Cup of Joe – April 21, 2023

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled a 320-page debt limit bill on Wednesday — and conservatives are taking a victory lap, including some hardliners who nearly derailed his bid for the speakership three months ago,” Semafor reports.

Said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): “If you held this plan and the plan that the House Freedom Caucus laid out some weeks ago and held them up to a lamp, you would see a lot of alignment. The leadership just picked up the House Freedom Caucus plan, and helped us convert it into legislative text.”

Meanwhile, Punchbowl News notes most moderate Senate Republicans said they oppose a clean debt ceiling hike.

This bill is a laundry list of far-right aspirations to rip the federal government out by its roots. The worst of the worst fringe GOP objectives – many of which Senate Republicans won’t accept – are piled together into a draft bill that will never pass the Senate or overcome a Biden veto. It might not even pass the House.

As the Washington Post snarkily notes, McCarthy’s bill manages to avoid detailing the draconian spending cuts the bill calls for: “The bill would make $130 billion in cuts to discretionary spending next year — but it doesn’t lay out exactly what programs would be axed, leaving the appropriations committees to hash them out if they were to become law. (It won’t.)”

Punchbowl News: “As of now, even the GOP senators most prone to deal-making say they’ll oppose a clean debt-limit bill — a positive development for McCarthy in this saga. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it very clear that this is McCarthy’s fight and he will back up the speaker as needed.”

“We canvassed moderate Senate Republicans over the last few days and found just one who seemed even remotely open to voting for a clean debt-limit hike at some point in the future. Of course, it’s still early, and this issue will only get more complicated if the threat of a debt default draws closer over the next two months.”

“House Republicans demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the nation’s debt limit have rallied around a seemingly straightforward proposal: recalling billions of dollars in coronavirus relief funds that Congress approved but have not been spent,” the New York Times reports.

“Top Republicans regard the idea of rescinding unspent pandemic emergency money — an amount estimated to be between $50 billion and $70 billion — as an easy way to save money while avoiding more politically perilous options like cutting funding for popular federal programs. Their focus on the idea reflects how, after toiling unsuccessfully for months to unite their rank and file around a fiscal blueprint, G.O.P. leaders have become acutely aware that they have few options for doing so that could actually pass the House.”

Donald Trump’s lawyer said his client “wants to come to a Manhattan trial over allegations he raped a woman nearly 30 years ago, but he may stay away to spare New Yorkers the traffic jams, blocked streets and high security that would inevitably accompany him,” the New York Times reports.

A letter asked that Trump’s presence be excused “unless and until he is called by either party to testify” at the trial, which is expected to last about a week.

Boris Epshteyn, a top adviser to Donald Trump, “is scheduled to be interviewed on Thursday by prosecutors in the office of the special counsel Jack Smith,” the New York Times reports.

“It remained unclear what subjects the prosecutors wanted to discuss with Mr. Epshteyn. But given his expansive ties to Mr. Trump, Mr. Epshteyn is in a position to provide information in both of the investigations that Mr. Smith is overseeing: one focused on Mr. Trump’s efforts to retain power after losing the 2020 election and the other centered on his handling of classified documents after he left the White House.”

“Allen Weisselberg, the former Trump Organization chief financial officer who pleaded guilty to tax fraud and other crimes, was released from jail Wednesday,” CBS News reports.

“Weisselberg spent 108 days in New York City’s Rikers Island jail, beginning in January, serving more than two-thirds of his five month sentence, after appearing as the star witness for prosecutors in the corporation’s tax fraud trial.”

“Democrats twice sought to strike remarks from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) during a Tuesday hearing, with the House Homeland Security Committee failing to reprimand her for accusing a colleague of an extramarital affair while agreeing to withdraw her comments accusing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of being a liar,” The Hill reports.

“It was a rare instance of Republicans agreeing to block Greene from speaking, an action Chairman Mark Green (R-TN) seemed to do unknowingly, appearing not to immediately realize a move to ‘take down’ her comments versus striking them from the record terminates rights to speak in the hearing.”

The video is worth watching.

“House Republicans are set to pass a bill Thursday that would amend a landmark federal civil rights law to bar transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports,” the Washington Post reports.

“Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s legal team lost their bid to block the deposition of his former deputy on Wednesday, as a federal judge appointed by former President Trump quickly rejected the prosecutor’s request for a restraining order after a fiery hearing,” Law & Crime reports.

A curious development yesterday in the Georgia state criminal investigation into Trump’s election subversion effort:

The defense lawyer and one of her co-counsel vigorously denied Willis’ claims.

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that longtime Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed should have a chance to argue for testing of crime-scene evidence that he says will help clear him,” the AP reports.

“The justices, in a 6-3 decision, sent Reed’s case back to a lower court for his constitutional challenge to the state’s law on DNA testing.”

“Several House Republicans will vote against a border security package if it includes legislation the Judiciary Committee is set to take up Wednesday, effectively killing the bill unless it gets significantly reworked,” the Washington Post reports.

“As many as a dozen Republicans would vote against the bill in its current form if it makes it to the House floor.”

“The threat to scuttle the legislation is an escalation in a months-long debate among House Republicans over how to fulfill a campaign pledge to address border security. But with only four votes to spare, the margin for finding a solution all factions of the Republican conference can agree on is vanishingly slim.”

Politico: “As many as five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the eight most senior uniformed leaders who advise the president on military issues, are scheduled to leave their assignments this year. Besides the Joint Chiefs chair, the heads of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and potentially the Air Force are all set to leave. Three of the military’s top operational commanders are changing over as well.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice will seek the longest prison sentence in any January 6 riot case to date when it argues for more than 24 years in prison for Peter Schwartz of Pennsylvania at sentencing on May 5,” CBS News reports.

“If imposed, the sentence would be more than twice as long as any handed down so far in the approximately 450 cases related to the January 6, 2021, assault that have reached sentencing.”

A federal court handed down guilty verdicts for the Nashville man best known as “zip-tie guy” and his mother for the pair’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Tennessean reports.

The pair will be sentenced on September 8.

A ban on dozens of semi-automatic rifles cleared the Washington state Legislature on Wednesday and the governor is expected to sign it into law,” the AP reports.

“The high-powered firearms — once banned nationwide — are now the weapon of choice among young men responsible for most of the country’s devastating mass shootings.”

“The ban comes after multiple failed attempts in the state’s Legislature, and amid the most mass shootings during the first 100 days of a calendar year since 2009.”

“President Joe Biden will meet with the three Tennessee Democratic legislators who faced expulsion over gun control protests at the White House on Monday,” NBC News reports.

“Biden’s press secretary said the president invited the ‘Tennessee three’ — Democratic Reps. Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson and Justin J. Pearson — to ‘continue that conversation’ over the lawmakers’ calls for gun control.”

David Leonhardt: “Biden and other Democrats had hoped for the appointment of judges — both to federal trial courts (known as District Courts) and to appeals courts (known as Circuit Courts) — to be a major accomplishment this year. That plan is now in doubt because Democrats do not have the votes to confirm judges without Feinstein.”

“Instead, about 20 Biden nominees are in limbo, and 9 percent of District Court and Circuit Court judgeships remain vacant. Among Biden’s unconfirmed nominees: Mónica Ramírez Almadani, a civil rights lawyer; Robert Kirsch, a former prosecutor who focused on white collar crime; and Kato Crews, an expert in labor law.”

“China is on track to massively expand its nuclear arsenal, just as Russia suspends the last major arms control treaty,” the New York Times reports.

“It augurs a new world in which Beijing, Moscow and Washington will likely be atomic peers.”

“This new reality is prompting a broad rethinking of American nuclear strategy that few anticipated a dozen years ago, when President Barack Obama envisioned a world that was inexorably moving toward eliminating all nuclear weapons. Instead, the United States is now facing questions about how to manage a three-way nuclear rivalry, which upends much of the deterrence strategy that has successfully avoided nuclear war.”

“Tunisian security forces arrested the leader of the main opposition party Monday night and shuttered its headquarters, escalating a crackdown on the president’s critics in this formerly authoritarian North African country, which is veering again toward one-man rule,” the Washington Post reports.

The Dutch national intelligence agency painted a grim picture Monday of a growing number of internal and external threats to the rule of law in the Netherlands compounded by Russia’s war in Ukraine, international cyberattacks and espionage,” the AP reports.

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

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