Discover more from Supercreator
Shutdown clouds loom over August recess
Let’s hope Congress enjoys its extended break because a political tempest awaits when members return to town in September.
Washington DC saw some of the worst storms in more than a decade this past weekend.
The violent downpours produced winds of 80 miles per hour, turned once-sturdy trees into impassable speed bumps, tore off roofs, and claimed the electricity of several hundred thousand customers, many of whom were still without power as of Sunday morning.
The storms were not only an indication of the consequences of a changing climate but also a metaphor of the political tempest awaiting Congress when members return to town in September.
Early dismissal: The House got a one-day jump on their six-week break after Republican leadership canceled votes on Friday once it was clear one of the two funding bills scheduled for floor action would likely fail.
The reason why should be familiar by now: House conservatives attached a policy rider to the Agriculture appropriations bill, which also provides funding for the FDA, that would reverse the agency’s decision to allow medication abortion to be available by prescription at pharmacies, instead of only in hospitals, clinics, and medical offices.
Enough moderate Republicans expressed reservations against what would have been a tough vote that the Ag bill was shelved until September.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and his top deputies did squeeze through the bill that funds military construction and veterans affairs, despite unanimous Democratic opposition and two Republican defections, so the week wasn’t an entire failure from their perspective. But even that bill will look nothing like the one President Joe Biden eventually signs into law due to its own set of divisive anti-abortion, anti-equality, and anti-“woke” riders.
This all means the House will have just 12 days in September to pass 11 bills and avoid a government shutdown. Against similar time crunches in the past, Congress would pass what’s known as a continuing resolution or “CR” that would just continue the current funding at the same levels as the previous fiscal year. But most House conservatives are anti-CR, so that’s not a given this time around.
“I don’t want government to shut down”: Speaker McCarthy last Thursday met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for a vibe check on the appropriations process in both chambers.
“I don’t want government to shut down,” McCarthy said. “I want to find that we can find common ground.”
But House Democrats view a shutdown as virtually inevitable.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) slammed House Republicans for adjourning without funding the government and accused House conservatives of hijacking the appropriations process, which is usually bipartisan regardless of which party controls the chamber.
“Extreme MAGA Republicans are marching the American people and the Congress toward a government shutdown. It’s in their DNA,” Jeffries told reporters on Thursday. “Extreme MAGA Republicans have shut down the government repeatedly to try to extract extreme ransom demands from the Congress in order to jam their extreme right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people.”
Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), the House Minority Whip and Jeffries’ second-in-command, said the House should have stayed in session to complete the appropriations bills and strip out the riders that she described as toxic, divisive, and bigoted. (Both Democrats and Republicans honestly share little appetite to be in session for the August break, FWIW.)
“This is a reckless march to a MAGA shutdown,” she added. “And for what? In pursuit of a national abortion ban? Is that what we are doing here?”
Mods with targets on their backs: Politically speaking, the appropriations process is the latest high-profile example of Speaker McCarthy finding himself in over his head with a fractious conference with competing priorities.
It’s a reality the House Democrats’ campaign arm plans to exploit on the campaign trail with specific targets on the moderates in Biden districts who have found themselves as no match against the reckless style of their conservative counterparts.
“Vulnerable Republicans have just given up, leaving the Freedom Caucus and MAGA extremists to run amok over the needs of working families,” Viet Shelton, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement. “Americans are looking for responsible leaders, not cheerleaders for a government shutdown.”
View from the Senate: The same day House Republicans closed up shop early, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the final four of its dozen appropriations bills.
It’s the first time the committee marked up all 12 bills to fund the government in five years.
And in stark contrast to the House, the Senate bills were agreed to in a bipartisan fashion. The four the committee passed last Thursday were approved by 27-1, 28-0, 26-2, and 24-4 tallies.
The full Senate is expected to begin taking up the bills when it returns the week of Sep. 5.
“This is a divided country. You say our politics are divided, and you had 12 appropriations bills passed in a bipartisan way out of the committee,” Schumer said late last Thursday. “Incredible.”
👋🏾 HI, HEY, HELLO! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, the essential guide to the politicians, power brokers, and policies shaping the American creator experience. Good Monday morning. It’s July 31, 2023.
Supercreator covers Congress and national politics in-depth and in plain English for the creative class. Subscribe today.
RLC meets with Landrieu on infrastructure: House Democrats from the Regional Leadership Council last Friday met with White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu to discuss the implementation of the infrastructure bill programs.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who chairs the RLC, a 12-member body created by Hakeem Jeffries to make sure Americans know how their taxpayer dollars are being invested to transform the economy, said the council isn’t focused on taking a victory lap despite a recent flurry of favorable economic news for Biden and congressional Dems.
“[It’s] time for continuing education. Time to get to work, time to get people to work,” Hoyer said to reporters outside the White House after the meeting. “Time to train people. Time to clean up the waters of our country. Make sure that the global warming that we all are experiencing is mitigated.”
Murphy, Coons shrug off possible Phillips challenge: Late last week, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) confirmed reports that the two-term congressman is considering a longshot challenge to President Biden for the 2024 Democratic primary nomination.
To be clear, Biden is an incumbent president running for re-election with broad support from the Democratic establishment and the full backing of the Democratic National Committee, which isn’t hosting any primary debates. So Phillips would be waging a vanity campaign doomed to fail if he decides to go through with it.
Nonetheless, two top Senate Democrats shrugged off the possibility on Sunday.
First, there’s Chris Murphy of Connecticut on CNN’s State of the Union:
Congressman Phillips can do whatever he wants. I don’t think he will get very far because the Democratic Party is pretty enthusiastic about a president who has made historic progress on a number of priorities that we have been fighting and losing on for decades before Joe Biden became president.
I don’t really think anybody’s going to have much of a shot at challenging him. We’re going to be behind him 100 percent.
And here’s Chris Coons, a longtime Biden ally from the president’s home state of Delaware and a co-chair of his re-election campaign, on NBC’s Meet the Press:
It doesn’t make me nervous, frankly. President Biden has the strongest record of legislative accomplishment since [former President Lyndon Baines Johnson], and you’re beginning to see the impact: 13 million jobs created by the private sector, 800,000 good manufacturing jobs, 35,000 infrastructure projects out there in the country. Dean Phillips can’t cite anything like that.
Phillips was elected as the first Democrat to hold his seat in nearly 60 years and currently serves as a co-chair on the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal reintroduced a bill to ban ghost guns — unserialized, privately made firearms that are hard to track by law enforcement. Specifically, online and other sellers of gun-making kits would have to comply with federal firearm safety regulations. The Justice Department last year issued a rule that banned the clarified these kits as firearms under the Gun Control Act and required commercial sellers to become licensed and run background checks prior to a sale.
Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) reintroduced legislation that would nearly triple the amount of pre-tax dollars families can allocate for child care and elder expenses. Families have been allowed to set aside pre-tax $5,000 since 1986. This bill would permit $13,919 for the 2023 tax year for expenses that squeeze working parents like preschool, summer camp, before- or after-school programs, and child or adult care.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) reintroduced a bill to establish a federal jobs guarantee program in up to 15 high-unemployment communities and regions across the state. The jobs would include a phased-in $17 minimum wage, paid family and sick leave, and health coverage on par with the quality members of Congress receive. The bill would also expand a tax credit for private employers to recruit and hire employees from the private program.
VP makes surprise stop at CBC town hall: “Boston, we have a big surprise,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) said on Saturday afternoon before Vice President Kamala Harris entered a room of 200 people at Roxbury Community College. “The outcome of the election will only be a reflection of our ability to tell people that their vote matters, Harris said while encouraging the attendees to register their friends and neighbors to vote now. The vice president was in Boston for a moderated conversation at the NAACP national convention. Harris also spoke about affirmative action, book bans, gun safety, and reproductive rights during her brief remarks at the CBC Institute event, which was part of the CBC Institute’s Democracy for the People tour.
Biden’s job is beach: President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden spent Sunday afternoon on the beach at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware where the commander-in-chief was spotted shirtless in his trademark aviators. Dr. Biden wore a blue skirt, flip-flops, a baseball cap, and a white top. Both were also spotted sitting on lounge chairs under an umbrella with the first lady reading a book and the president reading some papers. Biden will be on vacation until next week.
ON THE FLOOR
The House is out.
The Senate is out.
‘ROUND THE HILL
Not much but the sweet quiet sound of recess.
President Biden has no public events on his schedule.
Biden’s week ahead:
Friday: President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will travel from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to Wilmington, Delaware for the weekend.
Vice President Harris’s national sit-down interview with Linsey Davis will air on ABC News and across its programs and platforms.
Harris’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The vice president will travel to Orlando to speak at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Women’s Missionary Convention.
Wednesday: Vice President Harris will meet with Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene of Mongolia.
Thursday: The vice president and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will travel to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin to speak about the administration’s investments in broadband. Harris will also travel to Milwaukee to speak at two campaign fundraisers.
Friday: Vice President Harris will speak about the July jobs report.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
“Why Biden may never get credit for a booming economy” by Walter Shapiro
“Biden should name and shame who’s responsible for the heat” by Kate Aronoff
“Traveling with young kids: How to survive” by Amil Niazi
“All soda is lemon-lime soda” by Ian Bogost