Democrats eye a slimmed-down spending bill to tame inflation
Plus: News and notes on gun safety legislation, student loan debt, how liberal politicians are prepping for a Post-Roe world and much more.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! How many of you purchased a Beyoncé box in anticipation of her new album next month? 👀
Ahead of Father’s Day this Sunday, allow me to shout out to my dad and brother-in-law for their excellent demonstrations of fatherhood. And if you find it hard to find joy on Sunday, I hope you feel the extra love and light I’m sending you.
It’s also Juneteenth weekend. The holiday was a big deal for my family and community growing up in Texas. I’m proud to see the national attention it gained in the past few years, culminating with its designation as a federal holiday last year. (I’m less proud of the commercialization of Juneteenth though — I’ll share a piece on that in my next post, so stay tuned.)
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the seventh anniversary today of the racist mass shooting that killed nine parishioners at the historic Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. It’s too bad some of the same forces that led to this crime have been exploited by elected officials and talking heads for their political and financial gain. But I’ll spare you the rest of my digression.
In this week’s summing-up of the week that was, I’ll share my latest reporting on where Senate negotiations stand on gun safety legislation, how Democrats are preparing for a post-Roe world and what one lawmaker is asking from the Biden administration before the president announces a decision on student loan debt cancelation. And I’ll also plug in parents on when they’ll be able to get their kids under age five a COVID vaccine if they so choose.
But first things first: Let’s start with how Democrats plan to respond to inflation — the number-one issue voters will consider ahead of this year’s midterms.
President Joe Biden met on Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer at the White House to strategize a legislative path forward on tackling inflation. The gathering of the Democratic Party’s three most powerful leaders focused on lowering prescription drug and energy costs while reducing the federal deficit by raising taxes on big corporations and wealthy individuals.
If this sounds familiar, you’re right: These are items Democrats attempted to include in Build Back Better, the president’s ambitious plan to invest in the care economy and education, address the worsening climate crisis and make the tax code fairer for working people.
Talks broke down late last year after Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona rejected some of the more popular policies on the agenda, leading to the White House issuing a public statement that Manchin found so offensive he cut off all communication with the administration.
But there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel: During her weekly presser, Speaker Pelosi said that negotiations are “alive” and characterized her role in the meeting as the messenger for the views of House Democrats.
“We passed our bill,” she added, referencing the version of Build Back Better her members approved only to see it stall in the Senate with a handful of other transformative pieces of legislation. “Suffice it to say that we expressed our interest in the timing of when it would happen, but we did not get into the details.”
Meanwhile, Leader Schumer is working behind the scenes to see what Manchin is willing to support. At the moment, it looks like if anything passes it will be investments in clean energy and higher taxes for rich corporations and wealthy people. (Sinema is opposed to higher corporate taxes, FYI.)
Pelosi added that from her perspective any provisions congressional Democrats can pass will be a net positive for working people since everything in the reconciliation bill is great.
“But we shall see,” she said.
That’s the approach progressive Democrats, who are still frustrated that leadership didn’t squeeze Manchin into closing a deal last year, are taking too. The folks I’ve spoken to think the party needs to do more to fulfill Biden’s campaign promises but are clear-eyed about the fact they can only pass what can earn every Democratic vote (with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie in an evenly split Senate. That said, there’s cautious optimism that action on these issues will mobilize voters this summer.
There’s also the fate of frontline Democrats. These members, up for reelection in competitive districts, want pretty much anything fresh they can brag about on the campaign trail this summer.
The Food and Drug Administration this morning authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for kids under five.
“Today is a day of huge relief for parents and families across America,” President Biden said in a statement after the FDA’s announcement.
Here’s what happens next: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will now issue a determination if it will recommend that parents get their kids vaccinated. If recommended, parents could be able to make appointments as early as next Tuesday.