POLITICO Playbook's must-listen briefing on what's driving the day in Washington.
Sept. 17, 2021: Another crisis, where's Jill Biden and 2022 candidate watch
- WaPo’s Arelis Hernández and Nick Miroff report overnight that some 10,000 Haitian migrants have crossed the Rio Grande and congregated under a border bridge in South Texas.
- President Joe Biden announced in April that his community college professor wife would lead the administration’s efforts on new education initiatives, including her longtime mission to make two years of community college tuition-free. But with Congress wrestling over what will or won’t make it into their multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package, Hill aides say they’re surprised they haven’t heard from the first lady or her office.
- NYT’s Jonathan Martin broke a stunning but perhaps not surprising story last night: Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, is bowing out of what he said would have been a “brutal” reelection primary fight against former Trump aide Max Miller.
Sept. 16, 2021: Moderates fear Pelosi hanging them out to dry
Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a deal with about a dozen skeptical House moderates In late August to win their support on the party’s $3.5 trillion budget. If they backed the fiscal blueprint, Pelosi promised two things. One was to hold a vote on the bipartisan, $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27, a sweetener for those members eager to campaign on the policy win.
The other promise was less straightforward but no less important: Rather than the House and Senate drafting and voting on separate sweeping reconciliation bills, she agreed to figure out the contours of the social spending package with her Senate counterparts on the front end, ensuring any bill that passes the House would have 51 votes to clear the upper chamber. Now, however, some moderates are increasingly concerned that Pelosi and her team are playing fast and loose with that commitment.
Sept. 15, 2021: Scoop — Grisham texts cast doubt on book claim
Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom crushed the recall attempt by a nearly 2-to 1 margin. The coverage: David Siders and Carla Marinucci with how he did it. … AP’s Nick Riccardi with 5 takeaways … LAT’s Steve Lopez on possibly “ the most frivolous waste of time in California election history”
And, Stephanie Grisham writes in her upcoming book that she did not believe that the election was stolen and tried to convince Melania Trump there was no grand conspiracy to deny her husband a second term. But a senior Trump aide provided text messages to Playbook suggesting that Grisham was sympathetic to — and in one instance tried to assist — efforts to stop the certification of the election in her home state of Arizona.
Sept. 14, 2021: Will Manchin stymie Dems’ massive climate plan?
When it comes to the reconciliation bill, fights over health care and taxes — which are still unresolved by the way — have been the focus while other major policy areas like climate have received little attention.
But that’s about to change.
House committees have now marked up the key pieces of climate policy. And with the Senate’s return this week, all eyes will once again be on Sen. Joe Manchin, who as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is responsible for writing the single most important piece of climate legislation.
It’s a bill that could determine whether the United States meets an aggressive emissions-reduction target scientists say is needed to avert global catastrophe (no pressure).
Sept. 13, 2021: Grisham dishes on Melania
At 1:25 p.m. on Jan. 6, soon after rioters had broken through barricades outside of the Capitol, MELANIA TRUMP received a text message from her then-chief of staff, STEPHANIE GRISHAM.
“Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness and violence?” Grisham asked the first lady.
A minute later, Melania replied with a one-word answer: “No.” At that moment, she was at the White House preparing for a photo shoot of a rug she had selected, according to exclusive excerpts of Grisham’s forthcoming book, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw in The Trump White House,” obtained by POLITICO.
Sept. 10, 2021: Joe Biden’s Covid 180
On Thursday, President Joe Biden was unsparing about the burdens that the unvaccinated have thrust onto the rest of us: thousands more dead, overflowing hospitals, a rebounding economy showing signs of retreat.
Pandemic politics, as Biden called it, are not simple. But eight months into the crisis, any new set of rules offered by the president raises an obvious question: Why didn’t he do this already?
The White House calls it a 6-point plan, but there were two big new things that Biden announced:
— Vaccinations: Biden is finally leveraging the unilateral power of the federal government to expand vax mandates to some 100 million Americans: all workers at companies with over 100 employees, all federal employees and contractors, anyone who works for a health care provider that receives Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements, any employee at a school that receives federal money from Head Start and a few other programs.
— Testing: Biden is using federal authorities to surge the production and distribution of rapid Covid tests, including at-home tests.