It took a while, but the House finally fully funds the government
Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to navigate hardline Republicans and unsatisfied members within her own caucus to cut a deal ahead of a looming government shutdown.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST
The House on Wednesday night passed a $1.5 trillion comprehensive government funding bill.
But not without a cost.
Democratic leadership pulled $15 billion in supplemental COVID aid requested by the White House to avoid disruption to the ongoing pandemic response efforts over the next few months.
Republicans demanded that every dollar of additional COVID funding had to be paid for. So negotiators pulled money that was provided to the states from last year’s stimulus bill to accommodate the White House’s request.
This made for a chaotic day after months of meticulous negotiations, as several Democrats withdrew their support for the comprehensive legislation unless the offsets were removed, something Senate Republicans were like no, nah, nope! about the idea.
And it put a retreat in Philadelphia that was scheduled to start on Wednesday and House Democrats planned to use a reset ahead of the midterms in serious jeopardy.
“Why is it that we can create new money for defense spending, but when it comes to investing in our communities, the only way Congress can make a deal is by taking that same life-saving American Rescue Plan money away from our communities?” Democratic Rep. Cori Bush said in a statement. “To turn around and now say we’re taking hundreds of millions of dollars back, in the name of bipartisanship is just unbelievable.”
Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas agreed with Bush and said she’s happy to work with members to find a path forward on COVID preparedness that doesn’t come out of her state’s budget.
“I fought against this last-minute deal that would have shortchanged Kansans out of funds we were promised [and] that our state has already allocated,” Davids said in a tweet. “We deserve a fair shot at recovery — just like states like [California and] New York that already received their full share.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in rare form at her weekly press conference when asked about the compromise the House made to make sure the legislation passes the Senate.
“Let’s grow up about this, okay?” Pelosi said. “You don't like what you didn't get in the bill? I'm very unhappy with what I didn't get in the bill.”
She said she told her members that all legislative negotiations require concessions from both sides and to focus on the impact of what’s in the bill, which also includes almost $14 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, as opposed to what they don’t like about the bill.
As for what’s in the bill, it provides funding for:
K-12 public schools
Veterans health care
Maternal and mental health
Safety net programs including affordable housing and nutrition assistance
Early learning and increased Pell grants
Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act
It also increases defense spending $25 billion above what the White House requested — a non-negotiable for congressional Republicans and a sore spot for progressives who point to the fact that we just ended a 20-year war, but are funding the military at historic levels.
The legislation also maintains provisions like the Hyde Amendment, which make it harder for people to obtain abortion care.
Now the bill goes to the Senate, who will have until Tuesday to pass and send it to President Biden’s desk so he can sign it into law before the government shuts down.
And as for that retreat in Philly? It’s still on.
TERROR IN UKRAINE — President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin violated a cease-fire agreement when Russian airstrikes reportedly crashed into a children’s hospital in Mariupol, a city on the southern coast of Ukraine.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration has seen the reports but did not have any additional details to provide.
“As a mother, it’s horrifying to see the type of barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country,” she said.
Valerie Hopkins at The New York Times reports there is no heat or electricity in Mariupol and people are boiling snow for water.
In addition to condemning the strike, Zelenskyy also criticized world leaders for failing to do more to end Russia’s attack, including imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?” Zelenskyy wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”
President Joe Biden and both congressional Democrats and Republicans have refused Zelenskyy’s request because they say it would put Americans in direct conflict with Russians and break the president’s promise to not send US troops into war.
If that’s not devastating enough, Psaki later posted a Twitter thread warning Putin could use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine or create a false flag operation using them in an attempt to justify biological warfare.
Russia alleges the US is developing chemical weapons in Ukrainian labs. But Psaki says America is in full compliance with two treaties that prohibit the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. What’s more, the US doesn’t develop or possess such weapons anywhere.
“This is all an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify its further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine,” Psaki wrote in the thread.
Psaki’s notice follows the Biden administration’s playbook of telegraphing Putin’s moves before he makes them to delay or limit the impact of his actions.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price called the claims total nonsense and said the administration fully expects Russia to continue to double down on these sorts of claims with further unfounded allegations.
SHINY NEW THINGS — Substack, the company that provides the technology for Supercreator, launched a new app for iPhone.
The app gives Substack an opportunity to lock writers and readers into its ecosystem. One of the upsides to writing a newsletter is that my email list and payment processor are portable. So if I want to use another technology, then I can do so with relative ease.
But if you’re reading Supercreator in-app instead of via email then that ups the switching costs because doing so would impact your reading experience. It’s a shrewd business move that gives writers like me something to think about.
A Substack spokesperson told me the app has been in development for over a year. Many of the features were informed by reader feedback, from the design of the publications in the app to the way archiving works to how readers like and comment on posts.
“We’ve built the app with writers and for writers,” the spokesperson said. “So their feedback has been instrumental every step of the way.”
With the app, you’ll have a dedicated Inbox for my newsletter and any others you subscribe to on Substack. The company says new posts will never get lost in your email filters, or stuck in spam. Longer posts will never cut off by your email app. Comments and rich media will all work seamlessly. Overall, it’s billed as a big upgrade to the reading experience. Time will tell though.
The Substack app is currently available for iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can join the Android waitlist here.
TODAY IN POLITICS
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing and then hold a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey on Russia and Ukraine. Biden will later host a meeting with President Iván Duque Márquez of Colombia at the White House before speaking at the Democratic National Committee’s Winter Meeting in DC.
— Vice President Kamala Harris is in Poland. She held meetings this morning with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Andrzej Duda of Poland. She will participate in a press conference with Duda this afternoon followed by a roundtable with people displaced from Ukraine. Harris will then meet with staff from the US embassies in Ukraine and Poland before a final meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. The vice president will remain overnight in Poland.
— The House is out.
— The Senate is in and will debate the comprehensive government funding package the House passed on Tuesday.
IN THE KNOW
— The State Department announced a public-private partnership with GoFundMe.org to direct funds to support the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. Donors are encouraged to include the campaign’s website and hashtag #UnitedWithUkraine in their social posts promoting the campaign.
— The US had 11.3 million jobs to fill in January, fueling the country’s so-called worker shortage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data also showed 6.5 million workers were hired and 4.3 million workers quit their jobs at the start of the year. [Anneken Tappe / CNN Business]
— New York will provide retail licenses to sell marijuana in the state to people who have been convicted of related offenses or their relatives. The policy is designed to make sure early business owners in the state’s projected billion-dollar marijuana industry will be members of communities that have been affected by the nation’s decades-long war on drugs. [Jesse McKinley and Grace Ashford / NYT]
— A man who received a heart transplant from a genetically modified pig died this week, two months after the first-of-its-kind procedure. The cause of his death was not immediately disclosed and doctors did not say whether it was connected to any complications from the transplant. [David K. Li / NBC News]
— Students who feel their teacher cares about them are more likely to receive high-quality teaching, according to a new study. The findings show the value of teachers demonstrating ‘soft’ skills, or prosocial behaviors, in the classroom — such as showing kindness, compassion and caring for others — compared to solely teaching students the traditional ‘hard’ skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. [University of Missouri]
— An international team of researchers says pig grunts can be decoded into actual emotions. They studied thousands of acoustic recordings gathered throughout the lives of pigs, from their births to deaths. [University of Copenhagen]
— Twitter introduced a Shops feature that will let sellers add a virtual storefront to their profiles for customers to browse. The feature, currently in beta and available to select businesses on iOS, link you out to the company’s website in an in-app browser to complete your purchase. [Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge]
READ ALL ABOUT IT
— John Pfaff on policing:
Mayoral support for policing, then, makes significantly more sense in this context. And, on a policy front, it is even more understandable because the evidence is clear that more policing does reduce crime, even though it often comes with significant opportunity costs: Given the levels of police spending we already have, it’s likely that an extra dollar of spending has bigger net social gains invested elsewhere, like in drug treatment. In addition, our usual measures of the cost of policing focus just on the budgetary costs (what we spend on police), not the social costs (like the murder of George Floyd, or the costs of routine stops, which are likely much larger). Still, unlike tougher prison sentences, policing does have empirical support.
But policing is just one component of our sprawling criminal legal system. And there is a real and underappreciated cost of prosecutors, instead of mayors, being the leading proponents of progressive reforms. Progressive prosecutors, by and large, can minimize some criminal legal system harms, but they have no ability to push for solutions that fall outside of the justice system.
— Keith L. Alexander, Steven Rich and Hannah Thacker on the hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct:
The repetition is the hidden cost of alleged misconduct: Officers whose conduct was at issue in more than one payment accounted for more than $1.5 billion, or nearly half of the money spent by the departments to resolve allegations, The Post found. In some cities, officers repeatedly named in misconduct claims accounted for an even larger share. For example, in Chicago, officers who were subject to more than one paidclaim accounted for more than $380 million of the nearly $528 million in payments.
— Jo Piazza on friendship:
Our society doesn’t place nearly enough value on friendship; the rules and classifications are hazily defined.
A friend is often seen as less important than a husband or a wife and definitely ranks lower than blood relations. So despite legions of studies proving they are essential to long-term mental and physical health, friendships are often the first relationships to fall by the wayside when life gets crazy. It seems so easy to make friends in college and your early 20s, when you’re more carefree and have the hours to dedicate to the groundwork. But even though pop culture would lead us to believe that a pack of besties in full-fledged adulthood is possible, à la Sex & the City, Friends, and Seinfeld, maintaining friendships amid stressful careers, parenting, marriages, and caring for elders often feels impossible.
Enter the pandemic, which has done nothing to help our friendships. Over the past two years, it has often felt impossible to maintain any semblance of a normal friendship exactly when we’ve needed them most.
— Fabiola Cineas in conversation with Cliff Albright on voter suppression:
Election subversion is clearly a threat, so we need to give that adequate attention. But this notion that voter suppression doesn’t have an impact is really just a silly one. Part of the problem is that we become victims of our own success. We live voter suppression — having to overcome it is just a part of our lives. Georgia is the perfect example. In 2020, we didn’t win the state because there was no voter suppression. We won the state and had massive Black turnout because we had to work to make that happen. It’s not that we win things because there’s no suppression. We win things because we were able to overcome it.
But in overcoming it, that then becomes the rationale in people saying, “Oh, it must not have been that bad.” That’s the rationale that Roberts used in the Shelby decision.
But if you even put all that aside and think about common sense. What we know is anytime you close or move a polling place, turnout goes down. In fact, you can just look at how far extra somebody has to travel to get to their polling places and you can see a correlation between how much turnout goes down. The same thing happens with all of these different provisions, whether it is reducing days of early voting, making ID restrictions or something else.
Todd C. Frankel on forgotten tip workers:
While the pandemic has led to a surge in tipping for restaurant servers and food delivery workers — the standard gratuity climbing closer to 20 percent than 15 percent and increasingly even carryout orders leading to tips — millions of other tipped workers have been largely excluded from this newfound generosity.
— Joshua Coleman on the key to escaping the couple-envy trap:
To compare is human. But this idealization of other couples elides how periods of boredom, burden, or dissatisfaction in a partnership are more expectable than worrisome. What distinguishes happy couples from unhappy ones isn’t everyday conflict per se, but how each side thinks and communicates about it. Indeed, the University of Washington psychology professor emeritus John Gottman found that 69 percent of the problems among the married couples he’s studied are ultimately never resolved. He, as well as other researchers, has observed that clashes commonly occur over communication, money, parenting, or the division of housework.
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UPDATE (3/10/22): This post has been updated to note that the State Department partnership for humanitarian aid to Ukraine is with GoFundMe.org, an independent registered nonprofit public charity, not GoFundMe, the online fundraising platform.