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POLITICO Playbook Daily Briefing


POLITICO Playbook's must-listen briefing on what's driving the day in Washington.

POLITICO Playbook's must-listen briefing on what's driving the day in Washington.


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POLITICO Playbook's must-listen briefing on what's driving the day in Washington.




Dec. 6, 2022: McCarthy puts McConnell on notice

Six days after top congressional leaders emerged from the White House suggesting they would work together to pass an omnibus government funding bill before the holidays, Kevin McCarthy went on Fox News last night and sent a very different message. “We’re 28 days away from Republicans having the gavel. We would be stronger in every negotiation. So any Republican that's out there trying to work with [Democrats] is wrong,” he said to host Laura Ingraham, who used her monologue last night to...


Dec. 5, 2022: Looming lessons from the Georgia runoff

In roughly 37 hours, Georgians will cast the final votes of the 2022 midterms, deciding the Senate runoff between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican football legend Herschel Walker. The two campaigns spent the final weekend very differently. Warnock continued his flood-the-zone strategy, with six events across the state, while Walker held just one public event, on Sunday with GOP Sens. Tim Scott (S.C.) and John Kennedy (La.). Playbook editor Mike DeBonis and deputy editor Zack...


Dec. 2, 2022: A major legal defeat for Trump

The 11th Circuit delivered a unanimous opinion shutting down the special master review of the documents that the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago and dismissing Donald Trump's civil lawsuit over the matter. The opinion was an embarrassing rebuke of U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who was widely criticized for indulging what legal scholars across the ideological spectrum described as Trump’s specious arguments. The appeals court did not think the case was even a close call. “This appeal...


Dec. 1, 2022: ‘Dems in disarray’ makes a (brief) comeback

Since Election Day, the drama in the House has been concentrated on the GOP side, as Kevin McCarthy tries to overcome a MAGA world mutiny to get the gavel, and Democrats smoothly elect three new leaders to succeed Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn. But it turns out things are not all kumbaya in the House Dem caucus. — Amid some Democrats’ discontentment about Clyburn’s insistence on staying in leadership, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has decided to challenge him for the assistant...


Nov. 30, 2022: The Hill's big choice: Omnibus or struggle bus?

The four congressional leaders spent over an hour with President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday, and when they emerged from the White House and spoke to reporters, something unusual happened: They all agreed. What they agreed on was something that appeared awfully iffy earlier this week: that the lame-duck Congress should negotiate and pass an omnibus appropriations bill in the coming weeks. Plus, national politics reporter Natalie Allison stops by for an update on the Senate...


Nov. 29, 2022: Why ‘Union Joe’ put the screws to rail workers

In 1992, two days into a crippling railroad strike, then-Sen. Joe Biden came to the Senate floor and decried the lopsided nature of federal labor laws dealing with the rail industry — laws, he argued, that essentially allowed corporations, regulators and, ultimately, Congress to run roughshod over workers. “We need to restore a measure of balance to these negotiations,” he said, before voting with just five other senators against halting the strike. Thirty years later, as president, Biden is...


Nov. 28, 2022: We run down the year-end sprint

President Joe Biden and lawmakers return to Washington this week facing a lengthy lame-duck to-do list with only three weeks scheduled to resolve it — a recipe for a very un-merry holiday season should negotiations falter in the final throes of the 117th Congress. — First up: government funding, which expires Dec. 16. The verdict is still out on whether a bipartisan full-year appropriations deal is within reach — or whether Congress will just kick the can down the road and pass another...


Nov. 23, 2022: Is the Georgia runoff a done deal?

As we all pack up and take a quick break for Thanksgiving, the Peach State is still abuzz with activity as voters prepare to settle the final Senate race of this cycle. On Tuesday, a new poll by the AARP — the first major public survey since the November general election — showed the race remains inside the margin of error, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock pulling in 51% to Republican Herschel Walker's 47%. One key data point: “Warnock has a commanding lead of 54% to 39% over...


Nov. 22, 2022: How to sound smart about politics on Thanksgiving

It’s one of the slowest weeks in politics as our elected leaders slip into the Thanksgiving break, when they have a chance to assess the fallout from the surprising midterm results and ponder the way forward. As you prepare your own holiday plans, you’ll probably want to be armed at the dinner table with something smart to say about the meaning of the midterms. If you want to filter out a lot of the noise in the results and focus in on the signal, this morning’s Ron Brownstein piece at CNN...


Nov. 21, 2022: The 2024 jockeying jumble

Playbook editor Mike DeBonis and deputy editor Zack Stanton break down the weekend in politics, including the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas, NV. “2024 Republican rivals put Trump on notice,” by Alex Isenstadt in Las Vegas: “If former President Donald Trump thought his early 2024 announcement would cow prospective Republican primary rivals into submission, he clearly miscalculated. “At this weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference, a parade of ambitious...


Nov. 18, 2022: Dems want answers from Musk’s Twitter

On Thursday, as the 5 p.m. deadline approached for employees to decide whether they were “hardcore” enough to stick it out at Elon Musk's Twitter, reports started to trickle out that Musk’s ultimatum had backfired spectacularly. The second big development was that six Democratic senators wrote to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate whether Musk broke the law. “We write regarding Twitter’s serious, willful disregard for the safety and security of its users, and encourage the...


Nov. 17, 2022: All eyes on Pelosi

On Wednesday night, just before 11 p.m., Nancy Pelosi's longtime spokesperson Drew Hammill announced on Twitter that today, the speaker will finally announce her plans for the future — putting an end to mounting speculation about whether she’ll retire (a possibility Hammill has batted away), stay on as the top House Democrat or step down from leadership but continue to serve in Congress. “@SpeakerPelosi has been overwhelmed by calls from colleagues, friends and supporters,” Hammill wrote....


Nov. 16, 2022: House Republicans to watch if McCarthy falls short

You’ve heard allies of Rep. Kevin McCarthy say it a gazillion times — and they’ll say it another gazillion times over before the House speaker vote in January: You can’t beat somebody with nobody. But what if history repeats itself? What if McCarthy, as in his 2015 bid for the speakership, fails to appease the renegade right and falls short of the 218 votes he needs to seize the gavel? With 31 House Republicans spurning McCarthy in Tuesday’s nominating vote — and with McCarthy likely able to...


Nov. 15, 2022: Trump and McCarthy try to fend off a GOP revolt

As the Republican Party wrestles with whether it should stick with its three current leaders — Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell — today is crucial, especially for the first two. McCarthy faces a vote of House Republicans on whether he will be their nominee for speaker in January. He should easily pass that test, but the margin will tell us how much trouble he’s in. (More on McCarthy below.) And then tonight at 9 p.m., Trump is scheduled to announce his third campaign for...


Nov. 14, 2022: Get ready for a bonkers week in politics

For Republicans, Festivus comes early this year. In fact, it starts today at 4:30 p.m. That’s when House Republicans kick off their candidate forum for leadership positions next Congress — the first formal event in what is expected to be a weeklong, party-wide Airing of Grievances following Republicans’ abysmal Election Day performance. Plus Mitch McConnell, we hear, is confident of his own reelection as leader — even as he faces mounting pushback from Trump allies in the chamber. On Sunday...


Nov. 11, 2022: The incredible shrinking GOP majority

The sun has now risen three times since GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy assured Americans that they would wake up to a House Republican majority. Yet we still don’t know who won either chamber of Congress — and each day, the sun has set with the projected number of Republican seats dimming. This morning, our colleague Steve Shephard even points out that while it may be unlikely, Democrats still actually have a very narrow path to holding the majority. There are a bunch of uncalled races where the...


Nov. 10, 2022: Déjà vu for Kevin McCarthy

When John Boehner suddenly retired in 2015, members of the House Freedom Caucus showed up at speaker-in-waiting Kevin McCarthy’s office with a list of demands: In exchange for their support, they wanted McCarthy to name one of their own to a senior leadership position and embrace rules changes that empowered conservatives. If he refused, they told him, they would band together to block him from securing the needed 218 votes to be speaker. But McCarthy was unwilling to subjugate his power in...


Nov. 9, 2022: How Biden and Trump squelched the red wave

Let’s start with Joe Biden. A midterm is a referendum on the president. By all historic measures, voters should have handed Biden’s party a massive rebuke. Inflation is at historic levels, crime is up, Biden’s approval is underwater, Democrats have one-party control. The party of recent presidents in similar circumstances lost between 40 and 63 House seats. And yet here’s where things stand this morning: — In the House, Republicans are expected to gain control the chamber, but well short of...


Nov. 8, 2022: Bidenworld makes peace with the midterms

Every ad has been cut. Every speech has been delivered. Every poll has been taken. And now we wait for the voters to decide. Needless to say, the stakes are high. Inflation is at a 40-year peak, abortion rights are on the ballot, rising interest rates are stoking recession fears and election deniers are on the cusp of taking office. But no one has more riding on the outcome than President Joe Biden. Throughout all the headwinds he has faced in the two years and one day since he clinched the...


Nov. 7, 2022: Is it a wave?

We’re truly in the home stretch with one day to go until Election Day. That means we are running out of precious time to deploy our favorite campaign season cliches. So allow us to note: It all comes down to turnout. And as we all know, the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day... Playbook editor Mike DeBonis and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza preview the crucial week ahead, including, what should, actually, constitute a red wave? In the House, the most likely outcome is that this...