It’s Wednesday, September 15th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:
1) Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Bill In Jeopardy
The Topline: Democrats are attempting to push their massive social spending bill through Congress, but are hitting some major roadblocks.
“He will not have my vote on 3.5 and Chuck knows that and we’ve talked about this.”
– Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)
The Two Bills
First, the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the Senate last month. It includes what Americans typically consider infrastructure — roads, bridges, water systems. However, now it’s held up, because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is trying to pass it along with the second bill.
That bill is a $3.5 trillion social spending law with zero Republican support. They hope to pass it by using the budget reconciliation process, which would allow them to pass the Senate with a simple majority. In the House, Democrats can afford no more than 3 defectors.
The second bill includes efforts to expand social policies and medicare, address climate change, provide universal pre-K and 2 years of ‘free’ community college. Some even want to include immigration proposals like providing green cards to millions of undocumented immigrants.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has suggested he won’t support more than $1 to $1.5 trillion in spending. He’s also asked Democrats to take a pause on passing the bill while the economy struggles under rising inflation and poor unemployment numbers, despite the many jobs available.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has also said she won’t support a $3.5 trillion measure, and some Democrats in the House have also voiced concerns about how to pay for it.
Democrat Payment Plan
According to a leaked Democrat tax-plan draft, they’re looking at proposing $2.9 trillion in increased taxes by rolling back Trump-era tax cuts and targeting businesses and higher-income Americans.
2) Afghanistan Situation Worsens
The Topline: Following the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen after the U.S. withdrawal completed late last month.
“Green card holders is something that we don’t track directly, so what we’ve done is solicited people if they are green card holders to let us know. I think the best estimates are that there are several thousand green card holders in Afghanistan.”
– Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Fighting is ongoing between the Taliban and resistance forces in the Panjshir province. In recent days, communications have been cut in the more remote valley, but the BBC recently reported the Taliban have been torturing and murdering civilians in the strategic stronghold.
The Panjshir Valley is the last region to hold out after the Taliban swept to power last month.
The United Nations is seeking to raise more than $600 million in aid for Afghanistan, warning the country is facing a major humanitarian crisis. The Secretary General of the UN, however, admitted they were working with the Taliban to distribute aid, leading many to question whether any of this aid would ever reach the Afghans who need it most.
Meanwhile in Kabul, the Taliban have formed their new interim government.
Women In Afghanistan`
The world is watching a return to the type of widespread discrimination faced by women and girls under the Taliban prior to 2001. The Taliban recently told women they can only study in gender-segregated universities where Islamic dress will be compulsory. The Taliban’s so-called “ministry of virtue and vice” has also reportedly returned. The group is a religious police force which viciously enforces Sharia law.
American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies are still reportedly scattered throughout Afghanistan, with many effectively being held hostage by the Taliban, and there are still no clear plans being shared when it comes to their rescue.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken — who testified to Congress this week — admitted the number of green card holders still in Afghanistan is largely unknown.
Biden Administration Backlash
Since the beginning of his presidency, Biden has enjoyed healthy approval ratings, but recent numbers dropped below 50% in mid-August because of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Big Picture: The Biden administration is choosing to focus on other domestic issues like the economy and COVID-19 in an effort to move away from the Afghanistan crisis.
3) Companies Respond To Texas Pro-Life Law
The Topline: The CEO of a videogame company was forced to step down after voicing his personal support for Texas’ new abortion law while other companies are showing their opposition to the legilsation through corporate policy.
John Gibson was the co-founder and CEO of TripWire Interactive, which publishes games played by millions.
On September 4th, Gibson posted a tweet on his personal account expressing support for Texas’s new pro-life law.
Gibson was soon swarmed with thousands of angry comments, as were Tripwire’s corporate accounts. Two of their development partners released statements slamming Gibson and one studio announced it was cancelling all its existing contracts with TripWire.
TripWire put out a statement saying they were “deeply sorry” about what Gibson said and promised that the company would “take swift action.”
Later that same day, Gibson announced he was resigning.
The Other Side
Other companies went beyond issuing official statements opposing the law, and instead implemented new policies.
Lyft announced it would pay any legal fees of drivers who might get sued under the law.
The company’s CEO gave an interview to NPR in an official capacity and said, “We do not appreciate how this law limits a woman’s right to choose…”
Another company, Match Group, which owns the dating apps Tinder and OKCupid, announced it is setting up a fund for Texas employees who might want healthcare outside of the state.
In a memo to staff, CEO Shar Dubey said she “fervently [cares]” about “women’s rights, including the very fundamental right of choice over her body.”
Other Stories We’re Tracking
Newsom Recall Election
California Governor Gavin Newsom is projected to have survived his recall election. The governor needed a simple majority to keep his position. The recall election is just the second ever for a governor in the state.
Comedian Norm Macdonald died Tuesday “after a long and private battle with cancer.” The former Saturday Night Live cast member had reportedly been fighting cancer for nearly a decade and was 61 years old.
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