Today's politics recap

  • The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for refusing to comply with the panel’s subpoenas. The expected committee vote comes one day after Donald Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to block certain White House documents from the subpoenas by claiming executive privilege, which is considered a dubious legal argument given that he is no longer president.
  • The White House said Trump’s response to the insurrection cannot be “swept under the rug”. “Our view, and I think the view of the vast majority of Americans, is that former President Trump abused the office of the presidency and attempted to subvert a peaceful transfer of power,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about Trump’s lawsuit. “The former president’s actions represented a unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don’t feel can be swept under the rug.”
  • FBI agents raided a Washington home linked to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin who was sanctioned by the treasury department in 2018.
  • Progressive lawmakers voiced optimism about reaching a deal on the reconciliation package after meeting with Joe Biden at the White House this afternoon. The president is now meeting with a group of centrist Democratic lawmakers to continue the negotiations over the reconciliation package and the infrastructure bill. Democrats are still working to reach an agreement on the top-line cost of the reconciliation package, and House progressives are holding up the passage of the infrastructure bill until a deal is struck.

– Joan E Greve

Updated

In her remarks ahead of the vote, Liz Cheney had a message for Republican colleagues and suggested that Trump was directly involved in the 6 January attack.

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing,” she said. “They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of 6 January. And we will get to the bottom of that.”

To Republican lawmakers, she said: “You know that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to overturn the election; you know that the Dominion voting machines were not corrupted by a foreign power. You know those claims are false.”

Updated

Lawmakers vote to hold Trump adviser Bannon in contempt

The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack unanimously voted on Tuesday to recommend the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, after he defied a subpoena relating to their inquiry into the 6 January insurrection.

The select committee approved the contempt of Congress citation unanimously, sending the report to the Democratic-controlled House, which is expected on Thursday to authorize the panel to go to court to punish Bannon for his non-compliance.

Members on the select committee took the aggressive step against Bannon to sound a warning to Trump White House officials and others connected to the Capitol attack that defying subpoenas would carry grave consequences, according to a source on the panel.

The House select committee is now going to vote on whether to hold Steve Bannon in contempt.

“I expect that the House will quickly adopt this referral to the justice department and that the US attorney will do his duty and prosecute Mr Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress,” said Bennie Thompson, the committee chair. “It’s a shame that Mr Bannon has put us in this position. But we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

“There isn’t a different set of rules” for Bannon, Thompson added noting that the majority of Americans would not be able to evade subpoenas the way Bannon has tried to do. “Mr Bannon stands alone in his complete defiance of our subpoena. That’s not acceptable. No one in this country, no matter how wealthy or how powerful, is above the law. Left unaddressed, this defiance may encourage others to follow Mr Bannon down the same path,” he said.

Updated

The House select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection is expected to vote on whether to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt shortly.

Yesterday, the White House reportedly sent a letter to Bannon’s lawyer saying that he had no basis for his refusal to appear for a deposition. The letter, which was obtained by the Washington Post, was sent by Jonathan C Su, a deputy counsel to the president.

It reads: “As you are aware, Mr. Bannon’s tenure as a White House employee ended in 2017,” the Post reports. “To the extent any privileges could apply to Mr. Bannon’s conversations with the former President or White House staff after the conclusion of his tenure, President Biden has already determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the public interest, and therefore is not justified, with respect to certain subjects within the purview of the Select Committee.”

Indeed, legal experts say that Bannon’s claim that his deposition is protected by executive privilege is dubious. Executive privilege is broadly defined and can protect presidents’ communications with close advisers. But it’s unclear whether the privilege covers ex-presidents. And it’s unclear whether it would apply to Bannon, who left his White House position in 2017, long before the 6 January attack that lawmakers are investigating.

More than three-quarters of Republicans want Trump back

While the majority of Americans say they don’t want Donald Trump running for president in 2024, among Republicans, 78% say they want him back, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

The pool found a country divided on the former president’s legacy. While just over half of Americans (51%) said Trump has had a mainly negative impact on American politics, 41% say he has had a mainly positive impact. While 51 % said Trump has been undermining democracy, 39% said he has been protecting it.

“While a majority of Americans say, ‘been there, done that’ about Trump and half feel he has damaged the underpinnings of democracy, support for the former president within the GOP has grown,” said Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst

One hundred and five US representatives signed a letter urging Joe Biden to defend provisions for paid family leave in the Build Back Better Act.

“We write to express our support for maintaining robust paid family and medical leave in the final reconciliation package,” they wrote. “Paid leave is a top priority for us and the workers we represent. The appeal was led by Democrats Don Beyer of Virginia, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Judy Chu and Jimmy Gomez of California, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania.

As my colleague Erum Salam explains:

The US is the only industrialized country to not offer paid family leave, or paid time off after adopting, fostering or giving birth to a new child. While some private companies offer this as a perk to their employees, Build Back Better would ensure all new working parents and caregivers job security and almost three months of at least partial paid time off after these major life events.

It would also guarantee all workers at least three days of bereavement leave in the event of a death in the family.

Negotiations over a plan that would appease moderates and retain the support of progressives are stalled – with fraught discussions about which programs to cut to reduce the bill’s overall spending underway.

The US may soon recommend Covid-19 vaccine boosters for people 40 and older, CNN reports.

CNN’S Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield report:

The US government likely will soon recommend booster shots to people as young as 40 who received either Moderna or Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to a source familiar with the plan.

“I believe it will happen,” the source said.

The source said there is “growing concern within the FDA” that US data is beginning to show hospitalizations among people under age 65 who have been fully vaccinated.

Pfizer boosters are currently recommended for those over 65 and with certain medical conditions, and a Moderna booster is expected to be authorized for the same groups.

Texas Republicans pass voting maps that entrench power of whites

Texas Republicans are on the verge of enacting new voting maps that would entrench the state’s Republican and white majority even as its non-white population grows rapidly.

Texas Republicans approved the congressional plan on Monday evening, sending it to Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, who is expected to sign the measure.

The Texas maps offer perhaps the most brazen effort in the US so far this year to draw new district lines to benefit one political party, a practice called gerrymandering. The proposed congressional map would blunt growing Democratic strength in the Texas suburbs. Texas Republicans already have a 23-13 seat advantage in the state’s congressional delegation and the new maps would double the number of safe GOP congressional seats in the state from 11 to 22, according to the Washington Post.

Democrats would have 12 safe seats, up from eight. There would be just one competitive congressional district in the state, down from 12.

Read more:

Updated

The supreme court has declined to stop a vaccine requirement for health workers in Maine.

Justice Stephen Breyer declined to hear an emergency appeal to block a vaccine requirement announced by the Maine governor Janet Mills. The policy requires health workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by 29 October or risk losing their jobs.

According to the state’s dashboard tracking vaccinations among health workers, between 84% and 92% of workers are vaccinated in various settings so far.

This is the first time the supreme court has dealt with a statewide vaccine mandate.

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is expected to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for refusing to comply with the panel’s subpoenas. The expected committee vote comes one day after Donald Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to block certain White House documents from the subpoenas by claiming executive privilege, which is considered a dubious legal argument given that he is no longer president.
  • The White House said Trump’s response to the insurrection cannot be “swept under the rug”. “Our view, and I think the view of the vast majority of Americans, is that former President Trump abused the office of the presidency and attempted to subvert a peaceful transfer of power,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about Trump’s lawsuit. “The former president’s actions represented a unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don’t feel can be swept under the rug.”
  • FBI agents raided a Washington home linked to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin who was sanctioned by the treasury department in 2018.
  • Progressive lawmakers voiced optimism about reaching a deal on the reconciliation package after meeting with Joe Biden at the White House this afternoon. The president is now meeting with a group of centrist Democratic lawmakers to continue the negotiations over the reconciliation package and the infrastructure bill. Democrats are still working to reach an agreement on the top-line cost of the reconciliation package, and House progressives are holding up the passage of the infrastructure bill until a deal is struck.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Progressives voice optimism about reaching deal after meeting with Biden

Progressive lawmakers expressed optimism about reaching a deal on the reconciliation package after meeting with Joe Biden at the White House this afternoon.

Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the group had a “really good, productive meeting” with Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris and treasury secretary Janet Yellen.

“And I think we all feel still even more optimistic about getting to an agreement on a really transformational bill,” Jayapal told reporters after the meeting.

Jayapal said she was confident that “a majority” of progressive priorities would be included in the final bill, and she thanked Biden for his engagement in the negotiations.

When asked if they agreed to a top-line cost of the bill, Jayapal said that Biden has consistently pushed for a price tag between $1.9tn and $2.2tn, after moderates like Joe Manchin indicated they would not support a $3.5tn package.

“It’s not the number that we want,” Jayapal said. “But at the end of the day, the idea that we can do these programs, a multitude of programs and actually get them going so that they deliver immediate transformational benefits to people is what we’re focused on.”

Joe Biden’s first meeting with congressional Democrats has now ended after about two hours, according to the White House.

The president’s first meeting was with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Vice-president Kamala Harris and Treasury secretary Janet Yellen attended as well.

Biden will now meet with some of the centrist Democrats in Congress to continue discussions about the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.

Updated

In an attempt to recruit more officers, US Capitol police chief Thomas Manger is using the 6 January insurrection as a reason for why more people should join the force.

As seen in a promotional video titled The US Capitol Police: A Call to Service, Manger describes how the attack, which many have cited as a failure on the part of Capitol law enforcement, made him want to once again join the force.

One of our top priorities is to hire more officers to protect Congress and the U.S. Capitol: pic.twitter.com/xbKBOhmNpz

— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) October 19, 2021

“I wanted to be a police officer again. I wanted to be there to help. We are looking for really good men and women who have that spirit for public service, who want to serve their country,” said Manger in the video.

Following the insurrection, officers testified during a House committee about the events of 6 January, describing being swarmed and attacked by rioters as well as the trauma they dealt with.

Updated

Mayorkas tests positive for coronavirus

US Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has tested positive for Covid-19, according to DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa.

“Secretary Mayorkas tested positive this morning for the Covid-19 virus after taking a test as part of routine pre-travel protocols. Secretary Mayorkas is experiencing only mild congestion; he is fully vaccinated and will isolate and work at home per CDC protocols and medical advice. Contact tracing is underway,” said Espinosa in a statement to CNN.

Mayorkas will no longer be participating in a planned trip to Colombia with secretary of state Antony Blinken and will be working from home, reports CNN.

Updated

An FBI spokesperson has said that the agency is conducting law enforcement activity in a New York City building in connection with an investigation into Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch whose Washington, DC home was raided today, according to ABC news.

Stay tuned as more information emerges.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland discussed the best strategy for Democrats to pass the Biden administration’s $3.5tn spending package, arguing that lawmakers should fund fewer programs for longer, reports Politico.

“My own view is that we ought to do fewer things better. We ought to make sure that which [programs] we include in the bill will have a real impact,” said Hoyer.

Hoyer added that he wants “sense of permanency to those policies” that make it in the final version of the financial bill.

Democrats are still working to get the megabill passed before a self-imposed deadline of 31 October but face opposition from key moderates such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Lawmakers including House speaker Nancy Pelosi of California have supported the idea of funding fewer programs, but contention remains around which programs will get cut, including threats to key climate change legislation.

Hoyer added that Democrats are still aiming towards passing the social spending package and the infrastructure bill by the Halloween deadline and that “if [Congress] make significant progress that’ll also be success towards those ends.”

Five people with the climate activist group Sunrise Movement will begin participating in a hunger strike in front of the White House tomorrow at 9am to demand that Congress pass the climate initiatives in the Biden administration’s $3.5tn spending package, a key part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, reports the New Republic.

“We’re here to highlight how dire this moment is,” said Kidus Girma, 26, who is participating in the strike. “A couple hundred people in a two-part building in D.C. are deciding the scope of what climate justice can look like—and not just climate justice, but a lot of critical programs that before this pandemic folks did not think were possible.”

Protestors decided to strike after news broke from the New York Times on Friday that Democrats were considering getting rid of the Clean Energy Payment Program, an initiative that would award utilities who increase their use of renewable energy, because of holdout from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and other centrists.

The hunger strike is apart of a longer week of actions targeting key Democrats who have not supported the legislation. Yesterday, Sunrise activists previously protested outside of Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona’s Phoenix office. Protestors have also previously protested by Manchin’s yatch.

Protestors are asking people to participate in the hunger strike on Thursday, followed by a nationwide strike from school--coined Fridays for Future--that will result in a break in fasting.

Updated

'Crime scene do not enter' tape outside home linked to Deripaska, after raid

In further developments in the story of Russian metals billionaire Oleg Deripaska, FBI agents have raided a mansion in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Washington, DC, that is linked to him.

Deripaska has ties to the Kremlin and Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former election campaign manager who served time for fraud and was pardoned by the former president.

That was then. Paul Manafort, center, in prison scrubs, arrives at court in June 2019 during his felony case.
That was then. Paul Manafort, center, in prison scrubs, arrives at court in June 2019 during his felony case. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

Reuters reports:

An FBI agent stood outside the house in one of Washington’s wealthiest neighborhoods, with yellow “CRIME SCENE DO NOT ENTER” tape across the front of the mansion, while members of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team carried boxes out of the property.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed the agency was conducting a court-authorized law enforcement activity at the home, which the Washington Post has previously reported was linked to the Russian oligarch.

The specific reason for sealing off and searching the mansion was not immediately clear, and the FBI spokesperson did not provide details.

A representative for Deripaska said the homes belong to relatives of the oligarch.

Deripaska, 53, has been under U.S. sanctions since 2018. Washington imposed sanctions on him and other influential Russians because of their ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin after alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Reuters could not immediately determine Deripaska’s whereabouts.
Deripaska once employed Paul Manafort, who served for a period as the chairman of Trump*s 2016 campaign and who was convicted in 2018 on tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

He owns part of Rusal via his stake in the giant aluminum producer’s parent company En+ Group . Washington previously dropped sanctions against both companies but kept them on Deripaska.
Rusal’s Moscow-listed shares extended losses after the report, falling 6%.

The representative for Deripaska, who declined to give their name because of company policy, confirmed the raid on the home in Washington as well as one in New York City, and said both belong to Deripaska’s family rather than the executive himself.

“The FBI is indeed currently conducting searches of houses belonging to Oleg Deripaska’s relatives. The searches are being carried out on the basis of two court warrants related to the U.S. sanctions. The houses in question are located in New York and Washington, DC and are not owned by Oleg Deripaska himself,” said the representative did not provide any further details.

Deripaska previously sued to have the U.S. sanctions lifted but his case was dismissed in June.

Updated

Trump's response to Capitol attack cannot be 'swept under the rug,' Psaki says

A reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki to respond to the news that Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit to attempt to shield White House documents from subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

Psaki says Trump posed a "unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don't feel can be swept under the rug" after he sued to block the release of documents related to the Jan. 6 probe https://t.co/EMRryzsTwT pic.twitter.com/AnPf11sBNk

— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) October 19, 2021

“Our view, and I think the view of the vast majority of Americans, is that former President Trump abused the office of the presidency and attempted to subvert a peaceful transfer of power,” Psaki said.

“The former president’s actions represented a unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don’t feel can be swept under the rug.”

Psaki also questioned Trump’s efforts to invoke executive privilege to shield the documents from subpoena review, given that he is no longer president and Joe Biden has indicated he will not intervene in the matter.

Biden and the White House legal team concluded that “constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the constitution itself,” Psaki said.

Updated

White House press secretary Jen Psaki deflected questions about whether Joe Biden considers the end of the month to be the deadline to reach a deal on the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.

Psaki instead emphasized that Democrats are “getting close to the final stages” of negotiations, even though lawmakers have not yet agreed on a top-line cost of the reconciliation package.

But Psaki also acknowledged that lawmakers will have to address funding for transportation programs if a deal is not reached by the end of the month. Congress approved a one-month extension of the funding in late September.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Joe Biden met with Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema today, as negotiations continue over the president’s economic agenda.

Biden is also holding two meetings with other congressional Democrats today, one with progressive lawmakers and the other with centrist members of his party.

Psaki said the president is optimistic about making progress in the negotiations today, although she would not set a deadline for when a deal might be reached.

As of now, Democrats cannot agree on a top-line cost of their reconciliation package, as Manchin and Sinema have indicated they will not support the bill with its current price tag of $3.5tn.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters, and she previewed Joe Biden’s schedule tomorrow.

Psaki noted Biden will travel to Scranton, Pennsylvania, tomorrow to promote his economic agenda, as Democrats in Congress continue to negotiate over the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.

Scranton is “one of [Biden’s] hometowns,” as Psaki said, because the president spent the first several years of his life there. Psaki added that Biden will talk about how his early years in Scranton informed his values.

Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville says that Donald Trump warned him to protect himself during the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol, according to reports.

In a new profile originally reported by the Washington Post and released on Tuesday, Tuberville recounts the events of 6 January insurrection, including his conversation with Trump, and Business Insider duly picked up the angle.

Tuberville says that the president accidentally called Senator Mike Lee of Utah, with Lee handing the phone to Tuberville. The call between the president and senator took place after former Vice president Mike Pence had been evacuated from the Senate chamber but before the rest of the senators were, as extremist supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol and broke in.

The Washington Post reported:

It was the former college football coach’s first full day in the Senate, and already he was being called off the sidelines. Earlier on Jan. 6, Trump had wanted to talk to Tuberville but called Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) by mistake; Lee had handed Tuberville a cellphone in the Senate chamber. Tuberville said he didn’t have time to find out exactly what Trump wanted. Vice President Mike Pence had been whisked to a secure location, and Tuberville and his colleagues had to get moving, too. “I know we’ve got problems,” Tuberville recalled the president saying before the call ended. “Protect yourself.”

Inside the storage closet, a bunker within a bunker, surrounded by stacked furniture, the senators weighed whether the mob’s demonstration of loyalty to Trump that day might affect their own.

In the profile which recounts Tuberville’s journey to the senate and his relationship with Trump, Tuberville also said that he did not have regrets about voting against certifying the election.

Tuberville owes his Senate seat to Trump’s endorsement. His primary opponent, Jeff Sessions, had angered the president when, as attorney general, he recused himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. “He immediately ran for the hills,” Trump said of Sessions at a campaign rally for Tuberville. And so Alabama voters sent Coach to Washington — a living, voting example of Trump’s vengeance against anyone more loyal to checks and balances than they are to him.

In the nine months since, however, Tuberville has surprised people by declining to play the role of MAGA firebrand. He’s been trying to position himself as a relationship builder and an aspiring insider. He’s hired staff from outside MAGA world. He’s done PSAs about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. He called Trump’s rhetoric leading up the Jan. 6th a “mistake.” And while he believes there were “some problems” with the 2020 election, he is not yet convinced that voter fraud caused Trump’s loss.

That said, Tuberville is not sorry about voting against certifying the election.

“I have no regrets,” he said.

The rest of the Post profile can be found here (paywall).

Interim summary

While we wait for more details to emerge on the breaking news about Oleg Deripaska, it’s already been a busy morning in US political news and will be a lively afternoon. White House press secretary Jen Psaki is due to brief at the top of the hour and Joe Biden is holding talks with congressional Democrats later today.

Here’s where things stand this hour:

  • FBI agents have appeared outside the Washington home of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin who was sanctioned by the treasury department in 2018.
  • Moderate Democratic US Senator Joe Manchin has apparently ruled out adding a carbon tax to the $3.5tn reconciliation legislative package that’s part of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better flagship agenda.“The carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” Manchin told reporters. He already opposes Biden’s clean energy program that was originally meant to be at the heart of the package.
  • Joe Biden will hold two meetings with congressional Democrats today to discuss the negotiations over the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package, which make up the Build Back Better legislative agnda. One meeting will be with some of the more centrist Democrats in Congress, while the other will be with progressive members.The meetings come as Democrats remain at odds over the two bills.
  • The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection will meet this evening to consider whether to hold one of Donald Trump’s former top advisers, Steve Bannon, in contempt for defying the panel’s subpoenas.

Updated

'Law enforcement activity at the home' of Russian oligarch Deripaska

FBI agents have appeared outside the Washington home of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin who was sanctioned by the treasury department in 2018.

NBC News reports:

FBI agents swarmed the home of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in Washington D.C. Tuesday, an agency spokesperson confirmed to NBC News.

The reason for their presence wasn’t immediately clear. The spokesperson said the agency is conducting ‘law enforcement activity at the home,’ but wouldn’t elaborate.

Deripaska previously filed a lawsuit challenging the sanctions, which were issued as part of the US response to allegations of Russian election meddling. That lawsuit was dismissed in June.

Updated

Democratic senator Jon Tester has also voiced criticism of progressives’ suggestion to add a carbon tax to the reconciliation package.

“You might have problems with me on a carbon tax,” Tester said, per Politico.

The Montana senator added, “I just don’t think you can implement it. I use a lot more fuel than [a trucker does], and we’re both going to get the same check and it’s going to make us whole? It’s just not going to work. So I’ve got some issues with the carbon tax myself.”

The moderate senators’ criticism once again raises the question of how the reconciliation package could seriously curb greenhouse gas emissions, after Joe Manchin said he would not support Joe Biden’s proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP).

Manchin eliminates possibility of carbon tax in reconciliation package

Over on Capitol Hill, Democratic senator Joe Manchin has eliminated the possibility of adding a carbon tax to the reconciliation package.

“The carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” Manchin told reporters.

The possibility of a carbon tax had been discussed after Manchin indicated he would not support Joe Biden’s Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), the cornerstone of the president’s climate policy in the reconciliation package.

Manchin: “The carbon tax is not on the board at all right now.” pic.twitter.com/G6JOGTuRke

— Alan He (@alanhe) October 19, 2021

CEPP would reward utilities that make changes to rely more on renewable energy sources, while penalizing companies that do not do so. On the other hand, a carbon tax would force companies to pay a fee for the amount of carbon dioxide emissions they produce.

There had been a fair amount of skepticism that Democrats could add a carbon tax to the bill at this late stage of negotiations, considering they are looking to reach a deal in the next two weeks.

But it is now seeming increasingly unlikely that the final version of the reconciliation package will meet progressive lawmakers’ demands to adequately address the climate crisis, potentially imperiling the passage of the bill.

Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema has also arrived at the White House for a meeting with Joe Biden before the president’s afternoon discussions with other congressional Democrats, per CNN.

The meetings begin: Sen. Sinema arrives at the White House pic.twitter.com/rsJDfSCeRQ

— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) October 19, 2021

Sinema has repeatedly met with Biden at the White House to discuss the negotiations over the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.

Like Democratic senator Joe Manchin, Sinema has indicated she will not support the reconciliation package with its current price tag of $3.5tn.

However, it’s unclear what top-line number can attract the support of both Sinema and congressional progressives, who consider $3.5tn to be the bare minimum cost needed to adequately address the crises facing the country.

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and treasury secretary Janet Yellen will hold two meetings with congressional Democrats at 2 pm and 4:30 pm, the White House has just said.

The first meeting will be with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the second will be with centrist Democratic lawmakers.

Here are the progressive members attending the first meeting, per the White House:

  • Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts
  • Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan
  • Congressman Jared Huffman of California
  • CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal of Washington
  • Congressman Ro Khanna of California
  • Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California
  • Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin
  • Congressman Ritchie Torres of New York

And here are the lawmakers attending the second meeting:

  • Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada
  • Senator Jon Tester of Montana
  • Senator Mark Warner of Virginia
  • Congressman Ami Bera of California
  • Congresswoman Suzan DelBene of Washington, the chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition
  • Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey
  • Congressman Tom O’Halleran of Arizona
  • Congressman Mike Thompson of California

Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, shared a photo from the White House as the president prepares to meet with congressional Democrats to discuss the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.

“Beautiful brisk day for a lot of congressional meeting,” Psaki said on Twitter.

Beautiful brisk day for a lot of congressional meetings pic.twitter.com/ae9m56y8Jf

— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) October 19, 2021

Discussing the president’s planned meetings at her briefing yesterday, Psaki said, “We’re encouraged by the accelerated pace of talks and are eager to get this done to meet the urgent needs of families.”

She added, “The president is certainly feeling an urgency to move things forward, to get things done. I think you’ve seen that urgency echoed by members on the Hill who agree that time is not unending here.”

Biden to hold two meetings with congressional Democrats for infrastructure talks

Joe Biden will hold two meetings with congressional Democrats today to discuss the negotiations over the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.

One meeting will be with some of the more centrist Democrats in Congress, while the other will be with progressive members.

The meetings come as Democrats remain at odds over the two bills, with centrists pushing for a smaller reconciliation package as progressives insist the current price tag of $3.5tn is the bare minimum needed to address the climate crisis and lower healthcare and childcare costs for American families.

As Democrats haggle over the reconciliation package, the infrastructure bill remains in limbo in the House, as progressives have said they will not support the legislation until the reconciliation package advances as well.

Today will give Biden another opportunity to make some headway in the stalled negotiations. Stay tuned.

It looks like Donald Trump’s legal efforts to block White House documents from the House select committee’s subpoenas have just been dealt a serious blow.

Trump’s lawsuit in DC District Court has been assigned to Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has previously expressed severe criticism of the Capitol insurrection and its participants, per Politico.

Good news for the Jan. 6 Committee:

The Trump executive privilege lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has expressed horror about the Jan. 6 attack and extended sentences beyond what prosecutors have asked for in a couple cases.

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 19, 2021

When sentencing one Capitol insurrectionist this month, Chutkan pushed back against comparisons between the January 6 attack and the protests over the police murder of George Floyd last summer.

“What happened … was nothing less than a violent mob trying to prevent the orderly, peaceful transfer of power as part of an election,” Chutkan said of the insurrection. “That mob was trying to overthrow the government. … That is no mere protest.”

Members of the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection have entirely dismissed Steve Bannon’s argument that he can invoke executive privilege in response to the panel’s subpoenas.

Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin, a member of the select committee and a former constitutional law professor, insisted the former Trump adviser “has no right to defy a subpoena”.

“The idea that ‘executive privilege’ would shield a private citizen from turning over evidence about a violent insurrection against the [government] because he knows a twice-impeached former president is farcical and insulting,” Raskin said on Twitter yesterday. “Get with it, Steve.”

The idea that 'executive privilege' would shield a private citizen from turning over evidence about a violent insurrection against the govt because he knows a twice-impeached former president is farcical and insulting.

Bannon has no right to defy a subpoena. Get with it, Steve.

— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) October 18, 2021

Updated

The legal jeopardy for Steve Bannon is anticipated after it emerged in a letter to his attorney, obtained by the Guardian on Monday, that he had claimed executive privilege protections on materials unrelated to the executive branch.

The House select committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, also said in the letter that even if the panel entertained the claims of executive privilege, Bannon had no basis to ignore the order since not even a president could grant him immunity from a House subpoena.

The dual legal arguments in the letter, which served as Bannon’s final warning to cooperate a day before the select committee is expected to hold him in contempt of Congress, underscores the weakness of the executive privilege claim advanced by Donald Trump.

The Guardian first reported that the former president would instruct his top four aides subpoenaed by the select committee – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, his deputy Dan Scavino, defense department aide Kash Patel, as well as Bannon, his former chief strategist – to defy the orders.

But even though Bannon is alone in defying a subpoena after Meadows and Patel were “engaging” with the panel over the potential scope of their cooperation and Scavino was served late, the letter shows similar attempts to invoke executive privilege appear treacherous.

Capitol attack committee expected to hold Bannon in contempt as Trump sues

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

The House select committee investing the Capitol insurrection will meet this evening to consider whether to hold one of Donald Trump’s former top advisers, Steve Bannon, in contempt for defying the panel’s subpoenas.

Bannon and three of Trump’s other former top aides -- Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino and Kash Patel -- have been instructed to assist the committee’s efforts to learn more about the January 6 attack that left five people dead.

NEW: Chairman @BennieGThompson and Vice Chair @RepLizCheney statement on the former President's lawsuit: https://t.co/icgvsV7AMG

— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) October 19, 2021

Meanwhile, Trump himself has filed a lawsuit in DC District Court against the committee, attempting to shield certain White House documents from being subpoenaed by claiming executive privilege.

That legal argument is considered extremely weak, given that Trump is no longer president and thus cannot claim executive privilege. Joe Biden could claim executive privilege in the matter, but the current president has indicated he will not do so.

The committee’s response to the lawsuit underscored how committed the lawmakers are to moving forward with their investigation, regardless of Trump’s antics.

“The former President’s clear objective is to stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts about January 6th and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe,” said Democratic chair Bennie Thompson and Republican vice-chair Liz Cheney. “Precedent and law are on our side.”

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Contributors

Maanvi Singh (now) and Joan E Greve (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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