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Good morning on this Presidents’ Day from Mount Vernon, the home of our first President…
What a week! Nearly four months into Federal Fiscal Year 2022, Congress passed a stopgap spending measure—yes, another short term extension—to fund government through March 11th but not without some wrangling, as a few key GOP Senators delayed votes on the bill by demanding votes on key conservative priorities—like barring the Department of Health and Human Services from funding distribution of crack pipes (the Biden Administration has vehemently denied that the $30 million HHS program to fight drug abuse is funding anything of the sort.) Leadership in Washington D.C. is gambling that the three week extension will give appropriators—who we reported last week reached an agreement in principal on FY 2022 appropriations—to finalize a deal. “Our government is not meant to run on autopilot, and American taxpayer dollars should not be spent on outdated priorities. We have the responsibility to make the hard choices about how to invest in the American people,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

However for now, the short term deal was enough for Congress to pack up for a one week recess.  Additional highlights from last week included a dog following Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho around the Dirksen Senate Office Building (it was not his dog and remains unclear both why it was wandering around Dirksen and also why it chose Sen. Crapo) while Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, went on “Morning Joe” and reminisced about the “really pure” MDMA (aka ecstasy) of his youth.

Congress will return next Monday, February 28th. A couple of things to expect when they do:

Back in New York State…
The legislature was in session. Fiscal decision makers on Senate Finance and Assembly Ways & Means wrapped up the last of their Joint Legislative Budget Hearings, meeting on Mental HygieneTransportationEconomic Development and Taxes. The Governor released the 30-day Amendments to the Executive Budget that quietly dropped a controversial zoning plan that would have required local governments to accept an expansion of apartments and backyard cottages in single-family neighborhoods as a way to combat a statewide crisis in affordable housing, and legislators submitted their requests for the Legislative One House Budgets to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
However, the real news in New York last week was political. First, Sen. Diane SavinoSen. Todd Kaminsky, and Rep. Kathleen Rice all announced they will not run for reelection. All three are strong independent voices, fierce advocates for their communities, and friends of O’Donnell & Associates. We are especially proud to have worked with Senator Savino to pass New York State’s Elevator Safety Act. Their absence will be a loss for New York.

Of course, all that was over shadowed by the New York State Democratic Committee’s Nominating Convention0221c253 1077 453f 8ccf d93707fe3179 for 2022. There were two stars of the show: Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Tish James. Hochul gave a strong speech that had the delegates on their feet, but more significantly, the whole convention was Team Hochul; in organization, in execution, in tone, and in substance. It was successful in each aspect. James gave a barn burner of a speech, one that challenged former Governor Cuomo, destroyed his claims of exoneration, and equated him with former president Donald Trump. (For more convention analysis, listen to our From the Lobby podcast.) It came on the same day James and her office won another battle in their efforts to force Trump and his children to be deposed under oath. The other underlying story line from the Convention was that in this age of division and derision, New York’s Democrats were surprisingly unified and cohesive. That may change as Jumaane Williams and Tom Suozzi plan to continue their primary campaigns through the petition process while there were signs of unrest among Latino leaders.

Finally, farewell to P.J. O’Rourke, an important influence on my writing style who also brought a great sense of humor and irony to the political scene. O’Rourke’s “How To Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink” might be too racy for a family newsletter. Instead, we will leave you with this excerpt from his “So Drunk:”
It seems one evening a group of Senators and Representatives were drinking in a Washington bar. They were getting drunk. First they got pretty drunk. Then they got very drunk. After that, they got drunker than anyone had ever seen Senators and Representatives get, which is very drunk indeed…About two o’clock in the morning the Speaker of the House stood up on a table and said “Gentlemen, we are sloshed. We are fried, oiled, canned, and in the bag cross-eyed…And in point of more fact we are drunker than anyone has ever been. And in point of more fact than that we are drunker than anyone is ever going to get, because we’ve got a quorum right here, so let’s go over and open Congress.” Which they did, stumbling up to the Capitol building and unlocking the door. Then they called themselves into session and passed a law saying no one could ever get drunker than they were then, and that’s where Prohibition came from.

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“From the Lobby with Jack O’Donnell”

Fresh off the state Democratic convention in NYC, our Jack O’Donnell gives us his take on the two-day political event. Listen as he goes behind the headlines.
We continue our banter on the New York state budget with a deep dive into Public Safety. With rising violent crime rates, Jack looks at what’s being proposed by Governor Hochul to keep you safe. Listen here.

    -Jack O’Donnell   

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This Black History Month, Don’t Ban Our History — Teach It

It’s true — Black Americans have excelled “in every area of endeavor,” from arts and culture to sports and entertainment to everyday living and thriving in this country. What’s often overlooked in celebrating these accomplishments, however, is the price we’ve paid to reach our aims. Unbelievable struggles were necessary just to live, work and vote, never mind to excel. [Read more.]

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Irish Whiskey Sales to Overtake Scotch in the U.S. By 2030

Roughly 5.9 million casks of Irish whiskey were sold in the U.S. last year, up from approximately 5 million in 2020. Irish whiskey was the third-fastest growing category in the U.S. last year, behind premixed cocktails and tequila/mezcal, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. [Read more.]