Monday Reads: What do you do with a problem like a)Joe Manchin b)Krysten Sinema c)Senate Parlimentarian d) Mitch McConnell e)All of the above plus morePosted: September 20, 2021
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Well, the Biden Agenda–even the watered down parts meant to appease Republicans–is stalled. Here’s a quick line-up of all that’s not going to get done in the name of ego and the mid-term election politics. It seems Americans dealing with so many issues like climate-change induced diasters, Covid-19, underemployment and lack of living wages are just going to wait until a few blowhards get their day in the sun. We sure do have the Troubles in this country.
From Hans Nichols writing at Axios: “Scoop – Manchin: Delay Biden plan to ’22”.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is privately saying he thinks Congress should take a “strategic pause” until 2022 before voting on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social-spending package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.
Why it matters: Manchin’s new timeline — if he insists on it — would disrupt the plans by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to vote on the budget reconciliation package this month.
Driving the news: Back home in West Virginia last week, Manchin told a group of employees at a Procter & Gamble facility in Martinsburg he wanted to pause all the talk about the $3.5 trillion bill until 2022, Axios was told.
- Those semi-public comments track with some of his private conversations about how long he wants to impose the “strategic pause” he floated in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this month.
- Manchin didn’t give a specific timeline in his op-ed.
Any delay on the Democrat-only reconciliation package could imperil House passage of the separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which Pelosi has promised to pass by Sept. 27.
- House progressive lawmakers are publicly vowing to vote against the infrastructure bill if it’s not paired with the $3.5 trillion bill to be passed through the budget reconciliation process.
- But centrist Democrats are adamant the House pass the bipartisan bill first — next week.
The big picture: Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are leading the Democratic opposition in the Senate to the size and scope of the reconciliation package.
It’s largely been written by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and would vastly expand the social safety net from cradle to grave, as the New York Times recently put it.
Why is it all things ego-related these days always include Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin? Oh, and now Kristin Sinema who appears to be part of the stymy everything wing of the Democratic Party. From Politico and Laura Barron-Lopez: “Sinema tells White House she’s opposed to current prescription drug plan. The Arizona Democrat joined Joe Manchin in giving the president a wake-up call on the reconciliation bill.” Who likes higher drug prices? Big Pharma and the pols they own evidently.
The White House has a new headache as it struggles to get its multitrillion-dollar party-line spending bill passed: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s objections to drug pricing reforms that are already struggling to make it through the House.
The Arizona Democrat is opposed to the current prescription drug pricing proposals in both the House and Senate bills, two sources familiar with her thinking said. They added that, at this point, she also doesn’t support a pared-back alternative being pitched by House Democratic centrists that would limit the drugs subject to Medicare negotiation.
Sinema met with President Joe Biden on Sept. 15 to discuss the social spending package, in which party leaders hope to include the Medicare prescription drug pricing proposal. Sinema has made her resistance to the current House prescription drug negotiation proposal clear to the White House, according to one of the sources, but it’s unclear if she’s completely immovable.
Both she and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who met with the president the same day, delivered what one source described as a sobering message for the White House about the fate of the reconciliation bill and its $3.5 trillion price tag, which they both say is too high. The social spending plan is designed to pass without GOP votes through budget reconciliation, meaning that Biden will need to win all 50 Senate Democratic votes to secure its passage.
AP and Allan Fram report that the “Senate parliamentarian deals blow to Dems’ immigration push.”
Democrats can’t use their $3.5 trillion package bolstering social and climate programs for their plan to give millions of immigrants a chance to become citizens, the Senate’s parliamentarian said late Sunday, a crushing blow to what was the party’s clearest pathway in years to attaining that long-sought goal.
The decision by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan interpreter of its often enigmatic rules, is a damaging and disheartening setback for President Joe Biden, congressional Democrats and their allies in the pro-immigration and progressive communities. Though they said they’d offer her fresh alternatives, MacDonough’s stance badly wounds their hopes of unilaterally enacting — over Republican opposition — changes letting several categories of immigrants gain permanent residence and possibly citizenship.
The parliamentarian opinion is crucial because it means the immigration provisions could not be included in an immense $3.5 trillion measure that’s been shielded from GOP filibusters. Left vulnerable to those bill-killing delays, which require 60 Senate votes to defuse, the immigration language has virtually no chance in the 50-50 Senate.
In a three-page memo to senators obtained by The Associated Press, MacDonough noted that under Senate rules, provisions are not allowed in such bills if their budget effect is “merely incidental” to their overall policy impact.
Citing sweeping changes that Democrats would make in immigrants’ lives, MacDonough, a one-time immigration attorney, said the language “is by any standard a broad, new immigration policy.”
The rejected provisions would open multiyear doorways to legal permanent residence — and perhaps citizenship — for young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children, often called “Dreamers.” Also included would be immigrants with Temporary Protected Status who’ve fled countries stricken by natural disasters or extreme violence; essential workers and farm workers.
So, can we get a WTF? from the Amen Corner? “This Powerful Democrat Linked to Fossil Fuels Will Craft the U.S. Climate Plan. Senator Joe Manchin is already a crucial swing vote in the Democrats’ sweeping budget bill. But he will also write the details of its climate change program.”
Joe Manchin, the powerful West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate energy panel and earned half a million dollars last year from coal production, is preparing to remake President Biden’s climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry — despite urgent calls from scientists that countries need to quickly pivot away from coal, gas and oil to avoid a climate catastrophe.
Mr. Manchin has already emerged as the crucial up-or-down vote in a sharply divided Senate when it comes to Mr. Biden’s push to pass a $3.5 trillion budget bill that could reshape the nation’s social welfare network. But Mr. Biden also wants the bill to include an aggressive climate policy that would compel utilities to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to wind, solar or nuclear energy, sources that do not emit the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Manchin holds the pen and the gavel of the congressional panel, with the authority to shape Mr. Biden’s ambitions.
But Mr. Manchin is also closely associated with the fossil fuel industry. His beloved West Virginia is second in coal and seventh in natural gas production among the 50 states. In the current election cycle, Mr. Manchin has received more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets, a research organization that tracks political spending.
He profits personally from polluting industries: He owns stock valued at between $1 million and $5 million in Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage firm which he founded in 1988. He gave control of the firm to his son, Joseph, after he was elected West Virginia secretary of state in 2000. Last year, Mr. Manchin made $491,949 in dividends from his Enersystems stock, according to his Senate financial disclosure report.
“It says something fascinating about our politics that we’re going to have a representative of fossil fuel interests crafting the policy that reduces our emissions from fossil fuels,” said Joseph Aldy, who helped craft former President Barack Obama’s climate change bill and now teaches at Harvard.
Politco question if Democrats can get anything done including in the time left to them. “Dems vow to go the distance as September problems pile upThe party has Herculean levels of work to do in 11 days, and it’s projecting confidence but offering few clues on how.”
The House and Senate return to Washington together this week with Democrats facing four tasks that would be challenging on their own — but, taken together, are the legislative equivalent of Hercules’ labors.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) summed up the party’s wildly urgent to-do list with the drama of a movie trailer: “Keep the government open. Don’t default on the debt. Make sure the president gets a win on the infrastructure bill … and, obviously the mother of all legislation, the reconciliation package,” he said, referring to the mega-bill that Democrats want to pass along party lines to spend trillions of dollars on a panoply of social priorities.
But for all of the party’s awareness of what it needs to do, Democrats are uncertain about how to get it all done. The coming three-week legislative sprint will test their slim majorities and President Joe Biden’s domestic policy chops, with dwindling days to avoid a government shutdown and defuse a politically toxic battle with Republicans over the nation’s borrowing limit.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are also under intense pressure to deliver on the lifeblood of Biden’s agenda: a multitrillion-dollar social spending package and a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which could both see floor votes in the coming weeks.
Already, ideological clashes across the Democratic Party have begun to spill into the open as it begins its final push to turn Biden’s enormous spending plan into law. Last week, a small group of moderates sank a leadership-backed drug pricing initiative in a high-profile committee meeting as they demanded to vote on their own version of the bill.
Across the Capitol, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they will not support legislation that costs $3.5 trillion, setting up a skirmish with progressives who say that top line number is already a compromise. Some Democrats fear those two moderates may not be willing to support the final bill at all.
I do have faith in Pelosi and many of the Democratic leaders to do what they can. However, I also know that ego mixed with big donations can make a politician pretty useless for the people.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?