Will the Supreme Court Leak Upend Dems’ Agenda?

Will the Supreme Court Leak Upend Dems’ Agenda?

By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Hope you’ve had a good Tuesday. The political landscape changed dramatically last night after Politico reported that a draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion would strike down Roe v. Wade. The court on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document.

Here’s an early look at some potential legislative implications of the blockbuster report — and some other updates.

Does the Supreme Court Leak Upend Democrats’ Agenda?

News that the Supreme Court likely plans to overturn Roe v. Wade overwhelmed just about everything else in Washington today, and the uproar raises the question of whether the abortion rights issue will push everything else onto a back burner, further reducing the chances that Democrats will be able to pass more of their agenda before Congress turns its attention to the coming elections.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday that the Senate will vote to codify the right to abortion under federal law, though any such measure would likely be more about political messaging since it would lack the votes to pass an evenly divided Senate. "A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise, this is as urgent and real as it gets," Schumer said from the Senate floor. "We will vote to protect a woman's right to choose and every American is going to see which side every senator stands."

It’s clear, though, that the abortion rights issue has immediately moved front and center, months earlier than it would have had the draft opinion not leaked. What will that mean for other legislative priorities? “It is unclear how this will affect the final push in the run-up to the May 27 Memorial Day Recess for a rebranded reconciliation package, though it will clearly distract and inflame a Senate that is tackling a number of other issues not limited to Ukraine, Title 42 & a final COVID-19 package,” analyst Chris Krueger of the Cowen Washington Research Group wrote in a note to clients Tuesday.

Manchin Hosts Another Bipartisan Energy Meeting, Fueling Fears About Dems’ Plans

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) convened another bipartisan meeting of lawmakers Monday night to discuss a package of climate and energy measures he’s looking to put together, even as some fellow Democrats reportedly have raised concerns that the effort may hurt the chances of passing a party-line budget reconciliation package containing portions of their economic agenda.

Manchin’s meeting, his second in the span of a week, reportedly drew four Republicans: Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Dan Sullivan (AK) and Mitt Romney (UT). Democratic attendees included Sens. Tom Carper (DE), Chris Coons (DE), John Hickenlooper (CO), Mark Kelly (AZ), Brian Schatz (HI) and Mark Warner (VA), as well as Rep. Ro Khanna (CA).

“We want to make sure that we have the reliability that fossil [fuel] has given us and can continue to give us and must continue to give us as we basically promote and invest in the new technologies and innovation that’s going to take us to the next level,” Manchin said, according to The Hill.

The group discussed a range of climate and energy policy options, including steps to boost production of critical minerals and ways to reform an environmental review process for major projects that Republicans have criticized. Cassidy told reporters afterward that he promoted the idea of a carbon border adjustment, which would impose a tariff on products from countries with weaker climate regulations — though Cassidy emphasized that his plan was different than a carbon tax.

“Right now the current system incentivizes countries like China and India and Vietnam to not pay attention to emissions because you can produce a good cheaper by not paying,” Cassidy told The Hill. “But if we had a border carbon adjustment, it would help our workers, help our industry, incentivize them to do it right.”

What’s next: Politico reports that, for all the ideas being bandied about “there's no sign that any of it would transform into legislation anytime soon” and that meeting attendees “didn’t appear any closer to outlining even a sketch of a potential bipartisan deal.”

Manchin reportedly acknowledged that reaching a bipartisan energy and climate deal would be “much more complicated” than the bipartisan infrastructure package he helped put together last year. The Washington Post adds that “it's unclear whether more senators will join the ongoing discussions from either side of the aisle. And climate advocates worry that time is slipping away to clinch a deal on President Biden's stalled reconciliation bill, which contains much more ambitious provisions aimed at preventing catastrophic global warming.”

Is a bipartisan deal even possible? It’s highly uncertain whether Manchin’s meetings will produce any results, and climate activists, skeptical that 10 Republicans will sign on to an effective climate plan, worry that the discussions are eating up valuable time as Democrats have just weeks left to try to pull together a legislative package of their own before election season kicks into high gear.

Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana told Politico that he figured the Manchin meetings were “for show” and that there was little chance of attracting the 10 Republicans needed to get any plan through the Senate. Another unnamed Senate Republican told Politico that the entire effort seemed geared toward undermining another Democratic push for a reconciliation bill.

That’s precisely what climate activists fear. “These bipartisan negotiations are a sham,” Jamal Raad, executive director of Evergreen Action, told the Post. “If we allow bad-faith Republican tactics to con the American people out of their last best chance to act on climate change, it will be a monumental failure of leadership that will be remembered for generations to come.”

Job Openings and Quits Hit New Highs

Employers posted 11.5 million jobs in March, the highest level since tracking began in 2000, the Labor Department announced Tuesday. New hirings during the month held steady at 6.7 million, while the number of people quitting their jobs rose to a record 4.5 million.

Job openings now exceed the number of available workers by about 5.6 million, which means there are nearly two jobs for every job seeker (see the chart from RSM’s Joseph Brusuelas below).

“Demand for workers remains white-hot,” economist Julia Pollak of ZipRecruiter told The Washington Post. “This is very broad, enormous growth. Even though we’ve almost recovered all of the jobs lost in the pandemic, the labor market just keeps getting tighter and tighter.”

Inflation worries persist: The unrelenting demand for workers is good news for those looking for better jobs and higher pay, and wages have risen by 4.7% over the last year. But inflation of roughly 8% has eaten away at those wage gains, leaving many workers worse off. That has some economists worrying about more upward pressure on wages, which could in turn push inflation higher still.

“These record quits across the economy show that employers are under huge pressure,” Pollak told the Post. “They’re going to realize very quickly that offering massive compensation packages to new hires isn’t going to cut it anymore. They’re going to have to raise wages wholesale for existing employees, too.”


Send your feedback to yrosenberg@thefiscaltimes.com. And please encourage your friends to sign up here for their own copy of this newsletter.


Views and Analysis