‘Now is the time’: Biden’s influence faces Capitol crucible

The next few months will push President Joe Biden to wield every drop of his influence over Congress. Democrats are plunging into messy internal debates over social programs from child care to drug pricing as they try to beat back GOP resistance on voting rights while steering the United States away from economic catastrophe. And in order to avert a government shutdown, avoid a debt default and fight ballot access restrictions passed in some GOP states, Democratic lawmakers are urging Biden to get more directly involved. Senate Majority Whip Dick…

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Dan Crenshaw is building a young activist army, one summit at a time

An hour or so into Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s conservative youth confab at the downtown Hilton Hotel in Houston this past weekend, technical difficulties began to mar the affair. A video call with Jordan Peterson, the provocative right wing professor the New York Times once called a “custodian of the patriarchy,” began to glitch. As staff tried to fix the sound, Crenshaw, standing on the stage in the hotel’s ballroom, improvised. Turning to the audience, which had pushed up close to hear him speak, he began taking questions. “What are…

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How ‘farmacies’ could promote healthier diets after Covid

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Audrey Oliver knows the difference between a store-bought tomato and one fresh from the farm. Nowadays, the fresh ones show up on her doorstep every other week. That’s because for Oliver, 66, food literally is medicine. She receives her box of fruits and vegetables as part of a “farmacy” movement that treats fresh produce as a way to promote health just like a pill or other prescription. She says she eats the fresh ones right away; the flat-tasting tomatoes from the store sometimes just sat and spoiled.…

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DHS: Extremists used TikTok to promote Jan. 6 violence

Federal officials warned law enforcement agencies this spring that domestic extremists had used TikTok in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 riots on the Capitol, including by promoting bringing guns to Washington that day, according to an internal government document — highlighting authorities’ growing concern over violent content on the video app. In the April 19 briefing reviewed by POLITICO, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis said American extremists used the Chinese-owned social media platform to recruit people to their causes, as well as share “tactical…

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Max Rose plants the seeds for a return to Congress

Max Rose is officially plotting a comeback bid. The Staten Island Democrat is preparing to launch a rematch as soon as this fall against GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis — and Rose may get a leg up, given the seat will likely become far more favorable in redistricting. It’s a rare spot of optimism for House Democrats in the uphill battle to keep their majority. The 34-year old Army veteran was one of 13 House Democrats who fell to GOP challengers in the 2020 election, which was brutal for down-ballot candidates.…

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How California’s recall could reverberate in future elections

SACRAMENTO — In the end, California’s recall amounted to a $276 million exercise that dealt state Republicans a blow heading into next year’s elections. Gov. Gavin Newsom resoundingly defeated the recall attempt Tuesday night by a margin wider than thought possible a month ago, landing on a winning message that energized his base while he laid the groundwork for 2022 voter outreach in battleground areas as he is up for reelection. Republicans must quickly regroup and assess their chances at defeating a newly emboldened Newsom at the same time they…

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Obama’s transportation chief to Biden: mandate vaccines for airline travel

The man who ran former President Barack Obama’s Department of Transportation thinks President Joe Biden is going too soft on airlines and airline travelers as part of the government’s efforts to get the pandemic under control. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the White House should push airlines to put a vaccine mandate on airline travelers in place. If the airlines refuse, LaHood said, the White House should do it itself. What’s more, he contends it wouldn’t be a heavy lift operationally. “I don’t think it would be difficult at…

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DeSantis flirts with the anti-vaccine crowd

MIAMI — Ron DeSantis isn’t anti-vaccine. But he has started standing shoulder-to-shoulder those who are. The Florida governor’s clear and unadulterated public messaging about the need for vaccines has become more diluted in recent months, culminating with a press conference he held this week to bash President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate plan — and threaten to fine cities and counties that impose their own mandates. The event in the small Florida town of Newberry featured two anti-vaccine workers, one of whom falsely claimed he wouldn’t get a shot because…

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Centrist Democrats scramble House drug pricing effort

A trio of centrist House Democrats threw their party’s health care agenda into disarray Wednesday by blocking a plan that would have authorized direct government negotiation of drug prices and help pay for a $3.5 trillion social spending bill. Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) joined Republicans in voting against leadership-backed drug pricing language at the end of a three-day House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of the sweeping package. The 29-29 tie vote meant the provision could not advance. While another key House panel…

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Biden pulls punches on rights abusers

President Joe Biden has repeatedly promised to prioritize human rights, saying the cause “must be the center of our foreign policy, not the periphery.” His top aides have echoed such pledges, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that the Biden administration “will stand against human rights abuses wherever they occur, regardless of whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners.” But when it comes to some of the thorniest human rights cases, Biden and his aides have taken middle-of-the-road positions that have upset even some of their staunchest backers. From…

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Lindsey Graham, one-man PR shop for the Afghan resistance

Lindsey Graham, best known for his Capitol deal-making forays and propping-up of Donald Trump, has a new cause célèbre these days: the man who claims to be Afghanistan’s legitimate president. After the Taliban swept into power in Kabul, the South Carolina GOP senator began working behind the scenes to build support in Washington foreign policy circles for Amrullah Saleh, the Afghan opposition leader spearheading the anti-Taliban resistance based in the northeastern province of Panjshir. In a bid to legitimize the Taliban opposition, Graham has been working to connect Saleh and…

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Democrats’ House targets vanish as GOP redraws new maps

House Democrats spent the past two elections crowing about ousting Republicans from longtime red districts that had suddenly grown competitive. Now, Republicans are about to make many of those targets disappear from the battlefield entirely. GOP mapmakers are readying to shore up more than a dozen of the most hotly contested House battlegrounds from the past four years, narrowing Democrats’ path to maintain control of the House, as they prepare for midterm elections that are historically tough for the party in power. Democrats got their first taste of a shrinking…

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Democrats grapple with faltering filibuster push

Anti-filibuster advocates are preparing a last stand to gut the Senate’s supermajority requirement by spotlighting a sweeping Democratic election reform bill. Their chances aren’t looking good. The effort is uphill and potentially impossible, given several Democratic moderates’ entrenched opposition to changing the 60-vote requirement for most legislation. All 50 Democratic votes would need to get on board for a change to the Senate rules, and Sen. Joe Manchin said on Tuesday that he’s focused on finding 10 Republican votes for a new elections compromise that he helped shape. “I’m not…

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Dems’ fiscal endgame could require punting on debt limit

Disaster aid could be all the sweetener Democrats need to avert a government shutdown later this month — if they give up their biggest leverage in the high-stakes debt limit staredown. In the next two weeks, President Joe Biden’s party wants to fund federal agencies and fulfill his request for billions of dollars to help hurricane-battered states, all in one bipartisan funding bundle. But their best chance to make that work likely involves prolonging their biggest political gamble to date by leaving the debt limit to haunt them come October.…

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How Wisconsin is ruled by a shadow governor

BURLINGTON, Wis. — Robin Vos isn’t the governor of Wisconsin. But he certainly acts like he is. For nearly three years, the state Assembly speaker has used his Republican majority — and the support of the Republicans who control the state Senate — to block, thwart or resist almost every significant move made by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Before Evers even took office in 2019, Vos led the charge to strip power from the incoming governor. When the pandemic hit, Vos helped curb Evers’ authority to declare public health emergencies.…

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How Gavin Newsom survived the recall

LOS ANGELES — For a moment this summer, Gavin Newsom’s inner circle feared the effort to recall him could be drawing uncomfortably close. In late July and early August, the Delta variant of the coronavirus was raging, threatening school reopenings in the fall. Public polling showed many Democrats were so apathetic about voting that it was possible — if turnout was low enough — that a Republican could win. “Clearly there was a time in the summer where the thing went from … this optimism [about Covid] like, ‘Oh, the…

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Newsom beats California recall

OAKLAND — Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain California’s governor after voters decisively rejected an effort to recall him in Tuesday’s election. The conservative-driven effort to topple Newsom always faced long odds in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by some five million voters and Newsom cruised to a 24-point landslide in 2018. Democrats relied on a drumbeat of catastrophic warnings about a conservative Republican governor to motivate their base after fearing that lackluster turnout could cost them the election. With nearly 8 million votes counted, Newsom was crushing the recall…

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$2T, 40-plus tax increases: A rundown of House Dems’ tax plan

House Democrats this week are moving forward with their long-awaited plan to raise taxes to help pay for their next big spending package. With more than 40 separate tax increases, collectively worth $2 trillion, it would be the largest package of tax increases in decades — and a test of Democrats’ willingness to raise rates. Lawmakers want the money to fund plans to greatly boost government benefits, from expanding access to pre-K programs to beefing up Medicare — though Democrats remain at odds over the plan’s total size, with Sen.…

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Centrists throw wrench in House Democrats’ drug pricing plans

An intraparty fight over drug price controls is threatening to derail Democrats’ dreams of sweeping changes to Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act as part of their mammoth social spending package. House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and his senior aides are racing to shore up support for leadership-backed language that would allow direct government negotiations over the prices of hundreds of drugs, penalize manufacturers that raise prices faster than inflation and apply both policies to private insurance plans as well as Medicare. Efforts to wrap the…

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Biden Covid team sees vaccine efficacy waning in unpublished data from Israel

The Biden administration’s push to roll out coronavirus vaccine booster shots this month has largely been shaped by unpublished data from Israel’s vaccination campaign, according to two individuals familiar with the matter. The Israel data, which is set to be made public as soon as this week, shows that the Pfizer vaccine’s ability to prevent severe disease and hospitalization is waning over time — as is the shot’s protection against mild and moderate disease, the two sources said. The country began administering boosters to people over 60 in July and…

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How Joe Biden Became Irish

While it is cliche for political figures to portray themselves as being “as American as apple pie,” President Joe Biden has long advertised another selling point: He’s also as Irish as a pint of Guinness (despite being, like his predecessor, a teetotaler). More so than any president since John F. Kennedy — the only other Catholic to hold the office — Biden’s Irish heritage is central to his public persona. He is so strongly identified with it that Sarah Palin, famously, could not get his name right. During prep sessions…

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Trump shattered tradition on Fed chair. Some Dems want Biden to do the same.

Left-leaning activists and lawmakers are pushing President Joe Biden to dump Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for Fed Governor Lael Brainard with a last-ditch message: Don’t miss a rare opportunity to install a known and tested Democrat atop the world’s most important economic institution. It’s a conundrum for Biden. He can stick with Powell, a choice that would please markets — renominating someone from the opposite party as Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did — or put his own stamp on the Fed for years as President…

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‘Am I on drugs?’ These 7 California recall moments had people wondering

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a French Laundry dinner party in November, he couldn’t have known months later he’d be picking up trash from homeless encampments and hitting city after city campaigning for his political life. Newsom’s night out spurred outrage and sent GOP signature gathering into overdrive, tapping into frustration among Californians who were tired of pandemic restrictions. The resulting recall is not the blockbuster that occurred in 2003 — when movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor — but a cast of 46 characters this year…

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California’s recall election, in photos

California’s gubernatorial recall has been a stomach-churning political roller coaster ride for Gov. Gavin Newsom — one that looked at the start like a longshot, and even a crazy impossibility, in the deep-blue state. But the drive, started last year by determined conservative activists, beat the odds and turned into a very real and very expensive drama that has dominated California’s political landscape for months, from the big cities to the Central Valley. Conservative radio host Larry Elder’s rise to the top of a field of 46 candidates turned the…

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Biden: Keep Newsom in office ‘or you’ll get Donald Trump’

LONG BEACH, Calif. — President Joe Biden headlined an ebullient rally Monday night against recalling California Gov. Gavin Newsom that amplified the governor’s casting of the campaign as part of a national struggle. Speaking on the day before voting concludes, Biden described the recall race as an extension of the 2020 presidential contest. He repeatedly said a Newsom victory would “send a message” to the nation and cast Republican frontrunner Larry Elder as “the closest thing to a Trump clone that I’ve seen in your state,” warning Elder would undermine…

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Democrats confront their Manchin and Sinema dilemma

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema hold the reins on President Joe Biden’s jobs and families plan, and their fellow Democrats are struggling with how to handle it. Led by Manchin’s media tour on Sunday shows and in the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages, the two moderate senators are essentially dictating the final terms of what their colleagues have envisioned as a transformational social spending, tax and environmental package. Manchin’s willingness to take his argument to the public has progressives seething and has made him the focal point of angst within…

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Democrats put tax hikes on fast track — after knocking GOP’s haste on tax cuts

Democrats’ rush to pass a slate of tax increases is giving some Republicans déjà vu. It’s reminiscent of the speed with which they muscled their 2017 tax cuts through Congress — which were widely criticized by Democrats and others as hastily written. Republicans released the outline of what became the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act four years ago this month. “It is eerily similar,” said Mark Prater, who at the time was their chief tax counsel on the Senate Finance Committee. The House Ways and Means Committee aims to approve…

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Blinken lays blame on Trump as he defends messy withdrawal from Afghanistan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday vigorously defended the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and his agency’s handling of the chaotic and deadly evacuation mission from the war-torn country, arguing that the president “inherited” a disaster-in-the-making from Donald Trump. In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken said the U.S. is committed to evacuating the 100 or so Americans who still want to leave the country. But he declined to say whether the U.S. will be able to evacuate the thousands of Afghan…

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Vaccine Mandates Crash Into America’s ‘Don’t Tell Me What To Do’ State

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — The back doors of the union hall are propped open, letting the desert sunshine in to reflect off metal shelves lining the cinder block walls. On them are jars of peanut butter and piles of canned goods, unfolded cardboard boxes and other remnants of the food bank the local entertainment union set up here to help its 1,700 members after the coronavirus shutdowns last year threw them out of work almost overnight. Standing on the back steps, facing out toward the Las Vegas Strip on a…

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