‘Bulls—‘: How a Manchin-Bernie blowup helped unstick Dems’ agenda

Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders tangled in a private Democratic meeting this week that helped set the stage for growing progress on President Joe Biden’s agenda. As Democratic leadership gathered Monday ahead of a pivotal week of negotiations on the party’s social spending bill, Manchin (D-W.Va.) laid out what he could accept to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s team. Universal pre-K was in, he said, but no tuition-free community college. Sanders (I-Vt.) was not pleased. “Bullshit,” Sanders said, according to a readout of the meeting provided to POLITICO. Sanders said…

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Long a rallying point, Child Tax Credit now splits Democrats

Democrats’ signature achievement — their expansion of the Child Tax Credit — is suddenly a major headache. Lawmakers had already been contending with quixotic demands by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to undo changes to the break Democrats pushed into law only months ago. But word that the White House is now proposing a one-year extension of the initiative — far shorter than what most lawmakers had contemplated — threatens to become a bigger problem, even as Democrats scramble to work out their differences on the overall reconciliation package. Many Democrats,…

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Dem divisions linger in last lap of spending talks

Congressional Democrats are down to a handful of key disputes in their frenetic effort to draft President Joe Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social spending package by the end of the week. But the remaining hurdles will likely be the trickiest to clear, and it remains an enormous question mark whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can nail down a deal in the next 48 hours. As Democratic leaders publicly aim for a broad agreement on the bill’s contents before next week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) appeared…

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Apple, Facebook targeted by consumer bureau in tech industry investigation

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday ordered Apple, Facebook and other tech giants to turn over details on how they handle customer payments data, opening a new front in Washington’s crackdown on Silicon Valley. The CFPB also demanded information from Amazon, Google, PayPal and Square as part of the investigation, in the first big move by agency director Rohit Chopra since he took the helm of the bureau earlier this month. The companies at issue operate digital payments systems. The move sent a clear signal to Wall Street and…

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Jan. 6 contempt fight headed for the Justice Department

The congressional push for firsthand details of Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 elections is about to land in the lap of the Biden administration. The House is set to vote Thursday afternoon to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena to testify to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The vote is expected to fall largely along party lines and will result in a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington D.C., which then must decide whether to…

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Newsom goes big first, worries about the details later

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has a bully pulpit that can change the national agenda, and he’s not afraid to use it. Newsom has mandated student Covid-19 vaccines and made big promises on banning sales of gas-powered vehicles. Both pronouncements immediately landed him on the national interview circuit. But Newsom often gives scant details on getting from announcement to action. Lost in his student vaccine mandate was the fact that it likely won’t take effect until next summer, once federal officials fully approve a shot and school leaders hash…

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Trump broke the suburbs for the GOP. The rebuilding could start in Virginia.

Republicans spent every election of the Trump era hemorrhaging suburban voters. Next month’s Virginia elections will be a big, early test of whether they can stop the bleeding. It’s the GOP’s best chance in years to arrest their streak of new lows in the rapidly growing suburban counties that ring Washington, D.C., Richmond and Virginia Beach. Gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin and a down-ballot slate packed with female recruits believe they’ve found the right formula, leaning into an issue set made for battle in the suburbs — education and the role…

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Biden leans on Scranton. In D.C., Park Avenue may be winning.

SCRANTON, Pa. — It was just before dusk. And standing in front of a dated brick building, four historic trolley cars and a billboard emblazoned with an American flag and the words “Build Back Better,” President Joe Biden was once more trying to conjure up the working class populism that had brought him from this old coal town to the halls of the White House. “Just do your fair share,” he implored the crowd in attendance, about 100 or so people who had come to see the Scranton boy who…

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‘Everyone should be very worried’: Dems seek wake-up call as Virginia goes to the wire

A creeping sense of worry among Democrats about the Virginia governor’s race spilled into the open on Wednesday, after the release of a new Monmouth University poll showing former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe deadlocked with Republican Glenn Youngkin less than two weeks before Election Day. And the panic may be a good thing, some of them say. The Monmouth poll was the latest in a series of data points to increase concern about McAuliffe’s prospects. While other recent polls in Virginia have shown McAuliffe staked to narrow leads, President Joe…

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Poll: McAuliffe, Youngkin tied in Virginia governor’s race

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are deadlocked in the state’s governor’s race, according to a new poll from Monmouth University, as the Republican gains in the closing weeks of the race. The poll shows both men with 46 percent support among registered voters. McAuliffe has lost ground since the last poll from the university in September, in which he held a narrow, 5-point lead. Two percent of voters prefer another candidate, and 7 percent are undecided. Various modeling of the potential electorate from the pollster found…

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Sinema blows up Dems’ plans to tax high earners, corporations

Democrats have a Kyrsten Sinema problem when it comes to raising taxes. As they seek to finalize President Joe Biden’s social spending plan by the end of the week, Sinema (D-Ariz.) remains opposed to one of the party’s chief goals of raising tax rates on high-income earners and corporations, a long-sought objective since former President Donald Trump signed his 2017 tax cut law. Now, party leaders are working behind the scenes to target the wealthy and corporate America without crossing what increasingly appears like a red line to Sinema, according…

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‘Got to get everybody in the tent’: Dems power toward narrowed deal

Less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden delivered a blunt assessment on how to prune the party’s signature legislative package, many Democrats’ attitudes have suddenly shifted toward acceptance. Senior House Democrats on Wednesday emerged from a closed-door meeting with their members, their first since Oct. 1, optimistic they could secure an agreement on Biden’s mammoth $2 trillion social spending package — perhaps by the end of the week. Many final decisions remain in limbo, and Democrats have already begun a fresh round of bargaining as they attempt to preserve…

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‘Down the rabbit hole’: Arizona GOP goes full fringe

Just when it seemed Arizona Republicans couldn’t make more of a spectacle, they found another way. As the party hardens around its fealty to former President Donald Trump, the GOP is filling up its midterm ballot with a roster of conspiracy theorists and extremists that could threaten the party’s prospects in a state that’s drifted leftward in recent elections. The latest of those candidates is Ron Watkins, a celebrity in the QAnon conspiracy world suspected of being Q, who announced his plans to run for Congress last week. It isn’t…

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It’s not just McAuliffe vs. Youngkin. The fight is on for control of Virginia’s House.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Alex Askew knows firsthand how tight elections can get for Democrats in Virginia. He barely won his seat in the state House of Delegates, defeating his Republican opponent by just 802 votes in 2019. That’s why Askew is campaigning furiously ahead of the November election. On the first Sunday of “Souls to the Polls” early voting over the weekend, Askew, 36, attended two church services before an afternoon of campaign events and canvassing. He was joined by a colleague, state Del. Nancy Guy, who clinched her…

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Walkouts and strikes hit hospitals in pandemic hot spots

Hospitals taxed by the pandemic over the last 20 months have a new problem: Labor strife and a wave of resignations have people waiting longer for care. Months of marathon shifts, an onslaught of verbal and even physical abuse from patients and the public, and perennial complaints over low pay and staffing shortages are stirring unrest at a particularly critical moment in the pandemic. There have been at least 30 strikes of health care workers so far this year, according to a tracker from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and…

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Dems edge closer to ditching disarray

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s strategy to force through Democrats’ domestic agenda flamed out spectacularly in September. They’re ready to try it all over again. With their party’s long-sought priorities on the line, the speaker and Senate majority leader are hustling to clinch a deal as soon as possible that would lock in evasive centrists on a framework for President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social spending package. That framework, in turn, would free up needed progressive votes for a bipartisan infrastructure bill by Oct. 31. It’s a rerun of the…

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‘They rushed the process’: Vaccine maker’s woes hamper global inoculation campaign

The world’s vaccine distributor has been counting on U.S. companies to provide more than 2 billion doses to lower and middle-income countries by the end of 2022 — a crucial step in ending the Covid-19 pandemic. But the campaign run by the international consortium known as COVAX, which has already been delayed significantly because of production lags, is now likely to fall short by more than 1 billion doses as a key supplier faces significant hurdles in proving it can manufacture a shot that meets regulators’ quality standards, according to…

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Dems scramble for climate Plan C as Manchin dashes their dreams

Joe Manchin is hearing a dire pitch from his colleagues: Don’t blow our chance to save the world. After Manchin rejected a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s climate plan and rebuffed a separate carbon tax Tuesday, Senate Democrats are urgently pressing their West Virginia colleague for an alternative. Biden and Democrats are trying to clinch a deal on Biden’s larger social spending bill, but the climate plank has become a serious question mark due to Manchin. And some progressives are reiterating they won’t support any bill that doesn’t have a…

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House hopes to defy history in criminal contempt case against Bannon

The House’s push to prosecute Steve Bannon for defying its Jan. 6 investigators relies on a law that hasn’t produced a conviction in decades and could take years to litigate. Welcome to criminal contempt of Congress. It’s going to be messy. Contempt is one of the House’s only tools to punish witnesses who refuse to cooperate, but it’s riddled with legal loopholes and ambiguities that could allow Donald Trump’s allies to bury the Jan. 6 select committee in Byzantine court challenges — without ever producing new evidence about the former…

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Biden bets his agenda on the inside game

Before Joe Biden can fully pitch the public on his solutions to a lingering pandemic and economic rockiness, he’s got to finish the sale to his own party’s lawmakers. As Democrats on Capitol Hill brace in anticipation of a brutal midterm, Biden is spending an extraordinary amount of time and political capital behind the scenes to convince them to rally around a common framework for social and climate spending. His congressional huddles have accelerated, from phone calls on the White House veranda to one-on-one and group meetings — including two…

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House prepares to deploy contempt against Bannon — but it won’t be easy

The House’s push to prosecute Steve Bannon for defying its Jan. 6 investigators relies on a law that hasn’t produced a conviction in decades and could take years to litigate. Welcome to criminal contempt of Congress. It’s going to be messy. Contempt is one of the House’s only tools to punish witnesses who refuse to cooperate, but it’s riddled with legal loopholes and ambiguities that could allow Donald Trump’s allies to bury the Jan. 6 select committee in Byzantine court challenges — without ever producing new evidence about the former…

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Cruz puts hold on Biden’s pick for Middle East lead at State

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has put a hold on President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the State Department’s Middle East bureau, according to an email obtained by POLITICO, escalating the Texas Republican’s battle with the administration over diplomatic nominations and opening a sensitive, new policy fight. In the email, Cruz’s team explained to Senate Foreign Relations Committee GOP offices why the lawmaker was seeking to delay the panel’s approval of Barbara Leaf, a top Middle East National Security Council official nominated to be the assistant secretary of State for Near…

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The Problem With How Democrats Are Selling Their Agenda

I knew the Democrats had a messaging problem the day I saw newspapers describe Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan as a vast expansion of the social safety net. Safety nets are those cumbersome things that catch you when you stumble and fall. They’re important, but they are not the stuff of inspiration. Nobody wants to need a government check. Kids dream of growing up to be singers, nurses, firefighters and pilots — jobs that will give them dignity, purpose and a role in the world. I’ve never met a…

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Crypto investing wins SEC approval, triggering consumer group uproar

The Securities and Exchange Commission is beginning to bless the first widely available investment funds that track Bitcoin, opening a rift with watchdog groups who argue increased exposure to the volatile market puts consumers at risk. The SEC has signaled that it won’t block industry proposals to launch exchange-traded funds based on Bitcoin futures contracts as regulatory deadlines come to pass this month. When the first fund begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange early this week, it will be a landmark moment for the booming cryptocurrency market. The…

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Covid-19 booster shots: What you need to know

The Food and Drug Administration is poised to dramatically expand the use of Covid-19 booster shots as soon as this week, after weeks of public debate over who needs the shots — and when. POLITICO breaks down the U.S. booster rollout and the big remaining questions, including how long the shots’ protection lasts and whether the Biden administration will authorize “mix and match” boosters. So, who can get a booster? FDA has authorized Pfizer’s shot for some groups and is likely to authorize boosters from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson…

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World leaders promised a green recovery. They got a brown one instead.

Governments in rich countries pledged last year to spend trillions of dollars to rescue their economies from the trough of the pandemic — and to channel that gusher of cash in ways that would aid the fight against climate change. The climate change strategy largely failed. More than 18 months later, mounting evidence shows that the spending did little to alter the trajectory that has the planet on a path toward blowing through global emissions targets. In fact, much of the stimulus spending was directed toward a “brown” recovery that…

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A field guide to Covid-19 boosters

The Food and Drug Administration is poised to dramatically expand the use of Covid-19 booster shots as soon as this week, after weeks of public debate over who needs the shots — and when. POLITICO breaks down the U.S. booster rollout and the big remaining questions, including how long the shots’ protection lasts and whether the Biden administration will authorize “mix and match” boosters. So, who can get a booster? FDA has authorized Pfizer’s shot for some groups and is likely to authorize boosters from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson…

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