Good Morning from Washington, D.C….

Perhaps it is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s world, and we are just living in it: with a week to spare before the August legislative recess, Schumer has gotten the “Chips plus Science” Act—the yearslong bipartisan priority that funds domestic semiconductor manufacturing and boosts federal investment in scientific research and development—to President Joe Biden’s Desk and delivered a Senator Joe Manchin-approved Reconciliation package. For the first time in a while—things are looking up for Democrats.

Just weeks ago, it looked as if the bipartisan China competitiveness package might be abandoned until the Senate passed the bill 64-33 with 17 Republicans voting “aye,” last week. The House later passed it by a 243 to 187 margin. This is a major victory for Schumer and the Democrats. Overall, the bill, which was in development for several years, is intended to decrease the United States’ dependence on computer chips manufactured in China and other countries. Over the past week, the bill grew by almost 1,000 pages as the Bicameral Conference Committee in charge navigated complex politics. The $280 billion bill’s centerpiece is a five-year $102 billion authorization for the National Science Foundation, Commerce Department and National Institutes of Standards and Technology—which if approved by appropriators—would more than double baseline spending on research and development, providing an additional $52 billion in subsidies for domestic computer chip manufacturing. “Alongside the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, among others, this is one of the most consequential bipartisan achievements of this Congress,” said Schumer in a speech on the Senate Floor last week. Read more on key provisions here.

One year after signing a much-maligned one-page agreement on deficit reduction measures for a reconciliation bill with Joe Manchin, Schumer delivered a deal brokered mostly in secret with the West Virginia Senator. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 jettisons large swaths of the multi-trillion Build Back Better Act, such as Universal Pre-K, which, due to their costs were non-starters for Manchin. The new deal includes key revenue raisers, including a 15% corporate minimum tax and prescription drug pricing reform. According to a joint statement from Manchin and Schumer, “the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will make a historic down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.” The revised text was submitted to the Parliamentarian for review shortly after the Senators’ agreement last week, and should be ready for a vote in the Senate this week. One potential stumbling block for Democrats could be Arizona centrist Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has not yet commented on the package. However, it is increasingly likely that Democrats may bring the bill to the floor and force Sinema to vote on it. Read the summary of provisions here.

As the legislative wins rolled in, the electoral outlook for Democrats brightened for the first time in months. Four national polls—all last week—showed Democrats favored by more voters to keep control of Congress. Still a long way to go on that and Biden’s (still) dropping approval ratings might be a more important factor, but things are looking up for Schumer indeed.

Back in New York State…

Perhaps it is Governor Kathy Hochul’s world and we are living in it. On Wednesday, the Public Authorities Control Board voted unanimously to approve a massive $22 billion project to redevelop the neighborhoods surrounding Penn Station. You may remember the Public Authorities Control Board from when it torpedoed former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s bid to locate Amazon Headquarters in Queens. However, Senator Leroy Comrie, who has been critical of the Penn Station project provided a caveat while voting in favor, “to be clear, while I will vote ‘yes’ on today’s resolution, I will not vote in favor of any future PILOT agreements for individual above ground buildings in this project footprint until we have secured necessary federal approvals and the fair share of funding from the federal government and New Jersey.”

The Governor also signed a legislative package to uphold and strengthen the rights of disabled New Yorkers, which included bills establishing a public awareness campaign to combat stigmas and stereotyping, eliminating residency requirements for designated beneficiaries of the NY ABLE Act program, and promoting autonomy and self-determination for individuals with developmental disabilities. Read more on that package here. The Governor also announced funding and major projects throughout the State, including a $189 million affordable and supportive housing development in the Bronx and $113 million in funding to increase SUNY enrollment and completion rates.

The only blip for Hochul came from New York Post reports that Hochul “effectively commandeered” a New York Power Authority jet. However, NYPA and the State Police denied that the request to use the plane for Gubernatorial use came from the Governor’s Office. “NYPA finalized plans to purchase a new plane in Dec. 2021 and set in motion the transfer of its existing plane to the New York State Police, ultimately completing the transfer in May,” NYPA spokesman Paul DeMichele said in an email to the Post.

The week was also good for Hochul because her gubernatorial opponent Lee Zeldin had another bad week. The attack on Lee Zeldin—and subsequent release of his attacker—was perhaps an opportunity for the Congressman to amplify his criticism of Hochul and her fellow Democrats’ record on crime. However, at least to date, that has failed. Republican Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley—who was offered and sort of declined a position as a co-chair of Zeldin’s campaign earlier in the year—was accused of intentionally undercharging Zeldin’s attacker to prove the talking point. Zeldin has denied those accusations, but they obscured his larger point, one that might have hit home with voters. Doorley’s office and Zeldin’s campaign also provided differing narratives of when she recused herself from the matter. All this on the heels of Zeldin losing an Independence Party line after 13,000 signatures were invalidated, amid accusations of massive fraud.

Furthermore, Zeldin voted against the aforementioned CHIPS plus Science Act, legislation that earned bipartisan support for standing up to China and that will be good for New York State. Expect to hear more about this vote as the campaign heats up.

 

-Jack O’Donnell   

 

Our podcast is back with Election 2022 analysis. For political insight on this year’s races, including a deep dive on the NYS primaries, listen in here.

 

 

 

 

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