What’s at stake in the reconciliation bill he’s trying to torpedo is a lot, particularly since the Supreme Court just hamstrung the Environment Protection Agency’s authority in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and by extension anything else to protect the environment so people can breathe. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have been quietly meeting for weeks to create a package Manchin would agree to. Just last week, Schumer told reporters that progress has been made, with a finalized agreement on prescription drug prices for seniors and movement on tax reform and climate provisions.
There’s another big issue looming on the horizon that Democrats want to solve in this reconciliation bill: big premium cost hikes in Affordable Care Act plans for millions people if Democrats don’t act soon. McConnell clearly does not want Democrats to act on this. He’s manipulating Manchin to get him to stop working with Schumer on this bill by taking the other big bipartisan bill they’ve spent all these months working on hostage. Because that’s what he does.
Meanwhile, he set Biden up on abortion and the judiciary, something that frankly should not even be possible. At this point, Biden should absolutely know that you can’t make a deal with McConnell because there’s no way he is not going to screw you.
McConnell and Biden struck a deal: Biden nominates a hyperpartisan anti-abortion extremist nominee to a federal judgeship in Kentucky—a nominee so compromised Donald Trump decided to pull his nomination. In return for nominating this guy, Chad Meredith, at some point in the future when a vacancy opened up, McConnell wouldn’t block Biden’s other nominees.
Well, that point in the future is now. The Courier-Journal, which broke the story of the deal on Wednesday, is reporting Friday that that judgeship has miraculously opened. U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell of Kentucky’s Eastern District, a George W. Bush appointee, is taking senior status. The Courier-Journal also reports that Caldwell was appointed U.S. attorney for the district in 1990, and was recommended for the job by McConnell. Who Caldwell had dated. In making the recommendation, McConnell said she “should not be barred from the position because of their personal relationship.”
Chances that McConnell engineered this whole setup with his old flame, and that he timed it for exactly now, when he know the Supreme Court’s decision overturning abortion protections? One. Hundred. Percent.
Elie Mystal points out yet another absolutely enraging thing about this whole situation: It is already within Democrats’ power to keep Republicans from blocking Biden’s nominees by just ignoring their objections. All they have to do is ditch the blue slip tradition, the courtesy the Senate has recently used when Democrats are in power and has abandoned when Republicans are, that allows senators to have approval of nominees from their own states.
(And yes, McConnell can’t make promises for each of the Republicans. Any one of them can anonymously object to a nominee. So it was a deal he doesn’t have to even pretend to adhere to.)
When anger and frustration among Democrats is at its highest over abortion, McConnell stokes the flames by engineering this whole fiasco, creating the spectacle of Biden putting an anti-abortion judge on the federal bench for life. And Biden walked right into it. Then McConnell turns around and takes a big bipartisan agreement that’s already been made and takes it hostage to give Biden yet another black eye. And Manchin will probably help him do it.
Yes, we need to vote and get out the vote and make sure that Democrats secure a majority in the Senate that’s big enough to thwart Manchin (and Sinema) and McConnell. It’s got to be a big enough majority to save Biden from himself when he starts thinking he can relive his 20th century days in the Senate.
Privacy as a foundational value in a post-Roe landscape on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast