Cup of Joe – 10/7/21

“President Biden said it is a ‘real possibility’ that Senate Democrats could seek to revise the chamber’s filibuster rules to overcome a Republican blockade on raising the debt ceiling,” the Washington Post reports.  “Such a major change could give Democrats the ability to stave off a potential, calamitous default roughly two weeks before a critical fiscal deadline — but only if all party lawmakers agree to loosen the Senate’s typical 60-vote threshold in a way some, including Biden, have been disinclined to do for months.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told CNN “there very well may be“ 50 votes in the Senate to change filibuster rules to let the debt ceiling bill be advanced by a simple majority, saying there’s “a lot of passion in the caucus” about the standoff with the GOP and getting debt ceiling raised.

He added: “My hope is that after today’s vote Republicans will rethink their approach, or you may see, I think, some damage to this institution.”

And as if on cue.. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that “he remains opposed to changing the Senate’s legislative filibuster, dealing a blow to progressive hopes to use a rules change as an escape hatch from a fight over the nation’s borrowing limit,” The Hill reports. Said Manchin: “I’ve been very very clear where I stand on the filibuster. Nothing changes.”

Punchbowl News: “Getting rid of the filibuster just for the debt limit really means the legislative filibuster is gone forever. Democrats can pretend otherwise, but look what happened when the nuclear option was used to ‘limit’ the filibuster on executive-branch nominations in 2013. Now all executive branch nominees are subject to simple majority votes.”

“Once the door is opened, it’ll be hard to close it again. If you allow an exception for the debt limit, why not voting rights? Or guns? Or health care? Or climate change?”

Playbook: “Just as eliminating the filibuster for court nominees eventually led to doing so for Supreme Court nominees, an exception for the debt ceiling would inevitably trigger other demands. One could imagine voting rights advocates crying foul, for instance, insisting that their issue is worthy of similar treatment.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “For one thing, the filibuster doesn’t just protect minorities from legislation they don’t like; it also protects senators in the majority party from votes they don’t want to take. If Democrats vote to establish a filibuster exception for the debt limit, pressure will increase to do the same for every party priority — including those that lack the votes to pass.”

“If Republicans win House and Senate majorities next year, they may also be able to force Biden to veto lots of things he’d rather not veto in the run-up to the 2024 election. Of course, a future Republican majority could blow up the filibuster regardless of what Democrats do now, but McConnell probably thinks it’ll be easier if Democrats act first.”

The Washington Post notes McConnell has voted to raise the debt ceiling 32 times in his career.

“Moody’s Investors Service said on Tuesday the stable outlook on the United States’ Aaa rating reflects its view that the country would raise its debt limit and continue to meet its debt service obligations in full and on time,” Reuters reports.

Punchbowl News: “There seems to be some theory floating around the Capitol that tomorrow’s procedural vote will help clarify this process, a bit. The cloture vote will fail — no surprises here. But Republicans seem convinced that it will help Schumer and the Democratic leadership push their rank-and-file senators toward reconciliation afterward. We will see in the coming days whether that’s the case.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “wants to make Democrats work hard to lift the debt limit — but not so hard that it threatens a cataclysmic default,” Politico reports.  Said Graham: “I mean, I’m not going to be a complete asshole about it. But I’m going to make them take some tough votes.”

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans this afternoon that he plans to offer a short-term debt limit increase in order to help avert a default crisis. McConnell later confirmed that this proposal would extended the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority through November,” Punchbowl News reports.

“This is an attempt at de-escalation by McConnell — and we’ll have to see if Schumer takes it. McConnell wants to give Democrats two possible roadmaps that allow them to hike the limit through reconciliation. However, this is also a recognition that Democrats have a legitimate concern about the time that may take. Republicans spent the week saying there was enough time for Democrats to alter their reconciliation process before the Oct. 18 borrowing deadline.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) described the offer as “bullshit.”

Politico: “For the first time, Mitch McConnell publicly suggested his GOP conference would be willing to agree to limit the time spent on lifting the debt ceiling through reconciliation. Such an approach would only be possible if Democrats drop their ardent opposition to doing it that way.”

Said McConnell: “There would be potential for time agreements to wrap it up well before any potential danger.”

The Hill: McConnell to propose deal with Schumer to solve debt impasse.

It’s very clear that McConnell is concerned about the growing pressure on Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to agree to a carve out of the filibuster for the purposes of raising the debt ceiling. He’s worried because that would basically mean the end of the legislative filibuster. And that could potentially open the floodgates to large portions of the Democratic agenda that he’s currently able to block.

After a long caucus meeting, multiple Democrats tell Politico they will accept the short-term increase laid out by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell but that they will not use the budget reconciliation process for a longer-term solution for the debt ceiling.

“Covid-19 hospitalizations have dropped by half from the summer peak, as California continues to steadily, if slowly, shake off the worst of the Delta surge,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “California reached its summer peak in hospitalizations on the last day of August, when 8,353 people with confirmed COVID-19 were in the state’s hospitals. As of Monday, there were 4,467 people hospitalized — a number last seen in early August as the Delta surge picked up steam.”

Washington Post: “After four years of almost continuous scandal, Facebook is approaching its latest controversy over political polarization and the toxic effects of social media in a more aggressive and defiant way than it has previously, say current and former employees, including executives who helped shape the company’s earlier responses.”

“Gone is the familiar script in which chief executive Mark Zuckerberg issues a formal apology — sometimes in long blogs on his personal Facebook page or over live-streamed video for a Congressional hearing — then takes responsibility and promises change.”

“In its place, the company has deployed a slate of executives to mount a public defense while quibbling with the details of allegations from Frances Haugen, the former project manager who left Facebook with tens of thousands of documents.”

Axios: Facebook’s perfect storm.

“We can’t count on Mark Zuckerberg to tell us the truth. He has lost all trust, if he ever had any.”— Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), in a CNN interview on the Facebook CEO.

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a drastic overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that it says will allow tens of thousands of borrowers to get out of debt, NPR reports.

“One America News, the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the Trump administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc, the world’s largest communications company,” Reuters reports.  “A Reuters review of court records shows the role AT&T played in creating and funding OAN, a network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday ordered federal law enforcement authorities to huddle with local leaders in the coming weeks to address what the nation’s top prosecutor called a recent ‘disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence’ against educators and school board members,” Politico reports.

“The former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other top aides subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack are expected to defy orders for documents and testimony related to January 6,” The Guardian reports.  “The move to defy the subpoenas would mark the first major investigative hurdle faced by the select committee and threatens to touch off an extended legal battle as the former president pushes some of his most senior aides to undercut the inquiry.”

“More than a week after subpoenaing former Donald Trump aide Dan Scavino to cooperate with its investigation into the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, the House select committee investigating the attack has been unable to physically serve the subpoena to him,” CNN reports.

Richard Donoghue, formerly the No. 2 official at Justice Department “appeared for a closed-door interview on Friday with the select panel investigating Jan. 6,” Politico reports.

“Donoghue’s tenure at the Justice Department in the final days of the Trump administration has drawn scrutiny from congressional investigators as they explore the former president’s attempts to pressure the department to interfere in the 2020 election.”

Donald Trump is now claiming that the real insurrection wasn’t the attempt to overthrow the election on January 6 — it was the election itself.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reiterated to reporters that he wants a budget reconciliation bill of no more than $1.5 trillion.  Said Manchin: “My number has been 1.5, I’ve been very clear.”

Politico: “As few as 15 House Republicans may ultimately back the bipartisan infrastructure bill (maybe a few more trickle in if the bill looks poised to pass). That’s fewer than the 19 Senate Republicans who supported the bill.”

“What’s changed? President Joe Biden and other Democrats have so actively linked this bill to the broader multi-trillion Democratic social spending plans. And House Republican leadership have ratcheted up their whipping against it.”

“Instead of the expected surge in evictions, many landlords are holding off, waiting for the federal money to come through,” the AP reports.

“After a slow start, the pace to distribute the first $25 billion installment of $46.5 billion in rental assistance is picking up. Treasury Department officials said the program had served 420,000 households in August — up from 340,000 in July — and distributed $7.7 billion since January.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has an excerpt of his new book in Vanity Fair that describes what it was like at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 during the insurrection.

“It was not always like this, it must be said, because the Republican Party has also not always been like this. The four years of the Trump presidency destroyed many friendships, and not a few marriages.”

“But it also destroyed the Republican Party—once devoted to robust alliances, a healthy mistrust of executive power, and the expansion of democracy around the world—and turned it into something else: a party willing to tear down the institutions of its own government, a party willing to give aid and comfort to a malign foreign power that wishes to destroy us, a party hostile to the truth.”

The book is a must-read.

“A New York mother and son have been charged with theft in aiding the disappearance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during the Jan. 6 insurrection after the FBI initially raided a home 4,500 miles away in Alaska, looking for the computer,” the AP reports.  The son “also faces a charge of possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun.”

“Mention tax havens, and most people imagine small nations with balmy weather: The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Malta,” CNN reports.  “But South Dakota and a handful of other U.S. states are increasingly competing as landing pads for global capital hidden from creditors, tax collectors and law enforcement.”

“House Republican leadership has officially broken up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” Punchbowl News reports.  “GOP leadership has booted the Chamber from the party’s reconciliation-related coalition strategy calls. These calls between Republicans and their allies outside the Capitol help the leadership mobilize for their priorities and against the Democrats. This move by the leadership essentially says that the Chamber is an outcast in House Republican legislative politics.”

“The Biden administration offered its strongest signal yet that the United States’ combative economic approach toward China would continue, with senior administration officials saying that President Biden would not immediately lift tariffs on Chinese goods and that he would hold Beijing accountable for trade commitments agreed to during the Trump administration,” the New York Times reports,

Nikkei Asia: U.S. set to resume trade talks with China.

“Record-breaking numbers of Chinese military planes probed the airspace near Taiwan over the weekend, prompting Taiwanese fighter jets to scramble and adding muscle to Beijing’s warnings that it could ultimately use force to take hold of the island,” the New York Times reports.   “The most recent flights stood out because of the number and types of planes involved, including bombers and anti-submarine planes on nighttime intrusions.”

Nikkei Asia: “Military tensions with China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s defense minister said on Wednesday, days after record numbers of Chinese aircraft flew into the island’s air defense zone.”

“Tensions have hit a new high between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratic island as its own territory, and Chinese military aircraft have repeatedly flown through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.”

Times of London: “China has warned that ‘war may be triggered at any time’ with Taiwan after it deployed a record number of fighter jets into the self-governing island’s air identification zone.”

“Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) said he will rescind an executive order involving Covid-19 vaccines by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, and the commanding general of the Idaho National Guard also on Tuesday told McGeachin she can’t activate troops to send to the U.S.-Mexico border,” the AP reports.  “Little and Major General Michael Garshak made the statements as McGeachin on Tuesday in a flurry of activity attempted to exercise her authority as acting governor with Little out of the state.”

“State or local public officials in Idaho could face jail time if they help the federal government enforce Covid-19 vaccine mandates,” the Idaho Statesman reports.

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

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