Explaining reconciliation and the social issues at stake, with Mary C. Curtis

Congress will be back in earnest next week with a lot on the to-do list, including two infrastructure bills.

The first, a bipartisan, Senate-passed infrastructure package, would spend billions of dollars to improve roads, bridges, waterways — but it’s yet to be passed by the House. And then there’s the partisan “human” infrastructure bill that would provide sweeping funds for President Joe Biden’s social agenda, including subsidies for child care, education, paid leave, health care, clean energy programs and more.

Democrats’ only chance at passing such a bold measure without GOP support? A process called budget reconciliation.

Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call columnist and host of the Equal Time podcast, sat down with Norm Ornstein, senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute, to better understand reconciliation. She also talked with Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison to understand more about what’s at stake for the party with the bold social priorities.

Reconciliation, infrastructure and the social safety net

President Joe Biden made clear from his first day in office that social justice issues are at the top of his economic agenda. A “human” infrastructure bill remains on Congress’ to-do list, which includes subsidies for child care, education, paid leave, health care and clean energy programs — in other words, a social safety net.

But to get this partisan, largely unwritten measure passed, Democrats have embraced the budget reconciliation process. Mary C. Curtis speaks first to Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, to unpack the reconciliation process. To discuss the friction within the Democratic Party on this measure and more, Curtis turns to DNC Chair Jaime Harrison on what’s at stake.

‘Punching down,’ the political weapon of so-called tough guys

The late great stand-up, actor and occasional philosopher George Carlin was known to cross the lines of what polite society would call good taste, but he himself drew a few lines when it came to his theory of funny.

Asked by Larry King in 1990 about popular bad-boy comedian Andrew Dice Clay, Carlin, while defending Clay’s right to say whatever, said, “His targets are underdogs. And comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, people who abuse their power.” Clay’s core audience, Carlin said, were “young white males” threatened by Clay’s targets, assertive women and immigrants among them.

Rule-breaker Eddie Murphy came to look back on his younger self, the brash young man dressed in leather, and cringe, especially at his jokes about women and relationships, he told The New York Times in 2019. “I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an …” — well, you get the idea.

In today’s cruel world, it’s not just comedians punching down, reaching for the “easy” joke, setting new and low standards, though a few still revel in their ability to shock (see Michael Che and his approving nods to vile remarks about the sexual abuse of young female athletes).

Many who should know better have given up seeking a more perfect union, one that welcomes all. They see advantage in aggression and, unlike Murphy, don’t feel one bit embarrassed when reflecting on their words and actions.

In fact, the “punching” is the point, and it’s always aimed squarely at those perceived as less powerful, from poor and disabled Americans who want to vote without jumping through unnecessary hoops and facing intimidation from poll watchers to transgender children eager to play sports to Black and brown students who would like their role in the country’s history to be taught without accommodation for those too fragile to hear the truth.

‘Covering Politics in the Age of Trump’

If you missed it! A live remote reading and Q&A with editor Jerry Ceppos and contributors Mark Leibovich of The New York Times, Mary C. Curtis of CQ Roll Call, and Major Garrett of CBS, about our contributions to the new LSU Press book, “Covering Politics in the Age of Trump.”
 

Reporters’ Roundtable

We’re at the Reporters’ Roundtable with a look at some of the top stories of the week.  On deck tonight… a pedestrian bridge collapse in dc,  President Biden announces a crack down crime and illegal guns.  Capitol Hill politics, voting rights, DC statehood, Loudoun County schools and an active NFL player comes out.

Was the Capitol Insurrection just another day in America?

Roll Call Columnist Mary C. Curtis joins John Howell to revisit the January 6th #insurrection and discuss America’s response and why it is being downplayed and forgotten by republican constituents

When an insurrection is seen as just another day in America

Is America getting a thirst for blood?

It’s a question I ask after hearing too many Republicans dismiss the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob trying to halt the counting of American citizens’ votes as a “normal tourist visit,” in the words of Georgia Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, the same Clyde seen — mouth open and terrified — helping to barricade the besieged doors that day.

When I was a Baltimore schoolgirl, we often visited Washington, D.C., to tour the monuments. It was an easy and informative field trip, barely an hour away by bus. Now kids can occasionally be unruly, and the nuns had to raise their voices once or twice. But I don’t recall ever erecting gallows on the Capitol lawn, breaking windows or pummeling police officers with batons and their own shields. In fact, I’m sure it would have made the front pages if a bunch of Black grade schoolers from St. Pius V Elementary ventured a foot beyond the velvet ropes, let alone desecrated the beautiful marble floors of a government building by using them as a toilet.

Have things changed that much for Clyde and all the others asking Americans and the world not to believe their lying eyes?

POLITICAL WRAP: Senate Unlikely to Support Commission on Capitol Attack

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Legislation to establish an independent commission investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th will likely die in the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is sending strong signals that House Democrats will go it alone if the commission vote fails in the Senate.

When eminently qualified Black women get smeared (or every day that ends in ‘y’)

She has been endorsed by many law enforcement agencies, including the National Association of Police Organizations, yet she was accused of being anti-police. Baseless innuendo thrown her way has been refuted by support from the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League and dozens of other local, state and national Jewish organizations. She’s been tagged as “extreme,” which only makes sense if being an advocate for an equitable society qualifies.

The nomination of Kristen Clarke, President Joe Biden’s choice to serve as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, barely made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Panelists split 11-11 along party lines, and then on Tuesday, the full Senate voted 50-48 to discharge the nomination from the committee, setting up a final floor vote.

Is anyone surprised at the roadblocks this nomination has faced?

Jaime Harrison says Democrats won’t cede South to GOP

Jaime Harrison, the former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, generated excitement among Democrats and shattered fundraising records in his 2020 campaign for Republican Lindsey Graham’s Senate seat.

In the end, Graham defeated Harrison by more than 10 points, but Democrats liked what they saw and in January elected Harrison to lead the Democratic National Committee. He’s now tasked with defending Democrats’ slim House and Senate majorities in 2022.

Harrison recently joined CQ Roll Call’s Equal Time podcast. An edited transcript follows.