Cup of Joe – 10/3/21

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Saturday set a new deadline of Oct. 31 for the House to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, The Hill reports.

“President Biden, meeting with House Democrats on Capitol Hill on Friday, indicated they must further delay a final vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and scale back his $3.5 trillion social spending package to around $2 trillion range if either is to pass,” Axios reports.

Biden told the House Democratic caucus that bipartisan infrastructure package “ain’t going to happen until we reach an agreement on the next piece of legislation,” Punchbowl News reports. Said Biden to reporters: “It doesn’t matter when. It doesn’t matter whether it’s six minutes, six days or six weeks. We’re going to get it done.”

“President Biden will host congressional lawmakers at the White House next week after a visit to Capitol Hill failed to yield any clear breakthrough on how to pass two key pieces of his economic agenda,” The Hill reports.

President Biden signed a 30-day extension of highway funding into law on Saturday following its passage earlier in the day by the Senate, The Hill reports.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told reporters that a “framework” for a budget reconciliation bill will not be sufficient to win House progressive votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. She wants a Senate vote on the bill first.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the head of the House progressive caucus, told reporters that she is “open to hearing” other options on the path forward, although she sounded skeptical about passing the infrastructure bill based solely off a framework for the reconciliation package. Jayapal told reporters she would not necessarily insist on a Senate vote on the budget reconciliation package before allowing progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill. Said Jayapal: “If there’s something else that’s short of a vote… that gives me those same assurances, I want to listen to that.”

“For well over a year now, President Biden’s vaunted negotiating style largely boiled down to this: I’m with you,” the New York Times reports.

“After he vanquished Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary, he brought the liberal icon’s ardent supporters into the fold by embracing much of the senator’s platform even as he ran on unifying the country. When moderate Democrats came to call, he used the tones of centrism to assure them of his conciliatory bona fides.”

“But when Mr. Biden ventured to the Capitol on Friday to help House Democrats out of their thicket, he had to choose sides. He effectively chose the left.”

Democrats are attempting to do something extremely difficult. They are trying to pass a massive agenda despite having very slim margins in the House and Senate. It’s easy to misinterpret this process as evidence of “Democrats in disarray.” The reality is that Democrats are remarkably united. They’re just not in complete agreement and those differences are magnified by the thin margins and the complexities of the legislation they’re trying to pass.

As Russell Berman writes in The Atlantic, Democrats are literally trying to transform America with a one-vote majority.

“What is confounding and ultimately constraining Democrats, however, is not the calendar but the minuscule size of their majorities. Republicans are unified in opposition to Biden’s plans to expand the social safety net. Democrats are therefore using a Senate budget process known as reconciliation that allows them to circumvent a filibuster and pass a bill with a simple majority. They can afford to lose just three votes in the House and not a single one of their 50 senators. Parties in countries with parliamentary systems of government routinely pass legislation on slim majorities, but that is not the tradition here.

Rarely in recent memory has a political party in America tried to do so much with so slim a margin. The sweep of Biden’s proposals has invited comparisons to FDR’s New Deal, but Democrats in 1933 had more than 60 percent of the seats in the Senate and more than 70 percent in the House. Far more recently, Barack Obama briefly enjoyed a filibuster-proof 60 Democratic seats in the Senate and a House margin in the dozens. Progressives like to imagine that Republicans are more effective at wielding power, but when the GOP controlled both Congress and the White House under Donald Trump, the only major law it passed was the 2017 tax cut.”

The outline of a deal finally seems within reach: a budget reconciliation package of $1.5 to $2 trillion along with passage of an infrastructure deal of $1.2 trillion. And that’s on top of the already-passed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. That would be an enormous accomplishment.

If there’s an agreement on a budget reconciliation package, Joe Manchin and Kysten Sinema will have to publicly endorse the deal before they can expect House progressives to move forward with the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

It’s tempting to suggest that the frantic negotiations yesterday were a bust. But they did get all the key players in these negotiations to put their cards face up on the table. It also forced the White House to finally get involved. That’s major progress.

“With Democrats pleading for a deal on a hard-fought social safety net bill, one of the key holdouts, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) left Washington on Friday. The reason, her spokesman said, was a medical appointment for a foot injury,” the New York Times reports. “But on Saturday, she is also scheduled to attend her political action committee’s ‘retreat’ with donors at a high-end resort and spa in Phoenix, three different sources confirmed, including an attendee.”

She then had the unmitigated gall to criticize the decision to delay the BIFF vote. Sinema slammed the decision to delay a vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure deal that she helped negotiate, calling it “inexcusable,” The Hill reports.

Said Sinema: “Over the course of this year, Democratic leaders have made conflicting promises that could not all be kept — and have, at times, pretended that differences of opinion within our party did not exist, even when those disagreements were repeatedly made clear directly and publicly.”

She added: “Canceling the infrastructure vote further erodes that trust.”

Not negotiating at all, ghosting your colleagues and going back on the original deal you entered into eroded that trust, bitch.

New York Times: “The wrenching intraparty battle taking place among Democrats on Capitol Hill is a unique, perhaps historical, reckoning — but it is also the most Groundhog Day of Washington crises: a frenzy of last-second action preceded by epic procrastination.”

“The stakes are immense: President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, another $3.5 trillion toward human capital and social welfare programs, the fate of the progressive agenda and, quite possibly, the viability of a fragile Democratic governing coalition.”

“Which explains why Democrats have delayed the current confrontation like it was the mother of all dentist’s appointments.”

Dan Balz: “That it would come to this was all but inevitable, as many analysts predicted early in Biden’s presidency. Pull back from the events of the past few days, from the squabbling between the moderates and progressives, from the public and private negotiations that mesmerized inside Washington, from the flood of speculation and rumors, and instead, look at some of the fundamentals that brought Democrats to this moment.”

“No president has attempted to enact transformative change, to do as much as Biden is trying to do, to spend as much money as he has proposed, and to do it all with such slender congressional majorities and so little margin for error.”

“Democrats control the executive and legislative branches of government. Their rank-and-file understandably expect action on big things, not just on the two domestic spending packages but also on immigration, racial justice and voting rights. Pent-up demand inside the Democratic coalition is palpable. But the control that Democrats technically enjoy in Washington is built on a fragile political foundation that requires total unity in a party famous for having little.”

“The United States surpassed 700,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday, a milestone that few experts had anticipated months ago when vaccines became widely available to the American public,” the New York Times reports.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans who have died in recent months, a period in which the country has offered broad access to shots, were unvaccinated. The United States has had one of the highest recent death rates of any country with an ample supply of vaccines.”

“The new and alarming surge of deaths this summer means that the coronavirus pandemic has become the deadliest in American history, overtaking the toll from the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919, which killed about 675,000 people.”

“Scores of former Trump political appointees gathered at a GOP social club Wednesday night to hear Steve Bannon detail how they could help the next Republican president reconfigure government,” NBC News reports.

Said Bannon: “If you’re going to take over the administrative state and deconstruct it then you have to have shock troops prepared to take it over immediately. I gave ’em fire and brimstone.”

“Bannon, who ran former President Donald Trump’s first campaign and later worked as a top adviser in the White House, said that Trump’s agenda was delayed by the challenges of quickly filling roughly 4,000 slots for presidential appointees at federal agencies and the steep learning curve for political officials who were new to Washington.”

“President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said on Saturday that he would retire rather than pursue the vice presidency next year, in a surprise reversal of a plan meant to keep him in national politics after his presidential term ends,” the New York Times reports.

“Taiwan sharply criticised China on Saturday after Beijing marked the founding of the People’s Republic of China with the largest ever incursion by the Chinese air force into the island’s air defence zone,” Nikkei Asia reports.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted of violating campaign finance laws during his unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2012 and sentenced to a year of house arrest, the AP reports.

“Consumer spending picked up in August, a sign the U.S. economic recovery is gaining steam heading into the fall,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who is a multi-millionaire, paid just $2,105 in state taxes in 2017, about the same as a married couple who made taxable income of $40k would have paid, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) hasn’t shown up for a committee mark up in more than 19 months, Roll Call reports.  Said Young: “I am working. I’m working. I don’t believe in Zoom, I don’t like that communication-type thing. I just do my job.”

Justice Samuel Alito’s defense of the Supreme Court’s actions on the Texas abortion ban this week were just the latest in what CNN reports is a “new level of defensiveness and anger” among the Supreme Court, “showing irritation with public expectations, the news media and one another.”

“Rarely have so many justices uttered such provocative, off-the-bench comments at the same time. Some are at cross purposes, but they all highlight the potential for declining confidence in America’s highest court.”

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has tested positive for the coronavirus despite being vaccinated, the Washington Post reports. He has no symptoms.

The Guardian: “A leaked document has revealed the membership list of the secretive Council for National Policy, showing how it provides opportunities for elite Republicans, wealthy entrepreneurs, media proprietors and pillars of the US conservative movement to rub shoulders with anti-abortion and anti-Islamic extremists.”

“The CNP is so secretive, according to reports, that its members are instructed not to reveal their affiliation or even name the group.”

Nikkei Asia: “Billionaires banished. Celebrities canceled. Private businesses wiped out overnight with the stroke of the ruling communist party’s pen, along with a ban on the once-common practice of raising money offshore.”

“All of which has been prompting officials, investors and indeed anyone with a stake in the future of the world’s largest country to ask — what on earth is going on in President Xi Jinping’s China?”

David Chipman, who was once President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told the New York Times that he spoke to no one from the administration from the moment he was first nominated.  Said Chipman: “In the back of my mind, I always thought that there would be a Plan B, but so far there hasn’t been.”

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) — who is facing an impeachment inquiry — said “he is reviewing concerns from state lawmakers over a meeting Gov. Kristi Noem (R) held last year that included both her daughter and a state employee who was overseeing her daughter’s application to become a certified real estate appraiser,” the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.

“The CIA evacuated an intelligence officer serving in Serbia in recent weeks who suffered serious injuries consistent with the neurological attacks known as Havana Syndrome,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The incident in the Balkans, which hasn’t been previously reported, is the latest in what the officials describe as a steady expansion of attacks on American spies and diplomats posted overseas by unknown assailants using what government officials and scientists suspect is some sort of directed-energy source.”

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

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