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The far right’s latest budget demand could endanger vulnerable House Republicans
If conservatives include a repeal of the Inflation Reduction Act, it could force a tough vote for GOP members in Biden districts with little political upside ahead of next year’s election.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy works to cobble together enough votes to pass a budget proposal that doesn’t yet exist by next week, Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania indicated on Tuesday it won’t happen unless the plan includes a repeal of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Perry, one of the House GOP’s staunchest conservatives and chair of the far-right Freedom Caucus, would later specify he and his allies are looking to roll back the climate and tax reform provisions in the sweeping law President Joe Biden signed last year that also includes health care investments.
But any repeal that satisfies conservative House Republicans in mostly safe districts also puts their party’s slim majority at risk by asking vulnerable members in districts Biden won to take a tough vote on a bill that won’t pass the Senate or be signed by the president.
“House Republicans are so out of touch with the American people that they’re threatening to hold our economy hostage in order to repeal legislation that lowers prescription drug prices for 60 million people, creates hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, and lowers prices for everyday families,” Tommy Garcia, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement to Supercreator. “Any vulnerable Republican who embraces this extreme MAGA agenda will be held accountable.”
See also: “The US economy could depend on McCarthy corralling his extremist Republican troops” (Stephen Collinson / CNN)
McCarthy: I have the votes: Speaker McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju on Tuesday that he would have the votes to pass the bill next week despite hesitance from rank-and-file members on the substance of any package.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is less convinced:
No one should confuse this wish-list as anything more than a recycling of the same bad ideas we’ve heard about for weeks, and it’s still not clear that Speaker McCarthy has the votes to even pass this. Indeed, a handful of House GOP members insist they won’t raise the debt ceiling for anything, not even a GOP wish-list.
Schumer also said conversations about what kind of cuts Republicans want don’t belong in the debate on the debt limit.
“It belongs in discussions over the budget that Congress has every year and not as a precondition to avoiding default.”
Baby, I swear it’s deja vu: If this feels familiar, this process within the House GOP conference is playing out similar to the speakership race that required 15 ballots over four days for McCarthy to secure the top gavel.
Similar to the budget debate, a small-but-might group of conservative House Republicans opposed McCarthy’s nomination before extracting significant concessions in the rules package for the new Congress that vulnerable Republicans almost unanimously voted for. Consider this dynamic one that shows the stronghold the conservatives have on both McCarthy and the party in general as the budget talks continue to play out.
Manchin would like a word: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told CNN’s Raju that there are “some good things” in the House GOP’s plan to raise the debt limit and cut federal investments.
“I think they’re interesting and I don’t think they’re harmful,” Manchin said without detailing any specific provisions.
He added that the White House’s demand for a clean debt ceiling increase before budget negotiations is “not a rational position to take” even though it occurred three times during the previous administration:
They said ‘put it on the table.’ [Republicans] put something on the table. Can we at least look and see if let’s find some things we agree on or just trying to hold our position to say we’re gonna hold a position? I don't think that's rational.
It’s unclear what Manchin is referring to since House Republicans haven’t finalized a framework or released it to the public yet.
The view from the White House: Spokesperson Andrew Bates characterized the House GOP’s targeting of the Inflation Reduction Act as “incredibly revealing” and slammed Republicans for threatening default to sell working people out to Big Pharma and billionaires:
Not only are House Republicans threatening to hold Americans’ jobs and retirement savings hostage by engaging in the dangerous brinkmanship that Presidents Reagan and Trump warned against. Now, the increasingly empowered extreme MAGA Republicans want their ransom to be killing tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in a windfall for China, raising prescription drug and energy costs for middle class families, and sending the deficit skyward – all in the name of sweetheart deals for rich special interests. That’s on top of a multitude of other tax handouts they’re seeking for big corporations and the wealthy.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre added that voters oppose the proposed cuts to social programs like SNAP and CHIP.
“[Americans] don’t support this,” she said on Tuesday. “So why would they go against what a majority of the Americans want to do? And this is going to hurt them and the Americans and their constituents in their own district.”
President Biden spoke on the phone on Tuesday with Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries to discuss the path ahead.
The three maintain they won’t negotiate over default and that Republicans should pass a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling, according to a readout of the call from the White House.
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SENATE GOP BLOCKS CARDIN FROM TEMPING FOR FEINSTEIN ••• Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday requested unanimous consent to temporarily appoint Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland to the Senate Judiciary Committee while Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein recovers from shingles.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the committee, blocked the move, which would have allowed Senate Democrats to advance more than a dozen Biden judicial nominees for a final floor vote.
McConnell joined opposition: Ahead of the vote, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday joined a growing chorus of members from his conference to reject the idea of swapping out Feinstein.
“Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporary absent colleague off the committee just so Democrats can force through their worst nominees,” McConnell said in a floor speech.
McConnell has defined his legacy by reshaping the courts in his image so his position is unsurprising. And while extremely online Democratic voters and pundits have blamed Feinstein for holding up the confirmation of liberal judicial nominees, it was an unrealistic expectation that Senate Republicans would help Democrats replace her.
“I think that some people made some statements not realizing that the Republicans were never going to cooperate with the committee,” former Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Nikole Killion of CBS News. “So why were they, why were these other people saying she should resign? That’s up to the senator.”
It’s not personal: McConnell rejected the idea that Biden’s judges are stalled because of Feinstein’s absence and said there are many nominees who could receive Republican support.
He also had a few kind words for Feinstein:
“Our dear friend Senator Feinstein is a titanic figure and stateswoman.”
“I have been honored to count the senator and her late husband Dick as close personal friends.”
“We miss our colleague and wish her the very best for a swift recovery and smooth return.”
ICYMI: “How McConnell’s bid to reshape the federal judiciary extends beyond the Supreme Court” (Priyanka Boghani / PBS Frontline)
In related news: Sen. Manchin expressed his opposition to calls for Feinstein to resign.
“That's ridiculous. She was elected,” he said. “She served admirably … We've had other members gone for a year or more at times and no one called for their resignation.”
Top California House Dems back DiFi too: House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu — both members of California’s congressional delegation — expressed support for Feinstein.
Aguilar told reporters it is up to Feinstein when she steps down, despite two of his own members, including Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, calling on her to immediately resign.
“She is a legend in California politics and a legend in the Senate,” Aguilar said.
Lieu mentioned how debilitating shingles, a viral disease common among older people and some children, is and encouraged people over 50 years old to get the shingles vaccine to protect against severe illness.
“In America, we don’t tell people to resign because they got shingles,” he said.
SOUTHWEST GROUNDS PLANES NATIONWIDE ••• Southwest Airlines delayed more than 1,800 flights on Tuesday after an “equipment issue” impacted nationwide operations, an issue the company said its workers quickly resolved to minimize disruptions.
The delays came after Southwest endured a brutal holiday season marred by dissatisfied customers, overextended staff and an outdated system that failed to keep pace with its competitors.
“This is another demonstration that Southwest Airlines needs to upgrade those systems and stop the negative impacts to individual travelers,” Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and chair of the Senate Commerce Committee said in a statement to Supercreator.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said his department was watching the developments to ensure Southwest takes care of all the affected passengers.
“Any customer not getting the accommodations or refunds they are owed should notify us through our website, and we’ll follow up,” Buttigieg wrote in a tweet.
HAMLIN CLEARED ••• Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has been medically cleared to resume playing four months after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January.
“This event was life-changing, but it’s not the end of my story,” Hamlin said during a press conference. “I’m here to announce that I plan on making a comeback to the NFL.”
At the time of the medical emergency, I wrote that it was one of the most horrifying scenes in pro sports history as doctors administered CPR while players from both teams surrounded Hamlin. He was released from the hospital nine days later and galvanized the world to raise over $3 million in donations for his toy drive as he fought for his life.
Last month, President Biden welcomed Hamlin and his family to the White House to discuss the his advocacy for broader accessibility of life-saving technologies like the automated external defibrillator that saved his life. And the day before the visit, Hamlin joined Chuck Schumer in New York to introduce a bill that would improve students’ access to defibrillators in public and private elementary and secondary schools.
Schumer’s response: “Can’t wait to see you back on the field 3,” the senator tweeted in reference to Hamlin’s jersey number.
See also: “Bills head coach Sean McDermott discusses Damar Hamlin being cleared to resume full activities” (Yahoo Sports)
DeSANTIS MEETS WITH LUKEWARM GOP LAWMAKERS ••• Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Tuesday visited Washington, DC to court support from congressional Republicans for his expected presidential bid and did very little to inspire confidence that he could displace former President Donald Trump as the party’s frontrunner.
Gooden’s savage snub: DeSantis’s disappointing visit can be boiled down to one moment when Republican Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas left his “positive” meeting with the governor only to immediately issue a statement endorsing Trump.
And even as DeSantis reportedly spoke to a crowded room of congressional staff and family at the Heritage Foundation, many lawmakers seem content to wait and see which other Trump challengers rise to the top before christening DeSantis as next up.
This bodes poorly for the governor who is deeply popular in Florida but has insulated himself from national scrutiny and alienated the press that will be covering his shadow campaign as he attempts to reconcile his conservative legislative record on the big stage — while staving off relentless attacks from Trump who has added DeSantis to the top of his political enemies list.
See also: “DeSantis goes to Washington, a place he once despised, looking for support to take on Trump” (Steve Contorno / CNN) … “Congressional Democrats bash Ron DeSantis for alienating Florida job creator Disney World in service of a ‘flailing presidential campaign’” (Warren Rojas and Kimberly Leonard / Insider) … “Ron DeSantis ‘special guest’ at D.C. event not ready to back him for President” (A.G. Gancarski / Florida Politics)
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EYE ON THE WORLD
GERSHKOVICH APPEAL DENIED ••• Evan Gershkovich, the 32-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter held in Russia on bogus espionage charges, on Tuesday was denied an appeal and will remain behind bars.
Gershkovich is the first US correspondent since the Cold War to be detained in Russia on spying charges and is viewed as part of a crackdown by the Kremlin on dissent and press freedom since invading Ukraine, according to AP News.
The White House called the hearing a “sham judicial proceeding” and said it is deeply concerned by the news that Russia will continue to wrongfully detain Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, another American hostage held by Russia.
“We remain in touch with their families and admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.
Also: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine said in a tweet that he spoke with Speaker McCarthy to thank him for the continued support of Congress in his country’s war against Russia. He also discussed enhancing sanctions on Russia.
Zelenskyy’s military wish list: He told McCarthy that Ukraine needs armored vehicles, artillery, air defense and aircraft to continue to defend itself against Russia’s aggression.
Zelenskyy assured McCarthy that Ukraine could account for every dollar of American assistance and invited the speaker to visit Ukraine, an offer he has previously declined.
BY THE NUMBERS
$169,820 ••• The amount in combined federal, Delaware and Virginia income taxes President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden paid $579,514 in reported federal adjusted gross income in 2022, according to their federal income tax return released by the White House on Tuesday.
A few other numbers:
$20,180: The amount in reported contributions to 20 charities the president and first lady reporter, with $5,000 representing the largest gift to the Beau Biden Foundation
23.8: The Bidens’ effective federal income tax rate
25: The years of tax returns Biden has shared with the public
VP released her tax deets too: Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff paid $93,570 in federal income tax on $456,918 in reported federal adjusted gross income.
They paid $17,612 in California income tax and Emhoff paid $9,697 in District of Columbia income tax.
They contributed $23,000 to charity in 2022.
Their effective federal income tax rate was 20.5 percent.
Harris has published 19 years of tax returns.
All times Eastern:
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (10 a.m.) before departing the White House (1:20 p.m.) to speak about the economy in Maryland (2:30 p.m.). Biden will leave Maryland (3:15 p.m.) and return to the White House (3:45 p.m.).
Vice President Harris is in DC and has no public events on her schedule.
Dr. Biden will join congressional members and spouses at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC for a reception in support of cancer prevention and early detection hosted by the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention (6 pm).
Second Gentleman Emhoff will speak at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Los Angeles (5:30 p.m.).
The House is in at 10 a.m. with first and last votes scheduled at 4:30 p.m. on legislation including a disapproval resolution of a DC police accountability law.
The Senate is in at 10 a.m. and will take votes on the Fire Grants and Safety Act and an amendment to improve the bill at 11:30 a.m. An additional vote is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. on a disapproval resolution to roll back a Veterans Affairs rule on abortion.
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