“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved on Thursday night to cut off debate on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, paving the way for swift passage of the sweeping legislation that would enact key elements of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, although exact timing of a final vote is still unclear,” CNN reports,
“Schumer’s move to file cloture sets up a key procedural vote on Saturday, which needs 60 votes to end debate on the bill.”
Punchbowl News: “When the infrastructure bill passes — and it will, eventually — the Senate will then move onto the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution. That bill is subject to unlimited amendments at a simple majority threshold.”
Punchbowl News: “The Senate returns to session at 11 a.m. tomorrow, and there will be a cloture vote around noon to cut off debate on the 2,700-page, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. After that, everything is up in the air as far as scheduling goes. It’s clear there’s sufficient support among senators to invoke cloture — clear a parliamentary hurdle — on the massive package (which is technically a substitute amendment), yet there is no endgame deal at this point.”
“Absent any kind of agreement between the two sides — and Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) wouldn’t go along with such a deal Thursday night — there’ll be up to 30 hours post-cloture debate time. That will be followed by a simple majority vote on the substitute amendment (the bipartisan infrastructure bill). At that point, another cloture vote will be in order on the underlying legislation (the INVEST Act, a House-passed infrastructure measure.) Again, that may be followed by up to 30 hours of post-cloture debate time. Amendment votes would be allowed during this period. Then there would then be a vote on passage of the entire package. Yeah, it’s complicated.”
“In the worst case, this final vote could happen Tuesday. We don’t believe it will go that long, but it could.”
Washington Post: “The Biden administration is pushing back against a last-minute effort by a bipartisan group of senators to limit a proposal in the infrastructure bill to increase federal regulation of cryptocurrencies. The fierce lobbying push helped stall plans to finish voting on the bill Thursday night, and now it appears debate will stretch into the weekend.”
“Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the longtime Washington veteran and savvy deal-cutter, is on the cusp of achieving a major bipartisan achievement that would amount to a capstone of his three decades of public service,” CNN reports.
“But the bevy of Ohio Republicans looking to replace the retiring senator in 2022 have a sharply different view. They are roundly criticizing the agreement as a budget-busting bill the US can’t afford, aligning themselves squarely with former President Donald Trump who has called on the GOP to oppose the sweeping proposal.”
“In intraparty contests throughout the country, Republican candidates are lining up against the bipartisan deal — and lining up with Trump — reflecting not only the heightened partisanship in American politics but also how primaries incentivize candidates to demonstrate purity to their base voters.”
Wall Street Journal: “Employers added jobs at the best pace in nearly a year in July and the unemployment rate fell sharply, signs of a strong labor market ahead of the Delta variant threat.”
“The unemployment rate, derived from a separate survey of households, fell to 5.4% in July from 5.9% in June.”
New York Times: “America is getting back to work. That’s the simplest, clearest analysis of the labor market that emerges from nearly every line of the July employment numbers released Friday morning. It is a welcome sign that, as of the middle of last month, the economy is healing rapidly — and that the previous couple of months reflected healthier results than previously estimated.”
Wall Street Journal: “A strengthening U.S. labor market added cushion to the economic recovery in July ahead of the Delta variant threat, with employers creating jobs at the best pace in nearly a year and the unemployment rate falling sharply.”
Washington Post: “The two reports make for two straight months when nearly 1 million jobs were added – totals that are close to the optimistic predictions many economists had last year about how vaccinations would smooth the way for the labor market recovery. Wages also continued to rise, raising by 11 cents an hour to $30.54 on average — the fourth straight month of growth. Both long-term unemployment and the number of people on temporary layoff also declined.”
“Businesses are sitting on record amounts of unused credit from U.S. banks, another quirk in the economic recovery that bankers say could help unleash pent-up spending in the coming months,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The Biden administration is extending the pause on federal student loans due to the coronavirus pandemic through Jan. 31, 2022,” The Hill reports.
Washington Post: “The Biden administration is considering using federal regulatory powers and the threat of withholding federal funds from institutions to push more Americans to get vaccinated — a huge potential shift in the fight against the virus and a far more muscular approach to getting shots into arms, according to four people familiar with the deliberations.”
“The effort could apply to institutions as varied as long-term care facilities, cruise ships and universities, potentially impacting millions of Americans, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations. The conversations are in the early phases and no firm decisions have been made, the people said. One outside lawyer in touch with the Biden administration on the issue is recommending that the president use federal powers sparingly.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “The debt limit is a foolish, unnecessary law that should be repealed anyway. But Democrats have known this moment was coming for months. If repealing the debt limit isn’t on the table — and that probably can’t be done through reconciliation — they should at least provide for four years’ worth of borrowing room. Better still, they could set the new limit so high that it effectively makes further increases unnecessary. Perhaps that’s a tough vote, but it’s unlikely there are any voters who would ignore an attack ad over a simple one-year debt limit increase but be outraged about a larger one.”
“In other words: It’s always been locked in that Democrats would have to take one tough debt-limit vote. But whatever minimal risk that involves, the real danger is that they come close enough to a default to harm the economy — assuming they wouldn’t actually allow a default.”
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) spoke against a school mask mandate during a school board meeting, equating it to “psychological child abuse,” The Hill reports.
“More Florida children were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday than in any other state, reflecting a rapid rise in serious illness among an age group considered to be at the lowest risk of severe outcomes from the disease and many still not eligible for the vaccine,” the Miami Herald reports.
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), one of three Republican members of Congress who last week filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the House mask mandate, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Washington Post reports.
“We do not want any Marylanders or any more Americans to become one of those preventable stories. So please, just get the damn vaccine.” — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), quoted by The Hill.
Associated Press: “Federal employees who need to certify their vaccination status under a new policy instituted by President Joe Biden intended to encourage COVID-19 shots will face disciplinary action and potentially criminal prosecution if they lie on the form.”
“Embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo will cooperate with a state Assembly probe as it moves toward likely impeachment proceedings in his sexual harassment scandal, a spokesman said Thursday,” the New York Post reports.
New York Times: How Cuomo and his team retaliated against his accusers.
“ActBlue, the company that processes online campaign donations for Democrats, on Thursday booted New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo from its platform as he faced intensifying pressure to resign over findings by his state’s attorney general that he sexually harassed 11 women in violation of state and federal law,” the Washington Post reports.
“A woman who accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of groping her breast in the Executive Mansion last year has filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County sheriff’s department,” the New York Times reports.
“The criminal complaint from the woman, an executive assistant whose name has not been publicized, increases the possibility that the governor could face criminal charges related to his behavior.”
Daily Beast: “It seems Donald Trump is running out of ways to shake down his fans. In his latest cash-grab, the ex-president is offering MAGA die-hards some tacky and seemingly pointless plastic cards to prove their support.”
“In a typically understated color scheme of blood red with golden lettering, the cards display Trump’s name and a membership number.”
Politico: “The newly released documents provide the first-ever look at the inner workings of how that money was moved around — and it’s not a pretty sight for congressional committees, which were left in the dark and denied basic answers about the accounting maneuvers. The Defense Department ignored statutory language in the appropriations laws specifying how the dollars were to be used. Millions of dollars were moved to never-before-seen ‘project lines’ created by the Comptroller and then written into the military services’ construction budgets without the knowledge of Congress.”
Wall Street Journal: “Nearly three dozen of the nation’s most influential business groups—representing retailers, chip makers, farmers and others—are calling on the Biden administration to restart negotiations with China and cut tariffs on imports … The trade groups include some of Washington’s most influential big business associations.”
“The former data chief for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign has announced a protest next month at the nation’s Capitol — to rail on behalf of so-called ‘political prisoners’ charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the HuffPost reports.
Said Matt Braynard: “We’re going back to the Capitol, right where it started. And it’s going to be huge.”
Juliette Kayyem: “The White House has rejected a nationwide vaccine mandate—a sweeping suggestion that the Biden administration could not easily enact if it wanted to—but a no-fly list for unvaccinated adults is an obvious step that the federal government should take. It will help limit the risk of transmission at destinations where unvaccinated people travel—and, by setting norms that restrict certain privileges to vaccinated people, will also help raise the stagnant vaccination rates that are keeping both the economy and society from fully recovering.”
“Flying is not a right, and the case for restricting it to vaccinated people is straightforward: The federal government is the sole entity that can regulate the terms and conditions of airline safety. And although air-filtration systems and mask requirements make transmission of the coronavirus unlikely during any given passenger flight, infected people can spread it when they leave the airport and take off their mask.”
Eugene Robinson: “This is the GOP’s pandemic now. Cynical and irresponsible Republican politicians have created an environment that is killing Americans who shouldn’t have to die, swamping hospital systems with desperately ill patients, and generally ensuring that the pain and disruption of covid-19 are with us longer than they need be or should be. And they’ve done so in their own self-interest.”
“Yes, the more-infectious delta variant is driving this new wave. But vaccination and mask-wearing have the power to check that spike in cases, and to prevent those new diagnoses from turning into hospitalizations and deaths.”
“Can we possibly be so stupid that we ignore all empirical evidence and insist on inflicting grievous self-harm? Ambitious Republicans are betting that the answer to that question is yes.”
New York Times: “With coronavirus cases rising sharply across the country, and new federal guidance that everyone, vaccinated or not, should wear masks in schools, some school districts in those states are imposing mask mandates anyway, despite the risk of financial penalties for defying the state orders.”
“In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said in an executive order last Friday that the state would take away funding from any district that infringed on ‘the fundamental right of parents to make health and educational decisions for their children’ by requiring students to wear masks.”
“But four Florida school systems — in Broward, Leon, Duval and Alachua Counties — have said they would retain or seek to impose mask mandates.””Defund the teachers” is probably not a winning strategy.
The Taliban have captured Zaranj, the provincial capital of Nimruz on the Afghanistan-Iran border, a symbolic milestone in the insurgents’ relentless march to retake power in the country, the New York Times reports.
“It is the first provincial capital to be captured by the insurgent group since the Biden administration said it would completely withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the month.”