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Nov 11, 2021

Axios Sneak Peek

Welcome back to Sneak. This inflation data is going to boost Larry Summers' ego.

Smart Brevity™ count: 883 words ... 3.5 minutes. Edited by Glen Johnson.

1 big thing: Manchin chills BBB

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks on his cellphone today. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Red-hot inflation data validates the instinct of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to punt President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda until next year — potentially killing a quick deal on the $1.75 trillion package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios' Hans Nichols.

Why it matters: The data released today set the president and White House staff scrambling. Slowing down work on the massive tax-and-spending plan is against the fervent desire of the administration and House progressives.

  • With a limited number of legislative days left in the year, Manchin is content to focus on the issues that need to be addressed, Axios is told.
  • They include funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and passing the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • Manchin, like a group of House moderates, also wants to see a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the true cost of each of Biden’s proposed programs, as well as the tax proposals to fund them.

Driving the news: Prices rose 0.9% from last month for an annual inflation rate of 6.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • The president labeled it "worrisome, even though wages are going up."

Go deeper: Manchin still hasn't agreed to the specifics of Biden's plan to spend $555 billion to combat climate change.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convened a call today with senators who participated in COP26, where they discussed how climate provisions in both bills were well received in Glasgow.
  • During the call, the senators also strategized about how to get Manchin to agree to Biden's climate provisions — a recognition they have more work to do.

Keep reading.

2. GOP spares defectors

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The 13 House Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill aren't expected to face formal punishment from their party's leadership despite anger from some colleagues, four GOP aides tell Axios' Andrew Solender.

Why it matters: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was ousted from her leadership position after voting to impeach former President Trump. She now serves as vice chair of the Jan. 6 Select Committee. Aides said the bulk of House Republican ire is more concentrated on her and others who voted to impeach Trump.

  • The right-wing House Freedom Caucus has sponsored a resolution to expel Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the other Republican on the Jan. 6 panel, from the GOP conference.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has avoided holding a vote on it.

Right-wing Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has called on McCarthy to strip them of their committee assignments.

Between the lines: That position is confined to a small group, according to the aides.

  • Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), one of the targeted 13, hopes to be in attendance when President Biden signs the $1.2 trillion bill into law on Monday, Young spokesperson Zack Brown told Axios.
  • "Sure, a few vocal members have used social media to draw attention to the 13 Republican 'yes' votes, but their tweets and cable news attention doesn't represent a real effort to retaliate," Brown said.

Keep reading.

3. Focus group: Swing voters want more from Biden

President Biden spoke today about infrastructure at the Port of Baltimore. Photo: Brendan SmialowskiAFP via Getty Images

Some swing voters say the Democrats' recent victory in passing the infrastructure bill isn’t enough to restore their faith in the president, Axios' Sarah Mucha reports.

Driving the news: Only four of the 10 voters in this week’s Axios Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups even knew the long-awaited legislation — hailed by backers as a major job-creator — passed Congress last Friday.

What they’re saying: “I think it’s great that it passed,” Kate M., 42, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, said of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. “It’s been years in the making. But it doesn’t sway me one way or the other.”

But, but, but: Although every voter expressed deep concern about inflation, all but two said that they don’t blame the president for the increased price of goods and housing.

  • “I really don’t fault him," said Josh G., 40, from Mesquite, Texas. "I do think those issues were there because of COVID."

Keep reading.

Go deeper: Democrats know they have a PR problem.

4. "Hybrid warfare" in Belarus tests West

A Polish soldier at the Belarus-Poland border. Photo: Irek Dorozanski/Polish Ministry of National Defence via Getty Images

European leaders have accused the dictator of Belarus of funneling hundreds of Middle Eastern migrants to the borders of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, creating scenes of chaos and desperation on the EU's eastern front.

Why it matters: Experts and Western officials say Alexander Lukashenko is manufacturing a humanitarian crisis that is testing Europe and its American allies with the kind of "gray zone" warfare long practiced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, writes Axios' Zachary Basu.

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a co-chair of the Free Belarus Caucus, told Axios that Lukashenko's behavior "amounts to state-sponsored human trafficking."
  • "He is a tyrant and his efforts to recruit and facilitate the travel of migrants to exploit them for political purposes demands action from the U.S."

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), another caucus co-chair, told Axios the crisis is "a test of American resolve."

  • Wicker said President Biden should "waste no time" sanctioning both Belarussian and Russian officials.
  • "Putin and Lukashenko regrettably only speak the language of force," he said.

Background: Lukashenko ruled Belarus relatively unchallenged from 1994 until August 2020, when he claimed victory in a blatantly rigged election that set off a mass protest movement.

  • He is known as "Europe's last dictator."

Keep reading.

5. Pic du jour

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

A presidential limousine was positioned outside the Milford Church of the Nazarene in Milford, Delaware.

  • President Biden attended the funeral of former Delaware governor Ruth Ann Minner before flying to Baltimore for an infrastructure event.

🇺🇸🇺🇸 Thanks for reading. We made it through another Hump Day. We'll be off tomorrow for Veterans Day (thanks to all who served!) and back with you on Sunday evening. A reminder your family, friends and colleagues can subscribe to Sneak or any of Axios’ other free local and national newsletters through this link.