NO SHUTDOWN — Congress avoided a government shutdown after Senate conservatives dropped their demands to nix President JOE BIDEN’s vaccine mandates in the funding bill — and Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER gave them a way out.
All 100 senators agreed late Thursday night to quickly proceed to a bill funding the government through Feb. 18. The breakthrough came after Schumer gave Republicans a vote (with a simple majority threshold) to defund federal vaccination mandates. He did so only because there were two Republicans absent, meaning that even if Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) sided with Republicans, the amendment would be defeated. (And fail it did, 48-50.)
Conservatives will argue they got something out of this drama: a vote on their issue. In reality, it was a face-saving measure. The far-right started out demanding that Congress effectively scuttle the mandates, then reduced their ask to a mere vote they knew would fail, ensuring smooth passage of a continuing resolution a full 30 hours before the shutdown deadline.
Another reality: Their shutdown threat was never going to give them what they wanted. Schumer was all too willing to embrace the showdown over vaccines amid the threat of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Plus, fellow Republicans blasted their demand as irresponsible and pointless.
One thing the right did get out of it was attention. Their protest was front and center for days and will be again next week when Sen. MIKE BRAUN (R-Ind.) forces another vote on the issue. They also demonstrated to other members how to leverage year-end deadlines for votes on their pet issues — a precedent Schumer warned against before he acceded to their ask.
THE STEP BACK: Despite Thursday night’s movement on the funding bill, it’s been a week from hell for Schumer, who has multiple crises on his hands. The National Defense Authorization Act is still stalled amid GOP opposition, though it appears Democrats are discussing a possible workaround that could break the impasse in the coming days.
There’s been some talk by Democrats about adding a debt ceiling increase onto the NDAA, which Republicans broadly support. But House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY panned that idea, and Senate Republicans seem unlikely to go along with it.
December was always going to be Schumer’s Pamchenko, the near-impossible twist-throw in couples skating as depicted in the 1992 film “The Cutting Edge” (which one of us owns and shamelessly watches at least once a year). With the GOP disrupting his strategy at every turn, he’s going to need flawless execution to pull off the legislative equivalent.
NOW, HERE’S THE THING …
- NIKKI HALEY finally landed a one-on-one with DONALD TRUMP after he rejected her request for a sit-down in February, following her condemnation of his actions on Jan. 6. While Haley faced the prospect of being one of Trump’s sworn enemies ahead of a potential 2024 presidential campaign, she praised him during a recent speech in Iowa and said she won’t challenge him in a primary (something Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS hasn’t done). So last week, nearly 10 months after the first snub, Trump finally granted her a visit to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring. “He doesn’t see the point in making enemies,” a source close to Trump said, adding that the former president is still skeptical of Haley because of her back-and-forth statements about him. “He likes teasing people,” another aide said.
- Meanwhile, Trump has been complimentary of MEHMET OZ, telling confidantes that he believes the TV doc has a chance in the Pennsylvania Senate GOP primary — mainly because he’s a lot like him. Trump “likes the fact that [Oz is] in the mainstream of America and that he had a ton of face time with voters, similar to ‘The Apprentice,’ that he’s omnipresent in people’s houses through their television,” the source close to Trump said. Trump endorsed SEAN PARNELL in the primary before he dropped out after losing a messy custody battle with his wife.
- Oz may have some serious competition for Trump’s nod in the Pennsylvania contest. A source close to DAVE MCCORMICK, the hedge-fund billionaire and husband of former Trump White House senior official DINA POWELL MCCORMICK, said “the Oz candidacy has not impacted him at all, other than to realize that he’s getting more encouragement to jump in sooner rather than later.” WSJ reported that McCormick met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago last week, also seeking his blessing if he decides to jump in the race.
- BILL DE BLASIO has been running a very under-the-radar effort to build a campaign ahead of officially entering the race against New York Gov. KATHY HOCHUL. Rather than launching a traditional campaign, the outgoing NYC mayor started an advocacy effort focused on promoting his education reform agenda. De Blasio has brought on some heavy hitters to the effort who will likely join his campaign, including his former senior adviser PETER RAGONE and ANNA GREENBERG, the pollster for his mayoral campaign. He’s also brought on Sen. BERNIE SANDERS’ (I-Vt.) digital lead, TIM TAGARIS, and the Bearstar Strategies team that ran California Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM’s anti-recall campaign, including ACE SMITH, SEAN CLEGG and JUAN RODRIGUEZ.
BEHIND THE BRICK-AND-WROUGHT-IRON CURTAIN — Steps away from the Capitol grounds, the idyllic Capitol Hill neighborhood serves as more than a haven for D.C. residents: It’s a home for serious lobbyists who have abandoned K Street. Hailey Fuchs and Tara peek beyond the townhouse doors with lobbyists SCOTT ECKART of Emergent Strategies and BRIAN BELL of the Allied Pilots Association. Listen and subscribe to Playbook Deep Dive
— 9:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
— 10:15 a.m.: Biden will deliver remarks on the November jobs report.
— 12:15 p.m.: Biden and VP KAMALA HARRIS will have lunch.
— 5:30 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to Camp David.
The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 11 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 1:30 p.m.
THE HOUSE is out. McCarthy will hold his weekly press conference at 11:30 a.m.
THE SENATE is out.
DON YOUNG TO TRUMP: ‘JUST SHUT UP’ — WaPo’s Paul Kane has a fabulous profile of one Republican who isn’t afraid of Trump: Rep. DON YOUNG (R-Alaska). In an interview about a possible Trump-backed primary challenge following his vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Young basically told Trump to bring it. He even whipped out his long, infamous knife — the one he once held to JOHN BOEHNER’s throat — and talked openly about how he uses his weapon. As for Trump, he had some advice for him: “I think his policy is just so good,” Young said. “Just shut up — that’s all he has to do. He’s not going to. I know that.” The full write-up here
DON’T PROVIDE A TARGET — Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL “has told colleagues and donors Senate Republicans won’t release a legislative agenda before next year’s midterms,” Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene report. “Every midterm cycle, there are Republican donors and operatives who argue the party should release a positive, pro-active governing outline around which candidates can rally. McConnell adamantly rejects this idea, preferring to skewer Democrats for their perceived failures.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
SAME PLAYBOOK — As the Biden administration grapples with the Omicron variant, Adam Cancryn and Jonathan Lemire write that its plan of attack so far is expanding current regulations — and not embracing further-reaching initiatives: “Even as the president promised that his new approach ‘pulls no punches in the fight against Covid-19,’ his administration is stopping short of the more aggressive measures that health experts believe would more quickly rein in the pandemic — like vaccine mandates for domestic travel, more rigorous public health restrictions and enforced quarantines — wary of further inflaming GOP opposition and demoralizing an exhausted public.”
FRIENDS AFTER ALL — Harris and Transportation Secretary PETE BUTTIGIEG jointly visited North Carolina on Thursday “as Washington chatter has heated up over the possibility that Buttigieg could be positioned as the future standard-bearer of the Democratic Party instead of the vice president, should Biden not run for reelection in 2024,” CNN’s Jasmine Wright reports. “The notion has ignited reports of a shadow rivalry between the pair that hung over their joint trip to North Carolina to tout the newly passed infrastructure law and its effect on the nation’s transit.”
THE SENATE GOP’S UNLIKELY EMBRACE, PART I — From Wrightsville, Ga., Michael Kruse has a big new feature on HERSCHEL WALKER and his lifelong reluctance to speak out on racial issues. Going back to when he was just 18, his silence on politics and race has left a bad taste in the mouths of some Black Georgians. Only in the past few years has he started to speak out, often to downplay racial divides. “Walker throughout and again and again made the same essential decision he had made back in the tempestuous spring of his senior year of high school. When it came to controversial social and political topics? He steered clear,” Michael writes. “Then came Trump.”
THE SENATE GOP’S UNLIKELY EMBRACE, PART II — With the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary wide open, the party isn’t writing off Dr. Oz as their potential swing-state savior, Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett report. Though most senators don’t know him well — and Oz has plenty of controversial baggage — they like his name recognition, deep pockets and early moves to line up veteran party operatives for his campaign.
QUIETLY BUCKING TRUMP — Five Republican senators — MIKE CRAPO (Idaho), SHELLY MOORE CAPITO (W.Va.), JONI ERNST (Iowa), JIM INHOFE (Okla.) and DEB FISCHER (Neb.) — have donated to KATIE BRITT’s campaign for Alabama’s Senate seat from their leadership PACs, though Trump has endorsed Britt’s opponent, Natalie Allison reports. “None of them have done so yet for GOP Rep. MO BROOKS, who Trump endorsed in April to replace the retiring Sen. RICHARD SHELBY (R-Ala.).”
CUOMO LATEST — The DOJ launched a probe into the sexual harrassment claims against former New York Gov. ANDREW CUOMO, CNBC’s Dan Mangan reports. “Cuomo, who has denied wrongdoing, already was known to be facing criminal investigations by various New York state district attorneys for his conduct toward women. … The federal investigation of Cuomo by the DOJ was disclosed in a legal services contract that the office of current Gov. Kathy Hochul signed with the law firm Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher.”
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
ABOUT THAT BOOK — Some members of the House select committee on Jan. 6 said former Trump chief of staff MARK MEADOWS “may have damaged his case for maintaining the secrecy of his contacts with former Trump on Jan. 6 by divulging selected details in his book, due to publish Tuesday,” Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu report.
— The committee also announced Thursday that it’s interviewed about 250 people. AP’s Mary Clare Jalonick writes that that’s “a staggering pace over just five months as lawmakers work to compile the most comprehensive account yet of the violent attack and plan to hold public hearings next year.”
TV TONIGHT — PBS’ “Washington Week”: Eugene Daniels, Sahil Kapur and Jonathan Martin.
SUNDAY SO FAR …
“Fox News Sunday”: Gen. David Thompson. Guest panel: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Michèle Flournoy. Sunday panel: Karl Rove and Jennifer Griffin. Power Player: John Heubusch.
“The Sunday Show”: Cecile Richards … Nancy Northup … Ruth Marcus … Daniel Goldman … San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
“This Week”: Stephen Hodge. Panel: Rick Klein, Mary Bruce, Rachel Scott and Vivian Salama.
“Face the Nation”: Maria Van Kerkhove … Francis deSouza … Scott Gottlieb.
“Full Court Press”: Gordon Brown … Michael Osterholm.
“Inside Politics”: Panel: Molly Ball, Phil Mattingly, Laura Barrón-López, Lauren Fox and Joan Biskupic.
“Meet the Press”: Panel: Eugene Daniels, Errin Haines, Stephen Hayes and Ashley Parker.
Gabby Giffords became a bat mitzvah.
Pope Francis received a Hanukkah gift from NYT Rome bureau chief Jason Horowitz: gelt and a dreidel. Horowitz “suggested he play a round with the cardinals.”
Kamala Harris pretended to drive an electric bus while laughingly reciting “the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round.” Pete Buttigieg looked on.
The DCCC was roundly mocked for tweeting out a graph thanking Joe Biden for gas prices dropping by two cents a gallon. (It would also seem to suggest that the president is responsible for gas prices, which may not be what the White House wants to hear.)
SPOTTED: Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) at the Bob Dylan concert at the Anthem on Thursday night (h/t Alex Seitz-Wald). They returned to the Senate to vote quickly on passage of the C.R., and “dipped, ostensibly back to the Bob Dylan concert,” reports Caitlin Emma.
OUT AND ABOUT — It was “Emily in Washington” on Wednesday night when French Ambassador Philippe Etienne hosted the cast of the Netflix hit “Emily in Paris” at his residence, including the star Lily Collins, a British actress who plays a bumbling American woman in Paris, and co-stars Ashley Park, William Abadie and Philippine Leroy Beaulieu. While many Americans and French blushed at the over-the-top cliches in the show, Etienne called the series “a love letter to Paris.” Show creator Darren Star (of “Sex and the City” fame) said learning he was being invited back to film season 2 during the pandemic was like Sally Field’s iconic Oscar speech moment, “You like me! You really like me!” Also SPOTTED at the intimate event: Steve Clemons, Liz Allen, John Hudson, Ryan Heath and Zachary Bishop, Heather Podesta, Jonathan Kott, Jonathan Stahler, Kathleen Koch and Chelsea Moser.
— Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) toasted Laphonza Butler, the new president of EMILY’s List, at a party on the patio at the DSCC on Thursday night. Also SPOTTED: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Christie Roberts, Jessica Knight-Henry, Mindy Myers, Martha McKenna, Jessica Mackler, Emily Cain, Muthoni Wambu, Sheila O’Connell, Rohini Kosoglu, Lauren Dillon, Karen Finney, Jess Floyd, Karen DeFilippi, Simone Ward, Jen Pihlaja and Celinda Lake.
TRANSITIONS — Brianna Herlihy is now deputy comms director for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). She previously was director of press advance and spokesperson for DOJ’s antitrust division in the Trump administration. … Kelly O’Donnell is joining the National Confectioners Association as PAC director. She previously was PAC director for the National Association of REALTORS, TriNet and the Farm Credit Council. … Josie Bradley is joining TargetSmart as senior research analyst. She previously worked in field operations and directed political strategy in the Midwest for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. …
… Tamlyn Sheng will be digital content manager at ATHOS. She currently is digital director for Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and is a Jody Hice alum. … Hana Vizcarra is now senior attorney for national climate issues in Earthjustice’s D.C. office. She most recently was a staff attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program. … Torey Mack is joining the Children’s Hospital Association as chief quality and solutions officer. She previously was deputy associate administrator for the Bureau of Health Workforce in the Health Resources and Services Administration.
ENGAGED — Shelley Greenspan, a foreign affairs officer at the State Department, and Reuben Smith-Vaughan, head of public policy for Latin America at Amazon, got engaged Friday in North Carolina. The two met while working at Amazon’s public policy office and reconnected on Bumble at the beginning of the pandemic. Reuben biked a gin and tonic to Shelley’s apartment before their first virtual Zoom date. Reuben proposed to Shelley with both their families present on the tennis court, fittingly the site of their first in-person date. Pic … Another pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Chanan Weissman, White House liaison to the American Jewish community, and Elana Weissman, lower school principal at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School in Baltimore, welcomed Rosie Nessa on Monday.
— Jennifer Non, senior manager of media relations and public affairs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and Abraham Biriggwa, project manager at Tyler Technologies, welcomed Micah Jeffrey on Thursday. Pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) … Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson … Robby Mook … National Council on Disability Chair Andrés Gallegos … Tom Oppel … NBC’s Ali Zelenko … Margaret Mulkerrin … WaPo’s Scott Higham … Jesse Lee … Cody Sanders of Plus Communications … Robert Pondiscio … POLITICO’s Bruce Ritchie … Bill Sternberg … CBS’ Miles Doran … Missy Jenkins … Kevin Baron of Defense One … Lance Trover … Bill Tighe of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores … Danielle Bolger … Mike Inacay of Sen. Brian Schatz’s (D-Hawaii) office … The Fulcrum’s David Meyers … Daniel Chao … Mandi Critchfield of the Senate Banking Committee … Meg Hilling … Laura Howard of Sentinel Strategic Advisors … Jamie Carroll … former Reps. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.)
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