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Democrats pivot to voting rights as Build Back Better stalls in Senate

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Democrats pivot to voting rights as Build Back Better stalls in Senate

Top Senate Democrats are shifting their focus to voting rights as Sen. Joe Manchin pumps the brakes on the party’s hopes of passing a sweeping social spending bill by Christmas.

Manchin (D-WV) and President Joe Biden remain “miles apart” on the roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better bill, sources familiar with the talks told The Post – and party leaders are looking to rally support around a sizable election reform bill.

“If Joe Manchin needs more time on BBB, Joe Manchin will get more time,” one DC insider with knowledge of the discussions said. “Not as a courtesy. But because there is no other choice. The good news is that he’s willing to keep talking. The bad news is that talking is not action.

“On the issue of voting rights, Manchin has expressed real concern to his Republican friends that they are not doing enough to call out — or stop — post-insurrection legislation to limit who can vote in states across the country,” the insider added. “It’s that concern and sustained frustration with Republicans that might make voting rights jump to the front burner—and pass.”

Sen. Joe Manchin put a halt on the party’s desire of passing a social spending bill by Christmas, as top Senate Democrats are shifting focus to voting rights.
AP

The BBB, which would expand programs like Medicare, provide universal pre-K and fund anti-climate change initiatives, has led the centrist senator to voice concerns on the bill’s impact on inflation and language on a child tax credit, sources said.

Democrats have long said that election reforms are a leading priority for the party.

“GOP state legislatures are passing the most egregious restrictions on voting rights we’ve seen since segregation. We are working to respond to these attacks by passing legislation to protect the right to vote,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted on Thursday. “The fight to protect voting rights is far from over in the Senate.”

But the reforms the party has pushed for this Congress are unlikely to receive any GOP support, with Republicans blasting members across the aisle and accusing them of attempting to rig the system to their advantage following the House’s passage of HR 1. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed allegations that new voting laws in Red States are discriminatory or an attempt to make it harder for Democratic voters to cast their ballots, arguing that the new election laws are aimed at tackling fraud.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believes GOP state legislatures are passing the most egregious restrictions on voting rights witnessed since segregation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believes GOP state legislatures are passing the most egregious restrictions on voting rights witnessed since segregation.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“I noticed the emphasis on the other side seems to have changed from reckless tax and spending spree to the voting issue again,” McConnell told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

“Let me repeat for the umpteenth time, there is not a single state in America that has passed a law that is making it more difficult to vote based upon race,” he said. “The Voting Rights Act is still fully intact, it has been against the law since the 1960s and remains against the law today to discriminate against people based upon race.” 

Democrats have made it known that election reforms are a leading priority for the party at this point and time.
Democrats have made it known that election reforms are a leading priority for the party at this point and time.
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He said most Americans believe it’s a “perfectly reasonable suggestion” for states to take ballot security measures such as requiring voter ID at the polls.

“The State of New York just in this recently completed election had votes on the ballot on same-day registration and no excuse absentee voting and liberal New York defeated both of them,” he said. “So most Americans understand that certain basic ballot security measures guarantee the integrity of their own vote and to prevent the temptation to cheat by others.” 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed allegations that new voting laws in Red States are discriminatory or an attempt to make it harder for Democratic voters to cast their ballots.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed allegations that new voting laws in the Red States are discriminatory or an attempt to make it harder for Democratic voters to cast their ballots.
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The projected lack of GOP support imposes a problem for Senate Democrats due to the 60-vote threshold needed for passage. Progressives are ramping up pressure for Democrats in the upper chamber to create a carve-out to the filibuster that would allow them to pass the election reforms along party lines.

“We think it’s so important that we change the rule in order to save the economy,” Sen. Raphel Warnock (D-Ga.) told MSNBC on Tuesday. “Well, the warning lights on our democracy are blinking right now, and we seem unwilling to respond with the same urgency to protect the democracy that we have to protect the economy.”

Biden has also called on the Senate to swiftly act on the issue, reiterating his calls for it to be addressed during his trip to Kentucky on Wednesday. 

Sen. Raphel Warnock explained and predicated on how important it would be for the change of rule to take place, believing it would “save the economy.”
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

“If we can get the congressional voting rights done, we should do it. If we can’t, we’ve got to keep going,” he said. “There’s nothing domestically more important than voting rights.”

Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) has made it clear she does not support the idea of a filibuster carve-out, with a spokesperson for the senator telling Politico she “continues to support the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, to protect the country from repeated radical reversals in federal policy which would cement uncertainty, deepen divisions, and further erode Americans’ confidence in our government.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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