Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Last Call For The Good Package, Con't

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent argues that Democrats need to get in gear when it comes to telling people what's actually in the Biden Build Back Better plan rather than harping on the cost.
A big problem Democrats face right now is that congressional sausage making is so repellent and ugly that it risks alienating voters precisely when Democrats need them to be open to the details of their proposals.

In this regard, new polling released this week should light a fire under them — and prompt them to pass President Biden’s agenda as quickly as possible.

A new CNN poll released Wednesday, for instance, finds that only 25 percent of Americans believe they and their family will be better off if the two bills making up Biden’s agenda pass. Meanwhile, 32 percent say they’ll be worse off, and 43 percent say they’ll be about the same.

Among independents, who may be souring on Biden, only 20 percent say the bills will make them better off. While those numbers are grim, the poll does find some good news for Biden: 50 percent of Americans approve of his performance.

Yet the poll finds that only 41 percent of Americans want the bills to pass in their current iteration, which would include the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion social policy reconciliation bill. Another 30 percent want them in scaled down form, with less spending.

In one way, that’s not necessarily bad news. That such a large majority wants something to pass — and that large percentages are agnostic on whether it will help or hurt them — both suggest that only a small minority are dug in against it.

So many Americans might be open to approving of it once it passes and they learn more about it. But that means Democrats should hurry up and make that happen.

Their basic dilemma is also underscored in a new CBS News poll. It finds soaring support for individual provisions in Biden’s agenda, with 88 percent of Americans supporting the government negotiating down prescription drug prices, 84 percent supporting expanding Medicare to cover dental, eye and hearing treatment, and 73 percent supporting paid family and medical leave.

The CBS poll also finds general support for the two big Biden bills is in the low-to-mid 50s — good, but not nearly as good as the individual provisions. And only 36 percent say the Build Back Better social policy bill will help them or their families.

Sean McElwee, who polls regularly for the progressive group Data for Progress, thinks the message for Democrats is clear.

“The longer they sit these bills out there, and let them get attacked not just from Republicans but from the center of their party, the more difficult it is to claim these as unifying bills,” McElwee told me, adding that this clouds the case that “Biden is doing stuff for you.”
The problem remains that President Manchin and Vice President Sinema continue to call the shots, and they will continue to make sure nothing is passed, especially Sinema.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the moderate Arizona Democrat who has objected to the size and scope of President Biden’s sweeping legislative agenda, has been trailed all over the country by progressive activists seeking to pressure her. They have followed her into a bathroom in Arizona, on an airplane and even to the Boston Marathon.

But this week, with the Senate out of session, those activists would have had to travel even farther to press their case with Ms. Sinema in person — she’s in Europe on a fund-raising trip.

A spokesman for Ms. Sinema said she had participated in fund-raising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee but declined to say where or provide any additional details. One person briefed on the matter said an event had occurred in Paris. It was not clear whether her trip to Europe was at the urging of the party committee.

The chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, is also in Europe this week and headlined a dinner on Wednesday in London, with contribution levels as much as $36,500, according to a copy of an invitation. Ms. Sinema’s name does not appear on that invitation.

A spokesman for the Senate committee declined to comment on the events in Europe or on Ms. Sinema’s role.

Although political campaigns and parties cannot raise money from foreign nationals, American citizens living abroad can and do regularly contribute.

Ms. Sinema’s office declined to say how long she would be abroad, what countries she was visiting, how the trip was being paid for and whether she was doing any additional fund-raising for her own campaign. Her political team had reached out to set up meetings in London and Paris, according to two people familiar with the matter.

John LaBombard, a spokesman for Ms. Sinema, said she remained engaged in the negotiations in Washington.

“So far this week, Senator Sinema has held several calls — including with President Biden, the White House team, Senator Schumer’s team, and other Senate and House colleagues — to continue discussions on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” Mr. LaBombard said. “Those conversations are ongoing.”

Sinema knows what her priorities are. Passing any Infrastructure bill isn't one of them.

At all.

Insurrection Investigation, Con't

House January 6th Commission members are getting closer to pursuing criminal charges against the former Trump regime members who are refusing congressional subpoenas.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is planning to ramp up its efforts to force Trump administration officials to comply with its subpoenas as the former president attempts to stymie the inquiry.

Lawmakers who sit on the panel said they are prepared to pursue criminal charges against witnesses like Stephen K. Bannon who have balked at cooperating. And the committee may issue a subpoena as early as Wednesday to Jeffrey Clark, a Trump Justice Department official who sought to deploy department resources to support former president Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voting fraud in the 2020 election.

“We are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, said in an interview Tuesday.

Tensions over compliance with subpoenas are increasing as the committee’s plan to hold depositions this week with Bannon and three other Trump administration officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the acting defense secretary on Jan. 6 — is already facing head winds.

Although lawmakers maintain that the deposition dates still stand for this week, it remains unclear whether they will happen. But talks between the committee and the former officials’ lawyers continue.

Negotiations between Clark’s legal team and the committee did not proceed as rapidly as the committee hoped, according to a person familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks. As a result, the committee is contemplating issuing a subpoena, this person said.

A committee spokesman declined to comment on any possible future subpoenas.

Clark is considered a key witness for the panel, which is looking into Trump administration efforts to overturn election results and interfere with the peaceful transfer of power.

Clark, the former acting head of the DOJ’s civil division, emerged as a key player in Trump’s push to amplify his voter-fraud claims after it was reported that the two men were in close touch in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, which was the most serious attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

Clark authored and circulated a draft letter dated Dec. 28, addressed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) that urged officials in the state to investigate unfounded claims of fraud. The Washington Post has previously reported that in early January, Trump entertained a plan to oust acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with Clark, who was open to pursuing Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results.

Trump has urged his former aides not to cooperate with the committee and is asserting a claim of executive privilege to prevent the release of records from the National Archives after the Biden administration last week said it will not stand in the way of the information’s release.
So, negotiations continue. Because that's what you do with traitors, insurrectionists, and criminals who swore to destroy the country before and who have all but issued standing threats that the moment they get back into power, they will act upon those threats against this very Commission.
You "negotiate" with them.

The Vax Of Life, Con't

The Biden administration will finally lift border restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico starting next month.

The U.S. government next month will lift pandemic-era travel limits along the Canadian and Mexican borders for travelers who are vaccinated against the coronavirus, allowing them to enter the U.S. for non-essential activities, like tourism and family visits, for the first time since March 2020.

Starting in early November, the Department of Homeland Security will exempt travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from the non-essential travel restrictions in place along both U.S. land borders, senior Biden administration officials told reporters during a call Tuesday.

Those who can't provide proof of vaccination will continue to be banned from crossing the land borders if their travel is deemed to be "non-essential." U.S. citizens, green card holders and individuals traveling for medical care have been exempted from the non-essential restrictions since they were instituted.

Starting in January 2022, the U.S. will require all travelers — including those engaging in essential travel, like truck drivers — to show proof of vaccination before entering a land border crossing, the officials said.

"This phased approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers and others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to this new system," one administration official said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will accept paper or digital proof of vaccination, an official said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet determined which vaccines the U.S. will recognize, the officials added.

Tuesday's announcement is likely to be welcomed by Mexican and Canadian travelers, as well as U.S. border community leaders, who have been urging the Biden administration for months to lift the travel limits, which have hurt local economies that rely on tourism and commerce.

"There's been a lot of struggle in the community because of the closure, not just financial struggle but a lot of families who have been separated and a lot of literal emotional hardship," Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who represents the Texas border city of El Paso, told CBS News. "This is very welcomed news."

You notice Mexican and Canadian citizens aren't screeching about "mah freedumbs" over this, they'll be vaccinated and come in to the States to do what they want to do. I don't know why though, Canada's a hell of a lot safer than the US as far as the virus.


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