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House GOP sends mixed messages on the debt limit
Depending on which House Republican you ask, you’re bound to get a different answer on how the conference will lift the debt ceiling and downsize the federal budget.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
As congressional Democrats and the White House on Monday dug into their position that they won’t negotiate with House Republicans on the toplines of next year’s federal budget until Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his members put forward a plan, House Republicans expressed a dizzying array of timelines, vote counts and line items that were hard to keep up with.
To be clear, some of this is the kind of legislative sausage-making you expect to see from the majority party especially one with as slim of margins as McCarthy is working with. But the difference is the House GOP has held firm that they won’t agree to lift the debt limit without receiving concessions on federal investments from Democrats, which has raised the specter of the first default in US history as early as this summer.
Today’s the day, so they say: During the past two weeks, several House GOP members ran the gamut from indicating they may not pass a budget to murmurs that they’d advance for by the end of next month and some of everything else in between.
However, House Republican Leader Steve Scalise told reporters that the conference would introduce their plan to address the debt limit today.
“You’re gonna see us roll out tomorrow the plan to address the nation’s debt ceiling while at the same time addressing Washington’s spending problem that got us into the mess, where President Biden has maxxed out the nation’s credit card,” he said.
Forget votes — McCarthy says he has America on his side: McCarthy declined to comment when asked by CNBC’s Sara Eisen if he has the support of his conference for the proposals he laid out during a speech at the New York Stock Exchange.
“You know what I think I have the support of America because I’ll get the party behind it,” he said. See the response for yourself
What he’s proposing:
A one-year debt limit increase through May 2024
The FY24 budget capped at FY22 levels with one-percent annual increases for a decade
Recouping unspent COVID-19 money
Work requirements for social programs like SNAP
Remember: House Republicans are going to try to make this happen without cutting military spending, Social Security or Medicare.
“The reality is House Republicans are in chaos and that’s why today’s speech was nothing more than a recitation of the same bad ideas and devastating cuts Republicans have been pushing — and Americans have been rejecting — for decades,” Brendan Boyle, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said in a statement.
McCarthy would later say he has the 218 votes required to pass a budget.
“I haven’t seen his whip count because he’s the speaker. He does that,” Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida said to Supercreator when asked if he believed McCarthy had the votes. “I just advocate I think for what my position [is] and a lot of members who are looking at the fiscal health of this county and I think if the speaker is ready to make that statement, that means a lot of conversations around the conference have actually gone well.”
How close is “pretty close?”: Donalds told Supercreator that House Republicans have made significant progress in recent days and are “pretty close” to a framework that could pass the House.
When asked to clarify, Donalds said: “Much closer than House Democrats, I’ll tell you that.” (Congressional Democrats by and large support the president’s budget and have largely deferred to the White House on the debt limit.)
McConnell gives McCarthy cover: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has largely stayed out of the goings-on but in his first floor speech since returning from a concussion and fractured rib suffered during a fall in March, he gave as full-throated an endorsement of McCarthy’s approach to the looming crisis as we’ll see:
President Biden does not get to stick his fingers in his ears and refuse to listen, talk or negotiate. The White House needs to stop wasting time and start negotiating with the Speaker of the House.
Dem unity on display: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, congressional Democrats and senior White House officials slammed McCarthy’s NYSE speech and rejected calls to cut critical social programs.
“Speaker McCarthy should know that when you insist on attaching things to the debt ceiling, something President Trump never did, and which Republicans under Trump never did, you risk catastrophic default,” Schumer said at a press conference after the speech.
Speaker McCarthy insists on cuts. Well, there's a time to discuss what kind of cuts folks are looking for, or taxes they want to raise. It's called the budget. It shouldn't be part of this conversation. That kind of discussion, the cuts, belongs in a discussion about the budget. Not as a precondition for avoiding default.
And in floor remarks, Schumer opposed the idea of lifing the debt limit for just a year and warned that if McCarthy refuses to change course, he would lead us into default:
“Amazingly, one of the few specifics Speaker McCarthy did present was his terrible idea to kick the can down the road for just a year, and undergo this same default crisis all over again a year from now,” Schumer said. “Why would anyone agree to undergo this fiasco again next year? Give me a break.”
Christie Stephenson, a spokesperson for House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries joined the pile-on:
Extreme MAGA Republicans continue to treat the full faith and credit of the United States as a hostage situation while their so-called budget remains in the witness protection program.
And White House spokesperson Andrew Bates characterized the proposal as another attempt cut taxes for rich people and big corporations at the expense of working people:
Meanwhile, he again failed to clearly outline what House Republicans are proposing and will vote on, even as he referenced a vague, extreme MAGA wish list that will increase costs for hard-working families, take food assistance and health care away from millions of Americans, and yet would enlarge the deficit when combined with House Republican proposals for tax giveaways skewed to the super-rich, special interests, and profitable companies.
Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia and the House Education and Workforce Committee’s top Democrat, said that exchanging cuts to food assistance in exchange for increasing the debt limit is a non-starter.
“The ransom note that Speaker McCarthy unveiled in front of a crowd of Wall Street bankers today is dead on arrival,” he said. “The radical work requirements Republicans are attempting to insert into the program, on top of our already existing, stringent work requirements, will not spur economic growth.”
Jasmine Crockett, a first-term congresswoman from Texas and member of the House Agriculture Committee, said that the cuts McCarthy proposed would jeopardize passage of the farm bill, which sets agricultural and food policy every five years.
“That would be a disaster for the millions of farmers, ranchers, agricultural producers, and American families that depend on the reauthorization of this bill and the many programs it funds,” Crockett said in a statement. “And will contribute to even greater inflation at the grocery store just when prices are starting to come down.”
See more: “Republican states could be hit hardest by McCarthy’s proposed spending cuts” (Andy Sullivan / Reuters)
In other House news:
The House Rules Committee will meet today to pass a rule to bring a federal trans sports ban to the floor this week. The bill is unlikely to be considered in the Senate but the White House has threatened to veto the legislation if it makes it to President Biden’s desk.
Speaking of vetoes: The House today will vote to override a disapproval resolution for Waters of the US, which defines which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act.
The Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement in opposition to an Ohio grand jury’s decision not to charge the eight officers involved in the shooting of Jayland Walker.
“The heaviness that weighs on the hearts and minds of Jayland’s family and friends only stands to be made worse by the grand jury’s decision to not bring the eight officers involved in his tragic and unjust murder to justice,” CBC Chair Steven Horsford said.
Democratic Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes of Ohio, who represents the district Walker was killed in, said in a statement the trust between communities and police officers has been violated and must be rebuilt.
“As this country and community reckons with another tragic death, we find ourselves yearning for a justice system that protects us all,” she said.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your weekday morning guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Tuesday, April 18.
Senate GOP doom Dems’ Feinstein replacement strategy
Senate Republicans on Monday quickly dashed the idea of temporarily replacing Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on the Senate Judiciary Committee while she recovers from shingles.
Feinstein offered to step down from the committee so Senate Democrats could advance President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees without Republican support instead of resigning from the seat altogether as some House Democrats have called for.
It was always going to be an uphill battle: Committees are agreed to at the beginning of each Congress. In order to modify the assignments, all senators must be on board through a process called “unanimous consent.” Without UC, Senate Democrats would need 60 votes — including 10 Republicans — to make it happen.
Their hopes for UC were dashed when Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said they would oppose another Senate Democrat keeping Feinstein’s seat warm. And when Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas joined Blackburn and Cotton, the path to 60 became virtually impossible.
Dem appeals to GOP’s better angels: Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and the chair of the Judiciary Committee told reporters that Senate Republicans should extend “kindness” to Feinstein because they could be in the same situation one day and would want the same from the other side.
But Senate Republicans argue replacing Feinstein so Democrats can confirm Biden judicial appointments is a bridge too far.
“I don’t think senatorial courtesy will work to move liberal judges,” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who like Feinstein is 89 years old, said.
No GOP upside to balancing the courts: The obvious reason why Senate Republicans are blocking this move is because a conservative judiciary is the party’s only mechanism for reversing progress on issues the majority of Americans support.
Since Trump became the leader of the party, his pugnacious brand of politics has turned off independents and soft Republicans. And Trump and President Bush won the presidency despite losing the popular vote.
So if you can’t win elections or pass unpopular policies, the courts are you last line of defense. The only way to overcome partisan obstruction is to have votes to defeat it.
Feinstein update: Chuck Schumer said he spoke to Feinstein a few days ago and that she believes she will return soon.
“She’s very hopeful of that,” Schumer said. “And so am I.”
In other Senate news:
Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown will discuss the details of the Ending Trading and Holdings in Congressional Stocks (ETHICS) Act. The effort to ban lawmakers from trading stocks gained momentum last Congress but ultimately neither chamber passed legislation to do so.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told Igor Bobic that she opposed the Texas medication abortion decision and “probably” would not vote to confirm Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk today based on his ruling to ban the abortion drug mifepristone.
“After 20 years of FDA approval that he would be questioning a woman’s ability again to have a say so over her reproductive health, I’m quite concerned about it,” Murkowski, one of two pro-abortion-rights senators, said.
Bad actors could use AI to exploit the 2024 election
Artificial intelligence and deepfakes have the potential to adversely affect the 2024 election, Brianna Tucker for WaPo reports.
Here are a two reasons why:
New advancements in AI technology are rapidly evolving making it easy to make convincing audio, images or text.
The sophistication and accessibility of AI has vastly outpaced regulatory and legislative responses.
A few giveaways that an image is fake:
Human hands with too many fingers or glitches
Gibberish writing or “garbled text” on objects like street signs or billboards
Blurry or distorted details especially in the background
See also: “AI’s Powers of Political Persuasion” (Andrew Meyers / Stanford University Human Centered Artificial Intelligence) … “A campaign aide didn’t write that email. AI did.” (Shane Goldmacher / NYT) … “AI becomes a political ‘super-weapon’” (Lachlan Markay / Axios) … “‘This Will Be Dangerous in Elections’: Political Media’s Next Big Challenge Is Navigating AI Deepfakes” (Charlotte Klein / Vanity Fair) … “AI’s political bias problem” (Derek Robertson / Politico)
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EYE ON THE WORLD
Putin visits southern Ukraine city for military update
President Vladimir Putin of Russia visited an illegally occupied region of Ukraine to meet with military officials. The exact date and time of the visit is currently unknown.
The Kremlin said Putin discussed the war with a general from Russia’s airborne troops who has reportedly expanded his role in the invasion, Guy Faulconbridge at Reuters reports.
Kherson was under Russian control from spring to fall last year before Ukraine recaptured the city. Some parts of the region remain under still remain in Russia’s hands.
The Daily Telegraph reports that although heavy fighting continues in eastern Ukraine, Russia has been forced to reduce troop numbers to reinforce its offensive in the city of Bahkmut.
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of bills Republican Rep. George Santos of New York filed on Monday, the same day he announced his re-election campaign.
Most notable among the bills is the Minaj Act, named after rapper Nicki, which would establish a development period for new vaccines in order to inspire public confidence.
See also: “Nicki Minaj’s COVID-19 vaccine questions get the White House’s attention” (The Associated Press via NPR) … “For Black community, Nicki Minaj’s vaccine drama is no joke” (Keith Murphy / LAT)
The embattled congressman is currently under investigation by federal, state and local authorities and last month pleaded guilty to charges of check fraud in Brazil as part of a settlement. And he’s made several false or misleading claims about his work history, criminal record, financial status, and religion among other things.
See also: “Here’s every lie told by George Santos (Matt Stieb / NYMag)
House Democrats have targeted Santos’s seat as one of 18 in districts President Biden won in 2020 to flip the chamber back into their control.
Speaker McCarthy on Monday declined to endorse Santos and said he would wait to see who else filed to run. It’s unclear whether the House Republican’s campaign arm would support the 34-year-old’s bid for a second term.
All times Eastern:
President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing (11 a.m.). He will later speak on affordable child care in the Rose Garden (2 p.m.).
Vice President Harris will travel from Los Angeles (12:40 p.m.) to Reno, Nevada (1:50 p.m.) to participate in a moderated conversation with Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and actress Rosario Dawson on reproductive health care (3:40 p.m.). Harris will then depart Reno (5:35 p.m.) to return to Washington, DC (10 p.m.)
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will speak at a fundraiser in Los Angeles (3 p.m.).
The House is in at 10 a.m. with first votes scheduled at 1:30 p.m. and last votes at 5:30 p.m.
The Senate is in at 10 a.m. Two votes are scheduled to confirm Radha Iyengar Plumb to be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and advance the nomination of Amy Lefkowitz Solomon to be an Assistant Attorney General (11:15 a.m.). Two additional votes are scheduled to confirm Solomon and advance the Fire Grants and Safety Act (2:15 p.m.).
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