“The year-long Democratic push for federal voting rights legislation neared a futile end Wednesday night, after Senate Republicans blocked an elections bill for the fifth time in six months and Democrats appeared unable to unite their caucus behind a plan to rewrite the Senate’s rules and pass it anyway,” the Washington Post reports.
“The final clash, which has been brewing since Democrats won congressional majorities a year ago as Republican legislatures in 19 states embarked on a campaign to roll back election access, began with an evening vote to close debate on a sprawling voting rights bill.”
“That vote, at the Senate’s traditional 60-vote margin for legislation, failed on a 51-49 vote.”
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) helped block Democrats’ voting rights package by voting with Republicans to block changes to filibuster rules, which were the only way Democratic senators had any hope of passing the legislation. You can check out our liveblog of the vote here.
The wafer-thin silver lining for filibuster reform advocates: All the rest of the Senate Democratic caucus voted for the changes, even lawmakers who previously were against reform.
When the moment came to vote, Sinema stood and shouted “Aye!” — a theatrical declaration of support for the status quo.
Manchin would like his Democratic colleagues to be nice to him please. “I do not and will not attack the contents of the character of anybody who’s changed their position, and I hope you would give me the same opportunity and not attack mine,” the West Virginia lawmaker said on the Senate floor before the vote.
Afterward, Manchin appeared angrier, stating on his way out of the Capitol that there had not been enough “discussion” of the voting rights bill.
Punchbowl News: “To be honest, we still don’t fully comprehend the Democratic strategy here. Schumer, backed by Biden, pushed this fight to the bitter end knowing he was going to lose. How that helps him, Senate Democrats or Biden just isn’t apparent to us.”
“Wednesday’s vote, in fact, cemented Manchin and Sinema as the biggest pariahs in the Democratic Party. So how does it help Schumer get their votes during the rest of the 117th Congress, or further the party’s goals heading into the midterm elections?”
“I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quoted by The Hill last September.
Jonathan Chait: “Democrats are almost certain to lose their control of government in the midterm elections, and it is difficult to say when they will have their next chance. McConnell is trying to cast his victory as an eternal one, ending the debate.”
“But nearly the entire Democratic Party has figured out that, in the long run, the filibuster hurts them more than it hurts Republicans. The next time Democrats gain control, they will do away with whatever remains of it.”
Aaron Blake: “President Biden clearly wanted to send a message at Wednesday’s news conference. After the media complained for the better part of a year about their lack of access to him, Biden spoke and answered questions for nearly two hours — and he suggested/joked repeatedly that it might go on for hours more. The message: I’m not hiding from this.”
“But the whole thing also wound up reinforcing why he generally has been kept out of such lengthy back-and-forths.”
“On two extremely important issues, Biden offered comments that the White House has now been forced to clean up.”
Ukrainian officials told CNN that they are “shocked” and “stunned” at President Biden’s remarks during a White House press conference about Russian President Vladimir Putin when Biden said that a “minor incursion” into their country might be more acceptable.
The Guardian notes the White House was forced to issue a hasty clarification, saying that any movement of Russian forces over the border would be treated as invasion.
“President Biden insisted that the United States would not accept even a ‘minor incursion’ of Ukraine by Russia, as the White House continued efforts to clarify Biden’s remarks Wednesday suggesting that it might,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Biden: “I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding: Any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion.”
He added: “Let there be no doubt at all: If Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price.”
Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. dispatched the head of the Central Intelligence Agency to Berlin and Kyiv, a week ahead of an official trip by the secretary of state to the region, as part of its efforts to convince European nations to rally around a tougher response against Moscow and in support of Ukraine, an approach that is complicated by the countries’ closer economic ties with Russia.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) doesn’t sound ready to move quickly on any narrower spending bill, Politico reports. He indicated he wanted to “start with clean sheet of paper and start over” with negotiations on the climate and social spending package.
Said Manchin: “We’ll just be starting from scratch whenever we start.”
“This is a reconciliation. So when people say let’s divide up and they don’t understand the process.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quoted by Punchbowl News, on whether the Build Back Better Act could be broken up as some Democrats, including President Biden, have suggested.
“Nearly 4 million children could fall into poverty this month following the end of pandemic-linked monthly child tax credit payments in December, according to a new analysis from Columbia University,” CNBC reports.
A couple of hours after the Supreme Court shot down Trump’s attempt to bar the release of documents from the National Archives to the House Jan. 6 Select Committee on Wednesday night, the panel applauded the high court’s ruling and announced that it had already started to receive the records.
According to the Justice Department, some of the records the ex-president tried to block include: White House call logs and speech drafts for him dated Jan. 6, plus “a draft Executive Order concerning election integrity.”
The Jan. 6 Committee also subpoenaed prominent white nationalists Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey on Wednesday.
Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack that Donald Trump hosted secret meetings in the White House residence in days before January 6, The Guardian reports.
Grisham’s interview “was more significant than expected.”
“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sent a letter on Thursday to Ivanka Trump, the daughter of former President Donald J. Trump, seeking her cooperation with its inquiry,” the New York Times reports.
“The letter is the latest step that the committee has taken to obtain information from Mr. Trump’s family about the events that led up to the Capitol riot.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she trusts her members not to do anything improper while trading stocks — but also pledged to “review all the bills that are coming in and see where the support is in our caucus” for banning that practice among sitting members of Congress, Politico reports.
Said Pelosi: “To give a blanket attitude of we can’t do this and we can’t do that because we can’t be trusted, I just don’t buy into that. But if the members want to do that, I’m okay with it.”
“In a new intelligence assessment, the CIA has ruled out that the mysterious symptoms known as Havana Syndrome are the result of a sustained global campaign by a hostile power aimed at hundreds of American diplomats and spies,” NBC News reports.
“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday joined his Senate counterpart in entertaining potential reform of the 135-year-old law that Donald Trump allies used to fuel their case against certification of the 2020 election,” Politico reports.
Matthew Yglesias: “Republican members of Congress seem to be increasingly interested in reaching a deal on reform of the Electoral Count Act. This is good news on several fronts.”
“A bill with Republican Party support can pass the United States Senate, whereas a purely partisan bill will die via filibuster. It’s also good news because ECA reform is good on the merits — it won’t fix American political institutions or ‘save democracy,’ but it will reduce the odds of a collapse, and reducing those odds is important. Passing and signing bipartisan bills also tend to be at least a little bit popular and make the president who’s doing it look good.”
“People who had previously been infected with Covid-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant,” Reuters reports.
“Protection against Delta was highest, however, among people who were both vaccinated and had survived a previous Covid infection, and lowest among those who had never been infected or vaccinated.”
I disagree with the article above: if you make the choice to forgo the vaccine, you should also waive all medical treatment for Covid. If you die, you die. It was your choice.
After testing positive for Covid-19 last week, Utah Senate President Stuart Adams (R) “opened the 2022 session unmasked, conducting business as normal and trying to reassure senators and the public he was fully recovered,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
“Adams initially said he’d tested positive twice for COVID-19 since yesterday but backtracked seconds later. ‘I tested negative twice,’ he said, joking that he’d misspoken to make sure people were listening.”
“In reality, the senator had indeed tested positive twice Tuesday morning.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has tested positive for Covid-19, the Texas Tribune reports. It’s not known whether Paxton was vaccinated but he has used to office to fight against federal vaccine mandates.
Time: “One year in, there’s a growing sense that the Biden presidency has lost its way. An Administration that pledged to restore competence and normalcy seems overmatched and reactive. Biden has been caught flat-footed by not one but two COVID-19 variants. He has repeatedly failed to close the deal with the Senate he boasted of mastering. The former chair of the foreign relations committee has presided over escalating tensions with Russia and China as well as a chaotic pullout from Afghanistan. The consequences to America’s credibility abroad could be lasting, says Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador in Kabul.”
“Defenders argue that Biden is managing as well as anyone could. Taking office in the shadow of Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection, he faces a country riven by pre-existing divisions and an opposition that views him as illegitimate. Biden racked up early successes rolling out vaccines and relief funds, they note, and hasn’t gotten sufficient credit for his bipartisan infrastructure bill…”
“Yet in a period of historic crisis, the President has been a shrinking figure, giving fewer interviews or press conferences than his predecessors. Voters widely question his capabilities. Privately, top Democrats acknowledge the public is losing faith in his leadership.”
According to previously unreported tax disclosures, shipping magnate Dick Uihlein’s non-profit foundation “poured millions of dollars in 2020 into a sprawling number of groups connected to efforts to challenge Joe Biden’s victory and reimagine election law, as well as other right-wing extremist organizations, including ones designated as hate groups,” the Daily Beast reports.
“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is requesting a special grand jury to aid in her investigation of former President Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“Special grand juries, which typically have 16 to 23 members, can’t issue indictments. But they can subpoena witnesses, compel the production of documents, inspect and enter into certain offices for the purposes of the investigation.”
“That is a very good question, and I’ll let you know when we take the majority back.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by Politico, when asked what the GOP agenda would be if Republicans were in charge.
“The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell, at a press conference. He said the quiet part loud: Republicans do not consider black people to be Americans.
John Cassidy: “Two years to the week after the first Covid-19 cases in this country were confirmed, it’s increasingly clear who the biggest economic winners have been. The tech giants that benefited from the shift to remote work, such as Amazon and Microsoft, are the most obvious ones, but the list also includes major Wall Street banks and large financial firms.”
“Last Friday, JPMorgan Chase, the biggest bank in the country, announced that it had made a post-tax profit of $48.3 billion in 2021. Nearly fifty billion dollars. That’s about thirty-five per cent more than the thirty-six billion dollars that JPMorgan Chase made in 2019, the year before the pandemic, which was itself a record figure.”
“On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs announced record post-tax profits of $21.6 billion for 2021. The past twelve months have been such a stellar period for the firm that, according to Bloomberg News, it is preparing to give some of its most senior employees two year-end bonuses.”
“It’s hard to exaggerate the extent to which the current Wall Street bonanza is a product of the stimulative policies that the Fed and Congress introduced to lessen the pain of the pandemic.”
When President Biden was asked at his press conference asked about the possibility of fraud, he said: “I’m not saying it’s going to be legit… The prospect of an illegitimate election is in direct proportion to us being able to get these reforms passed.”
Philip Bump: “Again, this is a remarkable break from the main line of rhetoric over the past two years. With good reason, there’s been a broad insistence that the most recent election wasn’t tainted by shenanigans. Here, Biden was suggesting that such a thing was possible — within the constraints of changed state laws and processes and, presumably, the context of a concerted effort to install officials sympathetic to Trump’s false claims at the local and state level of election monitoring…”
“So now what? Are we heading into a federal election with the president’s stated position that the results should be eyed skeptically? This is not unfamiliar territory, certainly, but not a situation that many Americans are eager to repeat.”
“After a woman was pushed to her death in front of a New York City subway train beneath Times Square over the weekend, Mayor Eric Adams acknowledged to reporters Tuesday that even he didn’t feel entirely safe riding the rails,” the AP reports.
Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers (R), one of Trump’s top Big Lie crusaders, retweeted a white nationalist’s call for a holiday honoring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson yesterday.
Rogers spoke at Trump’s rally in Arizona several days prior, during which she demanded that the 2020 election results be decertified (somehow).
She’s suggested that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors be sent to prison for defying subpoenas for election materials in the Arizona Senate’s notorious “audit.”
This isn’t even the first time the senator’s cozied up to white nationalists on Twitter.
Oh and she’s rolling in campaign donations: The Arizona senator raked in a record-breaking $2.5 million last year.