-too-distant future. And the best way to do that, he argued, is not to introduce a whole new slate of offset provisions to replace the corporate tax hikes. On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Democrats scramble to reach deal on taxes "I did point out that it's the ninth inning. I mean, when are you going to vet these issues?" Neal said. The Ways and Means chairman said he's optimistic that a deal will materialize. And Sinema, he said, agrees. "She said to me: 'We agree on this, this has got to happen,'" Neal said. "That gives us an opening."

Dems divided

Sarah Ferris, 10-21, 21, Dem divisions linger in last lap of spending talks, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/21/dem-divisions-linger-in-last-lap-of-spending-talks-516500 Democratic leaders have imposed a Friday deadline to reach a deal, but divisions remain over paid leave, Medicare expansion and climate. “We’re making good progress,” Sen. Joe Manchin said. “There’s a lot of details, until you see the text and the fine print, it’s pretty hard to make a final decision.” | Win McNamee/Getty Images Congressional Democrats are down to a handful of key disputes in their frenetic effort to draft President Joe Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social spending package by the end of the week. But the remaining hurdles are proving the trickiest to clear, and many Democrats are becoming privately skeptical that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can nail down a deal by their self-imposed deadline. As Democratic leaders publicly aim for a broad agreement on the bill's contents before next week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) dismissed the idea of a quick turnaround and signaled that talks would likely slip past Friday. “We’re making good progress,” Manchin said. “There’s a lot of details, until you see the text and the fine print, it’s pretty hard to make a final decision … we can have the intent, you just have to make sure the text matches the intent of what people want to agree on or what they do agree on and what they don’t agree on.” Manchin isn't alone in thinking Friday’s deadline will once again pass by without a deal. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also conceded Thursday that a framework before the end of the week was ambitious. Still, in one sign of a potential breakthrough, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) signaled Thursday that she's approved certain funding mechanisms that don't cross her red line of raising corporate tax and income rates, according to a source familiar with the talks. "Senator Sinema has agreed to provisions in each of President Biden's four proposed revenue categories — international, domestic corporate, high net worth individuals, and tax enforcement — providing sufficient revenue to fully pay for a budget reconciliation package in the range currently being discussed," the source said. Build Back Better? Dems can’t even get it together SharePlay Video Democrats in both chambers are still racing to resolve the slew of internal divisions holding up an agreement, holding calls and meetings with members, White House aides and Cabinet officials as they work to narrow the scope of the bill without tanking support. But Thursday was the Senate's last day of session for the week. Both Manchin and Sinema met with White House staff Thursday afternoon. Sinema also spoke for roughly a half hour with Ways and Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who is a major player on tax issues in the bill. “We were in full agreement on the policy achievement, and she's in on renewables, she's in on the issue of child credit, and she's in on family medical leave, and that's the way she ranked them,” Neal said, adding he planned to speak to Manchin later. Some of the largest remaining obstacles include paid leave, Medicare expansion, prescription drug pricing and climate, according to Democrats familiar with the discussions — all issues that risk alienating key factions of the party. “We’re still trying to get a framework in the next 48 hours,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said earlier Thursday. Pelosi and her leadership team are pushing for a vote on the two key pieces of Biden’s agenda, both the social spending plan and infrastructure, by Oct. 31, when key transportation programs expire. But Democrats have also begun to discuss a fallback plan, which would extend the Highway Trust Fund, through Dec. 3. That move would lessen the pressure to pass infrastructure by next week if a spending deal can’t swiftly come together. And it may be necessary even if the House can approve infrastructure at the end of the month, because of procedural hiccups that could mean a multiday delay to formally extend the policy. If Democrats do approve a Dec. 3 extension, it could leave Congress with an even more massive end-of-year pileup, with deadlines on government spending, the debt limit and Biden’s agenda. Still, many Democrats are hoping to clear the bills by late this month ahead of the Virginia gubernatorial election. Some Senate Democrats are warning that if the bipartisan package doesn’t pass by then, they could see political consequences in a race that’s tighter than many expected. Democrats have successfully narrowed some coverage areas in the bill, Pelosi told reporters Thursday. She added that Democrats were still aiming to find a path forward by week’s end — something she had privately told her members earlier Thursday — and reiterated that party leaders have “always been on track.” “We're working very hard and the president's working very hard and members, I think, are focused on getting this done," Pelosi said. "Obviously, there are challenges.” Another major hang-up is Biden’s signature clean energy program, the Clean Energy Performance Plan, which Manchin has opposed. The opposition from the West Virginia Democrat has sent lawmakers scrambling for an alternative on a policy critical to the party’s base. The White House suggested it could take unilateral action on climate change even if their clean energy plan were excluded from the bill. “We have had other ways of doing [reducing emissions] … what we’re saying is we don’t need Congress. We can do it without Congress,” said White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre Thursday afternoon. Democrats are also increasingly skeptical they can reach an agreement on prescription drug policy, particularly a provision to give the government the power to negotiate drug pricing. With Sinema rejecting the drug price negotiation measure, Democrats are scrambling for alternatives that can also help pay for a huge chunk of their plan. Neal told reporters their wide-ranging conversation did not touch on drug pricing policy. “Sen. Sinema, every Republican, and every person in the House: Do what the American people want, and they want us now to lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs,” Sanders implored Thursday. “I would hope that Sen. Sinema does what the people of Arizona want and what the people of America want.”

No deal

ALEXANDER BOLTON - 10/21/2, Manchin: Negotiators to miss Friday target for deal on reconciliation bill, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/577834-manchin-negotiators-to-miss-friday-target-for-deal-on-reconciliation Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he does not believe negotiators will be able to meet a goal laid out earlier in the week by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reach a deal on the framework of the budget reconciliation package by Friday. “This is not going to happen anytime soon, guys,” Manchin told reporters Thursday afternoon. Manchin, who doesn’t want to spend much more than the $1.5 trillion on the social spending package, said there’s still a massive amount of work to be done. “There’s a lot of work to do, everybody’s working hard, everybody’s communicating, working hard. A lot of meetings going on,” he said. Asked if the talks will drag past Friday, despite an effort by Schumer to get a framework deal wrapped up this week, Manchin said, “I believe so, yes.” He added that it will take longer than this week to reach a deal but stated, "I believe they’re making good progress.” “There’s a lot of details. Until you see the text and the fine print, it’s pretty hard to make final decisions, until you actually see,” he said, adding that he wants to make sure “the text matches the intent.” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) seemed puzzled that some Democrats think getting a framework deal by Friday is even possible. “Where did you come up with tomorrow?” he asked. “It must be an aspiration.” Manchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum...

Reconcilliation 8includes amnesty

Caroline Downey, 10-20, 21, https://www.yahoo.com/now/top-dem-senator-shares-third-011840119.html, Top Dem Senator Reveals Third Attempt to Nest Amnesty for Millions of Illegal Immigrants in Reconciliation Bill On Wednesday Democratic senator Bob Menendez revealed the third proposal under his party’s consideration to nest amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants in the budget reconciliation bill pending in the chamber after earlier attempts failed. Democrats have tried a few angles to incorporate an amnesty provision into the reconciliation package, the first two of which Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough rejected. She denied the first proposal to provide a pathway to citizenship for certain groups of illegal aliens, arguing that it is a “tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact.” MacDonough also dismissed the second plan, which involved modifying an immigration registry that outlines a process for immigrants who have resided in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972, to apply for a green card. Democrats asked to change the immigration registry date to 2010, to make a total of 6.7 million people eligible for permanent residency. Menendez told Axios on Wednesday that the Democrats have moved on to “Plan C,” which would expand temporary legal status and work permits. “We haven’t finalized it yet as we speak, but ‘Plan C’ would probably be a parole option that would give about 8 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements the ability to work lawfully, to have a status that would last five years and would be renewable for another five years, that would protect them from deportation, that would allow them to travel domestically and internationally . . . that could also potentially gain access to healthcare coverage,” the senator said. “I hope she will find her way to say yes this time, but we will not accept no as an answer at the end of the day,” he added. Progressive Democrats are using the reconciliation process, which evades a Senate filibuster and can pass legislation with just a simple majority of 50 votes, to embed a number of their priorities into the budget plan, including amnesty, climate change, child care, health care, education, etc. Menendez said that the reconciliation avenue is “the only pathway for some broad-based pathway toward some type of status for undocumented immigrants in the country.” “And without reconciliation and without Republican support in an evenly divided Senate, I don’t see how that pathway would be possible,” he told Axios. “That’s why we’re putting so much effort into this.”

Biden making no progress on reconciliation

Alexander Bolton, 10-15, 21, Biden's soft-touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/576861-bidens-soft-touch-with-manchin-sinema-frustrates-democrats Biden's soft-touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats © Greg Nash A growing number of Senate Democrats are getting impatient with President Biden’s kid-love approach to negotiating with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Biden’s approach has involved a lot of facetime and personal attention, but little in the way of public concessions or discernible movement. After talks on the scale and scope of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending bill stalled in September, Democratic senators expressed hope that Biden’s personal involvement would yield a breakthrough. Yet after several one-on-one meetings between the president, Manchin and Sinema, Democrats don’t seem any closer to agreeing on a framework than a month ago. This is fueling frustration among senators who see this Congress as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass bold reforms as the House — and possibly the Senate — is in danger of flipping to Republicans in the 2022 midterm election. “Both of them have left the president hanging,” grumbled one Democratic senator who requested anonymity to vent about the lack of progress since Biden reached out personally to Manchin and Sinema. Biden met one-on-one with Sinema on the morning of Sept. 15 and then with Manchin later that day. He also held separate meetings with the two senators on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Little news came out of any of the meetings other than a report that Sinema issued an ultimatum to Biden, warning him she wouldn’t back the reconciliation bill if the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was delayed or failed in the House. “If [Biden] had been able to walk away and say I have a commitment to $2 trillion from both [senators] and now we’re working on the details, it would been like a sense of momentum: ‘The president’s magic of the Oval Office comes in once again,’ but instead it was like ‘There’s no magic in the Oval Office right now,’” the senator who spoke to The Hill said of the meetings. Some Democratic senators think Biden’s deference to Manchin and Sinema has only emboldened them to dig in their heels even more. A second Democratic senator said Sinema crossed the line when she called out Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to delay a vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill as “inexcusable.” Sinema also ruffled feathers by accusing Democratic leaders of making “conflicting promises that could not all be kept” when they pledged to move the bipartisan infrastructure package and the larger social investment reconciliation bill in tandem. “It’s one thing to say I’m not satisfied, it’s another thing to criticize,” grumbled the second senator. The complaints leveled from Democrats in private aren’t new. Democratic lawmakers vented frustrations earlier this year over how long it took the White House to negotiate with moderate Senate Republicans on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. When talks collapsed between Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), some Democrats called for their leaders to scrap the two-track strategy of moving a bipartisan hard infrastructure bill separately from a bigger human infrastructure bill that would pass with only Democratic votes under the budget reconciliation process. “I don't think Biden sees his relationship to Congress that way at all. He was a member of Congress so long and even as vice president so deeply engaged on negotiating on Capitol Hill that even as president he sees it as an ongoing relationship that is going to have its highs and lows but it doesn't need to produce anything until it needs to produce something,” he said. Smith argues it's too soon to pass judgement on Biden's tactics until time has run out for passing legislation. But Democratic senators worry that the longer it takes to pass the reconciliation package, the heavier a lift it becomes. Biden’s poll numbers have fallen, which adds to the worries in Democratic circles. The rising frustration is further fueled by the lack of transparency in talks, which has left Democratic lawmakers in the dark about whether there’s been any progress. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading progressive, said on “The View” Wednesday that “I want folks on the other side to put on the table what they don’t want, what they want to cut.” “Tell me what you want to cut and then we’ll figure out what the dollar [amount] is,” she said. Manchin signed a memorandum of understanding with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in late July laying out $1.5 trillion as his top-line spending limit for a human infrastructure investment package and laying out a list of other demands, but many Democratic senators were completely unaware of his position until the memo was publicly reported on Sept. 30. Steve Jarding, a Democratic strategist and former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aide, said Democratic senators are understandably frustrated. “I think it’s a failure on the part of the Biden administration. You’re the president of the United States, you’ve got all the leverage in the world,” he said, pointing out that Biden’s agenda is broadly popular. “We need this stuff,” he said of Biden’s proposals for hard infrastructure and social investment. “American needs it and [Manchin and Sinema] are playing politics with it. “You have to lay this at the feet of Joe Biden,” he said. “When the president calls somebody into the Oval Office and can’t walk out with a deal, something’s wrong because everybody has a price. “What does Joe Manchin want? What would get him to move? What would Sinema need to move off square one? That’s out there and Biden failed to get it,” he added. “Be Lyndon Johnson, don’t be Martin Van Buren. That’s what presidents do.” A Senate Democratic aide said that Democratic senators understand that Manchin and Sinema are wielding their leverage. But the aide said Democratic senators are running out of patience with Biden for giving them so much leash to run. “This has been the Biden thing so far, his leadership style is to basically ask for nothing. There’s nothing,” the aide said. The aide said senators understand where Manchin and Sinema are coming from. “There’s less frustration with them than there is with Biden,” the aide said. “It’s his time to step up.” Biden asked a group of centrist Democratic senators who met with him at the White House on Sept. 22 to come up with a top-line spending number they could support for the reconciliation bill. Details of Biden's economic agenda struggling to reach voters: poll Pelosi on addressing climate through reconciliation package: 'This is... Three weeks later, Democrats don’t appear any closer to an agreement on a top-line spending target. Sequencing  between infrastructure and reconciliation kills both Nikke Schwaab, 10-14, 21, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10092321/Kyrsten-Sinema-flees-Europe-fundraising-trip-Bidens-budget-limbo.html, BREAKING NEWS: Kyrsten Sinema tells Democrats she WON'T support Biden's multi-trillion dollar reconciliation bill until Congress passes the $1T infrastructure plan in another blow to the White House Moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who along with Sen. Joe Manchin essentially holds the keys to the Democratic agenda, signaled Thursday that she will not vote for a multi-trillion dollar budget reconciliation bill until the House passes the $1T bipartisan infrastructure plan. Sinema told fellow Democrats as much this week in a meeting with House members, sources with knowledge told Reuters.  Meanwhile, progressives in the House have said they won't vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate moves on the larger package.  With a split 50-50 Senate, Democrats can't get anything done in the upper chamber without Manchin and Sinema on board. But with a narrow majority in the House, they can only afford to lose three votes.   In a virtual meeting, both Sinema and Manchin said they would not abide by any deadlines set by leadership to force votes on the package.  Both have balked at the larger social spending plan's current price tag of $3.5 trillion.  As Biden's approval rating plummets and midterm elections loom in the horizon, the White House is reportedly growing frustrated and looking to raise pressure for talks to wrap up.   Meanwhile, Sinema jetted off to Europe this week fundraising as President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda remains in limbo.

Biden not acting as a power broker

Mail Online, 1-14, 21, EXCLUSIVE: Ultimate Senate Centrist Joe Lieberman urges Biden to become a power broker again, blames progressive Democrats for tanking budget talks and says Grassley 'disappointed' him by getting on stage with Trump, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10093587/Joe-Lieberman-urges-Joe-Biden-power-broker-again.html Lieberman said he hasn't seen Biden 'do enough' power brokering to force negotiations •He talked up the bipartisan infrastructure deal but said the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan hasn't been sufficiently vetted •He chairs the No Rules group which helped spark a Problem Solvers Caucus •He says he doesn't know what Sinema wants in budget talks but says 'I talk to Joe Manchin a fair amount' Former Sen. Joe Lieberman helped launch his own political career decades ago with a book on a Connecticut boss - but says he isn't seeing enough 'power broker' in President Joe Biden. Lieberman, who served as the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee in 2000 and served with Biden for two decades, says Biden needs to take greater command of his party. 'I must say that I haven't seen enough of that yet,' Lieberman told DailyMail.com in an interview 'I had the highest regard for real affection for him. And I was proud to support him in 2020, [and] don't minimize the difficulty of the political situation,' Lieberman said. 'While in my 24 years in the Senate, I saw Joe Biden do a lot of .. powerbrokering which was the title of my original book way back about [state party chair] John Bailey. I haven't seen him be able to do enough of it now as president,' Lieberman said. 'And the irony and difficulty is that the biggest loser of a failure to adopt the bipartisan infrastructure bill I think will be President Biden himself,' he added. He said Biden 'really has the come in and plead with, pressure, to do whatever it takes' to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill. He called it 'historically significant' and 'really good for the country.' He was less convinced about the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, which he described as insufficiently vetted. And he said of the left's demands: 'They are hurting the president and the Democratic Party as it approaches midterm elections.' Lieberman said Biden should 'either negotiate a compromise on the large reconciliation bill, or put it into some sort of committee negotiating process among Democrats until they can come up with a compromise agreement.' Lieberman, who chairs the group No Rules, is an avowed centrist who penned a new book, The Centrist Solution, which tells yarns from his political careers interspersed with concrete guidance and advice for how to forge compromise. In his book he describes bipartisan achievements like the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and helping peel off GOP support for President Obama's economic stimulus. He describes his move to become an Independent, and says he talks regularly with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. 'I'm encouraged when I hear that Senator Senator or Senator Manchin have gone to the White House. So far I haven't seen anything productive anything real come out of it,' he said. Asked if he knows what Sinema is seeking, he said: 'I really don't know. I talk to Joe Manchin a fair amount, but I haven't really been in touch with Sen. Sinema.' He says he hasn't seen the portrayal of Sinema on 'Saturday Night Live' where she is played as someone refusing to reveal what she wants in talks, but says he gets the sense Democrats are more frustrated with her than they are with Manchin. 'Part of it is that she's new. Part of that is she's been a little less personally engaged with her colleagues. Joe is a, you know, Joe's a people person and Joe will talk to anybody, which is the way politics should be, including people who disagree with him. And Sinema's new. She's come to the center, or the limelight in the Senate, almost embarrassingly probably to her. But she's - she's got a lot of potential to really play a constructive role in the Senate and in Congress, and I hope people will work with her to see that that's true.' A decade ago when she was a party activist, Sinema called Lieberman 'pathetic' and 'a shame to Democrats,' but has since moved to the center and stands as one of the chief obstacles to advancing the $3.5 trillion plan. Lieberman rejects the notion that the party's left has been more willing to compromise, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders move from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion. 'Bernie's $6 trillion in the original program went from the unbelievable to the merely unaffordable $3.5 trillion,' Liberman said. He continues to back up close friend Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who infuriated the left with her vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite her own pro choice views and accusations by Christine Blasey Ford. 'I know people get upset with her. But I know her well enough to know that she really struggled with it. It was not a political motive,' he said. 'She was trying to do what was right under her power to advise and consent to a presidential nomination to the Supreme Court.'

Negotiations at a standstill – Manchin and Sienna don’t even agree

Tara Golshan, 10-14, 21, Democrats Float Possible $2.5 Trillion Compromise Reconciliation Framework, https://sg.news.yahoo.com/democrats-float-possible-2-5-154104003.html Democratic leaders floated the contours of a $2.5 trillion spending and tax cut reconciliation framework before senators left last week for a brief recess, in hopes that the whole caucus would go along with a slightly smaller price tag. During a caucus meeting last Thursday with Senate Democrats, leadership pitched a top line of roughly $1.5 trillion in new spending on programs such as child care, housing, climate policies and Medicare expansions, according to presentation slides obtained by HuffPost and top Senate aides familiar with the presentation. The bill would also provide around $1 trillion in “tax cuts for working families” — including an extension to the boosted child tax credit, Affordable Care Act premium subsidy credits and housing and clean energy tax credits. Overall, the bill’s price tag would be around $2.5 trillion. Conservative Democrats continue to block the passage of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, a sweeping proposal that would invest heavily in climate policies, parental benefits, child care and universal pre-K, as well as housing and expansions of both Medicare and Medicaid. The presentation offers a possible compromise top-line number that leaders, including Biden, have floated for weeks. “This presentation was Leader Schumer informing Senate Democrats of what President Biden presented to the House Democrats the week prior,” Justin Goodman, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), said. But even $2.5 trillion is higher than what Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the Senate’s two most conservative Democrats, say they will support. Manchin has floated a $1.5 trillion top-line spending number. Sinema refuses to disclose a top-line number to her Senate colleagues, but she’s reportedly comfortable with a figure under the $2 trillion mark. “As with any bill of such historic proportions, not every member will get everything he or she wants,” Schumer said in a letter to the caucus on Thursday, while senators were in their home states. “I deeply appreciate the sacrifices made by each and every one of you.” There’s hope among some Senate and administration staff that Manchin and Sinema will go along with $1.5 trillion in new spending on the reconciliation bill and exclude the revenue losses from tax cuts in their calculations of the overall price tag. But Democrats are still skeptical that even this framework would be enough to get the two senators fully on board. Democrats need all 50 of their senators to agree on the reconciliation bill for it to pass. The proposal does not have any Republican support. “Ever since Manchin and Sinema’s demands were a little more known, people were thinking, what are some gimmicky ways we can get $2.5 trillion while meeting their top line?” one Democratic aide familiar with the situation told HuffPost. Both Sinema and Manchin have been in direct talks with the White House. Their offices did not return HuffPost’s requests for comment on this proposal. Committee staff, originally expecting to be doing some heavy lifting over the weeklong recess to craft the reconciliation bill, were instead mostly idle, waiting for a directive from Senate leadership — and Manchin and Sinema — on what overall spending numbers they should work off of. In recent days, congressional Democrats have been contemplating what to cut from Biden’s Build Back Better outline in order to shrink the top-line number to Sinema and Manchin’s liking. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Monday that Democrats will have to start making the “difficult decisions” of deciding which policies are worth investing more heavily in and which proposals might have to be cut all together. But they haven’t pulled any triggers. Progressive lawmakers have made clear they aren’t supportive of cutting any major pillars of the agenda. Doing so risks losing the support of more lawmakers, who all want the issues most important to them included, from investments to affordable housing to home care for elderly Americans. But even if Manchin and Sinema go along with some hand-wavy math to lower the perceived price tag of the bill’s spending, there’s still a question of what in the proposal needs to be “paid for.” The Democrats’ presentation said the “compromise framework would fully pay for the spending in the Build Back Better Act” through increased tax enforcement, international and domestic corporate tax reform, drug pricing reform and so forth. While Manchin is open to the proposed revenue raisers, the senator said he not only wants the bill fully paid for, but he also wants to pay down some of the nation’s debt. Meanwhile, Sinema doesn’t even support some of the party’s proposed ways of raising revenue — even those Manchin is fine with. Drug pricing reform is one potentially major hurdle: The Arizona senator has reportedly aligned with pharmaceutical groups in opposing Democrats’ plan to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a massively popular proposal that could stand to bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. Manchin is more open to such reforms. Similarly, Manchin appears much closer to the rest of the Democratic Party when it comes to taxing corporations, while Sinema is opposed. Meanwhile, Manchin, who has close ties to the coal industry in West Virginia, is much more reluctant to address carbon pollution than Sinema is. Democrats have set a deadline on reconciliation negotiations for the end of October, when House leaders said they would vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate. But until Sinema and Manchin make clear what they will support, negotiations remain at a standstill.

No debt ceiling thumper – can focus on reconciliation

Nikke Schwaab, 10-14, 21, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10092321/Kyrsten-Sinema-flees-Europe-fundraising-trip-Bidens-budget-limbo.html, BREAKING NEWS: Kyrsten Sinema tells Democrats she WON'T support Biden's multi-trillion dollar reconciliation bill until Congress passes the $1T infrastructure plan in another blow to the White House Now with a debt ceiling crisis waved off until early December, the White House and Congress' full attention can return to crafting what's in the reconciliation bill, which Biden has conceded will no longer have a pricetag of $3.5 trillion.

No momentum for reconcilliation

Jordain Cairney, 10-13, 21, The Hill, Democrats struggle to gain steam on Biden spending plan, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/576469-democrats-struggle-to-gain-steam-on-biden-spending-plan Democrats are struggling to break through on their sweeping social spending bill amid a laser-like focus on the price tag and high-profile squabbles. Democratic leadership has set an end-of-the-month deadline to get both the spending package and a Senate-passed infrastructure bill to President Biden, as they try to turn the page on weeks of infighting that has spotlighted internal divisions and thrown the party’s legislative agenda into limbo. The effort to show momentum comes as congressional Democrats and Biden have seen their poll numbers slip as they creep deeper into the year. And while the ideas behind the spending bill are popular with voters, a CBS News poll released this week found that only 10 percent of Americans knew a lot about the specifics and 57 percent indicated they didn’t know any details about the multitrillion-dollar proposal. “Part of our problem — I can say this as a Democrat — is that we haven’t talked enough about the impact on people’s lives,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who argued that the issue dates back to messaging around the March coronavirus relief bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), asked if Democrats need to do a better job selling the spending package, said the news media should do a better job of explaining it. “I think you all could do a better job of selling it, to be very frank with you, because every time I come here, I go through the list. ... It is a vast bill, it has a lot in it and we will have to continue to make sure the public does. But whether they know it or not, they overwhelmingly support it,” Pelosi told reporters. Democrats argue part of their problem is an intense media focus on the price tag for the reconciliation bill, rather than the potential benefits for residents. The CBS News poll found that the potential cost of the bill topped a list of what Americans had heard about the legislation. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they had heard about $3.5 trillion in spending, in line with the 58 percent who said they had heard about tax increases for high-income earners. Those two figures are significantly above the 40 percent who said they had heard about lowering drug prices under Medicare or expanding Medicare to cover hearing, vision and dental — two big priorities for Democrats. During a recent discussion with reporters about changes to the top-line figure, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) argued that reporters were getting pulled back into “the game.” “Maybe your question should be, ‘Does democracy survive if the Congress doesn’t do what the American people want?’ ” Sanders said. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), asked during an MSNBC interview about the top-line figure, said that was “absolutely the wrong question” and the “wrong way to go about this.” “It is, ‘What do we need to get done?’ We need child care in America, we need to expand health care coverage in America, and we need to take a big whack at the climate crisis,” she added. The struggle to keep the focus on the benefits of the bill, rather than the overall size of the legislation, comes as Biden’s poll numbers have slipped. More than 49 percent of respondents disapprove of Biden’s handling of the job, compared to 44.5 percent who approve, according to a FiveThirtyEight compilation of recent polling. A growing number of voters think congressional Democrats are underperforming expectations. Twenty-four percent of Democrats said in June that Democratic lawmakers had accomplished less than expected, compared to 37 percent who said the same in October, according to a Morning Consult-Politico poll. Democrats aren’t just struggling to drive home the details of their plan to voters; they’ve also been unable to secure breakthroughs with each other that would put Biden’s bill on a glide path. Congressional Democrats previously cleared a budget resolution that allows them to pass a spending bill of up to $3.5 trillion without needing to break a 60-vote legislative filibuster in the Senate, meaning they can bypass Republicans. But since then, Democrats have been locked in constant, headline-grabbing rounds of infighting, including the White House vs. Congress, the House vs. Senate, moderates vs. leadership and moderates vs. progressives. Biden and congressional leaders are trying to find a way to bridge a multitrillion-dollar gap between the $3.5 trillion ceiling for how high Democrats and moderates can go. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key centrist, has said his top-line is $1.5 trillion. Asked about the final dollar amount on Tuesday, Pelosi indicated that those talks are ongoing. “If there are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made,” Pelosi said. “I mean, we’re still talking about a couple of trillion dollars, but it’s not — you know, it’s much less.” The White House has thrown out a range of roughly $2 trillion, an area where several Senate Democrats have predicted they’ll ultimately end up. But that still leaves Democrats with painful decisions about what to include in their slimmed-down bill, with some interested in focusing on a smaller number of programs that they can invest heavily in, while progressives are pushing to go broader even if it means approving those programs for a shorter period. “I’m of a mind that you can argue either side. But I would argue that if it’s a good program, popular with the American people, they’ll find a way to extend it,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “What we need is a number and then we need to do our best.” Manchin has outlined a small package that is centered around reforms to the 2017 GOP tax law, as well as help for children and seniors. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) told CNN that he would prefer “fewer programs for a longer period of time,” adding that there was “risk” that a bill filled with more than a dozen programs could be confusing to explain. But progressives, while stressing that they are willing to negotiate, are pushing for Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to be more specific about what they could live with. “The time for us to be negotiating with ourselves is over, and I think it is absolutely incumbent on the two senators ... to start telling us what they want,” Sanders said. And they are doubling down on their push to put a smaller amount of money into more programs, rather than dropping items from the bill altogether. Progressives view the reconciliation bill as the best chance for getting many of the party’s priorities through Congress. “Our members have made clear that they support the idea of keeping our five priority areas,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told reporters, “but if we need to cut some of them back to a fewer number of years we would be willing to do that.”

Climate will not be cut from reconc8lliation

  Jacob Pramuk, 10-12, 21, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggests Democrats could cut major pieces of Biden’s economic plan, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/12/pelosi-signals-democrats-could-trim-biden-build-back-better-plan.html House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled Democrats could cut entire pieces of their social safety net and climate bill, rather than scale back a range of policies, in order to cut costs. The party has to trim its $3.5 trillion proposal, the core of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, in order to win enough votes to pass it. It will mean deciding whether to prioritize programs including child care, paid leave, Medicare expansion, household tax credits and green energy. Democrats could slash entire pieces of President Joe Biden’s economic plan to push it through Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday. Party leaders have acknowledged they will likely have to cut $1 trillion or more from their $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate proposal. Trying to pass legislation with a razor-thin majority and no Republican votes, Democrats have to appease centrists who have called for a smaller bill. The dilemma has left lawmakers deciding how to cut costs, either by scaling back programs or scrapping some altogether. On Monday night, Pelosi signaled her party could opt to remove some policies from the proposal entirely while keeping others fully intact. President Biden seeking votes for economic agenda “In order to pass both the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill on time, it is essential that difficult decisions must be made very soon,” she wrote to House Democrats, referencing the two planks of Biden’s agenda. She continued: “Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from Members is to do fewer things well so that we can still have a transformative impact on families in the workplace and responsibly address the climate crisis: a Build Back Better agenda for jobs and the planet For The Children!” Pelosi did not say which pieces of the proposal could get cut, though she implied climate policy would remain a priority.

Biden has no capital

Joe Concha, 10-8, 21, Battered on trust, doubted on leadership': A 'brutal' poll for Biden shows no easy fix, https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/575882-battered-on-trust-doubted-on-leadership-a-brutal-poll-for-biden-shows-no "These new poll numbers are frankly brutal for the president," CNN anchor Jake Tapper reported on Wednesday after a new Quinnipiac University poll showed that President Biden is at his lowest approval number yet — 38 percent. But the 38 percent approval is perhaps the best news in the poll when looking at how Americans see the president's performance on individual issues. "Brutal" is almost a generous way to describe it. Just nine months into his presidency, Biden is at 32 percent approval with independents, the people who decide elections in battleground states such as Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada. On his handling of the economy, which was in the midst of a V-shaped recovery when Biden took office, he's 16 points under water (39 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove). On taxes, the president is 17 points under water. On the southern border, where the U.S. is on pace to eclipse 2.3 million people crossing illegally this year, he's at 23 percent approval. That's less than one in four Americans approving. By the way, 2.3 million people is equivalent to the population of the nation's fourth-largest city, Houston. On Biden’s job as commander in chief of the U.S. military, 37 percent approve while 58 percent disapprove. But here's why these polling numbers aren't just part of the usual peaks and valleys that every president endures: On the question of whether the administration – not just Biden – is competently running the government, just 42 percent say it is doing so. That's an extremely difficult impression to undo. The poll analysts at FiveThirtyEight argued back in August that the president would likely rebound, citing the news cycle moving on from the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal as the primary cause. But, as I argued at the time, Biden's sinking polls were about much more than just Afghanistan: ADVERTISING "We’re now more than a month removed from Biden’s difficult August, and there have been no signs of a rebound in his approval rating," FiveThirtyEight now reports. "There may be no easy fix for Biden," it adds. "Even an improvement in the COVID-19 situation may not improve his political fortunes: According to data compiled by The New York Times, the rolling average of newly detected COVID-19 cases nationally has decreased since mid-September, but Biden’s average approval rating on the issue of the coronavirus has remained steady." That approval is also under water in the new Q-poll, with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving. On Tuesday alone, the death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. was 2,990. Minority groups are bearing the brunt of that death toll. "Biden has a lower approval rating at this point in his term than all but two presidents since 1945, so if he’s going to regain his popularity, he’s got an unusually big hole to dig himself out of," FiveThirtyEight concludes. And that's where it's hard to see how Biden, who turns 79 years old next month, turns this around by making his arguments on how to fix X, Y and Z and beyond. His handlers apparently remain petrified to allow him to speak beyond reading off a teleprompter. A recent embarrassing display during an Oval Office meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson underscores this: Johnson took questions from the British press as the two men sat next to each other. But when it was the American media's turn to ask questions of the U.S. president, Biden’s handlers shouted reporters out of the room.

Biden undermining his own infrastructure bill

Marc Thiessen, 10-5, 21, Washington Post, Opinion: On infrastructure, Biden has taken presidential incompetence to a new level, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/05/biden-infrastructure-sinema-pelosi-progressives/ Ask yourself: What kind of president goes up to Capitol Hill and urges members of his own party not to vote for one of his top legislative priorities? Answer: the same president who threatened to veto his own bill. Recall that in June, President Biden announced he had reached a $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal with a bipartisan group of senators — and then promptly declared that he would veto that deal unless Congress also approved a massive Democrat-only social spending bill. “If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” he declared. His gaffe blindsided Republicans and nearly blew up the deal. Biden was forced to backtrack two days later — issuing a lengthy written statement declaring he had not intended to issue a veto threat, and giving Republicans his word the two bills were not linked and that he would pursue the passage of the infrastructure plan “with vigor.” Well, on Friday, Biden broke his word. Instead of calling off House progressives who had taken the infrastructure deal hostage, he effectively gave them his blessing to hold up the legislation until there was a deal on a separate multitrillion-dollar reconciliation bill. In so doing, he violated his promise not to link the two pieces of legislation — as well as his promise to work vigorously to pass it. Rather than work to persuade progressives to allow the infrastructure deal to pass, Biden never even asked for their votes. On “Fox News Sunday” this week, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told host Chris Wallace, “What the Progressive Caucus has said is we will do what the president wants to do. Chris, I didn’t get one call from the White House saying that we want the infrastructure bill to pass first.” Quite the opposite, it appears the White House actively encouraged progressives to block it. The New York Times reports that in meetings and discussions with progressive lawmakers, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain was “blunt about the president’s belief that Democrats need to reach a framework agreement on broader social policy legislation before they can approve the infrastructure measure.” According to Politico, “Biden’s aides are very careful to say they never crossed the line and actively whipped against their own bill, which would have been a serious betrayal of [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi.” Please. They did not have to actively whip against the bill; their failure to whip for it was message enough to progressives. Just when you thought Biden had plumbed the depths of presidential incompetence, he finds a way to reach a new low. At a time when he desperately needed a win, he instead tanked his own bill. In so doing, he undermined Pelosi — his own House speaker — who was working in good faith the deliver on her promise to pass the legislation by Sept. 27. He also betrayed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), the infrastructure plan’s chief Democratic sponsor, whose vote Biden desperately needs to pass a reconciliation bill. Sinema reportedly warned Biden that if the House did not pass the bipartisan bill by Sept. 27, she would not vote for any reconciliation bill. Is she more likely to vote for one now that she knows Biden encouraged progressives to block her infrastructure bill — or after the president refused to condemn left-wing activists who followed Sinema into a bathroom stall, declaring her harassment was “part of the process”? Biden also betrayed the infrastructure plan’s Republican sponsors. After the veto threat fiasco, he assured them that the bills were not linked — and promised he would get the infrastructure deal through the House. Based on those assurances, they put their own reputations on the line and persuaded their GOP colleagues to support the deal, which passed the Senate with 19 Republican votes. Biden not only broke his own word to the bill’s Republicans sponsors; he also made those Republicans break their word to their colleagues. It is very difficult to recover from such betrayals. Biden has irreparably damaged his ability to work across the aisle, something he will regret if Republicans take back the House or Senate — or both — in the 2022 midterms. And he has burned a Democratic senator who literally holds the fate of his legislative agenda in her hands. The ineptitude is stunning.  

Biden will negotiate a reconciliation compromise

Joseph Choi, 10-1, 21, The Hill, Khanna says he trusts Biden to work out a compromise to pass stalled legislation, https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/575065-rep-khanna-says-he-trusts-biden-to-work-out-a-compromise-to-pass Progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that he is confident that President Biden will be able to negotiate a compromise that will allow for both the bipartisan infrastructure package and the larger reconciliation bill to pass. Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Khanna was asked by host Chris Wallace how Congress will lower the price of the reconciliation bill, as Democrats are considering. Khanna responded by saying it could be done by "front-loading the benefits" or adding sunset provisions. "But ultimately the president is an honest broker. He's gonna bring all the stakeholders together, and I trust his judgment to get a compromise," Khanna said. Wallace also asked Khanna what he thought of proposals from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for means-testing that would phase out benefits for individuals above a certain income level and work requirements for benefits offered in the reconciliation package. "There's some things, Chris, that we have to do together as Americans," Khanna said. "I mean, should we really have segregated classes in public school? When I went to first grade, you had blue-collar kids there, you had rich kids there. So when we're talking about having every American get a chance to have preschool, which they already have in countries like France, I don't think that ought to be means testing." Wallace then directly asked Khanna what he thought of Manchin. "I respect him, I've been down to Beckley, W.Va. He was deeply gracious, he cares deeply about his state. He frankly has already always been transparent. We disagree, but he has been clear about what his views are and I think we can come to an agreement. But he's a straight shooter," said Khanna. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has set a new deadline of Oct. 31 for the House to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill after Democrats could not agree on the party's larger spending package, which they hope to pass without Republican support through the reconciliation process.

Progressives will compromise to pass reconciliation

Caroline Vakil,   10-3, 21, The Hill, TheHill.com, Ocasio-Cortez says it's possible to shorten years on funding programs to compromise on reconciliation bill, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/575066-ocasio-cortez-says-its-possible-to-shorten-years-on-funding-programs-to-compromise-on-reconciliation-bill Top GOP senator: 'Far-left Democrats are driving the bus and Joe Biden is just along for the ride' Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Sunday it's possible that progressives could compromise on fully funding certain programs for fewer years in an effort to lower the reconciliation bill’s price tag. “We do have to compromise with the fact that we have Sens. Manchin and Sinema who refused to support certain programs for working families. And so the compromises and options that we have before us is the short enough funding programs — do you reduce the level of funding? Do you cut programs out together?” Ocasio-Cortez said on CBS's “Face the Nation.” “I think that one of the ideas that's out there is fully fund what we can fully fund, but maybe instead of doing it for 10 years, you fully fund it for five years.” Ocasio-Cortez’s comments come as progressives and moderates met at a deadlock last week over efforts to put a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill out for a vote in the House. Progressives threatened to tank the legislation unless the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill with Democratic priorities was passed, which drew the ire of some moderates who were against the idea of coupling with both bills. In the Senate, moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) balked at the price tag of the reconciliation package. Manchin said last week he could agree to something closer to $1.5 trillion instead, a drastic reduction from the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that Democrats want. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also acknowledged that progressives would have to compromise on the price tag, saying there would have to be “give and take.” “What the president has said is that there's going to have to be some give and take, and I think that that's right. I think if anything, Jonathan, when we especially talk about the crisis of climate change and the need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, the $6 trillion that I originally proposed was probably too little,” Sanders told ABC's “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl on Sunday. “Three and a half trillion should be a minimum, but I accept that there's gonna have to be give and take.”

Reconcilliation and infrastructure will both pass

Monique Bills, 10-3, 21, Jayapal: 'We are going to deliver' on infrastructure and reconciliation bills, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/575060-jayapal-we-are-going-to-deliver-on-infrastructure-and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said on Sunday that she was confident the House could still pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a Democratic-only reconciliation package despite both measures being stalled in the chamber this week. "We are going to deliver both bills," Jayapal said on CNN's "State of the Union." Her comments come after President Biden went to Capitol Hill Friday amid deep divisions among House Democrats in which Jayapal's progressive caucus refused to vote on a smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill before voting on a larger $3.5 trillion social spending package. "We don't want to pit roads and bridges against childcare," Jayapal said on Sunday. When asked about the changing price tag for the $3.5 trillion plan, Jayapal said that the social programs that the bill funds would be her priority rather than the cost. "What we've said from the beginning is that it's never been about the price tag. It's about what we want to deliver," Jayapal said. "The critical thing is let's get our priorities in and then we will figure out the actual cost." When asked if the bill's price tag could go as low as $1.5 trillion as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) suggested this week, Jayapal said that was "too small to get our priorities in." Biden lacks the capital to get the reconciliation bill Emma Colton, 10-2, 21, Fox News, Biden lacks mandate to get Bernie Sanders's domestic agenda through Congress, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/joe-biden-congress-infrastructure-mandate-bernie-sanders-progressives As President Biden struggles to pass his progressive domestic policy agenda in Congress, the battle is a reflection of his top legislative priorities deviating from his mandate as a moderate. The mega-spending reconciliation bill puts the progressive wing in the driver seat – and finding the political capital to get it passed has proven difficult. Biden campaigned in 2020 on a moderate platform, handily defeating socialist competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, who won seven states to his 42 in the primary, and knocking Kamala Harris, the most left-wing senator at the time, out of the race before New Year’s celebrations rang out in 2020. Pete Buttigieg, who also campaigned on a moderate platform, managed to snag one state in the primary, while Biden captured the rest of the country. He continued aggressively pitching himself to moderate voters as he competed against former President Donald Trump, heralding that he would unite the country. However, Biden’s top legislative priorities now hang in the balance. Moderates, progressives and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are battling over a $1 trillion infrastructure deal and a $3.5 trillion social spending package, which Bernie Sanders – chair of the Senate Budget Committee – played a pivotal role in crafting. The bill includes progressive programs such as tuition-free community college, expanded Medicare, a universal preschool program. Progressives flexed their muscles this week, holding up the bipartisan infrastructure deal until they get a vote on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. The power move spurred Pelosi to twice pull a vote on infrastructure, and admit "more time is needed." Democratic moderates, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, continue railing against the high price tag, saying they will never support a bill over $1.5 trillion. "Within the next several months congress will be voting on the most consequential piece of legislation for working, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor since Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal of the 1930s," Sanders said shortly before heading off to moderate strongholds Indiana and Iowa in August to champion the progressive agenda. Sanders and his progressive allies must win over reluctant moderates, with midterms just around the corner, if they want to pass the reconciliation bill where it stands now. House Democrats hold their slimmest majority in decades after Republicans managed to flip 15 seats in 2020. Democrats flipped three, despite their robust confidence of a blue wave sweeping the country. The push for the far-left agenda threatens to tank much-needed policy victories after a summer fraught with multiple crises Poll numbers for Biden have also dropped, which was sparked by his botched handling of Afghanistan withdrawal this summer, coupled with the border crisis and rising prices. He hit a 50% approval rating this week, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, after snagging 54% approval in August and 59% in July. As Biden tries to court moderates in Congress to get on board with his agenda and the Democratic infighting rages, he’s struggling to get legislative victories. He notched a win when the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year, but his focus has overwhelmingly now been on infrastructure. Former President Donald Trump snagged his first legislative victory in 2017 when the Republicans’ tax-cut bill passed. While former President Barack Obama had similar victories early in his presidency, most notably in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Biden's push for progressive legislation after running as a moderate has not been lost on his Republican critics. "The bait was he was going to govern as bipartisan, but the switch is he’s governed as a socialist," House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said in April. "I’m hard pressed to find anything moderate about the Biden Administration, which is why Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are so excited about this new administration. He talks like a moderate, but is governing to satisfy the far left," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has added.

Manchin will only fund $1.5 trillion, taking out their impact and splitting the Democratic party

Alexander Bolton, 10-1, 21, The Hill, Manchin throws down gauntlet with progressives, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/574836-manchin-throws-down-gauntlet-with-progressives Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is in the driver’s seat and letting liberal Democrats in the House and Senate know that he plans to set the terms for the budget reconciliation bill that they hope to use to enact President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Manchin’s announcement Thursday that he won’t support any reconciliation bill costing more than $1.5 trillion served as a rude awakening to Democratic progressives who thought he could support a number much closer to the $3.5 trillion goal set by the Senate- and House-passed budgets. The timing of his announcement was especially enraging to progressives as it came hours before the House was set to vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was supposed to be passed in tandem with the reconciliation package as part of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) two-track strategy. By declaring that his top-line limit would be $1.5 trillion — a full two trillion dollars less than the number he voted for in the Senate budget resolution last month — Manchin made it clear that the reconciliation bill isn’t passing anytime soon. Manchin further angered his more liberal colleagues by issuing a statement Wednesday dismissing their big spending plans at a time when Social Security and Medicare face funding shortfalls as “the definition of fiscal insanity.” The reaction from House liberals was angry and immediate. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus, accused Manchin along with centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whom she pointed out represent only “4 percent” of the Senate Democratic caucus, of “blocking the president’s agenda, the Democratic agenda that we ran on.” Jayapal pledged that she and fellow House progressives would not vote for the $1.1 bipartisan infrastructure bill, for which Manchin and Sinema took lead roles in crafting, until the Senate passes a reconciliation bill that satisfies her wing of the party. Jayapal balked Wednesday at Manchin’s accusation that progressives are guilty of fiscal insanity. “I assume he’s saying the president is insane because this is the president’s agenda. Look, this is why we’re not voting for the bipartisan [infrastructure] bill until we get agreement on the reconciliation bill and it’s clear we get agreement on the reconciliation bill and we’ve got a ways to go,” she said. “After that statement we probably have even more people willing to vote no on the bipartisan bill.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), another leading House progressive, hit Manchin for being happy to support defense spending increases but not social spending boosts. “Ever notice how ‘deficit hawks’ vote for record-high defense spending, yet claim bills that help people & challenge lobbyists are ‘too much?’” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in a post that prominently featured a picture of Manchin. She pointed out that the 2022 defense bill costs $768 billion while Biden’s Build Back Better agenda would cost $350 billion a year. “Guess which got rubber stamped & which gets deemed a ‘spending problem,’” she wrote. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) hit Manchin for dismissing her spending priorities as fiscal insanity. “Inaction is insanity. Not willing to negotiate in good faith is insanity. Not fighting to have the critical investments that are needed is insanity. Trying to kill your party’s agenda is insanity,” Omar fumed to reporters. “Not trying to make sure the president we all worked so hard to elect’s agenda pass[es] is insanity. Losing us the majority in the House and the Senate is insanity,” she added. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday night renewed his call for House liberals to defeat the bipartisan infrastructure bill and criticized the frantic late-night scramble by House Democratic leaders to round up enough votes to pass it. “It is an absurd way to do business to be negotiating a multi-trillion-dollar bill a few minutes before a major vote with virtually nobody knowing what’s going on. That’s unacceptable,” he said. “I think what has got to happen is tonight the bipartisan infrastructure bill must be defeated and we can then sit down work out a way to pass both pieces of legislation.” Manchin was greeted with angry chants of “Hey Joe, we had a deal!” as he walked out to a crowd of reporters in front of the Capitol Thursday, but he didn’t seem concerned. He explained that he has never been a liberal during his long political career and suggested that progressives settle for what he’s willing to agree to in the reconciliation package and then try to pick up more seats in the 2022 midterm elections in order to pass those priorities he doesn’t share. “Take whatever we aren’t able to come to agreement with today and take that on the campaign trail next year and I’m sure that they’ll get many more liberal progressive Democrats with what they say they want,” he said. “For them to get theirs, elect more liberals,” he said, noting “I’ve never been a liberal in any way, shape or form.” He said he’d be happy to speak to House progressives if they want to meet with him. But Manchin also said he didn’t want to spend more than $1.5 trillion because he worries about “changing our whole society to an entitlement mentality.” Manchin appears confident that whatever he eventually agrees to in the reconciliation package, which now appears to headed to a top-line spending number well below $3.5 trillion, the House will eventually pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would send billions of dollars to his home state. For instance, the bipartisan infrastructure bill would create a new $2 billion rural grant program that will dedicate resources to the Appalachian Highway Development System, also known as the Robert C. Byrd Freeway, in West Virginia. Senate Democrats were generally much more restrained than their House liberal counterparts in responding to Manchin’s red line, acknowledging they need his vote and he can always walk away. “Manchin’s in an amazing position,” remarked one Democratic senator, who requested anonymity to discuss internal caucus dynamics. Manchin says 'I don't see a deal tonight' Manchin says his spending limit is $1.5 trillion The two-track strategy for passing the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill in tandem rested on the presumption that the threat of defeating the bipartisan bill would give progressives leverage over Manchin and other centrists. But even if the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t pass this week or this month, most Senate Democrats aren’t even thinking about scrapping it. Instead, they’re predicting they’ll eventually reach agreement on the reconciliation package, even if it’s smaller than what they wanted.

Massive democratic infighting now

Alexis Semindiger, 10-1, 21, The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats still at odds over Biden agenda, https://thehill.com/homenews/morning-report/574846-the-hills-morning-report However, as The Hill’s Hanna Trudo reports, mistrust has become pervasive within the House Democratic Caucus, with progressives and centrists accusing one another of essentially sabotaging Biden’s agenda.The two factions have grown more irritated by the day, and that was never more apparent than on Thursday. At one point, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a longtime Democratic member, noted that others in the progressive wing have not had extensive careers crafting legislation.  “I don't want to suggest the progressives are wrong. They have good attitudes and good instincts and good goals. But they haven't been legislators, most of them, for a very long period of time and a lot of them have been activists and try to get things in other ways,” Cohen said. “I've been a legislator for 44 years, I've got cars, my car is older than quite a few of the progressives.”

No vote on infrastructure and the fate is determined by the reconciliation package

  Tony Romm, 9-30-21, Washington Post, House Democrats delay planned vote on $1 trillion infrastructure bill amid dispute between party moderates and liberals. https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/30/house-democrats-infrastructure-vote/ House Democrats on Thursday delayed a vote on an approximately $1 trillion proposal to improve the nation’s infrastructure, a dramatic reversal after hours of negotiations that marked a major setback for President Biden’s economic agenda. The decision came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders strained late into the night to try to repair the schisms among their own moderate and liberal ranks, whose distrust of each other turned the public-works bill into a political bargaining chip in a fight over the full array of new spending that Biden seeks. The source of the Democratic stalemate was a second, roughly $3.5 trillion package that proposes to expand Medicare, combat climate change and boost federal safety-net programs, all financed through tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporations. To safeguard the initiative from cuts at the hands of centrists, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), liberals threatened to oppose the infrastructure bill that the moderate duo originally helped negotiate. Pelosi had spent the day huddling with Democrats’ warring factions in private meetings, while the White House labored to work with Sinema and Manchin on a spending deal they could support. But the flurry of outreach, sometimes from Biden personally, failed to bring the two camps together — generating acrimony among Democrats’ own ranks. House liberals grow exasperated with Manchin and Sinema Manchin emerged from one of those gatherings with the president’s top aides shortly before 10 p.m. and asserted that there needed to be dramatic cuts to liberals’ most prized priorities. He said that any tax-and-spending measure should be much less than the $3.5 trillion price tag that many other Democrats initially sought. “We’re in good-faith negotiations, we’ll continue in good-faith negotiations,” Manchin stressed to reporters as he left the Capitol. Absent a deal, the political dynamic threatened to leave Pelosi facing a difficult choice in the hours ahead. If she put the infrastructure bill on the floor, she would risk an embarrassing defeat. But if she held the bill back, it could upset moderates who had demanded the vote in the first place. The speaker chose the latter option, something liberals throughout the day had demanded. “A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing.” What is the debt ceiling and why is Congress arguing over it again? After raising the debt limit for decades, Republicans in recent years have leveraged it to enact spending cuts while also threatening government default. (JM Rieger/The Washington Post) The debt-ceiling fight, explained The uncertainty on Capitol Hill marked a sharp contrast from what lawmakers had hoped would be a more joyous occasion for Biden, delivering him his first bipartisan victory. And it exposed an ever-growing sense of distrust among Democrats that only added to the challenge Pelosi and other leaders face in governing in a time of narrow majorities. For the party, though, the consequences for inaction remain great. Democrats believe they seized control of the White House and Congress in the 2020 elections in part by championing Biden’s campaign pledge to “build back better” through sizable new investments in the country’s inner workings. A failure to deliver could damage their standing in the eyes of voters ahead of the midterm elections in 2022, all the while delaying investments and reforms that Biden and his allies say are already long overdue. What’s happening in Congress will have a big impact on the economy and families “The majority of the agenda that the president ran on that delivered us the House, the Senate and the White House is in the Build Back Better agenda,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), referring to both the infrastructure plan and the House’s $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending proposal. “If we fail to deliver that promise, we have failed the American people.” The stakes also were top of mind for Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who helped craft the infrastructure bill as well as the framework for what became the House’s $3.5 trillion package. Citing the closely watched gubernatorial race in Virginia, where some residents are “real-time voting,” the centrist Democrat stressed Thursday: “It doesn’t help us in Virginia if we can’t get the infrastructure bill done today.” The House began considering the infrastructure measure on Monday, as Pelosi looked to deliver on a promise she made to moderates in her party to sidestep an earlier revolt. Those House centrists, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), had projected a measure of confidence in recent days, believing that the speaker still can whip the votes — and that some Democrats largely were bluffing when they say they plan to vote against the president’s agenda. Liberal-leaning lawmakers, meanwhile, had called for delays and blasted the intended Thursday vote as arbitrary, as they hoped to finalize the second spending package — and perhaps even secure a Senate vote on the measure. But doing so risked sparking a rebellion among centrists, prompting some moderates to issue their own stark warnings to Pelosi as tensions mounted. Waiting for ‘Manchema’: House liberals grow exasperated with two Democratic senators as Biden agenda struggles “Leadership made a very clear promise to people that this bill was going to be put on the floor for a vote,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.). “And if they go back on that, that’s a breach of trust I don’t know if this caucus is going to be able to recover from.” Speaking to reporters earlier Thursday, Pelosi initially swatted away the threats from her own caucus, stressing that she still planned to vote on infrastructure. She then embarked on a flurry of meetings with the disparate factions of her party as she struck a defiant yet upbeat note: “I’m only envisioning taking it up and winning it,” she said at a news conference. Biden and White House aides, meanwhile, continued to try to negotiate a deal with Sinema and Manchin to loosen the liberals’ opposition. Psaki said at her daily press briefing that talks are ongoing, adding: “We’re working toward winning a vote tonight.” But as the night dragged on, the political climate became only more complicated. Lawmakers in the Congressional Progressive Caucus expressed confidence they controlled enough votes to scuttle the infrastructure bill. “We’re in the same place we’ve always been,” predicted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the leader of the group, where about half of the 100-member bloc previously has threatened to oppose the infrastructure proposal. “We will not be able to vote for the infrastructure bill until the reconciliation bill has passed,” she said. Talks between centrists and the White House once again appeared to produce no result as well. Manchin and Sinema still refused to waver in seeking massive cuts to House Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package, including limits on that money that would scale back the eligibility of things such as free community college. Neither appeared newly supportive of the exact tax increases Biden has proposed, either. Instead, Manchin doubled down in a news conference, stressing that he supports $1.5 trillion in spending, far less than liberals seek, as he said Democrats can’t pursue “everything at one time.” “I’ve never been a liberal in any way, shape or form,” Manchin said. “I don’t fault any of them who believe that they’re much more progressive and much more liberal. God bless ’em. … NU – GOP won’t help Democrats on the debt ceiling and it will pass through reconciliation Jordain Carney, 9-30, 21, Congress poised to avert shutdown, but brawl looms on debt, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/574607-congress-poised-to-avert-shutdown-but-brawl-looms-on-debt Republicans appear confident that the U.S. government ultimately won’t default. “It will get raised in part because they know that the president cannot afford another disaster,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). But they are showing no movement toward helping Democrats or letting a stand-alone bill on the debt ceiling pass the Senate without a filibuster. “I wouldn’t go out there on a limb because he’s going to have to walk it back,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, about Schumer’s resistance to using the budget reconciliation process to resolve the debt standoff. “I think in the end that’s the path they’re going to have to go down. I know he’s resisting it,” Thune added.  If Republicans won’t help, Democrats will need to figure out a way in potentially a matter of weeks to raise or suspend the debt ceiling on their own. Republicans want them to do it under reconciliation, which would require them to specify a new number for the nation’s borrowing limit. Biden’s political support has collapsed Amy Parnes, 9-30, 21, Harris's poll numbers rise as Biden's fall, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/574604-harriss-poll-numbers-rise-as-bidens-fall?rl=1  A Gallup poll last week showed 49 percent approved of Harris’s job as vice president, 6 points higher than Biden’s 43 percent approval rating. It’s a significant change for both Biden and Harris. The president fell 6 points since August and 13 points since June. Harris’s current approval rating is the same as Biden’s in 2009, when he served as Barack Obama’s vice president. The Sept. 22 Gallup poll — conducted earlier in the month — also revealed that the vice president performed better than Biden with independents, a stunning revelation for a man who was catapulted to the White House because of support from that demographic. It’s unclear why Harris’s numbers have risen higher than Biden’s in some surveys, though Biden in the last two months has gone through the most difficult phase of his presidency so far. Biden has received bipartisan criticism related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and has also taken some hits over the prolonged coronavirus pandemic. Debt ceiling default destroys the economy Edelberg & Shiner, 9-28, 21, Wendy EdelbergDirector - The Hamilton Project Senior Fellow - Economic Studies;Louise Sheiner The Robert S. Kerr Senior Fellow - Economic Studies Policy Director - The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2021/09/28/how-worried-should-we-be-if-the-debt-ceiling-isnt-lifted/, How worried should we be if the debt ceiling isn’t lifted? The U.S. government pays a lower interest rate on Treasury securities because of the unparalleled safety and liquidity of the Treasury market. Some estimates suggest that this advantage lowers the interest rate the government pays on Treasuries (relative to interest rates on the debt of other sovereign nations) by something on the order of 25 basis points (a quarter of a percentage point) on average. Given the current level of the debt, this translates into interest savings for the federal government of roughly $60 billion this year, and over $700 billion over the next decade. Even if only some of this advantage were lost by allowing the debt limit to bind, the cost to the taxpayer could be significant. One cannot predict how Treasury will operate when the debt limit binds, given that this would be unprecedented. Treasury did have a contingency plan in place in 2011 when the country faced a similar situation, and it seems likely that Treasury would follow the contours of that plan if the debt limit binds this year. Under the plan, there would be no default on Treasury securities. Treasury would continue to pay interest on those Treasury securities as it comes due. And, as securities mature, Treasury would pay that principal by auctioning new securities for the same amount (and thus not increasing the overall stock of debt held by the public). Treasury would delay payments for all other obligations, such as payments to agencies, contractors, Social Security beneficiaries, and Medicare providers, until it had at least enough cash to pay a full day’s obligations, rather than attempting to pick and choose which payments to make that are due on a given day. Timely payments of interest and principal of Treasury securities alongside delays in other federal obligations would likely result in legal challenges. On the one hand, the motivation to pay principal and interest on time to avoid a default on Treasury securities is clear; on the other, lawsuits would probably argue that holders of Treasury securities have no legal standing to be paid before others. It is not clear how such litigation would turn out, in part because the law itself imposes contradictory requirements on the government—requiring it to make payments, honor the debt, and not go above the debt limit, three things that cannot all happen at once. HOW MUCH WOULD NON-INTEREST FEDERAL SPENDING HAVE TO BE CUT? If the debt limit binds, and the Treasury were to make interest payments, then other outlays will have to be cut by about 40 percent in aggregate. The need for the sharp cut reflects two factors. First, the government is running annual deficits: for fiscal year 2022 as a whole, CBO expects 22 cents of every dollar of non-interest outlays to be financed by borrowing. Second, infusions of cash to the Treasury from tax revenues vary greatly by month, and tax revenues in October and November tend to be fairly muted. Thus, the required cuts to federal spending when an increase in federal debt is precluded are particularly large during these months. If Treasury wanted to be certain that it always had sufficient cash on hand to cover all interest payments, it might need to cut non-interest spending by more than 40 percent. HOW WOULD A BINDING DEBT LIMIT AFFECT THE ECONOMY The extent of the economic costs of the debt limit binding, while assuredly negative, are enormously uncertain. Assuming interest and principal is paid on time, the very short-term effects largely depend on the expectations of financial market participants, businesses, and households. Would the stock market tumble precipitously the first day that a Social Security payment is delayed? Would the U.S. Treasury market, the world’s most important, function smoothly? Would there be a run on money market funds that hold short-term U.S. Treasuries? What actions would the Federal Reserve take to stabilize financial markets and the economy more broadly? Much depends on whether investors would be confident that Treasury would continue paying interest on time and on how long they think the impasse will persist. If people expect the impasse will be short lived and are certain that the Treasury will not default on Treasury securities, it is possible that the initial response could be muted. However, even if the debt limit were raised quickly so that it only was binding for a few days, there would likely be lasting damage. At the very least, financial markets would likely anticipate such disruptions as we approached the debt limit in the future. In addition, the shock to financial markets and loss of business and household confidence could take time to abate. If the impasse were to drag on, market conditions would likely worsen with each passing day. Concerns about a default would grow with mounting legal and political pressures as Treasury security holders were prioritized above others to whom the federal government had obligations. Concerns would grow regarding the possibility of a recession triggered by a protracted sharp cut in federal spending. Worsening expectations regarding a possible default would make significant disruptions in financial markets increasingly likely. That could result in an increase in interest rates on newly issued Treasuries. If financial markets started to pull back from U.S. Treasuries all together, the Treasury could have a difficult time finding buyers when it sought to roll over maturing debt, perhaps putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to purchase additional Treasuries in the secondary market. Such financial market disruptions would very likely be coupled with declines in the price of equities, a loss of consumer and business confidence, and a contraction in access to private credit markets. Financial markets, businesses, and households would become more pessimistic about a quick resolution and increasingly worried that a recession was inevitable. More and more people would feel economic pain because of delayed payments. Take just a few examples: Social Security beneficiaries seeing delays in their payments could face trouble with obligations such as rent and utilities; federal, state, and local agencies implementing urgent pandemic-related work might see delays in payments that interrupted their work; federal contractors and employees would face uncertainty about how long their payments would be delayed. Those and other disruptions would have enormous economic and health consequences over time, and ultimately the cuts to federal spending would cause a deep recession. That recession would be particularly painful in the midst of the pandemic. Moreover, tax revenues, the only resource the Treasury would have to pay interest on the debt, would be dampened, and the federal government would have to cut back on non-interest outlays with increasing severity. In a worst-case scenario, at some point Treasury would be forced to delay a payment of interest or principal on U.S. debt. Such an outright default on Treasury securities would very likely result in severe disruption to the Treasury securities market with acute spillovers to other financial markets and to the cost and availability of credit to households and businesses. Those developments could undermine the reputation of the Treasury market as the safest and most liquid in the world. ESTIMATES OF THE EFFECTS OF A BINDING DEBT LIMIT ON THE U.S. ECONOM It is obviously difficult to quantify the effects of a binding debt limit on the macroeconomy. However, history and illustrative scenarios provide some guidance. Evidence from prior “near-misses” As discussed in this Hutchins Center Explains post, when Congress waited until the last minute to raise the debt ceiling in 2013, rates rose on Treasury securities scheduled to mature near the projected date the debt limit was projected to bind—by between 21 basis points and 46 basis points, according to an estimate from Federal Reserve economists, and liquidity in the Treasury securities market contracted. Yields across all maturities also increased a bit as well, according to this study–by between 4 basis points and 8 basis points—reflecting investors’ fears of broader financial contagion. Similarly, after policymakers came close to the brink of the debt limit binding in 2011, the GAO estimated that the delays in raising the debt limit increased Treasury’s borrowing costs by about $1.3 billion that year. The fact that the estimated effects are small in comparison to the U.S. economy likely reflects that investors didn’t think it very likely that the debt ceiling would actually bind and, if it did, thought that the impasse would be very short lived Evidence from macroeconomic models: n October 2013, the Federal Reserve simulated the effects of a binding debt ceiling that lasted one month—from mid-October to mid-November 2013—during which time Treasury would continue to make all interest payments. The Fed economists estimated that such an impasse would lead to an 80 basis point increase in 10-year Treasury yields, a 30 percent decline in stock prices, a 10 percent drop in the value of the dollar, and a hit to household and business confidence, with these effects waning over a two-year period. According to their analysis, this deterioration in financial conditions would result in a mild two-quarter recession, leading to an increase in the unemployment rate of 1.25 percentage points and 1.7 percentage points over the following two years. Such an increase in the unemployment rate today would mean the loss of 2 million jobs in 2022 and 2.7 million jobs in 2023. Macroeconomic Advisers conducted a similar exercise in 2013. It assessed the economic costs of two scenarios – one in which the impasse lasted just a short time and another in which it persisted for two months. Even in the scenario in which the impasse was resolved quickly, the economic consequences were substantial—a mild recession and a loss of 2.5 million jobs that returned only very slowly. For the two-month impasse, which included a deep cut to federal spending in one quarter, offset by a surge in spending in the next quarter, the effects were larger and longer lasting. In the analysis, such a scenario would lead to the near-term loss of up to 3.1 million jobs. Even two years after the crisis, jobs would remain 2.5 million lower than they otherwise would have been. In a very recent analysis, Moody’s Analytics concluded that the costs to the U.S. economy of allowing the debt limit to bind now would be even higher. In Moody’s simulation, if the impasse lasted through November, employment would decline by 5 million and real GDP would decline almost 4 percent in the near term before recovering over the next few quarters.

Collapse of any of Biden’s legislative efforts undermines the ability of the US to resist global authoritarianism

Jonathan Swan, 9-26, 21, Axios, Hill votes will make global waves, https://www.axios.com/biden-agenda-global-congress-9e6d3d40-c199-4fe1-8c12-13fbd306979a.html This epic week for President Biden on Capitol Hill is even bigger than his domestic agenda. Why it matters: Biden has anchored his entire strategy for foreign affairs on the notion that "America is back." What that means in practice is that Biden needs to prove democracy works to rally America’s liberal allies against rising authoritarians. A collapse of any or all of his four urgent legislative priorities — infrastructure, reconciliation, government funding and the debt ceiling — would deal a severe blow to the underlying theory of Biden’s presidency. He's already shaky: His approval rating is under water, the Afghanistan withdrawal was a debacle, the border is overwhelmed, and he’s made no progress in dealing with China. The bottom line: He needs this badly. But with progressives still promising to vote against it, they plainly don’t have the votes. Speaker Pelosi said Thursday at her weekly news conference: "I think we're in a very good place. I've always been very calm about this, because ... it always happens the same way — all this bluster and this and that, and who's there and who's there."

Prioritizing debt payments won’t solve the economic problems

Jeff Stein, 9-26, 21, Washington Post, As Treasury scrambles to pay bills, pandemic fuels uncertainty over calamitous ‘X Date, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/26/debt-ceiling-treasury/ Some lawmakers have said the Treasury Department is bluffing, essentially trying to scaremonger Congress. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) has said the Treasury would prioritize payments on its debt even if the debt ceiling isn’t increased so that it wouldn’t technically default if Congress doesn’t act. In the past, Treasury officials have looked at whether they could prioritize these payments and delay other payments as a way to manage its cash flow in a crisis-type situation. But even steps like those aren’t expected to calm investors. The closer Treasury comes to the X Date, the more investors tend to dump short-term Treasury debt, a move that can lead to panic on Wall Street and in Washington.

Executive action on the debt limit won’t reassure investors and avoid the impacts

Jeff Stein, 9-26, 21, Washington Post, As Treasury scrambles to pay bills, pandemic fuels uncertainty over calamitous ‘X Date, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/26/debt-ceiling-treasury/ Some liberal advocates have also urged Biden to consider simply ignoring the debt ceiling law and instead invoking the Constitution, which appears to require the government to meet its payment obligations. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” “Yes, it may be a violation of the Constitution for the president to simply ignore the debt ceiling. But it’s even more serious for him to obey the debt ceiling and have default in violation of Section 4,” said Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, whose legal advice the administration has repeatedly sought, in an interview. Treasury has rejected this approach as well, according to a spokeswoman. Some experts say such a maneuver would do little to assure creditors of the reliability of the U.S. government to meet its obligations. Only Congress can assure the world the U.S. political system is functional enough to be a safe haven for investors worldwide, said Zandi, of Moody’s Analytics. “That is not going to make an investor feel comfortable we have this under control,” Zandi said. “It not only would not work but it would also threaten our system of government.”

Fed measures would limit the size of the debt default crisis, they wouldn’t solve it

Nick Timiraos, 9-26, 21, Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/debt-limit-standoff-could-force-fed-to-revisit-emergency-playbook-11632661200?mod=hp_lead_pos3, Debt-Limit Standoff Could Force Fed to Revisit Emergency Playbook A crisis-management playbook Federal Reserve officials created years ago could guide their response this fall if the federal government can’t pay all its bills because of a political standoff over raising the federal debt limit. The options include the Fed buying Treasury securities in default on the open market and selling Treasurys owned by the Fed to counteract potentially severe strains in financial markets, according to the transcript of an October 2013 conference call. Among the officials who said those steps shouldn’t be ruled out were Jerome Powell —the central bank’s current chairman who was then a Fed governor—and Janet Yellen —the current Treasury secretary who was then Fed vice chairwoman. Mr. Powell called some measures “loathsome” and others called them “repugnant” or “beyond the pale” for two main reasons. First, they would pierce the Fed’s institutional preference to avoid directly financing the government, often referred to as its independence from fiscal policy. Second, Fed officials worried if such contingency planning became public, elected officials might feel less urgency to raise the debt limit. “These are decisions you really, really don’t ever want to have to make,” Mr. Powell said on the call. “The institutional risk would be huge. The economics of it are right, but you’d be stepping into this difficult political world and looking like you are making the problem go away.” Ms. Yellen said, “I wouldn’t be eager to do them, but I wouldn’t say, ‘never.’” Others sharing that view included Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and then-San Francisco Fed President John Williams, who is now president of the New York Fed. Congress faces another political standoff over how to raise the debt ceiling before the Treasury Department is unable to pay bills over the next month or so. Lawmakers agreed in August 2019 to suspend the borrowing limit for two years, and it took effect again last month at around $28.5 trillion. The Treasury has been relying on cash-conservation measures since then to manage payments. Similar standoffs in the past have often been resolved after going down to the wire, and some analysts say that has bred complacency that obscures the growing risks of a misjudgment this fall. One worry this time is a game of chicken in which markets stay placid because they assume Congress will act, and lawmakers don’t act because they see no alarm in markets. Top Republicans have said they won’t help Democrats raise the limit this year. Mr. Powell declined at a press conference last week to elaborate on the Fed’s contingency plans, but he warned of severe damage to the economy and financial markets if Congress waits too long to act. “It’s just not something we should contemplate,” he said. “No one should assume the Fed or anyone else can fully protect the markets or the economy in the event of a failure.” In 2011, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. triple-A credit rating for the first time ever, after the Treasury came within days of being unable to pay certain benefits such as Social Security. In 2013, during another standoff, the U.S. government shut down for 16 days until Congress passed a bill funding the government and raising the debt limit. Both times, Fed policy makers debated behind closed doors what they would do if the gridlock led to the government defaulting on its debt payments or to broader financial-market instability, according to transcripts released with the usual five-year lag. A Fed spokeswoman declined to comment. Mr. Powell, a Republican who oversaw debt-management policy as a top Treasury Department official in the early 1990s, made his return to public service in 2011 by warning against the consequences of default to Republicans who used it as leverage to seek spending cuts from President Barack Obama. As an unpaid analyst at a Washington think tank called the Bipartisan Policy Center, Mr. Powell modeled government cash flows to produce a so-called “X Date” after which the Treasury would run out of money to pay bills as they came due. After that standoff was resolved, Mr. Obama’s advisers recommended Mr. Powell’s nomination to the Fed’s board of governors, and he was confirmed in 2012. He became Fed chairman in 2018. Last week, the think tank’s director of economic policy, Shai Akabas, released projections showing the “X Date” would fall between Oct. 15 and Nov. 4. Friday could be a particularly difficult date for federal finances, he said, because of a large payment owed to a trust fund for veterans’ retirement benefits. Financial and economic risks could accelerate from that point, he wrote. Fed officials agreed in 2011 on a process for managing government payments that would allow the Treasury to give priority to paying principal and interest on government debt ahead of other obligations, the transcripts show. They were also prepared to tell banks that they could count defaulted Treasurys toward their regulatory capital buffers and that they wouldn’t necessarily penalize banks that faced a drop in capital ratios due to unusual cash demands from customers. On Oct. 16, 2013, then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke convened a conference call for officials to review potential options as the Treasury Department neared the exhaustion of its emergency borrowing authority, according to a transcript of the call. Fed staff economists had prepared a memo outlining nine steps the central bank could consider to manage the fallout from any missed payments. Officials broadly agreed on several measures, including lending against defaulted Treasurys at their emergency borrowing window and accepting defaulted Treasurys in a separate bond-buying stimulus program—albeit at potentially reduced market prices, so long as it was certain that the government would quickly make full payments after the debt ceiling was lifted. Mr. Bernanke warned the Fed wouldn’t be able to remove defaulted securities from the market “in any kind of comprehensive way given the size of the Treasury market.” They also agreed to steps that could flood lending markets with cash, including by extending very-short-term loans made between financial institutions called repurchase agreements, which could also relieve pressures on money-market mutual funds. Many officials expressed concern that financial markets might face a severe disruption even before the Treasury stopped paying all its bills if the U.S. government failed to find enough buyers in an auction of Treasury debt to replace maturing securities with new ones. Mr. Powell pointed to the risk of a failure of the Treasury to sell short-term bills that would mature at a point where the government’s borrowing authority might be exhausted. “The real risk is of a failed auction—a loss of market access at any price,” he said. Mr. Powell worried that the ideas with the broadest support were ineffective to address that problem. He later agreed that in an extreme crisis, the most unappetizing measures shouldn’t be ruled out. “I don’t want to say today what I would and wouldn’t do if we actually deal with a catastrophe on this,” he said. Mr. Bernanke said only Congress could fully resolve any impasse. “What we are talking about…are steps that the Federal Reserve could take to mitigate on the margin the potential effect of such a default, but obviously, this is not a problem that we could eliminate, by any means,” he said.

Infrastructure vote on Monday, it won’t pass

Mike Lillis, 9-24, 21, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/573840-pelosi-bipartisan-infrastructure-vote-will-happen-monday, Pelosi: Bipartisan infrastructure vote will happen Monday House Democrats will honor their commitment to moderates and vote early next week on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday. "It will come up on Monday," the Speaker told reporters just outside the Capitol. Whether the bill will pass, however, remains an open question. And liberals are already predicting it won't. "It cannot pass," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Friday. "I don't bluff, I don't grandstand. We just don't have the votes for it." Behind Jayapal, liberal lawmakers have been lining up by the dozen to oppose the infrastructure bill, not to protest the policy, but because they want to vote first on a larger, $3.5 trillion social spending package that stands as the second piece of President Biden's two-part domestic agenda. Democrats in the House, Senate and White House have been busy negotiating the details of the larger "family" package, which party leaders intend to advance through a special budget process, known as reconciliation, that sidesteps the Senate filibuster. Pelosi announced Friday that House Democrats are hoping to finalize the reconciliation bill and bring it to the floor sometime next week — a bid to satisfy the liberals threatening to sink the infrastructure bill. But given the outstanding divisions between House liberals and Senate centrists on the larger bill, it's unclear if those negotiations will bear fruit in time to meet that ambitious schedule. Liberals, meanwhile, are skeptical that whatever reconciliation bill emerges will satisfy their demands for expanding the nation's safety net programs, tackling climate change and overhauling the immigration system. "It's not going to give us any comfort to pass a bill that then the Senate [defeats]," said Jayapal. "That doesn't satisfy our requirements." She added: "It can only come to the floor once everyone's agreed and once the Senate has voted on it." House Democrats set 'goal' to vote on infrastructure, social spending... Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor The internal sniping — combined with stonewalling by Senate centrists — has created a headache for Democratic leaders who are scrambling to realize Biden's first-term domestic agenda. The two-pronged legislation would not only accomplish a number of policy goals Democrats have sought for years, but would help prop up Biden's standing in the face of falling approval numbers. Many Democrats see the success of the legislation as crucial to their prospects of keeping control of the House in next year's midterm elections. In an effort to advance both bills next week, the House Budget Committee will gather in a rare Saturday session to mark up a reconciliation bill. It will then move to the Rules Committee, which is likely to make changes before sending it to the floor. Pelosi said she's hoping it happens next week.

Reconciliation package too big to pass

Mike Allen, 9-24, 21. https://www.axios.com/biden-infrastructure-plan-cost-votes-8eaf3fcb-ee49-4101-bf28-216957e726dc.html, Biden's big bet backfires President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say. Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK. Democrats, controlling two branches of government, saw a once-in-a-lifetime opening. In retrospect, some top advisers say this should have been done in smaller chunks. An outside White House adviser said: "Reality is setting in that you can’t pass a $3.5 trillion package. It’s going to get scaled back. The question is whether it can be done this year." In branding some Democrats wish had started months ago, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sept. 15 at the SALT financial conference in New York: "The net cost of Build Back Better is zero." The $3.5 trillion price tag covers the 10-year cost of Biden's infrastructure plans, plus massive social spending, including pre-K for all 3- and 4- years olds, and two years of tuition-free community college. Biden needs to show lawmakers on the left he's with him on topics like this, when he's being pulled to the right on immigration. The proposal was always an opening bid. The White House points out that the final figure is still being negotiated. But the big number stuck and is the near-universal way Biden's plans are described. The New York Times' David Leonhardt said on CNN earlier this month that the price "highlights a political weakness of how the Biden administration ... They haven't given anyone any other way of selling the bill because it's sort of such a hodgepodge of different things."

Negative images destroying Biden politically

Hanna Trudo, 9-24, 21, The Hill, Democrats worry negative images are defining White House, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/573699-democrats-worry-negative-images-are-defining-white-house Democrats are worried that Joe Biden’s presidency is at an inflection point where his administration risks being defined by a series of negative and disturbing images from Afghanistan and the border. A picture is worth a thousand words, and the Biden White House wants its image to be one of professionals restoring order, empathy and compassion after what Democrats say was the chaos, dysfunction and cold-heartedness of the Trump years. The early months of Biden’s first year in office mostly went according to script, but things have started to come off the rails as the stark footage from the border and Afghanistan, two consistently difficult issues for the president, crystalize in the public view. Video and photos from Afghanistan last month depicted agonizing scenes of people climbing on to military aircrafts to escape. One video, which went viral on Twitter, appeared to show people falling to their death from the undercarriage of a plane. And this week, the administration has had to respond to images of patrol agents on horseback rounding up Haitian refugees on the Texas-Mexico border. In both cases, the White House has taken criticism from erstwhile allies in addition to Republicans, and officials have had to defend themselves and the policies from the same charges frequently leveled at the Trump administration of incompetence and callousness. “What we witnessed takes us back hundreds of years,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Wednesday in response to scenes at the border. “What we witnessed was worse than what we witnessed and slavery. Cowboys — with the reins again — whipping Black people, Haitians, into the water where they're scrambling and falling down and all they're trying to do is escape from violence in their country.” The administration has promised a swift investigation of the incidents, and it has sought to cast its evacuation of more than 100,000 Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan as a historic achievement. Yet Biden’s approval ratings have fallen amid the difficult stretch, and Democratic operatives acknowledge the pictures present a challenge for the White House. “Political stories are often told through images and the images have been really strong and they almost supersede what’s in the column space below them,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. Payne says the White House needs to ensure it contextualizes the photos and reacts quickly. “It’s very important to balance out those images with context,” he said. “It’s always better to preempt the story, not be in reaction mode.” On the issue of immigration in particular, the president finds himself receiving strong backlash from liberals in his party who now doubt his empathy for migrants. And with both the border and Afghanistan, the bad pictures are reflective of wider policies that Biden must either defend or alter. “Afghanistan is policy, which the photos represent,” said Bill Kristol, a leading conservative voice who was a staunch critic of the Trump administration. “They do raise kind of basic questions of execution and competency.” Biden has to look back just at the Trump era to see how quickly pictures can define an administration’s policies. Trump’s “American First” border agenda came to be marked by a policy that kept migrant children in detention facilities and separated from their families. Biden pledged to take a different approach before entering office. He appointed Vice President Harris to help address the existing gaps in the immigration system exasperated under Trump. Harris, who has had her own ups and downs on border issues, was one of the first in the White House to criticize this week’s scenes of agents handling Haitian immigrants poorly, saying she was “deeply troubled.” “What I saw depicted, those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were was horrible,” she said. “Human beings should never be treated that way, and I’m deeply troubled about it.” Joel Rubin, a former deputy assistant Secretary of State under the Obama administration, says it can be difficult for administrations to react quickly when images in the media get significant traction and become symbols of a policy. He suggested it can be particularly tricky at places like the State Department. ADVERTISING “It’s a culture based on privacy and discretion,” Rubin said. “There’s 20 people that work on an issue. When a photograph comes up and it’s in the media cycle, it affects all 20. But not all 20 are empowered to do something about that, get out in front of the camera and speak. There’s a bureaucracy to it.” “It creates stress on policymakers, absolutely,” he added. “It creates a political environment that shapes the policy response.” While Biden campaigned heavily on his foreign policy experience, the White House has long seen Biden’s fortunes being closely tied to two domestic issues: His ability to steer the nation out of the coronavirus pandemic and soundly restore the economy. Philippe Reines, who has dealt with multiple international crises as a senior adviser for Hillary Clinton, put it this way: “It’s COVID, stupid.” As a result, some Democrats close to Biden do not think Afghanistan or the border will determine his fate. At least not yet. “The biggest impact is COVID. And then the economy,” said Celinda Lake, a leading pollster who advised Biden’s presidential campaign. Yet both issues have caused consternation within Democratic circles while enlivening Republicans, who believe it is increasing their chances of gaining back majorities in Congress next year. Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue... It could also add to the difficulty Biden faces in moving his legislative agenda through Capitol Hill. Some of the Democrats blasting him for the most recent photos at the border are the same ones he is coaxing to back an infrastructure bill already passed by the Senate that progressives want to hold up until centrists offer support for a larger $3.5 trillion social infrastructure package. “You want to fill the media vacuum with enough content that citizens have a balanced view of them,” Payne said, addressing the multiple issues facing Team Biden. That way, he said, “the president [can] talk values and big picture-objectives ahead of these acute one-off events.”

No political capital being spent to increase the debt limit on Monday and Democrats will pivot to a Continuing Resolution to keep the government open when the vote fails

Jordan Cairney, 9-23, 21., The Hill, Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/573759-schumer-sets-monday-showdown-on-debt-ceiling-government-funding-bill The Senate will vote on Monday on whether to take up a House-passed bill to avoid a government shutdown and suspend the nation's borrowing limit. The vote, set up by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday night, tees up a high-stakes showdown with global economic consequences if lawmakers aren't able to figure out a path forward. The House-passed bill will need 60 votes to advance in the Senate and will fall short. Democrats would need the votes of at least 10 GOP senators but no GOP senator has committed to supporting the measure. "The resolution is the answer for avoiding numerous fast-approaching crises on the horizon. ... Every single member in this chamber is going on record as to whether they support keeping the government open and averting a default, or support shutting us down and careening our country towards a default," Schumer said. Congress has until the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown. The House-passed bill would fund the government through Dec. 3. When Congress will need to raise or suspend the country's debt ceiling to avert a historic default is less clear, but Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said it should be prepared to do so in October. What comes next after Republicans block the House-passed bill is unclear. Democrats say they don't want to see a government shutdown when they control both Congress and the White House, but they haven't yet publicly outlined what a back-up continuing resolution (CR) that would split off the debt ceiling would look like. "I can't answer that," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters about whether there was enough support within the Senate Democratic caucus to split off government funding from the debt ceiling to avoid a shutdown. There are currently no negotiations going on between Senate Republicans and Democrats to try to come to some sort of agreement before Monday's vote. Republicans are trying to force Democrats to increase the debt ceiling as part of their $3.5 trillion spending bill, even though Democrats helped them suspend the debt ceiling under then-President Trump. Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown House passes standalone bill to provide $1B for Israel's Iron Dome Republicans see some political benefits in trying to get Democrats to do it on their own through reconciliation: They will be forced to provide a number to raise the debt ceiling to, instead of suspending it for an amount of time. Republicans are also trying to make it as difficult as possible for Democrats to pass the $3.5 trillion plan. Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, indicated that they were waiting to see what Democrats do after the failed vote on Monday. He predicted that Democrats would turn to a short-term continuing resolution that doesn't include the debt limit. "I think that play is mainly in the Dems court," Thune said. "We think they pivot pretty quickly to Plan B. "

Biden capital critical to get the reconciliation votes

Heather Caygille, 9-22, 21, Politico, Biden set to play peacemaker for warring Democratic factions, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/22/biden-warring-democratic-factions-513564 The two fractious wings of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s caucus are tumbling toward intraparty war. President Joe Biden is hoping to head off disaster. Biden will hold a series of meetings with key Democrats Wednesday, including Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as party leaders try to salvage their two-part domestic agenda — a massive social safety net expansion and bipartisan infrastructure bill — amid a fresh round of hostage-taking from centrist and progressive members. “I hope he is the secret sauce,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said of Biden. “The president of the United States is always a very influential figure, and I know he wants both bills passed.” Many of those restive Democrats have been waiting weeks for their president, who has spent the summer largely focused on crises off the Hill, to turn his attention to the House. And Biden’s attempt at a kumbaya moment could hardly come at a more critical time, with the narrowly divided House nearing an uncertain vote Monday on the Senate’s infrastructure deal. The president’s sales pitch for unity won’t be easy. Progressive leaders are still publicly threatening to tank the infrastructure bill despite warnings from leadership that doing so won’t deliver them the multitrillion social spending plan. Liberals are holding firm, daring Democratic leaders to bring up the infrastructure package and see what happens. “I don’t think the speaker is going to bring a bill up that is going to fail,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said after leaving a lengthy meeting in Pelosi’s office Tuesday. “Our position has not changed.” But other Democrats, including some of Jayapal’s fellow progressives, are more skeptical that they’ll make good on the threat when the infrastructure bill finally hits the House floor — particularly after a personal plea from Biden. In addition, the reconciliation bill is far from finished, much less ready for a House vote next week. Meanwhile, moderates — even beyond the group of nine that halted floor action last month — are vowing mutiny if the left does upend the infrastructure bill Biden embraced as a signature achievement, especially after Pelosi promised them a vote by Monday in an agreement that salvaged the dual-track domestic plan last month. “It would be deeply disappointing to have the bill on the floor only to have people … vote against it for political grandstanding,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), one of the nine centrists who struck that deal to set up Monday’s infrastructure vote. And if Pelosi pulls the infrastructure bill next week to avoid defeat, Murphy added: “The mistrust that exists currently between members will spread to mistrust between leadership and members." Still, House Democrats got plenty of signals that disappointment was close. Tensions have risen for weeks between the two wings of the caucus as Pelosi and her leadership team struggled to reconcile a pair of separate commitments that seemed impossible to achieve by the end of September — no matter how often they promised they’d get it done. Moderates were assured a vote on that Senate deal by Sept. 27, while progressives were told that the Senate’s plan wouldn’t move without the party’s broader spending plan in tow. But as late September approached, it became increasingly clear that the two sides’ preferred scenarios wouldn't line up, leading Jayapal and her fellow progressive leaders to strengthen their threat last week. “We’re in a situation where any three Democrats on any given issue can basically derail the effort,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said before issuing a subtle but bleak assessment of the caucus dynamics: “In my view, leverage is something that we use with an adversary.”

Default triggers global collapse

Matt Eagan, 9-22, 21, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/22/business/us-default-job-loss-prediction/index.html,  US default would wipe out nearly 6 million jobs, Moody's says US default would be a "catastrophic blow" to America's economic recovery from Covid-19, setting off a downturn that would rival the Great Recession, Moody's Analytics warned in a new report. If the US defaults on its debt payments and the impasse drags on, the ensuing recession would wipe out nearly 6 million jobs and lift the nation's unemployment rate to nearly 9%, Moody's projected in a report published Tuesday. The market meltdown would slash stock prices by one-third, erasing about $15 trillion in household wealth, the report found. "This economic scenario is cataclysmic," wrote Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. The US Treasury Department estimates it will run out of cash at some point in October unless Congress raises the debt ceiling. Despite the specter of a default, Republicans have refused to back an increase in the debt limit due in part to concerns about the Biden administration's vast spending plans. Moody's notes that financial markets are not freaking out about the debt ceiling showdown, suggesting there is widespread belief that Congress will eventually act. The impact on Wall Street has been far smaller so far than during standoffs in 2011 and 2013. "Ironically, because investors seem so sanguine about how this drama will play out, policymakers may believe they have nothing to worry about and fail to resolve the debt limit in time," Zandi wrote. "This would be an egregious error." 'TARP moment'? Even a close call could cost the economy and taxpayers. Fears of a US default in 2013 lifted Treasury yields, costing taxpayers an estimated half a billion dollars in added interest costs as well as making it more expensive for families and businesses to borrow, Moody's found. If Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling and the Treasury begins paying bills late and defaults, markets would react very negatively. "There would likely be a TARP moment," Zandi wrote, referring to the 2008 market plunge after Congress initially failed to approve the Wall Street bailout — and then quickly reversed. The worst-case scenario, Moody's found, would be if Congress still didn't act to lift the debt ceiling and the impasse wears on. That would force the federal government to delay about $80 billion in payments due November 1, including to Social Security recipients, veterans and active-duty military, Moody's said. Further drastic spending cuts would need to be imposed if the crisis lasted through November. Beyond the immediate hit to the US economy, a default would likely cast a shadow over the United States for a long time to come. "Americans would pay for this default for generations," Zandi wrote, "as global investors would rightly believe that the federal government's finances have been politicized and that a time may come when they would not be paid what they are owed when owed it."

Biden’s approval has collapsed

Megan Brennan, 9-22, 21, https://news.gallup.com/poll/354872/biden-approval-rating-hits-new-low-harris.aspx, Biden's Approval Rating Hits New Low of 43%; Harris' Is 49% Eight months after President Joe Biden's inauguration, his job approval rating has fallen six percentage points to 43%, the lowest of his presidency. For the first time, a majority, 53%, now disapproves of Biden's performance. These findings are from a Sept. 1-17 Gallup poll that was conducted after the U.S. military evacuated more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan. The United States' exit from the nation's longest war was marred by the Taliban's quick takeover of most of the country and a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, which killed 13 U.S. service members. Over the same period, COVID-19 infection rates, nationally, were surging, leading to hospital overflows in some regions. Line graph. Joe Biden's presidential job approval ratings since Biden took office. Forty-three percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, down six percentage points since August and the lowest of his presidency. The latest drop in Biden's job approval score is the second significant decline since June. Biden's honeymoon ratings near 55% first faltered in July, falling to 50% amid rising COVID-19 cases caused largely by the delta variant. In Gallup's Aug. 2-17 poll, Biden's rating was essentially unchanged, at 49%. Midway through the most recent poll's field period, as U.S. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continued to rise, Biden announced new directives to limit the spread of the disease, including vaccine requirements for private-sector businesses, healthcare workers and federal government contractors. Except for Donald Trump, every U.S. president since Harry Truman has enjoyed a honeymoon period characterized by above-average approval ratings upon taking office. Biden's recent slides in approval put him in the company of Trump and Bill Clinton, whose ratings were at or below Biden's current 43% at some point in the first eight months of their presidencies. However, by September 1993, Clinton's approval ratings began to recover and averaged 50% that month. Thus, among elected presidents since World War II, only Trump has had a lower job approval rating than Biden does at a similar point in their presidencies. Independents Show Greatest Decline in Approval of Biden Democrats' approval of the job Biden is doing has remained high and not varied by more than eight points since he took office. Their highest rating of Biden was 98% in late January/early February, and their lowest is the current 90%. Republicans' ratings of Biden are similarly stable at the other extreme, ranging from 12% in February and July to 6% this month.

Immigration thumper

Korecki, 9-22, 21, Politico, Biden slips into political quicksand amid Haitian migrant buildup, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/22/biden-haitian-migrant-513561 The mass of thousands of Haitians at the U.S. southern border has put the Biden administration in the exact place it’s tried to avoid: knee deep in immigration politics. In the past 24 hours, the White House has responded to images and videos of aggressive tactics used by Border Patrol agents to corral those migrants by supporting an internal investigation into the matter. What it hasn’t done, yet, is figure out a solution to the crowding and sanitary issues arising in what’s become a makeshift encampment — or stop its policy of deporting migrants upon arrival. That’s left the president and his team with few supporters and allies. A coalition of more than 38 civil rights and immigrant advocacy leaders sent the White House a letter Tuesday evening calling on Biden to immediately stop expulsions of Haitians, some of whom arrived at the border community of Del Rio, Texas, after fleeing violence and natural disaster in their home county. The letter, first provided to POLITICO, marks a “final straw,” said Nana Gyamfi, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and president of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. The coalition, which includes the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, described the moment as “an inflection point” for Biden’s commitment to a humane immigration policy. Border Patrol and Haitian immigrants U.S. Border Patrol agents interact with Haitian immigrants on the bank of the Rio Grande on Sept. 20. | John Moore/Getty Images “Responsibility for the suffering and deaths resulting from summary expulsions and removals now falls squarely on your Administration and will be part of your enduring legacy,” the letter states. “Deportation flights to Haiti must stop, and those seeking safety at our borders must be granted their legally assured chance to seek asylum." Members of the president’s own party — from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on down — echoed the call to end the expulsions. Increasingly, they did so while directing their ire at the White House for its handling of the situation. On Wednesday, 12 House Democrats, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) will hold a press conference calling on Biden to halt the deportations. The White House condemned footage of Border Patrol agents on horseback appearing to use reins to deter Haitian migrants, which drew blowback from the agents themselves. In sharply visceral terms, the national Border Patrol union blasted the White House on Tuesday, characterizing it as inept for failing to have a plan in place to deal with the influx of some 15,000 migrants that left agents overwhelmed. Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council provided text from emails he says the union had sent to the administration in June warning of an influx of migrants in Del Rio. In those texts, the union suggested a way to process the crowds more smoothly. But the response from management in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector, according to the union, was that “several other platforms are being considered which are more efficient.” The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Border Patrol, did not have a response by deadline late Tuesday. Judd said Border Patrol agents are beyond frustrated. “They knew this was coming, and they didn't take the steps to mitigate this so now you've got a bunch of people that are sitting under a bridge in conditions — these are little tiny kids sitting under this bridge in deplorable conditions,” Judd said. “It looks like a warzone but in the United States. I'm completely, totally floored.” As for the images that the White House had condemned on Tuesday, Judd said Border Patrol agents were simply using methods they were trained to use under the Biden administration. “We’re outnumbered by 200 to one. We’re put into a situation where we’re in between people — there’s a propensity for violence when there’s large crowds. We’re expected to control that,” Judd said. “We don’t strike anybody. We used the tactic we were trained with — and the White House vilified us.” The cascading criticisms and calls for policy reversals underscored what the White House has long feared — that the issue of immigration is, for Biden, the equivalent of political quicksand. The president faces pressure from the left to grant asylum to immigrants at the border and reverse Trump-era policies over expulsions. But Republicans immediately characterized a spike in asylum seekers as Biden’s failure to secure the border.

Biden pushing infrastructure, it will barely pass

Jacqueline Alemany, 9-22, 21, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/22/pelosi-best-hope-save-white-house-agenda-is-biden-himself/, Pelosi's best hope to save the White House agenda is Biden himself Can Biden break the logjam? The deal that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last month struck with moderate Democrats to keep the two bills at the heart of President Biden's agenda moving is close to failing. Pelosi and her lieutenants have a decision to make: Will she break her pledge to the moderates to hold a vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that's already cleared the Senate by Sept. 27? Or will she plow ahead with the vote even though progressives have pledged to oppose it until the House and the Senate have passed a still-unfinished multitrillion-dollar spending bill? The speaker is in a real bind. But those who know her best think she'll prevail. “Never bet against Speaker Pelosi,” Blake Androff, a former Pelosi aide who's now a lobbyist, wrote in an email to The Early. “She is usually several steps ahead of those on the other end of the negotiating table.” Another former Pelosi aide turned lobbyist, Nadeam Elshami, said he'd been advising clients the party would find a way forward. “At the end of the day there’s too much at stake here for Democrats,” he said. Maybe. But members are already getting pretty heated as the rift between moderates and progressive Democrats appears to be growing wider. Asked what would happen if Pelosi delayed the Sept. 27 vote on the infrastructure deal, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a moderate from a swing district, heatedly told reporters, “Then the trust issue that exists between members will now expand to a trust issue between members and leadership.” Enter Biden, who's hosting multiple meetings today at the White House with House Democrats spanning the ideological spectrum, in an effort to save his economic agenda. The meetings will also include Democratic senators, our Seung Min Kim reports, along with Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Threading the needle The White House has already been working to shepherd both bills through Congress. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Louisa Terrell, the White House legislative affairs director, met Tuesday with members of the New Democrat Coalition. The lawmakers made the case for four top priorities, according to someone in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity: extending the beefed up child tax credit through at least 2025; cutting carbon “emissions as much and as quickly as possible”; lowering health care costs and investing in “persistently distressed communities.” But divisions between progressive and moderate Democrats on policy, which flared last week when three moderates voted with Republicans to derail Democrats' prescription drug plan, have been subsumed at least temporarily by increasingly bitter fights over whether to pass the infrastructure bill before the reconciliation package comes together. Some moderates insist progressives don't have the votes to block the bill if it comes to the floor on Monday. And Pelosi has not indicated that she plans on postponing the vote — at least not yet. “I'm optimistic we'll have the votes on Monday,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) told us in-between evening votes.

No reconciliation bill kills US climate leadership

Gary Sargent, 9-21, 21, Washington Post, Opinion: Biden’s agenda is in trouble. It’s absolutely clear who is to blame. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/21/biden-agenda-centrists-blame/ The progressive position is realistic on substance, too. As David Dayen notes, the centrist tendency to start with the generalized aim of lower spending levels for their own sake creates “artificial” constraints on our investments in our country and people, regardless of the value of their returns. What’s more, it will be disastrous if the United States goes into this fall’s global climate conference without passing a very robust climate agenda via reconciliation, potentially hamstringing U.S. global leadership and our long-term ability to do what scientists say is needed to curb global warming. Aren’t those who want to avoid that scenario the true realists? Biden pushing, momentum, but only a few votes can be lost on the reconciliation bill and uniqueness doesn’t overwhelm the link Burgess Everett, 9-21, 21, Dems fear Biden's domestic agenda could implode, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/21/democrats-biden-domestic-agenda-implode-513218 Internal Democratic discord has wounded President Joe Biden’s massive social spending plan, raising the prospect that the package could stall out, shrink dramatically — or even fail altogether. Myriad problems have arisen. Moderate Senate Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) continue to be a major headache for party leadership’s $3.5 trillion target. The Senate parliamentarian just nixed the party’s yearslong push to enact broad immigration reform. House members may tank the prescription drugs overhaul the party has run on for years. And a fight continues to brew over Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) push to expand Medicare. “If any member of Congress is not concerned that this could fall apart, they need treatment,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who warned his party “will pay for it at the polls” if it fails in enacting Biden’s agenda. “Our caucus has the feeling of freedom to support or oppose leadership.” Those headwinds threaten to sap the momentum from this summer, when Biden clinched a bipartisan infrastructure deal in the Senate and found support from all corners of his party for a budget setting up his sweeping spending bill. Now, Manchin is calling for a pause, moderates are resisting key components of the legislation and a new fiscal fight over the debt limit is heating up. Those dynamics have Democrats essentially looking for an internal reset from a monthslong debate over Biden’s agenda that keeps publicly playing out through leaks, lines in the sand and fights over the topline number. “I wish that we could all be more on the same page, in terms of timing, of the need to push the [American Families Plan],” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “I’m hopeful we are going to have a meeting of the minds and not wait until next year … we better have a Plan B.” The multi-problem pileup comes at a critical moment for the party and for Biden, who needs a legislative win amid slumping approval ratings. But though polls show much of his social spending bill is popular outside Congress, winning approval among Democrats’ slim majorities has been harder. With a three-vote margin in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can’t afford to alienate either wing of their fractious party or else the chances for either of Biden’s signature domestic victories could evaporate all together. “None of us know where this is gonna go,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.). “This is where leadership is made or broken, plain and simple. And that's true of the president, that's true of speakers, that's true of majority leaders.” Manchin has been the most outspoken Democrat, publicly asking for a pause on the big spending bill with inflation rising, but the West Virginian declined to lay out his thinking Monday night when asked just how long he wants his party to put the brakes on: “Let’s see if you understand English: not a word.” It’s unclear exactly how many Democrats are siding with prominent House and Senate moderates. One centrist Democrat up for reelection next year, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), declined to say whether she’s comfortable with the $3.5 trillion spending number on Monday, or whether she agrees with pausing the legislation. “We are at a critical moment,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. “The total amount to be spent has to be negotiated with those who are questioning the $3.5 trillion. So, this is the key week.” Democrats are broadly rejecting Manchin’s overtures to stall the social spending plan, arguing doing so is akin to killing the bill. If Democrats don’t keep positive momentum behind their effort to fight climate change, improve child care and raise taxes on the wealthy, they worry that the whole thing could fall apart. “You can’t stop this process. If you stop it it won’t get started again,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “You’ve really got to keep it moving, there’s no magic date, but as you get closer and closer to other deadlines, this one gets more difficult.” For progressives, the dissension over a bill they see as vital for delivering on their party's priorities is enough for some to weigh tanking the bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiated by centrist Democratic senators. Many on the left say they’ve already compromised by agreeing to a $3.5 trillion spending bill rather than $6 trillion or more proposed by progressive leaders like Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a bill enrollment ceremony. 'Mutually assured destruction': Pelosi and centrists drag budget standoff into wee hours What’s more, the party’s long-running goal of enacting immigration reform is now in major doubt, as there may be no path to including legal status in the reconciliation bill and bipartisan talks have repeatedly stalled out. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) acknowledged “the immigration stuff is a setback, but certainly not a death knell.” And progressives have grown increasingly annoyed by what they see as grandstanding by Manchin and Sinema. Just as behind-the-scenes negotiations on the social bill get underway, one of the two prominent moderates keep blasting out statements that jolt the talks and stall what progress has been made, they say. “I am very tired of it,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). “I don’t think they are making their decisions based on the needs of the American or even the people in their own state.” He added that they seem more motivated by “corporate interest.” But Democrats close to the centrists say progressives are vastly overplaying their hand. A group of five to 10 House moderates have signaled to leadership that they would be willing to let the infrastructure bill fail rather than be held hostage by liberals over the broader spending bill. It's a more attractive alternative to them than having to vote for painful tax increases to pay for an unrestrained social safety net expansion, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is pictured. “I think it would be counterproductive to reconciliation,” said centrist Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), speaking about progressive threats to tank the bipartisan bill without the broader spending plan. “This fiction that linking the two bills will somehow enact leverage on the reconciliation side — I think it’s just that, a fiction.” Despite the Democratic handwringing, a spokesperson for Biden said the administration is lobbying an array of members and “good progress is being made. ”The administration is “articulating the need to invest in families over big corporations at this crucial inflection point and ensure our economy delivers for the middle class,” said Andrew Bates, a White House spokesperson. Meanwhile, progressives are not as united as the smaller, tight-knit band of House and Senate moderates that forced votes on the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill in the Senate this summer and a commitment for one in the House next week. The Progressive Caucus has a sprawling membership that is unlikely to vote in lockstep — and may not have the oomph to tank the bill if House Republicans help pass the bipartisan legislation. “There is absolutely a level where it’s not just something is not better than nothing, but something can actually do more harm,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) of the infrastructure bill. “That’s why we are holding firm on our line. …This isn’t just a flight of fancy.”

Dreamers legislation no longer part of the stimulus

Bernal, 9-21, 21, The Hill, Democrats look for Plan B after blow on immigration, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/573108-democrats-look-for-plan-b-after-blow-on-immigration Democrats and immigration advocates are ready to pitch a Plan B after the Senate parliamentarian spiked a Democratic proposal aimed at providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of people. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, a former immigration lawyer, shut down the possibility of granting 8 million people the right to apply for legal permanent residency, determining in a Sunday opinion that it did not meet the Senate’s rules for the budget reconciliation package because it was a policy change that went well beyond the budget.  The decision is critical because under Senate rules the filibuster cannot be used to block a reconciliation package, meaning policy changes included in the massive package can become law if Democrats can secure 50 votes from their own caucus in the Senate.

Biden popularity rebounding

American Research Group, 9-21, 21, https://americanresearchgroup.com/economy/, Biden Overall Job Approval At 50% A total of 50% of Americans say they approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president and 46% say they disapprove of the way Biden is handling his job according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. In August, 49% approved of the way Biden was handling his job as president and 46% disapproved. When it comes to Biden's handling of the economy, 52% of Americans approve and 43% disapprove. In August, 51% approved of the way Biden was handling the economy and 45% disapproved. When it comes to Biden's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, 59% of Americans approve and 37% disapprove. In August, 57% approved of the way Biden was handling the coronavirus outbreak and 38% disapproved. Among Americans registered to vote, 51% approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president and 46% disapprove. On Biden's handling of the economy, 52% of registered voters approve and 43% disapprove. And on Biden's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, 59% of registered voters approve and 37% disapprove. Of the 50% of Americans saying they approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, 86% say they expect the national economy to be better a year from now. Of the 46% saying they disapprove of the way Biden his handling his job as president, 93% say they expect the national economy to be worse a year from now. Also, of the 50% of Americans saying they approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, 55% say they expect the financial situations in their households will be better a year from now. Of the 46% saying they disapprove of the way Biden his handling his job as president, 63% say they expect the financial situations in their households will be worse a year from now. The results presented here are based on 1,100 completed interviews conducted among a nationwide random sample of adults September 17 through 20, 2021. The theoretical margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time, on questions where opinion is evenly split. Overall, 50% of Americans say that they approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president, 46% disapprove, and 4% are undecided.

GOP win in 2024 ends NATO

Jon Pike, 9-20, 21, Global Risk Insights, The Afghanistan Withdrawal’s Impact on the EU’s Strategic Autonomy, https://globalriskinsights.com/2021/09/the-afghanistan-withdrawals-impact-on-the-eus-strategic-autonomy/ The resurgence of the ‘America First’ mentality is a threat to transatlantic defense cooperation. Hardline voters in Republican strongholds may determine the extent to which US foreign policy reflects isolationist doctrine. A 2024 general election triumph by a viable Republican candidate might call into question America’s commitment to Article V and to NATO itself.

Failure to raise the debt ceiling causes an economic collapse

Syklvan Lake, 9-19, 21, The Hill, Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight, https://thehill.com/policy/finance/572842-five-questions-and-answers-about-the-debt-ceiling-fight What happens if the U.S. defaults? The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt, but experts say doing so could spark an economic catastrophe on a global scale. “A default would have devastating effects on U.S. and global economies and the public. It would immediately and significantly decrease demand for Treasury securities and increase costs,” said the Government Accountability Office, the federal government’s independent audit firm, in an analysis this past week. “We have reported numerous times that the full faith and credit of the United States must be preserved.” The White House warned Friday that a default would leave the federal government unable to run dozens of essential programs, likely plunging the economy into another recession that could not be buffeted by stimulus or emergency relief. "The U.S. economy has just begun to recover from the pandemic and a manufactured debt ceiling crisis would threaten the gains we’ve made and the future recovery. If the U.S. defaults on its obligations, the ripple effects will hurt cities and states across the country," the White House said in a Friday memo obtained by The Hill. "If the U.S. defaults on its debt — cities and states could experience a double-whammy: falling revenues and no federal aid as long as Congress refuses to raise or suspend the debt limit," the White House wrote. A default could also upend the global financial system, which relies heavily on the easy flow of Treasury bonds across borders. Businesses and foreign nations frequently use the U.S. dollar for international transactions, and hold trillions in Treasury bonds as safe assets, with demand often rising in times of economic distress. “The US is seen as a reliable debtor in the world,” said Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab. "When you look at the number of transactions that take place, either in the financial markets, or in goods and services, the vast majority are still done in US dollars, particularly in the financial market, because the full faith and credit of the US is important." If Congress allows the U.S. to default, it could cause a severe decline in the value of Treasury bonds that in turn could trigger dysfunction across the financial system. "I don't think anyone doubts that we have the ability to pay our bills. It's the willingness to pay them,” Jones said. “Raising the debt ceiling is just an indication that yes, of course, we're willing to pay our bills. We're not going to default."

Biden pushing infrastructure and $3.5 trillion reconciliation, compromising to get Sienna and Manchin on board

Liptak, 9-17, 21, https://www.kten.com/story/44758488/biden-looks-to-recapture-his-political-momentum-with-a-full-court-press-on-his-domestic-agenda, How Biden hopes to recapture his momentum after a week of unexpected setbacks Biden did not weigh in on any of the developments himself, leaving the response to aides. He still hopes the coming weeks will provide an opportunity to move on. Acutely aware of the stakes, Biden has begun more directly involving himself in the strategy to see his priorities passed this autumn. He plans to put himself more at the center of the legislative process, a place the longtime Delaware senator feels very comfortable. He meets daily in the Oval Office with senior advisers for updates on legislative process and messaging strategy, repeatedly asking them to find ways to better explain the complicated and wide-ranging proposals in ways Americans can understand. In recent weeks, the President has seized opportunities, like a series of natural disasters, to make the case for sweeping climate change provisions in his pending legislation. He is planning to invite lawmakers to the White House next week to press on the economic package, according to a person familiar with the matter. "Let's not squander this moment," Biden implored during a speech from the White House. Now at the lowest approval rating of his nearly eight-month term -- putting him, according to some polls, above only former Presidents Donald Trump and Gerald Ford at similar points in their tenures -- Biden is pressing Democrats to put aside their ideological differences and pass what could become his lasting legislative legacy and a political lifeline. The bills have the potential to overhaul the nation's physical infrastructure and the American social safety net for decades to come and would likely make Biden one of the most consequential Democratic presidents in decades. The summertime slide in his popularity among Americans has frustrated the President and his team, who believe he is receiving little credit for a rapidly improving economy. Despite setbacks related to the Delta variant surge, the unemployment rate is down, wages are up and retail sales are improving -- tied, in part, to the emergency measures Biden pushed through at the start of his term. Yet the pandemic is still simmering, delaying a full return to workplaces and complicating the start of the school year for children. A CNN poll conducted by SSRS found 62% of Americans say economic conditions in the US are poor, up from 45% in April and nearly as high as the pandemic-era peak of 65% reached in May 2020. Biden, based on advice from his health team, had predicted a vaccine booster rollout for all adults starting next week. But the FDA decision Friday threw the plan into flux. Biden's attention turns toward Capitol Hill As a part of his recalibration to his domestic agenda, Biden has spent much more time speaking with Democrats on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, both on the phone and in person. He spoke by telephone Thursday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to confer on a path forward on his massive legislative agenda. "The three are in regular touch and engaging daily on bringing Build Back Better to the finish line," the White House said afterward. In conversations with other Democrats during periodic "congressional call time" blocked off on his daily schedule, Biden has repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping intact the tangible benefits in the bills that can be easily sold to the American people, according to people familiar with the talks. He has stressed that items like free community college and subsidized child care are clear political winners he says Democrats can campaign on for months or years to come. Polling and messaging memos sent to congressional Democrats and outside allies have sought to double down on this point, while also pushing lawmakers to focus on a bigger -- and more populist -- picture, rather than get bogged down in the policy disputes that are raging on both sides of the Capitol. "He's been actively engaged over the last couple of months in helping members of Congress who are more centrists or who are progressive understand and embrace his agenda," said Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who is close to the President. "President Biden is very persuasive," Coons said, "and I think he's making the case and making it well." Implicit in Biden's message, as well as those coming from his senior team, is also the clear reality of the moment, according to people familiar with the discussions: For Democrats, there is no alternative path at this point. The specific policy proposals may shift or shrink in scale or duration, but there is no turning back or a broad shift in course in the cards. If Democrats -- particularly those who are skittish about the political repercussions of enacting such significant changes to the role of government in the US economy -- can't unify now, they will likely be left with nothing. White House tries to keep a level head It is impossible to know whether Biden's current political predicament will last, and some of his aides are confident that improvements in the pandemic and distance from the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal will help reverse the fall in approval. They note it is still more than a year before the 2022 midterm elections, when historically the sitting President's party suffers. A positive result for California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, for whom Biden campaigned on the eve of his recall vote this week, has also led to renewed confidence in the administration's fights over mask-wearing, vaccines and more. "California won't end the Covid debate," a White House adviser told CNN, "but it could be a tremendous boost for what Democrats are trying to do." Biden's team, during last year's presidential campaign, prided itself on avoiding overly reactive steps when negative polls emerged. Officials stress there is no sense of panic in the West Wing, largely pointing to clear opportunities in the high-stakes weeks ahead as clear and tangible opportunities to shift the dynamics that overtook Biden's first summer in office. But like any political operation, advisers remain highly attuned to shifts in public sentiment, studying focus groups and surveys from top Democratic pollsters who work on behalf of the White House and the Democratic Party. To be sure, any comparisons in approval ratings between Biden and his predecessors are filled with caveats, given the acrid political climate and the remarkable changes in the presidency over the decades. The chaos that surrounded the Afghanistan withdrawal has led some advisers to recognize there is less room for error going forward. The drop in Biden's approval ratings has prompted what one adviser called a "hardening" of the President's mission to see his agenda passed. The White House softens on a $3.5 trillion price tag This week, before leaving for his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Biden began meeting in-person with moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, hearing out their concerns about the amount of spending. With Manchin, he listened patiently to a proposal that would more than halve the size of the final bill. Biden has not endorsed that plan, but also hasn't yet had luck in convincing the skeptical Democrat to come along with his. In public, Biden has begun signaling the final bill could come in below $3.5 trillion, the figure proposed in an initial blueprint. White House officials acknowledge that's a near certainty at this point in order to secure the votes of Manchin and Sinema. The ever-present balancing act between moderates and progressives has become even more acute as a result. But Biden is pressuring Democrats to avoid stripping out what he believes will prove to be the bill's most salient selling points. "I think the important thing is to make sure we meet the moment on the key items. Maybe they have to be cut down in size -- maybe. Maybe they have to be shortened in duration — maybe," said Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff, in an appearance this week at the annual SALT conference organized by Anthony Scaramucci, the financier who briefly served in Trump's White House. Progressives warned Biden that greater risk exists in significantly reducing his package than in passing something too large. They said his engagement with moderates like Manchin and Sinema is worthwhile, but that eroding the bill's safety net provisions would prove damaging in the long run. "I think he's doing the right thing -- to use the full weight of his presidency, and the people expect no less and deserve no less," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat. "They have delivered a House, a Senate, and a White House with the decisive majority and a mandate. I know that there are some who fear that if we are too bold, we risk the majority. I would argue that by playing small, that that is what will risk the majority." The world is not waiting The singular importance of passing the economic agenda does not mean other issues are not looming. Biden is about to enter an intensive week of global diplomacy -- annual United Nations meetings in New York, bilateral meetings on the sidelines, a virtual Covid summit and in-person talks with foreign leaders at the White House -- at a moment of serious strain with Europe. American officials said that, for now, there is a general belief that the dust-up with France will not permanently damage relations, but acknowledged the spat remains in its early days. The official acknowledged that relations between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron -- who is preparing to run for re-election -- will likely take time to repair.  

Biden’s capital is collapsing

Jonathan Lemire, 9-18, 21, https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-europe-business-health-france-516d7c24943c830823ff1602e4ab604e, One stunning afternoon: Setbacks imperil Biden’s reset The punishing headlines, all within an hour, underscored the perils for any president from the uncontrollable events that can define a term in office. They came as Biden has seen public approval numbers trend downward as the COVID-19 crisis has deepened and Americans cast blamed for the flawed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The administration had hoped to roll out tougher vaccine guidelines, a new international alliance to thwart China and a recommitment to what Biden has done best: drawing on his years on Capitol Hill and knowledge of the legislative process to cajole fellow Democrats to pass the two far-reaching spending bills that make up the heart of his agenda. Those ambitions are now more difficult. Biden has proclaimed defeating the pandemic to be the central mission of his presidency but the U.S. is now averaging more than 145,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, up from a low of about 8,500 per day three months ago. The president has moved to shift the blame for the resurgence of cases to the more than 70 million Americans who haven’t gotten a vaccine and the GOP lawmakers who have opposed his increasingly forceful efforts to push people to get a shot. Aides had hoped for full FDA approval for the boosters, yet the advisory panel only recommended them for those over 65 or with underlying health conditions or special circumstances. Biden aides in recent days had quietly expressed relief that the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal — like the war itself for much of its nearly two decades — has receded from headlines. That feeling was shattered Friday afternoon when the Pentagon revealed the errant target for what was believed to be the final American drone strike of the war. Biden had long advocated leaving Afghanistan and, even after a suicide bombing killed 13 American service members, and told advisers the decision was correct. The president is known for his certitude, a stubbornness that flashed when he shot down suggestions that he express regret for how the withdrawal occurred. Aides have since been quick to note that more than 120,000 people have been successfully evacuated and contend that quiet U.S. efforts are securing the steady departure of others from under Taliban rule. The end in Afghanistan was part of an effort to refocus foreign policy on China, an aim that accelerated with the surprise announcement of the agreement between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. But not only did Beijing balk, so did Paris, as France angrily accused the U.S. of cutting France out of the alliance and scuttling its own submarine deal with Australia. And then France recalled its ambassador after its officials expressed dismay that, in their estimation, Biden had proven to be as unreliable a partner as his predecessor Donald Trump. The strain with France came just as Biden had hoped to pivot to his ambitious domestic agenda. But there are sharp ideological divides among the Democrats on Capitol Hill about the size and substance of the $3.5 trillion spending package meant to be passed in tandem with the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. And all of Congress will be forced to juggle the White House’s legislation while being swamped with imminent deadlines on the debt ceiling and government funding.

Without vaccines Africa will be a breeding ground for variants

Clara Linnane, 9-17, 21, WHO warns lack of COVID-19 vaccine supply in Africa could make it breeding ground for new variants and ‘send the whole world back to square one’, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/who-warns-lack-of-covid-19-vaccine-supply-in-africa-could-make-it-breeding-ground-for-new-variants-and-send-the-whole-world-back-to-square-one-11631890568 . The World Health Organization made another urgent plea to developed nations to make a greater effort to get vaccines against the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 to Africa, and prevent the continent from turning into a breeding ground for new variants that may prove resistant to existing vaccines. “The staggering inequity and severe lag in shipments of vaccines … could end up sending the whole world back to Square 1, ” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director at a Thursday news briefing. The comments came as the WHO-backed Covax alliance, which was created to get vaccine supply to lower-income countries, was forced to cut its projected shipments to Africa this year because of global shortages. Africa is now expected to be able to vaccinate just 17% of its population by year-end, far below the 40% goal set by the WHO earlier this year. “As long as rich countries lock Covax out of the market, Africa will miss its vaccination goals,” Moeti said. Her comments were echoed by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who called on world leaders attending next week’s United Nations General Assembly to prioritize vaccine equity, fulfill their dose-sharing pledges and facilitate the sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property to allow for regional manufacturing of vaccines. “More than 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 73% of all doses have been administered in just 10 countries,” Tedros said. “High-income countries have administered 61 times more doses per inhabitant than low-income countries. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and evolving, and the longer the social and economic disruption will continue.” The comments came as a panel of independent experts that acts as advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were convening to review data and take a vote on whether Americans need booster shots of vaccine. Pfizer PFE, -1.30% and Moderna MRNA, -2.41%, which stand to make billions of dollars from a booster program, have both said this week that they believe people over the age of 16 should get a booster dose. But many medical experts disagree and say the data shows vaccines remain effective at preventing severe disease and death, as MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported. “Is it necessary at this point? Does the data justify a mass rollout to 150 million [or] 200 million Americans who are younger and in good health?” asked John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “What we have got to get away from is this idea that the vaccines are failing, because they’re just not.” The meeting is scheduled to end at 3.45 p.m. Eastern time. The FDA is not obliged to follow the committee’s recommendations, but it often does. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to record almost 2,000 COVID deaths a day, according to a New York Times tracker, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated people. New cases are averaging 150,366 a day, while hospitalizations are averaging 97,424, the highest readings since winter.

Biden needs to get moderate Democrats on-board for people to pass $3.5 trillion stimulus

Jonathan Lemire, 9-18, 21, https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-europe-business-health-france-516d7c24943c830823ff1602e4ab604e, One stunning afternoon: Setbacks imperil Biden’s reset The West Wing is recreating a legislative strategy that worked to secure passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief in March and pushed the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill through the Senate in August, according to a half dozen White House aides and outside advisors who were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. With Biden cajoling lawmakers, the infrastructure bill is to be passed through the House along with the $3.5 trillion spending bill that contains many of the president’s priorities — like climate change and child care — and would pass the Senate along party lines. With the Senate in a 50-50 tie and Democrats’ margin in the House only a handful of seats, few votes can be lost, and it could be a formidable task to unite Democratic moderates, like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who want a far smaller spending bill, with liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has steadfastly said it could not shrink. The White House also has begun filling the president’s schedule again with events meant to highlight the need to pass the bills, including linking visits to the sites of natural disasters — fires in California and Idaho, hurricanes in New York and New Jersey — to the climate change funding in the legislation. And this past Thursday, on what had previously been tentatively planned as a down day for Biden, the White House scheduled him to give a speech from the East Room during which he zeroed in on how tax enforcement to get big corporations and wealthy Americans to pay more would help fund his plan, without offering any new details.

Voting rights reform won’t pass

Marianne Levine, 9-17, 21, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/17/schumer-warns-fall-schedule-512528, Dem senators warned of long nights and weekend work as fiscal cliff looms Senate Democrats are also set to vote as soon as next week on an intraparty compromise bill on election and ethics reform. A working group of Senate Democrats introduced the legislation this week, but it’s widely expected to fail amid unanimous opposition from Senate Republicans.

Biden’s popularity collapsing

Express News, 9-17, 21,, Highlight: JOE BIDEN is facing a crisis after a new poll found his approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1492612/Joe-Biden-news-approval-rating-poll-US-president-election-economy Body The latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion survey suggested just 44 percent of US adults approved of Mr Biden's performance in office. The poll carried out from September 15-16, suggested one-in-two Americans, or 50 percent of those surveyed, disapproved of his leadership. Related articles The remaining six percent remained undecided on the 78-year-old. Mr Biden officially took over the presidency at the end of January and has faced questions over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the US economy and most recently the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The President has made mask-wearing mandatory in most public spaces and has driven the take up of the Covid vaccine. Many Republicans argue the US President has been too slow in combatting the pandemic and keeping restrictions, including on travel, in place for too long. The Democrat also unleashed a huge $1.9 trillion spending spree in March as part of a pandemic relief bill. The measures extended emergency support for businesses and those on the unemployment benefits programme - but the huge stimulus package raised fears of rising levels of inflation. Last month, President Biden's economic plan suffered a major blow after job figures revealed just 235,000 vacancies were filled in August - the lowest for seven months. The figure fell considerably short of the 1.05 million jobs created in July. Labour market data also shows the number of people unemployed was down to 8.4 million - however, this is still above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 million in February 2020. Mr Biden said: "While I know some want to see a larger number today - so did I - what we've seen this year is a continued growth, month after month, in job creation. "Some months are fewer, some months are more, but we're always adding jobs. This is the kind of growth that makes our economy stronger and not boom or bust." READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: Remainer uproar as imperial units return President Biden has most recently drawn huge criticism from the international community over his chaotic withdrawal of military personnel from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. The Commander-in-Chief took a unilateral decision to remove troops from the region by the August 31 deadline and left allies to scramble to rescue civilians. Polls suggest many Americans supported the withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years - but many disapproved of the way it was handled. President Biden did, however, oversee the evacuation of more than 100,000 people from Kabul airport in just over two weeks. DON'T MISS Nigel Farage taunts France over AUKUS deal as he hails 'Anglosphere' [INSIGHT]Royal Family LIVE: Meghan Markle fans furious with UK [LIVE]UK weather forecast: Temperatures set to soar - latest maps [FORECAST] Despite taking a hit on his approval, President Biden still commands a higher rating than his predecessor at the same stage of their respective terms. Eight months after entering office in 2017, 38 percent of Americans approved Donald Trump's performance in office. A huge 57 percent of US adults disapproved on his leadership at the time. The latest Reuters/Ipsos online poll surveyed 1,005 adults, including 442 Democrats and 360 Republicans. Related articles BBC on brink as broadcaster braced for licence fee clash Prince Harry's speech with Jill Biden left royal fans feeling 'snoozy' WAR fears as Boris 'rules nothing out' after new alliance Budget bill reopens moderate vs. progressive divide for Dems

No democratic unity now

The Associated Press, September 17, 2021, https://wacotrib.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/image_421910ba-cfde-54b8-8dc5-e591e2aeca91.html WASHINGTON — One side is energized by the prospect of the greatest expansion of government support since the New Deal nearly a century ago. The other is fearful about dramatically expanding Washington's reach at an enormous cost. They're all Democrats. Yet each side is taking vastly different approaches to guiding the massive $3.5 trillion spending bill through Congress. The party is again confronting the competing political priorities between its progressive and moderate wings. The House version of the bill that was drafted this week ushered in a new phase of the debate that could test whether Democrats can match their bold campaign rhetoric on everything from income inequality to climate change with actual legislation.

Manchin won’t go along with the $3.5 trillion stimulus, killing progressive support for the infrastructure bill

Axios, 9-17, 21, Biden bombs on persuading Manchin to budge on proposed $3.5T spending bill, https://www.axios.com/scoop-biden-bombs-manchin-b2b4acbd-24d0-40a3-ba6f-c0509e0e0224.html President Biden failed to persuade Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to agree to spending $3.5 trillion on the Democrats' budget reconciliation package during their Oval Office meeting on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. Why it matters: Defying a president from his own party — face-to-face — is the strongest indication yet Manchin is serious about cutting specific programs and limiting the price tag of any potential bill to $1.5 trillion. His insistence could blow up the deal for progressives and others. Axios was told Biden explained to Manchin his opposition could imperil the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that's already passed the Senate. Biden's analysis did little to persuade Manchin to raise his top line.Manchin held his position and appears willing to let the bipartisan bill hang in the balance, given his entrenched opposition to many of the specific proposals in the $3.5 trillion spending package, Axios was told.While the two left the meeting having made little progress, and are still some $2 trillion apart, the conversation was friendly and they agreed to keep talking. What they're saying: "Sen. Manchin is an important partner," said Andrew Bates, deputy White House press secretary. "We do not discuss the contents of private meetings. Flashback: In early March, with Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in danger of failing, he called Manchin and told him, 'If you don't come along, you're really f**king me[1],' according to a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Manchin eventually voted for the bill[2], after holding out for some last-minute changes. Between the lines: While Biden has claimed he's pursuing a dual-track approach on the two spending bills, he's occasionally jumped tracks — like when he essentially threatened to veto the bipartisan transportation bill moments after endorsing it. Two days later, Biden withdrew his threat and said in a statement that a veto threat 'was certainly not my intent[3]."His latest comments to Manchin linking the two bills underscore a political reality on Capitol Hill: House progressives will sink the $1.2 trillion bipartisan transportation bill if Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) don't agree to massive amounts of new spending in the reconciliation package.Biden wants to use the Democrat-only reconciliation package to expand the social safety net as part of his Build Back Better Agenda[4]. The big picture: Biden predicated his presidency on his ability to appeal to Republicans and help heal the country. He also counted on dusting off some signature Senate moves to convince his former Republican colleagues to help him usher in a new, post-Trump, bipartisan political world.With the exception of a bipartisan China bill, the president has had little success persuading Senate Republicans to support his priorities. Opposition hardened after he jammed through a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill in March.In recent days, Republicans seem even more recalcitrant, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-Ky.) insisting Democrats raise the debt ceiling by themselves. and Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) all-but-freezing the Senate's confirmation process. Go deeper: The White House said Thursday night[5] the president spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) about "their ongoing coordination and outreach around making the case for building an economy that delivers for the middle class."

Voting rights and the filibuster are not a thumpers – it’s after the stimulus and infrastructure

Burgess Everett, 9-15, 21, , Democrats grapple with faltering filibuster push, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/15/democrats-progressives-filibuster-511828 But some of Manchin's caucus colleagues are unsure when he and other leery moderates will be ready for that conversation, if ever. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close ally of President Joe Biden, said of the filibuster debate that could antagonize Manchin and others: “Let’s not get there yet.” “We’ve got other stuff that’s got to happen. Like, right now," Coons said, citing Democrats' hopes to land a triple axel by getting a bipartisan infrastructure deal through the House alongside a multitrillion-dollar party-line spending bill. “The fight over voting rights and the filibuster is not coming to a head next week. It is coming to a head in the coming weeks if there’s no receptivity at all in the Republican [conference].”

Increasing taxes undermines small business and investment needed for renewable energy

Ian Maclean, 9-15, 21, Congress picked the worst possible time for business tax hikes, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/572416-congress-picked-the-worst-possible-time-for-business-tax-hikes?rl=1 This week, congressional committees are crafting the details for President Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion federal stimulus that will be paid for, in part, by raising taxes on businesses. That is the worst thing Congress can do. Our elected leaders in Washington should do everything possible to help America’s job creators and innovators, not hurt us. To say the last 18 months have been a struggle is an understatement. As chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council, I’ve witnessed the heart warming and the heart wrenching throughout the pandemic. From store owners going to great lengths to ensure the health and safety of their employees, to shop local gift-card campaigns, to agonizing decisions on whether to limit hours, let employees go, or close down for good. As terrible as COVID-19 itself is, the impact of the virus is also being felt by small business owners, like myself, in the challenge of finding qualified and willing employees, equipment shortages and rising costs that I can’t pass on to my customers. At a time when so many small businesses like mine are struggling, now is the worst time for Congress to be considering tax increases. When Biden first revealed plans for a massive stimulus, he characterized raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent as only affecting big business. While proposing a tax hike on larger businesses that employ more than half of America’s workers is not a good idea either, the mischaracterization of the president’s tax plans as harmless to Main Street employers ignores the fact that 1.4 million small businesses are structured as corporations. For Small Business Council member Michael Canty, president of Alloy Bellows & Precision Welding, Inc. near Cleveland, Ohio., Biden’s tax proposal equates to a 33 percent increase in taxes for his business, which is structured as a C corporation. Canty would like to grow beyond his staff of 85, but instituted a hiring freeze for fear of tax increases and an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Increased taxes that stifle job creation are an awful prescription for our country as our economy continues to recover from a COVID-induced recession. The president and congressional committees are also considering doubling the capital gains tax rate from 23.8 percent to 43.4 percent. This tax hike was portrayed as targeting Wall Street tycoons, but the reality is raising the tax will drive investors away from innovators like Small Business Council member Paul Shmotolokha, founder of New Use Energy in Bellingham, Wash. Shmotolokha’s business engineers and manufactures a range of portable solar and battery systems which can replace traditional fossil fuel alternatives. It raises funding under Rule 506(c), which requires purchasers to be accredited investors that meet specific criteria. Raising the tax rate on capital gains will make it harder for Shmotolokha, and for thousands of other entrepreneurs like him, to attract accredited investors as the increased tax rate will drive investors away from opportunities by lowering the potential reward. We should be rewarding investors for taking a chance on companies such as New Use Energy, as well as other cutting-edge enterprises that collectively are keeping America competitive in a global economy. Penalizing investments in innovators is a terrible idea.

Debt ceiling default inevitable, no way to get Republican support

Alayna Treen, 9-14, 21, https://www.axios.com/the-debt-ceiling-stare-down-b7efb4c2-f1f2-404f-a0e2-a67cf074c4d9.html Congress is fast approaching its deadline to raise the debt ceiling or risk defaulting on the nation's debt, and, as of now, there's no serious plan to stave off what many members are calling the worst-case scenario. Why it matters: The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt. If Congress doesn't take "extraordinary measures" to finance the government, it would "likely cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned last week. Driving the news: Democrats are banking on at least 10 Republicans to eventually give in and vote for a debt increase. But Republicans insist they're not bluffing and have remained united in their insistence that if the U.S. defaults on its debt, the blood will be on Democrats' hands. “It's their obligation. They should step up. It's hard being in the majority. They are the ones who will raise the debt limit,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Punchbowl News. What we're hearing: Axios spoke with more than a dozen senators this week about how they think Congress should handle the stalemate. Democrats largely told us they think Republicans are willing to get as close to the deadline as possible but then will fold after banks, lobbyists and donors call them. "Oh come on, they're not gonna let us default," said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). He said he and his Democratic colleagues think the most likely scenario is Republicans "fuss, fuss, fuss, then do it" in a continuing resolution. Some Republicans, though, said they're willing to let a default happen and blame it on Democrats. "It's going to be entirely determined by the Democrats," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the few moderate Republicans usually willing to break with her party. "They are the ones whose actions are making the increase in the debt limit necessary." What they're saying: Coons: "We came right up against [default] once," referring to a 2013 clash. "And the amount of input senior Republicans got from the financial community, I mean, this would be catastrophically foolish." Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.): "I've seen nothing but resolve on the parts of Republicans. ... It'd be really, really, really difficult for Democrats to get Republicans to help them raise the debt ceiling under any circumstance right now ... even if it leads to a government shutdown." Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.): "I am a 'No,'" regardless of whether a no-vote means the government defaults on debt. Between the lines: In the coming weeks, Democrats plan to lean even harder into their argument Republicans should give in because Democrats raised the limit by trillions of dollars during the Trump administration for COVID-19 relief. Many Republicans say they don't care if Democrats accuse them of a double standard. They argue spending on pandemic relief is very different from funding Democratic plans to spend trillions on Biden's progressive policy agenda. "That's like us voting for their [$3.5 trillion] program, if we open the door for them to do it," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told Axios. Biden’s popularity collapsing Qunnipac University Polling, 9-14, 21, Biden Underwater On Job Approval And Handling Of Key Issues, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; More Than 6 In 10 Americans Believe U.S. Troops Will Return To Afghanistan, https://poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3819 Americans' views have dimmed on the way President Joe Biden is handling his job as president, with 42 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released today. This is the first time Biden's job approval has dropped into negative territory since taking office. In early August, 46 percent of Americans approved and 43 percent disapproved of the way Biden was handling his job. In today's poll, Democrats approve 88 - 7 percent, while Republicans disapprove 91 - 7 percent and independents disapprove 52 - 34 percent. Biden's numbers on his handling of the response to the coronavirus are mixed, with 48 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving. This compares to August, when he received a 53 - 40 percent approval rating on his handling of the coronavirus. Americans give him a negative score on his handling of foreign policy, 34 - 59 percent. In August, 42 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved of his handling of foreign policy. They also give Biden a negative score on his handling of his job as Commander in Chief of the U.S. military, with 40 percent approving and 55 percent disapproving. On his handling of the economy, Biden receives a negative 42 - 52 percent rating. In August, it was a slightly negative 43 - 48 percent rating. On his handling of climate change, Americans are divided, as 42 percent approve and 45 percent disapprove. This compares to a positive 48 - 35 percent approval rating in August. "If there ever was a honeymoon for President Biden, it is clearly over. This is, with few exceptions, a poll full of troubling negatives... from overall job approval, to foreign policy, to the economy," said Quinnipiac University Polling  High taxes needed to find the $3.5 trillion proposal will collapse the economy Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company, 9-15, 21, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/572338-history-shows-democrats-tax-proposals-will-hurt-hiring-wages-and-economy Investors finally got a glimpse of how Democrats intend to pay for their $3.5 trillion spending spree. It did not go well; the Dow sank almost 300 points, despite a slightly better than expected inflation reading. Who can be surprised? When you snatch more than $2 trillion away from job creators and investors for the purpose of income redistribution, as Democrats propose to do via huge tax hikes, the country will suffer. President Biden has promised he will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 per year. But among the proposals from the House Ways and Means Committee is a tax hike on the makers of tobacco, nicotine and vapor products. Who will ultimately pay that bill, estimated to raise close to $100 billion? Consumers who smoke or vape, of course, the majority of whom fall under that income ceiling, and who will undoubtedly pay more for cigarettes and other products as manufacturers raise prices to cover the higher taxes. That is not the only questionable premise in the proposed ways Democrats hope to pay for their $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” blowout. Another is the astounding claim that the legislation will boost the economy, contributing $600 billion from “budgetary savings from faster economic growth.” When has hiking taxes ever led to increased growth? Never. Taking money from investors and spenders and handing it over to bureaucrats and politicians leads to lower productivity, lesser wage gains and slower growth. Every time. A wide-ranging study from the Tax Foundation in 2012 found, “Nearly every empirical study of taxes and economic growth published in a peer reviewed academic journal finds that tax increases harm economic growth.”  For example, a study by economists David and Christina Romer analyzed the U.S. federal tax burden since World War II as a share of GDP and discovered that a tax increase of 1 percent of GDP lowers real GDP by about 3 percent after about two years. Even President Clinton’s 1993 tax hikes, which Democrats claim led to the boom of the late 1990s, actually crimped the next several years’ expansion by about 1.5 percent, according to Treasury analysts. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, passed by a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, and signed into law by Clinton, raised taxes on corporations and resulted in below-average post-recession growth and near-stagnant wages. Real hourly wages rose only 2 cents to $7.43 an hour in 1996 from $7.41 in 1992.   It was actually Clinton’s tax cuts two years later, including a reduction in the capital gains tax rate, combined with welfare reform, which encouraged workers to return to their jobs by reducing disincentives to do so, that set the stage for the economic growth of Clinton’s second term. There is a lesson there for Joe Biden. Though the 1993 tax increase depressed growth mildly, the damage was in part offset by provisions in the bill that helped small businesses and encouraged workers. For example, the new law made permanent tax-exclusions of employer-provided educational assistance and allowed a targeted job credit to incentivize hiring qualified participants in school-to-work programs. In addition, the bill allowed small businesses to take a tax credit of 5 percent of their qualified investment in depreciable property and allowed non-corporate filers to exclude 50 percent of the long-term gain from a sale of a small business stock from their gross income. There are no business boosters in the plans just released by the House Ways and Means Committee. In particular, there is no help for small businesses, the major engine of U.S. job creation. On the contrary, small business owners take it on the chin. If small business owners pay taxes as individuals, they will be hit by a steeply higher top tax rate, and a new 3.8 percent surtax on small business income; they will also lose an existing 20 percent deduction on qualified business income. Small business owners will also have a harder time passing their operation along to an heir, given that the death tax exemption will be sliced in half to $5.5 million. Corporations also face higher taxes, which will reduce pay hikes for workers and once again leave our businesses paying the highest taxes in the developed world. How does that help U.S. competitiveness? And wealthy individuals will pay more; those living in high tax states will pay as much as roughly 60 percent of their income over to federal, state and local authorities. The exodus to Florida and other low-tax locales will continue. Some Republicans claim that Democrats are poised to push through the biggest tax hike in U.S. history. Democrats dispute that, pointing out that the tax increases enacted during and immediately after World War II were bigger, when compared to the nation’s total output, or GDP. Okay, but we are not at war. There is no nation-saving reason for Democrats to spend $3.5 trillion today. We do not have to “rebuild our economy”; we do not have to prepare our defenses against a threat from without; we do not even have to manufacture jobs so that Americans can go to work. There are nearly 11 million job openings. If we have an economic emergency, and most would argue we do not, it is the extreme labor shortage brought on by excessive and unnecessary federal handouts. Filibuster thumper, Voting rights legislation won’t pass, filibuster reform won’t pas Jordan Cainey, 9-15, 21, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/572299-democrats-revive-filibuster-fight-over-voting-rights-bill, Democrats revive filibuster fight over voting rights bill Senate Democrats’ new push to pass voting rights legislation is reviving tensions over the legislative filibuster, the biggest roadblock to passing significant pieces of President Biden’s agenda. Democrats rolled out a fresh voting and elections proposal on Tuesday, touting it as a unifier for their 50-member caucus. The measure could come to the floor as soon as next week, setting up another high-profile showdown over the party’s top issue as GOP-led states pass more voting laws in response to the 2020 presidential election. But absent a significant shift in the form of 10 GOP senators voting to help the bill clear its first procedural hurdle, the measure will get blocked. That will in turn put new pressure on Democrats and the White House to try to sway holdouts in their own party to embrace changing the Senate’s rules requiring 60 votes for most legislation to advance. “I think we need to move forward with a voting rights bill,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “What we need to do is abolish the filibuster or drastically reform it.” Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), during an interview with MSNBC, added that if Republicans wouldn’t support the revised voting rights legislation, then Democrats would “have no choice but to revisit the rules of the Senate.” Though voting rights is a top priority for Democrats, who argue it goes to the roots of American democracy, the legislation faces a rocky road in Congress. Democrats view coming up with a bill that all 50 of their members can support as a crucial first step in the rolling discussions over the filibuster. They are now giving Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a holdout on changing the filibuster, space to try to find 10 Republicans who would support the new bill. “We have ... Sen. Manchin who believes that we should try to make this bipartisan. And we’re giving him the opportunity to do that with a bill that he supports,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “If that doesn’t happen, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” In order to nix the filibuster or change it, Democrats would need total unity from all 50 members of their caucus. Manchin, however, is focused on trying to pitch Republicans on the new voting bill, saying those conversations have started and will ramp up next week. “I work with everybody. I want to find out where they are at, what we can do,” Manchin told reporters after meeting with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, confirming that he was pitching the Kentucky Republican on the voting rights bill. “I always think there’s a pathway forward. You know me, ... I’m optimistic. I’m here to work with everybody,” Manchin added. But GOP leadership is already warning that they won’t support the bill, all but guaranteeing that the renewed Democratic effort falls short when Schumer brings it to the floor. “No amount of repackaging or relabeling will let Democrats sneak through big pieces of the sweeping, partisan, federal takeover of our nation’s elections that they have wanted to pass since they took power,” McConnell said before meeting with Manchin. McConnell added to reporters that Republicans “will not be supporting it.” The brewing battle comes after Democrats missed a self-imposed August deadline to try to pass election legislation. Advocates had long viewed August as a crucial period because of the release of Census Bureau data that states will use to redraw their legislative maps. Senate Republicans previously blocked the For the People Act, another bill that would have overhauled federal elections, from coming up for debate. The new bill from Democrats builds on a framework initially circulated by Manchin earlier this summer and includes automatic voter registration, making Election Day a federal holiday, same-day voter registration, national standards for voter ID, new requirements for reporting foreign contact with campaigns and new disclosure requirements for online campaign ads. Once Republicans block the bill, Democrats say they will want to focus on what, if any, changes to the filibuster could get the support of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “I think we have multiple stages here. We first have to have a bill that hopefully 60 senators will support. If that fails to be the case, then we’re going to have a conversation among 50 senators and a vice president on how we get this bill passed,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the Democratic bill would get 50 votes when it comes to the floor “and then we’re going to have to talk about how do we make it happen if we only have 50 votes.” “A lot of us have ideas for reforms that we could make that would not be abolition of the filibuster,” Kaine said. Democrats have been privately floating potential changes for months, ranging from an exemption from the 60-vote requirement for specific issues to reverting to a talking filibuster that would allow opponents to block a bill for as long as they could hold the floor. Asked if he was offering reform ideas, Manchin said, “We haven’t gone down there.” He added that his Democratic colleagues “pretty much know where I stand” on the filibuster  Outside groups are already leaning in to try to increase the pressure on Senate Democrats to embrace changing the chamber’s rules after months of being in limbo as they prepare to bring voting rights back to the floor. “This negotiating will be for absolutely nothing if they don’t also take the steps required to get it to President Biden’s desk. That means reforming the Senate rules and removing the filibuster from the Senate Republicans’ obstructionist toolbox,” said Meagan Hatcher-Mays, director of democracy policy for Indivisible. But there’s no guarantee Democrats will be able to get the support needed to nix the filibuster or even create a carveout for voting rights, as some of Biden’s closest allies have suggested. Schumer would need total unity from his caucus to get a rules change through the Senate. Biden, according to a Rolling Stone report, has offered to try to push moderates toward supporting changes to the filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation. White House officials have neither confirmed nor denied the report. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have warned for months that they don’t support getting rid of the 60-vote legislative filibuster. And Manchin has specifically ruled out supporting a carveout that would exempt voting rights legislation while keeping the same hurdle intact for other legislation. Manchin said he was open to speaking with Biden about the issue but gave no indication that he was changing his thinking after telling reporters this week that the filibuster is “permanent.”  “Any time the president calls, I’m always awaiting and accepting that call,” Manchin said, “and look forward to talking.” Need the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better to solve climate, the infrastructure bill is not enough Manish Bapna is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, 9-15, 21, https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/572311-congress-must-help-keep-the-climate-crisis-from-boiling-over With key congressional committees working overtime this week to shape bills to complete President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, the White House is spotlighting the need for robust action to confront the climate crisis. The Build Back Better agenda will help us to do just that, and Congress has no more urgent mission than to make certain it does. As a nation, we’ve reached a make-or-break moment. The next few weeks could well mark our last best chance to keep the climate crisis from boiling over into full-on catastrophe. For leaders of conscience on Capitol Hill, preventing that must be job number one. We’ve watched in horror this summer as the climate crisis has engulfed our country, and our world, into a widening hellscape of raging fires, monster storms, deadly floods, famine and forever drought.  We’re not talking here about computer models. This summer alone, nearly one in every three Americans experienced an extreme weather event amped up by climate change. It all gets worse, the science makes clear unless we cut the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels in half by 2030 and stop adding it to the atmosphere altogether by 2050. Biden’s Build Back Better agenda sets us on course for climate action that drives equitable recovery, but only if Congress fully enacts this initiative.The Senate took the first step last month, passing bipartisan infrastructure legislation centered on revitalizing aging roads, bridges and ports. That bill was never meant to confront the climate crisis, and it doesn’t. To do that, congressional leaders have kicked into high gear this week on committee-level efforts to pull together a second package of strategic investments that can be passed through a budgetary process called reconciliation. That would allow supporters to bypass a likely filibuster by those in the Senate intent on obstructing the climate action we so urgently need  With the country teetering on a climate knife-edge, and a livable future hanging in the balance, the broad majority of Americans that support strong climate action are counting on lawmakers to pass a reconciliation package that meets the moment. That starts with investments, tax incentives and other measures to help clean up the dirty power plants that account for a third of our carbon footprint and the cars, trucks and buses that make up nearly another third.  Biden has pledged to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 50-52 percent, relative to 2005 levels, by 2030. That means getting 80 percent of our electricity without fossil fuels, and electric cars and light trucks making up half of all new passenger vehicle sales, by then. We know we can do this. Last year, despite the pandemic, wind and solar power accounted for 77 percent of all new electricity generating capacity nationwide. In the first six months of this year, that share rose to 91 percent. Small wonder why. Over just the past decade, wind and solar power costs have plummeted b 70 and 90 percent, respectively, making clean power the better bet, dollar for dollar, than dirty.   To clean up our dirty power sector quickly enough to confront the climate crisis, we need to align our national investments with these market trends to both support and accelerate the transition to clean power, as broad majorities across the country understand. The Clean Electricity Payment Program the White House rolled out Monday will help, and it will create 7.7 million jobs and generate nearly $1 trillion in economic growth over the coming decade, a study commissioned by my organization has found. Biden’s Build Back Better agenda will also speed the shift to electric vehicles. By 2035, General Motors plans to build only electric vehicles. The auto giant is investing $35 billion over just the next five years to help get there, part of the more than $257 billion the industry is investing, globally, on electric vehicles by 2030. The reconciliation package must sync up the country with this global transformation, by providing consumer incentives that help put electric cars within reach for families of every income level. Because reducing carbon emissions also cuts other dangerous air pollution, it will dramatically reduce asthma attacks, heart disease, missed days at work or school and even premature death.  That’s why cleaning up our dirty power plants, cars and light trucks will save the country a staggering $3 trillion in health and environmental costs between now and 2050, avoiding 240 thousand premature deaths, an April study concludes.  There’s more the reconciliation package needs, like investments to cut carbon pollution on the factory floor by supporting modern, efficient manufacturing processes; highway improvements aill get this done. It can create, by one estimate, 15 million jobs, including for workers who want to join a union. It will save our families money on utility bills, at the gas pump and the doctor’s office. nd public transit expansions that reduce the hassle — and pollution — of commuting; and support to cap abandoned oil and gas wells, replace aging lead service lines and reconnect urban communities divided by misguided highway schemes. Biden’s Build Back Better agenda w Biden’s political muscle critical to the $3.5 trillion stimulus Amy Parnes, 9-15, 21, 0https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/572295-democrats-say-biden-must-get-more-involved-in-budget-fight, DemDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fightocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Democrats expect to see President Biden get more intimately involved in the messy budget reconciliation process in the House and Senate to ensure that the $3.5 trillion social spending package gets across the finish line.   Biden for the last month has been occupied by major crises — namely the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the COVID-19 pandemic — and has largely left it to congressional officials to work out the details of the package.  Yet to get the measure through a Congress narrowly held by his party, Democrats believe Biden needs to publicly and privately put more muscle into resolving disputes within his party.   “He has to get involved for a lot of reasons,” said one Democratic strategist who talks to the White House. “He doesn’t want to apply pressure, but he knows he has to in his own way. This is a massive legacy item for him. “He doesn’t want it to be winnowed down like Obama’s bill,” the strategist said, referring to the 2009 stimulus legislation. That legislation cost more than $700 billion, a huge amount at the time, but might have been even larger if Democrats had been able to win more support from Republicans and centrists in their own party. Biden will take a big step toward getting more involved on Wednesday. He is expected  meet separately with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to hear their concerns about the reconciliation package.  Those close to the White House say Biden will continue speaking to key players involved in the congressional battle. He’s likely to travel and speak about the legislation when the time is right, the sources said. Biden has already been plugging his economic agenda, and specifically the aspects of it that address climate change, during his first official trip out West as president this week.   “I think Biden will be involved but probably more behind the scenes until he needs to apply public pressure. We’re still in the posturing and positioning phase right now,” added Democratic strategist Joel Payne.   Payne predicted Biden would likely do some kind of “road show” to sell the package.   “I think when he needs to, he will use the bully pulpit of the White House to apply pressure and get it over the finish line,” he said.   The White House says that Biden and other officials are regularly engaged with lawmakers on Capitol Hill about his agenda. But officials have kept Biden’s conversations with lawmakers largely private, including avoiding saying whether he’s spoken to Manchin, a centrist who has aired complaints about the $3.5 trillion price tag of the reconciliation package.  “The president and White House officials are in constant communication and contact with members on the Hill, their staff, and this has been, for us, all hands on deck in making sure the president’s agenda moves forward,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, after declining to confirm any calls with Manchin. “We’re continuing to do that.”  The success of the reconciliation bill depends on getting support from centrist Democrats like Manchin, Sinema and Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.) without alienating progressives, who see $3.5 trillion as the baseline price tag for the reconciliation package.   It’s clear that the ongoing negotiations are on Biden’s mind. During a speech Monday evening in Sacramento, he swatted away concerns about the package’s price tag, saying that it would be “as much as $3.5 trillion” but that it would be spread over 10 years.  “He supports $3.5 trillion, which is a bill that he proposed, legislation that he proposed, and he’s going to continue to work with Congress in pushing that agenda through,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday, declining to say Biden’s words are an indication he is open to a smaller package.  Speaking to reporters last week, Biden expressed confidence he could get Manchin on board. Joe at the end has always been there. He’s always been with me. I think we can work some ng out. I look forward to speaking with him,” Biden said.  Every other  agenda item is a thumper Amber Philips, 9-15, 21, Washington Post, What to know about the big budget battles in Congress, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/09/congress-budget-fights/ The next few weeks will be the most challenging in perhaps a decade for Democrats in Congress. They need to figure out a way to keep the government open, raise the debt ceiling to avoid an economic catastrophe, pass emergency natural disaster aid and provide money for resettling Afghan refugees. And that’s just their must-do list.  mWhat Democrats really want to do is write and pass a massive spending bill that dramatically expands the federal government safety net. They also want to send a bipartisan infrastructure bill to President Biden’s desk, and they are trying to pass voting-rights legislation to counter GOP-led efforts at the state level to restrict how people vote, but that could require a historic rules change in the Senate. All Republicans oppose, can only lose a few Democrats to tube the stimulus Amber Philips, 9-15, 21, Washington Post, What to know about the big budget battles in Congress, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/09/congress-budget-fights/ Democrats don’t expect any GOP votes for their $3.5 trillion spending plan. The only way they’re getting this done is to go around Republicans and pass this massive bill through a process called reconciliation. Reconciliation lets Congress pass bills directly related to spending with a simple majority of votes — the minority cannot block these bills with a filibuster. Passing legislation with only one party might sound easier than having to compromise with the other. But mathematically, it means Democrats have fewer votes to work with to get their big legislative priorities done. And that means any one senator or a handful of Democrats in the House of Representatives could block this….And Democrats have very little margin for error among themselves to pass that huge social safety net legislation. The Senate is split 50-50, and House Democrats have only a handful of votes to spare. Getting everyone on the same page on a bill this big is going to be tricky. Moderate Democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona want the $3.5 trillion bill to be significantly smaller, potentially by as much as half. Can’t assess the impacts, as it could be as low as $1.5 trillion Alexander Bolton, 9-12, 21, The Hill, Democrats see $3.5T spending goal is slipping away, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571780-democrats-see-35t-spending-goal-is-slipping-away There’s a growing realization among Democrats that their plans for a $3.5 trillion spending package to reshape the nation’s social safety net and to tackle climate change will have to be slimmed down because of anxious centrists worried about the 2022 midterms. Democrats by and large feel confident that President Biden’s ambitious “human” infrastructure agenda has strong public support and that a majority of Americans favor raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to help pay for it. But there’s also a recognition that moderate Democrats in swing states and districts need to show they’re shaping the emerging reconciliation package. And a part of that process may be slimming down the package from the $3.5 trillion goal set last month by the Senate- and House-passed budget resolutions. “Most times when you face these situations there have to be some changes made in order to get the votes, especially when here in the [Senate] chamber it’s tied and only the vice president can break the tie,” said former Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who presided over the budget reconciliation process in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats passed sweeping health care reform legislation. “You probably will have to shave this back some,” he said of the $3.5 trillion proposal outlined in the budget resolutions passed earlier this summer. “I suspect there are going to have to be some changes in order to get the votes to pass it,” he added. “Biden has himself said that these things should be paid for. He said that very clearly and he said it repeatedly. “The closer you get to actually paying for it, the better the chance you have of getting the votes.” Some centrist Democratic strategists are already warning that the size of the human infrastructure bill needs to be substantially curtailed to avoid a political disaster in the 2022 midterm elections. “You’ve got all these Democrats in the center who are quietly saying ‘I don’t want to support $3.5 trillion because who wants to run on that given the current climate?’ Have you seen some of the recent polls coming out of the states?” said one strategist. By battling with progressives over the size of the package, moderates can insulate themselves from Republican claims that their party has been taken over by the “far left.” Another factor is Biden’s declining approval rating. A Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll Friday showed Biden with a 47 percent national approval rating and a 46 percent national disapproval rate. A Civiqs tracking poll this week showed Biden’s approval ratings in several battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina — trailing his disapproval ratings by 10 points to 14 points. Two of the toughest Democratic votes to corral in the Senate belong to Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who have both said in recent weeks, they will not support a $3.5 trillion package. Moderate Democrats in the House such as Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) are also threatening to vote "no." Former Rep. Ron Klink (Pa.), a centrist Democrat who represented a Republican-leaning district in western Pennsylvania, says there are other moderate Democratic lawmakers besides Manchin and Sinema who are balking at the $3.5 trillion price tag. “They’re going to go back and forth,” he predicted about the upcoming negotiations over the size of the package. “There are other senators, too, that are just saying, wait, this is too much, this is too big.” Klink, however, is urging jittery Democrats not to run away from Biden’s infrastructure agenda. He warns that ducking for political cover was a fatal mistake made by moderates during the 2009 debate over the Affordable Care Act, which was followed by a landslide Republican victory in the 2010 midterm elections. “You have to sell your constituents on what it is that you’re doing and why you’re doing what you’re doing,” he said. Faced with mounting Republican criticism over tax increases that will be part of the reconciliation package, the White House is emphasizing the benefits for the middle class, stressing its desire to enact tax cuts for daycare, health care and working families with children. Klink said Democrats also need to make the case that floods, drought and fires that have devastated the nation show the pressing need for more infrastructure investment. But Klink acknowledges it’s a safe bet the total size of the spending bill will fall below $3.5 trillion, though likely not as low as the $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion goal that Manchin has floated as alternatives. ADVERTISING “I don’t think it will be $3.5 trillion but I think it will be much closer to that than $1.5 trillion,” he said. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) made an important disclosure Thursday evening when he told reporters that the revenue-raising package coming out his committee will raise well less than what is needed to fully offset Democratic leaders’ official $3.5 trillion spending goal. Asked if his package of revenue raisers would reach $3.5 trillion, Neal quickly replied: “Oh, no, no. No, that’s not at the moment what we’re talking about.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday tacitly acknowledged the final package is likely to come in under $3.5 trillion by characterizing that number as a ceiling. “I don’t know what the number will be. We are marking at $3.5 trillion. We’re not going above that,” she told reporters. Some Democrats now say it was inevitable that the $3.5 trillion number was going to slip, even though it already represents a major concession by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressives, who initially pushed for a $6 trillion budget reconciliation spending target. “I don’t know what the final number’s going to be. I always felt it was going to be less than $3.5 [trillion,]” said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, and a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Biden’s capital has collapsed

Doyle, 9-11, 21, Katherine Doyle, White House Correspondent |   | September 11, 2021, Biden baits GOP on COVID-19 at moment of political peril, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/biden-baits-gop-covid-moment-political-peril?utm_campaign=article_rail&utm_source=internal&utm_medium=article_rail Political rivals of President Joe Biden view his latest salvo of attacks against GOP governors over how to get the coronavirus pandemic under control, alongside sweeping new COVID-19 vaccine mandates, as an attempt to distract from his own problems. The Democrat faces rolling waves of COVID-19 hot spots, inflation woes, slowed economic growth, and the fallout of a chaotic Afghanistan drawdown. Meanwhile, polls show the once-buoyant president backsliding as the return to normalcy he promised months ago has faded. According to an Economist/ YouGov survey this month, 39% approved of Biden’s performance in office, while half disapproved — placing the president underwater by 10 percentage points. Sixty percent of respondents said they believed the country was heading in the wrong direction. Just 26% felt it was on the right track. Announced on Thursday, Biden’s new rules aim to require vaccinations for federal workers, with vaccine mandates or weekly tests for employees at larger companies. Though exemptions may apply, Biden’s rule will target some 80 million private-sector employees . Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, charged the White House was looking for a narrative shift as voters balked at the president’s handling of other issues. “The White House recently said it’s ‘not the federal government’s role to enforce a mandate. What changed?” Cotton tweeted. “Biden’s poll numbers.” The senator added: “He needs a distraction from his failures.” Speaking in the State Dining Room on Thursday, Biden heaped blame on Republican governors, accusing them of thwarting efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19. “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,” Biden said. Though the president didn’t name governors in his address, he appeared to reference a threat by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to withhold pay from educators who defied a ban on mask mandates in his state. A Florida appeals court ruled in DeSantis’s favor on Friday, reinstating a stay on mask mandates in schools. “Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100%,” Biden said. “I promise you, I will have your back.” Biden also claimed unvaccinated citizens are slowing the country’s recovery from the pandemic. “The constant stream of insults and threats from the White House is a desperate attempt to regain control of the Narrative and distract from the Biden administration’s abject failures: Afghanistan, the border crisis, and the COVID-19 response,” DeSantis's press secretary Christina Pushaw told the Washington Examiner on Friday.

Biden won’t spend capital on the debt ceiling, he knows Republicans will cave

Barron-Lopez, 9-8, 11, Biden wants to force Republicans to vote on the debt ceiling, sensing they’ll cave, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/09/biden-mcconnell-debt-limit-threats-510922 President Joe Biden is treating the latest Republican threats over the debt limit like a bluff. And the entire party, from congressional Democratic leadership to the top brass at the Treasury Department, is calling them on it. Multiple Democratic sources on the Hill and with knowledge of the White House’s thinking said the administration wants to include a suspension of the debt limit — a legal cap on how much the U.S. can borrow — in a continuing resolution to fund the government. Such a bill, which Congress is expected to consider as early as this month, would require 60 votes to pass in the Senate, meaning at least 10 Republicans would need to vote to advance the measure. To challenge those Republicans, Biden is also calling on Congress to include funding for hurricane relief in the bill, and Democratic leadership has continued to shoot down questions about possible alternative legislative vehicles in recent conversations with members and close allies. Including a debt limit increase in Democrats’ pending party-line reconciliation package, for example, is one option. But the White House and Democratic leaders are not entertaining it at present. “They're right at the moment to say, 'We're working on Plan A,'” said a lobbyist with knowledge of the party’s strategy. “The minute you start to signal that that doesn't work then you're signaling weakness.” The posture from the president on down is setting up a game of chicken with incredibly high stakes — if a vote to suspend or increase the debt limit fails, the U.S. economy will likely crater. Treasury officials have said lawmakers will have until an unspecified date next month before the department runs out of ways to prevent a default. The debt limit is the foundation of the “full faith and credit” of the country’s currency and bonds. If it isn’t raised or suspended, the U.S. defaults on its bond investors, its credit rating could tank and, in turn, the government could be forced to scale back on Medicare benefits, Social Security checks and other programs. The belief in the White House is that a mix of pressure — from business leaders expressing urgency to fears of a full blown financial crisis — will be most acute on Republicans as the deadline nears. After voting for years to suspend or increase the debt limit with Democrats — a routine step required by law — GOP lawmakers in recent history have used the threat of default to score political points when a Democratic president is in charge. Learning from his former boss, President Barack Obama — who vowed not to negotiate over the debt ceiling after doing it once — Biden is essentially daring Republicans to vote down a debt limit suspension or increase. Since Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced publicly that his party members wouldn’t support an increase in the debt limit, the Biden administration has not had any additional talks with him on the issue. McConnell’s office pointed to the senator’s past comments on the debt ceiling but did not address whether the two sides had talked. A White House official said the administration is largely deferring to congressional leaders on the procedural aspects of how to pursue a debt limit increase or suspension. Whether Democrats are pursuing a long- or short-term increase remains unclear. In public and private conversations and briefings with Hill aides, the White House has two main positions: Don’t negotiate with Republicans over what should be a routine vote and clearly message that the debt limit addresses past, not future, spending, seeking to avoid confusion and rebuff GOP attacks over a complex topic. “The debt limit is a function of bills that Congress has already passed, already wrapped up,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “Even if Congress took no future action ever, did nothing else in the future, Congress would have to raise or suspend the debt limit because it’s a reflection of actions already taken.” The showdown comes as Biden faces a grueling month that will determine the fate of his signature economic items: the bipartisan infrastructure bill and social spending package. On top of that, government funding runs out Sept. 30, the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage and parts of the country are struggling to rebuild after devastating hurricanes and wildfires. “With everything from Covid to Afghanistan to the weather incidents, the idea that we would self inflict another blow to our country right now and even putting in potential jeopardy the full faith and credit of the United States would be crazy,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Warner said it’s imperative that Democrats clearly articulate why a default is so cataclysmic and that Republicans are also responsible for the debt limit. “Do you really want to vote for shutting down the government, not giving aid to people who are the third of Americans who've had weather affect [them] and mess with the full faith and credit of the United States all in one vote?” Warner said of Republicans. “I hope not.” Warner added that a decade ago, there was near unanimity about the dangerous consequences of not raising the debt limit. “But that was before there was an age of the level of misinformation and disinformation,” he said. “This was not a tool that was used against President Trump so on a fairness argument, we’re making the case. Whether that wins the day at a time when things are so unusual, time will tell.” To stave off a crisis, the administration is also having conversations with business leaders and community bankers and expects them to apply pressure to Republicans with warnings that a default would be catastrophic for the economy, the White House official said. Others who have spent years working on the issue said the fiscal cliff standoff between Obama and Republicans in 2011 — and the resulting lessons both parties have taken since — is informing Biden’s strategy as president. Seth Hanlon, a former special assistant to Obama at the National Economic Council, said the lesson from that episode is that the debt limit is plainly non-negotiable. Republicans took away a different lesson altogether. At the time, they refused to vote to raise the debt limit unless they got corresponding budget cuts. Obama negotiated with congressional GOP leaders on a deal and, after talks scuttled, Biden himself picked up the baton and hammered out an agreement with McConnell. McConnell later said he came away believing that the debt limit, which underlies the financial well-being of the country, was “a hostage that's worth ransoming." “There were a number of times after 2011 where there was a lot of Republican hue and cry over the debt limit when Obama was president, but ultimately, Mitch McConnell found the cover for himself and his members and joined in raising it,” said Hanlon, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. So far, McConnell has put the onus squarely on Biden and Democrats to raise the debt limit, saying last month that “they have the House, the Senate and the presidency. It’s their obligation to govern … and the essence of governing is to raise the debt ceiling to cover the debt.” In recent remarks on the subject, McConnell stressed that “the debt ceiling needs to be raised,” but said the emphasis is “who should do it. And under these uniquely unprecedented circumstances,” he added, “it’s their obligation to do it.” But Hanlon said he’s confident that pressure from Republican allies in the conservative ranks of big business will ultimately force them to capitulate. “They’re attuned to financial markets and they know the disastrous consequences that will result,” he said of the GOP brinkmanship on Capitol Hill. “As extreme as the Republican Party has become, I don't think McConnell is ultimately willing to push the U.S. over the cliff.”

Any climate targets alienate Manchin and kill his support for the $3.5 trillion stimulus

Manu Raju, 9-8, 21, CNN, Manchin lays out long list of demands as key Senate chairs move to win his vote, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/08/politics/joe-manchin-senate-reconciliation-demands/index.html In the Senate, all roads lead to Joe Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat and his staff have been engaged for weeks in intensive negotiations with the chairs of key Senate committees ahead of his party's release of a sprawling bill to expand the social safety net, laying down his demands on a wide-range of issues: health care, education, child care and taxes, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. And With Democrats needing every vote in their caucus to get the bill through the Senate along straight party lines, Manchin has received more attention than any other Democrat, even as others -- like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema -- have also balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag. Indeed, as committee chairs have held regular meetings with their members over the summer recess to shape key provisions of legislation under their jurisdiction, they often will later have individual meetings with Manchin, even if he doesn't serve on their respective committees. As she met with her members on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who chairs the panel, also talked privately with Manchin to hear his concerns about provisions on free community college and universal pre-K -- issues that are also central to President Joe Biden's agenda. Her staff has since been in contact with Manchin's aides, while Murray has been in constant communication with other members as well. Manchin and his staff have been in consistent talks with Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon, a committee where the two powerful Democrats have clashed over several key provisions central to financing the proposal, including on corporate tax hikes, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Wyden has had weekly Zoom meetings with his committee members on individual areas of their proposal, but has made sure to have regular talks with Manchin -- either with him directly or through his staff. = And Manchin has engaged in long discussions with rank-and-file Democrats as well, including Sen. Michael Bennet over the Colorado Democrat's push to broaden and bolster the child tax credit, which the West Virginian wants to bring down to a level far lower than what many in his party want, multiple Democrats said. On education, Manchin is trying to limit the Democrats' efforts to provide universal pre-K and tuition-free community college. He's talked to Democrats about limiting the number of Americans eligible for pre-K by setting income thresholds, while also discussing ways to measure students' performance for community college assuming their tuition is paid for over two years. And on health care, Manchin has suggested substantially reducing funding for home-care services, a key priority of many Democrats. The private discussions come amid Manchin's public call last week in a Wall Street Journal op-ed for a "strategic pause" in consideration of the expensive bill, which Democrats are trying to advance through a process known as budget reconciliation since it can be approved along straight party lines in the 50-50 Senate. Democratic leaders want to resolve their disagreements and have a proposal ready by September 15. "Sen. Manchin's op-ed made clear that both the present and unknown challenges facing our country far outweigh the politics of passing something of this magnitude at this time," a Manchin aide told CNN, referring to the moderate Democrat's concerns over inflation and the ballooning national debt. "This was true last week, and it is today." The talks underscore the challenges ahead for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who needs to win over Manchin but also avoid provoking a revolt among progressives -- particularly in the House -- who are already balking at the West Virginia's private suggestion to bring the price tag of the overall bill down to around $1.5 trillion. And without Senate passage of the reconciliation bill, House progressives are warning they'll derail the Senate's $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan that Manchin was central in negotiating. "The idea of a $1.5 trillion price tag being sufficient to accomplish those goals for the people is fanciful," Rep. Mondaire Jones, a progressive Democrat from New York, said on CNN. MORE ON COVID-19 RELIEF Jobless Americans left scrambling after pandemic unemployment benefits end Analysis: The government's pandemic help has run out August child tax credit payments reach roughly 61 million kids Student loan payment pause extended to January 31 What remains to be seen is whether the Senate chairs ultimately cater to Manchin's demands or try to railroad him into making a choice: Approve the most sweeping piece of domestic legislation in decades -- or be responsible for sinking it singlehandedly. "We're moving full steam ahead," Schumer said Wednesday, rejecting Manchin's much-publicized call last week for a "strategic pause" in consideration of the bill. Schumer and Manchin -- who have long had a frank and collegial relationship -- have been in constant talks throughout the month of August and was not caught off-guard by Manchin's op-ed last week, multiple sources say. Schumer knows full well that he needs to keep his most important swing vote at bay, in addition to Sinema, who has already said she'd oppose a bill that costs $3.5 trillion. "There are some in my caucus who believe $3.5 trillion is too much. There are some in my caucus who believe it's too little," Schumer said Wednesday. "And we're going to work very hard to have unity because without unity, we're not going to get anything." To get unity, the committee chairs have been working to ensure that Manchin is not caught off guard by provisions in their plan that they hope to unveil next week. Helen Hare, a spokeswoman for Murray, said the Washington state Democrat spoke with Manchin and has had "regular conversations" with her committee members since last month. "She's talking to lots of senators with the goal of getting the strongest possible agreement on free community college, child care and all the other policies she's working to get across the finish line," the spokeswoman said. Some issues may be unresolvable -- such as climate change. Manchin, who represents a major coal-producing state, has balked at Democratic proposals to impose a clean energy standard to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Democrats have also discussed including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, something that could lead to industry's use of cleaner-burning fuels. But Manchin has not been amenable to the aggressive climate targets, leaving it unclear where the talks will land. "If they're eliminating fossils, and I'm finding out there's a lot of language in places they're eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you're sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil (fuel) has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that's going to clean up the global climate, it won't clean it up all," Manchin told CNN in July of his party's plans. "If anything, it would be worse."

Delta has destroyed Biden’s political capital and agenda, killing the stimulus

Natasha Korecki, 9-9, 21, Politico, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/09/biden-presidency-bottlenecked-covid-pandemic-510798, How the Delta variant bottlenecked Biden’s presidency The resurgence of Covid-19 is rapidly dominating Joe Biden’s administration, putting into question the future of his broader legislative agenda and increasingly steering Democrats into treacherous political territory. The president on Thursday is expected to lay out a detailed, six-point plan that’s aimed at staunching a loss in public confidence as the Delta variant sends hospitalizations, deaths and infection rates soaring. Democrats, anxious about the state of the presidency and the country, say Biden must use the moment to forcefully outline how he intends to combat this worsening stage of the pandemic. “Fundamentally, for our public health, for our economic health and for the president's political health, getting Covid right is the single most important issue that they face in the immediate term,” said Robert Gibbs, who served as a White House press secretary in the Obama administration. “We’re stepping into a different phase and the new administration has to meet the moment of that new phase. I think that begins in earnest with this speech.” The speech comes just months after the president held a celebratory tentative return to normalcy, by first lifting mask mandates then holding a 4th of July barbeque on White House grounds. On Thursday, Biden’s remarks will be delivered against the backdrop of falling approval numbers, driven in part by his handling of the pandemic. A Gallup poll this week found that for the first time — either as a candidate or as president — more people disapproved of Biden's communication on Covid than approved of it. It’s a reversal from early in his presidency, when Biden’s handling of Covid overall helped buoy his standing. The president had stayed above water until a few weeks ago. Today, roughly 44 percent of the public approves of the job he is doing, according to a FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Inside the White House, there’s frustration at suggestions that the president and his team have taken their eye off the pandemic. Instead, aides argue that it was the media that shifted focus to other issues, including the drawdown of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. As evidence, the White House official pointed to a successful push to ramp up sagging vaccination rates over the summer and the dispatching of more than 700 surge teams to assist with states battling spiking infection rates. Biden himself has called the new surge in cases a pandemic of the unvaccinated — with those who’ve refused the vaccine still making up the vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations. But despite spending the summer emphasizing vaccinations, rates of infection remain stubbornly high and hospitals in hard-hit areas are again running out of space in their intensive care units. Health officials have complained about confusion over the need and the timing of booster shots. And parents fear school closures now that kids (many unvaccinated) are cramming back into classrooms. An inability to keep Covid cases from mushrooming over the fall could threaten to crowd out Biden’s massive economic agenda, forcing the president to devote more time and attention and political capital to the pandemic rather than directing energies toward shepherding a lofty infrastructure package and a $3.5 trillion social spending bill through Congress. But some Democrats say the best way for the president to negotiate with lawmakers on those initiatives is to demonstrate progress on the pandemic. “One of the most helpful things the president can do to sell Congress on his plan is to launch a big campaign to defeat Covid, see progress against the virus and get his numbers moving in a positive direction again,” said Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic operative. Making sure Covid is contained, Rosenberg said, would “increase his authority in the end game negotiations.” If the massive spending bills do pass and the pandemic fails to relent next year, the White House would be hard-pressed to go back to Congress and ask for another round of Covid bailout funds, having secured a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill earlier this year. Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said Biden would be wise to use his Thursday remarks to address how he will protect children who cannot be vaccinated and offer more clarity on booster shots — the top concerns she’s hearing as she talks to voters door to door. “Let’s talk about how we deal with this Delta variant, and whether or not folks need booster shots,” Barnes said. “All of that information needs to be coming forward, not just once or twice. I think President Biden talks about it every day, we all need to be talking about it.” Biden does not lack for complicated issues on his docket. A chaotic and bloody withdrawal from Afghanistan dominated his August. Voters have persistent reservations about the state of the economy and more than 60 percent of those polled think the country is on the wrong track under Biden. But voters’ feelings about all of those issues, Democratic party leaders say, are tied to Covid. And it’s reflected in the polls: His approval numbers began to slide as Delta took hold across the country. “It impacts absolutely everything,” says Felesia Martin, vice chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “I don't know how we can separate our economy or anything else from Covid because it affects every intersection of our life.” Martin went on to say, however, that it’s unfair to place the blame on the Biden administration for the virus’ resilience. She argued that the president and his team have followed the science as they promised, but people are still refusing to get vaccinated and protesting mask wearing.

Manchin and other moderates are just posturing on the $3.5 trillion

Alexander Bolton, 9-9, 21, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571421-democratic-leaders-betting-manchin-will-back-down-in-spending-fight, Democratic leaders betting Manchin will back down in spending fight Sanders argues that $3.5 trillion is what needs to be spent on transforming the nation’s energy economy to address climate change and “dealing with the needs of the working class.” “To my mind, this bill at $3.5 trillion is already a major, major compromise. And at the very least this bill should be $3.5 trillion,” he said Wednesday. Democratic strategists warn of a backlash from the party’s base if the legislation -- which includes substantial spending on long-term care for the elderly and disabled, an extension of the child tax credit, funding for expanded childcare and significant investments in renewable energy sources -- falls well below $3.5 trillion. “The reaction from progressives, which is already being indicated, would be very bad. People would be very disappointed,” said Mike Lux, a Democratic strategist. Sanders says spending plan should be $3.5T 'at the very least' Schumer rejects Manchin's call for pause on Biden plan But Lux said the threats from moderates should be viewed more as bargaining positions. “People are doing a lot of posturing right now and throwing out broad numbers and broad statements. The fact is that Joe Manchin and other Democrats in the House and Senate voted for the $3.5 trillion budget outline,” he said. “We’re going to have to work very hard to get everybody on board with the budget plan again. “There are going to be a lot of changes, a lot of compromises that everybody is going to have to make. The most important thing is to stay calm and keep talking to each other. Sooner or later we’ll get to a package that both Joe Manchin and [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.)] can embrace because we need everybody,” he added. “I think it will work itself out in the end.”

NO stimulus, no infrastructure

Scott Lillis & Mike Long, 9-9, 21, Democrats hit crunch time for passing Biden agenda, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/571418-democrats-hit-crunch-time-for-passing-biden-agenda Last month, Pelosi and her leadership team struck a deal with House moderates guaranteeing a floor vote on the Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27, while liberals are warning they’ll sink that bipartisan proposal without assurances that the larger reconciliation package will pass the Senate. “Many members of the Progressive Caucus simply will not vote for Sen. Manchin's infrastructure bill unless it is tied together with the Build Back Better Act so that we have an all-of-the-above approach,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. "We aren't saying it's either your bill or our bill, but that both of these bills must move forward together — or neither will.” Brink of debt default Carney, 9-8, 11, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571413-yellen-triggers-alarm-bells-over-debt-ceiling-cliff, Yellen triggers alarm bells over debt ceiling cliff Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is setting off alarm bells over a looming brawl about the nation's borrowing limit that could spark a global economic crisis if Congress fails to take action. Yellen's warning, delivered to congressional leaders on Wednesday, that the country could default on its debt as soon as next month is casting new urgency on the behind-the-scenes discussions about how to raise the debt ceiling.>

Massive partisanship, no deal to increase the debt ceiling

 Carney, 9-8, 11, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/571413-yellen-triggers-alarm-bells-over-debt-ceiling-cliff, Yellen triggers alarm bells over debt ceiling cliff Democrats could need 10 GOP votes to raise the debt ceiling if Republicans filibuster the measure. Democrats have only 50 votes in the Senate, and GOP leaders have indicated they will not help raise the borrowing limit. Including a debt ceiling hike in the budget reconciliation measure that Democrats are now drafting would be one way around the GOP. The budget rules prevent a GOP filibuster. Democratic leaders have signaled they don’t want the debt ceiling to be a part of that package. “We won't be putting it in reconciliation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Wednesday. It’s also unclear whether the package will be finished in time to meet the debt deadline. Yellen on Wednesday said the limit would be breached in October. “The time for Congress to act is now to make sure the U.S. does not come close to defaulting on some of its obligations,” said Rachel Snyderman, associate director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank that closely tracks the debt limit. “But what's concerning right now is that there are so many important priorities at play,” she continued. GOP lawmakers helped suspend the debt ceiling under former President Trump, who added to the debt by signing a huge tax cut bill and several major spending bills. But the GOP has vowed not to provide votes for President Biden as Republicans fume over Democrats’ plan to pass the $3.5 trillion spending package under budget reconciliation rules. The GOP wants to make Democrats own both the spending measures and the debt vote, with the view it will help Republicans retake majorities in the House and Senate in next year’s midterm elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) jabbed last month as the fight ramped up that if Democrats were going to greenlight the spending, shouldn't they “be proud to own all the debt it requires?” And 46 GOP senators signed a letter vowing that they won’t support raising the debt ceiling, leaving Democrats short of the votes. Doug Andres, a spokesman for McConnell, said on Wednesday that flirting with a debt default would be a “crisis” of Democrats' “own making.” “Democrats control Washington now. They can raise the debt limit on their own,” he said. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted Republicans on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters, saying that opposing a debt hike would be a “horrible” and “despicable act.” “It would be just the height of irresponsibility for Republicans to play games to take the debt limit hostage,” he said. Allowing the nation to default would be unthinkable, but it’s not entirely clear how Biden and Democrats will deal with the issue. The increasingly partisan fight comes as Congress deals with a full plate of legislative issues, including funding the government by month’s end and the sweeping $3.5 trillion spending package. Yellen tried to drive home the stakes in a letter to lawmakers warning that amid a pandemic, which rocked the global economy, “it would be particularly irresponsible to put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk.” The debt ceiling kicked back in on Aug. 1 after a suspension included in a 2019 budget deal expired without action from Congress. The Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to keep the U.S. solvent since then, but they will run out next month, Yellen warned Wednesday. “Once all available measures and cash on hand are fully exhausted, the United States of America would be unable to meet its obligations for the first time in our history,” Yellen said. “Given this uncertainty, the Treasury Department is not able to provide a specific estimate of how long the extraordinary measures will last. However, based on our best and most recent information, the most likely outcome is that cash and extraordinary measures will be exhausted during the month of October,” she continued. The federal debt limit is a legal cap on how much debt the U.S. can take on to pay obligations already approved by the president and Congress for several years. Raising the ceiling does not erase or create any new debt but instead gives the federal government more room to pay off its bills. Wall Street and the banking system have grown accustomed to high-stakes fights over the debt ceiling in Washington. Credit ratings firm Standard & Poor's downgraded the county’s credit rating during a 2011 showdown over the debt limit, and the 2013 debt limit fight likely added tens of millions of dollars to the national debt through higher borrowing costs, according to a Government Accountability Office report. But until the deadline gets much closer, market reaction seems unlikely to put much pressure on lawmakers and the administration. Still, Synderman noted that yields on short-term Treasury bonds have risen in recent weeks as investors become increasingly concerned about the risk of a default, particularly as the impact of the pandemic limits the ability to nail down when it may happen. The general dynamics of the fight have been brewing for months: Senate Republicans previously got nonbinding language into their conference rules recommending that any hike in the debt ceiling is contracted by spending reforms or cuts.

Tony Roman, 9-8, 21, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/08/democrats-september-debt-ceiling-reconciliation/

Democrats have sought the help of Republicans to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, citing the fact that they did so to prevent a crisis under President Donald Trump. But GOP lawmakers have refused to supply the necessary votes under Biden, as they bristle over Democrats’ plans to seek as much as $3.5 trillion in new spending and tax increases they oppose.

Any climate targets alienate Manchin and kill his support for the $3.5 trillion stimulus

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