Cup of Joe – 9/22/21

Playbook: “House Democratic leaders confirmed this morning that they won’t be delaying the Sept. 27 vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — even though the party’s larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation package won’t likely be ready to go by then.”

“This is a huge win for moderates in both chambers. That effectively decouples the two bills, officially spiking the so-called ‘two-track’ process that leadership hoped would enable passage of both while keeping the party united.”

“The obvious big follow-up question here: What will progressives do? Several high-profile members on the left are almost certainly going to vote against this thing — some, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have made their unhappiness with this new process abundantly clear. But the question is how many, and can leadership — and President Joe Biden — convince enough to go along with this new plan?”

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may need votes from an unlikely source — the Republican Party — if she hopes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by next Monday, as she’s promised Democratic centrists,” Axios reports.

“With at least 20 progressives threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, centrist members are banking on more than 10 Republicans to approve the bill.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on Monday that they should brace for ‘adjustments’ to the $3.5 trillion social spending package to fit the Senate’s constraints for the budget process lawmakers are using to fast-track the legislation through Congress,” CBS News reports.

Said Pelosi: “The president and Senate Democrats sent us a budget resolution with a cap of $3.5 trillion. I have promised that we would not have House members vote for a bill with a higher topline than would be passed by the Senate. Hopefully that will be at the $3.5 trillion number. We must be prepared for adjustments according to the Byrd rule and an agreed to number.”

“President Biden’s governing agenda is at risk of unraveling on Capitol Hill after a mounting series of delays, clashes and setbacks that have sapped momentum from an ambitious and intricate push to deliver on long-standing Democratic policy priorities,” the Washington Post reports.

“An overhaul of the nation’s voting laws has been blocked by Republicans. An effort to strike a bipartisan deal on police reforms has lost all momentum. A sweeping immigration plan to provide a path to legal residency for millions of undocumented immigrants is now all but dead.”

“And centrist Democrats on Capitol Hill appear poised to pare down a planned $3.5 trillion economic package as their liberal counterparts in the House threaten in turn to kill the bipartisan infrastructure deal that passed the Senate last month.”

Punchbowl News: “Here’s the only assessment one can make right now about Democrats on Capitol Hill and at the White House: This is a party that, at the moment, is a bit adrift and doesn’t seem to know how to turn its bold ideas into legislation that can actually pass. That is a big problem when you’ve got the razor-thin margins that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have. Forget blowing up the filibuster. There are few issues that a simple majority of House and Senate Democrats agree on right now.”

“But even more worrisome for our political system and financial markets is that caught up in the Democrats’ struggle to turn their lofty goals into law is government funding and the debt limit. We are careening into a legislative crisis. The government will shut down in nine days and estimates indicate we will reach the nation’s borrowing limit in one month.”

Politico: “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.”

“If any member of Congress is not concerned that this could fall apart, they need treatment.” — Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), quoted by Politico, warning his party “will pay for it at the polls” if it fails in enacting President Biden’s agenda.

Punchbowl News: “The debt limit continues to bedevil Democratic leaders. They were planning to take their funding package to the Rules Committee today but got sidetracked trying to tie up unresolved spending issues and finalizing their plan on the debt limit.”

“The question everyone is asking — and the question we’re asking lawmakers — is what is the Plan B. This bill clearly won’t go anywhere, so where does Congress go from here?”

Washington Post: “Inside the White House, there is a deepening sense of anger over McConnell’s refusal to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling given the potential financial calamity that would ensue.”

“White House officials also believe such a stalemate creates a distraction from other urgent economic problems already facing the country, the senior administration officials said. But there is a similarly strong unwillingness to establish a precedent that rewards policymakers for threatening to wreck America’s fiscal health.”

CNBC: Washington gridlock and a debt ceiling showdown are weighing on the market.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) warned that Democrats will “move on our own” if Republicans continue to block voting rights legislation.

It’s an interesting statement since Republicans will almost certainly use the Senate filibuster to kill the bill.

Schumer has been saying that “all options are on the table” if Republicans block the bill. Now he’s declaring that Democrats will go it alone.

New York Times: “Privately, White House officials have been trying to assure activists that they plan to turn their attention in earnest to voting rights after their push on infrastructure is through at the end of the month. But that has done little to ease anxiety.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that he was “horrified” by images of horse-mounted Border Patrol agents attempting to grab Haitian migrants and use their animals to push them back toward Mexico and promised a “swift” investigation, the Washington Post reports.

Said Mayorkas: “I was horrified by what I saw. I am going to let the investigation run its course, but the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly.”

Jesse Benton, a former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, was indicted this month for allegedly funneling $25,000 from a wealthy, unnamed Russian to former President Trump’s reelection efforts, Axios reports. “The indictment, unsealed on Monday, outlines allegations of a convoluted money trail from the unnamed Russian national through a consulting firm run by Benton and to a Trump joint fundraising committee.”

“Allen Weisselberg — the former Trump Organization CFO who has been charged by Manhattan prosecutors for an alleged tax evasion scheme — is expecting that more indictments will be filed in the case,” CNN reports. Said lawyer Bryan Skarlatos: “We have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming.”

“A bill adding more restrictions and raising criminal penalties for the use of abortion-inducing medication in Texas goes into effect in December after being signed with no fanfare by Gov. Greg Abbott (R),” the Dallas Morning News reports.

“Senate Bill 4, which passed during the second special session that adjourned Sept. 2, has been decried as a ‘back-door ban on abortion’ by Planned Parenthood officials because it outlaws providing abortion-inducing drugs to Texans after seven weeks of pregnancy.”

“Boris Johnson told reporters on his way to the U.N. General Assembly on Sunday night he didn’t believe it was likely that the U.S. would agree to lift its ban on vaccinated foreign travelers this week. Hours later, the White House did exactly that,” Axios reports.

“For the second time in less than a week, a major U.S. foreign policy decision by the Biden administration appears to have caught one of its closest allies by surprise. And neither was the first time, either.”

Oh Axios. For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Today Show he’s a big fan of President Biden. Said Johnson: “What I will say about Joe Biden and dealing with the new American president, yes, it is a breath of fresh air in the sense of the some things on which we can really really work together, and you knew I was gonna bring it up — climate change — he’s great on that.”

Boris Johnson told Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro to “get the AstraZeneca vaccine” in an awkward exchange with the unvaccinated South American leader, Sky News reports. Bolsonaro has previously made claims Covid-19 vaccines could turn people into crocodiles.

Politico: “One alternate policy that Democrats and advocates are floating is narrowing their horizons on immigration by making a simple change to a decades-old ‘registry’ law… That law allows immigrants to apply for a green card if they arrived in the U.S. before a certain year, and that date was last altered in 1986 to let undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before 1972 apply for legal status.”

“Some Democrats say simply updating that law with a more recent year, greatly increasing the number of immigrants eligible to apply for legal status, could pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian.”

“Xi Jinping’s campaign against private enterprise, it is increasingly clear, is far more ambitious than meets the eye,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Chinese President is not just trying to rein in a few big tech and other companies and show who is boss in China.”

“He is trying to roll back China’s decadeslong evolution toward Western-style capitalism and put the country on a different path entirely, a close examination of Mr. Xi’s writings and his discussions with party officials, and interviews with people involved in policy making, show.”

“President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party maintained its tight grip on the nation’s parliament in three-day elections criticized by opposition parties and independent observers for ballot stuffing and tampering,” the Washington Post reports.

Financial Times: Russia’s election apathy bodes ill for the country’s future.

Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) denounced the Horry County Republican Party’s promotion of ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, to treat Covid-19, the Columbia State reports.

Said Rice: “That the leaders of the Horry County Republican Party believe it is appropriate to advocate for medical treatment for any illness is simply insane. Especially in the middle of a plague, and in opposition to the guidance of the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and 95% of the Physicians in the country.”

He added: “Folks, talk to your doctor if you want medical advice.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson continued his relentless anti-vaccine crusade  by bizarrely claiming that the military’s new vaccination mandate was an effort by the Biden administration to weed out Christians and “men with high testosterone,” the Daily Beast reports.

Said Carlson: “The point of mandatory vaccination is to identify the sincere Christians in the ranks, the free thinkers, the men with high testosterone levels, and anyone else who doesn’t love Joe Biden and make them leave immediately. It’s a takeover of the U.S. military!”

He added: “This was specifically designed to separate the obedient from the free.”

“A conservative lawyer working with then-President Donald Trump’s legal team tried to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could overturn the election results on January 6 when Congress counted the Electoral College votes by throwing out electors from seven states, according to the new book Peril from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa,” CNN reports.

“The scheme put forward by controversial lawyer John Eastman was outlined in a two-page memo obtained by the authors for Peril… The memo, which has not previously been made public, provides new detail showing how Trump and his team tried to persuade Pence to subvert the Constitution and throw out the election results on January 6.”

David French: “This ‘plan’ is laughable, but we shouldn’t laugh. If carried out, it would have led to the country’s greatest political crisis since April 1861. And Eastman was no mere internet crank. He was a law professor and close to POTUS in the final days.”

“House Democrats plan to press forward with legislation aimed at preventing abuses of presidential power, strengthening Congress’ ability to enforce subpoenas and boosting protections for whistleblowers in what supporters of the measures say is largely a response to Donald Trump’s actions as president,” NBC News reports.

“The measure would limit a president’s pardon power, require presidential candidates to be transparent with their tax records and extend a deadline for prosecuting former presidents and vice presidents for federal crimes committed before or during their time in office.”

Washington Post journalist Robert Costa said that Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley “was not going rogue” when told his Chinese counterpart that the U.S. would not launch a surprise attack, Axios reports.

Said Costa: “What chairman Milley was trying to do, as we show in the book, was contain a national security emergency.”

He added: “While these calls with general Li were held on a top-secret back channel, they were not secret. This is not someone working in isolation. He was reading people in in the national security community.”

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

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