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Democrats not named Manchin or Sinema increasingly losing patience with infrastructure appeasement

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The Sinema-Portman group has been working for a while, parallel to negotiations Biden was having with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito as guided by McConnell. In those negotiations, Biden gave more than half the original $2.2+ trillion package away, down to a final $1 trillion offer before calling the negotiations off. It would be nice to think that the collapse of those negotiations meant Biden was resetting the counter back to $2.25 trillion, but that’s probably too much to expect.

This exercise is being viewed with a mix of ambivalence and frustration among Senate Democrats. Sen. Angus King, the Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats calls the effort “a good test. Because this is not deep policy. It’s not particularly partisan. […] If we can’t make it on this, it’s a bad sign.” Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, is a realist: “McConnell wants Biden to fail,” he points out. “There aren’t even 10 Republicans who are even willing to talk to us about compromise. And if we get 10 Republicans you probably lose some Democrats if it’s too squishy, middle-of-the-road minimalist.”

Case in point: Sen. Susan Collins, who is always put forward as a reasonable Republican and who always comes home to McConnell when it really makes a difference. She’s putting all the onus on Biden. “The bigger question is, can the White House accept a more reasonable bill that is focused just on infrastructure and broadband and acceptable pay-fors?” Collins asked. That plays into the narrative Capito is pushing that it was Biden who kept pulling the rug out from under her. “I’m really not participating in the other group,” she told Politico. “They’re working their own tracks. I wish them luck. Just gotta make sure what the president tells you is what matches the reality of what they really want.” Again, Biden came down by more than 50% in his offers, Capito came up by just 5%, and still refused to consider any means of paying for it that didn’t include raising user fees or stealing from COVID-19 relief funds.

A growing group of Senate Democrats is getting pretty restive about this erosion, particularly following the statement from Biden’s National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy that the administration might drop climate goals from the infrastructure package. In a tweet thread Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said, “OK, I’m now officially very anxious about climate legislation. I’ll admit I’m sensitive from the Obama climate abandonment, but I sense trouble.” He’s not alone.

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And it’s not just the liberal wing.

One way or another, the McConnell tactic of delay, delay, delay is nearing its end. One of the members of Sinema’s group, Montana Democrat Jon Tester, has a short time frame. He wants to see the basis of a deal by the end of Thursday: “If we don’t get a deal pretty damn quick,” he says, “we ain’t gonna have a deal.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also not a rabble rouser, is ready to go as well. “I have no confidence that this bipartisan group will reach a deal. They should have a limited time to do so. I really think it’s time to pull the plug now and take action promptly and robustly. […] We simply do not have the time to waste.”

Schumer’s No. 2, Democratic whip Dick Durbin, agrees, saying the Sinema group has “hours, not days” to get the job done. He also says he doesn’t know what the vote count on reconciliation would be since he hasn’t whipped it. It’s about damned well time he does.


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They Seemed Like Democratic Activists. They Were Secretly Conservative Spies.

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They also took aim at the administration of the Republican governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, whom hard-right conservatives considered far too moderate and whose candidacy Ms. Gore had opposed in 2018. They targeted a Republican state representative, now the Wyoming speaker of the house, because of his openness to liberalizing marijuana laws — a position Ms. Gore vigorously opposes.

Using her Democratic cover identity, Ms. LaRocca got a job working for a consortium of wealthy liberal donors in Wyoming — the Wyoming Investor Network, or WIN — that had decided to back some moderate Republicans. The job gave her access to valuable information.

“Getting the WIN stuff is really damaging,” said Chris Bell, who worked as a political consultant for the consortium. “It’s the entire strategy. Where the money is going. What we’re doing long term.”

Mr. Seddon, Mr. Maier and Ms. LaRocca did not respond to requests for comment about the operation or the campaign contributions. Cassie Craven, a lawyer for Ms. Gore, also did not respond to emails or a voice mail message seeking comment about the operation, nor did Ms. Gore herself.

When The Times reached out to political activists and politicians who had come to know Mr. Maier and Ms. LaRocca, informing them of the couple’s true agenda, some said the news confirmed their own suspicions that the pair might not have been on the level. Others were stunned and said they regretted any part they had played in helping them gain entree to political circles in the West.

George Durazzo Jr., a Colorado businessman and fund-raiser who coaxed the large donations from Mr. Maier and Ms. LaRocca and shepherded them around Las Vegas before the debate, said he was both angry and embarrassed. He had planned, he said, to take them to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee before the pandemic turned it into a virtual event.

“If they are indeed Benedict Arnold and Mata Hari,” he said, “I was the one who was fooled.”

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News Roundup: Giuliani suspended; infrastructure deal; pro-Trump network floats mass executions

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From hoax-peddling to violent insurrection to talk of mass executions, fascism in America is now a major political force

In the news today: Trump fixer Rudy Giuliani’s license to practice law in New York is suspended after a pattern of flagrant lying about supposed election “fraud” in and outside courtrooms. The White House and a group of 10 senators announced an agreement on “bipartisan” infrastructure funding—but both the details and the supposed bipartisanship that will allow it to pass remain sketchy. A prominent conservative “news” site responsible for pushing election hoaxes that helped lead to insurrection is now speculating on a need to execute “tens of thousands” of Americans who, they falsely contend, helped unfairly deny Donald Trump an election win.

Here’s some of what you may have missed:


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‘Unforgivable and un-American’: U.S. Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick’s longtime partner calls out GOP

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In a CNN op-ed, Garza, a clinical social worker who was with Sicknick for 11 years, wrote that she couldn’t watch the Jan. 6 footage for a month after the attack, but eventually gutted it out and took a look.

But before his memorial a month later, something came over me: I wanted to see everything I could and understand what happened that day. As I watched the videos, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw officers being brutalized and beaten, and protesters defying orders to stay back from entering the Capitol. All the while, I kept thinking, “Where is the President? Why is it taking so long for the National Guard to arrive? Where is the cavalry!?”
 

As the months passed, my deep sadness turned to outright rage as I watched Republican members of Congress lie on TV and in remarks to reporters and constituents about what happened that day. Over and over they denied the monstrous acts committed by violent protesters.

Garza didn’t name those members of Congress, but they’re not hard to identify. There was Sen. Ron Johnson, who said he was never concerned about the insurrection because the rioters were “people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement”—and not scary antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters. There was Rep. Andrew Clyde, who compared the insurrectionists to tourists, even though footage from that day showed him fixin’ to drop a chimichanga or two into his Simon Bar Sinister Underoos. And there was Trump himself, who infamously said that the insurrection posed “zero threat” and that his supporters were “hugging and kissing” the Capitol police. 

Eventually, Garza joined Sicknick’s mother, Gladys, in her campaign to convince GOP senators to vote in favor of the commission. But as we all know, their heartfelt pleas were ignored. Garza writes that during her and Gladys’ outreach campaign, “some Republican senators were very pleasant and polite. Others were dismissive, and others could barely hide their disdain.”

Sounds about right. Of course, in the wake of Republicans’ nearly unanimous betrayal of democracy, Garza feels she’s being retraumatized.

By denying or downplaying the viciousness and trauma that occurred on January 6, members of Congress and the people who continue echoing their false narrative are engaging in a specific kind of psychological harm that is familiar to people who work in mental health. It’s known as “secondary wounding.” Secondary wounding, described by psychologist Aphrodite Matsakis, occurs when people “minimize or discount the magnitude of the event, its meaning to the victim, [or] its impact on the victim’s life.”

The kicker? Before the Capitol insurrection, both Garza and Sicknick—who adored blueberry pancakes and wiener dogs alike—were Trump supporters. Not anymore: “To know that some members of Congress—along with the former President, Donald Trump, who Brian and I once supported but who can only now be viewed as the mastermind of that horrible attack—are not acknowledging Brian’s heroism that day is unforgivable and un-American.”

Eventually, anyone who puts their faith in Donald Trump gets burned. Ask … well, pretty much anyone. Most people don’t suffer this much for their obtuseness, but just about everyone who hitches their wagon to his collapsing star gets a rude awakening.

It’s sad that it took the loss of a loved one for Garza to finally wake up, but if she can keep warning others, maybe the day when Trump is truly—and forever—radioactive will come sooner rather than later.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.


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