Cup of Joe – September 21, 2023

The House Republican leadership is looking at implementing the “King of the Hill” strategy on the House floor to break the funding bill impasse, Punchbowl News reports.

This process allow all factions of the House Republican Conference to offer their ideas on the floor and see what has the most support.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy effectively has three potential paths when it comes to averting a government shutdown: Taking the “kitchen sink” approach” (pulling all the hardliners’ demands together into one stopgap funding bill), seeking a bipartisan solution, or doing nothing, Punchbowl News reports.

“House GOP leadership pulled a procedural vote on a proposed short-term funding stopgap that has bitterly divided the Republican conference and elicited opposition from hard-line conservatives,” The Hill reports.

“The House was scheduled to vote at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday on the rule to allow the GOP continuing resolution proposal to move forward, but an update sent out shortly before noon did not list the procedural vote.”

These GOP skirmishes are all for a short-term spending plan that has no chance of becoming law.

NBC News: “The House GOP chaos is worse than it may appear. The bills Republicans are fighting over have no chance of becoming law — and if they passed the chamber they’d merely represent an opening bid to negotiate with the Democratic-led Senate and President Joe Biden, who oppose the spending cuts and conservative policies that House Republicans are pursuing.”

“The hardliners who are unwilling to accept the compromises necessary to pass funding bills through the House are less likely to accept measures that can become law.”

“And they’re threatening to overthrow Speaker Kevin McCarthy if their demands aren’t met.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a warning to his Republican counterparts in the House on Tuesday, telling them a looming government shutdown will hurt the party.

Said McConnell, to reporters: “I think all of you know I’m not a fan of government shutdowns. I’ve seen a few of them over the years. They never have produced a policy change and they’ve always been a loser for Republicans, politically.”

“It’s an unmitigated disaster right now on the majority side.”— Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), on NBC News Now, after the House GOP leadership pulled a short-term funding bill.

“It’s a shit show in the House. It’s always a shit show in the House… Eventually what’s going to happen is a government shutdown will not go well for us.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted by the HuffPost.

“If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week.”— Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), on X.

Playbook: “We spoke to multiple Democratic members and aides last night, and this much they know: There will be a shutdown. Yesterday’s floor meltdown confirmed to them that the only remaining question is how long it will be.”

“The dynamics are simple, in their minds: Any solution will, by definition, involve Democrats, and McCarthy is in no position to do anything with Democrats in the next 11 days — and, maybe, for many weeks after that…”

“With Democrats on the Hill happy to sing from the Biden administration’s hymnal, partisans on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are sitting back, watching the chaos and working their damndest to make sure that no matter what happens, Republicans bear the blame for the shutdown.”

“A trio of Democratic outside groups are launching new TV and digital ads Wednesday targeting House Republicans over the potential government shutdown,” NBC News reports.

Wall Street Journal editorial: “We’d be happy to support spending brinkmanship if it served some achievable goal. But taking responsibility for shutting down the government is a sure political loser.”

Politico: “President Joe Biden has steered well clear of the chaos engulfing the House, where Republicans are battling each other over a government funding bill. Within the White House, aides have settled on a hard-line strategy aimed at pressuring McCarthy to stick to a spending deal he struck with Biden back in May rather than attempt to patch together a new bipartisan bill.”

Said a White House official: “We agreed to the budget deal and a deal is a deal — House GOP should abide by it… Their chaos is making the case that they are responsible if there is a shutdown.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has apparently drafted a motion to vacate the chair in an effort to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). A copy was found on a baby changing table in restroom near the House chambers.

Washington Post: “Some Republicans are seriously considering getting behind a shell bill that could, as soon as next week, serve as the vehicle that allows moderates to supersede McCarthy’s control of the House floor and force a vote to keep the government open… What exactly gets included in such a discharge petition remains unknown, but those familiar with the planning said it would include a short-term funding plan to avert a shutdown that could garner enough support from House Democrats and the Senate.”

“Such a move would keep McCarthy’s fingerprints off whatever bill is ultimately voted on in the House. But it would undoubtedly irritate colleagues who have said that passing any bill with Democratic votes would immediately trigger a motion to remove McCarthy from the speakership.”

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) told Fox News she was “very unhappy” with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Said Mace: “I would say, I would put me in the column of being very frustrated.”

She added: “I don’t like feeling like I was misled or lied to on particular pieces of legislation. I’ve worked very hard to show a road map and a pathway for women, for Republican women, how we can move forward and win suburban women over next year. I’ve worked on a number of pieces of legislation that has fallen on deaf ears, has been ignored, no matter the promises that I was made by the leadership. So, put me in the very unhappy column today.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s biggest headaches in the spending fight that’s consuming Washington have one thing in common: They’re coming from House Republicans who are openly eyeing the Capitol exits,” Politico reports.

“As a shutdown fast approaches, McCarthy is in the fight of his political life against familiar conservative foes led by Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Dan Bishop (R-NC) and Matt Rosendale (R-MT). Those four hardliners are among the loudest critics of the speaker — and the most vocal in their threats to try to remove him from power.”

“Gaetz, Norman, Bishop and Rosendale are all building up their political profiles for eventual statewide campaigns, rather than a long career in the House.”

The House Oversight Committee will hold the first hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden on Sept. 28, CNBC reports.

Hunter Biden attorney Abbe Lowell told the judge in his case that Biden will be pleading not guilty to the federal gun charges against him. It came up in a letter Lowell sent asking that Biden’s initial appearance be conducted by video conference. Notably, the government is opposed to this request. It’s unclear why.

Eric Schwerin, a former Hunter Biden business partner who also did bookkeeping work for Joe Biden, told House Oversight Committee staff in March that the president had no involvement in his son’s business deals, the HuffPost reports.

“New testimony from a number of FBI and Internal Revenue Service officials casts doubt on key claims from an IRS whistleblower who alleges there was political interference in the federal criminal investigation of Hunter Biden’s taxes,” CNN reports.

“According to transcripts provided to CNN, several FBI and IRS officials brought in for closed-door testimony by House Republicans in recent days said they don’t remember US Attorney David Weiss saying that he lacked the authority to decide whether to bring charges against the president’s son, or that Weiss said he had been denied a request for special counsel status.”

“Attorney General Merrick B. Garland — a prime target for House Republicans seeking to push unproven claims that the Justice Department is protecting President Biden and his son Hunter Biden — is set to defend himself at a high-stakes, high-volume hearing on Wednesday,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Garland will appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a routine oversight hearing that, in years past, would center on policy, crime, law enforcement initiatives and civil rights. These days, it is a forum for lawmakers to air their grievances and to bolster an impeachment inquiry against the president grounded, thus far, in inconclusive evidence.”

“Senior White House aides have been trying to quell tensions with the United Auto Workers since remarks by President Biden last week inadvertently upset union leadership,” the Washington Post reports.

“Speaking from the Roosevelt Room on Friday, the first day of the UAW’s strike against the nation’s three largest auto manufacturers, Biden said that he was dispatching acting labor secretary Julie Su and senior White House adviser Gene Sperling to Detroit ‘to offer their full support for the parties in reaching a contract.’ Internally, Biden aides regarded the brief announcement as an inoffensive gesture aimed at providing support in the talks, particularly because the president coupled it with a strong endorsement of the union’s demand for a better wage proposal from the Big Three automakers.”

“But Biden’s comments instead antagonized UAW officials, who feared the presence of Su and Sperling would be interpreted by some workers as a sign that the administration was swooping in to control the negotiations.”

“Some Joe Biden allies fear that Donald Trump is outmaneuvering them on the auto workers’ strike with his decision to head to Detroit for a speech next week,” Politico reports.

“Democrats close to the White House said they saw Trump’s trip as a plainly cynical ploy to gain political advantage from the current United Auto Workers strike at three plants. But they also worry it is a sign that the ex-president had a more sophisticated campaign than in previous cycles — and that Biden’s operation needs to step it up.”

Meanwhile, CNBC reports the White House is no longer sending top officials to Detroit for UAW strike talks this week.

Steven Ratner: The UAW is overplaying its hand, risking our economy and the election.

Ron Brownstein: “The United Automobile Workers’ strike against the Big Three manufacturers that began earlier today is exacerbating the most significant political vulnerability of President Joe Biden’s drive to build a clean-energy economy.”

“A trio of bills Biden passed through Congress during his first two years in the Oval Office has generated a torrent of private-sector investment into clean-energy projects. But so far most of that green investment and the jobs it will create are flowing into red-leaning communities that are generally hostile to both the Democratic Party and labor unions.”

Jonathan Last: “The actual threat to these union autoworkers isn’t China, but the Republican governments in sunbelt states, which have worked hard to weaken unions in order to make themselves attractive to big business.”

Attorney Lin Wood surrendered his law license last week after disciplinary proceedings tied to his work for Donald Trump, The Messenger reports.

Said Wood: “I’m probably the second most persecuted person in America, wouldn’t you say?”  He responded without hesitation when asked who was first: “Donald Trump.” 

“Three Georgia Republicans who participated in the so-called fake electors scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election will argue that their cases should be moved from state to federal court in a hearing Wednesday,” NBC News reports.

“David Shafer, Shawn Still and Cathy Latham were among the 18 co-defendants indicted with former President Donald Trump on felony charges in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.”

“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told a judge on Wednesday that at least six attorneys for former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants may have conflicts of interest in the sprawling racketeering case,” The Messenger reports.

New York Magazine has an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s new book:

“Now President Trump was its star, a change so big that it demanded a reshuffling of the prime-time lineup. Sean Hannity, the former ratings laggard who had revived his career with an unquestioning devotion to Trump — and emerged as one of Trump’s inner-circle advisers — was given the 9 p.m. slot in a sop to MAGA world. But the biggest change was that Murdoch gave Tucker Carlson, a former magazine journalist who had served unremarkable tenures as a host at both CNN and MSNBC, an 8 p.m. anchor slot.”

“Murdoch made the unexpected move because he believed Carlson to be a moderate Republican who could be a counterweight — someone who could pull Fox away from reflexive Trumpism. The opposite happened: Carlson became a firebrand of the new Trump order and cable television’s ratings winner. The two men, Trump and Carlson, were suddenly the pillars of the post-Ailes network, and there was not much that even Murdoch could do about it.”

“While Washington is consumed by another round of ‘Will there or won’t there be a shutdown?,’ another politically significant issue is rising to the surface once again and causing tension among Republicans: abortion,” the Washington Post reports.

“Republican presidential candidates are sparring over the severity of abortion bans, moderate House Republicans are facing difficult votes on abortion restrictions, and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) continues to block military promotions and confirmations over his opposition to a new Pentagon policy despite the frustration it is causing some of his GOP colleagues.”

“The party is still trying to find an abortion message that is broadly appealing to voters in 2024. But it’s clear that the GOP is no closer to having a unified stance on the issue than it was immediately after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade nearly 15 months ago. ”

New York Times: Trump’s abortion comments expose a line of attack for rivals in Iowa.

President Biden took aim at Donald Trump: “Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is responsible for ending Roe v. Wade. And if you vote for him, he’ll go even further.”

During his Meet the Press interview on Sunday, Donald Trump falsely claimed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi “turned down 10,000 soldiers” to help control the mob on January 6.

Said Trump: “If she didn’t turn down the soldiers, you wouldn’t have had January 6th.”

Meet the Press host Kristen Welker pushed back asking Trump whether he called for the military or law enforcement when the Capitol was under attack.

Trump refused to answer the question, but then repeated his lie a second time.

He then falsely claimed: “The mayor of D.C. gave us a letter, saying that she turns it down, okay? We have it.”

Fox News amplified the claim on Monday with a big headline: “Trump alleges Pelosi turned down 10,000 soldiers ahead of Capitol riot: ‘She’s responsible for Jan 6.’”

And, in case you missed it, Fox News tweeted out the story again on Tuesday.

Of course, Trump’s claim was completely disproven by fact checkers at the Washington Post and USA Today two years ago.

The January 6 Committee debunked it too.

But millions of Americans heard Trump’s claim over the weekend and most probably never saw the fact checks.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) is considering leaving Congress for a new job — and expressed interest in being an on-air commentator for CNN, the New York Post reports. He also expressed interest in a position at right-leaning Fox News or Newsmax.

“Federal Reserve officials are expected to leave interest rates unchanged at their meeting on Wednesday, buying themselves more time to assess whether borrowing costs are high enough to weigh down the economy and wrestle inflation under control,” the New York Times reports.

“But investors are likely to focus less on what policymakers do on Wednesday — and more on what they say about the future. Wall Street will closely watch whether Fed policymakers still expect to make another interest rate increase before the end of the year or whether they are edging closer to the next phase in their fight against rapid inflation.”

“A Biden administration that vowed to restore Americans’ faith in public health has grown increasingly paralyzed over how to combat the resurgence in vaccine skepticism,” Politico reports.

“And internally, aides and advisers concede there is no comprehensive plan for countering a movement that’s steadily expanded its influence on the president’s watch.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) put the Senate and President Biden on notice that he would “not consent to expedited passage of any spending measure that provides any more U.S. aid to Ukraine.”

Most senators support Ukraine aid, but Paul could slow passage of a funding deal as a shutdown deadline nears.

“President Biden on Friday will announce the creation of a new office for gun violence prevention, an escalation of the administration’s efforts to tackle the issue amid stalled progress in Congress,” the Washington Post reports.

“China is witnessing the biggest flight of capital in years, creating concern for authorities as it worsens pressure on the beleaguered yuan,” Bloomberg reports.

“A Colorado judge said Monday she hopes to decide by Thanksgiving whether the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding office means former President Donald Trump is disqualified from appearing on the state’s presidential ballot in 2024,” CNN reports.

“Judge Sarah Wallace made the comments at a hearing in which she set an expedited schedule for the case.”

“Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has joined in with other members of her party to mock Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) loosening of the chamber’s informal dress code policy that would allow lawmakers to wear whatever they please on the floor,” The Messenger reports.

Said Collins: “I think there is a certain dignity that we should be maintaining in the Senate, and to do away with the dress code, to me, debases the institution.” 

She then joked that she is going to “wear a bikini” on Tuesday.

The WSJ is reporting that federal criminal investigators are looking at an array of personal benefits Elon Musk may have received from Tesla since 2017.

The investigation is being led by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, and a grand jury seems to be involved, suggesting a full-blown criminal investigation.

The WSJ had previously reported on an investigation into a planned glass house for Musk near Tesla’s Austin factory, but the probe appears to be broader than that one aborted project.

I dole out “must read” status sparingly, but this story about Elon Musk, the murder of a retired police chief, and a Las Vegas newspaper reporter absolutely 100% qualifies.

“Ray Epps, a Jan. 6 participant whose removal from the FBI’s Capitol Violence webpage sparked conspiracy theories that he was a federal informant, was charged in connection with the Capitol attack on Tuesday,” NBC News reports.

“A federal judge on Tuesday upheld two federal convictions against a Navy veteran and Oath Keeper associate accused of helping the far-right group stash weapons outside Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021,” CNN reports.

“In November, Thomas Caldwell – who was tried along with leaders of the Oath Keepers Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs – was convicted of obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with documents. A jury, however, acquitted him of all the conspiracy charges he faced, including seditious conspiracy.”

“President Joe Biden’s aides have asked that Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, stop posting messages on social media taunting Chinese President Xi Jinping,” NBC News reports.

“A French journalist was arrested and her residence searched Tuesday by the country’s domestic intelligence agency,” the AP reports.

“The Colorado bar owned by the man who was thrown out of a performance of ‘Beetlejuice’ with Rep. Lauren Boebert has been flooded with negative reviews on Yelp,” The Messenger reports.

Former Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) “was sentenced Tuesday to 22 months in prison for his insider trading conviction for making illegal stock trades while working as a consultant and lobbyist,” the AP reports. “The judge also ordered Buyer to forfeit $354,027, representing the amount of illegal gains, and to pay a $10,000 fine.”

Trump lawyer Alina Habba, already sanctioned nearly $1 million by a federal judge for bringing a bogus lawsuit against Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump’s behalf, tried to get the same judge to revive the case based on the ridiculous proposition that the Durham report provided new evidence to support her claims. The judge shot that gambit down, too.

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

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