Politics The implosion that didn't happen -- and the very real issues Biden still confronts on his agenda

10:45  07 november  2021
10:45  07 november  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Presidents and popes over the years: Gifts, gaffes, grief

  Presidents and popes over the years: Gifts, gaffes, grief WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden meets with Pope Francis on Friday, he won’t kiss the ring. Biden, who has met with Francis three times and with two previous popes, has said he eschews the traditional sign of respect because his mother told him not to — that no one is “better” than him. In their meeting, the two are expected to discuss issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change as equals. Biden, only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, often speaks publicly about his faith and attends Mass every weekend.

For about 30 minutes on Monday, it appeared as if West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin had rolled a hand grenade down the hallway in which President Joe Biden's $3 trillion, two-bill domestic agenda was patiently waiting to move through the House as soon as this week.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and  Director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council Susan Rice exit a closed-door meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. Manchin has stated that he will not support a social policy spending package that goes over $1.5 trillion, at odds with the $3.5 trillion package supported by more liberal Democrats. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) © Drew Angerer/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and  Director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council Susan Rice exit a closed-door meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. Manchin has stated that he will not support a social policy spending package that goes over $1.5 trillion, at odds with the $3.5 trillion package supported by more liberal Democrats. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Then House progressives -- the same House progressives who rejected two prior deadlines and had been in a rhetorical and policy war with Manchin and fellow centrist holdout Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for months -- picked it up and calmly placed the pin back in.

Biden announces 'historic' deal — but no action yet

  Biden announces 'historic' deal — but no action yet WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he and Democrats in Congress have reached a “historic" framework for his sweeping domestic policy package. But he still needs to lock down votes from key colleagues for what's now a dramatically scaled-back bill. Eager to have a deal in hand before his departure late in the day for global summits, Biden made his case privately on Capitol Hill to House Democrats and publicly in a speech at the White House. He's now pressing for a still-robust package — $1.75 trillion of social services and climate change programs — that the White House believes can pass the 50-50 Senate.

There are still significant issues on the policy side that need to be resolved for Democrats to actually move forward in House this week on Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion economic and climate package. But House progressives moving off the demand of explicit assurances from all 50 Democratic senators that they will vote for the package is significant -- and keeps the process on track. For now.

The bottom line is that Manchin's remarks didn't blow anything up. Progressives are now all in on moving as soon as both bills are ready. But that doesn't mean Biden's going to be holding a signing ceremony for his Senate-passed infrastructure bill this week. There is still significant work underway to draft and finalize key provisions of the economic and climate package. Wrapping that up in the next 24 hours seems ... ambitious. But it's clear the push to move as fast as possible is still on -- and nothing Manchin said changed that.

Biden the Sinner

  Biden the Sinner The president’s meeting with Pope Francis will come at a delicate time for both leaders.Sitting in the dark-brown pews that Saturday evening—where the first Roman Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, had once prayed—Joe Biden listened attentively. Father Kelley’s address made an impression on the president. A couple of days later, another Holy Trinity pastor, Kevin Gillespie, was on the golf course waiting for the group up ahead to finish a hole when he checked his phone for messages. He had a missed call from the Biden administration. The president was requesting a copy of the pointed homily. “It ruined my next shot, I was so excited,” Gillespie told me.

The timeline

House Democratic leaders are still pressing forward on the effort to have votes on both the infrastructure proposal and the economic and climate package this week.

CNN's Manu Raju and Annie Grayer reported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told top lieutenants the House Rules Committee will meet Wednesday to continue work to advance the economic and climate package.

This is the most tangible trigger that things are actually moving. Nothing gets to the House floor without Rules Committee action.

House Democratic leaders are considering votes as soon as Wednesday or Thursday, CNN reported, and the Rules Committee will have to finish its work before any votes are possible. Rules Committee consideration can also be postponed -- or delayed even after it starts -- but it serves as most concrete next step whenever leaders are ready to hit the gas.

Regular reminder

Drafting legislative text takes time. A lot of time. Drafting text in real time, during ongoing negotiations, while trying to finish in a matter of days (or hours) exacerbates the complexity ten-fold. Caution with any timelines is merited, even when, as is the case now, there is a clear push to move as quickly as possible.

COVID-19, corporate taxes, Iran nuclear deal on Biden's agenda for Day One of G-20 summit

  COVID-19, corporate taxes, Iran nuclear deal on Biden's agenda for Day One of G-20 summit The G-20 summit that opened Saturday in Rome will mark the first time in two years that some of the world's most powerful leaders have met in person.Biden arrived at the modernist, cloud-shaped convention center in Rome where the Group of 20, or G-20, is meeting and was welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. A few minutes later, he joined other leaders for a traditional "family photo.

The real takeaway from four hours of chaos

This from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, is the most important thing that happened on Monday:

"I just have to believe what the President says, and the President said right after the senator spoke that he is confident he can deliver 51 votes for this plan," Jayapal told CNN. "I am going to trust the President. Our members are going to trust the President, and we are going to do the job that we need to do, which is pass it through."

Manchin has always been viewed, to a degree, as Biden's personal project. Over the last 10 months the two have spent countless hours on the phone and in the Oval Office in private conversations. Some have been policy specific. Others have been wide-ranging theoretical discussions about the future of America, international competitiveness and the people of West Virginia, according to people briefed on the talks. But Biden has consistently been of the view privately, those people say, that Manchin will be there in the end.

He alluded to this at the CNN town hall, when he said this: "Look, Joe -- Joe is not a bad guy. He's a friend. And he's always, at the end of the day, come around and voted for it."

Is the Media to Blame for Biden’s Bad Poll Numbers?

  Is the Media to Blame for Biden’s Bad Poll Numbers? Or is it “the economy, stupid”?In mid-August, voters approved of the president by a margin of 50 to 43.8 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average. Today, they disapprove of him by a margin of 51.1 to 43.2 percent.

Biden is firmly of the belief that will be the case this time around. And now it's abundantly clear that it's all on Biden's shoulders to deliver that "yes" vote.

The other takeaway

From the most honest (and generally optimistic ... and occasionally profane) Democrat in Washington, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, when asked if progressives made a mistake in blocking action on Biden's agenda last week:

"Of course, but I think Joe made a mistake today by going out and giving a news conference."

Video: Biden's audacious announcement of a framework comes without public commitments from key Democrats (CNN)

The nearest-term issues

Things may not have been blown up on Monday, but there are still very real issues that need to be resolved -- and quickly.

There are intensive negotiations to find a compromise on prescription drugs -- something left out of Biden's framework -- that can make its way into the package. This is a huge issue for Democrats, who know it polls extremely well and has also been a long-standing commitment for the party.

But the opposition of a handful of House Democrats and Sinema have limited the scope and scale of the initial ambitions.

Still, for a few days it appeared it would be scrapped altogether. Then Democrats launched frenzied behind-the-scenes negotiations to try and thread the needle.

Can Joe Biden Save His Presidency?

  Can Joe Biden Save His Presidency? With his domestic agenda at risk of failure and the prospect rising of a Democratic drubbing in the midterms, Biden needs to act swiftly to rescue his term.Even as Biden announced the terms last week of a $1.75 trillion framework to salvage his signature "Build Back Better" legislation—cut in half from the bill's original $3.5 trillion price tag—his approval rating was taking a beating. The latest Real Clear Politics average has just 42 percent of Americans approving of the job Biden has done so far, while 52 percent disapprove; that represents a sharp downturn over the past two months and a nearly 14-point drop overall from his post-inauguration peak of close to 56 percent.

Those are still ongoing.

Democratic leaders also have to address immigration, which a handful of House Democrats have also said must be addressed to secure their votes. Senate rules have limited -- if not outright killed -- most ambitions on this front. But leaders know they need some kind of resolution here.

And finally, Manchin's full-throated view that he needs to see scores in order to vote on any final proposal isn't exclusive to him.

There are a group of moderate House Democrats who share that view and have communicated it with leadership, according to two sources.

Given how quickly Democratic leaders want to move, that stance makes things more complicated.

Remember: Pelosi can only afford to lose three House Democrats. There is virtually no margin for error and a number of real issues to resolve -- and fast.

Another under-appreciated outstanding issue

Progressives may now be willing to move forward without explicit assurances from centrist senators, but moderate Democrats have been clear for weeks they don't want to vote on anything that will then be changed in the Senate. With Manchin making clear there's still a long way to go with him, this is an issue that needs to be reconciled.

About the Manchin remarks

CNN reported that Manchin had been frustrated that House Democrats were trying to get him to make a clear endorsement of the $1.75 trillion framework -- and he wanted to make clear where he stood as he was getting lobbied to back adding more social programs to the plan, according to a source familiar with his thinking.

Joe Biden wanted to go big like FDR but some moderates worry that's backfiring on Democrats

  Joe Biden wanted to go big like FDR but some moderates worry that's backfiring on Democrats Recent election results and Joe Biden’s flagging poll numbers have Democrats debating whether the president should still go big or if it’s time to pull back. “I don’t intend to be anybody but Joe Biden,” the president said Saturday when asked about comparisons with FDR. “That’s who I am. And what I’m trying to do is do the things that I ran on to do.”Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

He also had grown angry that progressives thought they had leverage over him to back the $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion plan if they withheld their support for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the source said.

Manchin, the source said, also didn't like last-minute changes being made to the social safety net proposal.

In short, he didn't want to get jammed into supporting something he was far from ready to endorse.

The White House view

About 20 minutes after Manchin concluded his remarks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki released this statement:

"Senator Manchin says he is prepared to support a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation, is fiscally responsible, and will create jobs. The plan the House is finalizing meets those tests—it is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, childcare, elder care, and housing. Experts agree: Seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists have said it will reduce inflation. As a result, we remain confident that the plan will gain Senator Manchin's support."

White House senior staff have spoken to Manchin after his comments Monday, a source familiar with the talks tells CNN.

But Biden, who is attending a global climate summit overseas, has not directly spoken with Manchin. Biden is scheduled to leave Glasglow and return to Washington overnight, where House progressives are counting on him to secure Manchin's support.

What that means

White House officials have spent months making the case that the proposal, which Biden has made explicit will be paid for in its entirety, will actually reduce inflation over time due to its overall focus on boosting supply-side capacity. In other words, it's the opposite of the American Rescue Plan, which was designed for a short-term demand-side boost. Instead, Biden's economic and climate package is spread over time and aimed at boosting capacity, something the President's economic team believes will work to help diffuse inflationary pressures.

That's the pitch at least. But it's clear that they have at least one critical person to convince that's the case: Manchin. That effort has actually been underway for several months. Clearly more work needs to be done.

Manchin's position

The reason the effort to convince Manchin about the proposals effect on inflation has been ongoing for several months is pretty simple: little if anything he said in his statement is a shift in his long held position.

As one Democratic senator told CNN: "Manchin is going to Manchin. We've all known all of this. Not minimizing it, but it's not revelatory."

Why was nothing viewed as revelatory?

  • Read Manchin's September Wall Street Journal opinion piece
  • Or his appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press"
  • Or his September statement
  • Or his comments to reporters in last week

This isn't meant to minimize Manchin's concerns at all -- just to make clear few people who've been paying attention heard much new in them.

China hails Xi and Biden talks, after year of growing strain .
BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday hailed a virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, saying they had a candid and constructive exchange that sent a strong signal to the world. The positive description of the meeting came in sharp contrast to heated exchanges between the two nations earlier this year. The talks appeared to mark what both sides hoped would be a turnaround in relations, though major differences remain. © Provided by Associated Press In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency Chinese President Xi Jinping, fourth from right waves as he greets U.S. President Joe Biden via video link from Beijing, China on Tuesday, Nov.

usr: 1
This is interesting!