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Wake Up To Politics - May 28, 2021 (+)

Wake Up To Politics: The Senate standstill
Wake Up To Politics - May 28, 2021 (+)

Good morning! It’s Friday, May 28, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 529 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,257 days away.

Note: Wake Up To Politics will be taking Monday off for Memorial Day, and then be back in your inbox on Tuesday. I hope you all have a nice long weekend.

The Senate had two items on its agenda for Thursday: a bill focused on competition with China and a bill to create an independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack. Instead, both measures spent the day in a holding pattern. It was not a banner day for the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”

The China bill — which would invest almost $250 billion in scientific research and innovation in an effort to compete with Beijing — has long been a bipartisan priority in the divided Senate, having been co-authored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)

But the measure went through a bumpy ride on Thursday: it first seemed doomed when Republican senators insisted on more votes on their amendments, but Schumer was able to broker a deal allowing for a vote on an amendment by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) that seemed to salvage the legislation.

That’s when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) got involved. As nightfall arrived in Washington, and the bill’s passage seemed secure after the Schumer-Crapo deal, Johnson rose to protest that senators had not had enough time to read the 2,400-page package — and to call for a vote on his own amendment on border security.

Joined by Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Rick Scott (R-FL), Johnson and his allies took to the Senate floor and spoke for an hour each in a last-minute bid to delay the China bill. The group succeeded in keeping the Senate in session until a weary Sen. Jon Ossoff gaveled the chamber out at 2:50 a.m. this morning.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) delayed consideration of a bipartisan China bill on Thursday. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/New York Times)

After grabbing a few hours of sleep, the Senate will be back at it at 9 a.m. The chamber still needs to hold four procedural votes on the China measure; once those are dispensed with, there will be a final 30 hours of debate time. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) told reporters that Republicans will use up about eight hours of that time before yielding.

That’s when the Senate will hold its final vote on passage of the China bill, followed by a vote to cut off debate on the January 6 commission bill, which will require 60 “yea” votes.

As of this writing, the January 6 bill does not appear close to having the 60 votes it needs to advance. Only three Republican senators — Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT) — have indicated that they will join the 50 Senate Democrats in allowing the measure to advance.  

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Murkowski took direct aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), criticizing his decision to rally most of the GOP rank-and-file to block the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the Capitol riot.

“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on January 6, I think we need to look at that critically,” Murkowski said. “Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?”

Gladys Sicknick, the mother of the Capitol Police officer who died after suffering two strokes on January 6, also canvassed Republican senators at the Capitol on Thursday, hoping to generate support for the seemingly doomed commission.

Gladys Sicnick, mother of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, at the Capitol on Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Taken together, the chaotic events of Thursday did not amount to a vote of confidence in the Senate’s ability to work together. As Republicans prepare to block a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 riot — and after they used stall tactics to drag out debate on another bipartisan measure — Democratic lawmakers are beginning to lose patience with other cross-party talks, such as the infrastructure negotiations.

Even the most moderate of Senate Democrats expressed his displeasure on Thursday. “There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said in a statement. “Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”

The Rundown

More headlines to know.

BUDGET DAY: “The White House is set to propose on Friday a $6 trillion budget plan for 2022, as President Biden seeks major changes to the U.S. economy and welfare system, according to two people briefed on the proposal and an internal summary document.” Washington Post

INVESTIGATIONS: “Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have been investigating whether several Ukrainian officials helped orchestrate a wide-ranging plan to meddle in the 2020 presidential campaign, including using Rudolph W. Giuliani to spread their misleading claims about President Biden and tilt the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor, according to people with knowledge of the matter.” New York Times

INFRASTRUCTURE: “A group of Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a $928 billion infrastructure proposal to counter President Biden's plan for a nearly $2 trillion bill. The proposal outlines a significant increase from the most recent GOP plan to spend $568 billion. The new version includes additional money for roads, bridges, water, rail and airports, but the majority of the proposed spending is part of an existing baseline plan for investments. The total new money is just $257 billion.” NPR

🔒 Gabe’s Picks

What I’m reading and watching this morning. This section is currently available to readers who have used their unique referral link to refer other subscribers or donated to the newsletter. Thank you so much for your support!

An interesting deep dive: “How Harry Reid, a Terrorist Interrogator and the Singer From Blink-182 Took UFOs Mainstream” Politico Magazine

Number of the day: 15%. That’s the percentage of Americans who agree with the statement, “The government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” according to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute. As the New York Times noted, that means the QAnon conspiracy theory is as popular in the United States as some major religions.

Fact of the day: “Data obtained exclusively by CNN shows that interest in getting vaccinated against Covid-19 increased right after Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced two weeks ago that vaccinated people could take off their masks.” CNN



What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern.)

President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9:30 a.m. before traveling to Virginia with First Lady Jill Biden. At 10:45 a.m., Biden will join Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) for a an event in Alexandria “to celebrate the significant progress Virginia has made in the fight against COVID-19.” The Bidens will then attend an event at 1:20 p.m. in Hampton, where both the president and first lady will deliver remarks. From there, they will head to Wilmington, Delaware, where they will spend Memorial Day weekend.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris will speak at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2021 graduation and commissioning ceremony at 10 a.m. in Annapolis, Maryland. According to the New York Times, she will be the first female commencement speaker in the school’s 175-year history.
  • White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a press gaggle during the Air Force One flight to Hampton, Virginia.

The Senate will convene at 9 a.m. The chamber will hold a quorum call, followed by a vote on a “motion to instruct the Sergeant at Arms to request the attendance of absent senators.” Once a quorum has been reached on this rare Friday session of the Senate, the chamber will resume consideration of S.1260, the Endless Frontier Act. After completing consideration of that measure, the chamber is expected to move on to consideration of H.R.3233, the bill to create a January 6 commission.

The House will convene at 10 a.m. for a brief pro forma session.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

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