10 Things in Politics: Chuck Schumer's legacy is at stake

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Brent D. Griffiths
·6 min read
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Chuck Schumer pointing
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a press conference in Washington, DC. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics, your weekday look at the biggest stories in DC and beyond. Sign up here to receive this newsletter.

  • The House will vote on DC statehood later today: The measure is expected to stall in the Senate.

Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.

With Jordan Erb

Here's what we're talking about:

1. INSIDE THE SENATE: Sen. Chuck Schumer's flip phone is one of the hardest working artifacts in Washington. In reality, Schumer's most prized assets in the evenly-divided Senate are Vice President Harris' tiebreaker vote, and some arcane budget rules that allow him to overcome Republican opposition. Insider dove into how the New York Democrat is wielding his power.

Here's a peek at what we found:

He's always on: "Typical daily interactions include touching base via back-to-back calls with newcomer Raphael Warnock of Georgia via Zoom and discussing infrastructure strategy with Tom Carper, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman and a well-known Biden sounding board."

He has an ace in the hole, kind of: Schumer, like Biden says he wants to work in a bipartisan way. But arcane budget rules that both parties have exploited offer a narrow path for Democrats to pass most of Biden's agenda without a single Republican vote.

  • This procedure, called reconciliation, isn't a cure-all: For one thing, it shifts the power from Schumer to Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. MacDonough gets the final say on what's permissible under reconciliation like when she axed a $15 per hour minimum wage from Biden's rescue package.

  • MacDonough made it easier for Democrats to use reconciliation: But experts who study the chamber are worried about what will happen if the normally finite power can be wielded at will. "That could open a hell of a Pandora's box," said Tom Kahn, a House Democratic leadership aide turned distinguished fellow at American University.

This more than just policy for Schumer: His 40-year legacy of public service is now deeply intertwined with how much of Biden's agenda becomes law. He is also facing down a potential primary challenge as he seeks a history-making fifth term.

Read the rest of our exclusive report here.

2. Happening today: President Biden will promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least in half before 2030, kicking off his two-day virtual climate summit, The Washington Post reports. More than three dozens world leaders will participate. Biden's pledge nearly doubles what President Obama committed the US to under the Paris climate agreement.

3. DOJ probe into the Minneapolis Police Department: The Justice Department is investigating whether the Minneapolis police engages in unconstitutional or unlawful policing, a sweeping investigation that is separate from an ongoing federal civil rights probe into George Floyd's murder itself. More on the investigation here.

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A file photo of Vanita Gupta. Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

A newly confirmed DOJ official will serve as a bridge between progressives and the White House: Civil rights groups expect Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who has spent decades working on civil rights, to be a key figure in criminal justice reform talks. The head of one of the largest police unions told Insider that he believes Gupta wants to work with them.

  • Gupta's nomination became a lightning rod for conservatives: Republican senators pointed to her past comments attacking Justice Brett Kavanaugh and others as examples that she was too liberal for the DOJ. But Vice President Harris ended up not having to break a 50-50 tie after Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski broke ranks to support Gupta.

4. Democrats have harsh words for the GOP's $600-$800 billion infrastructure offer: "Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the proposal 'totally anemic' and an 'insult' to Biden's offer," Politico reports. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he opposed the GOP suggestion to increase user fees or even the gas tax to help pay for it. The GOP group aims to unveil its plan today.

5. Police shot and killed a 16-year-old Black teen in Columbus, Ohio: Bodycam footage of Ma'khia Bryant's death sparked an outcry both locally and nationally. The department identified Officer Nicholas Reardon, who joined in 2019, as the officer who shot Bryant.

6. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:

  • 8:00 a.m.: Biden and Harris speak at the virtual climate summit.

  • 10:45 a.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference

  • 11:30 a.m.: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy holds his weekly news conference

  • 1:30 p.m.: Jen Psaki holds the White House's daily news briefing. Climate envoy John Kerry and climate advisor Gina McCarthy will also appear.

7. Biden is set to officially recognize the Armenian genocide more than a century after the Ottoman Empire's atrocities: He is expected to announce the decision on Saturday, The New York Times reports. That day will be the 106th anniversary of the beginning of a years-long systematic death march that Turkey's predecessors started during WWI. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed. Biden's decision shows the administration has dismissed decades of concern that such a declaration would cause too much damage to Turkish relations.

8. A significant drop in vaccinations this past week: "About 3 million Americans are getting vaccinated daily, an 11 percent decrease in the seven-day average of daily shots administered over the past week," The Washington Post reports. This is the first significant drop since February when winter storms wreaked havoc on the effort. Health officials say more targeted efforts to hesitant and hard-to-reach communities need to take place.

9. Putin warns against threatening Russia, as troops amass on the Ukrainian border: "Russian President Vladimir Putin in an annual address warned any adversaries who cross Russia's 'red line' that they will face an 'asymmetric, fast, and tough' response ... Putin's speech came as Russia has amassed roughly 100,000 troops on Ukraine's borders, raising alarms across the West." In response, the White House said the US has "tough skin."

10. Mark Johnson. The internet lost its mind when a news channel in Boise, Idaho tweeted "Mark Johnson" with absolutely no context. Within hours, Mark Johnson became a beloved figure in the Twitterverse, as confused and delighted followers took to meme-making. A digital producer for KTVB later said she was updating Mark Johnson's bio on the station's website, then accidentally tweeted it.

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Brad Little/Twitter

One last thing.

Today's trivia question: Today is Earth Day. What former official is credited with the holiday? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

  • Yesterday's answer: Presidents Richard Nixon and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are the only two people who have appeared on a national presidential ticket five times. Each won four.

Read the original article on Business Insider