Schumer signals Senate deal to avoid government shutdown – live

Senate Democratic leader signals deal reached to avoid shutdown

While Congress may be the site of financial brinksmanship in 2023, there appears to be no appetite for it now. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader of the Senate, has indicated in a floor speech that the votes are there to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government open through December 16.

The legislation heads off a shutdown that would have started on Saturday, but must still be approved by the House, where the Democrats also have a majority.

“With a little more good faith negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, I am hopeful that today is the day we’ll finish passing a continuing resolution to fund the government until mid-December. Government funding is set to run out Friday at midnight, roughly 40 hours from now, and there is no reason at all for us to get anywhere near that deadline,” Schumer said.

“In short, there is every reason in the world for both sides to get to ‘yes’ on finalizing a CR before the end of today. Democrats will continue working with our Republican colleagues in good faith to find a path to the finish line.”

The latest agreement was reached when Democratic senator Joe Manchin agreed to withdraw a controversial proposal to change the permitting process for energy projects, which did not look like it had the support to pass as part of the wider spending measure. But it’s not always this easy. The government has shut down repeatedly in recent decades when Congress was so consumed with squabbles and demands that it couldn’t agree on a way to keep it open before funding ran out. And this latest agreement means lawmakers can spend more time back in their districts, stumping for re-election ahead of the 8 November midterms.

Key events

If Kevin McCarthy does become the next House speaker, Axios reports that Americans could expect a congressional standoff in the latter part of next year with uniquely high stakes for the country.

At issue would be the debt limit, which governs how much borrowing the United States can do to fund its budget and is on track to need to be raised by the fall of 2023. Failure to do so could result in Washington defaulting on its debt – an unheard of economic calamity that could have repercussions for financial systems worldwide.

The two parties have haggled over the debt limit in the past and came close to default in 2011, when a newly ascendant Republican majority in the House used it as a cudgel against Democrat Barack Obama’s administration. According to Axios, the concern is that McCarthy would be willing to entertain such brinksmanship if he takes over the House, a tactic top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell is far less interested in.

The subtext to this is that some Republicans don’t trust McCarthy to negotiate responsibly when it comes to the debt limit, Axios reports, with one source contrasting him with John Boehner, the Republican House speaker in 2011. “‘Speaker [John] Boehner and a hypothetical Speaker McCarthy are different animals,’ a former House Republican who served during the 2011 crisis told Axios. ‘Boehner was convinced of the necessity [of raising the debt limit] and was willing to twist arms. I just don’t know about a Speaker McCarthy.’”

With a speech on the Capitol steps, top House Republican Kevin McCarthy was stumping again today for his party’s Commitment to America platform and plans for “firing Nancy Pelosi”.

McCarthy last week debuted the plan, which offered a broad if vague outline of what the party would do should they take Congress’s lower chamber in the 8 November midterms:

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pitches the House GOP’s “Commitment to America” — a scaled-down imitation of the 1994 “Contract with America” and 2010 “Pledge to America”:

“It’s a plan for a nation that is safe … Law enforcement is respected. And criminals are prosecuted.”

— The Recount (@therecount) September 29, 2022

Republicans are favored to win a majority in the House in the midterms, which would put McCarthy in a position to assume speakership. That means Pelosi is likely to endure a firing, of sorts. She’ll be ousted from the chamber’s leadership if Democrats lose their majority, although in 2018, she pledged to serve only two more terms as House speaker, but hasn’t said if she will stand for a leadership position in the party again. Nonetheless, Pelosi’s district encompassing San Francisco is one of the most Democratic in the nation and she’s sure to win re-election, meaning she will probably still be around the Capitol, no matter her role.

Here’s what Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill had to say about the House Republicans’ press conference today:

Kevin McCarthy’s pitiful display this morning is only further proof that the MAGA cult in his conference has him in a chokehold. House Republican Leaders spent their morning detached from reality: bragging about their dangerous, extreme, unpopular agenda to ban abortion in all fifty states, send prescription drug costs soaring and steal your right to choose your leaders. Truthfully, a desperate press conference is about par for the course for an uninspiring and incoherent politician like the Minority Leader, whose only real accomplishment to date is typing up a radical right-wing wish list that sends a clear message to the American people that House Republicans have gone off the deep end.

“While it is not a crime to lie to Fox News viewers or on social media, there are consequences to lying to a court.” That’s a line from a New York Times piece published today analyzing the decision by Donald Trump’s lawyers to seek the appointment of a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case – and concluding the strategy hasn’t quite paid off the way the ex-president may have hoped.

First of all, a reminder of what a special master is: it’s a neutral party that a federal judge assigned to the lawsuit that followed the FBI’s seizure of documents from Trump’s Florida resort. Senior federal judge Raymond J Dearie was appointed to sift through the documents for those covered by attorney-client and executive privilege. While the ruling temporarily halted the justice department’s investigation into whether Trump unlawfully retained government secrets, an appeals court reversed part of the lower court’s decision earlier this month, allowing the government to continue reviewing the seized documents.

Nonetheless, the special master will continue his work, but the article notes that it will be expensive for Trump, who will have to foot the cost for a firm to scan all the documents, the judge to hire an assistant that bills at $500 an hour, plus all the legal fees the former president will incur.

Then there’s Dearie’s demands for how the review will be conducted, which the Times reports don’t seem to favor Trump:

And far from indulging Mr. Trump, as his lawyers likely hoped in suggesting his appointment, Judge Dearie appears to be organizing the document review in ways that threaten to swiftly puncture the former president’s defenses.

For example, the judge has ordered Mr. Trump to submit by Friday a declaration or affidavit verifying the inventory or listing any items on it “that plaintiff asserts were not seized” in the search.

But if Mr. Trump acknowledges that the F.B.I. took any documents marked as classified from his personal office and a storage room at Mar-a-Lago, as the inventory says, that would become evidence that could be used against him if he were later charged with defying a subpoena.

Requiring Mr. Trump’s lawyers to verify or object to the inventory also effectively means making them either affirm in court or disavow a claim Mr. Trump has made in public: his accusation that the F.B.I. planted fake evidence. While it is not a crime to lie to Fox News viewers or on social media, there are consequences to lying to a court.

There’s even a Britain angle to the Trump book, Martin Pengelly reports. Meanwhile, the country’s mini-economic crisis continues:

In his first White House meeting with a major foreign leader, Donald Trump asked Theresa May: “Why isn’t Boris Johnson the prime minister? Didn’t he want the job?”

At the time, the notoriously ambitious Johnson was foreign secretary. He became prime minister two years later, in 2019, after May was forced to resign.

May’s response to the undiplomatic question is not recorded in Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, a new book by the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman which will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly obtained a copy of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” ahead of its release next week. As you might expect, it contained no shortage of troubling anecdotes about what was going on in the White House during his presidency:

In a meeting supposedly about campaign strategy in the 2020 election, Donald Trump implied his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, might be brutally attacked, even raped, should he ever go camping.

“Ivanka wants to rent one of those big RVs,” Trump told bemused aides, according to a new book by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, before gesturing to his daughter’s husband.

“This skinny guy wants to do it. Can you imagine Jared and his skinny ass camping? It’d be like something out of Deliverance.”

According to Haberman, Trump then “made noises mimicking the banjo theme song from the 1972 movie about four men vacationing in rural Georgia who are attacked, pursued and in one case brutally raped by a local resident”.

The bizarre scene is just one of many in Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, which will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

President Joe Biden has spoken with Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has been critical of the White House and is thought to be mulling a bid for president in 2024, but whose state is now being battered by Hurricane Ian.

The pair committed to working together to help the state recover from the storm, according to a readout of the call provided by the White House:

The President spoke this morning with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida to discuss the steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to support Florida in response to Hurricane Ian, including the issuance of a Disaster Declaration this morning. The President told the Governor he is sending his FEMA Administrator to Florida tomorrow to check in on response efforts and see where additional support is needed. The President and Governor committed to continued close coordination.

The Guardian has a separate live blog following the latest news on Hurricane Ian:

The Washington Post has a preview of the upcoming supreme court term that indicates new ways the conservative majority could change American law.

Here are a few of the issues raised in cases the court will consider, and potentially render consequential decisions on:

Justices have agreed to revisit whether universities can use race in a limited way when making admission decisions, a practice the court has endorsed since 1978. Two major cases involve voting rights. The court again will consider whether laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation must give way to business owners who do not want to provide wedding services to same-sex couples. And after limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in air pollution cases last term, the court will hear a challenge regarding the Clean Water Act.

The court’s liberal minority, in particular justice Sonia Sotomayor, last term wrote lengthy dissents to some of the court’s most controversial decisions, which were viewed as ways of signaling just how split the panel was internally. In the Post’s piece, executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at the Georgetown Law Center Irv Gornstein warned that a continued trend of divisive decisions that broke along the court’s ideological lines could further widen the ideological divisions between justices.

“I do think there is a potential for ill will carrying over into this term and into future terms,” he said.

A CNN reporter managed to find Ginni Thomas somewhere in Washington, presumably near where the January 6 committee does its business, and reports that she spoke to the lawmakers in person:

January 6 committee to hear today from Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative supreme court justice

The January 6 committee will today take testimony from Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and herself a promoter of baseless claims that fraud decided the outcome of the 2020 election, Politico reports.

NEWS: Ginni Thomas is testifying virtually to Jan. 6 committee *today,* two sources tell me and @nicholaswu12

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 29, 2022

Reports in recent months have found Ginni Thomas lobbied Republican legislators around the country to take steps that could have delayed or prevented Joe Biden from entering the White House, as well as communicated with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff during Donald Trump’s last days in office. While she has said she doesn’t discuss her work with her husband, Clarence Thomas was the lone dissent earlier this year in a supreme court decision that turned down a petition from Trump and allowed access to records concerning the January 6 attack from his time in the White House.

When its most recent term concluded in June, the supreme court’s conservative majority had flexed its muscles in a big way.

They overturned a nearly half-century old precedent to allow states to ban abortion nationwide, expanded the ability to carry a concealed weapon, limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plants and expanded prayer in public schools. Thus, much of the drop in the court’s public trust Gallup found in a poll released today comes from Democrats, for which confidence halved in the past year. Overall, only 47% of respondents have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the court, which isn’t bad compared to, say, Congress, but nonetheless represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago and a sharp decline from its usual two-thirds level in Gallup’s surveys.

But it’s not just the public itself that has issues with how the court is behaving. The justices, or at least one justice, appear to think it’s gone too far. The White House-appointed jurors usually go to great lengths to appear impartial and stay out of Washington’s daily fray, but something appears to be going on behind the scenes. “If, over time, the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy,” warned Elena Kagan in a July speech, one of the justices comprising the court’s three-member liberal minority. More unusual was the fact that Samuel Alito, the conservative who wrote the opinion overturning abortion rights established by Roe v Wade, appeared to respond to her comments with a remark delivered not in a speech – the typical venue when justices feel like opening up on a topic – but directly to the Wall Street Journal, as many other players in Washington often do.

“It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit. But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line,” Alito said.

Supreme court justices spar as rightwing decisions fuel drop in public trust

Good morning, US politics readers. The supreme court’s descent into being just another politicized government branch – at least to the public – continued apace, with a new poll showing its approval falling in the wake of a term that saw a series of sharply conservative decisions, including the end to nationwide abortion rights. As if those decisions weren’t enough, liberal justice Elena Kagan twice recently warned of the perils of the court losing its impartiality – prompting an unusual public response from Samuel Alito, the conservative justice who wrote the decision ending Roe v Wade. The court’s new term begins on Monday.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • President Joe Biden has declared an official disaster in Florida after Hurricane Ian trapped residents in their homes and knocked out power to millions. He will visit the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency at noon eastern time to assess the response.

  • Top House Republicans have a 10am eastern time press conference scheduled to “discuss firing Nancy Pelosi” as the party looks set to reclaim the majority in the chamber.

  • The chair of the January 6 committee said it will this week hear testimony from Ginni Thomas, a 2020 election denier and wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas.

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