with Tobi Raji

Good Wednesday morning. The Tribeca Film Festival is back in person; yesterday was the three year anniversary of Tony Bourdain's death; and we're breaking our cicada-free zone rule today This is the Power Up newsletter thanks for waking up with us. 

The people

ABOUT A SENATOR OTHER THAN JOE MANCHIN: Larry Rosen and Douglas Emhoff bonded because of their powerful wives. As two of the only men in the book club for spouses when their other halves served as senators, they became good friends.

It just so happens their wives — Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and then-Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), who is now the vice president — enjoyed spending time and working with each other, too.

Harris and Emhoff are now in the White House. But that doesn’t mean that Sen. Rosen is a shoo-in when it comes to the Biden administration’s agenda, hamstrung by a 50-50 Senate and a roiling fight over whether to roll back the filibuster forcing most Senate legislation to clear a 60-vote bar.

Harris has been tasked with lobbying senators to advance sweeping voting rights legislation that has become a lightning rod for the filibuster battle. But despite their personal ties, Rosen is sticking with her belief in bipartisanship — which seems increasingly unpopular and old-fashioned in hyperpartisan Washington — and right now doesn’t support getting rid of the procedural hurdle that protects minority rights. 

🔥: But Rosen is not grabbing the same splashy headlines in the filibuster fight as West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III. Manchin has refused to sign on to a sweeping voting rights bill known as the For the People Act because it doesn’t have Republican co-sponsors. 

  • Manchin works “in the way he thinks he’s gonna get the most traction on what he thinks — and I prefer to work behind the scenes with my colleagues,” said Rosen. “Just because someone chooses to stop in the hallway every day doesn’t mean the rest of our voices aren’t not heard or shared.”
  • “I’m not a shy person,” Rosen added. “I’m a persistent person. I think there’s many ways to make your position known. And you don’t always have to do it in the public eye.”

In extended interviews with The Washington Post, Rosen made clear she supports both the For the People Act and another voting rights bill named for the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). But she’s also one of the handful of moderate Democrats unwilling to eliminate the filibuster, and insists on at least trying to pass the largest overhaul of U.S. election law in at least a generation in a bipartisan manner before considering more extreme options.

  • “I think we just have to continue to talk and to be open and allow people to see that healthy debate on the floor and we’ll just go from there,” Rosen added. 
  • Notable: As several GOP-controlled state legislatures have moved to tighten voter restrictions following the presidential election, Rosen’s bipartisan approach to voting rights benefits from the luxury of having a Democratic governor who just signed a bill expanding mail-in voting to all registered voters that requires local election officials to send out mail ballots before a primary or a general election.
  • Read our full profile here. 

Paging Mitch McConnell: Rosen is far from being the Biden administration’s biggest headache on Capitol Hill and those who work closely with her describe Rosen as a good soldier who ultimately votes with Democrats. She has quickly become one of Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) trusted allies, and currently is serving on six committees — the most committees this Congress out of any Democratic senator. The workload is a distinction that Rosen proudly touts and she maintains that her low-key-workhorse style is efficient.

Yet she appears to be part of a dying breed of lawmakers who truly believe reaching across the aisle is productive. 

  • Before Harris’s office confirmed on Tuesday that the vice president would be hosting the Senate’s 24 female members for a dinner party at her residence next week, Rosen had been working on restarting the bipartisan tradition. She recently did a joint interview with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito Moore (R-W.Va.) touting their approach to working together, and she now works closely with one of the Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), as co-chairs of a newly formed subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion. Rosen also co-chairs the bipartisan Comprehensive Care Caucus, created to raise awareness and availability of palliative care, with Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).
  • But she is still behind Biden’s top priorities. She supports all of the president’s infrastructure plan, and bristled at the GOP’s dismissal of Biden’s “human infrastructure” proposal. Though her office demurred on whether she supports passage of the massive proposal without Republican support through budget reconciliation.
  • … Rosen has also played point on another big issue: she and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), co-founders of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, introduced a resolution last week condemning the rising number of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. Rosen also announced the formation of a first-of-its-kind bipartisan Senate Caucus on Black-Jewish relations.

Rosen favors returning to the talking filibuster, which would force opposing senators to speak on the floor to hold up a bill instead of just signaling their opposition to it. 

  • Asked whether her reservations about eliminating the filibuster stem from her support from abortion rights groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, who endorsed Rosen during her Senate bid and have conspicuously sat out the fight over abolishing the filibuster, Rosen replied that Democrats need to be “careful what you wish for.”

Still… some think she will change her mind on the filibuster if it becomes time.

  • “I would imagine that she would be in favor of eliminating the filibuster for the greater good,” said former Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley (D). She’s a lovely woman but she’s no pushover — she did not fall off the turnip truck.”
  • “If the most far-right Trumper came to her office for help, she’d help them,” Berkley added. “She didn’t come into office with preconceived notions or prejudices. But this woman is no fool and she can see the handwriting on the wall.”

On the Hill

BIDEN’S LEGISLATIVE STALEMATE: “Biden and Democrats in Congress suffered another setback in their push to boost millions of Americans’s paychecks, after the Senate on Tuesday opted against taking up a bill that supporters said aimed to ensure that women in the workforce earn the same as their male counterparts,” our colleague Tony Romm reports.

  • “The defeat had been widely expected given the GOP’s history siding against the measure, known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Democrats have been trying to adopt in some form for nearly 30 years.”
  • “Even in defeat, the Democrats’s latest gambit on the gender pay gap reflected the broader political challenges they face in the Senate this year. Biden and his allies have grand ambitions to improve the country’s infrastructure and ramp up federal spending for workers, students and low-income families. But Democrats possess only a tiebreaking majority, not the 60 votes required to avoid political head winds altogether — forcing them to consider uncomfortable compromises to advance their agenda.”

But one potential compromise collapsed Tuesday. “Biden ended negotiations with a group of Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) over his infrastructure package as the two sides failed to strike a deal after weeks of talks,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim and Tyler Pager report

  • “Now, Biden will attempt to negotiate with a group of Democrats and Republicans at once, a challenge that could prove more difficult but ultimately lead to more votes.”

The campaign

TERRY MCAULIFFE’S BIG WIN: “Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe won the race for the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday night, pulling away early from four rival candidates to win every city and county in the state as he pursues a second term in office,” our colleagues Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella and Antonio Olivo report

  • Out with the old, in with the old. “Faced with a historically diverse set of choices, many voters expressed a pragmatic desire for a nominee who would have the best chance of winning in November against Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity executive selected in a GOP convention last month.”
  • “McAuliffe, who served from 2014 to 2018, seemed to fit that bill as a popular former governor who might have run for a second consecutive term except that the Virginia constitution prohibits governors from doing so.”

Why this race matters: “The race will be watched as a bellwether for congressional elections next year, testing engagement among Democrats and Republicans now that former president Donald Trump is out of office and as the nation recovers from the covid-19 pandemic,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Mel Leonor reports.

  • “Democrats aim to hold onto power after assuming full control of state government in 2020. Since then they have pushed through sweeping changes, from gun control to police reform to marijuana legalization to an increase in the minimum wage, transforming what was once a reliably red state into an outlier in the South,” USA Today’s Sarah Elbeshbishi reports.

JACK CIATTARELLI WINS REPUBLICAN NOMINATION FOR NJ GOVERNOR: “Former New Jersey state legislator Jack Ciattarelli won the Republican nomination for governor on Tuesday as voters sided with his argument that he had the best shot at unseating first-term Gov. Phil Murphy (D),” our colleague David Weigel reports

89% of precincts reported the results.

Changing priorities. “New Jersey Republicans looked past Trump, nominating a challenger who once called the former president a ‘charlatan’ and later acknowledged Biden won the 2020 presidential election,” Politico’s Matt Friedman reports.

  • “But Ciattarelli hasn’t totally disavowed the former president and has had to walk a tightrope of being neither too anti-Trump for the primary nor too pro-Trump for the general election in a deeply blue state.”
  • “Ciattarelli’s balancing act — and how it plays in the general election campaign against Murphy — could be a sign of things to come in 2022, when Trump will almost certainly be a factor in the midterm elections. Republicans seeking governorships and other offices in blue and bluish states must try to navigate their way through primaries while remaining palatable to the general electorate.”

The investigations

👀 POST EXCLUSIVE: “Federal prison inmates are keeping large sums of money — in some cases more than $100,000 each — in government-run deposit accounts effectively shielded from court orders for things like child support, alimony or other debts, and not subject to the same scrutiny as accounts owned by non-incarcerated citizens,” our colleague Devlin Barrett reports.

  • “Within the Bureau of Prisons system, which houses roughly 129,000 inmates in facilities throughout the United States, there are more than 20 inmate accounts holding more than $100,000 each for a total exceeding $3 million. In all, the combined value of such inmate accounts recently topped $100 million.”
  • “One of the more famous criminals to use the prison banking system was Lou Pearlman, the former manager of 1990s boy bands ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Pearlman was indicted in 2007 for a massive, years-long fraud, and part of his sentence included hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments against him. Yet as a federal inmate, he carried a prisoner account balance of more than $20,000.”

SENATE APPROVES SPRAWLING COMPETITION BILL: “The Senate voted on Tuesday to adopt an approximately $250 billion bill to counter China’s growing economic and military prowess, hoping that major investments in science — and fresh punishments targeting Beijing — might give the United States a lasting edge,” our colleague Tony Romm reports.

  • “In a chamber often racked by partisan division, Democrats and Republicans found rare accord over the sprawling measure, known as the United States Innovation and Competition Act, as lawmakers warned that Washington risked ceding the country’s technological leadership to one of its foremost geopolitical adversaries.”
  • The grand old party of big government. “It is [a] striking shift for Republicans, who are following the lead of Trump and casting aside what was once their party’s staunch opposition to government intervention in the economy,” the New York Times’s David E. Sanger, Catie Edmondson, David McCabe and Thomas Kaplan report.

In the agencies

HUD TO REINSTATE FAIR HOUSING RULE GUTTED UNDER TRUMP: “Nearly a year after the Trump administration replaced an Obama-era fair housing rule that critics decried as ‘burdensome’ and that Trump alleged would ‘abolish’ suburbs, Biden’s housing department is restoring the requirement that communities identify and dismantle barriers to racial integration or risk losing federal funds,” our colleague Tracy Jan reports.

  • “But missing from the requirement is the 2015 mandate that communities undergo an extensive analysis of local impediments to fair housing and submit their plans addressing the barriers to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
  • “Some housing experts worry that without mandating jurisdictions submit reports analyzing housing patterns, concentrated poverty and disparities in access to transportation, jobs and good schools, the agency would have a difficult time enforcing the requirement that communities take meaningful action against long-standing segregation.”

Global power

ETHNIC ATROCITIES IN AN ETHIOPIAN TOWN: “The screams of the dying gradually fell silent as the sky darkened. Around midnight, Berhane Gebrezigher, an ethnic Tigrayan, remembers lying in a ditch full of men who, like himself, had been shot and left for dead. He called out: ‘Is there anyone breathing?’” Reuters’s Katharine Houreld, Michael Georgy and Silvia Aloisi write

  • “When the sun rose, the old man faced a choice: die in the ditch or haul himself to the road. Painfully, he began shuffling upward.”
  • “It was mid-January, more than two months into an ethnic conflict that has convulsed western Tigray, an area of rich farmland in Ethiopia’s north where two of the country’s ethnic groups — Tigrayans and Amharas — used to live and work the soil together.”
  • “Berhane, 74, says he was among more than 50 Tigrayan civilians rounded up and trucked by Amhara forces to the Tekeze River that bisects Tigray. The forces ordered the men to climb down into what appeared to be a freshly dug ditch, Berhane said. Then the gunmen fired. Berhane was hit in both legs and in the back; he said he lay among the bodies, listening to the men reload and shoot at anyone who moved.”

How it started: “The first reports of ethnic atrocities in western Tigray surfaced two months earlier in mid-November. Amharas said they’d been attacked by their Tigrayan neighbors. Tigrayans pouring into neighboring Sudan said they’d been brutalized and driven out by Amharas.”

  • “The only thing the two sides agreed on was that hundreds died.”


ATTACK OF THE CICADAS: “The horde of Brood X cicadas that rose from the earth after 17 years underground have proved their determination to leave a mark before they die off in a few weeks. The shrill, winged insects have driven tourism, inspired new food trends, and even caused a car crash in Ohio,” our colleague Katie Shepherd writes.

  • “On Tuesday night, the busy bugs claimed another surprising accomplishment: Grounding the White House press corps as it headed to Europe for Biden’s first overseas trip in office.”

I guess you could say the plane was … bugged?

In the media


  • So where's Eric Adams really living?: Burning the midnight oil: Eric Adams’ mysterious whereabouts off the campaign trail. By Politico's Sally Goldenberg and Joe Anuta.
  • What Armie Hammer's mother is reading: Armie Hammer Has Checked Into a Treatment Program. By Vanity Fair's Julie Miller.
  • ICYMI: The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax. By ProPublica's Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen and Paul Kiel. 
  • Some WNBA news: WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told us during an interview yesterday that the league will be keeping an eye on voting rights legislation playing out in Arizona and other states when it comes to WNBA finals and the inaugural WNBA Commissioner's Cup championship game scheduled to be played in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • “Obviously, we consider voting rights and access to be critical components of justice," Engelbert told us.