Rubio’s anti-slavery stand

Last night, Chuck Schumer hit another bump in the road on the way to passing the National Defense Authorization Act, the must-pass legislation that was supposed to be the most straightforward item on the Democrats’ December legislative to-do list. A bipartisan attempt to move things along via unanimous consent on the bill, which would mean votes on 20 amendments, was scuppered by Marco Rubio.

Rubio had proposed an amendment to the legislation that would ban imports from Xinjiang, where, according to the US government and others, the Chinese government is carrying out a genocide against the Uighurs. Earlier on Wednesday, the amendment had been included on the list of measures that would be voted on. But it was later left out, which prompted the Florida senator’s frustration.

Democrats say the amendment was excluded because it would have revenue-raising consequences, meaning it would have to be voted on in the House. This, Schumer claimed, made it a “poison pill” amendment.

Schumer was furious at Rubio for delaying: “The irony, the sort of absurdity and sadness of this, is that if his amendment were on the bill it would automatically kill the bill,” he said. “This will be the first time that an NDAA bill has not moved forward, and it falls on the shoulders of one senator.”

But there’s more to the story. Why would Schumer be worried about the House voting to crack down on Chinese slave labor?

Rubio notes that the Xinjiang proposal has unanimous support in the Senate and suggests that the revenue-raising complaint, the so-called blue slip objection, is applied unevenly. “It cannot mean it applies when I’m not for the policy and it doesn’t apply when I’m for it,” said Rubio last night.

Schumer has been caught flatfooted yet again — and handled it badly. Rubio is taking a stand against slave labor and genocide. The Senate majority leader would be wise not to call that “sad” or “absurd.” And given the content of his amendment, Rubio will surely not mind Schumer’s characterization of the delay as falling on his shoulders alone.

When it comes to the broader legislative picture, Schumer has now overseen two vote-free days in the Senate. An end-of-week government shutdown looms. And all manner of deadlines are getting uncomfortably close. Now, about those Christmas plans…

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Kowtower of the week

Barely a week goes by without a reminder of just how out of step the American business elite is with the prevailing mood on China. Last Wednesday, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon backtracked on a reasonably tame joke about his bank outlasting the Chinese Communist Party.

Today’s nomination for Kowtower of the Week is billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio. The Bridgewater founder has just raised $1.25 billion for a new investment fund in China. Asked by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin for his views on Chinese human rights abuses on Tuesday, he said, “I can’t be an expert in those types of things… I really have no idea… and then I say well, what is going on in the the United States and should I not invest in the United States because of our own human rights issues or other things.”

Dalio went on to offer his “perspective” on the Chinese government’s policy of disappearing people: “What they have is an autocratic system and one of the leaders described it that the U.S. is a country of individuals and individualism…in China it is an extension of the family… As a top down country is they behave like a strict parent. That is there approach. We have our approach.”

It’d be one thing if the Dalios and Dimons of this world kept themselves out of politics altogether. But neither is shy about holding forth on American politics. Dalio loves nothing more than delivering alarmist warnings about capitalism being broken. He even has a new book out, Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail.

Dimon, meanwhile, is one of the high priests of “stakeholder capitalism” and was the ringleader behind the 2019 Business Roundtable “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” that made all manner of claims about the social good that companies should do. How seriously should we take this preaching from someone who has to apologize for a lighthearted joke about Chinese despotism?

High on the list of to reasons to worry that the US is not up to the China challenge is the fact that some of its most powerful business leaders cannot bring themselves to make even modest criticisms about a genocidal regime that also happens to be America’s main geopolitical foe.

Another Kamala desertion

Symone Sanders has announced that she will be stepping down as the vice president’s chief spokesperson at the end of the year. That makes her the latest, and most senior, name in a string of departures from Team Kamala. Sanders has consistently been a vociferous defender of Harris amid reports of workplace dysfunction. And now she is leaving. It hardly bodes well for a VP already in deep trouble.

Meadows calls his own book fake news

Mark Meadows found himself trapped in an amusing news cycle yesterday. The former Trump chief of staff  has written a memoir about his time in the White House. Meadows’ book made headlines for the claim that Trump tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of a debate with Joe Biden last October but continued operating in-person for days.

When Trump called the story fake news, Meadows agreed. In an interview with Newsmax, he said that the initial test was a false positive, that Trump was later retested and the results came back negative. It’s not immediately obvious how to reconcile this version of events with the fact that Trump was helicoptered to Walter Reed to be treated for COVID just a few days later. For his part, Meadows has a commercially convenient solution to this mystery: buy the book and judge for yourself.

What you should be reading today

Rachel Bovard: The cracks are showing in Roe v. Wade
Amber Athey: Is Jussie Smollett the worst hate crime hoaxer of all time?
Taylor Millard: Is Twitter about to step up censorship?
Greg Ip, Wall Street Journal: Omicron could widen Red-Blue economic divide
Aaron Blake, Washington Post: The best races of 2022 might be for governor
Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic: Hill staffers are wearing sneakers now

Poll watch

President Biden Job Approval
Approve: 42.2 percent
Disapprove: 52.1 percent
Net approval: -9.9 (RCP Average)

Have recent price increases caused any financial hardship for you or your household?
Yes: 45 percent
No: 54 percent (Gallup)

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