Cup of Joe – September 15, 2023

“House Republican infighting forced Speaker Kevin McCarthy to pump the brakes on the chamber’s annual defense funding bill Wednesday, with no guarantee party leaders will find the votes to advance it,” Politico reports.

“The right-wing $826 billion defense appropriations bill was scheduled to come to the House floor Wednesday afternoon. But that plan was scrapped with conservative lawmakers still not on board, leaving the bill short of the support needed to survive an initial procedural vote.”

Playbook: “To take a step back, this is a pretty dismal position for McCarthy to find himself in. He’s not stretching to pass a monumental piece of legislation. This is a routine spending bill — one that is typically the least controversial, seeing as it funds troop salaries and otherwise provides for the national defense. If he can’t pass this, what can he pass?”

Politico: “House GOP leaders had hoped that inserting abortion policy into every major piece of their government spending plans would help win over conservative members and placate influential outside groups agitating for more aggressive action on the issue.”

“But so far, the move has helped to seal the demise of what is usually among the easiest appropriations bills for Congress to pass, drawing fierce and rare pushback from more than a dozen moderate Republicans.”

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) has a blunt warning for his party as it struggles to round up the votes to bring up — let alone pass — its own defense spending bill: “It means we’re in trouble,” Politico reports.

Said Simpson: “Fasten your seat belts because it’s going to be a shit show.”

“House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s concessions to conservatives on his right flank to win his leadership position have diminished the worth of the position,” Politico reports.

Said Pelosi:”I think it’s an ever incredibly shrinking speakership. It became that the first night when he had to make all these pledges, promises to become speaker. Really, it isn’t worth it to be speaker to abdicate that much jurisdiction over the House.”

“Far-right Republicans are delivering a clear message to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that they won’t soften their demands for spending cuts in government funding legislation one bit as a result of his impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, even as a shutdown looms at the end of the month,” NBC News reports.

Said Rep. Bob Good (R-VA): “Zero. Zero. They’re totally unrelated. The impeachment inquiry is right. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the spending battle. We can do both at the same time, so — absolutely not connected in any way.”

Said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC): “It’s irrelevant to that. So why would I change unless I really don’t prioritize the spending problems and the debt?”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Wednesday pitched House Republicans on a “minibus” of government funding bills as a way to move forward on appropriations as tensions in the conference threaten a government shutdown, The Hill reports.

It is unclear whether House conservatives who have been pushing for lower spending levels would accept the plan.

Punchbowl News: “The House Republican Conference is in an extended state of confusion about how – and whether – rank-and-file GOP lawmakers rally around a funding plan in advance of the Sept. 30 funding deadline.”

“McCarthy told House Republicans in a closed party meeting this morning that it’s “three against one” right now because the White House, Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats are in agreement on funding.”

Punchbowl News: “We are now 17 days before a government shutdown and House Republicans are absolutely nowhere on their individual spending bills. The right is revolting over passing a short-term funding bill. Meanwhile, McCarthy has vowed not to pass an omnibus spending bill.”

“A shutdown is more likely than not at this point.”

“I mean, these guys just don’t give a shit about nothing.”— Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), quoted by Punchbowl News, on House Republicans unable to pass a spending bill.

“I always have a plan. It doesn’t mean it happens. I had a plan for this week, it didn’t turn out exactly as I planned.”— Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), quoted by Politico.

Playbook: “As he searches for new ways to inject himself into the national discourse and make inroads with conservative primary voters, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has decided to throw in with the hard-line agitators itching for a government shutdown at the end of the month.”

“DeSantis spent about 30 minutes on the phone with conservative Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Bob Good (R-VA) discussing the spending fight as all three men urge Republicans to hold the line, even if it means a government shutdown.”

DeSantis told them: “I got your back. Keep fighting.”

“Ready for this one? Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s plan to avert a looming government shutdown is to begin passing individual appropriations bills next week and then go to conference with the Senate,” Punchbowl News reports.

“When the House returns Monday, there will be just 12 days left until the federal government shuts down. McCarthy has passed one spending bill and has pulled the plug on two others already. The idea that he’s going to pass another 10 – or even five measures – and then go into negotiations with a Senate that could clear all of its bills with huge bipartisan majorities is a bit fantastical.”

Politico: “Today’s private House GOP conference meeting is supposed to be about the Biden impeachment inquiry. But Speaker Kevin McCarthy is using his time to vent about conservatives who are standing in the way of his government funding plans.”

“Two Republican lawmakers who spoke to me on condition of anonymity recalled the speaker dropping an F-bomb as he declared that he is not scared of the right flank forcing a vote to yank his gavel. Essentially, he dared them to come at him.”

Said McCarthy: “Go ahead. I’m not fucking scared of it. Any new speaker will do what I’m doing.”

“Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and the only member of his party to twice vote to convict former president Donald Trump in politically charged impeachment trials, announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second term in the Senate representing Utah,” the Washington Post reports.

“Romney, 76, said his decision not to run again was heavily influenced by his belief that a second term, which would take him into his 80s, probably would be less productive and less satisfying than the current term has been.”

Said Romney: “At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”

Romney gave an extraordinary interview to McKay Coppins on why he was leaving the U.S. Senate. One of his most striking lines: “A very large portion of my party really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”

Romney also noted the duplicity of many in his party: “In public, of course, they played their parts as Trump loyalists, often contorting themselves rhetorically to defend the president’s most indefensible behavior. But in private, they ridiculed his ignorance, rolled their eyes at his antics, and made incisive observations about his warped, toddler­like psyche. Romney recalled one senior Republican senator frankly admitting, “He has none of the qualities you would want in a president, and all of the qualities you wouldn’t.”

On how the battle for the Republican party’s soul has been lost: “It was hard to dispute that the battle for the GOP’s soul had been lost. And Romney had his own soul to think about. He was all too familiar with the incentive structure in which the party’s leaders were operating. He knew what it would take to keep winning, the things he would have to rationalize… You can always convince yourself that the other party, or the other candidate, is bad enough to justify your own decision to cross that line. “And the problem is that line just keeps on getting moved, and moved, and moved.”

On his feelings about Sen. J.D. Vance: “I don’t know that I can disrespect someone more than J. D. Vance.”

On possibly forming a centrist third party — called “Stop the Stupid” — with Sen. Joe Manchin: “Instead of putting forward its own doomed candidate in 2024, Romney argued, their party should gather a contingent of like-minded donors and pledge support to the candidate who came closest to aligning with its agenda. “We’d say, ‘This party’s going to endorse whichever party’s nominee isn’t stupid.’”

Read the whole interview at The Atlantic, which is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Romney: A Reckoning.

The New York Times reviews it: “The result is the kind of tell-all, inside-Washington book that people have been hungry to read for years.”

“If he has a problem with with me, I kind of wish he just acted like a man and spoke to me directly.”— Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), quoted by Politico, reacting to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) saying there was no one he disrespected more.

“Mitt Romney’s retirement shines a glaring spotlight on the potentially bleak future of the Senate’s ideological center in both parties,” Politico reports. “If Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema follow him out the door, it will get worse.”

“I doubt my support will mean anything positive to any of the candidates at the finish line. It’s pretty clear that the party is inclined to a populist demagogue message.”— Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), quoted by the Washington Post, on the 2024 Republican presidential race.

National Review: “Though he may be remembered for his most recent role as a ‘reasonable’ anti-Trump Republican senator, his broader career is one of political shape-shifting. He never had consistent ideological principles, he helped usher in an era of greater government control over health care, and he played a key role in the political rise of Donald Trump.”

President Biden’s son, Hunter, has been indicted by special counsel David Weiss on three felony gun charges, ABC News reports.

“The charges bring renewed legal pressure on the younger Biden after a plea agreement he struck with prosecutors imploded in recent months.”

CNN: “His gun-related legal troubles relate to a firearm he purchased in October 2018. While buying a revolver at Delaware gun shop, he lied on a federal form when he swore that he was not using, and was not addicted to, any illegal drugs – even though he was struggling with crack cocaine addiction at the time of the purchase.”

“As House Republicans kick off an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, the White House is executing a long-planned strategy to meet politics with politics,” the New York Times reports.

“Forget the weighty legal arguments over the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors or the constitutional history of the removal process. Mr. Biden’s defense team has chosen to take on the Republican threat by convincing Americans that it is nothing more than base partisanship driven by a radical opposition.”

Punchbowl News: “Senior Democrats previously signaled to us they’d likely help McCarthy if far-right Republicans tried to boot him from the speakership for ‘being reasonable.’”

“And Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has repeatedly threatened to file a motion to vacate as soon as next week.”

“But any potential Democratic assistance to McCarthy on this front evaporated with the start of the impeachment inquiry.”

A federal judge denied former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ request for an emergency stay of a ruling that sent his Georgia election interference case back to state court, CNBC reports.

Mark Meadows has withdrawn his emergency motion to stay the Fulton County criminal proceedings against him now that the state judge has officially severed him from the group seeking a speedy trial.

“A state judge on Thursday rejected prosecutors’ request to try all 19 defendants in the Georgia election interference case next month,” The Hill reports.

“The Fulton County judge overseeing the sprawling election interference probe involving former President Donald Trump on Thursday split the case’s 19 defendants into two groups for trial — and suggested that more divisions could be merited,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that 17 of the defendants would be split off — or severed, in legal parlance — from Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, who have demanded speedy trials and are set to be tried on Oct. 23.”

“Donald Trump on Wednesday offered to ‘exchange’ his right to a speedy trial in his Georgia election-conspiracy case for an Atlanta judge ruling that would have the former president tried separately from 18 other defendants,” CNBC reports.

“Trump’s co-defendant Mark Meadows, who served as his White House chief of staff, shortly afterward filed an identical offer waiving a speedy trial in exchange for his own case being tried separately.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the state’s surgeon general are warning residents under age 65 against the new coronavirus booster, going against the advice of federal health officials who have recommended the shots,” the Washington Post reports.

Said DeSantis: “I will not stand by and let the FDA and CDC use healthy Floridians as guinea pigs for new booster shots that have not been proven to be safe or effective.”

Experts interviewed by The Washington Post said they would get the shot as soon as possible.

“A federal judge on Wednesday issued an order setting limits on how former President Donald Trump can discuss classified information with his defense lawyers for the criminal case where he is charged with retaining classified documents after leaving the White House,” CNBC reports.

“The order by Judge Aileen Cannon in U.S. District Court for southern Florida endorsed limitations sought by prosecutors from the office of special counsel Jack Smith over the objections of Trump.”

“But Cannon’s order was vague on the question of whether several concessions sought by Trump about how he could discuss classified information would eventually be granted in one form or the other.”

Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-PA) conversations with allies in Congress and the Trump White House about overturning the 2020 election are off-limits to special counsel Jack Smith, an appeals court ruled in a newly unsealed court opinion, Politico reports.

Washington Post: “One prosecuted white supremacists. Another won a high-profile case against Reality Winner, the government worker found guilty in 2018 of leaking sensitive intelligence information to the media. They’ve gone after alleged corruption by elected officials, with some victories and some resounding defeats.”

“And they’ve helped put notorious drug cartel leaders behind bars.”

“The attorneys special counsel Jack Smith has recruited to prosecute former president Donald Trump come from several divisions of the Justice Department, joining to work full time on two of the most highly scrutinized cases in the nation.”

“Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted Thursday to fire the swing state’s top nonpartisan elections official, whose allies responded by saying the lawmakers didn’t have the power to oust her,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Democratic governor immediately called on the state’s attorney general to file a lawsuit so she can remain in her job.”

“The vote creates a dispute over who is in charge of overseeing elections in a state that is expected to play a critical role in next year’s presidential campaign and that may have to redraw its legislative districts within months.”

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) “is renewing consideration of impeaching a newly elected state Supreme Court justice a day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said he would not sign into law a plan from Vos to write new electoral maps in an effort to bypass the liberal-controlled court,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“President Biden’s nominee to be the Navy’s top officer, Adm. Lisa Franchetti, said it could take the service years to recover from the impacts of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blockade of hundreds of senior military promotions,” Politico reports.

Said Franchetti: “Just at the three-star level, it would take about three to four months just to move all the people around. But it will take years to recover from the promotion delays that we would see.”

Norm Ornstein: “The Senate’s deep and dirty secret is that holds work only because every member of the Senate wants them to. Other senators continue to deny unanimous consent not just to protect the prerogatives of their absent colleague, but to protect their own ability to use holds in the future.”

“Every member of the body is culpable, because every one of them wants to have the opportunity to gain leverage over a president or another executive-branch official or agency. Even senators of the same party as the president find many instances where their pleas for attention or action are ignored or downplayed. Using a hold to block confirmation of someone a president dearly wants in office means that attention will be given. Of course, in most cases, the holds are for individuals and do not last very long.”

“Holds have been a part of Senate procedure for a long time, but their use for punitive or ideological motives is relatively recent.”

New York Times: “The problem will be on sharp display in coming weeks when General Milley retires. In May, President Biden nominated Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. of the Air Force to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But the vice chairman, Adm. Christopher Grady of the Navy, will serve as acting chairman until the blockade is lifted.”

“Many of the other senior positions will also be filled on an ‘acting’ basis. But acting officials are transition figures — like substitute teachers in grade school. They cannot hire people to staff their new positions. They cannot move into the quarters that come with the job. They cannot impose any long-term vision on the military.”

“The holds are cutting deep at a time when the military is struggling to meet recruiting goals that would keep the number of active-duty service members at 1.4 million, the strength that planners say is necessary to protect Americans at home and American national security interests abroad. The Pentagon had hoped to offset lackluster recruiting by retaining more people.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told CNN that he never recommended a US military attack on Iran during the Trump administration, pushing back on claims made by Donald Trump and his White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Said Milley: “I can assure you that not one time have I ever recommended to attack Iran.”

Security footage of ushers escorting Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and her companion out of a performance of “Beetlejuice” was released.

Boebert was reportedly vaping, singing, recording and causing a disturbance.

Despite finally agreeing to leave the premises, Rolling Stone says the couple continued to argue with staff, saying things like “do you know who I am,” “I am on the board,” and “I will be contacting the mayor.”

A woman sitting directly behind Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) shared her story with the Denver Post on how the right-wing lawmaker was booted from a theater over the weekend.

“The woman says Boebert took multiple long videos during the first half of the performance. When she asked Boebert to stop vaping, the congresswoman simply said ‘no,’ the woman said. Boebert was also kissing the man she was with, and singing along loudly with her hands in the air, the woman said.”

Said the woman: “These people in front of us were outrageous. I’ve never seen anyone act like that before.”

The Daily Mail has details on Boebert’s date, who is apparently a Democrat.

Washington Post: “The star witness swept into the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, red coat and flashy Balenciaga-emblazoned handbag tucked under her arms, her white sheath, red lipstick and signature platinum pixie all a dramatic contrast from the somber-suited individuals who have testified for the past week in the historic impeachment trial of state Attorney General Ken Paxton.”

“Until Laura Olson, it had mostly been former Paxton staffers and law-enforcement-turned-whistleblowers on the stand in the Senate, recounting the actions that led to him being charged with bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of office. Olson served a different role in his life: former mistress.”

“But after hours of uncertainty as Olson’s lawyer sought to have her subpoena quashed, the defense got a victory. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ruled that she would not have to take the stand.”

Donald Trump defended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who is facing an impeachment trial, as one of the “toughest and best” Republicans.

Said Trump: “Democrats are feeling very good right now as they watch, as usual, the Republicans fight & eat away at each other. It’s a SAD day in the Great State of Texas!”

“Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) isn’t sharing any regrets about letting his party’s expansion of the Child Tax Credit lapse, even after a historic spike in youth poverty last year,” Semafor reports.

“Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat whose opposition to extending the supersized credit was a decisive factor in its demise, seemed unfazed when asked if Tuesday’s poverty data left him with any second thoughts.”

Said Mancin: “It’s deeper than that, we all have to do our part. The federal government can’t run everything.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “is demanding an investigation into SpaceX after Elon Musk acknowledged he had blocked Ukraine from extending the private Starlink satellite network for an attack on Russian warships near the Crimean coast,” Bloomberg reports.

“Russia has managed to overcome sanctions and export controls imposed by the West to expand its missile production beyond prewar levels, according to U.S., European and Ukrainian officials, leaving Ukraine especially vulnerable to intensified attacks in the coming months,” the New York Times reports.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday waded into the debate over the criminal charges faced by Republican election candidate Donald Trump, saying the cases against the former U.S. president amount to political ‘persecution’ and expose U.S. weakness,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Said Putin: “This shows the whole rottenness of the American political system, which cannot claim to teach others about democracy. What’s happening with Trump is a persecution of a political rival for political motives.”

“Donald Trump pointed to sympathetic comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin early Wednesday to try to bolster his case that he is being treated unfairly by prosecutors in the United States,” the Washington Post reports.

“United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain on Wednesday gave the clearest signal yet that the union is willing to strike all three Detroit automakers at once, an unprecedented move that appears more likely than ever with less than a day to go before the contract deadline,” the Detroit News reports.

Detroit Free Press: “Not only did Fain outline the latest contract offers from the automakers, he also discussed in detail his plan for a massive unprecedented strike that he said is not certain but likely.”

“Exxon Mobil issued its first public statement that burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change in 2006, following years of denial,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Yet behind closed doors, Exxon took a very different tack: Its executives strategized over how to diminish concerns about warming temperatures, and they sought to muddle scientific findings that might hurt its oil-and-gas business, according to internal Exxon documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with former executives.”

Wall Street Journal: “America’s electric-vehicle drivers are increasingly unhappy with public charging, as problems that include glitchy or inoperable equipment seem to be getting worse, not better.”

“Now the U.S. government plans to launch a $100 million effort to try to tackle the reliability issue and make public charging less annoying and more consistent. The funding aims to repair and replace thousands of old or out-of-commission chargers.”

“An unusual outdoor excursion by the jury that convicted Peter Navarro — just 30 minutes before delivering its verdict last week — is threatening to unravel the former Donald Trump adviser’s trial for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee,” Politico reports.

“Navarro’s attorneys say that brief respite may have exposed the jurors to a smattering of protesters, some of whom wielded signs about Jan. 6 defendants and one of whom was later seen holding a sign referencing Navarro himself.”

Peter Navarro said that his contempt of Congress conviction has “everybody in that frigging White House” feeling as if they are grappling with “massive legal bills and prison time,” The Guardian reports. Lamenting that prosecutors had pushed to “stick me in leg irons… and with half a million dollars of legal bills”, Navarro pledged to seek a reversal of his conviction from an appellate court.

“Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants to close the Department of Education and have state governments ‘run the education of our children,’ pushing for a long-held Republican goal that has been endorsed by several other 2024 GOP candidates,” CNN reports.

Said Trump, in a video: “We’re going to end education coming out of Washington, DC. We’re going to close it up – all those buildings all over the place and people that in many cases hate our children. We’re going to send it all back to the states.”

“But eliminating the US Department of Education would not necessarily give any more power to states over K-12 schools. While the federal agency helps the president execute education policies, the power to set curriculum, establish schools and determine enrollment eligibility already lies with the states and local school boards.”

Eugene Peltola, husband of Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK), died following a plane accident in Alaska, Politico reports.

“The U.S. approved the sale of as many as 25 F-35 fighter jets to South Korea, a major weapons offer to a key regional ally after a summit aimed at expressing unity in the face of China’s growing assertiveness,” Bloomberg reports.

“President Joe Biden plans to deliver a speech focused on threats to democracy in the coming weeks,” CNN reports. “Biden plans to deliver the speech following the second Republican primary debate, which is scheduled for September 27.”

The official poverty rate for Black Americans declined to 17.1% in 2022, the lowest on record dating back to 1959, Axios reports.

New “Meet the Press” host Kristin Welker will kick off her tenure with an interview of Donald Trump, taped later today at Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, The Hill reports.

Texas made the most attempts to ban or restrict books in 2022, according to a new report from the American Library Association, The Guardian reports.

“A federal jury has awarded $100,000 to a Kentucky couple who sued former county clerk Kim Davis over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” the AP reports.

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

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