HomeBernie Sanders2/23 Deb Haaland’s Hearing for Interior Post; News Roundup & Open Thread
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I’ll move my stuff over here and delete. You have that nice photo!




Leading the GOP opposition to her appointment are Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, white lawmakers from states with sizable American Indian populations. Lummis blasted Haaland’s “extreme views,” while Daines and Barrasso called her “radical” — and Daines suggested he would attempt to block her nomination altogether.

The three have cited her opposition to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, projects that she would have little influence over if she becomes Interior secretary. (Biden has already blocked the Keystone XL pipeline.) And they’ve railed against early executive action from Biden that paused new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters, which contribute about 20 percent of U.S. production.

But multiple Native Americans told POLITICO that the senators’ sharp critiques of Haaland, before she’s had a chance to address their concerns, reminds them of the stereotyping and dismissiveness that tribes have long experienced in dealings with the U.S. government.

Democratic Montana Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, called the Republican opposition a “political ploy” familiar to Native Americans who have entered politics, where there exists a “preconceived notion from others that you’re 25-30 percent dumber.”

Barrasso, Daines and Lummis received a combined $1.8 million in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry in the last election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign financing.

Seeing a nominee to lead Interior who has a background different from previous heads of the agency and opposes the oil and gas industry’s priorities may be triggering the Republicans’ angst, said Julia Bernal, director of Pueblo Action Alliance and a member of the Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico. There have been Hispanic men and white women that served as secretaries, but Haaland is a groundbreaking pick as a Native American woman.

Haaland “is going to shift a worldview on how we’ll be managing water, land and natural resources in the future,” Bernal said. “Change is disconcerting to some folks. It’s a paradigm shift. The way we’ve been misusing resources and mismanaging land has resulted in a climate crisis. Seeing a change in who holds that power, if that threatens the interests of oil and gas, that definitely reveals what’s wrong with things.”

Haaland’s supporters say the senators’ focus on her past backing for renewable energy and criticisms of oil and gas projects ignores what her leadership of Interior would mean for a country that for much of its history made killing and exiling Native Americans official government policy.

“The senators are probably listening too much to their benefactors and they’re probably afraid of Deb Haaland,” House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told POLITICO. “Interior in many ways was set up to take care of the Indian problem — either through taking of land, through almost elimination of people themselves, culture, or forced assimilation. [It’s] come full circle and you’re going to have an Indigenous person run the department. I think as a country we should see that moment as some redeeming moment.”


It looks like Manchin may not matter. Quite a few GOPukes are indicating support for Haaland.


All eyes on the Senate Parliamentarian


Democrats’ big push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour will be put to the test this week — by a Senate staffer relatively unknown outside Capitol Hill.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is expected to issue a decision soon about whether Democrats can squeeze one of their top priorities into the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package through the budget reconciliation process. If MacDonough determines the minimum wage can indeed be considered under fast-track budget rules, Democrats can pass the bill containing the more controversial provision with a simple majority. That’s critical for Democrats who control the 50-50 chamber with Vice President Harris’s tiebreaking vote — and want to avoid the 60-vote threshold for significant legislation.

“It’s trite to refer to her as the umpire but it’s a lot like that,” Rich A. Arenberg, who worked on Senate and House staffs for 34 years and co-authored “Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate,” told Power Up of MacDonough’s position and influence. “She’s a really non partisan straight arrow.”

Legislative experts were hesitant to predict to Power Up how MacDonough would ultimately rule on the minimum wage issue. But they all agreed that MacDonough is well equipped to handle the high stakes political pressure put one of the only remaining nonpartisan offices on Capitol Hill.

The dynamics now: “We’re in a 50-50 Senate … and it’s been more difficult with polarization to get legislation of significance passed,” Laura Blessing, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, told Power Up. “This is a situation where you end up putting the parliamentarian’s office in a position where they will make politically consequential decisions. That’s not because of them — but everything around the office. It speaks to how divided we are as a Congress and country.”

Both sides are preparing their case: “Both Democrats and Republicans are expected to meet with the parliamentarian on Wednesday to argue their case,” Politico’s Caitlin Emma and Aaron Lorenzo report. “Her ruling could follow soon after the arguments.”

Democrats must show that every item in their reconciliation bill has a direct budgetary impact — a requirement under the Byrd rule, a provision added to the 1974 Congressional Budget Act named after the late Sen. Robert Byrd.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is leading the charge as the Senate Budget Committee’s new chair to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, has been collecting outside opinions to make the case. “Sanders argues that the measure qualifies as fiscal since the nonpartisan CBO found it to increase deficits by $54 billion over 10 years,” Bloomberg’s Erik Wasson and Laura Davison report. “Opponents say the budget impact is ‘merely incidental’ compared to the overall labor market impact. The wage provision may also violate Senate rules against adding to deficits after 10 years, and therefore would require offsetting savings or revenue to qualify.”


The vultures are circling


House Democratic leaders are quietly mounting a campaign for Shalanda Young, a longtime congressional aide, to replace Neera Tanden as nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The nascent campaign for Young, who would be OMB’s first Black female leader, reflects a stark reality taking hold in the Democratic Party: Tanden’s prospects are rapidly fading.

Young is a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee.
“Ms. Young is a proven budget expert and is well qualified for the job,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Young, who is currently waiting for a confirmation hearing in the Senate to be deputy OMB director, may still face competition from Gene Sperling, who has the distinction of twice leading the National Economic Council.

Sperling — along with Bruce Reed, now the White House deputy chief of staff — was considered to lead OMB during the transition. Both were passed over in favor of Tanden, who would be the first woman of color to hold the post.

While Sperling has many allies inside the White House, the push for diversity — and the desire to rack up “firsts” — is still important to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Among Biden’s top economic advisers and nominees, six are women and four of them are women of color.

Progressives, nonetheless, are mounting a public campaign for Sperling, with Dean Baker, the director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, vouching for his credentials.

“While I would not have wanted the Gene Sperling of 25 years ago to hold a top position in the Biden administration, I think the Gene Sperling of today would be an outstanding pick as head of OMB,” Baker wrote in The American Prospect.


This may sound prejudicial. So be it. We have a large population of India citizens leaving here. They are very conservative people. They are also biased and close ranks around getting their own kind put into positions of local power. Not impressive with a lot of them.


Man, was I half asleep when I posted the above. Needed copy editing missing.🙄🙁


i know nothing about her, but if “House Democrats” are pushing her, she’s likely more neolib than Sperling. but i’m in i don’t care mode.


holding my breat on this one.



This will be passed only if the filibuster is ditched.


The For the People Act — set to be introduced in the Senate and reintroduced last month in the House with support from more than 210 House Democrats — is once-in-a-generation legislation that will help counteract the power of corporations and the wealthy few who dictate the direction of our government.

The bill aims to amplify the power of small donors, who more closely represent the average constituent in terms of gender and race, and ensure more transparency in political spending. The bill will also expand and protect voting rights for all Americans, end partisan gerrymandering, and restore ethics and accountability in our government.



Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could shred much of what remains of the right to be free from racial discrimination at the polls. The defendants’ arguments in two consolidated cases, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee, are some of the most aggressive attacks on the right to vote to reach the Supreme Court in the post-Jim Crow era.

These two DNC cases concern two Arizona laws that make it more difficult to vote. The first requires voting officials to discard in their entirety ballots cast in the wrong precinct, rather than just not counting votes for local candidates who the voter should not have been able to vote for. The second prohibits many forms of “ballot collection,” where a voter gives their absentee ballot to someone else and that person delivers that ballot to the election office.

The most important question in the DNC cases isn’t whether these two particular Arizona laws will be upheld or stuck down, but whether the Court will announce a legal rule that guts one of America’s most important civil rights laws. And there is reason to fear that it will. The Supreme Court doesn’t just have a 6-3 Republican majority; it’s a majority that includes several justices who’ve shown a great deal of hostility toward voting rights generally and the Voting Rights Act in particular.

The Voting Rights Act is the landmark law that President Lyndon Johnson signed to end white supremacist election laws in 1965, and that President Ronald Reagan signed legislation expanding in 1982.

Reagan did so over the strident opposition of a young Justice Department lawyer named John Roberts. Roberts wrote more than two dozens memos opposing the 1982 voting rights law, one of which claimed it was “not only constitutionally suspect, but also contrary to the most fundamental tenants [sic] of the legislative process on which the laws of this country are based.”



It’s easy to dismiss the organization’s dissolution as a failure of workplace ethics or compliance, but let us not forget: the Lincoln Project was also a failure of political strategy.

Not only did highly-moneyed liberals rally behind a Republican-backed organization that now appears foundationally rotten; they did so because they erroneously believed its strategy to be new and bold. According to Federal Election Commission filings, here are some of the Lincoln Project’s biggest donors:

Democratic dark money group Majority Forward ($1.35 million)
Democratic dark money group Sixteen Thirty Fund ($300,000)
Hedge fund manager Stephen Mendel Jr. ($1 million)
Oil heir Gordon Getty ($1 million)
Media magnate David Geffen ($500,000)
Bain Capital Co-Chair Joshua Bekenstein ($100,000)
Founder of Dreamworks Pictures Jeffrey Katzenberg ($100,000)
Philanthropist Liz Lefkofsky ($100,000)

Even with such support from big-moneyed liberals, however, it’s not readily apparent that the Lincoln Project did much of anything to help Democrats. More Americans voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election than they did in 2016, after all. Democrats also overwhelmingly lost state legislatures throughout the country. Despite all of the Lincoln Project’s sensationalized broadsides against key Trump’s congressional allies, the group also failed to weed out any of the most corrosive figures within the GOP, such as Senators Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Ted Cruz, R-TX, or even Maine’s Susan Collins.

Amid the big Democratic disappointment in 2020, however, there was one election that stood apart from the rest: Georgia’s election of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the Senate. Not only did their runoff victories over Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, bring the Senate to an even split, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the designated tiebreaker, it re-introduced America to a strikingly quaint way of winning elections: organizing.

In fact, political advertising in general –– particularly for primary and general elections –– may be far less effective than its backers might have you believe. A study produced by scientific journal Science Advances found that ads of all kinds, in fact, had no virtually no effect on a candidate’s favorability. “Positive ads work no better than attack ads,” said coauthor of the study Alexander Coppock, an assistant professor of political science at Yale. “Republicans, Democrats, and independents respond to ads similarly. Ads aired in battleground states aren’t substantially more effective than those broadcast in non-swing states.”

Yet Democrats have not begun to think about curbing ad expenditures. Out of the $6.9 billion budget Democrats spent on campaigning for the 2020 election, $600 million went to TV ads alone. (This excludes digital ads, print ads, radio, etc.) Imagine the kind of voter turnout Democrats would yield if they spent $600 million every couple years on building a more robust political infrastructure. It behooves Democrats –– and particularly high-net worth liberals in this case –– to think about how they will win elections over beyond the scope of one administration.


There’s other important stuff in the Covid relief plan other than the $1400 checks and the $15 minimum


When we checked in with economist Eileen Appelbaum last week to get some insight on the COVID relief package taking shape in Washington, she was particularly enthusiastic about the child allowance proposal it contained. In a move that would bring the United States in line with nearly every other country in the developed world, there are multiple proposals in Congress to send parents a monthly benefit from the time their child is born until they turn 18. Under the Democratic plan, for children under six, the proposed payment would be $3,600 a year. For ages six to 18, it would be $3,000 per child.

It represents a big step forward for the patchwork U.S. safety net, and a potentially transformative one for the quality of life for kids in this country. A Columbia University study found it would cut the number of American children living in poverty by more than 50 percent—or 5 million kids. (As it stands, the U.S. has some of the highest rates of child poverty among wealthy nations.) The idea even has bipartisan support on the basic merits: Republican Senator Mitt Romney has developed his own proposal, which differs in some important ways from the Democratic plans on the table. But he’s got one. We’ve come a long way from the 2012 presidential campaign he ran.



In January 2014, power plants owned by Texas’ largest electricity producer buckled under frigid temperatures. Its generators failed more than a dozen times in 12 hours, helping to bring the state’s electric grid to the brink of collapse.

The incident was the second in three years for North Texas-based Luminant, whose equipment malfunctions during a more severe storm in 2011 resulted in a $750,000 fine from state energy regulators for failing to deliver promised power to the grid.

In the earlier cold snap, the grid was pushed to the limit and rolling blackouts swept the state, spurring an angry Legislature to order a study of what went wrong.

Experts hired by the Texas Public Utility Commission, which oversees the state’s electric and water utilities, concluded that power-generating companies like Luminant had failed to understand the “critical failure points” that could cause equipment to stop working in cold weather.

In May 2014, the PUC sought changes that would require energy companies to identify and address all potential failure points, including any effects of “weather design limits.”

Luminant argued against the proposal.

In comments to the commission, the company said the requirement was unnecessary and “may or may not identify the ‘weak links’ in protections against extreme temperatures.”

“Each weather event [is] dynamic,” company representatives told regulators. “Any engineering analysis that attempted to identify a specific weather design limit would be rendered meaningless.”

By the end of the process, the PUC agreed to soften the proposed changes. Instead of identifying all possible failure points in their equipment, power companies would need only to address any that were previously known.

The change, which experts say has left Texas power plants more susceptible to the kind of extreme and deadly weather events that bore down on the state last week, is one in a series of cascading failures to shield the state’s electric grid from winter storms, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune found.

Lawmakers and regulators, including the PUC and the industry-friendly Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, have repeatedly ignored, dismissed or watered down efforts to address weaknesses in the state’s sprawling electric grid, which is isolated from the rest of the country.




Gym Jordan will not be pleased


Op Ed from Ron Kim


There is a strong link between Governor Cuomo’s push for legal immunity and lobbyists like the Greater New York Hospital Association, which in one year gave him more than $1.5m in political contributions. There is more than a good chance that he continued to listen to these lobbyists after the budget – and the immunity clause – passed.

And there is a real possibility that lobbyists for hospital executives and for-profit nursing homes pushed the administration to suppress death numbers to defend their legal immunity.

Despite many pleas to disclose the full data, the governor and his administration purposefully suppressed this information until very recently, when the New York state attorney general reported an almost 50% underreporting in nursing home deaths.

For these reasons, we must thoroughly investigate why Governor Cuomo gave these for-profit facilities legal immunity, and who influenced him to suppress the nursing home death numbers.


Go Ron!


Actually this is from LD. I moved it here from my deleted diary.


Well Ted definitely is an expert on assholes

Heidi is on a mission to root out that neighbor who tattled

Snowflake’s “sitter” was the security guard and when they abandoned him the power was off


The main lesson from the scandal over his flight to Cancún while Texas froze, Senator Ted Cruz said on Tuesday, is that people should not be “assholes”, and should treat each other with respect.

The Texas Republican, who ran for the presidential nomination in 2016, is known for his caustic and brutal attacks on Democrats and willingness to buck even the appearance of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate in order to achieve his own goals, even by causing a government shutdown.

He was speaking, without discernible irony, today on Ruthless, a podcast which offers “next-generation conservative talk”.

He said his wife Heidi was “pretty pissed” that her messages were leaked, and had been “sort of walking through” the issue with neighbours, attempting to work out who might be responsible.

He also complained about coverage of his dog, Snowflake, a poodle pictured seemingly alone at his Houston home while the family was in Mexico. Cruz said Snowflake had been “home with a dog sitter and actually the heat and power was back on”.

Cruz reserved special ire for pictures of his wife on the beach in Mexico that were published by the US press.

“The New York Post ran all these pictures of Heidi and her bikini,” he said. “I will tell you that she is pissed.”


Perdue not interested in taking on Warnock in 2022


T and R, Ms. Benny!! 🌎☮️😊👍As a small part of Native American blood in myself, I am rooting for Rep. Haaland. Sounds like she’s got quite a mix of senate politicos in her corner. 😊