Where Things Stand: Are We There Yet?
Prime Membership Required

Nicole is away, so the editors will be sharing Where Things Stand duties this week.

Over the next few days, I want to address a series of longer-term issues that transcend the breaking news of the day.

Let’s start with the filibuster.

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Mapping the ‘Great Resignation’

There are a host of supply chain, inflation and “labor shortage” issues that for the moment are a political headache for the Biden administration. I put them in this political context because the discussion of them is currently highly politicized. But if we can step back from those immediate concerns and often tendentious debates we can already see that the pandemic has had profound effects on the most basic ways Americans (and no doubt people across the world) approach their lives and particularly how they approach work.

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There’s a Lot of Confusion About What Is and Isn’t in That Rolling Stone Article

TPM Alum Hunter Walker has a big scoop in Rolling Stone about the January 6th insurrection and the congressional investigation into it. But there seems to be some significant confusion about what’s actually in the report and what it means for understanding the event itself and the investigation into it. I want to be clear up front this isn’t a criticism of the piece itself. But understanding this is very important for understanding the questions of accountability and legality stemming from the whole event.

First of all, I saw many reactions to the story yesterday which treated it as a sort of smoking gun about the involvement of a number of far-right members of Congress. But at least to my understanding this part of the report was not new. Not really new at all. There are basically three parts of the story that we can distinguish for these purposes. 1) The legal/executive power attempt to overturn the election, 2) the “Stop the Steal” rally aimed at pressuring Congress and then 3) the breach of the Capitol complex which happened when then-President Trump told the rally attendees to march on the Capitol complex. But we’ve known basically from the beginning that these members of Congress were involved in 1 and 2. This has not just come out in reporting since January 6th. It was fairly open at the time. Indeed, most of these members were either present or actually spoke at the rally.

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Trumper Privilege

My colleague Nicole Lafond already discussed this in the post immediately below this one. But it’s so bizarre I simply have to discuss it as well. As Nicole noted, Kevin McCarthy and Trump toady Jim Banks want what I guess we could call backsies on the whole Jan 6th committee thing.

Republicans had plenty of opportunities to get a commission or committee in which they not only had complete control over who served on the Republican side but veto power over any significant action the body took. They refused that and after stonewalling for months ended up with one that gave the final say on membership to Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi accepted some McCarthy nominations but put her foot down in the case of two reps who are such consistent supporters of the Big Lie and the insurrection that it was absurd to place them on the committee investigating either. Now Banks is sending letters to executive departments claiming that he is in fact that rightful ranking member (i.e., top Republican) on the committee.

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Where Things Stand: GOPer Tries To Cosplay As Jan 6 Committee Member
Prime Membership Required

Let’s go back in time for a minute. Back when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was putting together a panel of House members to participate in the Jan. 6 select committee to probe the insurrection, she rejected two of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) panelist picks (the Jims) — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN).

The decision was rooted in her correct understanding that both of the Jims would use the committee’s probe of the Capitol attack as a platform for spewing the Big Lie and other Trumpy nonsense and conspiracy theories, thus likely derailing the serious work of the committee. Both Jims not only voted to overturn the election results on Jan. 6, but they also both signed onto a request out of Texas asking the Supreme Court to invalidate election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In retaliation for Pelosi’s move against the Jims, McCarthy pulled all of his Republican picks from the panel, leaving only Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) as GOP members (who joined out of their own volition). Both have been highly critical of Trump for some time and have, at least thus far, taken their assignments very seriously, signing off on all of the committee’s subpoenas and publicly supporting each layer of the committee’s investigation. Cheney is the committee’s vice-chair.

But one of the Jims, Jim Banks, is apparently now trying to play dress up — pretending to be a member of the panel probing the insurrection.

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Suddenly, Progress

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the sudden forward lurch of the reconciliation negotiations that has Democrats feeling optimistic about reaching a deal potentially by the end of the week.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Here’s the Story with Kyrsten Sinema

We are back in this guessing game on what is up with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Mostly it doesn’t matter. She has the vote and Democrats need that vote. And that’s really 90% of the story and quite likely 100%. I’ll just revisit what I’ve learned trying to get to the bottom of this mystery myself.

One thing I hear again and again is that Sinema is doing some version of a mafia bust-out, paying off lobbyists in every way she can think of and the pay off is a cushy perch on K Street as a lobbyist herself. This version of the story presents a wonderful morality tale about Washington. But I’m pretty certain it’s not true. It would all be much easier to understand. But again I’m pretty certain this is not true.

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What’s In/Out?

Kate Riga with the latest state of play on reconciliation.

Where Things Stand: RonJohn Takes DC US Attorney’s Office Hostage Over Jan 6 Prosecutions
Prime Membership Required

It’s a tale as old as time for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

The Republican senator is reportedly using his leverage as a senator to, at least temporarily, block the confirmation of Matt Graves, whom President Biden named as his pick to lead the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. Since January of this year that office has overseen more than 600 prosecutions related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. So far, more than 100 insurrectionists have pleaded guilty to charges related to the attack.

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The Deal Starts to Come Together

Everything I’ve seen over the 24 hours since I wrote the post below tells me that yesterday was the best day Democrats have had in months. As I said yesterday, the headlines are about things that are being dropped. But the real story is the concreteness and specificity of these reports and the authority of the people sending the message. Those all tell us that the real negotiation is now underway. Kate Riga and I discussed this in the new episode of the podcast which should be out this afternoon.

A few points.

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| News

Like lots of other rank-and-file Republicans, Robert Boyd has his doubts about the integrity of the last election, particularly in his home state of Michigan — and particularly in Detroit’s TCF Center, where the city’s votes were counted last year despite a concerted effort from local Republicans to disrupt the counting process. 

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| News

Senate Republicans blocked a major piece of Democrats’ voting rights legislation, keeping the bill from even advancing to a floor debate despite Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) insistence that it could garner bipartisan support.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. 

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| News

People of color made up the vast majority of Texas’ decade-long growth spurt, especially Latinos, a group that accounted for fully half of the state’s growth.

But Republicans control the state’s legislature. And the new political maps they’ve approved in recent days as part of the redistricting process dilute Latinos’ voting power, according to the first lawsuit over the maps.

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| Muckraker

It was Jan. 3, and Jeffrey Bossert Clark had finally said yes.

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