Democrats hope next week produces infrastructure action

Delta variant causes national jump in virus cases and hospitalizations

Senate Democrats are hoping for better results next week. Speaker Pelosi clearly ties infrastructure and budget reconciliation together. And am I the only one who remembers Renee Richards? This is “Regular Order” for July 23, 2021.

SENATE. This week did not go exactly as planned for Democrats in the Senate on infrastructure or on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer wanted to force a start to debate on infrastructure. But with negotiators still nailing down the final details, that didn’t happen. Maybe next week?

  • BIDEN. President Biden met with business and union leaders at the White House yesterday, an unusual alliance in favor of action on the infrastructure plan. "As you all know, and they share my belief that it’s both in the interest of business and labor to get this done," the President told reporters.

  • SENATE. For Schumer, this week was an effort to put pressure on Senators to force action on the President’s agenda. “I have every intention of passing both major infrastructure packages,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, who wants this done in August. I’ll say it again - that’s a tall order.

  • RECONCILIATION. On the much larger budget reconciliation measure, Schumer wanted all 50 Democrats to be on board with the plan by Wednesday - that didn't happen either. Some like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) have made it very clear they want to see all the details. Manchin is especially worried about energy interests and climate change.

IS IT REALLY PAID FOR? It's been a month since Senators shook hands on the infrastructure deal - but the details are still not final and public. "So the remaining question that nobody can answer yet is: is it paid for + how is it paid for?" tweeted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Will the legislative text actually show up next week?

  • PELOSI. Over in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she's still confident the Senate will act on infrastructure and reconciliation - but she made clear the two bills are linked. 'We will not take up the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation bill,' the Speaker told reporters.

  • HOUSE. The House is scheduled to work next week, and then leave Capitol Hill until after Labor Day. If the Senate can pass both the infrastructure and reconciliation bills, one would think Pelosi would call the House back to vote.

CAPITOL ATTACK. With Republicans ready to boycott the operations of a special panel on the January 6 attack, Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday held out the possibility that she might appoint other GOP members to the panel. "There are some Members who would like to be on it," Pelosi told reporters.

  • OTHER GOP? The name of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) - a stern Trump critic among House Republicans - immediately surfaced as someone who might get tapped for the panel. Remember - Pelosi has the power to appoint all 13 members to this committee. That is clear from the House rules.

  • CHENEY. We don't see something like this too often on Capitol Hill, so I really think it deserves extra attention. Five minutes of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) taking questions from reporters about the January 6 committee - and her own party.

NEW CHIEF. It's been a tumultuous last six months for the Capitol Police, and today they will get a new chief. Tom Manger is no stranger to the Washington, D.C. area, as he served as the top cop in two of the largest suburban counties outside D.C. (Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland). The USCP will be a challenge.

LAWMAKER ARREST. For the second time this month, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus was arrested on Capitol Hill during a protest about voting rights. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was part of a group that blocked an entrance to a Senate office building, and then was taken into custody by Capitol Police.

  • JOHNSON. "I was arrested today protesting against Senate inaction on voting rights legislation & filibuster reform," the Georgia Democrat tweeted after being released. At this point, the protests are unlikely to have any impact on the Senate, where election and voting rights bills are going nowhere.

AFGHAN VISAS. The House on Thursday approved a bill to make it easier for Afghans who helped the United States to get visas to come to this country - safeguarding them from possible reprisals. "Our Afghan partners stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our troops," said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).

  • GOP 16. But not everyone agreed, as 16 Republicans voted against the bill. Most were very familiar names: Biggs, Boebert, Brooks, DesJarlais, Duncan, Good VA, Gosar, Greene GA, Hern, Hice, Massie, Moore, Perry, Posey, Rosendale, and Roy.

COVID VACCINE. Republicans face a political dilemma right now. Many of their supporters are skeptical of the Coronavirus vaccine - even though the development of the vaccine was spurred by the Trump Administration. But right now, it's more important than ever to get more people vaccinated to combat the surge in the Delta variant. My weekly column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • GOP DOCTORS. There was more evidence yesterday of how much GOP lawmakers don't like to be asked if they have been vaccinated for the Coronavirus. "You as a press have a responsibility to ask questions of the Democrats as well," said Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX). "How many of the Democrats are willing to say whether or not they've been vaccinated?"

  • BUT. It was a very peculiar response from Jackson, the former White House physician. Two months ago, CNN reported that every Democrat in the House and Senate had confirmed that they had been vaccinated.

  • RED FLAGS. The CDC chief again had a blunt warning on Thursday. “The Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky.  New cases are up 53% in the past week. Hospital admissions are up 32%. Daily deaths are up 19%.

FBI-KAVANAUGH. When Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was caught up in a controversial nomination process in the Senate, the FBI set up a special tip line about President Trump's pick for the High Court. Most people thought that would mean the FBI would evaluate the tips. Maybe not, according to new documents.

  • WHITE HOUSE. An exchange between the FBI and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) shows the FBI took information from the tip line - and then gave it to the Trump White House. "Your letter confirms that the FBI's tip line was a departure from past practice and that the FBI was politically constrained by the Trump White House," the Senator wrote this week. Read his letter here.

BULLDOZER. Okay, it’s not often that you see video of a member of Congress getting on a bulldozer and taking out illegal marijuana growing operations in one of the counties in his district. But that’s what Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) has been doing. Watch the video. And yes, there’s more than one.

MRS. GREENE OF GEORGIA. One of the cultural issues that some Republicans are trying to use against Democrats is about transsexual men competing in women's sporting events. "Sports Illustrated featured a trans biological male and an elite female tennis player this year," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted this week. "Promoting men defeating women is woke," she added.

  • MAYBE I'M JUST OLD. But I watched this play out as a kid, 45 years ago in 1976. Maybe the name of Renee Richards doesn't ring a bell for many of you, but that was an example of a man who underwent a sex-change operation, and then competed on the women's professional tennis tour.

  • SI. Greene in 2021 specifically accused Sports Illustrated of 'woke' reporting - so, here's how the magazine handled it back on September 6, 1976 about Richards, under the headline: "SHE'D RATHER SWITCH - AND FIGHT."

MUSE OF HISTORY. July 23, 1850. The Senate on this date was still embroiled in an extended debate on slavery, involving action on what we know today as the Compromise of 1850. Sen. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi - later the President of the Confederacy - had offered an amendment to allow slavery in any territory taken by the U.S. as a result of the recent war with Mexico. The Davis amendment didn't mention slavery - but rather artfully said Americans had the right to take 'any species of property legally held in any of the States of this Union.' On July 29, 1850, the Senate defeated the Compromise plan from Sen. Henry Clay. By September, the Senate would reconsider its decision, and act on five different bills related to the debate.


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