“Senate Democrats and Republicans banded together on Wednesday to advance a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the country’s aging infrastructure, overcoming months of political deadlock on one of President Biden’s signature economic policy priorities,” the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “The 67-to-32 vote, which included the support of 17 Republicans, came just hours after senators in both parties and the White House reached a long-sought compromise on the bill, which would provide about $550 billion in new federal money for roads, bridges, rail lines, transit projects, water systems and other physical infrastructure programs.”
“While a final Senate vote on the legislation is days away, the test vote on Wednesday marked a major victory for Mr. Biden, who has pressed for the plan for months, and a validation of his faith that a bipartisan breakthrough was possible even in a polarized Washington.”
An amazing day in the U.S. Senate. A huge win for President Biden.
Punchbowl News: ““This is a big moment. If the broader bipartisan group holds together with Democrats, this will pass. We’re a long way from there yet. Debate will extend into next week sometime, and they’ll have to get through two more cloture votes after the initial one.”
The success of the bipartisan infrastructure deal, in some ways, is coming down to talks between Rob Portman (R-OH) and White House Counselor Steve Ricchetti, both longtime figures in Washington who are comfortable in their own skin and fluent in the art of legislating, Punchbowl News reports. “It probably doesn’t hurt that Ricchetti — like Portman — is Ohio born and raised.”
“If he’s successful, Ricchetti will be the one who helps bring home a massive deal for the president of the United States.”
“House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio is on the verge of getting rolled. And he’s not going quietly. After a 34-year congressional career devoted to transportation and environment issues, the Oregon Democrat could soon be forced to watch his life’s work shunted to the side if Senate negotiators secure a deal this week on a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package — largely without House input,” Politico reports.
“In a fiery tirade to fellow Democrats during a closed-door meeting Tuesday, DeFazio called the bill ‘crap.’”
Said DeFazio: “I could give a damn about the White House. We’re an independent branch of government. They cut this deal. I didn’t sign off on it.”
Roll Call: Infrastructure committees ask: What about us?
“The Biden administration is essentially asking vaccinated Americans to help save the unvaccinated from themselves,” Axios reports.
“Vaccinated people’s risk of serious illness is still extremely low. The problem is that there are simply too many unvaccinated Americans. That’s taking a toll on the whole country, and vaccinated people will be asked to shoulder some of that burden.”
Dr. Leena Wen: “The vaccinated are currently paying a price for the unvaccinated. Covid-19 is surging again, with spillover to the vaccinated. Masks are coming back, because the honor system isn’t working.”
“Republican governors are rejecting new mask recommendations the CDC issued Tuesday, casting the health guidance as a step back amid a push to vaccinate millions of Americans that is already struggling in their states,” The Hill reports.
Vox: Mandate the vaccine, not masks.
“The House of Representatives will once again require all lawmakers and staff members to wear masks inside, a sharp reversal of policy as growing fears about the Delta variant reach the doorstep of Congress,” the New York Times reports.
“Senators will be encouraged to mask up, too, but are not required to do so.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blasted CDC recommendations that vaccinated people wear masks again in areas of “substantial” or “high” Covid-19 spread.
Said McCarthy: “Make no mistake—The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.”
“He’s such a moron.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), quoted by The Hill, in response.
Axios: “The most hardcore opponents of coronavirus vaccination — the group who say they’ll never get one — tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still persuadable.”
Reuters: “McConnell, who was vaccinated for COVID-19 in December and has been promoting vaccinations in public remarks ever since, plans to run 60-second radio ads on more than 100 Kentucky radio stations in the coming days promoting the vaccine with money from his re-election campaign.”
Said McConnell: “There is bad advice out there, you know. Apparently you see that all over the place: people practicing medicine without a license, giving bad advice. And that bad advice should be ignored.”
Dan Pfeiffer: “Progressives were mystified about the Republican embrace of the anti-vax movement. Reactions ranged from outrage to condescension. Maybe the Republicans are too dense or demented to know what’s in their best interest. Perhaps, they are so committed to ‘owning the libs’ that they are willing to kill their own voters. But the reason is neither idiocy nor performative assholery.”
“While the modern Republican Party is nihilistic, immoral, corrupt, and racist, it is not stupid. There is an underlying — albeit twisted — political logic behind the decision of so many Republican politicians to push anti-vax conspiracy theories. Killing their own voters is disgusting but not as self-defeating as it seems. It’s not a good or moral strategy, but it is a strategy. And defeating that strategy requires understanding why Republicans think killing their voters is good politics.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was asked on Fox News a very simple question: Did you talk to President Trump on January 6?
Anchor Bret Baier had to follow up to get the answer: “’Yes.”
That makes it very likely he’ll be called as a witness by the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol attack.
“The Republican Party’s self-portrayal as champions of law and order collided with searing testimony Tuesday from police officers themselves. Officers described in vivid, personal terms the terror of defending the U.S. Capitol from violent Trump-inspired insurrectionists on Jan. 6,” the AP reports.
“Will it matter in next year’s elections?”
“Heading into the 2022 midterms, the GOP is seeking political advantage in Americans’ concern about rising crime nationwide. But the police testimony at Tuesday’s debut hearing of the congressional panel investigating the insurrection could undercut that effort.”
“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has pulled out all six Republicans designated to serve on a key select committee on the economy, a sign of the fallout among House Republicans over being vetoed from the panel investigating the January 6 insurrection,” CNN reports.
CNN: “Even as Covid-19 cases rise once again as the Delta variant spreads, millions of Americans will soon begin losing their federal safety nets. And there’s less appetite among the Biden administration and lawmakers, including many Democrats, to extend them again.”
“Housing protections are scheduled to end later this week, with enhanced unemployment benefits following the first weekend of September. The pause on federal student loan payments and beefed-up food stamp benefits are due to expire at the end of September.”
Axios: “According to the Conference Board’s July Consumer Confidence report, the net percentage of consumers saying jobs are ‘plentiful’ climbed to a 21-year high of 44.4%.”
“Importantly, the shortfall in U.S. employment is not for lack of demand.”
Neil Irwin: “So far, the recovery remains robust by most available data. Real-time indicators of business activity show little evidence that Americans are pulling back their economic activity in any meaningful way.”
“But while there is no reason to expect a repeat of the huge disruption of 2020, the new variant puts at risk the kind of rapid recovery that has been underway for months.”
“The real yield on 10-year US Treasuries fell further below zero on Monday as growing anxiety over the outlook for economic growth added fuel to a recent rally in bond markets,” the Financial Times reports.
“Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) does not support Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget plan that aims to deliver major components of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda that Democrats hope to pass after moving a separate bipartisan infrastructure deal that Sinema negotiated,” the Arizona Republic reports.
Said Sinema: “I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration.”
“I was certainly pleased. She is very courageous.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by NBC News, when asked for his reaction to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) statement pushing back against the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation proposal.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was not pleased at reports that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is opposed to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that Democrats view as a companion to the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Said Ocasio-Cortez: “Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin — especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.’”Sinema did leave open the possibility that she would vote for a smaller bill, but the timing of her comments seems especially odd.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told reporters: pool: “As I understand it, next week we’re gonna have 50 votes in order to pass a three-and-a-half trillion dollar budget resolution.”
“In comments to supporters 11 years ago, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) criticized the ‘false pressure’ to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation,” Insider reports.
“Sinema, an Arizona state representative at the time, told the audience that she supported Democrats using reconciliation to pass major legislation, including healthcare reform, with just 51 votes. She also criticized Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who caucused with the Democratic Party, and Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, for being too moderate.”
Olga Khazan: “Trump’s failures to permanently change government policy were remarkably diverse. Even when his administration pursued classically Republican agenda items, such as cutting food stamps, and had lots of outside help from conservative advocacy groups, it ran into trouble. For a time, the Trump administration did significantly change the way food stamps worked. But in that realm, too, few of Trump’s changes stuck: Some were struck down by courts, and others were reversed by the Biden administration.”
“The Trump administration seems to have fundamentally underestimated the difficulty of changing U.S. government policy: As of April, out of the 259 regulations, guidance documents, and agency memoranda it issued that were challenged in court, 200, or 77 percent, were unsuccessful… A typical administration loses more like 30 percent of the time.”
“Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and the European Union will be allowed to enter England without quarantining upon arrival starting Aug. 2, the British authorities said on Wednesday as they seek to attract tourists after months of restrictions,” the New York Times reports.
“A third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine can ‘strongly’ boost protection against the Delta variant — beyond the protection afforded by the standard two doses,” CNN reports.
“Tokyo saw a sharp rise in its number of coronavirus infections after officials reported 2,848 new cases Tuesday — the city’s highest ever daily count — as it struggles to contain a record-breaking resurgence just days after the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games,” the Japan Times reports.
“The Justice Department concluded late Tuesday that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) did not warrant exclusion from a Capitol riot lawsuit that claims that the congressman, former President Donald Trump, Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr., and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani helped instigate the deadly assault,” USA Today reports.
“The Justice filing in a lawsuit brought by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) found that Brooks failed to establish that he was acting ‘within the scope of his office’ when he participated in a rally prior to the Capitol siege.”
“President Biden is advancing a series of regulatory changes aimed at increasing workers’ pay and gaining them other benefits, moves that opponents say could burden businesses amid an uneven economic recovery,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The rule changes, most of which are still in progress, would affect workers such as federal contractors, tipped employees, and workers who are jointly employed, such as those with jobs at franchised brands.”
“Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Barber, were among 39 people arrested Monday after refusing to leave the Phoenix office of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who has faced unrelenting pressure from liberal activists over her opposition to ending the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation,” the Associated Press reports.
Michael Gerson: “Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) recently signed one of the ‘medical freedom’ bills making their way through the Solomonic subcommittees of Republican state legislatures. The New Hampshire version boldly declares that citizens have a ‘natural, essential and inherent right to bodily integrity, free from any threat or compulsion by government to accept an immunization.’”
“The law, while phrased like a late addition to the Bill of Rights, does have a qualification. It doesn’t affect the state law regarding the half-dozen or so vaccines required for a child to enter school.”
“Seldom has fine print been more revealing. Why do we have vaccine requirements for school attendance? Because parents have a natural, essential and inherent right to determine what chemicals are injected in their children — until enough reckless, witless parents refuse to vaccinate their offspring, creating an environment where children needlessly suffer and die of preventable diseases.”