Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Talks About the Build Back Better Bill’s Future and Reflects on the January 6th Riot


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star’s National Political Editor Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to update listeners on the status of the Build Back Better bill and questioned the curios situations at last year’s January 6 riots on Capitol Hill.

Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line right now our very good friend, Neil McCabe, Washington correspondent for The Star News Network. Good morning, Neil.

McCabe: Morning, Michael. Happy New Year.

Leahy: Well, you’re stuck in one Washington. I saw yesterday big snowstorm, I-95, the big highway going into Washington all jammed up. Senator Tim Kaine was stuck there for 21 hours. A lot of folks on the left wanted to blame the governor-elect of Virginia, Glen Youngkin for that. A little problem with that isn’t there? He’s not going to be inaugurated until January 15.

McCabe: Yeah. And believe me, a lot of Virginians are counting the days. (Leahy chuckles) If they weren’t eager before, they’re eager now. Of course, as a personal note, my dear wife grew up in Bali, and I told her, hey, we were living in Florida when we got married. And I said, don’t worry about Maryland. It’s a Southern state. It’s not that cold.

Leahy: (Laughs) Not exactly the case today. Neil we keep seeing all these stories about what’s going on with the January 6th “select committee.” We’ll get to that in a moment. But also this Build Back Broker bill that they’ve named the Build Back Better bill, more trillions of dollars for special interest groups. It seems to die and come back and come back. And Joe Manchin, the senator from West Virginia, kind of keeps playing. I don’t know what you call this a rope a dope with a Biden maladministration. What’s the status of that bill?

McCabe: There’s just so much money that everybody agrees should be spent. And you have all of these lobbyists. Remember, lobbyists are paid to do their job, but they also get a success fee. And so they get a big payday when that bill is actually signed. So there’s a lot of pressure here in D.C. to get some of that money signed so that these lobbyists can get paid. And remember, there’s a lot of senators and more congressmen who are planning a return to private life.

And nothing sets up private life, like being part of one of these huge pork bills that basically who knows, everybody sort of tucks in their little treats for a company that might give them an offer or might put them on the board of directors. It’s like a little money for a local hospital. Next thing you know, the former congressman is on the board of directors of the local hospital. And so they know that they can spend two to $3 trillion. It’s just that there’s a lot of people like, can’t we get to five? Can’t we get to five? And it’s like it’s so much money that you just can’t walk away from it. And remember the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in March of 2010. And that was after Scott Brown.

So, you know, Republicans like to declare victory. They like to do their victory dance before the game is over. Democrats run through the tape. And so many times we were told that Obamacare was dead in the water. And yet in March of 2010, it passed. Everyone knew it would cost them their seat. Something like 50 House Democrats lost their seats. But that is now the law of the land. And so that’s the lesson.

Leahy: What’s the story with Senator Joe Manchin? Because he seems to say, oh, no, I’m not going for this Build Back Broker bill. Then maybe he starts negotiation again. Then maybe he doesn’t. What’s the story with that guy?

McCabe: The perfect spot for him is to be in the Democratic Party. And his family connections and his sort of political operation in West Virginia are still tied to the Democratic Party. And we see that even in states like Tennessee, the sort of old school blue dog Democrats. And so if he was going to be a Republican, he would have become a Republican 10 years ago.

And so to stay in the Democratic Party, he has to continue to dance. And he has to continue to help Schumer. Schumer is getting a lot of abuse for his failure to get this thing over the finish line. In a way, Manchin helps Schumer by keeping these negotiations over, at least until the point where it’s too late for someone to file a primary challenge to Chuck Schumer like AOC in this year.

Leahy: Now, tomorrow, January 6th, the one-year anniversary of the riot at the Capitol that briefly interrupted the joint session of Congress where they
formally counted and accepted the Electoral College votes. Former President Trump was scheduled to hold a Press conference in Mara-a-Lago tomorrow. He’s canceled that he’s going to address those issues at a rally in Arizona on January 15. Why did the President first schedule that press conference? Why did he cancel it?

McCabe: Well, I think that the president is frustrated that this story has been so distorted and really blown completely out of proportion. The reason why they use the word insurrection is that the 14th Amendment says that if you’re guilty of being an insurrectionist, you can no longer hold office and it severely restricts your rights as a citizen if you are part of an insurrection.

This was put in to keep Confederates from returning to Congress or serving in the military. I think Trump sees that what he was doing as he was playing by the rules that were set out by federal law and the 12th Amendment in the Constitution. And he’s being portrayed as a guy who was trying to pull off a coup. And so he thought he could counter-program it.

But I think that Washington Republicans put the touch on him, and they said, hey, our strategy is to lie low. And to his credit, Trump once again is going to be a team player, and they’re going to let it lie low. It’s going to be absolutely horrible in Washington, the way they’re going to manipulate religion and patriotism, to really exploit and distort what happened on January 6. I was there at the Capitol, and it’s that day a year ago. And the vast majority, like, literally hundreds of thousands of people were there who are not breaking down doors or smashing windows.

There was a small group of people, and we don’t really know who they really were. But believe me, there were hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters there outside at the rally and outside on the Capitol grounds. Actually, it was beautiful. It was patriotic. And I wasn’t interacting with anybody who wanted to smash windows or overthrow the government.

Leahy: There’s a report that the Department of Justice is not answering questions about whether informants from the FBI or other places were part of that riot at the Capitol. There’s also a lack of forthcomingness from Speaker Pelosi, who’s in charge of the Capitol police. A lot of people think that Pelosi didn’t do enough to enforce the Capitol, reinforce the police and that the FBI is somehow involved. What are your thoughts on that?

McCabe: I know people in Code Pink. We’ve been at a lot of events together, and I’ve been on TV programs with people from Code Pink. When Code Pink shows up to protest like a Senate confirmation hearing, there are police everywhere. ‘ve been at events on Capitol Hill. I’ve covered Capitol Hill for 10 years, and when they think something bad is going to happen, they go all out to secure that building. That building was not secure on January 6. That’s a fact. Another fact.

Anyone who showed up at that rally with a bullhorn was not arrested. Anyone who showed up at that rally or the storming of the Capitol rather, people who showed up at the storming of the Capitol with a bullhorn, not only were they not arrested, none of them had anything to do with the Trump White House. None of them had anything to do with the Trump campaign.

Leahy: Yeah. And there are some questions about who they were, right?

McCabe: We have no idea who these people are. The speakers of the Stop to Steal rally we’re not at the Capitol.

Leahy: And that’s a very key point. Neil McCabe, thanks so much for joining us today. You’ll be back same time Wednesday. Thanks for joining us.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “January 6” by Tyler Merbler CC BY 2.0.

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