Good Morning from Capitol Hill…
The United States Senate returns today from recess (the House returns tomorrow) and Democrats need to sprint through the end of the month in order to pass both a slimmed down social spending bill and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. Meanwhile, they will also be working to avert disaster on a government shutdown and the debt ceiling—which House Democrats have also launched a push to abolish—by the end of November. There are really two sets of deadlines: October 31st when the short-term extender of the Surface Transportation Program expires, and early December when both the short-term continuing resolution funding the government ends and when the debt limit will need to be extended, again. Democrats will have to reach more compromises and make more legislative progress much quicker to have any hope to meet these goals.

 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to pass both the social and bipartisan infrastructure bills before Halloween, but good luck with that. Moderates feel betrayed by the decision to delay the bipartisan infrastructure proposal while Progressives are embittered that the hoped for $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill continues to be whittled down (in fact another climate piece fell out this weekend). The question is not simply can Pelosi bring these disparate factions together in two weeks but rather, can Pelosi (and Schumer and Biden) bring them together at all?                    
                                                                                                                                                                           
The White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have to contend with Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) (who for some reason decided to spend recess not in Arizona but in Europe for fundraising purposes?) who effectively have veto power in the reconciliation process. The two holdouts have significantly different negotiation styles: Manchin has been willing to discuss his priorities and lines in the sand with colleagues in the Senate, most notably Schumer, while Sinema has only been speaking directly with the White House. “I’m not going to share with you or with Schumer or with Pelosi. I have already told the White House what I am willing to do and what I’m not willing to do. I’m not mysterious. It’s not that I can’t make up my mind. I communicated it to them in detail. They just don’t like what they’re hearing,” she told one Democratic Senator.

Furthermore, the two nuclear votes have significantly different reasons for holding out—one is a former coal State Governor and one is a former Green Party activist—putting them at odds on some major policies. For Sinema, the biggest obstacle is prescription drug pricing reform—which would change how Medicare negotiates drug prices and potentially bring in $800 billion to help pay for the bill on the backs of the pharmaceutical industry. She is unlikely to even support a significantly trimmed down version of the proposal that generates $200 billion. Manchin has no problem with that proposal, but for his part opposes a number of Democratic ideas to price carbon pollution—proposals that Sinema supports. 

In short, Schumer, Pelosi, and President Joe Biden have their work cut out for them. Already, the merits of the various programs in these bills—from expanding Medicaid and protecting the Affordable Care Actexpanding access to child care while also supporting childcare workers, and measures to combat climate change like a “polluter fee” and consumer rebates for home electrification and weatherization—continue to poll well individually but voters are only hearing about the bickering, divisions, and, frankly, scary top line numbers.  Things are going so badly in Washington that Democrats across the country are facing headwinds—beginning in the bellwether state of Virginia.

It is also Strike-tober. As hundreds of workers at a Kellogg plant in Omaha, Nebraska hit the picket lines over the threat of work moving to Mexico, this photo of one of its strikers in a driving rainstorm has gone viral. The picture was captured by a fellow striker heading to her car at 3 a.m. “I thought it showed such dedication for him to be out there in a torrential downpour,” she said. “He was walking up and down the sidewalk with great purpose. I thought he was amazing for being out there.”                           
Back in New York…
Governor Kathy Hochul is making a green infrastructure push of her own. She told a prominent fiscal watchdog group—the Citizens budget Commission—last Tuesday evening she wants to make “historic investments” in green infrastructure projects in this year’s Executive Budget Proposal. “I’m committed to New York making historic investments in smart, resilient and green infrastructure,” Hochul said in comments alongside United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Hochul also got support for her re-election from more Democratic County Chairs and, more significantly, Emily’s List.             

Attorney General Letitia James continued her statewide tour announcing $1.5 billion in opioid settlement funds that will be dedicated regionally with visits to Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, and Ithaca outlining $75 million that will go to Western New York; $53 million that will go to the Finger Lakes; and over $25 million that will go to the Southern Tier. 

Finally, farewell to Paddy Moloney, the leader and uilleann piper of The Chieftans who among their many accomplishments were named the group of the year by Melody Maker in 1975 beating out Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Queen. A couple personal favorites herehere, and here.

-Jack O’Donnell

Join our Jim Moore, Executive Director of The Data Privacy Alliance and a panel of experts, including OD&A’s Jack O’Donnell for this webinar on The New York Privacy Act of 2022, which is expected to deeply shift how companies handle data in New York State. Is your company prepared? Register here.

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Marist New York State Poll: Governor Hochul Approval Spikes, Beating Cuomo

Fifty days after being sworn in, New York Governor Kathy Hochul enjoys positive support from state residents. More than half rate her favorably (55%) and 56% say she is a “good leader” for the state. In contrast, the numbers are not encouraging for former Governor Cuomo. [Read more.]

 

Ex-Cuomo top aide Melissa DeRosa, hubby to divorce, sell home: sources. “Their marriage broke down over time, and it was exacerbated during COVID, when they wound up in separate places..” said a source.

 Read more on Twitter from Bernadette Hogan, Albany Bureau Chief at the New York Post here.  

California To Ban Gas Lawn Mowers, Leaf Blowers 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that moves to ban gas-powered lawn equipment in the state — including lawn mowers and leaf blowers — in an effort to limit air pollution. [Read more.]