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Wake Up To Politics - June 25, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: Biden’s infrastructure dilemma
Wake Up To Politics - June 25, 2021

Good morning! It’s Friday, June 25, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 501 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,229 days away.

President Biden formally gave his blessing to a bipartisan infrastructure agreement on Thursday. “We have a deal,” Biden announced, flanked by a group of Democratic and Republican senators who spent weeks putting together the compromise.

According to an outline released by the White House, the package includes $579 in new spending, with $312 trillion going to transportation projects (such as improving roads, bridges, and public transit) and $266 trillion going to other areas of infrastructure (such as water, electricity, and broadband).

The bipartisan proposal, which carries a $1.2 trillion price tag over eight years when factoring in spending that has already been appropriated, would be paid for by a variety of sources, including increased IRS tax enforcement and repurposed Covid relief funds.

Biden heralded the deal as proof that bipartisanship is alive and well in Washington. “This agreement signals to the world that we can function, deliver, and do significant things,” the president declared.

“This reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done up at the United States Congress,” he also said.

Biden campaigned on a promise of working across the aisle; after passing a massive Covid relief package with only Democratic support earlier in his term, the infrastructure package would be his most significant bipartisan achievement yet.

However, the president may have mortally wounded the compromise on Thursday. Biden announced that he would not sign the bipartisan deal into law unless it was passed alongside a larger spending package — possibly costing as much as $6 trillion — Democrats are expected to push through using the one-party budget reconciliation process, which allows bills to pass without the threat of a filibuster.

“If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Biden said, referring to the bipartisan bill. “It’s in tandem.”

President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators announce their infrastructure agreement. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

The president also endorsed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to bottle up the bipartisan bill in the House until the Senate also passes a reconciliation package. “We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill,” Pelosi said Thursday.

That plan is already threatening to diminish Republican support for the agreement. “Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and actually endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in response. “That’s not the way to show you’re serious about getting a bipartisan outcome.”

McConnell maintains an iron grip on his caucus, and his support for the bipartisan deal will be crucial if it is going to pick up enough Republican votes to pass.

Indeed, one of the Republican supporters of the agreement already seems to be backing away. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Politico that Biden’s plan to link the bipartisan bill with the reconciliation package made him “look like a fucking idiot” for announcing his support for the compromise.

“If he’s gonna tie them together, he can forget it!” Graham said. “I’m not doing that. That’s extortion!”

Graham is one of 11 Republicans who had announced support for the bipartisan deal. If all 50 Democrats support it, 10 Republicans would need to join them to form a filibuster-proof majority. But whether the plan can maintain unanimous Democratic backing is up in the air as well.

A number of progressive Democrats — in the Senate, as well as in the House, where the Democratic majority is razor-thin as well — have threatened to oppose the bipartisan deal unless they have a firm commitment that the reconciliation bill will pass as well.

It is that same commitment, of course, that could lead to Republican opposition to the bipartisan bill — which would suddenly not be very bipartisan anymore.

In other words: as hard as striking a bipartisan deal was, an even greater dilemma faces Democratic leaders in the weeks and months ahead. Biden and his deputies want it both ways — their long-sought bipartisan achievement and a raft of progressive spending priorities.

That will be one of the most complicated legislative maneuvers in years, requiring a path that is paved with pitfalls threatening to sink the process from both ends.

The Rundown

What else you need to know to start your day.

CONGRESS: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that the House will form a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to form an independent, bipartisan commission.” Washington Post

  • “Congressional negotiators seeking a path forward on legislation aimed at overhauling the nation’s policing laws announced Thursday they’ve ‘reached agreement on a framework’ for the package but said talks will continue over the next few weeks.” CNN
  • “The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a pair of bills Thursday that would dramatically expand video coverage of federal court trials and other proceedings while putting Supreme Court arguments on camera for the first time.” Politico
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the formation of a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack. (Alex Brandon/AP)

TRUMPWORLD: “A New York court suspended Rudy Giuliani’s state law license Thursday after concluding that he made ‘demonstrably false and misleading statements’ in his effort to reverse the results of the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump.” Wall Street Journal

  • “Former Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday night made his most forceful attempt yet to separate himself from his former boss, Donald J. Trump, on the issue of certifying the 2020 election results.” New York Times

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: “President Joe Biden quietly hit a milestone on Thursday: With the help of Senate Democrats, he has confirmed more lifetime federal judges than any president has done in more than 50 years by this point in their first six months in office.” HuffPost


What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern.)
Executive Branch
→ President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9:50 a.m. Later, at 1:30 p.m., he will hold a bill signing ceremony for H.R. 49, which will create the National Pulse Memorial at the site of the LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that was the site of a deadly shooting in 2016. At 2 p.m., Biden will deliver remarks to commemorate Pride Month. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first-ever openly LGBT Cabinet secretary, will also speak.

At 3:30 p.m., Biden will meet with Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation, to discuss the state of the U.S.-Afghanistan partnership as America’s military drawdown from the country begins. At 5:10 p.m., the president will depart for Camp David, where he will spend the weekend.

→ Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to El Paso, Texas, today to visit the U.S.-Mexico border after weeks of criticism that she had yet to do so. At 10:35 a.m., she will tour the El Paso Border Patrol Station. At 12:25 p.m., she will meet with advocates from faith-based NGOs, as well as shelter and legal service providers. At 1:35 p.m., she will deliver remarks and take questions from the press.

At 2:30 p.m., Harris will depart El Paso for Los Angeles, California, where she will remain overnight.

→ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 12:15 p.m.

Legislative Branch
The Senate is not in session.

The House will convene at 9 a.m. The chamber will debate and vote on S.J.Res. 14, which would restore an Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule limiting methane emissions which was reversed during the Trump administration.
Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court will release opinions at 10 a.m.

The Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota will hold a sentencing hearing for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd at 2:30 p.m.

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