10 Things in Politics: Buttigieg's legacy moment
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- Pete Buttigieg is about to become the most powerful transportation secretary ever
- Trump is selling his Washington, DC, hotel
- A Democratic operative started a group to raise money for candidates. His firm bagged most of the cash raised.
1. DOWN THE ROAD: Pete Buttigieg is facing a historic transportation moment. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan into law today, which is set to give Buttigieg effective control over more than $200 billion in discretionary grants over five years. One expert said that's about five to six times as much money as any previous transportation secretary has had to work with.
Here's what this will mean:
This is Buttigieg's most significant accomplishment thus far: Biden tapped him to help lead negotiations on Capitol Hill. During this push, Buttigieg held 300 calls and meetings with lawmakers all the way up to the final hours of the legislation's passage, logged more than 125 local news hits, and conducted more than 300 press interviews selling the road-and-jobs package.
- And now he has a massive pile of cash to help distribute: Despite Republican efforts to limit the size and scope of what's in the legislation, the Department of Transportation will be tasked with doling out approximately $210 billion over five years in discretionary grants.
DOT is expected to change drastically too: The department's annual budget under Buttigieg is set to increase to $140 billion from $90 billion, and department officials acknowledge they'll have to staff up to match the moment.
- Another former mayor is competing for the spotlight: Biden tapped former Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans to serve as a senior advisor and oversee the infrastructure law's implementation.
2. There are low expectations for tonight's virtual China summit: Both sides have sought to downplay what will come out of Biden's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping later tonight, Politico reports. Their meeting comes at a critical juncture for US-China relations as tension over Taiwan, questions about the coronavirus pandemic's origin, and the legacy of Trump-era tariffs are coming to a head. Here's what experts expect to come out of the talks.
3. A Democratic operative started a group to raise money for candidates. Then his firm bagged most of the cash raised: Mike Reid, a digital operative who worked on campaigns for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the activist Sean Eldridge, also started When Democrats Turn Out PAC. Would-be donors clicking on one of the group's ads might have thought their money was going straight to their favorite candidate(s). But of the over $2.5 million that When Democrats Turn Out has spent since it was founded in 2018, most has gone to Basecamp Strategy, a digital firm that was also founded by Reid. Arrangements like this make it harder for donors to see where their money is going.
4. White House seems confident House Democrats will pass Biden's spending plan this week: Brian Deese, Biden's top economic advisor, told the Associated Press that Democrats would quickly pass Biden's nearly $1.85 trillion spending plan later this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her colleagues on Friday that she still planned on moving the spending package soon. Here's where things stand.
5. Trump is selling his Washington, DC, hotel: His real-estate company is selling the rights to its luxury hotel in Washington, DC, for $375 million, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing unnamed sources. The lease for the Trump International Hotel is reportedly being acquired by CGI Merchant Group, an investment firm based in Miami. Trump's name is said to be coming off of the hotel.
6. World climate summit deal yields mixed reviews: "Many world leaders and activists expressed disappointment this weekend with the climate deal that emerged from two weeks of heated negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland," The Washington Post reports. The final agreement lacks the complete funding needed for developing countries to mitigate extreme weather events and to build clean energy infrastructure, The New York Times reports. Officials also watered down a pledge to "phase out" unabated coal. Instead, nations agreed to "phase down" their use. Here are the key details from the COP26 agreement.
7. Closing arguments are expected in Kyle Rittenhouse's trial: Judge Bruce Schroeder will allow jurors to consider some lesser charges in addition to the current counts Rittenhouse is facing, which include first-degree intentional homicide, USA Today reports. Rittenhouse is standing trial for fatally shooting two men during August 25, 2020, protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that erupted in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. More on what to expect today in the closely watched trial.
8. A 9-year-old boy has died after being trampled at Travis Scott's Astroworld: Ezra Blount is the youngest of 10 victims who lost their lives in a crowd crush at the November 5 concert. Those who died were ages 9 to 27 and also included a ninth grader and a 16-year-old dancer. Hundreds of other concertgoers were injured.
9. Elon Musk starts a Twitter fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders: Musk, the world's richest person, continued his trend of attacking liberal lawmakers by replying "I keep forgetting that you're still alive" to a tweet from Sanders calling for "the extremely wealthy to pay their fair share." More on Musk's recent moves, including cashing in nearly $7 billion in Tesla stock.
10. "Sesame Street" is set to have its first Asian American muppet: Ji-Young is Korean American, 7 years old, and loves "rocking out on her electric guitar and skateboarding," the Associated Press reports. Ji-Young is set to be formally introduced during a special arriving Thanksgiving Day on HBO Max. Read more about the newest Sesame Street resident.
Today's trivia question: Who most recently went directly from being a US president's Cabinet member to becoming president himself? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Friday's answer: President Theodore Roosevelt was originally set to have a memorial where the modern-day Jefferson Memorial now stands.
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