Good Morning from Washington, D.C….
President Joe Biden marked one year in office with a wide-ranging news conference in which he touted early wins and discussed the road ahead for his Presidency. Biden touched on everything from pandemic response to his Administration’s legislative agenda to foreign policy. “…Still for all this progress, I know there’s a lot of frustration and fatigue in this country,” said the President.  Perhaps most notably, the President discussed the future of the centerpiece of his legislative agenda: the Build Back Better (BBB) Act: “It’s clear to me that we’re going to have to probably break it up. I think that we can get — I’ve been talking to a number of my colleagues on the Hill — I think it’s clear that we would be able to get the $500-plus billion for energy and the environment issues that are there.”
 

Reviews to the address were mixed. Democrats applauded Biden’s stamina—the marathon news conference was nearly two hours long—and, in fact, Biden continued taking questions well after Press Secretary Jen Psaki seemed to indicate the news conference was over.  Republicans described the President’s performance as doddering, confused, and especially weak on standing up to Russia on Ukraine. The main statement drawing Republicans’ ire—that the United States and its allies might not be unified in a response if Russia attacks Ukraine in a “minor incursion”was quickly walked back by the White House press office immediately after the news conference.

Biden also promised to step up his political operations—including working on a more targeted legislative strategy and working with swing district Democrats to promote potential positive economic and omicron news in the early summer months—this after damning reports revealed the disconnect between the White House and top Democrats in Congress and promises not kept by Team Biden.  The statements come as “front-line” Democrats in the House have continued to implore Speaker Pelosi to lay out a new strategy for midterms—including breaking up the BBB. “What I don’t want to do is have the Democratic caucus just beat their heads against the wall for months. We need a timeline here. If there is still hope for Manchin to agree, we need to figure out when that’s going to be and what we are doing if he doesn’t meet that deadline because in the past, he hasn’t. What’s our next plan?,” said Rep. Susan Wild, a Pennsylvania Democrat whose district is among those that could swing next fall. 

 

Find out what the governor’s budget means to you. Check out our budget podcast “From the Lobby with Jack O’Donnell” on Spotify.

Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her first Executive Budget Proposal. There was a lot in it for a lot of people to like (Read the OD&A summary of key provisions here). Some highlights included: 
 
  • A ten year extension of the Brownfields Cleanup Program, and an expansion of several key parts of the Program; 
  • $1.6 Billion for a Statewide Health Care Transformation Fund IV—including funding for projects that were not funded in Round III; 
  • Repeal and replacement of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with an independent ethics panel; 
  • A Constitutional amendment limiting the four statewide elected officials to two four year terms; 
  • A Request for Applications process for three additional Downstate casino licenses;
  • $500 million for Offshore Wind Investment, prioritizing projects that take fossil fuel plants off line; 
  • A $4 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act—an additional $1 billion over what had been proposed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. 
Hochul also released the fundraising numbers we teased last week: Hochul raised an astounding $21.6 million, smashing the previous record for a single filing period of $12.8 million set by George Pataki in 2002, which will leave Hochul with $21.3 million cash on hand. Her opponents in the primary did not come close to meeting that number or Hochul’s blistering $100,000 a day pace. Member of Congress Tom Suozzi raised $3.3 million since entering the race in November, and transferred $2.1 million from his Congressional Account (and released this ad) which would have been respectable in any other year, while New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams raised $222,000, which is also astonishing but, obviously, for very different reasons.
 
All in all, Hochul had one of the best weeks in recent political memory, both in the substance and on the politics.
 
Finally, more debate on one of the more important controversies of the day: is Pluto a planet? 

 

  -Jack O’Donnell  

 

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