Cup of Joe – September 23, 2023

House Republican leadership is sending members home for the week, after a series of failed attempts to make progress on government funding, Punchbowl News reports.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on a bill that could be a vehicle for a short term funding bill next week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told CNN that his chamber “might have to take matters in its own hands and push through a must-pass bill to fund the government amid deep divisions in the House and a looming shutdown by next weekend.

“Schumer said he would try to cut a deal with Senate Minority Leade”r Mitch McConnell and send it to the House on the eve of a potential shutdown – all as he signaled he was pushing to include aid to Ukraine as part of the package.”

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) told CNN that if the House GOP doesn’t pass a short-term spending bill — which looks likely at this point — he will sign a discharge petition and join forces with Democrats to try to pass one.

“I didn’t come here to shut the government down or play stupid games so we could raise $5 donations by claiming we’re doing something and sticking it to the administration, when in fact all they would be doing is screwing the American people.”— Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

Punchbowl News: “What is that sound you hear? Is it the rustling leaves of the early fall? Is it your kids enjoying D.C.’s temperate weather after the scorching summer?”

“No, Washington. It’s the sound of the House about to get jammed by the Senate. And even then it’s probably too late to prevent a government shutdown.”

Washington Post: “In only eight days, the U.S. government is set to shut down, unleashing real and wide-ranging financial hardship on American families, workers and businesses. The lapse in funding would mark a fundamental breakdown in an ever-divided, intransigent Washington, where lawmakers this year have struggled — time and again — to fulfill their most basic fiscal responsibilities.”

“At the heart of the stalemate are renewed Republican demands for deep federal spending cuts, more than three months after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finalized a deal with President Biden that was supposed to prevent this very brinkmanship. Far-right lawmakers have blocked the House this week from adopting a short-term measure that would sustain federal spending at its existing levels and buy more time for the two parties to work out a longer-term arrangement.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is the “architect of the House GOP’s newest legislative strategy,” Playbook reports.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy sent lawmakers home yesterday without any movement on the appropriations bills needs to fund the government by the end of the month. Under repeated threats of a motion to vacate, McCarthy insists he’s not worried about the right-wing lawmakers who have thrown the House into chaos.

In response to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) readying such a motion, McCarthy said: “He should just go ahead and do it.”

But McCarthy has caved to the Freedom Caucus repeatedly since he became speaker and he did it multiple times again this week. He’s refused to work with Democrats because his right-flank could force him out. McCarthy claims he’s not worried he could be ousted, but he’s acting like someone not very secure in his job.

“While the House and Senate remain far apart on a spending deal, the federal government will soon formally initiate the process of preparing for a potential shutdown, participating in the mandatory but standard process of releasing shutdown guidance to agencies ahead of the September 30 funding deadline,” CNN reports.

“The standard procedure laying out the steps toward bringing non-essential government functions to a halt is about to get underway.”

“Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday turned to a new strategy in a long-shot bid to prevent the fourth government shutdown in a decade, as time runs short ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline,” Reuters reports.

“Instead, they will prepare four separate spending bills, most of which reflect the deep cuts sought by the party’s right flank. Those are certain to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate, as they are far below spending levels outlined in a deal with Democratic President Joe Biden earlier this year.”

“I don’t think it’s even going to arrive — dead on departure.”— Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), quoted by TPM, when asked if the House spending proposal was “dead on arrival.”

“My advice is, ‘Go sit down with Hakeem Jeffries.’ If he’s got a solid majority of his caucus. Why wouldn’t he? This is the tail wagging the dog. That’s not the way to do it.”— Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), quoted by the New York Times, on the House GOP’s inability to govern.

Semafor: “There’s been rampant speculation about whether hardline Republicans will eventually try to oust McCarthy from his job, especially after Rep. Matt Gaetz, his most vocal antagonist, left a copy of a motion to vacate sitting in a bathroom this week. But even though he’s still holding the gavel for now, McCarthy already feels a bit like a speaker in name only.”

“For starters, he has forfeited control over the House floor. As many reporters noted today, past speakers have rarely lost votes on all-important procedural rules to tee-up bills (Nancy Pelosi never did once in her tenure). McCarthy has now lost rule votes twice this week, and three times since he took over in January. The norms that traditionally give speakers their power are collapsing beneath him.”

“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down. That doesn’t work.”— Speaker Kevin McCarthy, talking to reporters about House Republicans voting down their own defense bill for the second time.

“I don’t agree with her ever, hardly on anything, but she was pretty successful… and the way she did it was she put an issue out amongst her caucus. She met with them. She figured out what they wanted, and then they put it out on the floor and they passed it and they rallied around it. A lot of work goes into that… but I’m not seeing that work right now. And it’s very disappointing to me.”— Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), on CNN, praising former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

The Economist: “How strange that some American politicians have persuaded themselves it is patriotic and wise to menace their own country’s credit or shut down its government. Amid such nonsense, one can forget that Washington teems with bureaucrats, non-profiteers and even members of Congress who are devoted students of public policy, brimming with zeal for sensible reform.”

“Upon encountering such would-be do-gooders in this era of legislative hissy fits, should one be filled with relief, or pity?”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that Donald Trump once warned him not to bring a wounded veteran to public events, The Messenger reports.

Said Trump: “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.”

Jeffrey Goldberg has a fantastic profile of Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in The Atlantic:

“In normal times, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the principal military adviser to the president, is supposed to focus his attention on America’s national-security challenges, and on the readiness and lethality of its armed forces. But the first 16 months of Milley’s term, a period that ended when Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as president, were not normal, because Trump was exceptionally unfit to serve.”

“‘For more than 200 years, the assumption in this country was that we would have a stable person as president,’ one of Milley’s mentors, the retired three-star general James Dubik, told me. That this assumption did not hold true during the Trump administration presented a ‘unique challenge’ for Milley, Dubik said.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery.

CNBC: “The indictment says that the Democrat Menendez and his wife from at least 2018 through 2022 accepted ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using Menendez’s power and influence as Senator’ to benefit the men and Egypt.”

“Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value.”

New York Times: “The indictment is almost certain to resound in Washington and in New Jersey.”

“The explosive indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez has forced an urgent decision on New Jersey Democrats: Stick with a powerful senator who’s survived corruption ordeals before and is known for punishing disloyalty, or cut their losses and protect what should be a safe Democratic seat,” Politico reports.

“A year before Menendez is up for reelection, they’re leaning hard towards the latter.”

“While Democrats stay publicly silent, interviews with half a dozen well-placed Democratic operatives, advisers and staffers show a party stunned by the level of alleged corruption and hard-pressed to imagine a scenario in which the party backs Menendez for another term. But the fact that no one was willing to criticize him on the record in the face of such damning allegations may be reason to question whether state Democrats will ultimately force a reckoning with Menendez over his political future.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will step down from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after his indictment today, MSNBC reports.

Playbook: “The allegations document corruption so brazen it looks like something out of a movie — or at least a bygone era of New Jersey politics — and with significant international implications. The Menendezes stand accused of taking large sums of money to sway American foreign policy more favorably toward Egypt and benefit three Jersey businessmen.”

“When law enforcement searched Menendez’s home, they turned up $480,000 in cash hidden away, $70,000 more in Nadine’s safe deposit box and $100,000 worth of gold bars — and yes, there are photos in the 39-page indictment, including one of bundles of cash found inside a Menendez-monogrammed jacket. In just one of many incredible details, prosecutors allege that Menendez returned from an Egypt trip in 2021 and searched online for ‘how much is one kilo of gold worth.’ Authorities say Menendez also received payments on his mortgage and a luxury car as bribes.”

“The official charges for the couple are conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion. The businessmen were also charged. All are set to appear in a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday and are, of course, innocent until proven guilty.”

“Shawn Fain, the United Automobile Workers president, escalated pressure on the White House on Friday with a public invitation to President Biden to join workers on the picket lines in their growing strike against the nation’s leading automakers,” the New York Times reports.

The White House did not immediately respond on Friday when Axios sought a response on the union’s invitation.

Washington Post: Why Debbie Dingell isn’t urging Biden to walk the UAW picket line.

“The United Auto Workers and the Detroit’s Big Three automakers spent Thursday in negotiations as union leaders warned that an ongoing labor strike could spread to new facilities as soon as midday Friday,” the Washington Post reports.

“An expanded work stoppage over wages and benefits for some 150,000 autoworkers could exacerbate disruptions to an industry that makes up about 3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.”

The United Auto Workers union plans to stage more strikes at General Motors and Stellantis by noon Friday, but will spare Ford Motor from more walkouts based on progress it has made in contract talks, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is circulating a proposal to re-establish the Senate’s dress code, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) loosened over the weekend to allow senators to wear whatever they want on the Senate floor,” The Hill reports.

“One person familiar with the resolution said it would essentially return the Senate dress code to what it was last week, which required senators to wear coats and ties or business attire when on the Senate floor.”

“Kenneth Chesebro, an election attorney for former President Donald Trump, argued on Thursday that his emails should be excluded as evidence from the Georgia election-racketeering case in which he and Trump are co-defendants,” The Messenger reports.

Chesebro’s attorneys argued that search warrant used to obtain them was “defective, and the search and seizure predicated thereon is illegal.”

Cassidy Hutchinson writes in her new book that Donald Trump almost never wore a mask during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic because he was worried about his makeup, The Guardian reports.

While visiting a factory, Trump tried a white mask but then asked staffers what they thought.

Writes Hutchinson: “I slowly shook my head. The president pulled the mask off and asked why I thought he should not wear it. I pointed at the straps of the N95 I was holding. When he looked at the straps of his mask, he saw they were covered in bronzer.”

Said Trump: “Why did no one else tell me that. I’m not wearing this thing.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) confirmed to the Washington Post that he rejected a request from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to give a joint address to Congress.  Said McCarthy: “Look what we’re in the middle of. Do we have time for that?”

“The Biden administration is close to deciding it will provide Ukraine with a version of ATACMS long-range missiles armed with cluster bomblets rather than a single warhead,” the Washington Post reports.

“Interagency discussions on whether to approve the weapons moved in recent days from the deputies committee, a meeting of representatives of the No. 2 officials in national security agencies, to the principals committee, involving the heads of each agency, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the sensitive issue. The process culminates with a decision by President Biden.”

“Russia’s flagship state news channel is advertising a new program hosted by Tucker Carlson, apparently without the firebrand rightwing US TV host’s knowledge or consent,” the Financial Times reports.

ProPublica: “Thomas has attended at least two Koch donor summits, putting him in the extraordinary position of having helped a political network that has brought multiple cases before the Supreme Court.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) “is getting ready to settle some scores with an autobiography that could pave the way to higher office — including the vice presidency,” the Washington Examiner reports. Said Greene: “I wanted people to hear my side of the story. Some of it is setting the record straight.” She also acknowledged that the book has a higher purpose of laying the groundwork for a bid for higher office: “I have options. Anything from a governor’s race to a Senate seat.”

Semafor: “India said it would stop issuing new visas for Canadians, in the latest escalation of the diplomatic feud that began after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Narendra Modi’s government of being involved in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia.

Indian journalist Rahul Kanwal described the move as a “diplomatic ballistic missile,” saying the Modi government has gone on “all out attack mode against Canada.”  The decision goes beyond the previous tit-for-tat of expelling diplomats, because it will affect any Canadian who wants to visit India and doesn’t already have a visa. Canadians were the fourth largest group to travel to India in 2021, with 80,000 tourists visiting.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said that the fake Republican electors from 2020 that she charged were “brainwashed” to keep Donald Trump in power, and touted that their cases will get juries from a “very Democratic-leaning county,” CNN reports.

Said Nessel: “People talk a lot about, oh, why don’t you start flipping some of those people so that they can become witnesses against the remaining defendants, the worst-acting defendants? The problem is, these are people who have been brainwashed.”

She continued: “How do you flip someone who concedes that they did everything that they’re accused of doing, but what they say is, ‘we believe that we were in the right. We think that Donald Trump is the real winner of the election’ … They really legit believe that. They genuinely believe it. Somebody can’t even plead guilty if they wanted to, because they can’t admit that what they did violated the law, because they still think they’re right.”

“The anger-tainment ecosystem that Fox News, above all, has created in the U.S. has left America angrier and more divided than it’s been at any time since the Civil War. In order to keep its ratings up it has sought to enrage Americans, divide Americans… and it has knowingly—and Murdoch had a personal hand in this, as we know—it has knowingly spread lies, most consequentially the one where Donald Trump claimed to have won the 2020 election. And of course that created the environment that made the January 6 insurrection possible… Trump would never have been president without the platform that Fox News created.”— Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, quoted by ABC.

“The request by prosecutors that a judge impose a gag order on former President Donald Trump in the federal election-subversion case presents a thorny conflict between the scope of his First Amendment rights and fears that he could — intentionally or not — spur his supporters to violence,” the New York Times reports.

“There is little precedent for how the judge overseeing the case, Tanya Chutkan, should think about how to weigh strong constitutional protections for political speech against ensuring the functioning of the judicial process and the safety of the people participating in it.”

“It is one more example of the challenges of seeking to hold to account a norm-shattering former president who is being prosecuted in two federal cases — and two state cases — as he makes another bid for the White House with a message that his opponents have weaponized the criminal justice system against him.”

“Five Republican members of the state Assembly have released articles of impeachment against Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe, the latest move by the GOP-controlled state Legislature to oust the nonpartisan elections chief from her job ahead of the 2024 presidential election,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Rolling Stone: “According to three sources with knowledge of the matter, the high-profile departure was largely driven by the same kind of power struggles that have long plagued Trump’s legal teams, even (or, especially) during times when Trump is trying his hardest to stay out of prison. Those problems only intensified when it became clear that Fulton County prosecutors were going to pursue a wide-ranging indictment of Trump and his many of his confidants; it was the kind of nightmare scenario that Findling, well-known for his successful defenses of Cardi B and Offset, was hired to attempt to prevent.”

“The sources say that the problems stemmed in part from the tensions between Boris Epstheyn, a senior advisor to Trump who has also acted as an in-house counsel to the former president throughout the various criminal cases against him, and Findling.”

A Republican candidate who lost last November’s election for county judge in Texas by more than 18,000 votes has finally given up on a lawsuit challenging the election, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Project Veritas, the conservative organization founded by James O’Keefe, suspended all operations on Wednesday after another round of layoffs, Mediaite reports.

“A Nebraska mother who pleaded guilty to giving her teenage daughter pills for an abortion and helping to burn and conceal the fetus was sentenced Friday to two years in prison,” the AP reports.

“New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday signed a bill setting the state’s presidential primary for April 2, potentially putting former President Donald Trump on the ballot as he stands trial in Manhattan for a hush-money criminal case,” the AP reports. “The new primary date could add a new layer to an increasingly chaotic calendar for Trump next year, as the Republican frontrunner attempts to navigate court cases in multiple states while he seeks a return to the White House.”

Indianapolis Star: “The Indiana Supreme Court’s disciplinary commission filed charges Monday alleging that Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita violated professional conduct rules with his statements in 2022 about the case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who sought an abortion in Indiana and the doctor who performed the procedure.”

“Paul Hutchinson—an executive producer of Sound of Freedom, the film focused on the heavily fictionalized exploits of anti-trafficking activist Tim Ballard—touched the naked breasts of an apparently underage trafficking victim during a 2016 undercover operation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico,” Vice News reports.

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

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