Cup of Joe – September 22, 2023

House Republicans failed for the second time this week to advance their Pentagon spending bill, another massive defeat for Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The vote on the rule for debate — a key procedural hurdle — was 216 to 212.

Politico: “This time, though, it was far more surprising to GOP leaders, who believed they won over enough holdouts to move forward on the defense spending bill. Its the latest ominous sign of a looming shutdown that could begin Oct. 1.”

Playbook: “If at first you don’t succeed… You might not succeed the second time, either. The House GOP is continuing to prove itself ungovernable — and Congress paralyzed — as Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s latest gambit to bring the Defense spending bill to the floor failed again today. A procedural vote went down 212-216, as just enough far-right Republicans jumped ship to tank the rule in a surprise rebuke to House GOP leadership.”

“The stepback: Having reneged on his deal with the White House, McCarthy still hasn’t figured out a way simply to pass the rule to proceed to one of the least controversial of 12 spending bills that don’t stand a chance of making it through the Senate in their House form.”

Punchbowl News: “At this moment, House Republicans can’t govern. This isn’t just an opinion, at this point. It’s a fact that’s been borne out in the Capitol all week.”

“Let’s play this out for a minute here. The federal government is slated to shut down Oct. 1 unless Congress approves more funding. The House Republican Conference, as currently constructed, doesn’t have the ability to move legislation. The Republican leadership is privately absolutely certain that they cannot pass a CR, even if it’s loaded with GOP policies. So a shutdown looks more and more likely every moment of every day.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s newest bid to pass a GOP-only short-term spending plan, which he outlined for his members on Wednesday night, already looks to be on life support,” Politico reports.

“It’s the latest sign of the herculean lift the Californian faces to get even a doomed party-line Republican bill through the House, where he can only afford to lose four votes with Democrats expected to unite against his latest effort.”

“So far, McCarthy has at least eight ‘no’ votes on his new proposal for even steeper spending cuts. Other Republicans suggest they will oppose a short-term funding bill more generally.”

Playbook: “Do they have a strategy for what to do when the Senate ignores their latest spending gambit and sends back a ‘clean’ CR without all these new policy riders? Absolutely not.”

“The truth is, we’re just at the start of what’s going to be a very long, ugly, drawn-out war.”

Punchbowl News: “McCarthy used a closed party meeting this evening to say that he wanted to pass a stopgap funding bill to keep the government open for 30 days at a $1.47 trillion spending level.”

“In addition, McCarthy wants to attach the House Republicans’ H.R. 2 border security bill and create a bipartisan commission to tackle the federal debt and deficit…. Simultaneously, House Republicans would move individual FY2024 spending bills at a discretionary spending level of $1.52 trillion…”

“McCarthy’s plan is mostly fantasy, since the Senate likely won’t accept this spending level on a stopgap, and they certainly won’t accept $1.52 trillion for a full year of funding.”

“But it may allow McCarthy and the House Republican leadership to resume passing spending legislation on the House floor. This is a key political moment for McCarthy as he tries to to reassert control over the direction of the House.”

Josh Marshall: “Punchbowl reported that Republicans are debating whether “to move the CR debate away from spending levels and toward border security.”

This sounds tactical and a bit in the weeds until you realize this means House Republicans are considering changing the reason for creating a government shut down crisis in the first place.

The idea is supposed to be that the GOP right is so hardline on spending that they’re pushing to shut the government down unless they get even more spending cuts than they agreed to back in May. But now they’re saying, Forget about the spending stuff we’ve decided to shut the government down about “border security” instead.

Who knew the budget stuff was so easy to solve? It illustrates perfectly what most of us already know, which is that policy issues are just an excuse to shut the government down because it’s something Republicans like to do. Otherwise you can’t change your reason in the middle of the whole thing.”

Donald Trump called on House Republicans to “defund all aspects of Crooked Joe Biden’s weaponized Government that refuses to close the Border, and treats half the Country as Enemies of the State.”

He added: “They failed on the debt limit, but they must not fail now. Use the power of the purse and defend the Country!”

“The long-shot idea that Democrats could bail out the beleaguered Speaker Kevin McCarthy is suddenly getting real,” Politico reports.

“Small groups of centrist Democrats are holding secret talks with several of McCarthy’s close GOP allies about a last-ditch deal to fund the government… The McCarthy allies engaging in those conversations are doing so out of serious concern that their party can’t stop an impending shutdown on its own, given the intransigence of a handful of conservatives.”

“Many Republicans involved are incredibly worried about revealing their backup plan, wanting to wait until every other tool in McCarthy’s arsenal has failed.”

“House Democrats have begun internal discussions about how to deal with the prospects of a chaotic situation: The possibility that Speaker Kevin McCarthy could lose his job in an unprecedented vote on the floor,” CNN reports.

“While no decisions have been made, some of the party’s moderates are privately signaling they’d be willing to cut a deal to help McCarthy stave off a right-wing revolt – as long as the speaker meets their own demands.”

Said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI): “If somehow Democrats are asked to be helpful, it’s not just going to have to be out of the kindness of our hearts. If Kevin can’t govern with just his part – which clearly he can’t – and he wants to have a conversation with us about how to do that, we are going to have a policy conversation.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has a message to fellow Republicans blocking their party from advancing government funding bills: You’re making it impossible for the party to win any concessions from Democrats,” The Messenger reports.

Said McCarthy: “If Republicans hold Republicans back from moving bills it’s like you’re walking into a fight losing. And I’ve never understood that situation. So I want to be able to win these battles.”

“As Kevin McCarthy navigates a spending fight with his speakership on the line, some of his critics are privately mulling who they could back if the California Republican loses his gavel,” Politico reports.

“Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), a member of the Freedom Caucus, told Politico he had a name in mind — which he declined to disclose — though he argued the conference’s immediate focus should be on the spending fight, where conservatives are pushing for steeper spending cuts.”

“Bishop said he had ‘muttered’ the name he has in mind to a couple of other people and ‘have found surprisingly that they have been thinking very much the same thing.’”

“This is not conservative Republicanism. This is stupidity. The idea that we’re going to shut the government down when we don’t control the Senate, we don’t control the White House. These people can’t define a win. They don’t know how to take yes for an answer. It’s a clown show. You keep running lunatics. You’re going to be in this position.”— Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), on CNN.

Rupert Murdoch announced Thursday that he will step down as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corp., CNN reports. His son, Lachlan Murdoch, will become sole chairman of both companies.

Wall Street Journal: “Murdoch is one of a handful of media barons, along with the likes of John Malone, Ted Turner and Sumner Redstone, who shaped the modern era of media. He has wielded influence in political and financial capitals, earning credit from his boosters and blame from his critics. Murdoch has remained active in his later years, pursuing big deals to reshape his companies.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved to set up votes on three top military promotions that Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has been blocking, CNN reports.

The move heads off Tuberville’s effort to go around Senate leaders on at least one of these promotions.

Schumer said that if Tuberville objects to voting on all three today, he will keep the Senate in session through the weekend.

“The Biden administration says it’s granting temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are already in the country — quickly making them eligible to work — as it grapples with growing numbers of people fleeing the South American country and elsewhere to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border,” the AP reports.

“The move — along with promises to accelerate work permits for many migrants — may appease Democratic leaders who have pressured the White House to do more to aid asylum seekers, while also providing grist for Republicans who say the President Joe Biden has been too lax on immigration.”

“As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky returns to the U.S. capital in a bid to shore up American support for his embattled country, a group of Republican lawmakers is vowing to oppose another aid package,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In a letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal, the group says it is rejecting President Biden’s request for an additional $24 billion in security, economic and humanitarian aid. The lawmakers said they have concerns about the more than $100 billion in funding Congress already has approved, complained that the administration supports an ‘open-ended commitment’ to Ukraine and criticized what they say is an unclear strategy.”

“It is signed by 23 House members and six senators, led by Sen. J.D. Vance (R., Ohio) and Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas), and addressed to Shalanda Young, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.”

“British prosecutors said on Thursday they had authorized charges to be brought against five Bulgarian nationals accused of spying for Russia for almost three years,” NBC News reports.

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed the United Nations’ ineffectiveness in the face of Russia’s war on Kyiv in a tension-filled special session of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday,” Politico reports.

“And that was just the start of what was likely to be a multi-hour meeting with plenty of diatribes and ripostes. Among the expected attendees: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Referring to Russia’s role on the Security Council, he said: “It is impossible to stop the war because all actions are vetoed by the aggressor.”

Cassidy Hutchinson, the former Trump aide turned crucial January 6 witness, says in a new book that she was groped by Rudy Giuliani, who was “like a wolf closing in on its prey”, on the day of the attack on the Capitol, The Guardian reports. Hutchinson says the former New York mayor turned Trump lawyer put his hand “under my blazer, then my skirt.”

She added: “I feel his frozen fingers trail up my thigh. He tilts his chin up. The whites of his eyes look jaundiced. My eyes dart to John Eastman, who flashes a leering grin.”

“Lest you thought you’d heard the last of the newly dress code-free Senate, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is leading a new letter among fellow Republicans that objects to the Sergeant at Arms’ decision to no longer enforce rules for attire in the chamber,” Politico reports.

Axios: Washington gasps at the Senate’s new dress code.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) told ABC News that he wouldn’t allow federal funding for Covid-19 vaccines. He also promised “that people involved in the federal response to the pandemic would be held accountable for what he maintained were harmfully restrictive public health measures intended to cut widespread infections and deaths.”

Washington Post: “After years of escalating tensions with the United States, Iran may have seen Monday’s prisoner swap as a last chance to secure access — albeit limited — to funds at a time when the country’s economy is sputtering after years of international sanctions and economic mismanagement.”

“There is also hope that these small steps could lead to discussion of more substantive issues such as a return to the nuclear deal — though that could be hampered by uncertainty of what sort of leadership will be running the United States after the elections.”

“President Joe Biden and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will call for improving labor conditions in their countries, when they meet in New York on Wednesday, as the US also seeks to move Brazil closer to allies helping Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion,” Bloomberg reports.

“The two presidents plan to say that their partnership will help workers address what they consider central challenges — like the transition to the gig economy and clean energy technology.”

Puck: “The call might have begun friendly enough, but it was pretty contentious by the end, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation. Trump wanted to see Thiel do more for him, just like the billionaire had in 2016, when Thiel spent millions on his behalf and spoke at the Republican National Convention. But Thiel, who has taken a step back from politics since 2022, expressed his desire to not be ‘at the center of the hurricane’ this time around. Thiel had taken plenty of flak during the midterms, and he was seeking to de-escalate his political involvement.”

“Trump, of course, demands loyalty, and he feels like Thiel sort of owes him one (even though Vance has been good for Trump and endorsed him). So he is, unsurprisingly, fuming, feeling as though Thiel ‘screwed’ him after all Trump did for his homies during the midterms. And Trump, I’m told, let him know it.”

Rolling Stone: “As the criminal cases against him have piled up, the former president and 2024 GOP frontrunner has wondered aloud in recent months about what life would be like if he’s convicted, and if appeals fail. While Trump publicly professes confidence, privately, three sources familiar with his comments say, he’s been asking lawyers and other people close to him what a prison sentence would look like for a former American president.”

“Would he be sent to a ‘club fed’ style prison — a place that’s relatively comfortable, as far these things go — or a ‘bad’ prison? Would he serve out a sentence in a plush home confinement? Would government officials try to strip him of his lifetime Secret Service protections? What would they make him wear, if his enemies actually did ever get him in a cell — an unprecedented set of consequences for a former leader of the free world.”

“What would happen — including in the Fulton County, Georgia criminal case against him and various co-defendants — if he were convicted and sentenced, but also re-elected?”

“The private questions are a departure from the air of supreme confidence invincibility Trump has projected. In interviews and elsewhere, he has claimed that the thought of losing in court and going to prison simply cannot enter his mind.”

Peter Navarro told MSNBC said that Donald Trump has paid “about $300,000” of his more than $600,000 in legal fees.

The former Trump adviser was convicted for contempt of Congress earlier this month.

Harry Litman: “News reports this week led with the startling new detail that Trump sent Michael notes and to-do lists carelessly scrawled on the back of classified documents. It’s a memorable snippet that drives home Trump’s indifference to classification and national security.”

“For a prosecutor, however, that was among the least of the revelations from Michael, known as ‘Trump Employee 2’ in the first federal indictment of the former president. What marks Michael as a blockbuster witness is her singular ability to tell the story of Trump’s conspiracy to obstruct justice in unimpeachable terms.”

Pro-Donald Trump lawyer Lin Wood is a “witness for the state” in the Georgia election subversion case, CNN reports.

The Messenger: “A Georgia special grand jury recommended that Wood face criminal charges in connection with his efforts to topple Joe Biden’s win in the Peach State, but Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis declined to indict him. On Wednesday, Willis may have revealed why.”

“Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, giving themselves more time to see whether they have lifted borrowing costs enough over their 18-month campaign against inflation to sustainably cool price increases,” the New York Times reports.

“The Bank of England left interest rates unchanged on Thursday, the first time in nearly two years that it opted to not raise rates amid a long-running battle against stubbornly high inflation,” the New York Times reports.

“The decision came a day after data showed inflation in Britain unexpectedly slowed in August.”

The Economist: “In theory, insurance sends a risk signal. Homeowners could expect their policy to be expensive if they live in a floodplain or in a forest. It would be cheaper in places less prone to storms, wind or fire. Yet for decades distortions in federal and state insurance markets have suppressed rates, enabling a mass migration to hazardous areas. The population of Florida, which suffers more hurricanes than any other state, grew more than twice as fast as the country did between 2000 and 2020. Texas, which is vulnerable to storms that form in the Gulf of Mexico, grew even faster… Even more striking, the population in areas most prone to wildfires grew by 160%.”

“While Americans were moving to risky places, climate change was making them riskier. Now private insurers are sounding alarm bells.”

A federal judge set the trial of the defamation case against Rudy Giuliani by Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss for December 11 and ordered the parties to be present in the courtroom for the duration of the trial.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said “that he would sign a landmark climate bill that passed the state’s legislature last week requiring major companies to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, a move with national and global repercussions,” the New York Times reports.

Howard Stern said on his radio show that it’s a compliment being called “woke.” Said Stern: “I hear that a lot that I’m not good anymore because I’m ‘woke.’ By the way, I kind of take that as a compliment, that I’m ‘woke.’” He added: “I’ll tell you how I feel about it. To me the opposite of ‘woke’ is being asleep. And if ‘woke’ means I can’t get behind Trump, which is what I think it means, or that I support people who want to be transgender or I’m for the vaccine, dude call me ‘woke’ as you fucking want.”

“Federal prosecutors are looking into whether an admitted felon helped arrange to give gold bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez or his wife in exchange for help,” NBC New York reports.

“Donald Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows joked about the then U.S. president having Covid on Air Force One after the first debate with Joe Biden in 2020 – an event at which Trump was not tested but three days before which, Meadows later confessed, Trump had indeed tested positive,” The Guardian reports. The anecdote is from the new book, Enough by Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.

“A former federal prosecutor who helped investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe said Wednesday she left the team because of concerns with then-Attorney General William Barr’s public comments about the case and because she strongly disagreed with a draft of an interim report he considered releasing before the election,” the AP reports.

Said Nora Dannehy: “I simply couldn’t be part of it. So I resigned.”

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

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