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  1. President Biden is quietly pivoting to the middle as he prepares for a 2024 run. What's happening: His early '23 moves — Sunday's visit to the U.S.-Mexico border and his appearance with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to promote the infrastructure law — gave a crystal-clear contrast with the GOP's chaotic speaker fight. Why it matters: Voters sent a clear message in the midterms that they value bipartisanship, rejecting extreme candidates. Republicans accommodated the far right, with often disastrous results. Biden began his administration pandering to progressives. But he ended '22 with his party cutting deals with some Republicans on small-scale gun regulations — and a big infrastructure package. Zoom in: Sunday's trip to El Paso, Texas, the first time Biden has visited the U.S.-Mexico border as president, will showcase law enforcement — taking a possible Democratic vulnerability head-on. "This feels like the Joe Biden of 2020," said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way. "This trip to the border is what the doctor ordered." Reality check: Even as Biden shores up his center flank, he'll still need to balance the priorities between the party's ascendant progressive wing and majority-making moderates. On immigration, party activists are already crying foul in anticipation of tougher enforcement measures at the border — even as such moves are a political necessity not just for Biden but the several red-state Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2024. But unlike in the last two years when Democrats held unified power, Biden now has a useful foil in House Republicans, who have showcased their fractiousness in the speaker fight. What to watch: This year's State of the Union address (no date yet) will help solidify Biden's positioning. Don't expect an ideological 180 — like President Clinton's "the era of big government is over" SOTU in 1996. After all, Biden outperformed expectations in the midterms without explicitly rejecting left-wingers. But look for some Clintonesque triangulation, proposing bipartisan deals for passage in the Senate while fully expecting to see them rejected in the Republican-held House. One idea, referenced in a column by The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein: Placing an emphasis "on improving conditions for workers in jobs that don’t require advanced credentials," in a push to make inroads with blue-collar voters who have deserted the Democratic Party. What we're hearing: The White House is asking agencies and departments to share their top priorities for the year, as officials craft a SOTU message that addresses progressive priorities without alienating independent voters, Axios' Hans Nichols reports. Chief of staff Ron Klain has developed a finely tuned antenna to detect any disappointment by progressives, and he keeps an open door to hear their concerns. The bottom line: The emerging Biden bet is that he can reprise his winning 2020 campaign theme — winning re-election as a center-left incumbent who looks better than the radical alternatives. https://www.axios.com/2023/01/08/biden-2024-centrist-pivot
  2. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell plans to mark his tenure as the chamber's longest-serving party leader with a speech on Tuesday afternoon paying tribute to the previous record holder: former Sen. Mike Mansfield, a Democrat from Montana. Driving the news: The senior senator from Kentucky, 80, will eclipse Mansfield’s 16 years as party leader on Tuesday. Along the way, McConnell has delighted supporters and bedeviled opponents through crafty procedural maneuvers and — to some critics — brazen power grabs. "The greatest honor of my career is representing the Commonwealth of Kentucky in this chamber and fighting for my fellow Kentuckians," McConnell plans to say from the Senate floor. "But the second-greatest honor is the trust that my fellow Republican Senators have placed in me to lead our diverse Conference and help them achieve their goals," McConnell will say, according to prepared remarks. Why it matters: McConnell has stayed in charge of the Senate GOP at a time of intense turmoil in the Republican Party, with powerful populist currents threatening its traditional power structures. As minority leader, he warned Democrats not to change the filibuster rules for judicial nominees but then seized on their decision, winning confirmation for three of President Trump's Supreme Court Justices with a simple majority threshold. The judicial branch has always been a priority for McConnell and he made his opposition to President Obama's court picks a touchstone of his tenure. Controversially, he refused to allow Obama's selection of then-judge Merrick Garland (now attorney general) to proceed in an election year. The big picture: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is fighting to become speaker of the House, is the third House GOP leader to work with McConnell since he became leader in 2007. Last year, McConnell survived a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and was re-elected party leader, 37-10. He arrived in the Senate after President Reagan's 1984 landslide. In June of 2018, McConnell became the longest-serving Republican leader when he surpassed former Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.). Between the lines: McConnell will take stock of previous Senate stalwarts, including Dole, Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio), and former President (and former Senate Majority Leader) Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), commenting on their styles and the secrets of their successes. With a wry wink, McConnell will align himself with senators who stayed out of the spotlight — leaders "who preferred to focus on serving their colleagues rather than dominating them,” McConnell will say. “And that, Mr. / Madam President, is how Senator Michael Joseph Mansfield of Montana became the longest-serving Senate Leader in American history until this morning." https://www.axios.com/2023/01/03/mitch-mcconnell-mansfield-senate-party-leader
  3. Agroup of 13 Republican members of the incoming House of Representatives have sent a letter to their colleagues in the Senate warning them against supporting an omnibus spending bill this week. Representative Chip Roy shared the letter to Twitter on Monday as the Senate works to pass the bill designed to fund the federal government and prevent a potential shutdown. In their letter, the lawmakers threaten to oppose any GOP senator who supports the bill, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has touted the legislation. The signatories included 10 current members of the House and three newly elected members who will take their seats next month. Roy, a Texas Republican, was one of those signing the letter. The strongly worded letter may be the opening salvo in a potential Republican civil war as the party prepares for its House majority when the new Congress meets on January 3. If the omnibus spending bill passes before the Friday shutdown deadline, it will be achieved while Democrats are still in control of the House and President Joe Biden's party is hoping senators will approve the measure before the new Congress meets. There have already been divisions among House Republicans about the election of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as speaker. McCarthy said this week that GOP senators shouldn't vote for the omnibus spending bill. The 13 House Republicans urged their Senate colleagues not to pass the spending bill during the lame duck session just days before members of Congress head home for the holidays. "Senate Republicans have the 41 votes necessary to stop this and should do so now and show the Americans who elected you that they weren't wrong in doing so," the 13 Republicans wrote. If just 10 Senate Republicans vote in favor of the spending bill, it will pass. "The American people did not elect us—any of us—to continue the status quo in Washington, as this bill will undoubtably [sic] do," the letter said. The Republicans warn that their Senate colleagues would be giving up an important point of leverage—"the power of the purse"—that could be used to address the Biden administration's "purposeful refusal to secure and defend our borders." The letter goes on to suggest that the 13 House Republicans will refuse to cooperate with GOP senators who support the omnibus spending bill. "[W]e are obliged to inform you that if any omnibus passes in the remaining days of this Congress, we will oppose and whip opposition to any legislative priority of those senators who vote for this bill—including the Republican leader," the letter said. "We will oppose any rule, any consent request, suspension voice vote, or roll call vote of any such Senate bill, and will otherwise do everything in our power to thwart even the smallest legislative and policy efforts of those senators," they wrote. The letter concludes: "Kill this terrible bill or there is no point in pretending we are a united party, and we must prepare for a new political reality." McConnell has expressed support for the bill and emphasized what Republicans have managed to achieve in the bipartisan plan. He said on Monday that Republicans had flipped Biden's position on military spending "on its head" and that the bill "provides a substantial real-dollar increase to the defense baseline and a substantial real-dollar cut to the nondefense, non-veterans baseline." "The bipartisan bill that our colleagues have negotiated equips our armed forces with the resources they need while cutting nondefense, non-veterans spending in real dollars," McConnell said. "This is a strong outcome for Republicans, and much more importantly, it's the outcome that our nation's security needs," he said. Failure to pass the spending bill could lead to a partial government shutdown as early as Saturday. https://www.newsweek.com/republicans-brink-civil-war-house-gop-threatens-senate-colleagues-1768298
  4. via NewsWeek Mr. McConnell time to call DeSantis? = ) Donald Trump Calls on Mitch McConnell to be Impeached The former president made the remarks on Thursday during an appearance on John Fredericks' Real America's Voice show. "Democrats are scheming, probably with some of the RINOs, in order to blow the debt ceiling up," Fredericks said. "What is your position on that?" Republican in Name Only, or RINO, is a derogative term some Trump supporters use for GOP politicians they think are too liberal or moderate. "Mitch McConnell keeps allowing it to happen. I mean they ought to impeach Mitch McConnell if he allows that. Frankly, Mitch McConnell – they have something on him." Newsweek has reached out to Mitch McConnell for comment. No answer yet.
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