April 14, 2021
By: NATHANIEL BALLANTYNE
TRUENEWSBLOG – A staffer working for one of the members of the so-called G-10, the group of 10 Republican senators who insist they’re itching to negotiate deals with the White House spoke to Politico.
In the span of a few months the G-10 has gone from the center of politics in DONALD TRUMP’S Washington to the policy sidelines in President JOE BIDEN’S.
While these senators mostly despised Trump, they were the engine of policymaking for his final Covid relief bill. While they mostly respect Biden, they have so far been irrelevant to his legislative push despite his inaugural promise of “unity. It’s been a bewildering change for them. And if you want to understand both why Biden is winning and why his so-far successful formula could be in jeopardy, it’s worth listening closely to the voices within this frustrated and marginalized group of self-proclaimed dealmakers.
Back to the nightmare. It starts with what they see as some hardwired media narratives they can’t shake: that Biden is a reasonable, deal-making moderate and that Republicans talk about compromise but really just want to obstruct. It’s a perception that has given the White House all the leverage.
“Biden is a horrible villain for us,” said the G-10 staffer, meaning not that he was an actual villain but that he was difficult to villainize. “There are deeply entrenched narratives that have some truth but are no longer totally true. Reporters believe them despite all evidence to the contrary.” They see a White House “constantly rubbing dirt in the face of Republicans” over the party’s lack of interest in bipartisanship while “passing as many partisan bills as they possibly can through reconciliation before they lose the House in 2022.”
Two episodes stand out to them. The first was when they were invited to the White House to discuss the Covid relief bill in February. It was intoxicating. They finally had both a normal president, one who understood the Senate better than any president since LBJ, and one who recognized the G-10 as the center of power in Congress. The staffer joked that they were so giddy about the meeting that they had to be told to “calm down” and “play it cool.”
But the next day, Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER announced the outlines of a plan to pass the bill with just 50 votes. “You do one meeting and 24 hours later they prepare the reconciliation process,” another G-10 staffer complained. The second episode came last week, when Biden said the 10 senators “didn’t move an inch” off of their initial proposal during the Covid talks. On the eve of fresh negotiations over infrastructure, the president, in their view, was attacking them disingenuously. In a flurry of phone calls among the senators, they vented their outrage and plotted a response.
It can take days for a group of senators to agree on anything, but the 10 of them put out a statement a few hours later respectfully but firmly correcting Biden. “The Administration roundly dismissed our effort as wholly inadequate in order to justify its go-it-alone strategy,” it said in part. It didn’t receive much coverage.
THE NEXT DILEMMA — They are now debating internally how to approach the Biden jobs bill. Their big fear is being used as “props” or “window dressing” at the next White House meeting.
“If you get an invitation to the White House, you go to the White House. But regardless, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” said another G-10 staffer. “When you go to the White House meeting you risk being used in a feigned attempt at bipartisanship. If you don’t go then it’s, ‘Oh, Republicans won’t even meet with me.’ It all pivots on whether it’s a genuine offer from the White House or just part of their messaging strategy.”
Another staffer for one of the group of 10 senators was resigned to a replay of the Covid bill: “You would be hard pressed to find anyone on our side of the aisle that thinks this will end up any differently than last time.” The staffer who lamented the nightmare of it all had a grudging respect for how effectively Biden had played things so far.
“Everything they support is defined as either Covid relief or infrastructure, and everything they oppose is like … Jim Crow voter suppression and evil,” this G-10 aide said. “And you constantly just feel like you’re in this gaslighting chamber of insanity. But it’s working.”
The “G-10” senators are: SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO of West Virginia, BILL CASSIDY of Louisiana, SUSAN COLLINS of Maine, JERRY MORAN of Kansas, LISA MURKOWSKI of Alaska, ROB PORTMAN of Ohio, MITT ROMNEY of Utah, MIKE ROUNDS of South Dakota, THOM TILLIS of North Carolina and TODD YOUNG of Indiana.
WHY IT’S WORKING — According to POLITICO/Morning Consult, poll suggests that Biden continues to hit the sweet spot in terms of highlighting popular measures, even on fraught issues like gun control. No wonder Republicans are frustrated. Some toplines:
- Sixty-four percent of voters support stricter gun control laws in the United States.
- Sixty-three percent of voters support Biden’s executive order to limit the spread of “ghost guns.”
- A plurality of American voters somewhat or strongly support (46%; 28% oppose) Biden’s executive order to increase regulation of stabilizing braces, which can turn a pistol into a kind of rifle that ordinarily would require stricter government controls.
- Biden’s overall job approval is 60%.
- Seventy-three percent of voters support employees’ right to bargain collectively for workplace conditions.