- Sen. Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg coming in at a close second.
- Entrepreneurs Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet separately announced that they were dropping out of the race before polls closed.
- While Sanders and Buttigieg have emerged as the frontrunners in the first two contests of the 2020 election, the upcoming Nevada Caucus and South Carolina primary will likely prove to be key tests for both candidates.
Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) declared victory in the New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday night after receiving the most votes in the first primary race of the 2020 election cycle.
With 98% of precincts reporting, Sanders has received 25.7% of the vote, followed by South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 24.4%.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MIN), who had a strong showing, came in third with 19.8%, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with 9.2% and former Vice President Joe Biden with 8.4%.
Sanders declared victory in a speech Tuesday in front of a cheering crowd of supporters.
“And let me say tonight, that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” he said.
“With victories behind us, popular vote in Iowa, and the victory here tonight, we’re going to Nevada, we’re going to South Carolina, we’re going to win those states as well.”
Buttigieg congratulated Sanders on his win, but he also argued that the progressive Senator’s movement is divisive.
“In this election season we have been told by some that you must either be for revolution, or you are for the status quo. But where does that leave the rest of us?” he asked.
“Most Americans don’t see where they fit in that polarized vision, and we can’t defeat the most divisive President in modern American history by tearing down anybody who doesn’t agree with us 100% of the time.”
Even before the polls closed entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) both separately announced that they were dropping out of the race.
“I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race,” Yang said.
Biden, seemingly discouraged by his preliminary results, left New Hampshire early to go campaign in South Carolina, where he told a crowd of supporters, “It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started.”
Other Highlights and Takeaways
There is some truth to Biden’s remarks. There have only been two elections, only 2% of the total delegates have been allocated.
While these last two races have both shown Sanders and Buttigieg on top, the Nevada Caucus on Feb. 22 and the South Carolina primary the following week will be the real tests for both campaigns.
For Buttigieg, Iowa and New Hampshire have given him a lot of momentum, but many experts say that those elections are not indicative of how he will do moving forward.
Iowa and New Hampshire are two of the whitest states in the country, and while the mayor has shown strength among white voters he polls low with people of color.
His support among non-white voters will be put to the test in Nevada and South Carolina, which are much more diverse states. According to NPR, “Nevada was 41% nonwhite in 2016, and 61% of South Carolina Democratic voters were African American.”
For Sanders, the test will be his ability to mobilize the progressive vote in states he lost to Hillary Clinton by wide margins in 2016.
Sanders may have won New Hampshire this year, but he also won it in 2016.
Another thing that will be interesting to watch is the third-place candidate in these next few elections.
While it was fairly clear after Iowa that either Sanders or Buttigieg would take first and second, third was still up for grabs.
The fact that Klobuchar took that spot, beating out Warren by a large margin of more than 10%, could signal how she will do in other states.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Washington Post) (Fox News)
Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena
The move comes after former President Trump told several of his previous aides not to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the insurrection.
Bannon Refuses to Comply With Subpoena
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection announced Thursday that it is seeking to hold former White House advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.
The decision marks a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to force officials under former President Donald Trump’s administration to comply with its probe amid Trump’s growing efforts to obstruct the inquiry.
In recent weeks, the former president has launched a number of attempts to block the panel from getting key documents, testimonies, and other evidence requested by the committee that he claims are protected by executive privilege.
Notably, some of those assertions have been shut down. On Friday, President Joe Biden rejected Trump’s effort to withhold documents relating to the insurrection.
Still, Trump has also directed former officials in his administration not to comply with subpoenas or cooperate with the committee.
That demand came after the panel issued subpoenas ordering depositions from Bannon and three other former officials: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.
After Trump issued his demand, Bannon’s lawyer announced that he would not obey the subpoena until the panel reached an agreement with Trump or a court ruled on the executive privilege matter.
Many legal experts have questioned whether Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, can claim executive privilege for something that happened when he was not working for the executive.
Panel Intensifies Compliance Efforts
The Thursday decision from the committee is significant because it will likely set up a legal battle and test how much authority the committee can and will exercise in requiring compliance.
It also sets an important precedent for those who have been subpoenaed. While Bannon is the first former official to openly defy the committee, there have been reports that others plan to do the same.
The panel previously said Patel and Meadows were “engaging” with investigators, but on Thursday, several outlets reported that the two — who were supposed to appear before the body on Thursday and Friday respectively — are now expected to be given an extension or continuance.
Sources told reporters that Scavino, who was also asked to testify Friday, has had his deposition postponed because service of his subpoena was delayed.
As far as what happens next for Bannon, the committee will vote to adopt the contempt report next week. Once that is complete, the matter will go before the House for a full vote.
Assuming the Democratic-held House approves the contempt charge, it will then get referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the matter before a grand jury.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)
Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December
The move adds another deadline to Dec. 3, which is also when the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress approves new spending.
Debt Ceiling Raised Temporarily
The Senate voted on Thursday to extend the debt ceiling until December, temporarily averting a fiscal catastrophe.
The move, which followed weeks of stalemate due to Republican objections, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) partially backed down from his blockade and offered a short-term proposal.
After much whipping of votes, 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break the legislative filibuster and move to final approval of the measure. The bill ultimately passed in a vote of 50-48 without any Republican support.
The legislation will now head to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members would be called back from their current recess for a vote on Tuesday.
The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the measure, but urged Congress to pass a longer extension.
“We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months,’’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Under the current bill, the nation’s borrowing limit will be increased by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will cover federal borrowing until around Dec. 3.
The agency had previously warned that it would run out of money by Oct. 18 if Congress failed to act. Such a move would have a chilling impact on the economy, forcing the U.S. to default on its debts and potentially plunging the country into a recession.
Major Hurdles Remain
While the legislation extending the ceiling will certainly offer temporary relief, it sets up another perilous deadline for the first Friday in December, when government funding is also set to expire if Congress does not approve another spending bill.
Regardless of the new deadline, many of the same hurdles lawmakers faced the first time around remain.
Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the final details of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda, which Republicans have strongly opposed.
Notably, Democratic leaders previously said they could pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow them to approve the measure with 50 votes and no Republican support.
Such a move would require all 50 Senators, but intraparty disputes remain over objections brought by Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), who have been stalling the process for months.
Although disagreements over reconciliation are ongoing among Democrats, McConnell has insisted the party use the obscure procedural process to raise the debt limit. Democrats, however, have balked at the idea, arguing that tying the debt ceiling to reconciliation would set a dangerous precedent.
Despite Republican efforts to connect the limit to Biden’s economic agenda, raising the ceiling is not the same as adopting new spending. Rather, the limit is increased to pay off spending that has already been authorized by previous sessions of Congress and past administrations.
In fact, much of the current debt stems from policies passed by Republicans during the Trump administration, including the 2017 tax overhaul.
As a result, while Democrats have signaled they may make concessions to Manchin and Sinema, they strongly believe that Republicans must join them to increase the debt ceiling to fund projects their party supported.
It is currently unclear when or how the ongoing stalemate will be resolved, or how either party will overcome their fervent objections.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
California Makes Universal Voting by Mail Permanent
California is now the eighth state to make universal mail-in ballots permanent after it temporarily adopted the policy for elections held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
CA Approves Universal Voting by Mail
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Monday requiring every registered voter in the state to be mailed a ballot at least 29 days before an election, whether they request it or not.
Assembly Bill 37 makes permanent a practice that was temporarily adopted for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law, which officially takes effect in January, also extends the time mail ballots have to arrive at elections offices from three days to seven days after an election. Voters can still choose to cast their vote in person if they prefer.
Supporters of the policy have cheered the move, arguing that proactively sending ballots to registered voters increases turnout.
“Data shows that sending everyone a ballot in the mail provides voters access. And when voters get ballots in the mail, they vote,” the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), said during a Senate committee hearing in July.
Meanwhile opponents — mostly Republicans — have long cast doubts about the safety of mail-in voting, despite a lack of evidence to support their claims that it leads to widespread voter fraud. That strategy, however, has also faced notable pushback from some that a lot of Republicans who say it can actually hurt GOP turnout.
Others May Follow
The new legislation probably isn’t too surprising for California, where over 50% of votes cast in general elections have been through mail ballots since 2012, according to The Sacramento Bee. Now, many believe California will be followed by similar legislation from Democrats across the country as more Republican leaders move forward with elections bills that significantly limit voting access.
Newsome signed 10 other measures Monday changing election and campaign procedures, including a bill that would require anyone advocating for or against a candidate to stand farther away from a polling place. Another bill increases penalties for candidates who use campaign funds for personal expenses while a third measure increases reporting requirements for limited liability corporations that engage in campaign activity.
“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.
“Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election.”
The news regarding California came just in time for National Voter Registration day today, giving Americans another reminder to make sure they’re registered in their states. For more information on how to register, visit Vote.gov or any of the other resources linked below.