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Democrats warn criticisms of Manchin could derail future negotiations

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Democrats warn criticisms of Manchin could derail future negotiations

Multiple Democratic lawmakers are voicing concerns that White House and left-wing criticisms of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are counterproductive following his announcement that he won’t support the Build Back Better Act.

The Dems argue that the fiery rebukes aimed at the West Virginia centrist could hinder their ability to reignite negotiations on a social spending bill that can pass both chambers. 

Manchin’s comments on Fox New Sunday confirming he was torpedoing Senate Democrats’ hopes to pass the roughly $2 trillion measure aimed at tackling key components of President Biden’s agenda sparked strong backlash from within the administration, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki releasing a statement alleging his remarks “represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position.” Multiple prominent far-left lawmakers went as far as accusing him of being “betraying” his vow to negotiate in good faith, with Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) telling reporters on Monday that it’s “abundantly clear that we cannot trust what Senator Manchin.” calling for Biden to unilaterally act on components of the bill. 

But vulnerable Democrats argued that despite the sizable roadblock the bill faces, it’s still possible for them to come to an agreement on a scaled-back measure.

One moderate Democrat noted that Manchin never agreed to support the parameters of the House-passed legislation, with the senator having repeatedly expressed reservations about certain provisions and its impact on inflation. 

“I’m disgusted, frankly, with those who believe that the path forward is to condemn him into submission — it’s a path destined to fail and will only harden his heart and result in absolutely nothing,” the lawmaker told The Post. “And I know I speak for many, probably an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the caucus that are disappointed, I think for good reason, but that are pragmatic enough to recognize that his vote is the only one that matters right now.”

The lawmaker acknowledged that political ramifications of the bill stalling in the Senate is an area of concern for frontline Democrats in the House, with the source adding they believe most members stand by their votes, the risk they took by supporting the measure should incentivize the party to continue working toward an agreement members can tout back home. 

“It’s hard to have a conversation without injecting politics into it — of course frontliners are terribly disappointed for having taken a vote that could cost many other jobs and not even have it result in anything meaningful, of course a terrible disappointment,” the member added. “It’s more of an incentive, frankly, to continue, which I think will actually inspire many to find a path forward.“

Former CPC chairman Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told The Post he believes Democrats “have to keep the dialogue open” and understand Joe Manchin’s and others differences.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Another Democrat said they feel Manchin’s decision to announce his position on TV was poorly handled, but feels the heated accusations being launched at the senator are not a productive solution. 

“We were never going to see the House-passed BBB pass the Senate in the same form, some people wanted to believe that would somehow be the case, but it never was going to happen. We should have known that given that it wasn’t a pre-conference/pre-Byrded version,” the source said, adding that “claiming ‘we promised people XYZ’ is not a compelling argument” to change Manchin’s mind. 

“Lots of people campaigned on lots of different things. Why would Senator X find that compelling if he didn’t campaign on or ever say he supports those things? Typically speaking, I don’t think that calling people liars is the best starting point for continuing productive negotiations.”

One source close to Manchin’s thinking agreed with the sentiment that “the attacks aren’t helpful,” adding he has been consistent in his position on the bill, pointing to the signed memo provided to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) outlining his topline number. 

But members of “the squad” — some of which withheld their votes on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) in fear of losing leverage on the larger spending bill, urging leaders to keep the bills paired — argue they warned that the passage of the “hard infrastructure” bill would lead to the death of the BBB that bears any semblance to its current form. 

“When a handful of us in the House warned this would happen if Dem leaders gave Manchin everything he wanted 1st by moving BIF before BBB instead of passing together, many ridiculed our position. Maybe they’ll believe us next time,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted. 

Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill — many of which faced backlash from former President Trump and his allies after critics accused them of paving the way for Democrats to pass the larger spending bill, with some going as far as calling for primaries and removal from committee assignments — have been quick to take credit for helping tank the bill, agreeing with progressives sentiments that the BIF killed the BBB. 

“Taking away the far-left’s leverage to ram through their spending wishlist is one of the many reasons I supported the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will create jobs in Central New York and make our businesses more competitive,” Rep. John Katko (R-NY) told The Post. 

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said AOC and The Squad made it “very clear” about their opinions on infrastructure.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

“With skyrocketing inflation, rising crime, and a crisis at our southern border, President Biden should take Senator Manchin’s decision as a reminder to prioritize the issues impacting American families, not Sen. Bernie Sanders’ socialist spending bill.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) told The Post “it worked out just as planned. AOC and the squad, they made very clear why they voted against infrastructure, because they thought it would mean that Bill Back Better would never pass, and I voted for infrastructure, No. 1, because it’s a good bill, and it’s real infrastructure, but No. 2  because I knew that it was gonna take away the socialist’s leverage to pass the bill back broke — it was a win-win.” 

Rep. Andrew Grabarino (R-NY) echoed his colleagues’ sentiments calling it a “perfect win” for his district. 

“I didn’t have a crystal ball, but my logic told me we’re removing the biggest leverage that progressives had on Senate Democrats, particularly Manchin,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus said, adding he believes if Democrats do go back to the bargaining table they are bound to pass something significantly smaller than if the bills had been linked. 

While Jayapal indicated to reporters that she has lost faith in negotiations with Manchin and feels the administration should act instead, former CPC chairman Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told The Post he believes Democrats “have to keep the dialogue open.”

“I understand that there are philosophical differences and we need to work to bridge those gaps to get something done,” he said.  “I’m committed to continuing engaging with the president and with Senator Manchin as I have over the last few months to figure out a way forward.” 

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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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