Thursday Reads

David Hockney, Northern Sunset

David Hockney, Northern Sunset

Good Morning!!

It looks like an agreement to keep the government running has been reached at the last minute, but there’s no agreement on raising the debt limit as yet. CBS News: Schumer announces agreement to prevent government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday night that an agreement to keep the government funded and prevent a government shutdown has been reached.

“We have an agreement on the C.R. — the continuing resolution — to prevent a government shutdown, and we should be voting on that tomorrow morning,” he said on the Senate floor. The majority leader said he hopes to hold a vote on final passage by midday — hours before government funding would have run out, at midnight Thursday.

The short-term government funding bill would keep federal agencies operating through December 3, but it does not address the looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling to avoid U.S. default. The bill includes $6.3 billion for relocation efforts for Afghan refugees, as well as $28.6 billion for disaster assistance following a spate of devastating hurricanes and wildfires. 

Once the bill passes in the Senate, the House will take it up, so it can then be sent to President Biden to sign before government funding expires.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Sunset Long Island

Next on the Congressional agenda: Biden’s infrastructure bills, which are being held hostage by “Democrats” Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. 

The Washington Post: Waiting for ‘Manchema’: House liberals grow exasperated with two Democratic senators as Biden agenda struggles.

House Democrats facing down tight deadlines and spiraling worries that President Biden’s agenda could soon fall apart are growing increasingly exasperated with a pair of Democratic senators whose votes are key but whose views are unclear when it comes to what they want out of legislation to expand the social safety net.

Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) have said Biden’s $3.5 trillion proposal for expanding heath care access, boosting education programs and fighting climate change is too expensive, but they have been reluctant to engage in detailed discussions about how they want it changed.

“We need to know what he’s a skeptic on so that we can have the conversation with him. There has been no clarity in what they actually want, both Sinema and Manchin,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a member of the House Progressive Caucus.

Until they do, House liberals eager to enact the legislation say they are essentially banging their heads against the wall. House moderates, meanwhile, are wary of signing onto potentially politically fraught policies until they know whether they have the blessing of the senatorial pair and will make it into law.


Claude Monet, Sunset

A vote is scheduled in the House today, but no one knows what would be required for it to pass the Senate.

Late Wednesday, Manchin released the type of statement that has irritated large groups of Democrats in the past with its emphasis on slowing down and scaling back.

“At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question — how much is enough?,” he wrote. Manchin didn’t provide more details on his views beyond concern over the package’s size, but he did emphasize that he wanted any new programs to have provisions that would establish limits on who could receive the benefits based on income….

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), a moderate Democrat who wants to pass the infrastructure bill regardless of the state of negotiations on the other package, said he has spoken to Manchin, who told him his top line number, but Cuellar would not say what it was. Manchin has floated that something in the range of $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion could potentially work, but Sinema has not given any inclination of what she could support.

While Manchin often talks with reporters, puts out statements and writes op-eds, Sinema prefers to share as little as possible publicly and declines to answer reporters’ questions.


Some voters in Arizona are getting fed up with Sinema’s act. Kyrsten Sinema Is at the Center of It All. Some Arizonans Wish She Weren’t.

Jade Duran once spent her weekends knocking on doors to campaign for Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the stubbornly centrist Democrat whose vote could seal the fate of a vast Democratic effort to remake America’s social safety net. But no more.

When Ms. Sinema famously gave a thumbs down to a $15 minimum wage and refused to eliminate the filibuster to pass new voting rights laws this year, Ms. Duran, a Democrat and biomedical engineer from Phoenix, decided she was fed up. She joined dozens of liberal voters and civil rights activists in a rolling series of protests outside Ms. Sinema’s Phoenix offices, which have been taking place since the summer. Nearly 50 people have been arrested.

“It really feels like she does not care about her voters,” said Ms. Duran, 33, who was arrested in July at a protest. “I will never vote for her again.”

Ms. Sinema, a onetime school social worker and Green Party-aligned activist, vaulted through the ranks of Arizona politics by running as a zealous bipartisan willing to break with her fellow Democrats. She counts John McCain, the Republican senator who died in 2018, as a hero, and has found support from independent voters and moderate suburban women in a state where Maverick is practically its own party.

But now, Ms. Sinema is facing a growing political revolt at home from the voters who once counted themselves among her most devoted supporters. Many of the state’s most fervent Democrats now see her as an obstructionist whose refusal to sign on to a major social policy and climate change bill has helped imperil the party’s agenda.

Little can proceed without the approval of Ms. Sinema, one of two marquee Democratic moderates in an evenly divided Senate. While she has balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag and some of the tax-raising provisions of the bill, which is opposed by all Republicans in Congress, Democrats in Washington and back home in Arizona have grown exasperated.

According to NBC News, Sinema could even face a primary challenge.


And then there are the “progressives.” Sam Brodey at The Daily Beast: Progressives Come to Their Put-Up or Shut-Up Moment.

With a critical vote looming on a pivotal part of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, it’s a put-up or shut-up moment for every faction of the Democratic Party, but one particular group especially: the Progressive Caucus.

In recent years, liberal Democrats have often found themselves swallowing much of their discontent as watered-down policies and compromises were the norm in a divided government. But with Democrats now fully in control of Washington, progressives finally seem poised to fight.

There are two bills Biden has said he wants to get done: a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill for things like roads and bridges, and a $3.5 trillion bill for social programs like childcare, elder care, climate change, and a host of other programs that Democrats would have to pass on their own through a special reconciliation process.

After the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed the Senate in August, a small group of moderates in the House have been angling for ways to pass that bill and only that bill—the larger reconciliation package be damned. Progressives, realizing that this is the gambit, have sworn they will not support the infrastructure bill unless and until the $3.5 trillion package moves through Congress too.

On Thursday, progressives may finally get their chance to show moderates that they aren’t bluffing.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has promised a vote on the infrastructure bill, and though that plan has been rapidly in flux for days, progressives will get a chance to demonstrate to moderates that it’s all or nothing—either both bills pass, or none of them do.

Fjord in Sunset, Johann Holmstedt

Read more at the link. And at CBS News, see a summary of what’s in the $3.5 Trillion bill. While all this bickering goes on in Congress, Biden is remaining calm for now. The Washington Post: Biden sticks to his dealmaking strategy, as some Democrats want him to do more to bring holdouts on board.

President Biden is navigating the most perilous week for his legislative agenda yet with an approachhe’s honed over his decades in Washington: Hear out the warring factions, determine the realm of the possible and find the point of compromise that satisfies all sides.

That strategy has been clear in meetings with pivotal Democrats in the past week, with Biden speaking and hosting a stream of lawmakers — in particular a pair of moderate Senate Democrats who have wielded outsize influence in shaping the president’s agenda.

But the lack of tangible progress evident from those talks, combined with growing concerns from congressional Democrats, are testing the legislative acumen of a president who prides himself as a consummate creature of Capitol Hill. Particularly in the House, there are growing calls from Democrats for Biden to be more forcefully and personally involved with the domestic policy plans, largely viewed as the party’s one and only shot to enact their top priorities ahead of the 2022 midterms.

“I do think it would be helpful for the president to be more engaged,” said Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.). “I think his voice matters a lot.”

Kildee added: “He’s been engaged, don’t get me wrong. But I think him becoming more personally engaged would be helpful.”

How Biden cajoles key moderate holdouts and assuages restive liberals will help determine the fate of his chief domestic priority in Congress — a sweeping package totaling trillions in new spending that aims to remake much of the nation’s social safety net and invest in health and climate priorities by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. It will also test his ability to cut deals — a skill he’s proved over the years, from an agreement with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” in 2012 to persuading a handful Republican senators to support the economic stimulus in 2009 — but this time, with his own party and with Biden as the leader.

Fjord in Sunset, Johann Holmstedt

Read the rest at the WaPo.

More important stories to check out:

Fred Kaplan at Slate: We Now Know Why Biden Was in a Hurry to Exit Afghanistan. He made several missteps, but on the big picture, he was right.

Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: A Trump lawyer wrote an instruction manual for a coup. Why haven’t you seen it on the news?

CNN: January 6 committee targets organizers of Stop the Steal rally in latest batch of subpoenas.

David Leonhardt at The New York Times: The Right to Health

Ed Yong at The Atlantic: We’re Already Barreling Toward the Next Pandemic.

Have a good day!!!

16 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Take care everyone! Maybe Congress will still get it’s act together.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ve got the TV in the background. Everyone is saying that this kick the can down the road approach is going to happen. The Vice President is there whipping votes.

  2. dakinikat says:

    At least one Senate Republican knows they need to represent their constituents once and a while.

  3. NW Luna says:

    BB, especially lovely paintings today! Thank you.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks. I’m glad you liked them.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. NW Luna says:

    This announcement is getting many replies on the order of “And water is wet.” No shit! Glad to see some reality break through the gender ideology that’s trying to eliminate women’s same-sex sports.

    • bostonboomer says:

      No kidding

    • quixote says:

      The funny thing about that particular trans athlete is Hubbard lost it when it came to competing with all eyes on Hubbard.

      I’ve often heard that elite sports winnows out the weaker-minded ones, no matter how good their muscles are. May explain why women win the ultramarathons.

      • NW Luna says:

        Apparently he also had bad form/body mechanics, and only got as far as he did because of his male puberty advantages compared with women competitors in New Zealand. When he competed earlier in the male category he was mediocre. There’s also been much speculation that he threw his attempts. See! I didn’t win, so it’s safe to open up everything female to the trans-id’d men! On video he’s got this little smirk which makes me wonder.

  7. NW Luna says: