Cup of Joe – 12/9/21

“The House passed a bill Tuesday night to expedite a debt ceiling fix in the Senate, allowing Democrats to essentially raise the nation’s credit limit on their own and thwart a Christmastime default,” Politico reports.  “The measure — which is the result of an 11th-hour accord between party leaders — tees up a new path for Congress to hike the nation’s borrowing ability, preventing the Treasury Department from running out of cash as soon as this month.”

“House Republicans are questioning Senate Republicans’ decision-making at every turn, a rift that’s fueling an intraparty fight over the debt ceiling,” Politico reports. “First it was President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, then it was last week’s stopgap government funding deal that divided the two GOP conferences. And after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to ease Democrats’ ability to raise the debt ceiling, tensions are boiling over between the wings of the Republican Party.”

“In fact, House GOP leaders said the deal is so toxic they may not need to twist arms to get their members to vote against it.”

The Hill: McConnell faces GOP push back on debt deal.

McConnell declined to tell the Wall Street Journal whether he had spoke to Donald Trump since the January 6 insurrection.  Said McConnell: “I don’t have anything to say. Nice try.”   When reminded that Trump has been very critical of McConnell, he replied: “You get that impression.”

“The House voted Tuesday to approve a $778 billion defense-policy and budget bill that authorizes $25 billion more in defense spending than requested by President Biden and contains a provision to create a commission on the War in Afghanistan, three months after America’s longest war ended in a chaotic and bloody withdrawal,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Compromise defense policy legislation set to be filed Monday will not require women to register for a military draft, a stunning turnaround after the proposal gained bipartisan support in both the House and Senate this year,” Politico reports.

Jonathan Bernstein: “The good news is that Congress has come up with a solution both parties can live with to raise the limit, and lawmakers cut the deal well before the latest deadline. So the markets won’t be roiled by the possibility of a debt-limit breach, let alone an actual economy-destroying default. Hurrah.”

“The bad news? The debt limit, the stupidest law in the nation, survives, and Congress will need to deal with it again, probably in 2023. It’s a bomb left unexploded, and it certainly could go off one of these days.”

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package, Axios reports.

CNN finds 10 things you probably didn’t know were in President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told AFP that “while it would take weeks to judge the severity of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, early indications suggested it was not worse than prior strains, and possibly milder.”  Said Fauci: “It almost certainly is not more severe than Delta. There is some suggestion that it might even be less severe, because when you look at some of the cohorts that are being followed in South Africa, the ratio between the number of infections and the number of hospitalizations seems to be less than with Delta.”

Bloomberg on a new variant of the Omicron variant: “The new lineage has about half the gene variations of the original and can’t be detected with typical screening… It was found in a traveler who had arrived from South Africa and tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.”

New York Times: “The companies said that tests of blood from individuals who received only two doses found more than a 25-fold reduction in antibody levels against the Omicron variant compared to an earlier version of the virus. That finding indicates that two doses alone ‘may not be sufficient to protect against infection’ by the new variant.”

“But the blood samples obtained from people one month after they had received a booster shot showed neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant comparable to the levels of antibodies against a previous version of the virus after two doses.”

“Sen. Joe Manchin declined to commit to voting for Democrats’ roughly $2 trillion social-policy and climate package, citing concerns about inflation and the length of programs, weeks before the Christmas deadline party leaders are racing to meet,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  Said Manchin: “The unknown we’re facing today is much greater than the need that people believe in this aspirational bill that we’re looking at. We’ve gotta make sure we get this right. We just can’t continue to flood the market, as we’ve done.”

He added: “We’ve done so many good things in the last 10 months, and no one is taking a breath.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), when asked if Democrats are headed for a “shellacking” in the 2022 midterms, referred to his party in the third person, the Wall Street Journal reports.  Said Manchin: “Well, I would say the warning lights are up. They should be concerned.”

“Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), a key Democratic holdout on reforming the filibuster, is discussing small changes to Senate rules with Republicans,” The Hill reports.

“Manchin’s discussions with GOP colleagues — which haven’t been previously reported — come as Democrats are trying to win over their conservative colleague on their push to ‘restore the Senate,’ including making changes to the 60-vote legislative filibuster.”

“Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will no longer be cooperating with a committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, despite previous efforts to work with them,” Fox News reports.  So Meadows is now willing to go to jail in order to mend fences with Donald Trump after his book?

“The leaders of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are vowing to launch criminal charges against Mark Meadows if he refuses to cooperate in the probe,” The Hill reports. The House Select Committee has informed former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows it has “no choice” but to advance criminal contempt proceedings against him given Meadows has decided to no longer cooperate with the committee, CNN reports.

Axios: “Meadows is the third person to face contempt proceedings from the committee, after former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who has since been indicted, and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.”

An attorney for Roger Stone has informed the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that his client will plead the Fifth, The Hill reports. Stone is now the third witness subpoenaed to plead the Fifth, along with former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clarke and attorney John Eastman.

“The House select committee investigating the January 6 riot has formally subpoenaed the phone records of more than 100 people, a substantial number that includes former Trump officials and associates of the ex-President such as his one-time chief of staff Mark Meadows,” CNN reports. “The committee has already begun receiving some data from phone providers.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she would “never forgive” former President Donald Trump and his “lackeys” for the “trauma” that Capitol Hill staff experienced during the Jan. 6 riot, The Hill reports.

Washington Post: “An executive order President Biden will sign later Wednesday leverages Washington’s buying power to cut the government’s carbon emissions 65 percent by the end of the decade. It lays out goals that would put the federal government on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050 and would add at least 10 gigawatts’ worth of clean electricity to the grid.”

“Under the new approach, federal operations would run entirely on carbon-free electricity by 2030. By 2035, the government would stop buying gas-powered vehicles, switching to zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and cars. A decade after that, most of the buildings owned or leased by the government would no longer contribute to the carbon pollution that’s warming the planet.”

“Joe Biden has made a significant diplomatic concession to Moscow designed to prevent an invasion of Ukraine by signaling he wants to convene meetings between Nato allies and Russia to discuss Vladimir Putin’s grievances with the transatlantic security pact,” the Financial Times reports.

New York Times: “It is too early to tell whether the much-anticipated conversation, whose details were hard to elicit as both the White House and the Kremlin put their spin on it, will alleviate the immediate crisis in Ukraine, where roughly 70,000 Russian troops have massed, with more equipment and personnel arriving every day.”

“Mr. Putin gave no indication of his ultimate intent, leaving the world guessing whether he was actually planning an invasion early next year, or trying to get the West to pay attention to his demands by manufacturing a crisis.”

“A Texas school district pre-emptively pulled more than 400 books from its libraries for review following an inquiry from a Republican state lawmaker,” NBC News reports.

The school district said in a statement that it was reviewing the books “out of an abundance of caution” to “ensure they did not have any obscene or vulgar material in them.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told reporters that if Republicans win control of the House of Representatives in 2022, he will push to have Donald Trump installed as Speaker, Rolling Stone reports.  Gaetz added that he has spoken to Trump about the possibility of making him Speaker.

“We are going to take power after this next election. When we do, it’s not going to be the days of Paul Ryan, and Trey Gowdy, and no real oversight, and no real subpoenas. It’s going to be the days of Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Dr. Gosar, and myself.” — Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), quoted by The Hill.

It shouldn’t be long before Democrats use this in an ad.

“A federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors, the latest in a string of victories for Republican-led states pushing back against Biden’s pandemic policies,” the AP reports.

“The order came in response to a lawsuit from several contractors and seven states — Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia. It applies across the U.S. because one of those challenging the order is the trade group Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., whose members do business nationwide.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said that President Biden’s vaccine mandate is “a problem” for her and state government, the Greenville Daily News reports.

Said Whitmer: “We’re an employer too, the state of Michigan is. I know if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees. That’s why I haven’t proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not, we’re waiting to see what happens in court.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) “is planning to vote for a Republican resolution to nullify President Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employers,” The Hill reports.  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said last week that he would do so as well.

The CDC reported that 60% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  Approximately 71% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, and around 23% have had a booster shot.

“Tennessee’s medical licensing board voted Tuesday to delete a policy opposing coronavirus misinformation from its website due to fears a powerful conservative lawmaker would otherwise dissolve the board and replace its members,” the Tennessean reports.  “The policy, unanimously adopted by the Board of Medical Examiners in September, establishes that doctors who spread demonstrably untrue information about Covid-19 vaccines could have their licenses suspended or potentially revoked. Members voted 7 to 3 to delete — but not rescind — the policy.”

“Democrats are once again trying to find an answer to their filibuster dilemma in the hopes of passing voting rights legislation before it’s too late,” Politico reports.  “The latest attempt is taking place among a group of Senate Democrats who have gone back to the drawing board. Rather than the draconian step of tossing out the filibuster, they’re debating other possible rule changes to the chamber that could pave the way for election reform bills that are viewed by Democrats as paramount to combatting restrictive new voting laws and preserving democracy.”

“Saule Omarova, President Biden’s pick to serve as a top banking regulator, has withdrawn her nomination for the office of the Comptroller of the Currency,” the Washington Post reports.  “During Omarova’s confirmation hearing last month, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) had suggested that her upbringing in Soviet-controlled Kazakhstan indicated a possible Communist loyalty.”

“Angela Merkel was assured of a place in the history books as soon as she became Germany’s first female chancellor Nov. 22, 2005,” the AP reports.  “Over the next 16 years, she was credited with raising Germany’s profile and influence, working to hold a fractious European Union together, managing a string of crises and being a role model for women.”

“Now that near-record tenure is ending with her leaving office at age 67 to praise from abroad and enduring popularity at home. Her designated successor, Olaf Scholz, is expected to take office Wednesday.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) trashed House Freedom Caucus members as “performance artists,” while defending Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) as a “real legislator” who voted more often with former President Donald Trump.  Said Crenshaw: “We have grifters in our midst… Lie after lie after lie.”

Michael Gerson: “Under the intellectual and moral leadership of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Republicans in the House have done their best to set a standard of deadly misinformation, poisonous bigotry and mental vacuity. But Republicans in the Senate — possessing greater intellectual kilowattage and fewer excuses for cowardice — have recently taken center stage in the GOP festival of small-mindedness.”

“During last week’s budget negotiations, and as America prepared for the full-scale arrival of the omicron coronavirus variant, every present Senate Republican voted to ‘defund’ the federal vaccine mandate on businesses, the military and the federal workforce…”

“This is the strangest political cause of my lifetime. In the midst of a public health emergency that has taken more than 1 of every 500 American lives and which has reduced average life expectancy by 1.67 years (reversing about 14 years of life expectancy gains), Republican officials are actively discouraging citizens from taking routine medical precautions for their own welfare. This is not just a disagreement about policy. It is a political movement organized around increasing the risk of death to your neighbors, particularly your ill and elderly ones. And while it is certainly selfish, is not ultimately self-interested. Fatalities have increased especially in Republican-leaning portions of the country. A death cult has adopted a death wish.”

“During Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearings, President Donald Trump ‘strongly considered’ dropping the nominee and instead going with a ‘stronger candidate,’ according to a new book by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows,” Politico reports.  “It wasn’t because of accusations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford while in high school, but because he’d professed that he ‘liked beer’ during his hearings and was, in Trump’s estimation, being too apologetic.”

A source close to Donald Trump tells the New York Times the former president hates Mark Meadows’ new book and feels betrayed by him.

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

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