John Cornyn, the Republican senator from Texas, has tested positive for Covid-19.
Cornyn will be quarantining during a very crucial week for Senate Democrats. They want to pass the reconciliation bill – officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 – and once it gets past the senate parliamentarian, they need just a narrow majority to do so.
Antony Blinken, secretary of state, said at global nonproliferation discussions at the United Nations today that a return to the 2015 nuclear deal remains the best outcome for the United States, Iran and the world.
Reuters is reporting that Blinken made a point to repeat a warning from the US that North Korea is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test.
Blinken’s statements came after Joe Biden said that the US was ready to outline a new nuclear arms deal with Russia and called on Moscow to demonstrate its ability to negotiate in good faith at the talks that began on Monday.
Senator Lindsey Graham is challenging a subpoena to testify before the grand jury investigating whether Donald Trump and his cohorts broke any laws when they tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia that gave Joe Biden the clear victory.
The Associated Press is reporting that Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, received a subpoena on 26 July ordering him to appear before the special grand jury to testify on 23 August.
Graham has repeatedly said that he would fight the subpoena, and has denied meddling in Georgia’s election. But Fani Willis, the district attorney for Georgia’s Fulton county, wrote in a court filing earlier this month that wrote that Graham made at least two telephone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of his staff in the weeks after Trump’s loss to Biden, asking about reexamining certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former president Donald Trump.”
Willis has called her investigation just one part in “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
When he made those calls to Raffensperger, Graham “was engaged in quintessentially legislative fact-finding — both to help him form election-related legislation, including in his role as then-chair of the judiciary committee, and to help inform his vote to certify the election,” his lawyers wrote in a court filing on Friday.
Graham’s lawyers cite a provision of the Constitution that they say “provides absolute protection against inquiry into senator Graham’s legislative acts.” They also argue “sovereign immunity” prevents a local prosecutor from summoning a senator “to face a state ad hoc investigatory body.” And they claim that Willis has failed to demonstrate “the extraordinary circumstances’ necessary to order a high-ranking federal official to testify.”
Eric Adams, mayor of New York, has just declared a local state of emergency due to monkeypox.
The city now has more than 1,200 reported cases. The declaration of a state of emergency will allow the mayor to “suspend local laws, and enact rules, as necessary, to protect the well-being and health of all New Yorkers”, his office said.
New York now joins San Francisco, whose mayor, London Breed, declared a state of emergency over monkeypox last week. According to the Centers for Disease Contol, there are 5,189 reported cases so far in the US.
Dr Kevin O’Connor, the physician to the president, has provided another update on Joe Biden as he continues to recover from Covid-19:
“The president continues to feel well as he starts his week,” O’Connor’s update begins. “Given his rebound positivity which we reported Saturday, we continued daily monitoring.”
As anticipated, O’Connor said, Biden’s antigen testing this morning remained positive, prompting him to continue practicting his strict isolation measures.
“He will continue to conduct the business of the American people from the executive residence,” O’Connor wrote. “As I have stated previously, the president continues to be specifically conscientious to protect any of the executive residence, White House, Secret Service and other staff whose duties require any (albeit socially distanced) proximity to him.”
The sentencing is underway for Guy Reffitt, the first of the horde of Donald Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 to be convicted.
The Texas Three Percenter faces up to 15 years in prison for his involvement in the US Capitol attack. Reffitt’s wife, said in a letter submitted to the judge her family “needs Guy home to fully heal”. The justice department is seeking the longest sentence for Reffitt possible, using a terrorism enhancement.
Guy Reffitt, the first of the horde of Donald Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 to be convicted, is set to be sentenced this morning.
The justice department is seeking for Reffitt to receive 15 years for his involvement in the attack on the Capitol.
Reffitt’s wife arrived in court alongside the mother of Ashlii Babbitt, the Trump supporter fatally shot by a police officer in the Capitol during the attack.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Singapore today:
Meanwhile, Tingting Liu, a foreign affairs correspondent with the Taiwanese news channel TVBS, reported that sources had told her Pelosi will be arriving in the capital Taipei on Tuesday night. CNN cited a senior Taiwanese government official and US official in reporting that the visit is expected to go ahead.
Read more here:
Also up in the senate this week: a possible vote early this week on the Honoring our Pact Act, bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for veterans to access military care related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam and toxins from burn pits used to get rid of military waste in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If you’ll recall, there was widespread anger last week after Senate Republicans abruptly halted a procedural vote to advance the legislation.
Now it appears that the bill is heading back out again:
Setting the stage for a week full of reconciliation talk, Joe Biden tweets his support for the reconciliation bill – officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act – from quarantine.
Punchbowl News pointed out in this morning’s newsletter that the Joint Committee on Taxation disproved Biden’s promise to never to raise taxes on any Americans making less than $400,000 annually – the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the bill has about $16.7bn worth of tax increases for this demographic.
“The mislabeled ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ will do nothing to bring the economy out of stagflation and recession, but it will raise billions of dollars in taxes on Americans making less than $400,000,” said Idaho senator Mike Crapo, the top Republican on the senate finance committee.
Democrats have responded that the JCT analysis failed to factor in several elements of the legislation. “A family making less than $400,000 will not pay one penny in additional taxes under the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Ashley Schapitl, a spokesperson for senate finance committee Democrats. “The analysis Republicans are pointing to is also incomplete. It doesn’t include the benefits to middle-class families of making health insurance premiums and prescription drugs more affordable. The same goes for clean energy incentives for families.”
Greetings, live blog readers. Happy Monday. Let’s see what we have in store today.
We start the week off with Joe Biden in quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 again and the House in recess – and Senate Democrats moving forward with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, aka, the reconciliation bill.
This is the $740bn legislative package that Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and moderate Democratic senator Joe Manchin have agreed upon. The hefty bill seeks to enact deficit reduction to fight inflation, lower energy costs, reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, among other things.
The process of reconciliation is essentially a way for Congress to enact legislation on taxes, spending and the debt limit with only a majority in the Senate. It’s a way to avoid the threat of a filibuster, a tactic requiring a 60-vote majority that Senate Republicans in this particular Congress have used time and time again to stymy the Biden legislative agenda.
Reconciliation is not without its own difficulties, however. This week, Senate Democrats must meet with the Senate parliamentarian, who will parse through the text of the bill to make sure it meets all the rules of what’s allowed within the scope of reconciliation.
Politico is also reporting that it’s unclear if the Democrats may even have everyone on board when it comes to a majority vote. Kyrsten Sinema, the other moderate Democratic senator who has been complicating matters for the White House, was purportedly caught unaware by the announcement of the bill.
“Kyrsten Sinema is a friend of mine, and we work very close together. She has a tremendous, tremendous input in this legislation,” Manchin said on Meet The Press.
More to come.