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Political Notebook

Biden vows he, Manchin will ‘get something done’ on $2 trillion bill

President BidenDrew Angerer/Getty

WASHINGTON — President Biden appeared determined Tuesday to return to the negotiating table with Senator Joe Manchin, the holdout Democrat who effectively tanked the party’s signature $2 trillion domestic policy initiative with his own jarring year-end announcement.

Biden, responding to reporters’ questions at the White House, joked that he holds no grudges against the conservative West Virginia senator whose rejection of the social services and climate change bill stunned Washington just days ago.

Instead, the president spoke passionately about the families that would benefit from the Democrats’ ambitious, if now highly uncertain, plan to pour billions of dollars into child care, health care, and other services.

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“Senator Manchin and I are going to get something done,” Biden said.

The president’s off-the-cuff remarks constitute his first public statement as Democrats struggle to pick up the pieces from Manchin’s Sunday announcement that he would not support the bill as is. Manchin essentially crushed Biden’s sweeping policy measure in the 50-50 Senate, siding with all Republicans who oppose the bill.

Biden spoke of the “dignity of a parent” trying to pay the bills, and the assistance millions could receive from the federal government with the legislation.

But the Democrats face serious questions over whether the $2 trillion initiative can be refashioned to win Manchin’s crucial vote or the party will be saddled with a significant defeat.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer was set to assemble Senate Democrats for a private virtual caucus meeting to discuss next steps.

Schumer vowed on Monday that the chamber would vote early in the new year on Biden’s Build Back Better Act as it now stands so every senator “has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television.” That was a biting reference to Manchin’s sudden TV announcement against the bill on Sunday.

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But Manchin and his party are so far apart, his relationships so bruised after months of failed talks, it’s unclear how they even get back to the negotiating table, let alone revive the sprawling more than 2,100-page social services and climate change bill.

Biden and Manchin spoke later Sunday, according to a person familiar with the call, first reported by Politico. It was cordial and respectful, said the person who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

“We’re going to work like hell to get it done,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, repeating the phrase several times at a Monday briefing but never saying how.

Associated Press

Perry rejects request from Jan. 6 investigators

WASHINGTON — Republican Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania on Tuesday rebuffed a request to sit down for an interview and turn over documents to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, joining other allies of former president Trump in trying to stonewall the committee.

“I stand with immense respect for our Constitution, the Rule of Law, and the Americans I represent who know that this entity is illegitimate, and not duly constituted under the rules of the US House of Representatives,’’ Perry said in a statement.

In a letter to Perry on Monday night, Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the panel, said the panel had received evidence from multiple witnesses, including then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, that Perry had “an important role” in efforts to install Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.

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The lawmaker’s refusal will test how far the committee is willing to go in its quest for information as members have so far resisted subpoenaing one of their own as they investigate the insurrection by Trump’s supporters and his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The letter is the first time the panel has publicly released a request to a fellow member of Congress as the members inquire about the details of Perry and other congressional Republicans who met with Trump ahead of the Capitol attack and strategized about how they could block the results at the Jan. 6 electoral count.

Associated Press

Abbot remains quiet on pardon for Floyd

AUSTIN, Texas — Doling out pardons is a holiday tradition for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who around every Christmas grants them to a handful of ordinary citizens, typically for minor offenses committed years or decades ago.

But one name stands out on his desk: George Floyd.

Abbott has not said whether he will posthumously pardon Floyd this year for a 2004 drug arrest in Houston by a former officer whose police work is no longer trusted by prosecutors. Texas’s parole board — stacked with Abbott appointees — unanimously recommended a pardon for Floyd in October.

Since then, the two-term Republican governor, who is up for reelection in 2022, has given no indication of whether he will grant what would be only the second posthumous pardon in Texas history. Floyd, who was Black, spent much of his life in Houston before moving to Minnesota, where his death under the knee of a white police officer last year led to a national reckoning on race and policing.

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A spokeswoman for Abbott did not respond to requests for comment.

Pardons restore the rights of the convicted and forgive them in the eyes of the law. Floyd’s family and supporters said a posthumous pardon for him in Texas would show a commitment to accountability.

In February 2004, Floyd was arrested in Houston for selling $10 worth of crack in a police sting. He pleaded guilty to a drug charge and served 10 months in prison.

His case happened to be among dozens that prosecutors revisited in the fallout over a deadly drug raid in 2019 that resulted in murder charges against an officer, Gerald Goines, who is no longer with the Houston force. Prosecutors say Goines lied to obtain a search warrant in the 2019 raid that left a husband and wife dead, and the office of Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has since dismissed more than 160 drug convictions tied to Goines.

Associated Press

Rittenhouse welcomed at conservative gathering

Weeks after Kyle Rittenhouse said he wanted to “lay low” when he was found not guilty of homicide, attempted homicide, and other charges related to last year’s fatal shootings that rocked Kenosha, Wis., the teen was welcomed Monday at a conservative conference to music, pyrotechnics, and a standing ovation from thousands of attendees.

“You’re a hero to millions,” Turning Point USA leader Charlie Kirk told Rittenhouse during the group’s AmericaFest gathering in Phoenix. “It’s an honor to be able to have you.”

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Amid the pomp and circumstance for an 18-year-old who had the crowd chanting his name, Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men and injured another during mass protests against police violence in August 2020, suggested Monday lawsuits could be filed against media outlets for how they covered his murder trial.

“There’s going to be some media accountability coming soon,” Rittenhouse told Fox News.

Washington Post