Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me obsessing over my Wordle score. Too much of my mental health is hanging on whether or not I complete each daily puzzle (I haven’t lost yet, but I am afraid to imagine what will happen if I do). If you don’t know what Wordle is, please don’t look it up. You’ll get addicted! Aside from strange, Twitter-fueled word game addictions, here’s what we’re talking about this week: President Joe Biden gets snippy on a hot mic, Rep. Tom Emmer’s growing influence in the GOP and Rep. Angie Craig introduces a bill to fund the police.
President Joe Biden got a little testy with a Fox News reporter at a press conference this week in a hot-mic incident. I’m not sure if Biden knew his mic was still on or not, but either way the moment enters a list of top presidential insults.
The exchange happened as reporters were being ushered away from a brief press conference. Fox News reporter Peter Doocy called out a question to Biden: “Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?”
Biden’s patience was obviously low, and he may or may not have realized his mic’s volume was still high.
“It’s a great asset,” Biden said under his breath in a sarcastic tone. “More inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch.” Dang, Joe!
Doocy is a pretty reliable needler to both Press Secretary Jen Psaki and President Biden, so it’s no surprise that Biden directed some frustration towards him.
Big blow to Twin Metals, big win for environmentalists
If you haven’t already been following along with the politicization of the Twin Metals mining project, here is an incredibly short synopsis: The mining project is set up in northern Minnesota in the Rainy River watershed in the Superior National Forest, near the Boundary Waters. The Obama administration started an environmental study on the project, the Trump administration canceled it and reinstated mineral leases for the mine, and the Biden administration in turn put a hold on the mineral leases.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration officially canceled the mineral leases. The Interior Department’s Office of the solicitor found that the Twin Metals leases were improperly renewed by the department in 2019.
The cancellation was a huge win for environmental groups concerned about the mine’s effect on water and ecosystems in the Superior National Forest, but a big loss for those who support the mining industry. Reactions were also split pretty clearly along party lines.
“This action will only increase our dependence on foreign minerals at a time when the Biden administration pushes to drastically increase demand for technologies like EV (electric) vehicles and solar panels that require them. Mining is part of our great state’s heritage, and we have been doing it safely for over a century,” said Republican Seventh District Rep. Michelle Fischbach. “I am disappointed the Biden administration is again caving to the whims of liberal activists hundreds of miles from the region at the expense of Northern Minnesota’s future.”
Minnesota’s Democratic lawmakers feel differently. Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum has been a leader on the issue for nearly a decade.
“The Biden administration’s cancellation of two Twin Metals leases that threatened this watershed is a rejection of the deeply flawed and politically motivated process under the Trump administration and a victory for sound science and protecting a precious and irreplaceable natural resource,” McCollum said. “The Boundary Waters is a national treasure that belongs to all Americans, and I am absolutely committed to ensuring its watershed will be permanently protected. Some places are simply too special to mine, and it is our obligation to ensure these unique and valuable lands and waters remain intact for generations to come.”
Emmer in the spotlight
As midterm season heats up, lots of eyes are on Sixth District Rep. Tom Emmer, now the two-time chair of the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC). Politico published a profile on Emmer this week, calling him the “hottest political hand in the House.”
Campaign committees like the NRCC are often launching pads for leadership bids, especially if the chair does well. And Emmer has been doing well — he’s one of the few Republicans who gets along with party leadership, conservatives and centrists all at once.
But Emmer told Politico that he’s focused on the upcoming midterm elections and not on any leadership positions.
“The only thing I have in mind right now is winning a majority. That’s it,” Emmer told Politico. “If you talk to some of my colleagues, I’m sure they told you that I’m a little adamant about staying focused in the moment.”
Reporter Olivia Beavers wrote that fellow Republicans think Emmer is eyeing the party whip position as well as some others. (Whip could be the House GOP’s first open leadership role in years if the midterms go in their favor.)
Craig is funding the police
Second District Rep. Angie Craig is officially rebuking any Republicans’ claims that she wants to defund the police. Craig introduced a bill this week that would increase funding for local police departments.
Craig’s “Invest to Protect Act of 2022” is a bipartisan bill that would provide $50 million in grants for small and mid-sized police departments to invest in training, equipment, personnel support and mental health resources. Police departments with 200 officers or less would be eligible, and Craig’s press release on the bill said 95 percent of police departments in her district would fall into that category.
The bill currently has 17 Republican and 21 Democratic cosponsors, including Third District Rep. Dean Phillips.
“Local law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect and serve their communities – oftentimes working on strained budgets without the equipment and training they need to reduce crime and keep Minnesotans safe,” Craig said. “It’s long past time that Congress stepped up and enacted legislation to ensure our smaller and mid-size police departments have the resources necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively.”
Funding from the bill would go towards investments in officer safety, de-escalation and domestic violence response training as well as body cameras.
What I’m reading
- “A 19-year-old built a flight-tracking Twitter bot. Elon Musk tried to pay him to stop” Protocol. I just about lost my mind when I saw this headline this week. Some college kid really did create a Twitter account that has been coded to report any movements of Musk’s private jet around the world. Obviously concerned about safety issues, Musk asked him to take the account down. The kid refused, and Musk then offered him $5,000 to take it down. The kid’s reply? “Any chance to up that to $50k? It would be great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car maybe even a Model 3.” Apparently Musk hasn’t gotten back to him on that. I love the entrepreneurship, though.
- “Here’s why interior designers say sage green is the trendiest color of the year” Washingtonian. When I moved into my new apartment last month, I immediately painted the biggest wall in the living room sage green. I thought I came up with the idea myself, but I saw this article the other day and it made me wonder if I hadn’t been unwittingly influenced by some interior design trend. Some interior designers say the obsession with sage green has to do with us all being cooped up during the pandemic, wistful for some earthy outdoor greenery in our living spaces. I can definitely relate!
That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to send any questions, comments or times you said something you shouldn’t have on mic to firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me on Twitter at @byashleyhackett.