Overstuffed agenda tests Democratic unity: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The clock has generally been President Joe Biden’s friend.

That goes for how he has seemed to slow the pace. Biden has managed to lower Washington’s resting news heart rate after the frenetic four years of his predecessor, despite even those wild final days.

Now, though, the legislative calendar and real-world events are reordering priority lists and threatening to leave several big items behind. That puts stress on key components of the Democratic base, at a time where party unity is critical for the Biden agenda.

This week brings soft deadlines for both the bipartisan and Democrat-only infrastructure measures. The Senate is expected to hold test votes Wednesday on both, though neither has actually been written or been run through formal cost estimates.

A federal judge’s ruling Friday on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program brings new urgency to immigration broadly and the state of “Dreamers” specifically, with the White House and Democrats hoping to add language that can be part of the budget reconciliation process.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 16, 2021, to spend the weekend at Camp David.

Voting rights remain stalled at the federal level, notwithstanding the pressure promised last week by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and the flurry stirred up by Texas lawmakers. Tumult in Haiti and Cuba are bringing new foreign-policy challenges, half a world distant from Afghanistan.

Lawmakers need to craft a deal to raise the debt ceiling in the coming weeks, while inflation concerns rise across the board. Then, of course, there’s COVID-19, with lagging vaccinations and surging variants threatening a backslide that politics doesn’t have a good answer for.

Where Biden has been successful to date, he has largely done so by being patient – letting disputes work themselves out, and trusting congressional leaders with nagging details.

The coming days and weeks will bring votes that could make or break the agenda as it’s been considered. Not all parts of Biden’s party will be happy with the results.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

One hundred women will descend on Capitol Hill Monday in an effort to both pay homage to the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 and to highlight the modern-day fight for rights.

“Together we will call out the immoral obstructionism of Congress, call for an end to the filibuster and demand voting rights and living wages for all. Together, we will risk arrest for these rights and through our actions recall the women who have come before us,” wrote the Rev. Liz Theoharis and Roz Pellez of the Poor People’s Campaign in a joint letter.

PHOTO: Rep. Joyce Beatty is led away by a member of the U.S. Capitol Police during a protest at Hart Senate Office Building, July 15, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

The march comes just days after Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty was arrested along with other activists in a display of civil disobedience on Capitol Hill — an effort to push for the passage of federal voting legislation.

The filibuster in the Senate is reemerging as the central focus of the debate after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld voting restrictions in Arizona that Democrats and voting advocates have called discriminatory on the basis of race.

With the Senate evenly divided, moderate Democrats seemingly immoveable on the filibuster and mention of the procedure glaringly absent from President Joe Biden’s recent Philadelphia address on voting rights, the path forward for stalled election legislation is unclear. And pressure for Senate Democrats to act on the issue will only escalate as the midterms inch closer.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Texas Democrats are heading into their second week in Washington with a new hurdle on the horizon — navigating any upcoming meetings and events amid news that five members of their delegation tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated. Three members were diagnosed on Saturday, and two more tested positive for the virus on Sunday.

One of the members who was diagnosed with the virus acknowledged the development over the weekend. “Yesterday, I tested positive for COVID-19,” state Rep. Celia Israel tweeted on Sunday. “Despite my setback, I will continue to push forward and fight for every Texan to have their voices heard.”

Texas State Sen. Borris Miles, left, introduces Rep. Ron Reynolds at a press conference on voting rights alongside state representatives from Texas, Maryland and Virginia, on July 16, 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Prior to the fivebreakthrough cases coming to light, the Texas lawmakers met with several high-profile lawmakers, including Vice President Kamala Harris and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. ABC News’ Trish Turner reported that, on Saturday, Manchin’s office checked in with the Texas lawmakers with whom the senator met and were told that none of the members in his meeting had tested positive.

Two of the legislators who tested positive on Saturday were present at a meeting with Vice President Harris and her staff on Tuesday. According to Harris’s chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, “they were not in close contact with those who tested positive.” Sanders noted that the vice president and her staff, who are all also fully vaccinated, “do not need to be tested or quarantined.”


ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Monday morning’s episode features emergency room physician and ABC News contributor Dr. Darien Sutton, who explains what health officials are weighing as we see indoor mask mandates start to pop back up across the country. Then, ABC News’ Maggie Rullli joins us from Germany, where nearly 200 people have died from catastrophic flooding. And ABC News White House correspondent MaryAlice Parks breaks down the future of DACA after a Texas judge ruled it unconstitutional. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


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