Democrats prepare for showdown over key spending and climate bill – live | US politics

Key events

Cornyn tests positive for Covid-19

John Cornyn, the Republican senator from Texas, has tested positive for Covid-19.

After dodging it for 2+ years I’ve tested positive for COVID-19. I’m fully vaccinated and boosted, and doing fine. While quarantining I’ll continue to fight Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin’s massive tax increase on working families remotely, consistent with CDC guidelines.

— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) August 1, 2022

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.

With Cornyn being out due to COVID, this means Dems could potentially pass Manchin bill without VP Harris breaking the tie if all 50 Dems are healthy & are yeas

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) August 1, 2022

Blinken urges return to 2015 nuclear deal

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.

Tony Blinken at the UN on Monday.
Tony Blinken at the UN on Monday. Photograph: David Dee Delgado/Reuters

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: @NYCMayor declares #Monkeypox state of emergency in New York City.

“This emergency executive order allows the mayor to suspend local laws, and enact rules, as necessary, to protect the well-being and health of all New Yorkers.”

— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) August 1, 2022

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.

Joe Biden is returning to isolation in the White House.
Joe Biden is returning to isolation in the White House. Photograph: Samuel Corum/AFP/Getty Images

“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.

Judge Friedrich says it seems to her to be overstating it to say Guy Reffitt “charged” police. She does agree it’s fair to say Reffitt instructed fellow Three Percenters to purge texts. Doesn’t think it’s accurate to say Reffitt instructed Rocky Hardie on what firearms to bring.

— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) August 1, 2022

None of these objections, as Guy Reffitt’s attorney Clinton Broden said, will affect the sentencing calculation.

— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) August 1, 2022

On to the more substantive questions about which, if any, sentencing enhancements Guy Reffitt should receive. The government is seeking quite a few. See their sentencing memo below.

— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) August 1, 2022

Guy Reffitt’s attorney F. Clinton Broden trying to walk a precarious line here. He’s acknowledging the verbal threats Reffitt made to Speaker Pelosi and others, but denying they were threats made to further the obstruction charge.

— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) August 1, 2022

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.

This morning – the first Jan. 6 rioter convicted at trial, Guy Reffitt, is set to be sentenced.

DOJ is seeking longest sentence yet for a Capitol rioter of *15 years,* using terrorism enhancement.

Reffitt’s wife arrived at court this morning alongside Ashli Babbitt’s mother.

— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) August 1, 2022

Sentencing tomorrow in Washington DC for first Capitol riot defendant convicted at trial

Feds seek 15 years in prison for Guy Reffitt of Texas, who carried a gun amid the mob

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) July 31, 2022

House speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Singapore today:

Pelosi-led CODEL is in Singapore today and met with the country’s President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan. Also scheduled to travel to Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, but no announcement yet on Taiwan.

— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) August 1, 2022

Singapore PM Lee & CODEL “exchanged views on key int’l & regional developments,including the war in Ukraine,cross-strait relations & climate change. PM Lee highlighted the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security” per @MFAsg.

— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) August 1, 2022

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.

Big Senate week but timing uncertain. Burn pits vote NOT expected tonight but Schumer wants vote early this week, per aide. Needs time agreement with Rs as he plans to give them amendments. Also talks continue with parliamentarian over reconciliation. Unclear when she‘ll rule

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) August 1, 2022

If you’ll recall, there was widespread anger last week after Senate Republicans abruptly halted a procedural vote to advance the legislation.

Not one of these stab vets in the back Senators should get to leave for the Summer til this shit is fixed. Not one.

— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) July 28, 2022

PS Fuck the R caucus and their empty promise to our veterans.

— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) July 27, 2022

Now it appears that the bill is heading back out again:

I’m pushing hard for another vote on my bill to deliver millions of toxic-exposed veterans the healthcare and benefits they’ve earned and desperately need.

It’s time to put partisan politics aside, put America’s bravest first, and live up to our promises by passing the PACT Act.

— Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester) July 31, 2022

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.

Here’s the bottom line: the best thing we can do to put our economy in a better position to make the transition to stable and steady growth is for Congress to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 31, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will lower health care costs for millions of Americans. And, for the first time in a long time, make the largest corporations pay their fair share without any new taxes on people making under $400,000 a year.

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 31, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act will be the most important investment America has ever made in our energy security and developing clean energy solutions for the future.

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 31, 2022

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.”

Democrats prepare for showdown over key spending bill

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.

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