This week could have ended with the Democratic coalition in tatters. The long-awaited infrastructure bill is still on ice. The “Build Back Better” package has been stripped of key proposals on issues ranging from climate change to paid leave. The party ended another week with a big legislative goose egg.
So why are many liberal advocates celebrating and not completely flipping out? Despite the demise of paid leave and a scaled-down investment in the families, children and home caregiving aspect of the bill, backers of the so-called care economy have been noticeably calm.
The answer may have to do with what President JOE BIDEN told allies behind closed doors this week.
— To allies on the Hill: On Wednesday, Biden arrived at the House Democratic Caucus meeting about to disappoint some in his party because some of the most popular items were being left out.
But a source familiar with the meeting tells Playbook that to quell intraparty opposition, the president made a promise: For the provisions left out of the Build Back Better framework — like the politically popular paid leave proposal — this wouldn’t be the last bite at the apple. He would revisit it throughout his presidency.
— Outside advocates tell us the White House and members of Congress have assured paid leave advocates of the same thing. The administration also tried to signal the promise in more subtle ways, like listing care first in a fact sheet about the final package, an administration official pointed out to Playbook, despite climate change mitigation being the area with the most dollars attached.
For now, the promise to keep trying appears to have won the patience of many advocates of the care economy — even if it’s apparent it will be a very tall order for Biden to make good on it.
— One who has met with the administration on these issues said folks are being a bit more realistic right now because (1) they feel like the pandemic has made it easier to generate political will for major investments in the care economy, (2) the White House and congressional allies have told them to keep pushing for more legislation, and (3) they’ve never been brought to the table like this before and feel compelled to keep the relationship intact.
— “Two things can exist at once, right? I can be tremendously excited about the investment in the care economy that is included in the package. And I can be pissed off that paid leave was not included,” APRIL VERRETT, president of SEIU Local 2015, told Playbook. “Both things exist simultaneously.”
They also haven’t given up hope that paid leave can make its way back into the final bill, partly because they are still fighting for it to be included. Sen. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-N.Y.), who’s mounted a last-ditch effort to win over Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) on the issue, tweeted that she wasn’t giving up. Manchin, however, has been clear that he thinks paid leave shouldn’t be done through reconciliation. (Related: Burgess Everett writes this morning about efforts afoot to add paid leave and lots of other stuff back into Biden’s framework.)
BUT, BUT, BUT: The problem with Biden’s promise is it is unlikely to be kept. Everyone knows this is probably the last opening Democrats have to pass big-ticket legislation for a long time, if not for the remainder of Biden’s presidency. An election year is fast approaching, when moderate Democrats will be more skittish, not less, about passing major bills. And one or both chambers are expected to flip to Republicans.
BIDEN’S SATURDAY — The president has already greeted Italian PM MARIO DRAGHI, taken a family photo with other G-20 leaders, participated in the G-20 summit’s first plenary session and taken part in “a leaders’ side event on supporting women-owned businesses.” Still to come (Eastern time):
— 9:45 a.m.: Biden is meeting with British PM BORIS JOHNSON, French President EMMANUEL MACRON and German Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL to discuss the Iran nuclear deal negotiations.
— 2:50 p.m.: The Bidens will attend a gala dinner with other heads of state.
VP KAMALA HARRIS’ SATURDAY — The VP will get a Moderna booster shot at 11:25 a.m. in the South Court Auditorium.
THE PELOSI-JAYAPAL-KLAIN VORTEX, PART II — White House chief of staff RON KLAIN and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-Wash.) have done it again. In a great behind-the-scenes account, Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris and Laura Barrón-López report that Biden refused to ask House Democrats to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure deal (BIF) on Thursday after Jayapal personally asked Klain to back off.
Jayapal made the ask in a phone call with Klain, in which she warned that Biden risked leaving for Europe in embarrassment if he plowed ahead with demands for an immediate vote. Progressives were coming around but weren’t prepared to get on board without seeing the full text of the reconciliation package first.
Klain got the message. Shortly after, Biden came to Capitol Hill and blindsided Speaker NANCY PELOSI’s leadership team by refusing to directly ask members for their votes that day. Jayapal used the lack of a direct appeal as cover to delay the BIF vote again.
This was a replay of what happened in late September — except that time, progressives felt they had Klain’s blessing to sink the BIF if Pelosi tried to bring it to a vote. This time, it appears Klain tried to change Jayapal’s mind.
While Pelosi was trying to muscle votes for BIF, Biden made a single call during his flight to Rome that House Democratic leaders were briefed on, according to the story. It was to Rep. MADELEINE DEAN (D-Pa.) to tell her she did well on TV and to say he wasn’t really interested in pressing for a BIF vote that day.
A FEW TAKEAWAYS — 1) As we wrote Friday, the CPC ended up endorsing Biden’s Build Back Better framework the same day that Biden declined to pressure them — an underreported win for the president. By not jamming Jayapal, Klain might have secured a win in the end — though delay obviously carries its own risks.
2) It’s extraordinary to see the speaker of the House at odds with the president on the strategy for winning passage of his agenda. Yet that’s clearly what’s been happening here for a while.
3) This also spotlights the rise of Jayapal in the House, which has unsettled Democratic leaders who don’t have the bond with Klain she does. Some senior House Democrats think that the chief of staff has been rewarding bad behavior. “They have empowered a monster,” one top aide told us after the September blow-up. The person feels that’s even more the case now.
4) And lastly, in House leadership, there’s boiling frustration with Klain, as our colleagues noted in their story. “His coziness with the left has frustrated leaders and moderate Democrats who view it, at times, as an impediment to getting Biden’s agenda passed,” they write.
If Biden ends up signing both the BBB and BIF, though, we bet this will all blow over very quickly.
9 OTHER THINGS WE READ THAT STUCK WITH US …
— GLENN YOUNGKIN has caught TERRY MCAULIFFE in the polls. Our polling guru Steve Shepard does a deep dive into the numbers to explain how it happened.
— If Youngkin wins Tuesday (or loses narrowly), you can count on one thing: a surfeit of hot takes that focus on critical race theory and “gloss over much of what Youngkin has done right and what former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe has done wrong to make the race competitive,” writes Bill Scher in Washington Monthly, in a thoughtful analysis of the matchup D.C. is obsessing over.
— A controversial anti-Youngkin stunt Friday — in which five people stood outside the Republican’s campaign bus while posing as supporters, brandishing tiki torches and dressing like the white supremacists at 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville — was revealed to be the work of the Lincoln Project, Vice’s Cameron Joseph scooped.
— Next week, the Supreme Court will hear two “blockbuster cases” that offer the opportunity to enshrine its new conservative majority, writes NYT’s Emily Bazelon. On the docket: Texas’ near-total ban on abortion (Monday) and New York’s “restriction on who can carry a gun outside the home” (Wednesday). The end result, writes Bazelon: It’s AMY CONEY BARRETT’s court now.
— “Consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in 30 years in September while workers saw their biggest compensation boosts in at least 20 years, according to new government data released Friday,” per the WSJ.
— Florida is blocking three professors at state schools from participating in a lawsuit aimed at overturning the state’s restrictive new voting law, “an extraordinary limit on speech that raises questions of academic freedom and First Amendment rights,” writes NYT’s Michael Wines.
— We may never know if the novel coronavirus leaked from a lab. That’s the takeaway from a report released by the DNI on Friday, writes AP’s Nomaan Merchant.
— Albany County Sheriff CRAIG APPLE announced Friday that “his office had not coordinated with the county’s district attorney before filing a criminal complaint that charged former Gov. ANDREW CUOMO, who is accused of groping a female aide’s breast last year in the Executive Mansion, with a sex crime,” NYT’s Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Grace Ashford and Jonah Bromwich report. “It was still unclear on Friday whether the district attorney, DAVID SOARES … was going to prosecute the charges against the former governor.”
— DONALD TRUMP’s social media gambit might be running afoul of the law, NYT’s Matthew Goldstein, Lauren Hirsch and David Enrich report.
SCOTUS SKUNK AT THE CLIMATE PARTY — In a move that left some legal observers stunned, the Supreme Court on Friday announced it will hear a case from coal companies and Republican-led states challenging the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, POLITICO Pro’s Alex Guillén reports.
The announcement comes at a less-than-ideal time for the administration — sandwiched between the death-by-Manchin of Democrats’ centerpiece climate provision in the reconciliation package, and the international climate confab in Glasgow, Scotland, where Biden hopes to reassert U.S. leadership on the issue — and makes it clear that on matters of climate change, the executive branch faces major obstacles from not only Congress, but the courts as well.
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
COUGH UP THE DOCS — “The US House has told a federal court that former President Donald Trump has no right to keep confidential documents from his presidency, citing a committee’s need to reconstruct Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election and his actions on January 6,” CNN’s Katelyn Polantz reports overnight. “The records Trump wants to keep secret include handwritten memos from his chief of staff about January 6, call logs of the then-President and former Vice President MIKE PENCE and White House visitor records, additional court records revealed early Saturday morning.”
CLICKER — “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 16 funnies
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Ryan Lizza:
— “Indebted,” by Lucy Schiller for Columbia Journalism Review: “DAVE RAMSEY, corporate media, and how we talk about financial distress.”
— “How to Fix Social Media,” by Nicholas Carr for The New Atlantis: “A century ago, new media tech brought fake news, privacy woes, and censorship fights — and American democracy tamed it. It’s time for new legislation that revives the wisdom of that era.”
— “‘The Liberty Way’: How Liberty University Discourages and Dismisses Students’ Reports of Sexual Assaults,” by ProPublica’s Hannah Dreyfus: “The school founded by evangelist JERRY FALWELL ignored reports of rape and threatened to punish accusers for breaking its moral code, say former students. An official who says he was fired for raising concerns calls it a ‘conspiracy of silence.’”
— “Lina Khan Isn’t Worried About Going Too Far,” by Nancy Scola for N.Y. Mag: “The new FTC boss says corporations abuse their power. To fight them, she’s consolidating some of her own.”
— “God, Trump and the Closed-Door World of a Major Conservative Group,” by Robert O’Harrow Jr. in WaPo Magazine: “What internal recordings and documents reveal about the Council for National Policy — and the future of the Republican Party.”
— “Memory in the age of impunity,” by Peter Pomeranzev for Coda Story: “There were once ‘grand narratives’ that explained everything from the behavior of states to literature. The collapse of connected storylines calls for new thinking on what binds us, from Manila to Silicon Valley to Moscow.”
Curtis Sliwa, the NYC Republican mayoral hopeful, was hit by a cab — but did an hourlong radio hit before going to the hospital.
IN MEMORIAM — David Alsobrook, a presidential archivist who helped create the Carter library and was founding director of the Clinton library, died after a brief illness.
STAFFING UP — The White House announced several new nominations, including Marc Nathanson as ambassador to Norway, Randi Charno Levine as ambassador to Portugal, and Monde Muyangwa as assistant USAID administrator for the Bureau of Africa.
WEDDING — Lee Hudson, defense technology and influence reporter at POLITICO, and Lawrence Gordin, senior government contracts strategist at Palantir Technologies, got married Oct. 23 at Herrington on the Bay in North Beach, Md. They met on a dating app. Pic … Another pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Natalie Jones, SVP of external affairs and diplomatic engagement at the Meridian International Center, and Patrick Hallahan, operating partner at Bernard Capital, on Oct. 18 welcomed Henry Jones Hallahan, who joins big sister Eleanor. Pic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) (7-0) … Ivanka Trump (4-0) … NBC’s Andrea Mitchell … Maggie Haberman … Mitch Glazier of the Recording Industry Association of America … Mitch Stewart of 270 Strategies … Targeted Victory’s Rebecca Schieber … David Krone … POLITICO’s Ally Mutnick, Bill Mahoney, Julia Littleton, Sophia Socarras and Willie Allen … WaPo’s Lizette Alvarez … Scott Fay … Lauren Zelt of Zelt Communications … Lindsay Jancek … Paul Rosen of Crowell & Moring … Ian Millhiser … Edwin Foulke … former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) … former Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), Tim Roemer (D-Ind.) and Joe Heck (R-Nev.) (6-0) … Nu Wexler of Seven Letter … Hanna Grimm … Advoc8’s Laura Mullen … Josh Rosenblum of the Pew Charitable Trusts … Dentons’ James Richardson … Michael Petricone … Jeremy Holden … Robert Caro … Mark Rush … Laurence Leamer (8-0) … POLITICO Europe’s Annabelle Dickson
THE SHOWS (Full Sunday show listings here):
“Meet the Press”: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm … Terry McAuliffe … Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Panel: Cornell Belcher, Anna Palmer, Brad Todd and Kristen Welker.
“State of the Union”: Secretary of State Antony Blinken … Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) … Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“Face the Nation”: Secretary of State Antony Blinken … Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo … Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) … Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) … Claire Boogaard.
“The Sunday Show”: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) … Eric Adams … Maya Wiley … Jonathan Metzl … Montgomery, Ala., Mayor Steven Reed … Evan McMullin … Rachel Bitecofer … New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy … Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
“This Week”: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg … Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). Panel: Chris Christie, Rachel Scott, Donna Shalala and Laura Barrón-López.
“Fox News Sunday”: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg … Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). Panel: Jason Chaffetz, Susan Page and Charles Lane. Power Player: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial.
“Full Court Press”: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) … Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah).
“Inside Politics”: Panel: Julie Pace, Rachael Bade, Jonathan Martin, Sabrina Siddiqui and Eva McKend.
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