Biden to call on local leaders to spend more federal dollars on public safety
Plus: Jen Psaki steps to the podium for the final time and the House plans to take on gas price gouging next week.
FYI: Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 10 AM ET will join House Democrats and pro-choice advocates at a press event on the Supreme Court draft decision on Roe v. Wade two days after the Senate failed to advance a bill that would codify the right to abortion care.
“It’s like sadness, always, to talk about Roe v. Wade and what this draft decision is – how harmful it is, how dangerous it is for women and families across the country,” Pelosi said on Thursday at her weekly press conference, adding that the suggested draft would be the first time the Court has expanded freedom and then contracted it in this way. “As Republicans seek to criminalize women's health and reproductive freedom, Democrats are fighting to defend Roe v. Wade and our fundamental Constitutional rights.”
Also: As I reported in Wednesday’s newsletter, the House passed a bill providing $40 billion in additional assistance to Ukraine and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
Leaders from both parties had hoped to approve the legislation on Thursday before leaving town for the weekend. But Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky objected to an expedited vote to demand tighter oversight measures on how the funding is spent, which ground the entire process to a halt.
“[Sen. Paul] is not even asking for an amendment — he is simply saying ‘my way or the highway.’ When you have a proposal to amend a bill, you can’t just come to the floor and demand it by fiat. You have to convince other members to back it first,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech. “That is how the Senate works.If every member held every bill in exchange for every last little demand, it would mean total and permanent paralysis for this chamber.”
So Schumer took procedural steps to set up a vote early next week on the package, delaying an issue the White House had hoped would be resolved by now.
“If Sen. Paul persists in his reckless demand, we will not allow him to insert his language into this bill without a vote. And all he will accomplish is to singlehandedly delay desperately-needed Ukraine aid.”
President Joe Biden this afternoon will call for communities to invest federal funds in policing and community intervention programs ahead of the summer months when violent crime ticks up.
During his speech, he will highlight the $10 billion in American Rescue Plan funds that have been committed to public safety, which the administration said represented the largest single-year commitments of federal resources for state and local law enforcement and public safety on record when added to ongoing state and local support from the Justice Department.
The speech also gives Biden another chance to call out Republicans for being all-talk, no-action on the issue of public safety and gun crime. (Senior administration officials pointed to the fact that all congressional Republicans voted against the ARP and oppose the president’s efforts to get ghost guns off the street.)
But it will rankle progressive Democrats who represent Black and brown constituencies with high distrust in law enforcement and a preference that these dollars be reinvested in health care, housing and education initiatives they believe reach the root causes of violent crime.
It’s also a reminder, as the anniversary of George Floyd’s killing and the seasonal solidarity that followed, of Congress’s failure to pass comprehensive police reform despite leaving the administration to once again turn to its executive authority to respond to a crisis.
The problem though is that activists and civil rights groups have been waiting for months on a police reform executive order only to be told that it’s still in the works. (A senior administration official declined to provide additional details or a timeline on the pending executive order.)
The speech will follow a meeting with local elected officials, chiefs of police and a community violence intervention expert from American cities that have used ARP funds to increase police spending and public safety programs.
Jen Psaki to step to the podium for the final time
A daily ritual has special meaning this afternoon as Jen Psaki steps to the podium for her final briefing as White House Press Secretary.
“I think what I’ve tried to do and some days I’ve met this bar and other days I have not and maybe some of you will remind me of today is I have not of which there are many is reestablish the briefing room as a place where there's information shared, where we're peeling back the curtain, where where people have an understanding of what the president thinks and cares about, and also setting the tone of respect in the briefing room,” she said on Thursday morning in an exit interview with Linda Feldmann, Washington bureau chief of the Christian Science Monitor.
Psaki added that she also worked to create a sense of community among the press team that’s joyful and a family through the difficult times they’ve faced as the behind-the-scenes messengers for the administration.
“You can laugh and joke and work your tail off, but also have a good time and support each other,” she said.
As for advice for Karine Jean-Pierre, her successor who now holds the distinction of being the first Black and LGBTQ+ person to serve in the position?
Psaki said the most important is to know exactly where President Biden is on an issue — and where he’s going on an issue — and to attend as many policy meetings as you can. This enables spokespeople to be their own reporter in the building about what’s happening and why.
“This is not about reading talking points from a book. I have the book because as I just acknowledged, my greatest joy is being able to debunk things. And sometimes you need to be able to quote things and specifics,” she said. “And I want to provide specifics. It is about understanding policies to a level of depth that you can explain them to your mother in law, to your friend on the street, and answer the ninth question reporters may have about them.”
One last interesting bit of trivia, flagged by George Condon, White House reporter for National Journal, and courtesy of Martha Kumar of the White House Transition Project: In the 478-day-old Biden presidency, Psaki will have held 224 daily briefings. This tops the total number of briefings by all four press secretaries in the previous administrations (205).
Psaki is expected to transition into a role at MSNBC, one that she’s yet to confirm.
The House to take on gas price gouging next week
Speaker Pelosi said the House will take up legislation next week to address gas price gouging by big oil companies.
“This is a major exploitation of the consumer, because this a product the consumer must have,” Pelosi told reporters. “Again, the Putin Tax Hike at the pump is part of this and you would think that the oil companies would compensate for that rather than exploit the opportunity.”
The bill — introduced by Democratic Reps. Kim Schrier of Washington and Katie Porter of California — includes new tools to address those abuses and enables President Biden to issue an energy emergency declaration, making it unlawful to increase gas and home energy prices in an exploitive and excessive way.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Friday morning and welcome to Supercreator Daily, your guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping how digital creators work and live in the new economy.
Here’s what’s happening today in politics:
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing before welcoming King Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan to the White House. The president later will host a meeting with local elected officials and law enforcement leaders on community policing and public safety programs. Biden will give a speech on these topics after the meeting in the Rose Garden. Before traveling to Delaware for the weekend, he will also participate in the US-ASEAN Special Summit at the State Department.
— Vice President Harris this morning will host a working lunch with the leaders of ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia) as part of the US-ASEAN Special Summit followed by a meeting with the leaders, cabinet members and other administration officials later today.
— The House is in will consider legislation that reauthorizes the Community Block Grant Program, which provides federal funding for housing affordability projects to improve the quality of life for people with low or moderate incomes.
— The Senate is out.
In the Know
— The National Institutes of Health has licensed 11 COVID-19 research tools and early-stage vaccine and diagnostic candidates that will allow global manufacturers to work with the World Health Organization’s platforms to develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for low- and middle-income countries. The announcement was made at the second Global COVID-19 Summit on Wednesday.
— The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced over $1.4 million in housing assistance for youth transitioning out of foster care who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. The announcement comes during National Foster Care Month, an observance of the more than 440,000 children estimated to be in foster care.
— The Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released separate documents warning employers that their use of artificial intelligence tools can violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the guidance focuses on AI and other software tools to help employers select new workers, monitor performance, and determine pay or promotions or computer-based tests to applicants and software to score applicants’ resumes.
— Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland introduced a bill that would end taxpayer subsidies to corporations who participate in anti-union activities. The bill would classify business interference in worker organization campaigns as political speech under the tax code and therefore not tax-deductible and establish an IRS reporting requirement for employers who intervene in protected labor activities.
— House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer released a statement in support of extended protections for the family members of clerks and staff who support federal judges and Supreme Court justices in light of increased threats to public safety. The Senate passed a bill that would extend Supreme Court justices the same security protections that some executive and congressional officials receive in response to protests at the homes of conservative justices following the leak of a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
— Vacancy rates for rental housing are lower than at any point during the 35-year period from 1985 until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, according to the Census Bureau. Both rental and homeowner vacancy rates decreased between 2009 and 2019 as the nation recovered from the foreclosure crisis before tightening further during the pandemic.
Read All About It
Katherine Stewart on why the Democratic Party is shedding Latino voters:
In a substantial fraction of Latino populations, the shift in political allegiances is directly tied to a shift in religion. About half of American Latinos and Hispanics are Catholic, and increasing numbers identify as evangelical—many aligned with Pentecostal and charismatic sects, which are also on the rise in South and Central America. Whether in Miami or Southern California, the new religion often comes with strikingly similar political messages. At Houses of Light, a Latino-majority evangelical church in Northridge, California, a 2020 online voter guide, distributed among the congregants in advance of the 2020 presidential election, gave Donald Trump a four-star rating of “Very good,” while Joe Biden was given no stars and a rating of “Terrible. Don’t vote.”
At conservative churches and on conservative media targeted at Latino populations, the traditional culture-war fare blends readily with economic demagoguery. According to Equis Research, which focuses on Latino voting habits, social media attacks on the alleged “socialism” and “communism” of the Democratic Party have proven to be particularly effective. This type of messaging “rings various bells” and “created a space for defection [from the Democratic Party] concentrated on people getting media from WhatsApp and right-wing outlets, along with those who most believe in social mobility through hard work (aka the American Dream),” according to the Equis Research report.
Kaitlyn Tiffany on female incels:
Five years later, incels are a known quantity, and femcels are the new mystery. In recent months, headlines have named 2022 “the year of the ‘femcel’” and heralded a coming “femcel revolution,” wherein women are “reclaiming involuntary celibacy” and asserting their right to give a name to their loneliness and alienation. This new recognition of femcels has tended to stop there. But incel had political meaning—people who identified with the term were read as reactionaries, the young, mostly white men who felt left behind as society progressed beyond its historical focus on their specific needs. The term femcel is now in widespread use, not just in Reddit forums but on every major social platform, including the Gen Z–favored TikTok, but we still don’t know what it’s for. If a femcel revolution is coming, what new world are femcels dreaming about?
Femcels are real, and their existence has meaning. But thinking of them as a unified group with specific political goals is less useful than thinking of them as overlooked individuals who are now being swept around the web, sometimes letting their insecurities and resentments lead them into unproductive conversations. The architecture of many of the forums they’ve ended up in encourages defensiveness, border-patrolling, exclusion, even aggression.
Used more airily, the term femcel still highlights certain contradictions in contemporary life. There are many people who are experiencing similar, less articulated anxiety about their place in the gender order and about the pressure to locate happiness through sex and romance, which they must find through success in a marketplace. The 21st century was supposed to bring a wider range of options than this, but to many, it doesn’t appear to have.
Leslie Patton on “shrinkflation”:
It’s not just a figment of your imagination — portions at US restaurants are indeed getting smaller. Call it shrinkflation: when sizes shrink, but you’re paying the same price, or sometimes even more, for the meal or product.
America’s restaurants are in the same boat as the rest of the country, battling the soaring food and fuel costs that recently helped send US inflation to a 40-year high. Eateries have hiked prices, too. Government data Wednesday showed costs for food away from home have climbed 7.2% over the past 12 months. But now, restaurant operators are starting to worry about how much more they can raise the tab before diners start to balk, especially for something that’s considered optional spending.
So companies are instead coming up with some behind-the-scenes strategies to crimp costs, hence the shrinking portions.
Venessa Wong on why the “future of work” sucks for working parents:
What these women are observing — the stubborn tendency of American work culture to consume a person’s life — makes me dubious of claims that work has changed forever, that employees have leveraged the labor shortage or the Great Reshuffle to demand a better work–life balance. If we’re honest about whether the American workplace has evolved to meaningfully improve the lives of most employees, especially those who are parents, the answer is still no. The future of work still sucks, and we’re all trapped in it in some way.
As much as employers have responded to demands for flexibility with the option to work from home, it would be an error to mistake the ability to dial into virtual meetings wearing pajama pants or to run the dishwasher or laundry during the day as radical systemic change that really improves the lives of most working parents. Remote employees just end up putting in more hours, research shows. And overall, remote work is still an anomaly: By March, just 10% of employees were performing their roles remotely due to the pandemic, and almost all of them were college graduates and worked in business, finance, or information jobs.
Taylor Lorenz on how Twitter lost the celebs:
Interviews with 17 people who represent, consult and tweet for celebrities show that Twitter is viewed as a high-risk, low-reward platform for many A-list entertainers. It’s a place where the discourse has become so politicized that many prefer not to engage personally at all, delegating tweeting duties to underlings or outside agents who post anodyne promotional messages. They have also been turned off by harassment or abuse.
Instead, they’ve turned to platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, which offer slicker video tools and more-robust safety features that give users more ways of blocking out unwanted interactions.
Benji Jones on why pet food is so doggone expensive:
Cat or dog, mutt or purebred, your pet is probably pretty expensive, and there’s a reason why food and treats are such a big part of the cost. For one, “byproducts” aren’t really byproducts as you might think of them. More importantly, though, dog and cat owners have a trait that makes us especially vulnerable consumers: We are completely obsessed with our pets.
Marketing also obscures the fact that there are just a handful of major corporations behind the majority of food brands you see at the pet store. For example, Mars Petcare — a subsidiary of Mars, best known for making M&Ms and Twix bars — owns dozens of brands including Pedigree, Greenies, Iams, Whiskas, and Royal Canin. Nestle Purina, a subsidiary of Nestle, also has several brands to its name including Purina, Friskies, Beneful, Fancy Feast, and many others. A lack of competition within an industry can be bad for the consumer and bad for prices.
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