What Now?! – 5/27/21

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) “pleaded with Republicans on Tuesday to drop their opposition to creating an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, in an 11th-hour attempt to prevent its collapse on the floor,” the New York Times reports.

“The maneuvering amounted to a long-shot effort to salvage what may be the best chance at a full, bipartisan accounting for the most violent attack on the Capitol in centuries and a stunning series of security failures around it.”

“The mother of fallen U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick is asking to meet with GOP senators Thursday, ahead of an expected vote on the January 6 commission that so far is short of the 10 Republican votes needed to pass,” CNN reports.

Said Gladys Sicknick: “Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day.”

Doyle McManus: “It’s not surprising that negotiations on ambitious legislation would be tough; they’re supposed to be. The problem is that only one party is behaving as if it wants to pass anything at all.”

“McConnell, in contrast, is rooting openly for Biden and the Democrats to fail. He’s revived the playbook he used against then-President Obama, when he saw obstructionism as a way to turn voters against the administration and toward the GOP.”

Politico: “The Kentucky Republican is nonetheless leveraging the existence of the filibuster into remarkable power over legislation. He’s doing it through a subtle but unmistakable bet: that the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for most bills is here to stay, and so too is his ability to shape or derail Democrats’ priorities.”

Aaron Blake: “The former president who dispatched with so many of the norms and unwritten rules of the presidency could soon be on the other side of some norm-busting: It looks increasingly possible that he’ll become the first former president to be charged with a crime.”

“Were Trump to face charges stemming from any of these inquiries, it would be a first in American history.”

Playbook quotes a Trump adviser: “There’s definitely a cloud of nerves in the air.”

“Former President Trump lashed out Tuesday after it was reported that a grand jury was seated to weigh any criminal evidence against him and his company and decide if indictments should be issued,” The Hill reports. Said Trump: “This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history.”

He added: “This is purely political, and an affront to the almost 75 million voters who supported me in the Presidential Election, and it’s being driven by highly partisan Democrat prosecutors.”

First Read: “Back in January, the Republican Party had a chance to walk away from Donald Trump — after his defeat, after Jan. 6, after his second impeachment and after he refused to attend President Biden’s inauguration.”

“Instead, they stuck with him, which has led to many GOP members downplaying the Capitol attack, fighting the creation of a bipartisan commission to study what happened on Jan. 6, and watching the former president continue to question the legitimacy of a contest he lost fair and square.”

“And now they face the very real possibility of seeing their party’s de-facto leader and potential 2024 frontrunner getting indicted in the coming months.”

Donald Trump met with late Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in 2008 and offered him “money in Palm Beach” if he dropped his investigation into the Spygate scandal, in which the New England Patriots were disciplined by the NFL for filming a rival team’s coaching signals, ESPN reports.

However, a Trump spokesman said the report “is completely false.”

A spokesman for the Patriots also denied the allegations.

“Two Democratic committee chairs overseeing health care policy are seeking to jump-start a legislative push to craft a public option to compete with private insurers,” NBC News reports.

“President Biden has not included the policy in his economic rescue and stimulus proposals so far, instead seeking to infuse cash in the ACA exchanges and invest in Covid-19 vaccines.”

Los Angeles Times: “With control of Congress and the White House, Democrats have an opportunity to bring down prescription drug prices, addressing one of voters’ top concerns and finally fulfilling a campaign pledge Speaker Nancy Pelosi made to voters 15 years ago.”

“Despite widespread support among Democrats, the idea has sputtered, however, as President Biden left it out of his infrastructure plan and is expected to leave it out of his budget while congressional Democrats remain noncommittal about how they might enact it. The initiative has fallen victim to extremely slim majorities and division among Democrats.”

“The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Kristen Clarke as the new head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in a tight 51 to 48 vote, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) the only Republican to cross party lines and vote for her,” The Hill reports.

“Clarke will be the first Black woman to lead the influential wing of the Justice Department and will serve as assistant attorney general for civil rights.”

“President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that he has ordered a closer intelligence review of what he said were two equally plausible scenarios of the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic,” CNBC reports.

Biden revealed that earlier this year he tasked the Intelligence Community with preparing “a report on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of Covid-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.”

Paul Waldman: “Ask any Republican in Washington and they’ll tell you they are standing amidst a rushing river of progressive policy changes, desperately trying to hold back the socialist onslaught emanating from the Biden administration and congressional Democrats.”

“But the truth is that the months since Biden took office and Democrats won total control of Congress has been characterized by a remarkable degree of restraint.”

“If you want to see what it looks like when a party really uses its power, you have to turn your gaze to the state level, particularly in a few places where Republicans have firm control of state government despite enjoying only tenuous majorities of support among the voters.”

CNN: “Two key GOP negotiators — Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Roger Wicker of Mississippi — both indicated on Tuesday that Biden has signaled openness to that price tag, a reason why they plan to make a counteroffer around that amount on Thursday, even as there are still sharp disagreements on how to pay for the massive proposal.”

“The upcoming Senate GOP offer is a sign that negotiations with the White House aren’t over yet even as talks are teetering on the edge ahead of a Memorial Day deadline.”

Aaron Blake: “‘Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’ was always a phrase that was going to be trouble for House Republicans. It’s why GOP leaders went to the unusual trouble of subtly trying to prevent the QAnon supporter and conspiracy theorist from winning the GOP nomination in an extremely safe Republican seat. Georgia’s 14th District is the kind of district they would never have otherwise bothered to pay attention to.”

“But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is reality, and Republicans need to ask themselves how much more of it they can take before they do something more severe. Because it’s clearly not working.”

“Marjorie Taylor Greene made herself a GOP star. By creating chaos for clicks. Seeking money using racist, homophobic, antisemitic language. Spewing nonsense and hate. Her actions are only a sign of the greater rot in her party.” — Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), on Twitter.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed into law a bill banning state agencies, schools and businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccine passports to access services,  Axios reports.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an executive order that bans the state government from requiring proof of vaccination against the coronavirus, joining other Republican-led states in restricting the use of so-called “vaccine passports,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Said Kemp: “Vaccination is a personal decision between each citizen and a medical professional – not the state government.”

But Kemp believes abortion is a decision to be made by state government.

The Louisiana House approved a bill that would require high school students to get instruction on the Holocaust and World War II but rejected efforts to add a list of Black historical figures to the new teaching requirements, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

Wisconsin Public Radio: “The Republican-controlled state Legislature is expected to take no action Tuesday during a special session called by Gov. Tony Evers to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin and accept $1 billion in additional federal funds.”

“The $1 billion is an additional incentive from the federal government for states that have not yet taken the expansion. Evers has proposed a slew of ways to spend that money, including $200 million for broadband internet expansion, $100 million for lead pipe replacements, $100 million for bridge and local road projects and funding more than a dozen local construction projects across the state.”

New York Times: “Jimmy Kimmel rehashed the details of a new feud with Senator Ted Cruz. It began, Kimmel explained, when the Texas Republican posted a tweet in which he referred to the U.S. military as ‘woke’ and ’emasculated.’”

Said Kimmel: “Which I pointed out fairly, I thought, is funny coming from a guy who let Donald Trump use his testicles on the driving range. I mean, look, he was Trump’s Theon Greyjoy.”

If you did not watch Game of Thrones, that’s a reference to a character who was castrated.

Dan Pfieffer: “I understand the impulse. Ted Cruz is incredibly annoying. He is one of the most transparently cynical human beings to walk the planet. If the two most annoying people in your high school class had a child, that child would be Ted Cruz.”

“But every reply, quote tweet, and clever dunk aids them and gives them the thing they strive for most: attention. Every time someone yells at Cruz online, it makes him happy because it means his strategy is working.”

Anil Dash: “A reminder that may not be obvious: amplification on social networks has monetary value. Twitter’s algorithm counts it as engagement even if you shared a tweet to criticize it or mock it, and uses that signal to amplify the tweet further. Only RT what you would pay to promote.”

Washington Post: “ExxonMobil shareholders voted Wednesday to install at least two new independent directors to the company’s board, a resounding defeat for chief executive Darren Woods and a ratification of shareholders’ unhappiness with the way the company had been addressing climate change and its lagging financial performance.”

“Both sides spent tens of millions of dollars on the hard-fought campaign.”

This is extraordinary and suggests that climate activist investors can have a much bigger impact than most expected.

New York Times: “United States troops and their NATO allies intend to be out of Afghanistan by early to mid-July, well ahead of President Biden’s Sept. 11 withdrawal deadline, military officials said, in what has turned into an accelerated ending to America’s longest war.”

Politico: “With an eye toward winning back the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, former President Donald Trump has begun crafting a policy agenda outlining a MAGA doctrine for the party. His template is the 1994 ‘Contract with America,’ a legislative agenda released ahead of the midterm elections in the middle of President Bill Clinton’s first term. And, as a cherry on top, he’s teaming up with its main architect — Gingrich — to do it.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told Politico that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is not fit to serve as Speaker if Republicans take back the majority in the lower chamber in next year’s midterm elections. Said Kinzinger: “I certainly wouldn’t support him if it were today. This country deserves people who are going to do tough things and tell the truth.”

Washington Post: “John W. Warner, the five-term U.S. senator from Virginia who helped plan the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations, played a central role in military affairs and gained respect on both sides of the aisle for his diligence, consensus-building and independence, has died at 94.”

USA Today: “The federal government has given the OK for states to offer cash incentives to encourage residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“The Treasury Department on Tuesday updated its guidance for how states and local governments can spend billions of dollars in aid included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed in March.”

After a lottery was introduced as an incentive in Ohio, the vaccination rate among those aged 20 to 49 increased by 55%. In some counties, the vaccination rate doubled.

New York Times: “India recorded 4,529 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the pandemic’s highest single known daily death toll in any country so far, the authorities said on Wednesday, as the virus spread into the country’s vast hinterlands.”

“The previous deadliest day for a single country was recorded in the United States in January, when 4,468 people died.”

Worse, it’s almost certainly a significant undercount.

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

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