The Bay State’s big debt-limit players

The Bay State’s big debt-limit players

LONG ROAD TO AVOIDING ECONOMIC RUIN — Welcome back from a beautiful Memorial Day weekend. While we were off cavorting around Boston Calling, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached a deal to avert a government default. Lawmakers could vote on it as soon as tomorrow.

While all the attention has been on those seated at the bargaining table, powerful Massachusetts Democrats have been working behind the scenes to protect their party’s priorities and plot alternatives in case talks between the president and the House GOP leader fell apart.

Now they’re being called upon to help push a deal that avoids economic disaster but still delivers a blow to social safety net programs and other Democratic priorities.

Rep. Jim McGovern — who helped spearhead Democrats’ long-shot Plan B, a discharge petition that could force a House vote to hike the debt ceiling — has another key role to play this week as the top Democrat on the Rules Committee that will decide whether the debt compromise reaches the House floor for a vote.

It’s a potentially awkward position for McGovern, who had pressured Biden and Democratic leadership in the days leading up to the deal to stop Republicans from tightening work requirements for SNAP benefits. Right now, adults up to age 49 who don’t have children have to meet certain work requirements to receive SNAP benefits. The debt agreement raises that age limit to 54, though it also exempts veterans and those who are homeless — a carveout the White House claims will likely keep the number of people covered by SNAP the same.

But with some Republicans threatening to use the Rules Committee to block the 99-page bill from advancing, McGovern and the panel’s other three Democrats might be called upon to vote in favor of teeing up floor debate to offset dissent on the other side of the dais.

If and when the bill hits the floor it’ll be up to Democratic Whip Katherine Clark to make sure enough members of her caucus are behind it to pass.

Vote wrangling is well underway. The White House is continuing to brief House Democrats on the policy specifics in the agreement. And while progressives (and some anti-poverty groups) are frustrated by the changes to government-assistance programs, a 98-member voting bloc of centrist Democrats has already announced its support for the agreement.

“This week, we will vote to avoid a catastrophic GOP-manufactured default,” Clark said in a statement, adding that Democrats “will always put people over politics” and thanking Biden for “standing with our veterans, seniors, and working families.”

Time isn’t on anyone’s side. The compromise bill needs to get through both chambers before June 5, the date the U.S. is projected to run out of money to pay its bills.

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. What a weekend of devastating finales. At least there’s a next season for the C’s.

TODAY — Gov. Maura Healey announces Life Sciences Tax Incentive awards at 11:30 a.m. at Moderna in Norwood. Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll attends a MetroWest Chamber of Commerce breakfast at 10 a.m. in Worcester. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at a BPS valedictorians lunch at 12:30 p.m. in Fenway.

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“Massachusetts has passed just 10 laws this year, the fewest to open a legislative session in decades. It’s a sign of the times,” by Matt Stout, Boston Globe: “Five months into the year, Massachusetts lawmakers have touted passing ‘historic funding’ and holding a budget debate that’s never been ‘smoother.’ They can also lay claim to something else, a Globe review found: perhaps the least productive start to a legislative session in at least 40 years. … The slow start is likely historic, and, current and former Beacon Hill officials say, reflective of a Democratic-controlled body where power is overly concentrated at the top and where leaders increasingly rely on hulking, omnibus legislation to move important policy.”

“State school board to be briefed on impact of artificial intelligence,” by Christian M. Wade, Newburyport Daily News: “Concerns about the use of artificial intelligence by students to cheat on exams and plagiarize reports are fueling calls on Beacon Hill for safeguards to prevent the machine-learning technology from being abused.”

“Massachusetts spends thousands more on school construction aid for white students than for students of color,” by James Vaznis and Christopher Huffaker, Boston Globe: “Districts with a majority white student population got about $10,000 per student for school projects, the Globe found, while districts made up mostly of students of color got about $6,400 per student.”

— SUFFOLK SPECIALS: Two Boston Democrats will take another step toward becoming state representatives today after a pair of uncontested special House elections. Primary winners John Moran and Bill MacGregor are set to succeed now-Veterans Secretary Jon Santiago in the 9th Suffolk and MassBio’s Ed Coppinger in the 10th Suffolk, respectively.

“Kalkut eyes another run for state representative seat; Vaughn mum on re-election plans,” by Stephen Peterson, The Sun Chronicle: “Select Board Chairman Kevin Kalkut has launched another campaign for state representative. Kalkut, a Democrat, announced this past week that he is running again for the 9th Norfolk District seat now held by Marcus Vaughn, a [first-term] Republican from Wrentham.”

“Proposed task force would address Mass. domestic violence records law found to shield abusers,” by Ally Jarmanning, WBUR.

“Healey reestablishes council tasked with advising her on veterans’ services,” by Chris Van Buskirk, Boston Herald.

“Mayor Wu signs Boston redistricting map, but court may need to weigh in too,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed the redistricting ordinance passed by the City Council, but the court may also need to get involved before the new voting lines go into effect. Given the pending lawsuit, the city plans to inform the U.S. District Court that a new map has been passed on Tuesday, a Wu spokesperson said Friday.”

“Feds reject MBTA plan for track safety, which calls for 2024 completion,” by WBZ: “The MBTA’s plan to improve track safety for workers and contractors has to be resubmitted, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) said in a May 19 letter to MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng.”

— WATCH: State Rep. Dylan Fernandes on WCVB’s “On the Record” making the case for why the onus is on the federal government to replace the Cape Cod bridges.

“Divided MassGOP plays blame game for $600K party debt,” by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: “Who’s to blame for the precarious financial position of the Massachusetts Republican Party will be hashed out at an upcoming committee meeting. Two factions of a divided state committee have put forth competing agenda items, which would seek votes for the removal of the party’s top two financial officers, and [to] bring last year’s gubernatorial candidate in for questioning about ‘campaign finance irregularities’ that led to roughly half of the party’s $600,000 debt.”

“Construction halts on Vineyard Wind as longshoremen protest lack of local workers on jobsite,” by Ben Berke, The Public’s Radio: “Turbine components for the nations’ first utility-scale offshore wind farm arrived for assembly in New Bedford [last] week, an event celebrated by business leaders and government officials as a symbolic step forward for the city’s economy and the nation’s climate goals. But a day later, work ground to a halt as a local union of predominantly Black longshoremen staged a protest and accused the project’s developer, Vineyard Wind, of falling short of its promises to hire a diverse workforce.”

“Gov. Healey describes ‘all hands on deck’ approach to climate policy,” by Katie Lannan, GBH News: “A Supreme Court ruling [last] week limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate wetlands won’t derail climate and sustainability efforts in Massachusetts, Gov. Maura Healey said.”

“Following Rachael Rollins’s resignation as US attorney, selecting her successor may be challenging,” by Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe: “Several legal experts predict choosing Rollins’s successor will be done cautiously, with the next nominee likely to face intense scrutiny in the Senate and possibly trigger another contentious, partisan battle.”

— Related: “FBI Boston leader Joseph Bonavolonta announces his retirement,” by Flint McColgan, Boston Herald: “His departure, which takes effect on June 9, marks a significant change for federal law enforcement leadership in Boston, as U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins also resigned last week following two scathing federal reports detailing ethical abuses.”

“Springfield Rep. Orlando Ramos launches petition over water rates, quality,” by Jonah Snowden, Springfield Republican: “After the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission announced a proposed rate increase, state Rep. Orlando Ramos, D-Springfield, started a petition for residents that urges Mayor Domenic J. Sarno to address water issues in the city. … Ramos said he is tackling this issue as a state representative, not a mayoral candidate.”

“Barnes & Noble employees unionize in Hadley,” by Scott Merzbach, Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“High levels of hunger persist in Mass., as COVID-era benefits roll back,” by Diti Kohli, Boston Globe: “In 2022, one in three adults in Massachusetts experienced limited or uncertain access to adequate food, also known as food insecurity. And 20 percent had “very low” food security, meaning their eating patterns were disrupted for a prolonged period.”

“Health centers could receive infusion of federal funding,” by Christian M. Wade, The Eagle-Tribune: “Community health centers that serve some of the state’s most marginalized residents could be getting a fresh infusion of federal funds under a proposal teed up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

“UMass Memorial wants to close Leominster maternity ward; lawmakers vow to fight,” by Henry Schwan, Telegram & Gazette.

“Supreme Court ruling on municipal foreclosures will preserve equity for Massachusetts homeowners,” by Jenifer B. McKim, GBH News.

“‘Incredible opportunity’: Pangallo sworn in as Salem’s new mayor,” by Dustin Luca, Salem News.

“State rules against city in The Light’s request for records related to alleged police misconduct,” by Anastasia E. Lennon, New Bedford Light.

“2024 candidates need to be able to take a hint, Chris Sununu says,” by David Cohen, POLITICO: “Gov. Chris Sununu said Sunday it doesn’t matter how many Republicans enter the 2024 presidential field — it matters how long they stay.”

“Many GOP insiders fear that Teflon Don is back,” by Adam Wren, Natalie Allison, Meredith McGraw and Lisa Kashinsky, POLITICO: “With a growing cast of characters still waiting in the wings to announce their own campaigns, warning signs of a 2016 replay are once again flashing in the GOP.”

SPOTTED — at the Thinking Cup on Tremont Street before Monday’s big game: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and assistant coach Chris Quinn, per a Playbook tipster.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to CNN’s Eric Levenson, Senate Ways & Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, Bill Fonda, Natasha Sarin and Wes Ritchie.

Want to make an impact? POLITICO Massachusetts has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Bay State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness among this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected].

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