Exxon oil lobbyist in sting video identifies 11 senators ‘crucial’ to its lobbying

A senior official with U.S. oil and gas giant ExxonMobil was captured on video revealing the identities of 11 senators “crucial” to its lobbying on Capitol Hill, including a host of Democrats.

The footage was obtained by Unearthed, an investigative unit of environmental group Greenpeace UK, which posed as headhunters to obtain the information from Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy.

Among the senators listed as allies, McCoy calls Joe Manchin the “kingmaker” on energy issues because of his status as a Democrat representing West Virginia, a key natural gas-producing state. McCoy says he speaks with Manchin’s staff every week. Manchin is also chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

BIDEN CAN’T PLEASE ANYONE WITH MOVES ON PIPELINES

McCoy also named Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top GOP member of the Energy Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the Republican ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Other lobbying targets of Exxon include centrist Democrats Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana.

McCoy also singles out Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, as an important contact because of his close relationship with President Joe Biden.

Other Exxon contacts are up for reelection in 2022, McCoy notes: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mark Kelly of Arizona.

McCoy also name-checks traditional Republican allies John Cornyn of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

In the leaked video, McCoy also suggested that Exxon is only publicly supporting a carbon tax to appear to be environmentally friendly with little consequence because it sees the policy as politically impossible to pass and thus unlikely to affect the company. Exxon is one of many large oil and gas companies and their lobby groups that have endorsed the concept of a carbon tax as preferable to mandates and regulations.

“I will tell you, there is not an appetite for a carbon tax. It is a non-starter. Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans,” McCoy said. “And the cynical side of me says, ‘Yeah, we kind of know that. But it gives us a talking point. We can say, ‘Well, what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax.’”

Among other revelations, McCoy acknowledges Exxon “aggressively” fought against climate science in the past to protect its oil and gas business and joined “shadow groups” to push back against the science underpinning global warming.

“We were looking out for our investments. We were looking out for our shareholders,” McCoy said.

And he claims that Exxon lobbied Congress to limit climate provisions in infrastructure negotiations over Biden’s American Jobs Plan and to focus on roads and bridges.

“If you lower that threshold, you stick to highways and bridges, then a lot of the negative stuff starts to come out,” McCoy said. “Why would you put in something on emissions reductions on climate change to oil refineries in a highway bill?”

Exxon CEO Darren Woods issued a statement Wednesday afternoon condemning the lobbyist’s comments and apologizing for them, specifically those “regarding interactions with elected officials.”

Woods stressed Exxon’s “firm commitment” to supporting carbon pricing to address climate change.

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McCoy posted his own apologetic statement declaring himself “deeply embarrassed” and saying his comments “clearly do not represent ExxonMobil’s positions on important public policy issues.”

They’re using the Yes Minister 4-stage strategy. They’re betting that Stage 4 (see below) won’t be reached until theyve had a lifetime of profiteering and profligacy, and – they THINK – setting up their OWN offspring to survive.
“Yes Minister” 4-Stage Strategy:
1. Nothing is about to happen
2. Something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it
3. Something is happening, but there’s nothing we CAN do
4. Maybe we could have done something, but it’s TOO LATE NOW

 

White House Looks to Chip Away at Democrats’ Resolve as Record Shutdown Rolls On

Trump considers inviting rank-and-file Democrats frustrated by length of impasse

Now the White House is targeting a group of moderate Democrats who, the president’s aides believe, have expressed some openness toward a border wall.

Officials said they have been tracking statements made by rank-and-file Democrats about the wall, particularly by freshmen members serving in districts that Mr. Trump won in 2016.

As the week began, they were considering inviting some of these Democratic lawmakers in for a meeting to negotiate a possible deal, in what would be a test of Democratic unity and the leadership’s grip on the caucus.

.. One senior White House official said: “Increasingly, rank-and-file Democrats…are speaking positively about a physical barrier on the southern border as part of a package of reforms” that would include new technology and additional immigration judges. The official didn’t identify which Democrats the White House might attempt to pick off.

Prying Democrats away from the party’s leadership won’t be easy, lawmakers and aides from both sides said.

They’re stuck. This is probably the fifth attempt to dig themselves out of a hole,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii) said of the White House effort’s to negotiate with rank-and-file Democrats.

Mr. Schatz said he suspected the administration was discovering what Democrats learned when they shut the government down last year in an effort to secure protections for young immigrants. “When you tag your cause to a shutdown, that cause becomes less popular,” he said.

Still, the strategy could put political pressure on House Democrats who represent conservative districts, by inviting them to the White House and putting them on the spot about the border wall, one Democratic aide said.

.. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), who leads the Homeland Security panel of the Appropriations Committee, said of the White House strategy: “I don’t see anything wrong with talking to more people,” but added that it would be “tough” to cut a deal without Democratic leaders. Mr. Trump won West Virginia with almost 69% of the vote in 2016.

McConnell, in Private, Doubts if Trump Can Save Presidency

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

.. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

.. A protracted government shutdown or a default on sovereign debt could be disastrous — for the economy and for the party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Yet Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell are locked in a political cold war.

.. Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell, noted that the senator and the president had “shared goals,” and pointed to “tax reform, infrastructure, funding the government, not defaulting on the debt, passing the defense authorization bill.”

..In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly, then berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.

.. During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.

.. Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

..In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond

..“When it comes to the Senate, there’s an Article 5 understanding: An attack against one is an attack against all,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has found himself in Mr. Trump’s sights many times, invoking the NATO alliance’s mutual defense doctrine.

..Some of them blame the president for not being able to rally the party around any version of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, accusing him of not knowing even the basics about the policy. Senate Republicans also say strong-arm tactics from the White House backfired, making it harder to cobble together votes and have left bad feelings in the caucus.

..White House aides told Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from the state whose support was in doubt, that she could only accompany him on Air Force One if she committed to voting for the health care bill. She declined the invitation, noting that she could not commit to voting for a measure she had not seen

.. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told colleagues that when Mr. Trump’s interior secretary threatened to pull back federal funding for her state, she felt boxed in and unable to vote for the health care bill.

.. But Mr. Hoffman predicted that Mr. McConnell would likely outlast the president.

“I think he’s going to blow up, self-implode,” Mr. Hoffman said of Mr. Trump. “I wouldn’t be surprised if McConnell pulls back his support of Trump and tries to go it alone.”

.. An all-out clash between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell would play out between men whose strengths and weaknesses are very different. Mr. Trump is a political amateur, still unschooled in the ways of Washington, but he maintains a viselike grip on the affections of the Republican base. Mr. McConnell is a soft-spoken career politician, with virtuoso mastery of political fund-raising and tactics, but he had no mass following to speak of.

.. Roger J. Stone Jr., a Republican strategist who has advised Mr. Trump for decades, said the president needed to “take a scalp” in order to force cooperation from Republican elites who have resisted his agenda. Mr. Stone urged Mr. Trump to make an example of one or more Republicans, like Mr. Flake, who have refused to give full support to his administration.

.. The president should start bumping off incumbent Republican members of Congress in primaries,” Mr. Stone said. “If he did that, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would wet their pants and the rest of the Republicans would get in line.”

.. But Mr. McConnell’s allies warn that the president should be wary of doing anything that could jeopardize the Senate Republican majority.

“The quickest way for him to get impeached is for Trump to knock off Jeff Flake and Dean Heller and be faced with a Democrat-led Senate,” said Billy Piper, a lobbyist and former McConnell chief of staff.

How the Republican Coward Caucus is about to sell out its own constituents — in secret

a repeal bill so monumental in its cruelty that they feel they have no choice but to draft it in secret, not let the public know what it does, hold not a single hearing or committee markup, slip it in a brown paper package to the Congressional Budget Office, then push it through to a vote before the July 4th recess before the inevitable backlash gets too loud.

“We aren’t stupid,” one GOP Senate aide told Caitlin Owens — they know what would happen if they made their bill public.

.. Today, we learned that in a break with longstanding precedent, “Senate officials are cracking down on media access, informing reporters on Tuesday that they will no longer be allowed to film or record audio of interviews in the Senate side hallways of the Capitol without special permission.” Everyone assumes that it’s so those senators can avoid having to appear on camera being asked uncomfortable questions about a bill that is as likely to be as popular as Ebola.

.. This is how a party acts when it is ashamed of what it is about to do to the American people. Yet all it would take to stop this abomination is for three Republicans to stand up to their party’s leaders and say, “No — I won’t do this to my constituents.” With only a 52-48 majority in the Senate, that would kill the bill. But right now, it’s looking as though this Coward Caucus is going to be unable to muster the necessary courage.

 .. Take Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, a state where over 175,000 people have gotten insurance thanks to the Medicaid expansion.
.. Last week The Hill reported that Capito now supports eliminating the expansion after all — just doing it over seven years instead of the three years that the House bill required.
..Or how about Ohio’s Rob Portman? In his state, 700,000 people gained insurance as a result of the Medicaid expansion.
.. They’d pay for the slower elimination of the expansion by cutting money out of the existing program, so they could get rid of all of the ACA’s tax increases
.. — over half of Medicaid dollars go to the elderly and disabled.
.. That means that they aren’t just undoing the ACA; they’re making things substantially worse for tens of millions of America’s most vulnerable citizens than they were even before the ACA passed.
.. And they’re hoping they can do all this before anyone realizes what they’re up to, making this an act of both unconscionable heartlessness and epic cowardice. Their efforts to hide what they’re doing show that they are still capable of feeling some measure of shame. But it might not be enough to stop them.

The Senate Takes Up Health Care Reform

The Senate will take up health care reform after a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed through the House last Thursday.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of Senate leadership, said that the Senate will wait for a new CBO score before preceding to a vote.

.. Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, said, “The bill that passed out of the House is most likely not going to be the bill that is put in front of the president.”

Members of the working group include Sens.

  1. Mitch McConnell,
  2. Bob Portman (R-OH),
  3. John Corynyn (R-TX),
  4. John Thune (R-SD),
  5. Mike Enzi (R-WY),
  6. Orrin Hatch (R-UT),
  7. Lamar Alexander (R-TN),
  8. Tom Cotton (R-AR),
  9. Cory Gardner (R-CO),
  10. Ted Cruz (R-TX),
  11. John Barrasso (R-WY), and
  12. Pat Toomey (R-PA).

.. The Senate working group does not feature two of the bill’s biggest critics, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

.. The two senators joined a separate group of Republicans studying potential health care solutions including Sens.

  1. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV),
  2. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and
  3. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
  4. Susan Collins (R-ME)
  5. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

.. Senators Cassidy and Collins released a separate Obamacare repeal bill, The Patient Freedom Act.

States have three options under the Cassidy-Collins plan:

  1. Retain the Affordable Care Act, allowing individuals and small businesses able to purchase insurance on state exchanges and low-income residents can receive federal subsidies to cover the cost of the program. States that expanded Medicaid can continue to provide increased Medicaid coverage.
  2. States can receive most of the federal funding, including Medicaid expansion and subsidies to create tax-free Health Savings Accounts for low-income citizens. Low-income residents can use the HSAs to purchase insurance and pay for health care.
  3. Allow states to create an alternative solution without federal assistance. States would retain the power to design and regulate insurance markets without federal intervention.

.. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were the strongest opponents of the American Health Care Act. Senator Paul crafted his own conservative plan for repealing Obamacare and worked with the Freedom Caucus to push for an even more conservative Obamacare repeal bill. The Freedom Caucus endorsed Sen. Paul’s plan.

 

 

House GOP Releases Plan to Repeal, Replace Obamacare

Proposed legislation would dismantle much of Affordable Care Act, create refundable tax credit tied to age and income

Earlier versions included provisions opposed by both conservative and centrist Republicans, whose support for the now-altered bill will be crucial.House Republican leaders hope the package will be passed by Congress by mid-April.

.. Under the House GOP proposal released Monday, the refundable tax credits would be tied to age, with people under 30 eligible for a credit of $2,000 per year, increasing steadily to $4,000 for those over 60. The size of a tax credit would grow with the size of a family, but would be capped at $14,000.

.. The GOP plan aims to appease their concerns by leaving the expansion untouched through the end of 2019. After that, funding would begin to be reduced in an attempt to make up for the revenue lost by repealing the taxes contained in the existing health law.

.. Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia sent a letter Monday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) expressing concerns over the House’s approach to overhauling the Medicaid program in an earlier draft of the bill.

.. The proposal would also end a special executive compensation limit that the 2010 law applied to health insurers. That law prevented companies from deducting more than $500,000 in pay to executives. Other companies face a $1 million limit, but that cap doesn’t apply to performance-based compensation.