Doubts about President Biden’s competence — on the Afghanistan exit, the border crisis and the pandemic — are driving double-digit drops in his approval in private polling in swing House seats, according to the Cook Political Report.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been privately telling House committee chairmen and members that she wants to bring the reconciliation bill to the floor next week, Politico reports.
Playbook: “Pelosi has repeatedly declared herself a ‘master legislator,’ and the cascade of deadlines she’s up against — to avoid a government shutdown, to raise the debt ceiling, to keep her promise of a Monday vote on the BIF, to notch a win for Biden — may be the most difficult legislative gauntlet she’s ever faced. Still, at this point, it makes a certain amount of sense to try and package everything together and ram it through as quickly as possible.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said “he doesn’t support expanding Medicare benefits without first addressing the program’s long-term solvency, again putting him at odds with Sen. Bernie Sanders and other key liberals as they negotiate President Joe Biden’s economic agenda,” Bloomberg reports.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced that he is running for re-election next year.
Robert Kagan: “The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial.”
“But about these things there should be no doubt: First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.”
“Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary.”
“A Republican-commissioned review of nearly 2.1 million ballots cast last year in Arizona confirmed the accuracy of the official results and President Biden’s win in Maricopa County,” the Washington Post reports.
“After nearly six months and almost $6 million — most of it given by groups that cast doubt on the election results — the draft report shows that the review concluded that 45,469 more ballots were cast for Biden in Maricopa County than for Trump, widening Biden’s margin by 360 more votes than certified results.”
Arizona Republic: “The draft reports reviewed by The Republic minimize the ballot counts and election results and instead focus on issues that raise questions about the election process and voter integrity.”
CNN: Sham Arizona 2020 review blows open Trump’s election lies.
“The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday overruled a recommendation by an agency advisory panel that had refused to endorse booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for frontline workers,” the New York Times reports
“It was a highly unusual move for the director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, but aligned C.D.C. policy with the Food and Drug Administration’s endorsements over her own agency’s advisers.”
“White House officials prioritized President Donald Trump’s attempt to challenge the election over the pandemic response last winter, according to emails obtained by the House select subcommittee probing the government’s coronavirus response,” the Washington Post reports.
“Steven Hatfill, a virologist who advised White House trade director Peter Navarro and said he was intimately involved in the pandemic response, repeatedly described in the emails how ‘election stuff’ took precedence over coronavirus, even as the outbreak surged to more than 250,000 new coronavirus cases per day in January.”
“Alaska, once a leader in vaccinating its citizens, is now in the throes of its worst coronavirus surge of the pandemic, as the Delta variant rips through the state, swamping hospitals with patients,” the New York Times reports.
Anchorage Daily News: “Alaska’s unprecedented COVID-19 crisis escalated Thursday with the state reporting seven new deaths, a record 1,330 new cases and a near-record 209 hospitalizations.”
“It’s the third time in two weeks that the daily record has been broken.”
“When Janet Yellen was Federal Reserve chair in 2014, she faced a grilling from Republicans about whether the federal government had a plan if the nation’s borrowing limit was breached and measures to keep paying the country’s bills were exhausted,” the New York Times reports.
“Ms. Yellen, appearing at a congressional hearing, outlined a dire scenario in which financial institutions might try to make payments that they could not cover, because the Treasury Department was out of money, leading to a cascade of bounced checks. She pushed back against the notion held by some Republicans that an economic meltdown could be averted, warning that there was no secret contingency plan.”
“Fending off such a calamity is now squarely the responsibility of Ms. Yellen, who is confronting the biggest test she has faced in her eight months as President Biden’s Treasury secretary.”
“Opposition from a single moderate Democrat to corporate and income tax rate increases has revived efforts in the Senate to draft a tax on carbon dioxide pollution as a way to pay for the Democrats’ proposed $3.5 billion budget bill,” the New York Times reports.
“Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has not advocated a carbon tax, which President Biden and other key Democrats have shied away from as a huge political risk. But her resistance to tax rate increases to pay for the Democrats’ ambitious social policy and climate legislation has set off a scramble for alternatives — at the very least to show her how difficult it would be assemble a package without those rate hikes.”
“Eight and a half hours after former President Donald Trump made a public demand for Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas to back legislation to create a ‘forensic audit of the 2020 election,’ the Texas secretary of state’s office announced a ‘comprehensive forensic audit’ of the results from four of the state’s largest counties,” the New York Times reports.
“The quick response by state officials in Texas, which Mr. Trump carried last year by more than five percentage points, was the latest example of the former president’s enduring influence over the Republican Party, particularly when it comes to his efforts to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of his loss last year to President Biden.”
“Republican super PACs are beating up on the party’s own candidates in key Senate primaries while Democratic groups largely hold their intra-party fire,” Axios reports.
“The negative ads some Republican groups are directing at GOP candidates threaten to elevate damaging stories about them ahead of competitive fights that could determine control of the 50-50 Senate.”
“The risk isn’t just the quantity or volume of Republican-on-Republican attacks; it’s their brutal tone.”
“The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House,” Axios reports.
“House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.”
The Jan 6. select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot has subpoenaed four aides to former President Trump for testimony and documents, Axios reports.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former communications official Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kash Patel, and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon were all in touch “with the White House on or in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection,” the committee said in a release.
A new Pew Research survey finds that Americans who relied most on former President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force for Covid-19 news in the early days of the pandemic are now among those least likely to have been vaccinated against the virus.
Former President Donald Trump was asked about a joint fundraising committee — aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — that supports five of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump this year, Politico reports.
Said Trump: “There are a few of those candidates in very, I would say, blue areas. I almost would rather have the Democrat win, to be honest with you, because we’re going to win a lot of other seats.”
He added: “I’m going to see who McCarthy’s funding and, if he is, I’ll stop the whole deal.”
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress wouldn’t let government funding expire next week, the first hint that Democratic leaders might decouple the government’s funding from a contentious increase in the debt limit, on the same day that the Biden administration began preparing for a possible partial shutdown,” the Wall Street Journal reports.