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Democrats Drop Free Community College From Build Back Better Goals, What's Next?

Free community college is the first major casualty in president Joe Biden's Build Back Better initiative. And it won't be the last.
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Senator Joe Manchin's Facebook Page Image, Annotation by Mish

Senator Joe Manchin's Facebook Page Image, Annotation by Mish

Jill Biden Announcement   

The Wall Street Journal reports Jill Biden Says Free Community College Off Table.

First lady Jill Biden said that two years of tuition-free community college won’t be part of the Democrats’ stalled child-care, healthcare and climate package, as she addressed a gathering of community college educators.

“Congress hasn’t passed the Build Back Better legislation yet. And free community college is no longer part of that package,” the longtime community college professor said Monday during remarks to the 2022 Community College National Legislative Summit.

“We knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. Joe always said that. Still, like you, I was disappointed,” Dr. Biden said.

The president’s original proposal would have waived tuition for two years of public community college, as well as provide many students more cash to cover living expenses. In an address to Congress last April, Mr. Biden said that his wife would be “deeply involved” in leading the effort.

In a press conference last month, Mr. Biden said he wasn’t sure he could get funding for community college in any new effort.

Build Back Better As Presented No Longer Exists 

The key idea of the day goes to  Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. 

The Build Back Better as it has been presented over, what, the last seven, eight, nine months, that bill no longer will exist,” Mr. Manchin said on CNN Sunday.

Abandoning free community college was expected as it did not even make the final House version. Yet, Biden kept hope. 

That hope was dashed today, not by the President, but by the First Lady. 

It's the first of many major disappointments that will surely follow.

Democrat Senator Ben Ray Luján Sidelined Four to Six Weeks 

Confounding the woes for the Democrats who need 50 of 50 votes, Senator Ben Ray Luján is Sidelined With a Stroke.  

It was the troubling development that Democrats holding a precarious 50-50 Senate majority had long been dreading: One of their colleagues suffered a serious medical episode, leaving them one vote short of a majority with a Supreme Court confirmation vote on the horizon.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, was assuring senators from the floor that Mr. Luján was expected to make a full recovery and that in his absence, “the U.S. Senate will continue to move forward in carrying out its business.”

A senior aide to Mr. Luján said on Wednesday that he remained in the hospital, was recuperating well and would return in four to six weeks barring complications.

But Mr. Luján’s condition was a stark reminder that Senate Democrats — who serve in an institution where nearly half of all members are over the age of 65 — are never more than one sudden illness away from losing their working majority.

“That’s just what we live with every day in a 50-50 Senate,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan. “We are all human beings, and something can happen to someone at any time.”

Supreme Court Nominations Not the Key Issue

Supreme Court nominations are not the main issue. President Biden has not made a nomination yet, and that process could drag on for weeks anyway. 

Ultimately, I expect some Republicans will go along with Biden's pick if for no other reason than to claim bipartisanship.

Meanwhile, however, Build Back Better is sidelined for at least another month. 

Manchin has indicated he wants to tackle the Electoral Count Act first. How long will that take?

Most Urgent Thing

“There’s a lot of conversations going on, they’ve been reaching out. We haven’t sat down physically and started any negotiations,” Mr. Manchin said on Thursday. “I think taking care of our voting and protecting our right to vote and protecting the ballot box is the most important, urgent thing we have right now.

The above snip from the Wall Street Journal, emphasis mine.

President Trump Back in the Picture

Former president Trump has further intensified the need to address the Electoral Count Act,

Trump still insists that former Vice President Mike Pence could have decided the election. Pence and Trump are sparring over the issue.

Pence again stands up to Trump, despite the potential political cost.

Please consider Mike Pence’s Constitution

The former Vice President defended himself against Donald Trump’s charge that Mr. Pence could have overruled state electoral vote tallies on Jan. 6, 2021 at the Capitol. Mr. Pence was presiding over the vote counting as President of the Senate, but he refused Mr. Trump’s pressure to disqualify electors from some closely contested states. It was Mr. Pence’s finest hour.

But Mr. Trump won’t let it die, and last week he claimed again that Mr. Pence could have overturned the election, all but admitting that he hoped to use the gambit to stay in power. Speaking Friday to the Federalist Society in Florida, Mr. Pence rebutted Mr. Trump.

“I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong,” Mr. Pence said. “The Presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American President.”

Mr. Pence explained that his decision was rooted in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. He rightly pointed out that the Founders were skeptical of concentrated power, which is why they created the Electoral College and gave states the authority to choose electors. The only power they gave Congress regarding the electoral tally is counting and certifying the votes. The Vice President’s role is ceremonial in presiding over that counting.

Mr. Trump claims that Congress’s current talks to rewrite the Electoral Count Act of 1887 show Mr. Pence had the power to overturn electoral votes. But Congress isn’t debating this law because it agrees with Mr. Trump’s mistaken interpretation of what we and many others believe is an unconstitutional statute. The Members want to make sure that no one can pull Mr. Trump’s stunt again and misread the Electoral Count Act to use Congress and the Vice President to overturn an election despite losing in November.

This threat is bipartisan, by the way. After the 2004 election Barbara Boxer, then a California Senator, joined a House colleague in objecting to electors from Ohio, the decisive state that year. This forced votes in both chambers, which failed. The next time they lose a close election, Democrats aren’t likely to be as ham-handed as Mr. Trump and his allies were after 2020.

Pence understands the risks while Trump cannot let go of the idea that he lost. 

“I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong,” Mr. Pence said. “The Presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American President.”

Pence is Correct 

Trump is delusional if he believes Pence could have decided the election.

Scroll to Continue

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There is no doubt, none, that Pence is correct. It is great to see someone of his stature and importance stand up to the former president.

This is yet another reason why Republicans should abandon Trump. He is not good for the party or the nation.  

That is not to say everything Trump did was wrong or even mostly wrong. Every issue needs to be discussed on its own merits, not on partisan politics. 

I have praised and criticized presidents George Bush, Barrack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden.

The current and former presidents are neither all good nor all bad. Unfortunately, any criticism of the sitting president brings out cat calls from the partisan players. 

I have been accused of being extreme Right wing and extreme Left wing, days apart! That is the sad nature of US politics at the moment.

Complicating Senate Math 

Returning to the Issue of Build Back Better, Trump highlighted the necessity of tackling the Electoral Count Act first as Manchin wants to do.

But with Senator Ben Ray Luján sidelined four to six weeks, Democrats either need to abandon their goals or wait for Luján to return.

There will be many bipartisan votes for reform despite Trump's wishes. But without Luján, Democrats cannot hope for any of the voting rights idea they seek.

Will Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wait? 

Certainly Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Progressives will push that direction.

Yet, it's not even clear what the Democrats can accomplish with Luján. That will depend on what Senator's Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema will go along with.

This could easily drag on for months.

2022 Congressional Calendar

2022 Congressional Calendar courtesy of Rational360.Com.

2022 Congressional Calendar courtesy of Rational360.Com.

Stall Ball

It's safe to write off the month of February due to Senator Ben Ray Luján. 

Meanwhile, it's difficult to say whether Schumer waits for Luján or lets republicans control the Electoral Count Act.

If the latter, Build Back Better changes can easily slip into the month of May. 

And there is no guarantee Luján will return in four to six weeks. 

Look for Republicans to play "stall ball" for as long as they can. 

Schumer might unwittingly help if he hold up reform of the Electoral Count Act, hoping for something more than Manchin or Sinema will go along with.

Democrats Finally Reach Out to Manchin, Is it Too Late?

On January 30, 2022, I commented Democrats Finally Reach Out to Manchin, Is it Too Late?

I am rooting for the clock to expire. Build Back Better is fatally flawed.

Tick tock!

This post originally appeared at MishTalk.Com

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