What Now?! – 3/2/21

“Senior Democrats are abandoning a backup plan to increase the minimum wage through a corporate tax penalty, after encountering numerous practical and political challenges in drafting their proposal over the weekend,” the Washington Post reports.

Punchbowl News: “Now that the minimum wage has been kicked out of the Covid-relief bill, Democrats have taken to saying that they will work really hard to get a wage boost into law. There are some people who even believe it.”

“But remember, there are two ways to get a minimum wage increase into law: either Democrats abolish the filibuster, or convince 10 Republicans to support it. That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that.”

Matthew Yglesias: “What Democrats should want on immigration is not continuation of the cozy status quo, but a grand bargain that includes legal status and a path to citizenship for millions of long-settled undocumented people. And what they should want for workers is that anyone who has a job in America makes enough to live in America.”

“Bipartisan talks on immigration are nonexistent at the moment, while negotiations over a national minimum wage are fraught. A wage/enforcement deal that makes life uncomfortable for the Chamber of Commerce might be exactly the thing that drags Republicans back to the table on immigration while allowing the Biden administration to deliver on its promise of a wage increase.”

President Biden released a video in support of workers in Alabama — an apparent message of support for a union organization effort happening at Amazon.

Paul Waldman: “If you aren’t attuned to the subtleties of presidential rhetoric about union organizing and business-labor relations, the video President Biden released on Sunday about a union drive at an Amazon warehouse might have seemed a little vague. It didn’t mention the word ‘Amazon’ at all, in fact, and didn’t take an explicit position on whether workers there should vote to unionize.”

“But labor advocates are saying it’s the most pro-union statement a president has ever made.”

New York Times: “Offering a warning to Republicans on judges, Mr. Durbin said he would reserve the right to end their ability to block district court nominees through the arcane ‘blue slip’ process — which allows senators to bless or blackball nominees from their home states — if he concluded that they were obstructing nominations without legitimate grounds.”

The Hill: “The House passed the legislation on Friday, sending it to the Senate where it could come up next week. Leadership wants to get the bill signed into law by mid-March, with the onus on moving it quickly through Congress.”

“But before Senate Democrats can pass the bill, they’ll need to go through an hours-long voting session known as a vote-a-rama, where any senator will be able to offer an amendment. Any changes will require the coronavirus relief package to go back to the House.”

Former President Donald Trump spent almost no time addressing the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that the House passed this weekend, NBC News reports.

Said Trump: “The Democrats now say we have to pass their $1.9 trillion boondoggle to open schools, but a very small part of it has to do with that. You know where it’s going — it’s going to bailout badly-run Democrat cities, so much of it.”

“That’s it. In almost 90 minutes of remarks, Trump devoted just two sentences of criticism to Biden’s first legislative priority as president. And it says a lot about the state of GOP opposition to the Covid relief bill, which remains popular in polls: While House Republicans uniformly voted against it on Saturday, it hasn’t been an animating issue for Republicans.”

“Early Saturday morning, Kansas’ three Republican U.S. House members voted against the massive Biden administration pandemic relief package that will send an estimated $1.6 billion to the state,” Kansas City Star reports.

One of them called it “a bailout for liberal states.”

“Their GOP counterparts in the Kansas Legislature? They’ve effectively spent much of it already.”

“Republican lawmakers are eyeing the relief dollars to fund $500 million in tax cuts, heavily targeted to multinational corporations and wealthy and retired Kansans.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the Biden administration’s task force for reuniting migrant families separated by the Trump administration will allow separated families “the option of being reunified either in the United States or their county of origin,” NBC News reports.

Mayorkas called the separation of thousands of migrant families under the Trump administration “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that proceeded this administration.”

“The Biden administration is preparing to impose sanctions on Russia over the poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny this week,” CNN reports.

“The rollout of the sanctions will happen in coordination with the European Union, the officials said. The measures and the exact timing will be fleshed out by US and EU officials in the coming days.”

Politico: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) urges Biden admin to release intelligence on Russian bounties.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “plans to introduce legislation on Monday that would tax the net worth of the wealthiest people in America, a proposal aimed at persuading President Biden and other Democrats to fund sweeping new federal spending programs by taxing the richest Americans,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Warren’s wealth tax would apply a 2 percent tax to individual net worth — including the value of stocks, houses, boats and anything else a person owns, after subtracting out any debts — above $50 million. It would add an additional 1 percent surcharge for net worth above $1 billion.”

“As Congress begins debate this week on sweeping voting and ethics legislation, Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: If signed into law, it would usher in the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections law in at least a generation,” the AP reports.

“House Resolution 1, Democrats’ 791-page bill, would touch virtually every aspect of the electoral process — striking down hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security, curbing partisan gerrymandering and curtailing the influence of big money in politics.”

Asked in a Fox News interview if he regretted how he handled the Capitol riots, Donald Trump blamed Speaker Nancy Pelosi for poor security and then boasted about the size of the crowd that was there to support him.

Said Trump: “The press doesn’t like to talk about it, but the real number was much, much bigger… It was tremendous numbers of people, not the Capitol, I’m talking about the rally itself, and it was a lovefest, it was a beautiful thing.”

New York Times: “Even as Americans watched live images of rioters wearing MAGA hats and carrying Trump flags breach the Capitol — egged on only minutes earlier by a president who falsely denounced a rigged election and exhorted his followers to fight for justice — history was being rewritten in real time.”

“Within hours, a narrative built on rumors and partisan conjecture had reached the Twitter megaphones of pro-Trump politicians. By day’s end, Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin had shared it with millions of Fox News viewers, and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida had stood on the ransacked House floor and claimed that many rioters ‘were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.’”

Just Security is tracking every pending criminal and civil case against Donald Trump.

Hyatt Hotels called symbols of hate “abhorrent” after the design of a stage at the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference at one of its hotels drew comparisons to a Norse rune used by Nazis during the Second World War, The Guardian reports.

The ceiling of the conference room featured a lighting display in the same shape as the stage.

“President Joe Biden is planning a virtual meeting Monday with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — a chance for the pair to talk more fully about migration, confronting the coronavirus and cooperating on economic and national security issues,” the AP reports.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to allegations of sexual harassment on Sunday by saying his “playful” banter had been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,” the Daily Beast reports. Said Cuomo: “I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.”

He added: “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent that anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”

Politico: “Meanwhile, Cuomo’s office made its third proposal in less than 24 hours about how to conduct an independent investigation into his office.”

Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has accused the governor of sexual harassment said on Monday that the governor “has refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior” and encouraged other women with similar experiences to step forward, the New York Times reports.

Said Bennett: “As we know, abusers — particularly those with tremendous amounts of power — are often repeat offenders who engage in manipulative tactics to diminish allegations, blame victims, deny wrongdoing and escape consequences.”

She added: “It took the governor 24 hours and significant backlash to allow for a truly independent investigation. These are not the actions of someone who simply feels misunderstood; they are the actions of an individual who wields his power to avoid justice.”

A third woman has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of unwanted touching and sexual attention, saying he placed his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at her friend’s wedding, the New York Times reports.

A friend took a series of pictures of the incident as it occurred.

“The administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has retained a prominent white-collar defense attorney as it grapples with allegations of sexual harassment and Justice Department inquiries into Covid-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who represents a district on the Mexican border, warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus, Axios reports.

Said Cuellar: “You just can’t say, ‘Yeah, yeah, let everybody in’ — because then we’re affected down there at the border.”

Wall Street Journal: “Iran rejected a European Union offer to hold direct nuclear talks with the U.S. in the coming days, risking renewed tension between Tehran and Western capitals.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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