Good Monday morning…
We begin in Albany, NY where Joint Legislative Budget Hearings are in full swing with Human Services, Environmental Conservation, Local Government, and Mental Hygiene on this week’s agenda before the Legislature goes into recess for a week.
Mayor Adams is expected to testify at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Local Governments at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. You can watch the hearing here.
While most were focused on budget last week, there was more LaSalle drama. Republicans in the State Senate sued their Democratic colleagues to force a full floor vote on Judge Hector LaSalle, Hochul’s nominee to lead the New York State Court of Appeals.
The move saves Hochul from having to make the tough decision of keeping this fight going and suing her own party to force a vote on LaSalle. It should be noted that the lawsuit from the GOP likely has more to do with their fear of a more left-leaning judge being nominated than it is an indication of any warm feelings towards the Governor. Either way, there will be much more to come on this story.
In D.C, Governor Hochul was in town meeting with members of the New York Congressional Delegation with the exception of Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) and Rep. George Santos (NY-3). Stefanik was invited… Santos was not. Hochul insists that the decision to exclude Santos was purely practical, saying “we were talking about their work on committees, and he’s not a committee member.”
Santos also had a brush in with Senator Mitt Romney at President Biden’s State of the Union Address. Providing a recap of the verbal sparring to reporters, Romney said “I don’t know the exact words I said. He shouldn’t have been there…he’s a sick puppy.”
All eyes in Washington were on the State of the Union, with President Biden, at the spry age of 80, speaking for well over an hour touting his administration’s accomplishments, acknowledging the challenges still facing our country, and laying out his vision for a path forward. Perhaps more notable than any policy proposal was the atmosphere of the House Chamber. In a scene reminiscent of British Parliament, the President welcomed the back and forth jarring with GOP lawmakers in the audience and often pivoted off script to respond to their outbursts. After pointing out that some Republicans have proposed plans to cut Social Security and Medicare, multiple audience members yelled out “liar.” Biden stopped and responded, “Anybody who doubts it, contact my office and I will give you a copy of the proposal.” For a President who is routinely called past his prime and incompetent, he successfully baited Republicans into committing not to cut Medicare and Social Security on live TV and was able to portray himself as the defender of two of the nation’s most popular entitlement programs.
In the days following the State of the Union, Republicans continued to push back on Biden’s claim and tried to further distance themselves from Senator Rick Scott’s policy proposal which would sunset Social Security and Medicare after five years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered “So it’s clearly the Rick Scott plan, it is not the Republican plan, and that’s the view of the Speaker of the House as well.” Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) took to Twitter to say it is actually President Biden who wants to cut Medicare, referencing the GOP’s effort to set more advantageous Medicare Advantage rates for healthcare providers. The Better Medicare Alliance circulated a memo claiming that the administration’s rate increase for Medicare Advantage insurers is not sufficient and will ultimately amount to a cut. The Biden administration has pushed back on that notion, expressing confidence in their rate projections and asserting that the effort for further increases is driven by insurers looking to protect profits. That fight could be parlayed into the larger conversations over the debt ceiling, throwing another wrench into already delicate negotiations.
Read the OD&A 2023 Federal Legislative Preview
Overall, the theme of Biden’s speech, “Finish the Job” was likely a test run for an expected 2024 reelection campaign message, and while Biden has never been a world-class orator, the energy and vigor he displayed last Tuesday is sure to ease some of the concerns in the Democratic Party over their likely standard-bearer for 2024.
President Biden was not the only one floating a potential 2024 campaign message. The Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee held its first hearing on Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop and big tech’s supposed collusion with Democrats in the 2020 election. Republicans allege that Twitter colluded with the FBI to suppress a story about embarrassing and possibly criminal material found on a laptop reportedly belonging to the President’s son. While former Twitter employees conceded that they probably could have handled the situation better, their former deputy general counsel said, “I’m aware of no unlawful collusion with or direction from any government agency or political campaign on how Twitter should have handled the Hunter Biden laptop situation.” The hearing was just one of many planned House Oversight hearings into the Biden family and their alleged wrongdoing now that the GOP has control of the lower chamber.
From the strange but true files, researchers have concluded that gorilla-sized penguins used to roam the New Zealand coastlines after finding fossils of a penguin believed to be over 350 pounds.
And finally, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day (Reminder: it’s tomorrow!), City & State NY brings you City & Date, a list of New York political players looking for a partner, including our own “jet flyin’ limousine ridin'” Alec Lewis, one of the state’s most eligible bachelors who will be a great catch someday for one lucky woman!
New to the NYS Legislature
Gillibrand Touts $1.4M Niagara University Investment
A Trailblazer Who Brought a Black Woman’s Voice to Comics
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