The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness
The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Senate GOP, liberal Dems find common cause: Sinking Manchin's bill

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Good morning to everyone, especially Lizzo who played James Madison’s crystal flute flawlessly last night. “History is freaking cool you guys.” Tips: Thanks for waking up with us.

Reading this online? Sign up for The Early 202 to get scoops and sharp political analysis in your inbox each morning.

In today's edition …  Congress is moving closer to changing the Electoral Count Act … 🚨 Josh Dawsey got his hands on Maggie Haberman's new Trump bookWhat we're watching: Democrats releases stock trading ban bill … NARAL launches final midterms blitz in key states … but first …

On the Hill

Manchin plans next moves on permitting bill after Tuesday's defeat

Congress is on a glide path to avoid a partial government shutdown — and there are still three days to spare before the deadline.

But the relatively drama free funding debate did claim one casualty: Sen. Joe Manchin III's (D-W.Va.) energy project permitting bill.

Manchin announced Tuesday afternoon he was pulling his proposal from the stopgap funding bill, or continuing resolution (CR), as he faced down the reality it didn't have the 60 votes needed to pass. With that done, the spending bill cleared a key procedural vote and could pass as early as today, but more likely Thursday.

Manchin shrugged off the defeat, telling reporters he's confident he can find the needed support when Congress returns for it's post election “lame duck” session.

He could look to attach it to the annual defense policy bill or the next government funding bill that will be needed in December.

  • “We have other avenues,” Manchin said, adding he's already spoken to Republican leaders and fellow West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) on what changes will be needed to secure a deal.

Manchin has made making it easier to get federal permits for energy projects a top priority, in part, because of the importance of the natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline Project to his state.

To gain Manchin's support for Democrats' health care, climate and tax bill (aka the Inflation Reduction Act) in August, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised Manchin he would pass his permitting proposal.

But it fell to the West Virginian to find the needed 60 votes in what amounted to role reversal for Manchin who is often the senator being heavily courted by his colleagues.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used his levers of influence to convince fellow Republicans, even the ones from states that would benefit from the bill, to oppose the permitting proposal.

Republicans angry at Manchin's decision to support the IRA, didn't bother hiding their desire to sink his bill as retribution for that vote even though they have pushed for permitting changes for years. They argued it contained bad policies too for good measure.

Manchin had a smile on his face Tuesday night and said there were no hard feelings.

“It's never too contentious. We've been around for too long to be contentious,” Manchin said.

Progressives cheer

It wasn't only Republicans eager to trumpet the defeat of the permitting proposal, progressive Democrats were as well after casting the bill as a gift to fossil fuel companies. (Manchin and some other Democrats said it would help renewable energy projects as well).

“You know, this is a victory for the American people, for the hundreds of environmental and social justice organizations who understand that the last thing we need in the midst of this terrible climate crisis is more fossil fuel projects and a pipeline,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said.

House Democrats who made clear they might not support a funding bill with Manchin's proposal attached, also seemed to relish Manchin's defeat after clashing with him for most of this Congress on the party's agenda.

“I don't think any Democrat owes Joe Manchin anything — especially now,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Sen. Schumer gave him the chance to find 60 votes and he couldn't do it. I think we should close the book on this and move on.”

K Street recalibrates

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups that lobbied for permitting reform aren't ready to move on. They're lobbying for Democrats to compromise with Republicans on provisions dealing with interstate transmission lines and try to pass the bill again in when government funding expires in December.

“I think our path forward is regrouping with [the electric] utilities and clean energy advocates and trying to find the compromise that threads the needle,” Christopher Guith, senior vice president of the Chamber’s Global Energy Institute, said on Tuesday evening. “And I'm cautiously optimistic that that's possible.”

But tweaking the policies included in the bill might not mollify Republicans still upset with Manchin for voting for Democrats' climate bill.

The failure of Manchin's bill on Tuesday “reflects a distrust on the Hill right now,” Chris Treanor, a Democratic lobbyist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, wrote in an email to the Early. “The [White House] is still cleaning up from the IRA celebrations and we are right before a midterm election. It’s a tough environment for bipartisanship around a new — or renewed — proposal.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Tuesday night that President Biden would continue “to find a vehicle to bring this bill to the floor and get it passed and to the President’s desk.”

And Manchin expressed confidence Tuesday he can eventually strike a deal, even if it won't be easy.

“Nothing's easy around here,” he said.

NOTE: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) has sent a notice to his Republican colleagues that leadership urges a “no” vote on the continuing resolution.

Congress moves closer to passing bill to thwart future attempts to overturn presidential elections

The Senate Rules Committee approved legislation Tuesday to overhaul the Electoral Count Act with the support of both Senate leaders, the first time they came out in support of the measure (although it was expected). Schumer voted for the bill in committee and McConnell did too, announcing his position on the Senate floor Tuesday.

The bill amounts to rebuke of former president Donald Trump who attempted to use the 19th century law to overturn the presidential election results by pressuring Vice President Pence to reject electors from certain states by falsely arguing there was widespread voter fraud.

The bill, among other things, would make clear the vice president's role in the counting electoral votes is purely ceremonial.

Just one Republican on the committee opposed it: Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), saying it “will decrease the ability of Congress to address the problem of voter fraud.” He then stated the obvious: “This bill is all about Donald J. Trump.” 

  • Cruz, who joined Trump in trying to overturn the election results, argued Democrats had in previous elections voted to object to certifying Republican presidential victories, but never called for changes to the ECA until after the 2020 election. Those previous objections were mostly protests votes by a small group and weren't accompanied by violence like that seen on Jan. 6, 2021, by people echoing Trump's false claims of voter fraud.

Republican support in the Senate for changing the ECA marks a vast difference from the House where just nine Republicans backed a similar bill. None of the nine will face voters in November.

Later that evening in the Capitol, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who led the effort on the bill, passed the top Republican on the Rules panel, Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), in the hallway. She stopped, put her hand on his shoulder and said. “Thank you. Good job. Thank you. Thank you.”

It is expected to be brought to the Senate floor in the “lame duck” session.

What we're reading

A first look at Maggie Haberman's new Trump book

‘Confidence Man’: Our colleague Josh Dawsey gives us the first look at New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s long-awaited book “Confidence Man.” The 607-page book details several unusual — sometimes bizarre — moments in Donald Trump’s presidency, such as when he weighed bombing drug labs in Mexico; resisted calls to condemn white supremacists more forcefully because “a lot of these people vote,” he said; and didn’t wait until aides removed classified details from a photo of an Iranian facility before tweeting because “if you take out the classification, that’s the sexy part,” he told aides. The book is out Tuesday.

“Throughout the book, Trump is portrayed as transactional and narcissistic — at times charming, at other times cruel — but always attuned to his own political fortunes, no matter the issue,” Dawsey writes. “During his meeting in the Oval Office with Barack Obama in 2016, he eschewed policy and asked Obama how he kept his approval ratings high, according to the book.”

  • On his relationship with others: “Trump was often crass and profane about world leaders and others in his orbit. He referred to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel as ‘that b----,’ according to the book. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was dying in 2020, the book says, Trump would sarcastically raise his hands to the sky in prayer and say: ‘Please God. Please watch over her. Every life is precious,’ before asking an aide: ‘How much longer do you think she has?’”
  • On the coronavirus pandemic: “Trump was appalled by the sight of protective face masks, telling aides to remove them in his presence throughout 2020. ‘Get that f---ing thing off,’ he said during one meeting, according to Haberman’s book. Trump repeatedly wanted credit for vaccines but told aides he could not get the credit he deserved because of the ‘radical right,’ referring to his own supporters.”
  • On trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election: “Trump gave former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) control of his legal team because his other lawyers were not willing to go far enough to overturn the 2020 election, Haberman writes. ‘Okay, Rudy, you’re in charge. Go wild, do anything you want. I don’t care,’ Trump said over the phone, as he pushed him to help overturn the results. ‘My lawyers are terrible.’”
  • On being a kingmaker: “During one of her interviews with Trump, Haberman writes that Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) came in and praised his golf game. ‘‘The greatest comeback in American history!’ Graham declared. Trump looked at me. ‘You know why Lindsey kisses my ass?’ he asked. ‘So I’ll endorse his friends.’’ Graham laughed uproariously.”

What we're watching

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) unveiled a bill to prevent insider trading by members of Congress and eliminate conflicts of interest. The long-awaited legislation had a rough birth and has an uncertain future.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was reluctant at first to back a bill to ban stock trades by members of Congress after Business Insider reported that dozens of members of Congress violated a 2012 law meant to eliminate insider trading.

She eventually came around and Lofgren was tasked with consolidating the various proposals and drafting the central bill.

It was supposed to be released last week but was delayed as Lofgren continued to work through the details with members.

A vote this week is possible, two House Democratic aides say, but it could also be punted until after the midterm elections. It could also never come up for a vote, which is why this is what we're watching today.

Correction: An earlier version of the newsletter mistakenly identified Lofgren as a Republican.

Vice President Harris will conclude her five-day trip to Asia tomorrow by visiting the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) — a 160-mile-long buffer zone between North and South Korea. There she will “tour sites at the DMZ, meet with service members, and receive an operational briefing from U.S. commanders,” per the White House.

She spent her last day in Japan meeting with several executives from the semiconductor industry. The meeting was part of a larger effort on behalf of the U.S. to find new computer chip partners as it tries to boost its own manufacturing capabilities following the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act over the summer.

The campaign

First in 202s: NARAL launches final midterms blitz in key states

Our colleague Rachel Roubein of the esteemed Health 202 (sign up here) shares this news: NARAL Pro-Choice America is planning to beef up its phone banking, canvassing and other efforts to mobilize voters in the final stretch before November’s midterm elections.

The prominent abortion rights group is concentrating its efforts in a handful of states. That includes places where there are battleground races in Congress and for the governor’s mansion, like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona, as well as California and Michigan where the question of whether to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution will be put to voters.

As part of the initiative, the group will roll out a new pilot program in Michigan, where 14 organizers will work to sign up 14,000 voters and recruit 400 volunteers on seven college campuses.  

  • “With six weeks left, we really see this as a ground game and a mobilization moment and a political organizing opportunity,” Mini Timmaraju, the head of NARAL, said in an interview.

The strategy: Abortion rights supporters have little recourse to counteract restrictions on the procedure after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion. Leaders of the movement are seeking to turn Democratic anger over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade into votes at the ballot box. Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Emily’s List and NARAL previously committed to spend a record $150 million in total on this year’s midterm elections.

The Media

Early reeeads


Tell me you haven’t seen ‘The Wizard of Oz’ without telling me you haven’t seen ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Thanks for reading. You can also follow us on Twitter: @LACaldwellDC and @theodoricmeyer.