Cup of Joe – May 31, 2023

Punchbowl News: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s team believes they can avoid a disaster at the House Rules Committee at 3 p.m. today. Remember: Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX), Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) — three conservatives who serve on the panel — are at risk to vote against the rule, which allows the legislation to come to the floor.”

“All three have expressed serious reservations about the bill, especially Roy. House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-PA) is holding a press conference today, too.”

“But there’s chatter that Massie may still back the rule, which makes him the key figure in today’s drama. Roy and Norman were part of the anti-McCarthy contingent during the speaker vote, while Massie backed McCarthy from start to finish.”

The Hill: McCarthy’s debt limit deal faces first critical GOP test.

Playbook: “Not even six months ago, conservative hard-liners fought tooth and nail to prevent just this scenario, forcing McCarthy to go 15 ballots and make deep governing concessions to win the speaker’s gavel.”

“But two dynamics help explain why McCarthy has been resilient — at least so far: (1) The backroom horse-trading, it turns out, helped McCarthy forge relationships with the right in a way his predecessors never did. And (2) the GOP base simply isn’t up in arms opposing him.”

Also interesting: A new Economist/YouGov poll finds McCarthy’s approval rating has jumped by 10 points among Republicans since he took the gavel, hovering at 66%.

The reaction from partisans since President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced a deal to lift the debt ceiling speaks volumes.

While there is some grumbling on the left, it’s conservative voices doing most of the complaining. That’s because while Biden did make some real concessions to McCarthy, they mostly don’t look that different from what you would have gotten out of a normal budget negotiation in a divided government.

Most important, the deal would raise the debt ceiling until the beginning of 2025. That’s a huge win for Biden.

In return, the deal roughly freezes most non-defense discretionary spending next year, and allows it to grow 1 percent in 2025. Targets are set for the following years but they are not enforceable, so they are meaningless. Biden also protected some discretionary spending by reallocating unspent pandemic relief funds.

McCarthy failed to force work requirements on Medicaid recipients and did not get the repeal of the green energy subsidies passed last year he was seeking. The biggest loss for Biden was conceding the GOP’s request to claw back $20 billion of the $80 billion to modernize the Internal Revenue Service.

Josh Marshall notes these are real concessions. But he adds: “When we say they could have gotten as much through normal budget negotiation, that means the whole hostage taking accomplished nothing. When you go into a Denny’s with a gun and say gimme the money, if you just get breakfast that’s a fail. But taken as a whole, the agreement is not that different from what Biden could expect in a two-year budget deal when Republicans control the House.”

Of course, the drama isn’t over yet. The bill still has to pass in the House and Senate.

“House Republican leaders are signaling confidence they’ll round up enough GOP votes to pass House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s compromise with President Biden to raise the debt ceiling for two years,” Axios reports.

“The leaders are trying to counter the notion that the loud complaints about the bill from members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus — and other Republicans — represent the party’s prevailing mood.”

“A federal judge in Boston has postponed a hearing scheduled for this week in a lawsuit that a government workers’ union filed in a bid to confirm President Joe Biden’s authority to ignore the debt limit by invoking the 14th Amendment,” Politico reports.

New York Times: “Mr. Biden succeeded in stripping the Limit, Save and Grow Act significantly down from what it originally was, to the great consternation of conservative Republicans. Instead of raising the debt ceiling for less than one year while imposing hard caps on discretionary spending for 10 years, the agreement links the two so that the spending limits last just two years, the same as the debt ceiling increase. While Republicans insisted on predicating the limits on a baseline of 2022 spending levels, appropriations adjustments will make it effectively equivalent to the more favorable baseline of 2023.”

“As a result, the agreement will pare back anticipated spending over the decade just a fraction of what the Republicans sought…”

“Moreover, while Mr. Biden did not advance many new Democratic policy goals in the agreement with Mr. McCarthy, he effectively shielded the bulk of his accomplishments from the first two years of his presidency from Republican efforts to gut them.”

“The Internal Revenue Service will lose up to $21.4 billion from its $80 billion expansion fund as part of the bipartisan debt-limit deal, as Republicans got President Biden to pare back one of his top accomplishments,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The IRS received the $80 billion last year as part of broader legislation that passed without any Republican votes. The pile of cash was aimed at boosting tax enforcement, revamping aging technology and reversing a decade of attrition at the tax agency.”

David Frum: “McCarthy wanted a win on principle: use of the debt ceiling as a weapon. Beyond that, his caucus could not agree on specific demands. Biden yielded on the principle, which opened the way to prevail on the substance. Each got what he most wanted.”

Washington Post: “The House Rules Committee — typically the first stop before legislation can go before the full House — will convene with attention fixed on a handful of far-right Republicans who could thwart the future of a deal struck over the weekend by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).”

“Two of the committee’s nine GOP members — Reps. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Chip Roy (R-TX) — belong to the Freedom Caucus and have come out against the deal. The Freedom Caucus is expected to hold a news conference at noon Tuesday. But so far, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), a libertarian-minded conservative who sometimes sides with the Freedom Caucus, seems to support the deal. His vote would give Republicans enough support to adopt the rule, since the four Democrats on the committee aren’t expected to offer their support on this procedural step.”

Noah Smith: “The recent fight over the debt ceiling, however, seems more like a return to the pointless obstructionism and grandstanding that characterized politics in the 2010s. There was absolutely zero reason for the House GOP leadership to use the debt ceiling — they could have just forced a deal through the normal appropriations process. Few people actually believed that the country’s leaders would let the U.S. default on its sovereign debt due to a random minor budget fight — I certainly didn’t.”

“So the net effect of using this tactic seems to have been to make the U.S. look like a dysfunctional clown show in front of our allies, at a time when we need to be projecting an image of dependability.”

Catherine Rampell: “Yes, we have (fingers crossed) avoided a dreaded default. Which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Meanwhile, the U.S. government, prodded by House Republicans, has spent the past few months beclowning itself before the rest of the world.”

“Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) on Tuesday became the first Republican to publicly support ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) over the debt ceiling deal he struck with President Biden as conservative criticism of the agreement ramps up,” The Hill reports.

“On a House Freedom Caucus call Monday night, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) floated using the motion to vacate, a rule that would allow any member of Congress to force a vote to remove the speaker,” NBC News reports.

“Buck, speaking toward the end of the call, referred to it as the ‘elephant in the room.’”

“After House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-PA) suggested it might be too early for such a drastic threat, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) proposed using the threat to force McCarthy to allow members to amend the bill on the House floor, under an ‘open rule’ that could stall the bill’s passage.”

A “furious” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) excoriated Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), declaring at a Freedom Caucus news conference that the debt ceiling bill has “torn asunder” the House GOP Conference, Politico reports.

Said Roy: “There’s going to be a reckoning.”

Roy also issued perhaps the closest thing yet to a motion-to-vacate threat: If the bill passes, he said, “then we’re going to have to then regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again.”

“Russian air defenses stopped eight drones converging on Moscow, officials said Tuesday, in an attack that authorities blamed on Ukraine, while Russia pursued its relentless bombardment of Kyiv with a third assault on the city in 24 hours,” the AP reports.

“The Russian defense ministry said five drones were shot down and the systems of three others were jammed, causing them to veer off course. It called the incident a ‘terrorist attack’ by the ‘Kyiv regime.’”

New York Times: “The dueling strikes reflected the dialed-up tension and shifting priorities ahead of Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive. Ukraine has increasingly been reaching far into Russia-held territory, while Moscow has been adjusting its tactics in an effort to inflict significant damage on Kyiv.”

The Atlantic: “The escalation concern that looms largest for the Biden administration in Ukraine, understandably, is Russian nuclear use. Ukrainians remain admirably stalwart about this prospect, suggesting that a nuclear battlefield strike would not serve Russian objectives.”

“To be more concerned about nuclear use than the likely victims of it are — or to push Ukraine toward untenable outcomes in the name of avoiding that risk — is to actually encourage nuclear threats.”

“Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, promised nuclear weapons to any nation that joined Russia and Belarus,” NBC News reports.

Said Lukashenko: “It’s very simple. You have to join the union between Belarus and Russia, and that’s it: There will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”

He added: “I think it’s possible. We need to strategically understand that we have a unique chance to unite.”

“Donald Trump’s lawyer tasked with searching for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after the justice department issued a subpoena told associates that he was waved off from searching the former president’s office, where the FBI later found the most sensitive materials anywhere on the property,” The Guardian reports.

“The lawyer, Evan Corcoran, recounted that several Trump aides had told him to search the storage room because that was where all the materials that had been brought from the White House at the end of Trump’s presidency ended up being deposited.”

“Corcoran found 38 classified documents in the storage room. He then asked whether he should search anywhere else but was steered away, he told associates. Corcoran never searched Trump’s office and told prosecutors that the 38 papers were the extent of the material at Mar-a-Lago.”

Daily Beast: “As Trump’s legal troubles keep growing—with criminal and civil investigations in New York City, Washington, and Atlanta—so too does the unwieldy band of attorneys who simply can’t get along.”

“The cast of characters includes an accused meddler who has Trump’s ear, a young attorney who lawyers on the team suggested is only there because the former president likes the way she looks, and a celebrity lawyer who’s increasingly viewed with disdain. Worst of all, now that federal investigators have turned the interrogation spotlight on some of Trump’s lawyers themselves, defense attorneys on the team seem to be questioning whether their colleagues may actually turn into snitches.”

“Part of the concern over lawyers turning on each other is due to the fact that the Department of Justice already has one Trump attorney’s professional notes, which could position him as a future witness against his own client, and the DOJ has another lawyer who said too much in an unrelated case and has positioned herself as yet another potential witness against her client.”

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes expected to enter prison today.

The QAnon Shaman Jacob Chansley now goes by Jake Angeli. Released from prison last week after serving time for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, Angeli was welcomed like a conquering hero Sunday at the Reformed Living Bible Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Wearing an American flag tie, the most high-profile of the Jan. 6 rioters showed none of the repentance he expressed at sentencing. Instead he went on a long tear against the “poison” in vaccines, schools and the media.

He’s also selling merch now.

“The idea that January 6 defendants are beginning to emerge from prison and are being welcomed home as heroes, not insurrectionists, is deeply disturbing,” writes former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance. “It is important to see it for what it is—evidence of a culture in certain segments of the country that is far from normal, and that continues to worship forces that would drive us apart.”

Wall Street Journal: “Moms for Liberty is technically nonpartisan but largely attracts conservative women. What started as a grassroots entity of moms working to change their local school boards’ votes on coronavirus restrictions and curriculums has morphed into a nationwide network with more than 100,000 members and 275 chapters.”

“Members are pushing to revamp the U.S. education system with policies aimed at limiting teachings on gender, race and sex in schools; banning books they deem inappropriate; and placing limits on transgender students in school sports.”

“GOP presidential candidates are trying to tap into Moms for Liberty’s powerful networks to gain an edge in states that hold early nominating contests, including South Carolina, which is third behind Iowa and New Hampshire.”

David French: “There is a certain irony in discussions of masculinity. The group that is most convinced of a crisis of masculinity, the American right, is also busy emasculating itself before our eyes. It correctly perceives that young men are facing an identity crisis, yet it is modeling precisely the wrong response.”

“The release of the Missouri senator Josh Hawley’s new book on manhood is the latest peg for a national conversation about men, but the necessity of such a conversation has been apparent for some time. If there’s anything that’s well established in American social science, it’s that men are falling behind women in higher education, suffer disproportionately from drug overdoses and are far more likely to commit suicide.”

“Look, one of the things that I hear some of you guys saying is, ‘Why doesn’t Biden say what a good deal it is?’ Why would Biden say what a good deal it is before the vote? You think that’s going to help me get it passed? No. That’s why you guys don’t bargain very well.”  — President Biden, quoted by the Washington Post, on the debt ceiling deal he negotiated with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) “plans to resign his seat in Congress, possibly as soon as this week,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “Stewart announced his plan to resign, citing ongoing health issues with his wife. It was unclear what those health issues may be.”

Uganda’s president signed into law a wide-ranging anti-LGBTQ bill that imposes life imprisonment for same-sex activity and the death penalty in some cases, the Washington Post reports.

President Biden called for the “immediate repeal” of Uganda’s severe new anti-gay law and warned he may impose sanctions and other penalties in response, Axios reports.

Rolling Stone: “In recent months, the former president has asked close advisers, including at least one of his personal attorneys, if ‘we know’ all the names of senior FBI agents and Justice Department personnel who have worked on the federal probes into him. That’s according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter and another person briefed on it.”

“The former president has then privately discussed that should he return to the White House, it is imperative his new Department of Justice ‘quickly’ and ‘immediately’ purge the FBI and DOJ’s ranks of these officials and agents who’ve led the Trump-related criminal investigations, the sources recount.”

“Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro will stand trial in September on contempt of Congress charges filed after he refused to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” the AP reports.  “U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta set a Sept. 5 trial date during a court appearance on Tuesday in Washington.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) warned on Fox News that he’s ready to hold FBI director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress if he doesn’t meet today’s deadline to produce a document that Republicans think could substantiate allegations of corruption by President Biden.

“Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would fire his son, who is working as his secretary, after a scandal over a party held at his official residence in late 2022,” Bloomberg reports.

“North Korea said Tuesday it would launch its first military spy satellite in June and described space-based reconnaissance as crucial for monitoring the United States’ “reckless” military exercises with South Korea,” the AP reports.

“Members of the Afghan Army’s all-female platoon are some of the roughly 70,000 Afghans living in the United States whose temporary status has left them with an uncertain future,” the New York Times reports.

President Joe Biden will host British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House next week for talks on Ukraine, climate issues and more, the AP reports.

“After seeing off his biggest election challenge, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is turning his attention to fixing Turkey’s place on the map as an aspiring global power,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Erdogan has repeatedly raised memories of Turkey’s Ottoman past in recent years, including during the campaign for Sunday’s presidential vote. As one of the world’s most prominent Islamist leaders, he has competed with Saudi Arabia and Iran for sway over the worldwide Muslim community. He has also worked to extend Turkey’s political influence across the Middle East and into Central Asia, built up its weapons industry and played a key role in the crisis surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the wars in Syria, Iraq and Libya.”

“Now, as Erdogan begins his third decade of rule, the world will have to contend with an unpredictable figure who, after surviving a coup attempt and multiple crises at home, has grown comfortable extracting concessions from allies and adversaries alike as he pivots to securing his own legacy.”

New York Times: Will Erdogan’s victory soften Turkey’s opposition to Sweden in NATO?

“India and China have ejected each other’s journalists in recent weeks, virtually wiping out mutual media access and deepening a rift between the world’s two most populous nations,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The reciprocal moves are likely to add to acrimony between the two neighbors, whose relationship has deteriorated since a deadly brawl on the contested Sino-Indian border in June 2020.”

“China has rebuffed a U.S. request for a meeting between their defense chiefs on the sidelines of an annual security forum in Singapore this coming weekend, showing the limits of a tentative rapprochement between the two rival powers,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The decision by China formally to inform the Pentagon shuts the door for now on a meeting between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Li Shangfu, China’s new defense minister, which the U.S. had proposed on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum.”

“China’s dismissal of the proposal also was termed an unusually blunt message.”

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

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