WASHINGTON — The era of small government is over.
And it’s been over for a while now.
That’s the undeniable conclusion after House Republicans — in a secret-ballot vote on Wednesday — reversed their ban on earmarks for projects in spending bills that end up benefitting their congressional districts, NBC’s Alex Moe reports.
This GOP reversal on earmarks comes after congressional Republicans voted for trillions in spending to combat the coronavirus during the Trump presidency (though not during the Biden presidency), after Trump himself continues to support $2,000 stimulus checks, and after the GOP has essentially stopped messaging against Biden’s Covid-19 relief package.
That all represents an ideological sea change in American politics, and it speaks to how Trump and Trump-ism were never about spending, the size of government and deficits.
Already, the American public is firmly behind a more active government — 57 percent of all voters say the government should do more, while 38 percent say it should do less, according to last June’s NBC/WSJ poll.
Now it’s apparent that many GOP politicians have joined them.
Some important caveats to this House GOP reversal on earmarks, per NBC’s Moe: Members have to publicly disclose their requests; they have to justify why they’re an appropriate use of taxpayer funding; and they have to prove that they or their immediate family don’t have a financial interest in the spending.
But there’s also an irony to this reversal: The GOP’s most prominent earmark slayer was John McCain, who made ending earmarks a central issue in his 2008 campaign for president.
Yet McCain eventually became a pariah in his own party during the Trump Era.
And as McCain went out of favor in the GOP, so too did the party’s resistance to earmarks.
Speaking of Trump, for all the discussion about 2024 and the former president’s current hold on the GOP, this Washington Post article is an important reminder.
Trump still faces a tremendous amount of legal jeopardy now that he’s a private citizen.
“The district attorney is sifting through millions of pages of his tax records. The state attorney general has subpoenaed his lawyers, his bankers, his chief financial officer — even one of his sons,” the Post writes.
“And that’s just in New York. Former president Donald Trump is also facing criminal investigations in Georgia and the District of Columbia related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And Trump must defend himself against a growing raft of lawsuits: 29 are pending at last count, including some seeking damages from Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, when he encouraged a march to the Capitol that ended in a mob storming the building.”
Tweet of the day
Donald Trump’s business empire is ailing.
➡️ His net worth fell by $700 million during his presidency
➡️ $590 million in loans come due in the next few years
➡️ The value of his commercial real estate is down 26%
— Bloomberg (@business) March 18, 2021
Data Download: The numbers you need to know today
12: The number of House Republicans who voted against legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals to the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies that protected the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, citing complains about the language of the bill
29: The number of Republicans in the House who broke ranks to vote with Democrats to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
29 percent: The share of Republicans in the latest Monmouth poll who say they will never accept Biden as president.
23: The number of top jobs at HHS that remain unfilled, largely due to disputes over issues like gender and abortion politics.
A month: How much the IRS is delaying the deadline to file taxes as the agency deals with a pandemic-related backlog.
$29 million: The amount of electric bills from the Texas winter storm that will be forgiven, according to the state’s AG.
29,731,266: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 57,241 more than yesterday morning.)
540,511: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,181 more than yesterday morning.)
113,037,627: Number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.
11.5 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated
42: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.
Biden’s USTR pick gets confirmed unanimously
The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly (and unanimously) voted, 98-0, to confirm Katherine Tai to be U.S. trade representative, per NBC’s Frank Thorp.
It’s the most lopsided vote that any Biden Cabinet pick has received to date.
And Thorp reports that HHS Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra will receive his vote today at noon. This vote will be much closer than Tai’s, but Becerra is expected to get confirmed — and without VP Harris having to issue a tie-breaking vote, because Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, supports him.
Biden Cabinet Watch
State: Tony Blinken (confirmed)
Treasury: Janet Yellen (confirmed)
Defense: Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin (confirmed)
Attorney General: Merrick Garland (confirmed)
Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas (confirmed)
HHS: Xavier Becerra
Agriculture: Tom Vilsack (confirmed)
Transportation: Pete Buttigieg (confirmed)
Energy: Jennifer Granholm (confirmed)
Interior: Deb Haaland (confirmed)
Education: Miguel Cardona (confirmed)
Commerce: Gina Raimondo (confirmed)
Labor: Marty Walsh
HUD: Marcia Fudge (confirmed)
Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough (confirmed)
UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (confirmed)
Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines (confirmed)
EPA: Michael Regan (confirmed)
SBA: Isabel Guzman
OMB Director: Neera Tanden (withdrawn)
U.S. Trade Representative: Katherine Tai (confirmed)
Chair of Council of Economic Advisers: Cecilia Rouse (confirmed)
ICYMI: What else is happening in the world
Top U.S. officials are meeting with their Chinese counterparts for the first time today, with potential major shifts on the relationship between the two countries in the spotlight.
We now have a date in the House special election to replace incoming Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Some border officials say they’re under an unofficial “gag order” from the Biden administration.
The AP looks at how it’s getting harder for the White House to stay out of the debate over Andrew Cuomo.
Advocates of filibuster changes are hopeful that Biden’s latest comments on reform will translate into momentum for a major overhaul.
Biden says it may be “tough” to meet a May 1 deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
A man with a rifle and ammunition was arrested near the vice president’s residence in D.C.
The House moved to remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, although a judge has already ruled that the window for ratification has closed.