12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Leaders haggle over lame-duck priorities

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Greg Nash
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

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–> A midday take on what’s happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.* 

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha–breaks down crying hysterically.

TALK OF THE MORNING 

Don’t stare, but Mitch could decide our December fate

“Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is calculating whether he wants to strike a deal with Democrats on a year-end spending package before Republicans take control of the House in January.” 

What we know about McConnell’s position: Before the election, McConnell signaled that he wanted to pass an omnibus spending package with Democrats before the end of the year. Yes, but: That was before a weak performance for Republicans in the midterms. 

What we know about McConnell’s decision-making process: “Senate Republican sources say McConnell will want to hear from fellow GOP senators at lunch meetings this week before deciding whether to agree to an omnibus spending package, which would likely include tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid for Ukraine — a top McConnell priority.”  

How this could play out, via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton 

ALSO HAPPENING DURING LAME-DUCK

The Senate is poised to protect same-sex marriage in a bill this week. 

Yes, but: “The bill as it currently stands would officially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and require state recognition of legal same-sex and interracial marriages but would not codify the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex unions nationwide or prevent the high court from eventually overturning the landmark decision.”  

Read the full story — ‘Democrats succumb to political reality on same-sex marriage bill’ 

HAPPENING ON TUESDAY:

President Biden is meeting with congressional leaders to discuss legislative priorities for the rest of the year.  

Biden is meeting with the ‘Big Four’: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) 

Btw: “The meeting will be Biden’s first with McCarthy, who is the presumed incoming Speaker in the next Congress after the House flipped to Republican control in the midterms.” 

It’s Tuesday. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.

In Congress 

Kevin’s pulling out all the stops

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is trying to sway Republicans into voting for him for House speaker by warning that Democrats could benefit if the GOP isn’t united. 

McCarthy said on Newsmax on Monday: “We have to speak as one voice. We will only be successful if we work together, or we’ll lose individually. This is very fragile — that we are the only stopgap for this Biden administration … And if we don’t do this right, the Democrats can take the majority. If we play games on the floor, the Democrats can end up picking who the Speaker is.” More from McCarthy’s Newsmax appearance 

How close the vote could be: Republicans will likely have around 222 seats and Democrats will have roughly 213. If all members are present for the vote, McCarthy needs 218 to win the speakership. That means if more than five Republicans vote against him, he won’t win the vote. 

What happens is no member wins 218 votes?: The House holds a second vote. But it has been roughly 100 years since more than one ballot was necessary to determine House speaker. 

WHICH REPUBLICANS REFUSE TO BACK MCCARTHY FOR SPEAKER?:

Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Ralph Norman (S.C.)  

Here are the potential “no” votes, via CBS News’s Kathryn Watson 

HOW MCCARTHY’S SPEAKERSHIP FIGHT IS DOMINATING LAME-DUCK DECEMBER

Via The Hill’s Emily Brooks

🚂 In the White House 

To strike or not to strike, that is the question.

“With less than two weeks until a railroad strike deadline, President Biden called on Congress on Monday to impose a deal negotiated with help from his administration this year to avert a shutdown of the country’s freight railroads.”  

Biden said in a statement: “I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown.”  

Keep in mind: “That deal was recently voted down by four railroad unions representing most of the union members. The rail workers have said they are angry and frustrated that the deal lacked paid sick days or other substantial changes to an attendance policy that penalizes workers for taking time off while they are sick.”  

Why a railroad strike could seriously damage the economy: “A rail strike could threaten the nation’s water supply, halt passenger rail travel and trigger major disruptions to the U.S. supply chain during the height of the holiday season, potentially worsening inflation.”  

The full story from The Washington Post’s Lauren Kaori Gurley, Tyler Pager and Tony Romm 

WHAT BERNIE SANDERS IS SAYING ABOUT THE AGREEMENT

“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says that the tentative agreement between rail management and labor does not go far enough as Congress tries to enact legislation to avoid a strike that could inflict major damage to the economy.” 

🏃‍♂️ In other news 

My head is spinning, but there are some fantastic campaign slogan opportunities here:

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) son, West Virginia delegate Moore Capito, is running for governor of West Virginia.  

Full story from Fox News’s Paul Steinhauser 

Watch Capito’s campaign announcement 

🦠 Latest with COVID-19 

Targeting Uncle Tony could be a risky maneuver

Anthony Fauci is set to retire from public service, but Republicans have no intention of letting him leave the spotlight. GOP lawmakers plan to seek testimony from the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases once they take control of the House in January.” 

Why: “Many Republicans believe public health experts such as Fauci, as well as Democratic politicians, advocated for excessive lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic.” 

The scenario in which this helps the GOP: “If [Republicans] are right in thinking that the public is still resentful of those moves — with school closures, in particular, remaining controversial — there could be a political benefit in grilling Fauci, especially for those on the right.”  

Yes, but there’s also a scenario where it backfires for the GOP: “But if, on the other hand, the public is eager to simply put the pandemic in the rearview mirror — which it increasingly appears to be — the political utility of high-profile testimony from Fauci is much more questionable.”  

Even some Republicans confess could be the case — More from The Hill’s Niall Stanage

THE COVID-19 NUMBERS: 

Cases to date: 98.4 million 

Death toll: 1,075,779 

Current hospitalizations: 13,390 

Shots administered: 653 million 

Fully vaccinated: 68.8 percent of Americans 

CDC data here.

🐥Notable tweets 

All I can think of is Buddy the Elf: ‘Did you sleep alright?’ ‘Yeah I got a whole 40 minutes, and I had time to finish that rocking horse.’:

–> https://bit.ly/3EQiD2G 😉 

The Associated Press’s Darlene Superville tweeted, “A new addition to the White House holiday collection is a menorah built by in-house carpenters using wood saved from a Truman-era renovation. Sterling silver cups hold the candles.” Photos of the new menorah 

Superville added: “Some of the White House decorations are do-it-yourself projects that [first lady Jill Biden] hopes people encourage people to try them at home. See the plastic drinking cups turned into bells and table-top Christmas trees made from foam shapes and dollar store ramekins.” Photos of the DIY decorations in the White House 

You go, Arty!!

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft tweeted, “Flight day 13: Orion reached its maximum distance from Earth during the #Artemis I mission when it was 268,563 miles away from our home planet. Orion has now traveled farther than any other spacecraft built for humans.” Photo — that tiny half circle is the Earth

On tap 

The House and Senate are in. President Biden is in Michigan this afternoon. Vice President Harris is in Washington, D.C. 

  • 9 a.m.: Biden received his daily briefing. 
  • 10:30 a.m.: Biden convened congressional leaders to discuss legislative priorities for the end of 2022. Harris also attended 
  • 11:55 a.m.: Biden left for Michigan. 
  • 12:30 p.m.: Senators meet for weekly caucus luncheons.  
  • 2:35 p.m.: Biden tours the SK SiltronCSS facility in Bay City, Mich. 
  • 3:45 p.m.: Four Senate roll call votes. Today’s Senate agenda 
  • 6:30 p.m.: First and last House votes. Today’s House agenda 
  • 7:35 p.m.: Biden returns to the White House. 

All times Eastern.

📺What to watch 

  • 1:15 p.m.: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One. Livestream 
  • 3:30 p.m.: Biden delivers remarks his economic plan. Livestream 

💝 In lighter news 

Today is National Chocolates Day

And because you read this far, here’s a dog who is seriously considering running away

Tags 12:30 Report Biden Biden Congress Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy Lame duck McConnell Mitch McConnell rail strike spending package
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