Daily Politics Update

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 reconc8lliation

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

Biden has no capital

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

Biden undermining his own infrastructure bill

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

Biden will negotiate a reconciliation compromise

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

Progressives will compromise to pass reconciliation

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

Reconcilliation and infrastructure will both pass

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

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

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

Massive democratic infighting now

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

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

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

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

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

Prioritizing debt payments won’t solve the economic problems

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

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

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

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

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

Infrastructure vote on Monday, it won’t pass

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

Reconciliation package too big to pass

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

Negative images destroying Biden politically

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

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

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

Biden capital critical to get the reconciliation votes

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

Default triggers global collapse

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

Biden’s approval has collapsed

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

Immigration thumper

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

Biden pushing infrastructure, it will barely pass

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

No reconciliation bill kills US climate leadership

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

Dreamers legislation no longer part of the stimulus

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

Biden popularity rebounding

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

GOP win in 2024 ends NATO

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

Failure to raise the debt ceiling causes an economic collapse

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

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

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

Biden’s capital is collapsing

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

Without vaccines Africa will be a breeding ground for variants

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

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

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

Voting rights reform won’t pass

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

Biden’s popularity collapsing

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

No democratic unity now

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

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

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

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

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

Increasing taxes undermines small business and investment needed for renewable energy

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

Debt ceiling default inevitable, no way to get Republican support

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

Biden’s capital has collapsed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO stimulus, no infrastructure

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

Massive partisanship, no deal to increase the debt ceiling

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

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

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

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

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