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House Gifts Joe Biden Huge Win on Build Back Better After McCarthy’s ‘Magic Minute’

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It took 10 months, 16 days, and an eight-and-a-half-hour speech from GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy but House Democrats finally passed their $1.75 trillion social welfare spending bill Friday morning.

By a vote of 220-213, Democrats passed the bill with just one Democrat joining all Republicans in opposition to the “Build Back Better” legislation: Rep. Jared Golden of Maine.

It was a victory on multiple levels for Democrats, most notably on a policy note. The bill would provide $550 billion for climate change, $400 billion for child care and universal preschool, $150 billion each for affordable housing and Medicaid’s home-care program, expanded child tax credits, and expanded Medicare provisions and subsidies, among other priorities.

But the victory was made sweeter on a personal level, after McCarthy’s antics late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

The California Republican was able to delay the vote by taking advantage of the so-called “Magic Minute”—a courtesy extended to the leaders of both parties that allow them to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute toward the allotted time for debate.

By the time McCarthy ended at 5:10 a.m., all but a handful of Republicans who sat behind McCarthy as a C-SPAN backdrop had departed the Capitol. Democrats swiftly recessed, and gaveled back in at 8 a.m. on Friday.

At that point, members continued their few final minutes of debate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took her turn at the podium. She quipped at the start of her remarks, “With respect to those who work in this Capitol and as courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief.”

And she was.

Pelosi spoke for just over 10 minutes, hitting on the usual Democratic talking points about the substance of the bill and suggesting the legislation will be a “pillar of health and financial security in America.”

Upon conclusion of her speech, Republicans pulled out one last stop: A motion to recommit the bill to committee, which failed by a 208-220 vote. And then passage of the bill was swift.

Instead of passing the bill late Thursday night, all that McCarthy accomplished was pushing the vote to the daylight hours of Friday morning.

House passage now offloads the BBB burden to the Senate, where time will tell whether Democratic problem children Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Joe Manchin (WV) are ready to push the measure through. Any changes to the bill in the upper chamber, including a likely removal of paid leave provisions, would send the BBB back to the House in a game of legislative ping pong.

But that’s if the bill can ever pass the Senate. Manchin and Sinema have yet to sign on, even with a topline cost that largely hews to their demands.

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday in a preliminary analysis that the bill would cost $367 billion over 10 years, but they didn’t add in a key offset to the legislation. They said increased IRS enforcement would bring in an additional $207 billion over the next decade, bringing the total cost to $160 billion—and that’s with an estimate that the White House believes is overly pessimistic.

The Biden administration thinks increased IRS enforcement—essentially making people pay their taxes—would bring in $400 billion. That means that some Democrats actually believe the $1.75 trillion bill would ultimately have a positive budgetary impact on the debt. Or, at least, a minimal cost.

Democrats accomplish offsetting the new provisions by implementing a number of new corporate taxes. There’s a 15 percent minimum tax for large corporations, a one percent tax on corporate stock buybacks, a new tax on income above $10 million and $25 million, and new limits on what deductions businesses can take for losses—among other corporate tax law changes.

But for Republicans, the cost of the bill was simply unacceptable.

Even before McCarthy’s eight-and-a-half hour rant, GOP lawmakers made it clear they thought the bill spent recklessly and without consideration for future generations.

Still, Democrats were more than happy to pass the bill and give themselves a long list of accomplishments to run on in 2022, including popular provisions like capping monthly insulin costs at $35 a month.

As the end of the vote neared, Democrats rallied near the front of the chamber, cheering and applauding the tally. Republicans, meanwhile, insisted on order in the chamber to announce proxy votes for colleagues who hadn’t showed up to the House floor Friday morning.

One of the Republicans insisting on quiet was Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida. She announced that she and other Republicans would be voting “Hell no” on the “Build Back Broke” legislation and she offered Democrats an ominous sign-off.

“Good luck in the Senate,” she said.

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Karnataka: Make Covid-19 vax compulsory to get electricity and rations, says panel | Bengaluru News

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BENGALURU: The Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has suggested that the state make full vaccination mandatory for people to avail various benefits, including rations, water and electricity, from the government. This follows concerns over the possible spread of Omicron, the new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, and experts pushing to ensure all eligible people above the age of 18 years are completely vaccinated to prevent the pandemic situation from spiralling out of control.
TAC members met health minister K Sudhakar on Tuesday and submitted a slew of new recommendations, based on discussions at its 136th meeting on Monday (November 29).
The report recommends that to draw government benefits like rations from the public distribution system, electricity, domestic LPG, salaries, pensions, awarding of contracts and even petrol and diesel at bunks, one must be fully vaccinated. Incidentally, the Centre has insisted that the vaccine is not mandatory, although it has urged people to take the shot.
Karnataka has so far covered 91.5% of the total eligible population with the first dose, while second-dose coverage crossed 60% on Tuesday.
As reported by TOI earlier, the TAC had also recommended that the government refuse free treatment in private hospitals for people who contract the disease and are not vaccinated. They can only be treated in government hospitals. The TAC has also suggested that the government conduct special vaccination drives in shopping malls, bus stands, railways stations, hotels and lodges, and at exhibitions.
While the state has mandated that only fully vaccinated people can enter film theatres, implementation has been lax with theatre personnel not asking cinemagoers for vaccination certificates.
Yet to decide
After his meeting with the TAC on Tuesday, Sudhakar said that there have been suggestions that those who do not receive the second dose should not have access to malls, theatres and the government should take a decision on non-payment of treatment in a private hospital. “We are yet to take any decision on these recommendations,” he told reporters.
Most of the recommendations are already in force in states like Maharashtra. From Sunday (November 28), the Maharashtra government mandated that full vaccination certificate is needed to use public transport such as buses, autos, taxis and trains. People must also furnish a vaccination certificate to enter malls, theatres, shops or any establishment where the public have a right to service.
In Madhya Pradesh, double vaccination was made mandatory to purchase liquor from November 19 onwards.
When contacted a top bureaucrat said that TAC’s suggestion on cutting water and power supply cannot be implemented. “Experts have suggested what they have discussed,” the official said. “We cannot force anyone to take the vaccine. Instead, we must educate people on the benefits of vaccination and explain to them that the vaccine has effectively prevented Covid deaths across the country.” The official said efforts are being made to get people who are hesitant to take the vaccine.

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‘West Side Story’ cast on Stephen Sondheim’s film ‘blessing’

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Stephen Sondheim’s immense impact on the world of musical theater was felt at the New York premiere of Steven Spielberg’s version of the composer’s “West Side Story” on Monday night.

The movie’s cast and crew shared their memories of the Broadway luminary, who died last Friday at 91 — and who spent his final days watching his magnum opus once again come to life on the silver screen.

“[In] one of the last messages I received from him, he just gushed over the film,” Justin Peck, the New York City Ballet’s resident choreographer, told Page Six.

“Stephen said to me, ‘On behalf of the original authors, we’re so proud of what this film is, and I’m so happy that it’s been made.’ That was all the feedback I ever needed … I know that he was happy with the film.”

Stephen Sondheim attends the 2019 American Songbook Gala
Sondheim, who was considered one of the most important figures of musical theater, died at his Roxbury, Connecticut, home.
Getty Images

Rita Moreno, who appeared in the original 1961 film as Anita, said she felt “privileged” to have been “in the same generation as him.”

“I’m just so glad he was able to attend our recording sessions,” the actress, who appears in a new role in Spielberg’s adaptation, told Page Six.

Justin Peck and Patricia Delgado on the red carpet.
Choreographer Justin Peck and his wife, associate choreographer Patricia Delgado, reflected on their time working with Sondheim.
Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Associate choreographer Patricia Delgado said the famed composer and lyricist’s “powerful” presence could be felt as the cast and crew gathered at the premiere.

“He was really the only one alive [from the original film] to give us his blessing,” she said. “He’s contributed so much to all of us already that he lives in us.”

Rachel Zegler on the red carpet.
Zegler stunned on the red carpet at the New York premiere, revealing Sondheim was the “reason” she pursued a career in musical theater.
Getty Images for 20th Century St

The film’s breakout star, 20-year-old Rachel Zegler, who is taking on the role of Maria, also cited Sondheim as the “reason [she] got into musical theater.”

“Getting to share a room with him, getting to talk to him and tell him how much he’s meant to me throughout my entire life is something they can never take away from me,” she said.

Rita Moreno on the red carpet.
EGOT winner Rita Moreno will appear in a new role in the film, 60 years after her star-making turn as Anita.
Getty Images

Zegler stars opposite Ansel Elgort’s Tony in the film, which arrives in theaters Dec. 10. Their characters’ ill-fated love story, based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” ignites the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, rival street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

While the 1961 movie featured white actors like Natalie Wood in roles such as Maria, who is Puerto Rican, Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner cast Hispanic actors in all Latino roles.

A still from "West Side Story."
The film will be released in cinemas nationwide on December 10, just weeks after Sondheim’s death.
RAMONA ROSALES

“Both Tony and Steven made an absolute point that Latino [actors] were going to play Latinos,” Moreno said, noting how “grateful” she was that Kushner created a new role in the film especially for her.

“I’m just thrilled to be a piece of this yet again. I owe it all to Tony Kushner for making a new character for me in an iconic movie … we really have become dear and close friends, he’s a genius.”

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