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► The Associated Press reports on the big political news over the weekend: The big reveal from West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin that he would no longer entertain negotiations over the Build Back Better bill:
Manchin said Sunday he cannot back his party’s signature $2 trillion social and environment bill, dealing a potentially fatal blow to President Joe Biden’s leading domestic initiative heading into an election year when Democrats’ narrow hold on Congress was already in peril.
Manchin told “Fox News Sunday” that after five-and-half months of negotiations among Democrats in which he was his party’s chief obstacle to passage, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.”
Manchin’s choice of words seemed to crack the door open to continued talks with Biden and top congressional Democrats over reshaping the legislation. But the West Virginia senator all but said the bill would die unless it met his demands for a smaller, less sweeping package — something that would be hard for many Democrats in the narrowly divided Congress to accept.
The bill would provide hundreds of billions of dollars to help millions of families with children by extending a more generous child tax credit, creating free preschool and bolstering child care aid. There is more than $500 billion for tax breaks and spending aimed at curbing carbon emissions, which experts consider the largest federal expenditure ever to combat climate change.
Other provisions would limit prescription drug price increases, create hearing benefits for Medicare recipients and bolster aid for the elderly, housing and job training. Nearly all of it would be paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.
The Washington Post takes a deeper look at how negotiations between Biden and Manchin went sideways. The White House says that Manchin broke his word; Manchin is (vaguely) blaming White House staff, indicating that they might have been mean to him. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, is vowing to bring the BBB bill to a vote in 2022.
► Perhaps anticipating Manchin’s uselessness, Senate Democrats had already started shifting priorities toward advancing election reform measures. As The New York Times reports:
Schumer on Monday gave the clearest sign yet that he would try to force a fundamental change in Senate rules if needed to enact federal laws to offset voting restrictions being imposed by Republican-led legislatures around the country.
In a letter to colleagues, Mr. Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, said that the Senate would take up stalled voting rights legislation as early as the first week of January and that if Republicans continued to filibuster, the Senate would “consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation.”
But it is not clear how far Democrats will be willing or able to go in working around the 60-vote requirement for most legislation and finding a way to pass voting rights legislation with a simple majority. While several formerly reluctant senators have in recent weeks endorsed rules change for voting issues, at least two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have resisted.
Alarmed by state laws being enacted in the aftermath of the 2020 election that seem aimed at making it more difficult for people, particularly minorities, to vote, Democrats have tried repeatedly this year to set federal standards for early and mail-in voting and curb partisan gerrymandering, among other provisions. But they have been consistently thwarted by a Republican blockade.
► President Biden is boosting fuel economy standards that had been decimated under President Trump. From The Associated Press:
In a major step to fight climate change, the Biden administration is raising vehicle mileage standards to significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases.
A final rule being issued Monday would raise mileage standards starting in the 2023 model year, reaching a projected industry-wide target of 40 miles per gallon by 2026 — 25% higher than a rule finalized by the Trump administration last year and 5% higher than a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency in August.
► Democrat Yadira Careveo announced a slew of new endorsements in her bid for Congress in CO-08, including support from House Speaker Alec Garnett and State Rep. Mary Young.
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And Now, More Words…
► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) got a crappy Christmas present:
— Caitlyn Kim (@caitlynkim) December 20, 2021
► Moderna is optimistic that its COVID-19 booster shots will provide adequate protections against the Omicron variant. Governor Jared Polis, meanwhile, says that getting a booster shot might be the only way to be fully protected from COVID-19.
► As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post, state lawmakers will be prioritizing affordable housing legislation when they reconvene in early January.
In the coming legislative session, which begins Jan. 12, lawmakers plan to create incentives for developers and local governments around the state to prioritize dense, multi-family housing as a means of promoting relative affordability in a state where home prices have risen at least 457% in three decades.
It’s not about density for density’s sake, they say.
“For a number of reasons, everything from just the pure cost of land to tap fees to the inefficiency one house at a time gets you, building taller and denser makes more sense in terms of the math of trying to finance these projects and actually make them happen,” said state Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat and vice chair of a legislative task force on affordable housing that is wrapping up its study now.
► 9News looks at the expanded Child Tax Credit approved earlier this year and what it may look like in 2022 if Congress doesn’t extend the program.
► Governor Jared Polis will announce a vacancy appointment today for the CU Board of Regents from the fifth congressional district.
► Colorado’s economic outlook is pretty rosy for Q2 of 2022.
► Douglas County Commissioners are responding to criticism after deciding to hold a fireworks display on Sunday despite extremely dry conditions in Colorado. From 9News:
The second annual holiday fireworks display caused fires at each of the three launch sites in the county. Firefighters at the sites in Parker, Highlands Ranch and Castle Rock were able to get those grass fires under control before they threatened any buildings…
…“Personally, in my opinion, the firework displays were not a great idea,” Seriff Tony Spurlock told 9NEWS. “It was obvious that we were in dry conditions.”
“The dryness clearly posed a risk for the people who lived nearby the displays,” he said.
Denver7 has more on this asinine decision.
► West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin thinks he’s Lucy from “Peanuts.”
► Florida Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy will not seek re-election in 2022.
► Colorado Public Radio looks at the near future for TABOR refunds.
► Colorado’s mandatory minimum sentencing rules are getting questioned after a stiff sentence for a truck driver accused of killing several motorists in Jefferson County.
► As Vox.com explains, some of the leftiest Members of Congress are not at all surprised that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin screwed the Democrats.
Say What, Now?
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► President Trump says he got a COVID-19 booster shot, which did not make the Trump faithful very happy. From The Washington Post:
At a joint event in Dallas, conservative political commentator Bill O’Reilly noted that both he and Trump had been vaccinated.
“Both the president and I are vaxxed and — did you get the booster?” O’Reilly asked Trump.
The former president paused slightly before responding, “Yes.”
Some in the crowd began booing, prompting Trump to wave his hand disapprovingly.
“No, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t … ” Trump said. “That’s all right. It’s a very tiny group over there.”
► How ’bout we just leave the horse medicine for the horses?
► But what about candlesticks?
► Dear Santa: This year we would like to not have a civil war. Thanks.
► If you know of a Republican attorney in Colorado who might be a good candidate for Attorney General…then you’re one step ahead of the rest of the state GOP.