POLITICO Playbook PM: WaPo braces for more layoffs

December 14, 2022

The Millennial Action Project held its Rising Star Awards reception Tuesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, where the fifth annual Rising Star Award was presented to Alabama state Rep. Jeremy Gray and Arkansas State Rep. Aaron Pilkington. SPOTTED: Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), Robby Soave and Briahna Joy Gray.


12/14/2022 12:59 PM EST

BREAKING — The U.S. landed a diplomatic win today at the U.N. as its resolution to boot Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women passed, 29-8, with 16 abstentions. Washington had pushed for the change amid ongoing mass protests against the government in Iran. More from Nahal Toosi

TOUGH DAY AT WAPO — Publisher and CEO FRED RYAN stunned the WaPo newsroom this morning, announcing impending layoffs at a town hall meeting at the paper’s K Street headquarters.

“We simply cannot afford to keep spending on initiatives that no longer align with readers’ interests,” he told a packed auditorium, according to people present. He did not detail the scale of the cuts, but said a “number of positions” that are “no longer meeting the needs of our consumers” would be eliminated in 2023. The announcement comes after the recent elimination of the paper’s weekly magazine and the dismissal of its longtime dance critic.

While Ryan indicated that at least some of the layoffs would be offset by hires elsewhere in the newsroom, he did not detail where the Post was planning to grow, the attendees said.

Watch:Video from WaPo’s Annie Gowen of Ryan leaving the meeting as employees press him for more details.

WaPo chief comms officer KATHY BAIRD said in a statement, “The Washington Post is evolving and transforming to put our business in the best position for future growth. We are planning to direct our resources and invest in coverage, products, and people in service of providing high value to our subscribers and new audiences. As a result, a number of positions will be eliminated. We anticipate it will be a single digit percentage of our employee base, and we will finalize those plans over the coming weeks. This will not be a net reduction in Post headcount. Recently, we have made some of the largest investments in The Post’s history and 2023 will be another year of continued investment.”

THE WHEELS ON THE OMNIBUS — Congressional gears are turning to keep the government open and get a long-term funding package passed. First, the House will take up a one-week continuing resolution as soon as tonight, and Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER said he hopes his chamber can get to it by Thursday.

Then comes the omnibus, on which appropriations leaders announced an agreement Tuesday night. House Appropriations Chair ROSA DeLAURO (D-Conn.) told Democrats today that it will go through the Senate first, per Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman. Schumer seemed optimistic about the bill: “We still have a long way to go,” he said, “but our framework is a big step in the right direction.” And Senate Minority Leader MITCH McCONNELL, while warning about “poison pills” in the form of riders, sounded largely on board as well. He cautioned that Dec. 22 is his hard deadline for the omnibus.

That leaves KEVIN McCARTHY, of course, and the House GOP leader is far less enthused about passing the omnibus now before his caucus takes over the lower chamber. Facing a rebellion on his right flank, McCarthy has noticed a press conference this afternoon to denounce the bill. “The dynamic [between the two GOP leaders] is different,” one member of Congress told CNN’s Manu Raju. “McCarthy is fighting for his political life.”

One other possible obstacle: the Senate’s hell-no caucus. Sens. RAND PAUL (R-Ky.), RON JOHNSON (R-Wis.) and MIKE LEE (R-Utah) told reporters today that they haven’t decided yet whether they’ll throw up hurdles to quick passage of a CR and/or omnibus. Sen. MIKE BRAUN (R-Ind.) said he won’t slow it down.

Good Wednesday afternoon, and thanks for reading Playbook PM. How long will Congress stay in Washington this month? Drop me a line with your predictions at [email protected].

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RUNNING OFF THE RUNOFF — Georgia Secretary of State BRAD RAFFENSPERGER today called on state legislators to scrap the general election runoff system, following a tumultuous few political years for the state that have seen three competitive Senate runoffs. Raffensperger said the current system is logistically difficult for election administrators and overwhelms Georgians’ holiday season with politics. The runoffs used to be considered a boon for Republicans, but Democrats have now won three in a row. More from FOX 5 Atlanta

2024 TALKERS — A new WSJ poll finds Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS zooming ahead of DONALD TRUMP in Republican primary voters’ 2024 preferences, John McCormick reports. DeSantis has a 14-point lead in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, 52% to 38%. And 86% of GOP voters have a favorable view of DeSantis, compared to 74% for Trump. DeSantis has a big lead among moderates, though very conservative voters still favor the former president. On the other hand, Trump would trounce MIKE PENCE head to head, 63% to 28%. Nationwide, President JOE BIDEN holds a 2-point lead over Trump in a theoretical general election, 45% to 43%.

Meanwhile, CNN finds that just 38% of Republican-aligned voters hope Trump is the nominee again. Among the others, 38% want DeSantis to grab the mantle; nobody else gets more than even 1%. Overall, Americans say they don’t want to see Trump or Biden again in the general.

Context from Steve Shepard: “Post-midterm trend is pretty clear now, and feels like 2016 redux*: Trump trails DeSantis if you offer GOP voters just those two options, but Trump still leads DeSantis if you also include the other likely/potential candidates. The asterisk here is because unlike 2016, there’s an abundantly clear second choice in DeSantis, who would enter the race with a level of support unlike any of Trump’s rivals then.”

NOT ON THEIR RADAR — Most Americans don’t feel a strong need for the parties to shake up the presidential primary schedule, with a majority “across most age, party, and racial lines” saying they’re fine with Iowa and New Hampshire going first, per a new NBC LX/Morning Consult poll. Democrats’ contentious move to reorder the lineup doesn’t seem to have broken through. “The order of the primary is just such an insular political issue … I don’t know that the American people care much about this,” Eli Yokley tells Noah Pransky.

PAGING RONNA McDANIEL — HARMEET DHILLON (@pnjaban): “Had a wonderful call today w/key figures in the conservative movement, who were very supportive of my RNC chair candidacy based on my record, despite increasingly desperate and anonymous/unsourced hit pieces being circulated by hmmm I wonder who doesn’t want an RNC vendor audit?!”

GETTING SCHOOLED — “‘We can’t have 2 countries’: 2022’s elections foreshadow new divides in education,” by Juan Perez Jr. and Andrew Atterbury: “Republicans spent big this year to elect scores of candidates who vowed to remake the American public education system — an effort that’s inspiring conservatives to do more in 2023. … But neither education activists on the left nor the right swept last month’s elections. … The mixed results have led supporters of both parties and education advocacy groups to start preparing for next year’s school board elections, the battle for the White House and contentious state legislative sessions.”


NOTABLE HOUSE DEM VOTE — The House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee today voted 30-19-7 to recommend Rep. JAMIE RASKIN (D-Md.) to become House Oversight ranking member. Though the ultimate decision will be up to the full caucus, this is a notable victory for Raskin from an influential group that usually places heavy emphasis on seniority. Raskin’s rivals, Reps. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-Va.) and STEPHEN LYNCH (D-Mass.), are more senior. Rep. RICK LARSEN (D-Wash.) also got the nod for Transportation & Infrastructure over Del. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D-D.C.), 44-12.

OVERSIGHT FILES — House Republicans are gearing up to focus major oversight resources on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The New Republic’s Grace Segers breaks down some of their plans: Likely incoming Oversight Chair JAMES COMER (R-Ky.) wants to know more about military equipment the U.S. left behind. Rep. MICHAEL McCAUL (R-Texas), who’ll lead House Foreign Affairs, says that “above all, the veterans deserve answers … For you to make this kind of decision, for God’s sake have a plan. And what was the plan? I haven’t seen one.” McCaul says he hopes Democrats will join and make the probe bipartisan. Some advocates worry about excessive partisanship, and they hope Congress will also help Afghans directly.

INDEPENDENT SINEMA — As Arizona Sen. KYSTEN SINEMA ditches the Democrats to become an independent, NYT’s Carl Hulse takes a spin through Congress’ history of party switching. And he also clocks the partisan calculations of the present moment: Though Senate Dems are confidently declaring they’ll still retain a 51-49 majority in the chamber, some Republicans hope Sinema will force the Senate to have equal party numbers on committees, more like a 50-50 split.

ICYMI — “Inside Chuck Schumer’s Long Game On Judges,” by HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery: “Schumer has a target for what he wants to accomplish in the new Senate structure. ‘One of my goals is to achieve balance on every one of the courts of appeals,’ he said. ‘We’ve achieved it in a bunch already, but we have more to go.’ Asked if he means his target is to reshape all of the appeals courts with Biden’s nominees by the end of his first term, Schumer said, ‘It depends on [judicial] retirements, but yes.’”


HMMM … A significant stock market rally preceded Tuesday’s better-than-expected inflation numbers announcement, raising questions about a possible leak, Bloomberg’s Akayla Gardner, Jess Menton and Edward Bolingbroke report. “Stock futures suddenly spiked more than 1%. Trading in Treasury futures surged, pushing benchmark yields lower by about 4 basis points. Those are major moves in such a short period of time — bigger than full-session swings on some days. And they should get scrutinized by regulators, long-time market observers say, even if a leak is only one of several possible explanations.”


10 YEARS OF TRAGEDY — Today marks a decade since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. With mass shootings still commonplace in America, not much has changed on some fronts. “We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem,” Biden said in a stark statement this morning. CNN has more on how the Sandy Hook parents have sought — and sometimes achieved — gun reforms in the years since.

WHAT’S NEXT ON ABORTION RIGHTS — The next frontier for anti-abortion advocates is tackling — and tracking, and criminalizing — abortion pills, which they fear could undercut recent bans on the procedure, WaPo’s Caroline Kitchener reports. “Students for Life of America, a leading national antiabortion group, is making plans to systematically test the water ERIN BROCKOVICH-style in several large U.S. cities, searching for contaminants they say result from medication abortion,” as just one example. “And Republican lawmakers in Texas are preparing to introduce legislation that would require internet providers to block abortion pill websites in the same way they can censor child pornography.”

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America: “Everyone who is trafficking these pills should be in jail for trafficking … It hasn’t happened, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.”

GOP VS. TRANS TEXANS — Texas AG KEN PAXTON’s office this summer tried to compile a list of all Texans who had officially changed their gender over the past two years, WaPo’s Molly Hennessy-Fiske reveals. Officials tallied more than 16,000 residents who had done so on their driver’s licenses and other records. “Public records obtained by The Post do not indicate why the attorney general’s office sought the driver’s license information. But advocates for transgender Texans say Paxton could use the data to further restrict their right to transition, calling it a chilling effort to secretly harness personal information to persecute already vulnerable people.”


DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO (PART I) — Despite encouraging Americans to vote Republican in the midterms, records show that ELON MUSK actually didn’t vote in the election, The Daily Beast’s Noah Kirsch reports.

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO (PART II) — Musk has championed free speech in his takeover of Twitter, but an account that tracked his private jet seems to have been suspended, per Axios. Musk had said last month that he wouldn’t do so.


THE ENDURING THREAT — A new CDC tally says long Covid contributed to at least 3,500 deaths in the U.S. through this June — and even that number likely understates the scope of the problem. February of this year saw the highest number of long Covid fatalities. More from CBS


MAKING A LIST — Bloomberg put out its annual Bloomberg 50 list of “the people who defined global business” this year. Among the notable names: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Lisa Cook, Olivia Julianna, Daleep Singh, Scarlett Lewis, Liane Randolph and the James Webb Space Telescope.

OUT AND ABOUT — SPOTTED at a seasonal reception at Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason’s residence Tuesday night: Orla Keane, Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Terry McAuliffe, Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Tina Flournoy, Tammy Haddad, Tom Wright, Amy Roberti, Mitch Rivard, Allison Jarus and Kevin Walling.

— SPOTTED at Rep. Eric Swalwell’s (D-Calif.) holiday party at Lost Generation Brewery on Tuesday night: Brittany Swalwell and their three kids, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Sydney Gallego, Michael Fanone, Brian Karem, Adam Parkhomenko and Ally Sammarco, Yardena Wolf, Jessica Gail, Kurt Bardella and Miro Korenha and Tanya Rahall.

— SPOTTED at the National Italian American Foundation’s congressional holiday dinner at Fiola on Tuesday: Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Carol Miller (R-W.Va.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) and Mike Carey (R-Ohio).

— SPOTTED at conservative staffing nonprofit American Moment’s “Deck The Halls (of Congress)” Christmas party on Tuesday at the Conservative Partnership Institute: Jeff Clark, Ed Corrigan, Andrew Kloster, Alexei Woltornist, James Braid, Joanna Miller, Luke Thompson, Mark Krikorian, Nick Solheim, Paul Dans, Wesley Coopersmith and Yoram Hazony.

The Millennial Action Project held its Rising Star Awards reception Tuesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, where the fifth annual Rising Star Award was presented to Alabama state Rep. Jeremy Gray and Arkansas State Rep. Aaron Pilkington. SPOTTED: Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), Robby Soave and Briahna Joy Gray.

TRANSITIONS — Neil Kornze is now chief of staff for Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). He most recently was CEO of Campion Advocacy Fund and Campion Foundation, and is a former Bureau of Land Management director. … Adela Amador will be chief of staff for Rep.-elect Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.). She most recently was deputy chief of staff/legislative director for Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.). … Amanda Neely has rejoined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as an of counsel. She previously was director of governmental affairs for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and general counsel to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). …

… Tatum Wallace is now press secretary for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). She most recently was comms director for Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.). … Kasandra Negrete is now special assistant to Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance Nellie Liang. She is a former public policy fellow at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

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Rep. Sara Jacobs


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