Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin will oppose the sweeping voting rights legislation back by his party

Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Sunday said that he would vote against the sweeping voting rights legislation known as the For the People Act, imperiling one of his party’s most important legislative priorities.

In declaring his opposition, Manchin is defying Democratic pleas for federal action on securing voting rights, which the party says is necessary to counter the raft of restrictive voting laws championed by the GOP at the state level.

However, in an opinion piece in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the moderate senator deemed the bill (S.1) as overly partisan, while also reaffirming his support for the filibuster, positions that have become anathema to many Democrats after years of legislative gridlock in Congress.

“The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics,” he wrote. “Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner.”

He emphasized: “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.

Manchin wrote that voting reform that couldn’t garner bipartisan support “will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.”

In March, the House passed the For the People Act in a near-party line 220-210 vote. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi was the sole Democrat to vote against the bill.

Read more: What we learned about Joe Biden from riding Amtrak with a Senate colleague who has known the president for five decades

The legislation would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, establish national standards for voter registration, and blunt voter purges, among other reforms.

The bill would also mandate that states offer mail-in ballots and same-day voter registration, which Republicans have long resisted in many states.

Former President Donald Trump’s debunked voting claims have only deepened the partisan divide on voting rights, and GOP congressional leaders have vehemently come out against the For the People Act.

However, Manchin sees potential in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan election reform bill, which he supports and hopes to see signed into law.

“My Republican colleague, Sen. Lisa Murkowski [of Alaska], has joined me in urging Senate leadership to update and pass this bill through regular order,” he wrote. “I continue to engage with my Republican and Democratic colleagues about the value of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and I am encouraged by the desire from both sides to transcend partisan politics and strengthen our democracy by protecting voting rights.”

President Joe Biden has called for the passage of both pieces of legislation, but without Manchin’s support of S.1. and the prospect of the filibuster still being in place, the chances of the bill reaching his desk have narrowed.

Democrats and Republicans each have 50 seats in the Senate, with the former party controlling the chamber due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote.

However, the voting rights bill would have to clear the 60-vote threshold to withstand a legislative filibuster and proceed to a vote where it could pass with a simple majority.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democratic senators appear to resist calling on Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire: ‘That’s up to him’

Supreme Court
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court building on April 23, 2021. Seated from left are Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor; Standing from left are Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

  • Democratic Senators have demurred on calling on Stephen Breyer to retire from the Supreme Court.
  • Trump was able to install three conservatives during his presidency, tilting the court rightward.
  • The 82-year-old Breyer has not indicated when or if he will retire from the bench.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Supreme Court has been a difficult subject for Democrats over the past five years.

Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, the party saw Senate Republicans, led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, block then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge (and now-US Attorney General) Merrick Garland.

Once President Donald Trump took office, they saw him fill the vacancy with conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch.

In 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy retired, paving the way for the installation of Brett Kavanaugh to the bench.

And in September 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, allowing Trump to dramatically change the balance of power on the court with conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed just days before the general election that he lost to now-President Joe Biden.

Democrats now face a court with a 6-3 conservative majority, with abortion rights and gun laws on the line in an increasingly polarized political atmosphere.

All eyes are now on Stephen Breyer, the 82-year-old liberal jurist who has served on the court since 1994.

The progressive judicial group Demand Justice has asked for Breyer to step down in order for Biden to replace him with a younger Black female jurist.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York has also called on the 82-year-old jurist to retire.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity for President Biden to appoint and for the Senate to confirm jurists on the Supreme Court who are not hostile to our democracy and will adjudicate cases that will protect and preserve voting rights and will respect the will of Congress, frankly,” Jones said.

However, Democrats in the Senate, who would vote on a potential vacancy and only narrowly control the chamber due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote, have been largely mum on pressuring Breyer to step down, based on a Huffington Post report.

Read more: We joined the White House press corps the day masks came off. Here’s what a ‘hard pass’ and fewer restrictions mean for us – and our reporting.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, the party’s 2016 vice presidential nominee, was not inclined to pressure the justice to step down.

“I don’t feel like an Article I branch should tell an Article III judge with lifetime tenure what he should do,” he told the Huffington Post.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio echoed similar sentiments.

“I don’t have any opinion on that,” he told the publication. “That’s up to him.”

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 and 2020, simply declined to answer when asked.

However, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut weighed in.

“I wouldn’t presume to tell a Supreme Court justice to retire but he, more than anyone, knows the political reality,” Blumenthal told the Huffington Post. “He’s worked here in the Senate. He knows the risk of staying on the court. He’s been a jurist of extraordinary distinction and intellect.

During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to nominate the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, with speculation centered on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is slated to join the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the coming weeks.

While the politics of judicial appointments have roiled Capitol Hill for decades, many members of Congress and advisors still prefer to send quiet signals to potential retirees, similar to the approach that the Trump White House took with Kennedy.

During a recent lecture at Harvard Law School, Breyer, who has long heralded judicial independence from politics, suggested that such influence should not drive a potential retirement.

“My experience of more than 30 years as a judge has shown me that, once men and women take the judicial oath, they take the oath to heart,” he said. “They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Manchin balks at GOP’s smaller infrastructure plan – and says he can back $4 trillion as long as it’s paid for

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

  • Sen. Manchin rebuked the GOP’s infrastructure plan, saying Senators should “do whatever it takes.”
  • The moderate Democrat added he’s open to spending $4 trillion so long as it’s paid for.
  • The GOP is preparing an up to $800 billion bill, much smaller than Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan, which may be followed by another $2 trillion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is open to a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan. He just wants to see the bill covered.

That could be bad news for Republicans hoping he’ll break with his party on the next massive plan from President Joe Biden’s desk.

Manchin – a moderate Democrat with incredible influence over Senate Democrats’ agenda – rebuked the GOP’s infrastructure plan on Thursday. These comments could reverberate widely.

A group of Senate Republicans is preparing a plan that could range from $600 billion to $800 billion, drastically undercutting President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal. Separately, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly telling his caucus to praise Manchin in an effort to win his support.

Manchin’s support is critical for Democrats to pass an infrastructure plan of their own. With Democrats only holding 50 seats in the Senate and relying on Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie, any opposition from Manchin or other moderate Democrats dooms efforts to pass legislation by a simple majority under reconciliation.

The senator from West Virginia told reporters he still sees room for agreement between Democrats and Republicans, but also that he’s willing to go big if the situation warrants such spending.

“I don’t think they’re locked in on any number,” Manchin said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes. If it takes $4 trillion, I’d do $4 trillion, but we have to pay for it.”

The $4 trillion sum evokes the sum Biden is reportedly looking to spend between two infrastructure proposals. The $2.3 trillion plan unveiled in March focuses more on traditional infrastructure and renovations. A follow-up measure – known as the American Families Act – is expected to include funds for universal pre-K, child care, and other social measures.

The infrastructure argument has split Senators along partisan lines as Biden looks to pass legislation that rivals the New Deal. Democrats argue that new benefits like free community college and child care should join traditional infrastructure in a spending package. Republicans balk at this wider definition and are instead pushing for a slimmed-down measure that focuses on rebuilding roads and bridges. In fact, their slimmed-down plan could double the amount spent on this aspect of physical infrastructure.

The two parties need to come to an agreement on the very definition of “infrastructure,” Manchin said. Identifying exactly what elements the bill should cover is paramount to passing legislation in a timely manner, he added.

The GOP’s plan also differs from Biden’s in that it lacks a corporate tax hike. The president proposed lifting the corporate rate to 28% from 21% along with other tax increases to pay for his infrastructure plan. The GOP instead aims to finance their plan with “user fees,” such as taxes on vehicle mileage traveled or possibly pushing for an increase to the gas tax.

GOP senators doubled down on their dismissal of a corporate tax hike, calling such policy a “non-negotiable red line” Thursday afternoon. Still, they appeared far from agreed on the scope of an overall infrastructure package.

The GOP’s stance mirrors that seen in February as both parties readied their respective stimulus packages. Republican Senators pitched a $618 billion measure to the White House that slashed spending on tenets of Biden’s own plan, including stimulus checks and unemployment insurance. Biden ended up approving a $1.9 trillion package that’s since distributed billions of dollars to American households.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Harry Reid on former House Speaker John Boehner: ‘I did everything I could to cause him trouble’ but we ‘got a lot done’

John Boehner Harry Reid
Then-House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, speaks with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada on Capitol Hill on December 10, 2014.

  • Former Sen. Harry Reid on Saturday responded to his inclusion in John Boehner’s new memoir.
  • CNN host Jim Acosta made reference to an incident where Boehner cursed Reid out at the White House.
  • Reid recounted that he worked “well” with Boehner and called the former speaker “a great patriot.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was asked on Saturday about a now-infamous confrontation with former GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio at the White House in 2013, he seemed to express a sense of nostalgia.

During a CNN interview, host Jim Acosta made reference to Boehner’s new memoir, “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” where the former speaker recounted that Reid called the House a “dictatorship of the Speaker” during a challenging set of fiscal-cliff negotiations at the White House during then-President Barack Obama’s tenure.

In the memoir, Boehner expressed how infuriated he was with the comment.

“If I were a dictator, do you think I’d let all these members get away with screwing me over all the time?,” he wrote. “Hell no! And Reid, who was a ruthless bastard, knew exactly what I was doing.”

He continued: “So when I saw him at the White House the next day, talking quietly with Mitch McConnell before the meeting, I went over, got in Reid’s face, and said, ‘Do you even listen to all of the s— that comes out of your mouth?’ You can go f— yourself.”

Read more: Introducing Todd Young, the most important senator you’ve never heard of

When asked for a response by Acosta, Reid said that he “got along well” with the former speaker.

“The deal is this – John Boehner and I got a lot done, but we didn’t mince words,” he said. “He was right. I did everything I could to cause him trouble because I knew he was having a lot of trouble. The more trouble he had in his caucus, the better it was for us, and he knew what I was doing, and I wasn’t at all surprised that he came to me and gave me one of his underhanded blessings.”

Reid, who served in the Senate from 1987 to 2017, also gave an interesting tidbit on why he always conducted business with Boehner in the former speaker’s office.

“We had a deal,” he said. “He would not come to my office. I would always go to his office. I didn’t want anybody smoking in my office, so all of our meetings were in his office. He could smoke to his heart’s content.”

He added: “I have a lot of respect for John Boehner. He, as far as I’m concerned, was a great patriot.”

Boehner’s memoir, where he criticizes leading Republican figures including former President Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, is set to be released on April 13.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democrats can learn something from the most powerful Joe in Washington

Joe Manchin 2
Sen. Joe Manchin.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin is the deciding vote in the Senate, making him the most powerful Joe in Washington.
  • While his moderate policies frustrate some Democrats, he also has an important lesson to teach them.
  • He wins in a deep red state and if more Democrats could win elections like him, then his moderate stances wouldn’t be as much of an issue.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is the first Joe in the White House, ever. But even though he’s Commander-in-Chief, there’s another politician named Joe who may have more power than our president: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

The most powerful Joe in Washington

Joe Biden has the big ideas – infrastructure, voting rights, racial healing, jobs, guns, climate, and, of course, nailing COVID- but as we learned with the stimulus bill, Joe Manchin has the final say on what gets passed. Manchin’s opposition ultimately doomed the $15 minimum wage, reduced eligibility for stimulus checks, and forced last-minute tweaks to unemployment insurance expansion.

And when Manchin said he’d vote against Neera Tanden, Biden’s original nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, her fate was all but sealed in a Senate split 50 Democrats to 50 Republicans.

Everyone’s waiting with baited breath every time Manchin speaks – what does he think about the filibuster? When he said he’s open to making the filibuster harder, Democrats were aglow that they could pass more of Biden’s ambitious agenda.

What kind of gun safety does he support? He has publicly come out against the two gun safety bills passed by the House in March that expand background checks for most gun purchases, instead preferring background checks only for commercial gun transactions.

Where does he stand on voting rights? Manchin is the only Democrat who is not co-sponsoring the For the People Act legislation in the Senate and is pushing for bipartisan compromise.

Joe Manchin is at the exact center point of the Senate ideologically and therefore numerically. He represents among the reddest of red states, which gave loser President Donald Trump 68% of the vote, even in 2020. So Manchin stays alive by tacking towards the center, not the left.

The most narrow majority possible

Manchin being the focal point has frustrated those of us who want Biden to make real progress on his agenda. The president needed a Democratic Senate to get anything of note done, and the wise people of Georgia provided that. Now the expectations could not be higher.

Every time Joe Manchin peeks to his right a bit, there’s speculation that he’ll switch parties – which Manchin flatly dismisses – or be challenged in a primary.

But we need every Democrat we can get to maintain a majority. The moderates give the Dems the majority in the House and Senate. And if the party starts to lose purple states and swing districts, it will lose the majority.

The Democrats, of course, should have a bigger majority in the Senate. They lost a bunch of winnable races in 2018 and 2020 – such Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, who lost after a sexting scandal. If more purple or even deep red state Dems were able to get elected like Manchin, his vote and the margin wouldn’t be as much of an issue. So Manchin is invaluable in the sense that he can actually win in a place that no other Dem would really have a chance, and he can win when Dems in other, seemingly more friendly states, cannot.

In the meantime, let’s live with Manchin, because if he switched parties Mitch McConnell would be leader. If he lost in a primary, West Virginians would elect a Republican. We need Joe Manchin right now because if we lost him, we also would lose any chance at progress.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rep. Jim Clyburn called Joe Manchin’s push for bipartisanship over passage of voting rights legislation ‘insulting’

Jim Clyburn
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

  • Rep. Clyburn is highly critical of Sen. Manchin’s position on the For the People Act.
  • Manchin is the only Senate Democrat who has not signed on as a cosponsor of the bill in 2021.
  • Clyburn argues that the Senate filibuster must be put aside to pass the sweeping voting rights bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina said in an interview with The Huffington Post that he felt “insulted” by how Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has approached the For the People Act, the sweeping voting rights package also known as H.R. 1 and S. 1.

Manchin is the only Democratic senator who has not signed on as a cosponsor of the legislation this year, arguing that the federal government should not infringe on election law, which has generally been dictated by individual states.

The moderate senator has emphatically stated that a major elections reform bill must be crafted and passed with bipartisan consensus, which would including voting rights.

“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the US government,” he said in a statement in late March.

Clyburn alleged that Manchin was elevating bipartisanship with Republicans over the voting rights of minority groups in the US.

“I’m insulted when he tells me that it’s more important to maintain a relationship with the minority in the US Senate than it is for you to maintain a relationship with the minority of voters in America,” Clyburn told The Huffington Post. “That’s insulting to me.”

Clyburn said Manchin was jeopardizing Democratic congressional majorities by not backing legislation that would reverse many of the most stringent voting restrictions being implemented by GOP-controlled states, including Georgia, where Sen. Raphael Warnock is up for reelection in 2022.

“Since when do their rights take precedence over your fellow Democrat Warnock, who saw his state just pass laws to keep him from getting reelected?” he asked. “And you’re going to say it’s more important for you to protect 50 Republicans in the Senate than for you to protect your fellow Democrat’s seat in Georgia. That’s a bunch of crap.”

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

The House passed H.R. 1 by a 220-210 vote in early March with almost unanimous backing among Democrats and no Republican support.

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has harshly criticized the bill, calling it a “power grab.” His conservative-dominated Republican caucus is overwhelmingly in agreement, making bipartisan support incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

With the likelihood of a GOP filibuster facing S. 1, Clyburn said that Senate Democrats need to alter filibuster rules to move the bill through the chamber.

“The issue of civil rights and voting rights, these constitutional issues, should never be sacrificed on the altar of the filibuster,” he said. “I’ve been saying that for a long time.”

He added: “I don’t understand why we can’t see that my constitutional rights should not be subjected to anybody’s filibuster.”

Clyburn said that if the party allowed the For the People Act to falter in the Senate, then it would “pay the biggest price it has ever paid at the polls” in 2022.

“That is an actual fact,” he said. “I think I know Black people. I’ve been Black 80 years.”

Clyburn, one of the most prominent Democratic politicians in the Deep South and the figure most credited with reviving President Joe Biden’s campaign in the 2020 Democratic primaries, said that he feels as though the president will push for the bill to get through the Senate.

After Biden won the presidential election last November, he gave a nod to Black voters in his acceptance speech, saying that the highly influential group and pillar of his electoral support “always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”

Recalling Biden’s statement from last year, Clyburn reiterated the president’s commitment to voting rights.

“The best way to have the backs of Black folks is to ensure the constitutional rights to cast an unfettered vote – there ain’t no better way than to do that,” Clyburn said. “Joe Biden is not going to allow the voting rights of Black people to be sacrificed on the altar of the filibuster.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Schumer says the Senate will act on marijuana legalization regardless of Biden’s position

Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer said that Democrats will “move forward” on a federal marijuana legalization bill.
  • Schumer’s stance comes as President Joe Biden continues to “study” the issue.
  • The New York Democrat saw the legalization of recreational marijuana in his home state this week.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in an interview with Politico that his caucus will advance with federal marijuana legalization, regardless of President Joe Biden’s ultimate position on the issue.

Schumer, who first introduced a marijuana legalization bill in 2018, said in the interview that he was crafting new legislation with Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Biden, who has been less eager to fully push for federal legalization in the past and has recently drawn criticism for his administration instructing several staffers to resign or work remotely due to their past drug use, continues to “study” the issue, Schumer told the outlet.

“I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will,” Schumer said. “But at some point we’re going to move forward, period.”

This week, Schumer’s home state legalized marijuana use among adults 21 years of age and older for the first time after years of legislative roadblocks.

He pointed to states that have long legalized marijuana as reasons to back a federal bill.

“The legalization of states worked out remarkably well,” he said. “They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom.”

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has adamantly opposed marijuana legalization, but Schumer is pledging to work with Senate Republicans and wavering Democrats on the issue.

“What we want to do is first introduce our comprehensive bill, and then start sitting down with people who are not for this in both parties, and A) try to educate them, B) see what their objections are, and if they have some modifications that don’t interfere with the main thrust of the bill,” he said. “We’d certainly listen to some suggestions if that’ll bring more people on board.”

McConnell’s influence over his GOP caucus may not be the biggest obstacle for federal legislation, though.

Biden has said in the past that there was not enough evidence to indicate whether marijuana was a gateway drug.

“It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally,” Biden said during a 2019 town hall event. “I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”

That same year, amid criticism over his past support of hardline 1990s-era drug laws, he said “no one should be in jail for marijuana use” and expressed that recreational marijuana use should be decriminalized, backing the rights of states to pursue decriminalization.

Last December, the House passed a bill legalizing marijuana at the federal level, the first time either chamber of Congress had voted on such a measure.

When asked about Biden potentially vetoing a legalization bill, Schumer said that the president is continuing to examine his stance surrounding the matter.

“Well, he said he’d like to see more information on the issue,” he said. “I respect that. I certainly will have an ongoing conversation with him, and tell him how my views evolved. And hope that his will to.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Senate Democrats advance the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, clearing hurdle as they finalize changes to legislation

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, speaks during a news conference following a virtual Senate Democratic policy luncheon.

  • The Senate voted to advance the $1.9 trillion Biden relief bill along party lines on Thursday.
  • The move kicks off a marathon debate which will likely push final Senate passage into the weekend.
  • Republicans are moving to drag out the proceedings and offer hundreds of amendments to the bill.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Senate voted to advance the $1.9 trillion rescue package on Thursday along party lines, kicking off a lengthy debate that Republicans are moving to drag out. Passage of the bill may slip into the weekend.

Vice President Kamala Harris served as the tie-breaker in the 51-50 vote.  The clock has started on 20 hours of debate, followed by a marathon amendment process called a vote-a-rama.

“No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill this week,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday.

But Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin set up a full read-out of the 628-page relief legislation shortly after, which could stretch on for up to ten hours. The task fell upon the chamber’s clerks, and senators wouldn’t be reading the bill.

“We need to keep this process going so we can highlight the abuse – obviously not Covid relief, obviously a boondoggle for Democrats,” Johnson said.

Democrats brushed this aside as a political stunt, and pointed to polls showing strong public support for the package.

“We Democrats want America to hear what’s in the plan,” Schumer said. “And if the senator from Wisconsin wants to read it, let everybody listen because it has overwhelming support.”

ron johnson stimulus checks
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Legislation changed in Senate en route to party-line vote

Democrats spent much of the past day finalizing changes to the sprawling legislation. The president signed off on Wednesday to tightened eligibility for a round of $1,400 stimulus checks, placing lower income caps to prevent higher-earning Americans from receiving a third direct payment.

The moderate Democrats who led this effort also adjusted the aid formulas for $350 billion in state and local funding.

“I wanted to be sure localities had an ironclad share of the state and local funding,” Sen. Angus King of Maine told reporters on Thursday. “I wanted to be sure that the individual payments were targeted to those most in need.”

The relief package would provide $1,400 stimulus checks for the majority of taxpayers; $400 in federal unemployment benefits through August; $200 billion in funding for schools; $50 billion in virus testing and tracing; and a major revamp of the child tax credit.

Republicans are staunchly opposed to the bill, arguing it is an untargeted piece of legislation full of progressive priorities. Some were supportive of Johnson.

“I would expect a very long night into the next day and keep going on. There’s a lot to still cover,” Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma told Insider. “Obviously we need to read the bill first.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden says he seriously considered Bernie Sanders for labor secretary, but couldn’t risk Senate control

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden talk before a Democratic presidential primary debate in February 2020.

  • President-elect Joe Biden said on Friday that he strongly considered Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to be his labor secretary, but both men decided against the move after the dual Georgia runoff election wins gave Democrats control of the upper chamber.
  • “I did give serious consideration on nominating my friend Bernie Sanders to this position,” Biden said. “I’m confident he could have done a fantastic job. I can think of no more passionate, devoted ally to working people in this country.”
  • Biden ultimately tapped Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a close ally with strong ties to unions, to become his labor secretary.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden said on Friday that he strongly considered Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to be his labor secretary, but both men decided against the move after Democrats captured both US Senate seats in the Georgia runoff elections, giving the party control of the upper chamber.

Sanders, who was the last major candidate against Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign, was a key surrogate for the president-elect in the run up to the November election.

“I did give serious consideration on nominating my friend Bernie Sanders to this position,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware. “I’m confident he could have done a fantastic job. I can think of no more passionate, devoted ally to working people in this country.”

He added: “But after Tuesday’s results in Georgia, giving Democratic control to the United States Senate and a tie vote, Bernie and I agreed – and as a matter of fact Bernie said – we can’t put control of the Senate at risk on the outcome of a special election in Vermont.”

Sanders is slated to lead the Senate Budget Committee in the 117th Congress.

Vermont has a Republican governor, Phil Scott, who was first elected in 2016 and reelected in 2018 and 2020. If Sanders had vacated his seat, it would have triggered a special election.

Read more: President-elect Biden expressed confidence his inauguration will be safe. A few hours later, Twitter warned there’s talk of another DC Capitol attack on January 17th.

Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the Georgia elections, respectively. After both men are seated, the Senate will be split 50-50, with Democrats controlling the chamber due to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote.

Biden ultimately tapped Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a close ally with strong ties to unions, to become his labor secretary.

“This is one of the most important departments to me,” Biden said on Friday. “I trust Mayor Walsh and I’m honored he accepted.”

The president-elect stated that he and Sanders would “work together, travel the country together” to meet “with working men and women who feel forgotten and left behind in this economy.” 

He added: “We agreed that we will work closely on our shared agenda of increasing worker power and to protect the dignity of work for all working people.”

Read the original article on Business Insider