Jun 25, 2021 - Podcasts

Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal

President Biden took a preemptive victory lap yesterday over his massive $1 trillion+ infrastructure package, touting a bipartisan agreement he brokered with 10 senators.

  • Plus, Minneapolis prepares for Derek Chauvin’s sentencing.
  • And, why many Pride parades have banned uniformed police officers.

Guests: Axios' Mike Allen, Nick Halter, and Seattle-based freelance journalist Mark Van Streefkerk.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Amy Pedulla, Naomi Shavin, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected].

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NIALA BOODHOO: President Biden took a preemptive victory lap yesterday over his massive $1 trillion plus infrastructure package. Touting a bipartisan agreement, he says he's brokered.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: What guarantee do I have that I have all the votes I need? I don't have any guarantee. But what I do have is a pretty good read over the years of how the Congress or the Senate works.

NIALA: Axios co-founder Mike Allen is here for our Friday politics roundup. Hey Mike!

MIKE ALLEN: Hello Niala.

NIALA: What do we need to know about this deal?

MIKE: Now, President Biden seemed to enjoy the fact that the press was surprised. He did a half an hour news conference and said, like, you guys said, this wasn't going to happen. Now, there's a very long road ahead, fittingly enough for an infrastructure package...But it's not clear that Senate Republicans are going to support it. It's not clear that Speaker Pelosi would even let this go through the House without some other Democratic priorities, but he was able to come out and say, we have a deal. And he was able to talk about one of his favorite features: money for Amtrak. Of course, he took the train home every night when he was Senator to Delaware. And he said that this is the most money for Amtrak in its 50 year history. So that was a personal triumph for him.

NIALA: Yesterday Nancy Pelosi also announced that the House is going to establish a select committee to investigate the insurrection of the Capitol on January 6th?

MIKE: Niala I've talked to Democrats who say that members who are appointed to this select committee will take it extremely seriously. That they will dig deep and they will find out new information. We know pretty much what happened and who did it, but there's a lot still to learn about Capitol security. And top Democrats tell me that members who are appointed to this select committee will see it as a legacy assignment. And now Niala, I have a question for you.

NIALA: Oh? Okay shoot.

MIKE: Niala, you're a native Floridian, worked for The Miami Herald, and governor Ron DeSantis, who's been in the news a lot, but now, in a very sobering way yesterday, he toured the calamity and said the TV doesn't do it justice. Niala, this hits home for you.

NIALA: Mike, it's such a terrible tragedy and if you look at the video, it is just horrifying. There's really no other words for it. This building collapse on Miami Beach was actually really close to my old neighborhood. This is not the Miami Beach that tourists see Surfside is just actually a pretty normal Miami Beach neighborhood of locals and beaches.

And this is such a horrible tragedy for so many people across south Florida. I actually think it speaks really much to the international nature of south Florida as well that the Argentine embassy is talking about having citizens who may be missing or have perished. It speaks very much to that neighborhood.

It's actually just north of an area that's called Little Buenos Aires. My former colleagues at the Miami Herald who are working so hard on this story are actually reporting that people from Columbia, Paraguay, Puerto Rico are also possibly missing. And my heart just goes out to everyone who is affected by this terrible tragedy.

MIKE: Niala, I saw a photo of a bunk bed in the wreckage. Very sobering, wishing strength to our neighbors in Florida.

NIALA: Mike Allen is the Axios co-founder. Thanks, Mike.

MIKE: Thank you, Niala.

NIALA: We’ll be back in 15 seconds with what you need to know about the Derek Chauvin sentencing happening later today.

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will be sentenced today for the murder of George Floyd. He faces up to 40 years in prison. Axios’ Twin Cities reporter Nick Halter is on the ground in Minneapolis. Hi Nick.


NIALA: What do we need to know about the sentencing today?

NICK: Well, Judge Peter Cahill, he has pretty wide discretion. I mean, technically he can go as low as probation, which is what Chauvin's defense is asking for, or as high as 40 years, which is the max sentence. But most legal observers are expecting something between 20 to 30 years is the most likely sentence that he'll receive.

NIALA: What's it like in Minneapolis right now, Nick? How is the city preparing?

NICK: Well, it's fairly subdued compared to when the verdict was reached. Most people do expect Cahill to hand down a relatively harsh sentence so I don't think there's a lot of worry about that. And I think just the other point just being that, I mean, there's such a long process ahead with the trial for the other three officers, with the federal charges, the civil rights charges against Derek Chauvin and then also with his appeal. So, I don't know that every one of these situations is going to be as tense as the verdict was in the trial.

NIALA: Axios’ Twin Cities reporter, Nick Halter from Minneapolis. Thanks, Nick.

NICK: Thanks, Niala.

NIALA: Throughout this Pride month, there have been LGBTQ+ marches, parades and celebrations around the country. In some cities this year, including New York, Denver, and Seattle, Pride organizers have banned police from marching in parades. Mark Van Streefkerk is a freelance journalist who's reported on the Seattle Capitol Hill Pride parade and the national ban on police attending LGBTQ+ events. Hi Mark, thanks for joining us.

MARK VAN STREEFKERK: Hi, thank you for having me.

NIALA: Mark, is this the first year we've seen these bans happening at Pride parades?

MARK: Actually, no. So these bans on cops at pride, they have kind of been going on for the last few years and you'll see them a lot at smaller prides. I think there is a direct link between all of the protests and the actions that happened last year in the wake of George Floyd's killing by, by the police. And so as more people were in the streets last year, clamoring for justice, for reckoning, that's being carried over into now.

NIALA: Mark, how are police officers, especially police officers who identify as LGBTQ+, reacting to this?

MARK: So from what I've heard and read a lot of cops, whether they're LGBTQ or not, expressed a lot of outrage. I did chat briefly with one of the police officers, she was saying to exclude her from pride is discrimination just because of the type of job that she chose. However, I will make a distinction and say that in all of the Pride marches, they want to ban cops who are armed and who are going to show up in their uniforms. Cops can come, just as long as they're unarmed and out of their uniforms.

NIALA: How else are conversations about Pride changing within the LGBTQ+ community?

MARK: The LGBTQ community is not a monolith. We're talking about some of the conversations that we've always been having, but in slightly different ways. And I think that ever since the first beginnings of Pride and Pride marches, there have more or less been two camps. There have been LGBTQ groups that are for mainstream, assimilationist life. Those people tend to want to include cops at Pride. The ones who don't, who are saying, Hey, listen, if we're in the streets saying we want to defund the cops, how can we also just have them be in our Pride march as if we're we're all good?

NIALA: Mark Van Streefkerk is a freelance writer based in Seattle. Mark, thanks for joining us.

MARK: Thank you very much.

NIALA: That’s all for this week. Axios Today is brought to you by Axios and Pushkin Industries. We’re produced by Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Naomi Shavin and Amy Pedulla. Our sound engineer is Alex Sugiura. Dan Bobkoff is our Executive Producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is our Executive Editor. And special thanks Axios co-founder Mike Allen. At Pushkin, our executive producers are Leital Molad and Jacob Weisberg. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Have a great weekend.

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