Friday, May 28, 2021

Last Call For The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

As Steve Benen explains, Joe Manchin's theory that there are good Republicans left in the Senate was tested today, and he and the GOP failed miserably as Mitch McConnell sank the bipartisan January 6th commission with a filibuster blockade.

Indeed, the pieces were in place for Manchin to prove that his approach worked. Most Democrats and Republicans agreed that there was an insurrectionist attack on our seat of government. The parties also agreed on the need for an examination. There were bipartisan negotiations, concessions from both sides, and an eventual compromise agreement.

If Manchin were literally writing a script as to how political disputes should be resolved, it would look exactly like this.

As recently as late last week, the senator assured reporters there was a "very, very good chance" the Senate would pass the bipartisan proposal, adding that he hoped there were at least "10 good, solid patriots" among Senate Republicans.

Manchin didn't just want to believe this, he needed to believe this. If Republicans rejected a bipartisan compromise, prioritizing politics and electoral strategies over country, then his entire vision of how Congress can operate would be shattered.

We don't need to change the Senate's filibuster rules, Manchin tells us, we simply need well-intentioned officials to sit down, talk, listen, compromise, and reach responsible agreements.

It's an idea with hypothetical appeal. But in practice, a clear majority of Senate Republicans just told the conservative Democrat that his model doesn't work. The parties reached a consensus, and GOP leaders decided they didn't much care.

The only responsible way forward is for Manchin to consider the implication of today's lesson. If 10 Senate Republicans won't accept a bipartisan plan for a Jan. 6 commission -- after they endorsed the idea and accepted Democratic concessions -- why in the world would anyone think GOP officials would work in good faith toward a sensible agreement on infrastructure? And voting rights? And immigration? And literally every other meaningful policy dispute under the sun?

Or put another way, now that McConnell and his Republican have discredited Manchin's preferred model, what is he prepared to replace it with?
Manchin's answer of course, is not to replace it at all. 

His answer is to do nothing. As for his collegue Kyrsten Sinema?

She skipped town before the vote, along with nearly ten vulnerable Republicans who don't have to answer in 2022.

So where do we go from here?

Our Little White SUpremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Somebody, in this case Capitol Hill reporting service Congressional Quarterly, finally got around to asking House staffers how they felt being targeted in the January 6th terror attack, and how they are coping. The answer, not very well, especially with their Republican House bosses denying the trauma they lived through.
A congressional staffer froze recently when elevator doors opened and there stood a member of the House who has downplayed the violence of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Some congressional employees are shaken by what they see as the whitewashing of the attack, and the denials have reignited lingering trauma.

One House employee who works in the Capitol building and heard the rioters banging on their office door said seeing the lawmakers try to erase the destruction is jarring.

Thirteen staffers interviewed by CQ Roll Call, who were granted anonymity to speak candidly about their mental health and how they are coping, point to comments like those from Rep. Andrew Clyde. Despite helping barricade the House chamber from rioters, the Georgia Republican downplayed the events of Jan. 6 at a hearing earlier this month as “acts of vandalism” and said the rioters were “orderly” and looked like “a normal tourist visit.”

Five people died in the attack, including a police officer. Two officers died by suicide after the violence. Some officers have brain injuries; one lost an eye.

“When I see those members in the hallway or the basement, I think to myself that they wouldn’t care if I was dead,” one staffer told CQ Roll Call.

Staffers from both sides of the aisle told CQ Roll Call that denying the reality that Capitol workers, staffers and lawmakers themselves experienced firsthand feels more personal than partisan disagreements about policy.
When an alert went out on April 2 that there was an “external threat,” some staffers said their hearts raced. They said the previously routine safety notifications now carry a heavier weight, particularly since the vague alert language is the same used to describe the thousands of violent rioters on Jan. 6.

A senior legislative staffer in the House said the April 2 alert and lockdown brought back difficult memories and anxious feelings from Jan. 6.

“Today’s alert was the same terminology as the 6th, ‘external security threat,’” the staffer told CQ Roll Call via text on April 2. “Today it was a car; on the 6th it was an insurrectionist mob.”

Staffers said they know the alerts are intended to keep them safe but the vague language begs more questions than answers.

“It used to be like you’d get a suspicious package notification and be like some kid, some Boy Scout troop or lobbying day person left their bag or something outside someone’s office,” one House legislative director said. “You just kind of assumed the best.”

But his thinking has shifted since Jan. 6.

“Now you’re thinking: There’s a suspicious package. Did someone plant a package so everyone is evacuated and runs outside, where they can have guns? Are they waiting for us? Is it part of a plot?” he said.

Some staffers said they ponder what dying at work would be like and if working in Congress is worth those stakes.

One manager told CQ Roll Call his team is concerned about being targeted, including when trying to enter the building where they work.

“The idea of standing outside Longworth in a 30-person line is making us nervous,” he said. “Now we’re aware that if someone wants to cause harm, there are 30 unprotected staffers all just standing in a row.”

This House legislative director returned to working in Congress during the pandemic, drawn back from the nonprofit sector. He is reconsidering his long-term plan.

“I don’t regret going back to the Hill, but I don’t feel like dying at work,” he told CQ Roll Call.

A Senate Democratic aide who leads a team said he is constantly worried about the safety of his staff.

“I’m not sure all the mental health support in the world will do anything if the danger remains present and anyone with a violent thought in their head can get to the buildings,” he said in April.
Staffers being treated like garbage goes with the territory on both sides of the aisle, but it's got to be something else to see your boss gaslight your own trauma.

So I have to ask, House GOP staffers. You know you're expendable. Why work for these ghouls?
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