GOP Senator Bill Cassidy said he expects the US Supreme Court will “swat” away Texas’ restrictive abortion law.
“I think the Supreme Court will swat it away once it comes to them in an appropriate manner,” Cassidy said during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
The Texas Heartbeat law, or SB 8,went into effect on Wednesday and bans abortions after six weeks, before most women know they’re pregnant.
The Supreme Court refused to block the law in a 5-4 ruling. The ruling was not on the merits of the law or the landmark 1973 Roe V. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the US. Instead, the court said it couldn’t step into the dispute, with a majority of the justices saying they were not ready for a full hearing.
“This order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’ law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts,” they wrote.
Cassidy told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the ruling “had nothing to do with the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade,” but was about those bringing the case not having “standing” or not enough stake in the case to file the challenge.
“If it is as terrible as people say it is, it will be destroyed by the Supreme Court,” Cassidy said.
Some supporters of legal abortion have called the decision a “soft” overturn of Roe v. Wade.
President Joe Biden was critical of the law and said it “will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need.”
“It just seems, I know this sounds ridiculous, almost un-American,” Biden said on Friday.
Cassidy said Democrats were using the ruling to distract from other issues, like the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“People are using it to gin up their base to distract from disastrous policies in Afghanistan, maybe for fundraising appeals,” Cassidy said. “I wish we would focus on issues as opposed to theater. It was about if they had standing, nothing to do with constitutionality. I think we should move on to other issues.”
GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana on Sunday said that he disagrees with an order by Gov. Ron DeSantis that bans local school districts from implementing mask mandates.
During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Cassidy told host Dana Bash that his viewpoint differs than that of the Florida Republican, who is considered to be a potential 2024 presidential contender.
“I’m a conservative. I think you govern best when you govern closest to the people being governed,” he said. “And if a local community is having – their ICU is full, and the people at the local schools see that they’ve got to make sure they stay open, because otherwise children miss out for another year of school, and they put in policy, then the local officials should be listened to. That is a conservative principle.”
“I do disagree with Governor DeSantis,” he said. “The local officials should have control here. I don’t want top-down from Washington, DC. I don’t want top-down from a governor’s office. … If my hospitals are full, vaccination rate is low and infection rate is going crazy, local officials should be allowed to make those decisions.”
DeSantis and fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas both recently signed orders that block mask mandates, which last week drew the ire of President Joe Biden.
“Some state officials are passing laws … that forbid people from doing the right thing,” Biden said about rules that bar Covid-19 restrictions. “I say to the governors, please help. If you’re not going to help, get out of the way of the people that are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”
The directives have frustrated some local officials who have sought to issue COVID-19 prevention measures for children returning to school from their summer vacations.
Last week, Orange County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in Florida, issued a 30-day mask mandate for students when classes resume this week, but parents can opt their children out of the policy.
President Joe Biden is on the verge of scoring a major win where his predecessor Donald Trump repeatedly failed.
Over the past week, the Senate has taken up Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill. It’s cleared two major test votes already with some Republican support. Lawmakers have approved seven amendments so far and the legislation could clear the upper chamber this weekend, possibly even with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s blessing.
If passed, it would pour fresh federal spending into repairing roads, bridges, and highways. It would also enhance broadband connections for many Americans, replace lead pipes, and strengthen climate resiliency.
But Trump is enraged at the steady progress Republicans have made without him on infrastructure, which he never pulled off despite numerous promises to do so. He’s railed against the agreement from the sidelines and threatened to support primary challengers for the GOP senators who give Democrats “a big and beautiful win on infrastructure.”
In the evenly divided Senate, at least 10 Republicans must join all 50 Senate Democrats for the bill to reach Biden’s desk. It looks like enough of them are on the verge of breaking with Trump and approving the bill in a big test of his grip on GOP policy in Congress.
“The former president has much more influence on cultural issues than on economic issues with his supporters,” Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, told Insider. “Senate Republicans don’t see Trump’s criticism as make or break, and their reelection will hinge on factors much more important than what a former president thinks of an infrastructure bill.”
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas suggested Trump’s hold on policy was rather loose. “I think he still has some substantial influence among the Republican base, I don’t know how that translates into policy,” he told Insider.
‘The stars have aligned for both parties’ interests’
Trump employed a scorched-earth brand of politics throughout his presidency, and often undercut his own efforts. In 2019, he abruptly pulled out of infrastructure talks with Democrats as they started investigating his administration. “Infrastructure week” soon became a running gag referring to his repeated failures at passing a new bill.
Biden, on the other hand, is applying the opposite approach. He’s had an unyielding faith in bipartisanship and repeatedly sought compromise with Republicans. That hasn’t always panned out – Biden muscled through a $1.9 trillion stimulus law earlier this year without any GOP support once negotiations collapsed.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranked Senate Republican, serves as a barometer of where many rank-and-file Republicans stand. Thune pushed back against Trump’s recent criticisms, saying he believed each side’s political interests have aligned recently. Infrastructure has long been something popular with voters.
“I disagree with former President Trump on that,” he told Insider. “You want to celebrate successes no matter when they happen. It just so happened the stars aligned right now for both sides to come together on this.”
“As is always the case up here, timing is everything,” he said.
Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, one of the GOP negotiators, shared a similar view. He pointed back to Trump’s previous support for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, only a fraction of which was paid for. Republicans are insisting any plan doesn’t grow the national debt, and the bipartisan Senate gang that negotiated the deal argue it’s fully financed.
“I’m not sure [about] the nature of his objections,” Cassidy said in an interview with Insider, referring to Trump. “Somehow, he says it’s a win for [Biden.] I view it as a win for the American people.”
A Senate Republican aide familiar with the negotiations argued Trump’s attacks are ringing hollow in the Senate’s corridors. “Senators aren’t taking Trump’s threats seriously because his rhetoric is void of substance,” the GOP aide said. “It’s clear he’s only making noise because he doesn’t want Biden to get a win, and the Republican faces of this effort are people he does not like.”
The aide added that “if Trump were smart, he would remind people he called for legislation very similar to this bill, and try to take credit for its passage, rather than threatening to primary members for supporting it.”
Still, key Republicans aren’t taking any chances. Sen. Rob Portman, another GOP negotiator, has asked Trump to get behind the deal, Politico reported.
Some Republicans could buckle under Trump’s attacks
Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas was one of 20 senators from both parties who pledged to support the infrastructure bill, but the Trump-backed candidate is up for reelection next year, and some Trump-allied groups are running ads against his early endorsement. Moran voted against it twice last month, though his vote won’t be pivotal to the bill’s success.
Republicans are already eyeing the next stage of the infrastructure fight: The $3.5 trillion Democratic spending bill. That package will have to go through reconciliation, a legislative pathway for bills to be approved with 51 votes in the Senate instead of the usual 60. It is very unlikely to attract a single Republican vote.
McConnell is already trying to turn up the heat by threatening to withhold GOP support for suspending or raising the debt limit in the fall. That would force Democrats to do it on their own. Congressional inaction or gridlock could mean a devastating default.
“Let me make something perfectly clear: if they don’t need or want our input, they won’t get our help,” McConnell said Thursday. “They won’t get our help with the debt limit increase that these reckless plans will require.”
A group of Senate Republicans is assembling an infrastructure plan, part of a bid to strike a deal with President Joe Biden on a package that’s more narrowly targeted in scope.
The Republican faction appears to consist of the same 10 GOP senators who pitched Biden a $618 billion stimulus package in early February. Those negotiations didn’t yield a breakthrough, as the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus without any Republican votes.
These infrastructure proposals are shaping up to be similar, as the Republican group is preparing to unveil an infrastructure bill likely worth $600 billion to $800 billion, much smaller than Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan.
The bloc includes Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Here are some emerging outlines of the plan, based on comments from those Republican lawmakers:
$600 billion to $800 billion price tag.
Focused on roads, bridges, highways, airports, water and broadband.
May double the spending on roads and bridges from Biden plan ($115 billion).
Financed with “user-fees” such as a tax on vehicle-miles traveled.
No corporate tax hikes.
Romney said told reporters the plan remained in its “early stages,” an indication many details still need to be hashed out. Yet the developments could lead to weeks of negotiations between the Republican-led group and the White House on a smaller infrastructure plan.
Capito on Wednesday said “a sweet spot” for an bipartisan infrastructure deal would range between $600 billion to $800 billion – less than half of the $2.3 trillion package Biden laid out.
“What I’d like to do is get back to what I consider the regular definition of infrastructure in terms of job creation. So that’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, including broadband into that, water infrastructure,” she told CNBC.
‘The people who are using it’ should pay for infrastructure
Other Republicans say they would back shifting the cost of the package from large companies onto the “users” who benefit from government spending. Many are strongly opposed to reversing the Trump tax law to pay for an infrastructure overhaul.
“My own view is that the pay-for ought to come from people who are using it. So if its an airport, the people who are flying,” Romney told reporters. “If it’s a port, the people who are shipping into the port; if it’s a rail system, the people who are using the rails; If it’s highways, it ought to be gas if it’s a gasoline powered vehicle.”
Romney also said he supports implementing a mileage fee on drivers of electric vehicles. Then Capito suggested redirecting unused stimulus money to pay for an infrastructure plan among other measures.
“We’re going to look at Vehicle Miles Traveled as a possibility when you look at fleets or when you look at electric vehicles. We’re going to look at assessing electric vehicles for road usage even though they don’t pay into the gas tax,” she said.
“Something I would like to see is double the money for roads and bridges,” he said Wednesday, adding he was in talks on a plan alongside Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, the head of the National Governors Association.
News of the Republican plan triggered some early criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.
“We have a major crisis in terms of roads, bridges, water systems, affordable housing, you name it. [The GOP price tag] is nowhere near what we need,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said a middle ground between Democrats and Republicans on an infrastructure deal would be significantly less than half of the $2.3 trillion package that President Joe Biden seeks.
“I think the best way for us to do this is hit the sweet spot of where we agree and I think we can agree on a lot of the measures moving forward. How much? I would say probably into the $600 or $800 billion, but we haven’t put all of that together yet,” Capito told CNBC.
Capito laid out some potential revenue elements, including unused coronavirus relief funds, road usage fees for electric cars, and a vehicle miles-traveled tax. She also suggested raising the gas tax, a measure the Biden administration has already ruled out.
“It’s going to have to come from a lot of different sources, but this is important,” she said. Capito did not bring up lifting corporate taxes.
The West Virginia Republican later told Capitol Hill reporters there was a group were drafting a counterproposal, suggesting it would be sized somewhere between $600 billion to $800 billion. Capito was part of the Republican group that pitched a $618 billion counterproposal, which Biden along with Democrats ultimately rejected.
Other Republicans are signaling they are putting together a new package. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday there is a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats drafting one.
Then Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said on Tuesday that a bipartisan group was assembling an “alternative” to the Biden plan. He indicated it would double the amount of spending on roads and bridges from the $115 billion that the president is seeking.
The Biden infrastructure plan includes major funding to fix roads and bridges and set up clean energy incentives. It also has federal funds for in-home elder care, public transit, and schools, among other areas.
Democrats are pressing to take advantage of the cheap cost of borrowing to fund new investments they say will curb inequality and grow the economy.
Republicans, however, are opposed to the Biden package, viewing it as a colossal liberal wish-list. Capito criticized the Biden proposal’s expansive scope, arguing it should be constrained to roads, bridges, airports, broadband, and water infrastructure.
“If we’re going to do this together, which we want to do and is our desire, we’ve got to find those areas and take away the extra infrastructure areas that the president put into his bill like home health aides and school building and all of these kinds of things,” she told CNBC.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, indicated another major infrastructure plan was being drafted by lawmakers searching for another option besides President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal.
“I’ll be meeting with governors and bipartisan group of senators and [representatives] on a bill which will be an alternative to the President’s proposal,” Cassidy told Louisiana reporters on Tuesday.
He continued: “As I look at it, the money in our bill – at least what I’m proposing – would double the amount of money going for roads and bridges compared to what the president is putting forward.”
Biden’s plan sets aside $115 billion to upgrade roads and bridges. That suggests a potential alternative plan from Cassidy could allocate at least $230 billion.
The Louisiana senator formed part of a group of 10 Republican senators who met with Biden earlier this year and pitched a $618 billion coronavirus relief counterproposal. They recently panned Biden for calling that package inadequate to address the crisis. Democrats ultimately approved a $1.9 trillion rescue plan without Republican votes.
It was not immediately clear whether Cassidy was drafting a plan in tandem with any of those GOP lawmakers. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democrats favor a large package that ramps up spending on in-home care for the elderly and affordable housing. The GOP argues these measures go beyond traditional infrastructure, besides having a size and scope that are too large. They are also critical of hiking corporate taxes.
“There is bipartisan appetite for smart infrastructure bills that are built the right way,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday. “There isn’tmuch appetite for using the word “infrastructure” to justify a colossal, multitrillion-dollar slush fund for unrelated bad ideas.”
A group of 10 Senate Republicans announced on Sunday they will soon unveil a $600 billion stimulus package in an effort to strike a compromise with the Biden administration.
The Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss their proposal. The plan’s size is less than a third of the $1.9 trillion plan envisioned by Biden and most Democratic leaders in Congress.
“We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis,” the letter said.
In addition to Collins, it was signed by Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
Details about the forthcoming Republican plan trickled out on Sunday. Portman said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” it would aim the new round of direct payments to Americans who earn less than $50,000 a year and married couples making below $100,000.
According to Cassidy in a separate Fox News appearance, the direct payment amount would be cut from the current $1,400 Democratic proposal to $1,000. The Biden proposal has a provision for a fresh wave of $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans.
The Republican letter also sketched out more about the plan’s provisions. It would extend the $300 federal unemployment benefit; provide $160 billion in funds for virus testing and vaccine distribution; and provide extra money for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as schools.
Portman, who just last week announced that he would retire in 2022 after two terms, implored Democrats not to push a large relief bill through Congress using the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority.
Portman and the other nine GOP senators are calling on Biden to act on his call for “unity” and confer with the GOP group in crafting a smaller compromise package.
“My hope is the president will meet with us,” Portman said.
Since being sworn in, Biden has emphasized he is open to seeking a bipartisan deal with Republicans on an economic relief package. Brian Deese, a top White House economic advisor, said that was still the case.
Biden “is open to ideas wherever they may come,” Deese told NBC News on Sunday. “What he’s uncompromising about is the need to move with speed on a comprehensive plan.”
Democrats, though, are preparing to circumvent Republicans using reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats would vote on a budget resolution this week, the first step in the process.
It appears unlikely the Biden administration will sign onto or adopt many elements of a GOP plan which curtails some of their top relief priorities like strengthened unemployment insurance.
“We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. “The risk is not doing enough.”
In December 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package, which included $600 direct payments to individual Americans and $300 federal unemployment benefits until March 14.
Democratic leaders have set mid-March as a deadline for legislative action because millions of Americans stand to lose their jobless aid after that date.
At the time, Biden made it clear that the December package was only “a down payment” on a more comprehensive bill that he would seek to pass once he was in office.
GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said on Sunday that President Donald Trump had effectively conceded by signing off on the official transition with President-elect Joe Biden.
“The president in effect has conceded when he ordered the General Services Administration to begin the transition,” the Louisiana Republican expressed on “Fox News Sunday” while speaking with host Chris Wallace.
After weeks of delays, GSA administrator Emily Murphy “ascertained” Biden as president-elect on November 23, which gave the Biden team millions of federal dollars to fund critical presidential transition efforts.
“If there’s fraud, it should be uncovered, but it should be uncovered in a way that a judge agrees,” he said. “If the president’s able to show that, then that’s important. If they can’t show, that’s also important … It’s incumbent upon the president and his legal team to establish that.”
Wallace asked Cassidy if Trump’s refusal to accept the election results was causing harm to Biden’s legitimacy as president in the eyes of many Americans.
“You’re giving me a hypothetical and I can’t tell you what millions of people are going to do,” Cassidy said. “All I can say is we are one nation … I’m hopeful that we would move on.”