Wednesday, November 30

#MeToo: “Hot.” Build Back Better: Not.- POLITICO


With help from Andrew Desiderio

‘WOMEN’S ISSUES ARE A HOT ISSUE RIGHT NOW’ — It has been four years since Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) introduced legislation to overhaul the way private companies handle sexual assault and harassment cases, as the #MeToo movement crashed into powerful men, ending careers—including some on Capitol Hill.

The Senate is finally expected to pass the legislation today, which would end the use of forced arbitration to resolve workplace disputes. The House approved the bill earlier this week, and it’s expected to see a similar bipartisan margin in the Senate, with backers ranging from progressives like Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) to conservatives like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). The bill is expected to pass by voice vote, another signal of how broad support is for the long-fought legislation.

“There’s a lot of publicity about sexual harassment and about people not getting justice through the present process,” Grassley said, when asked why the bill was moving now. “I’m quite an arbitration supporter, but in this particular instance I think that it’s easy to cover up sexual harassment, sexual assault. … And women’s issues are a hot issue right now too, and ought to be.”

Marianne unpacks this bill’s journey, from a historic proposal at the height of the #MeToo movement, to negotiations and its slow bipartisan crawl to the House and Senate floors: Why Congress is moving against sexual harassment, 4 years after #MeToo

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT, REVIVED — Senators along with Angelina Jolie unveiled a fresh Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill Wednesday and say they are close to rounding up 60 votes in the Senate. The landmark law that provides resources for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence lapsed in February 2019.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the lead GOP negotiator and herself a survivor, said Wednesday that fellow survivors “can almost let out a sigh of relief. But we have to get it across the finish line.”

What’s in: The bill would reauthorize VAWA through 2026, offer provisions to support LGBTQ survivors, and “expand special criminal jurisdiction by tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault.”

What’s out: The bill does not include language to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” a firearms provision that Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said could have kept the bill from getting the 60 votes. There are current restrictions on convicted spousal abusers from accessing guns, but in some cases, boyfriends and other partners charged with abuse don’t face those same restrictions.

“We agreed that we had to introduce a bill that would both deliver the critical assistance survivors across America need, and achieve the necessary bipartisan support to pass the Senate,” Durbin said.

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Don’t forget: President Joe Biden was an original co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.

BUENOS DIAS! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Thursday, February 10, where we’re dying to see Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) prom pic (more on that below. )

BUILD BACK… NEVER? — “President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion social and climate spending plan is dead as written, rejected by Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.). The Senate is moving onto a host of other issues that will take up the rest of the winter and possibly some of the spring. And some Democrats concede there’s a small but distinct possibility they could have to shelve the whole endeavor indefinitely,” Burgess writes.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats aren’t giving up on a way to bring Manchin on board and there are still quiet discussions ongoing, despite it clearly being on the Senate’s back burner for the moment. As for timing, some optimistic Dems are signaling March or April, while others see the August recess as a de facto deadline. Earlier action would give Democrats more time to campaign on a revived and retooled social spending and climate victory. Burgess takes a look at what could survive the revival, what is likely out of the bill for good and how Senate Democrats plan to navigate legislating in this midterm year.

SECRET SPENDING LEVELS — That’s right, top appropriators reached an agreement Wednesday to increase both military and non-defense budgets, which signals a path forward for a comprehensive deal to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. “Appropriations leaders won’t disclose the funding totals they struck, and contentious policy debates may yet upend negotiations on final bill text,” writes Jennifer Scholtes.

HOUSE HOMELAND’S MUSICAL CHAIRS— House Republicans are gearing up for a high-stakes round of musical chairs and where folks land when the music stops could impact how Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy steers his conference. There is a trio of Freedom Caucus members eyeing retiring Rep. John Katko’s (RN.Y.) senior GOP seat on the Homeland Security Committee, along with non-Freedom Caucus candidates. Olivia lays out the contenders, the calculations from the Republican Steering Committee, and how past slights both of — and by — the pugnacious Freedom Caucus are likely to inform the outcome. Read Olivia’s analysis: Freedom Caucus members square off for a plum post with all eyes on McCarthy

Related: Tim Reitz, retiring Rep. Jody Hice’s (R-Ga.)’s longtime chief of staff is set to be named next executive director of the Freedom Caucus, reports Philip Wegmann from Real Clear Politics.

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ABOUT THOSE RUSSIA SANCTIONS — Bipartisan talks about a comprehensive Russia sanctions package have dragged on for more than two weeks as troops amass on the Ukrainian border, and there are real questions about whether a bill can hit the floor this month before the Senate heads out for the Presidents’ Day recess . Sen. Jim Risch, the top GOP negotiator, said bluntly yesterday that “we are running out of runway,” while his counterpart Sen. Bob Menendez said talks are at an “inflection point” and they will soon have to decide what to do next. Aides and now putting pen to paper, and the biggest hang-ups have mostly been resolved. But it’s taking a lot longer than senators had hoped.

‘SOBERING’ IRAN BRIEFING — Yesterday’s classified briefing on Iran’s nuclear program elicited dire warnings from senators, who emerged from the session dejected about the prospects of halting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Top Biden administration officials Rob Malley and Brett McGurk warned senators that Iran can produce enough material for a nuclear bomb in as little as two months, Andrew reports, bolstering lawmakers’ concerns that the window for a diplomatic solution is rapidly closing.

Jamie has moves… Honestly, Rep. Jamie Raskin’s (D-Md.) disclosure that “I had my first date on the Metro, I went to prom on the Metro,” is most delightful without any context. But if you MUST know, he said it at an Oversight subcommittee hearing on WMATA’s responsibility to provide reliable and safe transit.

Move over Senate Bean, there’s a new soup in town…“Now we have Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police spying on members of Congress,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said on One America News Network’s “Real America” ​​program Wednesday. (Watch here.) Greene has a history of making Nazi comparisons and ostensibly was trying to do so here, comparing Capitol Police to the Nazi’s secret police, the Gestapo. While her previous comparisons to the Holocaust have drawn ire, the political internet exploded instead with Soup Nazi jokes at Greene’s expense.

Sports betting… Sens. Rob Portman (R- Ohio) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) have put a wager on the Super Bowl.

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QUICK LINKS

One Menacing Call After Another: Threats Against Lawmakers Surge, from Catie Edmondson and Mark Walker at The New York Times

A Product of Public Universities, Michelle Childs Would Be an Unconventional Court Pick, from The New York Times

Two US Senate committees back Louisiana’s Shalanda Young as budget director, by Jennifer Shutt at States Newsroom

TRANSITIONS

Josh Weisz’s last day as communications director for the House Education and Labor Committee was Wednesday. Stephanie Lalle will be taking over as communications director.

Sam Carter is now digital director for Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). She was previously with House Budget Committee Democrats.

Clement James, Jr. NY Gov. Kathy Hochul’s director of African American affairs, she is now senior adviser to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.).

TODAY IN CONGRESS

The House is out.

Senate convenes at 10 am with votes at 11:45 am and 1:45 pm

AROUND THE HILL

Looks relatively quiet (for now.)

SAVE THE DATE: HUDDLE TRIVIA LIVE! — Clear your calendars for Feb. 23 at 8 pm ET. The POLITICO Congress team behind Huddle is whipping up our first-ever virtual trivia night. Think you know everything about lawmakers, their committees and their craziest moments? Show up and show off your skills. RSVP (by yourself or with a team) to Huddle. Registration is free. We’ll send sign-up instructions

WEDNESDAY’S WINNER: Erik Ackerson correctly answered that on October 17, 1939, 45 senators and 250 House members were among the packed audience at DC’s Constitution Hall for the world premiere of the Columbia Pictures film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, directed by Frank Capra.

TODAY’S QUESTION from Erik: Who was the first US President to have his photograph taken? (Hint: He was also the first to marry a woman born outside the United States)

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

GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone each morning.

Follow Katherine on Twitter @ktullymcmanus




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