House Dems plan jam-packed legislative push

Tray Ling

With Sarah Ferris and Anita Kumar. IN LIKE A LION: Top Democrats announced Monday night that the House will remain in session through the week of March 12, tacking on another work week in a scramble to bring even more bills to the floor. Next week, the Dems’ agenda will […]

With Sarah Ferris and Anita Kumar.

IN LIKE A LION: Top Democrats announced Monday night that the House will remain in session through the week of March 12, tacking on another work week in a scramble to bring even more bills to the floor.

Next week, the Dems’ agenda will be universal background checks, the Charleston loophole and a labor rights bill called the Pro Act — as well as the massive coronavirus bill that comes over from the Senate.

The schedule for the week after is still fluid, Sarah reports, but leadership is eying the Equal Rights Act, the Violence Against Women Act and immigration — expected to be Dreamers and farm workers. It’ll be the fourth straight week that the House is in session before going out of town for three weeks.

Why March? Dems are trying to bring as many bills to the floor before April 1, under the so-called “McGovern rule” that allows bills to skip markups if they’ve already passed the previous Congress. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) privately shared her game plan with her leadership team in a meeting last night of how they will plan to churn out Dems’ legislative priorities over the next two weeks, Heather reports.

FLEXI’, CAN I? Progressives in Congress are warning the minimum wage hike proposal is the first major Dem agenda item that will be squashed if the legislative filibuster remains intact, raising the possibility of *gasp* negotiating across the aisle to get their big agenda items into law.

Democrats have dismissed the GOP proposal put forward by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to raise the wage to $10 an hour, well short of the $15 they have pushed.

Several Republicans indicated they would be willing to go higher than the $10-an-hour GOP bill, my colleagues report. And Romney says he and Democrats have discussed a possible way forward on the wage hike, though their proposal for stricter immigration vetting enforcement with employers through E-verify could prove to be a sticking point. TBD if this produces a deal.

But even as there are glimmers of bipartisan negotiations, some Democrats remain focused on killing the legislative filibuster. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) said Monday other top Dem priorities will fail if the filibuster and its 60-vote requirement on legislation lives on, starting with the minimum wage, followed by others like Dems’ voting rights bill, immigration reform, universal child care, and infrastructure.

“The filibuster is something that gives Mitch McConnell a veto, and that has got to stop,” Warren said at a press conference around their wealth tax legislation. “I believe we need to get rid of the filibuster now.”

But the filibuster defenders like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) aren’t budging. Manchin, when asked if he’d consider changing his position on the filibuster yesterday, exclaimed: “Never! Jesus Christ. What don’t you understand about never?”

Another minimum wage workaround, proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would overrule the parliamentarian’s advice to exclude the minimum wage increase from the Covid relief package. But such a move would require the votes of all 50 Senate Democrats, a tenuous proposition at best. And the White House doesn’t appear to have an appetite for this.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says the Senate will take up the Covid relief package this week, as early as Wednesday to be precise, though the parliamentarian still needs to rule on a handful of outstanding issues within the massive package. And Schumer is warning the creatures of the upper chamber to expect “some late nights” … aka another vote-a-rama.

Burgess and Marianne have the story: http://politi.co/2Ppts61

Related Reads: Biden works to unify Senate Democrats on $1.9 trillion relief bill, by WaPo’s Erica Werner and Jeff Stein: http://wapo.st/3020zyD | Manchin: ‘There’s a moment here’ for bipartisanship, purpose, by the WVGazette’s Joe Severino: http://bit.ly/3kMXfBn

RISKY MURKOWSKI: Neera Tanden’s nomination to be OMB chief appeared to be toast last week. Manchin was a no, as were other GOP swing votes. But Democrats are holding onto one last thread of hope: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is still making an “assessment” on how she will vote on Biden’s nominee a week later, after meeting with Tanden.

Supporting Tanden could put Murkowski at odds with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is whipping “no” against the president’s OMB nominee. Murkowski is the only Republican up for reelection next year who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial earlier this year and McConnell is the biggest name GOP lawmaker in her corner.

But even if Murkowski has the power to save Tanden’s nomination, others like Sinema and Sanders have the power to derail it. Neither has said how they will vote.

FIRST IN HUDDLE: Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) will introduce their bills requiring background checks on all firearm sales.

The pair has introduced the bills before, but this year they’re hopeful Democratic control of the House, Senate and White House will put them over the edge. Still, it’ll be tough to secure the 10 needed Republican votes in the Senate to get it passed.

HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, was first introduced in January 2019 and passed the House the next month. Senate Republicans didn’t bring it up for a vote.

Murphy told POLITICO recently that he was waiting to see a White House plan to curb gun violence before he introduced the bill. But the White House has no time tabletime for its proposal, which has angered some activists who hoped it would take on greater urgency with the new administration.

“Joe Biden and hundreds of congressional candidates from both parties ran on the issue of background checks,” said Murphy (D-Conn). “This is the year to get this bill passed into law.”

HAPPY TUESDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill on this March 2nd, where CPAC left a mark…or so Romney jokes.

MONDAY’S MOST CLICKED: Axios’ story about a border Democrat warning Biden about immigrant fallout was the big winner.

GOTTA DEAL: A group of House moderates threatened to rebel against a sweeping government reform bill that is coming to a vote this week, setting off a furious round of weekend negotiations led by House Administration Chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). Democratic leaders ultimately agreed to tweak a provision on the public financing of elections that the moderates have long loathed, multiple people familiar with the discussions tell Heather and Sarah.

The adjustment averted the potential embarrassment of tanking a bill that is one of the caucus’s top priorities. Democrats also hope these changes will help blunt the kinds of GOP attack ads that pummelled them ahead of November.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), who was part of the push to get the provision stripped out altogether, told my colleagues she was motivated to do so after what she called Republican’s ‘bad-faith effort to misrepresent’ the small-donor matching-funds program in her district. Luria successfully secured an amendment to clearly state that any public financing for campaigns would not come from taxpayer dollars, but rather corporate penalties or financial settlements.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) got the second change, which would allow lawmakers to formally opt out of any public financing system — a move that gives swing-district Democrats cover from GOP talking points.

Still, the bill appears to largely be symbolic, with the package unlikely to get the necessary 10 Republican votes in the Senate to advance.

Heather and Sarah have more: http://politi.co/3uJ9jrN

Related Read: Ro Khanna mounts pressure campaign to push Biden toward the left, by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tal Kopan: http://bit.ly/2Pl1hoF

OH NO FOR CUOMO: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), a former district attorney, became the first House Democrat from the New York delegation to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign as he faces mounting claims of sexual harassment.

As NYT’s Shane Goldmacher points out: “It’s been long forgotten but Kathleen Rice called for Al Franken to resign days before Gillibrand did (Gillibrand was the first Senate Democrat) in 2017.”

Now the question is…will others follow, including those New York Dems? Your Huddle host is keeping an eye on Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as well as Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Meanwhile: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) isn’t ruling out a possible bid for the governor’s mansion. On the Ruthless Podcast, Josh Holmes pressed Stefanik about her interest after she dodged giving a direct “no,” to which she replied: “A lot can change.”

Related: Trumpism grips a post-policy GOP as traditional conservatism fadesm, reports NYT’s Jonathan Martin from Orlando: http://nyti.ms/305jWqM | CrossFit is finally fed up with Marjorie Taylor Greene, by BuzzFeed’s Ryan Brooks and Amber Jamieson: http://bit.ly/3uKkJvi

FOREIGN POLICY, DOMESTIC WOES: Biden’s early foreign policy moves are facing resistance from his fellow Democrats, some of whom are mounting pressure campaigns to get him to change course.

“Just last week, Biden drew friendly fire after ordering airstrikes on Iran-backed militia groups in Syria without first seeking congressional approval, and for refusing to impose penalties on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — whom Biden’s administration publicly blamed for the brutal 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It was an early sign of what is to come for Biden,” Andrew reports. More here: http://politi.co/3sSzGdd

Related: The road to Joe Biden’s foreign policy runs through Bob Menendez by Andrew and Nahal Toosi: http://politi.co/2OeAwBX | Duckworth urges Biden admin to release intel on Russian bounties, by Lara Seligman, who got the exclusive: http://politi.co/3e12lIA

BEEF IT UP: The Capitol Police union is backing a series of security enhancements retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré has reportedly recommended after reviewing the security failures during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

NYT’s Luke Broadwater reports that Honoré proposed the following:

– Staffing up the Capitol police force, including hiring 1,000 more officers, which comes as there are reportedly more than 200 vacancies in the Capitol Police force

-Creating a quick reaction force, likely with National Guard troops, to help Capitol law enforcement respond during any future emergencies

-Possibly keeping security fencing around the Capitol complex to serve as a fixed perimeter

The conclusions are not yet final, but the proposals illustrate how changes are likely coming.

“I look forward to reviewing Lt. Gen, Honoré’s full recommendations when they are made available,” Gus Papathanasiou, the union’s chairman, said in a statement in response to the reports. “The fact we were understaffed was no secret.”

Related Reads: D.C. National Guard commander added as witness to hearing on Capitol attack, by WaPo’s Dan Lamothe: http://wapo.st/3e2eDka

CAMPAIGN CENTRAL:

– House Freedom Caucus chair Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) is weighing a Senate bid in the Copper State, The Hill’s Juliegrace scoops: http://bit.ly/3b4g4fZ

-Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, Axios’ Alayna Treene scoops: http://bit.ly/2OfOymA

CABINET CORNER:

Updates:

Miguel Cardona is confirmed as Biden’s Education Secretary in a 64-33 vote. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to swear him in later today.

Upcoming:

The Senate will resume consideration of Gina Raimondo’s nomination as Commerce secretary this morning. At 2:15 p.m., the Senate is expected to vote on the Raimondo nomination and on a motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Cecilia Rouse to be CEA chair.

Moving on up: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Merrick Garland‘s nomination to serve as Biden’s attorney general in a 15-7 vote, with GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, Thom Tillis, Lindsey Graham voting to confirm him. Next up: The Senate floor.

10 a.m.: The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is having a hearing to examine the nominations of Gary Gensler to be a Member of the SEC, and Rohit Choprato be Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

11 a.m.: The Senate Committee on the Budget will have a hearing on the nomination of Shalanda Young to be Deputy Director of OMB. (Young is a possible candidate if Neera Tanden’s nomination falls through.)

TRANSITIONS

Elliott Guffin was promoted to legislative director from senior legislative assistant to Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), the House GOP Conference Secretary.

Gabby Richards is joining the National Advocacy and Communications team at BerlinRosen. She previously served as comms director for Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) and was also the co-author of the House Dem staff letter that asked the Senate to vote in favor of convicting Trump in his impeachment trial earlier this year.

Conn Carroll is now the comms director for Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). He previously served in the same role for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Tola Thompson is joining Ballard Partners’ Washington office. He most recently was chief of staff for Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) and is a Carrie Meek alum.

Marcie Smith will be an associate director for the Bipartisan Policy Center Action. She most recently was a professional staff member for the House Climate Crisis Select Committee GOP and is a Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) alum.

Brianna Howard is now director of digital media for the House Budget Committee GOP. She previously was special assistant to former Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia.

John Eunice is now deputy director of the Environmental Protection Division in Atlanta for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. He previously was legislative director and general counsel for former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.).

TODAY IN CONGRESS

The House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business.

The Senate meets at 10:30 a.m.

AROUND THE HILL

10 a.m.: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the department’s Jan. 6 response.

1:10 p.m.: Biden will join Senate Democrats during their weekly lunch, ahead of the Covid relief bill being taken up in the upper chamber.

2 p.m.: Pelosi and Democratic leaders kick off 2021 Issues Conference.

8:15 p.m.: VP Harris will speak at Dems’ issues conference.

COMING UP: Join Playbook co-author Rachael Bade tomorrow at 9 a.m. for a conversation with Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), NRCC chairman, to discuss his strategy for the 2022 midterm elections, Trump’s role in the party and continued fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection. Register to watch live here.

TRIVIA

MONDAY’S WINNER: Melody Moxley was the first person to correctly guess that actor Buddy Ebsen endorsed Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) for reelection to the House in 1984. The noteworthy aspect of this endorsement is that Shuster’s opponent, Nancy Kulp, had been one of Ebsen’s co-stars on The Beverly Hillbillies. She played Miss Jane Hathaway.

TODAY’S QUESTION: From Melody: Which Constitutional framer argued that Senators should have lifetime terms?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answer to [email protected].

GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone each morning.

Follow Olivia on Twitter: @Olivia_Beavers

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