SCHUMER ON SENATE’S NEXT STEPS: GUNS, VOTING RIGHTS, INFRASTRUCTURE. The Senate will adjourn for a two-week recess later today, joining the House for spring break. During a press conference this morning, Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER outlined the chamber’s April agenda when they return. That includes: the For the People Act or “S. 1,” Democrats’ voting rights bill that has the GOP all worked up in opposition. They’ll also begin work on President JOE BIDEN’S infrastructure and climate plan, as well as vote on background checks for gun purchases.
In other words, a lot of stuff that’s going to get zero GOP support. … Democrats will also advance legislation on hate crimes against Asian Americans. The bill, authored by Sen. MAZIE HIRONO (D-Hawaii), would appoint a Justice Department official to expedite review of alleged anti-Asian hate crimes. Marianne LeVine breaks it down, including Schumer’s plans to repeal two Trump regulations via the Congressional Review Act
SPEAKING OF S. 1 …
MANCHIN WANTS BIPARTISAN VOTING RIGHTS BILL. There’s been a lot of talk about whether the voting rights issue might be the final straw for the filibuster — or whether Democrats will create some sort of carve-out, eliminating the chamber’s supermajority threshold for this particular issue. Turns out, that might not help their cause.
That’s because Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) signaled this morning that while he likes provisions in the bill, he wants the entire effort to be bipartisan. “Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government,” he said in a statement.
Democrats will roll their eyes — but again, what Manchin says matters, a lot. With a 50-50 majority, if he’s against the package, it will fail.
Still, Manchin might run into some of his own problems with his GOP colleagues. Republicans around the nation have been moving to curb access to voting, not increase it. And Manchin signaled in his statement that he wants to go in the other direction, just like his party: “The notion of restricting voting to a single 8 or 12-hour time frame is not indicative of how most voters live. Expanding voter access to the polls by requiring at least fifteen days, including two weekend days, of early voting in every state will increase turnout and help individuals, especially those who have traditionally not been able to participate, cast their votes.” More from Burgess Everett
IT’S NOT JUST JOE — “Democratic divisions on Biden’s agenda broader than just Manchin,” CNN: “Some Senate Democrats like Sen. Jon Tester of Montana are not yet sold on the House-passed bills to expand background checks on gun sales. … ‘No,’ Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, told CNN when asked if she would support eliminating the 60-vote threshold. ‘I think we should look at ways to reform the filibuster’ … Maggie Hassan, who faces a tough reelection bid next year, also has ‘concerns about eliminating the filibuster.’”
Good Thursday afternoon.
TV TONIGHT — Former President DONALD TRUMP will appear for a live phone interview on “The Ingraham Angle” with Laura Ingraham at 10 p.m. on Fox News.
WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Andrew Bates is joining the White House as deputy press secretary. He previously was director of rapid response for the Biden campaign. More from WaPo
IMMIGRATION ALERT — @mariannelevine: “Mayorkas and Becerra will hold an all senators briefing this afternoon by phone on ‘migration and the southern border.’”
FIVETHIRTYEIGHT is out with its updated pollster ratings after the 2020 election, and NATE SILVER takes an optimistic view: “The Death Of Polling Is Greatly Exaggerated”: “[W]hile polling accuracy was mediocre in 2020, it also wasn’t any sort of historical outlier. The overall average error of 6.3 points in 2019-20 is only slightly worse than the average error across all polls since 1998, which is 6.0 points. …
“So while the polling industry has major challenges — including … the fact that live-caller telephone polls may no longer be the industry gold standard — it’s also premature to conclude that the sky is falling.” Battle of the Nates: NYT’s Nate Cohn disagrees
THE UNEMPLOYMENT PICTURE — “U.S. jobless claims fall to 684,000, fewest since pandemic,” AP: “Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell from 781,000 the week before. It is the first time that weekly applications for jobless aid have fallen below 700,000 since mid-March of last year. … Still, a total of 18.9 million people are continuing to collect jobless benefits, up from 18.2 million in the previous week. Roughly one-third of those recipients are in extended federal aid programs, which means they’ve been unemployed for at least six months.”
2022 WATCH — “Citing gun violence, Gabby Giffords’ trauma surgeon enters race for her old House seat,” by Ally Mutnick: “Randy Friese, the trauma surgeon who a decade ago treated Gabby Giffords after she was shot in the head, launched a run for Congress on Thursday — a year into a global pandemic and amid a flurry of mass shootings that have revived a national debate over gun laws. …
“He is close with Giffords and her husband, Sen. Mark Kelly, and plans to make his support for gun safety legislation a key theme of his run. ‘It’s part of who I am, what I do,’ Friese said in an interview. ‘I’m a trauma surgeon. I take care of people who have been shot at. I’ve told a mother that their child has died. I told a wife that their husband is paralyzed.’ ‘It will be a part of the campaign,’ he added. ‘And I think, serendipitously, Congress is feeling some pressure to address this issue now.’”
— TEXAS TRIBUNE’S @PatrickSvitek: “[email protected], asked about @NRCC targeting @RepCuellar this cycle: ‘Henry Cuellar is my friend & he’s my partner, & it’s 1 of those rare instances of good bipartisan cooperation’ that helps both our constituents. ‘I think…there are better targets than Congressman Cuellar.’ #TX28”
— “McConnell’s No. 2 weighs future as Trump reshapes Senate GOP,” by Burgess Everett: “John Thune could eventually succeed Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader. But first the second-ranked Senate Republican has to decide whether to run for reelection — with Donald Trump prepared to stand in his way. … [C]olleagues are certain Thune runs again. But his decision looms as the Senate GOP nears a serious crossroads. … Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said in an interview on Wednesday she plans to run to succeed [Sen. Roy] Blunt as the Republican Policy Committee chair.”
MEDIAWATCH — “The New Republic names a new top editor and will return to Washington,” NYT: “The New Republic named a new editor on Thursday and announced that it was moving back to Washington, its home city for most of its 107-year existence.
“Michael Tomasky, who has edited the policy journal Democracy: A Journal of Ideas since 2009 and writes a regular column for The Daily Beast, will take over as The New Republic’s top editor. Mr. Tomasky, 60, will continue his role at Democracy, a quarterly publication. … He will start his new job on April 19, replacing Chris Lehmann, who will become an editor at large for the magazine.”
MORE IMMIGRATION FILES — “U.S. adding 11,000 emergency beds for record-high number of migrant children entering border custody,” CBS: “By repurposing convention centers, camps for oil workers and military bases, the Biden administration has launched an unprecedented effort to open 11,000 emergency beds for migrant children in response to historic numbers of unaccompanied minors entering U.S. border custody.”
— REALITY CHECK, via WSJ: “President Biden sees few short-term options to slow the surge of migrants at the border … The administration is looking at a range of long-term measures that it hopes will reduce illegal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security is working on a regulation that would change the process of applying for asylum at the border, so decisions in each case are made in a matter of weeks, rather than the years it currently takes in the immigration-court system.”
SCOTUS WATCH — “‘Nothing subtle about a bullet’: Supreme Court says police ‘seizure’ includes shots fired at fleeing suspect,” USA Today: “[Chief Justice John] Roberts, joined by the court’s liberal wing as well as Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, wrote that the physical force used by police represented a ‘seizure’ under the Fourth Amendment even if the bullets failed to stop [Roxanne] Torres. The opinion represents an expansion of Fourth Amendment protections at a time when the nation is wrestling with police use of force and split-second decisions made by law enforcement officers.”
MAYBE WE’LL KEEP THAT ONE — “Exclusive: Biden wants to keep Trump policy that boosted armed drone exports – sources,” Reuters: “The Biden administration wants to keep a controversial Trump policy that jump-started sales of armed drones to countries whose human rights records are under scrutiny in the United States and elsewhere, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
“When former President Donald Trump’s administration reinterpreted the Cold War-era arms agreement between 35 nations known as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to increase drone sales, arms control advocates and some top Democratic lawmakers feared it would worsen global conflicts. While it’s too early to tell if that is the case, sales have risen. Keeping the policy could also be at odds with President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to ‘make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms.’”
POWER MOVES — “Partisan lines blur as Congress tries to curb Biden’s war powers,” by Andrew Desiderio and Connor O’Brien: “For the better part of the last two decades, Rep. Barbara Lee has been leading the charge to rein in presidential war powers. Lee, the California Democrat and lone lawmaker to vote against the first post-9/11 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), now has support from across the political spectrum, an amenable White House, and pure momentum on her side.
“In other words, this could finally be the year that Congress reclaims its power to declare war and to green light U.S. military operations around the globe. … Lee’s measure is expected to receive widespread bipartisan support and is likely to get a vote on the House floor soon, boosted by a recent White House statement indicating that President Joe Biden is open to the effort. But it’s an entirely different question in the Senate, where the filibuster could allow the chamber’s hawks to block it.”
CLIMATE FILES — “In reversal, oil and gas lobby embraces climate-focused price on carbon,” NBC: “The top oil and gas industry lobby group on Thursday endorsed putting a federal price on carbon dioxide emissions, a reversal designed to show seriousness in addressing climate change.
“The decision by the American Petroleum Institute, whose membership includes oil giants such as ExxonMobil and Chevron, ends the group’s long-standing opposition that helped sink cap-and-trade legislation just over a decade ago.”
WHAT MARTY WALSH IS READING — “Biden May Be the Most Pro-Labor President Ever; That May Not Save Unions,” NYT: “[L]abor advocates confess to a gnawing anxiety: Despite Mr. Biden’s remarkable support for their movement, unions may not be much better off when he leaves office than when he entered it.
“That’s because labor law gives employers considerable power to fend off union organizing, which is one reason that union membership has sunk to record lows in recent decades. And Senate Republicans will seek to thwart any legislative attempts — such as the PRO Act, which the House passed this month — to reverse the trend.”
STATISTIC DU JOUR — “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says only 0.1 percent of Trump administration’s covid farm relief went to Black farmers,” WaPo: “In an interview with The Washington Post, Vilsack for the first time noted the extent to which the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated existing disparities across the American economy. The distribution of coronavirus relief increased those gaps, he said.”
STAFFING UP — The White House Office of Personnel Management announced several new political appointees: Rita Aguilar, Peter Bonner, Rachel Cotton, Alethea Predeoux, Scott Syroka and Tiffany Worthy. All have already started except Predeoux, who will join next month from the American Federation of Government Employees. Announcement
TRANSITIONS — Lauren Blair Bianchi is now VP of public affairs for the Consumer Bankers Association. She previously was comms director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). … LaSharah Bunting will join Simon & Schuster as VP and executive editor, acquiring nonfiction and fiction. She most recently was director of journalism at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and is a NYT alum. … Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering are joining the Ethics and Public Policy Center as fellows to lead a new Theology of Home Project.
SPOTTED: Jordan Montoya, trip director and director of advance for first lady Jill Biden, celebrating her birthday in the East Wing with boxes of Krispy Kremes from her colleagues.
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