With time running short and the danger of a national default growing, Democrats are hoping an unlikely savior will come to the rescue: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
Democratic lawmakers say McConnell and other Senate Republicans are fooling themselves if they think Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is in a position to reach a debt ceiling deal with President Biden.
They believe McCarthy is under tremendous pressure not to agree to any deal Democrats would accept because the House rules allow for one disappointed conservative to offer a motion to vacate the Speaker’s chair.
“Senate Republicans are putting their heads in the sand if they think that the extremists in their party will have a change of heart,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, to reporters earlier this month.
“If Kevin McCarthy is forced to choose between holding power in his Speakership or taking us closer to default, we know he’s going to choose default. The American people know that as well. House Republicans are on a path toward default. The question before us is will Senate Republicans take the wheel?” he said. Close Thank you for signing up!
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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a leader of House progressives, has joined the growing chorus of Democrats pleading for McConnell to get involved.
“I think time is starting to run out,” Jayapal warned. “I think Wall Street should be weighing in.”
She told reporters that “reasonable Republicans” and McConnell need “to get involved and get people to understand that default on America would be terrible,” according to Punchbowl News.
Philip Wallach, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said McConnell has remained in the background in deference to the new GOP Speaker. But that could change, he added, if an agreement remains elusive and the threat of default creeps closer.
“I think he’s trying to give McCarthy room to operate. And that’s professional courtesy and good partisan strategy,” Wallach said. “I don’t think that it necessarily means that he won’t be a big part of the final solution.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) this week demonstrated why Democrats are nervous, saying his conservative colleagues “don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage,” and that “the one-person motion to vacate has given us the best version of Speaker McCarthy.”
But McConnell’s allies say Aguilar and Jayapal are misguided if they think the Senate GOP leader will override McCarthy.
“I don’t think Mitch is going to get in the way of the Speaker because he knows if he does, that will undermine the Speaker’s ability to retain the Speakership. So until the president and the Speaker reach an agreement, I don’t see McConnell getting into the room,” said former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who once served on McConnell’s Senate leadership team.
Gregg argued that if McConnell cuts a deal with Biden instead of McCarthy, the deal would have a harder time passing the GOP-controlled House.
“It would mean that the Speaker would have an even harder time selling whatever was agreed to to his caucus,” he said.
Gregg said Democrats are calling for McConnell’s help in an effort to portray McCarthy as an unreasonable negotiator.
“It’s politics,” he said. “They want to blame this on the Speaker.”
Jayapal’s comments caught the attention of some Senate Republican aides because the outspoken liberal leader is more likely to be quoted criticizing McConnell than beseeching his help.
But McConnell has his own right flank to worry about after Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) challenged his leadership position in November. McConnell won the race 36-10, but Senate conservatives sent a message that they weren’t happy with the direction of the GOP conference.
Conservative senators were caught off guard when McConnell proposed in fall 2021 that Democrats could move legislation to raise the debt limit without having to face a GOP filibuster.
McConnell said at the time he made the offer so Democrats would fully own the decision to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt.
“Democrats are simply voicing their expectations for something that already happened in the past to happen again,” one Senate Republican aide said of the calls by Aguilar and Jayapal to get involved in the debt limit talks.
The GOP aide noted McConnell initially took a hard line against raising the debt limit while Biden was in office, sending a letter to the president warning, “I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement,” and that Democratic leaders “cannot invent another crisis and ask for my help.”
“I get that McConnell doesn’t want to be the main guy in this fight,” the aide said. “But Jayapal wouldn’t be calling on somebody to get involved unless she thought that person would push for a clean debt ceiling hike, because that’s her position.”
McConnell has warned repeatedly this year that he will stay out of the debt limit negotiations entirely.
He told The Wall Street Journal in an interview last week he agreed in January that McCarthy would be the Republican point person in the negotiations.
“The two of us agreed from the beginning that it was important for him to take the lead,” he said.
Yet, Senate Democrats are also rooting for McConnell to step in to prevent a default, which appears more possible with each passing day as Biden and McCarthy remain far apart on a potential deal.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters earlier this month he felt “slightly better” about avoiding a fiscal catastrophe after McConnell declared “the United States is not going to default, it never has and it never will.”
McConnell made those comments outside the White House after a meeting with Biden and McCarthy.
The Senate GOP leader tried to reassure the media and the financial markets again Tuesday and emphasized it would be up to the president and Speaker, not himself, to work out a deal.
“I think everybody needs to relax,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky.
“Regardless of what may be said about the talks … the president and the Speaker will reach an agreement. It will ultimately pass on a bipartisan vote in both the House and the Senate,” he said. “The country will not default.”
McConnell himself has argued any debt limit deal reached in the Senate wouldn’t have a chance of passing the GOP-controlled House. Bipartisan senators call for probe into reports of price gouging by defense contractors Connecticut has issued 521 X gender marker driver’s licenses since 2020
Yet, Democrats are betting that McConnell will be forced to intervene at the last moment once the nation is on the brink of default, threatening chaos in the financial markets and a recession — just as he did most famously in summer 2011 when then-President Obama and then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were at loggerheads over raising the debt limit.
“I understand the convenience of passing the buck in this building, but in the end, Sen. McConnell always has his own opinion,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told The Hill earlier this month. “He doesn’t outsource his opinions and votes to Speaker McCarthy.”
Mike Lillis contributed.
Binance lawyers allege SEC Chair Gensler offered to serve as advisor to crypto company in 2019
SEC Chair Gary Gensler mocks putting a gun to his head in response to a “Blazing Saddles” reference by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., during the House Financial Services Committee hearing titled “Oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission,” in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
SEC Chair Gary Gensler, who is in the midst of a hefty crackdown on crypto companies, offered to serve as an advisor to Binance’s parent company in 2019, according to the lawyers for Binance and founder Changpeng Zhao.
Documents filed by the SEC on Wednesday indicate that attorneys from Gibson Dunn and Latham & Watkins, two of Binance’s law firms, allege that Gensler offered to serve as an advisor to the crypto exchange in several March 2019 conversations with Binance executives and Zhao. He eventually met Zhao in Japan for lunch later that month, the filing claims.
At the time, Gensler was teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. He was appointed head of the SEC in 2021 by President Biden, and over the past year has come down hard on the crypto industry, suing numerous companies for allegedly selling unregistered securities.
Earlier this week, the SEC filed 13 charges against Binance and Zhao, alleging the company failed to register as an exchange and broker-dealer, improperly commingled funds and lacked critical internal controls over its businesses.
Before Gensler started going after Binance, he was trying to cozy up to the company, the lawyers say. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on Gensler and Binance’s relationship, citing internal Binance messages and a person close to the SEC chair. Both suggested that Binance approached Gensler.
In the latest filing, the Gibson and Latham attorneys say that Zhao continued to stay in touch with Gensler after the March meeting. And at the future SEC chair’s request, Zhao sat down for an interview with Gensler as part of a cryptocurrency course he was teaching at MIT.
The SEC on Tuesday described Zhao, who reportedly resides in the UAE, as a “foreign national” with a tendency for “geographic elusiveness.” Zhao’s lawyers now say that the Zhao understood that Gensler was “comfortable serving as an informal advisor.”
Later in 2019, the letter said, Gensler was slated to testify before the House Financial Services Committee, and he sent Zhao a copy of his intended testimony ahead of the hearing.
In July of that year, Gensler testified before the House over Facebook’s proposed and later canceled cryptocurrency Libra and its planned Calibra wallet.
“I do not advise any financial, technology, blockchain or other companies, nor do I own any cryptocurrencies,” Gensler’s prepared testimony read.
Gensler’s advice to lawmakers at the time was largely the same as his public statements today. He said that, with Facebook envisioning a wallet to store customer assets, rules needed to be in place “to guard against Calibra’s use or potential abuse of such customer funds.”
He also testified more broadly in language that’s resembles his latest pronouncements.
“We must guard against illicit activities, such as tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist financing and avoiding sanctions,” he said at the time. “We must protect individuals’ privacy.”
Because of Gensler’s ties to Zhao, Binance’s lawyers said they’d asked for his recusal from any actions regarding the company. They say they got no acknowledgement from SEC staff.
An SEC spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC that, “the Chair is very familiar with and full compliance with his ethical obligations including any recusal obligations.”
The SEC’s probes into Binance.US and Binance began in 2020 and 2021, respectively, well after Gensler and Zhao’s last alleged contact.
NIO sets YTD order intake record after new ES6 launch in May
NIO’s new ES6 already looks to be a key factor as the EV maker looks to expand its brand and compete in the booming Chinese electric vehicle market. According to Morgan Stanley, NIO hit a new year-to-date order intake record aided by the launch of the second-generation ES6.
After launching what many consider its most important model to date two weeks ago with its second-gen ES6 electric SUV, NIO has seen increased interest in the brand.
Although NIO was the only major EV maker in China to see a monthly sales decline in May, delivering 6,155 models (down 8% from April), the company has a plan to turn things around… and it already looks to be paying off.
Although the ES6 has been the company’s top seller since launching in 2018 as a more affordable option to the ES8, NIO knew it was time for an upgrade.
The EV maker is focusing on its NT 2.0 EV platform vehicles, including the recently launched EC7, second-generation ES8, ET5, and ES7 models. All NT 2.0 models are built on the NIO Adam supercomputer using four Nvidia DRIVE Orin system-on-chips (SoCs).
New ES6 boosts NIO’s order intake to record YTD high
A research report released last week from the Chinese consumer behavior research agency CarFans highlighted consumer behavior in NIO stores within the first 72 hours of launching (May 24 to May 27) the new ES6.
The report found each NIO store received 90 pre-orders on average, with around 20 confirmations that included a down payment.
With roughly 330 stores, that’s around 29,700 pre-orders or 6,600 confirmations. For just three days, that’s pretty impressive for a premium SUV.
Although the cancellation rate is expected to be around 10%, the new ES6 is already leading to a new order intake record for the year, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Tim Hsiao (via CnEVPost).
In a research note on June 5, Hsiao said the firm had been tracking feedback from startups’ major sales channels in Tier 1 cities since last year to analyze the market. The team shared data that confirmed the new ES6 accounted for 35% to 40% of new orders in May, suggesting a meaningful impact on inflow as it launched in the final week of the month.
NIO’s overall traffic at flagship stores rose 30% to 40% month-over-month, with momentum continuing into early June. The new ES6 is NIO’s cheapest electric SUV, starting at RMB 368,000 ($51,614).
Meanwhile, the team said that despite customer traffic at the stores it tracks returning to levels seen this February, they are still “20% below last September’s level when the company rolled out ET5.”
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Vineyard Wind 1’s first turbine blades arrive in the US
The first turbine blades for Vineyard Wind 1, the US’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, have arrived at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal in Massachusetts.
The $3.5 billion offshore wind farm will feature 62 GE Haliade-X 13-megawatt (MW) turbines spaced one nautical mile apart. The first turbine blades – each one 107 meters (351 feet) long – arrived at the Port of New Bedford (pictured above) from GE’s production site in Nazaire, France, on the heavy load vessel Rolldock Sky. (And no, it’s not lost on us, either, that wind turbine blades arrived on a fossil fuel vessel. May we collectively resolve that ironic problem ASAP.)
The turbine sections will be assembled at the terminal before they’re shipped out and installed this summer.
The 800 MW Vineyard Wind 1 is 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and 35 miles from mainland Massachusetts. It’s a 50-50 joint venture between clean energy company Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) funds CI II and CI III.
Vineyard Wind I will supply clean energy for over 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts and reduce carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tons per year. It’s expected to come online at the end of 2023.
Read more: This US offshore wind farm is piloting a bubble curtain – what it is and why it’s cool
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