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D.C. Memo: Rage against the Manchin

Smith’s climate plan gets shot down, Klobuchar’s voting rights bill filibustered and Craig celebrates waterskiing.

A program to address climate change championed by Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith was stripped from Democrats’ infrastructure plans at the insistence of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me watching the start of the newest Bachelorette season. Hear me out — just because I’m a political reporter doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my trash TV once in a while, and this season is special because the bachelorette, Michelle Young, is an elementary school teacher in Burnsville. Minnesota represent! Michelle may be winning on reality TV, but the reality on Capitol Hill is not as sweet for Minnesota’s two senators this week. Here’s what we’re looking at: Sen. Tina Smith’s climate plan gets shot down, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s voting rights bill can’t get past the Senate filibuster and Rep. Angie Craig celebrates waterskiing.

Climate change change

Sen. Tina Smith has been working for months on a clean electricity program that has been called the “muscle” behind President Joe Biden’s plan to fight climate change. Unfortunately for Smith (and for the environment), Sen. Joe Manchin from coal-rich West Virginia told the White House that he is firmly against the clean electricity program, according to the New York Times.

Smith told the Times that “while dropping it might win Mr. Manchin’s vote on the budget bill, it could cost hers — and those of other Democrats focused on the environment.”

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“We must have strong climate action in the Build Back Better budget,” Smith said. “I’m open to all approaches, but as I’ve said, I will not support a budget deal that does not get us where we need to go on climate action. There are 50 Democratic senators and it’s going to take every one of our votes to get this budget passed.”

Manchin likely lives rent-free in the heads of every Democratic lawmaker and staffer on the Hill right now — in a 50-50 Senate, his vote is needed to pass pretty much any Democratic priority. Now, White House staffers are working on rewriting the climate portion of Biden’s infrastructure package without Smith’s climate provision, and they’re trying to throw together another mix of policies that could cut emissions.

No vote on voting rights

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s new voting rights bill, the Freedom to Vote Act (which, as we discussed last week, says it will ban partisan gerrymandering) did not make it past the Senate this week. Republicans filibustered the bill, blocking it from coming to a full vote.

The bill failed to advance on a 49-51 party-line vote (Majority Leader Chuck Schumer changed his vote at the last minute in a procedural move that would allow him to bring up the bill again).

The vote wasn’t too surprising, but it points to the issue that has been plaguing Democrats in the Senate this year: the filibuster. Filibuster rules currently necessitate 60 votes in the Senate, which is quite difficult to come by in a 50-50 Senate.

Rep. Dean Phillips issued a press release in response to this move, saying that he commended Klobuchar for her “clear-eyed leadership” on this legislation.

“Democrats in Congress have worked tirelessly to find common ground on what should be a uniting issue for all Americans, only to be turned away by the very Republicans who have demanded concessions in the bill,” Phillips said. “Addressing their concerns with previous legislation, we eliminated ethics provisions, scaled back a small-donor matching program, and even offered Voter ID standards, which has been a Republican priority for decades. For this good faith effort to be met with an anonymous filibuster is simply a dereliction of duty.”

Smith comes out against Minneapolis police ballot amendment

Like Reps. Ilhan Omar and Angie Craig, Sen. Tina Smith has now voiced her opinion on the upcoming Minneapolis election, where residents will be able to vote on Question 2, which would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.

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Smith is voting “no.”

“Like many of my Minneapolis neighbors, I have wrestled with how to vote,” Smith said in a press release. “My core value is to find the right path toward the transformational change we need in public safety, so that everyone is safe in their home and communities. We know this promise has not been realized for many black and brown communities, which have been traumatized by an epidemic of violence and the long and painful history of racism, redlining, lack of investment, jobs and opportunity. These communities tell me they want more public safety, and they also want more justice in policing.”

Smith said that she particularly took issue with the amendment’s requirement that the new Department of Public Safety report to both the Mayor and the City Council.

“My own experience working in City Hall tells me that this change will exacerbate what is a deeply flawed city governance structure, where accountability, authority and lines of responsibility between the Mayor and City Council are diffused and dysfunctional,” Smith said. (Smith served as chief of staff to former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.)

Take Action MN, a group that lobbies for progressive policies in Minnesota, condemned Smith for this announcement, saying that “We are deeply disappointed that Sen. Tina Smith has chosen to uphold the status quo which she called ‘unacceptable.’”

Omar has come out in support of the charter amendment, and Craig is against it.

Waterskiing makes a splash in Congress

Ah, the life of a member of Congress: One day working on social programs, the next honoring the century-long Minnesota pastime of waterskiing.

Such is the life of Second District Rep. Angie Craig, who introduced a resolution today to honor the 100th anniversary of waterskiing, which was apparently invented on Lake Pepin on July 2, 1922. I learn something new every day in this job.

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“Nearly 100 years ago, Ralph and Ben Samuelson invented the sport of waterskiing – creating a favorite pastime for countless Minnesotans in the years since,” Rep. Craig said in a press release. “Today, I am joining Mayor Mark Nichols and other proud residents of Lake City in calling on the United States Postal Service to honor the Samuelson brothers for their ingenious discovery – and to celebrate the generations of water skiers that have followed in their wake.”

The resolution was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and it “encourages” the U.S. Postal Service to design a new stamp honoring the upcoming anniversary and Lake City’s contribution to water sports.

What I’m reading

  • “Meet Michelle Young, Minnesota’s Bachelorette,” Mpls St. Paul. If you think that the Bachelor franchise is dumb and problematic, I won’t disagree with you. But as I said earlier, even D.C. correspondents need their trash TV. This article gives you some background information on Michelle, including her past as a D-1 basketball player and her role as the show’s third-ever Black bachelorette. There’s also word that part of the season was filmed in Minnesota, so I’m looking forward to watching!
  • “These millennial women hadn’t invested before. The pandemic was ‘a wake-up call,’” Washington Post. This story was cool to me because I’ve been trying to convince many of my female friends to invest for years, but no one really took me up on it until the pandemic hit. This article talks about how the pandemic was a catalyst for a lot of women to start investing, and gathers perspectives from women in the trading industry as well.
  • “‘I quit — Reddit users are posting angry resignation texts to their bosses on an ‘anti-work’ subreddit,” Insider. I’ve noticed a trend recently on social media of fed-up food service or retail workers posting their own angry resignation texts to their bosses on platforms like TikTok, usually garnering thousands of supportive comments and sometimes millions of likes. This story looks into the subreddit called “r/antiwork,” where people encourage each other to stick it to the man and quit their jobs. This is kind of like a microcosm of the larger “Great Resignation” movement that has been going on since this summer.

That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to send any questions, comments or waterskiing memories to celebrate the sport’s centennial to ahackett@minnpost.com, or follow me on Twitter at @byashleyhackett.