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Cup of Joe – January 11, 2023

“A private document that only some House Republicans have seen and others refuse to talk about could play an outsized role in the governance of the chamber over the next two years,” Axios reports.

“The document contains concessions — not included in the rules package passed on Monday night — that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made to rebellious Freedom Caucus members to secure the speaker’s gavel.”

Punchbowl News first reported on the “secret three-page addendum” containing “the most controversial concessions” that McCarthy made.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss whether I’ve seen it or not.” — Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), quoted by the Washington Post, on the secret document outlining the deal Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made with far-right lawmakers.

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), the House Republican whip, told CNN the deal they reached to make Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaker will make him the “strongest speaker in modern times.”   That’s like the 330 pound Donald Trump saying he is the fittest president in all history while simultaneously gulping down two diet cokes and four Big Macs. 

Jonathan Bernstein: “Rep. Kevin McCarthy made many concessions in his bid to become speaker of the House. But his offer to allow the hard-line House Freedom Caucus to select three of the nine Republicans on the powerful House Committee on Rules stands out for its ability to diminish the influence of the Republican Party within the House. It will grant a handful of extremists outsize power in Congress, reducing the Republican Party’s ability to govern.”

“The deal, which wasn’t part of proposed rule amendments adopted Monday evening, is far more significant than the much-ballyhooed change allowing a single House member to essentially call a vote of no-confidence against the speaker. Threatening the speaker’s job is messy, and as aggressive as the dissidents might be, the mechanism isn’t something likely to see everyday use.”

“By contrast, handing seats on the Rules Committee to a small, radical faction institutionalizes their influence in a way that will come into play on every single bill the House considers, because every bill must go through that committee in order to be considered by the full House.”

“House GOP leaders and key negotiators won’t commit to publicly releasing details about the side deals Kevin McCarthy cut in order to secure the speakership, undercutting the Republican pledge to run their chamber openly and transparently and as some rank-and-file members call for more information about the promises that were made,” CNN reports.

Said one GOP member: “Operating in a vacuum doesn’t feel good. We’ve been loyal and it’s a slap in the face.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Republican lawmakers that there is no official three-page document detailing the concessions he granted to last week’s holdouts on the speaker vote, CNN reports.

McCarthy says it was a “gentleman’s agreement” even though Semafor reports his opponents had demanded getting things in writing.

Jonathan Bernstein: “Republicans already had a tough road ahead in the majority given their very slim margin of power. With only 222 Republicans, all it takes is five (combined with all the Democrats) to defeat any measure brought to the House floor. It’s hard to keep that many members of Congress together even if they are from a unified party with experienced leaders who have a reputation for winning votes. This party is anything but unified. And we’ve just seen in as dramatic a form possible that the party leadership can be rolled.”

“Granted, it’s also the least ambitious new majority in decades. I listened to most of the speeches from Republicans nominating speaker candidates this week, and I don’t think I heard them mention a single piece of legislation that they intended to pass. They talked about problems — the border, fentanyl, inflation, budget deficits — but they didn’t come close to proposing bills to address these challenges.”

“It’s been a post-policy party for a long time… So don’t expect much legislating.”

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) called fellow Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) “a fraud” in a CBS News interview for his posturing during the week-long House speaker election.

Said Mace: “Every time he voted against Kevin McCarthy last week he sent out a fundraising email. What you saw last week was a constitutional process diminished by those kinds of political actions. I don’t support that kind of behavior.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is still fundraising off his Kevin McCarthy opposition.

Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) “will lead the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, putting a decidedly populist and pro-Donald Trump lawmaker in charge of the chamber’s tax, trade and health agenda,” Bloomberg reports.

“Smith, who advocates positioning the GOP as the party of the working class, represents a shift in Republican economic strategy away from the pro-free-trade, pro-business alignment it’s had for decades.”

House Republicans have picked Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), a Freedom Caucus member, over Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) to lead the Homeland Security Committee, Politico reports.

Green, who first came to Congress in 2019, said he would place some staff members permanently on the southern border in part to provide “real-time updates” from Customs and Border Protection.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) “is preparing to step down from a powerful House Republican panel that decides committee assignments for conference members after a series of confrontations with conservatives who prolonged Kevin McCarthy’s speakership fight,” Politico reports.

“Rogers confirmed the plan Monday morning, saying it would likely happen later this week — while underscoring that his departure from the GOP steering committee isn’t finalized and that he is not being encouraged by his colleagues to exit. Should Rogers do so as planned, his region’s members would meet to elect a new representative.”

“Less than two weeks after cementing another major increase to the Pentagon budget, lawmakers are now talking about going the opposite direction — and are even raising the specter of across-the-board cuts that rocked the establishment just over a decade ago,” Politico reports.

“An emerging deal between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and conservatives who initially opposed his bid for the gavel looks to exact deep spending cuts. This comes amid a looming partisan fight over the debt limit, compounding fears that overall spending is poised for a return to automatic reductions known as sequestration.”

“House Republicans are making clear that they intend to seek cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare with their new majority in the 118th Congress,” the HuffPost reports.

“After voting on the adoption of a rules package Monday night, the House [passed] a bill from Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) that would yank back about $80 billion in IRS funding, which Democrats included in their party-line tax, climate and health bill last year,” Politico reports.

“But the Congressional Budget Office has put a big pricetag on this first legislative priority.”

“The CBO estimates that the bill to roll back IRS funding will increase the deficit by more than $114 billion over a decade, reducing spending by more than $71 billion and decreasing revenues by nearly $186 billion.”

Punchbowl News: “With passage of the House rules package on Monday night, the next big fight for the chamber will be ‘populating’ its committees. And that’s going to lead to a big partisan brawl on the floor.”

“House Democrats are expected to name Schiff and Swalwell to the Intelligence Committee, as well as place Omar on Foreign Affairs, according to multiple Democratic leadership sources. And Republicans under Speaker Kevin McCarthy will block this from happening.”

“At the same time, Republicans will add MTG, Gosar and Santos to House panels, and there’s nothing Democrats can do to stop it.”

Playbook: “It’s not an unbridled power move, exactly: Swalwell is already due to rotate off of Intel, and Omar’s slot is subject to a House vote. But it’s the kind of hardball that conservatives are seeking from McCarthy.”

“House Republicans on Monday commissioned a special investigative panel focused on the coronavirus pandemic, hoping to leverage their new, powerful majority to press scientists and federal officials about the origin of the public health crisis and the government’s response to it,” the Washington Post reports.

“Party lawmakers officially chartered the new effort in a sprawling package setting the chamber’s rules for the next two years, awarding it a sweeping mandate — from looking into vaccine development, school closures and other mitigation measures to examining the roughly $5 trillion in emergency federal aid approved since early 2020.”

“Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has subpoenaed Donald Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani, asking him to turn over records to a federal grand jury as part of an investigation into the former president’s fundraising following the 2020 election,“ CNN reports.

“The subpoena, which was sent more than a month ago and has not been previously reported, requests documents from Giuliani about payments he received around the 2020 election, when Giuliani filed numerous lawsuits on Trump’s behalf contesting the election results.”

Bloomberg, also reporting on a subpoena to Giuliani but without tying it specifically to the fundraising investigation, says it was issued in early November, before Smith was appointed special counsel.

The NYT likewise dates the subpoena issuance to November, but it offers an additional caveat: “It remained unclear, however, if Mr. Smith and his team have assumed control of the part of the inquiry related to Mr. Giuliani.”

So some conflicting reporting that we’ll be trying to clear up in the coming days.

Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Anderson Torres, who until Sunday served as chief of security in the country’s capital Brasilia, according to the English-language Brazilian Report. Torres is a former justice minister under ex-President Bolsonaro. At the moment he is on “vacation” in the United States. Torres is at the center of suspicions that pro-Bolsonaro authorities were negligent or worse in security preparations for Sunday’s demonstrations.

“At least 17 people were killed in southern Peru in a matter of hours on Monday amid ongoing protests over the ouster of the former president, an extraordinary spasm of violence that led to criticism of excessive force by the military and the police,” the New York Times reports.

“Peru, the fifth-most-populous nation in Latin America, has been the scene of violent demonstrations since mid-December, when the country’s leftist president, Pedro Castillo, who had promised to address longstanding issues of poverty and inequality, attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree. The move was widely condemned as unconstitutional and Mr. Castillo was arrested and replaced by his vice president.”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government has wasted no time implementing its ultra-nationalist agenda, including adopting a seemingly petty ban on displaying the Palestinian flag and shaking the foundations of Israel’s democracy with a proposed legal assault on the Supreme Court,” the AP reports.

“Taliban authorities have embarked on an ambitious project to change the face of the Afghan capital, a crowded metropolis of 5 million that still displays the scars, monuments and fads of periods of civil conflict, foreign invasion and new-money opulence,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Kabul municipal government, which provides utility services to homes and businesses and then collects fees to support its budget, is setting out to improve selected corners and neglected corridors of the city. It has 180 projects underway, including planting trees on median strips, erecting traffic-circle monuments and building major roads from scratch. The projected total cost is about $90 million.”

Clive Crook at Bloomberg says American and British Conservatives Are Frozen in Failure.

“Both Republicans and Tories are finding the revolutions of 2016 difficult to reverse

For the past few years, the US and the UK have followed strikingly similar political trajectories. Against all odds, populist uprisings captured both countries’ conservative parties, secured power and embarked on projects of national transformation. These efforts went badly (to put it generously), and in due course support for the rebellions subsided.

Lately voters have been calling for a rethink. In both countries, this is proving harder than you’d suppose.”

Tom Nichols: “The new House Judiciary chair, Jim Jordan, will lead the committee on ‘weaponization,’ virtually guaranteeing that its hearings will turn into a festival of prancing nonsense that is unlikely to do very much but enhance Jordan’s visibility while he tears into U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies at the expense of American national security.”

“Meanwhile, Jordan’s fellow leader in the Coalition of the Unhinged, Paul Gosar, also tweeted on Saturday that Republicans ‘will conduct a real investigation into J6. The effort to attempt a coup between traitor Gen. Mark Milley and Pelosi will be reviewed and exposed.’ This, apparently, is a reference to when Pelosi, as speaker, called Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two days after January 6 because she was concerned that Trump might try to start a war as a diversion from his election loss. (She wasn’t alone: Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, among others, reportedly had the same concern. So did I.)”

“I doubt that most Republicans in Congress actually believe that the most senior military officer in the United States is a traitor. And yet, they all remain quiet—because under the GOP’s rules, any one member can move to vacate the speaker’s chair and start the whole leadership fiasco all over again, and that includes Gosar, the dentist from Arizona turned conspiracy-obsessed crank who now sits in the People’s House.”

Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) “has filed impeachment articles against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, delivering on a promise he made last week before the 118th Congress was officially sworn in,” Fox News reports.

Asha Rangappa: “If you’re like me, the phrase ‘Hunter Biden’s Laptop’ provokes a peculiar physiological response: My eyes glaze over, I get sort of sleepy, and my mind starts looking for something practical to think about, like my week’s grocery list. The phrase has come to mean everything and nothing — the person uttering it probably can’t tell you exactly what they are alleging, only that it is very, very illegal. It kind of reminds me of ‘Whitewater’ back in the 90s. Be honest Gen Xers, if someone were to ask you, right now, to explain Whitewater in three sentences, could you do it? I think most people couldn’t; I know for me the phrase is really just a lot of random word association. e.g., Whitewater/Clintons/land deal/suicide (remember Vince Foster??) that is shorthand for some vague criminality no one can articulate. And that’s the point.”

“Unfortunately, with the Republicans in control of the House — and in particular the capitulation of power to the extreme MAGA contingent — we can expect there to be endless hearings centered around Hunter Biden’s Laptop. Which means it behooves us to understand what, exactly, it is really about.”

“Attorney General Merrick Garland has assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to review classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington,” CBS News reports.

“The roughly 10 documents are from President Biden’s vice-presidential office at the center… The FBI is also involved in the U.S. attorney’s inquiry.”

“The classified material was identified by personal attorneys for Mr. Biden on Nov. 2, the day before the midterm elections.”

“Among the classified documents from Joe Biden’s time as vice president discovered in a private office last fall are US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom,” CNN reports.

“A total of 10 documents with classification markings were found last year in Biden’s private academic office and they were dated between 2013 and 2016.”

Steve Benen: On classified documents, Republicans fail again to find a parallel for Trump.

Washington Post: “While the Biden case has obvious echoes of the Mar-a-Lago investigation, the details provided by Biden’s lawyer on Monday suggest key differences that could factor heavily in whether the Biden documents become a criminal matter…”

“One person familiar with the Biden inquiry, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing review, argued that while there are obvious similarities with the Trump case, so far the circumstances appear to be quite different. That person said the voluntary notification, and the sheer difference in the number of documents stand out as key differences.”

Playbook: “A cursory review of the facts reveals several obvious differences between the circumstances surrounding the Trump case and the documents found in Biden’s old office — starting with the fact that the Biden papers were… handed over immediately and willingly to the Archives after they were discovered on Nov. 2.”

New York Times: “Still, whatever the legal questions, as a matter of political reality, the discovery will make the perception of the Justice Department potentially charging Mr. Trump over his handling of the documents more challenging.”

“The only thing that’s needed right now by the former president is to be able to throw doubt and say, ‘look, this happened, too.’ So from a political perspective, this is actually probably pretty bad. Not just for the president, but really for the idea of getting justice through the political system.” — Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), quoted by CNN, on classified documents found in President Biden’s private office.

“They knew about this a week before the election. Maybe the American people should have known about it.” — House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), quoted by CNN, on the classified documents found in President Biden’s private office.

New York Times: “The inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter, is a type aimed at helping Attorney General Merrick Garland decide whether to appoint a special counsel, like the one investigating former President Donald Trump’s hoarding of sensitive documents and failure to return all of them.”

More: “A former top prosecutor appointed during President Barack Obama’s administration said the attorney general should turn the Biden matter over to a special counsel, just as he did the Trump investigation.”

The Economist: “China’s recovery will have painful side-effects. In much of the world it could show up not in higher growth, but in higher inflation or interest rates. Central banks are already raising rates at a frenetic pace to fight inflation. If China’s reopening increases price pressure to an uncomfortable degree, they will have to keep monetary policy tighter for longer. Countries that import commodities, including much of the West, are at the greatest risk of such disruption.”

“Take the oil market. Rising Chinese demand should more than compensate for faltering consumption in Europe and America, as their economies slow. According to Goldman Sachs, a rapid recovery in China could help push the price of Brent crude oil to $100 a barrel, an increase of a quarter compared with today’s prices (though still below the heights reached after Russia invaded Ukraine). Rising energy costs will prove another hurdle to taming inflation.”

Bloomberg: “An underlying gauge of euro-zone inflation flared to a record last month, indicating persistent price pressures that will likely extend the European Central Bank’s most-aggressive bout of interest-rate hikes in its history.”

Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Matt Gaetz (R-AL) patched things up after a tense encounter on the House floor late Friday night with both tweeting about their “productive working relationship.”

A judge has ordered the unsealing of key excerpts of Donald Trump’s deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against him.

Dr. Dre threatened Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) with legal action for exploiting his music “to promote your divisive and hateful political agenda,” TMZ reports.

House Republicans disallowed the use of C-SPAN cameras in the House chamber. The network will resume using the feed from government-operated cameras.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) “is introducing an amendment to the House rules on Tuesday to allow C-SPAN cameras on the House floor during normal proceedings,” Fox News reports. “The amendment would require the speaker of the House to allow C-SPAN to broadcast the floor proceedings of the House, much like during the contentious House speaker vote last week.”

“A federal judge sentenced pro-Trump livestreamer Anthime ‘Baked Alaska’ Gionet on Tuesday to 60 days in prison for his actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6, calling his raucous conduct ‘shocking’ amid the chaos of the mob,” Politico reports.

President Biden asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to stay in her post, and she agreed, Bloomberg reports.

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

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