Cup of Joe – 9/30/21

Two Democratic senators told The Hill they expect Speaker Nancy Pelosi to cancel a scheduled vote Thursday on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“The two Democratic senators said they had been in contact with House members and that they did not believe the votes would be there for the bill with at least two-dozen progressives planning to vote ‘no’ on infrastructure without a separate vote on a larger social spending package.”

“Democrats wanted clarity Tuesday from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema after back-to-back meetings with President Joe Biden. They didn’t get it,” Politico  reports. “During a private meeting with the president, Sinema made clear she’s still not on board with the party’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan and is hesitant to engage on some specifics until the bipartisan infrastructure package passes the House.”

“Sinema and Manchin’s approach to the negotiations has frozen Biden’s jobs and families plan and potentially may lead to a high-profile failure of a bipartisan infrastructure bill on the House floor as progressives threaten rebellion. But without more details from the moderate duo, any hope of a bicameral agreement on Biden’s agenda is a pipe dream.”

Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) meeting with the President on Tuesday seemed to be similarly fruitless: Though he didn’t reveal much else about the discussion, Manchin told reporters that he’d made “no commitments” on the reconciliation bill. After meeting with President Biden, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told reporters the pair had “straightforward” talks but added that he did not tell the president a price tag for the budget reconciliation bill that he would support, CNBC reports.

Said Manchin: “There was no commitments made at all. No commitments from that standpoint. Just good negotiations, talking about the needs of our country.”

Manchin told CNN “that won’t happen” when asked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying there needs to be deal on “legislative language” with the White House on a budget reconciliaton bill in order to get progressives to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill when it’s scheduled for a vote tomorrow. Said Manchin: “No one has been negotiating along those lines with the other parties here.”

Manchin then released a statement that suggests an agreement on the budget reconciliation package isn’t close. Said Manchin: “While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot – and will not – support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces.”A statement that uses phrases like “definition of fiscal insanity” and “reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation” and “vengefully tax” does not read like someone who supports the bill.

And then Manchin says this: that he could support passing a Democratic-only spending bill by the end of the year, even as he blasted a multi-trillion-dollar top-line spending bill envisioned by progressives as “fiscal insanity,” The Hill reports.

Said Manchin: “I think we can get a good bill done. I really do, and work in good faith.”

Are we sure that Manchin isn’t bipolar?

Meanwhile, The Hill reports Pelosi said the stonewalling by Senate centrists has “completely” disrupted the Democrats’ timeline. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), an outspoken progressive, put Sinema on blast Wednesday night, accusing her of “holding up the will” of “the entire Democratic Party.”

“President Biden has canceled a trip to Chicago Wednesday, and will stay in Washington to continue negotiations on key pieces of his legislative agenda,”  Axios reports. “It’s a sign of how crucial the coming days of talks will be if Biden is to advance his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package and his flagship infrastructure bill, with a vote for the latter planned for Thursday.”

Politico: “Biden’s game plan: Get an agreement framework from Manchin and Sinema soon so he can show progressives there is a path forward on reconciliation. The White House is hoping such a framework can convince progressives to then back the bipartisan infrastructure bill, even if it means the vote on reconciliation comes later. Key to that is a commitment from the president and Democratic leadership that they would push through a social spending plan before year’s end.”

“It’s a gamble. House progressives have pledged to tank the infrastructure bill unless the president’s proposal to reshape the social safety net passes first. Rather than whipping them to fall in line, the White House is betting it can move them to a ‘yes’ vote by getting clear answers from the moderate West Virginia and Arizona senators — two of the party’s most unpredictable members.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in a tweet, urged House progressives to vote down the infrastructure bill President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi want passed — and one that he has already voted for in the Senate.

Said Sanders: “I strongly urge my House colleagues to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill.”

New York Times: “Business groups and some Senate Republicans — working at cross-purposes with Republican leaders in the House — have mounted an all-out drive to secure G.O.P. votes for a bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of a final vote on Thursday.”

Punchbowl News: “House Republican leadership is working overtime to convince GOP lawmakers to vote against the infrastructure bill — or hold their votes until after the Democrats pass it on their own.”

“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s pitch is that the two bills — reconciliation and infrastructure — are completely tied together, and Republicans are helping advance President  Joe Biden’s agenda.”

Playbook: “It’s often the case that major legislative deals look like they’re on the verge of total collapse before they come together.”

“Perhaps take it with a big grain of salt, but the White House insisted that while Tuesday looked like a giant setback, a deal is within reach.”

“Democrats close to the White House tell us that Biden has been bullish on landing Manchin but has found Sinema more frustrating and difficult to nail down on precisely what it would take to win her support.”

CNN: “Democrats circulated a ‘clean’ bill to fund the government at its current levels through Dec. 3… Democratic and Republican leaders are pressing to vote to pass the measure sometime on Wednesday. A House vote is possible as well, aides say.”

“The move would take a government shutdown — which is set to begin in a little more than 24 hours — off the table.”

Politico: “The Senate appeared on track Wednesday to prevent a government shutdown in less than 36 hours, as Democrats and Republicans wade through last-minute impediments to a stopgap funding bill’s speedy passage.”

“Despite lingering issues, the measure didn’t seem to be in immediate danger of tanking, with federal cash set to expire on Thursday at midnight.”

“The Senate parliamentarian, the arbiter of what can be included in Democrats’ sprawling reconciliation bill, will be out for two weeks for surgery to treat stage 3 breast cancer,” Politico reports.

“Democratic leaders keep ruling out what may be the only way to avoid a debt default, leaving lawmakers and financial markets uncertain of how a dramatic clash with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling will play out,” Politico reports.

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer seemed to shut the door on using budget reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling. Instead, he is leaning on Republicans to stop blocking a debt limit increase as the country creeps closer and closer to cataclysmic debt limit breach in three weeks.”

New York Times: “The first is, obviously, that this is no way to run a country. Some will defend the debt ceiling as a check on spending, but while that was the original goal, it doesn’t work — otherwise, we wouldn’t have to raise it every few years. And there are much, much better ways to check spending than to intentionally career wildly toward the edge of a cliff, only to brake at the last possible second.”

“But there’s something else about the current debt-limit fight that bodes ill for the future. Much of the scare-quote commentary about the possibility of default assumes that it would come about as a result of a miscalculation. But what if it’s intentional? What if one party comes to believe that forcing a default would sink the other, politically, and decides to prioritize its short-term political fortunes over the country’s long-term economic health?”

“If that sounds insane, think about how quickly we got used to the Republicans shutting down the federal government for weeks to win some fleeting political concession. The fact that the shutdowns did significant damage to the country, and to the public’s faith in their leaders, hasn’t stopped elected officials from doing it again and again.”

It’s fairly easy to explain the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to voters. The legislation funds infrastructure projects, like highways, bridges and public transportation.    It’s not at all easy to explain the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. The legislation expands education, health care and child care support, along with tackling the climate crisis and making even more investments in infrastructure.

It’s been called the “Build Back Better” plan — which is really nothing more than a campaign slogan. It’s mostly just called the “reconciliation bill.” But unless you’re a regular Political Wire reader, I’m willing to bet you probably have no idea what that means.  The bill includes a lot of spending on some very popular projects, but its mainly been defined by its massive dollar amount. There’s no headline description that explains the bill.

This is a problem caused mainly by the filibuster. If Democrats didn’t have to pack everything they wanted into one giant bill that can pass with just 50 votes in the Senate, they could have had a series of bills that made more sense to everyone.   Given the popularity of what’s in the legislation, I don’t think the price tag is the problem.

Democrats just haven’t done a good job of explaining it.

“President Biden is planning a US-led alternative to China’s ‘Belt and Road’ infrastructure scheme in South America to thwart Beijing’s global ambitions,” the Times of London reports.

“Biden will dispatch a team of officials to Colombia, Ecuador and Panama next week in a drive known in the White House as “Build Back Better for the World”. It follows talks at the G7 in Cornwall to establish a scheme to rival China’s global investment initiative.”

FiveThirtyEight: “It’s easy to blow these disagreements out of proportion. On one hand, they are certainly relevant in that they threaten to derail two potentially transformative pieces of legislation.”

“But they do not mean that Democrats are a hopelessly — or even significantly — divided party. Instead, it’s really the narrowness of Democrats’ congressional majorities that makes passing big legislation difficult, as even a small number of defectors can make the difference in a bill passing or failing.

Dana Milbank: “Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee didn’t just give a dressing down to the nation’s top soldier about the Afghanistan pullout; they assassinated his character and impugned his patriotism, accusing him of aiding the enemy and of placing his own vanity before the lives of the men and women serving under him.”

It’s not hard to imagine the outrage from Republicans if Democrats did this.

Playbook: “The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Fraternal Order of Police put out a statement this morning explicitly saying that the police reform proposal that collapsed would not have ‘defunded the police’ and would have actually strengthened them.”

“That’s a pretty strong pushback to lead GOP negotiator Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who blamed the death of reform on Democrats trying to defund the police.”

Insider: “Congressional Democrats are pushing a series of measures that directly respond to many of their biggest criticisms of Trump. The effort, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who led Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, aims to give Congress more power when it comes to presidential pardons, enforcement of the emoluments clauses, and the policing of subpoenas. It would make it harder to fire government watchdogs, toughen federal enforcement for Hatch Act violations, and attempt to limit White House political interference at the Justice Department.”

“But nine months into the Biden administration, and with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, none of the legislation introduced to prevent a Trump 2.0 has been enacted, and it doesn’t appear to have much of a chance of becoming law anytime soon.”

Washington Post: “As Trump hints at 2024 comeback, democracy advocates fear a ‘worst-case scenario’ for the country.”

Fiona Hill has a must-read piece in Foreign Affairs:  “I had spent just over a year serving in the Trump administration as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council. Like everyone else who worked in the White House, I had, by then, learned a great deal about Trump’s idiosyncrasies. We all knew, for instance, that Trump rarely read the detailed briefing materials his staff prepared for him and that in meetings or calls with other leaders, he could never stick to an agreed-on script or his cabinet members’ recommendations. This had proved to be a major liability during those conversations, since it often seemed to his foreign counterparts as though Trump was hearing about the issues on the agenda for the first time.”

“When Trump was winging it, he could be persuaded of all kinds of things. If a foreign visitor or caller was one of his favored strongmen, Trump would always give the strongman’s views and version of events the benefit of the doubt over those of his own advisers.”

Jack Shafer: “Trump and his Republicans fear their own disintegration. That sense of threat gives them power over the voter base, but it has also made them politically desperate. Their lack of scruples doesn’t make them omnipotent: it makes them vulnerable to serious and determined opponents.”

“The wildness of Trump’s last-ditch maneuver, whatever it turns out to be, will require much from us, but above all it will oblige us to keep our cool and just vote. You don’t beat a crazy card player by going crazier.”

While a mob stormed the Capitol on January, pushing through barricades set up outside the building, the Department of Homeland Security sent an email to the Pentagon, reporting “no major incidents of illegal activity at this time,” Politico reports.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro further toned down his rhetoric in an interview, dismissing concerns that he wouldn’t accept a possible defeat in next year’s election and promising fiscal restraint in the run-up to the vote, Bloomberg reports.   He said there’s “zero chance” he would seek a coup to remain in power.

“New research shows girls are being socialized early in life to believe they don’t belong in politics,” The 19th reports.  “A research article published this month in the scholarly journal American Political Science Review found that young children perceive politics to be a space dominated by men. Girls’ perception of this is enforced as they grow older.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that California is removing the word “alien” from its state laws and replacing it with words such as “noncitizen” and “immigrant.”  Newsom said the word “alien” was created “as a political dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using traditionally racist language.”

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

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