Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that the Senate, House and White House have reached a deal on a “framework” to pay for the massive human infrastructure spending package they hope to pass this fall under budget reconciliation, The Hill reports.
Said Schumer: “The White House, the House and the Senate have reached an agreement on a framework that will pay for any final negotiated agreement. So the revenue side of this, we have an agreement on.”
Matt Glassman: “The reason legislative politics are often so hard to decipher is because it’s very hard to tell the difference between true party disarray and the normal course of last-minute negotiations where most people are bluffing and someone will blink and the deal gets cut nothing to it.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “To negotiate successfully, the biggest weapon everyone has is the freedom to walk away and oppose the bill, so it’s rare for anyone to explicitly say that he or she will vote for whatever emerges from the bargaining rounds. Quite the opposite: There’s a strong incentive for everyone to act as if they’ll walk away if they don’t get their way. Members can take that too far, especially in negotiations within one political party; at the very least, party leaders would expect someone who is absolutely a “no” to make that clear early. But for the most part, all the players know what the game is and expect this kind of scramble.”
“We always do this fucking dance. I don’t know if people are going to put their sane minds on and do what needs to be done, or shut it down. This is just a ridiculous exercise… I can’t even compare it to anything I do on the farm that’s this stupid.” — Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), quoted by Politico.
“I’ve been here for cliffs and crises and wars, and this is going to be the biggest mashup we’ve ever had since I’ve been here — with the debt limit, with a government shutdown, with reconciliation and with infrastructure. And I have no idea how it all works out.” — Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), quoted by NBC News.
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has signaled to colleagues in both chambers that she will not put the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package on the House floor for a vote until it’s clear that it can also pass the 50-50 Senate,” The Hill reports.
Associated Press: “Democratic leaders are counting on the president to galvanize consensus between progressives and centrists in their party…”
“At one point, Biden told the lawmakers there were plenty of conference rooms at the White House they could use to hunker down this weekend as some suggested they roll up their sleeves and stay to get final details done.”
New York Times: “The path is exceedingly murky as Democrats careen toward a tangle of fiscal and political deadlines with no discernible public strategy in place, but party leaders remained publicly sanguine on Wednesday.”
It’s fascinating that Biden still won’t say what he wants the top line number to be. Without that, it’s hard to see a deal coming together soon.
Dan Pfieffer: “Stop looking for someone to blame and look for something to blame. In one fell swoop, Democrats are trying to rebuild our roads and bridges, unrig the tax code, lift millions out of poverty, address climate change, create jobs, expand access to high education and help families afford childcare and eldercare. Any of these on their own would be hard. Doing them all at once is nearly impossible. But this is the only option because Senate Democrats won’t fix the filibuster, and Republicans will not lift a finger to help their constituents or save the planet under their feet.”
“Democrats are forced to use the one remaining budget reconciliation bill to accomplish their entire agenda.”
Ben Rhodes: “It makes zero sense that you can spend trillions of dollars or give away trillions in tax cuts with 50 votes, but can’t fix a broken immigration system or protect voting rights unless you have 60 votes. This is obvious, but that is somehow irrelevant in American politics.”
Joshua Green: “The dirty secret about debt-limit brinkmanship is that it doesn’t do anything to reduce spending. It’s a cynical deception perpetrated by both parties on the millions of Americans who are unfamiliar with the goofy, pointless, and potentially costly two-step process by which Congress allots and spends taxpayer money.”
“Most people assume, not unreasonably, that refusing to raise the debt limit will force a cut in government spending. But that’s not how the process works.
“First, Congress passes a budget resolution that determines how much money will be spent—think of it as ordering dinner from a restaurant menu. Then Congress raises the debt limit to allow for that spending, effectively paying for dinner when the waiter brings the bill. Refusing to raise the debt limit is like haggling over the tab for a dinner you’ve already consumed. Why are there two steps? No good reason at all.”
Punchbowl News: “We’re not being histrionic, but Congress seems to be stumbling into a shutdown, despite one-party control of Washington.”
“The Senate is likely to wait until Monday to vote on the House-passed government funding bill, which would keep agencies open until Dec. 3. Because that legislation includes a provision suspending the debt limit until December 2022, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP colleagues will block it from being considered.”
“That leaves just three days for the congressional leaders and the White House to find a way to keep the government open. Congress could pass a temporary funding extension to ensure federal agencies remain open while a longer-term funding bill — sans the debt limit — is cobbled together.”
“But the debt limit issue still has to be dealt with, and that could take several weeks if Democrats choose to go it alone.”
House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) told Punchbowl News it would be “virtually impossible” at this juncture for Democrats to use the 50-vote threshold afforded to them in budget reconciliation to lift the debt limit.
“Yarmuth is the Budget Committee chair, so if anyone could speak knowledgeably about this, it would be him relaying information from his staff. We’ll have to see how the House and Senate proceed here.”
“Senate sources were quick to say Yarmuth is misreading the situation, and this could move quickly if it needs to.”
“Democrats want to bludgeon the GOP over its debt ceiling intransigence as much as they can — though not necessarily hard enough to shut the government down next week,” Politico reports.
“Publicly, Senate Democrats’ preferred option is to continue pressuring Republicans to buckle and accept their proposal linking government funding and a debt ceiling increase. But failing that, they say they need to ensure they avoid a momentum-draining shutdown next week amid the pandemic and internal dissent over acting on President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.”
“The White House budget office will tell federal agencies on Thursday to begin preparations for the first shutdown of the U.S. government since the pandemic began, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill struggle to reach a funding agreement,” the Washington Post reports,
The U.S. special envoy for Haiti has resigned from his position in a blistering letter, saying he could not be associated with the Biden administration’s decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees to Haiti, a move he called “inhumane” and “counterproductive” given the violence and deteriorating security situation in the country, the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “Mr. Biden is struggling to confront a challenge that has vexed presidents for decades: securing the borders while living up to U.S. humanitarian obligations to migrants fleeing economic hardship, political instability and violence.”
“The approach has prompted fierce debate in the administration, where some of his top aides favor stronger policies that would deter people from trying to cross the border, while others advocate a more welcoming stance.”
“The White House is leaning toward releasing information to Congress about what Donald Trump and his aides were doing during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol despite the former president’s objections — a decision that could have significant political and legal ramifications,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump has said he will cite ‘executive privilege’ to block information requests from the House select committee investigating the events of that day, banking on a legal theory that has successfully allowed presidents and their aides to avoid or delay congressional scrutiny for decades, including during the Trump administration.”
“But President Biden’s White House plans to err on the side of disclosure given the gravity of the events of Jan. 6.”
“As Democrats consider legislation to respond to a new Texas state ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, they have lost the support of one of the few remaining Republicans who support abortion rights,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she opposes the Democrats’ bill, which would prohibit states from enacting restrictions on abortion through fetal viability.”
“A Florida legislator has proposed banning most abortions in the state and allowing lawsuits against doctors who violate it, mirroring a Texas law that instituted the strictest abortion restrictions in the U.S.,” Bloomberg reports.
Axios: “Treasury secretaries seen as being friendly to Wall Street — think Robert Rubin, Larry Summers or Tim Geithner — invariably exit to multimillion-dollar salaries in the financial sector. Steven Mnuchin has managed to do even better for himself.”
“Mnuchin has raised $2.5 billion so far for a private equity fund, including from Saudi Arabia, a country toward whom he was notably friendly while in office. If the fund is structured with a standard 2% management fee, that’s $50 million per year right there for Mnuchin and his colleagues, before they make a single penny from investment returns.”
In an attempt to improve his company’s image, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg authorized a plan to boost pro-Facebook stories on the newsfeeds of its billions of users, the New York Times reports.
“The idea was that pushing pro-Facebook news items — some of them written by the company — would improve its image in the eyes of its users… But the move was sensitive because Facebook had not previously positioned the News Feed as a place where it burnished its own reputation.”
“When CIA Director Bill Burns traveled to India earlier this month a member of his team reported symptoms consistent with Havana syndrome and had to receive medical attention,“ CNN reports.
“The incident set off alarm bells within the US government and left Burns ‘fuming’ with anger… Some officials at the CIA viewed the chilling episode as a direct message to Burns that no one is safe, including those working directly for the nation’s top spy.”
“Foreign investors cannot get enough US government debt, which analysts say could help soften the blow when the Federal Reserve starts to cut back its own bond-buying program this year,” the Financial Times reports.
“Warning of a potential new Cold War, the head of the United Nations implored China and the United States to repair their ‘completely dysfunctional’ relationship before problems between the two large and deeply influential countries spill over even further into the rest of the planet,” the AP reports.
Bloomberg: “Soaring property prices are forcing people all over the world to abandon all hope of owning a home. The fallout is shaking governments of all political persuasions.”
“It’s a phenomenon given wings by the pandemic. And it’s not just buyers — rents are also soaring in many cities. The upshot is the perennial issue of housing costs has become one of acute housing inequality, and an entire generation is at risk of being left behind.”
“The United States in 2020 experienced the biggest rise in murder since the start of national record-keeping in 1960,” the New York Times reports.
“The Uniform Crime Report will stand as the official word on an unusually grim year, detailing a rise in murder of around 29 percent. The previous largest one-year change was a 12.7 percent increase in 1968.”
“Arkansas is using federal coronavirus relief funds to buy children’s books about the coronavirus for distribution to schools in the state that are produced by a company co-founded by former Gov. Mike Huckabee,” the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn referenced an article he read that claimed the medical establishment is planning to secretly put the Covid-19 vaccine in salad dressing.
“Alaska, which led most U.S. states in coronavirus vaccinations months ago, took the drastic step on Wednesday of imposing crisis-care standards for its entire hospital system, declaring that a crushing surge in COVID-19 patients has forced rationing of strained medical resources,” Reuters reports.