The Atlantic Daily: If It Looks Like Democrats Are Improvising, It's Because They Are

Democrats on Capitol Hill are still trying to wrap up their capstone legislative project ahead of Tuesday’s elections. Also: Take off your mask. (No, not literally.)

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At this point, let’s just call it the Big Bill. For weeks, Democrats on Capitol Hill have been going back and forth (and back and forth) on legislation that takes all of the president’s big priorities—universal pre-K, paid leave (now axed), free community college (also axed), climate change, etc.—and folds them into one super bill. Think one-stop shopping, but for President Joe Biden’s first-term agenda.

The only snag is that they can’t seem to get it done. The actual content of the Big Bill fluctuates day to day depending on, to borrow my colleague Russell Berman’s joke, “what Senator Joe Manchin ate for breakfast.” Today Biden announced a deal—but, Russell points out, that doesn’t mean it’s sealed.

  • The revolution will be improvised. Russell recaps the frenzy of the past few days: “Biden and Democratic leaders released detailed proposals for their agenda months ago, but now they seem to be disassembling and then frantically reassembling a plane in the minutes before takeoff.”

  • With midterms looming, Democrats are staring into the abyss. Political strategists are urging legislators to hurry up and compromise, so that the party can project unity to voters, Ronald Brownstein reports.

A tiny photo of Mark Zuckerberg in the center of a picture is surrounded by vibrant neon green, purple, and pink.

The news in three sentences:

(1) A sexual-misconduct complaint against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was filed, but by whom is unclear. (2) Facebook, definitely not reeling from scandal or anything, rebranded as Meta. (3) The Justice Department will pay $88 million to survivors of the Charleston church massacre and the families of the victims.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Take off your emotional mask. The burden of wearing it each day might be heavier than you think.

A break from the news:

Killer whales are supposed to be a top predator. But when this animal swam by, they seemed to go silent.