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US enemies are lining up to test Joe Biden

President Joe Biden is confronting a series of distinct but interlocking global crises and hotspots with US foes lining up to test the mettle of an under-pressure leader and their own sense that the United States is a retreating global power.

Biden made the kind of fateful decision on Monday that might be more at home in the tense 1970s, putting up to 8,500 troops on alert to rush to Eastern Europe to counter the Kremlin’s move to force the US away from its Western flank. But hoka shoes for women his trial of nerves with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is holding Ukraine hostage in a bid to reverse the West’s expansion after the Cold War, is far from his only global headache.
On the other side of the globe, a strategic ballet of military might is playing out as the US and China maneuver armadas and warplanes amid tensions over Taiwan, and other disputed territories, in a long-term duel for dominance in the Asia-Pacific region. While the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is fixating the world right now, a future Chinese strike against the self-governing democratic island is the more likely trigger for a disastrous superpower conflict.
US places up to 8,500 troops on alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe amid Russia tensions
Then there is the Middle East, from which America has been trying to extricate itself for years. US forces at a base in Abu Dhabi leapt into action early Monday, using Patriot missiles to shoot down several missiles flung at the Gulf emirate by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The emergency was a reminder that despite some hopes of renewed nuclear talks with Iran, the Islamic Republic’s regional power plays are a grave risk to US personnel. And the vicious war in Yemen, prosecuted by Washington ally Saudi Arabia with terrible civilian consequences, endangers the US by association.
And if Washington was tempted to forget the frightening prospect of a nuclear North Korea, its leader Kim Jong Un has other ideas. One of a string of recent missile tests by Pyongyang triggered extraordinary ground stops at some US West Coast airports, which underscored the nightmare scenario for any US President that the extreme hermit state could have the US mainland in its sights.

Putting American power to the test

Each of these challenges concern foreign states and nationalistic leaders making hard-eyed decisions to advance strategic goals, seeking to increase their power, expand or cement anti-democratic political systems and dominate their spheres of influence outside their own sovereign territory. They also know that with the US under pressure elsewhere, they may have an opening.
Putin, for example, is well aware that Biden wants to pivot to the hoka shoes China threat — so it makes sense to probe to see whether the US is distracted. Beijing, for one, would be happy for the US to get bogged down in Europe. The US probably needs China to help cool North Korea’s provocations. And Russia is a key player in the Iran nuclear talks. It didn’t go unnoticed in Washington that Iran, Russia and China held a third set of naval drills in the Indian Ocean last week.
Since the US is, still, the world’s dominant power, with allies across the globe, and the leader of the democratic bloc of nations, each thrust by one of its adversaries draws it deeper into a confrontation and preventive diplomacy.
The building challenges to US authority come at a moment when there is a widespread perception abroad that Washington is not the power it was for the second half of the 20th century. Despite Biden’s assurances that “America is Back,” the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year raised questions about US competence and commitment. US adversaries know Americans are exhausted by 20 years of war abroad, a factor that may lead some to calculate that Washington could waver on its strategic obligations for political reasons.
Biden caught on hot mic calling Fox reporter 'a stupid son of a bitch'
And foreign leaders understand domestic US politics too. With a significant percentage of the country convinced Biden is illegitimate thanks to former President Donald Trump’s election lies, and Republicans lambasting him as weak under Putin’s challenge, there’s rarely been a better time for foreign nations to test a modern President’s character and stamina. The possibility that Trump, who was a four-year force for global instability, could return to office, meanwhile, has some allies doubting that the US can keep any commitments it does make.
Some foreign leaders might look at events in Washington on Monday and wonder whether the stress is beginning to weigh on the President. After a White House event, Biden was asked about inflation by a Fox reporter and in a stunningly unguarded moment on an open mic, he responded: “What a stupid son of a bitch.” The President later called the reporter to apologize.
Putin’s infuriating maneuvering
Each of the geopolitical factors listed above are on display in Putin’s challenge to the West over Ukraine as he seeks to restore some of the strategic sway once held by the Soviet Union over Eastern Europe around the symbolic 30th anniversary of his beloved empire’s collapse.
After massing more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, the Russian leader made a series of demands for US concessions, including an assurance that the Kyiv government will never join NATO and for the alliance to pull back troops and armaments from ex-Warsaw Pact states that joined the West since they feared the kind of Russian resurgence that Putin is trying to engineer.
Biden has responded by seeking a gradual escalation of pressure designed to convince Putin that the cost of invading Ukraine would be too high, promising sanctions that could cripple the Russian economy and cause knock-on political threats to his rule.
Now, the President is mulling a reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank with possible troop deployments. The alliance on Monday announced some smaller deployments to the Baltic and Eastern European member states. For the first time since the Cold War, a US carrier strike group will be placed under NATO command in the Mediterranean for a high-level maritime exercise this week.
This is all meant to project resolve, deterrence and to show that Putin’s olukai shoes attempt to get the US out of Europe will fail. It is incumbent on Biden to show Washington has the back of its allies. If he doesn’t, NATO will count for nothing. But it’s a high-risk plan since US deployments could prompt the Russian leader to pull the trigger he has to Ukraine’s head and to argue he must invade to protect Russian security.
Putin is an infuriating, unpredictable adversary, and has forced the US to react to his provocations for weeks. It’s impossible to read his intentions. US diplomacy so far, including a Biden-Putin meeting in Geneva last year and more recent online encounters between the presidents, have yielded no breakthroughs. It has, however, handed Putin the prestige of Cold War-style summits that led Republicans to accuse Biden of that dreaded word — appeasement.
In the latest demonstration of Putin’s penchant for mind games, he and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel spoke by phone on Monday and agreed to deeper cooperation. Some Russian military officials have suggested deploying military assets to Cuba and Venezuela during the crisis over Ukraine. The allusions to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 — the US-Soviet standoff in which the world came close to nuclear war — are hard to miss.
More showdowns lie in wait for Biden
Some analysts believe that Putin has put himself in a box and will be unable to exit the showdown without at least a limited penetration into Ukraine that would save face. This is why Biden whipped up so much controversy last week when he suggested that a “minor incursion” by Russia would not draw the full sanctions broadside. But the US President was also telling the truth, apparently referring to divisions among allies in Europe about how to handle Putin.
The Russian leader’s timing is no accident as he tries to probe divisions between European powers internally and with the United States over the crisis. This is a transitional period for the three major European powers. Germany has a new governing coalition that is split on foreign policy, knows it is reliant on Russian gas in the winter and remains wary of offensive military operations owing to its historic scar of militarism. French President Emmanuel Macron faces reelection in April, and is using the crisis to push for a more aggressive European Union role that might weaken US authority. And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is mired in boozy scandals and struggling to cling onto power. The government in London is also locked in a bitter estrangement with its near allies over its exit from the EU.
Biden made a public point of addressing divides in Europe on Monday, gathering leaders in a video call and orchestrating a series of statements on both sides of the Atlantic promising unity on the crisis and the costs that Russia could face.
“I had a very, very, very good meeting — total unanimity with all the European leaders,” Biden told reporters afterward.
But there’s reason to doubt his confidence. The European Union, for example, saw no need to follow the US in authorizing the departure of nonessential staff and family members from Kyiv. Officials on the other side of the Atlantic have not used the same kind of alarmist language as the Biden administration about the imminent threat of a Russian invasion.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Monday that though unity and pressure on Russia was vital, the situation was not irretrievable.
“Certainly, I have reason to be concerned but I don’t want to go in a nervous attack,” Borrell told Hala Gorani on CNN International.
Managing different threat perceptions with Europe is just one of the challenges that Biden faces in navigating the Ukraine showdown, one of the most testing moments in the recent history of NATO.
And he knows that even if he can engineer a peaceful resolution, China, North Korea and Iran are up next, posing more intractable challenges for a presidency never free from crises.

Democrats walk on eggshells around Breyer as GOP plans another blockade for any Biden Supreme Court pick

Senate Republicans are poised to deny President Joe Biden an appointment to the Supreme Court if they take the majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

Five Republican senators raised the stakes around Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement, telling CNN they’d oppose any likely nominee out of this White House.
But Democrats in the Senate and the White House, though they’ve come off the November elections more worried in recent weeks about a potential wipeout in the midterms, are still avoiding calling directly for Breyer to quit, fearing that it would backfire and encourage the 83-year-old to stay on the bench.
Breyer has told several people who’ve made unofficial efforts to push him to retire that he thinks the confirmation process shouldn’t be political, according to people told of those discussions, and Democrats worry he’d remain as an act of resistance to show he’s not bowing to politics.
Still, top Democrats across Washington would like Breyer to announce he’s going even before the end of the court term in June, so they can get moving on confirmation hearings well before the midterms. More than the political calendar is on their minds — with their 50-50 margin and several aging Senate Democrats coming from states with Republican governors, they head into the new year fearing that their control of the chamber could collapse at any moment.
Stephen Breyer says now isn't the time to lose faith in the Supreme Court
Privately, multiple Senate Democrats complain that Breyer seems to have let his ego overtake him and he is not being realistic to how radically Supreme Court confirmation politics has changed in the last five years.
Publicly, they continue to approach Breyer gingerly. Asked if the 50-50 Senate divide, the health of his colleagues and Breyer’s own health should accelerate the justice’s timeline, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse chose his words carefully, noting that he’d deliberately avoided calling for Breyer’s retirement.
“I would hope,” the Rhode Island Democrat finally said, “the choice and its consequences are apparent to the justice.”
And the White House is stuck in the middle, with the President adamant that Breyer should get to make his own decision.
Biden has so far avoided the kind of pressure that Barack Obama tried to exert on Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2013, when the President hosted the aging justice at the White House for lunch to nudge her toward the exit. But in the West Wing and among civil rights leaders, the frustration is about more than just a Supreme Court seat: every day that Breyer remains on the bench is a day that Biden isn’t able to fulfill his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo in April.

There are also the political considerations, with Democrats eager to excite their base ahead of next year’s elections.
“The President made a bold commitment,” said National Urban League President Marc Morial. “I hope it would add to the thinking to make that kind of history.”

Republicans ready for replay of Merrick Garland pick

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans aren’t shy about laying out how they’d handle a nomination from Biden if they take the majority: They wouldn’t.
“You know what the rule is on that,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “You go back to 1886 and ever since then, when the Senate’s been of one party and the president’s been of another party, you didn’t confirm.”
There is no such rule.
Senate Republicans have invoked a number of what they call “rules” in recent years to explain, for example, refusing to hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, the now-attorney general who was Obama’s choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, or their rushing to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s choice to replace Ginsburg.
But the then-Democratic majority Senate voted to confirm President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Anthony Kennedy in 1988 and President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of David Souter in 1990 and Clarence Thomas in 1991, all while Grassley was in the Senate. Back then, the Judiciary Committee chairman was a senator from Delaware named Joe Biden.
While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has sought to downplay this talk — “I’m not going to start talking about what might happen if I’m the majority leader,” he said last week when asked about Supreme Court nominations — he was the mastermind of the GOP efforts to upend the confirmation process to seize seats. And many of his members were more willing to discuss where this is headed, particularly if the seat were to come open in 2023 or 2024, when they would use being in a presidential election cycle to make a similar justification for stonewalling a pick as McConnell did in 2016.
Then-President Barack Obama joins then-Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland during his nomination announcement in March 2016.

“Constitutionally, the Senate has an obligation to advise and consent. The Senate can take up nominations when it wants to,” said GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.
Not that most Republicans could imagine supporting a Biden nominee at any point.
“Given the pattern of judicial nominees he’s put forward so far, he keeps being captive to the radical left in his party. If he nominated a radical leftist justice who would ignore the rule of law and undermine our constitutional rights, I can’t imagine a Republican Senate would confirm an extreme justice,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Sen. Thom Tillis, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Republicans would make a choice if they didn’t like a Biden pick: “Either don’t move on him or have him fail in committee.”
“It’s not our intention to rubber stamp nominees,” the North Carolina Republican said.
McConnell's Supreme Court
Sen. John Cornyn, who sits on the committee but also is a member of leadership, said how the GOP would act on a nominee depends on when a vacancy would occur.
“Usually if we are in the majority and Biden is still in office, what that produces is a negotiation,” the Texas Republican said. “I haven’t really thought about filing the vacancy or not, so I think a lot of that has to do when in that two years of time it occurs.”
Cornyn added: “The later it occurs in his term, the less likely it will be; the earlier, more likely.”
Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, both Judiciary Committee members, declined to comment on whether they’d be willing to consider a Biden nominee for the Supreme Court. When asked if there’s a Biden nominee he could envision supporting, Cotton suppressed a chuckle.

Democrats scramble for a response

Democrats have struggled to respond to Republicans’ escalation of Supreme Court partisan warfare.
Many who presume Breyer will announce that he’s retiring in June also presumed he was going to announce he’d quit this past June. He’s been on the court since 1994, confirmed a few months before the massive Republican wave in that year’s midterms, and is quickly moving up the ranks of the longest serving justices ever (he’s currently at No. 23).
“I’m deeply concerned,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who’s a member of the Judiciary Committee, said when asked about a Breyer retirement in a GOP majority. “In effect, the threat of Republican control in the Senate is a dagger aimed at the heart of the Supreme Court, which would be potentially out of balance and out of the mainstream if there are more right-wing ideologues appointed.”
Blumenthal said he is not urging Breyer to retire but added: “I’m just hoping he assesses as strategically and intelligently as I know he will do … the potential dangers of a GOP majority.”
Justice Stephen Breyer speaks during an interview on "The David Rubenstein Show" in New York, in September.

In public interviews in recent months, Breyer has also downplayed America’s current divisions, arguing the country has survived other tough times in the past.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, often talks to colleagues about how they’re “a heartbeat” away from the minority with the current 50-50 Senate. Privately, multiple Democratic senators acknowledge that — with seven of their members over age 70 coming from states with Republican governors who’d get to appoint replacements — they worry how right, literally, he’ll turn out to be.
Those senators include Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy from Vermont, who are both over 80 and have been suddenly hospitalized in recent years — Sanders for his heart attack in October 2019 and Leahy for feeling “unwell” last January.
“Absolutely,” said Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, when asked if it were a real worry when looking around at the number of his aging colleagues from states with Republican governors. “No question about it.”
A spokesman for Leahy, who as the then-Judiciary Committee chairman tried to encourage Ginsburg to step down before Obama invited her to lunch to ramp up the pressure, didn’t respond to an emailed question about whether the senator thinks Breyer should step down now. But Leahy’s announcement last month that he won’t seek another term has only increased anxiety about his health among colleagues.
Not only did Republicans seize the opportunities created by Scalia’s and Ginsburg’s deaths, but Trump’s White House counsel carefully worked Kennedy to retire on their timeline ahead of the 2018 midterms, assuring him that he’d want to guarantee that another conservative took his spot.
The secret Supreme Court: Late nights, courtesy votes and the unwritten 6-vote rule
“Clearly the examples of Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kennedy put in very plain relief what the difference can be for the make-up of the court,” said Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat who’s become a leading voice for changes at the Supreme Court.
“Breyer may pine for a time that never was — a fantasy era when judicial selection wasn’t political,” said Robert Raben, an assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration who has since become an advocate for increasing diversity on the bench. “That’s a chimera, and we on the left need to accept the fact that if you’re assigned a bill number and marked up in a committee, it’s politics.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told CNN over the summer that she hoped Breyer would retire “sooner rather than later.” Those feelings have spread and intensified among her colleagues in the months since, and Senate Democratic leaders have already had preliminary discussions about how they would conduct a confirmation process, according to people involved.

A close eye on Breyer

When Breyer sat for a round of interviews this summer to promote his new book, White House aides carefully parsed his answers about potential retirement, including when he told CNN that both his health and his new position as the court’s senior liberal would weigh on his thinking. Later he expanded further to the New York Times, saying he would factor in who was choosing his successor when making a decision about stepping down.
Justice Breyer says return to in-person Supreme Court arguments is a 'big improvement'
The comments led to rounds of speculation among some Biden advisers of what Breyer’s intentions really were as it became clear the justice would not retire ahead of this year’s term. Some viewed the comments as a sign he was taking into consideration the make up of the Senate.
Asked in October about calls for him to retire while the Democrats were secure in their Senate majority, Breyer told CNN, “That’s their point of view,” adding, “I think I have most of the considerations in mind. I simply have to weigh them and think about them and decide when the proper time is.”
Breyer said he does not want to die on the court. Presented with the history of previous justices giving early word of their retirements to presidents, Breyer said, “I’ve looked through the various practices.” In some years, justices who are planning to retire at the end of the term have told the president several months ahead of time.
Still, among many Democrats close to and inside the White House, Breyer’s decision to remain on the bench this year was a serious disappointment. Inside the White House, the prospect of a Breyer retirement has been simmering underneath the surface since nearly the moment Biden took office.
Among other factors, it’s hard to press an 83-year-old justice to retire when Biden says he’s planning to run for reelection when he will be in his early 80s himself.
Then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Stephen Breyer meets with then-Sen. Joe Biden meet in Biden's office on Capitol Hill in May 1994.

Various candidates to replace Breyer have been suggested to Dana Remus, the White House counsel, by Democrats close to Biden, who are eager to put forward names. Biden allies have also approached Vice President Kamala Harris and members of her team with candidates. There’s even been outside rumor mongering that Biden could appoint Harris.
Among members of Biden’s senior team, at least one maintains a close connection to Breyer: national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who clerked for the justice in the early 2000s. Sullivan’s wife, Maggie Goodlander, also clerked for Breyer three years ago and Breyer attended their wedding on the campus of Yale Law School in 2015.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain, who was a top Senate Judiciary Committee staffer under Biden and has been hyper-focused on judicial nominations since the beginning of this presidency, has a decades-long friendship with Justice Elena Kagan, one Breyer’s few fellow liberals still on the court.
Thinking back on that lunch attempting to nudge Ginsburg in 2013, several Obama aides note that the former President turned out to be justified in his interest in seeing her retire while Democrats had the majority.
Biden has insisted on a more hands-off approach to Breyer.
“The President’s view is that any considerations about potential retirements are solely and entirely up to justices themselves,” said White House spokesman Andrew Bates. Anxiety about potential backfire from pushing Breyer to retire also comes up often in discussions with top West Wing aides, according to several who’ve had those conversation.
Most of the speculation on a potential pick focuses on Ketanji Brown Jackson, confirmed this spring for the DC circuit court of appeals, a traditional feeder for the Supreme Court. A former Breyer clerk, she has already been vetted by the Biden team and interviewed by the President and has been supported in the past by former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a prominent Republican who is related to her by marriage.
California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger is also discussed. She is seen as helped by being well liked among the alumni of the solicitor general’s office, where she was a top official in the Obama administration. She has not, however, been as thoroughly vetted.
Biden Supreme Court commission's draft report details 'profound' disagreement over adding seats to bench
Other names currently circulating: Minnesota district court Judge Mimi Wright, outgoing NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill, Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Eunice Lee, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, and J. Michelle Childs, a South Carolina judge who’s been pushed by House Majority Whip James Clyburn and whose nomination is currently pending for a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seat. Clyburn, notably, gave Biden the endorsement that helped salvage his campaign in the 2020 primaries after getting him to promise to appoint a Black woman.
Clyburn, who has previously said he didn’t think it was his place to call for Breyer’s retirement (and who’s 81 himself), is sticking by that position, according to an aide.

Process becomes a problem

Even if Breyer announces his retirement in the spring and they’re still in the majority, Democratic senators and top aides on Capitol Hill worry about how long confirmation could take, between the regular order of the process and expected GOP efforts to slow it down.
Republicans “use power maximally especially as it relates to the judiciary, and I think we should expect nothing different going forward,” said Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
And, as with everything these days, Democrats worry about securing votes from Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The current Supreme Court's partisan moment rivals Bush v. Gore
Republicans have also proven much more adept at activating their base voters around Supreme Court confirmations, whether when Scalia’s seat was in the balance in the 2016 elections, when Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings exploded ahead of the 2018 elections or when Barrett was rushed onto the bench ahead of the 2020 elections.
Democrats warn against thinking that they’d be the ones who would benefit politically from a retirement ahead of an election, even with a historic pick and potentially momentous abortion ruling motivating their base. The threat to Roe. v. Wade is another reason why they want Breyer to announce he’s leaving ahead of schedule.
“Securing the seat is more important than trying to be cute about the timing for some midterm impact,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a Democratic group focused on judicial nominations.
In 2016, McConnell’s refusal to at least give confirmation hearings to Obama’s nominee left the seat open for almost a year, enraging Senate Democrats and making several of his own Republican members deeply uncomfortable.
Republicans say they’re now ready to leave a seat open for years, if that’s what it would take to wait out a Democrat in the White House. And the stakes could get even higher, if future election challenges make their way to the Supreme Court, which would have an even number of justices if Breyer is no longer in his spot.
Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican who doesn’t sit on the committee, believes it’s “unlikely” Republicans would keep a seat vacant for two years.
“I would presume we’d go for the hearings and make a decision,” Romney said. “By the way, we might vote no, but we might as well have a hearing and make a decision.”
Multiple Republican senators say they’d rather avoid the kind of showdown that a retirement would set off in a GOP majority, or in a presidential election year — or both.
“If he’s going to retire, he needs to retire next year,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the former Judiciary Committee chairman. “It would be a lot easier.”

Joe Biden at COP26: Five things you need to know

This is the summary you need of the US president’s whirlwind couple of days at the UN climate summit.

Joe Biden has spent the past two days at COP26 in Glasgow.

President Joe Biden spoke of the work that lies ahead as he joined his fellow world leaders for key climate talks at COP26, the UN summit taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.

The summit marks a key moment in the world’s fight to control the climate crisis and ensure global temperatures don’t rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the commitment set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Around the world, people are feeling the impacts of climate change spurred by human activity, steve madden shoes including in the US, where forest fires, floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

Biden arrived in Scotland Monday morning after traveling from the G-20 talks in Rome to discuss how the US will assume its responsibilities as a developed country and the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Like all leaders at the summit, he turned up with an agenda of his own.

Here are the key things about his trip you need to know about his two days in Glasgow:

The US is still apologizing for leaving the Paris Agreement

The US has come to the climate talks still reeling from President Donald Trump withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Trump announced his intent to withdraw in 2017, and it took affect last year.

Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement on his first day in office — a point that he and his team have mentioned several times during the summit so far. Biden also recognized in his speech during the opening of the World Leaders Summit on Monday that the US withdrawal was a setback in the fight against the climate crisis.

“I do apologize for the fact the United States, in the last administration, pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit,” Biden said on Monday.

He seems determined to fix this. When Biden made rejoining the Paris Agreement his priority, he set the tone for his entire administration. Speaking Monday at an event at the US Center at the summit, Special Presidential Envoy dr martens boots for Climate John Kerry noted that, by the president’s mandate, no decision can be made unless the climate impacts have been considered.

Biden’s climate agenda at home is focused on jobs

Biden recognized that the American people haven’t always been sure whether climate change is real. When presenting his plan for tackling the climate crisis to people in the US, he will frame it around jobs, he said Monday.

“It’s about workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines of clean, modern, resilient power grid,” Biden told the other world leaders. “The autoworkers who will build the next generation of electric vehicles and electricians who will install a nationwide network of 500,000 vehicle stations to power them throughout my country. The engineers who will design new carbon capture systems, and the construction workers who will make them a reality. The farmers who will not only help fight global hunger but also use the soil to fight climate change.”

But his home turf is perhaps where Biden faces his biggest climate challenge, as many doubt whether he’ll have the support to needed to pass legislation that’s designed to shape the country’s green future.

Biden came to COP26 with a couple key catchphrases

Improving jobs and infrastructure is all part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” project, to which he’s managed to sign on all the leaders of the G-7 countries.

Barely a speech went by without him mentioning “Build Back Better,” along with the phrase “decisive decade.” The decade refers to the next 10 years, during which the US has promised to meet some key climate targets.

Biden came to Glasgow with the stated aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by a gigaton by 2030. The US is one of the world’s biggest emitters of methane. But it’s also now one of more than 90 countries to sign up to the COP26 methane pledge, which is a joint commitment to reduce the world’s emissions 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

It sounds like the decisive decade will also be a busy one.

The US wants to lead by example…

Even though the US hasn’t been a climate leader in recent years, Biden hopes to change that. “We’ll demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of our example,” he said.

As well as the short-term goals, Biden used COP26 to unveil the hey dude country’s overall long-term strategy, laying out how the US is going to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. Working out how to reach this target is a key aim of the summit, and the US is one of many countries that has committed to working toward it.

Before he headed back to the US on Tuesday evening, the president said of the summit: “I can’t think of any two days where more has been accomplished dealing with climate than the past two days.”

…while acknowledging it has more to do than others

Biden’s efforts geared toward helping developing nations recognize that they’re suffering due to a crisis they did not create.

“Those of us who have deforested a long time ago, those of us who have taken actions a long time ago that caused the problems, we have to be ready to step up for everyone from Tanzania to Fiji,” said Biden.

He wants Americans to know, he added, that the country has a responsibility to step up when it comes to financing those countries that “have not had the opportunity to do as much damage as we have.”

How to meet America’s climate goals: 5 policies for Biden’s next climate bill

<span class="caption">President Joe Biden wanted to have a clear plan before the U.N. climate conference starting Oct. 31 in Scotland.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/president-joe-biden-speaks-about-his-bipartisan-news-photo/1349024147" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images">Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images</a></span>
President Joe Biden wanted to have a clear plan before the U.N. climate conference.

President Joe Biden’s new climate strategy, announced after his original plan crumbled under opposition in Congress, will represent a historic investment in clean energy technology and infrastructure if it is enacted. But it is still not likely to be enough to meet the administration’s emissions reduction goals for 2030.

As director of the Fletcher School’s Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University, I analyze ways governments can manage climate change.

As the new plan comes together, and the steve madden shoes administration considers future steps, here are five types of policies that can help get the United States on track to achieve its climate targets. Together they would reassure the world that the United States can honor its climate commitments; help stave off the effects of a carbon border tax planned in Europe; and, if designed right, position U.S. workers and firms for the low-carbon economy of the 21st century.

Industrial policy

The United States’ ability to compete in low-carbon and resilience technologies such as energy storage has eroded over the past two decades.

Part of the problem has been the political impasse in Washington over clean energy and climate policies. Over the past 20 years, tax credits, loan guarantees and regulations have started and stopped, depending on the political whims of whoever is in power in Congress and the White House. U.S. companies have gone bankrupt while waiting for markets to materialize.

Meanwhile, European companies, with backing from their investment and development banks, and Chinese companies have surged ahead, using their home markets to demonstrate new technologies and build industries. Wind turbines are a good example. European companies, led by Denmark’s Vestas, controlled 43% of the wind turbine market globally in 2018, and China controlled 30%. By contrast, the United States accounted for only 10%.

I believe the United States as a country needs to make choices about where it has comparative advantage, and then the federal government can chart a clear course forward to develop those industries and compete in those global markets. Will it be electric vehicles? Electricity storage? Technology for adaptation such as sea wall construction, flood control or wildfire management? Independent advice could be provided to the administration and Congress, perhaps by the National Academies of Science, and then Congress could authorize an investment plan to conditionally support these industries.

Tempting as it is to support all technologies, public dollars are scarce. Companies that receive subsidies must be held accountable with performance requirements, and taxpayers should get a return when those companies succeed.

Two men standing on a slanted roof preparing to install a solar panel
Workers install solar panels on a Virginia church. 

As part of industrial policy, officials also need to squarely face up to the fact that some workers, states, cities and towns with industries closely tied to fossil fuels are vulnerable in the transition to cleaner energy.

On an expert panel convened by the National Academies of Science and recent study, colleagues and I recommended that the government establish a national transition corporation to provide support and opportunities for displaced workers and affected communities. These dr martens boots communities will need to diversify their economies and their tax bases. Regional planning grants, loans and other investments can help them pivot their economies to industries that contribute less to climate change. Establishing a U.S. infrastructure bank or green bank to fund low-emissions and resilience projects could help finance these investments.

Equally important is investing in the workforce needed for a low-carbon economy. The government can subsidize the development of programs at colleges and universities to serve this economy and provide scholarships for students.

Fiscal tools

Other policies can help generate the revenue needed to support the transition to a clean economy.

Obviously, removing subsidies for fossil fuel industries is a crucial step forward. One analysis estimated, conservatively, that the U.S. provides about US billion a year in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. Estimates of indirect subsidies are much higher.

Tax reform can also help, such as replacing some individual and corporate income taxes with a carbon tax. This policy tool would tax the carbon in fuels, creating an incentive for companies and consumers to reduce use of fuels with the greatest impact on the climate. To avoid overburdening low-income households, the government could reduce income taxes on lower-income households or provide a dividend check.

Tax credits, loan guarantees, government procurement rules and investments in innovation are all useful tools and can shape markets for American companies. But these fiscal policy tools should not be permanent, and they should be phased down as technology costs come down.

Investing in markets as well as innovation

The government has the ability to both “push” and “pull” climate technologies into the marketplace. Government investments in research and human capital are “push”-type policies, because supporting research ensures that smart people will keep moving into the field.

The government can also “pull” in technologies by creating vibrant markets for them, which will provide further incentives to innovation and spur widespread deployment. Carbon taxes and emissions trading systems can create predictable markets for industry because they hey dude provide long-term market signals that let companies know what to expect for years ahead, and they at least partially account for a product’s damage to the environment.

An electric vehicle charging next to an EVs-only parking space
Electric vehicles are among the examples of a new market.

While the United States is investing in clean-energy research, development and demonstration, it has been less successful than China or Europe – both of which have emissions trading systems – in developing predictable, durable markets.

Performance standards

A tried-and-true U.S. policy tool is the use of performance standards. These standards limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit, such as fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles, energy efficiency standards for appliances and industrial equipment, and building efficiency standards at the state level. Fuel economy standards on automobiles since 1975 have saved about 2 trillion gallons of gas and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 14 gigatons, roughly three times the country’s annual emissions from energy in 2020.

Performance standards give companies the flexibility to find the best way to comply, which can also fuel innovation. The Biden administration could develop new performance standards in each major emitting sector – vehicles, power plants and buildings. Federally imposed building codes, which are set at the state and local levels, would be a difficult political lift.

The laws that established the government’s authority to set standards, such as the Clean Air Act and Energy Policy Act, have some ambiguities that can leave standards vulnerable to court challenge, however. Legal challenges have led to a zigzag in regulations in some sectors, most obviously the power sector.

Nature-based solutions and state legislation

A final area where policy is needed is for nature-based solutions. These might be fiscal incentives for restoring forests, which store carbon, or protecting existing lands from development, or they might be regulations.

Laws and regulations at the state level can also be enormously powerful in changing the U.S. emissions trajectory.

Biden’s Plan B

The centerpiece of Biden’s original climate plan was a program designed to reward and pressure utilities to shift electricity production away from fossil fuels faster. With the Senate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin’s opposition sank the plan.

The Biden administration’s new Plan B has a number of heroic assumptions and relies heavily on fiscal and regulatory tools, along with lots of state-level actions.

Missing from Plan B is the emphasis on innovation and industrial policy, both of which might have a larger impact on U.S. emissions. The elephant in the room that cannot be ignored is that the United States needs a climate bill that puts its targets for reducing emissions by 2030 and 2050 into law, gives the right government agencies the authority to set policies and addresses industrial and workforce needs.

Here’s What’s In And Out Of Biden’s Build Back Better Compromise Deal

President Joe Biden says he has struck a deal with the most conservative members of the Senate to move forward with a $1.75 trillion spending and tax bill — a legislative package meant to reflect the biggest pillars of his agenda.

When Biden says he wants to Build Back Better, this is the bill he’s talking about.

But what the White House is now proposing isn’t what Biden wanted. Over the course of the last month, the White House whittled down its dreams of a $3.5 trillion spending bill over 10 years to appease two key Democratic votes: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).

What they’ve come up with is about half the size of what the majority of congressional Democratic lawmakers had hoped for. That meant leaving out a lot of key ― and extremely popular — proposals, like instituting the nation’s first paid family and medical leave program, or lowering pharmaceutical drug prices.

That said, there’s still a lot of policy packed into this proposal. The proposal’s biggest investments are in climate policies ($555 billion), child care and universal pre-kindergarten ($400 billion) and a temporary extension of the expanded child tax credit ($200 billion), which has already hey dude shoes gone a long way toward cutting down child poverty in the United States. It increases taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Biden spent Thursday morning on Capitol Hill trying to convince Democrats to support this compromise. But nothing is for certain; a lot of lawmakers saw their policy priorities cut down, or even cut out all together, because of Manchin and Sinema.

“I need you to help me,” Biden told House Democrats Thursday. “I need your votes.”

Here’s what the White House negotiated.

Democrats appear to be following through on their pledge to make pre-kindergarten universally available across the country. The policy is proposed to remain in place for six years, which is a long time compared to some other stuff in the bill.

It’s set up as a federal-state partnership; states submit plans to set up free pre-K systems and, for the first three years, the federal government foots the bill. After three years, the states have to cover 40% of the costs.

The White House summary of the Build Back Better framework says it would expand access to “free high-quality preschool for more than 6 million children.”

Child Care Assistance

The deal includes the largest-ever investment in child care, through a program that would limit expenses for most families to 7% of household income and offer free access to many lower-income Americans.

In some ways, this plan is set up similarly to the pre-K proposal, but it is financed differently and has more restrictions. Most parents would have to prove eligibility through either employment, education status or health, among other categories, in order to get these child care subsidies. How much parents pay into child care is also on a sliding scale depending on income, and capped to those that make up to 250% of their state’s median income.

For a family of four in Alabama, that hoka shoes works out to about $210,000 a year. For a family of four in Massachusetts, it would be about $340,000. In other words, it would cover the vast majority of families, leaving out only those in the highest income brackets.

The program also includes mechanisms to improve the quality of child care, primarily by raising the wages of care workers. The program requires states to opt in to the program, and some might not. But even with only partial participation, millions of working parents would get significant, much-needed help with child care.

President Joe Biden talks to students during a visit to a pre-K classroom at East End Elementary School in North Plainfield, New Jersey, to promote his Build Back Better agenda on Oct. 25, 2021. (Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden talks to students during a visit to a pre-K classroom at East End Elementary School in North Plainfield, New Jersey, to promote his Build Back Better agenda on Oct. 25, 2021. 

Extension Of The Child Tax Credit

Democrats would continue the monthly child allowance payments of up to $300 per child for one year, with no new restrictions on access for people with low incomes.

But it’s not clear if the new proposal would exclude households with higher incomes. Democrats had originally wanted to extend the benefits through 2025, but recent opposition to the program from Manchin forced Biden to agree to just a one-year extension.

Clean Energy And Climate Investments

Biden initially proposed $500 billion in climate spending in March. But the White House’s deal has actually proposed $555 billion for clean energy and climate investments.

That includes about $320 billion for tax credits for companies that hey dude buy and build solar, wind and nuclear power, and for drivers who purchase electric vehicles. The program would last 10 years ― twice as long as previous clean energy tax credits. Another $105 billion would go to investments to fortify the country against extreme weather, clean up disease-causing chemicals in historically polluted communities, and set up a Civilian Climate Corps modeled on the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which planted billions of trees and provided jobs during the Great Depression.

The administration said it won $110 billion in targeted incentives to boost domestic manufacturing of clean energy products and baseline industrial goods such as cement and steel, which have struggled to compete with cheaper and often more polluting rivals overseas. The budget includes $20 billion for the government itself to buy more green technologies, including small-modular nuclear reactors, which could have a knock-on effect of spurring on technologies that have had trouble finding private buyers.

The 6 megawatt Stanton Solar Farm outside of Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)
The 6 megawatt Stanton Solar Farm outside of Orlando, Florida.

Taxes On The Wealthy

Democrats are still raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for the legislation ― just not in the ways they originally anticipated, and not as much as they originally anticipated. A planned hike in the corporate tax rate, which Republicans slashed from 35% to just 21% during the administration of Donald Trump, isn’t happening because of opposition from Sinema. Instead, Democrats are backing a corporate minimum tax, designed to limit the use of tax deductions and credits by large corporations.

The outline also omits a new proposal to tax the unrealized capital gains on stocks and other assets owned by billionaires, after many Democrats complained about a tricky implementation.

Instead, Democrats would go for a “surcharge” on the richest 0.02% of households, plus a 1% tax on corporate stock buybacks, which surged as a result of the 2017 Republican tax cut and often do little but enrich executives.

A huge chunk of tax revenue would come not from new taxes, but instead from giving the IRS tens of billions in new funding to enforce existing law and close the “tax gap,” the difference between what people owe and what they voluntarily pay. Most of the gap results from business income earned by wealthy households.

The White House says this collection of tax hikes means the bill would be fully paid for and won’t add to the deficit, but the Congressional Budget Office may disagree.

Affordable Housing

At one point, Democrats feared housing provisions could get cut from the legislation entirely. And while funding for housing did decline from the $327 billion Biden originally requested, more than $150 billion would still go to helping the poorest families afford homes and rent.

The White House says this would pay for the construction or rehabilitation of more than 1 million homes, expand the Section 8 voucher program and would provide financial incentives for state and local governments to change zoning laws to encourage new housing construction.

Care Services For The Elderly And People With Disabilities

The bill would include an unprecedented investment in what’s known as home- and community-based services, or HCBS. These are programs for elderly and disabled Americans that allow them to live outside of large institutions, frequently in their own homes, by offering them help with some of the functions of everyday life.

The services can include everything from home care aides to help with cooking and hygiene, to employment programs that help people with disabilities find and keep jobs. Advocates for the initiative had initially proposed an investment of $400 billion over 10 years. The provision in the bill is just $150 billion. That would still represent the single-biggest increase in these sorts of programs, according to experts.

As with the child care proposal, a major goal of the initiative is to raise the wages of caregivers, whose notoriously low pay leaves many in poverty ― and, especially following the pandemic, has created shortages. And as with the child care proposal, a major caveat is that it requires states to participate. Some may not.

An activist is seen during the Care Cant Wait rally with the Service Employees International Union at the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Tom Williams via Getty Images)
An activist is seen during the Care Cant Wait rally with the Service Employees International Union at the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, Pennsylvania. 

Health Care Coverage Expansions

The bill takes two significant, if time-limited, steps toward universal coverage ― in both cases by building on the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”

First, it takes some temporary increases in private insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act and extends them through 2025. This increases, in place because of the pandemic relief act in the spring, reduce premiums (and allow access to more generous coverage) for millions, including some who were not eligible for assistance before.

Second, the bill offers an insurance option to low-income people in states dr martens boots where Republican officials have declined to expand Medicaid eligibility, as the Affordable Care Act originally envisioned. It would do so by allowing these people to get effectively free coverage through HealthCare.gov.

If these steps take effect, nearly all American citizens would have access to insurance, experts have said.

The bill also adds a hearing benefit to Medicare, but not vision and dental. The latter, in particular, had been a major goal for progressives, citing the large number of seniors who can’t afford and don’t get dental care now.

Prescription Drug Pricing Reform

The most conspicuously missing piece on the White House framework is a proposal to make prescription drugs more affordable. There’s no proposal at all, despite months of trying to reach an agreement on a plan that would give the federal government some regulatory power over drug prices, just like the governments of other economically advanced countries have.

The hope was to reduce drug prices mainly in two ways: by giving the government power to negotiate prices directly with manufacturers, and by limiting how much the companies could raise prices every year. The proposal also envisioned new investments in basic scientific research, to promote the development of breakthrough cures, and to redesign the drug benefit in Medicare so that it offered seniors more coverage.

It would be a big deal as politics. Democrats have been promising action on drugs since the early 2000s. And it would be a big deal as policy. Because of America’s high drug prices, drug costs are an extra burden for employers and taxpayers, as well as a real hardship for millions, especially elderly Americans whose health problems require multiple medications.

The idea of regulating drug prices is extremely popular, even among conservative voters. And it has support of nearly the entire Democratic caucus, including relatively conservative members in swing districts. But a small handful of Democrats with ties to ― and campaign support from ― the drug industry have objected to more aggressive schemes, citing concerns that limiting drug company revenue would hurt innovation.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was a major opponent of Democrats&#39; proposed prescription drug price reforms. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was a major opponent of Democrats’ proposed prescription drug price reforms.

Biden and Democratic leaders hoped to broker some kind of compromise, by, for example, limiting the number of drugs subject to negotiation. The Democratic holdouts, including Rep. Scott Peters of California and Sinema of Arizona, wanted a version so limited that supporters felt it would do little good.

Champions of aggressive regulation, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), on Thursday vowed to keep fighting to get a drug package into the final legislation.

So there’s still a chance this could come back in some form. Maybe.

Paid Leave

Biden originally proposed giving workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. The mandate would ensure that people could take time off for a new child, recovery from an illness, caring for a seriously ill family member or issues arising from a loved one’s military deployment.

But thanks to Manchin, the United States will continue to be the only industrialized nation with no universal paid leave mandate. Manchin was concerned about the cost, as well as the potential for fraud. Democrats tried to come up with a compromise ― shortening the length to four weeks, and eliminating sick leave, but they failed to convince the senator.

Just 23% of private sector workers currently have access to paid family leave provided by their employer and 42% have access to medical leave.

Big Action On Climate Change

The regulatory program meant to serve as the centerpiece of Biden’s climate strategy was eliminated. The proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program would have given the Department of Energy $150 billion to pay utilities who increase their output of zero-carbon power by 4% each year ― and fine those that failed to hit that target. It was projected by independent modelers to get the U.S. one-third of the way to its goal of cutting emissions in half by the end of this decade.

Democrats managed to redistribute that funding to other programs, delivering a much bigger tax credit suite than previously planned. And the administration has vowed to compensate for the loss of the program by enacting new regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency, restoring the federal government’s stick.

A new analysis by the Rhodium Group, a consultancy, found that the mix of funding and executive branch actions could, technically, deliver the 50% emissions cuts Biden promised.

But the implementation of the climate plan comes with big ifs. Regulations will take years to come into force, and will likely face hefty legal challenges. And if Biden, already the oldest person to assume the presidency, is defeated in 2024, the next administration could reverse the regulatory and executive actions almost as easily as the current White House enacted them.

GOP Corporate Tax Cuts Stay Put

Democrats have campaigned since 2018 on reversing Republican tax cuts, especially their reductions to the corporate and top individual rates. But Democrats are offsetting their spending with revenue from novel tax policies while they leave the Republican tax cuts untouched.

The framework is also silent on whether Democrats will restore a property tax deduction used mostly by high income households in populous blue states, though lawmakers said Thursday morning it would be included in the end.

Free Community College

Offering free community college was an issue close to the White House, since First Lady Jill Biden has taught at community colleges for the past 30 years. It would give everyone access to higher education, regardless of ability to pay.

But this proposal was quickly cut as it became clear that the overall price tag would have to shrink. Lobbyists for four-year colleges also opposed the proposal because they were worried it would hurt their bottom line. They argued that states would redirect money away from them, or students would opt to attend community college instead of a four-year institution.

Biden says U.S. will ‘own the future’ with Build Back Better, but disagreements among Democrats remain, imperiling plan

WASHINGTON — Cleaner sources of energy, harvested by machinery made in the United States. Early childhood education subsidized by the federal government. Cheaper hearing aids and expanded health care coverage. A million units of affordable housing.

Those are just some of the “truly consequential” changes Americans will see if President Biden’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better agenda survives the meat grinder of Capitol Hill, he said on Thursday.

“We will own the future,” Biden said, reprising the theme of international competition that he has frequently deployed. That competition, he has said, is not only with China but also with authoritarian regimes like Russia.

Congress is also considering a $1.2 trillion brooks shoes traditional infrastructure package meant to address badly needed road repairs and other long-standing concerns, like clean drinking water and access to high-speed internet. That bill easily passed the Senate over the summer with 19 Republican votes but has stalled in the House due to progressives’ insistence that a budget framework be agreed to first.

Thursday afternoon saw the release of the 1,684-page Build Back Better bill, signaling movement — however halting — toward a vote. “For those who said, ‘I want to see text,’ the text is there for you to review, for you to complain about, for you to add to or subtract from,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference. “Whatever it is and we’ll see what consensus emerges from that, but we’re really very much on a path.”

President Biden speaks at a podium in the East Room of the White House.
President Biden at the White House on Thursday.

Yet progressives on Capitol Hill expressed dismay at the removal of priorities they had hoped would make it into the final Build Back Better bill. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., for example, said it was “disappointing” to see paid family leave fall out of the package. (Pelosi said at her press conference that she was “still fighting for paid leave.”)

The slimming down comes courtesy of moderates in the Democratic caucus, particularly Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who balked at the price tag of the original $3.5 trillion budget proposal and demanded cuts to various programs within it. clarks shoes uk Their resistance has forced Democrats to make difficult choices about priorities like lowering drug prices, another casualty of recent negotiations, and free community college, which was also left out.

With margins in both the House and Senate exceptionally narrow, the White House has to be attuned to any grievance significant enough to scuttle the complex dealmaking intended to ensure the passage of both the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $1.75 trillion domestic agenda.

Such grievances remain legion. “I’ve been clear from the beginning: no SALT, no deal,” tweeted Rep. Mikie Sherrill, referring to the state and local tax deductions beloved by many residents of high-tax states like New Jersey, which she represents. Those deductions were capped by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. At the present, Democratic leaders are reportedly working on a way to lift the cap.

The intensity of ongoing negotiations reflects the uncertainty of the moment and the precariousness of the coalition Biden has tried to build.

“Looks like the votes just aren’t there for Build Back Better,” a staffer for a progressive member of the House told Yahoo News on Thursday afternoon. That sentiment was echoed by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., leader of the progressive caucus in the House. In trying to ensure that liberals’ priorities remain at the fore, she has sometimes frustrated a White House that has routinely argued that something is better than nothing.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., surrounded by reporters on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday. 

In keeping with that argument, the president outlined on Thursday what he said were the consequences of failure. “We risk losing our edge as a nation,” he warned, speaking as Vice President Kamala Harris stood behind him. Shortly after his address, Biden boarded the presidential helicopter, Marine One, en route to Joint Base Andrews. He will travel from there first to Rome, where he will meet with Pope Francis and attend a meeting of the 20 most significant economic powers in the world. Then he heads to Glasgow, Scotland, for an international climate change summit.

Although earlier hopes to salomon boots have the spending plan finalized ahead of his departure proved unrealistic, Biden left Washington on Thursday afternoon optimistic that despite progressive frustrations, a deal was in the works to enact what would be the most massive federal spending program since the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Yet House Democratic leaders officially canceled the plan to vote on the infrastructure bill on Thursday, the latest blow to the party’s, and the president’s, ambitious plans, ABC News first reported.

Despite the delay, the White House continues to believe that even if progressives lament what could have been if not for the cuts that moderates successfully forced, they will not walk away from an opportunity they are unlikely to see again, especially if Republicans retake either chamber of Congress next year.

“This is a fundamental game changer for families — and our economy,” the president said in White House remarks meant both for a public that remains unclear about the scope of the enormous spending bill and a Congress divided along partisan lines about whether to allow for such spending. (Biden has said that revenue would be raised with higher taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.)

President Biden salutes and first lady Jill Biden waves before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Rome to attend the G-20 meeting.
President Biden returns a salute as he and first lady Jill Biden board Air Force One for a trip to Rome on Thursday to attend the G-20 meeting. 

Alluding to the reporters gathered before him in the White House on Thursday, the president noted that many of them were working mothers — and that he had been a working father, raising two boys, after his first wife and infant daughter were killed in a 1972 car accident. Most of the jobs in Build Back Better would be sperry shoes in fields like early childhood education and home health care, which are dominated by women. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, conversely, is estimated to heavily favor male-dominated fields like construction.

In a significant victory, progressives ensured that expanded child tax credits would remain part of Build Back Better. So would the $555 billion devoted to climate change.

“We are once again going to be the innovators,” Biden said, envisioning how wind turbines and solar panels would be made in the United States, not rival nations like China.

Whether all that is enough to satisfy progressives while keeping centrists from fleeing will become apparent in the coming days. If progressives decide to withhold support for the infrastructure bill, Senate moderates would likely retaliate by sinking Build Back Better, thus leading to a collapse of Biden’s entire domestic spending agenda.

“No one got everything they wanted,” Biden said back at the White House, as negotiations furiously continued on Capitol Hill. The president will watch those negotiations from Europe.

Rising Prices, Once Seen as Temporary, Threaten Biden’s Agenda

Container ships wait to enter the Port of Los Angeles on Oct. 17, 2021. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Container ships wait to enter the Port of Los Angeles on Oct. 17, 2021.

WASHINGTON — At least once a week, a team of President Joe Biden’s top advisers meet on Zoom to address the nation’s supply chain crisis. They discuss ways to relieve backlogs at U.S. ports, ramp up semiconductor production for struggling automakers and swell the ranks of truck drivers.

The conversations are aimed at one goal: taming accelerating price increases that are hurting the economic recovery, unsettling American consumers and denting Biden’s popularity.

An inflation surge is presenting a fresh challenge for Biden, who for months insisted that rising prices were a temporary hangover from the pandemic recession and would quickly recede. Instead, the president and his aides are now bracing hoka shoes for high inflation to persist into next year, with Americans continuing to see faster — and sustained — increases in prices for food, gasoline and other consumer goods than at any point this century.

That reality has complicated Biden’s push for sweeping legislation to boost workers, expand access to education and fight poverty and climate change. And it is dragging on the president’s approval ratings, which could threaten Democrats’ already tenuous hold on Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.

Recent polls shows Americans’ concerns over inflation are eroding their economic confidence and dimming their view of Biden’s performance. National surveys by CNBC and Fox News show a sharp decline in voter ratings of Biden’s overall performance and his handling of the economy, even though unemployment has fallen quickly on his watch and economic output has strengthened to its fastest rate since Ronald Reagan was president. Voter worry over price increases has jumped in the last month.

Administration officials have responded by framing Biden’s push for what would be his signature spending bill as an effort to reduce costs that American families face, citing provisions to cap child care costs and expand subsidies for higher education, among other plans. And they have mobilized staff to scour options for unclogging supply chains, bringing more people back into the workforce, and reducing food and gasoline costs by promoting more competition in the economy via executive actions.

“There are distinct challenges from turning the economy back on after the pandemic that we are bringing together state and local officials, the private sector and labor to address — so that prices decrease,” Kate Berner, the White House deputy communications director, said in an interview.

Biden’s top officials stress that the administration’s policies have helped accelerate the U.S. economic rebound. Workers are commanding their largest wage gains in two decades. Growth roared back in the first half of the year, fueled by the $1.9 trillion economic aid bill the president signed in March. The country’s expansion continues to outpace other wealthy nations around the world.

Inflation and shortages are the downside of that equation. Car prices are elevated as a result of strong demand and a lack of semiconductors. Gasoline has hit its hey dude highest cost per gallon in seven years. A shift in consumer preferences and a pandemic crimp in supply chains have delayed shipments of furniture, household appliances and other consumer goods. Millions of Americans, having saved up money from government support through the pandemic, are waiting to return to jobs, driving up labor costs for companies and food prices in many restaurants.

Much of that is beyond Biden’s control. Inflation has risen in wealthy nations across the globe, as the pandemic has hobbled the movement of goods and component parts between countries. Virus-wary consumers have shifted their spending toward goods rather than services, travel and tourism remain depressed, and energy prices have risen as demand for fuel and electricity has surged amid the resumption of business activity and some weather shocks linked to climate change.

But some economists, including veterans of previous Democratic administrations, say much of Biden’s inflation struggle is self-inflicted. Lawrence H. Summers is one of those who say the stimulus bill the president signed in March gave too much of a boost to consumer spending, at a time when the supply-chain disruptions have made it hard for Americans to get their hands on the things they want to buy. Summers, who served in the Obama and Clinton administrations, says inflation now risks spiraling out of control; other Democratic economists agree there are risks.

“The original sin was an oversized American Rescue Plan. It contributed to both higher output but also higher prices,” said Jason Furman, a Harvard economist who chaired the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama.

That has some important Democrats worried about price-related drawbacks from the president’s ambitious spending package, complicating Biden’s approach.

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a centrist, has repeatedly cited surging inflation in insisting that Biden scale back what had been a $3.5 trillion effort to expand the social safety net.

Biden has tried to make the case that the investments in his spending bill will moderate price increases over time. But he has struggled to identify things he can do right away to ease the pain of high-profile price spikes, like gasoline. dr martens boots Some in his administration have pushed for mobilizing the National Guard to help unclog ports that are stacked with imports waiting to be delivered to consumers around the country. Biden has raised the possibility of tapping the strategic petroleum reserve to modestly boost oil supplies, or of negotiating with oil producers in the Middle East to ramp up their output.

During a CNN town hall last week, Biden conceded the limits of his power, saying, “I don’t have a near-term answer” for bringing down gas prices, which he does not expect to begin dropping until next year.

“I don’t see anything that’s going to happen in the meantime that’s going to significantly reduce gas prices,” he said.

Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that she expects improvement in the overall inflation rate “by the middle to end of next year, second half of next year.”

With an American public that had gone nearly 40 years without seeing — or worrying — about inflation, the issue provides an opening for the opposition. Republicans have turned price spikes into a weapon against Biden’s economic policies, warning that more spending would exacerbate the pain for everyday Americans.

“It’s everywhere,” said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, in an interview. “You can’t live your life without seeing your paycheck buy less.”

White House officials have monitored inflationary pressure for months. They remain convinced, as they were in April, that price increases will not spiral out of control and force abrupt interest-rate increases from the Federal Reserve that could slam the brakes on growth.

The president and his top advisers remain confident that price growth will start to fall well before the midterms. They defend the size of the rescue plan and say Americans are focused on inflation right now because the success of the stimulus bill accelerated economic and employment growth and took a larger issue — the availability of jobs for people who want them — off the table.

“It is a highly incomplete view to try to assess the economy, and even people’s views about the economy, by looking at inflation alone,” Jared Bernstein, a member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview. “You also have to appreciate the robustness of the expansion, and how it’s lifting job and earnings opportunities.”

Bernstein and other advisers say many of the causes of inflation are already improving. They point to calculations by Mark Zandi, a Moody’s Analytics economist, that suggest Americans who have left the labor force will begin flocking back into the job market by December or January, because they will likely have exhausted their savings by then.

The advisers are also continuing to explore more actions they could take, including efforts to increase the number of truck drivers near ports and to force lower prices and more competition in the food industry.

“We are always all in on everything,” Berner said.

To which many officials add a caveat: Almost anything the White House could do now will take time to push prices down.

Barack Obama stumps for Terry McAuliffe as tight Va. governor’s race worries Democrats

RICHMOND, Va. — Hundreds of Democrats made their way to an urban college campus on a cool and sunny Saturday to hear a simple message from former President Barack Obama: Please vote.

“Don’t be sitting on the couch!” Obama told cheering supporters at Virginia Commonwealth University, telling them that turnout in early voting and on Election Day itself is necessary for Democrats in Virginia and across the county.

Obama exhorted voters on behalf of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who is now in a tighter-than-expected gubernatorial race in which Black voters in particular could make the difference.

But the former president skechers outlet plans to echo his plea in 2022 as Democrats and Republicans battle for control of Congress and statehouses nationwide.

In introducing Obama, McAuliffe – who won the governor’s race in 2013 and is seeking to win the office again – told the crowd that they have to turn out: “You all know what’s at stake.”

The Virginia governor’s race, coming less than one year into Joe Biden’s presidency, is being viewed by many as a sort of referendum of the president’s term so far, as Biden has struggled to push his ambitious domestic agenda through a Democratic-controlled by still fractious Congress.

And because Democrats’ control of Congress is so slim, the results of the 2022 midterm elections will have an outsized influence on Biden’s ability to get anything done in the second half of his term.

Former US President Barack Obama campaigns for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, on October 23, 2021. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly / AFP) (Photo by RYAN M. KELLY/AFP via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 0 ORIG FILE ID: AFP_9QA9H4.jpg
Former US President Barack Obama campaigns for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, on October 23, 2021. 

Supporters who gathered on the outdoor patio at the VCU library said they understand Obama’s warnings about low turnout.

“I am concerned,” said Brandy Mokhtar, 47, a chemical engineer from Richmond who described the former president’s remarks as “very motivating” and necessary.

“It’s a tight race,” she said. “We need to get everyone out to vote … Democracy is at stake.”

Grace Pullen, 20, a Virginia Tech student who drove more than 160 miles from Blacksburg, Va., to hear Obama speak, said that “what he had to say was super inspiring.”

“We can talk so much about what we want to change, but at the end of the day you have to vote,” said Pullen, who plans to vote absentee.

Katherine Lutge, 21, who drove three bluetooth headphones hours with Pullen for the rally, especially praised McAuliffe’s ticket mate Hala Ayala, who is vying to become the first woman of color to be the state’s lieutenant governor. “I had read about her but I had never seen her speak, and I thought she was very motivating,” Lutge said.

Ebony Harris, Hanna Epley, Alexandra Rogers, and Nia Walker were in line for the rally at 10:30 a.m. The 18-year-old friends attend VCU and said they were inspired to vote after hearing Obama speak.

“It was really cool to hear from a bunch of people in our government and here in Virginia and get to hear them talk,” Epley said.

Rogers said she was looking forward to voting, “because it’ll be my first time voting.” Walker described the event as effective, “especially since we are in Richmond, and the governor’s mansion is down the street.”

Former President Barack Obama speaks during a rally along with Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin in the November election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) ORG XMIT: VASH115
Former President Barack Obama speaks during a rally along with Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin in the November election. 

Obama’s appearance at a get-out-the-vote rally in downtown Richmond comes at a crucial moment for McAuliffe’s neck-and-neck race in Virginia with Republican Glenn Youngkin. Recent polling from Monmouth University show him and Youngkin in a dead heat at 46% each.

Now, the former Virginia governor is bringing in popular Black politicians to encourage Black voters — a critical base for Democrats — to vote early or show up to the polls on Nov. 2.

Obama spent most of his speech promoting McAuliffe but reserved some time to criticize his opponent and other Republicans for extreme partisanship, as well as GOP opposition to abortion and expanded voting rights.

The former president did not cite Youngkin by name, nor did he mention the name of another prominent Republican: former president Donald Trump. He did attack “the lies and conspiracy theories” that Trump continues sperry shoes to advance about his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden.

At one point, Obama mocked Youngkin, a businessman making his first political race, for campaign events at grocery stores and for his support from Trump: “You can’t run ads telling me you’re a regular old hoops-playing, dishwashing, fleece-wearing guy but quietly cultivate support from those who seek to tear down our democracy.”

When the crowd booed at a reference at Youngkin, Obama re-upped a refrain he used during his days on the campaign trail: “Don’t boo – vote!”

Just a year after the convulsive 2020 president election, Obama said he understands that people are “frustrated” by politics right now, but they can’t afford to sit out any election.

“We can’t be tired,” Obama said.

Supporters said the Virginia election could set the course for contests nationwide.

“How Virginia votes will definitely set a precedent” for the 2022 midterms, said Briana Smith, 26, a rehab technician in pediatric therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University, site of the Obama rally.

Standing near the stage at the VCU library patio, Smith said that this whole election “feels very, very important,” and Black voters like her will be crucial to the outcome.

“It’s setting a standard for the upcoming elections,” she said.

VCU student Tarazha Jenkins, 20, told USA TODAY that representation and policy issues are some reasons why she attended the rally.

“I think it’s important for young folks and everybody around Richmond to get involved. And I think it’s important for our students to see people like President Obama come out and give us some advice on how to vote, when to vote, where to vote,” said the political science, African American studies and mass communications major.

Former US President Barack Obama campaigns for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (R rear) at a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, on October 23, 2021. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly / AFP) (Photo by RYAN M. KELLY/AFP via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 0 ORIG FILE ID: AFP_9QA9FZ.jpg
Former US President Barack Obama campaigns for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (R rear) at a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, on October 23, 2021. 

While encouraging people to vote for McAuliffe, Obama on Saturday endorsed a slate of 21 Virginia legislative candidates. He also cut audio for robocalls to Black voters and others, urging them to get out to polls.

Youngkin, who is holding his own get-out-the-vote rally in Henrico, Va., has said McAuliffe has to bring in celebrities like Obama in order to generate excitement for his campaign.

“Forty year politician Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic party are running scared, so they are calling in these big name politicians to try to drum up support and enthusiasm in places where Terry McAuliffe has none,” said Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter.

In addition to the Obama rally at VCU, Vice President Kamala Harris has recorded a get-out-the vote video that will be shown in hundreds on African American churches before Election Day. Harris is the nation’s top-most current Black officeholder.

Former Georgia salomon boots lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms both visited Black churches last Sunday. Abrams is scheduled to appear with McAuliffe on Sunday at a get-out-the vote rally in Charlottesville.

Worried about a governor’s election that is closer than expected, Virginia Democrats hope that appearances by Obama and other leaders will juice Black turnout during early voting as well as on Election Day itself.

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama, right, as he speaks at a campaign rally with supporters for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, left, at Washington Lee High School in Arlington, Va. Former President Obama will campaign with McAuliffe in the final stretch of the Virginia governor&#39;s race. McAuliffe&#39;s campaign announced that Obama will join him in Richmond on Oct. 23, 2021, to mobilize Virginians during early voting, which began weeks ago. AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) ORG XMIT: RIC501
FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama, right, as he speaks at a campaign rally with supporters for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, left, at Washington Lee High School in Arlington, Va. Former President Obama will campaign with McAuliffe in the final stretch of the Virginia governor’s race. McAuliffe’s campaign announced that Obama will join him in Richmond on Oct. 23, 2021, to mobilize Virginians during early voting, which began weeks ago.
Obama’s trip to Virginia on Saturday is part of his ongoing effort to increase Black voter turnout nationwide. Later in the day, he is scheduled to headline another get-out-the-vote rally in Newark, N.J., a state that is also holding a governor’s race.
McAuliffe’s race appears close even though Virginia has trended Democratic over the past decade. Democrats have won two the last two gubernatorial races and Biden carried the state over Trump by ten percentage points a year ago.In addition to bringing in high-powered surrogates like Obama and Harris, McAuliffe and the Democrats are trying to reach Black voters in a variety of methods. They include interviews on urban and gospel radio stations, as well as national syndicated shows.

Democrats are also conducting voter registration and early voting drives in Black neighborhoods throughout the state. One focus there is on historically Black colleges and universities like Hampton and Norfolk State.

J. Miles Coleman, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center For Politics, said Obama and the Democrats are doing what they have to do. He cited Obama’s comment that Virginia is a “blue state” only “when Democrats turn out.” especially Black voters.

“If McAuliffe loses,” Coleman said, “weak Black turnout is going to be a main reason why.”

Biden’s Proposal to Empower IRS Rattles Banks and Their Customers

Jill Castilla, chief executive of the one-branch Citizens Bank of Edmond, outside the bank in Edmond, Okla., on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (Nick Oxford/The New York Times)
Jill Castilla, chief executive of the one-branch Citizens Bank of Edmond, outside the bank in Edmond, Okla., on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

When the Biden administration looked for ways to pay for the president’s expansive social policy bill, it proposed raising revenue by cracking down on $7 trillion in unpaid taxes, mostly from wealthy Americans and businesses.

To help find those funds, the administration wants banks to give the Internal Revenue Service new details keen shoes keen shoes on their customers and provide data for accounts with total annual deposits or withdrawals worth more than $600. That has sparked an uproar among banks and Republican lawmakers, who say giving the IRS such power would be an enormous breach of privacy and government overreach.

Banks and their trade groups are running advertising and letter-writing campaigns to raise awareness — and concern — about the proposal. As a result, banks from Denver to Philadelphia say they are being deluged with calls, emails and in-person complaints from both savers and small-business owners worried about the proposal. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has issued talking points to bank tellers on what to tell angry customers who call or come into a branch to complain.

“We have heard a lot from our customers about their concerns about their privacy,” said Jill Castilla, the chief executive of the one-branch Citizens Bank of Edmond, just outside Oklahoma City. “I’ve gotten calls, emails, and then we’ve had many customers come in.”

Banks already submit tax forms to the IRS about the interest that customer accounts accrue. But the new proposal would require they share information about account balances so that the IRS can see if there are large discrepancies between the income people and businesses report and what they have in the bank. The IRS could audit or investigate the gaps to see if those taxpayers are evading their obligations.

Biden administration officials say the United States needs more information from taxpayers to crack down on those who do not pay what they owe. The measure, which would affect more than 100 million households and millions of businesses, is estimated to capture $460 billion in additional revenue over a decade, primarily from the wealthiest Americans.

“This is a very serious policy brooks shoes proposal,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at a congressional hearing last month. “We have a $7 trillion estimated tax gap that we have a great deal of tax avoidance by individuals and businesses — typically very high-net worth, high-income individuals and businesses that have opaque sources of income that are not paying the taxes that are due.”

Treasury officials say the effort is not about tracking individual transactions and is not aimed at lower- or middle-class households. The $600 threshold was chosen to weed out accounts that are generally dormant or get little use, such as children’s accounts, while still giving the government the broadest possible visibility. Administration officials say audit rates for taxpayers who earn less than $400,000 per year will not go up.

“This is about making sure the top 1% can’t evade $160 billion per year in taxes,” said Alexandra LaManna, a Treasury Department spokesperson.

Top Democrats say that empowering the IRS is key to making the economy more fair. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has warned that the IRS is handicapped when it comes to tracking the income of the wealthiest.

“The kinds of income that the IRS has the least visibility into are the kinds of income that are overwhelmingly concentrated among the very richest taxpayers,” Warren said. “Strengthening information reporting, as well as providing protected and sustained IRS funding, would ensure that we focus enforcement on the biggest fish.”

But the pushback is putting pressure on the Biden administration to scale back the proposal. Lawmakers are discussing raising the required disclosure level to $10,000 rather than $600, a Treasury official said, and making taxpayers who are paid through payroll-processing companies exempt from the required reporting. The Treasury estimates that could reduce the amount of money it could recoup to between $200 billion and $250 billion over a decade.

The outcry over the proposed measures stems in large part from a carefully planned lobbying campaign by the banking industry, which has spent months raising awareness and opposition to the plan in cities and towns across the country.

Banks say the reporting requirements would raise their costs and put them in the unenviable position of handing customer information over to the IRS.

Top industry trade groups have hammered the proposal in emails and phone calls to members. They have argued their case in clarks shoes uk meetings with senior administration officials, including Yellen and Charles Rettig, who runs the IRS. They established a social media hashtag, #KeepMyBankingPrivate, that some executives have used in sharing their doubts about the proposal.

“We proudly join @ICBA and others in telling Congress that we serve our customers, not the IRS,” Bankcda, whose main branch is in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, wrote in a recent Twitter post tagging the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade group that caters to smaller banks and is helping to lead opposition to the measure.

After the initiative made its first appearance deep in the Treasury’s annual budget proposal in May, the American Bankers Association said it and its state-level partner groups quickly heard from hundreds of member banks, raising questions about the idea and its implications. The Independent Community Bankers of America began flagging the potential changes to its members, prompting many of them in turn to alert their customers.

Trade groups also helped gather signatures for a Sept. 17 letter to congressional leaders complaining about the proposal.

“Indiscriminate, blanket data collection would amount to a troubling effort to profile American taxpayers based on account characteristics without grounds for suspicion of tax evasion,” the letter argued. It was signed by more than 40 business groups, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, Global Cold Chain Alliance and Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association.

Awareness of the proposal has been amplified by ad campaigns, conservative news media coverage and Facebook posts, including one that caught the attention of Crystal Causey, a 39-year-old advertising account executive in Los Angeles.

“I wouldn’t allow my husband or my parents to monitor my bank account activity,” she said in an email. “There’s no way I would be OK with the government monitoring it.”

Industry representatives say it is unusual to see banks communicate with their account holders on a political matter. “This is the first time in 20 years that I’ve seen that banks have reached out to inform their customers on an issue” like this, said Paul Merski, who runs congressional relations for the community bankers association.

Jim Reuter, the chief executive of FirstBank near Denver, said concerns about the potential provisions have bubbled up frequently, including over a coffee he had with a small-business owner in early October.

“Their upshot is, ‘I pay my taxes, so why would you be sending additional information to the IRS?’” Reuter recalled. “I said I agree with them. We’re in the trust business. And it just goes without saying that sending the customer’s information somewhere without giving consent — that’s not what we do as a bank.”

The proposal’s critics have said the IRS appears ill-equipped to process and safeguard such an overwhelming amount of data to actually catch cheats.

“I have to tell you the proposal hey dude shoes that has been put forth about expanding the amount of information that the IRS is going to get on private bank accounts has been something I’ve been asked about at parks, at grocery stores, at convenience stores around the district,” Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind., told Yellen at the congressional hearing last month. “This has people deeply afraid about the emergence of an apparatus that can be used against them.”

J.P. Freire, a spokesperson for Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said Texans were “terrified” of the IRS and that his boss was fielding inquiries about the proposed disclosures from at least three or four constituents every week.

Castilla, the community banker in Oklahoma, said a local schoolteacher had stopped by her office two weeks ago to share her anxieties about the idea of the government peering into her financial records. She told the teacher she believed the proposal was an overreach, Castilla recalled, and added that banking associations and Oklahoma’s congressional delegation were fighting it.

Even if the dollar threshold were raised to $10,000, Castilla said, it would still be onerous for her bank. “This would require a massive amount of infrastructure,” she said.

Treasury officials say they are flummoxed by the outrage, given that banks of all sizes initially told them they could comply with the rules, which would not take effect until 2024.

“They have made clear during conversations with banks that firms can easily implement a simple proposal like the one under consideration in Congress, and that any compliance costs would be minimal,” said LaManna, the Treasury spokeswoman.

Empty Desks at the State Department, Courtesy of Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a Senate Judiciary  Committee hearing to examine Texas’s abortion law, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON — The arrival of a new U.S. ambassador to Mexico is usually a routine event. But for the Biden administration, it was a notable victory.

With the Senate’s Aug. 11 confirmation vote, former Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado became the first Biden ambassador to arrive in a foreign capital. And, as of now, the last.

A bitter fight with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, hoka shoes over a Russian gas pipeline has created what Biden officials call a personnel crisis, with Cruz delaying dozens of State Department nominees, including 59 would-be ambassadors, and vowing to block dozens more.

Democrats call Cruz’s actions an abuse of the nomination process and the latest example of Washington’s eroding political norms. They also say he is endangering national security at a time when only about one-quarter of key national security positions have been filled.

While Cruz cannot entirely block Biden’s State Department nominees, he has greatly slowed the process by objecting to the Senate’s traditional practice of confirming uncontroversial nominees by “unanimous consent.” His tactic means that each nominee requires hours of Senate floor time while other major priorities, including President Joe Biden’s domestic spending agenda, compete for attention.

“It’s really an undermining of the nation’s national security process,” said Bob Menendez, D-N.J. and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “What we have here is an unprecedented, blanketed holding of all nominees — regardless of whether they have anything to do with the policy issues at stake.

“That is not something I have seen in 30 years of doing foreign policy work” in Congress, he added. “This is unprecedented.”

Only a dozen of Biden’s State Department nominees have been cleared for a full Senate vote by the committee — in part, Democrats say, because Republicans on the committee are doing their own foot-dragging. Dozens more are expected to be ready for confirmation soon.

Even by the standards of a Senate where political grandstanding is the norm, Democrats say that Cruz is blatantly exposing his 2024 presidential ambitions by picking a long-running battle with Biden.

It is one that has attracted an imitator. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is vowing to block all national security nominees over the Biden administration’s handling hey dude of Afghanistan, insisting he will not budge until Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, resign.

Cruz and his allies insist he is taking a principled stand on Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany that has long been an issue of high interest for him.

In mid-May, Biden waived congressionally imposed sanctions on the project. Critics say the deal will provide President Vladimir Putin of Russia leverage over European energy security and deal a blow to Washington’s ally Ukraine, which operates a competing pipeline. But the project is a boon for Germany, and Biden — arguing that the project was nearly complete and virtually impossible to stop — decided to prioritize relations with Germany, a key European ally, rather than risk a battle with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her soon-to-be successor.

When that happened, Cruz accused the Biden administration of showing “weakness” toward Russia. He has since exploited Senate rules to turn confirmation votes — even generally routine ones, for career foreign servants headed for relatively midlevel jobs or low-profile ambassadorships — into hourslong exercises.

“President Biden has insisted on giving a multibillion-dollar gift benefiting Russia, hurting America and hurting our national security interests,” Cruz said on the Senate floor in August.

“I’ve made clear to every State Department official, to every State Department nominee, that I will place holds on these nominees unless and until the Biden administration follows the law and stops this pipeline and imposes the sanctions,” he added.

Cruz is not the only reason nearly every foreign ambassadorship and many other State Department positions remain unfilled. The Biden White House was notoriously slow to begin offering foreign policy nominations, exasperating even its Democratic allies.

But unless Cruz backs down, it could be months before Biden has his picks in capitals like Beijing, Jerusalem, Cairo and Berlin, and in important policymaking positions at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

A minor breakthrough came at the end of September, after Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the majority leader, saying he would “take the long way,” cleared several hours on the Senate floor to advance some of the State dr martens boots Department nominees. Six were confirmed this past week, most by wide margins, including assistant secretaries of state for European, African, and East Asian and Pacific affairs. But many dozens are still waiting.

State Department officials say the shortage of confirmed senior personnel is straining their ability to conduct diplomacy. They point to the example of Bonnie Jenkins, who was officially nominated in March to be the State Department’s top arms control officer but not confirmed until July 21 — just a few days before she departed for strategic arms talks with the Russians in Geneva.

Cruz and other Republicans say a 2017 law — the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, devised to force a reluctant President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Moscow — requires Biden to penalize Nord Stream 2 AG, the company in charge of the pipeline project, which is a subsidiary of the majority state-owned Russian energy company Gazprom. They say an administration report finding that the company facilitated “deceptive” transactions should trigger the 2017 measure.

Cruz’s allies say he felt misled by early statements from Blinken suggesting he would work to stop the Nord Stream project, which helped persuade Cruz to lift earlier holds on nominees, including Biden’s pick for director of the CIA, William J. Burns.

“This is not something he does lightly or with relish. This is just something he is deeply, deeply concerned about,” said Victoria Coates, a former national security aide to Cruz who also worked in the Trump White House. “He feels like they lied to him, and they are not understanding how serious this is.”

Democrats say that even if Cruz is motivated by principle, his reaction is reckless — and wildly out of proportion.

“We can give him the benefit of the doubt that his goal is to micromanage U.S. foreign policy,” said Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn. and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

“This is not about his objection to Nord Stream 2. This is to get a lot of eyeballs from a fight with President Biden,” Murphy said. Some Democrats also note that Cruz has a parochial interest in quashing a foreign energy project that competes with his home state’s oil and gas industry.

Cruz has not spoken to Blinken about the matter, though his office has negotiated specific agreements with the State Department. In mid-September, Cruz allowed unanimous consent votes to confirm three nominees, including assistant secretaries of state overseeing the Western Hemisphere, South and Central Asia, and intelligence.

Cruz has offered the Biden administration a deal: Impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, and then waive them if you wish. Those steps would automatically trigger a vote in Congress on whether to block Biden’s override — one that the president is likely to win but that would create an unwelcome diversion for the White House, not to mention a platform for Cruz.

In a statement, Cruz’s press secretary, Dave Vasquez, said the senator “has worked day in and day out to craft and advance compromises” on the matter, adding that the administration “could get its nominees through tomorrow by simply implementing the law.”

But even under that scenario, Cruz has promised only to drop his opposition to career foreign service nominees, suggesting that he will continue to deny easy confirmation to political appointees. That category includes former Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago to be ambassador to Japan; former Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, to be ambassador to Turkey; and banker and former Obama State Department official Thomas Nides to be ambassador to Israel.

Murphy, who supports changing the Senate’s rules to limit the time that can be devoted to midlevel nominations, called the odds of a Biden reversal on the Nord Stream project, which has been completed but is not yet operational, “negative 75%.”

And even if Cruz were somehow satisfied, there remains Hawley.

Menendez suggested that Schumer could call a weekend Senate session, which would force senators to spend their days off plowing through nominations.

“Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are not paying any consequences,” Menendez said. “But when members have to be here on a weekend, voting only on these things that are passing overwhelmingly in a bipartisan vote, I think peer pressure might be brought to bear.”