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Moderate Democrats will determine the infrastructure bill's fate

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What happened with the infrastructure bill in the House this week?

The infrastructure bill, $550 billion in new spending on infrastructure, roughly doubling the amount of money that the US spends on roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, airports, water infrastructure over a five-year period was scheduled for a vote on Monday of this week. That was later delayed so that Speaker Nancy Pelosi could negotiate between progressives in her caucus and moderates, the moderates who wanted to get the bill done quickly. It was bipartisan.

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Progress on infrastructure bill despite Senate vote against it

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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January 6 committee partisan battle; SCOTUS rules on election reform

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is forming a January 6th committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection. What do you expect to come from it?

Well, the committee is allowed to perform with the input from minority Republicans, but the Republicans are basically refusing to participate. Which means that most committee members, with the exception of probably Liz Cheney, the Trump critical member of Congress from Wyoming and daughter of the former vice president, are going to be Democrats. And the Democrats are going to probably go into this with an earnest desire to look at what happened on January 6th, who instigated the riot, why it happened, why the signs were missed at the Capitol by the Capitol police and others. What's likely going to come out of this is a lot of partisan messaging, trying to link the Republican party to the insurgence that stormed the Capitol on January 6th. That will help to harden views around January 6th and lead to more ongoing partisan battling in the advance of the 2022 midterm elections. So, expect a lot of heat, but not a lot of light to come out of this investigation. It'll probably be dismissed by Republican critics, even if its findings were to be sound.

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Partisan wrangling likely to block January 6 commission in Congress

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

What is the status of the proposed January 6 commission to investigate the Capitol assault?

The January 6 commission was an idea originally from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who proposed a commission modeled after the very successful 9/11 commission, which looked at intelligence failures leading up to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001. Pelosi wanted to form a bipartisan commission to look at the Capitol insurrection on January 6th. Why it happened, how it happened, what the security failures were that led to it happening, who's responsible, and how to prevent it from ever happening again? And initially, Republicans were fairly cold to this idea because Pelosi had proposed a commission that was stacked in favor of the Democrats, with more democratic members than Republicans. House Republican minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, empowered representative John Katko from New York to go ahead and negotiate the commission. And eventually he came up with a compromised proposal that would have been evenly balanced between Republicans and Democrats, had subpoena power, and been able to produce a report by the end of the year.

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This time, Trump's impeachment will have Republican support

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective as Congress considers a second impeachment:

Big story this week is the president of the United States is about to be the only president ever to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. Articles of impeachment should pass the House on Wednesday morning. The difference between this impeachment and the last impeachment is that this time there will be Republican support for the removal from office. A Senate trial can't begin until probably after the president has left office however. So this really isn't about kicking him out. It's about holding him accountable for the riot that happened at the Capitol last week, and potentially disqualifying him from ever running for future federal office. All eyes will be on the Senate and while it doesn't look likely that he will be convicted there, should some of the more prominent leaders in the Senate come out in favor of his impeachment, I think you may find the 17 votes you need in order to convict Trump.

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Biden's controversial Defense pick may need bipartisan support

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics this week:

First question. Why is Biden's nomination of Lloyd Austin for Secretary of Defense controversial?

It's controversial because Austin has not been out of the military for the required seven years that are needed, under the National Security Act of 1947, to ensure civilian control over the Department of Defense. As a result, he'll need a waiver from Congress in order to serve. This would be the second waiver that Congress has approved in the last four years with the first one coming for Trump's Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis. That was justified at the time because Congress was a little concerned about President Trump and really wanted somebody with a steady hand like Mattis on the till. But Biden has other options, including Michele Flournoy, who has a lot of supporters in Capitol Hill. And so, you're seeing some Democrats suggest they may not be willing to give a waiver this time. Austin may require a lot of Republican votes in order to get confirmed.

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Trump's chances of proving election interference are over

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on US politics:

Is Trump out of options now that William Barr said the DOJ found no election interference?

Trump's problem isn't William Barr not finding election interference, it's that he lost the election and he lost it by millions of votes, and he lost it in the most important key states by tens of thousands of votes. Now, this was a very close election. The three closest states, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona, Trump only lost by 44,000 votes so far, and if he'd ended up winning those three, we'd have an Electoral College tie. But the election was not close enough that Trump's strategy of trying to kick this to the courts and then getting it to go all the way to the Congress, with an alternate slate of electors, it just wasn't possible. Had the election been a little closer, he might've had a shot. But as it is, his chances are over. Joe Biden's going to be inaugurated on January 20th.

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Why US COVID relief package progress is unlikely before January

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on US politics:

With 250,000 Americans dead of COVID and case counts rising, is there any sign of a federal relief package on the way?

And the answer is a solid maybe. The interesting thing is even after the election, neither party has really changed their views on what they want in a stimulus. The Democrats are still holding to their $2.5 trillion number, and the Republicans are saying they want something much smaller and more targeted. President Trump is nowhere to be found in these discussions. He's busy litigating the outcome of an election he lost. Vice President Biden, the incoming President on January 20th, has indicated he basically supports the Democrat's position. He can probably be the deal breaker here. If he wants to tell the Democrats to come down with their number, that could potentially drive compromise with the Republicans. Negotiations haven't really gone anywhere though in the last six months, and I'd frankly be surprised at this point if we saw relief before the fifth January runoff election in Georgia, which will determine control of the Senate.

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