Cup of Joe – 8/1/22

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Democrats behind closed doors this morning that passing the reconciliation bill “will require us to stick together and work long days and nights for the next 10 days,” ABC News reports.

He added: “It will be hard. But I believe we can get this done.”

Politico: “Rallying cries aside, passing the package by next week without a single GOP vote won’t be easy. Democrats are already diving into a behind-the-scenes scrub to ensure the bill complies with the special budget rules that allow them to evade a filibuster.”

Punchbowl News: “Schumer warned that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying to undermine the deal and urged Democrats to stay united in order to send a message to the Kentucky Republican.”

It does not appear that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) was at the morning meeting.

The Associated Press has an inside look at how Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) surprised Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) when he suddenly put a new offer for a climate and tax bill on the table.

“Details were slim that Monday afternoon 10 days ago, but the size and scope shocked Schumer’s team and, most importantly, included the commitment to vote by the August recess… The two men shook hands, and agreed to start talking — again.”

“What happened next was a weeklong negotiation, largely out of sight, to produce the $739 billion surprise package now headed for quick votes in Congress.”

The Hill: Inside the secret Manchin-Schumer deal.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has been discharged from a rehabilitation facility following two hip replacement surgeries and will return to the Senate next week, Politico reports.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model finds the budget reconciliation package being considered by Senate Democrats “would reduce non-interest cumulative deficits by $248 billion” and “the impact on inflation is statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

“Almost every Senate Democrat is locking arms to push their $700 billion-plus climate, tax and health care bill past the chamber’s strict rules for avoiding a filibuster. Kyrsten Sinema is still a question mark,” Politico reports.

“The Arizona Democrat has not commented on the legislation and isn’t expected to do so until she reviews the text and the rulings from the Senate parliamentarian, according to her spokesperson. At the moment, with the package set to reach the floor as soon as the middle of next week, her timeline for reaching a decision is uncertain.”

“Senate staffers are scrambling behind the scenes to do the seemingly impossible: prevent Democrats’ party-line climate, tax and health care bill from causing all-out havoc on the floor next week,” Politico reports.

“The vetting over drug pricing alone has proven complicated, spanning more than a week and prompting Democrats to revise portions to ensure the bill earns the parliamentarian’s approval and can pass the chamber with a simple majority. But the overall package is much larger now, following this week’s tax and climate deal struck by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).”

John Harris: “Suddenly, the mood is looking up. Manchin’s surprise decision to back $370 billion in tax credits to stimulate clean-energy technologies and other progressive environmental priorities came after many Democrats had concluded hope was pointless. Assuming the deal survives further legislative maneuvering in coming days — not a forgone conclusion — it invites a reappraisal of Biden’s leadership. Maybe that isn’t hopeless, either?”

“Following a pattern with long roots in his career, Biden is looking a little like the student who is failing his class for most of the semester, then pulls an all-nighter and slips the paper under the professor’s door at 6 a.m. It turns out the paper is actually pretty good. There’s no way he’s getting an A for the term, but no fair grader would give him an F, either. A solid B is within reach.”

“We are Reagan. We had a big plan. We are getting it in place.” — A top Biden confident, quoted by Axios.

“Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell had such a reputation for stopping Democratic legislation and keeping his conference together that he earned the nickname ‘the grim reaper,’” CNN reports.

“But now he’s helped push through a string of major bipartisan victories that Democrats in particular are touting, splintering his own conference and leaving some House Republicans fuming.”

“The divide is most pronounced between McConnell and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has whipped his members to oppose some of the big-ticket items that McConnell has backed, raising concerns among some Republicans about how the two will function in a potential GOP majority next year.”

Daily Beast: McConnell was outfoxed with his own playbook.

New York Times: “Even for a president who has become used to the highs and lows of governing, it was a moment to feel whipsawed. Since taking office 18 months ago, Mr. Biden has celebrated successes like passage of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and slogged through crises like the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Gas prices soared; now they are coming down. Unemployment is at record lows even as there are signs of a looming recession.”

“The president’s brand of politics is rooted in a slower era, before Twitter, and sometimes it can pay off to have the patience to wait for a deal to finally emerge. But now, with congressional elections coming up in a few months, the challenge for Mr. Biden is to make sure his latest successes resonate with Americans who remain deeply skeptical about the future.”

“The magnitude of the Senate deal was received like a splash of icy water across Washington, which had all but written off the possibility that Mr. Biden’s far-reaching ambitions could be revived this year.”

“House Democrats passed an assault weapons ban for the first time in roughly 30 years Friday, a legislative feat on a politically fraught issue that tested the unity of the caucus,” the Washington Post reports.

“The historic legislation passed along party lines with a razor-thin majority and with only two Republicans voting in support. The bill faces virtually no chance of passage in an evenly-split Senate.”

“The passage of an assault weapons ban is a significant feat for any chamber of Congress. Multiple attempts for the legislation to even be considered in committees were jettisoned. But the rise of mass shootings that have touched every corner of American life since the previous assault weapon ban expired in 2004 has catapulted the issue to a top priority for Democrats, who have long pushed for reforms to gun laws.”

“The Senate failed to pass a procedural vote Wednesday that would’ve cleared the way for a vote on legislation to expand benefits for the estimated 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” CBS News reports.

Wall Street Journal: “Republican anger blocked a separate piece of legislation. Soon after the announcement of the Manchin deal, the Senate unexpectedly failed to advance a bipartisan bill to provide healthcare to veterans exposed to burn pits.”

Playbook: “The White House could hardly believe that Biden’s renewed legislative fortunes had driven Republicans — even the normally unflappable McConnell — to make such a self-destructive move.”

“The House passed a $280 billion bill on Thursday to strengthen the domestic chip manufacturing industry and finance scientific research in a bid to boost the United States’s competitiveness on the global stage, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk for final approval.” The Hill reports.

Washington Post: “The House passed the legislation on a 243-187 vote, with strong bipartisan support — despite a last-minute push by House GOP leaders to whip against the bill. Twenty-four Republicans defied the leadership and joined Democrats in backing the measure.”

“For the third time in a month, Senate Republicans on Wednesday splintered on a key vote and ushered a Democratic priority toward President Biden’s desk,” the Washington Post reports.

“Seventeen Republicans joined 47 members of the Democratic caucus to approve the $280 billion Chips and Science Act, a bid to relaunch the domestic semiconductor industry. That follows 15 Republicans last week joining 49 members of the Democratic caucus to confirm Judge J. Michelle Childs to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, giving her a leg up toward the ultimate judicial promotion of the Supreme Court.”

“And in late June, 15 Republicans joined all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to pass the most expansive gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years. A few Republicans are even trying to round up a similar level of support for legislation that would codify the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage.”

“Republicans are furious at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV),” the HuffPost reports. “The West Virginia Democrat on Wednesday announced a surprise deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to revive much of President Joe Biden’s domestic policy agenda.”

Said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR): “It was obviously a double-cross by Joe Manchin. Just two weeks ago, he said he wasn’t going to support a bill like this.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) told Politico she was “very surprised” to see her fellow West Virginian, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), strike a climate and energy, tax and health care deal with Democrats this week, knocking it as “not good for our state.”

Said Capito: “I was surprised. It has taxes going up. It has Green New Deal. It’s bigger than he had led us to imagine. It’s not good for our state. So yeah, I was very surprised.”

“We got our ass kicked. It’s just that simple … Looks to me like we got rinky-doo’d. That’s a Louisiana word for ‘screwed.’”  — Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), quoted by Politico, on Democrats announcing a surprise deal on a climate and tax bill.

“Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of a handful of GOP senators working to garner support in her party for a bill to codify gay marriage, said the Democrats’ surprise embrace of a tax and climate change bill made her job much harder,” the HuffPost reports.

Said Collins: “I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue.”

“Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the Democrats’ most conservative and contrarian members, declined on Sunday to say whether he wants Democrats to retain control of Congress after the November elections,” the AP reports.

Said Manchin: “I’ve always taken the approach, whoever you send me, that’s your representative and I respect them and I respect the state for the people they send and I give it my best to work with them and do the best for my country.”

CNN: Manchin says Republicans in ‘normal times’ would be supporting energy, health care bill.

It turns out the Secret Services’ Jan. 6 texts aren’t the only ones that’ve gone mysteriously missing, according to the Washington Post: Texts sent and received by Trump acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli related to Jan. 6 have been erased too. And like with the Secret Service texts, DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari reportedly didn’t alert Congress about Wolf and Cuccinelli’s messages disappearing.

The DHS reportedly told Cuffari about the two Trump officials’ texts all the way back in late February. The department claimed that a “reset” of the officials’ phones after they left led the records to being erased, the Post reports.

Cuffari didn’t try to recover the lost texts or get to the bottom of why DHS leadership didn’t save them, according to the Post.

“Justice Department prosecutors are preparing to fight in court to force former White House officials to testify about then-President Donald Trump’s conversations and actions around January 6,“ CNN reports.

“At issue are claims of executive privilege that prosecutors expect the former president to make in order to shield some information from the federal grand jury as the criminal investigation moves deeper into the ranks of White House officials who directly interacted with Trump.”

“DOJ’s preemptive move is the clearest sign yet that federal investigators are homing in on Trump’s conduct as he tried to prevent the transfer of power to Joe Biden.”

Ken Klukowski, a former Justice Department staffer who worked with Trump coup footsoldier Jeffrey Clark, is cooperating with the DOJ’s Jan. 6 investigators after they searched his electronic records, Klukowski’s lawyer told CNN on Thursday. Former Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson has reportedly been cooperating with the Justice Department’s probe too.

And ex-top Mike Pence staffers Marc Short and Greg Jacob have testified in front of a federal grand jury in D.C. recently.

The House Jan. 6 Committee has interviewed ex-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently to dig into Trump Cabinet officials’ alleged discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment after the Capitol attack, according to ABC NewsCNN and the Associated Press.

Mick Mulvaney, who was Trump’s pre-Meadows acting White House chief of staff and then special envoy for Northern Ireland, reportedly spoke to the committee on Thursday.

The committee is also reportedly negotiating with at least two other ex-Cabinet members for potential interviews: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and former acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to appear in front of the committee in the coming days, ABC News and CNN report.

The Trump Cabinet members the panel’s already spoken to: Ex-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, ex-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and ex-Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia (and ex-Attorney General Bill Barr, obviously, though he wouldn’t have been there for the 25A discussions).

“As Roger Stone prepared to stand trial in 2019, complaining he was under pressure from federal prosecutors to incriminate Donald Trump, a close ally of the president repeatedly assured Stone that ‘the boss’ would likely grant him clemency if he were convicted, a recording shows,” the Washington Post reports.

“At an event at a Trump property that October, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) predicted that Stone would be found guilty at his trial in Washington the following month but would not ‘do a day’ in prison. Gaetz was apparently unaware they were being recorded by documentary filmmakers following Stone, who special counsel Robert Mueller had charged with obstruction of a congressional investigation.”

Said Gaetz: “The boss still has a very favorable view of you… said it directly.”

He added: “I don’t think the big guy can let you go down for this.”

Politico: “At least three witnesses in DOJ’s investigation of so-called alternate electors in the 2020 election — two in Arizona and another in Georgia — have received subpoenas demanding communications to and from Joshua Findlay, who is now the RNC’s national director for election integrity.”

“The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog scrapped its investigative team’s effort to collect agency phones to try to recover deleted Secret Service texts this year,” the Washington Post reports.

“In early February, after learning that the Secret Service’s text messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, staff at Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s office planned to contact all DHS agencies offering to have data specialists help retrieve messages from their phones, according to two government whistleblowers who provided reports to Congress.”

“But later that month, Cuffari’s office decided it would not collect or review any agency phones.”

Barton Gellman: “Late last month, in one of its final acts of the term, the Supreme Court queued up another potentially precedent-wrecking decision for next year. The Court’s agreement to hear Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina redistricting case, isn’t just bad news for efforts to control gerrymandering. The Court’s right-wing supermajority is poised to let state lawmakers overturn voters’ choice in presidential elections.”

“To understand the stakes, and the motives of Republicans who brought the case, you need only one strategic fact of political arithmetic. Six swing states—Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina—are trending blue in presidential elections but ruled by gerrymandered Republican state legislatures. No comparable red-trending states are locked into Democratic legislatures.”

“Democrats Are Dangerously Close To Changing Laws So Our President Is Elected By Popular Vote” — From the conservative website, The Federalist.

“Donald Trump made an uncharacteristic apology to Ted Cruz after insulting his wife and father during the 2016 campaign – only for the Texas senator still to refuse to endorse Trump at the Republican convention,” The Guardian reports.

In a new memoir, Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, writes: “On his own initiative, Trump did apologise for saying some of the things he said about Cruz, which was unusual for Trump.”

“The telling vignette – possibly an embarrassing one for two powerful Republicans who have since formed an alliance of convenience – is contained in Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, but Not Silenced.”

Other news from the book: “The Trump campaign was actually being spied on in 2016, claims former Trump campaign chair and convicted felon Paul Manafort in his forthcoming book. It just wasn’t by anyone who Trump has accused of doing so on Twitter,” Vox reports. “Instead, Manafort writes, it was former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who made himself administrator of the campaign server in an attempt to make himself relevant within the campaign. The result gave him full access to every email sent by campaign staffers.”

As Manafort wrote “he had access to everybody’s communications. He had knowledge and he would be sitting in his office, gaining knowledge by virtue of spying on the campaign.”

“Paul Manafort indirectly advised Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign while in home confinement as part of a seven-year sentence for offenses including tax fraud – advice he kept secret as he hoped for a presidential pardon,” The Guardian  reports. Said Manafort: “I didn’t want anything to get in the way of the president’s re-election or, importantly, a potential pardon.”

He added: “There was no contact with anyone in the Trump orbit when I was in prison… But when the re-election campaign started kicking off, I was interacting, unofficially, with friends of mine who were very involved. It was killing me not to be there, but I was advising indirectly from my condo.”

“Donald Trump’s estranged former education secretary, Betsy DeVos — last seen trying to remove him from office using the 25th Amendment after the Capitol riot — took pen in hand the other day to plead with him to look past Michigan’s no-holds-barred Republican infighting and side with her powerful political family’s choice for governor,” the New York Times reports.

Wrote DeVos, in a letter: “I hear that some have implied that my family and I are working against you in Michigan. That is fake news. Those telling you that are doing so for their own personal gain.”

“Jared, it’s very simple. If the boy does the crime, you’ve got to lock him up.” — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, quoted by CNN explaining criminal justice reform, from Jared Kushner’s new memoir.

Jared Kushner details his clashes with Steve Bannon in his new book, describing a “toxic” West Wing presence who accused him of “undermining the President’s agenda” and threatened to break him “in half” if Kushner turned on him, CNN reports.

“The detailed account in the memoir – set to be published next month – provides fresh insight into the pernicious environment inside former President Donald Trump’s West Wing. Coming just as the former President gears up for a 2024 campaign, excerpts from the book reveal how viciously the Trump team turned on one another from the earliest days of the administration, and how distrust and resentment affected every aspect of governing.”

“Russia has ordered mercenaries to hold sections of the frontline in Ukraine — a sign it is running short of combat infantry as Kyiv steps up a counter-offensive in the south,” Reuters reports.

“Greater reliance on fighters from the Russian private military company Wagner Group for frontline duties rather than their usual work in special operations would be another sign that Russia’s military is under stress six months into its war in Ukraine.”

“Russian advances in Ukraine have slowed almost to a standstill as newly delivered Western weapons help Ukrainian forces reclaim much of the advantage they had lost in recent months, opening a window of opportunity to turn the tide of the war in their favor again,” the Washington Post reports.

“Russian troops have made no significant territorial gains since the Ukrainian retreat on July 2 from the eastern city of Lysychansk under withering artillery fire.”

New York Times: “They have handed out Russian passports, cellphone numbers and set-top boxes for watching Russian television. They have replaced Ukrainian currency with the ruble, rerouted the internet through Russian servers and arrested hundreds who have resisted assimilation.”

“In ways big and small, the occupying authorities on territory seized by Moscow’s forces are using fear and indoctrination to compel Ukrainians to adopt a Russian way of life.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is writing a book called Manhood: The Masculine Virtues Americans Need, building off a speech he gave at a conservative conference claiming the political left is waging a war on masculinity, the Kansas City Star reports.

“The book’s announcement comes after Hawley was mocked by the U.S. House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which showed a video of him running out of the U.S. Senate chamber as lawmakers, reporters and staff were being evacuated.”

“President Joe Biden will host former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House in early September for the unveiling of their official White House portraits,” NBC News reports.

“The traditional East Room ceremony unveiling the Obamas’ portraits, usually a moment where the sitting president and first lady fête their immediate predecessors, was put off while then-President Donald Trump was in office given the bitter, estranged relationship between the two men.”

“The Biden administration now expects to begin a Covid-19 booster campaign with retooled vaccines in September because Pfizer and Moderna have promised that they can deliver doses by then,” the New York Times reports.

“With updated formulations apparently close at hand, federal officials have decided against expanding eligibility for second boosters of the existing vaccines this summer. The new versions are expected to perform better against the now-dominant Omicron subvariant BA.5, although the data available so far is still preliminary.”

“Indiana state senators narrowly passed a near-total abortion ban Saturday during a rare weekend session, sending the bill to the House after a contentious week of arguments over whether to allow exceptions for rape and incest,” the AP reports.

“The bill would prohibit abortions from the time a fertilized egg implants in a uterus. Exceptions would be allowed in cases of rape and incest, but a patient seeking an abortion for either reason would have to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to the attack.”

Washington Post: “The political challenge for [Vice President Kamala] Harris, however, is that she is hardly the only ambitious Democrat to seize on the abortion issue… For advisers and others close to Harris, her increased time in TV studios and her ballooning travel schedule are a welcome sign after a first year that they say featured too much time in Washington during the coronavirus pandemic, and not enough time in the public eye.”

“Falling prices for commodities such as wheat or corn are set to slow consumer food price increases, easing pressure on a major driver of global inflation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“But economists warn it is too soon to declare victory. Agricultural markets remain volatile and the continuing war in Ukraine, combined with unusually hot and dry weather in Europe and parts of the U.S., could bring new disruptions to food supplies.”

“Inflation surged in June and workers’ average wages accelerated in the spring — signs that Americans won’t likely feel any relief from rising prices anytime soon and that the Federal Reserve will feel compelled to further raise borrowing costs,” the AP reports.

“An inflation gauge closely tracked by the Fed jumped 6.8% in June from a year ago, the government said Friday, the biggest such jump in four decades. Much of the increase was driven by energy and food.”

New York Times: “That combination is likely to reinforce the Fed’s determination to cool down the economy and wrestle inflation back under control.”

Washington Post: “Uncompromising positions and loaded rhetoric on key social issues are escalating concerns within GOP circles that the party is moving too far out of sync with popular opinion, projecting new hostility to gay people and potentially alienating women voters in high-stakes races.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and ending a nationwide right to abortion last month has spawned strict new bans and stirred fears that gay rights and access to contraception could be next — shifting the focus from other culture-war battles where Republicans felt they had a winning message.”

“Japan will open an R&D center for next-generation 2-nanometer chips by year-end under a partnership with the U.S., part of their efforts to establish secure chip supply chains amid tensions around industry leader Taiwan,” Nikkei Asia reports.

“The countries plan to research cutting-edge 2-nanometer semiconductors, which offer superior performance while using less power. The research and development center will include a prototype production line, with the goal of start mass-producing the chips domestically as early as 2025.”

A Kansas sheriff said that since last fall his office “has received more than 200 tips from people claiming they were victims of or witnesses to fraudulent activity in local elections,” KCUR reports.

Yet in response to a public records request “the office has produced only one offense report related to any alleged violations of Kansas election laws since 2020.”

A Wisconsin judge said that a Republican-ordered, taxpayer-funded investigation into the 2020 election found “absolutely no evidence of election fraud,” but did reveal contempt for the state’s open records law by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and a former state Supreme Court justice he hired, the AP reports.

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

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