After weeks of back and forth about infrastructure — over the cost of President JOE BIDEN’S plan and its alternatives, how to pay for it all and even the definition of the word “infrastructure” — negotiations between the Biden White House and Senate Republicans hit a huge proverbial pothole late Friday. (Yes, that’s corny, but it’s Saturday. Give me a break.)
Here’s where things stand, and a brief rundown of how we got here:
— Biden’s initial offer: Originally, the Biden White House floated a $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan.
— The GOP counteroffer: Senate Republicans, led in this effort by West Virginia’s SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, offered up $568 billion as a counteroffer — a mere fraction of Biden’s ask.
— Biden’s counteroffer to the GOP: On Friday afternoon, the White House sent Capito a memo announcing its willingness to cut $550 billion from the original $2.25 trillion plan, bringing the package down to $1.7 trillion. The memo
— The GOP response to Biden’s counteroffer: Shortly after receiving the memo, Capito’s office blasted out an email to the Washington press corps, and the short version was: “no dice, y’all.” More details on all of this from our Ben Leonard, Christopher Cadelago, Natasha Korecki and Marianne LeVine
— An interesting observation: Our friend Bill Scher noticed a key-but-subtle line from Capito’s email to the press Friday. The line: “Based on today’s meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden.” Scher’s guess on the strategy: “Capito is trying to drive a wedge between Biden and his staff.”
For their part, White House staff insist that their outreach to Republicans has been genuine. They say they’ve made good-faith efforts, and have been working the phones making calls to local GOP officials eager to get infrastructure money and are urging them to put pressure on Republican senators.
They also believe that Biden really wants bipartisan support for the bill — not just because it would help defang GOP criticism of the president, but because it would placate Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.), who has pushed for serious bipartisan negotiations before Democrats ditch Republicans and use the budget reconciliation process.
The problem is this: The negotiations don’t seem to be making progress, and time is running out. The White House originally set Memorial Day as the deadline for a deal, and the AP reports that they’re holding firm to that date “to determine whether a compromise is within reach.”
With one week left until that deadline, here’s the biggest question: Do Manchin and other moderates feel that a sincere bipartisan effort was made — and, if not, what more would it take?
BIDEN’S SATURDAY — The president and first lady JILL BIDEN will leave the White House at 11:10 a.m. for Camp David. VP KAMALA HARRIS has nothing on her public schedule.
THE WHITE HOUSE
THIS WILL COMPLICATE PROGRESSIVES’ WISHES — “A Biden-friendly economist is creating a big headache for president’s spending plans,” by Megan Cassella and Eleanor Mueller: “A new economic analysis led by a prominent White House ally concludes that school and daycare closures are not driving low employment levels — blunting a key Biden administration argument in favor of its American Families Plan and undercutting the view of some Democrats that investing in child care is crucial for the country to climb out of the coronavirus recession.
“‘School closures and lack of child care are not holding back the recovery,’ said JASON FURMAN, a Harvard professor who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration and co-authored the analysis. ‘And conversely, we shouldn’t expect a short-term economic bump from reopening schools and making child care more available.’ …
“[T]heir study runs counter to the argument from many Democrats that a lack of affordable child care options was a major reason for lower-than-expected employment growth in April — 266,000 jobs created compared to 1 million expected. Instead, it suggests that other factors, including one that Republicans have stressed — enhanced federal unemployment benefits, which add $300 per week on top of state jobless aid — are playing a role in keeping people out of the workforce.”
BIDEN TO MISS HIS POLICE-REFORM DEADLINE — “Biden will host the Floyd family but will miss his police reform deadline,” by Laura Barrón-López: “No major red lines have been set. Nor have they stressed obedience to the timeline that the president himself touted. Though Biden won’t be signing the [GEORGE] FLOYD bill into law on May 25, a senior administration official said the president plans to mark the day by hosting members of Floyd’s family at the White House on Tuesday.
“Virtually all parties involved are okay with missing the deadline. Lawmakers working on the bill insist that they’re making progress and regularly engage with one another. And in conversations with the White House, activists and lawmakers have stressed that they want a substantial bill, not a quick one.”
WH OPEN TO MEETING WITH NORTH KOREA — “Biden digs at Trump for giving Kim Jong Un ‘all that he’s looking for,’” by Ben Leonard: “Speaking at a White House press conference alongside South Korean President MOON JAE-IN, Biden said any meeting with the reclusive North Korean leader [KIM JONG UN] would come with preconditions, including setting parameters for further discussions on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and deescalation. … Biden said that for a meeting to occur, his administration would have to ‘know exactly’ what would be discussed, drawing a contrast with [DONALD] TRUMP’S free-wheeling approach …
“Biden also announced Friday that he was appointing SUNG KIM to be a special envoy to North Korea, saying that the U.S. was willing to engage diplomatically.”
FIRST AMENDMENT WATCH — “Biden says he won’t allow Justice Dept. to seize journalists’ phone, email records,” WaPo
THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CLASH
FROM ISRAEL’S PERSPECTIVE — “‘The Mission Wasn’t Completed’: Cease-Fire Prompts Israelis’ Disappointment,” NYT: “The shared dissatisfaction throughout the country signaled Israelis’ growing impatience with what they see as hastily arranged, unconditional cease-fires. Each successive, inconclusive round of conflict has only added to the sense of futility, with no decisive victory or conclusion in sight. …
“The feeling of a missed opportunity was shared by Prime Minister BENJAMIN NETANYAHU’S supporters and opponents. … One of his main rivals, GIDEON SAAR, a conservative politician and former ally of Mr. Netanhayu’s who broke with the prime minister in 2019, tweeted, ‘With the best intelligence and air force in the world, Netanyahu managed to extract from Hamas an “unconditional cease-fire.” Embarrassing.’”
THE HUMAN TOLL — “Aid arrives in Gaza as ceasefire holds,” BBC: “‘The damage inflicted in less than two weeks will take years, if not decades, to rebuild,’ said FABRIZIO CARBONI, the Middle East director for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). … More than 100,000 people were forced to flee their homes, and nearly 800,000 people do not have access to piped water in Gaza, according to the UN Children’s agency.”
ANTI-SEMITIC VIOLENCE HITS NYC — “Dozens Arrested After Conflict in Gaza Leads to Clashes in Times Square,” NYT: “Another video showed a man being beaten by several others while he lay in the street. A Brooklyn man, WASEEM AWAWDEH, 23, was charged with several counts on Friday afternoon in connection with the beating … The police said they were still searching for five to six other people in connection with the assault. The victim, JOSEPH BORGEN, 29, who is Jewish, was punched, kicked, pepper sprayed and hit with crutches. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, the police said, and released early Friday morning. ‘I don’t know how the people who attacked me had so much hate in their hearts,’ Mr. Borgen said in an interview.” Video of Borgen’s statement
GAETZ-GATE LATEST — “Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend to cooperate with federal authorities in sex trafficking investigation,” CNN: “Federal authorities investigating alleged sex trafficking by GOP Rep. MATT GAETZ have secured the cooperation of the congressman’s ex-girlfriend, according to people familiar with the matter.
“The woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer, is seen as a critical witness, as she has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017, a period of time that has emerged as a key window of scrutiny for investigators. She can also help investigators understand the relevance of hundreds of transactions they have obtained records of, including those involving alleged payments for sex, the sources said.”
DINGELL ON THE MEND — “U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell undergoes emergency surgery for perforated ulcer,” AP: “Spokesperson MACKENZIE SMITH says [Michigan Democratic Rep. DEBBIE] DINGELL’S surgery took place at George Washington University Hospital in the nation’s capital. She said the procedure was successful and Dingell will remain hospitalized for several days as she recovers.”
THE 2022 CAMPAIGN
SIX MORE YEARS — “Patrick Leahy signals he’ll run for ninth Senate term,” by Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine: “Sen. PATRICK LEAHY (D-Vt.), who has served since 1975 and is in the line of presidential succession, is asking colleagues to support his potential campaign for a ninth term, according to Democratic senators who have spoken to him.
“The 81-year-old … believes he’s ‘the only Democrat that can win the seat,’ said a person briefed on the conversations. Given that BERNIE SANDERS is an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, Leahy’s the only Democrat ever elected to the Senate from Vermont. If reelected, Leahy could take the record for Senate longevity in a chamber famous for its octogenarians.”
GONZALEZ TAKES SWING AT GOP STRATEGY — “Rep. Anthony Gonzalez says efforts to oust him and other pro-impeachment Republicans are a ‘losing strategy,’” Cleveland Plain Dealer: “‘Sometimes when I hear us talk about the state of the party, we talk as if we somehow won an election,’ [Rep. ANTHONY] GONZALEZ (R-Ohio) said [at a virtual City Club of Cleveland forum on Friday]. ‘We lost … we should probably take an accounting of what we need to do going forward.’
“‘The reality inside our party is people do feel differently about President Trump,’ Gonzalez said. ‘If we’re going to win elections going forward, retake the House, retake the Senate, retake the White House, there has to be room for both. … You should not, as a party, be committed to subtracting voters.’”
LGBTQ ADVOCATES SAY ‘NO THANKS’ TO JENNER — “For transgender leaders, Caitlyn Jenner has become ‘the figurehead we don’t want,’” SF Chronicle: “The LGBTQ community has long been ambivalent about [CAITLYN] JENNER. On one hand, she has helped educate millions of people about transgender issues since revealing her identity with a pin-up style spread on the cover of ‘Vanity Fair.’ Yet her glamorous lifestyle and reality-TV roles in ‘I Am Cait’ and ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ have set her apart from everyday voters and grassroots advocates.
“Those tensions have been inflamed as Jenner reenters the national spotlight with her campaign to oust [California Gov. GAVIN] NEWSOM. … This week, Jenner even shared an Instagram post from DONALD TRUMP JR., which compared her looks to those of Biden’s assistant health secretary, Dr. RACHEL LEVINE, who is also transgender.”
RED STATES, BLUE STATES — “For Colleges, Vaccine Mandates Often Depend on Which Party Is in Power,” NYT: “Hoping for a return to normal, more than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
POPULIST VS. POPULIST IN BRAZIL — “‘Brazil is a global pariah’: Lula on his plot to end reign of ‘psychopath’ Bolsonaro,” The Guardian: “In an interview with the Guardian, Brazil’s former leftist leader LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA — who is widely tipped to challenge [JAIR] BOLSONARO for the presidency [next year] after regaining his political rights — stopped short of explicitly confirming he would run. But Lula, who rose from rural poverty to become Brazil’s first working-class president, left no doubt he was plotting an extraordinary finale to one of the world’s most enduring and dramatic political careers. … Brazil’s top pollster, Datafolha, recently forecast Lula would beat Bolsonaro in a second round run-off by a margin of more than 20 percent.”
U.S. MILITARY FACES BACKLASH ON RIGHT — “Conservatives lash out at the military over ‘woke’ policies,” Lara Seligman and Connor O’Brien: “Republican lawmakers and right-wing personalities are increasingly criticizing military leaders over what they say is political bias against conservatives in the armed forces and the new Pentagon leadership’s ‘cancel culture’ and focus on being ‘woke.’
“For the most part, conservative critics have primarily aimed their fire at Defense Department leadership. But that’s not always the case. Former Trump aide turned right-wing radio and TV host SEBASTIAN GORKA on Thursday launched a personal attack on an active-duty corporal featured in a new Army recruiting video discussing her childhood experience growing up with two moms. ‘You are a disgrace to what it means to serve in the military at any rank,’ Gorka said on Newsmax TV of the soldier … calling her out by name.
“Republicans have a long history of touting their support for the armed forces, from featuring American flags and active-duty service members in campaign videos to advocating for higher defense spending in Congress. But the Pentagon’s recent diversity push has incensed conservatives, who accuse civilian and uniformed leaders of focusing on political correctness to the detriment of readiness.”
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
GOP TRENDWATCH — “Republicans Move to Limit a Grass-Roots Tradition of Direct Democracy,” NYT: “Through ballot initiatives, voters in red states have defied legislators’ wishes and produced liberal outcomes in recent years. Republicans want to make the practice harder, or even eliminate it.”
— A vivid example: “In South Dakota … Republicans this year passed a law mandating a minimum type size of 14 points on ballot initiative petitions. Combined with a requirement that all initiatives, along with their signatures, fit on a single sheet of paper, the new type size will force people gathering signatures for petitions to tote around large pieces of paper, including some that unfold to the size of a beach towel.”
MEANWHILE, IN GEORGIA — “In echo of Arizona, Georgia state judge orders Fulton County to allow local voters to inspect mailed ballots cast last fall,” WaPo: “The decision marks the latest instance of a local government being forced to undergo a third-party inspection of its election practices amid baseless accusations promoted by President Donald Trump that fraud flipped the 2020 contest for President Biden. The inspection in Fulton County, home to Atlanta, is likely to proceed differently than an audit underway in Maricopa County, Ariz., where Republican state senators ordered county election officials to hand over equipment and ballots to a private company called Cyber Ninjas for examination.”
NAVAJO NATION SEES POPULATION SPIKE — “Navajo Nation Becomes Largest Tribe in U.S. After Pandemic Enrollment Surge,” NYT: “A rush to secure federal hardship benefits increased the Navajo Nation’s official enrollment to 399,494 from 306,268 last year. … The tribe’s growth … could affect the disbursement of future federal aid as well as political representation in the Southwest. The Navajo Nation reservation, which is larger than West Virginia, spreads over about 27,000 square miles of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.”
ALABAMA LEGALIZES … YOGA — “Alabama overturns decades-old ban on yoga in schools,” BBC: “The state’s department of education had barred yoga in 1993, citing its connection to Hinduism. The bill [overturning the ban] … limits yoga to stretches and poses, and prohibits non-English descriptions as well as ‘any aspect of Eastern philosophy and religious training.’ Chanting is also not allowed. The use of the sound ‘om,’ and the Sanskrit-based word ‘namaste’ are also still banned.”
A BIGGER IDAHO ON ITS WAY? — “7 Oregon counties have voted to join ‘Greater Idaho,’” Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Sherman, Lake, Grant, Baker and Malheur counties voted on May 18 in favor of the measure that requires county officials to discuss moving the Idaho border west. There were five counties on the ballot and none voted against the measure, with an average of 62% in favor. In November, four counties were the first to consider the measure. Jefferson and Union approved it and Wallowa and Douglas were against.”
NOEM ANTES UP IN CULTURE WAR — ”Kristi Noem steps up attack on Biden school grants,” KELO: “Two officials from [South Dakota Gov. KRISTI] NOEM’S administration … sent letters to the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday criticizing the New York Times’ 1619 Project and the teachings of professor IBRAM X. KENDI. … ‘This is inappropriate and un-American,’ Noem said Friday about the 1619 Project and critical race theory. ‘It has no place in South Dakota, and it certainly has no place in South Dakota classrooms.’”
DEAL SCORED FOR EPSTEIN PRISON GUARDS — “Epstein guards to skirt jail time in deal with prosecutors,” AP: “The prison workers, TOVA NOEL and MICHAEL THOMAS, were accused of sleeping and browsing the internet instead of monitoring Epstein the night he took his own life in August 2019. They were charged with lying on prison records to make it seem as though they had made required checks on the financier before he was found in his cell. New York City’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.
“As part of the deal with prosecutors, they will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and will serve no time behind bars, according to a letter from federal prosecutors that was filed in court papers Friday.”
TIM COOK IN THE HOT SEAT — “Apple CEO Tim Cook faces sharp questioning from judge in Epic Games trial,” CNBC
THE REAL SPACE RACE: MUSK VS. BEZOS — “The rivalry between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos already was intense. Now it’s extending to the moon.” WaPo
CLICKER — “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 15 keepers
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Ryan Lizza:
— “The Full Story of the Stunning RSA Hack Can Finally Be Told,” by Wired’s Andy Greenberg: “In 2011, Chinese spies stole the crown jewels of cybersecurity — stripping protections from firms and government agencies worldwide. Here’s how it happened.”
— “The Anxiety of Influencers,” by Barrett Swanson for Harper’s: “Educating the TikTok generation.”
— “Selfies, Surgeries And Self-Loathing: Inside The Facetune Epidemic,” by HuffPost’s Jesselyn Cook: “The massively popular photo-editing app Facetune is driving a generation of young women to extreme and obsessive lengths to look flawless online.”
— “How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections,” by FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley: “In many ways, the most concerning change our elections face may not be any one law, but rather the GOP’s increased willingness to take such anti-democratic actions.”
— “Could the ‘Culture War’ Break Democracy?” by POLITICO Mag’s Zack Stanton: “Thirty years ago, sociologist James Davison Hunter popularized the concept of culture war. Today, he sees a culture war that’s gotten worse — and that spells trouble for the future of the American experiment.”
— “The California Prosecutors Who Want to Keep People Out of Jail,” by Sasha Abramsky for The Nation: “In the state that once pioneered the punitive Three Strikes policy, a coalition of recently elected district attorneys is pushing back against mass incarceration.”
— “The Child Soldiers of Portland,” by City Journal’s Christopher F. Rufo: “Public schools are training children to become race-conscious revolutionaries.”
— From the archives: “The Education of David Stockman,” by William Greider for The Atlantic, December 1981. (h/t Franklin Foer)
SPOTTED separately at Cafe Milano on Friday night: Katie and Stephen Miller having dinner on the outside patio … Fred Ryan at the next table … Steven Mnuchin inside.
SPOTTED: Meghan McCain, Ben Domenech and Fox’s John Roberts having dinner at Island Time Bar & Grill at the Columbia Island Marina on Friday night.
MEDIAWATCH — Kelsey Koberg is now an editor for Fox News Digital. She most recently was press secretary for the Export-Import Bank.
TRANSITIONS — Mia Jacobs is now comms director for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She previously was comms strategist at the ACLU. … Retired Navy Adm. William McRaven is now a senior adviser in Lazard’s financial advisory business. … Greg Daniel is joining Eli Lilly and Co. as head of global public policy. He most recently was head of policy at Edwards Lifesciences.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) … Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) … Joe Pompeo … McClatchy’s Michael Wilner … Emma Kaplan of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office … Jillian Lane Wyant of Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) office … Drew Griffin of Rep. Bob Latta’s (R-Ohio) office … Jon Ward … Peter Gosselin … Jimmy Ryan … Targeted Victory’s Kerry Rom … Jennifer Garson … Connie Bruck … Ross Terry of Sen. Maggie Hassan’s (D-N.H.) reelect … RAGA’s Johnny Koremenos (3-0) … Jim Popkin … Brian Weeks … Anthony Reyes … Accenture’s Richard Keil … Alex Dilley … NP Strategy’s Tom McMahon … James Hooley … Oren Cass … Bobby Mattina … Jon Jukuri of the National Conference of State Legislatures … Mark Mazzie … Jay Carney … Anne Brady Perron … former Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-La.) … Ron Nehring … John Michael Gonzalez … Matt Butler … Bryan Petrich … Lauryn Higgins … Stephanie Anderson … Peter Walker Kaplan … Clare Krusing … Brandon MacGillis … Gene Fynes … Stephanie Cope … Bernard Shaw … Peter Bhatia … POLITICO Europe’s Florian Eder
THE SHOWS (Full Sunday show listings here):
“State of the Union”: Cedric Richmond … Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) … Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) … Scott Brown … Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.).
“Full Court Press”: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) … Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
“Fox News Sunday”: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) … Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) … Mark Regev. Panel: Guy Benson, Julie Pace and Charles Lane. Power Player: Virginia Ali.
“Face the Nation”: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) … Robert Gates … retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré … Katherine Rowe … Scott Gottlieb.
“This Week”: Secretary of State Antony Blinken … Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Panel: Rahm Emanuel, Sarah Isgur, Donna Brazile and George Will.
“The Sunday Show”: Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) … Stuart Stevens … Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) … St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Melvin Carter … Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) … Benjamin Crump … Robert Moore … Andrea Jenkins … Timothy L. O’Brien … Jasmine Burney-Clark … Joan Walsh.
“Inside Politics”: Panel: Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, Jeff Zeleny and Vivian Salama.
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