Good Morning …
The United States Senate returns today with the clock ticking on major Democratic and Biden Administration priorities:
 

Regarding the debt ceiling and government funding, last Friday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told House Democrats of the plan to pass a stopgap spending bill next week (to run through December 10th) in order to avoid a government shutdown. Democratic leaders are also considering combining that funding bill with action to raise the debt ceiling, as well as rolling in funding for other urgent matters including hurricane and flood damages from recent Hurricane Ida and Afghan resettlement efforts. That move would be the majority party’s first step in forcing Republicans to either pony up the votes to avert the impending debt cliff or sink the combination plan to wave off multiple national crises.

On reconciliation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Leadership have to contend with moderate Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who have both said they will not support a $3.5 trillion package (the bare minimum dollar amount for progressives). While entire policies in the bill may not be thrown out, the complicated caucus dynamics could also lead to changes in funding levels or duration of key programs. Meanwhile, Senate Leadership and the White House must also manage relationships between increasingly polarized factions of the Caucus—Manchin and Sinema on one side and progressives like Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt)—whose demands will both have to be met in order to meet a 50-vote threshold. Manchin and Sanders’ contradictory demands underscore a larger schism in the Democratic Party heading into 2022’s midterm elections—where the White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s ability to manage these relationships over the next few weeks and pass a bill will have a major impact on the outcome. “[Sanders and Manchin] really do mirror each other in terms of representing different ends of the Democratic coalition. … They’re kind of avatars of like the two wings of the Democratic Party,” said one Democratic strategist.

Beyond the intra-Caucus dynamics, the Senate’s parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, still can torpedo a number of priorities, including language that would provide a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers”, and the pro-worker Protect the Right to Organize Act . Democratic Staffers have been meeting with MacDonough over the past few weeks to make their pitches against jettisoning both priorities. “We believe that passing this legislation through reconciliation is permissible because the bill’s budgetary effects are a substantial, direct and intended result and the non-budgetary effects do not so disproportionately outweigh the budgetary effects as to make them merely incidental,” a Democratic aide said. 

In the State Capitol…
 
The Governor also continued to build out her Administration, with appointments of a number of longtime staffers (read more here) from her tenure as Lieutenant Governor, including:
 
  • Jeff Lewis, Chief of Staff
  • Melissa Bochenski, Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Linda Sun, Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Padma Seemangal, Deputy Secretary for Policy Operations
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie made their appointments to the Cannabis Control Board—tasked with implementing and overseeing New York State’s new Cannabis framework in the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Heastie appointed OD&A friend Adam W. Perry, a partner at Buffalo law firm Hodgson Russ, and Stewart-Cousins appointed former State Senator Jen Metzger, the former Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Board is responsible for the roll out of regulations, granting of licenses and overseeing permitting processes for the state’s cannabis program, which is expected to become a multi-million-dollar industry in the coming years.
 
On a final note, Saturday’s anniversary was a solemn reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a country where we can peacefully redress our grievances and petition government and how much grateful we are to our First Responders and our military. Thank you all.

                                                                                      -Jack O’Donnell                                                                                                                                          

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