PAS SI DIPLOMATE — The indoor dining area of Le Diplomate closed early Sunday night due to a violent disturbance caused by a man that lasted 15 minutes, an employee told our tipster. Bottles were thrown at patrons, according to NBC’s Justice Green, who was there and tweeted: “We all thought it was a gunman when everyone started running.” One person was arrested, the employee said. At around 9 p.m., there were still a number of people who were dining outside. Photos of the aftermath
MODS TO BIDEN: BIF NOW OR BUST — Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) delivered a tough message to President JOE BIDEN at a private meeting Wednesday, we’re told: If the House delays its scheduled Sept. 27 vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan — or if the vote fails — she won’t be backing a reconciliation bill.
Sinema is not the only moderate taking this stand. Rep. KURT SCHRADER (D-Ore.) — one of approximately 10 moderate Democratic House members playing hardball with leadership — said he and several members of their group are on the same page. Some of the lawmakers have conveyed that message up the chain to leadership and the White House. A senior Democratic aide confirmed the warnings.
“If they delay the vote — or it goes down — then I think you can kiss reconciliation goodbye,” Schrader told Playbook. “Reconciliation would be dead.”
This is obviously big news if moderates follow through. The threat comes days after Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-Wash.) declared that House progressives had the votes to tank the infrastructure plan, aka BIF, unless it’s paired with the larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. But it’s become abundantly clear the reconciliation bill won’t be ready a week from today, the date when Speaker NANCY PELOSI promised moderates a vote on the $1.2 trillion bill to rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges.
The time crunch and threat from the left has led many to question whether the speaker will try to postpone the infrastructure vote. House Majority Whip JIM CLYBURN (D-S.C.) told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that a delay is possible.
But the mods’ new threat indicates that a delay would not end well. “That’d be foolish on their part,” Schrader told us, noting that Clyburn, Pelosi and House Majority Leader STENY HOYER were in the room when the promise was made to them to take up the infrastructure plan on Sept. 27. “That would indicate they’re not playing fair in the sandbox. … It would be a travesty if they try to play games.”
Asked about her exchange with Biden, Sinema’s office neither confirmed nor denied the account: “Kyrsten does not share details of private conversations with President Biden or her colleagues.” However, her office added: “She does look forward to House leadership making good on their commitment to an up-or-down vote on the historic and bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act next Monday — to create jobs and expand economic opportunities across the country.” (In another sign of trouble for Democrats, our Laura Barrón-López scooped Sunday night that Sinema has also told the White House she opposes the Democrats’ prescription drug plan — a critical source of funding for the reconciliation package. Schrader voted against it in committee last week.)
The White House similarly declined to comment. “We don’t discuss the president’s private conversations with senators,” said one senior administration official.
INSIDE THE MODS’ CALCULATION: Progressives think if they band together and threaten to kill the infrastructure bill, it will convince moderate members to go along with the larger reconciliation package. But multiple sources — including a senior Democratic aide and several in the centrist camp — tell us the left is misreading their colleagues.
The upshot: Some moderates privately have decided that no infrastructure bill is better than one that’s paired with $3.5 trillion in spending.
SO LET’S PLAY THIS OUT: If the vote happens Sept. 27, it’s going to be close. Moderates think progressives are bluffing when they say half their 96-person caucus is willing to vote “no” — especially once Pelosi and Biden start whipping. But even if only 20 progressives oppose the bill, that means the party is going to have to rely on Republicans to pass it, since Pelosi can lose only three votes.
That could be a real problem. Leadership aides have openly acknowledged they don’t know if they have the votes to pass it. While 19 Republicans backed the BIF in the Senate, few expect that level of support to translate to the House, where DONALD TRUMP’s hold on GOP members is much stronger.
Perhaps you’re an optimist and think these threats are the kind of posturing you’d expect with major legislation, and that Democrats will ultimately figure it out because the alternative would be a lot worse. It could happen! But at this moment, it does not look promising.
Welcome back Congress! Thanks for reading Playbook this Monday morning, where we don’t envy the shit sandwich Democrats are about to eat during this make-or-break legislative session. If you’ve got newsy nuggets on reconciliation talks, or the latest debt ceiling dish, we want to hear from you: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.
— 11 a.m.: The president will depart Rehoboth Beach, Del., to return to the White House, where he is scheduled to arrive at noon.
— 12:30 p.m.: Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
— 3:55 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to New York City, where he is scheduled to arrive at 5:10 p.m.
— 6:30 p.m.: The president will participate in a bilateral meeting with U.N. Secretary-General ANTÓNIO GUTERRES.
VP KAMALA HARRIS’ MONDAY: The VP will host a reception for the Congressional Black Caucus’ 50th anniversary at her residence at 4 p.m.
Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 1 p.m.
THE HOUSE returns from August recess and will meet at 2 p.m. to take up several pieces of legislation, including a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans, with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m. The Rules Committee will meet at noon to take up the Women’s Health Protection Act, the continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown/provide emergency assistance and the National Defense Authorization Act.
THE SENATE will meet at 3 p.m. to take up MARGARET STRICKLAND’s judicial nomination, and vote on VERONICA ROSSMAN’s judicial nomination at 5:30 p.m.
BIDEN’S WEEK AHEAD — Tuesday: Biden will speak before the U.N. General Assembly. (Speaking right before him: Brazilian President JAIR BOLSONARO, who is unvaccinated but claims natural immunity from having contracted Covid-19, in what WaPo describes as a test of the “honor system.”) … Wednesday: He’ll host a virtual summit on the pandemic, where he’ll commit to vaccinating 70% of the world by next September and call on other world leaders to step up their own pandemic efforts. … Friday: The prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan will come to the White House to discuss their alliance against the rising power of China.
CONGRESS IS BACK
ABOUT THAT … UNAPPETIZING SANDWICH — Marianne LeVine, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle take stock of Democrats’ September pile-up, which they deem “the legislative equivalent of Hercules’ labors.” It’s not just this tricky two-step on infrastructure and the BIF; it’s averting a government shutdown by Oct. 1 and finding a way to lift the debt ceiling when Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL is reclaiming his relished role as the Grim Reaper.
Our colleagues write that “the coming three-week legislative sprint will test their slim majorities and President Joe Biden’s domestic policy chops.” It would not be a stretch to call the next three weeks the most critical of Biden’s presidency.
— But if it’s up to Sen. JOE MANCHIN, this intra-party fight will drag into 2022. The West Virginia Democrat, who’s been calling on leaders to pump the brakes on reconciliation, wants to wait until next year, according to Axios’ Hans Nichols. That. would be quite the “strategic pause.”
HAS THE DEMS’ DEBT-CEILING CAVE BEGUN? — Democratic leaders have been insisting for weeks that they won’t use reconciliation to circumvent the filibuster and increase the debt ceiling on a party-line vote. But on CNN on Sunday, Clyburn suggested they might have to.
“I’m not fine with that but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it will take,” he said of Democrats going alone.
To be sure, Clyburn is known for getting ahead of himself sometimes (like when he suggested Democrats could delay Trump’s impeachment trial after the first 100 days of the Biden administration). But the truth is that some senior Democrats really are struggling on this and there is no game plan right now.
Democrats are expected to force the GOP to vote against a debt ceiling increase, which has been dealt with on a bipartisan basis before McConnell set a new standard (read the weekend story by WaPo’s Paul Kane about this). In a “Dear Colleague” letter circulated Sunday night, Pelosi reiterated that she expects a bipartisan vote.
But even if Democrats think they can win the messaging war, the reality is that a default — and the ensuing economic damage — would occur on Biden’s watch. All while Biden is trying to clinch a much-needed legislative win. “If we’re still facing default, what choice do we have?” one senior Democratic aide asked us.
STRUCK DOWN — The Senate parliamentarian dashed Democrats’ dreams of including immigration reform in the massive reconciliation bill, Marianne LeVine reports. “In the decision, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the parliamentarian determined that the Democrats’ proposal is ‘by any standard a broad, new immigration policy’ and that the policy change ‘substantially outweighs the budgetary impact of that change.’” The decision
— BUT, BUT, BUT: Sabrina Rodríguez (@sabrod123): “Sens. [DICK] DURBIN and [ALEX] PADILLA say they have a plan B following the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling on pathway to legal status via reconciliation. ‘Senate Democrats have prepared an alternative proposal for the Parliamentarian’s consideration in the coming days.’” With the statement
CLIMATE CONUNDRUM — Climate policy is top of mind for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But Democrats’ plan in Congress is being helmed by Manchin, who has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry. NYT’s Coral Davenport writes about the man “with the authority to shape Mr. Biden’s ambitions.”
SENATE PANEL TO CONTINUE JAN. 6 INVESTIGATION — After going dark for a time, the Senate Homeland Security Committee is continuing its investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection and extremism and is taking aim at social media companies. According to our Nicholas Wu, Chair GARY PETERS (D-Mich.) is sending letters today to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube seeking information on how they monitor and remove violent extremist content. It’s the panel’s first public foray into this topic since it released a joint report with the Senate Rules Committee in June.
THE WHITE HOUSE
THE FIRST LADY SPEAKS — In her first interview since becoming first lady, JILL BIDEN tells NYT’s Katie Rogers that it hurts her when Biden gets attacked — but she’s not giving up on their campaign dreams of unity, bipartisanship and saving the nation’s soul. One great nugget: At Northern Virginia Community College, where she didn’t want special treatment as an instructor, she’s listed as “J. Tracy” in official materials. She’s being “paid out of a nonprofit fund-raising account to avoid conflicts with the Constitution’s emoluments clause,” Rogers writes.
2022 WATCH — JOSH MANDEL and J.D. VANCE have a new, more establishment, less Trumpy competitor in the Ohio GOP Senate primary: state Sen. MATT DOLAN.
2024 WATCH — Trump’s flirtation with a 2024 run isn’t scaring off other hopefuls — at least not yet. Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser writes that Iowa this year has already seen “eight potential Republican presidential contenders, the exact same numbers as there were in 2013,” while four have already visited New Hampshire.
FILLING THE SWAMP — NYT’s Jesse Drucker and Danny Hakim take a microscope to how top accounting firms get favorable tax rules in place from inside the government. “Their tax lawyers take senior jobs at the Treasury Department, where they write policies that are frequently favorable to their former corporate clients, often with the expectation that they will soon return to their old employers. The firms welcome them back with loftier titles and higher pay, according to public records reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with current and former government and industry officials.”
MUSK-READ — ELON MUSK is on a collision course with the National Transportation Safety Board, WSJ’s Rebecca Elliott writes. Musk and Tesla want to roll out a major upgrade to their cars’ driver-assistance software, but the NTSB says it’s not ready.
IMMIGRATION FILES — AP’s Juan Lozano, Eric Gay, Elliot Spagat and Evens Sanon report on the latest in Del Rio, Texas, where U.S. authorities “flew Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland Sunday and tried blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico in a massive show of force that signaled the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades.”
— “How could they bring us back here?” one deportee told WaPo’s Widlore Merancourt and Anthony Faiola in Port-au-Prince.
BIDEN’S GAMBIT — The Atlantic’s Peter Nicholas examines “Why Biden Bet It All On Mandates”: “Biden’s bet, while risky, grows more solid by the day. Republicans are making a counterargument that they believe their base wants to hear, which would be fine if their base were sufficient to wrest control of Congress from the Democrats. Biden is trying to appeal to a wider audience. Two of the most prized voting blocs in an election—suburban and independent voters—favor Biden’s vaccine-mandate plan by solid margins.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
FRANCE FRACAS — Biden is angling to speak with French President EMMANUEL MACRON by phone in the days ahead, WaPo’s Tyler Pager, Anne Gearan and John Hudson report from Rehoboth Beach, Del. Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN said on Sunday that “there is a real link between Afghanistan and what is happening with the Australia agreement. Except that in a real alliance, we talk to each other. We don’t hide…we respect each other,” WSJ’s Courtney McBride, Matthew Dalton and David Winning report.
— France has also canceled a meeting that was planned for this week with U.K. officials, according to Reuters.
THE U.N. AGENDA — AP sets the table for what faces the U.N. as more than 100 countries prepare to meet this week, facing “daunting challenges enough to scare anyone who runs a country, from an escalating climate crisis and severe vaccine inequities to Afghanistan’s future under its new Taliban rulers and worsening conflicts in Myanmar and the Tigray region of Ethiopia,” Edith Lederer writes.
— Related reading: “Things to watch at the U.N. General Assembly meeting this week,” AP
SPOTTED: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), masked and waiting in line to board a flight at the Atlanta airport. Pic
SPOTTED on the rooftop balcony at the Army Navy Country Club on Sunday night for Sean Spicer’s 50th birthday party: Rebecca Spicer, Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Kat Cammack (R-Fla.), Chad Wolf, Alex Acosta, Reince and Sally Priebus, Adam Kennedy, Hogan Gidley, Tom Bossert and Jessica Ditto, Raj Shah, Joe Grogan, Boris Epshteyn, Steve Holland, Becca Glover, Michael Short and Natalie Strom Short, Ory Rinat and Will Kinzel.
SPOTTED on Saturday night at the Arlington home of Clinton White House alums Mary Morrison Alberg and Ian Alberg for a gathering to welcome back fellow Clinton alum Carolyn Wu and Josh Kurtzig after an 18-year stint in China: John and Mary Podesta, Melanne and Phil Verveer, Capricia and Rob Marshall, Pete Selfridge and Parita Shah, Scott Mulhauser and Kara Cascarden, Karen Tramontano, Sally Painter, Dan Rosenthal, June Shih and Josh Gerstein, Wenchi Yu, Dori Salcido and Patrick Briggs.
WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Marc Aidinoff is joining the Office of Science and Technology Policy as a senior strategist. He most recently was a senior strategist for OpenLabs USA and Civis Analytics, and worked for Biden in the Obama White House.
TRANSITIONS — Nick Raineri is joining the Republican Main Street Caucus as its first executive director. He previously was director of member services for Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.). … Jeff Murray is now a senior manager at Google, leading policy for the search ecosystem. He previously was a VP at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and is a Ted Cruz and Jim DeMint alum. …
… Dylan Chandler is joining Rep. Lance Gooden’s (R-Texas) office as comms director. He most recently has been senior health policy adviser to Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and the House Budget Committee, and is a Sean Duffy and David Valadao alum. … Jasmine Hooks is joining SKDK as deputy chief operating officer. She previously was chief operating officer in Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.
ENGAGED — Mollie Bowman, director of strategic initiatives and special projects at the Partnership for American Democracy and a POLITICO alum, and Oliver Macklin, an educator at the Landon School in Bethesda, got engaged Saturday. They met serving on a fundraising committee for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She asked him if he wanted to go to Jeni’s with her afterward (he couldn’t that night, so their first date ended up being over rosé and their second over Jeni’s). Pic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Francesca Craig … CNN’s Van Jones … Kristen Holmes … Brent Perrin … Michael Kikukawa of the White House … Peter Flaherty … Ainsley Earhardt of “Fox & Friends” … Cathy Straight … MSNBC’s Rachel Glasberg … Deborah Roberts … Washington Times’ Rowan Scarborough … Shaun Waterman … NPR’s Neda Ulaby and Lauren Hodges … Bloomberg’s Drew Singer … Aniello Alioto … Dan Henning of Sirius XM Radio … Lloyd Blankfein … WaPo’s Colbert King … Scott Kozar of Sena Kozar Strategies … Asha Campbell of Morning Consult … The Lily’s Caroline Kitchener … Adam Howard … Edelman’s Tracy Sarria … Joe Mansour … Graham Vyse … WaPo’s Sophia Nguyen … Lisa Bloom … Sophie Buzzell of Everfi … Maureen Shanahan … Valerie Lapinski of Vox … Greg Nantz … Henry Samueli … Ashley O’Connor … Caitlin Blair … Donald Soffer … Clay McClure … Brian Wanglin … Georgia Supreme Court Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren (4-0)
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