ROUGH NUMBERS — As inflation continues to raise prices of everyday household items, Americans are laying the blame at President JOE BIDEN’s feet. In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 62% of American voters say the administration’s policies are either somewhat or very responsible for increasing inflation, including 41% of Democrats, 61% of independent voters and 85% of Republicans.
The right track/wrong track question also looked pretty grim for Biden: Just 38% of voters — and seven of 10 Democrats — said the country is heading in the right direction. Toplines … Crosstabs
THE READOUT — Biden began pitching lawmakers on an outline for his Build Back Better plan Tuesday night. The proposal, pegged in the range of $1.75 to $1.9 trillion, is far from a done deal: Moderates and progressives will have plenty to say before giving anything their blessing. But Hill Democrats are relieved that Biden is getting his hands dirty after sitting on the sidelines for weeks.
“This was a productive conversation and also one that demonstrates momentum,” said a senior congressional aide briefed on one of several meetings Tuesday between the president and lawmakers. “This is a sign that the White House is actually putting pen to paper.”
Here’s what Biden told lawmakers about the state of play, as well as our own analysis of the latest:
1) MOST SURPRISING: LITTLE LOVE FOR THE CHILD TAX CREDIT — It was one of the crowning achievements of Biden’s first legislative victory in the pandemic relief bill. But Biden told lawmakers they may extend the enhanced CTC for only one year.
Problems afoot: House sources tell us this could be a big problem for Democrats who wanted to make the enhancements permanent, particularly the 100-member New Democrat Coalition. Even front-liners in tough districts wanted to extend this as long as possible.
The thinking: Of all the policy changes in BBB, this is one that some Democrats believe the GOP will actually extend since the party has endorsed versions of the credit before. And therefore, some think it could be a safer bet to fund for only a short time. Democrats are also at odds over how to means-test it.
2) LEAST SURPRISING: FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS OUT — The president said tuition-free community college is unlikely to make the final cut. But sources tell us there was a discussion about doubling Pell Grants and boosting funding for workforce development and apprenticeships.
3) BERNIE’S DENTAL PLAN IS STILL IN PLAY — Sen. BERNIE SANDERS’ (I-Vt.) proposal to expand Medicare to include dental may be scaled back but could still make the cut. Biden pitched progressives on what one of our sources briefed on the meeting called a “pilot program”: a new system in which seniors would receive a dental card to pay for their dental issues. It’s unclear whether this would also cover hearing and vision.
A note of caution: Moderates who met with Biden weren’t convinced this was a done deal given the opposition to it among some influential Dems.
Problems afoot: House Democratic leaders would rather use limited money to shore up the Affordable Care Act indefinitely. Our Congress team hears Biden mentioned only a three-year extension.
The thinking: Establishing Sanders’ preferred dental, vision and hearing plan would take years and be expensive. This flex-account-type setup would allow seniors to benefit right away, we hear, which may alleviate the concern front-liners have about spending money on something that won’t help in their reelection efforts.
4) FAMILY PROGRAMS SCALED BACK — Biden told lawmakers that funding for child care and universal pre-K are still in. Also, Biden signaled that they’re considering cutting a family leave benefit from 12 weeks to four.
Related: Our sources told us the White House is looking at about $150 billion over 10 years for elderly home care, a drop from the initial $400 billion proposed.
5) THE “FUZZIEST” PART: CLIMATE — Biden danced around the climate proposals, not surprising given Sen. JOE MANCHIN’s (D-W.Va.) continued resistance to many of them. The president discussed providing hundreds of billions in tax credits for those who use clean energy. But sources said it was unclear exactly what he meant, and the sense was that the White House is still trying to get its footing on the issue.
WHAT’S NEXT? We mentioned Monday that lawmakers were surprisingly upbeat about getting this done by Halloween. Tuesday’s talks fueled that optimism. But Biden, of course, is also negotiating with Manchin and Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.). We don’t know where they are on this working framework, but could get an idea today.
We also didn’t hear a lot about pay-fors, the trickiest part of the equation here. Still, the fact that moderates and progressives emerged from meetings at the White House striking an optimistic tone shows serious progress.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders say they want to get a framework by the end of the week. As our Heather Caygle and Burgess Everett report today, the congressional leadership strategy of using a self-imposed infrastructure vote deadline (Oct. 31) to try to force a deal on reconciliation is “a rerun of the playbook Democratic leaders used just weeks ago, only to have it blow up in their faces. But Democrats insist it actually might work this time, with political and legislative incentives aligning more neatly than they did in September. [Speaker NANCY] PELOSI and [Senate Majority Leader CHUCK] SCHUMER are telling their members they need to secure an agreement on the social spending bill by the end of this week. The House could even vote by the end of the month.”
Good Wednesday morning, and thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.
— 9:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
— 3:05 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to Avoca, Pa., where he’s scheduled to arrive at 4:15 p.m.
— 5:15 p.m.: Biden will deliver remarks at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, Pa.
— 7:05 p.m.: The president will depart Pennsylvania to return to the White House, where he’s scheduled to arrive at 8:10 p.m.
VP KAMALA HARRIS’ WEDNESDAY: The VP will lead a workers roundtable at 11:35 a.m. focused on “encouraging worker organizing and collective bargaining,” along with Labor Secretary MARTY WALSH and Office of Personnel Management Director KIRAN AHUJA.
The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 8:45 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will gaggle on Air Force One on the way to Pennsylvania.
THE SENATE will meet at 10 a.m. to consider CATHERINE LHAMON’s nomination to be assistant Education secretary for civil rights, with a cloture vote at 11 a.m. and a possible confirmation vote at 1:45 p.m. The chamber will then vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the Freedom to Vote Act. The Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on ambassador nominations, including RAHM EMANUEL for Japan, NICHOLAS BURNS for China and JONATHAN KAPLAN for Singapore.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Emanuel’s hearing comes with a ton of controversy and pushback from progressives because of the LAQUAN MCDONALD police killing and cover-up that took place while he was mayor of Chicago. The hearing takes place on the seventh anniversary of McDonald’s death. More than 20 activists and progressives are sending a letter this morning to Foreign Relations Committee members urging them to press Emanuel about the case and calling for Biden to withdraw the nomination.
THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. and will take up several bills at noon. The Rules Committee will meet at 11 a.m. to take up the resolution on finding STEVE BANNON in criminal contempt of Congress.
NO SURPRISE HERE — As the Senate is set to vote on voting rights legislation today, Republicans are set to use the filibuster for the third time this year to block it, NYT’s Carl Hulse reports. The moves have made Democrats start to rethink their stances on filibuster carveouts to pass federal voting rights legislation.
“‘When we are talking about the fundamental operation of democracy, I have to think a Senate rule will have to be modified or give way,’ said Senator ANGUS KING, the Maine independent, saying that he would back changes to the filibuster rule if needed to pass the bill.”
FORTENBERRY INDICTED — “A federal grand jury indictment charged Rep. JEFF FORTENBERRY (R-Neb.) Tuesday with one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign,” Omaha World-Herald’s Ryan Hoffman reports. “The indictment alleges that Fortenberry repeatedly lied to and misled authorities during a federal investigation into illegal contributions to Fortenberry’s reelection campaign made by a foreign billionaire, GILBERT CHAGOURY, in early 2016.”
GOING IT ALONE — WaPo’s Dino Grandoni and Tony Romm report that Biden is looking at using executive action to move larger, compromised climate change proposals along, ahead of the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, that begin at the end of this month.
FOR YOUR RADAR — DHS Secretary ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday, a department spokesperson confirmed. Mayorkas is fully vaccinated. He was planning to travel to Colombia with Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN, and got tested as part of a pre-travel precaution. The department spokeswoman confirmed he will shift to work remotely, CNN’s Geneva Sands reports.
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
HAPPENING IN 2021 — “Iowa authorities are investigating multiple threats — including one of lynching — that Iowa Democratic Party Chairman ROSS WILBURN received soon after writing an op-ed critical of [DONALD] TRUMP,” WaPo’s Mariana Alfaro reports. “Wilburn, the state party’s first Black chairman, wrote the opinion piece published in the Des Moines Register ahead of Trump’s Oct. 9 rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. … In it, Wilburn accused Iowa Republicans of putting their loyalty to Trump ahead of Iowans’ needs.”
CRITICAL RACE THEORY IN OKLAHOMA — Civil rights groups, including the ACLU, sued the state of Oklahoma on Tuesday over its new law “limiting instruction about race and gender in public schools,” NBC’s Tyler Kingkade and Antonia Hylton report. The suit says that the law, “which took effect in May, violates students’ and teachers’ free speech rights and denies people of color, LGBTQ students and girls the chance to learn their history.” The lawsuit is the first federal one to challenge the implementation of a state law theoretically aimed at limiting critical race theory.
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
IN CONTEMPT — The House Jan. 6 committee voted unanimously Tuesday to hold former Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for defying the panel’s subpoena, AP’s Mary Clare Jalonick and Farnoush Amiri report.
— Read our Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein on why this is no silver bullet, despite panel members’ tough talk. “It’s riddled with legal loopholes and ambiguities that could allow Donald Trump’s allies to bury the Jan. 6 select committee in Byzantine court challenges,” they note.
WILD TRUMP HEADLINES, PART ONE TRILLION — Trump’s Defense secretary MARK ESPER in the spring of 2020 stopped “an idea under discussion at a top military command and at the [department] to send as many as 250,000 troops — more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces — to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the U.S. since the Civil War,” NYT’s David Sanger, Michael Shear and Eric Schmitt scooped.
Officials told the reporters that “Esper also believed that deploying so many troops to the border would undermine American military readiness around the world.”
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER (POTENTIAL) TRUMP SUIT — Trump is looking to countersue SUMMER ZERVOS, a former “Apprentice” contestant, who says he defamed her “by saying she lied in accusing him of unwelcome kissing and groping in 2007,” AP’s Jennifer Peltz reports.
In the request, Trump’s lawyer says the defamation suit is an effort to harass or intimidate his free speech. The move also “comes as Zervos’ nearly five-year-old defamation suit is nearing an important phase. Both he and she are due to undergo questioning under oath by Dec. 23.”
EX-TRUMP PAC OFFICIAL SPEAKS — Former America First Action finance director JOSEPH AHEARN “testified at a criminal campaign finance trial on Tuesday that he thought that hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to Republican political groups in 2018 by LEV PARNAS was legal to accept at the time it came in,” Josh Gerstein reports.
A NEW NAME — The Verge’s Alex Heath reports that “Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse … The coming name change, which CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail.”
Paul Manafort was spotted dining at Cafe Milano.
Rudy Giuliani released a video telling Virginians not to vote for Terry McAuliffe wearing an Abe Lincoln filter …
Katie Hill, who resigned from Congress amid scandal, announced she’s pregnant in Vanity Fair, which included a photo shoot near a lake with her partner, Playboy reporter Alex Thomas.
Kanye West donned the most terrifying mask while getting lunch with former Trump fixer Michael Cohen.
CNN anchor John King revealed for the first time that he has multiple sclerosis.
Kyrsten Sinema got the full NYT treatment — well, her wardrobe did.
LISTS FULL OF WOMEN: It wasn’t always so easy to cobble together 100 names for the most powerful women in Washington list, Washingtonian CEO and owner Cathy Merrill lamented. At one time, the Washington glossy listed every female member of the House and Senate just to fill the slots. Now they are often faced with as many as 300 women to choose from, a sign of how far women have come in this town, Merrill said at The Society of the Cincinnati at Larz Anderson House on Tuesday to a crowd of more than 200 women, some honored and some there in support. Among those in attendance: Abby Phillip, Suzanne Clark, Yamiche Alcindor, Holly Harris, Shanti Stanton, Juleanna Glover, Michael Schaffer, Dannia Hakki, Maha Hakki, Tammy Haddad, Heather Podesta, Ricki Niceta, Dave Moss, Carrie Glenn, Syrita Bowen and Alecia and Jill Webb-Edgington.
SPOTTED at a Hudson Institute event honoring Neal and Linden Blue of General Atomics with its annual Herman Kahn Award in San Diego on the deck of the USS Midway: Mike Pompeo, who delivered remarks, Ronne Blue, Elaine Chao, Pete Wilson, Jocko Willink, Chris Cox, Sarah Stern, John Walters, David and Linda Asher, Ken Weinstein, Monu Joseph and Rick Hough.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — David Pepper, the former chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, is out with a new book, “Laboratories of Autocracy” ($16.99 on Amazon), this week. It warns that anti-democratic forces taking root in statehouses risk “calcifying [those bodies] into permanent undemocratic structures” — and that the problem extends beyond Trumpism.
STAFFING UP — The White House announced several new nominations, including Steven Cliff as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Donald Blome as ambassador to Pakistan and Peter Beshar as general counsel at the Air Force.
TRANSITIONS — Sara Sendek is now a senior director for FTI Consulting’s crisis and litigation practice. She most recently was a manager for the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder and is a CISA and Bush White House alum. … Kevin Carpenter is joining Strategic Elements as VP of public affairs. He previously was an SVP at Ichor Strategies. …
… John Stineman is launching Kdence, a political consulting firm. He is the chief strategist at Strategic Elements. … Eric Steiner is now VP of government affairs at the American Forest & Paper Association. He previously was senior director of government affairs at Elanco Animal Health. … Sean Simons is now director of comms and campaigns at (RED). He most recently was U.S. press secretary for the ONE Campaign, and is a Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly alum.
ENGAGED — Stephanie Reichin, SVP and chief of staff at SKDK, and Cooper Smith, product design manager at Lyft, got engaged Monday in their Rhode Island summer/Covid escape home. The two met on Hinge in 2019 and started dating last year. Pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Clark Jennings, managing director for Asia at Crowell & Moring and an Obama White House alum, and Mary Rutherford Jennings, a WeWork and Hillary 2016 alum, on Tuesday welcomed Elizabeth Spencer Jennings, who came in at 7 lbs, 4 oz. Instapic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: VP Kamala Harris … Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) … Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) … Greg Lowman of Fidelity … John Grandy … WaPo’s Ann Gerhart … Nardelli Group’s Mick Nardelli … AARP’s Khelan Bhatia … Education Department’s Clare McCann … Anneke Green … Roddy Flynn of Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon’s (D-Pa.) office … Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani … Eliza Relman … Hanna Pritchett of the American Conservation Coalition … Lamia Rezgui … Matt Dogali of the American Distilled Spirits Association … Pablo Manriquez … Henry Kaufman (94) … POLITICO’s Chris Tassa and Jean Chemnick … Arthel Neville … Katherine DePalma … Christie Boyden … Chuck McCutcheon … Thomas Willard … former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis … Kay Foley … former DNI John Ratcliffe … Steve Moffitt … Tom Kahn of American University (66) … NYT’s Matt Apuzzo
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