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Internal link turn – less Biden improves the odds of legislative success

Michael Goodwin, 8-6, 22, New York Post, Less Joe Biden is just fine with Democrats, https://nypost.com/2022/08/06/less-joe-biden-is-just-fine-with-democrats/

Less Biden just fine with Dems For American voters, the less they see of Joe Biden, the more they like him. The Democrats’ nominee spent much of the 2020 presidential race in his Delaware basement and still was elected. A similar phenomenon seems to be unfolding now. With inflation soaring and his administration proving to be the gang that can’t shoot straight, the president came down with COVID on July 21 and was isolated. He appeared in public briefly after negative tests the next week, then had a relapse and has been isolated in the White House ever since. Nonetheless, he is enjoying one of the most successful stretches of his presidency. Go figure. Friday’s monster jobs report — the economy added 528,000 positions in July — came on the heels of two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia (near right) and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (far right), suddenly agreeing to back a revised version of the Inflation Reduction Act. Never mind that it will not reduce inflation or that it is merely a repackaged, slimmed-down version of the Bernie Sanders-inspired Build Back Better bill. Or that the White House was not involved in the final negotiations. The important thing is that Democrats united their narrow margins to get something through Congress that allows them to claim they are responding to voters’ concerns. In one of his few on-camera appearances, Biden announced that a US strike took out 9/11 plotter Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan. String of wins Kyrsten Sinema There’s more. A bipartisan consensus backed legislation to spend $280 billion to bolster semiconductor manufacturing and research to give America an edge against China. Most important in the short term, gasoline prices have fallen nearly every day this summer. On Friday, the average national price of regular was $4.11, compared to $5.02 on June 14th, according to AAA.com. It’s no coincidence that the polling is shifting, too. A Rasmussen survey last week found the president with a 43 percent approval rating, the highest for him since the third week of June. Joe Manchin-Chuck Schumer deal could cause inflation bump, study shows Although the average of polling for the last two weeks on Real Clear Politics still has Biden underwater by 17 points, even that marks an improvement. These developments are shaking up expectations of what will happen in the fall midterms. The long-held assumption of a red wave is growing iffy as the generic congressional ballot is now virtually even and Dems are energized by the possibility they could hold on to one or both houses and win some key state races. In short, the fight for power has reached a surprising and intriguing inflection point. But crucial questions remain: What to do about Biden? And can Dems hide him through Election Day?

Independent voters decide elections

Carl Delfeld, July 31, 2022, Republicans Take Note: Independent Voters Decide Elections, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/republicans-take-note-independent-voters-decide-elections-203873

To keep America as the world’s leading power, the first order of business for the Republican Party is to focus on what unites and matters most to Americans. As November’s elections steadily approach, the Republican Party with good reason is increasingly confident going into the 2022 midterms and then going after the White House in 2024. A New York Times/Siena poll puts President Joe Biden’s approval rating at only 33 percent, with more than two-thirds of independents disapproving of the president’s performance as sky-high inflation and the painful pullback in the stock market rattles confidence. No doubt there are many Republicans that would be delighted with winning back the House, the Senate, and then capturing the White House. What the GOP now has is an opportunity to be far more ambitious and achieve a convincing margin of victory leading to a governing mandate for significant change. This means nominating the right presidential candidate coupled with a powerful agenda: pushing back on identity politics, sparking an enduring private investment-led economic boom, reining in debt and spending, and strengthening America’s financial, economic, and national security. This could lead to lasting generational change and signal to markets, allies, and adversaries alike that the American superpower brand of dynamic stability in this age of U.S.-China rivalry is stronger than ever. A decisive Republican victory in 2024 means garnering a clear majority of the popular vote, driven by a talented and competent candidate and an agenda that attracts independent voters—what I refer to as “Independent Republicans.” Nineteen states have open presidential primaries whereby independents can choose to participate in either the Republican or Democratic primary. These include the critical states of Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Georgia. Then, in the 2024 election, these voters are there for the taking again. Why then are independent voters—not registered as either a Republican or Democrat—so important? First, there are a lot of them. According to recent Gallup polling, 43 percent consider themselves independents while Republicans and Democrats each sit at just 27 percent. The situation is becoming more fluid because sharper and more extreme party lines are changing this significant voting base that thinks independently, tends to be younger, and does not blindly follow party leaders. Second, a candidate usually needs a majority of independents to win, and certainly to win decisively. While Pew Research has shown that most of America’s independents historically lean one way or the other, more independents are up for grabs for several reasons. One is roaring inflation and out-of-control federal spending and debt. Another is the growing perception that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the practical concerns of ordinary Americans. Independent voters want Washington to confront issues rather than just kick the can down the road. All this may or may not be good news for Republicans, depending on its presidential nominee and whether the party puts forward a candidate and agenda that energizes the base while corralling independent voters. According to the Bangor Daily News, Maine has added roughly 60,000 new registered voters since the last gubernatorial election with Democrats, adding nearly twice as many new, previously independent voters as Republicans during that period. Virginia is a different story. The 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election that resulted in a narrow victory for Republican Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe highlights the importance of the independent vote. Of the 30 percent of voters that self-identified as independents, Youngkin captured 54 percent while in the 2020 presidential election; then-President Donald Trump managed only 38 percent of the independent vote. The backdrop for this growing political unrest and economic anxiety is the superpower rivalry between China and the United States. Since 2000, China has gone from representing 3 percent of the global economy to 17 percent while America has gone from 28 percent to 23 percent. The American brand of a dynamic economy, political stability, and military strength is under pressure while China views America as divided, distracted, and in relative decline. To keep America as the world’s leading power, the first order of business for the Republican Party is to focus on what unites and matters most to Americans. This means leading with optimism to turn anxiety into ambition by focusing on three things: getting America’s finances in order; providing a roadmap to greater economic and financial security; and a smarter, more pragmatic foreign policy. Next is getting unchecked federal spending and debt back under control. In fiscal year 2021, federal spending represented a remarkable 30 percent of GDP. Over the last five years, Washington has added $10 trillion to our national debt. This is obviously unsustainable. A “conservative internationalist” approach to foreign affairs makes fewer commitments but consistently keeps them, earning trust and credibility. It leads with economic leverage and deploys a more agile and technologically advanced military that deters China, strengthens freedom of navigation, and develops a favorable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. Independents are up in arms and will play a critical role this fall and in both the presidential nominating process and the 2024 election. This could help the GOP if it takes nothing for granted and reaches out to more independents to build a grand coalition.

No guarantee the climate bill will pass the House and Senate

No guarantee the climate bill will pass the House and Senate

Dan Balz, 7—30, 22, Washington Post, The climate bill offers a boost to Biden. Can it change the equation?, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/07/30/climate-bill-midterms-sundaytake/

Schumer and Manchin produced the biggest climate bill in history, which also includes provisions designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs, extend subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, establish a corporate minimum tax and close a loophole that some wealthy taxpayers use to lower their tax rates. The bill calls for $433 billion in new spending, including $385 billion to combat climate change. It would raise an estimated $739 billion in new revenue over the next decade. Their Democratic colleagues may have been stunned, but Republicans were outraged after having helped pass a bipartisan semiconductor bill. Here is what is in the Schumer-Manchin package Passage of the climate bill would give Biden and Democratic candidates something tangible to talk about this fall, and the bill’s title — the Inflation Reduction Act — shows just how much Democrats need an antidote to the high cost of gasoline, food and many other products. Lawrence Summers, the former treasury secretary whose warnings in 2021 that the Biden spending initiatives risked triggering inflation were largely dismissed by the White House, has weighed in on the Schumer-Manchin package. He says it likely will help lower the rate of inflation (though he still worries about a possible recession). Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) talks to reporters on July 21 on Capitol Hill. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) The path to passage of the Schumer-Manchin bill is potentially tortuous, given the fact that there are not expected to be any Republican votes. The sometimes enigmatic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has yet to be heard from, and until she’s satisfied, the Democrats can’t get the bill out of the Senate. More twists could come in the House. Another emerging wave of the coronavirus adds another wrinkle to the timeline. If the bill does reach Biden’s desk, then the issue is whether the new measure will break through with the public enough to help Democratic candidates in November. Neither the $2 trillion stimulus package nor the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which were passed last year, have had enough staying power to boost perceptions of Biden among the electorate. The president’s approval rating is still net negative despite those achievements. What’s to say this bill, other than that it is happening closer to November, will be different? Still, when added to the high court’s abortion decision and public revulsion over mass shootings, the events of the summer are seen as having the potential to energize the Democratic base and improve Biden’s standing among those in his own party. If so, that could limit Democratic losses in the House (though Republicans are still favored to win control) and brighten the party’s hopes of maintaining its tenuous hold on the Senate. But there are still a lot of ifs in those presumptions.

Court CO2 ruling puts pressure for a Biden-Manchin climate deal

Alexander Bolton, 7-1, 22, The Hill, SCOTUS ruling ups pressure on Schumer to strike climate deal with Manchin, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/3543307-scotus-ruling-ups-pressure-on-schumer-to-strike-climate-deal-with-manchin/

The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to dramatically limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions of power plants puts new pressure on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to strike a climate deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The conservative court’s 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA strikes a blow to President Biden’s climate agenda and has Democrats and activists scrambling to salvage Biden’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50 percent by 2030. The setback places renewed importance on Schumer’s efforts to revive a budget reconciliation bill that would include climate provisions such as clean energy tax incentives, a fee on methane emissions and possibly a border tax on carbon-intensive imports. “This devastating decision is only the latest shot in the arm to Congress to legislate action on climate,” said Melinda Pierce, the legislative director of the Sierra Club. “What else do we need when we’re looking at wildfires and drought and flooding, with climate impacts on the doorsteps of both red and blue states, what other justification do you need?” she added. “Today’s Supreme Court decision is stark reminder that the clock is ticking and Congress and must act.” Schumer on Thursday said the court’s decision lights a fire under Congress to get something done to limit carbon emissions. “Make no mistake — the consequences of this decision will ripple across the entire federal government, from the regulation of food and drugs to our nation’s health care system, all of which will put American lives at risk, making it all the more imperative that Democrats soon pass meaningful legislation to address the climate crisis,” he said in a statement responding to the opinion penned by Chief Justice John Roberts. Many Democratic lawmakers have become pessimistic about getting Manchin to agree to any budget reconciliation deal that would include provisions to significantly reduce carbon emissions. Darrell West, the director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said the court’s decision “puts a lot of pressure on Schumer to pass climate provisions but it doesn’t look like they have the votes.” “It’s going to be hard for Democrats to take significant action,” he said. But Schumer is continuing to negotiate with Manchin and there are some signs of progress. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Democratic leaders have finalized a proposal to lower the price of prescription drugs for seniors, which would be a core element of the budget reconciliation package. This development puts Schumer and Manchin in position to negotiate the other pillars of the reconciliation package: tax reform and climate provisions. Schumer told reporters last week that he’s making progress with Manchin but that they still have significant differences that need to be resolved. He declined to commit to bringing a reconciliation package to the floor before the August recess, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 6. Schumer’s and Manchin’s staff have continued to negotiate over the two-week July 4 recess, leaving some Democrats optimistic of getting a deal in July or early August. Democrats are desperate to secure an accomplishment after the Supreme Court’s decisions to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, repeal a longstanding New York law limiting conceal-carry handgun permits and now Thursday’s decision curbing the EPA. Manchin may be close to signing off on legislation to lower the prices of some prescription drugs but getting him to agree to a package of climate provisions will be more difficult, given Manchin’s advocacy for the domestic fossil fuel industry. “I think Schumer would have to go to Manchin hat in hand and say, ‘Can we work something out?’ that’s going to satisfy the very, very strong environmental base of the Democratic Party and the coal industry in West Virginia,” said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University who served several fellowships in the Senate. “There’s a sense of urgency particularly as the forecasts for global warming become more and more grim,” he added. “Undoubtedly pressure will be put on Schumer to make some kind of overture to Manchin but what comes out of that, I think, is unlikely to quiet the anxiety and anger of the Democratic base.” Schumer has kept his Senate colleagues mostly in the dark about the details of his conversations with Manchin, giving them only the same broad progress reports he has shared publicly. Democratic senators, however, feel confident that a package of clean energy tax incentives produced by the Finance Committee and a fee on methane emissions, which Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del) largely worked out with Manchin at the end of last year, could be included in the budget reconciliation legislation. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) are also pushing hard for a carbon border adjustment tax that would place a fee on carbon-intensive imports from China and other countries with more lax emission standards than the United States. “There’s one particular colleague it needs to resonate with and he said very nice things about it spontaneously in the Appropriations Committee the other day so we’ll see what happens,” Whitehouse said, referring to what he believes is Manchin’s openness to considering the proposal. “The dog’s still in the hunt,” he said. Manchin last week said the border adjustment tax could help U.S. manufacturers compete with Chinese competitors who can get away with operating under much looser environmental standards. “The reason we have Democrats and Republicans talking about a border adjustment, we think that’s the only level playing field we might have [against China],” Manchin said at a recent appropriations hearing, according to E&E News. Josh Freed, who heads the climate and energy program at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, said the court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA may give Manchin more incentive to agree to a budget reconciliation package with climate provisions because that such a bill would include 45Q, a tax credit for carbon sequestration. DC Health Department lays off 131 workers, ends COVID contract tracing program The Hill’s Morning Report — Under fire, Biden urges Congress to act on abortion Freed noted that the court’s decision bars the EPA from implementing sector-wide emissions standards and instead requires the environmental agency to apply individually tailored emissions standards for different energy producers. He said that could give coal-fired power plants incentive to adopt technology to capture and store carbon. He said the court’s decision “gives power plants a pathway with carbon capture to remain in operation, which would be easier if reconciliation is passed.” “It reinforces some of the tools that Sen Manchin supports in reconciliation” such as the 45Q tax credit and “hopefully gives the senator more reason to support clean energy investments,” he added. Josh Freed, who heads the climate and energy program at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, said the court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA may give Manchin more incentive to agree to a budget reconciliation package with climate provisions because that such a bill would include 45Q, a tax credit for carbon sequestration. DC Health Department lays off 131 workers, ends COVID contract tracing program Freed noted that the court’s decision bars the EPA from implementing sector-wide emissions standards and instead requires the environmental agency to apply individually tailored emissions standards for different energy producers. He said that could give coal-fired power plants incentive to adopt technology to capture and store carbon. He said the court’s decision “gives power plants a pathway with carbon capture to remain in operation, which would be easier if reconciliation is passed.” “It reinforces some of the tools that Sen Manchin supports in reconciliation” such as the 45Q tax credit, he added, and “hopefully gives the senator more reason to support clean energy investments.”

Ukraine saps Biden’s capital

Kupchan, 6-29, 22, CHARLES A. KUPCHAN is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University. He is the author of Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself From the World, NATO’s Hard Road Ahead: The Greatest Threats to Alliance Unity Will Come After the Madrid Summit, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-06-29/natos-hard-road-ahead

The war in Ukraine, along with perpetual congressional gridlock, has sidelined this critical agenda of domestic repair. To be sure, the provision of military and economic assistance to Ukraine enjoys an unusual level of bipartisan support. Nonetheless, time is not on the side of bipartisanship, which is poised to dissipate as the November midterms near. The war, coming on top of the supply disruptions caused by the pandemic, is contributing to economic conditions that are playing into the hands of “America first” Republicans. Inflation is at 40-year highs; the price of gas, food, and other essential items keeps climbing. The stock market is swooning amid talk of an impending recession. The war in Ukraine is hardly the sole cause of these economic tribulations, but it is certainly playing an important role. It is also soaking up the Biden administration’s precious time and political capital.

Republicans will win the Senate and House now, reduce support for the Ukraine

Kupchan, 6-29, 22, CHARLES A. KUPCHAN is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University. He is the author of Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself From the World, NATO’s Hard Road Ahead: The Greatest Threats to Alliance Unity Will Come After the Madrid Summit, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-06-29/natos-hard-road-ahead

With these economic conditions as a backdrop, the midterms are poised to put the House and, probably, the Senate in Republican hands. The complexion of the Republican cohort that would call the shots in Congress is impossible to predict, but the party is likely to tilt further in the “America first” direction. J. D. Vance, buoyed by an endorsement from Trump, recently won a hotly contested Senate primary in Ohio. His views of the war in Ukraine may be emblematic of what is to come: “I think it’s ridiculous that we are focused on this border in Ukraine. I got to be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other.”

Iran deal the only way to prevent a fast nuclear break-out

Brewer, 6-17, 22, ERIC BREWER is a Senior Director at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and has served on the National Security Council and National Intelligence Council, Foreign Affairs, Iran on the Nuclear Brin The End of the Deal Would Leave Only Bad Options to Thwart a Dash for the Bomb, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/iran/2022-06-17/iran-nuclear-brink

Last month, Iran’s nuclear program entered dangerous new territory: Tehran now possesses enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. That material, enriched to 60 percent, would need to be further enriched to roughly 90 percent—so-called weapons-grade uranium—before it could be used in a nuclear weapon. But that process, known as “breakout,” will now take just weeks due to Iran’s advances since 2019, when Tehran began casting off the constraints of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal following the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement. Although this action alone would not give Iran a bomb, it is the most important step in building one. The consequences of this milestone are profound. Until now, the international community has had months, if not years, to prevent any Iranian dash to bomb-grade material—plenty of time to resolve the crisis diplomatically. Should that fail, the United States has always kept military options as a last resort. Indeed, this fact has helped deter Iran from trying to build a bomb. But as U.S. envoy Robert Malley noted last month, Iran’s capabilities have reached the point where Tehran “could potentially produce enough fuel for a bomb before we could know it, let alone stop it.” Given that Democrats and Republicans have long maintained that they will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons, the fact that the United States might not be able to prevent an Iranian dash should be deeply worrying. The easiest solution to this problem, and the one the United States appears to still be banking on, would be a return to the Iran nuclear deal. This would buy time by rolling back many of these nuclear gains, putting Iran’s breakout timeline at roughly six months. But talks to revive the accord have stalled over Iran’s demand that the U.S. State Department remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its designated terrorist list—apparently a bridge too far for the Biden administration. The problem with waiting for a bargain to materialize, however, is that the longer the stalemate drags on, the less likely a deal becomes as its benefits diminish for both Tehran and Washington. Unfortunately, the international community might be faced with an Iran at the threshold of a nuclear weapon for the foreseeable future. Washington will have to think creatively about how to manage this state of affairs if it wants to avoid an Iranian bomb and the negative consequences that would follow. BREAKING DOWN BREAKOUT It is useful to think about the challenges posed by breakout as being governed by three clocks. The first clock measures the time it would take Iran to produce enough material for a bomb. The second, the time it would take international inspectors or Western capitals to detect those activities. And the third, the amount of time required for the international community to respond. Historically, the time on the first clock has been sufficiently longer than the time on the second and third clocks. But today that is no longer the case. According to U.S. officials, Iran would need “a matter of weeks” to produce enough material for a bomb, while some outside experts have estimated that it could be done in about ten days (the first clock). This timeline will probably continue to shrink as Iran’s program advances. Inspectors visit Iran’s enrichment sites about once a week (the second clock). Thus, Iran could time a breakout so that inspectors arrive and find out too late or with just days left before Iran produces enough material for a bomb. Iran could also fabricate an excuse to deny inspectors their normal access and complete production in their absence. Inspectors would report the situation back to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) leaders, but that information would then need to reach Washington. It is also possible, although by no means certain, that the United States or one of its allies would detect preparations for a breakout through their own intelligence collection. Even so, the United States would want to analyze the information and convene senior officials to discuss and debate options—a process that would take more time. With Iran at or near the end of its breakout, Washington would have to quickly respond (the third clock). Unfortunately, there would be no time for diplomacy, and the United States would need to intervene militarily. Whether a military option is available in that time frame would depend on a range of other factors. The United States would probably want to use the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, reportedly the weapon most capable of reaching the deeply buried Iranian nuclear facilities where this breakout would be taking place, which is carried by B-2 bombers based in Missouri. Flight time to Iran could be over 30 hours, possibly too long to prevent a breakout in this scenario. That flight would also require refueling aircraft and presumably multiple B-2s: would those planes be available at a moment’s notice? Iran may be at the threshold of a nuclear weapon for the foreseeable future. Things get even more complicated—and potentially more time-consuming—from there. The United States might want to strike multiple nuclear sites, target Iran’s radar and air defense systems to minimize the risk of U.S. aircraft being shot down, or have missile defense and other capabilities in place in the region to defend against Iranian retaliation. Some of these options would be impossible to execute in such narrow time frames, which could dissuade the United States from acting at all. Rather than trying to break out at known sites, Iran could also try to divert its nuclear material to a covert facility between inspections for further enrichment to 90 percent. To do so, Iran would need to have a clandestine enrichment facility, and there are no indications that it does (although a lack of inspector access to cameras monitoring Iran’s centrifuge production since February 2021 makes that harder to confirm). But unlike in the past, when Iran would be starting from slower, first-generation centrifuges and low-enriched uranium, Iran now has growing stockpiles of 60 and 20 percent enriched material and has mastered more advanced centrifuges. This means that Iran could build a smaller enrichment plant that would be harder to detect, enabling it to enrich the material to 90 percent much faster than before. The United States would need to know the location of the covert facility and the missing nuclear material were Washington to use military power to stop Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon. Of course, having the fissile material for a bomb is not a bomb itself. Iran would need longer—perhaps a year or two—to build a nuclear device and mount it on a missile. But fissile material production remains the most heavily monitored, and therefore the most detectable, part of building a bomb. Weaponization activities can take place at a variety of scattered facilities, which are not subject to any robust monitoring and carry fewer telltale signatures. The United States may struggle to detect the remaining weaponization processes after Iran produces the requisite fissile material. Even if Iran never produces a bomb or the necessary fissile material, a nuclear-capable Tehran would still generate serious policy challenges. Iranian foreign policy would grow bolder and more aggressive if Tehran believes it can hang the nuclear breakout sword of Damocles over the head of the international community. Iran could also consolidate its nuclear hedge in ways that do not require a full-fledged nuclear weapons program, including by developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. Finally, faced with an Iran on the cusp of a bomb and doubts about Washington’s ability to stop it, countries in the region could embark on their own nuclear hedging efforts or bomb programs, posing a further challenge to the global nonproliferation regime. Those same allies and partners might try to leverage the threat of going nuclear to press the United States for stronger security assurances and defense assistance—a strategy that has been used by U.S. allies in Asia. Washington would find itself caught between two unpalatable options: deeper military commitments in the Middle East at a time when it would prefer to allocate attention elsewhere, or remaining at a distance and risking further nuclear and missile proliferation. WINDING BACK THE CLOCK With the fate of the Iran nuclear deal hanging in the balance, Tehran has little incentive to halt its nuclear advances, which it believes put pressure on the West. That becomes doubly true if talks to revive the deal collapse. While it waits on diplomacy, Washington should therefore focus on what it can control: clocks two and three—speeding up detection and its response. To increase the odds that the international community would detect an Iranian breakout, the United States, its allies, and, if possible, China and Russia should push Iran to allow daily IAEA visits to Iran’s two enrichment sites and nuclear material storage locations. In addition, Iran should resume using online enrichment monitors—an automated technology that continuously monitors enrichment levels when IAEA officials are not present. These measures were in place under the Iran nuclear deal, but Iran has since discarded them. In addition, the United States should increase its own intelligence collection efforts and coordinate with allies to help provide as much warning time as possible. When just days might separate Iran and enough material for a bomb, every second counts. These measures would provide valuable time and help deter a breakout. There are reasons to believe that Iran might adopt such conditions. First, there is a powerful, apolitical argument that these added precautions are necessary for the IAEA to do its monitoring job since Iran is the only country producing highly enriched uranium that does not possess nuclear weapons. Second, these measures could help provide vital assurance to the international community that Iran was not sprinting for a bomb and therefore reduce the chances of a military strike, something Iran would presumably see as in its interests.

Biden has no capital

Wendel Husero, 6-16, 22, Brietbart, Some Democrats Defend Joe Biden’s 2024 Bid Despite Establishment Media Objections, https://www.breitbart.com/the-media/2022/06/16/some-democrats-defend-joe-bidens-2024-bid-establishment-media-objections/

The White House has downplayed Democrat infighting over Biden’s potential 2024 bid, claiming the president will run for a second term, perhaps because if it did not, Biden’s political capital would be reduced. But Biden’s political capital is currently in bad shape. Only 73 percent of Democrats approve of his job performance. And only 48 percent of Democrats want him to run in 2024, according to recent polling cited by the Times. “That is not a question that we should be even asking,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to CNN about the media’s opposition to a second term of aging Biden. “Oh, my gosh, he’s the President of the United States, you know, he — I can’t even keep up with him.” According to polling, a majority of voters believe Biden is unfit to be president and doubt his mental ability. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they had “doubts” about his mental ability. Sixty-two percent said he is not fit to be president because he is too old.

Iran deal at the bottom of the agenda

Ashel Pfeffer, 6-16, 22, https://www.thejc.com/lets-talk/all/bidens-visit-to-israel-is-really-about-making-nice-with-the-saudis-4sW7FH0x1VEnLH5WgZ10fd, Biden’s visit to Israel is really about making nice with the Saudis

Some say it’s just a matter of time. Others insist it won’t happen in the lifetime of King Salman, who is 86. Then there is the question of the price. For full diplomatic relations with Israel, a presidential visit won’t be enough. This time, MBS will have to be received as an honoured guest at the White House. Unless oil prices continue to climb, that will probably happen only under a different president. But Israel has nothing to complain about. Mr Biden’s preoccupation with the midterms, the Russian crisis and petrol prices means he lacks both the time and the political capital for squabbles with Jerusalem. Other foreign policy promises he made before the election, such as returning to the Iran Deal or re-opening the separate consulate that serves America’s relationship with the Palestinians, are at the bottom of his agenda. At most, the consulate will get a perfunctory mention in Mr Biden’s short visit to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, but that’s all. He wants Israeli help with the Saudis. That’s why he’s making the trip.

Saudi trip undermines Biden’s political capital

Andrew Exum, 6-12, 22, The Atlantic, Biden Is Right About Saudi Arabia, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/biden-saudi-arabia-trip-foreign-policy/661256/

I regret to inform you that Joe Biden is right to go to Saudi Arabia. Biden’s planned visit to the kingdom represents a determination to both rationalize the amount of attention we pay to the region and formulate a foreign policy that works on behalf of the American middle class. But it is not going to make anyone happy in the near term, and it is going to cost him precious political capital with his own party. In the two decades since the September 11 attacks, elite opinion in the United States regarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally caught up to where popular opinion has been headed for some time. American elites—to include elected and appointed officials—have come to resent the historically close relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. This resentment is bipartisan, but is most keenly felt within the more progressive ranks of the president’s party.

GOP dominance in the midterms; only the economy matters

Schoen, 6-12, 22, Douglas E. Schoen is a political consultant who served as an adviser to former President Clinton and to the 2020 presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg. He is the author of “The End of Democracy? Russia and China on the Rise and America in Retreat.” Zoe Young is vice president of Schoen Cooperman Research, Democrats could be on pace for a historic rout in November, https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/3519841-democrats-could-be-on-pace-for-a-historic-rout-in-november/

Three recent developments indicate that Democrats’ already shaky political prospects are deteriorating further, and suggest that the party could be on track to experience a historic rout — worse than 1994 or 2010 — in the midterm elections. First, the president’s approval rating — which has historically been a harbinger of his party’s midterm performance — hit a new low this week: just one-third (35 percent) of registered voters approve of President Biden’s overall performance, while a majority (56 percent) disapprove, according to Quinnipiac polling. Importantly, Democrats have lost ground with two key segments of their 2020 coalition — Independents and Hispanics — as only one-quarter of adults in each group approve of President Biden, while majorities disapprove. Republicans also have an advantage in terms of preference for party control of Congress. Nearly one-half (46 percent) of registered voters prefer Republican control, while 41 percent prefer Democratic control. G.O.P. control is also preferred by Independents (40 percent-38 percent) and Hispanics (41 percent-38 percent). To be sure, Democrats’ declining ratings can be attributed in large part to widespread economic pessimism, which is on par with 2009 levels by most assessments. ADVERTISING Relatedly, the second development that bodes poorly for Democrats in November is the release of fresh economic data: inflation has hit a 41-year-high of 8.6 percent annually, the average price for a gallon of gas is $5, and the stock market is tanking. Now, many economists are warning of an impending recession. Of course, the stock market is not the economy and, notwithstanding inflationary pressures, the American economy is in fact strong in many respects, which President Biden has repeatedly tried to underscore to the public. But despite the administration’s best efforts to highlight positive macroeconomic trends — such as increased wages and historically low unemployment — everyday Americans, who are witnessing significant market declines and struggling with rising costs, are not convinced. Indeed, President Biden’s approval rating on his handling of the economy reached the lowest level of his presidency this week: only 28 percent of Americans approve of President Biden’s handling of the economy, including just one-fifth of Independents (21 percent) and Hispanics (20 percent). While Democrats are working to shift the national conversation away from the economy and towards hot-button social issues that they have the upper hand on vis-à-vis public opinion — namely, abortion rights in light of the Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade, and gun control following a string of mass shootings — it is difficult to envision a scenario where these issues supplant the economy as the top midterm issue. Nearly one-half (48 percent) of Americans cite economic issues — including inflation (21 percent), the economy generally (19 percent) and gas prices (8 percent) — as the single most important issue to their midterm vote, according to recent ABC News polling. Comparatively, the same poll — which was conducted following the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, and thus after the news broke about Roe v. Wade — showed that gun violence (17 percent) and abortion (12 percent) are prioritized by a much smaller share of voters. Though Democrats are hoping that the national focus on women’s choice and gun control will help the party galvanize their base and make up ground in the midterms, polling unfortunately doesn’t bear that out. Republicans currently maintain a 12-point voter enthusiasm advantage over Democrats, 43 percent to 31 percent, per a recent Economist/YouGov poll. Moreover, though the Democratic stance on gun control is more aligned with the general public’s views, the renewed national focus on gun violence could end up hurting Democrats in the midterms, given the party’s electoral vulnerabilities on the issue of crime. While polling consistently shows that most voters are supportive of stricter gun laws, there is prevalent public concern about rising crime as well as broad dissatisfaction with President Biden’s and Democrats’ handling of crime, and even more specifically, of gun violence. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of the president’s handling of rising crime, while a majority (61 percent) disapprove. Further, just one-third (33 percent) of the public approves of how President Biden is addressing gun violence, versus 59 percent who disapprove. This widespread discontent with Democrats’ approach to crime brings us to the third key development of the week: the results of California’s primary elections held Tuesday, which saw a decisive rejection of progressive policies — especially on criminal justice — in one of the most liberal states in the country. The recall of San Francisco’s progressive District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, was the strongest rebuke of progressive crime policies to date and underscores the challenges Democrats face with messaging on this issue going forward. The results of the Los Angeles mayoral primary are also somewhat troubling for Democrats. Democratic Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, who was formerly a Republican, finished neck-and-neck, and are headed to a runoff election. Republicans’ ‘big tent’ is now an isolation booth Matthew McConaughey: The moderate voice of reason America craves Though Bass has worked to moderate her positioning on crime by calling for a greater police presence in the city, Caruso’s stance runs decisively to the right of Bass’. The closeness of this race ultimately indicates that Democrats will have a difficult time reframing the public narrative — which ties their policies to rising crime rates — ahead of the midterms, despite President Biden’s efforts to vocalize the Democratic establishment’s opposition to the defund the police movement. Taken together, the American public’s growing dissatisfaction with the Biden administration, increasing economic pessimism, and rejection of progressivism indicate that the Democratic Party could be on track to endure one of the most considerable midterm seat losses of any part in recent history.

Gas prices destroying Biden politically

ALEX GANGITANO AND BRETT SAMUELS - 06/11/2, Gas prices present glaring problem for Biden https://thehill.com/news/administration/3519431-gas-prices-present-glaring-problem-for-biden/

Skyrocketing gas prices are a glaring problem for the White House with no clear, immediate solution. While the administration began the month by pivoting heavily toward its economic message, political watchers say the attempt has so far fallen flat, especially as the national average for a gallon of gas hits a record $5. That, along with inflation, presents a major political challenge for Biden and Democrats going into the midterms. Eighty-five percent of voters said they think inflation is a very serious or somewhat serious problem, according to an Economist-YouGov poll from earlier this month. In the same poll, 44 percent of respondents said Biden has “a lot” of responsibility for the inflation rate and 31 percent said he has “some.” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CBS News this week that Americans should brace for a rough summer, with a top energy agency predicting fuel prices may not come down to less than $4 per gallon until the fall or winter. “There will be some relief on the horizon, but during the summer driving season, it is going to be rough, no doubt about it, because we have such a demand and supply mismatch on the global market for oil,” Granholm said. The president and his administration have pointed to steps they’ve taken in recent months to try to pump the brakes on rising gas prices. Biden has ordered the release of millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to boost supply, pushed for nations in the Middle East to boost production, lifted restrictions on the sale of fuel with higher ethanol content, and promoted renewable energy sources such as electric vehicles and solar power. But the reality, as even some Biden administration officials acknowledge, is the president has little sway over day-to-day gas prices, which are often at the mercy of global supply chains and have been impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “This is, in large part, caused by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s aggression,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on CNN this week. “Since Putin moved troops to the border of Ukraine, gas prices have gone up over $1.40 a gallon, and the president is asking for Congress and others for potential ideas. But, as you say, the reality is that there isn’t very much more to be done.” Friday delivered another blow to the Biden administration with the release of a poor inflation report that showed consumer price growth spiked in May. The Labor Department’s consumer price index rose 1 percent last month alone and 8.6 percent in the 12-month stretch ending in May. Republican strategist Doug Heye argued the Biden administration has had a lackluster response to inflation that has contributed to the hit his approval rating has taken and the low marks he has received on the economy. “There seems to be, on some of these issues, just a shrugging of the shoulders, and that’s why you see, overwhelmingly, Biden’s handling of the economy is unpopular,” he said. “Obviously what’s happened in Ukraine has caused a spike, and there’s nothing wrong with talking about that, but that seems to be the entire explanation when inflation has gone up every month that Biden has been president.” Biden on Friday stressed that he is sympathetic to the impact of high inflation on American families. “I understand Americans are anxious, and they’re anxious for good reason,” he said in remarks at the Port of Los Angeles. “Make no mistake about it: I understand inflation is a real challenge to American families,” he added. “Today’s inflation report confirmed what Americans already know: Putin’s price hike is hitting America hard. Gas prices at the pump, energy and food prices account for half of the monthly price increases since May.” He called on Congress to pass legislation to cut shipping costs and the costs of energy bills and prescription drugs as well as tax reform so big corporations pay more. Part of the challenge for the White House, however, is that many Americans don’t realize Biden doesn’t control gas prices, said Matt Bennett, a strategist with centrist think tank Third Way. “I think he needs to get caught trying to do everything possible. Haul the CEOs of the oil companies in to the White House and demand that they tell him exactly what they need to get production up in the short term,” Bennett said. The White House said it was shifting gears toward a monthlong campaign in June to talk up the economy and to show the White House is prioritizing inflation while pushing the positives it has delivered on the economy. Much of the focus has been on strong jobs numbers and consistent messaging that the White House is aware of the impact of inflation on families. The president penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed outlining his ideas to tame inflation, and he has repeatedly contrasted his push for lower family care costs with that of Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), whose economic agenda calls for potential cuts to programs such as Medicare and Social Security. How gun talks are weighing on Cornyn’s candidacy for Senate GOP leader Biden reiterated on Friday that the U.S. is dealing with inflation from a position of strength, touting again the low unemployment rate. Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright argued that the president’s focus on the positives of the economy will resonate with voters in the midterm elections this fall. “From a messaging standpoint, I think [Democrats] have to demonstrate district by district, race by race, what efforts we have done to save the economy,” Seawright said. “Make sure we tell the story and not let the story be told about us.”

No capital now

Wendel Husebo, 6-11, 22, Breitbart, NYT: ‘Deep Concern’ About Joe Biden’s 2024 ‘Political Viability’, https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/06/11/nyt-deep-concern-joe-bidens-2024-political-viability/

Biden has promised to run in 2024, perhaps because if he did not, it would reduce his political capital. But Biden’s political capital is currently in bad shape. Only 73 percent of Democrats approve of Biden’s job performance. And only 48 percent of Democrats want Biden to run in 2024, according to recent polling cited by the Times. America has a severe inflation problem. We feel it every time we go to the grocery store, or a restaurant, renew an apartment lease or fill up our car—our paychecks are not keeping up with prices. This in turn has caused severe political problems for President Biden.

Scott Reusterholz, 6-9, 22, Caving to China Won't Fix Biden's Inflation Crisis, https://townhall.com/columnists/scottruesterholz/2022/06/09/caving-to-china-wont-fix-bidens-inflation-crisis-n2608429

Indeed, the only thing eroding faster than our purchasing power may be his political capital. While there are undoubtedly genuine supply chain challenges, much of this problem was self-inflicted. Biden’s $1.9 trillion spending binge passed under the heading of COVID relief was simply too big, and the San Francisco Federal Reserve estimates fiscal stimulus has caused half of our inflation overshoot or about 3%. His rhetoric has had a chilling impact on the oil and gas sector, restraining production, with Chevron’s CEO doubting we will ever build another refinery given the governmental push away from fossil fuels. On problems like baby formula, the Administration has been haplessly flat-footed. However, in their mad scramble to show they are taking on inflation before the midterms, it seems like Biden is about to compound his error with rising speculation he will remove Trump’s tariffs on Communist China, which would be a cataclysmic error.

Biden not investing capital in gun control

Kevin Robillard, 6-5, 22, Why Biden Is Giving Gun Control Negotiators ‘Some Space’, https://sg.news.yahoo.com/why-biden-giving-gun-control-100009148.html

Joe Biden has played little direct role in negotiations over a possible deal on gun control, a sign of how a president who often boasted of his victories over the National Rifle Association and decades of Senate experience while campaigning is now staying away from day-to-day congressional action on some of the biggest issues of his presidency. “He wants to give it some space,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Thursday’s press briefing, referring to the president’s approach to bipartisan talks in the Senate on gun control and school safety following a racist massacre at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket and the murders of 19 children in Uvalde, Texas. The president himself, speaking to reporters on Friday morning in Delaware, made his role as a bystander to negotiations clear. “My staff is dealing and have been dealing constantly with every member of the House and Senate who is wanting to talk about guns,” he said. “It’s been a constant interchange. And I’ve been constantly briefed.” Biden’s absence from congressional discussions on key issues has occasionally frustrated and baffled advocates, who question his strategy of allowing Congress to determine the fate of even issues central to his political identity and standing. “For someone who talked so much on the campaign trail about 30 years of experience in bringing Republicans and Democrats together, it’s striking that he has not been using those years of experience, relationships and skills to encourage lawmakers to get a deal,” Igor Volsky, the executive director of Guns Down America, told HuffPost. “This president does not appear to be inclined to invest real political capital to reach a deal.”

Biden investing all political capital in the Iran deal

Majid Rafizadeh, May 28, 2022, Biden Admin's Iran Nuclear Policy is Disastrous, Misinformed and Dangerous, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/18565/iran-nuclear-policy-disaster

The Biden administration seems to be investing all its political capital in reviving the nuclear deal with the ruling mullahs of Iran; the Iranian regime has been defiantly advancing its nuclear program, stepping up its uranium enrichment, working on 1,000 more centrifuges, gaining irreversible knowledge in nuclear development while "negotiating" with the P5+1.

Overwhelming incompetence crushes Biden’s capital

Eli Stokels, 6-3, 22, News Analysis: Biden, who ran on competency and experience, is struggling to manage multiple crises, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/news-analysis-biden-who-ran-on-competency-and-experience-is-struggling-to-manage-multiple-crises/ar-AAY2cbX

President Biden's virtual meeting Wednesday with industry executives in the South Court Auditorium, a soundstage in the hulking office building adjacent to the White House, was held to highlight the administration's response to the ongoing infant formula shortage. But it backfired. The scripted event ended up highlighting just how slow the White House was to recognize the problem and underscoring persistent questions about how such a veteran administration has mismanaged major crises, not to mention the president's public appearances. Whether it is the last-minute scramble to avoid a diplomatically embarrassing boycott at next week's Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles or its faulty projections about inflation and struggles to control rising costs, the administration's rocky responses to various challenges have given rise to new doubts about Biden's promise to restore competency and stability to government. The White House has been working to rebuild its credibility for nearly a year, ever since the botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan shattered the public's confidence in Biden. But a relentless pandemic, the influx of migrants at the southern border and the president's stalled legislative agenda have served to further calcify the public's negative perceptions. The trouble on Wednesday started when Biden said he didn't "think anyone anticipated the impact of the shutdown of one facility." He was then forced to concede that the company executives had just said they realized the potential for supply issues in February when Abbott shuttered its Michigan plant. "They did, but I didn't," Biden said, betraying his frustration that the crisis, which the Food and Drug Administration reacted to immediately, wasn't escalated to him until April — a glaring communication breakdown. The administration's effort to address the shortage, "Operation Fly Formula," involves transporting millions of bottles of formula from other countries to the U.S., although the shipments won't be on store shelves for another few weeks. "You can't control the hand you're dealt, and this is one of the worst hands any president has ever been dealt," said Chris Whipple, the author of a book on White House chiefs of staff and another on the Biden administration to be published later this year. The formula shortage, he continued, "is really a political problem because he took a real hit with the Afghanistan withdrawal, and this is not helping. "Only the toughest decisions get to the Oval Office, and they don't always get there that quickly," Whipple said. "I don't blame Biden for not knowing sooner. Somebody should have told him sooner. But he owns it, because it's happening on his watch." The president's approval rating still hasn't recovered from the rough exit from Afghanistan. And nearly 10 months later, with Democrats' slim congressional majorities in jeopardy this November, questions of competency persist as the White House is working strenuously to address domestic concerns about inflation and public health while managing a plethora of foreign policy complications, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "Voters expected the world would calm down when Biden became president, that the chaos would be replaced with competence. If you look at the last year and a half, the world is still upside down," said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster in Washington. "Trump's chaos was personal chaos. This is mostly world chaos. But [Biden's] ratings are low, and there's not a sense that this is an administration in command. They're a reactive administration instead of a proactive administration." With Russia's war in Ukraine, last month's Asia trip and the upcoming Group of 7 and NATO summits this month eating up much of the administration's national security bandwidth, the administration has struggled to finalize its agenda and even the invite list for next week's Summit of the Americas, a gathering of leaders from around the hemisphere the U.S. will host beginning Monday in Los Angeles. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, a top U.S. trading partner and one of Washington's biggest allies on curbing migration, has yet to say whether he will attend. Asked Wednesday about the "eleventh hour" nature of plans for the summit, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre laughed off the question, suggesting that last-minute decision-making was standard procedure in the West Wing — even amid a briefing dominated by tough questions about the administration's response to the infant formula shortage. "If you've been following this administration for the past year and a half, one week is not the eleventh hour when it comes to ... how things move," she said. "That is a lifetime away for us." The administration in recent weeks has begun an effort to demonstrate a clear focus on what is likely the top issue for voters ahead of November's midterm elections: months of runaway inflation and the exorbitant cost of gasoline and other consumer goods. But the administration's messaging blitz has already been complicated by the fact that not everyone is on the same page. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen offered a mea culpa Tuesday during a CNN interview, acknowledging that she had failed to anticipate how long inflation would affect consumers.

Republicans will block Red Flag laws that fail anyhow

Emily Brooks, 6-2, 22 Gun groups ready for aggressive effort against ‘red flag’ legislation, https://thehill.com/news/house/3508982-gun-groups-ready-for-aggressive-effort-against-red-flag-legislation/

No-compromise gun rights groups are preparing to mount an aggressive campaign against any “red flag” legislation in Congress as a response to the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas. Such measures appear to be gaining some steam as a potential compromise between Democrats and Republicans, but opponents hope to use the same playbook to stop them that proved impactful in the past. “We’re already planning our full attack plan on it,” said Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights. ADVERTISING Nine states currently have “red flag” laws, protection orders that allow a court to prevent an individual deemed a danger to themselves or others from possessing or obtaining firearms. Those include New York, where it did not stop a shooter from targeting black people at a grocery store in Buffalo last month. It is unclear if such a law would have stopped the shooter in Uvalde. With the shock Uvalde elementary school massacre that left 19 students and two adults dead, a bipartisan group of senators formed in the days after the Uvalde shooting to discuss options for a modest deal on a legislative response. Background check expansions and provisions to expand state-level red flag laws have emerged as top options. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) previously negotiated a red flag bill in 2018. Separately, House Democratic leadership is set to bring a bill for a vote next week to nationalize red flag laws. The legislation led by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) would allow federal courts to issue an “extreme risk protection order” to prohibit an individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition, and allows a family or household member or law enforcement officer to petition for such an order. Gun rights activists argue that red flag laws violate due process rights, and that the system of allowing family members or law enforcement officers to petition for such an order is ripe for abuse. Second Amendment groups put intense pressure on House Republicans last year to oppose a red flag provision, underscoring the challenge to supporters. A version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act that passed the House last year included a provision that would allow military courts to issue protective orders that allowed confiscation of personal firearms. The National Association for Gun Rights and Gun Owners of America, two groups that pride themselves as being no-compromise on gun legislation, started to target Republican members on the issue through social media and email list blasts. The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm was also against the measure, but not as aggressive in targeting Republicans about it. In that initial 316-113 vote, 135 Republicans were in favor of the bill. After the NDAA vote, “congressional offices were sometimes bombarded with hundreds of calls each day from gun rights voters accusing them of being sellouts,” according to the former communications director for the late Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). Some Republican offices said in statements soon after the vote that they had been assured that the provision would not be included in the final version of the legislation – and it was not in the final bill that became law. After the pushback, 161 House Republicans signed a Sept. 29, 2021 letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees urging them to strike the section, which they described as enabling “military court gun confiscation orders.” Aidan Johnson, director of federal affairs at Gun Owners of America, called the latter “perhaps the biggest statement by Republicans” to date. “That is important to the debate today going on over red flag laws, because now they’re firmly on the other side,” Johnson said. It was not always that way. Former President Trump entertained red flag laws in 2019 after mass shootings in El Pasto, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. “Take the guns first, go through due process second,” Trump said at the time. But the activism did not sit well with some Republicans. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who was bombarded with messages on social media about his position, called out the Gun Owners of America by name when blasting “grifters” in the party, saying that they misrepresented his position on red flag laws. Crenshaw had said in 2019, around the time that Trump was advocating for red flag laws, that lawmakers should discuss red flag laws on the state level and not the federal level. He has since opposed red flag laws. Crenshaw over the weekend reiterated on CNN that he would not support red flag laws in wake of the Uvalde shooting. “What you’re essentially trying to do with a red flag law is enforce the law before the law has been broken,” he said. For the gun activists, the NDAA campaign was a win. “This thing called a vote actually means something. And if you vote for something with that provision in it, you can’t walk that back by saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t really mean it,’” Brown said. The NDAA situation highlights the political minefield for Republicans looking to take action on gun issues. Mass shootings often prompt Republicans to point to their support for legislation to boost school security or improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. “But on the flip side, they know their base is full of single-issue gun rights voters, so they can’t lean too far into their support for those bills, or else they’ll earn themselves a Newsmax hit piece or worse: a primary challenge,” Young’s former communications director said. Despite the progress on getting Republicans on the record against red flag laws, the no-compromise activists aren’t taking anything for granted when it comes to the latest negotiations. TV’s Dr. Phil backs gun reforms after Uvalde and Buffalo massacres Puerto Rico governor hopeful that status bill will move quickly through Congress “We assume the worst, especially when you have a big tragedy and the leadership of your party, you know, talking about working out a bipartisan deal,” Brown said, noting his 29 years of lobbying on gun issues. “We expect every bit of a kind of fight we had right after Newtown, Connecticut.” And for Republicans who vote for any red flag provisions, primary challengers supported by either of the gun groups are on the table – even if it is not this year. “We play the long-term game. We don’t forget this stuff,” Brown said.

No real momentum for gun control

Chris Cillizza, 6-1, 22, hy you should be cynical about Congress’ ability to pass gun control legislation, https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/01/politics/mcconnell-gun-control-bipartisan-talks/index.html

Mitch McConnell was asked about the ongoing talks over gun control legislation in the US Senate during an appearance in Kentucky on Wednesday. And his answer made clear why betting on something significant getting passed – even in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting – is still pretty unlikely.  “We have a Second Amendment to the Constitution. We take it seriously. There’s the right to keep and bear arms in this country,” McConnell said, according to CNN’s Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett. “And so what I’ve done is encourage some bipartisan discussions that are going on. In fact, I just had a call with one of the members of it to see if we can find a way forward consistent with the Second Amendment that targets the problem.”  Which, at first blush, might well make you think McConnell has had something of a change of heart on guns. He’s encouraging bipartisan talks! He just had a phone call with one of the members trying to negotiate a deal!  But when dealing with McConnell, you always have to remember that he chooses his words very carefully. So you have to parse everything he says with that same care.  The key line from that McConnell quote above is this (bolding is mine): “I just had a call with one of the members of it to see if we can find a way forward consistent with the Second Amendment that targets the problem.”  What does McConnell mean there? 1) That he is not in favor of anything that he perceives to undermine the Second Amendment. 2) That he is wary of solutions that stray from what he believes the “problem” that sits at the heart of these school shootings actually is. McConnell went on to make clear that he believes that problem is twofold: mental health and school safety. Neither of which, you will notice, deals directly with guns. “So, hopefully, we can find a way to come together and make some progress on this horrendous problem consistent with our Constitution and our values,” concluded McConnell. Which, again, sounds promising! But remember that McConnell has already told you his values (protect the Second Amendment) and what he believes to be the problem (mental health, hardening schools). The Point: McConnell is a master of saying what sounds like compromise but upon further examination is just a doubling-down on his previously held positions. This is a prime example.

Biden approval rebound

Jason Lange, 6-1, 22, Biden's approval pulls back from record low, but he remains unpopular -Reuters/Ipsos, https://news.yahoo.com/bidens-slumping-approval-rating-bounces-200237659.html

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's public approval rating rose six percentage points this week to 42%, rebounding from a week earlier when it sank to the lowest level of his presidency, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Wednesday found. The two-day national poll found that 52% of Americans disapprove of Biden's job performance. Biden's approval rating has been below 50% since August, raising alarms that his Democratic Party is on track to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in the Nov. 8 midterm election. Biden has been dogged this year by a surge in inflation, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine helping drive fuel prices higher and global supply chains still hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic. - ADVERTISEMENT - The president's popularity within his own party rose to 78% from 72% the prior week. Only 12% of Republicans approve of his performance in office. Biden's overall approval rating last week rivaled the lows of his predecessor, Donald Trump, whose popularity bottomed out at 33% in December 2017. The Reuters/Ipsos poll is conducted online in English throughout the United States. The latest poll gathered responses from a total of 1,005 adults, including 435 Democrats and 371 Republicans. It has a credibility interval - a measure of precision - of four percentage points.

Momentum for “red flag” laws that save lives

Robert Costa, 6-1, 22, Bipartisan discussions on "red flag" laws make progress as Sens. Graham, Blumenthal revise gun control proposal, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gun-congrol-red-flag-laws-bipartisan-progress-graham-blumenthal/

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, are making progress as they hammer out details of revised "red flag" legislation that they both hope can win sufficient GOP support to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, according to four people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly. Graham and Blumenthal later confirmed in statements to CBS News that their discussions are making progress. In recent days, the two have been having frequent phone calls and have been working closely together to review a "red flag" bill they co-sponsored in 2019, making revisions that they believe can enable a similar, tweaked proposal to win wide support in the divided Senate, the four people told CBS News. At this stage, their updated proposal would focus on establishing federal grants for states to create or bolster "red flag" laws. A "red flag" law, in most instances nationwide, enables law-enforcement officials to temporarily seize firearms from individuals who are seen as threat to themselves or other people, if given a court order to do so. The remaining challenge for Graham and Blumenthal is crafting legislative language on due process and judicial review that does not push wary Republicans away, while also not appearing to overly soften their initial bill and frustrate Democrats. One person familiar with the discussions said Graham and Blumenthal are working on provisions that would be acceptable to both parties, particularly when it comes to the timeline between a court order prompted by evidence of "extreme risk" and a hearing. The scope and type of evidence required are also under discussion. In the past, the National Rifle Association has not forcefully opposed the suggestion of "red flag" laws, but it largely remains opposed to any new restrictions on guns. Still, the people said that both men believe that their effort on "red flag" laws and their early move toward a consensus could emerge as a pivotal part of an eventual final legislative product of the bipartisan gun talks being led by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, and Republican Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas. The talks led by Murphy and Cornyn began after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults. "Lindsey and Richard get along and are talking to outside groups about what they're doing," one person said. "They were on the phone all weekend and bringing a few people in." A second person familiar with the discussions said the "trust" between Graham and Blumenthal was helpful but did not signal that a consensus of 60 votes was anywhere in sight at this point, whether it's on red-flag legislation or other areas. The person pointed to Cornyn as the key senator to watch on the GOP side.  Graham and Cornyn are widely seen by colleagues as top allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the longtime Republican leader. Currently, 19 states empower a judge to take away a firearm from anyone who poses an extreme risk to others or themselves. In Connecticut, for every 10 to 20 firearms removed, a life is saved, according to one study. In California, there have been at least 21 cases when a "red flag" law disarmed people threatening mass shootings. On Tuesday, Blumenthal declined to discuss the deliberations or the details of his discussions with Graham. But in a statement to CBS News, Blumenthal said, "Lindsey has been working very hard and in good faith, and we've made progress." Graham also declined to discuss his private exchanges with Blumenthal and others. But he confirmed that progress is being made. Cornyn and Murphy, plus Arizona's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and North Carolina's Republican Sen. Thom Tillis met over Zoom to discuss potential gun legislation on Tuesday. In a statement after that meeting, Cornyn said, "Senators Murphy, Sinema, Tillis, and I had a very constructive conversation about the best response to the horrific events in Uvalde last week. We've asked our staff to continue to work together to address some of the details that we hope to be able to discuss at some point soon." On CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Murphy, whose home state suffered the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a decade ago, said he knows Republicans won't support everything he does. But "red flag laws are on the table," as well as expanding background checks and other efforts like the safe storage of guns. "Red flag" laws have long been seen by advocates for changes to gun laws as the most viable option in a deeply divided Washington. "'Red flag' laws reduce the risk of gun violence," Dr. Celine Gounder, Kaiser Health News' public health editor-at-large, told CBS News. "It may not work 100% of the time, but if you can save even some proportion of those lives, that's had a real impact."

Momentum for universal background checks and red flag laws

Caroline Vakil, 6-1, 22, Murphy says ‘growing momentum’ on gun violence legislation after latest meeting of bipartisan group, The Hill, https://thehill.com/news/senate/3508955-murphy-says-growing-momentum-on-gun-violence-legislation-after-latest-meeting-of-bipartisan-group/

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on Wednesday there is “growing momentum” on gun violence legislation after another bipartisan senators meeting on the matter was held earlier that day. “Today a group of eight bipartisan Senators met to continue negotiations on a gun violence bill that can get a broad, bipartisan vote in the Senate. This follows a similar meeting yesterday,” he tweeted. “There is growing momentum to get something done and we agreed on a plan to keep working.” Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for information on which lawmakers attended. Sen. John Cornyn’s office said the Texas Republican was not there. Murphy’s comments come as lawmakers reignite calls for gun-related legislation following two deadly shootings in recent weeks in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas. Following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, Murphy made an emotional plea to lawmakers to act on gun control. “I’m here on this floor to beg — to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues — find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he said the day of the shooting. Last week, a group of bipartisan senators discussed “red flag” laws and background checks during a meeting in a Capitol basement office. Among the attendees of that meeting were Murphy, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), in addition to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who called in. TAGS BILL CASSIDY CHRIS MURPHY JOHN CORNYN LINDSEY GRAHAM The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

Bipartisan support for red flag laws

Lizette Alvarez, 6-1, 22, Opinion  How Florida’s red-flag law helps stop potential mass shootings, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/06/01/florida-red-flag-law-mass-shootings/

For three decades, shame-proof Republicans in Congress have failed to support significant measures to restrict firearms purchases. Meanwhile, the ghastly roll call of mass shootings in schools, bars, stores, places of worship and elsewhere is unceasing. After the carnage last week in Uvalde, Tex., with 19 elementary school students and two teachers dead, a bipartisan group of senators has been huddling to push a bill, even a minor one, over the 60-vote Senate filibuster hurdle. One conservative-endorsed proposal being weighed by Republicans could make a difference. Known as a red-flag law, the measure allows the use of extreme-risk protection orders to temporarily remove or restrict firearms from people considered a threat to others or themselves. The policy, which is often misunderstood and typically underfunded, exists in D.C., and 19 states — including, surprisingly, Florida, sometimes called the “Gunshine State.” “It can help take the gun out of someone’s hands before they do something terrible,” Detective Christopher Carita told me. He oversees extreme-risk protection order training for the Fort Lauderdale Police Threat Response Unit. “I’ve seen how they can prevent a mass shooting. The orders work.” In 2018, Rick Scott — governor at the time, now a U.S. senator — defied fierce opposition from the National Rifle Association and signed a gun-control law that included a red-flag program. The signing came a few weeks after 17 people were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The law also raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 and lengthened the waiting period. Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — hardly known as a gun-control advocate — have introduced a red-flag bill in the Senate that would provide grants to help states implement the program. Senate Republicans aren’t keen to federalize the policy but don’t seem to mind sending money. As Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat from Arizona, told reporters, “There’s some shared agreement on red flag.” Shannon Frattaroli, a professor and expert on gun violence prevention policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told me that red-flag programs typically transcend political ideology. “There isn’t a lot of pushback.” Police officers and researchers with expertise in the laws say they have preempted what could have become mass shootings or suicides. Depending on the state, the policies give law enforcement, families and even clinicians who have observed troubling behavior the authority to file an emergency civil petition to block someone from purchasing guns and, for a limited time, to prohibit them from accessing guns they already own. In some states, including Florida, only police officers can file a petition, a rule that advocates want to broaden. Immediately removing a troubled person’s ability to access firearms for as much as a year, after a court hearing, can defuse lethal situations. Frattaroli said it is useful that the law focuses on specific behavior — is the person stockpiling firearms while planning a shooting? Has the person made alarming statements or social-media posts? — rather than simply on mental illness, which is relatively common and seldom leads to violence.

Red Flag laws don’t work

Lizette Alvarez, 6-1, 22, Opinion  How Florida’s red-flag law helps stop potential mass shootings, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/06/01/florida-red-flag-law-mass-shootings/

“It provides an opportunity to intervene,” Frattaroli said. “To say, ‘Whatever you are going through right now, we have to figure it out without your access to guns.’” The laws, modeled after domestic-violence orders of protection, are not foolproof. Even though the suspect of the mass shooting in a Buffalo supermarket where 10 died had exhibited troubling behavior in the past and had been referred to police, they didn’t make a red-flag request. More funding for red-flag laws is needed to raise awareness among residents and help inform and train police departments, Carita said. And while the laws can help connect people to mental health resources, shortages of affordable treatment options are often insurmountable. In all, nearly 9,000 orders have been issued in Florida, some for potential suicides, and 2,845 were active as of last week, a relatively high rate. Still, some Florida counties have never issued a red flag. But Carita said the law has saved lives. He remembers one case in which a mother noticed her son’s rage and drove him to a doctor. The young man was hospitalized after he told the doctor he wanted to “kill some people,” as Carita recalled. That’s when the police unit became involved. “We learned he had already purchased an AK-47 pistol, known as a Draco, and it was being held at the gun store on the three-day wait period, so he hadn’t received it yet,” Carita told me. Carita’s unit secured an extreme-risk protection order and worked with his family. Two months later, the man tried to buy another Draco, but the order flagged him and a background check blocked the sale. The man benefited from counseling and the buffer provided by the red flag that had allowed his anger to subside, Carita said. “He is now back with his family, working and living his life.”

Gun control won’t pass the Senate

Thomas Franck, 5-31, 12, CNBC, House Democrats look to pass gun control legislation by early June, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/31/house-democrats-aim-to-pass-gun-control-legislation-by-early-june.html

The Democratic-led package will likely fail in the face of Republican opposition in the Senate. However, Democrats have acknowledged a hope — however slim — that bipartisan talks among senators can lead to lawmakers passing a more limited bill with support from both parties. Nadler’s spokesman confirmed the list of bills the House Judiciary Committee will consider under the broader “Protecting Our Kids Act.” They include: The Raise the Age Act Prevent Gun Trafficking Act The Untraceable Firearms Act Ethan’s Law The Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act The Kimberly Vaughan Firearm Safety Storage Act Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act The Keep Americans Safe Act The combined legislation would introduce a range of regulations on the sale or use of firearms and associated equipment. The Raise the Age Act would lift the purchasing age for semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21, while the Keep Americans Safe Act would outlaw the import, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of a large-capacity magazine. Ethan’s Law would create new requirements for storing guns at homes, especially those with children, and provide tax credits for secure storage devices. CNBC Politics Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage: U.S. may send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine; Russia captures more villages in Donbas Trump and GOP leaders to speak at NRA event in Houston after Texas school shooting The National Rifle Association’s lobbying machine is still potent despite financial woes that reduced its clout While it’s unclear when the omnibus will arrive on the House floor, Nadler’s move to reconvene the committee early signals that House leadership wants to vote on the legislation soon after lawmakers return from break next week, while Democrats still have momentum behind them. Also unclear is whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her deputy, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., want to vote on a single massive bill or break it into its several components and attempt to pass parts piecemeal. Republican opposition to the package is a more certain proposition. Senate Republicans have for years blocked progress on any gun safety legislation. They opposed efforts to tighten gun regulations both when they held the majority, and even now when they can threaten an indefinite filibuster if Democrats can’t come up with the 60 votes required to circumvent the stalling tactic. GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas took to Twitter four days after the massacre in his state to say that “taking guns away from responsible, law-abiding Americans will not make our nation more secure.” “It’s much easier to scream about guns than it is to demand answer about where our culture is failing,” Cruz added in a separate social media post on Saturday. Anti-gun demonstrators protest outside the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, on May 27, 2022, in Houston, Texas. - America's powerful National Rifle Association kicked off a major convention in Houston Friday, days after the horrific massacre of children at a Texas elementary school, but a string of high-profile no-shows underscored deep unease at the timing of the gun lobby event. (Photo by Cécile Clocheret / AFP) (Photo by CECILE CLOCHERET/AFP via Getty I Anti-gun demonstrators protest outside the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, on May 27, 2022, in Houston, Texas. Cecile Clocheret | AFP | Getty Images Disapproval from Cruz and other Senate Republicans will likely doom any legislation Nadler and other House Democrats manage to pass. But that isn’t likely to deter Pelosi, who on Wednesday acknowledged the long odds any gun control legislation faces in the Senate. “We pray that the bipartisan conversations unfolding in the Senate right now will reach agreement on legislation that can save lives and can be acted upon soon,” she wrote in a letter to fellow Democrats. “On multiple occasions, the Democratic House has passed strong, commonsense gun-violence prevention legislation,” she added. “As we have promised again and again to the courageous survivors of gun violence, we will never stop until the job is done.” For his part, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he wants the nation to watch as Senate Republicans vote down gun control legislation. He said he is open to holding votes on bills even if they are virtually guaranteed to fail. Schumer has also encouraged bipartisan backdoor gun legislation talks led by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. He is working with Republicans including Sens. Pat Toomey, Susan Collins and Rob Portman, who have been open to more modest firearm regulations. Still, chances of any gun control reforms — large or small — appeared low Tuesday following comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Asked in Kentucky for an update on the bipartisan talks, McConnell said the main problem behind the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde was mental illness, implying that Republicans would be open to legislation to address psychological services. Democrats dispute the claim that lawmakers need to target mental illness more so than the availability of guns to reduce shooting violence in the U.S. They say that similar rates of mental illness in other developed nations across the globe prove that mental illness alone cannot fully explain the prevalence of mass shootings in the U.S. McConnell said Senate talks on legislation designed to reduce school shootings are ongoing. “Yeah, we’re doing it, we had a group led by Senator Cornyn and Senator Murphy on the Democratic side, discussing how we might be able to come together to target the problem, which is mental illness, and school safety,” McConnell said. “We’ll get back at it next week and hope to have some results.”

Biden and his agenda are in the gutter

Carol Lee, 5-31, 22, CNBC, POLITICS I https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/31/inside-a-biden-white-house-adrift.htmlnside a Biden White House adrift

Faced with a worsening political predicament, President Joe Biden is pressing aides for a more compelling message and a sharper strategy while bristling at how they’ve tried to stifle the plain-speaking persona that has long been one of his most potent assets. Biden is rattled by his sinking approval ratings and is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign, people close to the president say. Crises have piled up in ways that have at times made the Biden White House look flat-footed: record inflation, high gas prices, a rise in Covid case numbers — and now a Texas school massacre that is one more horrific reminder that he has been unable to get Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence. Democratic leaders are at a loss about how he can revive his prospects by November, when midterm elections may cost his party control of Congress. “I don’t know what’s required here,” said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., whose endorsement in the 2020 Democratic primaries helped rescue Biden’s struggling candidacy. “But I do know the poll numbers have been stuck where they are for far too long.” A West Wing shakeup? Speculation is churning that Biden could shake up the West Wing staff, although that’s not about to happen right away. Multiple people close to the White House said they’ve heard that chief of staff Ron Klain will depart at some point after the midterms, and one has heard him discuss leaving. Should Klain go, a potential successor is Anita Dunn, a White House adviser and Biden confidant whom he often turns to when his fortunes look bleak. Dunn began working at the White House at the start of the term, then left and returned in early May at Biden’s specific request. No woman or person of color has ever been the White House chief of staff since the position was created after World War II. Other possible replacements include Steve Ricchetti, a longtime Biden aide who is a counselor to the president, and Susan Rice, the domestic policy chief. After he lost the Virginia governor’s race last year, Terry McAuliffe spoke to the White House about taking a senior role as an adviser to the president, Cabinet secretary or chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said. The White House didn’t make Klain or Dunn available for comment. Remi Yamamoto, a senior White House communications adviser, said: “As Ron has said publicly, he has not set a time frame, and this is not a discussion on the top of anyone’s mind here.” This article is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials, lawmakers, congressional aides and other Democrats close to the White House who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the president’s private conversations. Any assessment of Biden’s performance needs to take into account the epic challenges he faced from the start. “They came in with the most daunting set of challenges arguably since Franklin D. Roosevelt, only to then be hit by a perfect storm of crises, from Ukraine to inflation to the supply chain to baby formula,” said Chris Whipple, the author of a book about White House chiefs of staff who is now writing a book about the Biden presidency. “What’s next? Locusts?” Biden wonders the same thing. “I’ve heard him say recently that he used to say about President Obama’s tenure that everything landed on his desk but locusts, and now he understands how that feels,” a White House official said. More from NBC News: Liz Cheney’s ‘uphill’ path to re-election runs through Trump Feds might provide money to raze and rebuild Robb Elementary, state lawmaker says Memorial Day weekend marked by more than a dozen mass shootings in the U.S. Managerial breakdowns Amid a rolling series of calamities, Biden’s feeling lately is that he just can’t catch a break. “Biden is frustrated. If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said a person close to the president. An assumption baked into Biden’s candidacy was that he would preside over a smoothly running administration by dint of his decades of experience in public office. Yet there are signs of managerial breakdowns that have angered both him and his party. Biden is annoyed that he wasn’t alerted sooner about the baby formula shortage and that he got his first briefing in the past month, even though the crisis had long been in the making. (The White House didn’t specify when Biden got his first briefing on the formula shortage.) His nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, told Congress last week that the agency was sluggish and that it had made “suboptimal” decisions as parents hunted for formula on empty store shelves. Beyond policy, Biden is unhappy about a pattern that has developed inside the West Wing. He makes a clear and succinct statement — only to have aides rush to explain that he actually meant something else. The so-called clean-up campaign, he has told advisers, undermines him and smothers the authenticity that fueled his rise. Worse, it feeds a Republican talking point that he’s not fully in command. The issue came to a head when Biden ad-libbed during a speech in Poland that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” Within minutes, Biden’s aides tried to walk back his comments, saying he hadn’t called for Putin’s removal and that U.S. policy was unchanged. Biden was furious that his remarks were being seen as unreliable, arguing that he speaks genuinely and reminding his staff that he’s the one who is president. Asked about the staff’s practice of clarifying Biden’s remarks, the official said: “We don’t say anything that the president doesn’t want us to say.” Democrats unnerved Biden’s angst is rippling through the party. Democratic lawmakers are sparring among themselves and blaming the White House for their dim prospects in November. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., said the White House has failed to put forward what she called an “intellectually honest” plan to combat inflation — a burden that ranks first among Americans’ economic concerns, polling indicates. A bill the House passed to crack down on alleged gas price gouging isn’t an answer, she said. “If I sound frustrated, it’s because I hear from my constituents,” Murphy said. “They’re struggling. This is not a time for political games. It’s not the time for finding bogeymen.” A spokeswoman for her office said she hasn’t talked about policy with a senior White House official in six months. The White House official countered that Murphy has been in “very regular contact with our staff here.” Biden’s frustrations Biden has vented to aides about not getting credit from Americans or the news media for actions he believes have helped the country, particularly on the economy. Unemployment rates have dropped to below 4 percent — pre-pandemic levels — but polling indicates most Americans believe the economy is in bad shape. Biden grouses that Republicans aren’t getting their share of the blame for legislative gridlock in Congress, while he’s repeatedly faulted for not getting his agenda passed. The president has also told aides he doesn’t think enough Democrats go on television to defend him. A particular sore spot is his slumping poll numbers; he’s mystified that his approval rating has dropped to a level approaching that of his predecessor, Donald Trump, ranked by historians as one of the worst presidents in history. “He’s now lower than Trump, and he’s really twisted about it,” another person close to the White House said. At a meeting with advisers about a month ago, Biden was surprised to see polling that indicated he had dropped among suburban women, according to two people familiar with the meeting. An adviser said Biden gets weekly polling briefings that delve into “key demographics” and that, because he is kept apprised regularly, he didn’t have that reaction. (At a news conference in September, Biden said flatly, “I don’t look at the polls — not a joke.”) The White House official denied that Biden is feeling frustrated. “What he’s pushing for is to make a sharper case for all that we have accomplished thus far,” this person said. A few weeks ago, Biden started employing a midterm election tactic that has been a go-to for sitting presidents: villainize the opposition. He has sought to tether Republicans to Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda. But Biden has been leaning on White House aides to come up with a message that captures the stark choice voters face. Biden himself thought up the phrase “Ultra MAGA,” which he and other Democrats have started using in hope of drawing a clear contrast with Trump’s movement. The phrase tested well in polling reviewed by the White House, but it also had the unintended effect of firing up the Trump faithful. Merchandisers have found a hot market for “Ultra MAGA” T-shirts. “He shares the view that we haven’t landed on a winning midterm message,” a third person close to the White House said of the president. “And he’s putting a lot of pressure on people to figure out what that is.” No reprieve ahead One of Biden’s prescriptions for his political troubles at the start of the new year was to travel outside Washington more. As he has gotten out in the country, he has also gotten an earful from Democrats about what his administration is — or isn’t — doing. “People confront him,” said a top Democratic donor who has witnessed such conversations at fundraisers. “All he’s hearing is ‘Why can’t you get anything done?’” It’s no wonder. About three-quarters of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, a recent NBC News poll found — only the fifth time in the last 34 years that so many Americans have been dissatisfied with the nation’s direction. There is no respite after the midterms. The 2024 presidential election season begins in earnest once the last races are called. No sitting president wants to be challenged for the party’s nomination; Biden can’t count on a free ride. “We’re on a track — a losing track,” Faiz Shakir, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said of the Democrats.

No votes for the antitrust bill

Rebecca Klar, 5-31, 22, The Hill, Key Senate antitrust bill hangs in the balance, https://thehill.com/policy/technology/3504031-key-senate-antitrust-bill-hangs-in-the-balance/

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is pushing for a summer vote on a key antitrust bill targeting tech giants, but updates to the language released last week may do little to quell concerns from Democrats teetering on support. Klobuchar and Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) American Innovation and Choice Online Act advanced with bipartisan support out of the Judiciary Committee earlier this year, but the chances of it passing hinge on supporters gaining a large enough coalition. Even some Democrats who voted to advance the bill in January have expressed hesitation in supporting it on a floor vote, and more may back off amid a dwindling deadline ahead of competitive midterm races. Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate antitrust subcommittee, released revisions to the text late Wednesday night, before the Senate recessed for Memorial Day. She said she is excited about the “very bipartisan” bill’s chance of proceeding. G “We’ve worked with a number of members and we are making progress,” Klobuchar told The Hill Thursday. The bill, like antitrust reform efforts in the House, is creating strange bedfellows, bringing together senators across the aisle who are split on most other issues. The unlikely allies could give the bill a fair chance of passing in the evenly split 50-50 Senate if called for a vote. But hesitancy among some Democrats may dissuade leadership from putting it forward. “It’s really a Democrat question, because the question is will [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer put it on the floor, which he hasn’t,” said Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a co-sponsor of the bill. Klobuchar told Punchbowl News last week, before releasing the updated text, that Schumer said there will be a vote on the bill, which she is hoping to happen “in the next month.” But the lack of a set timeline signals “they don’t think they have the votes,” Hawley said. The bill aims to limit tech giants from giving preferential treatment to their own products. It defines such dominant online companies by user base and revenue, in a way that would likely apply to Amazon, Apple, Meta and Google. For example, if successful the legislation could bar Amazon from placing its own products at the top of results or keep Google from highlighting its own services in search. At least a handful of lawmakers who voted on the bill during the January markup, and even some co-sponsors, told The Hill on Thursday they had yet to review the revisions Klobuchar released late the night before. Among them were California Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Alex Padilla (D), both of whom voted to advance the bill at the time but said they had reservations that could keep them from voting for it in a floor vote. During the committee markup in January, Feinstein and Padilla said they were concerned the bill targets specific companies that are mostly headquartered on their home turf. Other than Amazon, which is based in Washington state, the three dominant tech companies likely covered by the bill are based in California. Padilla also raised concerns about the legislation’s potential negative impacts on privacy and cybersecurity. A Democratic aide told The Hill the revision process has been opaque, without a lot of engagement to address concerns raised by senators during the hearing. The aide said when Klobuchar released the revisions Wednesday night, it was the first time the aide had seen revisions since the January hearing. Adam Kovacevich, founder and CEO of the tech group Chamber of Progress, said the revisions seem to “primarily address complaints of Republicans and corporate lobbyists rather than the Democrats who Klobuchar needs to move this bill

Manchin will support the climate bill

Rrevor Hanicutt, 5-27, 22, Reuters, U.S. Senator Manchin could back climate provisions in slimmer spending bill, sources say, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-senator-manchin-signals-support-climate-provisions-slimmed-down-spending-bill-2022-05-27/

WASHINGTON, May 27 (Reuters) - Key Senate Democrats are working to revive U.S. President Joe Biden's legislative agenda with a current focus on energy, environment, climate and tax reform rather than the social safety net, according to three people familiar with the matter. Plans to revive the "Build Back Better" legislation now revolve around talks between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the key Democratic swing vote in the chamber, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the people said. Manchin, who stymied earlier attempts to pass the bill over concerns about the deficit and inflation, has signaled he could support some climate provisions in a trimmed down version of the bill, including a fee on emissions of the greenhouse gas methane and a carbon border tax, according to two of the people. The lawmakers hope to resolve the talks on the legislation by the end of June before shifting focus to campaigning ahead of the November midterm elections for control of Congress. Manchin's spokesperson, Sam Runyon, did not confirm the reporting, but said the senator "remains seriously concerned about the financial status of our country and believes fighting inflation by restoring fairness to our tax system and paying down our national debt must be our first priority." Manchin has said publicly that the only deadline to pass a spending bill is Sept. 30. Biden, facing political pressure near his lowest approval rating of his presidency, is eager to get any kind of deal done ahead of the elections to give Democrats something to tout as they seek votes. Climate legislation is a major priority among many wealthy Democratic donors as well as younger voters the party needs to turn out in strong numbers. But the deal, at this point, risks leaving much of Biden's agenda on the cutting-room floor. Democrats are likely to be disappointed if the bill does not include new measures on prescription drug costs, free preschool and childcare, Medicare expansion and paid family leave. Still, the United States is the closest it has ever been to imposing a carbon border tax - which seeks to level the playing field between U.S. companies facing environmental regulations at home and foreign competitors with less rigorous standards.

Less than a 50-50 shot of even minimal support for a small expansion of background checks

Eric Lutz, 5-27, 22, Vanity Fair, JOE MANCHIN SAYS “THIS TIME FEELS DIFFERENT” — AGAIN, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/05/joe-manchin-gun-reform-uvalde-republicans

For one, he’s left little choice, since he and Kyrsten Sinema remain committed to the filibuster. But there does seem to be some potential for something to get done, however narrow: As Politico reports, the pair’s preservation of that Senate procedure have left some Republicans feeling obligated to at least hear them out on gun law reform. “I salute them for having the presence of mind to retain the institution of the Senate,” Utah Senator Mitt Romney told the outlet, saying the compromise reform Manchin crafted with retiring Republican Pat Toomey after the Sandy Hook shooting has “a lot of appealing features.” “I have to look at the final bill,” Romney said, “but the answer is I am inclined to vote for that kind of legislation.” Manchin-Toomey, which includes a limited expansion of background checks, doesn’t exactly go as far as is needed on its own to stop the endless scourge of gun violence. But at this point, any legislative response at all from elected officials would be an improvement. Democrat Chris Murphy, who made an impassioned plea for action Tuesday on the Senate floor, is leading bipartisan negotiations ahead of a vote Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he’ll hold when lawmakers return from the Memorial Day recess. He’s been clear-eyed about the prospects — he put his odds of success at “well less than 50-50.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is “hopeful that we can come up with a bipartisan solution” and has sent one of his deputies, Texas Senator John Cornyn, to engage with Murphy. A number of Republicans, meanwhile, have sounded a slightly different note than they have previously: “I think this is a pivotal moment,” Manchin’s fellow West Virginian, Republican Shelley Moore Capito said Thursday. “I do see it a bit differently this time as I did in the past.” Talk, of course, is easy. Manchin is still the guy who has failed time and time again to make his bipartisan fever dream come true — including last year, when he attempted to revive Manchin-Toomey in the wake of a mass shooting in Colorado. And the GOP is still raking in huge cash from the gun lobby. One of the biggest recipients of that money is Cornyn, the guy McConnell sent to negotiate with Murphy and the Democrats; heading into those meetings on Thursday, the Texas senator made clear he does not want the shooting to be “an excuse to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.” “Doing that will do nothing to fix tragedies like this,” he said. That wouldn’t seem to bode well for the prospects of meaningful reform. The slaughter of 19 young kids and two of their teachers in a Uvalde classroom could shock the conscience enough to indeed make this time “different.” But then again, the slaughter of 20 young kids and six adults in Newtown wasn’t enough to pass legislation; only two of the four Republican senators that supported Manchin’s bill in 2013 — Susan Collins and Toomey, who helped craft it — are still in office. Manchin says he’s more hopeful this time around. “I’ve never been more encouraged by more activity from my Republican colleagues and Democrat colleagues,” he said. “I can remember after Sandy Hook, I didn’t have anybody coming to the table.” Maybe that’s so, but with Manchin and the Republicans, it’s hard to believe it until you actually see it.

No guns deal

Burgess Everett, 5-27, 22, Politico, The GOP’s 2 favorite Dems try to turn their cred into a guns deal, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/sinema-manchins-filibuster-defense-pressures-on-gop-on-guns-00035543

Since the start of the 50-50 Senate, Republicans have gone out of their way to praise the two moderate Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even told his conference to do so during a private meeting last year. And the Republican praise for Manchin only grew louder after he squashed President Joe Biden’s sweeping “Build Back Better” bill in December. Republicans helped Democrats raise the debt ceiling last year out of fear that a default might change Sinema and Manchin’s minds about the filibuster. Even so, it’s not at all clear that the same dynamic could push Republicans to come to an agreement with Democrats on firearm access, an issue that animates the GOP base like few others despite public support for new restrictions of some kind. GOP consultant: ‘We need to come together’ on gun reform ahead of midterms “I like the idea that the Senate will stay the Senate,” Graham said. “I’ve always tried to work in this space. But I’m not going to be threatened by changing the filibuster to do a certain thing. And [Sinema and Manchin] never have, to their credit. This idea that if you don’t do a certain thing we’re going to change the filibuster, that doesn’t work with me.” Some of the duo’s fellow Democrats are also skeptical that their position on the filibuster will increase the likelihood that Republicans agree to a deal on guns. “Any expectation that they’ve done things that Republicans like, and so Republicans owe them a debt — that is naive,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). In fact, Democrats fear Republicans are running a similar playbook to the one they’ve used after other mass shootings: Open the door to talks while the issue is in the national spotlight, but decline to seal the deal later on. McConnell is encouraging Cornyn to engage with Murphy, a sign that the GOP leader isn’t trying to stamp out any bipartisan energy so soon after this month’s horrific mass killings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), who talks to Sinema on a near-daily basis, was accordingly noncommittal. “We have to at least listen to each other to see if there’s a path forward where, you know, we might be able to find solutions that actually address the problem,” Thune said. “There’s a lot of conversations going on right now, and we’ll see where it goes.” On Thursday afternoon the Senate split, not to return until June 6. Even though conversations will continue over the recess among the senators in both parties working on the issue, there’s now no chance of action while the mass killing of children is fresh in the minds of lawmakers and the public.

Manchin negotiating energy package

Hans Nichols, 5-27, 22, Axios, Scoop: Manchin serious about Schumer talks, https://www.axios.com/2022/05/27/scoop-manchin-may-play-ball

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Axios on Thursday he's earnestly engaged in talks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) over a climate, energy and deficit reduction package, reviving hopes for action this year. Why it matters: Even a slimmed-down version of President Biden's Build Back Better package looked dead. But comments by Manchin, along with tempered optimism from some Democrats, suggests a Biden win on the Hill in this midterm year has gone from unlikely to possible. Biden, stuck at around 40% popularity, needs Manchin to revive his agenda. Manchin told Axios it's possible the latest talks still die. Behind the scenes: As Manchin and Schumer try to repair a strained relationship, their staffs have been making progress on the contours of a climate and deficit reduction package, according to people familiar with the matter. Manchin called those preliminary talks “respectful” and “encouraging, to a certain extent.” "There could be nothing," Manchin told us in an interview. "There could be truly nothing. That’s all I can tell you.” "Chuck has a very, very difficult job," Manchin added. "The trust that I have, it's his ability to be able to move 48 or 49 other people." Manchin noted he has not engaged directly with President Biden. What's happening: Manchin this week told a bipartisan group of senators with whom he’s been negotiating over a climate and energy security bill that he’s prepared to back tax increases in a Democrat-only bill if the bipartisan group can't agree to any additional revenue. Manchin told Axios he understands why some Republican senators might conclude that a Democrat-only reconciliation package is his “ace in the hole,” giving him more leverage in the bipartisan talks. That left some senators thinking that Manchin may be closer to a deal with Schumer than they suspected and that he can jump tracks if he reaches an agreement. Between the lines: The productive spirit of Manchin’s recent talks with Schumer has led some senators to believe that a reconciliation bill, with roughly $300 billion in energy tax credits and $800 billion in new revenue, is a possibility. A slimmed-down climate bill — though it would be much smaller than the $1.75 trillion climate and social spending package passed by the House last year — would give Democrats another legislative accomplishment to campaign on in the midterms. Legislation passed throughh the budget reconciliation process requires only a bare majority vote to pass, rather than the 60-vote threshold most legislation needs to overcome Senate filibusters. Manchin said he'd indicated to his colleagues that "'there are options that are going to be there that you might have to consider'... I was as honest as I could be.” He also told senators that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that he chairs already has studied specific proposals on climate and energy independence, which many of them thought was the core charge of their bipartisan gatherings.

Manchin won’t support renewable energy tax credit expansion

Hans Nichols, 5-27, 22, Axios, Scoop: Manchin serious about Schumer talks, https://www.axios.com/2022/05/27/scoop-manchin-may-play-ball

Manchin insisted in our interview that he still wants to include Republicans in the conversations, even if Democrats ultimately take a party-line route. “I've been trying to get input... it informs a lot of decisions." Between the lines: Manchin suggested there's more agreement on the deficit reduction side of the equation than on new spending for renewable energy. He’s deeply skeptical of any additional tax credits for electric vehicles if the money just goes to Chinese manufacturers. What we're watching: Inflation has been a top concern of Manchin’s and he seems most interested in the deficit reduction provisions of any potential reconciliation bill. He’s eager to authorize Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies over the price of prescription drugs to save billions of dollars for taxpayers. He's also comfortable with more money for the IRS to help increase tax collection. And while he would still like to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 25%, he knows Sinema is opposed and he’ll settle for establishing a domestic minimum rate of 15%.

Climate/reconciliation dead

Alexander Bolton, 5-24, 22, The Hill, Democrats set to blow through key date for moving Biden’s agenda,  https://thehill.com/news/senate/3498846-democrats-set-to-blow-through-key-date-for-moving-bidens-agenda/

Democrats are set to blow through the soft Memorial Day deadline for reaching a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on a slimmed-down budget reconciliation bill to raise taxes, fight climate change and lower the cost of prescription drugs. Senate Democratic sources say there’s no chance of getting a deal this week but they argue that doesn’t necessarily mean the negotiations over a long-awaited budget reconciliation package are doomed. Some optimistic Democratic aides note that neither Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) nor Manchin has identified the Memorial Day recess as a drop-dead deadline. ADVERTISING Instead, Democrats are once again pushing back the target date for getting a deal with Manchin. They now point to the start of the August recess as the new deadline, arguing that gives them most of August to draft legislation and the month of September to pass it on the floor. Such a timetable seems difficult to say the least. Passing major legislation in September of an election year is extremely difficult, and high inflation has been the main reason for Manchin’s opposition to the package. The nation’s concerns about inflation have only grown in recent weeks. Pushing the deadline back, however, shows that some Democrats are refusing to publicly throw in the towel on the package. There are a few reasons for this, including the fact that the rules for preventing the GOP from filibustering the package expire at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. “We hear it’s really a Schumer conversation and there’s progress but until we actually see there’s been an agreement and an initial on the agreement and we’re going to put it on the floor, I’m going to be skeptical,” said a Democratic senator, characterizing conversations with fellow Senate Democrats on the state on the negotiations. The lawmaker said Schumer has taken the lead in the talks because senior White House officials damaged their relationships with Manchin when negotiations broke down in December. Manchin was furious that the White House leaked that he opposed a one-year extension of the expanded child tax credit, a popular provision among many Democratic lawmakers who wanted it to be in the package.

Reconciliation bill that includes climate will pass

Alexander Bolton, 5-24, 22, The Hill, Democrats set to blow through key date for moving Biden’s agenda,  https://thehill.com/news/senate/3498846-democrats-set-to-blow-through-key-date-for-moving-bidens-agenda/

“The administration is not getting it done. Their relationships are too damaged. Only through Schumer is it going to get done but it’s not like it’s easy. I give it a 50-50 possibility of a modest bill getting done,” said the Democratic senator. Manchin was in Davos, Switzerland on Monday for the World Economic Forum. Speaking at a panel session with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Manchin predicted that Congress would be able to pass meaningful legislation by the midterms. “There’s a responsibility and opportunity we can do something,” he said. Manchin told reporters last week that all fifty Senate Democrats should be able to agree on a reconciliation package that lowers the price of prescription drugs. He has previously said the package should include proposals to reduce the deficit and fight climate change. Rank-and-file Democratic senators say they’ve been kept largely in the dark about Schumer’s negotiations with Manchin. “You’re not going to hear anything, I don’t think, out of anyone but Schumer and Manchin, just the two of them,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “I’ve been involved in previous discussions but at this point we’ve really delegated everything to Sen. Schumer in his conversation with Sen. Manchin. Cardin said Schumer told colleagues that if there is to be a deal with Manchin, “it needs to be done soon.” “We thought this work period,” Cardin said, referring to the five-week stretch that ends this Thursday or Friday. Some Democrats still think Memorial Day is a key date and holding out hope for an agreement, at least in principle, by the end of this week. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who presided over a pro-forma session of the Senate ON Monday, said she shared Sen Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) view that it was important to get a handshake deal by Memorial Day. “That’s the ideal and that’s what we would like,” she said. “That’s what we would want to have.” Asked about the chances of passing any kind of reconciliation package, Duckworth said “I think 50-50 right now,” predicting that constituents are going to ramp up pressure on senators to get something done. “As folks go home and see where the lay of the land is, hopefully that’s going to light a fire under them,” she said. A group of 26 vulnerable House Democrats led by Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) warned Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a letter Monday that if Congress doesn’t pass a new round of health insurance subsidies though the budget reconciliation package, constituents will see their premiums go up right before the midterm election. “We cannot afford to backslide on this progress. Our constituents cannot afford to go back to paying upward of 20 percent — or more — of their household income on health care premiums,” the group warned. Schumer has kept the number of negotiators small and the talks quiet, a pivot from the fall when Democrats set high expectation for passing Build Back Better by Christmas. White House chief of staff Ron Klain conceded in January that too much of last year’s negotiations with Manchin played out in public view. “One lesson we learned in the first year is, I think, the less we talk about our negotiations with specific senators and congressmen, the better we are, so I’m going to say our talks with Sen. Manchin will proceed directly and privately,” Klain told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. A Democratic strategist who has closely followed the talks predicted there’s no chance of a deal by the weekend. The strategist said there’s “zero” chance of getting a deal with Manchin the next few weeks but predicted something could get done by the Aug. recess. The source also said that rumors about a falling out between Manchin and senior White House advisor Steve Ricchetti during last year’s negotiations are overblown. “Manchin and Steve Ricchetti are fine but I do think there will be fewer people in the room,” the source said. The sentiment that no deal will emerge in the next few weeks was echoed Monday by Senate Democratic aides. Biden says ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan not dead The Hill’s Morning Report — Will GOP primaries offer clues about 2024? “It all suggests it’s going nowhere fast,” said one Democratic aide. Some Democrats, however, think the lack of details from the talks between Schumer and Manchin are a reason to be hopeful. These optimists point out that when two opposing sides in a policy negotiation stay quiet, it’s often a sign they’re resolving disagreements. “I think it’s a good sign that there’s obviously some talks and it’s very quiet. I think public negotiations have been very damaging to this process. If something’s going to get done, Schumer, Manchin and Biden are going to figure it out. And I wouldn’t even put a timeline on it,” said Jim Kessler, a former Schumer aide who now serves as executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank.

Biden’s capital has collapsed

Nicholas Ricardi, 5-20-22,  https://apnews.com/article/biden-approval-rating-drops-ap-norc-poll-d41bce85e1b062b588a32908b2affa65

President Joe Biden’s approval rating dipped to the lowest point of his presidency in May, a new poll shows, with deepening pessimism emerging among members of his own Democratic Party. Only 39% of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s performance as president, according to the poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research, dipping from already negative ratings a month earlier. Overall, only about 2 in 10 adults say the U.S. is heading in the right direction or the economy is good, both down from about 3 in 10 a month earlier. Those drops were concentrated among Democrats, with just 33% within the president’s party saying the country is headed in the right direction, down from 49% in April. Of particular concern for Biden ahead of the midterm elections, his approval among Democrats stands at 73%, a substantial drop since earlier in his presidency. In AP-NORC polls conducted in 2021, Biden’s approval rating among Democrats never dropped below 82%. The findings reflect a widespread sense of exasperation in a country facing a cascade of challenges ranging from inflation, gun violence, and a sudden shortage of baby formula to a persistent pandemic. “I don’t know how much worse it can get,” said Milan Ramsey, a 29-year-old high school counselor and Democrat in Santa Monica, California, who with her husband had to move into her parents’ house to raise their infant son. Ramsey thinks the economic dysfunction that’s led to her being unable to afford the place where she grew up isn’t Biden’s fault. But she’s alarmed he hasn’t implemented ambitious plans for fighting climate change or fixing health care. “He hasn’t delivered on any of the promises. I feel like the stimulus checks came out and that was the last win of his administration,” Ramsey said of Biden. “I think he’s tired — and I don’t blame him, I’d be tired too at his age with the career he’s had.” Republicans have not been warm to Biden for a while. Less than 1 in 10 approve of the president or his handling of the economy, but that’s no different from last month. Gerry Toranzo, a nurse and a Republican in Chicago, blames Biden for being forced to pinch pennies by taking steps like driving slower to conserve gas after prices have skyrocketed during his administration. “His policies are destroying the economy,” Toranzo, 46, said of Biden, blaming him for stopping the Keystone XL fuel pipeline to Canada and hamstringing domestic energy production. “It’s a vicious cycle of price increases.” Overall, two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. That rating is largely unchanged over the last few months, though elevated slightly since the first two months of the year. But there are signs that the dissatisfaction with Biden on the economy has deepened. Just 18% of Americans say Biden’s policies have done more to help than hurt the economy, down slightly from 24% in March. Fifty-one percent say they’ve done more to hurt than help, while 30% say they haven’t made much difference either way. ADVERTISEMENT The percentage of Democrats who say Biden’s policies have done more to help dipped from 45% to 37%, though just 18% say they’ve done more to hurt; 44% say they’ve made no difference. Some Democrats blame other forces for inflation. Manuel Morales, an internet service technician in Moline, Illinois, thinks the pandemic and war in Ukraine have had a far bigger impact than Biden’s decisions. But the 58-year-old Democrat is now questioning the benefits of Biden’s biggest legislative achievement, the American Rescue Plan, and its stimulus checks. “It helped a lot of people, but,” Morales said, “people did not want to go back to work.” Morales faults Biden on another area of persistent vulnerability to the president — immigration. Only 38% back Biden on immigration, and Morales is disappointed at the scenes of migrants continuing to cross the southern border. Though he himself is a Mexican immigrant, Morales thinks the U.S. needs to more stringently control its border to have a hope of legalizing deserving migrants who are in the country illegally. Also, Morales said, there have to be limits. “It’s impossible to bring the whole of Central America and Mexico into this country,” he said. Another area where Morales faults Biden, albeit mildly, is the war with Ukraine. “We are spending a lot of money going to the Ukraine and all that is going to the deficit,” Morales said. Overall, 45% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Russia, while 54% disapprove. That’s held steady each month since the war in Ukraine began. Seventy-three percent of Democrats and 15% of Republicans approve. The new poll shows just 21% of Americans say they have “a great deal of confidence” in Biden’s ability to handle the situation in Ukraine; 39% say they have some confidence and 39% say they have hardly any. Charles Penn, a retired factory worker in Huntington, Indiana, is satisfied with Biden’s performance on Ukraine. “I think he’s done alright,” Penn, 68, said of the president. But overall Penn, an independent who leans Republican, is disappointed with Biden, and blames him for rising prices that have squeezed him in his retirement. “The Democrats in the long run have screwed up things by pushing for higher wages, like going from $7 an hour to $15 an hour,” Penn said, citing the push for a sharp increase in the federal minimum wage that Biden has embraced. “The other side of it is that if you had Republicans, they’d cut my Social Security.” Still, Penn thinks Biden should pay the political price. “He’s captain of the ship, so he’s responsible,” Penn said of the president.

Slimmed-down version of BBB that stops climate change will pass

Richard Cowan, 4-18, 22, Lawmaker Raskin sees hope for U.S. climate legislation this year, https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-climatechange-raskin-idAFL2N2WD0KK

WASHINGTON, April 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Democrats in Congress squabbling over how best to invest in the fight against climate change will forge a compromise in coming months that could be signed into law by President Joe Biden, Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin predicts. Significantly, Raskin signaled that he and other liberals should be willing to compromise on the shape of such a package, although he gave no details on what those compromises might be. “We should cut the deals that need to be cut,” Raskin said, while “trying to build as large a coalition as possible.” A leading liberal in the House of Representatives, Raskin spoke on Thursday in an interview with Reuters, National Public Radio and The Guardian newspaper. Work on a $1.75 trillion federal investment bill that included half a trillion dollars toward cutting fossil fuel emissions fell apart late last year, when conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin declared his opposition. But signs are emerging of a slimmed-down “Build Back Better” bill, as Biden’s Democrats seek to score legislative victories including on climate action ahead of congressional elections in November. “We’re disappointed that ‘Build Back Better’ as originally advanced in its entirety won’t be going, but we’re convinced that major chunks of it, including the $550 billion investment in renewable and safe energy, will find its way onto the floor of the House (of Representatives) and the floor of the Senate,” Raskin said. The original “Build Back Better” package included provisions to reduce emissions from the U.S. power and transportation sectors that together account for about half the U.S. greenhouse gases. Those provisions could include incentives for adopting renewable energy, electric vehicles or carbon capture technologies. Passing even a slimmed-down version likely would require support from every Democrat in the Senate, which is evenly split between the Republican and Democratic parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, holding the power to cast tie-breaking votes to secure victories for her party. Despite Raskin’s optimism, nothing is certain and negotiations could still fall short. To date, no Republican members have backed the legislation, making Manchin the best hope for passing any bill. Congressional leaders will be keeping a close eye also on another conservative Democrat, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has raised objections in the past to parts of Biden’s domestic investment initiative. In recent weeks, Manchin has indicated he could go along with a plan that makes climate change investments, paid for by raising tax revenues and lowering costs of prescription drugs covered by Medicare. Aides to some Democratic lawmakers lately have also expressed confidence that lawmakers may be coalescing around a revised climate change bill. Raskin’s remarks were part of a broader conversation with reporters on U.S. climate policy and the democratic process – two topics in focus as Biden struggles to make good on pledges to cut planet-warming emissions. (Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Katy Daigle and Howard Goller)

No BBB, multiple reasons

Sylvan Lane, 4-18, 22, https://thehill.com/news/3272389-on-the-money-dems-eye-build-back-better-revival/, On The Money — Dems eye Build Back Better revival

Top Democrats and the White House are eyeing a revival of a stalled-out tax-and-spending bill as the party tries to show deliverables to voters heading into a November election where they are facing tough political headwinds. The hopes of reviving Build Back Better — albeit significantly altered and likely with a different name — comes after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) deep-sixed a roughly $2 trillion, House-passed bill late last year. Since then they’ve struggled with when, or how, to revive the issue with most of the political oxygen focused on a Supreme Court vacancy and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Neither Senate Democratic leadership nor the White House have set a firm deadline for when they would want to get a revived deal. But some Democratic senators have floated Memorial Day, or at the latest mid-summer, before they pull the plug for good. They’ll have to win over Manchin, who recently stated he would nix many of the earlier package’s social programs and has expressed concerns about surging inflation. The White House is signaling that they could try to assuage Manchin’s concerns by packaging debt reduction with programs aimed at cutting costs for Americans into a bill. The stacked legislative calendar is another issue: Congress is still working on legislation to boost the nation’s competitiveness with China and provide another $10 billion in COVID-19 aid in addition to numerous other priorities.

Biden’s approval has collapsed

Nikki Schwaab, 4-13, 22, Biden's approval craters at 33%:, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10716929/Bidens-approval-craters-33.html

Biden's approval craters at 33%: Just 26% of independents approve of his job in the White House, 39% back his handling of Ukraine and 68% says U.S. should be doing MORE to stop Putin's forces killing civilians in yet another shocking poll President Joe Biden's approval rating stands at 33 per cent among American adults in a Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday This is the second time Biden has been rated this low in this particular survey, with the first time occurring in January The Democratic president is seen in a drastically different light depending on respondents' political affiliation Twenty-six per cent of independents approve of Biden, along with 76 per cent of Democrats and just 3 per cent of Republicans Thirty-nine per cent of Americans said they approved of Biden's handling of the response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while another 48 per cent disapprove President Joe Biden's approval rating stands at 33 per cent among American adults in a Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday. This is the second time Biden has been rated this low in this particular survey, with the first time occurring in January. The Democratic president is seen in a drastically different light depending on respondents' political affiliation, with independents giving him an approval rating of 26 per cent. Seventy-six per cent of Democrats, on the other hand, approve of the job Biden is doing, while just 12 per cent disapprove. At the same time, just 3 per cent of Republicans surveyed approve of the job Biden is doing, while a whopping 94 per cent disapprove. President Joe Biden's approval rating stands at 33 per cent in a Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday The Democratic president is seen in a drastically different light depending on respondents' political affiliation The Democratic president is seen in a drastically different light depending on respondents' political affiliation Among the smaller group of registered voters, Biden's approval rating stands at 35 per cent. Biden gets graded slightly higher when Americans were asked specifically about his handling of Russia's invasion into Ukraine. Thirty-nine per cent of Americans said they approved of Biden's handling of the response, while another 48 per cent disapprove. Americans, generally, want the U.S. to do more - with 68 per cent agreeing that the U.S. has a moral responsibility to do more to stop Russian forces from killing civilians in Ukraine. Another 24 per cent disagree with that statement. Seventy-four per cent of Americans said they believed that the worst is yet to come in Ukraine.

Dems likely to retain control of the Senate

Politico, 4-13, 22, https://www.politico.com/2022-election/race-forecasts-ratings-and-predictions/, We rated every race in play in 2022.

This is who we think will win.

Hi there. I'm  Steve Shepard,  and with the help of my smart colleagues at POLITICO,  I predict elections.

Much is riding on the 2022 midterm elections: the fate of President Joe Biden’s agenda, leadership in state capitals across the country and a potential 2024 comeback by former President Donald Trump. Democrats’ extremely narrow majorities in Congress are highly vulnerable, and the traditional midterm penalty suffered by the party in power has Republicans well positioned to wrest back control of the House, and quite possibly the Senate, in the fall. In the House, Democrats’ five-seat majority is highly endangered. In the Senate, their control of the 50-50 chamber hinges on Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote. But a Senate map that favors Democrats gives them a better chance of overcoming the expected national headwinds.

Innovation bill key to US technological leadership, strengthen ties with allies, deter China, and strengthen global democracy

Jim Himes and Mikie Sherrill are Democrats from Connecticut and New Jersey, respectively, and members of the New Democrat Coalition, April 6, 2022, CNBC, Op-Ed: Congress must pass an innovation bill to fight inflation, boost national security, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/06/congress-needs-to-pass-innovation-bill-house-new-democrat-coalition-says.html
The U.S. economy is rebounding from Covid, showing strength and resiliency, but real economic challenges remain. Due to the global pandemic and weak supply chains for critical goods like microchips and semiconductors, American consumers are feeling the stress of inflation at the supermarket and used car lots. The good news is that Congress is working to find agreement on a bipartisan innovation bill that addresses these issues by strengthening our supply chains, supercharging American innovation and helping America outcompete nations like China. We must take urgent action to make critical investments in American innovation, reduce our reliance on despotic regimes and expand economic cooperation with our allies across the globe. The bipartisan innovation bill will not only be good for our economy and our pocketbooks, it’s also critical for our national security. The Russian war in Ukraine and escalating Chinese aggression toward Taiwan show why Congress must swiftly send this legislation to the President’s desk. Following World War II, the U.S. established a global rules-based order that values democracy, free markets, and human rights. We made a generational investment in groundbreaking basic research that has driven American innovation since. We invented the microchip and supplied the world with this critical technology. Now, however, the U.S. finds itself overly reliant on external partnerships to maintain and increase our technological edge. Experts in national security and intelligence recognize that our investment in research and development is insufficient and our unrivaled human capital is underutilized. In addition, the security of our supply chains is under threat as Russia invades a sovereign neighbor that is a key agricultural exporter and China threatens the independence of Taiwan, which supplies 90% of the world’s chips. Depending on critical materials from autocrats, whether minerals from Russia or semiconductors from China, puts the security of the U.S. and our allies at risk. In just a few weeks, we’ve seen how Europe’s dependence on Russian energy has made it vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and limited its ability to take action against a murderous tyrant. We could be in a similar bind if China invades Taiwan, causing us to lose our largest source of semiconductors. The New Democrat Coalition led the charge for this legislation and helped pass a strong innovation bill that will strengthen our supply chains, advance American scientific and technological leadership, and ensure America leads the global economic order. America once led the semiconductor market, and we can do it again. The bipartisan innovation bill will keep us competitive by increasing manufacturing everywhere and helping American businesses supply the world. It invests in research — including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and advanced energy — and domestic microchip and semiconductor manufacturing. The U.S. is already increasing domestic production. Intel recently announced a new chips production facility in Columbus, Ohio, and this legislation will turbocharge these efforts. Ramping up production at home will enable us to meet high demand and reduce inflationary pressures, produce more goods, and prepare for the future so events on the other side of the world don’t impact Americans’ lives. Failure to boost production at home and in allied nations leaves us vulnerable to supply disruptions. This bill will also help bolster diplomatic ties with Taiwan and respond to the Chinese government’s genocide of the Uyghurs through sanctions, export control restrictions, and multilateralism. By advancing this legislation, we can defend democracy, diversify and secure global supply chains, help American businesses relocate operations back to the U.S. and allied nations, and reinforce trading partnerships with nations like South Korea and Australia. When America leads, our world is safer. By quickly passing and enacting the bipartisan innovation bill, we will set America up to lead the 21st century innovation economy with democratic values, create long-term supply chain stability in an uncertain world, and counter the influence of tyrants and autocrats around the world. This is America’s moment to lead. We can’t let it pass.

NU – Biden spending PC on COVID-19

Brett Samuels, 3-17, 22, The Hill, White House pushes past COVID-19 limits but threat of pandemic looms, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/598541-white-house-pushes-past-covid-19-limits-but-threat-of-pandemic-looms

The White House had initially pushed for $22.5 billion in additional funds to fight the pandemic and guard against future outbreaks, but the path forward in Congress, despite the lower price tag, remains unclear. Psaki said Wednesday that Biden would use his political capital to get the coronavirus funding passed in some other form. “I would say that we have been working around the clock over the last few days, behind the scenes and publicly, to convey very clearly to elected officials across the country and the American people what the impacts will be, so I would expect you’ll hear from him more soon about it,” Psaki said.

Capital up from Ukraine

Pratsap, 3-14, 22, https://playcrazygame.com/2022/03/14/biden-seeks-to-consolidate-political-momentum-given-by-ukraine-war/, Biden seeks to consolidate political momentum given by Ukraine war

US President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address on March 1, 2022 – POOL/AFP Applause in Congress and a slight improvement in opinion polls: US President Joe Biden has regained some political capital with his handling of the war in Ukraine, but experts say he will struggle to consolidate and sustain this momentum. Last week, the 79-year-old Democratic leader got lawmakers from his party and the Republican opposition to show – in a united way – their support for Ukraine, as they gave a standing ovation to his State of the Union address. That image has been rare in a country with strong political divisions, which is just months away from the midterm legislative elections, which take place in November. Is the unpopular Biden, who carries the failure of his main reform projects in Congress on his back, benefiting from the “unity around the flag” effect, through strong declarations and the imposition of historic sanctions against Russia? This concept, described in the 1970s by political scientist John Mueller, suggests that, in the event of an international crisis, Americans close ranks in support of their “commander-in-chief”. “Support for your measures [sanções contra a Rússia] is quite strong, even among Republicans. This has a small effect on your overall confidence rating,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. – Image of ‘boss’ – Biden now has a 42.7% approval rating in polls, according to website Fivethirtyeight. It’s a score that remains low, but better than the one recorded on February 27, when it was around 40%. The Democratic president has “an opportunity to change his image as a leader” and thus be able to “recover some of the ground lost with the exit from Afghanistan, […] perceived as disastrous”, added the analyst. In addition, Republicans are now somewhat embarrassed by the praise made by former President Donald Trump, who remains very influential in the party, of the “smart” Vladimir Putin and his criticism of Western leaders, whom he called “fools”. For Capri Cafaro, a former Ohio Democratic lawmaker and professor at American University in Washington, the president tried to “reset” his term during his State of the Union address, placing an emphasis on Ukraine, and leaving big plans behind. transformation to take steps in concrete projects: lowering drug prices, rebuilding bridges, opening factories.

Ukraine saps capital

Scott Wong, 3-12, 22,,  https://www.yahoo.com/now/russias-war-ukraine-upends-democrats-093007987.html , Russia's war in Ukraine upends Democrats' gathering — and election-year agenda

The stark reality, however, is that Russia’s war, now in its third week, is sapping a lot of time, energy and political capital from Biden and congressional lawmakers, and further jeopardizing the party’s already slim chances to repackage pieces of its stalled Build Back Better plan and pass it through Congress. Not only did they work furiously over the past several weeks to assemble and pass a bipartisan $13.6 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine; Biden and lawmakers also have been working on a series of economic sanctions targeting Vladimir Putin, his oligarchs and Russian financial institutions.

Biden approval up

Kaia Hubbard, 3-8, 22, US News, Biden’s Approval Rises in Crisis, https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2022-03-08/bidens-approval-rises-in-crisis

Americans’ approval of President Joe Biden appears to be on the rise amid his handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and shortly following his State of the Union address last week. Biden’s favorability among registered voters has risen slightly to 45%, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted March 4-7. Although the president remains underwater, with 51% disapproving of his job performance, the survey marks a 4 percentage point increase since last week. to U.S. Ban on Russian oil The results come after at least two other polls have in recent days likewise found rising approval of Biden’s job performance. An NPR/Marist poll released Friday found a 8-point rise in approval among registered voters since February. And a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday identified a 2-point increase from last week’s levels. The slight rise comes after months of abysmal favorability, with multiple polls showing Biden’s ratings dipping into the 30s as he began his second year in office. “Biden's leadership on Ukraine has resonated over the last week with Americans,” director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion Lee M. Miringoff said in a statement upon the release of that poll. “His standing has also rebounded on COVID and the economy after the State of the Union address." Biden has struggled with his approval rating since the honeymoon period in the early months of his presidency began to dwindle amid a surge in coronavirus cases last summer due to the delta variant and as a hasty U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan further eroded his support. The situation appeared to worsen in the fall and winter, while the country grappled with another coronavirus variant and rising inflation. And as the president’s agenda stalled in Congress, polls reflected falling approval even among members of his own party. But the recent rise in approval has mostly been seen among Democrats, according to Politico. The results also perhaps mark a shift in the public’s view of Biden’s response to Russia. A majority of Americans in early February disapproved of Biden’s handling of the Russian threat to Ukraine, a Gallup poll found. But slightly more voters in the latest poll approve of how Biden is handling the conflict than disapprove. The development also comes as Biden took his response to Russian aggression a step further Tuesday, banning Russian oil imports to the U.S. Despite rising gas prices associated with the move, the vast majority of Americans appear to be supportive, according to the Quinnipiac University poll. “The American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” Biden said Tuesday as he announced the ban on Russian oil and gas. “Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”

Ukraine rebound

Mike Lillis, 3-10, 22, The Hill, Russian invasion scrambles Democrats' agenda, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/597623-russian-invasion-scrambles-democrats-agenda

With the arrival of the Ukraine invasion, however, there are signs that Biden is improving his image in the eyes of the voters. Following last week’s State of the Union address — a speech that included Washington’s plans to counter Putin — the president’s approval ratings, which have been in the low 40s for months, ticked up across a spectrum of polls. The rise was moderate, but it was not overlooked by his allies in Congress. “Polls go up, polls go down. And, you know, I think several of us noted with some interest that in the immediate aftermath of his State of the Union address, we’ve seen his polls begin to go back up,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), head of the House Democratic Caucus. “And I expect that’s a trajectory that we’ll continue to see.” Biden’s standing has been boosted by several factors. The prevalence of COVID-19 is easing around the country. Ukraine’s defenses — backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons from the Pentagon — is performing better than anyone anticipated. There is also Biden’s high marks from both parties for his strategy of sharing U.S. intelligence on Putin’s intentions with America’s allies around the globe. “All the tools that he had in his toolkit, he’s using,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.). “And that’s going to benefit us.”

State of the Union didn’t boost Biden

Henry Olsen, 3-2, 22, Washington Post, Opinion: This wasn’t the restart Biden needed, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/03/02/not-the-restart-biden-needed/

State of the Union addresses tend to be unmemorable, providing little boost to a president’s political standing. There was some hope, maybe an expectation, that President Biden’s address on Tuesday night might be different, what with the war in Ukraine and his abysmal job approval numbers. That, sadly for Biden and perhaps Ukraine, was not the case. Opinions to start the day, in your inbox. Sign up. Let’s start with the politics. Biden’s domestic agenda was nothing more than a rehash of things he has already called for. Now, the Build Back Better bill will be broken into component parts, probably because that’s what polls show does better with voters. But in the end, it adds up to the same legislative package that Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has already said he won’t support. Where is Biden on tackling inflation? It’s Americans’ No. 1 concern. He announced a competition initiative, but that simply won’t bring inflation down over the next several months before the midterms, even as he is now publicly committed to the fight. Thus, Biden will be seen to be fighting inflation — and losing. Voters never reward ineptitude. Just as the broken-up Build Back Better won’t pass Congress, the same is true of the president’s calls for more gun control, voting-access bills and a host of other measures. The State of the Union address normally lays out the president’s agenda. This one is already dead on arrival — as Biden would have known beforehand. That means he chose to use the talk to rev up the Democratic base and draw distinctions with Republicans that motivate the left. That’s why he gratuitously mentioned the 2017 GOP tax cut bill. Biden said in his last news conference, in January, that he would talk more about his achievements and force Republicans to say what they are for, to provide voters with a clear choice. This speech didn’t do that. Instead, it was the first salvo in what will likely be an eight-month campaign to increase Democratic turnout rather than talk to independents, who are souring on him. But there’s a problem with that, which was also starkly on display Tuesday night: Biden himself. Time and again, he failed to read the room and stepped on his own applause lines. Good politicians know that speech-making is as much about performance and delivery as it is about the words on the teleprompter. Forty years since he first won a Senate seat, Biden either does not know that or, worse, can no longer execute a basic political task. The more the president goes out on the road to campaign under pressure, the likelier he is to have moments where he steps on his lines or, worse, forgets them. When that happens, those clips will dominate discussion, not the lines carefully crafted by his speechwriters. Ukraine also can’t be very happy with the speech. European countries are stepping all over themselves with innovative new ways to help the besieged nation, making 180-degree turns in their policies overnight. Biden, by contrast, offered nothing new, with the possible exception of the announcement that he would release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, of 60 million to be released worldwide — in a dubious bid to keep the price of gas from spiking even higher than it already is. That Biden move, as the Ukrainian ambassador surely noticed, was designed to help Americans, not Ukrainians. The president’s tough talk on Russia was welcome, but the substantive message was that the United States has already done pretty much what it is going to do to save the Ukrainian people. There was also shockingly little narrative to string the speech’s elements together. Biden is increasingly viewed by many as a weak leader in part because it’s really hard to put a finger on where he wants to take the country. Good leaders weave specifics into a story about America, as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan did. The conflict with Russia gave Biden a golden moment to put a stamp on his core beliefs, to explain what he thinks American democracy is and how it can be advanced at home and abroad through his agenda. Just as he couldn’t read the room he spoke in, neither he nor his staff seems to be able to read the broader room that Americans live in. Biden is a decent man who’s regarded as good behind closed doors in pushing elites to get to consensus. That played a significant role in bringing the global coalition together to fight Vladimir Putin. But backroom diplomacy is not an American president’s primary role. A president has to lead from the front and bring people to him, managing events rather than letting events manage him. Biden has never been good at that, as this State of the Union address confirmed.

BBB dead

Alexxander Bolton, 3-1, 22, The Hill, Manchin pours water on Biden's attempt to revive Build Back Better, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/596458-manchin-pours-water-on-bidens-attempt-to-revive-build-back-better

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) poured cold water on President Biden’s attempt to revive the core elements of his Build Back Better agenda, questioning the president’s claim that passing a $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion spending package would “lower costs” for most Americans. “They just can’t help themselves,” Manchin quipped when asked by reporters after Biden’s State of the Union speech whether he was surprised by the president’s effort to try to use the moment to try to revive his stalled climate and social spending plan. “I don’t know where that came from,” he joked. “Nothing’s changed,” he said. “There might be parts they want to talk about. I don’t know. That was a little bit far,” he added, referring to the list of expensive Build Back Better items that Biden tried to put back on the table Thursday evening. Manchin also sounded skeptical about Biden’s claim that his Build Back Better plan will fight inflation by lowering costs. “I’ve never found out that you can lower costs by spending more,” he said. That answer prompted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who was walking alongside Manchin across the Capitol Rotunda and sat with Manchin during the address, to exclaim, “You can’t say it better than that.” Manchin’s comments immediately raised serious doubts about whether Biden will be able to resuscitate his spending package, which stalled in December after months of negotiations. Biden tried to appeal to Manchin, the only remaining holdout vote in the Democratic caucus, by arguing that his agenda will help offset the impact of rising prices by lowering the costs of middle-class families. “One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages,” he said. “Seventeen Nobel laureates in economics say my plan will ease long-term inflationary pressures. Top business leader and most Americans support my plan,” he declared. The president then ticked off several key components of the Build Back Better package he negotiated with Manchin last year, including a proposal to give Medicare authority to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, a plan to double solar and wind energy production, and a proposal to lower the price of electric vehicles. Biden also highlighted his proposal to cut the cost of child care, subsidize long-term home health care for seniors and the disabled, and universal prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds. Manchin, however, appears more interested in working with Republicans on bipartisan legislation than on trying to revive the Build Back Better Act, which Democrats hope to pass through the Senate on a straight party-line vote under special budget reconciliation rules. Manchin exited the speech flanked by two Republican colleagues, Romney and Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.). And he sat on the Republican side of the aisle during the speech. His spokesperson told NBC that “Manchin sat with his colleague Sen. Romney to remind the American people and the world that bipartisanship works and is alive and well in the U.S. Senate.” Manchin on Tuesday evening said now is not the time for the United States to try to cut down dramatically on fossil fuel production when the president and European allies are imposing severe new sanctions on Russia, a major producer of oil and natural gas. He said that the United States not only has to be energy independent but also has to help make up for the potential loss of Russian energy shipments to Europe and other countries participating in the new sanctions. “We have to work with our allies to backfill where areas need help around the world,” he said. He reiterated his call for the United States to stop buying 600,000 barrels of oil and petroleum products per day from Russia. Asked again about Biden bringing up some of the key pieces of the reconciliation package that Manchin torpedoed in December, he said, “It doesn’t surprise me. Every time they talk, they talk about that.” But Manchin said he’s more interested in dealing with the tax code and reversing some of the massive tax breaks for the wealthy that former President Trump and Republicans enacted in 2017, something he has said before. “What we should do is fix the tax code. I’ve said that,” he said. “Just fix the tax code. I think that’s the one thing I think everyone agrees on.” But Manchin said that “there’s been no formal talks” with the White House about reviving the key elements of Build Back Better. Asked if there’s “any pieces of it” that he could see passing, Manchin said, “Not until you get your financial house in order can you do that.” He said he remains reluctant to move forward with the biggest elements of Biden’s social spending agenda because of “the things I’ve always said.” “I'm concerned, before we go down this path, you ought to be concerned about inflation because it’s not transitory. Back then, they were saying it was transitory,” he said, referring to predictions by the administration last year that inflation would be short-lived. “We saw all the signs that it will not be transitory, and it’s not,” he added, arguing that his reasons for opposing Build Back Better in December have turned out to be valid. “We knew that basically that COVID could have a resurgence, and it did with omicron. And then we were concerned about geopolitical unrest, and now we’re seeing it in the worst form it possibly can be,” he said. Biden: Inflation 'robbing' benefits of strong economy Biden pushes clean energy tax credits amid stalled spending agenda “We know we’re going to have to put money now into more of the COVID relief, and I think it’s going to be quite a few billions of dollars they’re going to ask for,” he said. “We know the military is going to need quite a few billion dollars more. “It just keeps adding up and up,” he said. “To me, it’s all about inflation. “Inflation is the No. 1 enemy we have in America today,” he added.

Russia undermines Biden politically

Nial Strange, 2-22, 22, The Hill, The Memo: Biden braces for impact as Russia moves to the brink, https://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/595242-the-memo-biden-braces-for-impact-as-russia-moves-to-the-brink

The Russia-Ukraine crisis lurched closer to the point of no return Monday via a series of events that reverberated from Moscow to Washington. And this is only the beginning. In the space of a few hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a long, aggrieved speech railing against the West, recognized two separatist regions of Ukraine as independent nations, and ordered troops into those territories purportedly to fulfill “peacekeeping functions.” Foreboding settled across Western capitals, given the likelihood of a full-blown Russian invasion of Ukraine. If that happens, experts say it will likely be the biggest military operation in Europe since the Second World War. The ramifications for President Biden, and for the American people, are stark. Gas prices will rise further from their current high levels. Inflation, which is at a 40-year high, will be further inflamed. There could even be cyber attacks or meddling with the undersea cables that are vital to the world’s digital infrastructure, depending on just how far Putin is willing to go in escalating the situation. “We have to brace ourselves,” Max Bergmann, a senior fellow who focuses on Russia and Europe at the liberal Center for American Progress, told this column. “Russia invading and dismembering a democratic country has to be met with a massive response from the U.S. and Europe, and that is going to be in the economic domain.” Russia is sure to respond in kind, Bergmann noted, perhaps even by cutting off its supplies of natural gas to western Europe. He emphasized that Russia is also a key source of other major commodities — aluminum and titanium among them — and that this too could impact the price of any number of goods. From a domestic U.S. perspective, the fact that this blizzard of troubles looks set to sweep in while the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, and with the midterm elections just eight months away, deepens the gloom for Biden. Republicans are lining up to accuse the president of weakness — even though their attack is complicated by some dissenters on their party’s most isolationist flank who suggest that the U.S. is already over-involved. Among the more hawkish GOP figures, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) tweeted Monday that he hoped Biden would not “get played by Putin.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), also writing on the social media platform, said Putin’s speech amounted to “a declaration of war against the people of Ukraine.” Graham said he wanted Biden to impose “the most crushing sanctions possible” but added: “The question is whether the Biden Administration has the will and determination to do so.” Over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.) told “Fox News Sunday” that Europe was “on the verge of war because of the weakness, the fecklessness of Joe Biden.” The White House and Democrats have a ready response to the critics, however. They point out that nobody, including Republicans, has any appetite for putting American troops on the ground in Ukraine. They contend that Cruz’s preferred action — sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline — would have deprived the west of negotiating leverage and could have caused a schism between the U.S. and Germany. The administration also talks up Biden’s role in galvanizing a united front against Putin — a point that was emphasized by Vice President Harris during her trip to the Munich Security Conference. “I don’t see any disunity. It’s an extremely unified front and has been pulled together much more quickly than in the past,” said Mitchell Orenstein, a professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Putin’s latest moves appeared to gird that unity. Biden quickly held a call with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. According to the White House, the trio “strongly condemned” Putin’s declaration with respect to the separatist regions and discussed “how they will continue to coordinate their response on next steps.” Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen blasted Putin’s move as a “blatant violation of international law” and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “a very ill omen and a very dark sign.” Orenstein also lauded the Biden administration for its early predictions that Putin would invade, arguing that this blunted any element of surprise and made it less likely that the Russian president could use a fog of confusion to his own advantage. Some see the origins of the current crisis in a different light. Robert Wilkie, who served as secretary of Veterans Affairs in President Trump’s administration and an assistant secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, contended that Putin had been emboldened by two big shifts under the current president. He cited a skepticism about the American fossil fuel industry, which Wilkie argued helped keep the price of oil and gas up; and increases in defense spending so modest that they are unlikely to keep pace with inflation. Bergmann, of the Center for American Progress, is broadly supportive of Biden’s approach so far. But he worries about what happens when the crisis is inevitably politicized. “I would hope there would be some [bipartisan] understanding that we are going to have to take some economic pain on the chin” in terms of Russian retribution for sanctions, he said. Biden meets privately with national security team on Russia-Ukraine... The Hill's Morning Report - Russia aggression triggers US, EU... “But what if gas prices go up 20 cents? Does the RNC start running ads that attack the Biden administration? “It’s an election year. There are going to be rising prices — and there is going to be a lot of pressure.”

Biden approval rating in the toilet, even positive gains don’t offset

James Antel, 2-17, 22, Gazette, Biden gets no reprieve from bad poll numbers, https://gazette.com/news/biden-gets-no-reprieve-from-bad-poll-numbers/article_cb152cf4-8e43-543e-9cb4-de90aa754064.html

President Joe Biden's team had hoped the signing of the infrastructure law last year would be a turning point for the administration. No such luck. Instead, Biden's position has looked weaker despite some other positives he could point to — falling unemployment, a respectable January jobs report and the upward revision of previous mixed ones, a Supreme Court vacancy Republicans might allow to be filled with relative ease, and the lifting of COVID-19 mandates in the bluest of states. STIFFENING REPUBLICAN SPINES February's Quinnipiac poll shows that just 37% of registered voters approve of Biden's performance in office, while an eye-popping 56% disapprove. Biden's approval rating among Hispanics sits at 36%, with 49% disapproving. He is underwater with women and barely breaking even with college-educated white women. CNN's most recent poll was even worse. It showed 58% disapproving of how Biden has fared as president, with 41% registering their approval. Among independents, Biden's approval rating was just 36%. Of the respondents who disapproved, 56% couldn't think of a single positive thing to say. The 1 in 4 who approved said much the same thing. The right track/wrong track numbers are abysmal, with polls regularly finding the percentage of people who see the country moving in the right direction stuck in the 20s and 30s. The RealClearPolitics polling average finds 64.4% pick wrong track to 28.1% who pick right track — a gap of 36.3 percentage points. Some individual surveys are worse still. An NBC News poll pegged the split at 72% wrong track, 50 points greater than those who picked right track. Gallup's numbers for "satisfaction with the way things are going in U.S." is near a 40-year low. Whenever Biden has any good news (a drop in jobless claims), it is canceled out by something more negative (a spike in inflation that is eating into wage growth). Biden appears out of touch if he tries to take credit for the better economic numbers with prices rising faster than many people's incomes. He can't take credit for Democratic governors and mayors easing pandemic restrictions because he is lagging behind them. Biden was supposed to inoculate the Democratic Party against charges of wokeness and GOP culture war attacks. He has not. These issues are resonating in Virginia, New Jersey, and even San Francisco. The president, who won voters whose top issue was the pandemic by 66 points and those who prioritized eradicating the virus over reopening the economy by 60, is now underwater on COVID-19. It's now just an area where he polls noticeably better than on immigration or crime.

Turn: New, small victories will make Biden a winner

Jennifer Rubin, 1-24, 22, WSJ, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/24/biden-pivots-agenda/, Opinion: Biden may not find it so hard to turn the corner

For weeks, we have witnessed unremittingly negative media coverage of President Biden. He failed at Build Back Better. He failed at voting rights. He failed to make Republicans cooperate. He failed to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from threatening to invade Ukraine. From inflation to the intransigence of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), it was all Biden’s fault, according to the headlines and the talking heads. But Biden has an opportunity to change the conversation. The voting rights debate in the Senate is over. Build Back Better is kaput as one giant bill. And so, beginning Friday, you could hear the tectonic plates creak. The ground was shifting. Biden was moving on. At a speech Friday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual winter meeting, Biden spent the lion’s share of his time on an undeniable win and a solid policy achievement: his infrastructure legislation. He joked that “now, after years of dead ends and broken promises, not only has ‘Infrastructure Week’ finally arrived — [applause] — but we can literally, because of you, look forward to an ‘Infrastructure Decade.’” He detailed projects slated for Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and Louisiana. He then spent more time than he has in months touting the American Rescue Plan, which Republicans opposed en masse. In Seattle, the money goes for child-care centers, in Phoenix for community colleges to train workers for the semiconductor industry; and in Milwaukee, workers are getting trained to remove lead pipes. “I urge every American to take a look at what you all are doing,” he said. He touted “the resources that were intended not just to stave off disaster but to build for a future around the people who make communities run.” Of particular concern to parents, Biden stressed the American Rescue Plan had “a lot of money in that to keep those schools open.” While he hasn’t gotten Build Back Better, the policy achievements in the ARP and the infrastructure legislation are substantial. After months of virtual silence, the president is talking about it. Biden also hit the economic gains in his first year — more than 6 million new jobs, wage gains for workers at the bottom of the income ladder and cutting child poverty by nearly 40 percent — and celebrated 210 million vaccinated Americans. Now he did talk about Build Back Better, but late in the speech. He identified the bill only once as “Build Back Better.” Instead, he listed components such as child-care subsidies, universal pre-K, clean energy and the child tax credit. Biden spent nearly as much time talking up the funding mechanism, which is actually among the most popular aspects of the bill. (“We can pay for all this by just making sure that the wealthy — making sure that the wealthy and the biggest corporations pay their fair share. … You got 55 corporations last year that made $40 billion in profits and didn’t pay a single penny in taxes. That’s not right. That’s not right.”) “Build Back Better,” I suspect, is going to disappear from Biden’s speeches, even as he pursues a few of its initiatives. It is noteworthy that he did not mention voting rights once. Perhaps, he has absorbed the advice of many Democrats: Don’t talk about failure or things you cannot achieve. You might not know it from the media coverage, but his first year still remains among the strongest of any modern president. One could spot the administration’s pivot in the press briefing as well. White House press secretary Jen Psaki gave a long introduction on Biden’s semiconductor initiative. She got questions about Russia, Yemen, the IRS backlog, the Electoral Count Act (another instance in which something might be pulled from a legislative defeat) and crime before anyone asked about his plan to get “chunks” of the Build Back Better bill passed. Queries then followed on Medicare, clemency, federal workers’ compliance with the covid-19 mandate and the China competitiveness bill. Lo and behold, once the endless, losing legislative fights are behind him, Biden can start talking about the successes and pushing for more manageable parts of his agenda (e.g., Electoral Count Act reform, the child-care subsidy). Had he never attempted Build Back Better or the major voting rights push, critics argue he would have been better off. That, however, was a political impossibility. Not to have tried to achieve major items on which he ran while he had (barely) Democratic majorities in Congress would have been rightly characterized as surrendering before a fight. And while the Build Back Better fight went on far too long, in a few months Biden might have new, smaller parts of that bill to tout. The media is stuck in “Biden is a failure” mode, but Biden certainly is moving on, with successes on the economy, covid-19, infrastructure and the American Rescue Plan in hand. If inflation slows, covid recedes and he gets a few more wins on important, discrete items in his domestic agenda, Biden may look a whole lot more formidable on his second anniversary.

No BBB 2.0

Jordain Carney, 1-24, 22, The Hill, Democrats face scaled-back agenda after setbacks, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/590878-democrats-face-scaled-back-agenda-after-setbacks?rl=1

Biden opened the door this week to trying to pass “chunks” of his sweeping social and climate spending bill. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters the bill “may be more limited, but it is still significant.” After watching themselves miss deadline after deadline, Democrats and the White House are being cautious about putting a hard timeline on when they’ll be able to reach an agreement. “No, I don’t know what the schedule will be for that,” Durbin said, asked about Democrats turning back to BBB. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was equally cagey, sidestepping predicting when Democrats would have a pared-back deal except to say that he wants it “as soon as possible.” Even as Democrats start to talk about a so-called BBB 2.0, they still appear a long way from a deal, which will require tough decisions about what long-held priorities they will have to leave behind without sacrificing votes they can’t afford to lose. Manchin, who will be critical to any agreement, told reporters late last week that he hadn’t yet heard from the White House and predicted that negotiations, once they pick up again, will be “starting from scratch.” Aides are skeptical of quick action and Democratic leadership is filling their floor schedule with other items, for now. Congress has until Feb. 18 to fund the government, which is expected to take up a lot of the oxygen in the Capitol once lawmakers return on Jan. 28. Leadership and top appropriators have been negotiating and believe they are making progress on a full-year funding deal that would potentially be linked to more coronavirus relief. If they can’t meet the deadline, they’ll need to decide on how long to make the next continuing resolution (CR), which extends current funding levels. And lawmakers in both the House and Senate are eyeing potential areas of bipartisanship. After the Democrats’ voting rights push hit a wall, Manchin and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) talked up their bipartisan negotiations on trying to reform the Electoral Count Act and provide protections for election officials and poll workers, who have seen a wave of threats in the wake of the 2020 election that former President Trump falsely claimed was stolen. “We're going to make something happen. We're going to get a bunch of people together, Democrats and Republicans and get a good piece of legislation,” Manchin said. The House, meanwhile, is set to focus on burn pit legislation and introduce a bill meant to be its response to an anti-China competitiveness measure that is a big priority for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and passed by the Senate last year. Schumer announced late last year that the House had agreed to form a conference committee to work out their differences. And both chambers are eyeing action to penalize Russia if it invades Ukraine, amid ramped up tensions as Moscow has amassed troops along the border. Pelosi, in a Dear Colleague letter outlining what the House will work on next, noted that the Foreign Affairs Committee will advance legislation that would slap sanctions on Russian industries, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials if Moscow invades Ukraine. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Democrats, including Schumer, introduced the bill in the Senate earlier this month. Menendez is negotiating with Republicans — including Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee — who have offered their own legislation. The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to... Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship “We are working as we speak with various Republican colleagues who have their own ideas as to how to deter Putin,” Menendez told MSNBC, adding that the endgame is to “speak with one voice and send a very clear message that we stand with Ukraine.” Democrats are hopeful that they’ll be able to cut a bipartisan deal on the sanctions and they are also talking with the three GOP senators — Rob Portman (Ohio), Kevin Cramer (N.D.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) — who recently traveled to Ukraine as they look for a path for 60 votes in the Senate. “Obviously, the path runs through Senator Menendez and Senator Risch,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who was part of the group who traveled to Ukraine, adding that thought Risch was “amenable to working something out and he and Menendez know how to work together.”

Bipartisanship completely dead

Amy Parnes, 1-24, 22, The Hill, Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/590869-bidens-year-two-wont-be-about-bipartisanship?rl=1

President Biden made bipartisanship the backbone of his 2020 campaign, but with this year set to be dominated by the midterm elections, he is pivoting away from work with Republicans. The president, who has adopted a stronger tone with the GOP since the start of the year, said in no uncertain terms this week that the Republican Party had changed, even since he was vice president. It is a party that is unrecognizable to him, he said at a press conference earlier this week, drawing lines of division between the two parties. “I did not anticipate that there’d be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done,” Biden said during the news conference, also adding of the Obama years, “they weren’t nearly as obstructionist as they are now.” He cited a number of Republicans previously willing to work across party lines including the late Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and “even, back in those days” Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC.). The tougher rhetoric makes sense in an election year where Democrats are in real danger of losing their majorities in both the House and the Senate. Biden and Democrats want to play up the contrast with the GOP as they try to beat back anemic poll numbers and make the case for Democrats to be in control of Congress. At the same time, it’s a notable break from the first year, when Biden sought to work across the aisle with Republicans. The effort led to the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that attracted 19 Republicans in the Senate. Republicans argue Biden’s first year in office has not been marked by bipartisanship given his calls to change the filibuster and his effort to pass the Build Back Better Act through budgetary rules that cut out the minority. “He came in here, he was going to be a uniter, and his policies, his rhetoric have been incredibly divisive, and what we’re seeing as a result of that is further division in the country,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican, said at a news conference on Thursday, accusing Biden of embracing policies too far to the left. Partly because Republicans saw the infrastructure bill as making the Build Back Better Act more likely to pass, GOP leaders in the House opposed it despite the support from the 19 GOP senators. Only 13 House Republicans voted for the bill, and they came under harsh criticism from their party. The White House says Biden is still open to pursuing bipartisan compromise on some issues, like reforming the Electoral Count Act now that Democrats’ push to pass sweeping federal election reform bills fizzled. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that officials have been “closely engaged” with bipartisan lawmakers exploring such reforms. Biden is also pushing for the House passage of a bipartisan bill to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor industry and make the U.S. more competitive, which has stalled in the lower chamber after passing the Senate last year. “Let’s get another historic piece of bipartisan legislation done,” Biden said at an event at the White House Friday with Ohio Sens. Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D), calling for the passage of the CHIPS act “right away.” But that bill is generally under the radar, and that type of bipartisan cooperation even on lower-profile bills will be more challenging in an election year. “The President will never abandon efforts to bring Republicans along on his agenda - that is embedded in his political DNA,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “What can and will change is waiting for Republicans to come along. I think the political realities and the limited political calendar mandate that he cannot afford to wait for Republicans going forward.” The White House has no illusions that Biden will be able to pass portions of his Build Back Better bill with Republican support, which the president suggested earlier this week could be broken up into “big chunks” and passed. “Is there a proposal where there are 10 Republicans? I’m not aware of one. Maybe there is,” Psaki said Friday. “That’s not what the president was talking about the other night. What the president was talking about is getting as much – although we’re very open to that – but what the president was talking about is, we have 50 votes in the Senate. We’re going to get … as much as we can of the Build Back Better agenda that we can get 50 votes for,” she said. With the midterms fast approaching, Biden is setting up the election battle as a choice, painting Republicans as a party without an agenda beyond obstructing his own. “Everything is a choice,” he told reporters on Wednesday. Norway's oldest and largest tall ship is sailing around the world for two years, on a UN mission for a healthier ocean. Find out when the ship is in a port near you! https://lnkd.in/dBFcauU Throughout his press conference, he weaved in attacks against Republicans including “What do they stand for?” Later, after declaring “I actually like Mitch McConnell” he aimed fire at the Senate minority leader, also posing the question “What’s Mitch for?” “What’s he for on immigration?” Biden added. “What’s he for? What’s he proposing to make anything better? What’s he for dealing with Russia that’s different than I’m proposing and many of his Republican friends or his colleagues are supporting as well? What’s he for on these things?” Biden is still planning to tout the bipartisan infrastructure law as a signature accomplishment in the coming months, which could complicate his rhetoric attacking Republicans. Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said it was “a bit naïve on Biden’s part” to believe Republicans would not be hell-bent on tanking his agenda and said it reflected an unwillingness to accept the reality of the highly partisan Trump era in which bipartisanship is near impossible. “Those days are just gone. They’re absolutely gone,” Perry said.

Manchin will support climate provisions, but he doesn’t want anything else on the agenda besides COVID, inflation, and debt

Scott Waldman, 1-22, 22, It’s Manchin’s climate bill now. Here’s what might be in it, https://www.eenews.net/articles/its-manchins-climate-bill-now-heres-what-might-be-in-it/

It’s Build Back Manchin time on Capitol Hill. When President Biden acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that he would break up his signature $1.7 trillion spending plan, it was a recognition that he had to cede the field to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). For months, Biden and most Democrats on the Hill have prodded, pressured and pushed Manchin to sign on to the "Build Back Better" package, to no avail. Manchin drove a stake through the heart of that plan on Fox News in December when he rejected the legislation. But it’s a new year and a new last-ditch chance for Democrats to get something passed that they can offer to voters in the upcoming midterm elections, which are expected to be brutal for the party. Biden’s public acknowledgment this week that he could still win smaller, albeit piecemeal, legislative victories was a sign that the White House is finally going to rally around whatever Manchin will support. Manchin said earlier this month that it would be easier to pass the $500 billion in climate provisions tucked into the "Build Back Better" plan as a stand-alone bill, and Biden said Wednesday that he is now prepared to do that. Biden recognizes that his only choice is to get as much policy done through the budget reconciliation process as possible, since that doesn’t require any Republican votes, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday. “He also recognizes that nothing is going to get done without 50 votes, so we’re not confronting a choice between what can happen and our ideal," she said. "It’s a choice between do we make critical progress for the economic well-being of middle-class families and in tackling the climate crisis, or not.” What Manchin wants now is anybody’s guess. He made it clear to reporters yesterday that he expects to start with a clean slate and that previous offers are no longer on the table. He said he wants to deal with inflation, the national debt and Covid. "We will just be starting from scratch," Manchin told CNN, adding that it will be a "clean sheet of paper." Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who crafted key climate provisions in "Build Back Better," sounded optimistic yesterday about the road ahead, noting that she and other lawmakers have worked for months with Manchin on climate programs. She expects that negotiations won’t have to start from scratch because “just a couple of weeks ago, there was agreement." “You’ve got to be able to take Sen. Manchin at his word and proceed to negotiate in good faith on these things,” she told E&E News. “I just would note that Sen. Manchin also said he was concerned about the debt and concerned about inflation and concerned about what more we need to do about Covid. Those are all very reasonable things to be thinking about and easy to address in a reconciliation bill that could get 50 votes in the Senate.” Smith said multiple climate provisions already have 50 votes. They include clean energy tax credits, energy efficiency measures, methane fees and the building of domestic supply chains for the raw materials needed for renewable energy. Manchin has never publicly said what he wants in a climate bill, but his comments over the last few months provide some clues. He seems to support clean energy tax credits that don’t discriminate against coal and gas but do fund carbon capture, counting hydrogen-powered vehicles in electric vehicle incentives, and electric grid reliability measures. Manchin’s legislative record provides other points of insight. In 2020, he worked closely with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), then the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on legislation that authorized federal research and development for long-duration energy storage, advanced nuclear reactors, and carbon capture and sequestration (Energywire, Dec. 23, 2020). The bipartisan infrastructure package enacted last year provided funding for much of that research, including $10 billion for carbon capture and $2.5 billion for advanced nuclear. Manchin has also been an outspoken supporter of clean hydrogen, which received $8 billion for hydrogen fuel hubs under the infrastructure bill. "Build Back Better" would have increased funding for those technologies. Nuclear was in line to receive nearly $23 billion in production tax credits, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Hydrogen was pegged to get $9 billion. And CCS was to receive about $2 billion. The stalled bill also included about $12 billion in advanced manufacturing subsidies, which included bonuses for facilities built in former coal communities. The idea builds on a proposal advanced by Manchin in previous years (Climatewire, Nov. 29, 2021). But if Manchin has been supportive of nuclear, carbon capture and hydrogen, his position on other clean energy technology is more mixed. The 2020 legislation authored with Murkowski offered a two-year extension of the investment tax credit for solar and a one-year extension for the production tax credit for onshore wind. It also included a 30 percent investment tax credit for offshore wind projects built by 2025. "Build Back Better" would have ramped up those subsidies by $100 billion over 10 years and reformed the credits to provide direct payments to wind and solar producers (Climatewire, Nov. 16, 2021). “I think there is a lot of good stuff in this bill for everything from fossil fuel workers to the clean energy economy,” said Leah Stokes, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who has championed the legislation. “I think it will work for West Virginia as well as every other state.” It is unclear whether Manchin would support those provisions in a stand-alone climate bill envisioned by Biden. His office did not respond to a request for comment. In a letter last year to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Manchin wrote, “If tax credits for solar and wind are included and extended, then fossil tax credits are not repealed (eg. intangible drilling costs and credits for enhanced oil recovery.)” Manchin has voiced skepticism over tax credits for electric vehicles. The 2020 deal did not extend EV tax credits, and Manchin has questioned a provision in "Build Back Better" that would have provided an enhanced credit for EVs made by union workers. The legislation contained some $26 billion in tax credits for electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and electric bicycles. His position echoes the concerns raised by Toyota Motor Corp., which operates a manufacturing facility in West Virginia. "We shouldn’t use everyone’s tax dollars to pick winners and losers,” Manchin told Automotive News during a November event at the facility. “If you’re a capitalist economy that we are in society then you let the product speak for itself, and hopefully, we’ll get that, that’ll be corrected."

Dems won’t re-push BBB

Political Wire, 1-21, 22, Democrats Scale Back Ambitions, https://politicalwire.com/2022/01/21/democrats-scale-back-ambitions/

After two strikeouts, don’t expect Senate Democrats to immediately swing for the fences again,” Politico reports. “There’s little appetite in the Democratic majority to publicly fall short on high-profile priorities so soon after the party’s failures to both weaken the filibuster to pass election reform and to approve President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion social spending bill. Instead, many Democrats are itching to get back to voting on bills that have plenty of GOP support, such as a new deal to fund the government or changing antitrust laws.” “Sure, Democrats will try to revive their signature domestic spending bill, and they say they will keep fighting for election reform. They might even change the Electoral Count Act. None of that, however, is expected to play out on the Senate floor anytime soon.”

Democrats focused on antitrust reform now

 

Burgess Everett, 1-21, 22, Democrats slim down ambitions after back-to-back failures, Politico, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/21/democrats-back-to-back-failures-ambitions-527514

After two strikeouts, don't expect Senate Democrats to immediately swing for the fences again. There’s little appetite in the Democratic majority to publicly fall short on high-profile priorities so soon after the party’s failures to both weaken the filibuster to pass election reform and to approve President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion social spending bill. Instead, many Democrats are itching to get back to voting on bills that have plenty of GOP support, such as a new deal to fund the government or changing antitrust laws.

No bill or momentum for broken-up BBB

Jordan Carney, 1-20, 22, The Hill, Manchin: Biden spending plan talks would start 'from scratch', https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/590654-manchin-says-talks-starting-from-scratch-on-biden-spending-plan

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that talks over President Biden's sweeping climate and social spending package would be "starting from scratch," throwing cold water on hopes of a quick revival. "We're going to start with a clean sheet of paper and start over," Manchin told reporters, adding he doesn't have talks scheduled with the White House. Pressed if his previous $1.8 trillion offer to the White House was still on the table, Manchin indicated it wasn't, saying Democrats will "just be starting from scratch." Manchin's comments come as the White House and top Democrats get ready to try to turn their focus back to the Build Back Better Act. The bill unraveled in the Senate late last year after Manchin, during a Fox News interview, warned that he could not support the roughly $2 trillion version that passed the House. His comments Thursday underscore how far apart Democrats are on a deal. Manchin initially told reporters on Wednesday that he hadn't yet heard from the White House on trying to break up the package and said Thursday that he didn't have anything scheduled with the White House. "If anybody wants to talk, I'll always talk," Manchin said, but when asked what the next step is, he added, "I can't tell you." Biden opened the door to shrinking the plan, which was at the heart of his legislative agenda, telling reporters this week that "we're going to have to probably break it up." And top congressional Democrats have acknowledged that the spending plan will likely need to be scaled back to win over support from Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), even as progressives bristle at the idea of going smaller. Progressives initially hoped for a bill of $6 trillion before agreeing to a budget resolution that greenlighted a $3.5 trillion bill, only to see that get scaled back further. "What the president calls ‘chunks’ I would hope would be a major bill going forward. It may be more limited, but it is still significant," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Thursday. Democrats haven't put a hard timeline on when they would like to try to pass a revised bill. Biden's March 1 State of the Union address has been floated as a potential deadline, though lawmakers are also facing a mid-February deadline to fund the government that will eat up part of Congress's bandwidth in the immediate future. Democrats also need to make hard decisions — without alienating portions of their razor-thin majorities — on what gets booted out of the legislation to satisfy Manchin. Manchin on Thursday signaled a general openness to legislation while reiterating his concerns about moving too quickly. He also doubled down on his concerns about inflation and the rise of the omicron COVID-19 variant. "The main thing we need to do is take care of the inflation. Get your financial house in order. Get a tax code that works," Manchin said. "We can do a lot of good things. ... But get your financial house in order. Get this inflation down. Get COVID out of the way and then we'll be rolling." Manchin has sparked frustration from progressive groups and his own colleagues over his stance on Build Back Better as well as his separate opposition to changing the 60-vote legislative filibuster to enact voting rights legislation in the face of GOP opposition. Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate,... On The Money — Manchin says no deal without new talks Manchin said Thursday that he had been "upfront" about what he could, or couldn't, get behind and noted his political base in the deeply red state of West Virginia is different than that of many of his Democratic colleagues. "First of all, I think everyone should be respectful that we have a 50-50 [Senate]. ... I think I've been more than considerate on the things that I've been, and where I can’t, I've been telling them from Day One. They knew exactly," Manchin said. "I'm not a Washington Democrat, so the base they have is a different base than I have," he added

Biden approval lowest ever

Michael Schnell, 1-20, 22, The Hill, Biden approval rating hits new low in AP poll, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/590547-biden-approval-rating-hits-new-low-ap

President Biden’s approval rating has hit a new low in the latest Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, a sign that most Americans disapprove of the way Biden is handling his job as president one year into his term. Forty-three percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, compared to 56 percent who said they somewhat or strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance. The poll, conducted from Jan. 13 to Jan. 18, reflects the president’s lowest approval rating, as recorded by the AP and NORC, since he entered office. Biden entered office with a 61 percent approval rating in January 2021, which fell to 48 percent by October and December. Now, that number is slipping even further. The new numbers come after a difficult few months for Biden, who faced a host of difficulties in the second half of his first term: a surge in COVID-19 cases, the United States' messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and rising inflation. Gallup reported earlier this week that Biden’s first-year approval rating came in at 48.9 percent, which is lower than many other presidents but ranked higher than his immediate predecessor, former President Trump. Biden was asked about his waning poll numbers during his marathon press conference on Wednesday, pressed on how he plans to win back moderates and independents who supported him in 2020 but, according to polls, are now unhappy with how he is handling his job. Biden job approval at 43 percent amid low marks on economy, pandemic... Union membership hits new low The president responded, “I don’t believe the polls.” Thursday’s poll from the AP-NORC also included a grim assessment of Biden’s reelection prospects: Only 28 percent of respondents said they want to see the president run for reelection in 2024, while 70 percent said they do not. Only 48 percent of Democrats said they want to see another Biden campaign. The AP-NORC poll surveyed 1,161 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Biden burning capital on legislation he can’t pass

Brett Samuels, 1-55, 22, The Hill, Biden's voting rights gamble prompts second-guessing, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/589827-bidens-voting-rights-gamble-prompts-second-guessing

President Biden spent the past two weeks expending significant political capital in pushing for voting rights legislation that appears doomed to fail in the Senate, prompting second-guessing about whether the White House raised expectations to its own detriment. Biden responded to calls for action from activists with an impassioned speech urging the Senate to change its rules in whatever way was necessary to pass two federal voting rights bills, a meaningful shift for a president who spent decades serving in the chamber. But for all the excitement generated by Biden’s speech and his commitment to fight for the cause “as long as I have a breath in me,” the political math was fundamentally unchanged. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema still oppose changing Senate rules, leaving voting rights at a dead end. “Biden had no choice but to try,” said Matt Bennett, co-founder of the centrist think tank Third Way, pointing to the urgent threat posed by state-level voting laws passed by Republicans after the last election. “However, Sens. Manchin and Sinema had never wavered in their view about the filibuster, and so I think the expectations might have been raised too high,” Bennett added. “I don’t think it was a mistake to get involved. I do think we have to be careful about not making promises that can’t be kept.” The efforts are further called into question because of the limited weight voting rights seem to carry with most voters in a midterm year that will largely be decided by the economy and the pandemic. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found that while voters support certain changes to election laws, it is not necessarily a top priority for them. The poll asked whether reforming Congress’s role in counting Electoral College votes, expanding voting access or expanding oversight of states’ changes to voting laws should be the top priority for Congress. The most popular answer was “none of the above should be a priority for Congress," with 32 percent. The next most popular answer, expanding voting access, had 26 percent support. A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed Biden’s approval rating was a dismal 33 percent. And while the White House believes that figure is an outlier, the poll did show Biden underwater with voters on his handling of the pandemic and the economy. “I would point you to what most data shows you, which is a frustration about COVID and prices,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday when asked about Biden’s approval ratings. “And he's believed from the beginning that addressing COVID and the economy are number one, two, three, four issues. And that continues to be the case today.” Biden delivered remarks this week on plans to send out COVID-19 tests to Americans and on initial progress on funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law signed last year. But his highest profile event was a speech in Georgia on voting rights, and he visited Senate Democrats at the Capitol and hosted Manchin and Sinema at the White House on Thursday to discuss the topic.

Biden has no useful capital

Matt Viser, 1-15, 22, Washington Post, ‘One of those weeks’: From voting rights to vaccines, Biden experiences the limits of his office — and the fragility of his presidency, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-voting-rights-vaccine-mandate-supreme-court-senate/2022/01/15/fbb0672a-756d-11ec-b202-b9b92330d4fa_story.html

When President Biden walked into the U.S. Capitol just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, he prepared to test his powers of persuasion and push his party to maneuver around Senate rules and pass the sweeping voting rights legislation to which he had committed his presidency. That, at least, had been the idea. But by the time Biden emerged nearly an hour and a half later, he had received multiple reminders of the limits of his office — and the fragile state of his presidency. Before he had even arrived, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona used a rare Senate floor speech to undercut Biden’s plans, declaring she would oppose changing the rules. Then, behind closed doors, Biden failed to change the mind of the other leading Democratic skeptic, Sen. Joe Manchin III, as the two engaged in a back-and-forth about how Senate rules had evolved over decades. Then, just minutes after the meeting concluded, Biden was confronted with another major setback: The Supreme Court struck down his administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private business; the signature tool was aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic. Later that evening, six Democratic senators bucked the White House on a sanctions bill that administration officials heavily lobbied against. Coming a day after new economic data showed that inflation last year reached the highest rate in four decades — and as diplomatic talks collapsed with Russia, forecasting a foreign policy crisis and intensifying worry over war in Ukraine — it marked one of the rockiest periods for Biden’s still-young presidency. If he entered office a year ago with promises of a forceful new era of government action, the past week displayed, like few of the 50 weeks that preceded it, the struggles he is facing on the cusp of his second year in office. “There are times when nothing will go right for presidents,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former Obama aide who co-hosts the Pod Save America podcast popular with many Biden allies, during a Thursday night episode, “and this is one of those weeks.” Sinema and Manchin confirm opposition to eliminating filibuster, probably dooming Democrats’ voting rights push Biden has always considered himself an optimist, hoping for positive outcomes and casting aside pessimistic prognosticators. But the past week crystallized that, at least in the current political, economic and foreign policy environment, Biden is struggling to shape events and instead is finding himself shaped by them. “It’s the environment that has changed, not Joe Biden’s skills,” said Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor and longtime Biden ally. “Put Joe Biden in the earlier environment, the pre-Obama environment, and he could get tons of this stuff passed.” The White House began the week determined to focus on voting rights legislation. It marked an attempt to shift away from a different legislative struggles, with his Build Back Better spending plan also stymied because of opposition from Republicans and a handful of Democrats. But early in the week, as he planned to travel to Atlanta for a major speech, it was clear that he faced significant hurdles. A number of activists boycotted the speech, frustrated that the White House hasn’t made a more concerted push earlier and saying that they were tired of hearing words and ready for some concrete action. Stacey Abrams, a prominent Democrat running for Georgia governor who has made voting rights her central issue, cited a scheduling conflict and did not attend. During his speech, Biden endorsed getting rid of the filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation, and his turned up the rhetorical heat by suggesting those standing in the way of the legislation were aligned with racist policies and politicians. “How do you want to be remembered?” Biden asked. “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? On the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” Paul Kane: Kyrsten Sinema preempts Biden, dashing Democrats’ illogical hopes she would move on the filibuster Many in his party hailed the speech, with some saying it was among the best of his presidency, but even some of his closest allies couched their praise with criticism. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said that although he agreed with the fundamental principles that Biden outlined, “perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric. Some of us do.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she thought the speech was “wonderful” and “fabulous” but also offered a critique and a bit of line-editing. “Nobody knows who Bull Connor is. You know, if we’re making the case to say, ‘We’re going to be with Martin Luther King or Bull Connor.’ Who’s that?” she said during a news conference, referring to the commissioner of public safety in Birmingham, Ala., who sought to forcefully quash civil rights protests in the 1960s. “You want to be with … Martin Luther King and John Lewis — or the people who unleashed the fierce dogs on them. That’s who Bull Connor is.” She also seemed baffled by Biden’s nod toward Strom Thurmond, a longtime segregationist South Carolina senator who Biden mentioned in his speech as having once supported voting rights legislation. “Strom Thurmond — none of us have a lot of happy memories about Strom Thurmond,” she said. How Kyrsten Sinema defended the filibuster — and bipartisanship Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell railed at the speech, saying it was “beneath his office” and “unbecoming of a president of the United States.” “How profoundly — profoundly — unpresidential,” he said on the Senate floor. “I’ve known, liked and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man from the podium yesterday.” He said he was particularly incensed over Biden comparing opponents to the legislation to Wallace, Davis and Connor. Biden, while at the Capitol on Wednesday, went into McConnell’s office to attempt to meet with him directly, intending to —as he later recounted to Senate Democrats — explain to McConnell that he wasn’t likening him to the notorious racists and segregationists. McConnell wasn’t there, however, so they didn’t meet. The White House had also been reaching out to Sinema and Manchin after his Tuesday speech in Atlanta, inviting them both to a presidential sit-down that was initially scheduled for Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the planning. But it had to be moved because of scheduling conflicts and, instead, didn’t take place until Thursday night, after both senators announced their opposition to Biden’s approach. Of the more than a dozen senators who spoke and asked questions in Thursday’s private lunch with Democrats, Manchin’s remarks were the only ones remotely adversarial, people familiar with the closed-door discussion said. Biden, the consummate Senate institutionalist, made the case to Manchin that Senate rules are not sacrosanct and have evolved over time. At one point, Biden mused about how he and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) would dine together in the members-only Senate dining room. Biden reminisced of a different era of politics, noting that senators don’t know each other as well as they once did. He also remarked on the makeover of the modern-day Republican Party, noting again that Thurmond supported reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act in the early 1990s and that Republican politicians today appeared to be to the right of even Thurmond. Biden told Democratic senators he has never seen a political party so afraid of one man, saying he hears regularly from Senate Republicans that they would be supportive of certain measures if not for Donald Trump’s influence and the wrath that they could face if they cross the former president. Still, it became clear that he wouldn’t change any minds. “He reiterated that we all have a choice to make, and this is a moment in time, and we should think seriously about which side we’re on,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said. “I’m glad that he came, and, you know, I don’t know that he convinced anybody. But, nonetheless, one has to try.” Biden’s difficult week followed what has been a frustrating month, dating to Manchin’s declaration in December that he would not support Biden’s spending plan in its current form, stalling much of the president’s agenda. Biden has had no easy task, with a Republican Party largely united against him and with razor-thin Democratic majority. But it has tested his ability to keep his party together, a role that he has relished and demonstrated an ability to do during a rambunctious presidential primary. “For a president, you can’t think about the hot take of this week for the White House, you have to think about the long narrative arc,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster and strategist. “People will criticize him for what they call taking an L on voting rights in the Senate this week. But, quite frankly how, does he have a conversation with the base of the party and how is he the leader of the Democratic Party if in fact he hadn’t put his neck out there and fought like hell even with the understanding he might not win?” January public opinion polls show Biden remains in negative territory but differ on how much. A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found Biden at 33 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval, while an Economist-YouGov poll found him at 43 percent approval with 50 percent disapproving. The latter is more in-line with a Washington Post average of December polls showing 43 percent approved and 51 percent disapproved. “If you’re hiding from hard fights, you aren’t being president,” said Andrew Bates, deputy White House press secretary, adding that Biden plans to keep pressing on voting rights and an ambitious economic agenda. White House aides last week acknowledged it was a difficult week. They pointed to prior accomplishments: new jobs that have been created or an increase in the number of Americans who are vaccinated. They also acknowledged that even in difficult battles, the administration would rather go down fighting. “There’s a lot of talk about disappointment in some things we haven’t gotten done – we’re going to get a lot of them done, I might add,” Biden said Friday during an event promoting his bipartisan infrastructure law. “But this is something we did get done. And it’s of enormous consequence to the country.”

Biden’s agenda and political support dead

AP News, 1-14, 21, Analysis: Biden overshoots on what’s possible in divided DC, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-voting-rights-joe-biden-business-health-b7089af38364236f727cf45bd13a4c9c?user_email=&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MorningWire_Jan14&utm_content=A&utm_term=Morning%20Wire%20Subscribers

He was supposed to break through the congressional logjam. End the pandemic. Get the economy back on track. Days before he hits his one-year mark in office, a torrent of bad news is gnawing at the foundational rationale of President Joe Biden’s presidency: that he could get the job done. In the space of a week, Biden has been confronted by record inflation, COVID-19 testing shortages and school disruptions, and the second big slap-down of his domestic agenda in as many months by members of his own party. This time, it’s his voting rights push that seems doomed. Add to that the Supreme Court’s rejection of a centerpiece of his coronavirus response, and Biden’s argument — that his five decades in Washington uniquely positioned him to deliver on an immensely ambitious agenda — was at risk of crumbling this week. Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, said Biden’s sweeping promises have collided with the realities of enacting change in a divided Washington where his party has only the slimmest margins of control in Congress. ADVERTISEMENT “I don’t think there’s any way to reach any other conclusion that he’s overshot here,” Engel said. “It’s important to separate the politically possible from the politically desirable.” Biden’s troubles extend back to August, when the administration executed a chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan. And the president’s professed competence was already under question as migrants multiplied at the southern border with no clear federal plan in sight. It deteriorated further as inflation that was supposed to be “transitory” only intensified at the end of the year. “I’ve been hired to solve problems,” Biden said last March during his first press conference in office. Yet they’ve proven persistent. The difficulty of navigating Washington’s vexing partisanship and the unpredictability of the presidency should have come as no surprise to Biden, a senator for more than three decades who also spent eight years as vice president. Even with the now widespread protection of vaccination, new scenes of long virus testing lines and sold-out grocery store shelves hark back to the chaotic earliest days of the pandemic and drag down the nation’s psyche. The administration is going all-out to counter that mindset and demonstrate it’s on top of the virus. A federal website to send free COVID-19 tests to Americans’ doorsteps will launch next week — a speedy turnaround after Biden first announced the initiative in December — but one that nonetheless struck even allies as coming far too late to blunt the winter virus surge that should have been expected. And it was only after months of pressure that Biden finally came around to announcing Thursday that his administration will begin making “high-quality masks” available to Americans for free. That announcement was overshadowed, on a day that brought nothing but bad news for Biden, by a Supreme Court ruling against the Biden administration’s rule requiring large employers to have their workers get vaccinated or be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing. White House officials had always anticipated legal challenges, and many in the administration believe just the rollout of the rule helped drive millions of people to get vaccinated. Still, the ruling stung. The day also brought new indications that Biden’s voting rights push, like his social spending bill before it, appears to be doomed by a shortage of support in his own party and his inability to attract Republicans. In each case, Biden delivered a lofty speech on the need to get something done and traveled to Capitol Hill to rally his own party, only to be rebuffed. Both pieces of legislation required all 50 Democratic votes to pass the Senate — and in the case of voting rights, a commitment from those same senators to change the chamber’s rules to allow the bill to pass by simple majority. But on Thursday, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona didn’t even give Biden the courtesy of hearing his pitch in person before saying she wouldn’t get behind the change. She joined West Virginia’s Joe Manchin in again deflating Biden’s legislative dreams. The two senators spent just over an hour at the White House on Thursday evening, but it looked nearly impossible to find a path forward for the legislation. Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Michigan, said Biden had cultivated “sky-high expectations when he inevitably cannot meet them.” “If you want to be FDR,” Meijer added, “it’s probably a prerequisite that you have a mandate. On the same ballot that elected Joe Biden into office, the Dems nearly lost the House.” Biden’s handling of the economy has brought its own set of challenges. The president has presided over record job creation but also over renewed fears of inflation. Biden tried to tamp down concerns about inflation this summer, insisting that it was the predictable result of restarting the economy after the pandemic and that rising prices would soon fade. “Our experts believe and the data shows that most of the price increases we’ve seen were expected, and expected to be temporary,” he said in July. “The reality is, you can’t flip the global economic light back on and not expect this to happen.” But inflation only multiplied as the summer ended and oil prices rose. That prompted the president who has promised a future without fossil fuels to make a record-setting release from the U.S. petroleum reserve to help tamp down the cost of gasoline. Even so, inflation in December reached a nearly 40-year high of 7% annually. The high prices slashed into public confidence in Biden. Just 41% of Americans approved of his economic leadership last month, down from 60% in March, and below his overall approval rating of 48% in the same poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. At the same time, amid the rise of new COVID-19 variants — first delta and now omicron — Biden’s approval rating on handling the pandemic fell from 70% early in his presidency to 57% in the December survey. The White House shrugged off the setbacks as a part of the job for a president aims high. “You do hard things in White Houses,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. “You have every challenge laid at your feet, whether it’s global or domestically. And we could certainly propose legislation to see if people support bunny rabbits and ice cream, but that wouldn’t be very rewarding to the American people.”

Manchin and Sinema won’t flip on voting rights

Burgess Everett, 1-13, 22, Politico, Biden was forged in the Senate. Now he's burning political capital to change it., https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/13/biden-agenda-democrats-senate-filibuster-527003

President Joe Biden is yet again sticking his neck out on Capitol Hill to save his agenda with slim prospects for success. Just as he tried to resolve myriad disputes on his domestic spending plans late last year, Biden is wading directly into a protracted battle within his own party over weakening the Senate filibuster. After edging from defender to critic of the chamber's 60-vote requirement to pass most bills — which has been a roadblock to many of his top priorities — Biden will visit Senate Democrats on Thursday to emphatically argue for changing the Senate rules to pass a party-line election reform bill. But it appears unlikely the president can move two of his party's most ardent filibuster defenders, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) or Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), off their defense of the Senate’s supermajority requirement. And Biden's appearance before the caucus comes less than a month after Manchin rejected his entreaties on his $1.7 trillion climate and social spending bill, sending Democrats’ legislative agenda into a nosedive. Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to that setback by reorienting their agenda toward federal election standards and beefing up the Voting Rights Act — only to see Manchin get in the way again, along with Sinema. Both support their party's bills but oppose unilaterally weakening the filibuster to achieve them. When asked Wednesday what Biden could say to change his mind, Manchin only shrugged… Biden has invoked the civil rights era in his push to pass a bill that would aim to rein in state-level laws that restrict ballot access. In Georgia this week, he asked senators: “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” He also alluded to quiet talks with filibuster holdouts and declared: “I'm tired of being quiet.” That speech was a direct challenge to 50 Democrats. But it didn’t move the needle inside the Capitol. Manchin called it a “good speech” but said he had nothing new to offer on filibuster reform. Sinema reiterated through a spokesperson her openness to a debate on the filibuster, as well as her support for the 60-vote threshold. “I don’t know what’s going to move them. So far nothing has,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). Biden “cares enough that he’s going to come and talk with them and make the strongest pitch he can. Then it’s up to them.”

Biden’s voting rights speech destroyed his presidency

Peggy Noonan, January 13, 2022, Wall Street Journal, Biden’s Georgia Speech Is a Break Point, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-reaches-break-point-georgia-speech-voting-rights-senate-mcconnell-division-election-law-11642110521

It is startling when two speeches within 24 hours, neither much heralded in advance—the second wouldn’t even have been given without the first—leave you knowing you have witnessed a seminal moment in the history of an administration, but it happened this week. The president’s Tuesday speech in Atlanta, on voting rights, was a disaster for him. By the end of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s answering speech on Wednesday you knew some new break point had occurred, that President Biden might have thought he was just crooning to part of his base but the repercussions were greater than that; he was breaking in some new way with others—and didn’t know it. It is poor political practice when you fail to guess the effects of your actions. He meant to mollify an important constituency but instead he filled his opponents with honest indignation and, I suspect, encouraged in that fractured group some new unity. The speech itself was aggressive, intemperate, not only offensive but meant to offend. It seemed prepared by people who think there is only the Democratic Party in America, that’s it, everyone else is an outsider who can be disparaged. It was a mistake on so many levels. Presidents more than others in politics have to maintain an even strain, as astronauts used to say. If a president is rhetorically manipulative and divisive on a voting-rights bill it undercuts what he’s trying to establish the next day on Covid and the economy. The over-the-top language of the speech made him seem more emotional, less competent. The portentousness—“In our lives and . . . the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before them from everything that followed. They stop time”—made him appear incapable of understanding how the majority of Americans understand our own nation’s history and the vast array of its challenges. By the end he looked like a man operating apart from the American conversation, not at its center. This can be fatal to a presidency. He was hardly done speaking when a new Quinnipiac poll showed the usual low Biden numbers, but, most pertinently, that 49% of respondents say he is doing more to divide the country, and only 42% see him as unifying it. In the speech Mr. Biden claimed he stands against “the forces in America that value power over principle.” Last year Georgia elected two Democratic senators. “And what’s been the reaction of Republicans in Georgia? Choose the wrong way, the undemocratic way. To them, too many people voting in a democracy is a problem.” They want to “suppress the right to vote.” They want to “subvert the election.” This is “Jim Crow 2.0,” it’s “insidious,” it’s “the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies.” The problem is greater than Georgia. “The United States Senate . . . has been rendered a shell of its former self.” Its rules must be changed. “The filibuster is not used by Republicans to bring the Senate together but to pull it further apart. The filibuster has been weaponized and abused.” Senators will now “declare where they stand, not just for the moment, but for the ages.” Most wince-inducing: “Will you stand against election subversion? Yes or no? . . . Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace ? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor ? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” Mr. Biden’s speech was “profoundly unpresidential,” “deliberately divisive” and “designed to pull our country further apart.” “I have known, liked and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at the podium yesterday.” Mr. Biden had entered office calling on Americans to stop the shouting and lower the temperature. “Yesterday, he called millions of Americans his domestic ‘enemies.’ ” That, a week after he “gave a January 6th lecture about not stoking political violence.” “Twelve months ago, this president said that ‘disagreement must not lead to disunion.’ But yesterday, he invoked the bloody disunion of the Civil War to demonize Americans who disagree with him. He compared a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors.” “Twelve months ago, the president said that ‘politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.’ . . . Yesterday he poured a giant can of gasoline on that fire.” “In less than a year, ‘restoring the soul of America’ has become: Agree with me, or you’re a bigot.” “This inflammatory rhetoric was not an attempt to persuade skeptical Democratic or Republican senators. In fact, you could not invent a better advertisement for the legislative filibuster than a president abandoning rational persuasion for pure demagoguery.” American voters, said Mr. McConnell, “did not give President Biden a mandate for very much.” They didn’t give him big majorities in Congress. But they did arguably give him a mandate to bridge a divided country. “It is the one job citizens actually hired him to do.” He has failed to do it. Then Mr. McConnell looked at Mr. Biden’s specific claims regarding state voting laws. “The sitting president of the United States of America compared American states to ‘totalitarian states.’ He said our country will be an ‘autocracy’ if he does not get his way.” The world has now seen an American president “propagandize against his own country to a degree that would have made Pravda blush.” “He trampled through some of the most sensitive and sacred parts of our nation’s past. He invoked times when activists bled, and when soldiers died. All to demagogue voting laws that are more expansive than what Democrats have in his own home state.” “A president shouting that 52 senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the Framers built the Senate to check his power.” What Mr. Biden was really doing was attempting to “delegitimize the next election in case they lose it.” Now, he said, “It is the Senate’s responsibility to protect the country.” That sounded very much like a vow. It won’t be good for Joe Biden. When national Democrats talk to the country they always seem to be talking to themselves. They are of the left, as is their constituency, which wins the popular vote in presidential elections; the mainstream media through which they send their messages is of the left; the academics, historians and professionals they consult are of the left. They get in the habit of talking to themselves, in their language, in a single, looped conversation. They have no idea how they sound to the non-left, so they have no idea when they are damaging themselves. But this week in Georgia Mr. Biden damaged himself. And strengthened, and may even have taken a step in unifying, the non-Democrats who are among their countrymen, and who are in fact the majority of them.

Manchin and Sinema won’t flip on voting rights

Burgess Everett, 1-13, 22, Politico, Biden was forged in the Senate. Now he's burning political capital to change it., https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/13/biden-agenda-democrats-senate-filibuster-527003

President Joe Biden is yet again sticking his neck out on Capitol Hill to save his agenda with slim prospects for success. Just as he tried to resolve myriad disputes on his domestic spending plans late last year, Biden is wading directly into a protracted battle within his own party over weakening the Senate filibuster. After edging from defender to critic of the chamber's 60-vote requirement to pass most bills — which has been a roadblock to many of his top priorities — Biden will visit Senate Democrats on Thursday to emphatically argue for changing the Senate rules to pass a party-line election reform bill. But it appears unlikely the president can move two of his party's most ardent filibuster defenders, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) or Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), off their defense of the Senate’s supermajority requirement. And Biden's appearance before the caucus comes less than a month after Manchin rejected his entreaties on his $1.7 trillion climate and social spending bill, sending Democrats’ legislative agenda into a nosedive. Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to that setback by reorienting their agenda toward federal election standards and beefing up the Voting Rights Act — only to see Manchin get in the way again, along with Sinema. Both support their party's bills but oppose unilaterally weakening the filibuster to achieve them. When asked Wednesday what Biden could say to change his mind, Manchin only shrugged… Biden has invoked the civil rights era in his push to pass a bill that would aim to rein in state-level laws that restrict ballot access. In Georgia this week, he asked senators: “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” He also alluded to quiet talks with filibuster holdouts and declared: “I'm tired of being quiet.” That speech was a direct challenge to 50 Democrats. But it didn’t move the needle inside the Capitol. Manchin called it a “good speech” but said he had nothing new to offer on filibuster reform. Sinema reiterated through a spokesperson her openness to a debate on the filibuster, as well as her support for the 60-vote threshold. “I don’t know what’s going to move them. So far nothing has,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). Biden “cares enough that he’s going to come and talk with them and make the strongest pitch he can. Then it’s up to them.”

Biden has wrecked politics

David Ignatius, 1-13, 22, Opinion: Biden is failing politically, and not just because of Republican obstruction, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/13/biden-is-failing-politically-not-just-because-republican-obstruction/

President Biden hit a political wall this week in his push for voting rights legislation, just as he did last year in trying to pass his Build Back Better spending package. It’s time for Biden to ask himself why he’s in this morass. It sticks in my craw to quote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has often been a wrecker in our national politics. But he had it right when he said Wednesday that Biden was elected with a mandate to “bridge a divided country, lower the temperature, dial down the perpetual air of crisis in our politics.” Biden is failing in that mission. Republican obstructionism is a big reason, but it’s not the only explanation. Biden has been losing his way politically. As he chases support from progressives in his own party, he has failed to craft versions of his social spending package and voting rights legislation that he could pass with fragile majorities. He’s been spinning his wheels. A prime (but rarely discussed) example of Biden’s loss of momentum is the failure to enact legislation to improve American competitiveness in chipmaking and other technologies. This bill, known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (or USICA), passed the Senate back in June with a big majority, 68 to 32. Passage illustrated the strong bipartisan consensus that America must respond to China’s technology challenge. But USICA stalled in the House. Democrats there were miffed at what they saw as Senate attempts to dictate science policy. Some progressives didn’t want chipmaking to get in the way of battles for child-care credits and other Build Back Better programs. And House Republicans wanted to sabotage any potential success for Biden. E.J. Dionne Jr.: Biden tells the truth in the best speech of his presidency So, the bill languished. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced a House-Senate conference in November, but it never happened because the House hadn’t passed a bill. Rep. Bill Foster (Ill.), a leading Democrat on tech issues, told me the House should have gone to conference and approved the chipmaking portion of the bill, at least. But that didn’t occur, even though Biden’s national security team takes the China threat as seriously as Republicans do. Moderate Democrats are baffled. “It’s nuts that the House has been sitting on this good, important bill for months,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), one of its authors, told me in an email. A similar concern came from Thomas E. Donilon, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. “It’s inexcusable that Congress hasn’t moved forward on this,” he told me. Pelosi’s aides say she wants to get a House version of the bill moving again soon. And one Senate staffer hoped a House bill could pass in a few weeks — clearing the way for a real conference to resolve differences. “We are working hard on trying to get USICA done in the House,” a White House official told me Thursday. But the official said it’s not clear if House Republicans will help. “To be blunt, it takes two to tango.” The larger question for Biden is whether there’s any space left for bipartisanship and conciliation. Political divisions have worsened over the past year, and Republicans, led by McConnell, have rebuffed nearly all of his overtures. He had bigger ambitions, on social and political revitalization. But with such fragile Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Biden will struggle now to pass meaningful legislation. USICA would be a good test. So would a scaled-back version of Build Back Better that could win support from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) atherine Rampell: This is the most important thing Biden can do to get inflation under control Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) thinks there’s more room left for bipartisanship than many observers believe. His staff gave me a list of bills that Coons and other Democrats have co-sponsored with Republicans to, among other things, provide better background checks for gun purchasers, expand civics education, spend more on conservation and expand criminal justice reform. These are small items, compared with the larger impasse. But they’re a start. Biden’s frustration is understandable, to put it mildly. The White House proposed an initiative to fight cancer, for example, surely a bipartisan concern. But the administration says it can’t get a single congressional Republican to back legislation. Some in the GOP attack it as the “Fauci Fund,” because it’s partly based at the National Institutes of Health, where Anthony S. Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, is a leader. That’s sick. The Biden administration has been a good steward. As White House officials argue, they have lowered unemployment, vaccinated 200 million people and cut child poverty. Biden hasn’t delivered on uniting the country, but he has succeeded on many other things. But successful presidencies carry a sense of political momentum, going from success to success. Sadly, President Biden has lost much of that forward drive. It’s time for a restart, with less shouting and more of Biden’s trademark common sense.

Progressive policies key to mobilizing Democrats for the midterms

Dean Obeidallah/January 13, 2022, The National Review, Biden Is Shedding the Support of His Base—and That Could Be Bad for Democracy, https://newrepublic.com/article/165002/approval-ratings-drop-midterm-2022

The 2022 election is the most important one of our lifetimes. That is, if you believe in a democratic republic, given the GOP’s embrace of autocracy, as shown by a recent CBS poll that found that a majority of Republicans now justify the January 6 attack as an act “defending freedom.” There’s another recent poll number that’s even more troubling. President Biden’s sizable drop among Democrats is such a concern because if the Democratic base doesn’t come out in 2022, it could spell more than simply losses for Democrats—it could usher in the loss of our democracy. Presidents’ approval numbers typically drop after the honeymoon period. Consequently, it’s not surprising that Biden’s approval ratings have slid since mid-2021 from the neighborhood of a solid 52 percent to about 43 percent per the recent average of polls at FiveThirtyEight. He’s had a pretty brutal few months. But it’s his drop in support among Democrats that’s deeply alarming, since in off-year elections, the base coming out is the key to winning—or losing. As recently as June, Biden still had a remarkable 95 percent approval rating from Democrats per Gallup’s monthly polling. But take a look at the Gallup’s most recent poll in December: Biden’s approval among Democrats fell to 78 percent. That’s nearly a 20-point drop in six months, while his overall approval rating had only fallen in that same period by a little over 10 points—from mid-50s to 43 percent. Worse, a new IBD/TPP poll released earlier this week found Biden’s approval among Democrats had slipped to 74 percent—down from 76 percent the prior month in that same poll. Why the drop? That’s the key question for Biden to try to address before November. Issues like Covid-19, inflation, supply chains, etc., all weigh on Democrats like the rest of the nation. The mess in the schools, with new closings happening, has to be a culprit. But in my recent conversations with people who call my progressive political show on SiriusXM Radio, not one person ever raised those issues when they expressed their loss of enthusiasm or frustration with Biden. The two issues that came up repeatedly—and they are intertwined—were: 1) Biden’s failure for the past year in not displaying the “fierce urgency of now” in holding Trump accountable for his crimes; and 2) his not fiercely opposing the threat today’s GOP poses to our democracy. (The only other issue raised by some has been Biden’s failure to cancel student loan debt.) As to holding Trump accountable for his crimes, no Democrat called my show and starting chanting, “Lock him up.” It’s more a sense of outrage and utter bewilderment that Trump could incite an attack on our Capitol in front of our eyes—from radicalizing supporters with lies about the election to repeatedly summoning them to Washington on January 6 with the promise it would be “wild” to literally directing them before the attack to head to the Capitol to “stop the steal”—and yet he’s not charged for his crimes. Democrats want Biden to call for justice the same way, as a nation, we called for justice for all involved in 9/11. Calling for a person involved in a terrorist attack on our Capitol to be prosecuted is not partisanship. It’s patriotism. Second, my callers are equally outraged that the GOP has been setting the stage for rigging elections—also right in front of our eyes—for a year. Yet all we got from Biden was one speech in July, before Tuesday’s voting rights speech in Atlanta. Biden should have made this an issue at least on par with his Build Back Better bill. The words I have heard from my audience in response to Biden’s inaction on these issues range from, “Why did we elect him if he won’t hold Trump accountable?!” to “People have died for the right to vote, and if Biden won’t make that a priority, why should I make voting in 2022 a priority?” Many have spoken of potentially sitting out the 2022 election. GOP leaders are great at giving “red meat” to their base. Trump was probably the best at that, serving up all the white supremacy, bigotry, and science denial the GOP base craves. That helps explain why Trump’s approval rating among GOP voters—per Gallup—was consistently in the high 80s and even as high as 94–95 percent several years into his train-wreck presidency, even after Covid-19 hit. Biden needs to give red meat to liberals and progressives to excite and animate us for 2022. Our red meat, though, is far different from the rancid version served up by the GOP. It’s fighting daily for a foundational principle of our republic, namely protecting our democracy by holding Trump accountable for his attack on it and protecting voting rights. A few speeches won’t do it. Biden must have a concerted plan to elevate these issues, coupled with action. For example, Biden could travel the nation with a “Saving Our Democracy” tour, using every tool available to publicly pressure Democratic senators who won’t agree to reforming the filibuster to pass voting rights, prepare executive orders on voting rights, and other measures. Plus—if need be—he could replace Merrick Garland with a more aggressive attorney general. Republican elected officials fear their base. In contrast, Democratic officeholders’ view of their base appears to run from liking them to tolerating them to ignoring them. But few would say Democrats fear their base. I’m not saying Biden should be quaking in fear, but he needs to listen to the Democratic base and act. If not, the 2022 election could not only be terrible for Democrats, it could be devastating for our democracy.

Biden’s popularity is collapsing

Brett Samuels, 1-12, 22, The Hill, Quinnipiac poll shows Biden with 33 percent approval rating, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/589450-quinnipiac-poll-shows-biden-with-33-percent-approval-rating

Just one-third of Americans approve of the job President Biden is doing, a new low for the president, in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The poll showed Biden's approval rating had dipped slightly from November, when his approval rating was at 36 percent. It continued a troubling trend for Biden, whose approval rating has steadily declined in each Quinnipiac poll released over the last several months. And it follows a broader trend of underwater polling numbers for Biden as he grapples with a series of difficult issues to tackle, such as rising prices, a persistent coronavirus pandemic and disagreements within his own party that have stalled progress on his Build Back Better agenda. Wednesday's tough poll numbers are attributed largely to poor marks from independent voters, 57 percent of whom said they disapproved of Biden's job performance compared to 25 percent who approved. Biden also saw his approval among Democrats dip from 87 percent in November to 75 percent in the latest poll. Among registered voters, 35 percent approved of Biden's job performance, while 54 percent disapproved, according to the poll. Also hurting Biden's approval rating in the poll was a majority of respondents disapproving of his handling of key issues. Poll finds 45 percent back Biden's handling of pandemic Whitmer leading possible GOP challengers in Michigan governor race:... The poll found 57 percent disapproved of Biden's handling of the economy, 54 percent disapproved of his handling of foreign policy and 55 percent disapproved of his handling of the pandemic, which was once a consistent bright spot for Biden.

Biden approval key to Democrats in the midterms

Paul Steinhauer, 1-12, 22, Only a third of Americans give Biden a thumbs-up in new national poll, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/only-third-americans-give-biden-thumbs-up-new-national-poll

The presidential approval rating has also long been a much-watched indicator ahead of the midterm elections, and Biden's flagging numbers could spell major trouble for the Democrats as they try to hold on to their razor-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate in the 2022 elections. The poll indicates Americans are split on which party they want to see win control in November’s midterms. Forty-three percent said they want the Republicans to win the majority in the House, with 42% saying they want the Democrats to retain their control.

Failure to pass voting rights legislation destroys Biden’s capital and undermines them in the midterms

Stephen Collinson, January 12, 2022, CNN, Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights battle, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/12/politics/biden-voting-rights-legislative-legacy/index.html

(CNN)It took a year for Joe Biden to make an irrevocable bet that puts the credibility of his presidency on the line. If his bid now to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation fails, he'll lose more than just the bills he sees as vital to saving democracy. His drained political capital could spell the end of the entire domestic, legislative phase of his administration. Biden's speech on the issue Tuesday, delivered amid the symbolism of the civil rights movement in Atlanta, was remarkable for its boldness. The President who ran as a unifier put forward a blunt good versus evil argument, suggesting that opponents to his plan are akin to segregationists. "The right to vote and have that vote count, it is democracy's threshold liberty. Without it, nothing is possible. But with it, anything is possible," Biden said in one of the most important moments of his presidency. Democrats cannot pass two stalled voting rights bills on their own owing to the opposition of Senate Republicans who won't even allow them to come up for debate. To evade their obstruction, Biden must find a way to persuade all 50 Democratic senators to at least amend the filibuster -- a device that means major legislation effectively needs 60 votes to pass. How Biden heaped shame on the Senate in thundering speech How Biden heaped shame on the Senate in thundering speech His decision to go all in on Tuesday underscores Biden's belief that 12 months after the Capitol insurrection, America is at a historic moment at which its near 250-year experiment with democracy could end. More prosaically, it significantly raises political expectations for Biden himself. By making bills that are far from certain to pass the cornerstone of his term, Biden is at risk of looking like he's failed if his effort falls short. And prospects do appear dim that Biden can change the minds of several moderate Democrats, including West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, on the filibuster. So his speech in Atlanta set up an immediate test of political clout for a White House that has made a habit of establishing legislative deadlines and missing them -- partly due to political malpractice as well as the difficulty of working with marginal Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill. The first hurdle looms as early as Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledging to introduce proposals for rules changes to help usher the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act into law. A make-or-break moment While Biden has spent months in tortuous negotiations in support of his sweeping domestic agenda, he's never truly staked out the kind of make-or-break moment that he engineered in Atlanta on Tuesday. History suggests that towering presidential achievements often need a commander in chief to commit massive amounts of prestige to the effort. It's possible the President could move the needle, and create the conditions for success that would significantly booster his reputation and record. Interactive: America's long history of Black voter suppression But if Biden cannot persuade Manchin and Sinema to drop their opposition to amending Senate rules with a simple majority, he'll come across as a leader who cannot even control his own party. His failure would also bode ill for his chances of getting the same pair on board to finally pass his Build Back Better social spending and climate plan, which would cement his reputation as a bold reformer. And the political atmospherics would be ruinous, as Biden would be portrayed as a weak leader, who failed to implement his own agenda and who warned democracy could be eclipsed but could do nothing about it. The narrative of a struggling presidency would grow and might do serious damage to Democratic enthusiasm in what is already shaping up as a tough midterm election year. In some ways, the voting rights push and the Build Back Better plan represent the last big legislative chance for a President who already has a bipartisan infrastructure law and $1.9 trillion Covid-19 rescue package on his record, which is still shadowed by his failure to pass his most ambitious goals. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is pledging to make the chamber all but ungovernable if the rules change gambit succeeds. Even if it doesn't, conditions are difficult enough. Midterm elections looming in November are already curtailing limited time for meaningful legislative progress. Come November, Republicans may win the House and their leader, Kevin McCarthy, is signaling he would use his possible speakership as a weapon of revenge for ex-President Donald Trump. The GOP could capture the Senate too, leaving Biden isolated for the last two years of his term. A changed President Tuesday's speech also marked an evolution in Biden as president as well. It built upon his soaring speech on the first anniversary of the Capitol insurrection last week in what is now looking like a political reset after a tough six months. Even as vice president and in the early months of his presidency, Biden often still came across as a creature of his beloved Senate. Now, his willingness to embrace filibuster changes that he always opposed marks a large step away from the chamber he loves and his idealized vision of its comity and customs. Pro-Trump Republicans try to rewrite state election laws as a voting rights showdown looms in Congress The speech in Atlanta was notable for the same kind of stark, blunt language that Biden used in calling out the authoritarian impulses of Trump in Statuary Hall on the anniversary of January 6 last week. Biden appears to have traveled some distance from being the unifying force that he epitomized during his inaugural address last year and that helped yield the bipartisan infrastructure law. Perhaps his most significant gamble in Tuesday's speech was the clarity of the language he used to call out anyone who opposes his plan. "I ask every elected official in America, how do you want to be remembered?" Biden asked, arguing that consequential moments in history present a choice. "Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?" Biden asked. "Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?" "This is the moment to decide to defend our elections, to defend our democracy." It seems unlikely that Manchin, who has already shown a prickly side and a sensitivity to slights during the long tussle over the Build Back Better plan, will shift his position based on being implicitly compared to segregationists. The West Virginia senator made clear before Biden spoke that his position -- that rules changes should not be adopted in the Senate by a simple majority -- had not changed. "You change the rules with two thirds of the people that are present, so it's Democrats, Republicans changing the rules to make the place work better; getting rid of the filibuster does not make it work better," Manchin told reporters. Time is running out Unless Schumer and Biden can craft some kind of compromise solution that would allow Manchin to say he stuck to his guns -- or the weight of effectively sinking one of the bills that he himself drafted begins to press on the West Virginian -- his stance, as laid out on Tuesday, would stop the bills in their tracks. That possibility raises the question of whether Biden's striking language on Tuesday was not meant just to persuade but was also a hedge to protect his standing in the event of failure. While the President took a gamble with the strength of his appeal, the political consequences of doing nothing would have been deeply damaging. That's because many Democrats and independent election analysts believe the party's chances in future elections are in peril because of attempts in GOP-run states, inspired by Trump, to make it harder to vote and easier to influence the results of elections. If Democrats can't pass their agenda now, they may not get another chance for years. Here's why If Democrats can't pass their agenda now, they may not get another chance for years. Here's why Many liberals still worry Biden came to the fight too late and should have acted immediately on voting rights as soon as he entered the White House at the apex of his political power. A coalition of Georgia voting rights groups made clear their displeasure on Tuesday, declining to show up to Biden's speech, saying they were through with "photo-ops." Instead of acting a year ago on voting rights, Biden spent months reluctant to fracture what limited cooperation existed in the Senate in order to pass the infrastructure bill, as a foundation for his calls for national unity. (The President's critics, however, do not explain how tackling voting rights first would have unpicked the Manchin and Sinema conundrum or eased the impossibility of life in a 50-50 Senate.)

Biden pushing voting rights reform, can sway Manchin and Sinema

Seung Kim, 1-11, 22, In pivot to voting rights, Biden risks falling short on a second big goal, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-pivot-to-voting-rights-biden-risks-falling-short-on-a-second-big-goal/2022/01/10/cf5169e0-722a-11ec-b202-b9b92330d4fa_story.html

President Biden plans to deliver a hard-hitting speech in Atlanta on voting rights Tuesday, saying the issue is fundamental to America, calling for passage of sweeping legislation and denouncing in detail the impact of voting restrictions in states like Georgia. But in pivoting so fully to voting rights from his recent efforts to pass a major social spending bill, Biden risks opening the new year with a second legislative setback, given the daunting obstacles facing any voting rights package in Congress — including the near-unified opposition of Republicans and the reluctance of some Democrats to ease filibuster rules. The president, whose views on the Senate’s rules have evolved as pressure from the party’s base has grown, will throw his support behind changing the legislative filibuster to ease passage of voting measures and to ensure that “this basic right is defended,” said a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the speech. Democrats fight to keep governorships in battleground states to protect voting rights The 2022 gubernatorial races have taken on new significance for Democrats as Republicans push for more restrictive voting laws on the state level. (Mahlia Posey/The Washington Post) Biden has endorsed a so-called “carve-out” before, but Tuesday’s remarks are expected to be his most extensive on the issue. “The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice?” Biden plans to say, according to prepared remarks released by the White House Tuesday morning. “I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?” The event at Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College in Atlanta comes after Biden’s speech on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, with White House aides viewing Tuesday’s remarks as a second chapter to last week’s forceful defense of democratic institutions and rebuke of former president Donald Trump’s role in fomenting false claims about his loss in the 2020 elections. Biden is gambling on the limited powers of the bully pulpit to shift dynamics in the Senate that have largely been immovable, as a pair of Democratic senators continue to resist changes to chamber rules that would allow bills to pass on a simple majority vote.

Machin and Sinema don’t support filibuster reform for voting rights

Seung Kim, 1-11, 22, In pivot to voting rights, Biden risks falling short on a second big goal, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-pivot-to-voting-rights-biden-risks-falling-short-on-a-second-big-goal/2022/01/10/cf5169e0-722a-11ec-b202-b9b92330d4fa_story.html

Biden’s Capitol address raises stakes for voting rights speech The president’s allies argue that the fight is worth having even if it falls short, given the stakes. Black activists, liberals and other critical members of the Democratic base have urged the White House to fight harder on the issue, and Biden cannot afford to lose their support. “I think this is a fight that we have to have as a country, even if an outcome I like is not guaranteed,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who is crafting potential Senate rules changes. “Presidents and leaders of all kinds are measured by the things they’re willing to fight for.” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has signaled he plans to hold a vote this week on changing Senate rules to allow the voting rights legislation to pass with a simple majority, but that seems unlikely to succeed. Biden will be accompanied Tuesday by the state’s two Democratic senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael G. Warnock, and other elected officials in Georgia. He and Vice President Harris — who has been the administration’s point person on voting rights — will also visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change on the eve of the annual holiday commemorating the civil rights leader. In previewing the president’s speech on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden plans to “forcefully advocate for protecting the most bedrock American rights, the right to vote and have your voice counted in a free, fair and secure election that is not tainted, by partisan manipulation.” Ensuring that, Psaki said, can only be done by passing a pair of voting legislation that has repeatedly stalled in the Senate due to near-uniform Republican opposition. Psaki highlighted the symbolic importance of delivering the remarks in Georgia, the home of the late civil rights hero and congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) and the epicenter of battles over voting access. The state is being sued by the Justice Department over its GOP-backed elections law signed last year. “He wouldn‘t be going to Georgia tomorrow — a place where there is enormous history of civil rights leaders, of his friend, John Lewis, advocating for fundamental rights, including voting rights — if he wasn’t ready and prepared to elevate this issue and continue to fight for it,” Psaki said. The White House has come under enormous pressure from activists and key Democratic lawmakers to invest more political energy into the issue, as civil rights groups have lamented for months that the administration had yet to prioritize voting in the way that it has other matters. In an interview Monday, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) recalled that Biden, in his victory remarks after clinching the presidency in November 2020, pledged to African American voters — who largely revived his presidential campaign in the South Carolina primary earlier that year — that he would always have their backs. “It takes no political capital to keep your word, and there’s nothing more fundamental to Blacks in this country than the precious right to vote,” Clyburn said. “No group of people in the United States of America has made more sacrifices, given more for the right to vote, than Black people.” Nsé Ufot, chief executive of the New Georgia Project, said activists needed to see more from the administration than a speech from Biden, suggesting her time would be better spent fighting for results than listening to his remarks. A coalition of voter advocacy groups, including Ufot’s group, plan to skip Biden’s and Harris’s remarks in Atlanta, with the New Georgia Project doing another event at the state Capitol instead. “If all they are doing is coming to give a speech, then I might have some Republicans to be fighting with at that time,” Ufot said. “What we need is a plan. What we need are marching orders. How are we headed into the midterms? What posture will we have to adopt? And is it worth it to continue to seek federal protections for voting rights?” Republicans, in Georgia and elsewhere, take a sharply different view, arguing that the voting restrictions passed by several states are aimed at fighting fraud and not limiting the vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor that the high turnout in the 2020 election shows that voting rights are not at risk. “Leading Democrats say they want to break the Senate because of a sinister anti-voting plot that is sweeping America,” McConnell said. “This is totally fake. It does not exist.” At least in public, Biden began shifting his priorities in favor of voting rights and away from the stalled Build Back Better package last month, when he said that if Congress can pass a voting package into law, lawmakers should put off work on the spending plan. Though much of his legislative outreach last year had been focused on his infrastructure and social spending packages, Biden popped up on a virtual call with a handful of Democratic senators last month to encourage continued work on voting rights legislation. Biden speaks privately to senators on voting rights After that video chat, the president telephoned Kaine, thanking him for his efforts on the issue and in drafting a change in the Senate rules that would allow the voting bills to pass. Biden also quizzed the senator on the likelihood of the efforts succeeding and said he considered voting legislation crucial to defending democracy in the U.S. “He saw it in the same way I am seeing it,” Kaine said. “It’s not just, we’re doing it because it’s a good thing to do. There is sort of a unique, historical burden on our shoulders because of having been here during this [Jan. 6, 2021] attack.” The Democratic efforts are focused on two bills: the John Lewis Act, which would restore the federal government’s authority to review state voting laws to prevent discrimination, and a broader bill that would create national rules for voting by mail, early voting and other parts of the electoral process. But to pass either of those measures, Democrats must persuade two members of their own caucus who have long resisted fundamental changes to how the Senate operates. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has signaled some flexibility in relaxing the 60-vote threshold to end a legislative filibuster in the Senate — such as requiring three-fifths of those present, rather than of all 100 senators, to advance legislation. But he remains ardently opposed to changing the rules of the Senate on a party-line basis. Even if Democrats were able to persuade Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) also remains stubbornly opposed to getting rid of the 60-vote threshold. She reiterated her opposition in a virtual lunch last week with other Democratic senators, according to a person familiar with her comments, urging other senators to contact her if they wanted to discuss the issue further. It’s unlikely that Biden’s remarks, even paired with a series of Senate votes later this week, will be enough to meet the demands of activists pressing the administration for a concrete strategy on getting voting rights legislation enacted. “What we want to see — as opposed to hear — is an outcome where there is legislation on the president’s desk which he can sign to protect the right to vote,” said Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP.

All Weaver, 1-11, 22, The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta, https://thehill.com/homenews/morning-report/589132-the-hills-morning-report

However, whether the chance of the concerted effort paying off in the form of legislative action remains slim to none. As The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in his latest Memo, that circumstance also raises the question of whether Democrats are setting themselves up for failure by playing the expectations game. While the Democratic base clamors for action on the topic, the inability to win over Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — both of whom support the pair of proposals — to alter the 60-vote filibuster threshold could prove fateful in the long run. On Monday, Manchin indicated that he hasn’t seen anything to change his stance. “Maybe someone is hiding something. They haven't shown it to me,” the West Virginia centrist told CNN. Compounding their issues, Sinema reiterated her unwillingness to change the filibuster at the Senate Democratic conference’s virtual lunch last week (The Washington Post). Politico: Dems filibuster conundrum: It's not just Manchin and Sinema. The speeches also come days as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to hold a vote on the issue ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday.

Alayna Treena, 1-11, 22, Coons, Warnock discuss urgent need for voting rights, https://www.axios.com/democrats-election-reform-georgia-biden-12b08c02-081f-4854-980e-96c23499ac8c.html

Behind the scenes: Marc Elias, a top Democratic election law specialist, met virtually with the Senate Democratic caucus during their weekly lunch last week, two sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios. Elias told them that, at some point, the voter suppression laws being pushed in GOP states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arkansas will have become so targeted and disadvantageous that elections themselves moving forward will become more and more difficult, one source said. "It was chilling," the source said. "I mean, he was describing the laws that are being taken up in state after state, and they're really, they're concerning." Elias declined comment to Axios. The big picture: The challenge for Democrats is the path forward. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — despite supporting the legislation — refuse to drop their opposition to lowering the 60-vote threshold needed to pass major legislation or agree to create a one-time carve-out to bypass the filibuster.

Biden can’t push voting rights protections through

Nial Stanagge, 1-10, 22, The Memo: Biden rolls the dice on voting rights, https://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/589115-the-memo-biden-rolls-the-dice-on-voting-rights

President Biden will ramp up his push for voting rights protections Tuesday when he and Vice President Harris travel to Atlanta to make the case for new federal legislation. But the heightened focus on voting rights is a significant gamble for Biden. The congressional math to pass either of the two bills that would strengthen voting protections is extraordinarily difficult. Thanks to blanket Republican opposition — and the 50-50 split in the Senate — passing legislation in the regular fashion is out of the question, since doing so would require a 60-vote supermajority to defeat a GOP filibuster. The only semirealistic alternative is reform of the filibuster. Progressives have been clamoring for such a move since the start of the Biden presidency. But its chances are close to nonexistent so long as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) hold to their stated positions opposing such a change. Put it all together and it is easy to see how Biden could raise progressive expectations by talking up the need for voting rights legislation, only to disappoint those hopes if nothing actually happens. This, in turn, could leave Democratic base voters disenchanted going into November’s midterm elections — just when Biden and his party need their supporters revved up if they are to stand any chance of rebuffing the GOP’s efforts to take back Congress. The White House is not blind to the danger and clearly believes the risk is worth it. There is also an acknowledgment, from the Oval Office down, that doing nothing is not an option. “There is nothing domestically more important,” Biden said last month. But Biden and his aides are treading a fine line when it comes to the expectations game. During Monday’s White House media briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked by NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell whether Biden believed his involvement and political capital could create a “tipping point” on the issue. “Well, it’s a hard question to answer, because really what we’re talking about is whether we can get enough votes in Congress to get this done,” Psaki responded. Democrats and progressives by and large support Biden’s new push on the issue, even though they acknowledge the challenges. “I think they have to be caught trying,” said Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist and former Senate leadership aide. “You don’t want to leave any Democrat, particularly any African American Democrat, with any questions about the president’s commitment to follow through on this.” Those were precisely the kind of questions that were being asked with increasing urgency on the left during Biden’s first year. During that time, Biden signaled a wariness about filibuster reform and largely delegated the voting rights issue to Harris. The president chose to focus mostly on other parts of his legislative agenda, winning passage of a COVID-19 relief bill and an infrastructure bill but failing — so far — to pass the biggest bill of all, on social spending. The time and political capital spent on that effort left some progressives uneasy as the battle for voting rights languished. Some key advocates for voting rights in Georgia are staying away from the president's speech, arguing action rather than rhetoric is needed. Stacey Abrams, who is known for her years-long efforts on the issue and is running for a second time to become the state's governor, will also not attend, citing a scheduling conflict. Tré Easton, the deputy director of Battle Born Collective, a progressive group, told this column that the Tuesday trip from Biden and Harris was “necessary.” But, Easton said, “I would add that it is a little late in the game around this specific issue. If we had seen this kind of intensity this time a year ago, we would be in a different place in this conversation.” When it comes to expectations — and whether they might be raised and then dashed — Easton said, “I think it is hard to game out what will happen if there is another failed effort. But I don’t think anyone is going into this with rose-colored glasses about things changing.” There are, to be sure, some political advantages for Democrats to wring from the issue, even if legislation does not ultimately pass. Beyond the mere fact of showing some fight, the push will also get Republicans on record as opposing the effort to shore up voting rights. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has promised debate in the upper chamber on changing the filibuster rules “on or before” Jan. 17. The date, less than a week away, marks the public holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. On Monday, Schumer painted Republican opposition to voting rights legislation as a form of “offering their own endorsement of the Big Lie” — former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shot back that Democratic leaders were trying to “bully and berate their own members into breaking the Senate.” Can Biden somehow break the logjam? It seems, for the moment, unlikely. If he fails, he will be again open to the charge that he has failed to deliver on some of the base’s most cherished priorities.

Manchin no longer supports the BBB spending caps

Jeff Stein 1-8, 22, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/01/08/manchin-white-house-talks/, Manchin’s $1.8 trillion spending offer appears no longer to be on the table

The week before Christmas, Sen. Joe Manchin III sent the White House a $1.8 trillion counteroffer to President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that included substantial funds for climate, health-care and education initiatives. About four weeks later, the West Virginia Democrat has made clear that he does not currently support advancing even that offer following a breakdown in negotiations between Manchin and the White House right before Christmas, three people with knowledge of the matter said. Manchin said publicly this week that he was no longer involved in talks with the White House over the economic package. Privately, he has also made clear that he is not interested in approving legislation resembling Biden’s Build Back Better package and that Democrats should fundamentally rethink their approach. Senior Democrats say they do not believe Manchin would support his offer even if the White House tried adopting it in full — at least not at the moment — following the fallout in mid-December. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Manchin’s private offer to Biden included pre-K, climate money, Obamacare — but excluded child benefit Negotiations deteriorated quickly in December after a White House news release named Manchin as the obstacle to passing the legislation. Manchin then surprised the administration by criticizing the bill on Fox News, after which the White House released a blistering statement calling his credibility into question. Manchin, who has drawn protesters’ ire because of his opposition to the legislation, later said the decision to name him in the news release imperiled the safety of his family. The White House has continued to project optimism that it will eventually secure Manchin’s vote and approval of a major economic plan by Congress. And Manchin’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer suggested that much common ground between the two sides remained on the policy substance. He said in recent days that he supports much of the administration’s climate agenda, for example. But Democratic leaders in Congress have abruptly pivoted from trying to complete the economic package to addressing voting rights legislation, leaving unclear the fate of the White House’s chance to remake big parts of the U.S. economy and provide the biggest-ever investment in fighting climate change. Manchin has talked with a range of public officials trying to sway him on Build Back Better, such as senior White House aide Steve Ricchetti; Larry Kudlow, who was an adviser to President Donald Trump; and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), among others. White House allies, including several officials in the White House itself, have in recent days expressed confusion as to how the administration could pass up on the potential for $1.8 trillion deal that would amount to one of the most significant pieces of domestic policy in decades. Manchin’s offer included permanent funding for universal prekindergarten, an expansion of the Affordable Care Act and hundreds of billions of dollars in climate-related spending — measures staunchly opposed by congressional Republicans. His plan also included support for a tax on billionaires, which would amount to the most aggressive plans to reduce wealth inequality in modern American history. And Democrats may not see another majority in Congress for many years. “A $1.8 trillion package along the lines of what Manchin offered last month would be one of the most transformative, progressive pieces of legislation in modern history,” said Ben Ritz, a budget expert at the Progressive Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank. “The White House should absolutely take it if they can.” From charm offensive to scorched earth: How Biden’s fragile alliance with Manchin unraveled But for several reasons, it is unclear whether the White House could accept Manchin’s plan, even if it wanted to — not the least of which is the confusion now over whether Manchin would vote to approve it. In addition to excluding the expanded child tax credit, a centerpiece of Biden’s anti-poverty agenda, Manchin’s offer included no funding for housing and no funding for racial equity initiatives, two people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reveal details of the private negotiations. Numerous congressional Democrats have had other demands for the package, such as an expansion of Medicare benefits for seniors and a repeal of the deduction of a cap on state and local taxes. These and other provisions might have to be incorporated into the final plan to secure approval. To pass the bill, Democrats cannot afford to lose any senators or more than three House members.

BBB dead

 

Tara Palmeri, 1-7, 2022, POLITICO Playbook: Biden finds a new Manchin whisperer, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2022/01/07/biden-finds-a-new-manchin-whisperer-495636

The White House is looking to Sen. MARK WARNER (D-Va.) to help thaw out its frosty relationship with Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) in hopes of resurrecting President JOE BIDEN’s Build Back Better plan. Two senior Senate sources said that Warner, one of Manchin’s closest friends and his former housemate, will be involved in any future BBB talks. Manchin has said publicly that he’s not negotiating with the White House. Privately, he has been even more pessimistic. “He’s not in the mindset of moving forward,” said a source close to Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat has complained about a lack of “effective outreach” or “reset” by top White House aides, and blamed them for making the BBB negotiations too personal. Manchin has spoken to STEVE RICCHETTI, Biden’s Hill whisperer, once since Christmas. But he’s still angry with chief of staff RON KLAIN, who he believes told press secretary JEN PSAKI to “unleash the dogs” in a heated White House statement after the senator announced on “Fox News Sunday” that he was a “no” on the bill. Spokespeople for both Warner and Biden demurred about the specifics of the Virginia senator’s exact role in the effort to win over Manchin. “Sen. Warner and Sen. Manchin are good friends,” a Warner spokesperson told Playbook. “They talk regularly, sometimes about policy and sometimes just shooting the breeze. I wouldn’t call those conversations ‘negotiations.’” “A wide range of members are working on Build Back Better,” said White House spokesperson ANDREW BATES, “but Sen. Warner is not negotiating on behalf of the White House.” However they want to characterize the effort, they’re still far from having Manchin on board. “I don’t think they’ll be able to coax him back into BBB,” the source close to Manchin told Playbook. “He’ll listen to Mark Warner, but he won’t do what he wants.” “Sen. Manchin clearly articulated his policy concerns with Build Back Better, which are rooted in rising inflation, the ongoing pandemic and the geopolitical uncertainty around the world,” said a Manchin spokesperson. “He has tremendous respect for the president and his staff and will continue to look for ways to work together.” Still, Manchin seems unmoved. And meanwhile, the White House has discussed repackaging BBB by breaking off a piece or pieces of policy to revive the talks, a senior Senate source said, adding that negotiations are still ongoing.

Biden agenda dead

Alexander Bolton, 1-6, 22, The Hill, Democratic agenda stuck in limbo, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/588493-democratic-agenda-stuck-in-limbo

Less than a week into the new election year, Senate Democrats acknowledge their ambitious legislative agenda is in limbo and they don’t see a breakthrough happening anytime soon. The state of affairs is fueling angst among Democrats who say one of the key lessons learned after the disappointing election results in Virginia and New Jersey in November was the need to get more done in Congress. Leaders finally got the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to President Biden’s desk in mid-November, but the rest of his agenda is stuck. Democratic senators say they expect Republicans to once again block voting rights legislation later this month, and predict a vote to change the Senate rules to eliminate the GOP blockade will also fail. And they say there’s no clear path forward on the stalled Build Back Better bill, which needs to be overhauled to secure Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) support, and isn’t expected to come to the floor before March. Additionally, the top four leaders in Congress haven’t agreed on the parameters of an omnibus spending bill to fund government by Feb. 18, when the stop-gap measure passed last month is due to expire. Even one of the Senate’s biggest legislative accomplishments of last year, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which would provide $52 billion for semiconductor research and manufacturing, is stalled in the House. Democratic senators say they have little idea what other legislation is on the agenda for the rest of the winter and spring. There’s been little discussion so far about priorities other than the two main ones on the calendar: voting rights legislation and the Build Back Better Act. “The eternal limbo is just sucking the life out of everybody,” said one Democratic senator about the stalemate on a voting rights bill, Senate rules reform and the Build Back Better agenda. A second Democratic senator said the reality is setting in that voting rights legislation isn’t going anywhere and that President Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending bill may be stalled for weeks longer. “There’s no forward motion on anything,” the lawmaker said. “The process of trying to get the voting rights bill and Build Back Better over the finish line has drowned out everything.” In a major setback to Democrats, the enhanced child tax credit — a key component of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which passed in March — has expired and there’s little hope of getting it renewed anytime soon. The lawmaker said Schumer could have done more to manage colleagues’ expectations about the prospects of passing voting rights and Build Back Better given staunch GOP opposition to election reform and Manchin’s deep reservations about new social spending programs. Schumer initially planned to bring Build Back Better to the Senate floor for a vote before Christmas, telling reporters on Dec. 14 that there were “good discussions going on” over Biden’s climate and social spending agenda. But Democratic optimism for getting that bill passed by the end of December or by mid-January came crashing down when Manchin announced in a Dec. 19 “Fox News Sunday” interview that he would not support the package moving forward. Manchin on Wednesday said he doesn’t have any immediate plans to resume negotiations with Biden on Build Back Better. Asked what he thought about the prospects of getting the bill “back on track,” Manchin chuckled and replied: “Guys, I think I made my statement pretty clear.” He told Fox News’ Bret Baier last month that he just couldn’t envision himself supporting the legislation. "I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't. I tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there,” he said. Democrats piled many of their legislative priorities — such a funding to address climate change, an extension of the enhanced child tax credit, universal pre-kindergarten and prescription drug price reform — into the Build Back Better Act. As long as it’s stuck on the back burner, so is almost all of the Democrats agenda for Biden’s first two years in office. Manchin also effectively killed any chance of passing the voting rights legislation Schumer plans to bring to the floor when he ruled out enacting a rules change with a simple-majority vote, a controversial tactic known as the nuclear option. “Being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option, it’s very, very difficult. It’s a heavy lift,” he said on Tuesday. Manchin said he wants to keep the 60-vote threshold in place for passing legislation through the Senate, though said he is open to more modest reforms, such as lowering the procedural vote threshold for starting a floor debate on a bill. He has also expressed support for making it slightly easier to bring a bill up for a final vote by setting the threshold for ending a filibuster at three-fifths of senators present and voting. But Manchin is insisting on making rules changes with Republican support under regular order, which means rounding up 17 GOP votes. “That’s not going to happen,” said a third Democratic senator. Other Democratic priorities, such as gun-control legislation and immigration reform, have received little debate or attention under the new Senate Democratic majority. The House passed two bills addressing gun violence in March: a bill requiring background checks for all firearm sales and transfers and a bill extending the time period for background checks from three to as many as 20 days. Senators say there’s been no discussion about scheduling a floor debate or vote on gun-control measures anytime soon. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) made repeated efforts to include immigration reform legislation into the Build Back Better package that Democrats hoped to pass, but parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough said it didn’t comply with the Byrd Rule governing the budget reconciliation process. Uber rider facing $600 bill after hours stuck on I-95 Michigan redistricting spat exposes competing interests in Democratic... A study by the Pew Research Center found that the 30 substantive laws passed by this Congress before the August recess tied for the fifth fewest of the 18 Congresses since 1987. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) publicly voiced the frustrations shared by her Democratic colleagues in an interview with CNN shortly before Congress left town on a two-week Christmas break. "You can have one person, or two people, just stop everything," she said, "and that is why people in our country should know that a 50-50 Senate sucks and we can't get things done.

Manchin will support climate provisions of BBB

Rahcel Frazin, 1-6, 22, The Hill, Climate advocates hopeful after Manchin spending comments, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/588479-climate-advocates-hopeful-after-manchin-spending-comments

Climate advocates are feeling optimistic after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed openness to climate provisions in the Democrats’ proposed social and climate spending bill amid his disagreement with other pieces of the legislation. They say that they anticipate many climate measures getting across the finish line — even if Manchin didn’t specify a vehicle to get them here. On Tuesday, Manchin held firm on prior skepticism of the Build Back Better Act (BBB), a centerpiece of President Biden’s legislative agenda, but said that climate is an area “that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else.” He touted “a lot of good things in there,” specifically mentioning clean energy tax credits, but also cautioned that Democrats should be “realistic.” “The takeaway is — I definitely think there’s a path forward, not just on climate but broadly on BBB” said Sierra Club legislative director Melinda Pierce. Jamal Raad, executive director of climate group Evergreen Action, said he believes Manchin’s comment indicates that there is “widespread support among the caucus for the climate investment.” Raad particularly pointed to the fact that Manchin “name checks certain provisions like the clean energy tax credits, which are the linchpin of the proposal.” What’s unclear is how those provisions will become law given the divide over the larger measure. A Senate source told The Hill that the climate provisions of the legislation are largely settled and agreed upon. The source expects them to make it across the finish line, but also said they won’t be alone in a climate-only bill. Pierce also said the most likely path forward for the climate provisions is if the larger measure becomes unstuck. Manchin has said he is a “no” on that larger bill and has objected to its costs at a time of inflation. Frank Maisano, who represents both fossil and renewable energy clients at Bracewell LLP, said that if talks fail to revive the larger Build Back Better measure, provisions like the tax credits could be tackled when lawmakers take up their annual government appropriations bills. “Putting it in the budget in must-pass legislation…that’s the kind of way I think you can get it resolved,” Maisano said. If they become law, the climate provisions would be expected to cut large amounts of planet-warming emissions over the next decade and help President Biden achieve his climate goals. Key programs towards getting there include the clean energy tax credits, in addition to incentives for clean vehicles and a program that aims to cut emissions of a potent greenhouse gas called methane from the oil and gas industry. The package also includes provisions that benefit the energy industry and are important to Manchin, who has sought to protect the coal industry. Among them are tax credits for the use of carbon capture technology — through which coal and gas plants are incentivized to implement technology that prevents them from spewing climate warming pollutants into the atmosphere. The technology has been met with skepticism from advocates who call it unproven and expensive — and warn that it could be used to extend the life of polluting power plants as they weigh whether to pursue the credits or shut down. Manchin also supports tax credits for additional energy sources like nuclear that the bill promotes. While the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee — which Manchin leads — did not put forward its own proposed text for the Build Back Better Act, a reported draft obtained by outlets including The Hill contained many similar provisions to the House version — indicating additional policies that may have the senator's support. This document pitched raising fees that companies pay to drill on federally-owned lands and waters and repealing a provision passed in 2017 that required drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Manchin has objected to some programs that liberals wanted included in the Build Back Better bill to tackle climate change, nixing a proposed program that would have incentivized power providers to shift towards clean energy sources. The methane program was also modified to include funding for companies. It originally only contained a fee for excess release of the gas. Other disagreements must still be sorted out, including a tax credit for union-built electric vehicles opposed by Manchin. Manchin also indicated last month that some aspects of the methane fee were still being worked out. Progressive Policy Institute strategic adviser Paul Bledsoe called divisions on those issues “smaller,” however. Bledsoe, who served as former director of communications of the White House Climate Change Task Force under the Clinton administration, also said the provisions in the bill have remained “incredibly robust.” The current language “would be, by far, the largest jumpstart to the U.S. clean energy and global clean energy economy ever conducted,” he said. It comes as Manchin continues to take issue with key social spending priorities like the proposed extension to the expanded child tax credit, which is included in the House-passed version of the spending package and lapsed just before the end of December. Matthew Davis, senior director of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, cautioned against ceding this issue — citing the interconnectivity between climate and economic justice. “We certainly have seen what both the pandemic and climate change are doing to our communities, and families around the country are really going to miss that child tax credit on January 15,” Davis said, while also noting that many of those hit hardest by climate disasters are those in in poor communities and communities of color. “The communities that get hit worst and first by climate disasters are poor communities, communities of color, people, people who are losing their jobs because of climate change or because of shifts in technology,” Davis said. “They are the folks who need the help the most to stabilize their economic situation for their family and help get the retraining they need to enter the clean energy economy.” Prior to Manchin’s latest comments, some Democrats indicated they may be willing to cede the issue in order to advance the legislation at large. “We have to find a package that’s got votes from 50 senators,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) told reporters Tuesday prior to Machin’s latest comments. “I’m sure everyone on this call strongly supports the Child Tax Credit, but we’ve got to figure out what you’ve got support [for] amongst 50 people.”

Biden’s political support has collapsed

Thomas Franck,k 1-4, 21, CNBC, Biden disapproval hits new high as voters give him bad grades on economy, new CNBC/Change poll says, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/04/biden-disapproval-rating-high-voters-blame-him-on-economy-cnbc-poll.html

President Joe Biden’s overall disapproval rating reached a new high in December as more voters signaled their unhappiness with his handling of the economy and the Covid pandemic. Results from a CNBC/Change Research poll show 60% of respondents said they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy as he nears the conclusion of his first year in office. A 55% majority of survey respondents also signaled disapproval of his leadership during the pandemic, an area in which he previously excelled. U.S. President Joe Biden arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 3, 2022. U.S. President Joe Biden arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 3, 2022. Jonathan Ernst | Reuters President Joe Biden’s disapproval rating hit a new high in December as more voters signaled their unhappiness with his administration’s supervision of the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic. Fifty-six percent of voters now say they disapprove of the job Biden is doing, the worst such reading of his presidency as he approaches the end of his first year in office, according to new CNBC/Change Research polls. Prior polls in the series showed Biden’s disapproval rating at 54% in early September and 49% in April. Biden’s approval rating is now at 44%, down from 46% in September and 51% in April. The latest sign of trouble for Biden comes as his administration looks to tackle a wide range of economic and political problems ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, which will decide the balance of power in Congress. The White House is scrambling to quell fears about price acceleration and inflation, resurrect the president’s Build Back Better climate-and-family legislation, and rejuvenate the country’s public health response as the omicron variant drives a new spike in Covid cases. Frustrations over the economy are the main culprit behind Biden’s flagging popularity as nearly every demographic declared it their No. 1 issue. The economy was the top priority for men and women, every age cohort, Latino and white voters, and those with and without college educations. Black respondents, who named racism their chief priority, said the economy takes second place. Sixty percent of the survey’s 1,895 respondents said they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy, marking a six-point decline in approval from September. On personal economic issues, voters are even more likely to criticize the president. Some 72% disapprove of his handling of the price of everyday goods, while 66% disapprove of his efforts to help their wallets. Disconnect on markets, economy Biden also scored poorly on issues voters are otherwise likely to say are going well. For example, most people who said they plan to vote in the 2022 midterms say the U.S. stock market is doing “excellent” or “good” while just 46% say it’s doing “not so good” or “poor.” But when asked whether they approve or disapprove of Biden’s handling of the market, just 44% said they strongly or somewhat approve compared to 56% who somewhat or strongly disapprove. In fact, a greater percentage of respondents said they feel the U.S. stock market is doing worse than the year-earlier period than those who said it’s doing better. Those opinions, gathered from Dec. 17 to 20, run counter to what was one of the market’s best years in decades. All three major U.S. equity indexes posted mammoth double-digit gains in 2021 compared to their historical annual average around 7% or 8%. The S&P 500 finished the year up 26.89% and posted a record close at least once a month. The broad market index notched 70 such record closes in 2021, the second-highest annual total behind 1995′s 77 closing highs. All 11 sectors finished 2021 higher, with energy and real estate posting the best returns. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 18.73% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 21.4%. Biden’s inability to garner credit for one of the stock market’s best years in living memory is symptomatic of a larger problem for Democrats in 2022: The party can’t seem to convince voters that things are better than they were 12 months ago. Biden seeks to battle rising meat prices by helping small meatpackers compete with the ‘big four’ Corporations, groups gave over $8 million to GOP election objectors after Jan. 6 riot, study says January will make or break voting-rights push as Senate is set to consider rules changes The unemployment rate is down to 4.2% from 6.3%, average hourly earnings are up 4.8%, and 243 million people (or 73% of the U.S. population) have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine compared to the 6 million who had received one by early January 2021. This failure to turn improving economic stats into popular support adds pressure for any Democrat facing a challenge from the Republicans in the midterms, which will decide whether the Democrats keep their razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate. While the president’s party typically loses seats in Congress during a first-term election, present polling about Biden and Democrats suggest they could face a rout in November. That may be because members of both parties are growing more frustrated with inflation. Some 84% of those surveyed said the prices they see for everyday goods are higher than they were a year ago, while just 19% report earning more income over the same period. And only 23% say they believe inflation is starting to come down or will begin to decline soon. Respondents tend to blame Biden (38%) for the price increases versus the global pandemic (26%) or corporations (23%). For their part, Democrats say the global pandemic caused the current rash of inflation and that it will calm down once supply chain disruptions are resolved. Covid and health care But voters’ discontent is starting to spread outside the economic arena. Asked to give the Biden administration a letter grade on both how it’s handled health-care costs and raising wages, Democrats gave the president two Cs, but a B on the economy overall. Independents gave Biden a D on every issue, while Republicans gave the president a failing grade across the board minus the stock market, where they gave him a D. What’s more, a 55% majority of survey respondents said they disapprove of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a sign Biden is struggling in an area where he previously excelled. A separate survey conducted by CNBC in December showed only 46% approve of his job on the virus versus 48% who disapprove. That April version of that survey showed that 62% of surveyed Americans approved of Biden’s handling of the pandemic. Change Research noted that the president’s worsening approval ratings on Covid is likely due to an increase in voters who believe the White House hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to vaccine mandates. When it comes to how the Biden administration is handling the virus, 50% of respondents say the White House has gone too far, 24% say it hasn’t gone far enough and 26% believe it’s done a good job. Biden’s dip in Covid-related approval figures comes as the number of new coronavirus cases soar across the country and tests the president’s campaign commitment to do a better job at managing the disease.

Democrats postponing BBBAlexander Bolton, 1-4, 22, The Hill, Democrats hit pause on Biden's climate, social spending package, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/588084-democrats-hit-pause-on-bidens-climate-social-spending-package

Senate Democrats are putting President Biden’s climate and social spending plan on the back burner as they plan to debate voting rights legislation this month and hold a vote on changing the Senate's filibuster rule. Democratic aides say the Build Back Better bill won't be ready for floor action any time soon and predict the wide-ranging legislation that the White House has negotiated with centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) may have to be completely overhauled. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) informed colleagues Monday the Senate will turn immediately to voting rights legislation and would vote to reform the chamber’s filibuster rule by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Jan. 17, if Senate Republicans block it. “We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections,” Schumer wrote in his “Dear Colleague” letter. Schumer made no mention of Build Back Better or when it might come to the floor, despite promising at the end of last year to schedule a vote on it before Christmas. Democratic aides warn that means Build Back Better probably won’t be ready to come to the floor until March or later. And whatever version of the bill comes up for a vote will be markedly different from the $1.75 trillion framework that Manchin resoundingly rejected during a “Fox News Sunday” interview on Dec. 19, aides say. Schumer announced in a “Dear Colleague” letter circulated on Dec. 20 that “senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television.” The statement was seen as a direct jab at Manchin after he blew up Schumer’s schedule on Fox News. But any such vote in the next few weeks would be guaranteed to fail, and Schumer has previously told colleagues in meetings that he doesn’t want to force Manchin to vote on the bill before he is prepared to support it. Forcing Manchin to vote against popular reforms such as expanded Medicare benefits, a national family paid leave program and more than $500 billion to address climate change might satisfy liberals such as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The day that Manchin announced his opposition, Sanders declared: “If Sen. Joe Manchin wants to vote against the Build Back Better Act, he should have the opportunity to do so with a floor vote as soon as the Senate returns.” But the defeat of Biden’s signature domestic policy plan on the Senate floor would also be a major embarrassment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was able to pass the bill through the House, despite a slim five-seat majority, and Schumer’s predecessor, the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), was careful to make sure then-President Obama’s major domestic policy bills had enough votes before bringing them to the floor. While Schumer threatened last month to force such a showdown with Manchin, he’s showing less appetite for a public brawl, preferring instead to shift attention to an issue that unifies instead of divides Democrats: voting rights. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says focus groups show that Democratic voters became more interested in addressing voting reform at the end of last year, as they became more focused on election reform laws passed by GOP-controlled state legislatures around the country ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. “It’s really, really essential to being competitive in 2022 and to being a viable democracy. It’s very important for the base,” she said. “One of the things we found in the Virginia [gubernatorial] race was that our base was energized but [the Republican] base was supercharged. So we need to look at things that energize our base. “In December, in our focus groups and polling we were seeing increased saliency for the issue because people were saying, ‘OK, we’re now headed into an election,’” she said. Aside from Manchin’s objections, processing the 2,000-plus-page bill is a huge challenge in large part because Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and a new surge in COVID-19 cases is raising concerns about in-person staff meetings. Democratic senators and aides thought last month that Build Back Better might be ready for floor action the second week of January, but that was before Manchin delivered his coup de grâce, telling Fox News’s Bret Baier: “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.” “BBB is so in the tank it’s hard to imagine a world where we go back to where the bill was before,” said one Democratic aide. The aide said Schumer’s approach “is to focus on other things while we figure out” how to save Build Back Better and knows there’s “no way” the bill can come to the floor this month. In February, Congress will need to turn its attention to passing an omnibus government funding bill before the continuing resolution passed last month expires after Feb. 18. The Senate is also scheduled to take a weeklong recess from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and another recess from Feb. 21 to Feb. 25 for Presidents’ Day. The Washington Post reported that Manchin in mid-December said he would accept a $1.8 trillion package that included funding for 10 years of universal prekindergarten, an expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies and hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding to address climate change. But Manchin’s offer didn’t include an extension of the enhanced child tax credit, a major component of Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which expired last month. There’s also a major disagreement among Democrats over a proposal to lift the cap on state and local tax deductions, a top priority of Schumer and Pelosi but one that has run into opposition from progressives such as Sanders and moderates such as Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). A second Democratic aide said the shift toward voting rights after the high-profile failure to pass Build Back Better in 2021 is designed to “mollify the base.” Blue states ask Supreme Court to hear challenge to SALT cap

Push to get Manchin and Sienna on-board for voting rights filibuster reform

Katherine Tully-McManus, 1-4, 22, Politico, Toxic positivity (rates) on Capitol Hill, The Hill, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/huddle/2022/01/04/toxic-positivity-rates-on-capitol-hill-495587

How many times will be the charm in the Senate? There’s legislative, negotiation and scheduling déjà vu all at play in the chamber this week. Voting on voting: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed the Senate will tackle voting rights legislation and will vote on changing key Senate rules by Jan. 17 if the GOP once again blocks the Democrats’ elections bill. "We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before," Schumer wrote in a Dear Colleague letter Monday. Schumer is charging hard towards a fight on the filibuster, which isn’t a settled issue within his own caucus. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia änd Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have repeatedly defended the filibuster, but Democrats are looking to see if there are proposals short of outright elimination that could bring their two colleagues on board, like bringing back a talking filibuster. There’s a small group of Senate Dems who have been meeting with Manchin to discuss his stance on rules changes and those meetings are expected to continue this week. More from Marianne and Burgess on the Senate’s status here.

Manchin and Sienna won’t support voting rights legislation

Alexander Bolton, 1-4, 22, The Hill, Democrats hit pause on Biden's climate, social spending package, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/588084-democrats-hit-pause-on-bidens-climate-social-spending-package

Senate delays vote as DC hit by snowstorm The aide said voting rights legislation “always feels like the next thing up on the agenda.” The Senate has already held three failed votes on voting rights legislation since Democrats captured the majority a year ago. Manchin and Sinema have ruled out voting to weaken the Senate’s filibuster rule and are expected to oppose any rules change to circumvent an expected Republican blockade of voting rights legislation this month.

Democratic infighting, BBB dead

Jordain Carney, 12-18, 21, The Hill, Democrats end year reopening old wounds, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/586395-democrats-end-year-reopening-old-wounds

Congressional Democrats are ending their first year in a unified Washington with tensions running high — among their own members. The inability to get both the Build Back Better (BBB) and voting rights legislation done, despite months of behind-the-scenes talks on both, has Democrats increasingly venting their frustration. The standstill is in many ways opening up old wounds — between both the House and Senate, moderates and progressives and progressives and leadership — that dominated headlines for months this year. “It is actually delusional to believe Dems can get re-elected without acting on filibuster or student debt, Biden breaking his BBB promise, letting CTC lapse, 0 path to citizenship, etc,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), in one of several tweets critical of both the Senate and leadership. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took a veiled swipe at Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), in an MSNBC interview, saying that there are “two Democrats who, in my view, are kind of acting like Republicans.” "You've got two people saying, 'You know what? Hey, if you don't do it my way—I don't care what the president wants, I don't care what 48 of my colleagues want—it's my way or the highway,’” he added. Part of what’s fueling the frustrations, at least for progressives, is the belief that there was an agreement made with all congressional Democrats that the Build Back Better climate and social spending legislation should move in tandem with the bipartisan infrastructure package. Most House progressives ultimately helped pass the infrastructure bill, saying that President Biden committed to them that he could get 50 votes for the spending package in the Senate. But, so far, those votes haven’t materialized and the Senate is still punting the bill into 2022. “You may recall that the agreement from the beginning was that there was one package: Part of it would be the bipartisan infrastructure but the other part would be all these things that are now in Build Back Better,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “Obviously we are having a problem pulling the second half of that across the finish line.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, described himself as “frustrated and disappointed” because they had missed an “opportunity” to work out a deal on the spending bill. Manchin has also bristled this week under an intense media focus around Capitol Hill. The moderate-minded Democrat is swarmed several times a day as he’s going to and from the Senate floor or party lunches by reporters trying to nail down his positions on the spending bill or on discussions about changing the Senate rules. “This is bull----. You’re bull----,” Manchin yelled at reporters this week. He’s also regularly starting telling gaggles of reporters that he’s “got nothing—N-O-T-H-I-N-G.” On Friday, coming out of the final caucus meeting of the year Senate Democrats are expected to have, Manchin remained silent as reporters peppered him with questions before adding as he walked onto the floor: “Merry Christmas.” Even as Democrats traded shots they also played up their legislative accomplishments amid headlines about how they are facing roadblocks on their biggest priorities. “Of course we wanted to get the Build Back Better bill done by the end of the year, but this is also a moment to celebrate some pretty impressive achievements by this Congress and this president,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “I think there’s a yin-and-yang to the end of the year.” “We set our objectives sky high, we did, and we shouldn't be ashamed of that, but we also should not be ashamed of what we did get done,” he added. Democratic senators are also frustrated about their inability—so far—to change the Senate’s rules. Republicans have blocked several voting rights bills this year using the 60-vote legislative filibuster and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was able to drag out end-of-the-year votes on Biden’s ambassador and judicial nominees. A group of Senate Democrats are trying to find a proposal that could win over all 50 members of their caucus on changing the rules, with an eye toward passing voting rights legislation and smaller changes that would “restore the Senate.” “The reason we’re doing the rules change is that we actually want to debate bills instead of this bull where you walk in and you speak and then someone sends out a tweet to raise money. That’s about what’s happening now,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the chairwoman of the Rules Committee. “We’re good at immediate crises … but when it comes to these really, really important long-term things that a lot of other industrialized nations are dealing with, we’re not,” she added. “We’re making a mockery out of our democracy.” Senators are hoping that leaving town until early January could help cool tensions and provide the space for a breakthrough. Senators typically stay in session in Washington, D.C, for a few weeks at a time and get noticeably more irritated when they cut into those breaks. The Senate had been expected to leave for the year on Dec. 10. "I will tell you that I think it's healthy that senators are going home to eggnog and fruitcake. Maybe that will improve their attitudes,” Durbin said during a CNN interview. The White House and some Senate Democrats want to be able to return to the Build Back Better legislation in January, and Democrats are signaling they now want to pass voting rights legislation before the formal start of the 2022 election. “I think it can get moving in January,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), but asked if Manchin would be there by then he added, “I don’t know.” Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) interrupted when a reporter started to ask him if Manchin would support a rules change: “I am not about to try to speak for Senator Manchin."

BBB dead, Biden shifting focus

Nial Stanage, 12-17-21, The Hill, The Memo: Failure on big bill would spark cascade of trouble for Biden, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/586238-the-memo-failure-on-big-bill-would-spark-cascade-of-trouble-for-biden

President Biden’s push to pass his big social spending bill has stalled for now — and the loss of momentum threatens to spark a cascade of difficulties for the White House. Many Democrats, especially on the left, are furious with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the most prominent holdout against a deal on the legislation. But others in the party say Manchin has been largely consistent in his positions and that the White House has been guilty of wishful thinking regarding its ability to sway him. While Democrats fret, Republicans are gleeful. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel on Wednesday that he thinks Biden’s plan, known as Build Back Better, is “dead forever.” If the plan runs aground, the failure will seriously deplete the president’s political capital, deliver a blow to his image as the consummate dealmaker and deprive Democrats of a major selling point in the midterm elections. Heightening the dangers, both politically and substantively, a lapse could also leave millions of Americans missing the checks to which they had grown accustomed after an expanded child tax credit was passed earlier this year. The latter point is the most urgent of concern for lawmakers across the Democratic spectrum. Unless some measure is passed before the end of this month to extend the tax credit, the payments will not be made in January. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) told this column via text message that it would be “a major problem” if people in his district did not receive those checks. “More people benefit from the CTC [child tax credit] in my district than any other in the state, 155,000 children! Will be a mess if this lapses,” Boyle said. Earlier this week, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), a member of the left-wing group of lawmakers known as "the squad,” focused on the political damage that would likely be incurred by such a failure. She also highlighted the festering suspicion and frustration between progressives and moderates as a difficult election season looms. “A note to Democrats who blame progressives after losing an election: Forcing millions to start paying student loans again and cutting off the Child Tax Credit at the start of an election year is not a winning strategy. We're warning you now, don't point fingers in November,” Bush wrote on Twitter. White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted during Thursday’s media briefing that the votes simply aren’t there to pass a standalone measure extending the tax credit. By implication, it will have to be extended via Build Back Better or nothing. “The reality is you need 60 votes in the Senate,” to pass a standalone measure, Jean-Pierre said. “We do not have 60 votes in the Senate.” In terms of the bigger picture, there is deepening pessimism in Democratic circles about the fate of the huge social spending bill. Talks between Biden and Manchin this week failed to make meaningful progress, instead exposing the breadth of the gulf that remained. Manchin has never committed to supporting the Build Back Better plan, even though it has been scaled down significantly, largely at his behest. Amid the impasse, both the White House and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have backed off earlier pledges to try to move the legislation before Christmas. And Biden himself appears to be turning his attention to voting rights rather than the social spending plan that has been the keystone of his domestic agenda. On Wednesday, Biden said there was “nothing domestically more important than voting rights.” The outlook for voting rights is even bleaker than it ever was for Build Back Better, however. Thanks to unified Republican opposition, movement on the topic will be impossible without reform of the Senate filibuster — something Manchin also opposes. And in the meantime, the president and his party could have a big failure to grapple with. “Two-thirds of voters want Build Back Better passed,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted on Thursday. “What are we supposed to tell them if the child tax credit payments end, prescription drug prices continue to skyrocket, and the climate crisis worsens? Sorry, the Senate decided to deal with it later?” Activists on the left are frank in their outrage. Progressive strategist Jonathan Tasini told this column that he was struck by the contrast between progressives “both in the Senate and the House who have acted like adults by giving up certain things in order to see the big picture, versus one single egomaniac [Manchin] who, childishly and erroneously, on his own accord, is willing to sink the whole package.” Manchin, Tasini charged, “is essentially, single-handedly ensuring the annihilation of the Democratic Party in the midterm elections.” For now, most Democratic lawmakers seem to be focusing on the child tax credit. “The least we could do for the 61 million kids across America who are getting the benefit of this tax cut is to extend it,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) told MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Thursday afternoon. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters Thursday he was “stunned” by Manchin’s position on the child tax credit. Behind the scenes, some Democrats hold on to reeds of hope. If Build Back Better were to pass before Biden’s State of the Union address, usually delivered in January, that could save the day, they say — in part because it would come at a time when people pay closer attention to politics than in the run-up to the December holidays. There is also a belief that Democrats could sell what they have achieved in a more effective way. During the Thursday media briefing, Jean-Pierre drew attention to the large job gains during Biden’s presidency, to progress against the pandemic and to Democrats having passed “several of the most impactful [pieces of] economic legislation in American history” despite "two of the narrowest majorities possible.” The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dems punt Biden... On The Money — Presented by Citi — Schumer signals delay for Biden... Those arguments might gain traction in time. But right now, with the fate of Build Back Better so perilous, the gloom is deepening for Democrats.

Many barriers to BBB

Jacob Pramuk, 12-17, 21, CNBC, POLITICS, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/17/build-back-better-act-joe-manchin-opposition-stalls-joe-biden-plan.html It’s not just Joe Manchin: Here’s what stands in the way of Democrats passing Biden’s social-spending bill,

President Joe Biden’s top priority is in limbo. Senate Democrats have acknowledged they will not try to pass the Biden’s House-approved $1.75 trillion social and climate policy legislation this year. In the meantime, they will have to resolve a range of lingering disputes that have flummoxed the party for months. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Biden “requested more time to continue his negotiations” around the plan, “so we will keep working with him hand in hand to bring this bill over the finish line.” The New York Democrat had wanted to pass the legislation before Christmas. Biden indicated Thursday night that a vote wouldn’t take place until January, at the earliest. He said Democrats will “advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead,” and that he and Schumer “are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible.” Here’s what stands in the way of Democrats passing Biden’s social spending bill Many Democrats see the legislation as the key to boosting working families and showing voters they can govern before the 2022 midterms. But to check this top priority off their list, they need to resolve the following outstanding issues: The party has not won over Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia. In the 50-50 Senate, he can sink the bill on his own, because every Republican opposes it. Manchin, who drove Democrats to cut the bill’s price tag in half to $1.75 trillion, has expressed concerns about spending and inflation. The senator has denied reports that he opposes a one-year extension of the enhanced child tax credit — a piece in the House-passed bill that Democrats view as critical to reducing child poverty. The strengthened child tax credit passed earlier this year expires at the end of the month. Manchin has criticized his party for using 10 years of revenue-raising measures to fund a bundle of programs that in some cases last just a few years or less. Changes to that structure could require a massive rewrite of the bill. Biden and Manchin held talks this week on the matter, and the president said Thursday those discussions will continue next week. Appeasing Manchin alone will not get the job done for Democrats, who also need to keep centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona happy. She favors more clean-energy programs than Manchin and opposed a hike in the corporate tax rate. If the Senate makes any changes to the bill, the legislation will have to go back to the House for another vote. That could be problematic if progressives there feel too many concessions have been made to Manchin and Sinema. Speaker Nancy Pelosi can only afford to lose three Democratic votes. The Senate parliamentarian, the expert in rules and order, also has to make a final ruling on what Democrats can include in their bill under the budget reconciliation process, which allows them to bypass GOP opposition to the plan. The party had one setback on Thursday when the parliamentarian ruled it could not include limited legal protections for millions of undocumented immigrants in the bill. In a joint statement Thursday, Schumer and five other Democratic senators said they will “pursue every means to achieve a path to citizenship in the Build Back Better Act.” Democrats still have to craft a compromise over state and local tax deductions. The House lifted the cap on those deductions to $80,000 from $10,000 as part of its version of the bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., among others, have looked for a way to revise the policy, which would currently disproportionately benefit wealthy taxpayers.

Biden political rebound critical to Democrats’ success in the midterms

Nial Stanage, 12-9, 21, The Hill, The Memo: Dour public mood spells trouble for Biden, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/584997-the-memo-dour-public-mood-spells-trouble-for-biden

The American public is in a dour mood — and that spells trouble for President Biden and his party as next year’s midterm elections loom. Two polls released in recent days show how dissatisfied voters are with the state of the nation. Unless something dramatic changes, they seem sure to take their frustrations out on the party in power, fairly or otherwise, next November. A Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday showed a nation in the grip of pessimism, especially on some of the hottest political topics. Asked whether they expected a range of issues to get better or worse over the next year, voters overwhelmingly took the negative position. The pessimists in the poll outweighed the optimists by around 30 points on inflation (23 percent saying it would get better and 52 percent saying it would get worse), crime (14 percent better, 47 percent worse) and border security (16 percent better, 42 percent worse). The economy in general was rated more positively, but not by much, with 30 percent of registered voters believing it would get better and 46 percent believing it would get worse. The main bright spot for Biden was COVID-19, where the optimists outpaced the pessimists by 52 percent to 10 percent. The Wall Street Journal poll pinned the president’s job approval rating at 41 percent, with 57 percent of registered voters expressing disapproval. If Biden’s negative numbers don’t turn around, they are near-certain to condemn Democrats to defeat in the midterms. The party is defending a 50-50 Senate, where it enjoys a majority only because Vice President Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote, and a tiny advantage in the House that could be erased by redistricting alone. In a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday, Americans who believe the nation is on the wrong track outnumbered those who believe it is on the right track by more than two-to-one, 66 percent to 30 percent. The poll also showed a sharp rise in the share of people listing either “everyday bills” or “inflation” as the biggest issue facing their family at the moment. Twenty-nine percent of adults considered one or the other their biggest challenge, far outpacing the next biggest issue, COVID-19, at 18 percent. Inflation hit its highest mark in more than 30 years in October at 6.2 percent. Amid growing concerns on the topic, Biden has said ameliorating the rise in prices is a “top priority.” But Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told Congress only last week that it was time to retire the term “transitory” to describe inflation. It was Powell himself who had put the word into wide use earlier this year, when he argued that the high inflationary readings were essentially a statistical blip caused by comparisons to the darkest days of the pandemic. As if all that were not enough trouble to wound Biden, the Monmouth pollsters asked respondents whether the actions of the federal government since the beginning of the year had helped or hurt their top concern, whatever that concern was. Forty-six percent said the government had done more harm than good, 25 percent said the opposite and 27 percent said the actions of the government had no real impact. The fact that the same poll showed voters approving of Biden’s two main pieces of legislation, an infrastructure bill and the yet-to-be-passed Build Back Better plan, suggests the electorate is in a funk that specific policies will not ease. American voters have felt a general pessimism about the direction of the nation for some years, but the current figures are so striking as to be alarming for Biden. Even some Democrats acknowledge the problem, though they insist the fate of the midterms is far from sealed. “The Democrats have to fight this mood,” said Tad Devine, who has worked on Democratic presidential campaigns for decades and who helped Andre Dickens win Atlanta’s mayoral election last month. “I do think voters are upset right now. And who wouldn’t be?” Devine added. “The country has been enduring a pandemic for over a year-and-a-half, and while there are a lot of good signs in the economy there is also concern.” Devine argued that there was still time to turn things around before the midterms — in part, he said, because the public mood is more susceptible to sharp changes than it might have been in the past. Backing up that point, it’s worth remembering that Biden’s job approval rating stayed in positive territory in the RealClearPolitics polling average from his January inauguration until as recently as mid-August. It’s only since then that a decline, apparently catalyzed by the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, has picked up speed. Doug Heye, a GOP strategist and former communications director of the Republican National Committee, argued that Democrats were getting hammered in the polls in part because of how urgent inflationary concerns feel to voters — and, he said, because the White House has not been effective at communicating that it feels voters’ pain. “If you go to the grocery store and they either don’t have what you want or the things that you want are more expensive, that’s a problem,” he said, regardless of how much the president and his aides might talk about trying to unclog the supply chain. Even Heye acknowledged that Biden was getting the blame for some things where he is not objectively culpable. But, he noted, such dynamics tend to come with the job when you’re sitting in the Oval Office. “No-one can really argue with a straight face that Biden is responsible for COVID. And even inflation, though potentially the boom in spending could contribute to that,” has other primary causes, Heye said. “But the reality is — he’s there. So whether it’s his fault or not, it’s his responsibility.” For now, Democrats are relying on the fact that they have almost a full year before the midterms. Graham warns GOP about Trump's wrath on debt vote Scientists say they might have discovered the cause of Alzheimer's But things may get worse before they get better. New inflation figures will be released Friday morning. The news is not expected to be good

Sinema will back BBB

Mike Debonis, 12-8, 21, Washington Post, Democrats lobby Manchin and Sinema — politely — as they try to save their priorities for the domestic policy package, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-build-back-better-democrats/2021/12/08/52426196-582d-11ec-a808-3197a22b19fa_story.html

Amid Manchin’s public warnings, Sinema has issued red flags of her own, noting in interviews that the House-passed bill does not strictly fit a policy framework she negotiated with the White House. But Democratic lawmakers and aides are optimistic that Sinema is largely on board with the final bill — and that both lawmakers are eager to bring a grueling and divisive process to a close after months of wrangling that have taken a toll on Democratic approval ratings ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Compromise on methane fee, BBB will pas

Rachel Frazin, 12-8, 21, The Hill, Manchin says 'good adjustments' have been made on Democrats' methane fee, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/584962-manchin-says-good-adjustments-have-been-made-on-democrats-methane

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed some degree of openness to the latest iteration of Democrats’ proposed program to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector on Wednesday, telling reporters that “good adjustments” have been made. “They’re working through that. I think they made some good adjustments on it,” said Manchin, a key Senate swing vote, when asked about the program. But he suggested that some aspects of the program are still under discussion. “You’ve got to do one of two things. Do you want basically different things through regulations as far as EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], or do you want money? If they’re basically complying with the regulations, then you shouldn’t be subject to a fee, so we’re talking about different things like that,” Manchin said. Methane is a planet-warming gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. In 2019, they made up about 10 percent of the country's contribution to climate change. Democrats have proposed a fee under which oil and gas companies would be fined for their excess emissions of the gas in their climate and social spending bill. But after objections from Manchin and some House members, the program that eventually passed was modified to also include grants and loans aimed at helping industry reduce its emissions. It’s not clear whether any additional changes to the program have been negotiated since the House’s passage of the bill. This program is one of the major climate components in the bill. Democrats said last week that it was still being discussed. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) at the time expressed confidence that lawmakers ultimately will “put the ball in the end zone.” Carper, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also said he had “very constructive” conversations with Manchin. Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden sets... Manchin quietly discusses Senate rules changes with Republicans Democrats cannot afford to lose a single vote because of the Senate’s 50-50 split. After opposition from Manchin, they previously cut a program that would have used grants and fees to incentivize the country’s electric providers to switch to clean energy sources. The senator has also recently been critical of a tax credit that provides an additional incentive for electric vehicles made by unionized workforces, leaving the provision’s future uncertain.

Inflation means Manchin opposition

Jordain Carney, 12-7, 21, The Hill, Manchin warns about inflation as Democrats pursue Biden spending bill, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/584830-manchin-warns-about-inflation-as-democrats-pursue-biden-spending-bill

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Tuesday that he is concerned about inflation and warned his party against rushing President Biden's climate and social spending bill. Manchin, during a Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit, indicated that he remains undecided on the spending bill and raised a red flag over the risks of inflation. The West Virginia senator, while speaking about inflation, said that "the unknown we are facing today is much greater than ... this aspiration bill." "We've got to make sure we get this right. We can't afford to continue to flood the market as we've done," Manchin said. Manchin's comments come as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is keeping pressure on his own members to try to meet his deadline for passing the spending bill before Christmas. The administration has argued that the bill will help combat rising costs under inflation. Democrats are still in negotiations with the parliamentarian, who offers guidance on if legislation complies with budget rules, as well as with each other. In addition to Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) hasn't said if she would support the bill and other Democrats have raised concerns about specific pieces of the bill including the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap. Manchin has sidestepped weighing in on the Christmas deadline, noting that he doesn't have control over the schedule. But he previously wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this year calling for a strategic pause. “I was concerned then, and I said let’s take a strategic pause,” Manchin said, noting that he still feels "strongly about that." Because Democrats are using budget reconciliation to try to pass the climate and social spending deal, they need total unity from all 50 members of their conference. They also need total unity, and Vice President Harris to break a tie, to bring the spending bill up for debate. Biden says he will make sure Americans aren't 'gouged for gas' Top Dem vows party won't let expanded child tax credit expire at... Manchin has voiced opposition to including paid leave in the bill, got an energy provision meant to incentivize companies to transition to clean energy dropped from the plan and has pushed back over a methane emission fee and an electric vehicle tax credit that would be larger for union-made vehicles. Manchin knocked the use of the budget process by both parties to try to pass some of their biggest legislative priorities. "It was never intended to be used for major policy changes," he said.

Biden political strength needed to deter an Russian invasion of the Ukraine

Beebe, 12-7-21, George Beebe is vice president and director of studies at the Center for the National Interest. A former director of Russia analysis at the CIA and staff adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, he is the author of “The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Catastrophe.” Ukraine is a manageable problem — will Biden manage it?, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/584578-ukraine-is-a-manageable-problem-will-biden-manage-it?rl=1

When Presidents Biden and Putin meet online today, a fundamental question will dominate their discussion: Will Ukraine become part of the collective West, or will it return to Russia’s control, where it was for centuries? This question has produced nearly eight years of war in Ukraine, and it is threatening to bring the United States and Russia into direct conflict. The answer by now should be clear: Neither scenario works. Political and social divides within Ukraine are too deep and longstanding for membership in any geopolitical bloc to be realistic, absent a significant re-drawing of its borders. But many of the leading actors in this unfolding drama have yet to recognize that none of them can prevail. Ukrainian nationalists concentrated in the country’s western regions have shown they will fight rather than submit once again to Moscow’s rule. Ukraine’s eastern regions, mostly culturally and linguistically Russian, have demonstrated that they will fight rather than allow anti-Russian elements in the country’s west to drag them into NATO. Neither side can defeat the other on the battlefield. For its part, Russia has made clear that it will go to war rather than allow Ukraine to become either a formal NATO member or an “unsinkable U.S. aircraft carrier” deployed along Russia’s periphery. Some 100,000 well-armed Russian troops now arrayed near Ukraine’s borders are putting an exclamation point on Moscow’s concern that U.S.-Ukrainian military partnership may grow to alarming levels if Russia does not act soon. By contrast, the United States is justifiably reluctant to go to war with Russia over Ukraine. We demonstrated that reluctance in 2014 when we chose to sanction rather than fight Russia after it annexed Crimea and sent soldiers covertly into Ukraine’s Donbass region. The dangers of escalation in a war with nuclear-armed Russia — which would have clear advantages over the United States in a conventional conflict conducted so close to Russian territory — make that option unpalatable. Pretending otherwise by proclaiming our “ironclad support” for Ukraine is nothing more than a bluff — one that we must pray neither Kyiv nor Moscow calls. What, then, is a realistic outcome for Ukraine, if none of the contenders in the tug-of-war over its fate can prevail and Russia is unwilling to stand by idly as the American military slowly sets up shop there? One possibility is particularly undesirable but all too likely: a bloody partition along the lines of East and West Germany. This would have grave implications for Ukrainians, for regional and global stability, and for Washington’s ability to focus its attention and resources on China, our biggest geopolitical challenge. But more acceptable outcomes are, in principle, achievable, such as Ukraine’s formal neutrality along the lines of the Austrian State Treaty that President Eisenhower negotiated in 1955 to rid that country of the Soviet army. With skillful statesmanship, it should be possible for Biden to avert disaster and steer toward compromise in Ukraine. Many hurdles stand in his way. Putin is signaling a growing resolve to derail a Ukrainian alliance with the West, even if that requires force and results in crippling U.S. and European sanctions. He is demanding guarantees that the American military umbrella will stop short of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky, on the other hand, has moved away from the “Minsk II” settlement agreement brokered by France and Germany and put his chips instead on U.S. military backing to strengthen his hand with the Kremlin. At a minimum, he will require guarantees that Ukraine will not be under the perpetual threat of Russian attack. But if he is to pursue a compromise, Biden’s biggest challenge will be in Washington, not abroad. America’s foreign policy mavens have learned all too well the lessons of Munich in 1939, when appeasement whetted Adolf Hitler’s appetite for conquest. But they have forgotten the lessons of World War I, when entangled alliance commitments and an ominous cycle of military mobilizations spurred, rather than prevented, war. Washington fell into this trap in Georgia in 2008. Concerned by the prospect of Russian military attacks, the United States stepped up its training and equipping of the Georgian military, signaled our support in a series of high-level meetings with Georgia’s leadership, announced that Georgia one day would join NATO, and warned Russia against attacking. Just as with Ukraine today, we expected these measures would deter Moscow. But they had the opposite effect. Russia became alarmed by the prospect of Georgia’s membership in NATO, and Tbilisi grew emboldened by American support to launch an ill-fated military operation to regain its separatist regions. The result was a war that Russia won decisively. To avoid an even more disastrous failure in Ukraine, Biden will have to take on a Washington establishment that has yet to recognize that America’s unipolar moment has ended and we cannot simply coerce the Russians into accepting situations that they believe threaten their vital interests. He will have to persuade skeptics in his administration that the most promising path toward security and democracy in Ukraine lies not in some illusory future membership in NATO or the European Union (EU) but in extracting Ukraine from a geopolitical battle that is tearing the country apart. The first requirement of statesmanship is to recognize the difference between what is vital and attainable, and what is desirable but unrealistic. America’s vital interests in Ukraine are achievable. Our hope of bringing Ukraine into the Transatlantic community in one piece is not. We need not break Ukraine to save it. Waking up to this reality may be Biden’s biggest challenge.

It’s up to the US to deter an attack on the Ukraine

Kagan, 12-7, 21, Frederick Kagan is the director of the Critical Threats Project and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He is the author of “Choosing Victory” and an architect of the surge military strategy in Iraq. What's at risk in Ukraine, and why it matters to America and its allies, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/584646-whats-at-risk-in-ukraine-and-why-it-matters-to-america-and-its

Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed an invasion force near Ukraine’s borders, although it is far from clear that he intends to use it. He has all but declared his intention to regain control of a land he sees as rightfully Russia’s. The Biden administration and NATO have made good statements and taken some military actions to deter Putin — but the West’s commitment remains ambivalent. It must not be. Americans and Europeans must understand that Ukraine’s independence is of vital import — for ourselves as well as Ukraine — and must act accordingly. That is also the best way to deter Putin. The establishment of independent Ukrainian and Belarusian states after the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991 moved Russia’s borders hundreds of miles to the east, creating a de facto buffer between Russia and Central Europe. The U.S. and Europe have relied on that buffer to reduce their militaries considerably. With a Russian takeover of Ukraine, however, the re-emergence of a serious Russian conventional threat on the Polish and Romanian borders would transform the strategic situation in Europe. It would require a remobilization by NATO states and the deployment of significant forces on those borders. It would transform the Black Sea into a Russian lake, increasing pressure on Turkey (still a NATO ally, for all its problems). It would seriously question the willingness of the U.S., the European Union and NATO to defend NATO’s eastern members. It would add Ukraine’s 45 million people and heavy industrial base to Russia’s. And it would send a devastating signal to China and other predators about Western weakness, especially after America’s ignominious retreat from Afghanistan. Putin’s threats against Ukraine occur on the backdrop of his steady absorption of Belarus. He already is moving Russian forces back into Belarus, and more are likely on the way. Poland and Lithuania are likely to find themselves facing Russian mechanized troops near the vital Suwalki Corridor, the only ground line of communication between NATO’s Baltic members and the rest of the alliance. Russian Control of Ukraine in addition would create an existential threat to Poland and even to Romania — one that could be met only by major deployments of U.S. and European ground and air forces to what could become a new Iron Curtain. Western ambivalence about defending Ukraine stems in part from confusion about Ukraine’s right to exist as an independent state. Russian propaganda and some experts question the “socio-cultural" basis of Ukraine’s independence from Russia or at least, of eastern Ukraine’s inclusion in a unitary Ukrainian state. Yet a sovereign state has no obligation to prove its socio-cultural uniqueness. Once recognized by the international community and the United Nations without qualifications, any state — however small, weak or culturally similar to another — has the same sovereign rights as any other. Ukraine was recognized — including by the then newly independent Russian Federation — as an independent state within its current borders (including Crimea and the east) 30 years ago. There is no more of a legal basis for Russia to insist on regaining part of Ukraine than there is for Germany to demand the return of Alsace or Lorraine from France or to claim a right to defend ethnic Germans living in Czechia, Austria or Poland. Acceding to Russian claims of special rights to another country’s territory undermines the sovereignty of all countries. It invites international predators to return the world to a Hobbesian state. Russian deployment near Ukraine’s border is not defensive and threatens aggression. Ukraine poses no military threat to Russia; Putin claims, falsely, that Kyiv is preparing an invasion of … its own territory, the Russian-occupied Donbas region. But Western discussions often accept an equally false basis — that Russia has any right to respond, even if Kyiv did move to retake Donbas. Russia’s supposed rights in the matter stem from the Minsk II agreement that froze the conflict that Russia began in 2014 by seizing and annexing Crimea, then launching a crypto-invasion and occupation of Donbas. Putin is asserting the right to prevent Ukraine from taking back what he seized. Why should the West honor that assertion? The situation is really quite simple: Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, annexed part of it, occupies another part through proxies — and now threatens further aggression against the remainder of the country. The real trouble is that the West has no stomach for this fight, which would be quite difficult. Putin has amassed sufficient force near Ukraine to launch an invasion with little notice. The withdrawal of most U.S. ground forces from Europe and the decline of Europe’s own military power precludes the deployment of Western mechanized forces to stop a Russian invasion. Instead, NATO would have to rely primarily on such defensive capabilities as Ukraine has or that NATO is willing to share. Even the use of NATO’s air and missile power would be problematic, because of Russia’s highly capable air defense systems. NATO would have to deploy many of its stealth aircraft inventory along with ship- and submarine-launched missiles to blunt a Russian offensive. Air power alone would not likely be enough to stop that offensive, but it could impose a massive cost on Russia’s military. And therein lies the key to deterring an attack in the first place. Russia is a poor country, in truth, with a dysfunctional economy and an ossifying kleptocracy. Russian GDP is well under one-tenth that of the U.S. or Europe — less than one-twentieth of the entire NATO alliance. The West can afford to replace even expensive weapons systems lost in combat; Russia cannot. Putin knows that. Russian military doctrine is built on the assumption that Russia cannot win a conventional war against a mobilized NATO. Putin’s belief that NATO will not fight such a war to defend Ukraine is critical to his willingness to contemplate aggression. Replacing that belief with a conviction that NATO indeed would fight is the key to deterring him. The Biden administration and NATO have taken some important steps in this direction, but they must take more. They must stop talking about the need to compel Kyiv to abide by the Minsk accords while threatened with invasion. They must make clear to Putin that there will be no discussions about resolving Ukraine’s internal problems under these conditions. They must deploy the aircraft and continue deploying the ships needed to show Putin the price he would pay for an invasion. And they must dispel any uncertainty about defending Ukraine if he attacks it. Putin will claim all such actions are provocations — such is the language of aggressors and dictators. Many may fear he will seize on such “provocations” to attack — but NATO has as much right to deploy its forces within its own borders and international waters as Russia does; it has the right to give or sell defensive weapons to threatened partners, too. Those activities are worrying only to a man who intends to attack and fears losing the advantage. If undertaking them prompts a Russian invasion, then a Russian invasion was already on the way. The West must spend less energy fearing to “provoke” aggression and more energy worrying about losing Ukraine and the vital buffer between Russia and Central Europe. It should worry about losing a core principle of the international system and about continuing the world’s descent into chaos. Those are the issues at stake in Ukraine today, and those are the stakes for which the West must be prepared to fight.

US needs to deter an invasion of the Ukraine

Adam Taylor, 12-7, 21, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/as-biden-calls-putin-threat-of-russian-invasion-of-ukraine-mounts/ar-AARxMb9, As Biden calls Putin, threat of Russian invasion of Ukraine mounts

Russian troop movement on the Ukrainian border has led to talk of invasion. With forces massing in four locations, in some cases with tanks and artillery, U.S. intelligence believes the Kremlin is planning a multi-front offensive against its smaller neighbor involving up to 175,000 troops, The Washington Post reported Friday. It could begin as soon as early next year, sources told The Post. This ominous threat of major ground war in Europe hangs over President Biden’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. Though the virtual summit was only announced over the weekend, Kremlin officials have stressed that the issues in the relationship have been brewing for some time. “The Augean stables in our bilateral relations can hardly be cleaned out over several hours of negotiations,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s TV Channel One on Monday. Forget the allusion to myth — the Russian position on Ukraine is mired in realpolitik. Putin has staked out that Ukraine is part of its sphere of influence and is betting that the Kremlin cares more about its neighbor than the United States does. The United States has threatened sanctions, but to some in Moscow, that’s nothing: Russia is already sanctioned to the hilt and has prepared for worse to come. For Putin, if it’s a gamble, it’s a calculated one. My colleagues Isabelle Khurshudyan and Paul Sonne report that Putin is expected to issue Biden an ultimatum during their video meeting Tuesday: NATO should never expand into Ukraine. But the Western military alliance has repeatedly suggested Ukraine should be allowed to choose its own future and Biden has pushed back on the ultimatum publicly. “I won’t accept anybody’s red line,” the U.S. leader said Friday. And so Putin’s hand looks dicey indeed. Would Putin really go to war with Ukraine? The long-standing Russian leader, in control of Russia in some way for more than two decades, remains as inscrutable as a sphinx. After being caught out on the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, many analysts are hesitant to suggest that his actions along the Ukrainian border are just for show. “Putin doesn’t bluff,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center and the head of the R.Politik think tank, in a call with journalists. “He has put on the table this option of military operation toward Ukraine, and he is intending to implement it if he fails to obtain what he would like to obtain from the United States.” However, even if the threat of war is real, it could still be motivated by a desire for negotiations. Last spring, when there was a similar, though smaller, buildup of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, the United States responded by offering Putin an in-person summit in Geneva. Though that event was carefully managed to avoid giving Russia the upper hand — Putin, frequently late in meetings with other world leaders, was arranged to arrive first at the venue — the fact that it happened at all showed the Kremlin had made Russia a priority for Biden’s foreign policy. Putin was a “worthy adversary,” Biden admitted to reporters ahead of the meeting. “There has been no hostility,” Putin told reporters after their June conversation. “On the contrary, our meeting took place in a constructive spirit.”

Failure of the US to understand the Ukraine crushes dialogue needed to avoid conflict

Nicolai N. Petro, Nicolai N. Petro is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island (USA), specializing in Ukraine and Russia. His latest book, "Ukraine in Crisis," was published by Routledge in 2017, America’s Ukraine Policy Is All About Russia, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/america%E2%80%99s-ukraine-policy-all-about-russia-197566

Instead of doing further damage to Ukraine, policymakers should take to heart the pluricultural nature of Ukrainian society, and also reflect on America’s poor track record in trying to manage the internal affairs of other countries. by Ukraine’s continued existence as an independent state is a well-established part of the national security agenda of the United States. The reasons for this have nothing to do with Ukraine per se, but rather, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton candidly explained back in 2012, it is to prevent the reconstitution of the former Soviet Union. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, this objective has been further refined into transforming Ukraine into a permanent bulwark against Russian expansion. Because the overriding concern of U.S. policy in Ukraine is to prevent the re-emergence of America’s erstwhile Cold War rival, many unsavory aspects of current Ukrainian society, such as the rise of ethnic nationalism, tend to be overlooked by the U.S. government and media. Prior to 2014, Western analysts typically assumed that the rise of nationalism was a short-lived reaction to decades of Soviet suppression of ethnic identity. As Ukraine moved closer to Europe, therefore, it would adopt more liberal and inclusive policies toward its minorities. This has proved not to be the case. Indeed, the intensity of popular resistance to the government’s efforts to impose a monocultural Ukrainian identity on the country’s bicultural east and south, has led many Western analysts to careen between euphoric optimism, when the ostensibly pro-Western forces in Ukraine seemed to be in the ascendance, to deep pessimism and “Ukraine fatigue,” when the ostensibly pro-Russian forces seemed to be gaining the upper hand. Since the 2014 Maidan, the heroes and ideology of integral Ukrainian nationalism have become much more politically relevant; a useful complement to the Ukrainian government narrative of the conflict in the east as Russian aggression. Sensing an opportunity to break Ukraine away from Russian influence once and for all, American elites have been largely indifferent, and sometimes even openly hostile, to the cultural pluralism and regional diversity of Ukrainian society. This has resulted in the United States taking positions that few Americans would understand or support, if they were more widely known. Earlier this year, for example, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy imposed the most draconian restrictions on opposition media Europe has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. With the stroke of a pen, he shut down three popular opposition news channels, employing more than a thousand journalists and support staff. Tellingly, the United States supported this egregious act of political censorship as a “defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Although numerous Ukrainian legal scholars have pointed out that the president does not have the authority to shut down any media outlet without a court order, Zelenskyy has gotten around this by retroactively annulling the appointment of the head of the Constitutional Court, and ignoring the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate him. The entire judicial system is now paralyzed and can no longer serve as an effective check on executive rule. Emboldened by this success, a few months later, Zelenskyy shut down the country’s most popular opposition news site Strana.ua, whose reporters have broken some of the country’s most notorious scandals. These include: “Vagnergate,” the plot by Ukrainian security forces to convince Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko that Russia was organizing a coup against him, subsequently leaked to Russia; the Rotterdam plus scandal, in which coal from eastern Ukraine was bought at the cost of transporting it from Holland, which defrauded Ukrainian consumers of more than $1.5 billion over three years; the diversion of Covid-19 relief funding; and the apparent diversion of a Ukrainian government plane intended for Ukrainians fleeing from Afghanistan for the personal use of wealthy Afghans. Yet another undesirable consequence of American policy in the region has been the veritable explosion of corruption, even beyond the already high levels of Zelenskyy’s predecessor. According to the nonpartisan Committee of Ukrainian Voters, every fifth member of parliament from Zelenskyy’s party, Servant of the People, has been involved in one public scandal or another. According to Zelenskyy’s former finance minister, Igor Umansky, the sheer scale of corruption today has led to “the loss of an adequate perception of reality by the authorities.” Even the new Ukrainian government agencies that, at the West’s insistence, were established to fight corruption, are now widely seen as profiting from it. These examples, to which many more could be added, highlight the core problem at the heart of America’s strategy toward Ukraine—it is not about Ukraine at all, and never has been; It has always been about containing Russia. The paradoxical result is that, in order to strengthen Ukraine’s independence, Western governments argue that they must embed scores of their own advisors in key Ukrainian government agencies, even demanding that Western representatives be allowed to vote on key judicial and governmental appointments. After Zelenskyy’s deputy chief of staff, Oleg Tatarov, complained publicly this amounted to external administration, he abruptly found himself suspended from office and under indictment. Nearly two-thirds of Ukrainians surveyed in early 2021, however, agreed with his description. Current U.S. policy in Ukraine is following a familiar script, one that leads to a resurgence of nostalgia for the past, and typically ends with the rejection of the West’s overbearing tutelage. Proponents of the present course argue that without such tutelage there would be “backsliding” on reforms, and the possibility of Ukraine getting closer to Russia, the dreaded non plus ultra for American security interests. In fact, however, it is America’s own calculated indifference for the rights of Russophone Ukrainians that, more than anything, increases the likelihood of a future political and geostrategic blowback. America’s real interests lie in creating the conditions for a self-sustaining, peaceful, and prosperous Ukraine; one that can make its own security decisions. Instead, current U.S. policy fosters an unhealthy dependency, which has already stymied peace efforts, by encouraging Ukrainian officials to reject dialogue with rebel leaders in Donbass, and caused enormous economic losses by cutting normal economic ties with Russia, formerly the country’s largest trading partner. Instead of doing further damage to Ukraine, policymakers should take to heart the pluricultural nature of Ukrainian society, and also reflect on America’s poor track record in trying to manage the internal affairs of other countries. A good place to begin would be to restore some semblance of balance to America’s human rights policy toward Ukraine, by having it apply to all Ukrainians, including those in the east and south U.S. policymakers should also share with the American public what costs they are willing to have us incur in order to achieve an anti-Russian Ukraine and, most importantly, to sustain it in the face of Russia’s cultural and dominance. How exactly is a Russophobic Ukraine to be achieved when, as former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko recently lamented, 40 percent of Ukrainians actually agree with Russian president Vladimir Putin that Ukrainians and Russians are one people, and more young people agree with this view than people over sixty! If no sensible explanation can be provided, then I submit that the current policy cannot be in the national interest of the United States. We should instead be thinking more creatively about how to solve the region’s problems, and salvage what is left of the “Peace Dividend” promised by the end of the Cold War. A transnational and international conflict of this complexity calls for a new Treaty of Westphalia, the gist of it would be this: Russia and the United States and NATO should de-escalate; Russia and Ukraine should de-escalate; all parties should then agree to begin comprehensive negotiations aimed at achieving a post-Cold War settlement in which both Ukraine and Russia join a new pan-European security arrangement. Such a framework might just provide enough of an incentive for Russia and Ukraine to deal creatively to resolve their differences in Donbass and Crimea. Failing this, however, they should both forego the benefits of European integration, foreign investment, and security guarantees. Last month, I had occasion to mention this idea to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. He responded coolly, pointing out that, in the current climate, even minor agreements with the West were almost impossible to achieve. Putin’s latest proposal for meaningful security guarantees, however, suggests to me that the door to a comprehensive settlement is not yet entirely closed. It is now up to the West to respond with greater wisdom than it did in 2008, when Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal to begin discussions on a new pan-European security arrangement were foolishly dismissed. That resulted in a decade of ever-deepening crisis. It is time to give diplomats an opportunity to take up the true challenge of this generation—to construct a post-Cold War settlement, the benefits of which would be, literally, incalculable: Europe and Eurasia’s economy would thrive from having secure and stable energy supplies, as well as new and nearby markets in which to expand.

 

BBB will pass

Marketwatch, 12-2, 21, Biden’s big social-spending bill probably will pass Senate this month without many cuts to it, analysts say, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bidens-big-social-spending-bill-probably-will-pass-senate-this-month-without-many-cuts-to-it-analysts-say-11638466738

Will President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social-spending and climate package actually get the Senate’s OK this month, as that chamber’s leader has promised? Two analysts from opposite ends of the political spectrum said that looks likely, as they spoke on Wednesday with MarketWatch for a Barron’s Live episode. “I think the chances are very, very good that this bill will pass, and I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it, but I would predict that it’s going to happen by this month,” said Seth Hanlon, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress. Kyle Pomerleau, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, concurred with Hanlon, as the analysts assessed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s stated goal of passage by Christmas. The legislation already got the House’s approval last month, so Biden can sign it into law if the Senate acts and the two chambers reconcile their versions of the measure. “I think that the Build Back Better Act ultimately passes. I think before Christmas seems like a reasonable timeline,” Pomerleau said. “There are other political challenges involved, if this bleeds over into next year, and I think that the Democrats want to avoid that.” Democrats also could be motivated by not wanting a lapse in monthly child tax credit payments, according to Hanlon. Those payouts, which began over the summer and provide up to $300 per child to families, would get extended for another year in the current version of the Build Back Better Act. “The child tax credit payments — the last one would be done on Dec. 15, and so I think the Democrats are going to want to continue those into January and not have them cut off suddenly,” the Center for American Progress expert said. Hanlon and Pomerleau said they don’t expect huge changes to the Build Back Better Act’s overall price tag, even as moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has expressed opposition to some items in the House version of the bill, including a plan for paid leave and a $4,500 tax credit for electric vehicles made in unionized U.S. factories. Another issue that’s dividing Democratic lawmakers is a proposed lift to the SALT cap, which refers to a limit on deductions from federal income tax for state and local taxes. “I think that $2 trillion in spending, including the tax credits, is a reasonable place that they will end up,” Pomerleau said, referring to what’s a likely final price tag. Meanwhile, Hanlon noted that a lot of negotiating has happened this year to get to the current state of affairs, after Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who usually votes with Democrats and chairs his chamber’s budget committee, proposed a much larger spending package. “If you back up to where we started with President Biden’s agenda and Sen. Sanders’s budget, we’re down to a relatively narrow, limited set of issues and a pretty narrow band of a total price tag,” he said. “I might expect that to shrink somewhat because of Sen. Manchin, but not that much. I think 90% of the bill will stay the same.” Democrats can’t afford to lose the support of any senator who typically votes with them, as they advance the bill through a process known as budget reconciliation. That’s because the Senate is split 50-50, with the party in control only because Vice President Kamala Harris can break ties.

BBB won’t pass

Manu Raju, 12-2, 21, Manchin tells senators he's skeptical Build Back Better can pass this year, as doubts grow it will get done by Christmas, https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/02/politics/joe-manchin-biden-build-back-better/index.html

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is casting skepticism in conversations with senators that the Build Back Better bill can pass the Senate this year, potentially delivering a blow to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's push to get the bill approved by Christmas, according to two sources familiar with the West Virginia senator's remarks. Manchin still has a number of concerns, namely that budget gimmicks hide the true cost of the bill, and he's pushing to ensure it costs no more than $1.75 trillion. But he also is seeking to pare down the bill, which passed the House last month, in a number of other areas -- including paid family leave, a methane fee on emissions from energy producers and a Medicare expansion to cover hearing costs. And he's seeking changes to some of the provisions in the tax title of the bill, one of the sources said. All of that means major changes would need to be made to the bill, followed by a full cost analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, and a review by the Senate parliamentarian, which is raising doubts that could all be accomplished in time for passage by the Christmas, as Schumer hopes. One Democratic source pegged the likelihood that the bill can pass this year at "20-25%." "He has a lot of concerns," the source said. Asked about his private comments to senators, Manchin told CNN on Thursday night that the timing of the vote depends on when the Senate parliamentarian rules on what parts of the bill comply with the chamber's strict rules. "Debt and inflation are a big concern for me," the West Virginia Democrat said. "Basically we should pay for what we're doing." Manchin said on Thursday that if Schumer tries to force him to make a decision by putting a bill on the floor, "I wouldn't have any idea how I'm going to vote until I walk in." If he voted no, as Republicans hope, it would sink the bill in the 50-50 Senate. Another influential moderate Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, did not commit to voting for the President's sweeping social safety net legislation in an interview with CNN on Thursday. Following the passage of the economic bill in the House, Schumer said Senate Democrats would try to negotiate with Manchin and Sinema to address their disagreements on the size and scope of the package. "The House did a very strong bill. Everyone knows that Manchin and Sinema have their concerns, but we're going to try to negotiate with them and get a very strong, bold bill out of the Senate, which will then go back to the House and pass," Schumer, a New York Democrat, said during a news briefing in late November.

12-13 week floor vote on BBB

Jordan Cairny, 11-30, 21, The Hill, Schumer eyeing Build Back Better vote as soon as week of Dec. 13, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/583643-schumer-eyeing-build-back-better-vote-as-soon-as-week-of-dec-13

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to bring President Biden's social spending and climate bill to the floor as soon as the week of Dec. 13, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill. Schumer's plan is to bring the bill, known as Build Back Better, to the Senate floor once Democrats finish their conversations with the parliamentarian, who provides guidance on what can be included in a bill passed through budget reconciliation. "As soon as the necessary technical and procedural work with the Senate parliamentarian has been completed ... the Senate will take up this legislation," Schumer told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday. "Once that's complete, we're ready to move Build Back Better to the floor," Schumer added about the talks with the parliamentarian. The source said Schumer was privately telling people the bill could be brought to the floor as soon as the week of Dec. 13 under the presumption that talks with the parliamentarian eat up this week and next week. Schumer publicly mirrored that timeline, which was first reported by Politico, during a floor speech on Monday, saying that talks with the referee had taken place over the Thanksgiving break and "will continue this week and next week as needed." White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One that White House officials are “encouraged” by Schumer’s plan to bring the bill to the floor the week of Dec. 13. “We expect to see action before Christmas. That’s a positive sign in our view. And so we will just continue to work in lockstep with his office and with the [Senate] Budget Committee to continue moving this forward to be prepared to go to the floor that week,” Psaki said. Schumer is working to move the massive bill as Congress faces a packed year-end schedule. Congress has until the end of Friday to pass a government funding bill and avoid a shutdown, while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that lawmakers have until Dec. 15 to raise the nation's debt limit. Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are in talks about the debt ceiling. Schumer told reporters that they were having "good negotiations" on the debt ceiling, while McConnell told reporters that they were "having useful discussions about a way forward." To start debate on the Build Back Better legislation, Schumer would also need total unity from his caucus, something he doesn't have yet. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have not said if they support the spending bill. Manchin has also declined to say if he would vote to start debate — something that Democrats won't be able to do without Manchin's support. Both sides are aware that Manchin is a key vote, with the Democrat senator meeting with both Schumer and McConnell on Tuesday. Manchin's discussion with Schumer focused on climate and energy issues, where Manchin has outlined areas of concern. "We've had a good meeting with Sen. Manchin today ... and we're going to get this bill done with 50 Democrats before Christmas. That's our goal," Schumer said. Republicans also noted during their press conference that it would take only one Democrat to sink the bill, a backhanded reference to Manchin. "I think we all know the situation we're in. ... We all know that it would only take one Democrat to tank it," McConnell said. Schumer facing pressure in New York to preserve paid leave in... Asked about his meeting with Manchin, McConnell added to reporters, "Sen. Manchin loves to talk to everybody. He talks to you. He talks to us." "We had a great discussion. I enjoy Joe's company," McConnell added. "I admire Sen. Manchin. I think he's in a really challenging position. ... I pull for him every day, pray for him every night."

Biden pushing BBB

Josh Boak, 11-30, 21, AP, Biden tries to reassure on COVID as he sells spending pla, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-joe-biden-business-health-minnesota-4cf744523151c7d66a5b2289795ab61

President Joe Biden on Tuesday went to Minnesota to pitch his completed infrastructure deal and a giant social spending bill that he’s still trying to get passed, but also found himself reassuring the nation he would fight the evolving COVID-19 threat without resorting to “shutdowns and lockdowns.” Biden met with students at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount in a garage space with a bulldozer, backhoe and cargo truck before delivering a speech criticizing GOP lawmakers for opposing his social services and climate spending bill that would expand health care coverage, enhance job training for students at community colleges, and offer child care benefits for middle and low income Americans. Biden has been eager to build momentum for his agenda, but he finds himself once again forced to divert attention to battling the virus—this time because of global concerns about the spread of the omicron strain of the virus. He said that on Thursday, he would detail his plan for how “we’re going to fight COVID this winter, not with shutdowns and lockdowns” but “with more widespread vaccination, boosters, testing and much more.” Biden came to the suburban Minneapolis tech college looking to tout his $1 trillion infrastructure plan and making the case for an addition $1.75 trillion spending bill, which he is still trying to get through the Senate. The legislation includes $5 billion for community colleges to expand workforce training programs. “Technology moves so rapidly,” Biden told students. “You’ve got to get an education to make it work.” The trip came as Biden, who in addition to facing the threat of the new omicron strain of the coronavirus is also batting high levels of inflation as vital parts of his agenda are still await congressional approval. Biden also needs to get Congress to move to temporarily fund the government and preserve its ability to borrow as the debt limit could be breached in December. Biden holds out the infrastructure package, containing money for roads, bridges, broadband, water systems and a shift to electrical vehicles, as evidence that he can work across the political aisle. The measure passed with solid Republican support.. Biden won Minnesota in last year’s presidential election with 52.6% of the vote. He’s visited the state’s second congressional district, a potentially vulnerable seat in the midterms that narrowly went to Democratic Rep. Angie Craig in 2020. The president noted that Minnesotans saw first-hand the need to invest in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure in August 2007 when a portion of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 and injuring more than 140 more. “No more talking, time for action,” Biden said. “This law makes significant investments in our roads and bridges.′

NU – Agenda overcrowded and Schumer doesn’t have the votes

Jordain Carney, 11-29, 21, The Hill, Schumer: 'Goal' is to pass Biden spending bill before Christmas, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/583436-schumer-goal-is-to-pass-biden-spending-bill-before-christmas

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday said that he will bring President Biden's spending bill to the Senate floor once the parliamentarian finishes reviewing it and that it is his "goal" to pass the roughly $2 trillion bill by the end of the year. "Once this necessary work is completed with the parliamentarian, I will bring the president's Build Back Better legislation to the floor so we can pass it as soon as possible and send it to the president's desk," Schumer said from the Senate floor. "Our goal continues to be to get this done before Christmas," he added. Schumer's comments come after the House passed the social and climate spending bill before a weeks-long Thanksgiving break. But the bill faces hurdles in the Senate where Democrats' 50-seat majority leaves them with no room for error and needing total unity plus Vice President Harris in the chair to break a tie in order to both start debate on the bill and pass it. Lawmakers are facing an end-of-year crunch with a backed up legislative to-do list including funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and passing a mammoth defense bill that is currently stuck in limbo because of a stalemate on voting on potential changes to the defense bill. Schumer didn't specify what week he'll try to bring the climate and social spending bill to the floor. Democrats are holding talks with the Senate parliamentarian this week, who offers guidance on if provisions in the bill comply with Senate budget rules that govern what they can include in their bill. Congress also faces a Dec. 3 deadline to fund the government and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that they need to raise the nation's borrowing limit by Dec. 15. Even as Schumer vowed on Monday to pass the bill by the end of the year, he doesn't yet have a lock on the 50 votes needed to bring up and pass the bill. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) haven't said if they support the bill, while other Senate Democrats acknowledge they haven't yet read the House bill

DA empirically denied, the country always avoids defau

Sahil Kapur, 11-29, 21, Congress faces jampacked end to 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/congress-faces-jampacked-end-2021-n1284571

The deadline to raise the debt ceiling is Dec. 15, as set by the Treasury Department, before the U.S. risks depleting its borrowing authority to pay its bills. Breaching the ceiling could push the country into default and trigger a recession, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned. The debt limit was raised last month on a short-term basis, and it was highly acrimonious. Democrats insisted that it be done on a bipartisan basis, and Republicans, after weeks of brinkmanship, dropped the filibuster and allowed it to come to a vote. It's not clear whether Democrats will lift the debt ceiling on their own or demand another bipartisan vote this time. But the temperature seems to have cooled since the last fight. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sounded a nonconfrontational note when he was asked about the debt limit on Nov. 16: "Yeah, we’ll figure out how to avoid default. We always do," he said.

BBB is the top priorit

Sahil Kapur, 11-29, 21, Congress faces jampacked end to 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/congress-faces-jampacked-end-2021-n1284571

The $1.7 trillion legislation is Biden's top priority, and the Democratic-controlled Congress appears determined to send it to his desk by the end of the year. The House passed the bill Nov. 19, just before the Thanksgiving recess, on a vote of 220-213, with just one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, defecting and joining a unanimous GOP conference in opposition. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Democrats need all 50 votes in their caucus to pass it. That won't be easy. Some provisions, such as paid leave and higher limits on state and local tax deductions, are likely to change to win support. Other policies, such as changes in immigration law, risk running afoul of budget rules that limit the process to matters of spending and taxes. And Republicans are expected to try to throw a wrench into the process during the so-called vote-a-rama with amendments designed to shrink the bill and disrupt the delicate deal among Democrats. Dingell said: "I’m wondering if I will be home for Christmas. I have been a student of Washington for decades, and it is not unfathomable that we could be here between Christmas and New Year’s. American people elected us to get this done, and there’s so many things that people in our districts need that are in these bills."

NU – Agenda overcrowded and Schumer doesn’t have the votes

Jordain Carney, 11-29, 21, The Hill, Schumer: 'Goal' is to pass Biden spending bill before Christmas, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/583436-schumer-goal-is-to-pass-biden-spending-bill-before-christmas

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday said that he will bring President Biden's spending bill to the Senate floor once the parliamentarian finishes reviewing it and that it is his "goal" to pass the roughly $2 trillion bill by the end of the year. "Once this necessary work is completed with the parliamentarian, I will bring the president's Build Back Better legislation to the floor so we can pass it as soon as possible and send it to the president's desk," Schumer said from the Senate floor. "Our goal continues to be to get this done before Christmas," he added. Schumer's comments come after the House passed the social and climate spending bill before a weeks-long Thanksgiving break. But the bill faces hurdles in the Senate where Democrats' 50-seat majority leaves them with no room for error and needing total unity plus Vice President Harris in the chair to break a tie in order to both start debate on the bill and pass it. Lawmakers are facing an end-of-year crunch with a backed up legislative to-do list including funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and passing a mammoth defense bill that is currently stuck in limbo because of a stalemate on voting on potential changes to the defense bill. Schumer didn't specify what week he'll try to bring the climate and social spending bill to the floor. Democrats are holding talks with the Senate parliamentarian this week, who offers guidance on if provisions in the bill comply with Senate budget rules that govern what they can include in their bill. Congress also faces a Dec. 3 deadline to fund the government and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that they need to raise the nation's borrowing limit by Dec. 15. Even as Schumer vowed on Monday to pass the bill by the end of the year, he doesn't yet have a lock on the 50 votes needed to bring up and pass the bill. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) haven't said if they support the bill, while other Senate Democrats acknowledge they haven't yet read the House bill.

BBB key to solve climate change

Denise Chow, 11-28, 21, Billions and trillions: Climate efforts set for big boost if Build Back Better bill passes, https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/climate-change-efforts-set-big-boost-build-back-better-bill-passes-rcna6471

For climate experts and policymakers, $1 trillion is just a start. As the U.S. seeks to prove it’s serious about its international climate commitments, the focus now is on whether the Biden administration can pass its $2 trillion spending bill, which includes $555 billion to fight climate change and could be the new cornerstone of federal climate policy. The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress this month already commits historic levels of funding for climate projects. But experts say the U.S. won’t reach its climate goals or restore its international credibility unless the administration can pass its Build Back Better bill, which features a variety of other climate initiatives and calls for significant investments in clean energy. The sizable dollar figures offer a sense of the scale of the challenge the U.S. faces in rolling back its emissions, undoing some environmental damage and preparing for more climate-related natural disasters. “These are the biggest pieces of climate policy legislation the U.S. has seen in a decade,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate researcher and the chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy. “The faster we can act, the better off we’ll be, because we’re already late to the table. The time for half-measures was 30 years ago.” The provisions are particularly timely as the U.S. tries to move past President Donald Trump’s efforts to unwind significant climate efforts by pulling the country out of the Paris Agreement and killing a slew of environmental protections. President Joe Biden’s participation in COP26, the worldwide summit on climate policy held in Scotland this month, marked the U.S.’s return to global climate negotiations after Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement in January. U.S. officials at the conference faced an uphill fight to restore international trust in the U.S.’s climate commitments. As part of Biden’s updated COP26 pledge, the U.S. aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. David Waskow, the director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit research organization, said the goal was “quite ambitious,” adding that the U.S.’s return to international diplomacy on climate change was significant in itself. “It’s critical to remember that if you go back a year, there wouldn’t have been a U.S. administration that was engaging constructively in these talks,” Waskow said. While Biden went to COP26 projecting a new tone, the country’s ability to deliver on its 2030 targets is likely to hinge on the success of infrastructure projects and the outcome of the Build Back Better Act, which, if it passes, could wind up being significantly scaled back. Both are needed to meet the country’s emissions goals, experts say. The infrastructure bill will harden the country’s roadways and ports to better deal with the effects of climate change, but it offers comparatively less to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will intensify climate change. In Washington state, for example, projects funded by the bill are expected to help re-engineer roads and bridges for a warmer and wetter future, boost transit projects like light rail and improve stream passageways for fish struggling with climate change. Flooding this month following record rainfall in parts of Western Washington sent landslides onto the state’s most-traveled interstate and poured floodwaters into small towns — a preview of what climate scientists expect more often. “All of the money to some degree has a bearing on our ability to be more resilient,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who ran a 2020 presidential campaign centered on climate action. “But it doesn’t get us close to what we need to reduce the rate at which these floods get worse.” The infrastructure bill will spend about $70 billion to upgrade the country’s electricity grid and $7.5 billion more to build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles, which could hasten the transition away from gas-guzzling cars. An 'island has emerged': Coastal species discovered thriving on Great Pacific Garbage Patch, scientists say But from Inslee’s perspective, it offers only a “step” toward progress, whereas the Build Back Better bill’s clean energy investments would be “transformative.” The act calls for spending more than a half-trillion dollars on clean energy investments, incentives and tax credits to shift the economy away from fossil fuels. Analysis by the independent Rhodium Group says the budget bill could reduce U.S. carbon emissions by nearly a gigaton, which would be about equivalent to removing the yearly emissions of light-duty vehicles from U.S. roadways. Combining the budget bill with the infrastructure bill and state and local regulations, the U.S. could meet Biden’s 2030 emissions target, with the budget bill representing the “lion’s share” of reductions, the analysis says. “There’s no question that the Build Back Better Act is crucial. It can drive the U.S. a substantial distance toward achieving the 50 to 52 percent reduction,” Waskow said. The legislation also prioritizes environmental justice by earmarking 40 percent of the overall benefits of investment for disadvantaged communities. The infrastructure bill committed $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs specifically for climate resilience projects in Indian County, according to the White House. About $130 million of the money will go toward relocation projects for tribes that need to move away from climate hazards. Some tribal communities — including many in Alaska — may need to move in the coming decades because of climate hazards like coastal erosion, flooding and thawing permafrost, the Government Accountability Office said in a report last year. Fawn Sharp, the vice president of the Quinault Indian Nation, whose seaside villages in Washington state face threats from tsunamis, coastal erosion and rising sea levels, estimated that her community needs at least $150 million to complete plans to uproot for higher ground — at least $20 million more than what is committed to all tribes. “It’s unprecedented and a level of funding we’ve not seen in our lifetime,” Sharp, the president of the National Congress of American Indians, said broadly of the infrastructure bill. “While this is significant, we have a long way to go to restore tribal nations.”

Biden approval low due to economic discontent

Schoen, 11-28, 21, Douglas E. Schoen is a political consultant who served as an adviser to former President Clinton and to the 2020 presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg. He is the author of “The End of Democracy? Russia and China on the Rise and America in Retreat.”, The economic challenges facing Jerome Powell and Joe Biden, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/583186-the-economic-challenges-facing-jerome-powell-and-joe-biden

Americans’ overall economic discontent is one of the driving forces behind their dissatisfaction with President Biden, fair or not. Last week, Biden’s approval rating fell to a new low of 41 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. Seven-in-10 voters now say the economy is in bad shape, only 39 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, and close to one-half blame him for inflation

BBB at the top of the post-Thanksgiving agenda, Democratic unity key

Naomi Jagoda, 11-28, 21, The Hill, Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill, https://thehill.com/policy/finance/583067-key-senators-to-watch-on-democrats-social-spending-bill?rl=1

All eyes will be on the Senate following the Thanksgiving break, as Democrats in the chamber seek to pass a massive social spending and climate package that is a key component of President Biden’s economic agenda. The House passed a version of the package shortly before Thanksgiving and the Senate is expected to take up the legislation after the holiday break. Lawmakers are hoping to get a bill to Biden’s desk by the end of the year. But Senate Democrats face challenges in passing the measure. They will need to make changes to the House bill in order to accommodate the priorities of both moderates and progressives. They may also have to make some changes to the bill in order to comply with the rules for the budget reconciliation process, which Democrats are using to prevent a Republican filibuster. Additionally, Senate Democrats will have to withstand criticisms from Republicans who are seeking to sink the bill. Democrats have no room for error. In order for the bill to pass the Senate, every member of the Democratic caucus will need to vote for it, and Vice President Harris will need to cast a tie-breaking vote. Here are five key senators to watch in the debate on the social-spending bill. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) As majority leader, Schumer is responsible for shepherding the social-spending bill through the chamber and holding his caucus together. Democrats have been holding meetings with the Senate parliamentarian to discuss whether various provisions comply with the budget-reconciliation rules. Schumer has said he intends for the Senate to take up the legislation once that work is completed. “As soon as the necessary technical and procedural work with the Senate Parliamentarian has been completed, the Senate will take up this legislation,” Schumer said in a statement following House passage. “We will act as quickly as possible to get this bill to President Biden’s desk and deliver help for middle-class families.” Schumer will have to deftly navigate the competing desires of progressives and moderates in his caucus. He will also need to juggle the spending bill with other legislative agenda items, such as the annual defense policy bill, legislation to prevent a government shutdown and legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Manchin, a prominent centrist, has been a key player in negotiations over the legislation and has already signaled that he has concerns with portions of the House bill. The House bill included four weeks of paid family leave despite the fact that Manchin has expressed resistance to including that item in the spending package. That provision could end up being removed or altered in the Senate in order to get Manchin on board with the legislation. Additionally, Manchin could seek changes to some of the climate provisions in the package. He has objected to a provision that would give additional tax breaks for electric vehicles made by U.S. union workers. Manchin may also influence the timing of when the Senate takes up a social-spending package. The West Virginia Democrat recently told reporters that he’s undecided on whether he’ll help start debate on the bill. Such a vote is unlikely to occur unless Manchin says he will support it, because every Democrat’s vote will be needed in order for it to be successful. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Like Manchin, Sinema is a moderate whose vote will be necessary to secure passage of the bill in the Senate. Sinema has already played a key role in shaping the package. The House bill doesn’t include increases in individual and corporate tax rates because of Sinema’s objections to those ideas. The Arizona Democrat also was involved in the development of the scaled-back provision on prescription drugs in the House bill. But Sinema has yet to endorse the spending package and may still seek additional changes to the measure. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Sinema pointed out that there are differences between the House bill and a White House framework for the spending package released in late October. However, she didn’t provide details about any changes she wanted to make to the House bill. “So, that’s not the agreement the president put out in his framework several weeks ago,” Sinema told the Post. “While I’m not going to comment on what’s happening in the House at this moment, I can just refer you back to the comments I made when the president put out his framework. … I’m looking forward to working with him to get this done.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Sanders, a prominent progressive and chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said after the bill passed the House that he wants the Senate to “strengthen” the measure in areas including tax increases on the wealthy, prescription drugs, Medicare expansion and climate. “The Senate has an opportunity to make this a truly historic piece of legislation,” Sanders said in a statement. “We will listen to the demands of the American people and strengthen the Build Back Better Act.” The House bill would create a hearing benefit under Medicare, and Sanders wants the package to include dental and vision benefits under Medicare as well. However, Sanders could face an uphill battle getting this priority in the measure because of the cost of establishing the vision and dental benefits. Sanders is also working with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on an alternative to the House provision on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. The House bill would raise the cap on the deduction from $10,000 to $80,000, but Sanders has criticized that provision as too beneficial to the wealthy. Instead, Sanders and Menendez are developing a proposal under which the full deduction would be restored for households making under an amount between $400,000 and $550,000, and a $10,000 cap would apply only to households above that level. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) McConnell will play a leading role in Republicans’ efforts to attack the spending bill. Republicans are uniformly expected to oppose the bill, arguing that the measure amounts to wasteful spending. McConnell and other GOP lawmakers are pressing Democrats to drop their plans to pass the bill, and in particular are seeking to put pressure on centrists such as Manchin and Sinema. With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills “Now only a few Senate Democrats can protect American families from these radical and painful policies,” McConnell said in a statement following the House vote. “It is up to them to kill this bill.” McConnell is also expected to play a role in Republicans’ strategy when it comes to forcing Democrats to take tough votes on amendments to the spending package. While several GOP senators are expected to be involved in the effort, McConnell is ultimately responsible. Under the budget-reconciliation process that Democrats are using to pass the bill, Republicans will be able to put to a vote an unlimited number of amendments during a process known as vote-a-rama. Republicans are hoping they can get centrist Democrats to back some of their amendments, or at a minimum use some of the amendment votes against Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections

No hope for voting rights legislation

Tal Axlerod, 11-28,21,  Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/583077-democratic-frustration-growing-over-stagnating-voting-rights-bills?rl=1

Frustration among Democrats and activists is growing over stagnating legislation on Capitol Hill meant to expand voting rights, an issue the party has said is a priority but has been unable to clinch a victory on in Congress. The dissatisfaction is mushrooming as Democrats repeatedly try and fail to muscle two bills – the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act – through a 50-50 Senate after both pieces of legislation passed through the narrowly divided House. Republicans in Washington remain almost unanimously opposed to the voting rights expansions, leaving Democrats forced to confront their dwindling options and activists calling for bold reforms to Senate rules. “If the Senate can pass the two bills that it has before it, we could be at a turning point heading in a new direction on this issue. Until that happens, and if that doesn't happen, then I think we have a lot to be concerned about right now,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, the acting director of the voting rights and elections program at the Brennan Center. “There have been a lot of states taking action to restrict access to voting in the last year.” Democrats have insisted that voting rights is a priority, casting expanded access to the ballot box as a necessity as Republicans, led by former President Trump, decry unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential race and look to implement restrictions in key swing states that President Biden flipped last year. Most recently, Senate Republicans on Nov. 3 blocked the chamber from debating the voting rights legislation named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon. The bill would strengthen sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required Justice Department preclearance before some states could change voting laws and dropped a requirement for localities with growing minority populations to get preclearance for changes on offering food or drinks to people waiting in line to vote. Democrats were able to win over Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), but no other Republicans voted to start debate, and Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster and move the bill forward, sparking another round of lamentations from lawmakers over the lack of progress on the issue. “At virtually every turn, we have been met with resistance. What has happened to the Party of Lincoln? What has happened to that noble, noble view that voting rights is important on both sides of the aisle?” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the day after the vote. “The Senate is capable of far more than what we have seen from our Republican colleagues on voting rights.” Besides the bill named after Lewis, Democrats have also been stymied in their attempts to proceed with debate on the Freedom to Vote Act. That legislation would, among other things, give all voters access to a minimum of 15 early voting days and same-day registration, make Election Day a federal holiday and expand the ability to vote by mail. Amid the gridlock in Washington, Democrats have seen states pass laws that they liken to voter suppression. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed into law legislation that prohibits round-the-clock polling stations, implements new restrictions on drive-thru voting and voting by mail, empowers partisan poll watchers who can observe an election, increases the requirements for identification voters must show when they cast a ballot and prevents elections officials from distributing vote-by-mail applications to voters who have not specifically requested them. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) also signed a law requiring a photo ID to vote by mail, limiting the time people have to request an absentee ballot and restricting where ballot drop boxes can be located. And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) also issued new restrictions, including curtailing voter access to absentee ballot drop boxes used by most Florida counties and mandating voters who want to cast absentee ballots to submit new requests every election cycle instead of every four years. All told, 19 states ratified 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote, according to the Brennan Center. Lawmakers say those restrictions up the ante for Democrats to pass a federal bill. “Mostly from a national perspective, I think that's where we should have the most hope. I think to have the greatest impact is first to have a national standard when it comes to voting rights in this country. These proposals are kind of sitting on third base, if you will,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-Texas), who fled to Washington earlier this year to deny the state legislature a quorum to pass Texas’s voter restrictions, a gambit that only temporarily worked. However, activists say the stumbling blocks to passing legislation in Congress are blocking off any path to passing laws at the federal level – absent a change in the Senate’s rules. Progressive lawmakers and outside proponents of implementing sweeping elections reforms have made the filibuster public enemy No. 1, saying the 60-vote hurdle to pass most legislation in the Senate must go or at least be altered to include a carve out for certain issues like voting rights. “I think that they should get rid of the filibuster,” said Nsé Ufot, the CEO of the New Georgia Project. “Stop playing, get rid of the filibuster, do whatever carve out you need to do to make you feel like you are playing well with others, but we need to stop lying and stop pretending like we are not seeing what is happening right now with American democracy.” But changing the rules is no easy feat. In a 50-50 Senate Democrats would need all 50 of their members to agree to a change, and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they don’t support any adjustments. Manchin, one of the most vocal opponents of altering the filibuster, has said he wants to move voting rights legislation forward in a bipartisan fashion. But activists are growing tired of that effort given the West Virginian’s inability to bring the requisite number of Republicans over to his side. “It seems like there’s the desire to allow these attacks on our democracy to continue so that folks can continue to worship at the temple of bipartisanship,” Ufot said. “And unfortunately, I don't think that that is an aim, a goal that's worthy of our time, attention, frustration or resources in this moment. Bipartisanship should not come at the expense of being able to participate in our democracy.” “I'm gonna let him do his thing,” she added of Manchin. “But at some point, we need to stop pretending and just acknowledge that someone farted in the room, and it stinks.” Biden, for his part, has expressed openness to altering the filibuster, providing a jolt to progressives after saying in October he thinks “we’re going to have to move to the point where we fundamentally alter the filibuster.” Fauci says 'we're going to have to start living with COVID' Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China However, he has not pressured senators to get behind any specific changes, which, combined with his focus on passing sprawling infrastructure and social spending bills, have led activists to accuse Biden of not actively prioritizing voting rights in line with the way he speaks about the issue in public. “It's definitely not a priority,” Cliff Albright, the co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter, told The Hill. “Anytime you say, ‘we're going to get to this after A, B and C,’ then by definition this is not a priority.” When asked for comment on the criticism, the White House did not directly respond but pointed The Hill to comments by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a briefing earlier this month in which she maintained Biden “is committed to making sure that the fundamental right to vote … still exists.”

Biden needs to protect the climate provisions of BBB, Manchin key

Jordan Carney, 11-27, 21, The Hill, Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/582831-five-ways-senate-could-change-bidens-spending-plan

President Biden's climate and social spending plan is facing an overhaul in the Senate, where Democrats are splitting with their House counterparts on key provisions. Though House Democrats stress that they are in agreement on large parts of the bill, Senate Democrats aren't being shy about outlining how they plan to change the bill once it comes up. “There are going to be some changes,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” after the House passed the bill. Any changes in the Senate will force the bill to go back to the House, where they'll have to decide if they can live with the updated draft. In addition to policy splits between House and Senate Democrats, details of the bill also need to pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian. And Republicans are able to force amendment votes during a chaotic floor debate where they could get changes into the bill if they are able to peel off one Democratic senator. Here are five areas where the Senate is expected to make changes to the bill: Medicare Progressives are hoping to broaden Medicare’s expansion once the spending bill comes to the Senate floor. The House bill expands Medicare to cover hearing benefits. But that falls short of the broader expansion initially envisioned by the Biden administration, which wanted to include Medicare to cover hearing, vision and dental. Biden acknowledged expanding Medicare to cover all three would be a “reach,” and Democrats initially discussed scaling down the dental coverage to a voucher program to offset costs before dropping the idea altogether. But Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) indicated he would try to get vision and dental back into the bill, saying that “the American people overwhelmingly demand that we expand Medicare to cover dental, eyeglasses and hearing aids. That’s what we must do.” Sanders could force an amendment vote on adding the broader expansion into the Senate bill, but he’s likely to face pushback within his own caucus from Democrats who have raised concerns over the price tag. Democrats are also facing challenges to their plan to let Medicare negotiate prices for certain drugs. Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced earlier this month they had reached a deal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in limited instances, prevent drug companies from raising prices faster than inflation and cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 per year. But Republicans are planning to challenge part of the deal with the Senate parliamentarian, an unelected referee who provides guidance on if legislative text complies with the strict rules on what can be passed under budget reconciliation. Paid leave Accelerate the Good - Impacting Communities: SPONSORED CONTENT Accelerate the Good - Impacting Communities: BY KIA The House included roughly $200 billion for four weeks of paid family and medical leave starting in 2024 in the bill it passed earlier this month, which Democrats view as a necessary first step because the United States is one of the few developed countries to not prove paid leave. But the program faces challenges in the Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has pushed back over its inclusion, arguing Congress should work on a bipartisan bill separate from the Democratic spending package. Even as Manchin has appeared unmoved, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that she and Manchin are still talking and that “Joe Manchin has come a long way on paid leave.” Manchin has previously floated a paid leave program that could be funded through a payroll tax split between the employer and employee. But he’s also suggested that a program structured that way wouldn’t comply with Senate rules, though aides and Gillibrand have both pushed back. SALT House and Senate Democrats are also split over how to tackle making changes to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap. The social and climate spending bill passed by the House includes language to raise the cap from $10,000 to $80,000 through 2030. The cap would then revert back to $10,000 in 2031. But Sanders and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are pitching a different strategy: Keeping the $10,000 limit in place but exempting those who make under $400,000. Menendez, in a recent interview with NPR, argued that their proposal was “better” than the House version because it prevented millionaires or billionaires from getting a higher SALT deduction. “No. 1, it's revenue neutral, meaning it won't cost a penny to the federal Treasury. It will allow full deductibility to middle-class working families,” Menendez said. Immigration The House legislation includes a provision that grants 6.5 million foreign nationals a temporary parole status that would give them five-year work and travel permits. But that’s narrower than offering permanent residency, which would pave the way toward citizenship. Senate Democrats previously pitched the Senate parliamentarian on two plans that would provide permanent residency to millions of immigrants, but they were rejected for not complying with the rules for what can be included in legislation passed under reconciliation. Still, House Democrats and some immigration groups are urging Senate Democrats to add the broader policy back into the legislation when it hits the Senate floor. Nearly half of the House Democratic caucus signed onto a letter urging their counterparts to add a pathway to citizenship in the bill, arguing the “role of the Parliamentarian is an advisory one, and the Parliamentarian’s opinion is not binding.” Senate Democrats don’t have the votes to formally overturn the parliamentarian, but advocates instead are urging them to put someone in the chair who would ignore the parliamentarian. Senate Democrats could also try to add the immigration language back into the bill as an amendment, but that would likely fall short. The parliamentarian also hasn’t yet issued guidance on the parole language in the House bill, setting up the prospect that Democrats could still get another blow on the House-passed immigration provisions. Climate Senate Democrats have already jettisoned some climate proposals because they didn’t unite their entire conference, including a carbon tax and a key program meant to incentivize companies to transition to clean energy. But the climate provisions of the bill could face further cuts as Democrats try to win over Manchin, who comes from a leading coal-producing state and has sway as the Senate Energy Committee chairman. Democrats are hoping to get Manchin’s support for a methane emission fee after it cleared the House intact. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, noted that they had received input from Manchin, who has voiced concerns about a methane fee, and others and hoped it “finds favor” once on the floor where Republicans could try to peel off Manchin to strip it from the bill or water it down. Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Turn your Mac into a powerhouse of productivity with a dozen new apps... A separate electric vehicle tax credit is also facing pushback from Manchin because it includes a larger tax credit for consumers who purchase union-made electric vehicles. The EV tax credit has strong supporters in the Senate, including from Michigan Sens. Gary Peters (D) and Debbie Stabenow, who is the No. 4 Senate Democrat. Democrats are hoping to work out a compromise with Manchin, who announced his opposition while at a Toyota event in his home state earlier this month.

Progressive policies undermine Bide

Lewis, 11-27, 21, Lindsay Mark Lewis is the executive director of the Progressive Policy Institute., The Hill, Pragmatic bipartisanship – not hard left intolerance – is Democrats' surest path back to power, https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/583148-pragmatic-bipartisanship-not-hard-left-intolerance-is-democrats-surest

These are not the markings of a stalwart for liberal democracy, but the expression of an intolerant mindset that’s common on both the political left and right. Most voters dislike this kind of mindset, especially independents and swing voters, who handed Joe Biden the White House. The siren song of hard left progressivism resonates louder on social media – and in the homogeneous monoculture of coastal political and media elites – than it does with mainstream voters. Biden won the 2020 Democratic primaries by remembering that Twitter is not real life. “Middle Class Joe” won as a pragmatic progressive who can work across party lines to deliver results for families in Scranton, Wilmington or Macomb County. The election was a return to normalcy rather than a call to revolution. Southern California utilities restoring power after outages to reduce... While his falling poll numbers may be attributable in part to inflation, the Afghanistan withdrawal and other issues, some of it is surely due to the ease with which the White House allowed the hard left to call the shots on infrastructure. And appointing ideologues to government agencies is hardly a mid-course correction.

Manchin won’t budget, at least now

Hans Nichols, 11-26, 21, Manchin’s next blow to liberals, https://www.axios.com/manchin-senate-spending-biden-87a445c2-cfdf-4bba-bc20-dd62db2a613a.html

Between the lines: Manchin may end up supporting a package in the $1.75 trillion range this year, Axios is told, but he’s more inclined to wait and watch how inflation plays out at home and across the country. Given the number of differences he has with the House version of the bill, he sees 2022 as a much more likely timeframe, the people familiar with his thinking say. His acid statement Monday on Biden’s decision to tap the strategic petroleum reserve — calling in a “an important policy Band-Aid” — was filled with long-simmering frustrations, and indicates he's far from a final deal. “Historic inflation taxes and the lack of a comprehensive all-of-the-above energy policy pose a clear and present threat to American's economic and energy security that can no longer be ignored,” he said. The big picture: Manchin, like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), has earned the enmity of Democratic activists. They've kayaked to his luxury houseboat (“Almost Heaven”) and surrounded his Maserati Levante to demand he adopt more progressive positions, especially on climate change. Manchin shows little sign of backing down, however. High-profile fights with progressives help burnish his centrist credentials in West Virginia, where 74% of voters want him to oppose Biden’s plan, according to a recent survey. He also has an overall job approval rating of 60%, compared with Biden’s 32%.

Political support for antitrust legislation

WASHINGTON—Support for curbing large technology companies’ market power is widening in the Senate, with lawmakers in both parties endorsing new legal constraints on search engines, e-marketplaces, app stores and other online platforms. Lawmakers say they are responding to public concerns over the size and influence of the tech companies. “I have been working on these issues for years, and it feels like we have finally reached a tipping point where we will take serious steps forward,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), a lead sponsor of some of the key bills, said. “There is bipartisan momentum to get something done, and the public is on our side.” The measures must overcome a stepped-up lobbying effort in opposition from companies including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc., which say many of the proposals will hurt consumers who have grown dependent on their products and services. The momentum for the bills in the Senate echoes the earlier push in the House. The House Judiciary Committee passed a raft of far-reaching antitrust bills after a tumultuous meeting in June that stretched over two days, including an all-night session. Throughout the meeting, lawmakers sympathetic to the tech companies—including several members of California’s powerful congressional delegation—raised strenuous objections. At the time of the committee vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said lawmakers would have to negotiate the bills’ specifics to address the objections and wanted to see what the Senate would pass. Twelve senators—six Republicans and six Democrats, including Ms. Klobuchar—are backing the proposed American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a bill that would treat Amazon’s marketplace or Google’s search engine like a dominant railroad operator, essential to commerce. It would make it illegal for them to advantage their own products and services at the expense of other businesses that rely on the platforms. Another bipartisan group is backing a bill that would place new restrictions on smartphone app stores, including in-app payment systems and app stores’ search results. A third group of lawmakers wants to force dominant tech companies to prove that any new merger or acquisition won’t hurt competition, going beyond the current legal standard. The shift comes as lawmakers also are stepping up their efforts to pass consumer-protection legislation, including greater privacy protections for children and others, spurred by recent revelations about Meta Platforms Inc.’s Instagram and Facebook services. Internal research by the company found evidence that its algorithms foster discord and that its Instagram app is harmful for a sizable percentage of its users, notably teenage girls, among other findings. The documents provided the foundation for The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series.

Antitrust at the bottom of the docket, lobbying blocks

Ryan Tracy, 11-25, 21, WSJ, https://www.wsj.com/articles/antitrust-tech-bills-gain-bipartisan-momentum-in-senate-11637836202, Antitrust Tech Bills Gain Bipartisan Momentum in Senate

The antitrust bills are on a separate track and still have a long way to go to become law. Some similar proposals passed a House committee in June but have been on hold since then as Congress struggled to approve a separate infrastructure bill. The big tech companies have continued to be big spenders this year on lobbying Congress over legislation that threatens them, including the antitrust bills. Amazon has spent more than $15.3 million so far this year—more than any other individual company—according to statistics compiled by OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan watchdog group. Facebook has spent about $14.7 million, making it the second-biggest spender. Alphabet has spent almost $9 million.

Biden saving capital for BBB

Hans Nichols, Axios: 11-22, 21, https://www.axios.com/fed-climate-change-powell-brainard-c01f422e-eb12-4b98-ad3d-b3b0e842b917.html, What’s next for the Fed on Climate change?

President Biden's nomination of Jerome Powell for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve shows Biden's willingness to stare down progressives to get his cherished Build Back Better legislation through the Senate and into law.  Why it matters: Inflation is threatening Biden's $2 trillion social spending and climate package, and Biden wants to save his political capital with moderates for that fight.  Driving the news: Biden wasn't willing to forsake Powell for a marginally more progressive candidate, like Fed governor Lael Brainard, simply to appease Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who called Powell a 'dangerous man' to his face in September. Instead, Biden named Brainard vice chair. The big picture: Powell and Brainard, colleagues on the Fed, appear not to have substantially different views on inflation and how quickly to remove stimulus from the economy. Biden's move opts for continuity and an easy confirmation process over a symbolic fight that could have risked market turmoil. What they are saying: Biden's gambit appears to have worked, with important Senate Democrats, and Republicans, promising to confirm him. 'I look forward to working with Powell to stand up to Wall Street and stand up for workers,' said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).After clearing his throat about Powell and inflation, Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the ranking Republican on banking, got behind him: 'I look forward to supporting his confirmation,' he said.Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, a persistent Biden critic on inflation, was all praise today: 'The institution is in good hands,' he tweeted[1]. The other side: Warren vowed to oppose Powell while promising to support Brainard. But her Powell criticism was muted, and she seemed more focused on fighting for a strong vice chair for bank supervision, which Biden didn't fill today. 'This position must be filled by a strong regulator with a proven track record of tough and effective enforcement — and it needs to be done quickly,' Warren said. What we're watching: Biden hinted that progressives may be more pleased with his future Fed picks, promising that diversity would be a key factor in filling three other positions. 'While Jay and Lael bring continuity and stability to the Fed, my additions will bring new perspectives and new voices,' he said.Besides inflation, the Fed is confronting challenges traditionally outside its purview — from climate change to cryptocurrency regulation. Bloomberg News has deemed these[2] 'tricky economic problems' among the most complicated in the Fed's 107-year history.

BBB provisions will become law

Andrew Duehren and Richard Rubin, 11-19, 21,  House Set to Approve $2 Trillion Social Spending and Climate Bill, https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-closes-in-on-vote-for-2-trillion-bill-11637262546?mod=hp_lead_pos2

WASHINGTON—The House is set to pass a roughly $2 trillion education, healthcare and climate package Friday, as Democrats corralled their slim majority to approve the centerpiece of President Biden’s economic agenda after months of wrangling. While the House vote would put Democrats closer to unifying their fractious centrist and progressive wings behind the bill, the party will still need to move the legislation through the evenly divided Senate. There, lawmakers are planning to change or pare back some of the bill’s provisions in the coming weeks. Democrats initially hoped to pass the bill Thursday night, but an hourslong speech by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) slamming the legislation prompted Democrats to postpone the vote until Friday after 8 a.m. Republicans have united against the bill, arguing that it would exacerbate rising inflation and slow the economy’s growth. “This is the single most reckless and irresponsible spending in the history of this country,” Mr. McCarthy said in his floor speech, which stretched past midnight. A senior Democratic aide said Mr. McCarthy “is welcome to continue his raving as late into the night as he wants.” The sprawling bill calls for creating a universal prekindergarten program, capping child-care costs for many families, negotiating lower prescription drug prices and expanding tax credits for reducing carbon emissions, among other programs. In addition to expanding tax-enforcement efforts at the Internal Revenue Service, the legislation raises taxes on some corporations and very high-income Americans. Democrats have labored for months to craft an agreement that could pass the House, where the party can bear only three defections and still achieve a majority without GOP support. “With these provisions we will make transformational investments in families, workers and the fight against climate change,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.), the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “Getting to this point certainly has not been fast or has it been easy. Some might say it’s been quite challenging.” Work had continued on the legislation into Thursday evening ahead of the final vote. Democrats had made final technical tweaks and awaited an official analysis of its cost from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a reading some centrist House Democrats had demanded as a condition of their support. The CBO found that the bill would contribute $367 billion to the deficit over 10 years; Democrats have argued that revenue not captured in the CBO score shows that the bill is more than fully paid for. For technical reasons, the CBO’s bottom line doesn’t include $207 billion in revenue that the scorekeeper estimates would result from pouring roughly $80 billion into tax-enforcement efforts at the Internal Revenue Service. Adding that revenue to the CBO’s other estimates would make the bill’s 10-year deficit about $160 billion. The Biden administration says its IRS spending would generate $480 billion, not $207 billion; in its view, that would tip the bill over to reducing the deficit, and many Democrats appear willing to accept that perspective. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the various analyses “make it clear that Build Back Better is fully paid for,” using Democrats’ name for the legislation. Republicans charged that the CBO’s score undercut Democrats’ claims. “This analysis from the Congressional Budget Office is a clear indictment of the Democrats’ tax and spending agenda and the false promises that have gone along with it,” said Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. The bill will next face an additional gantlet in the Senate, where Democrats control the 50-50 chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris providing a tiebreaking vote. Some centrist Senate Democrats haven’t committed to supporting the House legislation, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) has called for removing a proposed paid-leave program. Other Democrats are seeking changes to the House plan for raising the $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes, warning that the proposed $80,000 cap with no income limit offers unnecessary tax cuts for high-income households. A measure giving temporary legal protections to immigrants in the U.S. illegally may face parliamentary problems that could force Democrats to strip it from the bill. If those measures are altered in the Senate, the bill would have to return to the House for another vote before going to Mr. Biden’s desk. While it may still take weeks for Democrats to iron out those final changes in the Senate, the provisions in the House bill appear broadly on track to eventually become law. Some of its marquee measures, like expanded subsidies for healthcare premiums, are an extension of policies Democrats put into place in a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law earlier this year. ‘We can’t help anyone unless we get policy passed through the House, through the Senate, to the president’s desk’ Others, like the universal prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds and the roughly $555 billion in spending on climate measures, are longtime party goals that Democrats have hustled to enact before next year’s midterms, when they could lose control of Congress. Many of the bill’s measures are funded only temporarily, though, a step Democrats took to keep down the package’s sticker price. For example, the expanded child tax credit would last only through 2022, neither indefinitely, as some had sought, nor for four more years, as Mr. Biden proposed. Shortening the duration of the child tax credit was one of many compromises the party made to accommodate concerns from centrist Democrats about its scope and cost. The party had originally outlined a $3.5 trillion bill, later dropping measures like free community-college and a program aimed at pushing utilities to use more clean energy from the effort. “We can’t help anyone unless we get policy passed through the House, through the Senate, to the president’s desk,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene (D., Wash.), one of the child credit’s leading supporters. The looming expiration of many of the bill’s features means much of the Democratic Party’s work in Congress over the next decade is set to focus on reauthorizing its programs. Both Democratic and Republican critics have argued that the hope to keep funding the bill’s programs in later pieces of legislation only disguises its cost, with Mr. Manchin attacking what he called budget gimmicks. Money is a sticking point in climate-change negotiations around the world. As economists warn that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will cost many more trillions than anticipated, WSJ looks at how the funds could be spent, and who would pay. Illustration: Preston Jessee/WSJ The bill would impose a new 15% minimum tax on large U.S.-based corporations, create a 1% tax on stock buybacks and increase taxes on U.S. companies’ foreign profits, fulfilling part of the U.S. commitment to a global minimum tax agreement. The bill would leave the corporate tax rate at 21% after pressure from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) scuttled many of Democrats’ plans for raising revenue. For individuals, the basic tax rates would stay unchanged for all but top earners. Those with adjusted gross income over $10 million would pay a 5% surtax and those with income over $25 million would pay an additional 3%. Cast aside during the negotiations were Biden administration proposals to tax unrealized capital gains at death and require banks to report annual account flows to the IRS. Democrats are using a special legislative process called reconciliation that requires just a simple majority in the Senate, allowing them to skirt the 60-vote threshold for most legislation in the Senate and advance the bill over Republican opposition. Reconciliation comes with limits on what lawmakers can pass through the process, and Democrats are bracing for some of the bill’s measures, including its immigration provisions, to run afoul of reconciliation’s strictures and be removed from the legislation. For months, Democrats tied the education, healthcare and climate package to a separate, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Many Democrats viewed the $1 trillion public works package as insufficient on its own and sought to create more pressure for the passage of the education, healthcare and climate effort by holding up the infrastructure bill. That created a stalemate between progressives and centrists in the House until earlier this month, when the House passed the infrastructure bill after centrist Democrats signaled their support for the education, climate and healthcare bill. Mr. Biden signed the public works legislation into law earlier this week.

Democrats will be wiped out in the midterms

Jalonick, 11-19, 21, Goal in sight, Democrats confront need to sell agenda, https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-business-elections-environment-congress-5151443193996d96a85ff0a419f25375

Polls show that a strong majority of Democrats — and a majority of the American public — support the broad priorities of the $1.85 trillion social and environmental spending bill that the House was poised to approve Friday. Democratic lawmakers predict that President Joe Biden’s bill, once enacted, will be “transformational” for the country. Yet it may not be politically transformational for the Democratic Party. At least not immediately. Both parties know that hard-fought victories in Congress can come before electoral defeat. Democrats saw it in 2010, when they lost their majority months after passing a landmark health care overhaul. Republicans suffered the same fate in 2018, when their House majority was wiped away after enactment of a long-sought tax overhaul that slashed tax rates. But the political difficulties for Democrats could be especially severe in next year’s elections. Republicans are poised to gain seats through redistricting. Biden’s poll numbers have slumped. And recovery from the coronavirus crisis has been robust but rocky amid soaring inflation. Democrats have spent months squabbling over the details of the legislation, obscuring the benefits they hope to deliver to the country “We do need to turn a corner,” says Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, a former chairwoman of House Democrats’ campaign arm who decided not to run for re-election next year. “We’re not in a good place right now, as far as the perception of what we’re doing is different than the reality of what we’re doing.” Democrats “have to talk about it in ways that matter to people’s lives,” Bustos said. “And that’s not easy.” Assuming the bill passes the House, it will head to the Senate, where revisions are likely and passage could take several weeks. In the meantime, to save their already-narrow majority, House Democrats are working to revamp their message, move on from the infighting and emphasize the bill’s marquee programs. Among them: Billons of dollars to pay for child care, reduce pollution, expand health care access and curb prescription drug costs for older Americans.

Biden approval in the gutter

Quinnipiac Poll, 11-18, 21, More Prefer Republicans To Win Control Of The House And Senate, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; 68% Say Higher Prices Are Changing Spending Habits, https://poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3827

Americans give President Biden a negative 36 - 53 percent job approval rating, while 10 percent did not offer an opinion. It's the lowest job approval rating he's received in a Quinnipiac University national poll. In mid-October, he received a negative 37 - 52 percent job approval rating. In today's results, Republicans disapprove 94 - 4 percent, Democrats approve 87 - 7 percent, and independents disapprove 56 - 29 percent with 16 percent not offering an opinion. Among registered voters, Biden gets a negative 38 - 53 percent job approval rating with 9 percent not offering an opinion. On four separate issues, Biden receives his lowest grades so far on each of them. Americans were asked about his handling of... the response to the coronavirus: 45 percent approve, while 50 percent disapprove; climate change: 41 percent approve, while 48 percent disapprove; the economy: 34 percent approve, while 59 percent disapprove; foreign policy: 33 percent approve, while 55 percent disapprove. When it comes to Biden's personal traits, Americans were asked whether or not Biden... cares about average Americans: 47 percent say yes, while 47 percent say no; is honest: 42 percent say yes, while 51 percent say no; has good leadership skills: 37 percent say yes, while 57 percent say no.

Biden capital key to reconciliation

Laura Barron-Lopez, 11-11, 21, POLITICO, Dems to White House: The only prescription is more Biden, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/11/dems-white-house-biden-520946

After months of deference to Congress, President Joe Biden moved more assertively last week to shepherd half his domestic agenda into law. With the other half still in limbo, Democrats want some of that Biden punch again. Outside groups fear that congressional Democrats could come up short on Biden’s social spending package. They are concerned that moderates in the House may end up buckling if the budget scores on the bill come back worse than anticipated. And there is residual anxiety that one of the two wavering Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — could vote “no” over concerns about inflation and long-term debt. The clearest solution to avoiding this, they argue, is more Biden. “All eyes are on the president, all expectations are on the president,” said Lorella Praeli, co-president of the progressive Community Change Action. “We are playing our role. We are mobilizing. We're reminding people everyday what this is about.” Praeli added that Biden must ensure there aren’t future cuts to the package, which dropped from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion to accommodate centrist Democrats in the House and Senate. “This is what he campaigned on. Only the president can deliver it in the end.” Until last week, Biden’s involvement in negotiations had been more deferential than managerial. That befuddled lawmakers, who were waiting for him to draw red lines about which priorities he wants in and out of the deal or to even demand votes. To date, Biden has publicly refrained from drawing a red line around including paid leave in the final version of the legislation, leaving the leadership in the House at odds with centrists in the Senate. But Biden did ramp up his involvement in the negotiations last week. And Democrats viewed that as key to getting an agreement in the House on their infrastructure bill, as well as on a rule to move forward with their social spending package, which funds universal pre-K, expands Medicare access, cuts taxes for families with children 18 years old and under, and combats climate change. Now they want more. Expectations are high for Biden to keep the House to its promise of a vote on that social spending plan the week of Nov. 15. “They basically made a promise,” said Rahna Epting, executive director of the progressive advocacy group MoveOn. “And Biden was able to get enough progressives to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, on that promise. We are expecting Biden and the Democratic Caucus will make good on their word and pass the Build Back Better Act no later than Nov 15th as stated.” White House officials contend that Biden and his team remain in close touch with the Hill, and their legislative affairs staff continues to push the social spending bill toward a vote. The White House said it is communicating regularly with a range of lawmakers including Manchin, but did not answer when asked whether Biden has spoken to the West Virginia senator or other moderates in recent days. “There has been no kind of slowdown when it comes to our Hill outreach,” a White House official said. The growing demands for Biden to stay heavily involved reflect a fear in the party that the window to act on the agenda is quickly closing, especially as concerns mount about lingering inflation and the midterms near. If the House meets its deadline next week and passes the social spending bill, some Democrats want Biden to issue a deadline for the Senate to act. Others noted that the end-of-year legislative calendar is short and brutal. The “dynamic has totally changed,” said a Democratic strategist. “The president secured this agreement with the five holdouts for House passage of BBB next week and it’s on him to enforce it.” A top climate operative echoed that assessment telling POLITICO that Biden “will have failed” on tackling climate change if the second piece of the agenda doesn’t pass. But the operative also expressed a newfound fear that Biden’s current effort to sell the benefits of the infrastructure bill could distract or complicate Democrats’ attempt to keep public interested in the social spending plan. "They need to sell [physical infrastructure] but also act like it's not enough," said the activist. "How are they also creating the urgency for BBB to get done, for it to stay on the timeline of getting it done by Thanksgiving? It's a balancing act.” Matt Bennett, co-founder of the moderate group Third Way, agreed that the dynamics were “tricky” in trying to sell one just-passed bill as historic while simultaneously making the case that another ambitious bill is needed. Biden will travel to New Hampshire and Michigan next week to highlight the money the infrastructure bill will direct toward new roads, bridges and transit projects across the country. “This moment that we're in is hard,” said Bennett. “It will be much, much easier when both bills are completed. There is a very profound political imperative for Democrats to get this finished, to end the infighting and sausage-making and shift to creating a narrative about what Democrats have just done for Americans because they've been utterly unable to do that.” A number of groups plan to amp up pressure next week as Congress returns. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House have repeated their desire to have a vote on the social spending plan by the end of next week. The Service Employees International Union will descend on Capitol Hill with some 500 union members, said Mary Kay Henry, the union’s president.

Inflation destroying Biden

Stephen Collinson, 11-10, 21, Why inflation is a political nightmare for Biden, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/11/politics/president-joe-biden-inflation-politics/index.html
Joe Biden's next political nightmare is inflation, a force that can destroy family budgets and political careers and is being driven by domestic and global factors tough for a president to quickly fix. Government data showing the cost of living rose 6.2% over the last 12 months -- the highest rate in 30 years -- set off White House alarm bells on Wednesday and offered a new opening for Republicans lambasting Biden over high energy prices. The figures underscored what all Americans already know. Every trip to the supermarket shows that basic foods like eggs or meat are shooting up in price. The gallon of gas it takes to get to the weekly grocery run is currently averaging $3.40 nationwide. Such pain in the pocket, coming off a demoralizing pandemic that is nearly two years old, threatens Biden's already weakened political standing as he battles a corrosive political issue affecting voters every day. The White House has sometimes been slow to respond to flashing red political warnings -- for instance, over immigration. But there were clear signs of a shift in tone on Wednesday after officials spent months insisting that higher prices were merely a transitory byproduct of the pandemic. Biden first issued a statement saying he would work to bring prices down. Then in a trip to the Port of Baltimore to tout his newly passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, the President went out of the way to show he cared and understood the issue. "Everything from a gallon of gas to a loaf of bread costs more, and it's worrisome," Biden said. "Many people remain unsettled about the economy and we all know why. They see higher prices, they go to the store or go online, they can't find what they always want and when they want it." Referring to one of the big economic problems slowing the economy -- a clogged up supply chain -- the President did a good job in his speech explaining why a closed factory in Malaysia could make life more expensive in the US. But the political task ahead of him requires a relentless daily focus and repeated strong messaging that has not so far been a strength of the Biden White House. Biden's speech and his clear urgency about inflation came across as something of a political reset as his approval ratings dip into the mid-to-low 40s. All presidents face diminished popularity and political reversals from time to time. Those that are successful and win second terms show the ability to bounce back from tough times. Biden's capacity to do so now hinges on his own political dexterity and the extent to which outside forces will shape the politics of the next three years. Still, his team's swift reaction to the new data does suggest that after a morale-sapping loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race and a much closer-than-expected win in New Jersey last week, the White House is more alert to shifting political tides. A more expensive holiday season Rising prices in the shops and higher home heating costs threaten to cast a pall over the holiday season and make the coming winter more expensive for Americans. A less important, but still significant effect of inflation is how it will weigh on Biden and Democrats heading into midterm elections next year. Already, there are signs that Wednesday's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics could yet again complicate the President's push to pass his vast social spending bill through the 50-50 US Senate. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was been warning for weeks that an injection of at least another $1.5 trillion dollars into the economy could heat up price rises even more. He insisted that the threat posed by record inflation was not "'transitory' and is instead getting worse" in a Wednesday tweet. "From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day," Manchin wrote. Growing political turmoil over inflation also threatens to further politicize the White House's approach to the Federal Reserve as Biden wrestles over whether to nominate Chairman Jerome Powell, an appointee of ex-President Donald Trump, to a fresh term. The Fed will be a key (and independent) player in reducing inflation, possibly through interest rate hikes, but faces a delicate task in not disrupting a recovering but still fragile labor market. Inflation is an especially damaging political force because of its immediate impact on the well-being on voters. A rate of 6.2% is well above levels at which policymakers can be relaxed about rising prices and threatens to also wipe out wage gains, in effect giving everyone in the country a pay cut. Inflation complicated the pandemic recovery because of a spike in demand coming out of months of lockdowns, a shortage of key commodities and raw materials and higher levels of savings from Americans stuck at home for long periods. It has been exacerbated by disruptions in manufacturing, for instance, in Asia. A shortage of semi-conductors has made items like new cars more expensive and hard to come by and has therefore also pushed up the price of used vehicles. A supply chain crunch has seen ships lining up for days to offload at California ports. Backlogs have been exacerbated by Covid-19 shutdowns in manufacturing hubs abroad and by a shortage of truckers and rail freight capacity in the United States. Biden has taken increasingly active steps to tackle such issues -- for instance, meeting with CEOs of courier companies this week in a bid to ensure shop shelves are full during the coming holiday season. But the root causes of the crisis are complex and worldwide and will defy easy remedies. The political impact of the current price hikes may also be exacerbated because inflation -- which stalked developed world economies in the 1970s and caused huge political turmoil -- had been under control for decades. Republicans pounce None of these mitigating factors are stopping Republicans from exploiting the painful cost-of-living increases and prices at the pumps to slam "Bidenflation" and to argue that the President's ambitious political program is squandering past economic gains. "This is a pay cut families can't afford," Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said. "No wonder Americans now rank inflation alongside Covid as their biggest concerns -- and believe Biden's $4 trillion tax-and-spending binge will only make prices worse." Rep. Liz Cheney, who has recently been more often praised than criticized by Democrats for standing up to Trump's election lies, also took a swing at the Biden administration on Wednesday over the new data. "The Biden Admin has tried - and failed - to rely on our adversaries to lower prices at the pump. Now, they're considering tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This is wrong. We should support American oil producers so they can meet our needs," Cheney wrote on Twitter. The Wyoming Republican struck at the heart of a politically damaging feature of high gas prices for Biden. He has publicly urged oil-producing nations to pump more crude to bring down prices. But the calls have fallen on deaf ears and risk making him look weak. Similarly, warnings by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in recent weeks that the supply chain problems could linger into next year may be realistic but hardly instill confidence in the administration's ability to improve things. And rising inflation, if it is still a drag on Americans next year, could make historically difficult midterm elections next November even harder for Democrats by overshadowing their legislative wins. But a new CNN fact check contradicts claims by Republicans that rising prices are solely caused by wasteful Democratic spending. Many factors, including supply chain chaos and production limits by OPEC countries, are factoring into a complicated situation. It's ironic, given current challenges, that the central premise of Biden's presidency is making the economy more rewarding and equitable for working Americans. But Biden's multi-trillion dollar remedies -- the infrastructure and social spending bills -- could take months and years to be felt by regular Americans and to begin to change the political atmosphere. That doesn't mean fixing roads, creating jobs, providing home health care, free pre-kindergarten and revolutionizing the US power grid with low carbon fuels will not help the economy. But the current needs are more immediate. And it's not clear Democrats have done a sufficiently good job in selling the benefits of such plans to convince most Americans they will really help. A new CNN poll, for example, found that 58% of people don't think Biden has paid sufficient attention to the nation's problems. And the issue cited by the most respondents (36%) was the economy, ahead of the pandemic at 20%. Those figures suggest that to improve his political standing, Biden must now flip from Covid-battler in chief to rescuing a sense of economic wellbeing. Still, White House chief of staff Ron Klain on Thursday insisted that the economy was improving specifically because of steps taken by Biden. "I think things are better in this country than they were a year ago with regard to Covid, with regard to the economy," Klain told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead." "We have a lot of work left to do and I think voters are in a show me, don't tell me mode."

Manchin killing reconciliation

Hans Nichols, 11-10, 21, https://www.axios.com/manchin-chill-bbb-6b58cd70-6c07-40f9-af4e-c944a7b3a39d.html, Manchin may delay Biden social spending plan over inflation

Red-hot inflation data validates the instinct of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to punt President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda until next year — potentially killing a quick deal on the $1.75 trillion package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. Why it matters: The data released Wednesday set the president and White House staff scrambling. Slowing down work on the massive tax-and-spending plan is against the fervent desire of the administration and House progressives. With a limited number of legislative days left in the year, Manchin is content to focus on the issues that need to be addressed, Axios is told. They include funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and passing the National Defense Authorization Act. Manchin, like a group of House moderates, also wants to see a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the true cost of each of Biden’s proposed programs, as well as the tax proposals to fund them. The big picture: Progressives have long worried that after centrists got their $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, they'd find excuses not to move on the budget reconciliation package. It includes billions to expand the social safety net and fight climate change, among other Democratic priorities. Business groups also are stepping up their attacks on the package, warning congressional Democrats about its overall costs, potential effects on inflation and $800 billion in corporate tax increases. Manchin still hasn't agreed to the specifics of Biden's plan to spend $555 billion to combat climate change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convened a call today with senators who participated in COP26, where they discussed how climate provisions in both bills were well received in Glasgow. During the call, the senators also strategized about how to get Manchin to agree to Biden's climate provisions — a recognition they have more work to do. Driving the news: Prices rose 0.9% from last month for an annual inflation rate of 6.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The president labeled it "worrisome, even though wages are going up." He told a crowd in Baltimore: "[O]n the good side, we're seeing the highest growth rate in decades, the fastest decrease in unemployment ... since 1950." White House chief of staff Ron Klain tried to couch Biden's spending plan as a long-term strategy to lower inflation. "What it does is it makes sure that our federal spending meets the things that families really need: bringing down the cost of child care, bringing down the cost of drugs, bringing down the cost of elder care, bringing down the cost of preschool, cutting taxes for middle-class families," he told CNN's Jake Tapper: Between the lines: Manchin has been warning about inflation since the summer. He's argued Congress should take a “strategic pause” on the bigger package until Congress had more time to assess the effects of the nearly $5 trillion COVID stimulus spending in 2020 and earlier this year. His statements on Wednesday amounted to an I-told-you-so. “By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not ‘transitory’ and is instead getting worse,” Manchin said. “From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and D.C. can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day.”

Biden’s approval has fallen even further

Michael Schnell, 11-7, 21, The Hill, Biden approval rating drops to new low of 38 percent: poll, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/580460-biden-approval-rating-drops-to-new-low-of-38-percent-poll

President Biden’s approval rating continued to sink in a new poll released on Sunday, following weeks of drama on Capitol Hill regarding his legislative agenda and the party’s losses in Virginia on Tuesday. The poll was conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University between Wednesday and Friday of last week, just before Democrats passed an infrastructure bill and advanced a social spending package. It found that Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 38 percent after it had been hovering in the low 40s in recent polls.

Senate agenda already overloaded

Burgess Everett, 11-9, 21, Politico, The Senate’s year-end to-do list is 'going to be a train wreck’, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/09/senate-dems-year-end-train-wreck-520275

The Senate is only scheduled to be in three weeks for the rest of 2021, with a recess set to start Dec. 10. There’s almost no chance that schedule holds at this point, with the Democratic majority facing a to-do list more daunting than a Black Friday sales rush. Congress has to fund the government past Dec. 3, pass a massive defense policy bill, finish out a $1.75 trillion party-line social spending bill and potentially maneuver around a U.S. credit default Each of those four bills could take several days of Senate floor time, not to mention the myriad negotiations still left to hash out Biden’s GOP-free domestic agenda with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who wants to slow things down. Already some senators are anticipating a short-term government funding patch for a few weeks, potentially right up until Christmas. And in a worst-case scenario, the debt limit would need to be raised right around that same time — something Republicans say they won’t help with. “It’s going to be a train wreck,” surmised Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the minority whip.

Manchin will support reconciliation

Alexander Bolton, 11-9, 21, The Hill,  Manchin sees his power grow, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/580647-manchin-sees-his-power-grow

Even when Democrats set a $3.5 trillion spending target for the reconciliation package in the budget resolution, Kessler thought “this is going to end up at $2 trillion” because of resistance from Manchin and other centrists. But Democratic strategists think Manchin will eventually sign onto the reconciliation package, though it may not be until the week of Thanksgiving when the Congressional Budget Office is expected to provide an official cost estimate for the bill, or later. Steve White, the director of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation in Charleston, West Virginia, said “the idea somehow that he doesn’t want the second bill, I think, is wrong.” “I think he doesn’t want all of the second bill. Half of the second bill is a lot,” he added of the reconciliation bill. “I’m looking forward to what it looks like and I think there will be a lot of good stuff for West Virginia”

Infrastructure bill not enough to solve climate change, need reconciliation bill

Rachel Frazin, 11-9, 21,  Climate advocates skeptical of bipartisan infrastructure bill amid Biden victory lap, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/580630-climate-advocates-skeptical-of-bipartisan-infrastructure-bill-amid

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is getting a lukewarm reception from climate advocates, some of whom say passage of the measure has cost Democrats some leverage when it comes to further advancing a social spending package expected to deliver major climate benefits. Despite the Biden administration’s victory lap following the House vote on Friday to pass the infrastructure bill after weeks of wrangling, advocates said they plan to put pressure on lawmakers to pass the $1.75 trillion social spending package quickly. “To tout this bill as a climate victory is... just a lie,” said John Paul Mejia, a spokesperson for the Sunrise Movement, referring to the bipartisan bill. “Not only does this bill include in it some harmful provisions, it also doesn’t meet the full scope and scale of the climate crisis as much as the reconciliation bill would.” Mejia said he believes that progressive Democrats are now in a worse spot leverage-wise than they were before when they vowed during negotiations to not support the infrastructure bill, also known as the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF), without voting on the spending package first. “Voting on the BIF first has put us in a more vulnerable position to have our biggest priorities skewed and gutted by corporate Democrats and the cronies of the fossil fuel industry,” he said. Despite the criticism from green groups, the bipartisan legislation does have key climate provisions that include efforts to clean up transportation such as building out an electric vehicle charging network, investments in public transportation, and funds for electric buses and ferries. It also has funding for electric grid modernization, something proponents say will promote renewable energy and serve as a foundation as the country moves toward electric vehicles and appliances. The bill also invests in clean water through removal and replacement of lead pipes and cleaning up toxic substances — the “forever chemicals” known by their acronym PFAS. Lead exposure has been linked to brain damage — particularly in children — while PFAS have been tied to health impacts includign cancer and immune system problems. It also provides funding for resilience to climate impacts like wildfires and flooding as well as provisions to clean up contaminated sites and abandoned mines and oil wells. “It’s going to make significant, historic strides to take on the climate crisis,” President Biden said in a speech after Friday’s passage of the bill. But some advocates say the bill does not go far enough and called on lawmakers to quickly pass what is known as the Build Back Better Act, which includes a bulk of other climate-centered provisions. That legislation contains actions like tax credits for clean energy and electric vehicles, and a program aimed at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production. It also contains additional environmental provisions like additional funding for lead pipe removal, repealing drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge and a ban on drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. “The bipartisan infrastructure bill fails to meaningfully address the climate crisis or advance environmental justice, which is why, next week, the House must pass the Build Back Better Act’s historic suite of climate investments,” said Ben Beachy, director of the Sierra Club's Living Economy Program. He pointed to an October analysis which found that the bipartisan bill would only have a “nominal” impact on lowering the country’s greenhouse gas emissions if it’s enacted without the Democrat-only package. Builders Capital Recap – October 2021 SPONSORED CONTENT Builders Capital Recap – October 2021 BY BUILDER'S CAPITAL Green groups have also criticized certain provisions of the bipartisan bill that they say do more harm than good. These include measures that undermine environmental reviews in favor of speedier infrastructure permitting, could bolster an Alaska liquified natural gas project and fund buses that run on “alternative fuels,” which can include natural gas. However, the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill did come with a promise that could bolster the Democrat-only legislation, which lawmakers are still working on getting across the finish line. Five House moderates pledged to support the reconciliation bill in a vote next week if its congressional cost estimate is consistent with a White House analysis. But that still leaves out Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who has expressed “concerns” about the social and climate spending bill. While some expressed concern about where the climate and social spending package currently stands, others expressed more optimism. Elizabeth Gore, the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior vice president for political affairs, said she believes that all sides are working in “good faith.” “Passing the BIF, sending it to the president, that’s a big step forward. I think there’s good faith on all sides,” Gore said. “I don’t have concerns that this is going to be an exit ramp for moderate Democrats; I think that this is going to continue to move forward and may even give us some momentum,” she added. Advocates also said they’ll continue to apply pressure to get the reconciliation bill across the finish line as soon as possible. Both the House and Senate chambers are out this week. “What we’re going to see over the next few days is an incredible amount of public engagement and constituents reaching out to their members and pushing them to pass this really popular bill and that’s going to continue to include Joe Manchin,” said Lena Moffitt, campaigns director for the environmental group Evergreen.

Biden’s approval has fallen even further

Michael Schnell, 11-7, 21, The Hill, Biden approval rating drops to new low of 38 percent: poll, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/580460-biden-approval-rating-drops-to-new-low-of-38-percent-poll

President Biden’s approval rating continued to sink in a new poll released on Sunday, following weeks of drama on Capitol Hill regarding his legislative agenda and the party’s losses in Virginia on Tuesday. The poll was conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University between Wednesday and Friday of last week, just before Democrats passed an infrastructure bill and advanced a social spending package. It found that Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 38 percent after it had been hovering in the low 40s in recent polls.

Biden’s capital is collapsing, he’s not pushing his agenda

Laura Barron, 11-5, 21, Democrats plea with Biden to get more assertive, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/05/democrats-plea-biden-more-assertive-519672

Democrats’ frustration with the White House is starting to bubble over after months of low approval ratings, legislative inertia and the disastrous showing for the party in Tuesday’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey. Officials say that President Joe Biden and his administration failed to effectively message or aggressively muscle its economic agenda through Congress and that, in the process, they allowed the party to grow more fractious. Faiz Shakir, a senior political adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said lawmakers have taken advantage of Biden’s reluctance to make demands in negotiations over his agenda. The president, he said, needed to start playing more of a leadership role. “We need less talk and a lot more action,” Shakir said. “It's important for the president to be seen as trying desperately to get to ‘yes.’ Even if other people already are concerned, wishy washy, not sure – the president needs to be forceful.” Shakir said that moving forward, Biden should make his red lines clear and, if the social spending and climate package passes the House, he should quickly set a Senate vote deadline. The House is set to consider both packages on Friday though leadership has twice delayed votes before. Shakir resides on the progressive wing of the party. But his sentiments are shared by moderates, too. They have bristled at Biden’s decision to twice speak to House Democrats without directly asking members to vote on his physical infrastructure bill. They believe failure to do so helped create the political climate that hurt the party in Virginia and New Jersey this week. That Biden needed to take a more aggressive role in pushing through his economic agenda was a sentiment reiterated again and again in interviews with nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers, operatives and pollsters — the majority of whom declined to go on record for fear of further complicating Democrats’ legislative efforts. Some said they wanted Biden to execute easy policy victories that would quickly alleviate voter struggles, such as forgiving student loan debt, a move the president has pushed off since taking office to the chagrin of party members. “I’m a loyal Democrat, but if I have to start paying my student loans again come January I’ll be ready to throw up my hands and chant ‘Let’s go, Brandon,’” said a Democratic campaign aide, using the now popular euphemism on the right for “f--- Joe Biden.” Other Democrats second-guessed Biden’s decision to spend months entertaining the whims of different members of Congress over how to sequence and organize his two main bills. But others were more sympathetic, arguing that Biden was correct to be patient and deferential to the Hill on his social spending plan, which would boost aid to families and make historic investments in combating climate change. The president, they say, can’t fully sell his proposals until Democrats in both chambers actually agree on the legislative language around them. Biden himself has acknowledged the unease around his performance. In the wake of Tuesday’s elections, he argued that Democrats must move swiftly with his legislation. But asked whether swifter passage would have improved national conditions for Democrats, he said he was unsure. Some party veterans said more contrition would have been helpful. “When Bill Clinton got shellacked, he said ‘I hear you,’” veteran Democratic strategist and Clinton White House political adviser Paul Begala said of the 1994 midterm elections that spawned Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution. “President Biden, and Democrats need to say ’I hear you, I listened.’ “You buy yourself a lot of credibility with voters.” Underlying much of the party’s fears is that, in the absence of legislative action, Biden and fellow Democrats have allowed Republicans to define their agenda. Senior officials in the party said they’ve been taken aback by the confusion and lack of public awareness around the domestic package aimed at helping families and expanding health care coverage. “I've been looking at some numbers today and I'm shocked at the number of people who actually feel that this bill is going to contribute to the deficit,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). “This bill is paid for, it won't contribute one dime to the deficit. This bill's got tax cuts in it.” “People don't realize it and they think that taxes are going up because people have lied to them,” Clyburn added. Others who have spent months taking the pulse of the electorate offered similar assessments about what they described as the vague and non assertive nature of the White House’s approach. “Nobody's ever heard of ‘human infrastructure,’” said Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican pollster who supported Biden’s 2020 bid, in reference to a term the White House uses frequently to describe their social spending bill. “No one knows what ‘reconciliation’ is, nobody knows what's in it. All they know is the price tag. ... They're just like, ‘Why isn't Biden talking to us? Where's Kamala Harris?’ Like we're lurching from crisis to crisis, and no one's talking to us.” Begala defended the White House’s overall strategy for handling Congress and chalked up the president’s low approval numbers to the fact that his fate rests in the hands of a split Senate and closely divided House. But he also said Biden should be more outfront in “explaining the process.” “He should say, ‘you know why this is so hard? Because I have to get every one of the Democrats. You know why? Because Republicans will not give me even one from their party,” for a bill that would boost child care and lower prescription drug costs, Begala said. “Make them pay a price for absolute intransigence against a very, very popular agenda.” A White House official argued that the nature of Biden’s proposals made them inherently complex political undertakings. The official added that the White House has in recent days stressed that more urgency is needed and that the administration has sharpened its messaging on how the social spending bill will be, among other things, a long-term investment against inflation, which Republicans have used as a cudgel to attack the president.

Manchin still blocking reconciliation

Inside Health Policy, 11-4, 21, Pelosi: Consensus Still Needed On Reconciliation Bill, CBO Score Coming, https://insidehealthpolicy.com/daily-news/pelosi-consensus-still-needed-reconciliation-bill-cbo-score-coming

y Michelle M. Stein / November 3, 2021 at 7:38 PM House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday (Nov. 3) told her caucus that she is working to get a Congressional Budget Office score for the updated reconciliation bill -- which includes recent changes like the addition of drug pricing reforms -- but she also cautioned that one senator is still not on board so further changes might be on the way. The House Rules Committee took up an amended version of the bill on Wednesday afternoon, including paid leave that some following the legislation said could be paid for with the savings from the drug pricing reforms. But it is unclear how much the drug provisions will save. CareQuest Institute For Oral Health is pushing for the funds to be used to revive Democrats' scuttled plan for a new Medicare dental benefit, but such policies were not included in the latest text of the legislation. "We recognize that Congress is weighing a number of important programs to include in the Build Back Better plan and we encourage policymakers to affirm that oral health care is health care. A deal on prescription drug pricing gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to finally include dental coverage under Medicare. By closing this giant gap in our Medicare system, we'll be building a path to a healthier future for millions of people who have been left behind by a broken health system. We urge Congress and President Biden to act," said CareQuest Institute for Oral Health CEO and President Myechia Minter-Jordan in a statement. But while some are continuing to push for more changes to the bill, Pelosi cautioned that changes need to be aimed at gaining Democratic consensus, as one senator is still not on board. "It had been my intention throughout this process to put on the House Floor and pass a bill that would pass the Senate in the same form. Because I have been informed by a Senator of opposition to a few of the priorities contained in our bill and because we must have legislation agreed to by the House and the Senate in the final version of the Build Back Better Act that we will send to the President's desk, we must strive to find common ground in the legislation," Pelosi wrote in her letter to House Democrats Wednesday. One lobbyist said the holdout is likely Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who reportedly still has concerns with a few policies, though it's not clear what health policies might play into those concerns. On Monday, Manchin laid out a number of concerns with the reconciliation package and said he wouldn't say whether he supports the bill until he understands its full scope. At press time, Manchin's office had not responded to a request for comment on where he stands regarding the reconciliation bill. Pelosi tells House Democrats in her Wednesday letter that she is trying to get a CBO score quickly -- especially as some moderate Democrats reportedly want a score before a vote. House Progressives have also said they want assurances that what they vote on won't be changed by the Senate, where the parliamentarian can remove provisions that don't fit the so-called Byrd restrictions on reconciliation. "[W]e have been conveying to the CBO and to the Senate the substance of the changes of the legislation, so that we can have, as soon as possible, a CBO letter, as well as comments for the Byrd bath and Privilege scrub," Pelosi said. -- Michelle M. Stein ([email protected])

Reconciliation will pass

Zack Budryk, 11-4, 21, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/580114-haaland-reconciliation-bill-will-pass-but-may-take-a-little-bit, Haaland: Reconciliation bill will pass but may 'take a little bit more time'

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland sounded an optimistic note at the COP26 international climate summit about President Biden’s environmental agenda, despite an ongoing stalemate over a major spending package. Haaland, who represented New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District before her nomination this year, said on a call with reporters that she has been in touch with former colleagues about the reconciliation package. “I haven’t had anyone voice their concerns that Build Back Better won’t pass,” she said. Many of those onetime colleagues, she added, have “stated unequivocally that they are supporting that plan.” “I have to believe that every single member of Congress knows and understands how important it is for their own communities,” Haaland added. “This bill needs to have a few questions answered, perhaps, but I don’t lose sleep at night thinking it’s not going to pass. … It might take a little bit more time [but] I feel very confident about Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] and the job she does.” The reconciliation package has been tied up in ongoing negotiations, particularly pertaining to its environmental provisions. A key clean energy provision, the Clean Electricity Performance Program, has been removed after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed opposition. Meanwhile, Pelosi has said the House will not take up a bipartisan Senate-passed infrastructure package without the reconciliation bill. Conservative group targeting moderate Democrats on spending bill votes Haaland was also asked about a recent agreement to phase out financing of coal projects announced at the COP26 summit. While 18 nations signed onto the pact, the U.S. was not among them. “I want you to know we are doing every single thing we can to manage the public lands of the United States, which belong to every single American, with an eye toward climate change,” Haaland responded. She referred back to funding in the Build Back Better framework for resilience projects, including management of abandoned mine lands. “I know that’s not the answer you’re seeking. I just want you to know that we are working with what we have,” Haaland added.

Election losses motivate Dems to finish the package

Bloomberg Tax, 11-4, 21, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-tax-report/election-losses-drive-democrats-to-move-on-two-spending-packages, Election Losses Drive Democrats to Move on Two Spending Packages

Election losses in Virginia and elsewhere prompted key House Democrats on Wednesday to step up their calls for passage of two critical components of President Joe Biden’s agenda that have stalled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats are on track to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a social welfare and tax reconciliation package this week before a scheduled recess. Leadership began whipping members Wednesday evening to determine if they’d support the latter, and Thursday’s floor schedule says votes are possible on the measures. However, previous deadlines have fallen to the wayside as moderate and progressive members of the party have struggled to agree on the bill’s provisions and process—which some Democrats said wasn’t helpful in Tuesday’s state and local elections. The GOP sweep of Virginia’s statewide positions, a close governor’s race in New Jersey, and lower-profile contests elsewhere served as a warning to Democratic lawmakers in competitive districts of the headwinds they may face in next year’s midterm elections when control of both chambers of Congress is at stake. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), who’ll likely face one of the most competitive re-elections, said it was clear after the loss in Virginia that Democrats couldn’t go into 2022 without passing both bills. “Voters elected Democrats in 2020 to address the problems this country is facing,” he said. “They’re giving Democrats an incomplete. That why we have to work as hard as we can in the next few days and few weeks to address that incomplete grade.” Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) said election losses should spur Democrats to pass spending packages. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said the caucus is “not where we want to be yet, but we have a plan to get there” in passing the two bills. “The real work is fixing the most important problem facing the American people,” he said. “We are about to deliver a real plan to do that and it’s going to produce results.” GOP Target List Midterms usually favor the party out of the White House, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) predicted Democrats could see even bigger losses than the 63-seat shellacking they took in 2010. The National Republican Congressional Committee added 13 more lawmakers to their targeted list, bringing the total number of Democrats on it to 70. House Republicans kicked off the day with a round-table discussion that signaled they plan to double-down next year on a central issue in the Virginia governor’s race: education. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday. Meanwhile, some Democrats said the election results are a sign their party should slow down to make sure they get the nuances of the $1.75 trillion social spending package right. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), the only Democrat to flip a non-redistricted seat in 2020, said part of her winning message included fiscal responsibility. While she wants to see an expansion of health care and paid family leave become law, she emphasized that lawmakers need to make sure it’s paid for. “People are wary of Democrats and the idea of overreach,” she said. “That’s why I go back to discipline and responsibility when we do these things.” Five Democrats wrote a letter to Pelosi on Tuesday saying they didn’t want to vote on the social spending bill until the Congressional Budget Office evaluated its cost and revenues. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), chair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition and one of the five lawmakers to sign the letter, told reporters an infrastructure bill should pass as soon as possible while the social welfare and tax plan needed to wait for more review. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who led a group of lawmakers who pushed for an infrastructure vote in September, had a similar sentiment. “The American people want us to act and get things done, and I think we should get the infrastructure bill up for a vote right away,” he said. Passing major bills doesn’t always translate to success in the midterms. After Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2009, they still suffered major losses the next year when Republicans made opposition to the then-unpopular legislation and complaints that their focus was off the struggling economy central campaign issues. Maloney said this time will be different as some parts of the major bill will immediately go into effect, and Democrats are prepared to make sure voters know where the new benefits came from. “We’re going to tell them that we did it and that Republicans fought us every step of the way,” Maloney said.

Biden’s approval rating has collapsed

Andrew Prokop, 11-3, 21, Biden’s approval rating is very bad, https://www.vox.com/2021/11/3/22761425/joe-biden-approval-virginia-new-jersey

Democrats’ loss in Virginia’s governor race and a closer-than-expected contest in New Jersey this week came as a surprise to many. But in retrospect, there was one glaring warning sign: President Joe Biden’s declining approval rating. When presidents have bad approval ratings, their party tends to do poorly in downballot races. In FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls, Biden’s approval is down to 42.9 percent, with his disapproval rating up to 50.7 percent. It’s obviously not good to be nearly 8 points underwater, but with historical context, Biden’s situation looks even worse. For one, Biden’s disapproval rating at this point in his term is higher than all but one president’s since the advent of modern polling. Only Donald Trump’s was higher, by about 6 percentage points, per FiveThirtyEight’s historical numbers. Biden’s approval rating is already lower than Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s were just before their disastrous 2010 and 1994 midterms — Obama’s approval was at 45 percent, and Clinton’s was at 47.2 percent. Democrats lost 63 House of Representatives seats in 2010 and 54 seats in 1994. Sign up for The Weeds newsletter Vox’s German Lopez is here to guide you through the Biden administration’s burst of policymaking. Sign up to receive our newsletter each Friday. As for Trump, Biden’s 42.9 percent approval rating right now is only slightly higher than Trump’s 42 percent on the eve of the 2018 midterms, when Republicans lost 40 House seats. The one potential silver lining for Biden is that the trajectory of Trump’s numbers shows that some improvement in the second year is possible, albeit rare. Trump’s approval rating hit its lowest point in 2017 but improved by about 5 points over 2018, which likely helped him avoid an even worse midterm defeat. It is possible that if conditions in the country improve, Biden’s numbers could rebound. Of course, things could also get worse. What happened? Biden’s numbers haven’t always been this awful. Like most presidents (Trump excepted), Biden started his term reasonably popular — per FiveThirtyEight’s tracker, his approval rating was about 53 percent and his disapproval was about 36 percent. Also like most presidents, he lost some of that sheen, but as of mid-August things still looked decent for him — 50 percent approval and 43.8 percent disapproval. That’s not so bad for a president in the modern polarized era who won with 51.3 percent of the popular vote. Then things took a turn. In the final two weeks of August, as headlines were dominated by chaos in Afghanistan while Biden was withdrawing troops, the president’s numbers dropped precipitously, and his disapproval rating topped his approval rating for the first time. And things never really got better — indeed, they got worse. The media moved on from Afghanistan, but the rise of the delta variant and renewed economic woes loomed large as summer changed to autumn. Biden’s approval kept dropping, his disapproval kept rising, and his numbers are now at their worst yet. In mid-August, a majority of Americans approved of Biden, and now a majority disapprove of him. In just two and a half months, he lost the country. The timing of Biden’s decline makes it hard to deny that the tumultuous Afghanistan withdrawal played a significant part. But it’s not the whole story. Biden was already trending downward, albeit more slowly, beforehand, and continued trending downward after national attention turned elsewhere. Part of this might be unavoidable — some frustration and backlash against the president are common in advance of the midterm elections — but, again, Biden’s numbers are worse than Clinton’s or Obama’s at this point. While a loss of support for the president may be common, just exactly how much support is lost can vary. One big factor is probably that Americans went from believing, in June, that the end of the pandemic was imminent and economic recovery was here to being rudely awakened by delta and higher prices over the following months. In a recent NBC News national poll, net approval of Biden’s performance on the economy dropped from +9 in April to -17 in October. Net approval of his handling of the pandemic dropped from +42 to +4 during that same span. About half of respondents also gave Biden low marks for “competence.” From Afghanistan to his legislative agenda to the economy to the coronavirus, the narrative has been the same: that Biden is floundering and ineffective. Some of those criticisms are fair; some are blaming him for events out of his control. But to have any hope of averting midterm disaster, that perception has to change.

Support now to pass the bill, their non-uniques are based on bad media focus

Rachel Blade, 10-29, 21, POLITICO Playbook: Why Joe Biden already won, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/10/29/why-joe-biden-already-won-494900

BIDEN GETS IT DONE, DESPITE HIMSELF — To say Thursday was a roller coaster for President JOE BIDEN’s agenda wouldn’t do justice to how truly head-spinning the day was. The White House releases a Build Back Better (BBB) deal backed by MANCHINEMA (now they’re getting somewhere) — only to watch BERNIE SANDERS balk (never mind). The president delays his trip to Europe to rally House Democrats behind his plan — then whiffs, somehow neglecting to deliver the tough love message Democratic leaders wanted him to so they could pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) this week. But just when it looked like the day would end in embarrassment for Democrats, the Congressional Progressive Caucus issues a surprise endorsement of the president’s compromise plan — removing one of the last big obstacles in its way. The CPC’s decision to back the new BBB framework got drowned out by the group’s refusal to allow a BIF vote Thursday before full text was drafted. That deprived Speaker NANCY PELOSI of the vote she was determined to hold on BIF, and yielded lots of headlines about Democrats’ failure to clinch the win. But the dispute over sequencing masked a major achievement for the president: Hill progressives now appear ready to swallow this deal — and that means it’s likely a matter of when, not if, it passes. The fact that the group isn’t making demands for major changes is quite something given that many of their priorities were significantly scaled back as moderates got most of what they wanted. “We wanted a $3.5 trillion package, but we understand the reality of the situation,” CPC Chair PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-Wash.) told reporters Thursday night. While she welcomes senators negotiating to make additional changes to the bill, she said specifically that her group’s endorsement is not contingent on that. That stance is especially notable since earlier in the day, Sanders (I-Vt.) seemed unhappy with the package and ready to fight for more. He complained there were “major gaps” in the framework, specifically on prescription drugs and Medicare. At the same time, he did not draw any red lines and praised the plan as “the most consequential bill since the 1960s.” It’s a reminder that there is no Freedom Caucus of the left and probably never will be. Progressives find it hard to vote against things they believe in, even if the bill doesn’t have everything that they want. For that, perhaps Biden, who’s set to meet with the pope today, should count his blessings.

Biden’s capital is collapsing

Adam Creighton, 10-29, 21, The Australian, Joe Biden’s stocks grow weaker as errors build. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/joe-bidens-stocks-grow-weaker-as-errors-build/news-story/770507d77e5918541ebc5e2ab0c71af0

Little is going right for the Democrats in the US. President Joe Biden flew out of Washington on Thursday night for Italy and then Glasgow in the weakest political position of his presidency. Biden’s rapidly diminishing political capital at home augurs badly for any new global agreement on climate change. His personal approval rating has been falling, accelerating since the controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, to the lowest point of any president at this stage except Donald Trump. Economic growth has collapsed in the third quarter to 2 per cent, inflation remains stuck above 5 per cent, and the President’s reform agenda has stalled. Almost 20 months on from the start of the pandemic the labour force remains three million smaller than it was in February last year. Illegal arrivals at the southern border with Mexico have exploded. A Republican could even win a close-run governor election in ­Virginia next week, which a few weeks ago looked to be a shoo-in for the Democratic incumbents. Far-left Democrats refused to support the President’s slimmed-down “infrastructure” compromise on Thursday (Friday AEDT), furious the originally massive ­social spending had shrunk from a mooted $US3.5 trillion, as promised earlier this year, to less than $US1.9 trillion to appease moderate Democrats worried about how the plans might play in the suburbs. In other words, the President landed in Rome early on Friday for his first in-person G20 meeting without any of the legislative ­machinery he needs to make his April promise to slash US carbon emission by 50 per cent by 2030 credible. Biden’s lacklustre first year is the product of forced and unforced errors. Inflation was always going to tick up as the economy snapped back, whoever was in office. The job market was bound to recover slowly. But setting reform ambitions so high when the Democrats won only a tiny legislative mandate last November – barely a handful of seats in House of Representatives and none in the Senate – was bound to end in humiliation. Biden’s proposed reforms to ­social security match Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society reforms of the late 1960s in social impact, without any of the political mandate. Similarly, the White House unexpectedly mandated that every employee in businesses with more than 100 staff – more than 100 million workers – needed to be vaccinated against Covid-19, guaran­teeing to fuel angry protests, and clog US courts for years. Democrat strategists will come to wonder whether the incremental health benefits of forced vaccination, which Biden said last December would never happen, were worth the political costs. Perhaps it’s a good thing they’ve stalled. Every component of the massive social spending bill yet to limp over the legislative line – free childcare, expanded public health insurance, means-tested free housing, and $US550bn for renewable energy subsidies – has ­received little public scrutiny. Few seasoned political nerds on Capitol Hill can explain what’s in the legislation. On top of all this, the President’s increasingly doddery public performances present a risk at Glasgow and Rome. Every gaffe makes the likelihood of Donald Trump seeking the Republican nomination in 2024 more likely. The Democrats love talking about Trump, whose post-election behaviour earned the ire of most Americans.

Biden investing capital in reconciliation bill

Scott Limeux, 10-28, 21, https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/10/do-we-have-a-deal, Do We have a deal?

President Biden on Thursday unveiled a new $1.75 trillion package to overhaul the country’s health-care, education, climate and tax laws, muscling through a slew of policy disagreements and internecine political feuds that had stalled his economic agenda for months. The announcement marked a critical moment in Biden’s tenure, prompting the president to pay a visit to Capitol Hill and call on Democrats to adopt the spending along with a second, roughly $1.2 trillion package to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. “We spent hours and hours and hours over months and months working on this,” Biden said in televised remarks. “No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is. That’s consensus, and that’s what I ran on.” Biden’s moves reflect a pivotal decision to assume ownership of the sweeping safety net proposal in a new way. He is investing enormous political capital in the new plan — which follows days of intensive, secretive meetings with key lawmakers — and is essentially warning any wary Democrats that they risk damaging him and the party if they do not get on board.

Reconcilliation bill likely to pass next week

Nialle Stanage, 10-29, 21, The Hill, The Memo: Democrats stall out on brink of victory, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/579042-the-memo-democrats-stall-out-on-brink-of-victory

Democratic infighting and distrust combined to tarnish a likely victory Thursday.

President Biden is in Europe without clear confirmation that his key piece of social-spending legislation will pass — despite a last minute trip to the Capitol Thursday morning to make the case for a $1.75 trillion framework. The White House and Democrats will argue that, so long as the legislation passes eventually, the horse-trading that has marred the process will be forgotten. But even if that proves true, it doesn’t change the fact that the party’s roiling internal tensions are causing serious problems here and now. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) early Thursday evening delayed a vote on a separate $1 trillion infrastructure measure, despite having pushed hard to pass the measure earlier in the day. The delay — the second postponement for the bill — was a rare exhibition of weakness from the Speaker, who prides herself on both her vote-counting abilities and her capacity to sway recalcitrant members of her caucus. The reasons for the impasse are numerous, but none of them are good for Democrats. Progressives are dismayed by the scale of the cuts to the social spending bill, which have seen cherished objectives like paid family leave, tuition-free community college and a clean electricity program stricken. At the same time, the two Democratic senators who have extracted concessions in scaling back the original proposal — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are still vague about whether they are committed to supporting the framework that Biden has outlined. Anger from more progressive Democrats has been simmering at Manchin and Sinema throughout the process, with some on the left openly accusing them of bad faith. ADVERTISING The left is not about to extend the benefit of the doubt to the duo now. The upshot is that progressives were in no mood to back down from their position that they would not vote on the infrastructure package until they got more concrete assurances on the social spending bill. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, reiterated in a Thursday afternoon statement that members of her group would not back one bill without the other. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a member of the so-called ‘Squad’, told reporters she was “a ‘hell no’” to advancing infrastructure without certainty on the social spending bill. Another ‘Squad’ member, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), tweeted: “A deal is a deal. These bills move together.” But it also came as unwelcome news to Biden, who had wanted to shepherd a confirmed agreement home before departing for a transatlantic trip that will include a meeting with Pope Francis, a G20 summit in Rome and a climate change conference in Glasgow. Biden will not return to Washington until next Wednesday. Pelosi was reported to have earlier told her caucus not to “embarrass” the president by rejecting the infrastructure bill. But the delay of the vote affirms that progressives were willing to do just that. Biden himself had reportedly told Democrats on Capitol Hill that it was not “hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities, and my presidency, will be determined by what happens in the next week.” Given the stakes involved, the lack of action is frustrating to many in the Democratic Party — even as they acknowledge the misgivings about the cuts to the big bill. “The biggest obstacle that Democrats are facing right now is the lack of progress,” said Tad Devine, a strategist who held a senior role on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential bid. “If they make progress, they can begin to tell a story. The Republicans have a well-developed story and the Democrats are negotiating something that nobody seems to understand. That’s a loser.” The expectation on Capitol Hill is that both bills will pass eventually — perhaps sometime next week. And voices across the Democratic spectrum emphasize that such an outcome would be a significant victory. Many Democrats fairly point out that combined infrastructure and social spending legislation amounting to almost $3 trillion is no minor matter — especially coming on top of a COVID-19 relief bill signed into law in March that was worth almost another $2 trillion. In addition, even the pared back version of the social spending bill includes universal pre-kindergarten, an extension of a $300 per month child tax credit, an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing issues, and more than $500 billion to combat climate change. Across the party there is a near-desperation to enact the legislation, so that voters can feel the benefits — or at least know those benefits are coming — before next year’s midterm elections. Even on the left, there is an acknowledgement that incremental progress is vital. “Progressives are in the same place that we have been, certainly since the first Bernie campaign — we have some power and it’s growing but it is quite limited,” said left-wing strategist Jonathan Tasini. “But the second thing is, I believe that the word ‘progressive’ means progress…You have to pass the bill and fight another day. It’s not over!” The delay could also cost Democrats more than just prestige. In Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Capitol, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is locked in a tough fight with Republican Glenn Youngkin. McAuliffe has pleaded with his party to pass the bills, but they may not now do so before Election Day on Tuesday. A Fox News poll released Thursday put Youngkin up eight points in a state Biden won by 10 points a year ago. Democrats will, in all likelihood, get their legislation in the end.

Sinema and Manchin support the new bill

Alexander Bolton, 10-29, 21, The Hill, Manchin, Sinema put stamp on party, to progressive chagrin, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/579031-manchin-sinema-put-stamp-on-party-to-progressive-chagrin

The $1.75 trillion social-spending framework unveiled by the White House on Thursday — a package half the size of what progressives imagined just weeks ago — shows Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are winning the party debate over President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Manchin and Sinema insisted a final package must be much smaller than the $3.5 trillion goal initially set by Democratic leaders, and they stuck to their demands. The framework price tag is much closer to Manchin’s top line of $1.5 trillion than the $6 trillion some progressives dreamed of landing. Even after it became clear the $3.5 trillion goal would be shrunk, Democrats hoped for a range of $2.5 trillion to $2.8 trillion. Then they revised their expectations to $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion. On Thursday they got $1.75 trillion. Biden insisted it would still be regarded as a major policy accomplishment if passed into law, and it’s true the bill would make a big achievement. Yet the majority of Democrats had to offer concession after concession to get to the lower figure, including dropping a national paid family leave program entirely. Manchin and Sinema “were very influential” in shaping the framework, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledged, before adding after a pause: “for better or worse.” The centrist duo were on speed dial with White House aides and the president in the stretch leading up to Thursday, underscoring their influence on the final product. ADVERTISING Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a leading progressive, observed that the two centrists “were in the room right from the very beginning.” And in the 50-50 Senate, each effectively had a veto on the final bill. Democrats are passing the measure through budget rules that prevent a GOP filibuster. But that means they can’t afford a single defection in their caucus. Manchin and Sinema left their fingerprints all over the framework. It would expand Medicare to cover hearing, but not dental and vision because of Manchin’s concerns over cost and Medicare’s own solvency. A clean electricity program was jettisoned, and Manchin raised a red flag over a proposed carbon fee last month when he argued it would do little to bolster the development of new technologies and would more likely become a bludgeon against the coal industry. Keeping Carbon in Check: Carbon Farming to Address a Changing Climate SPONSORED CONTENT Keeping Carbon in Check: Carbon Farming to Address a Changing Climate BY BAYER CROP SCIENCE He has also voiced concerns over any methane fee that would penalize natural gas companies, telling The Hill this week: “You’ve got to give an incentive to do the right thing…. Methane pricing done wrong is very detrimental, it won’t happen.” Corporate tax rates could not be raised because of Sinema’s objections. The Arizona Democrat also said no to hikes on individual rates for the wealthy. Manchin described an effort to tax the wealth of billionaires’ investments as “convoluted,” and it didn’t make the final package. “I don’t like it. I don’t like the connotation that we’re targeting different people,” Manchin told reporters when asked about it. The White House also discarded a plan to raise the capital gains rate from 20 percent to 39.6 percent for people earning more than $1 million. The framework does include a 15 percent corporate minimum tax that would apply to companies with over $1 billion in profits, which both Manchin and Sinema have endorsed. It all left progressives grumbling. “Clearly to my mind it has some major gaps in it,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said of the White House framework on Thursday. Manchin and Sinema, by contrast, seemed quite pleased. Manchin told colleagues that it’s something he can “work with” while Sinema hailed “significant progress” and said “I look forward to getting this done.” The White House framework also left out a proposal championed by Sanders and other liberals to empower the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, bowing to Sinema, who opposed granting Medicare far-ranging authority to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. Democratic senators are still negotiating over a proposal to lower the price of prescription drugs but it will be far narrower than what they initially envisioned.

Support for a reconciliation deal growing

Tony Romm, 10-28, 21, Washington Post, Biden unveils $1.75 trillion spending plan, but divisions delay economic agenda, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-to-announce-democratic-agreement-on-social-spending-deal/2021/10/28/2781863c-37d3-11ec-91dc-551d44733e2d_story.html

President Biden on Thursday unveiled a new $1.75 trillion package to overhaul the country’s health-care, education, climate and tax laws, muscling through a slew of policy disagreements and internecine political feuds that had stalled his economic plans for months. 2021 Election: Complete coverage and analysis But the long-awaited proposal did not prove enough to advance his broader agenda, including a second, separate $1.2 trillion package to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. The announcement Thursday marked a critical moment in Biden’s tenure, prompting the president to pay another visit to Capitol Hill and issue a call to action to his own party. In a private meeting, Biden told lawmakers they had worked “hours and hours and hours over months and months” on a spending compromise, he recalled later in televised remarks, as the White House labored to broker a truce between Democrats’ warring moderate and liberal ranks. The call to action at first appeared to galvanize some Democrats, and the new $1.75 trillion framework soon generated praise. It also prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to move toward holding a vote on the companion infrastructure bill on Thursday. That latter proposal had been held up by House liberals, who insisted on seeing a final, acceptable version of the safety-net plan before they moved a public-works package that moderates had championed. “I think we’re going to be in good shape,” Biden told reporters as he departed the Hill. But House Democrats ultimately scrapped their tentative plans for a vote by Thursday night, as some in the party remained unsatisfied with the process. Some liberal lawmakers continued to believe the framework put forward by Biden still might not have the full support of two moderate holdouts, Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), without which their spending plans are doomed. The two senators for months have tried to scale back Democrats’ plans for a package to overhaul health care, education, climate and tax laws. In doing so, liberal-leaning lawmakers also reaffirmed an earlier threat that they would not vote for an infrastructure bill unless they could also vote around the same time on the rest of their spending priorities. With that legislative legwork unfinished, Pelosi opted to adjourn the House for the week. The renewed stalemate denied Biden the victory he had hoped to achieve as he traveled abroad Thursday. Shortly after meeting with House Democrats, the president departed for Rome, where he plans to attend the Group of 20 summit of world leaders, before heading to Glasgow, Scotland, for a global conference focused on climate change. Entering those engagements, Biden had hoped to brandish billions of dollars in new aid to combat the deadly consequences of global warming. Instead, the bickering in Washington now threatens to extend into another week as lawmakers haggle over the president’s agenda, their shared spending priorities and the direction of the Democratic Party itself. As the House prepared to adjourn, Pelosi on Thursday praised progress toward reaching the deal, telling lawmakers in a letter that there is still “good news” in the fact that their efforts are growing in support.

Democratic unity key to reconciliation passage

Tony Romm, 10-28, 21, Washington Post, Biden unveils $1.75 trillion spending plan, but divisions delay economic agenda, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-to-announce-democratic-agreement-on-social-spending-deal/2021/10/28/2781863c-37d3-11ec-91dc-551d44733e2d_story.html

In unveiling the details of its new spending plans, White House officials took great care to stress that the entire $1.75 trillion is financed in full. They aim to pay for the package through a variety of new tax policies, including newly proposed rules that require companies to pay a minimum 15 percent tax — seeking to address the fact some profitable, multinational corporations use creative accounting to lower their tax burdens to zero. The idea is a significant departure from the rate increases Biden initially sought as part of a campaign pledge to unwind the tax cuts enacted under President Donald Trump in 2017. The White House also backed off a plan to apply a new billionaires’ income tax to roughly 700 Americans, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Instead, they proposed a special 5 percent rate for Americans with income above $10 million and an additional 3 percent surtax for those above $25 million. A long slog still awaits lawmakers to turn their deal into a bill, then shepherd it through Congress, a fraught process where the Democrats’ slim majorities still leave little room for political error. Pelosi has just a three-vote margin, and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) possesses only a tiebreaking advantage, meaning Democrats must stay together if they hope to deliver a package that Biden in recent days has described as transformational.

Biden avoiding controversial issues to get reconciliation passed

Matt Viser, 10-29, 21, Biden raises the stakes with the biggest gamble of his presidency, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-deal-presidency/2021/10/28/52a273cc-37ff-11ec-91dc-551d44733e2d_story.html

President Biden entered a caucus meeting of Democrats on Thursday morning, told them he wanted to speak from the heart, and then made one of the biggest gambles of a career that spans nearly a half century. He put the future of his presidency, and the state of his party, on the line with a major bet that he could persuade a fractious group of Democrats to rally behind him and support a compromise $1.75 trillion social spending plan at the heart of his agenda. “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week,” he said, according to a participant in the meeting. His wager — the result of weeks of haggling and what has become a legislative Groundhog Day morass — was in some ways out of character for a president who has been relatively risk-averse, often keeping a safe distance from the most explosive legislative debates. On a day of high drama with numerous deadlines looming — including the governor’s race in Virginia on Tuesday — Biden had a few hours before boarding Air Force One to depart on a consequential foreign trip that includes meeting with Pope Francis, attempting to make progress on climate change and renewing efforts to show that democracy can work. Senior White House officials and top congressional aides spent the early hours Thursday morning scrambling to complete the text of a 1,684 page-piece of the social spending bill. They hoped that $1.75 trillion legislation might unlock opposition to quickly voting on a separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, but the fate of both signature bills remained uncertain. The House abandoned plans to move ahead on the infrastructure package late Thursday, punting until next week. “We badly need a vote on both of these measures,” Biden pleaded in the caucus meeting earlier in the day, adding, “I need you to help me. I need your votes.” He reached for history, saying that what would be achieved through the two plans would be greater and more significant than the combined efforts of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. Biden’s agenda — and in many ways his presidency — has teetered on the verge of catastrophe in recent weeks, before he and Democratic congressional leaders slowly started to resolve intraparty conflicts that have been a stain on their tenure helming the federal government. How and whether Biden can navigate a Congress that Democrats have only nominal control over, with razor-thin majorities in both chambers, has been one of the enduring questions over his first nine months in office. For Biden, the revised plan held the potential to show strength after months in which even his allies felt he was projecting weakness. Amid all of his challenges, his presidency at times has felt rudderless to some supporters. Just as important, Democrats said, if they can reach a deal to pass the social spending plan and the infrastructure measure, it would demonstrate that the party can govern, meeting Biden’s campaign promise to successfully work with Republicans and unite a party in which old fractures resurfaced after Trump left office. “The rest of the world wonders whether we can function,” he said at least twice during the caucus meeting. “Not a joke.” Part of Biden’s political biography is rooted in coming from behind and succeeding despite being underestimated. In his 2020 Democratic primary campaign, he lost the first two contests by large margins and was all but counted out before making his comeback. But it was done through a plodding belief that he had a candidacy that voters would come around to support, rather than any sudden shifts in a campaign strategy built on a message of stability, competence and normalcy. Biden and his closest aides have long steered clear of polarizing issues and tiptoed around topics on which they faced pressure to act but recognized their leverage was limited. He has delayed hard decisions, including whether to get into a presidential campaign, which running mate to pick or how to fill administration positions. And his career has been one in which he’s been most comfortable finding the center of his party, as he often placed small, incremental bets rather than big, sweeping ones. Liberal activists and civil rights leaders have pressured Biden to wage a campaign to end the Senate filibuster to clear the way for legislation to broaden voting rights and raise the federal minimum wage, while judicial activists pressed him to expand the Supreme Court. While nodding to their concerns, Biden has avoided such fights, which his team believed were not winnable. Throughout much of the social spending plan negotiations, Biden was determined not to speak publicly on behalf of lawmakers whose votes they were trying to win, and his aides often studiously avoided doing so in public. He held a long series of meetings, with lawmakers saying he was doing more listening at first and then gradually became more assertive in the sessions. On Thursday, Biden used his most definitive tone yet to describe the progress he had made. “I am back here to tell you that we have a framework that will get 50 votes in the United States Senate,” he told House Democrats in their closed-door meeting, according to a Democrat with knowledge of his remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private discussions. In the eyes of some Democrats, he had little choice after being backed into a corner. Biden’s approval rating has slipped across the board, registering this week at just 43 percent, according to one survey in deep-blue New Jersey. A summer resurgence of the coronavirus, a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, concerns about inflation and months of inaction on his domestic agenda have fueled what many Democrats regard as a dire political situation for the party heading into next year’s midterm elections. In this year’s feature election, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, a close Biden ally, is running neck-and-neck in the polls with Republican Glenn Youngkin in a state Biden carried by 10 points last year. McAuliffe has been imploring Democrats in Washington to “quit talking” and “get something done” — a signal of the toll that inaction has taken on the party brand — and has acknowledged the challenge posed by Biden’s unpopularity. McAuliffe was quick to seize on Thursday’s progress, tweeting, “The middle class tax cut announced today by President Biden is a game changer for Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth. Massive investments in child care, pre-K, and climate plus more jobs and lower health care costs. MAJOR win for VA families.” While some Democrats are hopeful it will help McAuliffe energize more voters in the final days of the race, some Democrats privately said in the run-up to Thursday’s announcement that it was probably too late to have a significant effect. One close ally of the White House, who has knowledge of the internal dynamics, said the desire to seize on the moment to spur action and strengthen his position before heading abroad was a clear factor in setting the stage for Thursday’s rollout. Biden himself had pleaded with lawmakers in to help him get a deal before his trip — even appealing to their patriotism in at least one meeting. Beyond that, there was a sense around Biden that deadlines can move things along, said the ally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. Now Biden allies hope he looks stronger both at home and abroad. Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), a close friend of Biden’s, said the president’s trip to Europe, combined with the need to move ahead with other legislative priorities like the defense authorization bill and dealing with the debt ceiling, spurred the president to act on Thursday. “We’re out of runway. In the caucus, we’ve been sort of circling this airport for weeks, and it’s time to the land the plane so that he can take off and focus on world leadership and so that the average American can see the positive outcomes,” Coons said. “There’s also the small but very urgent matter of the election in Virginia coming up.” Biden, a veteran of the Senate, also is in tune with the rhythms of legislative negotiations and struck the right closing tone at the right moment, Coons said. “He understands that the legislative process has an arc to it,” he said. Coons, who said he has spoken with Biden a number of times in recent weeks, described him as “determined, optimistic,” but clear about the challenges he faces. The path forward is still murky, with divisions still playing out within the party. “No one got everything they wanted, including me. But that’s what compromise is. That’s consensus, and that’s what I ran on,” Biden said in an East Room address on Thursday. “I’ve long said compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy, important things done for the country. I know it’s hard.”

Reconcilliation bill is a massive investment in climate change prevention

Stehen Mufson, 10-28, 21, New budget deal marks the biggest climate investment in U.S. history, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/10/28/climate-biden-build-back-better/

The White House’s Build Back Better plan unveiled Thursday represents the biggest clean-energy investment in U.S. history, with a $555 billion package of tax credits, grants and other policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change. Although Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) forced Democrats to drop a key provision targeting the electric power sector, the final bill includes an array of tax credits for companies and consumers that will make it easier to buy electric vehicles, install solar panels, retrofit buildings and manufacture wind turbines and other clean-energy equipment in the United States. The climate package comes at a time when President Biden is hoping to demonstrate at a high-profile United Nations summit next week that the United States can meet its international climate commitments. The legislation, coupled with executive actions, could help Biden halve U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in less than nine years compared with 2005 levels. “This is game-changing,” said Carol Browner, who served as President Barack Obama’s top climate adviser during the start of his administration and headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton. Comparing it to the 2009 stimulus bill that funneled billions of dollars to clean energy, Browner said, “This is six times the amount of Obama’s investment, and we thought that was big.” Republican lawmakers, however, said it would make it harder for the United States to take advantage of its abundant supply of fossil fuels. During a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing Thursday, where Democrats grilled oil executives over their past efforts to play down the effect of climate change, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) specifically targeted the new tax-and-spending bill. “The president and his allies in Congress have consistently advocated for policies that have led to higher energy prices and increased inflation,” Biggs said. The new Democratic plan, however, underscores how much has shifted since Obama chose to prioritize economic and health-care legislation over a climate bill a decade ago. This year, as wildfires and floods have hammered the country amid scientific warnings that the world must slash its carbon emissions by the end of the decade, Biden and his fellow Democrats have made clean energy central to their economic agenda. “Climate in 2020 became an electoral powerhouse,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who co-sponsored a cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in 2009 but stalled in the Senate. “That army of the Sunrise Movement, the youth climate strikers, they have proven that if you organize around clean energy, around climate issues, you can change the inside dynamic of the back rooms of Washington.” Documents from the White House and analyses by independent experts suggest the legislation will reduce U.S. annual carbon dioxide emissions by about a gigaton, nearly a sixth of its current annual emissions. Markey said he now believes that tax credits would “supercharge the renewable revolution” and work in concert with new regulations the administration plans to adopt. “Standards are more permanent, more popular, and provide more certainty that going forward we will get dangerous emissions down to where they need to be to protect every community, especially environmental justice communities,” he said, referring to areas with a higher share of low-income Americans and people of color. Days before a critical U.N. climate summit, people around the world explain what's at stake Environmentalists and liberals pushed unsuccessfully in the bill for a plan known as the Clean Energy Performance Program, which would reward power companies that increased their share of renewables by 4 percent a year and penalize those that didn’t. But Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said that provision was not essential. “From my perspective, the most important thing survived, because the engine of this bill from the beginning has been tax credits,” Krupp said. Those tax credits will work differently from past efforts to put a price on carbon. With many politicians remain skittish about raising the cost of energy, the Biden approach will make clean energy cheaper through tax credits rather than imposing taxes on fossil fuels. Democrats were still negotiating Thursday over whether to include a fee on methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in the legislation. The provision made it into the House version of the bill, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said in an interview, “I expect it to be in the Senate version as well.” Many oil and gas firms oppose the idea, noting that the EPA is about to propose a rule that will limit methane emissions from their operations. The American Petroleum Institute’s senior vice president for regulatory affairs, Frank Macchiarola, said in an email that “we’re reviewing the legislative text” and would work with both parties. The tax credits would help a wide variety of people, said Princeton University professor Jesse Jenkins, and would fix some of the flaws of previous credits. The new ones would be refundable, so that poorer Americans can get money back from the Treasury, and also last longer, making long-term planning easier for industry. Companies also would not face the same limits they did in the past. Currently, electric-vehicle manufacturers lose their credits once they have sold a relatively modest number of vehicles, Jenkins said, essentially penalizing them for success. The White House said that the new bill would cut the cost of installing solar on a residential rooftop by about 30 percent, shortening the payback period by about five years. The SK Battery America facility in Commerce, Ga. Automakers are investing billions of dollars to bring new electric vehicles to consumers in the United States. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg News) The electric-vehicle tax credit would lower the cost of an electric vehicle that is made in America with domestic materials and union labor by $12,500 for a middle-class family — while being phased out for wealthier households. And the credit can be claimed by manufacturers, so people without large savings can immediately get the lower price at the dealership rather than waiting until tax season. Here's what Biden is doing to tackle climate change Michele Roberts, national co-coordinator at the Environmental Justice Health Alliance, lauded the proposal as a major win for communities of color that have been disproportionately harmed by pollution from fossil fuel infrastructure. The bill includes money for cleaning up Superfund sites, electrifying transit systems to improve air quality, and directing clean energy jobs toward low-income communities. In addition, the legislation would help rural communities tap into targeted grants and loans through the Department of Agriculture. It would create a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator, essentially a green bank for lending money, 40 percent of which would go to “disadvantaged communities,” the administration’s framework said. Biden is also planning to use the legislation to create a Civilian Climate Corps to hire 300,000 young people to restore forests and wetlands and guard against the effects of rising temperatures.

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 reconcilliation

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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