Cup of Joe – 5/13/22

If Democrats are to make abortion a major issue in the midterm elections, they’ll need to make it rise above the issues Republicans would prefer to talk about, like inflation and immigration. But in holding a show vote in the Senate yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) botched it badly. He couldn’t even get a majority — let alone the 60 votes needed to proceed under Senate rules.

This is odd because a majority of senators have already expressed support for codifying Roe v. Wade into law, including both Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). But they rejected Schumer’s bill as “overly broad” and offered their own alternative.

Schumer responded that Democrats “are not looking to compromise on something as vital as this.” It’s enough to drive you crazy. As anyone who follows politics knows, and as Matt Yglesias noted, the vital issues “are precisely the ones where it’s important to compromise in order to win.”

Charlie Sykes offers some “obvious alternatives” which Schumer could have pursued in order to get a win:

  • He could have put the Collins-Murkowski bill up for a vote and would have gotten a bipartisan majority.
  • He could have put Republicans on the defensive by forcing a vote on exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
  • He could have cast the GOP as extremists by proposing protections for the abortion rights of women with ectopic pregnancies.
  • He could even have forced a vote on codifying Griswold, which protects the right to contraception.

After she and her fellow GOP senators killed legislation codifying abortion rights, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) insisted via Twitter on Wednesday night that overturning Roe v. Wade “would not ban abortion,” just “send the decision back to your state.”

Except overturning Roe would absolutely ban abortion in several states, including Blackburn’s. Tennessee and a dozen other states have “trigger laws” in place to ban the procedure once the Supreme Court strikes down Roe.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tried a similar line several days ago, claiming that “angry leftists” are going to realize that “‘Wait, nothing about my life changed.’”

“If Republicans in Congress have any qualms about announcing new abortion restrictions in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned, they are not shared by their state-level counterparts,” The Hill reports.  “GOP governors and state legislators are planning to hold special legislative sessions later this spring and summer to consider new measures to remove or restrict abortion rights, after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is expected to reverse the landmark decision half a century ago guaranteeing those rights.”

States planning special sessions include South Dakota, Indiana, Nebraska, Florida and South Carolina.

“Legalizing abortion was one of the most meaningful economic policies of the past 50 years for women — bolstering their educational attainment and career advancement, as well as reducing poverty rates for women and families, research shows,” Axios reports.

“If Roe v. Wade goes away, some of that progress will likely be reversed, which could slow economic growth more broadly.”

“The Supreme Court is set to meet behind closed doors on Thursday for the first time since the astonishing leak of a draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade,” CNN reports.

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas on Thursday to five Republican members of Congress, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, who refused to meet with the panel voluntarily,” the New York Times reports.

“The committee’s leaders had previously been reluctant to issue subpoenas to their fellow lawmakers. That is an extraordinarily rare step for most congressional committees to take, though the House Ethics Committee, which is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by members, is known to do so.”

Playbook: “This is a huge escalation by the committee, one it had been debating for months. Among the concerns is the precedent that it sets, and the potential for Republicans to return in kind if, as expected, they take control of the House after the midterms. The committee is also prepping for a slate of prime time hearings that are expected next month.”

Tom Nichols: “Even if we cut some slack for Esper and all the others who served as honorably and conscientiously as they could until they were faced with either the dead end of resignation or being fired, the fact is that these men and women remained silent for far too long once they were out of government service. They held back important things that the American people and their elected representatives needed to know. They kept them as their own personal secrets, either out of some misplaced sense of bureaucratic propriety, or because they had a book deal and didn’t want to steal their own thunder from release day.”

“They had a duty to speak up sooner. And they failed in that duty.”

“Esper, Mattis, Tillerson, and many, many other people who crawled through the Shawshank sewer pipe that was the four years of the Trump administration needed to speak up the minute they were out. Instead, they teased their book bombshells or played coy games of slap and tickle on cable outlets.”

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said growing NATO arms supplies and Ukraine troop training increases the “risk of such conflict turning into a full-scale nuclear war, a scenario that will be catastrophic for all,” USA Today reports. Look at the paper tiger, trying to threaten us with his non existant roar.

“Finland’s leaders said Thursday they’re in favor of rapidly applying for NATO membership, paving the way for a historic expansion of the alliance that could deal a serious blow to Russia as its military struggles with its war in Ukraine,” the AP reports.

“The dramatic move by Finland was announced by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin. It means that Finland is all but certain to join NATO, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighboring Sweden is expected to decide on joining NATO in coming days.”

Wall Street Journal: “Joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would be a major break from decades of Finnish nonaligned defense policy and deal a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambition to divide and weaken the Western alliance.”

New surveillance video obtained by CNN shows Russian soldiers shooting two civilians in the back, providing a stark example of a potential war crime by Russian forces.

“In the initial weeks of the Russian invasion, American officials expected Russian cyber-attacks to wreak havoc on Ukraine’s electricity grid, banking system and the like. To their surprise, that did not happen,” The Economist reports.

“But a report released by Microsoft suggests that Russian military and cyber-attacks have operated in tandem throughout the war, albeit on a smaller scale than expected. In many cases cyber-attacks occurred within days or hours of missile strikes on similar targets, indicating the attackers may have had overlapping objectives.”

David Wasserman: “Across the spectrum, voters are restless. On the right, moderate GOP House incumbents are contending with an angry former president who wants to purify the party of people who have crossed him. Democratic primary voters are furious over the possible end of Roe v. Wade. And voters of all stripes are anxious about everything from the cost of gas and groceries to infant formula shortages and instability abroad.”

“This is not a pro-incumbent mood. Combine that with redistricting — which is forcing new and old members alike to win over voters — and it’s a recipe for the most incumbents losing primaries in at least a decade. In May alone, at least four could lose.”

Punchbowl News: “The roughly 30 House Democrats have long known the political headwinds are against them this yea. Redistricting, inflation, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, an uneven economy are all big problems. Add to that, the fact that the party in power generally loses seats in the midterms.”

“But many of these vulnerable Democrats returned to Washington after a week at home particularly spooked. Their frustrations are running high. They’re worried about a lack of legislative victories in 2022. And they badly want Democratic leaders and committee chairs to push more bills that help address the concerns of everyday Americans.”

“In other words, these Democrats want their leaders to do something to try to reverse the party’s political fortunes before it’s too late.”

Washington Post: “On the campaign trail, [Republicans are] railing against critical race theory and gender identity discussions in schools. In state legislatures and via executive fiat, they are trying to limit medical procedures for transgender children and punishing large companies they view as overly politically correct. They’ve found success by weaponizing the left’s ‘defund the police’ movement, which advocates for reallocating resources to limit police power.”

“And they’re already accusing President Biden of catering to college-educated elites as he considers forgiving student loan debt.”

“In primary races ahead of November’s midterm elections, Republican candidates are embracing contentious battles over gender, sexual orientation and race rather than sticking to tried-and-true attacks on inflation or Biden’s low approval ratings.”

“Deaths from drug overdoses continued rising to record-breaking levels in 2021, nearing 108,000,” the New York Times reports.

“The increase of nearly 15 percent followed a much steeper rise of almost 30 percent in 2020, an unrelenting crisis that has consumed federal and state drug policy officials. The number of drug overdose deaths has increased every year but 2018 since the 1970s.”

“Gun deaths reached the highest level ever recorded in the United States in 2020, the first year of the pandemic,” the New York Times reports.   “Gun-related homicides in particular rose by 35 percent, a surge that exacted an unprecedented toll on Black men.”

Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) “is resigning, leaving office more than seven months before the end of his term,” the AP reports.  “Reed said last year that he would not seek reelection after he was accused of sexual misconduct but he announced in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House that he was resigning Tuesday.”

“Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan now has the Democratic majority she needs to turn her progressive vision for antitrust and privacy into reality,” Politico reports.

“The Senate’s confirmation of Georgetown University law professor Alvaro Bedoya on Wednesday will end a 2-2 partisan deadlock that kept many of Khan’s priorities on ice since October.”

Politico: “Every day, it seems, brings another reminder of the severe limitations of Democrats’ illusory majority in a 50-50 Senate.”

“Democrats have had great success confirming President JOE BIDEN’s nominees, punctuated this week by installing a new FTC commissioner who gave Democrats the majority and the first Black woman on the Federal Reserve Board. But on a day-to-day basis, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s job is an excruciating grind based on whether any of his members have Covid, if Republicans are feeling cooperative and where a handful of Democrats stand.”

“President Joe Biden will appeal for a renewed international commitment to attacking Covid-19 as he convenes a second virtual summit on the pandemic and marks 1 million deaths in the United States,” the AP reports.

New York Times: Biden to order federal flags to fly at half-staff.

Jonathan Chait: Republicans want to save money by skimping on vaccines.

“Congressional Republicans’ concerns about wasting COVID vaccines are colliding with the Biden administration’s commitment to making the shots as widely accessible as possible, adding another wrinkle to the stalled Covid funding negotiations,” Axios reports.  “Some Republicans are growing skeptical of the currently available vaccines’ ability to contain the Omicron variant, and don’t want to allocate money for more doses without a firmer plan in place for the fall.”

“Federal prosecutors have begun a grand jury investigation into whether classified White House documents that ended up at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home were mishandled,” the New York Times reports.  “The intensifying inquiry suggests that the Justice Department is examining the role of Mr. Trump and other officials in his White House in their handling of sensitive materials during the final stages of his administration.”

“Throughout history, Congress has established expert agencies to oversee important parts of the American economy — from agriculture to drugs to railroads. Now amid growing concerns about the power of Silicon Valley, a Democratic senator suggests reforming current institutions isn’t enough: a new federal watchdog is needed to regulate the country’s most influential tech companies,” the Washington Post reports.

“Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) today will introduce the Digital Platform Commission Act, a bill to establish a new five-person commission responsible for protecting consumers in the age of Big Tech.”

“E-reader apps that became a lifeline for students during the pandemic are now in the crossfire of a culture war raging over books in schools and public libraries,” NBC News reports.  “In several states, apps and the companies that run them have been targeted by conservative parents who have pushed schools and public libraries to shut down their digital programs, which let users download and read books on their smartphones, tablets or laptops.”

“Some parents want the apps banned for their children, or even for all students. And they’re getting results.”

“The biggest players in the U.S. meat industry pressed ‘baseless’ claims of beef and pork shortages early in the pandemic to persuade the Trump White House to keep processing plants running, disregarding the coronavirus risks that eventually killed at least 269 workers,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Trump International Hotel in Washington is now officially out of business after the Trump family on Wednesday completed its sale to a Miami investor group, which plans to reopen it as a Waldorf Astoria,” the New York Times reports.

“The sale formally ended the Trump family’s business presence in Washington, although the family company still owns a golf course in Northern Virginia.”

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

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