10 Things in Politics: Dems slash Biden's agenda in search for a deal

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Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com.

Here's what we're talking about:

With Phil Rosen.

President Joe Biden stands outside behind a podium with the presidential seal, grabbing his chin and slightly covering his mouth in a pensive look.
President Joe Biden. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1. MORE DEM DRAMA: President Joe Biden's agenda is on the chopping block. In an effort to wrap up Democrats' massive spending plan, lawmakers are leaving some of the president's core campaign promises on the cutting-room floor. The latest victim appears to be Biden's paid-leave plan, which multiple reports indicate is likely to be jettisoned from the bill because Sen. Joe Manchin opposes its inclusion. That would leave the US remaining the only wealthy nation in the world without a federal paid-leave program.

Here's where things stand:

Biden is expected to make the case himself later this morning: He's delaying the start of a major foreign trip to address House Democrats directly both on the massive spending plan and on a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill that has been held up by infighting over the social plan, Politico reports.

  • There are hard feelings just down the hall too: The Twitter habit of the White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, is well documented. It's why many took note last night when he retweeted a dour read on where things stand.

Ron Klain tweet
Ron Klain/Twitter

Progressives are fuming: Sen. Bernie Sanders told reporters "the very fabric of American democracy is in danger" if progressive policies were left out of the spending bill. Among the provisions Sanders emphasized were those that would lower prescription-drug prices; expand Medicare to cover vision, hearing and dental; address the climate crisis; and raise taxes on the rich.

Here's what's on the chopping block: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and some other lawmakers are said to be opposed to a plan to give Medicare more power to negotiate lower drug prices. Manchin's opposition to many of the bill's original climate-related proposals has also sparked major changes.

Jeff Clark and Jeff Rosen
Jeff Clark. Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images

2. How Jeffrey Clark got "canceled" after Trump's slow-coup attempt: The Trump taint is sticking to Jeffrey Bossert Clark. It's the byproduct of his service in the waning days of the tumultuous Republican administration when he tried to take over the Justice Department as part of President Donald Trump's last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election results. Read more about what Clark is doing 10 months later, including how he has been shunned by his old law firm and had his name scrubbed from a new one.

3. CDC adds mood disorders to list of eligible conditions for a booster shot: Healthcare experts told The Post that the addition of depression and schizophrenia-spectrum disorders to a long list of mostly physical conditions wasn't surprising given long-settled research. Currently, eligibility for a booster in the US is limited to older Americans, those who work in high-risk settings, or those with underlying health conditions. The change means millions more people could be able to receive a booster shot.

Confused about boosters?: This chart can tell you whether you actually need one.

graph showing number of people needed to be vaccinated with a booster in order to prevent one hospitalization over 6 months (showing much fewer needed among adults over 65)

4. Top US general says China's hypersonic weapon test is close to a "Sputnik moment": Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the reported recent test a "very significant event," though Beijing has denied any such test happened. Milley's comments follow those of other senior US military officials sounding the alarm about China's growing military might and emerging strike capabilities. More on how the US military is keeping close tabs on China.

5. Biden heading on a major international trip with few ambassadors in place: Biden lags considerably behind Trump in how many of his ambassador selections have been confirmed by the Senate up to this point, The Post reports. So far, the Senate has confirmed just four nominees to be a US ambassador to a foreign government. Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, have held up what is usually a routine process over other policy disagreements. More on the blockade and what Democrats say it's doing to America's standing abroad.

6. Iran is returning to nuclear talks: Ali Bagheri, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, said Tehran was involved in a "very serious and constructive dialogue" with the European Union. Iran suspended the indirect talks with the US, which began in April in Vienna, following Ebrahim Raisi's victory in the country's presidential election in June. More on the news.

7. State Department issues first "X gender" passport: A State Department spokesman said the move was a step toward inclusion for nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people. Secretary of State Antony Blinken first announced the new policy in June; it also means people can self-select "M" or "F" on passports without the need for medical certification. More on the milestone.

8. There's a new federal inquiry into Facebook: The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the social network's internal research examining the harms its products can have, The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook has repeatedly argued the information released by the whistleblower Frances Haugen has been misinterpreted. One issue the FTC is likely to explore is whether Facebook should've warned users about the risks it knew about or suspected. Everything else you need to know about the latest layer of scrutiny on Facebook.

9. Assistant director didn't check the gun he handed to Alec Baldwin: The assistant director on the New Mexico set of Baldwin's film "Rust" told authorities he didn't check to make sure all the rounds in the barrel of the revolver used in last week's deadly shooting were dummy rounds, according to a newly filed court document. Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza told reporters the gun was a .45 Long Colt revolver from which Baldwin fired a bullet. Here's what else we're learning about the case.

Olivia Rodrigo
The pop star Olivia Rodrigo at the beginning of the daily briefing at the White House on July 14. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

10. Olivia Rodrigo said Biden gave her Aviator sunglasses when she visited the White House: On a guest appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" the "Good 4 U" singer said Biden also gave her M&Ms. She also received a shoehorn, which Rodrigo said was "strange." See the rest of the teen star's comments.

Today's trivia question: In light of Halloween, which future president made his first appearance on "Saturday Night Live" wearing a mask of himself during a cold-open sketch about another candidate's Halloween party? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

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