August 4, 2021

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POLITICO Playbook: Graham: Biden made GOP look like ‘f—ing idiots’ – politico.com

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MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION — President JOE BIDEN, Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER and Speaker NANCY PELOSI unveiled a rather daring new strategy Thursday for getting the president’s agenda passed.

The gist is this: If Biden’s proposal for “family infrastructure” and climate change doesn’t pass, then neither will the bipartisan infrastructure deal that senators just struck. Think of this as a Plan B after Sens. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) and KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) refused to promise they’ll support Part 2, Democrats’ multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package.

But the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi playbook also has the makings of a serious legislative cluster — and high drama over whether Democrats can actually pull this off — this summer and possibly into the fall.

Here’s your new timeline, according to Hill sources, and bear with us for a bit of procedural wonkery:

1) The Senate will turn the bipartisan agreement into legislative text in the coming days so it can pass it out of the chamber in July. The House will likely have its own version. But instead of conferencing and approving a combined bill for Biden’s signature before the August recess, leaders will put infrastructure on ice until the Democrats-only bill catches up.

2) Schumer and Pelosi plan to have both their chambers pass their respective budget resolutions before the August recess, enabling Democrats to unlock the fast-tracking reconciliation tool.

3) That budget will include instructions for each committee to tackle everything from corporate tax hikes to climate change, education, paid family leave and the like — in other words, everything Democrats want that’s not included in the bipartisan infrastructure package. The panels will work over the August recess to draft the massive reconciliation bill, which Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) hopes will top $6 trillion.

4) When lawmakers return in September from the August recess, they’ll have a few weeks to clear both bills at the same time. The new deadline for getting both to Biden’s desk, per Democratic leaders, is Sept. 30, when a bunch of surface transportation programs expire.

Now, the pitfalls: First off, getting all Democrats to agree on a budget resolution in July is going to be hellish for Schumer and Pelosi. They have virtually no wiggle room due to their slim majorities, and their conferences are divided over how big this Democrats-only bill should be. Expect more Manchin and Sinema flexing.

Pay-fors are still a problem. The details remain scant on where the money in the bipartisan bill comes from. There are credible wonks saying that what’s been released doesn’t add up. At some point the Congressional Budget Office will weigh in. What happens if the CBO blows up the negotiators’ math? (Separately, this is a potential problem on the left: “How The New Infrastructure Deal Could Lead To More Fees and Tolls,” by HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard.)

Then there’s the question of Republicans. How do Senate Republicans who struck this deal take the news that their plan will be put on hold for more than two months — and may or may not even pass depending on whether Manchin and Sinema decide to support the larger reconciliation bill?

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW: GRAHAM IS OUT — We caught up with Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) on Thursday night as he was boarding a plane to California. Graham, you may remember, is one of the 11 Republicans who signed onto the original bipartisan infrastructure framework, which seemed to prove that there were enough Republicans to overcome a filibuster.

Notably, there were only five of those Republicans at the White House on Thursday. This deal is dead without at least five more.

After hearing what Biden said about linking the small bipartisan bill to the big reconciliation bill, Graham told us … he’s out.

“If he’s gonna tie them together, he can forget it!” Graham said. “I’m not doing that. That’s extortion! I’m not going to do that. The Dems are being told you can’t get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I’m not playing that game.”

Graham said the five Republicans negotiating the deal never told him about the linkage strategy and he does not believe that they were aware of it. “Most Republicans could not have known that,” he said. “There’s no way. You look like a fucking idiot now.” He added, “I don’t mind bipartisanship, but I’m not going to do a suicide mission.”

Graham often changes his mind, so Republicans close to the negotiations may take his comments with a grain of salt. But at the same time, Republicans who want this deal to happen believe Biden created a massive problem that could put the entire deal in jeopardy.

“The president’s comments did real damage here,” said a senior GOP aide. “It is astonishing that he could endorse this bipartisan framework in one breath and then announce he will hold it hostage in the next.”

MCCONNELL CONCURS: Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL made the same point on the Senate floor, accusing Democratic leaders of “pulling the rug out from under their bipartisan negotiators” with the new interconnected strategy.

DON’T MISS: Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine have a good tick-tock on how the group of 20 centrist Democrats and Republicans defied expectations and no shortage of cynicism to strike a deal. The secret to their success? Positive vibes and a lot of wine. Natasha Korecki and Laura Barrón-López, meanwhile, look at what a coup this is for Biden, assuming the deal holds up: “The longtime creature of the Senate who has boasted endlessly about his mastery of the art of compromise now [has] proof that this seemingly antiquated form of governance could work.”

DEPT OF NOT GIVING A … Sinema was fundraising last week in Manhattan, where we heard she received a tongue-lashing by a major Democratic donor. The warning was specifically about playing ball with Democratic leadership on the infrastructure bill and her broader go-it-alone brand. “They gave her a lot of pushback, they said she’s in the majority, make it work, don’t undermine it,” a source familiar with the sit-down said. Sinema clearly didn’t pay heed. Days later, she doubled down on preserving the filibuster in a WaPo op-ed. Wonder if she was wearing her “F— Off” ring when she wrote it.

JOIN US — Biden’s ability to deliver on his massive infrastructure package could prove critical in maintaining momentum early into his administration. ANITA DUNN, a senior White House adviser to Biden, will join Ryan at 10 a.m. on July 2. The topics will cover Biden’s legislative agenda, including getting the infrastructure plan through Congress, the latest on efforts to get 70% of U.S. adults vaccinated against Covid-19, the road to full economic recovery and preparation for the White House’s first big public event on Independence Day. Register here to watch live

‘THIS IS A CLUSTERF—’ … MATTHEW CAULFIELD was a college senior when he was given a seemingly simple assignment that would torment him for years: How big, precisely, was the U.S. elections industry? Caulfield resolved to do what apparently no one had done before: contact every last living election clerk in the U.S. to find out what they paid for their voting machines. Eugene and reporter Ben Wofford dive into the mysterious world of voting technology companies and the voting rights debate happening right now in Congress. “This is a — can I say ‘clusterf—’?” Ben says. “It’s complex enough that there is probably not going to be some easy federal solution.” Listen and subscribe to Playbook Deep Dive More from Ben for POLITICO Mag

BIDEN’S FRIDAY:

— 9:50 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.

— 1:30 p.m.: Biden will sign into law H.R. 49, to designate the National Pulse Memorial, with first lady JILL BIDEN also in attendance in the South Court Auditorium.

— 2 p.m.: The president and Transportation Secretary PETE BUTTIGIEG will deliver remarks to commemorate LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the East Room. The first lady will also attend.

— 3:30 p.m.: Biden will welcome Afghan President MOHAMMAD ASHRAF GHANI and ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, chair of the High Council for National Reconciliation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, to the White House.

— 5:10 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to Camp David.

Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 12:15 p.m.

KAMALA HARRIS’ FRIDAY:

— 6 a.m.: The vice president will depart for El Paso, Texas.

— 10:35 a.m. EDT: Harris will tour the El Paso Border Patrol Station.

— 12:25 p.m. EDT: Harris will meet with advocates from faith-based NGOs and shelter and legal service providers.

— 1:35 p.m. EDT: The VP will deliver remarks to the press and answer a “few questions.”

— 2:30 p.m. EDT: Harris will depart en route to Los Angeles, where she will remain overnight.

THE SENATE is out.

THE HOUSE will meet at 9 a.m.,with first and last votes expected between 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY will hold his weekly presser at 11:30 a.m.

TRACKING THE VEEP

CURTAIN RAISER ON HARRIS’ TRIP — “Harris looks to shift the narrative at the southern border,” by Eugene Daniels, Anita Kumar and Melanie Zanona: “The Biden administration is insisting that Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to the U.S.-Mexico border today is not about politics.

“But the politics of immigration are unavoidable as Harris tours a U.S. Customs Border Patrol central processing facility, receives a briefing and meets with immigration advocates in El Paso, Texas. And allies and fellow Democrats agree the trip was absolutely necessary to put weeks of bruising Republican criticism on the issue behind her — and to serve as a counterpoint to former President DONALD TRUMP’S visit to a different part of the border next week. …

“[SYMONE] SANDERS batted down questions on the timing of the trip, saying it was scheduled today because the timing ‘made sense’ for Harris and folks on the ground. ‘This administration does not take their cues from Republican criticism, nor from the former president of the United States of America,’ Sanders said.”

DEPT. OF BAD TIMING — “Two top travel officials for Kamala Harris are departing, just as a rush of touring begins,” by NYT’s Annie Karni and Katie Rogers: “KARLY SATKOWIAK, the director of advance, and GABRIELLE DEFRANCESCHI, the deputy director of advance, have both told the vice president’s office they plan to leave in the coming weeks, according to three sources familiar with their plans. A spokeswoman for Ms. Harris said the departures were long planned and that both women are currently engaged with finding their replacements.

“Advance workers are an integral part of the vice president’s team, responsible for planning all of her trips. Ms. Satkowiak and Ms. DeFranceschi put together the teams that survey venues for Ms. Harris to visit, and negotiate with local officials to get the venues camera-ready. … The departures come as the administration has put out a broad call for ‘advance associates’ to help Ms. Harris and her husband, DOUGLAS EMHOFF, with a big push of vaccine-related travel in the summer months. The vice president’s office, according to a person familiar with its hiring, is currently short on travel support staff.”

2024 WATCH

NO APOLOGIES — “Pence, Diverging From Trump, Says He Was ‘Proud’ to Certify Election,” by NYT’s Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman: “Former Vice President MIKE PENCE on Thursday night made his most forceful attempt yet to separate himself from his former boss, Donald J. Trump, on the issue of certifying the 2020 election results. Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Mr. Pence defended the constitutionally mandated role he played in certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6 …

“‘I will always be proud that we did our part on that tragic day to reconvene the Congress and fulfilled our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,’ Mr. Pence said … ‘The truth is, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.’

“It was the furthest that Mr. Pence, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, has gone yet in defending his role that day or distancing himself from Mr. Trump, to whom he ingratiated himself during their four years together in office.”

“Haley praises Trump in Iowa speech laced with 2024 intrigue,” by Alex Isenstadt: “The potential 2024 presidential candidate [NIKKI HALEY] lavished praise on Trump during an evening appearance before the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner, a major party gathering in the all-important, first-in-the-nation caucus state. … Haley also offered a preview of how she may distinguish herself in a 2024 presidential contest: as a Republican with a diverse background. The former ambassador called herself ‘the proud daughter of Indian immigrants’ and said that growing up she was ‘a brown girl in a black-and-white world.’”

THE TRUMP CARD — “What Donald Trump wants as he emerges back on the trail,” by Meridith McGraw and James Arkin: “On Saturday, Trump will hold a Make America Great Again rally outside of Cleveland, Ohio in support of longtime aide turned Republican congressional candidate MAX MILLER, who is vying for the seat currently held by Rep. ANTHONY GONZALEZ, a Cleveland native who voted for the second impeachment of Trump … [He’s] increasingly eager to push the falsehoods that his reelection was deprived of him through nefarious attempts to doctor the vote. …

“There has been discussion among Trump aides ahead of Saturday’s rally about not allowing candidates backstage to take photos with the former president for fear that those images could later be used to falsely imply they received his endorsement. Trump aides have been increasingly aggressive about pushing back on efforts from candidates to suggest they have Trump’s backing when they don’t.”

THE TRUMP INTELLIGENCE AGENCY — “They Seemed Like Democratic Activists. They Were Secretly Conservative Spies,” by NYT’s Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman: “Large donations to the Democratic National Committee — $10,000 each — had bought BEAU MAIER and SOFIA LAROCCA tickets to the debate. During a cocktail reception beforehand, they worked the room of party officials, rainbow donkey pins affixed to their lapels.

“In fact, much about them was a lie. Mr. Maier and Ms. LaRocca were part of an undercover operation by conservatives to infiltrate progressive groups, political campaigns and the offices of Democratic as well as moderate Republican elected officials during the 2020 election cycle, according to interviews and documents.

“Using large campaign donations and cover stories, the operatives aimed to gather dirt that could sabotage the reputations of people and organizations considered threats to a hard-right agenda advanced by President Donald J. Trump.”

VALLEY TALK

“App Taps Unwitting Users Abroad to Gather Open-Source Intelligence,” by WSJ’s Byron Tau: “San Francisco-based Premise Data Corp. pays users, many of them in the developing world, to complete basic tasks for small payments. Typical assignments involve snapping photos, filling out surveys or doing other basic data collection or observational reporting such as counting ATMs or reporting on the price of consumer goods like food.

“About half of the company’s clients are private businesses seeking commercial information, Premise says. That can involve assignments like gathering market information on the footprint of competitors, scouting locations and other basic, public observational tasks. Premise in recent years has also started working with the U.S. military and foreign governments, marketing the capability of its flexible, global, gig-based workforce to do basic reconnaissance and gauge public opinion.”

TV TONIGHT — PBS’ “Washington Week”: Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Eva McKend, Mike Memoli and Jake Sherman.

SUNDAY SO FAR …

  • ABC

    “This Week”: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) … Minnesota A.G. Keith Ellison. Panel: Donna Brazile, Yvette Simpson, Sarah Isgur and Ramesh Ponnuru.

  • Gray TV

    “Full Court Press”: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) … House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.).

  • FOX

    “Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) … Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas. Panel: Dana Perino, Jonathan Swan and Mo Elleithee. Power Player: Marc Polymeropoulos.

  • CBS

    “Face the Nation”: Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) … Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson … Scott Gottlieb … Sasha Issenberg.

  • MSNBC

    “The Sunday Show”: Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) … Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) … Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) … Matthew Dowd … Sophia Nelson.

  • CNN

    “Inside Politics”: Panel: Molly Ball, Seung Min Kim, Phil Mattingly, Brittany Shepherd and Jonathan Reiner.

  • NBC

    “Meet the Press”: Panel: Yamiche Alcindor, Andrea Mitchell and Danielle Pletka.

DESANTIS RISING AND RAISING — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was spotted in D.C. on Wednesday at the Oceanaire in Penn Quarter meeting with potential donors. One left the room with the impression that “he’s definitely running” for president. DeSantis’ office said “the Governor has said repeatedly he’s focused on serving Floridians in the here and now.” We’ve heard that one before. Also, spotted at the donor confab was Rep. MARIA SALAZAR (R-Fla). We’ve noticed some Trump-friendly blue checks pitting the two against each other in non-scientific Twitter polls.

BIG CAT TALK: “Tiger King’s” Carole Baskin warned guests at “The Conservation Game” premiere Thursday that believe it or not, there are more Joe Exotics out there. And that’s why the conservation queen is pushing for Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act to end the private ownership of big cats. The bill was reintroduced this year by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who was in the audience. Baskin remarked to the moderator, Steve Clemons, that thanks to the Netflix hit documentary that exposed the big cat breeding phenomenon, the number of bad players breeding cats has dwindled from 60 to six or seven. Also at the event at the Eaton D.C. hotel: Carole’s husband Howard, director Mike Webber, activist Tim Harrison, Guy Cecil, Jason Osborne, Pam Stevens, Kimball Stroud and David White, Virginia Coyne, Tricia Enright, Holly Kinnamon, Adam Parkhomenko, Rick Barron, Meghan Johnson, Kitty Block and Sara Amundson.

SPOTTED at Cafe Milano for lunch Thursday: Judy Woodruff with Bob Barnett … NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

SPOTTED at Erick Sanchez’s “return to summer” social at Ivy and Coney: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Neil Grace, Nikki Schwab, Christian Datoc, Meghan Milloy, Jim Abbey, Phil Beshara, Olivia Petersen, Scott Tranter, Mark LeMunyon, Michael Julian, Jason and Yegi Rezaian, Mark McDevitt, Anne Sokolov, Randy Jones, Katie Dolan, Allison Cunningham, Brendan Kownacki and Jessica James Golden.

WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Jerry Sheehan is now assistant director for scientific integrity and data access at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He most recently was deputy director of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

STAFFING UP — The White House announced several new nominations, including Bathsheba Nell Crocker as U.S. representative to the Office of the U.N. and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Claire Pierangelo as U.S. ambassador to Madagascar and the Comoros, Julia Gordon as Federal Housing Administration commissioner and Dave Uejio as assistant HUD secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.

TRANSITIONS — Brian Kaveney is joining Allison+Partners as VP of global reputation risk and public affairs. He previously was comms director for former Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). … Kevin Gerson will be director of public affairs for SKDK. He currently is comms director for Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Justice Sonia Sotomayor … CNN’s Betsy KleinAlan McQuinn … Narrative Strategies’ Patrick O’ConnorAnnika ChristensenJohn Randall of BCW Global … Abbie SorrendinoDan Spinelli of Mother Jones … Danielle DohenyMatt Felling of Sen. Angus King’s (I-Maine) office … Bryan Bernys … FT’s Patrick Temple-WestJosh Lahey of Lot Sixteen … Tita Thompson FreemanDan Meyers of APCO Worldwide … Ryan Long Trice Jacobson of the Charles Koch Institute … Taylor Haulsee … Bully Pulpit Interactive’s Scott ZumwaltKeri RiceNed Monroe of the Vinyl Institute (6-0) … former Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) … Corbett DalyKamran Daravi John Fisher of NBC News PR … Kathleen Shannon … POLITICO’s Hank Hoffman Jackie Bradford

Send Playbookers tips to [email protected]. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.

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