Cup of Joe – June 1, 2023

“House lawmakers overwhelmingly agreed on Wednesday to suspend the nation’s debt ceiling for two years, heading off an economically devastating default,” the New York Times reports.

“After a revolt by far-right Republicans threatened to scuttle consideration of the bill, a bipartisan coalition lined up in large numbers to support the compromise negotiated by President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy and pull the nation back from the brink of economic catastrophe.”

“The 314-117 vote came days before the nation was projected to exhaust its borrowing power, and after a marathon set of talks between White House negotiators and top House Republicans.”

Earlier, with House Republicans unable to pass a rule to consider the bill to lift the debt ceiling, 52 Democrats voted in favor to help it across the finish line, CNN reports.

It’s exceedingly rare for minority members to vote for a rule to help the majority.

Politico: “The deal, struck over the weekend between McCarthy and President Joe Biden, will get just one hour of debate on the floor equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. Though before that, the two parties will need to debate and vote on the rule that lays out those parameters. Republicans are expected to need some Democratic help there.”

“We’ll be keeping an eye out on the floor for McCarthy using his so-called ‘magic minute,’ a House custom that allows leaders to talk for as long as they want when they are recognized for their one minute of floor time.”

“House Republican leaders are aiming to deliver a majority of the majority for the deal on the floor, but would like to see even stronger GOP backing. But don’t expect Dems to rush in.”

Punchbowl News: “GOP leadership needs to maximize its vote total today. McCarthy needs a minimum of 112 Republicans to vote for this package today — the majority of the House GOP majority.”

“But, in reality, McCarthy, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer want the Republican vote total to edge closer to between 140 and 150 out of a total of 222 possible members. No one in the GOP leadership is committing to that publicly, however.”

“That brings us to the third concern. Should McCarthy fail to garner the majority of the majority, conservatives are signaling they may move against him.”

The Hill: McCarthy’s future on the line as he whips debt ceiling deal.

Playbook: “Most of the time in politics, winning means getting just one more vote than the other side. But when it comes to managing the raucous House GOP, the margins matter.”

“McCarthy’s team is pushing for an overwhelming Republican vote today for the deal he negotiated, knowing that the more GOP yeas he can put on the board, the more the small crop of conservatives talking about mutiny will be isolated — strengthening McCarthy’s hand as he heads into new governing challenges, not to mention the 2024 elections.”

When Politico asked Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) whether McCarthy had lost the confidence of his members, he replied: “You’ll find out tomorrow when you see the vote totals.”

Axios: “Not all victory laps are the same. The number of votes the Fiscal Responsibility Act gets from each party could signal who made the better deal.”

“Hard-right Republicans spent much of Tuesday furiously denouncing Washington’s new debt ceiling deal as it began moving through Congress, promising to use any means within their reach to derail it,” Semafor reports.

“But by the evening, even some of the bill’s loudest opponents had begun to admit what seemed increasingly obvious: The package looked well on its way to becoming law.”

“It was a quick comedown from earlier in the day, when Freedom Caucus members gathered for a 45-minute press conference to rail against the package.”

The New York Times reports “the legislation scaled its first major obstacle on Tuesday night, when the House Rules Committee voted to clear the way for a debate on the plan on Wednesday, after right-wing opponents failed to muster enough allies to block it.”

Punchbowl News: “Despite the complaints, McCarthy has won over enough support on the right to get the measure to the floor. McCarthy also says a majority of House Republicans will back the legislation, which raises the debt limit until 2025 while capping spending.”

“And while some conservatives have openly floated using the motion to vacate to potentially force McCarthy out of office, the California Republican insists he’s not worried about that possibility.”

Jonathan Chait: “The simplest way to understand the debt-ceiling agreement is that the two parties were focused on different, orthogonal objectives. Democrats wished to minimize the direct harm of the terms of the deal itself to vital government programs, and especially assistance for the poor. Republicans wanted to establish the principle that holding the debt ceiling hostage is a normal, accepted way to govern.”

“Both parties got what they wanted. President Biden negotiated the ransom for freeing the debt ceiling down to about the lowest possible level he could have. (As a side benefit, Biden refuted doubts about his capacity, leaving his opponents fuming that they had somehow been ‘outsmarted by a president who can’t find his pants,’ as Representative Nancy Mace paradoxically complained.)”

“Republicans obtained spending cuts only slightly deeper than what they likely would have won in a normal budget process absent the threat of default, but were able to avoid giving even a token offer to Democrats, preserving their core objective of demonstrating that the only thing Democrats would ‘win’ was freeing the hostage.”

Politico: “Due to the quirks of the upper chamber, individual senators can drag out a bill for roughly a week, as all 100 members must agree in order to fast-track legislation…”

“But if conservatives get what they want, namely roll call votes on altering the bill, they may acquiesce and give the country plenty of breathing room before June 5.”

CBO score on the debt ceiling deal “threw a last-minute curveball into Republican messaging, finding that new work requirement changes would actually expand spending on federal nutrition programs,” Politico reports.

“Federal prosecutors have obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, undercutting his argument that he declassified everything,” CNN reports.

“The recording indicates Trump understood he retained classified material after leaving the White House… On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records.”

This is absolutely blockbuster evidence. It proves that Trump *knew* he kept highly classified documents after he left office, that he shared the classified info with people who didn’t have clearance, and “suggests … he was aware of limitations” on his ability to declassify.

He is a traitor to this country and must suffer a traitor’s sentence.

The special counsel investigating Donald Trump’s “efforts to cling to power after he lost the 2020 election has subpoenaed staff members from the Trump White House who may have been involved in firing the government cybersecurity official whose agency judged the election ‘the most secure in American history,’” the New York Times reports.

Within the past two weeks, Smith has issued subpoenas to Trump White House officials about the firing of Christopher Krebs, who was at the time the administrations’s top cybersecurity official.

Smith is also seeking information about interactions between the White House Personnel Office and the Justice Department around and after the 2020 election.

The firing of Krebs was always deeply corrupt and fit logically into the Trump-led conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election, so I’m glad to see it getting renewed scrutiny.

“A Mar-a-Lago employee who helped move boxes of documents last June has been questioned about his conduct weeks later related to a government demand for surveillance footage from Donald Trump’s property,” the Washington Post reports.

“The employee’s actions in June and July have caught the attention of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators as they try to determine whether Trump or people close to him sought to obstruct justice in the face of a grand jury subpoena to return all documents marked classified, or lied about what happened.”

“Ten months before Donald Trump is scheduled to stand trial in his historic New York City criminal case, Manhattan prosecutors are turning the former president’s words against him in a tug of war over precisely where he will be tried,” the AP reports.

“Trump’s lawyers have spent weeks angling to have the hush money case moved to federal court. The Manhattan district attorney’s office responded Tuesday that the case should remain in the state court where it originated, citing old Trump tweets that they say undermine his lawyers’ jurisdictional challenge.”

“Tara Reade, the American who accused President Joe Biden of sexual assault, has moved to Russia,” The Messenger reports.

“Reade made the announcement from Russia, joined by Maria Butina, a Russian-born woman convicted of spying for the Kremlin.”

“Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has quietly changed state guidelines, essentially giving its blessing for a state-level political committee he previously ran to move millions of dollars to a super PAC helping his presidential campaign,” NBC News reports.

“For years, elections officials said such a transfer to federal super PACs would not be allowed. But in March — just months before DeSantis formally launched his bid for president — officials at the Florida State Department, the DeSantis administration entity that regulates state elections, changed its handbook to assert that such moves are allowed.”

“The timing is notable because a state-level political committee DeSantis led for the past five years, known as Friends of Ron DeSantis, is widely expected to transfer $80 million to a federal super PAC called Never Back Down that is supporting his just-launched bid for president.”

“Nevada’s Joe Lombardo on Tuesday became one of the first Republican governors to enshrine protections for out-of-state abortion patients and in-state providers, adding the western swing state to the list of those passing new laws to solidify their status as safe havens for abortion patients.” the AP reports.

“The legislation codifies an existing executive order from former Gov. Steve Sisolak last year — who lost reelection to Lombardo — that bars state agencies from assisting in out-of-state investigations that could lead to the prosecution of abortion patients who travel to Nevada”

“A historic impeachment trial in Texas to determine whether Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton should be permanently removed from office will begin no later than August in the state Senate, where the jury that would determine his future could include his wife, Sen. Angela Paxton,” the AP reports.

 “The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed lawyer Darrel Papillion to a federal judgeship in Louisiana, after he was backed by both of the state’s Republican senators,” Reuters reports.

“He is the latest of U.S. President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees to be appointed to a federal judgeship in a state with two Republican U.S. Senators. Senate custom dictates that senators must return a ‘blue slip‘ signaling their support before district court nominees in their home states can be confirmed.”

“House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) said Tuesday he plans to bring contempt of Congress proceedings against FBI Director Christopher Wray after the agency refused to provide a document reviewing an interaction with a confidential source,” The Hill reports. First, there is no evidence that the document exist or that the source was verified.

Second, this is all part of the right’s effort to neutralize the FBI so it will be impotent in the face of their future of fascist crimes. It’s one of the most reliable truisms of the Trump era and its fits neatly into the scholarship on authoritarianism: Any power center outside of Trump and the right wing is a threat that needs to be neutralized. Media. Universities. Corporations. Law enforcement.

You’ve seen the script run over and over. Discredit external power centers, draw them into ridiculous fights over their credibility and legitimacy to turn them into political actors that are no better than Trump, sow distrust and suspicion so that any actions they take are de facto illegitimate.

Trump attacks on the FBI are not new. He corruptly fired FBI Director James Comey way back in 2017, prompting the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. He savaged deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. We’re many years into this now.

What distinguishes the latest round of wholesale attacks on the FBI is that eliminating it has become a tenet of GOP politics, not just Trump, not just the far-right fringe.

“Millions of Americans are now facing the possible resumption of student loan payments on Aug. 30 — for the first time since the outset of the pandemic — as a result of the debt limit deal cut between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy,” Politico reports.

“Biden’s original student debt relief plan — which would offer up to $20,000 in forgiveness — is at risk as well. The Supreme Court is set to decide the legality of the plan and House Republicans are taking up legislation to repeal the program. If the administration can’t successfully navigate potential challenges to the plan by August, the goodwill that Biden engendered with younger voters suffering from substantial amounts of debt could evaporate.”

Washington Post: “White House officials agreed to include the language to honor a promise they made to Manchin last summer. To secure Manchin’s support for Democrats’ landmark climate law, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, party leaders agreed to pass a follow-up bill that would speed up the nation’s permitting process for the pipeline and other energy projects.”

“The debt ceiling deal would approve all of the outstanding permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline within 21 days of the bill’s passage. Environmental lawyers have called this language an extraordinary end-run around the courts, noting that the pipeline has been delayed by a string of legal setbacks.”

CNN: Manchin could get a gas pipeline out of the debt ceiling deal, and environmental advocates are livid.

“In 2022, Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) ripped Democrats for the ‘Defund the Police’ movement,” the Daily Beast reports.

“But on Tuesday, he proposed doing just that to the law enforcement agency in the Department of Justice. Just two months after a mass shooting at a Nashville school in his very own Congressional district, Ogles made the puzzling proposal to defund the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives through 2025.”

“Twitter is now worth just one-third of what Elon Musk paid for the social-media platform, according to Fidelity, which recently marked down the value of its equity stake in the company,” Bloomberg reports.

Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady of the United States and wife of former President Jimmy Carter, has dementia, CNN reports.

Pandemic-era policies achieved a historic narrowing of the stubborn income gap in America.

Donald Trump ripped Kayleigh McEnany, his former press secretary, for using what he claimed were “wrong” poll numbers on a Fox News segment. He referred to her as “Kayleigh ‘Milktoast’ McEnany” and said “The RINOS & Globalists can have her.”

 “Chinese citizens posing as tourists but suspected of being spies have made several attempts in recent years to gain access to military facilities in this vast state studded with sensitive bases,” USA Today reports.

In case you missed it, losing GOP nominee for Secretary of State Mark Finchem of Arizona was ordered to pay his winning Democratic opponent $40,000 in legal fees for his baseless challenge of the election results. Finchem’s lawyer was also sanctioned with a $7,434 penalty for his role in the lawsuit.

“The prosecution’s case against a former CIA officer accused of sexually abusing more than 20 incapacitated women in Mexico City is at risk of collapsing because the Justice and State departments may have botched the execution of a warrant to seize the officer’s iPhones,” NBC News reports.

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

2 comments on “Cup of Joe – June 1, 2023

  1. cassandram

    Student Loans — The White House is already on record as saying that payments and interest will resume either 60 days after the Supreme Court makes its ruling or 60 days after June 30, 2023. So while Politico breathlessly tells you that payments will start on August 30, the WH would start repayments without the deal is September 1, with the possibility of a phasing in of payment schedules. So what Politico should tell you is that the GOP got nothing on this part of the deal.

  2. cassandram

    One of the biggest stories that got lost in the “both sidesism” reporting on the default is that we are likely to be back to square one once we get to appropriations.

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