Cup of Joe – May 3, 2023

Politico: “One party or the other is going to have to blink in the debt ceiling standoff. The question is when…”

“The House and Senate are scheduled to be in session simultaneously for just two weeks this month. And with potentially less than 30 days to get the job done, Senate Democrats are now openly discussing the prospect of bringing a clean debt ceiling increase to the floor — effectively daring the GOP to either buckle and advance the bill or filibuster it.”

Punchbowl News: “Yellen’s letter had the immediate — and perhaps counterintuitive — effect of hardening everyone’s positions.”

Washington Post: “The White House has leaned on polling suggesting Republicans will take the lion’s share of the blame if the worst should happen, according to the senior aides. Aides are confident that their messaging about important programs that the Republicans want to cut will resonate with voters — and that they will be able to link the collapse to Republican ‘extremism’ on the economy and their out-of-step stances on other issues like abortion and guns.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has accepted President Biden’s invitation to meet next week about the debt limit,” The Hill reports.

“The meeting is scheduled to take place on May 9. Biden also invited Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).”

Politico: “When it comes to the debt limit X-date, one month in Congressional time is not as long as it seems. And that dials up the pressure on Capitol Hill for lawmakers and the White House to agree on a path forward to avoid a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt.”

“When the slim House Republican majority came into power this year, White House officials said they saw opportunities to work with Biden district Republicans – GOP lawmakers whose districts President Joe Biden carried in 2020,” CNN reports.

“But nearly four months into the new Congress – and with the debt ceiling showdown now barreling into full crisis mode – many of those Republicans say they’ve received minimal to no engagement from the White House. Other House Republicans with a track record of bipartisanship in the last Congress paint a similar picture.”

“A standoff between House Republicans and President Biden over raising the nation’s borrowing limit has administration officials debating what to do if the government runs out of cash to pay its bills, including one option that previous administrations had deemed unthinkable,” the New York Times reports.

“That option is effectively a constitutional challenge to the debt limit. Under the theory, the government would be required by the 14th Amendment to continue issuing new debt to pay bondholders, Social Security recipients, government employees and others, even if Congress fails to lift the limit before the so-called X-date…”

“It is unclear whether President Biden would support such a move, which would have serious ramifications for the economy and almost undoubtedly elicit legal challenges from Republicans. Continuing to issue debt in that situation would avoid an immediate disruption in consumer demand by maintaining government payments, but borrowing costs are like to soar, at least temporarily.”

“The only clue to the gambit was in the title of the otherwise obscure hodgepodge of a bill: ‘The Breaking the Gridlock Act,’” the New York Times reports.

“But the 45-page legislation, introduced without fanfare in January by a little-known Democrat, Representative Mark DeSaulnier of California, is part of a confidential, previously unreported, strategy Democrats have been plotting for months to quietly smooth the way for action by Congress to avert a devastating federal default if debt ceiling talks remain deadlocked.”

“With the possibility of a default now projected as soon as June 1, Democrats on Tuesday began taking steps to deploy the secret weapon they have been holding in reserve. They started the process of trying to force a debt-limit increase bill to the floor through a so-called discharge petition that could bypass Republican leaders who have refused to raise the ceiling unless President Biden agrees to spending cuts and policy changes.”

Politico: “The vast majority of the debt-limit package House Republicans passed last week is unacceptable to every single Democrat on either end of the Capitol. But GOP leaders are hoping some components of their plan could get buy-in from a smattering of politically vulnerable lawmakers across the aisle.”

“That contingent of potentially dealmaking Democrats could prove critical as McCarthy pushes President Joe Biden to abandon his insistence on a ‘clean’ increase to the nation’s borrowing limit.”

“A close friend of E. Jean Carroll testified Tuesday that the columnist telephoned her just minutes after she claimed to have had a violent 1990s encounter with Donald Trump in a luxury department store dressing room,” the AP reports.

CNN: “Lisa Birnbach recounted how Carroll called her minutes after leaving the department store and told her about the altercation in detail.”

New York Times: “Led by the special counsel Jack Smith, prosecutors are trying to determine whether Mr. Trump and his aides violated federal wire fraud statutes as they raised as much as $250 million through a political action committee by saying they needed the money to fight to reverse election fraud even though they had been told repeatedly that there was no evidence to back up those fraud claims…”

“Investigators have homed in on the activities of a joint fund-raising committee made up of staff members from the 2020 Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, among others. Some of the subpoenas have sought documents from around Election Day 2020 up the present.”

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday that he would not stop relocating migrants to her city, despite her pleading with him to halt the action,” NBC News reports.

“The Republican Texas governor told Lightfoot to take her complaint to President Joe Biden, laying at his doorstep the responsibility of an ongoing border crisis.”

“Oklahoma on Monday became the latest state to ban gender-affirming medical care for minors as Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that makes it a felony for health care workers to provide children with treatments that can include puberty-blocking drugs and hormones,” the AP reports.

“Oklahoma joins at least 15 other states with laws banning such care, as conservatives across the country have targeted transgender rights.”

Greg Sargent: “When the Walt Disney Co. went looking for evidence to feature in its new lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, its lawyers found much of what they needed in DeSantis’s own recently published memoir.”

“Buried in Disney’s complaint against DeSantis is something surprising. Numerous quotes taken from The Courage to be Free appear to support the company’s central allegation: that the Republican governor improperly wielded state power to punish Disney’s speech criticizing his policies, violating the First Amendment.”

Politico: “In late February, a jet owned by the company associated with the Fontainebleau Hotel flew from Tallahassee to Newark ahead of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appearance on Staten Island. That same day a jet owned by a central Florida developer flew from Newark to Philadelphia to Chicago to Tallahassee when the governor also made stops that same day in Pennsylvania and Illinois.”

“Who paid for these flights? The governor’s office said no taxpayer money was spent on these flights in connection with DeSantis’ three-city stop that day. A spokesperson who has been affiliated with the governor’s political operation declined to comment. There was nothing listed in the governor’s political committee campaign finance report for February.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Monday and a photo of Schumer’s notes suggests she is “hopeful” she’ll return to Washington next week.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is calling on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to resign, the latest sign of pressure the California Democrat faces from her own party to step down amid her extended absence from the Senate, CNN reports.

“President Biden is closing in on two nominations for the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors that would give the Fed its first Latina board member and its second ever Black vice chair,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Biden is close to nominating Adriana Kugler, an economist with Colombian heritage who is the U.S. executive director of the World Bank, to the Fed’s only remaining open governor position. In a corresponding move, he is likely to elevate Philip Jefferson, an economist who was confirmed overwhelmingly to the board when Mr. Biden nominated him to an open governor position, to be the board’s vice chair.”

“A breakdown in communication between the United States and China is raising the risk of an unintended crisis or conflict between the two superpowers,” NBC News reports.  “Diplomatic channels between China and the U.S. have mostly dried up as relations between the superpowers have steadily deteriorated over two successive administrations, with Beijing so far unwilling to say when top U.S. officials from the Biden administration will be welcome for high-level meetings.”

“The United States is ready to hold high-level talks with China and wants to forge better communication channels between the two countries,” NBC News reports. 

U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns said the U.S. relationship with China remains “complicated” and competitive, “but Washington does not seek conflict with Beijing and believed more dialogue would be constructive.”

“The Biden administration will end its Covid-19 vaccine requirements for international travelers and various workplaces next week, the White House announced Monday, a move that will coincide with the end of the public health emergency related to the coronavirus,” The Hill reports.  “The decision to wind down the requirements comes roughly two years after the administration first announced the mandates for international travelers and federal employees and contractors.”

“An associate of former White House advisor Steve Bannon was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Wednesday for defrauding donors of a campaign to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border during former President Trump’s administration,” Axios reports.  “Brian Kolfage received a sentence of 51 months for this role in the campaign, which raised more than $25 million from hundreds of thousands of donors.”

“U.S. officials have authorized sending 1,500 active duty soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border for 90 days to aid U.S. Customs and Border Protection efforts to combat international drug trafficking,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Associated Press: “Anyone looking for a glimpse of what Vice President Kamala Harris could bring to the campaign trail would have found it this week at Howard University, where she headlined a rally for reproductive rights. After two years of tightly scripted, uneven performances that often dismayed Democrats and cheered Republicans, Harris is looser, more forceful and more willing to speak off the cuff following her trip to Africa a month ago.”

“Now Harris, the first woman and person of color in her position, will be put to the test as President Joe Biden seeks a second term. Although vice presidents are rarely decisive in reelection efforts, Harris is poised to be an exception.”

Meanwhile, former White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Kara Swisher that he thinks Harris is underrated by the media and others.

“A slate of Georgia Republicans led by Gov. Brian Kemp handily won reelection last year over far-right primary opponents endorsed by Donald Trump and backed by the state party chairperson, showing the limits of the former president and his 2020 election lies in the critical swing state,” the AP reports.  “Despite those stinging primary losses, the state GOP is showing little interest in moving on from Trump.”

“Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has admitted to a ‘dirty trick’ that his campaign used to suppress the Hispanic vote during the city’s 1993 mayoral race,” The Guardian reports.  Said Giuliani, in a conversation with Steve Bannon and Kari Lake: “So they went through East Harlem, which is all Hispanic, and they gave out little cards, and the card said: ‘If you come to vote, make sure you have your green card because INS are picking up illegals.’ So they spread it all over the Hispanic neighborhoods.”

New York Times: “Elon Musk’s decision to stop giving check marks to people and groups verified to be who they said were, and instead offering them to anyone who paid for one, is the latest tumult at Twitter, the social media giant he has vowed to remake since he acquired it last year for $44 billion.”

“The changes have convulsed a platform that once seemed indispensable for following news as it broke around the world. The information on Twitter is now increasingly unreliable. Accounts that impersonate public officials, government agencies and celebrities have proliferated. So have propaganda and disinformation that threaten to further erode trust in public institutions.”

New York Times: “Colleagues refuse to work with him, dooming his legislative priorities. His local party has vowed to defeat him. And a slew of law enforcement and ethics investigators are combing through his life and campaign finances.”

“But rather than shrinking from the attention, the 34-year-old congressman is stepping ever more definitely toward the spotlight. Santos seems eager to test whether he can make the journey from laughingstock to legitimacy by aligning himself with former President Donald J. Trump — or at least signaling that he’s in on the joke.”

Los Angeles Times: “The walkout, which could last for weeks or months, is expected to halt much of TV and film production nationwide.”

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

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