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Manchind


FOR JOE MANCHIN, IT’S ‘NOT PERSONAL’: The Democratic Senate has hit its first roadblock in its path to confirming President Joe Biden’s nominees. But if you ask the West Virginia Democrat who seemed to have delivered the kiss of death to Neera Tanden, he professes no villainous intent toward his party. “I’m all about bipartisanship. I really am. I told her that: This is not personal at all,” Manchin told our Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine about his “no” to the White House budget chief.

It’s easy to see why the GOP-friendly Manchin would come down against Tanden despite his previous votes for polarizing Trump nominees. Simply put, Manchin represents a deep-red state and is invested in holding Biden to his pledge to be civil and reach across the aisle.

He might seem like a Slytherin in the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts, but Manchin’s no on Tanden doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll soon turn against nominees like Xavier Becerra (HHS) and Deb Haaland (Interior). At the moment, he is a “maybe” on both, per Burgess.

Related Read: ‘A double standard going on’: Democrats accuse GOP and Manchin of bias on Biden nominations by Laura Barrón-López and Chris Cadelgo: http://politi.co/3uqiFs8

FIRST IN HUDDLE: Manchin is also facing heat from the right. Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed advocacy group, is launching a six-figure mail, radio and digital ad campaign today to pressure senators to oppose President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Marianne reports. The ads focus on the price tag of the bill.

A direct mail ad targeting Manchin accuses Biden of wanting to spend $2 trillion “to pay for a partisan wish list of unrelated and wasteful spending that will do nothing to end the pandemic” and urges West Virginia voters to call the senator’s office.

In addition to Manchin, the ads will target GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah; Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Jon Ossoff of Georgia, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; and Maine Independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats.

MARK IT DOWN: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is privately pushing for the House to remain in session the week of March 15 to work on any immigration bills that can’t fit in the chamber’s packed schedule over the next three weeks, sources tell my colleagues Sarah Ferris, Heather Caygle and Laura Barrón-López.

Top Democrats plan to begin whipping their members this week on a slew of immigration bills — including the comprehensive package proposed last week by Biden and other piecemeal bills that passed last Congress. Those narrower bills in particular, such as a bill to protect so-called Dreamers, are expected to get broad support, and could soon be up for a floor vote in the House.

But Democrats, including those in the CHC, acknowledge that the House’s to-do list over the next three weeks could make it tough to fit in immigration bills. They’re calling on Democratic leaders to reserve the third week of March — currently slated to be a committee work week — in case they run out of time.

GETTING ANSWERS: Senators are set to hear today from security officials who were in charge on Jan. 6, including the former chief of the Capitol Police Steven Sund, former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving and former Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger — who lost their jobs after the attack.

While the impeachment trial and the charges against hundreds of rioters have illuminated many important details from that day, relatively little has come to light about the fateful security decisions that allowed the mob to storm the Capitol:

Some key questions:

– Did political considerations delay the approval of sending in the National Guard?

– What roles did Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell play in the security response?

– Is the structure of the Capitol Police board really effective?

– What caused Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick’s death?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chairs the administration panel that oversees Capitol security, says the witnesses are attending voluntarily. And while she says a commission is needed, she told the NYT it is “important to get the information out under oath as soon as possible.”

Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio have more: http://politi.co/2NAkWQV

Related: At stake in Tuesday’s hearing: The story of the Capitol riot, and who is responsible by WaPo’s Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian: http://wapo.st/3kdYiK0

COMMISSION FRICTION: The testimony of these security officials comes as House leaders negotiate the exact structure of the investigative panel that will examine what contributed to the Jan. 6 assault. Both sides have advocated for a model based on the 9/11 Commission.

Pelosi and her Republican counterparts have already traded one offer each, with Democrats suggesting they pick seven of the members of the panel while Republican leaders would get to pick four additional appointees.The proposal was a nonstarter for Republicans, Heather and Kyle report.

Republicans are insisting on an equal split of each getting to appoint five appointees to the panel in their counteroffer, sources tell my colleagues. They also don’t want Democrats to put their blue thumbs on the direction of the inquiry, which could steer the panelists away from charting their own path.

Heather and Kyle have more on the hopes lawmakers have for the commission, the advice former members on the 9/11 commission have given Pelosi, and some obstacles it likely will face: http://politi.co/3keLnHJ

HAPPY TUESDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill on this Feb. 23, where rolling across the Atlantic looks pretty dang cool.

MONDAY’S MOST CLICKED: Insider’s story about Cruz being mocked over Texas disaster relief photo-op was the big winner.

Member/Staffer You Should Know: Huddlers! Which member or staffer would YOU like to see spotlighted next? Send names to my Suggestion Box –> [email protected]

OMB OMG: Neera Tanden’s confirmation vote to be Biden’s Office of Management and Budget chief looks as likely as getting the congressional leadership to do the Macarena at their next weekly press conferences… Well OK, not that unlikely, but they need just one Republican to join them and so far, a few possible persuadable Republicans are saying “I’m out.”

No’s: Manchin and GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah)

Undecided or undeclared: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)

The Post reports that Tanden and White House officials tried to rescue her nomination over the weekend, placing calls to senators on both sides of the aisle to shore up support, but two key GOP senators who could save her nomination — Collins and Romney — did not receive a phone call from either.

If that one key vote is not secured, Tanden would be the first Biden Cabinet nominee to fail. As of now, the White House isn’t yanking her nomination, nor are Senate Dems saying it should be withdrawn, but all signs suggest it is kaput.

As Burgess notes: “You are currently seeing the difference between the majority party controlling 52 Senate seats at the start of Trump admin, and 50 at the start of Biden. Those two seats can make a HUGE difference on confirmations.”

Marianne and Burgess have more: http://politi.co/37BX3za

Related: Shalanda Young emerging as a top contender to lead OMB with Neera Tanden’s nomination on the rocks by CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Paul LeBlanc: http://cnn.it/3dCkUCM

MEANWHILE: Schumer is setting up a confirmation blitz while waiting for the Covid package from the House. After Biden’s U.N. pick Linda Thomas-Greenfield is confirmed today, the Senate will move to confirm Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary. And then he will move to confirm Jennifer Granholm to the Energy Department and Miguel Cardona to the Education Department over the next few days.

X MARKS THE SPOT: Xavier Becerra is set to be grilled before the Senate HELP Committee today over his nomination to serve as Biden’s HHS secretary. It looks like the California attorney general and his supporters on the Senate panel are trying to get ahead of GOP criticisms, per a copy of his opening statements shared with our Alice Miranda Ollstein.

For example: Republican lawmakers like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and outside groups are airing ads criticizing his nomination and mounting pressure campaigns on Senate Democrats who are up for reelection and others they believe can be swayed that Becerra is “extreme” and “partisan” over his support for abortion rights, Medicare for All, and California’s pandemic restrictions. But Becerra intends to pledge to work with each member of Congress if confirmed and emphasize his partnerships with GOP governors on expanding access to Covid treatments.

But Democrats are warning there could be severe consequences leaving HHS leaderless as the pandemic continues to rage.

Read Alice’s story on Becerra’s opening remarks: http://politi.co/3aHjzZE | And her story on how Republicans are pressuring Dems over Becerra nomination: http://politi.co/3pR3kh2

Related: This Congress is the most diverse ever, but Hill staffers remain overwhelmingly white by our Maya King: http://politi.co/3kgcLVT

COVID RELIEF ON THE MOVE: The House Budget Committee on Monday advanced Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill in a nearly party line vote 19-16. Now the massive package heads over to the House Rules Committee, where amendments will be considered. Then, we expect a floor vote by Friday or Saturday.

Oopsies: It would’ve been a party-line vote, but Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) accidentally voted against the Covid bill. He was getting off of a plane from Texas and seems to have misunderstood what was happening. A spokesperson later clarified that his vote was a mistake.

As for the minimum wage hike: The parliamentarian’s ruling is now expected Wednesday, per Caitlin Emma and Aaron Lorenzo, who report Democrats are “already weighing several options to try to save the wage hike from fully imploding and make it more palatable for moderates in their own party — from whom congressional leaders need lockstep support in order to muscle package through the Senate.”

Dems are discussing dropping the $15 minimum wage push to possibly $11 or $12, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) tells Caitlin and Aaron, to get moderates on board.

But progressives are digging in. Our friends over at Playbook scoop that a band of vocal House progressives and aides to Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are planning their next moves, including the risky plan of opposing a compromise on the minimum wage hike if the parliamentarian rules the increase is allowed under reconciliation.

More here from Caitlin and Aaron: http://politi.co/3busEnR

Related Reads: How progressives are building power in the Biden White House, by the Daily Beasts’ Hanna Trudo: http://bit.ly/37F56vm | GOP irked after last-ditch attempt fails to deter Biden push for quick passage of Covid relief plan, by CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barrett: http://cnn.it/3pODEkW

BRUSHED OFF: Trump’s taunts against McConnell have not shaken the Kentucky Republican’s hold on Senate GOP, Burgess reports: http://politi.co/3pN3Qwc

CAMPAIGN WATCH: With Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) under fire, Reps. Lee Zeldin, Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik “have within the last few weeks either personally said they’re considering a run, or have taken steps viewed by other members from their party as prelude to a potential bid for the governorship.” The Times Union’s Edward McKinley reports: http://bit.ly/37FmfF8

NUGGET: The Republican Study Committee is meeting with former VP Mike Pence later today to discuss the RSC agenda.

CABINET CORNER

Today:

The Senate at 11:30 a.m. will vote on the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Then, at 2:15 p.m., senators will debate the nomination of Tom Vilsack to be secretary of Agriculture, followed by a confirmation vote.
Deb Haaland, Biden’s Interior nominee, will testify before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 9:30 a.m.

Haaland Reads: ‘She became an easy target’: GOP opposition to Haaland rankles Native Americans by Anthony Adragna and Ben Lefebvre: http://politi.co/3aK5zyj | Interior nominee Haaland vows ‘balance’ on energy, climate by the AP’s Matthew Daly: https://bit.ly/2ZDrAIE

10:00 a.m.: Becerra testifies before the HELP Committee, and separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to examine Garland’s nomination by hearing from an expert witness panel.

Updates:

“Garland cruises through confirmation hearing as GOP support solidifies” Marianne reports: “Beyond vowing that politics would play no role in his decisions, Garland made few promises. Despite that, there was little acrimony and many Democrats and Republicans on the panel appeared to treat his confirmation almost as a foregone conclusion.”

The committee will vote on his nomination on Monday, March 1, per Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who says he is hoping for a final confirmation vote next week.

Related Read: Garland confirmation hearing previews policy battles ahead by Roll Call’s Todd Ruger: http://bit.ly/3kcBIS6

TRANSITIONS

Jacob Gattman is starting as a legislative assistant for Rep. Mike Garcia after previously serving as a legislative assistant for Sen. John Kennedy.

Zach Fisch is now chief of staff for Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.). He previously was with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and is new to the Hill.

Ansley Schoen is now a policy adviser for the House Budget GOP. She previously was a confidential assistant at OMB.

Tess Whittlesey will be deputy comms director for Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) after most recently doing comms for Planned Parenthood.

TODAY IN CONGRESS

The House meets at 2 p.m. for legislative business.

The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m.

AROUND THE HILL

10:00 a.m.: Join me, your Huddle host, on POLITICO Live for “Red, Fresh and Blue” today 10 a.m. I’ll be doing live interviews with newly elected members of Congress, Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) and Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.) on how they are finding their footing and looking to make their mark after a tumultuous start to their first term in office. Register to watch live here.

10:00 a.m.: The joint Senate hearing on the events of Jan. 6 attack.

11:00 AM: The U.S. Chamber, partnering with Compass Coffee, is launching its latest online series called “Common Grounds” featuring Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) this week to discuss infrastructure with the U.S. Chamber’s Neil Bradley. Register here.

1:00 p.m.: GOP Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney will deliver the keynote address at a virtual event hosted by the Reagan Institute focused on “Building A 21st Century Foreign Policy.” Email [email protected] to register.

2:00 p.m.: Senate Dem leaders — Schumer, Durbin and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) —
will hold a media availability.

2:00 p.m.: The House Rules Committee will hold a virtual hearing on legislation H.R. 803, the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2021 and H.R. 5, the Equality Act. Livestream it here.

6:15 p.m.: Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, and McCarthy hold Moment of Silence for 500,000 American lives lost to COVID-19 at the East Front Center Steps.

TRIVIA

MONDAY’S WINNER: Dawson Hobbes was the first person to correctly guess that the only member of Congress to serve 4 year terms is the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico.

TODAY’S QUESTION: From Dawson: What Texas governor championed the establishment of the Texas Railroad Commission and fought against railroad monopolies, but was ironically permanently injured in a railroad accident that caused injuries that plagued him for the rest of his life?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answer to [email protected].

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Follow Olivia on Twitter: @Olivia_Beavers

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