Democrats hope victory of a spending deal will smooth over the division it exposed

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WASHINGTON — NBC’s Kristen Welker confirms that President Biden will announce a new framework on the party’s social spending bill that’s expected to win support from all Democrats. (And, yes, we emphasize the word “expected” here.)

Democrats hope victory of a spending deal will smooth over the division it exposed
© Provided by NBC News

Biden will travel to Capitol Hill this morning and then will address the nation at 11:30 am ET – before leaving on his overseas trip to Europe.

The Washington Post first reported the news of Biden’s announcement.

And while today’s political discussion will focus on the specifics of this framework, what’s in and out, whether the bipartisan infrastructure bill can now pass the House, and whether Dems could have avoided this process debate with another approach, we have a different set of questions this morning:

How costly have the last three months been? And how do Democrats start repairing the damage?

Let’s start with President Biden’s approval ratings, which now stand in the high 30s and low 40s.

Does a framework – and expected passage – start raising those numbers? Do policy victories still move voters? And has Biden’s polling slide been due to this legislative debate, or it is more about Covid, the economy and competence?

Next has been all of the Democratic infighting, where activists have battled against Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., instead of against Republicans.

Do Dems start coming together? Or did this leave permanent scars, including an all-but-certain primary campaign against Sinema in 2024?

And finally – and relatedly – is the gubernatorial race in Virginia, where Democrats find themselves essentially deadlocked in a state they won by 10 points a year ago.

Does this framework and possible passage of the infrastructure bill give Dem Terry McAuliffe some breathing room?

Winning, as the saying goes, cures everything.

But for Democrats, one of the most important storylines over the next few months will be to see how that curing is going.

Tweet of the day: Why there’s going to be half a loaf

Progressives aren’t 100 percent sold

By the way, there’s a reason why we cautioned that this announced framework isn’t a done deal.

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Haley Talbot report that Biden needs to convince progressives that the deal on the reconciliation bill is solidified in cement – in order for progressives to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to vote on today.

At this early hour, progressives aren’t convinced. An aide to a leading House progressive texts this to NBC News: “We are told that the two senators have loosely said okay to a very general, broad Framework but that they will NOT yet commit to voting for the bill and that there are still open questions on various pieces. This is exactly why we need legislative text and all parties fully agreed to that bill text.”

When the “education debate” in Virginia isn’t just about education

One of the biggest misperceptions about the education debate in Virginia’s race for governor – especially over Terry McAuliffe’s “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” remark – is that it isn’t just about education.

At least when it comes to the traditional educational debates over spending, curriculum or even school choice that we’re accustomed to.

Instead, this debate is largely about culture, and it’s the latest installment in our Political Culture Wars.

For example, GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin has called to expunge the teaching of Critical Race Theory from Virginia’s schools – when the theory isn’t mentioned in the state’s learning standards, and when even Loudoun County has said it doesn’t teach CRT.

And as for McAuliffe’s “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” remark, it was about his vetoes of bills aimed at allowing parents to opt their children out of material they felt was sexually explicit – like Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.”

Republicans truly believe this education/culture/race debate is the way to win back the suburbs – by speaking about education with a heavy nod to the culture issues that animate their conservative base. We’ll find out if they’re right next week.

“This is a giant issue down the stretch”

NBC’s Gary Grumbach asked the GOP nominee on Wednesday why he was making this education/culture issue his closing argument in Virginia.

GRUMBACH: So sir, as you just mentioned, there’s a lot going on in Virginia. You just mentioned a number of things. Seems like your closing messaging is focusing on parents’ involvement in children’s school. There’s a lot going on. Why that issue in particular?

YOUNGKIN: Well, right now we see that Terry McAuliffe thinks that government should be between parents and their children. And in Virginia, by the way, if you didn’t know, there’s a fundamental right for parents to be fully engaged In their kids school. And we’ve watched parents all over the Commonwealth Stand up and try to defend their children, get our schools open, make sure that they’re being taught how to think, not what to think. Make sure that their materials are appropriate in the classroom. And all Terry McAuliffe wants to do is push them out of the classroom. And when parents stand up, what he does, he calls his friend Joe Biden, and has the FBI come in and try to silence him. That’s un-American.

And so yeah, this is a giant issue down the stretch. And I think this is an issue that Virginians recognize that they don’t want what Terry McAuliffe is talking about, they don’t want big government trying to control everybody. And I want parents to make sure they understand that as their governor, I’m going to go work for them. I’m going to make sure that parents have a role in their kids in their kids’ education.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

$6.9 million: The amount of TV/radio/digital spending booked between today and Election Day in Virginia’s race for governor ($3.9 million from Democrats and $3 million from Republicans), per AdImpact.

850: The number of books about issues like race and sexuality that a Texas House committee chairman is asking schools to report back on whether they are in classrooms or libraries.

45,757,252: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 85,585 more since yesterday morning.)

744,974: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,750 more since yesterday morning.)

416,154,424: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,142,398 more since yesterday morning.)

14,429,771: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 675,978 more since yesterday morning.)

57.5 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

69.1 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

Some Democrats are concerned that the most popular pieces of their spending deal are what’s been put on the chopping block.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a review of classified intelligence information shows that agencies didn’t predict how quickly Kabul would fall.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley warned that China’s hypersonic weapon test is “very concerning.”

Iran will re-engage in international nuclear negotiations next month, a top envoy said on Twitter.

The CDC is expanding Covid booster eligibility to include those with “mental health conditions.”

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