COMPASS: Senate votes on infrastructure; House strips abortion protections

July 19th, 2021

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill. Today in DCist: “DC parents are suing city officials over a new law in the District which allows children 11 and older to acquire vaccines without permission from parents.”

The House and Senate are back in session. Today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will file cloture on the not-yet-drafted $1 trillion compromise infrastructure legislation. Senators are still actively negotiating the pay-fors, but Schumer is itching to begin the process of consideration in order to meet a self-imposed deadline for passing the compromise bill, and the Bernie Sanders budget resolution (which will begin the process of considering the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill), before the Senate leaves for August recess.

11 Senate Republicans have been heavily involved in these infrastructure negotiations, and appear irked by Schumer’s timeline. “How can I vote for cloture when the bill isn’t written?” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said over the weekend. In fairness, the Senate does at times move to proceed to legislation while the text itself is still being constructed. But this time, Schumer is pushing senators around in delicate bipartisan negotiations that could easily fall apart.

The House is back to consider a wide range of legislation, and they’ve also put out their starting bid for an appropriations bill to fund the government. Their proposal combines seven of the 12 bills into one giant package, which also strips longstanding Hyde Amendment protections — language which prohibits the federal government from funding abortions domestically and internationally.

For decades, the Hyde amendment has received bipartisan support in spending legislation, including from then-Senator Joe Biden, who supported its inclusion for years. He famously denounced the legal protection in 2019 and failed to include it in his own budget proposal earlier this year.

Finally, if you missed it at the end of the last week, the White House confirmed it is actively working with Facebook and other social media platforms to censor content, flagging “problematic” posts around COVID-19 for the platforms to remove. But what began as a potentially defensible effort to combat inaccurate reporting quickly spiraled into an outright admission of narrative control.

Controlling for “misinformation,” of course, always evolves into serving the interests of the powerful — whether it’s the political party in charge or the political or financial interests of the platforms themselves. I had a quick take on this Friday in the New York Post and a lengthier essay on the implications this morning in The Federalist.

Finally, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud while reading this transcript from author Michael Wolff’s appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources. It’s too good not to share. (Transcribed by The Post Millennial):

Wolff: “I think the media has done a terrible job on this. I think you yourself, you know, you’re a ‘nice guy’, you’re full of sanctimony. You become one of the parts of the problem of the media.” 

“You come on here, and you have a monopoly on truth. You know exactly how things are supposed to be done.”

“You are one of the reasons why people can’t stand the media. I’m sorry”

“You’re cracking me up,” says Stelter, amid nervous laughter.

“It’s your fault,” insisted Wolff.

“So, what should I do differently, Michael?” asks a clearly shaken Stelter.

“Don’t talk so much. Listen more. You know, people have genuine problems with the media. The media doesn’t get the story right. The media exists in its own bubble.”

“No, we just figure out what is real,” interjected Stelter.

“Well, Figuring out what is real is not so easy, and most people don’t wanna turn to Brian Stelter to tell us what’s real, I’m sorry.”

“Well then, why did you bother coming on CNN a few times this past week?” replied Stelter, followed by nervous laughter.

“You know … I’m a book salesman.”

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