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Veepstakes Is On — And Warren Wants To Be A Contender

The end of the Democratic presidential primary means the veepstakes are officially underway. Meanwhile, lawmakers are keeping their eyes on the inspectors general — and how the president is treating them.

And here's some political food for thought (and perhaps thoughts on food in the time of coronavirus).

Warren’s ‘Yes’ Puts Her In Crowded Veepstakes Field

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. (Screenshot via Twitter)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. (Screenshot via Twitter)

Elizabeth Warren signaled her willingness to be Joe Biden’s running mate, telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last night that she’d say “yes” if Biden asked.

But the Massachusetts senator and former presidential candidate — whose endorsement of Biden for president comes only after Sen. Bernie Sanders' own exit from the race and endorsement of the former vice president — finds herself again running in a packed field.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who told me back in August that she saw no need to “be coy” about her vice presidential aspirations, is openly campaigning for the spot now. She rose to national prominence with her failed 2018 bid for governor and has since focused on voting rights advocacy. Abrams told Elle magazine this week: “I would be an excellent running mate.”

Then there’s Sen. Kamala Harris, who endorsed Biden after ending her own presidential bid last month. She’s been less vocal about her desire for the No. 2 spot on the ticket, but her move last week to set up a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee — something nominees traditionally do — raised the prospect she may be high on Biden’s list.

Biden vowed last month to nominate a woman as his running mate. Other names, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley, New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Rep. Val Demings of Florida have all been rumored as possible choices.

Neal: CARES 2 Bill Must Boost Safety Net And Healthcare Institutions

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., is questioned by reporters as lawmakers work on a coronavirus aid package, at the Capitol in Washington on March 13. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., is questioned by reporters as lawmakers work on a coronavirus aid package, at the Capitol in Washington on March 13. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Richard Neal is calling for the next major federal coronavirus relief package to focus on further bolstering workers and taxpayers, along with frontline healthcare providers.

“I think we’re going to be looking at rebuilding the safety net once again, so I think there’s going to be an additional round of help,” Neal said during a virtual event hosted by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston, referring to more direct cash payments to U.S. citizens.

Neal, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, joined other lawmakers in compiling a list of priorities for the next bill, which follows on the heels of the first CARES Act — a $2 trillion piece of rescue legislation that includes enhanced unemployment benefits and those direct cash payments to citizens.

Neal said those boosted unemployment benefits won’t stretch far enough.

“There’s going to have to be more money for the unemployment insurance system,” said Neal, who also emphasized buoying the health care system as a high priority. “They need more protective equipment; they need more ventilators; and they’re going to need more assistance,” the Springfield Democrat said.

House second-in-command Steny Hoyer told reporters yesterday that the second CARES Act would also need funding for election security, additional paid leave for federal employees and funding to shore up the U.S. Postal Service.

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McGovern Seeks Halt On Gas Pipeline Construction During Pandemic

Rep. Jim McGovern is calling for a moratorium on the approval or construction of new natural gas pipelines and export facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Neil Chatterjee, McGovern joined Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, to argue that such a halt is “necessary to help ensure that Americans are not excluded from a decision-making process that has profound and irreversible consequences for their lives and communities.”

The lawmakers also worry about construction projects moving forward without adequate protective gear for workers, along with limited public access to information at a time when hearings are being canceled and access to public records is limited because of the coronavirus.

“The health and welfare of the American people – including thousands of construction workers who could be subject to unsafe working conditions – is at stake,” McGovern said in a statement.

3 More Things:

Members of the House of Representatives walk down the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington on March 27 after passing a coronavirus rescue package. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Members of the House of Representatives walk down the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington on March 27 after passing a coronavirus rescue package. (Susan Walsh/AP)

— Lynch presses for IG protections: Rep. Stephen Lynch, who chairs the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, filed a bill that seeks to limit the president’s ability to remove the next chairman of the newly established Pandemic Response Accountability Committee created by the CARES Act. The bill, introduced with Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.C.) and Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), came after President Trump effectively ousted the newly-formed committee’s previous chairman, Glenn Fine, by removing him from the role of acting Pentagon inspector. The bill would amend the law, which requires the chair to be an acting or permanent agency inspector general, to allow any senior staff from an Inspector General’s office to be chair. Fine now serves as a deputy principal inspector general.

— Warren unveils $50 million childcare bailout plan: The plan, co-authored by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), would provide emergency child care funding for essential, frontline workers during the pandemic, aid for child care providers of facilities temporarily shuttered, and investments in the child care industry as a whole once workers go back to their jobs in the pandemic’s wake. In a Medium post, the senators note that the cost of one year of child care in states like Massachusetts exceeds, on average, the cost of a year of in-state college tuition. “Even before this pandemic, the challenge of finding affordable, high-quality, safe, and nurturing care has been a massive burden on families,” the senators wrote.

— Lawmakers call for vote-by-mail law, funding: Rep. Joe Kennedy III, joined by fellow Reps. McGovern, Pressley, Katherine Clark and Lori Trahan, today urged Massachusetts to pass a law implementing a “robust” vote-by-mail system by the 2020 primaries and general election, and called for $4 billion federal funding for mail-in voting and other election security measures to the states as part of the congressional response to the coronavirus crisis. “Covid-19 represents an unprecedented challenge to our country on a number of levels,” Kennedy said, adding that failing to give voters the ability to vote by mail would result in “widespread voter suppression.”


WHAT I'M READING

  • How The Economy Will Look After The Coronavirus Pandemic. (Foreign Policy)
  • ‘It Really Is the Perfect Storm’: Coronavirus Comes For Rural America. (Politico Magazine)
  • How The Coronavirus Will Create A New Working Class. (The Atlantic)

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Sen. Edward Markey’s coronavirus dress code: a face mask and high tops.


PARTING NOTE

With lawmakers hashing out the next coronavirus relief package, President Trump asserting authority to adjourn the Congress and uncertainty over when and how the country emerges from the crisis, there is a lot of news to digest right now. Tomorrow I’ll join the journalists’ panel on PBS’s Washington Week to help you make sense of it all. Check your local listings and tune in!

Kimberly Atkins Twitter Senior News Correspondent
Kimberly Atkins is a senior news correspondent for WBUR, covering national political news from Washington, D.C., with a New England focus.

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