DRIVING THE DAY
So what’s the state of negotiations between the White House and JOE MANCHIN and KYRSTEN SINEMA?
The talks have been shrouded in mystery, but we have some fresh details we can share this morning.
More is known about Manchin than Sinema, and for a good reason: While Manchin has been willing to discuss his priorities in detail with his colleagues in the Senate, Sinema only negotiates with the White House.
“I’m not going to share with you or with Schumer or with Pelosi,” she told one Democratic senator recently. “I have already told the White House what I am willing to do and what I’m not willing to do. I’m not mysterious. It’s not that I can’t make up my mind. I communicated it to them in detail. They just don’t like what they’re hearing.”
Part of solving the Manchinema puzzle is that the 74-year-old former governor from a coal state and the 45-year-old former Green Party activist from Arizona are at odds on some major policies.
“Manchin and Sinema want very different things, both in terms of revenue and programs,” said a source close to Biden who spent the last few days talking to senior White House officials. “If you just took their currently presented red lines you wouldn’t have enough left to get this past progressives in the House and Senate. It wouldn’t raise enough money and it wouldn’t do enough big programs.”
The biggest obstacle Sinema has created, according to Democrats, is on prescription drug pricing reform.
The most robust version of this plan to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices would bring in some $500 billion of revenue at the expense of the pharmaceutical industry. It’s one of the most popular policies on the Democrats’ menu of options and many party strategists believe Democrats owe their House majority to this issue.
But we’re told that Democrats would be lucky if they managed to convince Sinema to support a version of drug pricing reform that raises even $200 billion. That’s not enough to fund the expansion of Medicare benefits that Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) wants or the expansion of the ACA that Speaker NANCY PELOSI wants.
Manchin is much more willing to support a bolder version of drug pricing reform. But he’s also insisting on including his own pet plan to tax prescription opioids — a tax vehemently opposed by Sinema’s allies at PhRMA and one that would dilute the Democrats’s prescription drug pricing plan. So far, the White House has not been able to convince Manchin to drop his opioid tax idea.
The two senators are similarly at odds over climate policy: Manchin opposes several Democratic ideas to price carbon pollution, while Sinema favors them.
And here’s where Manchin is really driving his colleagues crazy. There are tens of thousands of coal jobs in West Virginia that are going to disappear as the economy transitions to clean energy. But when Democrats have proposed expensive programs to subsidize those workers’ income as they find new jobs, Manchin, we’re told, “rejected it out of hand,” calling the idea “welfare.”
“So, like where the hell is the overlap?” the source close to Biden said of the “maddening” policy gap between the two centrists. “How do you land that?”
Some other reconciliation tidbits from this source:
— While progressives and many senior Democrats have been under the impression that the White House is interested in more programs that sunset, with shorter funding periods, this person indicated that Biden may actually favor fewer programs done well, news Pelosi will welcome. “They are coming down on the side of ‘choose programs that really have an impact on families and people’s lives and that can be executed well,’” said the source close to Biden.
— At least one of the five major climate provisions currently being discussed — tax rebates for clean energy, the Clean Electricity Performance Program, a price on carbon, a carbon border tax, a Civilian Climate Corps — is likely to be nixed. “Everything I hear from Manchin is that he wants to kill the CEPP,” said the same source. “If that’s the hostage, can we get 3 or 4 of the others?”
— On child care proposals, top Democrats are discussing making a choice between Biden’s universal free pre-K plan and his plan to subsidize high quality daycare.
— The path to getting the total bill to above $2 trillion may require dedicating $100-200 billion to paying down the debt, a priority that both Manchin and Sinema actually agree on.
Good Wednesday morning. 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.
— 11:15 a.m.: Biden will sign into law H.R. 2278, an act “To designate the September 11th National Memorial Trail Route, and for other purposes.”
— 1:45 p.m.: Biden will meet with senior officials and stakeholders to discuss global supply chain issues, and will deliver remarks on the issue at 2:20 p.m.
VP KAMALA HARRIS’ WEDNESDAY: The vice president will meet with Barbados PM MIA AMOR MOTTLEY at 4:20 p.m.
The White House Covid-19 Response Team and public health officials will hold a briefing at 11 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 1 p.m.
The HOUSE and SENATE are out.
PAGING PELOSI — “Rep. PRAMILA JAYAPAL‘s (D-Wash.) reelection campaign sent out a fundraising email criticizing Speaker NANCY PELOSI‘s (D-Calif.) comments about negotiating a lower price tag on the Democrats’ social spending package,” The Hill’s Monique Beals reports. The email read: “Why is Speaker Pelosi suggesting we should allow a couple of conservative Democrats to leave behind popular cornerstone policies of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act? We need to deliver.”
SEE YOU IN DECEMBER — On Tuesday night, the House passed the short term stopgap extension of America’s debt through December. The bill is headed to Biden’s desk. CNN’s Clare Foran and Kristin Wilson take a deep dive into how the deal was reached and what awaits Congress when they get back.
PEACING OUT — Rep. JOHN YARMUTH (D-Ky.) announced Tuesday he will not run for reelection in 2022. Yarmuth, who currently serves as the House Budget chair, stands as the lone Democrat to represent the state, and has done so for 13 years. CNN’s Annie Grayer and Morgan Rimmer report that Yarmuth’s announcement “is a blow for Democrats who hold a slim majority in the chamber and must now field a new candidate for his U.S. House seat.”
KNOWING BOB CASEY — Our Marianne LeVine has a close look this morning at the mild-mannered, moderate Pennsylvania Democrat championing support for caretaking in the reconciliation fight. “Casey’s not one for fiery floor speeches or cable news hits, so he’s doing it his wonky way: plugging his proposal in caucus meetings with tailor-made fact sheets while enlisting a team of allies on and off the Hill to help him keep the cause alive,” she writes.
THE WHITE HOUSE
HONEY AND VINEGAR — Natasha Korecki dives into the divergent ad strategies being deployed by progressives and more establishment groups to get what they want from the reconciliation package. Progressives are using vinegar, going after moderate holdouts like Manchinema with tough spots and in-your-face protests, while establishment entities are encouraging moderates along with positive ads.
THIEL LINES UP AGAINST CHENEY — Tech billionaire PETER THIEL is jumping into the race against Rep. LIZ CHENEY, throwing money at her DONALD TRUMP-endorsed primary challenger HARRIET HAGEMAN, our Alex Isenstadt reports this morning. He’s one of several Trump mega-donors doing so, per the story.
The stepback: “While Cheney’s totals and hefty lead — she raised $1.7 million in the third quarter alone — show that she still has powerful connections in a fast-changing Republican Party, the list of prominent Trump donors throwing in with Hageman highlights his dominant influence in the GOP. And it demonstrates Trump and his allies are mobilizing together to punish the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach him after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.”
THE VIRGINIA BELLWETHER –– The Virginia gubernatorial race has been tightening for weeks and in a new CBS poll, Democrat TERRY MCAULIFFE leads Republican GLENN YOUNGKIN by just 3 points, 50 to 47, within the margin of error. The poll also looked at how the fights over vaccines and the economy are playing a huge role in the race.
TOUGH WORDS FROM THE MACKER — In an interview with the AP, MCAULIFFE “called on leaders in Washington from both parties — including [the president] — to ‘get their act together,’ while pushing Senate Democrats to scrap the filibuster if needed to enact.”
AND ONE MORE ON VA –– The fight over issues around schools is front and center in the race. NYT’s Lisa Lerer reports that Republicans are “hoping to rally conservatives around both their frustrations over mask mandates and mandatory vaccinations [for schools] and their fears of what their children are being taught.”
A NEW IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT STRATEGY — The Biden administration announced Tuesday it is stopping “large-scale immigration arrests at job sites, and said it is planning a new enforcement strategy to more effectively target employers who pay substandard wages and engage in exploitative labor practices,” WaPo’s Nick Miroff reports. DHS secretary ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS “ordered a review of enforcement policies and gave immigration officials 60 days to devise proposals.”
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
VACCINE MANDATE — Several Republican-led states are looking to fight the administration’s vaccine mandate for private businesses, following Texas Gov. GREG ABBOTT’s footsteps, AP’s Lindsay Whitehurst reports. “The growing battle … is firing up a segment of the Republican Party base, even though many large employers have already decided on their own to require their workers to get the shot,” Whitehurst writes, adding that, “The dustup will almost certainly end up in court …”
DEMOCRACY UNDER DURESS — A Texas county elections official resigned Friday, after a campaign to force her out of the post by Trump supporters — despite Trump winning the county she oversees by a landslide. In a report by the Texas Tribune and ProPublica, Jeremy Schwartz reports that MICHELE CAREW, “who had overseen scores of elections during her 14-year career, had found herself transformed into the public face of an electoral system that many in the heavily Republican Hood County had come to mistrust.”
ALSO IN TEXAS — Texas’ Department of Family and Protective Services took down two web pages that served as resources for LGBTQA+ youth, after it drew criticism from DON HUFFINES, one of Abbott’s Republican primary challengers, according to NBC News’ Jo Yurcaba. One of the web pages included a link to a suicide prevention hotline.
Donald Trump’s “family company is in advanced discussions to sell the rights to its opulent Washington, D.C., hotel in a deal worth more than $370 million,” WSJ reports.
Matt Dornic, CNN’s comms chief, dodged gunfire in D.C.’s Bloomingdale-Ledroit Park neighborhood on Monday night.
Jessica Hertz, White House staff secretary, is leaving her job not even 10 months into Biden’s term, Daniel Lippman scooped.
Eric Adams, NYC mayor-in-waiting and avowed vegan, stopped by an urban garden in Brooklyn, cut a head of Napa cabbage and declared: “This is going to be in my juice in the morning.”
Kyrsten Sinema’s foot injury prevented her from running the Boston Marathon — and protesters from hounding her there.
Nick Kristof, New York Times columnist on leave, is getting serious about running for Oregon governor, forming a PAC that allows him to raise money and hire staff.
Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist not on leave, jumps into the David Shor debate with a provocative piece headlined, “How Democrats Can Save Themselves.”
Do not get Mark Putnam (Democratic ad guy) started about the new ad by the New Jersey Democratic state party poking fun at the GOP candidate for governor because he doesn’t curse.
Rep. Maxine Waters kicked off a social media mystery, tweeting out that her Twitter account had been hacked from her … Twitter account. FWIW, a Twitter spokesperson said “we’ve identified no signs of account compromise.”
If you need a “40 layer lasagna with short rib sugo and truffle mornay” for dinner, food critic Laura Hayes and Jonathan Martin have a new D.C. spot for you, L’Ardente. (Look at this picture, folks!) Speaking of the D.C. food scene, two spots — Cane and Thip Khao — made the NYT’s 50 top restaurants in the U.S. right now.
HEADS UP — “PR Firm Sard Verbinnen to Merge With Finsbury Glover Hering,” by WSJ’s Cara Lombardo
THIS ROCKS — John Kelly, a WaPo columnist, and Andy Sullivan, a Reuters correspondent, signed a record deal for their band, The Airport 77s. Their debut singles, “Losers Win” and ”The Illustrated Life of Cupid,” will release with JEM Records on Oct. 22, with a full-length release slated for 2022. The announcement
SPOTTED: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) held a fundraiser on Tuesday night at a private residence in Salt Lake City with former national security adviser Robert O’Brien as a special guest and former Utah Gov. and Ambassador Jon Huntsman also in attendance.
TRANSITIONS — Sarah Mills is launching Alta Strategies, a health policy consulting and political strategy practice. She previously was a VP and senior lobbyist at the District Policy Group. … Kevin Liao, Tess Seger and Mariela Casellas are joining Bryson Gillette. Liao will be a director and previously was press secretary for Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Seger will be a director and is a Cory Booker and Susie Lee campaign alum. Casellas will be a manager and previously was a legislative aide in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. …
… Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Katherine Brandon, Kimberly Davis-Wells and Tania Mercado are joining Fenton Communications as VPs. Mentor-Truppa previously was VP of comms at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. Brandon previously led comms and advocacy for Together For Girls. Davis-Wells previously was lead consultant for the City of Oakland Human Services Department. Mercado previously was a VP at SKDK. … David Kimelman is joining Caring Across Generations as legislative manager. He previously was senior legislative assistant for Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.).
WEEKEND WEDDING — John Leganski, floor director for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Giulia Giannangeli, professional staff member for the House Small Business Committee Republicans, got married Saturday at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill, followed by a reception at the lnterContinental Hotel at the Wharf. Pic … Another pic … SPOTTED: McCarthy, James Min, John Stipicevic, Matt Sparks, Tim and Holly Pataki, Ben Howard, Chris Bien, AJ Sugarman, Joe Gierut, Gary Andres, Alex and Rebecca Angelson, Luke Wallwork, Paige Decker, Jay Gulshen, Dylan Vorbach, Ali Fulling, Greg Watson, Paul Nagle, Joyce Meyer, and Ryan and Rachel Kaldahl.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Second gentleman Doug Emhoff … Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) … Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) … the White House’s Clarence Wardell … Tiffany Trump … Fox News’ Harris Faulkner … WinRed’s Gerrit Lansing … Ari Fleischer … Billy Bush (5-0) … Finsbury Glover Hering’s Jack Krumholtz, Nedra Pickler and Gregg Rothschild … RNC’s Nate Brand … POLITICO’s Emily Cadei and Ry Rivard … The 19th News’ Candice Norwood … WaPo’s Alice Crites … Christopher Colford … K&L Gates’ Dan Crowley (59) and Corinne Falotico … NBC’s Rebecca Shabad … Sarah Stevens … Carla Sands … Michael Tomasky … Richard D. Siegel … CAP’s Jerry Parshall … Dawn Le … Judy Pino … Jeffrey Kimbell … Christen Linke Young … Daryl Muller … Joanna Burgos … Chris Jankowski … Facebook’s Carrie Adams … Craig Smith … Andrew Hosea … Erin O’Neill
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