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New speaker, same strategy
Mike Johnson plans to unlink Ukraine assistance from billions in Israel aid—and require Congress to pay for it—at the insistence of House conservatives. This is a song we’ve heard before.
👋🏾 HI, HEY, HELLO! Welcome to Supercreator, the premier politics newsletter for the creative class.
Today marks the first full week of MIKE JOHNSON’s speakership and, as you’ll see below, although House Republicans may have a new leader, they’re embracing the same legislative strategy that runs counter to the White House and Senate’s approach.
On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House unveiled a sprawling executive order on artificial intelligence that the administration says will help the US harness the opportunities of the technology while minimizing its risks. While Congress has made AI regulation a priority this year, critics say lawmakers are moving at too glacial a pace. A senior administration official told me the EO is a result of President JOE BIDEN’s sense of urgency on the issue, not any congressional inaction.
In other news, on the heels of the Biden administration’s $56 billion supplemental funding request to invest in top domestic priorities, including child care, I asked one of the youngest members of Congress how the child care affordability crisis is impacting our generation’s family planning decisions.
Finally, in Read All About It, you’ll find a touching profile of JOHN FETTERMAN, the larger-than-life first-term senator from Pennsylvania, who’s been through more than his fair share of personal devastation in the past year.
One more thing: The United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement with General Motors to end a six-week strike. UAW agreed to similar terms with Ford on Oct. 25. Three days later, the union announced a similar deal with Stellantis, the manufacturer of Chrysler automobiles.
“I think it’s great,” President Biden told reporters this morning as he was boarding Air Force One to return to the White House from Wilmington, Delaware.
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House plans to move on Israel-only funding bill this week
When the House returns to Washington on Wednesday from a long Halloween weekend, members will take up a $14.5 billion bill to provide support to Israel in the wake of the Hamas terrorist attacks earlier this month.
Speaker Johnson said on Sunday morning during an interview on Fox News that the legislation would exclude the White House’s $60 billion request for Ukraine aid the administration paired with its Israel ask.
The decision by Johnson to decouple aid for the two embattled countries proves House Republicans may have a new speaker, but they’re still resorting to the same unworkable legislative tactics that have pushed the country to the brink of catastrophe multiple times this year.
It could force Democrats into a thorny vote to support one of America’s closest allies at the expense of a democratic nation fighting for its freedom. But beyond the politics, supporters of Ukraine aid argue that failing to continue to provide assistance would amount to the US reneging on its word to stand with the wartorn country for as long as it takes, which could embolden adversaries to attack American allies and partners and wait out—or erode the trust those allies and partners have that America’s word is its bond.
And if separating Israel aid from Ukraine didn’t make the legislation a heavy lift from the House through the Senate and to the president’s desk, House Republicans are demanding the funding be paid for, an unusual red line for emergency funding requests.
“When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you don’t haggle over the price of the garden hose,” Rep. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), Florida’s first female Jewish member of Congress, said in a statement. “Speaker Johnson’s political games are offensive to all pro-Israel Americans, and I hope he changes course immediately.”
It’s unclear what programs the House GOP are looking to cut from. Once the bill text is out, Senate Democrats and White House officials will determine if there’s any negotiating room.
In addition to the Israel aid bill, the House will also consider two Republican bills to fund the legislative branch and environmental agencies, two censure resolutions against Reps. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-Mich.) and MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.), and an expulsion resolution against Rep. GEORGE SANTOS (R-N.Y.).
WH takes the lead on American AI
President Biden will sign what the White House describes as a landmark executive order on artificial intelligence.
The order focuses on six key areas: (1) safety and security standards, (2) American privacy protections, (3) equity and civil rights, (4) consumer and worker protections, (5) innovation and competition, and (6) American leadership around the world.
The executive order also builds on previous executive actions and the voluntary commitments from 15 leading companies to prioritize safety, security and trust in their AI products.
It also comes at a time when scholars, advocates and even some federal lawmakers feel the technology is outpacing Congress’s momentum to regulate it. But a senior administration official told me on Sunday afternoon that the executive order is a response to the extent of the promise and peril of the technology, not a reaction to congressional inaction.
“I think the breadth of the executive order is a recognition of the fact that AI policy is like running a decathlon and there’s 10 different events here,” the official said. “And we don’t have the luxury of just picking, ‘We’re just going to do safety,’ or ‘we’re just going to do equity,’ or ‘We’re just going to do privacy’—we have to do all of these things. And that was the direction from the president.”
The official added that the administration understands Congress has a lot to do between now and the end of the year but shared an expectation that the House and Senate would continue to focus on reaching a bipartisan consensus..
“Far be it for me to guess what congressional priorities would be, but I think the that the fact pattern here is such that AI is already very important. The technology is accelerating,” they said. “But we think that it is important, and it is likely that Congress will continue to focus on AI.”
The White House is encouraged, the official told me, by the “extraordinary levels of interest” in the insight forums Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.) and a trio of bipartisan senators are leading.
The Senate held its second forum, a three-hour session that surfaced $32 billion as the minimum initial investment if the US wants to lead in the AI sector.
“We are still just at the beginning—we will continue to hold bipartisan AI insight forums in the weeks and months to come, and encourage the relevant committees to begin drawing up bipartisan legislation,” Schumer said.
House Dem women spotlight child care investments in WH funding request
The White House last week asked Congress for $16 billion in emergency child care funding to support the estimated millions of families that will lose access to care and the thousands of child care centers that will close without additional resources.
Child care is more expensive than college tuition in more than half the country—28 out of 50 states, if you’re counting—and data from the Labor Department in August found that the average price of preschool and daycare is up six percent from the previous year. The cost of child care is rising by nearly double the rate of inflation. By one measure, it’s outpaced the inflation rate by 214 percent since 1990.
For SARA JACOBS, a 34-year-old congresswoman who has frozen her eggs and has not yet had children, the cost of child care comes up in conversations with her friends and peers at a time when birth rates continue to fall, and women are having babies later in life.
“It’s definitely factoring into people’s decision-making,” Jacobs said. “The ability to buy a home, the ability to afford childcare, the climate of the world that we are leaving to future generations, is all definitely something I know on my friends and peers’ minds as they make this very important personal decision on whether and how to build a family.”
And while women are culturally expected to carry the child care burden, Rep. SUZANNE BONAMICI (D-Ore.) told me the crisis impacts our men when working moms are forced to choose between their careers and their families.
“This is not just affecting women—although primarily, women are in the workforce providing childcare and that's important as well to make sure that they're getting the wages they deserve—it affects families, and it affects the economy. So yes, of course, men are involved.”
Rep. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-Calif.), father to HODGE, one of Congress’s most famous babies, and an emerging leader on the issue as co-founder of the Congressional Dads Caucus, said the White House’s emergency funding request was a step in the right direction but that Congress needed to pass a permanent funding solution.
“Having child care allows workers to get to work and it prevents us from keeping our best and our brightest on the sidelines,” he added in an interview with me on the House steps. “Without it, we’re at a deficit. So [congressional Republicans] shouldn’t view this as a handout or as something separate from our economic and security competitiveness. This is a big part of it.”
IN THE KNOW
The White House today will host a bipartisan youth substance use prevention summit. The event will feature youth leaders and community-based coalitions from across the US to discuss how to raise awareness of the dangers of deadly drugs like fentanyl and decrease stigma around mental health and substance use disorder.
During the summit, which will occur two days before the end of National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, Dr. RAHUL GUPTA, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Education Secretary MIGUEL CARDONA will call on schools and educators to support youth drug use prevention before it happens and make sure students have the help they need in the event of drug poisoning. Sen. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-Iowa) will join Gupta, Cardona and other senior White House officials at the summit.
The White House requested $1.2 in emergency funding from Congress earlier this month to respond to the fentanyl crisis, which continues to spiral as young people confront counterfeit pills on college campuses and throughout their communities.
The House is out.
President Biden and First Lady Dr. JILL BIDEN returned to Washington, DC, from Wilmington, Delaware, where they spent the weekend. He received his daily intelligence briefing with Vice President KAMALA HARRIS when he got back to the White House.
2:15 p.m. Second Gentleman DOUG EMHOFF will meet with Jewish leaders to discuss the alarming uptick in antisemitism at schools and on college campuses following the Hamas attacks in Israel. Education Secretary MIGUEL CARDONA will also attend.
2:30 p.m. President Biden will participate in an event highlighting his artificial intelligence executive order.
3 p.m. The Senate will meet with a vote at 5:30 p.m. to end debate on the nomination of MATTHEW MADDOX to be US District Judge for the District of Maryland.
3:30 p.m. Vice President Harris will ceremonially swear in the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States.
5:30 p.m. The president and first lady will host students, kids from military families, and neighborhood families for trick-or-treating at the White House.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will speak about protecting Americans’ retirement security.
Wednesday: President Biden will travel to Minnesota to speak about the impact of Bidenomics on rural communities. He’ll also speak at a campaign fundraiser.
Friday: The president will host Western Hemisphere leaders at the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders’ Summit and participate in a family photo with summit leaders.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
“‘How much blood is your fun worth?’” by Tyler Austin Harper: “I saw the gun-violence epidemic—and my relationship to it as a gun owner—as an abstraction. Then a mass shooting happened in the little city where I work.”
“John Fetterman is grateful to be here” by Ryan D’Agostino: “First came the stroke. Then the deep depression in the midst of running for, and winning national office. How much can one guy take in a year, and what stopped him from putting an end to it all? In the case of John Fetterman, destruction breeds creation.”
Kyrsten Sinema’s delusional exit interview” by Jason Linkins: “The Arizona senator believes she single-handedly saved the US Senate.”
“The mental health crisis among doctors is a problem for patients” by Keren Landman: “Why doctors are so stressed out, depressed, and suicidal—and what can be done about it.”
“Why America doesn’t build” by Jerusalem Demsas: “Even green-energy projects get quashed by local opposition.”
“The water wars deciding the future of the west” by Kyle Paoletta: “From conservation to importing water from the Pacific, Democrats say they have all the answers to historic drought. The one thing no one wants to talk about: stopping the sprawl.”
“The dubious conversion therapy case being pushed on the Supreme Court” by Catherine Caruso: “The anti-LGBTQ movement hopes the high court might agree to overturn bans on the discredited practice on First Amendment grounds.”
“Let Britney Spears be weird” by Rebecca Jennings: “She spent her whole life at the mercy of toxic media narratives. Her new memoir, The Woman in Me, clears the air.”
“The science behind basketball’s biggest debate” by Ross Andersen: “Playing in the NBA really is harder now.”
“Everything Elon Musk broke in the heat he’s owned Twitter” by Alex Kirshner: “It’s sunk in.”
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