January 14th, 2022: Biden Demands Passage On Voting Rights Bills and Escalating Tensions with Russia
This week, White House Correspondent Paul Brandus shares his insights into Biden's recent statements around voting rights and the filibuster, economic and COVID-19 news, and the mounting tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Special guest: Russia expert David Satter.
An angry President Biden demands passage of key voting rights bills. Republicans fire back.
Looks like inflation may be around for a while — this as the pandemic rolls on.
And tensions rise between the U.S. and Russia
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports from Washington — it’s Friday, January 14.
the last eight presidential elections, Republicans have won the popular
vote in just one of them. And demographics - namely the shriveling
percentage of whites - does NOT suggest future success. This helps
explain Republican efforts to make voting more difficult around the
What, exactly, are those efforts? Here are just four examples:
-eliminating no-excuse absentee voting for voters under age 65
-tighter limits on early in-person voting
-removing secure ballot dropboxes
-forcing folks to stand in long lines - but making it illegal to give them food & water -- that’s what Georgia’s doing.
That’s where President Biden went to talk about his anger over these Republican efforts:
Biden wants two pieces of legislation passed — the Freedom to Vote Act
Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. He can get these through the
House, but the Senate? That’s another story. So he said senators have to
decide how they want to be remembered — and challenged them in a way
that even some DEMOCRATS say was too much:
binary choice here — vote my way or you’re as bad as the president of
the Confederacy in the Civil War, or the bigoted 1960s police chief of
Birmingham who attacked blacks with German Shepards and fire hoses.
That’s the part that infuriated Republicans. Even some regarded as more reasonable, like Utah’s Mitt Romney:
president says getting these voter protection bills passed is so
important that he now favors changing a key Senate rule — it’s called
the filibuster — to make it easier to pass them. But some Democratic
Senators oppose getting rid of the filibuster. There’s a good reason for
this — Democrats could be the minority again — and that’s when the
filibuster could help them — just as it helps Republicans now.
There’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s the basic construct. Anyway
the bottom line here: Biden is going to have a lot of trouble getting
rid of the filibuster — which means he’s going to have a lot of trouble
getting these voting bills passed. Just like he’s having trouble getting
his “Bound Back Better” plan passed. And
time is running out — if Republicans take the House and Senate this
Fall — which appears increasingly likely based on current trends — than
this legislation won’t go anywhere.
of voting, one Republican Senator did something that seems newsworthy:
He said the 2020 election was won fair and square by President Biden.
That Senator was South Dakota’s Mike Rounds. Here’s what he told ABC:
was immediately attacked by former President Trump, who called Rounds a
“jerk.” But Rounds doubled down — calling on other Republicans to speak
up and tell the truth. He says quote — “If we want to
keep the trust and gain the trust of more individuals — we have to
probably say it a little bit louder and in more places that many of us
normally either aren’t invited to talk or have chosen not to get into
Again — that’s South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds — a Republican.
not with Trump yet — he did something rare this week too: He appeared
on National Public Radio. A guy on their morning show — Steve Inskeep —
said they’ve been trying to get Trump since 2015 — when he first
announced he was running for president. They sparred for about seven
minutes mostly about the pandemic and the 2020 election — with Trump
doing most of the talking — it ended like this:
that went pretty much as expected. You know that old Clint Eastwood
western — the good the bad and the ugly? That’s what this phone call
was. Trump praised vaccines — said people should get vaccinated — that’s
good. But he hung up in the middle of the call — that’s bad, rude,
really — but worst of all he keeps pushing the big lie about the
election — the election he lost by seven million votes. That’s ugly.
of vaccines — the Supreme Court dealt the White House a setback
Thursday — shooting down a plan to require that employees at large
businesses get a vaccine — or test regularly and wear a mask on the job.
the court DID give the White House a partial win — by allowing vaccine
mandate for most health care workers. The two decisions coming in the
middle of this current Om-ra-con variant — that’s filling hospitals to
the brim. About 18-hundred Americans are dying daily right now — the
total U-S death toll as the pandemic approaches year three: about
number going up — inflation — seven-percent per the last 12 months, the
Labor Department says. But — it slowed a bit in December, we’ll see if
that continues. Meantime — there’ve been stories from around the world
this week on inflation at its highest levels in decades in — I’ll give
you just a few examples — Canada, Britain, Germany, Spain, Mexico,
Russia and Japan — the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on supply
chains and lift inflation around the globe.
news on the law enforcement front — 73 officers were murdered in 2021 —
FBI Director Christopher Wray, writing in the Wall Street Journal —
— we owe it to them to redouble our efforts to take the most violent
offenders off the streets and to make sure officers have the resources,
equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely. Even more, we
need to ensure the brave men and women know that the communities they
serve have their backs. — that’s FBI Director Christopher Wray.
there be war in Europe? The U-S thinks the threat of a Russian invasion
of Ukraine is quite real — abd talks this week between Russia, the U-S
and America’s European allies appeared to make little progress on
defusing tensions over Ukraine - which used to be a part of the Soviet
Union until it broke up 30 years ago. I spent five years working in
Moscow, but today I’m joined by someone who worked there even longer —
David Satter — whose first posting in Moscow was nearly a half-century
ago. Over the decades he’s worked there in and off, written numerous
books — and was kicked out in 2013 — which I regard as a badge of honor.
thing about Russia I asked Satter about — the internal weaknesses that
they hide from the outside world —are gradually causing more problems —
for Putin and the other corrupt and violent men that rule that icy
country — he tells me what their biggest fear is:
My thanks to David Satter — one of the world’s top experts on Russia.
Now, lets hear about ANOTHER Evergreen podcast — that I know you'll enjo
Time now to open up the West Wing Reports archives — and see what made history this week in the past:
Theodore Roosevelt designated the Grand Canyon as a national monument.
TR was the first truly conservationist president. He protected 130
million acres of forests, created five national parks (the Grand Canyon
was upgraded to a national park in 1919) and 51 wildlife refuges. By the
way, it’s for these efforts to safeguard America’s natural beauty that
Teddy Roosevelt was chosen to be on Mount Rushmore.
Another Roosevelt — Franklin — became the first sitting president to
fly, when he traveled in great secrecy to Casablanca, Morocco. For war
talks with Winston Churchill. He flew all the way from Miami on a Pan Am
1991: Congress approved George H.W. Bush’s request to use force against
Iraq - and push its forces out of Kuwait. The House vote was 250-183;
the Senate 52-47, The first Persian Gulf war began days later.
Want more history? Check out my books on Amazon — I’ll sign ‘em for you too — just shoot me an email: [email protected].
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I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find thoughtful: This week: it’s from Harry Truman: