All eyes on Kyrsten Sinema as Democrats look to clinch key climate deal – live | US politics

Kyrsten Sinema was among the reasons why Joe Biden‘s marquee spending package, Build Back Better, did not pass last year. The massive bill would have spent money on fighting climate change and poverty, creating more affordable housing and potentially even changing the immigration system. But with Republicans opposed, Democrats needed every single one of their 50 votes in the Senate to get it passed, and Sinema resisted increasing corporate taxes to pay for it. Negotiators couldn’t find a way to get her to agree with senator Joe Manchin, the other holdout vote, while a group of House Democrats demanding their own tax changes threatened to complicate its passage in that chamber. The whole effort collapsed in the final weeks of 2021.

The same cast of characters is back as Congress considers the Inflation Reduction Act, the surprise successor to last year’s effort that is slimmed down but, if passed, would nonetheless represent a major effort to reduce America’s emissions. This time, the dynamics are more favorable. Manchin has become a major booster for the bill, and Democrats in the House seem to be on board.

That leaves Sinema. The senator rarely talks to the press and has become a bit of an enigma in Washington – a vulnerable Democrat representing a swing state whose background as a Green Party member would make one think she’s a liberal, but who has instead turned out to be a fiscal hawk, resistant to raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for new spending. Those demands have remerged when it comes to the Inflation Reduction Act, according to reports, with Sinema skeptical of its tax hikes on corporations and wealthy fund managers. We’ll see whether Democratic negotiators have better luck getting her to agree this time.

Key events

McConnell sounds cautious note on Republicans reclaiming Senate

The November midterms may not return control of the Senate to Republicans, their leader in the chamber Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, in an interview with Fox News.

While polls indicate the GOP has a commanding lead in races that will allow them to gain a majority in the House of Representatives, several of their Senate candidates are stumbling, and McConnell predicted whoever ends up controlling the upper chamber will likely do so only with a slim margin.

“I think it’s going to be very tight. We have a 50-50 Senate now, we have a 50-50 nation. And I think when this Senate race smoke clears, we’re likely to have a very, very close Senate still, with either us up slightly or the Democrats up slightly,” McConnell said.

A Republican majority in the House would nonetheless be enough to frustrate the Biden administration’s efforts to pass major legislation through Congress, though in the interview, McConnell signaled openness to working with the White House, to a degree.

“We’ll be looking for things that we can do for the country no matter who’s in the White House but I think you can say this: if there’s a Republican House and Senate next year, Joe Biden will finally become the moderate he promised the American people he would be when he ran for president, because he would have no choice,” McConnell said.

Emma Graham-Harrison

Emma Graham-Harrison

The United States killed al-Qaida’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend in a house in a posh neighborhood of Kabul – which, it turns out, used to be a home for US aid workers. The Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison spoke to one of its former residents for this remarkable report that shows how life in Afghanistan has changed in the year since the United States withdrew and the government it supported collapsed:

The balcony in Kabul where the head of al-Qaida was killed was a spot Dan Smock knew well. It used to be his – when he worked in Afghanistan on a US government aid project – and the views were spectacular.

Smock enjoyed starting the day looking out at the Afghan capital, as did the world’s most wanted terrorist, from the villa they both called home, several years apart.

“Reports said the CIA had intelligence that he liked to stand on the balcony, and I thought, ‘Of course he would, it was a nice balcony,’” Smock said in a phone interview.

Sam Levine

Kansas voters’ decision to protect abortion rights was the biggest story out of Tuesday’s primary elections in five states, but Sam Levine reports the night was also a good one for 2020 election deniers:

Hello, and Happy Thursday,

I’m writing this as we’re still digesting the results of Tuesday’s primary elections in several states, the latest test of whether Republican candidates who have embraced lies about the 2020 election can get the backing of GOP voters. So far, the results only add to the considerable evidence showing election denialism remains remarkably powerful in Republican politics.

One of the most consequential results on Tuesday was in Arizona, where Mark Finchem, a state lawmaker, easily won the Republican nomination to run for a secretary of state, a position from which he would oversee elections. Few people in Arizona have fought as aggressively to overturn the 2020 election as Finchem has – he first tried to block Congress from recognizing Joe Biden’s legitimate victory in the state, and has since sought to spread misinformation and decertify the election, which is not possible.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Speaking of vulnerable lawmakers, Wisconsin Republican senator Ron Johnson did himself no favors when he made comments that appeared to threaten social security and Medicare, giving Democrats an opportunity to attack a lawmaker holding a seat they see as a pickup opportunity in the November midterm elections. Martin Pengelly reports:

A swing-state Republican senator denied threatening social security and Medicare, after Democrats accused him of putting them “on the chopping block.”

Ron Johnson, who entered Congress on the Tea Party wave of 2010, is up for re-election in Wisconsin. As they attempt to keep hold of the Senate, Democrats think they have a chance of winning the seat.

In an interview with The Regular Joe Show podcast, Johnson said social security and Medicare, key support programs for millions of older and disabled Americans and their dependents, should no longer be considered mandatory spending.

Kyrsten Sinema was among the reasons why Joe Biden‘s marquee spending package, Build Back Better, did not pass last year. The massive bill would have spent money on fighting climate change and poverty, creating more affordable housing and potentially even changing the immigration system. But with Republicans opposed, Democrats needed every single one of their 50 votes in the Senate to get it passed, and Sinema resisted increasing corporate taxes to pay for it. Negotiators couldn’t find a way to get her to agree with senator Joe Manchin, the other holdout vote, while a group of House Democrats demanding their own tax changes threatened to complicate its passage in that chamber. The whole effort collapsed in the final weeks of 2021.

The same cast of characters is back as Congress considers the Inflation Reduction Act, the surprise successor to last year’s effort that is slimmed down but, if passed, would nonetheless represent a major effort to reduce America’s emissions. This time, the dynamics are more favorable. Manchin has become a major booster for the bill, and Democrats in the House seem to be on board.

That leaves Sinema. The senator rarely talks to the press and has become a bit of an enigma in Washington – a vulnerable Democrat representing a swing state whose background as a Green Party member would make one think she’s a liberal, but who has instead turned out to be a fiscal hawk, resistant to raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for new spending. Those demands have remerged when it comes to the Inflation Reduction Act, according to reports, with Sinema skeptical of its tax hikes on corporations and wealthy fund managers. We’ll see whether Democratic negotiators have better luck getting her to agree this time.

All eyes on Sinema as Senate Democrats looks to clinch climate deal

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Democrats are very close to passing consequential legislation to fight climate change in the Senate, but first must placate Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona lawmaker whose hostility towards tax code changes have derailed such legislation in the past. Reports have emerged that Sinema wants tweaks to the Inflation Reduction Act, including the removal of certain tax provisions and money to fight drought in the southwest. With the Senate convening today and potentially beginning the delicate process of passing the bill with Democratic support alone, whether Sinema will vote for the legislation may finally become clear.

Here’s what else is going on today:

  • The annual Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off in Dallas, with Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán speaking later today.
  • The Senate judiciary committee will hear from FBI director Christopher Wray at 10am ET.
  • Joe Biden will push for passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in a meeting with business and labor leaders at 1.45 pm eastern time.

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