WHAT MANCHIN SAID, WHAT HE MEANT — If you’re confused right now about where Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) is on the filibuster, you’re far from alone.
Last week, Manchin literally yelled “Never!” at reporters who asked him whether he’d ever ax the 60-vote threshold. But a few days later on “Meet the Press,” he said he was open to mandating a “talking filibuster.” That reform would force senators to physically stand in protest on the floor — until they need to eat, pee or sleep, at which point a majority-rule vote presumably would occur.
But no! Apparently that wasn’t what Manchin meant, either. On Tuesday, the Senate kingmaker was aghast at the suggestion that he’d be OK with just going to a talking filibuster. “Jiminy Christmas, buddy!” he exclaimed to our Senate chief Burgess Everett. “That’s why I even hate to say anything to you.”
Manchin insisted he meant only that he wants to make filibustering more “painful” for the majority — but as Burgess writes, Manchin still thinks “either the majority needs to come up with 60 votes to overcome a filibuster or the minority to come up with 41 votes to sustain” one.
And that, ladies and gents, is exactly the same supermajority rule we have now. The West Virginian likes to keep us on our toes — either that or he enjoys messing with everyone hanging on his every word.
Fun fact: Way back in 2011, in one of his first votes as a senator, Manchin voted to enforce a talking filibuster on so-called motions to proceed. Here’s the press release. Now, he likes to boast that he’s one of the few — if not the only — remaining senators who has voted against getting rid of the filibuster under both a Democratic and Republican majority.
A LONG WAY TO GO — This is far from the end of the filibuster debate. In fact, Senate Majority Whip DICK DURBIN appeared to lay out a path to nixing it Tuesday night. The Illinois Democrat, the No. 2 in the chamber, told the Hill pool that the majority should bring “two or three” bills with appeal to both parties to the floor — then, when they fail to clear the 60-vote threshold, force a caucus-wide conversation about what to do.
“We need some floor experience first,” Durbin said. “I think this is progression. First, try the legislation. Second, try modifications to filibuster. Then see what happens.”
AOC LOSING HER PATIENCE — On Tuesday night, the progressive ringleader called Manchin’s logic on the filibuster “ridiculous” and had this to say to her friends across the Rotunda (cliché alert): “It gets to a point where the rubber’s got to meet the road on the filibuster. And I’m sorry but so many of my Democratic colleagues in the Senate need to wake up and smell the coffee.”
RELATED — “Democrats still face tricky path to gutting filibuster despite Manchin’s openness to reforms,” CNN: “Discussions within the Senate Democratic Caucus are expected to pick up steam in the coming days to see if they can unify behind a single plan.”
SURVEY SAYS — The House is set to pass the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package today and Americans are eager for it to happen, according to our latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Three-quarters of respondents said they support that package, with strong backing across the political spectrum: ninety percent of Democrats, more than seven in 10 independents and nearly six in 10 Republicans.
On another hot topic — the filibuster — just 39% of both Democratic and independent respondents said they support the supermajority threshold, vs. 56% of Republicans. Finally, there’s growing Democratic support for granting statehood to the District of Columbia, with 60% saying they somewhat or strongly support the idea, an 11-point increase since early January. Republicans (22%) and independents (38%) are less keen. A similar proportion of Democratic respondents support statehood for Puerto Rico. The full poll results … Crosstabs
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Former DCCC Chair STEVE ISRAEL is partnering up with the former head of the RNC, REINCE PRIEBUS, at Michael Best Strategies, the government affairs shop where Priebus serves as president. Israel has been on the firm’s board, but is taking on a vastly expanded role there, adding deep connections to the Biden administration. Israel, an original JOE BIDEN supporter and surrogate, turned down a position to be ambassador to (no joke) Israel, saying he could “support his agenda in other ways.” Like Priebus, Israel will be a consultant, not a registered lobbyist.
BIDEN’S WEDNESDAY — The president and VP KAMALA HARRIS will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:50 a.m. At 3 p.m., Biden will host the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck at the White House (rescheduled from an Emergent BioSolutions vaccine plant in Baltimore after this critical NYT report). Harris will swear MARCIA FUDGE in virtually as HUD secretary at 5 p.m.
— The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 11 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 12:30 p.m. along with ROBERTA JACOBSON, special assistant to the president and coordinator for the southern border.
THE HOUSE will meet at 9 a.m. to take up the Covid relief bill. The Administration Committee will hold a hearing at noon on the contested election in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, where GOP Rep. MARIANNETTE MILLER-MEEKS won by six votes. Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN will testify before the Foreign Affairs Committee at 1:30 p.m.
THE SENATE: The Budget and Homeland Security and Government Affairs committees will vote on SHALANDA YOUNG’S nomination to be deputy OMB director. Senate Dem leaders will hold a media availability at 2 p.m.
THE WHITE HOUSE
THE BIDEN VICTORY LAP — Biden, first lady JILL BIDEN and Harris are about to embark on a nationwide blitz to ensure this president doesn’t make the same mistake BARACK OBAMA made more than a decade ago. Biden wants voters to know who’s responsible for the soon-to-arrive checks in the mail and federal assistance with their bills. Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki have the latest on what that sales pitch will look like:
“Biden is scheduled to deliver his first prime-time address as president Thursday, which will focus on the Covid crisis. Later this month, he’ll hold the first press conference of his young presidency. He’s committed to making a still-unscheduled address to Congress. And officials are busy preparing for a sprawling sales campaign designed to draw attention to the benefits of the Covid-relief package.”
BUT NOT SELLING IT LIKE THIS … “Biden’s name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says,” The Hill: “White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that President Biden’s name will not appear on stimulus checks… The decision represents a break with the previous administration, as former President Trump’s name appeared on stimulus checks sent by the Internal Revenue Service to millions of Americans.”
OTOH … “It could be a fiery accelerant for global markets as gas prices surge, home prices jump, speculative assets soar and investors increasingly fear the kind of sharp inflation spike that can hit with remarkable speed if the government pours too much gasoline on an already warming economy,” Ben White, our Morning Money guru, writes.
NYT’s Paul Krugman sounds the same warning from a slightly different angle: “Will Stagnation Follow the Biden Boom?”
NEERA REDUX? — “Pentagon chief to urge Manchin to support nominee amid Twitter troubles,” by Lara Seligman and Connor O’Brien: “The administration is seeking Manchin’s support after Colin Kahl, the nominee to be the undersecretary of defense for policy, faced backlash from Republican senators during his confirmation hearing last week over past tweets criticizing GOP officials and Trump administration policies. Manchin, following [Secretary Lloyd] Austin’s call, said he had not made up his mind on the nomination, but expressed concern with some of Kahl’s attacks on Republican lawmakers.” More from the Free Beacon, which broke the story about Kahl’s tweets
CHUCK GETS THE TIMES TREATMENT — Luke Broadwater is out with a new profile on Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER, including his evolution from self-described “angry centrist” who was tight with Wall Street to AOC’s most powerful Senate ally. The story includes a picture of the leader from 1987 and some colorful nuggets about the man who “rose to power on the strength of his skills as a party messenger and relentless campaign strategist, not his talent as a legislative tactician.”
There’s this reminder about why Trump called him “Cryin’ Chuck”: “He once cried so hard at the movie ‘Free Willy’ that his daughters left the theater out of embarrassment.”
Also more on his goofy tendencies: “His staff has imposed some rules for him when appearing in public: ‘No singing. No dancing. No hats.’ ‘I love to sing. I love to dance,’ he says, ‘and I’m lousy at both.’”
Schumer boasts about his relationships in the Times interview. But Luke notes there’s one senator in particular who still really doesn’t like him: SUSAN COLLINS (R-Maine). “Mr. Schumer’s political action committee ran ads accusing Ms. Collins’s husband of enriching himself through the opioid crisis and charging that she had ‘pocketed’ money from drug companies. ‘His tactics were unworthy of a Senate race,’ Ms. Collins said, calling the ads ‘deceptive’ and ‘shameful.’”
EVERYTHING’S A WAR NOW — “The conservatives strike back: House floor fight imperils popular bills,” by Melanie Zanona and Sarah Ferris: “A frustrated slice of the GOP conference is attempting to hamstring the House by refusing to allow quick passage of non-controversial bills — instead forcing every member to cast their vote on the floor and sometimes adding extra procedural votes. …
“In some ways, the GOP’s tactics are an escalation of how hard-line conservatives have exercised their power for years … But Democrats warn that this latest gambit from the right could erode one of the last vestiges of bipartisanship in the House … Democrats argue that attempting to force House votes late into the night for little purpose other than agitation could dramatically slow the chamber’s work for years to come.”
LABOR BILL PASSES HOUSE — But it’s going nowhere in the Senate. NPR: “Union leaders say the Protecting the Right to Organize Act — PRO Act — would finally begin to level a playing field they say is unfairly tilted toward big business and management, making union organizing drives and elections unreasonably difficult. … Big business groups are lined up against the measure. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the act would ‘undermine worker rights, ensnare employers in unrelated labor disputes, disrupt the economy, and force individual Americans to pay union dues regardless of their wishes.’”
IMMIGRATION FILES — “Biden swore to overhaul immigration. But immigrants remain in limbo,” by Anita Kumar: “He’s only been in office for six weeks. … But he’s also being hampered by conflicting policies, staffing vacancies at the top, and in some instances, inaction. Foreign students who have been admitted to U.S. colleges this fall are struggling to secure visas, threatening to deprive U.S. colleges of billions of dollars for the second year in a row.
“Refugees who expected to be admitted to the country after Biden proposed increasing the admissions cap have been turned away after the administration failed to make it official. And Biden’s administration has not withdrawn from court cases former president Donald Trump was pursuing to keep immigrants out of the country.”
P-P-P-PROBLEMS — “Biden pressed by banks to extend loan program as expiration looms,” by Zachary Warmbrodt: “Banks and other businesses are pressing the Biden administration and Congress to keep the government’s largest small business aid program running beyond its March 31 expiration date, warning that struggling employers need more time to obtain the economic lifeline.
“Banks responsible for doling out billions of dollars in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program are already beginning to close down their application portals early … The crunch comes just days after the Biden administration unveiled new rules designed to help self-employed businesses gain access to the program and qualify for more aid.”
SHOW ME THE MONEY — “Trump makes cash grab in bid to dominate GOP,” by Alex Isenstadt: “By urging givers to route his money through his political vehicle, the former president is attempting to monopolize the Republican Party donor base — and bend the GOP to his will by depriving it of cash.
“According to conversations with nearly a dozen Republican officials and strategists inside and outside Trump’s orbit, the former president’s move could have profound implications for the party, which is relying on him to fill its bank account ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.”
— Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman at NYT make this interesting observation in their version of this story: “Mr. Trump’s actions could give him a stream of money at a time when his private company is struggling under the scrutiny of investigations, with some discussions of whether properties need to be sold.”
“His business is now politics, and political action committees have few restrictions on how they operate and use their money, according to campaign finance experts. The former president could, in theory, pay himself and his family members salaries from the money raised there.”
SPEAKING OF TRUMP — “Manhattan Prosecutors Advance Probe Into Trump’s Seven Springs Estate,” WSJ: “In recent weeks, according to the people, the Manhattan district attorney’s office has issued new subpoenas and requested recordings of local government meetings related to the Trump Organization’s failed attempt to create a luxury subdivision at Seven Springs, a 213-acre property that the former president bought for $7.5 million in 1995.
“Mr. Trump has valued the property at up to $291 million in financial statements that the New York attorney general’s office, which is also investigating Seven Springs, said were given to financial institutions. Inflating assets to help secure loans or other financial benefits can be a state criminal offense, legal experts said.”
DRIP, DRIP, DRIP — “Cuomo faces new sexual harassment allegation, this time at Executive Mansion,” Albany Times Union: “A sixth woman has leveled allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, accusing him of touching her without consent late last year during an encounter at the governor’s mansion …
“The alleged incident took place after the woman, a member of the governor’s Executive Chamber staff, had been summoned to the mansion to assist the governor with a work-related matter. … Cuomo, during a news conference [Tuesday], denied knowledge of it.”
MEANWHILE, IN ARKANSAS — “Arkansas governor signs near-total abortion ban into law,” AP: “The Republican governor had expressed reservations about the bill, which only allows the procedure to save the life of the mother and does not provide exceptions for those impregnated in an act of rape or incest. Arkansas is one of at least 14 states where legislators have proposed outright abortion bans this year.
“The bans were pushed by Republicans who want to force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Conservatives believe the court is more open to striking down the decision following former President Donald Trump’s three appointments to the court.”
RUFF WEEK — “Dog days for Biden: A presidential pet causes a ‘minor injury’ — and a public relations challenge,” by WaPo’s Sean Sullivan. The key takeaway: The dogs will be back soon with Jill Biden. “‘She has a three-day trip this week, and the dogs will return to the White House soon,’ Psaki said.”
WHAT KATIE HILL IS UP TO — “Former Rep. Katie Hill’s lawsuit pits 1st Amendment against revenge-porn law,” L.A. Times: “On Wednesday, the court will hear a motion by defendant Jennifer Van Laar to strike the lawsuit, claiming it is an attempt to silence speech that is protected by the 1st Amendment. Van Laar, a former GOP campaign operative and journalist, published provocative pictures of Hill on a conservative website and shared them with a British tabloid.
“Hill contends that the two media companies, Van Laar and Kenneth Heslep, Hill’s ex-husband, violated California’s revenge-porn law by distributing and/or publishing images including photographs that showed her nude while brushing another woman’s hair, holding a bong and sunbathing.”
IN MEMORIAM — “Roger Mudd, probing TV journalist and network news anchor, dies at 93,” WaPo: “Mr. Mudd spent almost 20 years covering Capitol Hill, political campaigns and corruption scandals for CBS News. He did special reports on the Watergate scandal and its fallout, including the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. His 1979 interview of Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts was credited with crushing the senator’s presidential ambitions …
“For years, Mr. Mudd cultivated a straightforward, almost folksy manner on camera, and he was long considered the heir apparent at CBS to the venerable evening news anchor Walter Cronkite.”
JORDAN AND GAETZ: FREE BRITNEY — Daily Mail: “Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz are demanding that the House Judiciary Committee hold a hearing on conservatorships, citing pop star Britney Spears’ case. … Using the hashtag ‘#FreeBritney,’ Gaetz tweeted Tuesday, ‘If the conservatorship process can rip the agency from a woman who was in the prime of her life and one of the most powerful pop stars in the world… Just imagine what it can do to people who are less powerful and have less of a voice.’”
SPOTTED: former VP Mike Pence walking into the McCormick & Schmick’s in Crystal City for lunch Tuesday, looking relaxed in a blue blazer, khaki slacks, white shirt and mask. Our tipster writes: “He alighted early from his two-Suburban motorcade to walk the last block to the restaurant, enjoying the unseasonably warm Arlington weather.”
SPOTTED 2: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Reince Priebus laughing in a corner booth at the Capital Grille.
SPOTTED 3, at a 70th birthday celebration for former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, both over Zoom and socially distanced this week: Patty Stonesifer, Margaret Carlson, Michael Lewis, Nick Lemann, Jack Shafer and Tim Noah.
MEDIAWATCH — Talesha Reynolds will be senior content and special projects producer at PBS NewsHour. She previously spent eight years at NBC News’ D.C. bureau.
LOOK WHO IT IS — “Politico’s Eugene Daniels: ‘We Are Changing Who Is Allowed To Talk About Politics And Who Is Allowed At The Table,’” Forbes: “Daniels hadn’t been hoping to land Playbook. In fact, he’d been pitching his editors a podcast—one that could dig in more deeply to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement and the politicians and activists who found a voice in the movement.
“But Daniels’ editors were thinking even bigger. The podcast, sure, they told him, but they also wanted him to cover Vice President Kamala Harris, the Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. They wanted Daniels on the White House team—and they wanted him on the next iteration of Playbook.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Bully Pulpit Interactive is expanding its leadership with four new directors, Chinasa Onukwubiri (joining from Purple Strategies), Dwayne Greene (from the Center for American Progress), Flavia Colangelo (from GQR) and Ibi Tayyab (from Deloitte), plus a new design director, Marga Peces (from Priorities USA).
— WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE: Rajan Kaur is now leading digital strategy for VP Kamala Harris. She previously was VP and chief of staff at SKDKnickerbocker.
STAFFING UP — The White House announced it’s hiring Clare Martorana as federal chief information officer and administrator of the Office of Electronic Government at OMB. She most recently was CIO of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
TRANSITIONS — Adeola Adesina will be Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) policy adviser handling health and education policy. She previously was health policy adviser to Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). … Stami Williams is now comms director for Jack Ciattarelli’s New Jersey gubernatorial campaign. She previously worked for the Republican State Leadership Committee and on Capitol Hill. … Bryan Doherty is now comms director for Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.). He previously was at Protect Our Care’s coronavirus war room, and is an Elizabeth Warren campaign alum.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Brendan Buck, partner at Seven Letter, and Rebecca Buck, former CNN reporter, welcomed Sophie Kate Buck on Friday. Pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jim Sciutto, CNN anchor and chief national security correspondent … Jon Haber, president and founder of Cascade Strategy … Randy White … POLITICO’s Brad Dayspring, Arek Sarkissian, Nicole Adams, Olivia Dunn and Sarah Boldt … States Newsroom’s Jane Norman … Bill Nichols … Ron Elving, senior editor/correspondent on NPR’s Washington desk … CNBC’s David Faber (57) … Vernon Loeb, executive editor at InsideClimate News … Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership … NYT’s Danny Hakim (5-0) … CNN’s Mike Callahan … Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America … Carrie Filipetti … Cari Lutkins … Matt Jessee, policy adviser at Bryan Cave Strategies … John Murray, partner at Monument Advocacy … Sarah Coppersmith … Adam Weinstein … Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter (47) … Adam Bodily … Alina Cho … Sarah Feuer of the Washington Institute
Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.