Cup of Joe – February 2, 2023

“President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet one-on-one for the first time today. The White House has positioned this meeting as a relatively standard session, during which the leaders will discuss a range of topics,” Punchbowl News reports.

“McCarthy, however, sees this as a face-to-face with the president that will focus on two of his key legislative priorities this Congress – boosting the debt limit and cutting government spending.”

“To review, Biden says he won’t negotiate over the debt limit and believes it should be lifted without preconditions. Several senior White House aides tell us that even if Biden and McCarthy were to cut a deal, they’re skeptical McCarthy would have the support to pass it through the fractious House.”

Playbook: “The White House strategy, therefore, is patience. House Republicans are divided, and Biden’s team believes McCarthy is unlikely to craft a budget plan that can secure 218 votes given the internal contradictions within his conference among libertarians, defense hawks, and moderates representing Biden districts. McCarthy’s effort to do so will be wrenching and instructive, they believe, and will shape the contours of the debate as the debt ceiling deadline approaches in early summer.”

“As the debt ceiling fight heats up on Capitol Hill, House Democrats are eyeing an end-around strategy to bypass Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — and the conservative hawks driving his agenda — to avoid a federal default later in the year,” The Hill reports.

“Democratic leaders have already begun talks about tapping a procedural tool, known as a discharge petition, to force a debt-limit hike to the floor without the accompanying cuts McCarthy is demanding, according to sources familiar with the closed-door discussions. That would align House Democrats with President Biden, who is insisting on a ‘clean’ debt-ceiling increase absent any other budget changes.”

Tara Palmeri: “With all their new oversight power, House Republicans are ready to commence the season for Democratic public humiliation. After months of lip-licking, we know the obvious frontline target: Joe Biden, via his son Hunter, and Anthony Fauci, whose oversight of the government’s Covid response has become a sad Rorschach test for our modern politics. Alas, on Wednesday Oversight Chair James Comer will launch his mission to expose ‘rampant waste of taxpayer dollars in Covid Relief systems.’”

“This is surely an opportunity for Republicans to scrutinize how Democratic governors—particularly those with putative White House aspirations, like J.B. Pritzker, Gavin Newsom, and Gretchen Whitmer—spent relief money, especially during the most frantic weeks of the pandemic when state governors were under immense pressure to put protective funds to work. The tenor of the investigations will coalesce around fiscal responsibility, of course, regarding the American Rescue Plan.”

Rich Lowry points out that the Republican Party has had only a “sporadic commitment to fiscal conservatism.”

“After a hiatus during the Trump years, Republicans are back in the mood for fiscal probity.”

“It’s very strange not to seriously pursue a deeply held goal when you have unified control of Washington, then to insist on trying to achieve much of it in one fell swoop when you barely have control of one chamber of Congress.”

A new Monmouth poll finds more Americans believe Donald Trump knew about the classified documents in his possession than those who say the same about either Joe Biden or Mike Pence.

However, Republicans show much more concern about the potential national security threats posed by Biden’s documents than about Trump’s. The opposite is true among Democrats. The polls also finds that the classified documents issue does not seem to have affected Biden’s job rating.

Two of the people hired by Donald Trump to search four of his properties for additional classified records testified last week to a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., CNN reports. Their November search found two more classified documents at a storage facility in Florida.

“The FBI searched the Penn Biden Center offices in mid-November, according to two sources familiar with the investigation, after lawyers for President Biden had found about 10 documents marked classified there on Nov. 2,” CBS News reports.

“It is not clear whether FBI personnel found any additional classified or presidential material during the mid-November sweep.”

FBI agents are searching the Rehoboth, Delaware, beach home of President Joe Biden, NBC News reports.

Newly released video obtained by CBS News provides the first look at Donald Trump’s deposition last summer in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud investigation.

“Wearing a dark blue suit, red tie and American flag lapel pin, sitting in front of a camera in a downtown Manhattan conference room, Trump answered ‘yes’ when asked by James if he was familiar with the rules for giving a deposition. But as the questioning about his finances began in earnest, the former president—and now candidate for that same office—invoked the Fifth Amendment and continued to do so for nearly four hours.”

“Trump did so more than 400 times during the course of the full interview, according to according to a New York Attorney General court filing.”

“Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine partly to assert Russia’s regional dominance once and for all,” Bloomberg reports. “Nearly a year on, the Russian president has achieved the opposite — and not just in Kyiv.”

“Russia spent almost 50 years building its energy market in Europe. President Vladimir Putin destroyed it in under 50 weeks,” Bloomberg reports.

“Finding a replacement will be almost impossible. While Russia has found alternative markets for its crude oil, mostly in India, switching sales of refined products and — perhaps even more so — natural gas will take years and come at huge cost. That’s if it’s even possible to create markets as the world turns away from fossil fuels.”

“France has signaled openness to sending fighter jets to Ukraine as western countries weigh the next steps in military assistance to help Kyiv resist Russian attacks,” the Financial Times reports.

Said President Emmanuel Macron : “By definition, nothing is excluded.”

Wall Street Journal: “Russia has violated the New START treaty cutting long-range nuclear arms by refusing to allow on-site inspections and rebuffing Washington’s requests to meet to discuss its compliance concerns, the U.S. State Department said in a report sent to Congress on Tuesday.”

“The lack of inspections has also made it harder to verify the number of warheads Russia has deployed under the accord.”

“Chinese President Xi Jinping’s expected trip to Russia may defy the impression of a widening gap between Beijing and Moscow in the face of the Ukraine War, and is set to further deepen bilateral economic and trade ties,” the South China Morning Post reports.

“But they do not think the expected trip will signal changes in China’s stance on the conflict.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told the New York Times that Rep. George Santos’ move to step down from committee “was not permanent and said it was made in part because House Republican leaders are trying to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, although it is not clear they have the votes to do so.”

“The House is preparing to vote on a resolution to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee as soon as Wednesday after Republicans found a way to bring a key GOP holdout on board,” Axios reports.

“The Rules Committee is meeting Tuesday evening to consider the resolution kicking Omar off her committees, slating it for a vote in the House as soon as this week.”

“The meeting comes after Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who had been one of three Republicans planning to vote no, said Tuesday that she will vote for the resolution after it added language that allows members to appeal their removals from committees.”

“You were warned. You were warned in the last Congress. You were warned if you went down this road,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) told Democrats. The fact that payback involves targeting a Somalia-born, hijab

Politico: Omar, now a Dem unifier, faces down her GOP critics.

“Minnesota became the first state since the midterm elections to add substantial legal protections guaranteeing the right to an abortion when Gov. Tim Walz (D) on Tuesday signed a bill codifying access to reproductive care,” Pluribus News reports.

“Walz signed the Protect Reproductive Options Act, which will add access to contraception, maternity care, family planning and abortion to state law.”

Multiple men have described to ABC News past romantic relationships with Rep. George Santos — some allegedly occurring when they were still teenagers — that they said turned toxic due to a flood of lies that Santos told to try to manipulate and trap them.

“The longtime campaign treasurer and trusted aide of embattled Representative George Santos has resigned, potentially exacerbating the congressman’s already troubled finances,” the New York Times reports.

“The treasurer, Nancy Marks, whose resignation was made public on Tuesday in letters filed with the Federal Election Commission, has been with from Mr. Santos since his first run for office, assisting with accounting and fund-raising and joining him in at least one for-profit business endeavor.”

“Much of what Ms. Marks oversaw is the focus of several complaints filed with the F.E.C.; Mr. Santos, a Republican elected in November to represent New York’s Third Congressional District, is also the subject of separate inquiries by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.”

TPM’s Hunter Walker with a profile of the proudly transgressive Vish Burra, a Steve Bannon acolyte and former aide to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) who is now working for Rep. George Santos (R-NY).

“The Biden administration’s plan to jump-start a domestic supply chain for electric vehicles is on track to shatter expectations,” Axios reports.  “Democrats offered carmakers new tax credits as an incentive to scale up domestic battery manufacturing — and they’re racing to take advantage.”

“Some experts say the value of those tax credits may be four times higher than Congress’ budget experts anticipated.”

CNN: “Democrats on Capitol Hill, at the White House, in agencies and in outside political groups are gearing up to do battle with the Republican committee chairs probing all corners of the Biden administration as well as the Biden family’s financial dealings.”

“The significant effort at the outset is a sign of the danger the GOP investigations and their subpoena power pose to Biden’s political prospects heading into his reelection. The stakes of knocking down the GOP probes have only grown over the past month as Biden is now grappling with a special counsel investigating his handling of classified documents found at his private residence and office.”

“Even before the first subpoena or hearing, Democrats have enlisted polling firms and focus groups to try and undercut the coming investigations and protect Biden with the 2024 campaign approaching.”

“After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives,” the New York Times reports.

“The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum.”

“And it added something new: ‘Black conservatism’ is now offered as an idea for a research project.”

“President Joe Biden is ready to showcase a $292 million mega grant that will be used to help build a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, part of a broader effort to draw a contrast between his economic vision and that of Republicans,” the AP reports.

“The money is part of $1.2 billion in mega grants being awarded under the 2021 infrastructure law. The Democratic president’s trip to New York City comes on the heels of his stop Monday in Baltimore to highlight the replacement of an aging rail tunnel there, where he pledged that government spending on infrastructure will boost economic growth and create blue-collar jobs.”

“President Joe Biden informed Congress on Monday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11, as most of the world has returned closer to normalcy nearly three years after they were first declared,” the AP reports.

“The move to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations would formally restructure the federal coronavirus response to treat the virus as an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through agencies’ normal authorities.”

Playbook: “One month into the House Republican majority, a clear picture is emerging of the problems Speaker Kevin McCarthy will face managing his slim, five-seat majority. (That is, if the chaotic speaker election didn’t make things clear enough.)”

“Already, Republicans are scrambling to salvage red-meat proposals they’ve been talking about for months, whether it’s cracking down on the southwest border or targeting Omar’s committee seat. Yes, it’s early going, but the new majority’s struggles in passing messaging bills does not bode well for the more consequential legislation that will have to clear the House later on.”

Key detail: “In late December, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise laid out plans for the House to pass 11 top-priority bills and resolutions the first two weeks of the GOP takeover. It’s almost February, and they’ve passed only six.”

 “The International Monetary Fund said on Monday that it expected the global economy to slow this year as central banks continued to raise interest rates to tame inflation, but it also suggested that output would be more resilient than previously anticipated and that a global recession would probably be avoided,” the New York Times reports.

I just can’t devote any brain cells to the arcane ins and outs of this particular faux GOP obsession, but thankfully others have taken on this difficult task. If you’re into it, or merely want to understand the byzantine references and shorthand, Asha Rangappa has a reference guide to catch you up.

“Hunter Biden’s allies have held initial discussions about creating a legal-defense fund to pay for a growing team of attorneys that is helping him confront both a years-long federal tax investigation and a host of new congressional inquiries,” the Washington Post reports.

“The effort has been triggered by Hunter Biden’s struggles to pay his mounting legal bills amid increasingly stretched resources and his pursuit of a new, aggressive legal strategy.”

“It’s unclear exactly how much the president’s son owes in legal fees, in part because some of the bills were expected to be discounted or treated as pro bono work. But three people familiar with his situation estimate his current legal debt at well into the millions of dollars, and the figure is likely to grow as he faces additional congressional investigations.”

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

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