Nov 21, 2021

Axios Sneak Peek

Welcome back to Sneak.

Situational awareness: "Buttigieg denies rivalry with Harris," via our friends at Politico.

Smart Brevity™ count: 856 words ... 3 minutes. Edited by Glen Johnson.

1 big thing: Tlaib warns of "corporate Dems" in Senate

Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks with Jonathan Swan. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told "Axios on HBO" she's "fearful" of what will happen to President Biden's big social spending bill in the Senate because "corporate Democrats" — including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are serving special interests.

Driving the news: "I know that they've been influenced and guided by folks that don't have the best interests of the American people in mind," The Squad member told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

  • Tlaib spoke Friday morning, shortly after the House passed the sweeping $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" bill.
  • "I'm fearful" of what might happen as the Senate takes up the bill, she added. "I'm fearful that those groups are gonna guide this agenda. It's gonna be the people that are gonna continue to profit off of human suffering."
  • "We have corporate Dems," Tlaib said.

Asked whether she was talking about Manchin and Sinema, Tlaib said: "It's those two, but I think there are some others that ... have issues with the prescription drug negotiations there."

  • "And so I can't say it's just those two. They seem to be leading the fight, but I wouldn't be surprised if folks are hiding behind them."
  • Spokespeople for Manchin and Sinema did not respond to requests for comment.

Keep reading.

📺 Watch: Tlaib on filibuster.

2. Beto dodges on Biden

Democrat Beto O'Rourke refused to say today whether he wants Biden to campaign with him for governor of Texas, Axios' Yacob Reyes reports in his Sneak Peek debut.

Driving the news: O'Rourke sidestepped questions from CNN "State of the Union" host Dana Bash, saying the campaign isn't about "anyone from outside of our state," and "this is going to be about the people of Texas."

What they're saying:

Dana Bash: "You campaigned for Joe Biden in 2020 at the — after your presidential run came to an end. A recent poll shows, though, that just 35% of Texans approve of his performance. Would you like the president to come and campaign with you?
O'Rourke: "This campaign in Texas is not going to be about Joe Biden. It's not going to be about Donald Trump. It's not going to be about anyone from outside of our state."

Keep reading.

3. Hakeem Jeffries questions filibuster

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told “Axios on HBO" the “integrity of our democracy” is at stake without federal voting rights legislation, and the Senate must seriously consider filibuster reform if it can’t get 60 votes to pass it next year.

What they’re saying: “It's an open question as to whether we can get to 60 votes in the Senate on voting. And if we can't, then the Senate is going to have to make some decisions as it relates to filibuster reform,” Jeffries said to Axios' Alexi McCammond.

  • “The integrity of our democracy hangs in the balance.”

Why it matters: Democrats control the House, Senate and White House but their ability to deliver federal voting rights legislation that Biden will actually sign into law next year remains uncertain.

  • This year alone, 19 states have enacted voting restrictions laws across the country — largely in response to the 2020 presidential election.
  • Democratic activists continue to sound the alarm on voting rights — Joe Madison, a prominent Black radio host, recently announced his intention to go on a hunger strike until Congress passes legislation to protect the right to vote.

The big picture: Jeffries is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the No. 5 position in the House. It puts him in charge of informing and spreading the party’s message.

Keep reading.

📺 Watch: Jeffries on messaging.

4. First look: Scholars warn of voting peril

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act. But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching."

  • So say more than 150 top scholars of U.S. democracy in a new push to temporarily suspend the Senate filibuster so as to be able to pass voting rights protections on a simple majority vote, Axios' Margaret Talev writes.

Driving the news: Their unified front comes amid a short break in the legislative action on Capitol Hill, with the start of the Thanksgiving recess and after the House passage of Biden's "Build Back Better" social spending package.

  • When Congress returns, it'll be scrambling to avert a government shutdown, raise the debt ceiling and pass the annual defense authorization bill.
  • And Democrats will be trying to keep BBB alive in the Senate, where just one skeptic in their bare-majority ranks — such as West Virginia's Joe Manchin — could have the power to sink it.

What they're saying: Those challenges shouldn't distract from the urgency of passing the compromise Freedom to Vote Act before midterm elections begin, the group says in its public letter.

Written by scholars from Duke to Stanford universities, it touches on former President Trump's "Big Lie" and some GOP efforts to empower political officials to overturn legitimate election results.

  • "The partisan politicization of what has long been trustworthy, non-partisan administration of elections represents a clear and present threat to the future of electoral democracy in the United States."

Go deeper: Read the document.

Keep reading.

5. Pics du jour

The moon, with a partial lunar eclipse, is seen behind the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A pair of shots, from early Friday and later in the day, captured two scenes around Capitol Hill.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, an 84-foot white fir from the Six Rivers National Forest in northwest California, is raised into position. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

🦃🦃 We're thankful you're one of our readers. We appreciate it. We'll be off for Thanksgiving recess and back on Monday, Nov. 29. A reminder: Your family, friends and colleagues can subscribe to Sneak or any of Axios’ other free local and national newsletters through this link.