With Climate Deal in Sight, Democrats Turn Hopes on Sinema | Big Indy News
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With Climate Deal in Sight, Democrats Turn Hopes on Sinema



WASHINGTON — As Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, took her turn presiding over the Senate floor on Tuesday, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a fellow Democrat, got down on one knee beside her at the dais, leaning in intently to speak to her in hushed tones.

Ms. Sinema, an inscrutable lawmaker who has shown a willingness to buck her party, had replaced Mr. Manchin as the most prominent and speculated-upon holdout on his party’s major climate, energy and tax package, and the West Virginian was there to lobby her to support it.

With journalists watching from the gallery above, leaning in to try to hear the conversation, Ms. Sinema waved in apparent acknowledgment.

“She’ll make a decision based on the facts,” Mr. Manchin told reporters later, calling it “a good talk.”

While Mr. Manchin has embraced the public scrutiny and attention that comes with being a swing vote in the evenly divided Senate, Ms. Sinema has remained a tight-lipped enigma. Passage of Democrats’ major domestic policy initiative, negotiated by Mr. Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, now hinges on whether she is willing to support it.

So far, Ms. Sinema won’t say.

It has put Democrats in a perilous position as they rush to move the package forward as early as this week and toil to unite all 50 members of their caucus behind it. Republicans are expected to unanimously oppose the plan, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in energy and climate proposals, tax increases, extended health care subsidies and a plan aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, meaning Democrats cannot spare a single vote if all Republicans are present.

Party leaders will also have to maneuver the bill through a series of rapid-fire amendments that could pass if any Democrat joins Republicans in support. With Mr. Manchin enthusiastically embarking on a media tour to celebrate the measure, fears of failure were now being fueled by Ms. Sinema’s characteristic silence.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Sinema has said that the senator was reviewing the legislation and waiting for guidance from top Senate rules officials, who were analyzing whether it meets the strict rules that apply under the budget reconciliation process. Democrats were using the reconciliation process to shield the legislation from a filibuster and speed it through Congress.

Top Democrats were quietly weighing what potential changes to the bill, particularly to its tax provisions, might be needed to win Ms. Sinema’s support.

While she voted for the initial $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that allowed Democrats to begin work on the legislation, Ms. Sinema has not offered explicit support for many pieces of the current package, most notably much of the tax increases included to pay for it. Doubt about Ms. Sinema’s support has centered on her past opposition to a proposal aimed at limiting the carried interest preferential tax treatment for income earned by venture capitalists and private equity firms. A similar proposal was among the tax changes Mr. Manchin and Mr. Schumer included in their deal.

Mr. Manchin and other Democrats have said the provision would ensure fairness in the nation’s tax code. But Ms. Sinema, who resisted many of the tax rate increases her colleagues had pushed for, has been cool to it.

Ms. Sinema, like most of her colleagues, was blindsided by news of the deal between Mr. Manchin and Mr. Schumer and its details. Mr. Manchin has said that he intentionally did not confide in or consult other Democrats during final negotiations to salvage the climate and tax proposals because, he told reporters on Monday, “I wasn’t ever sure that we would get to a finale, to get a completed bill.”

Speaking to a West Virginia radio station on Tuesday, Mr. Manchin noted that Ms. Sinema had played an outsized role in shaping the prescription drug proposal and scaling back Democratic ambitions to overhaul the tax code as part of the plan.

“This is everything Kyrsten agreed to in December,” he told Hoppy Kercheval, a local radio host. He added, “If there’s something in here she doesn’t like that she liked before, just tell me.”

Democratic senators and aides have also noted the proposal to change the carried interest tax break for wealthy executives is more modest than what the majority of the party had pushed for, narrowing it rather than eliminating it altogether.

It was unclear whether Democrats would be willing to strike the proposal altogether to win over Ms. Sinema. Estimates suggest it would raise about $14 billion, a small portion of the $740 billion plan.

“It may strike some people in Washington as old-fashioned, but in my experience, Senator Sinema has always believed you must be thoughtful and cautious when it comes to changing tax policy,” said John LaBombard, a senior vice president at the public affairs firm ROKK Solutions, who left Ms. Sinema’s office in February after more than three years working there.

“My guess is that any tax policy that earns her support is one that she will be confident in that it will not negatively impact our economic competitiveness or carry any unintended consequences,” he added.

Party leaders expressed guarded optimism that they could pass the package with its key elements intact.

“I’m very hopeful we’re all going to be united and pass this bill,” said Mr. Schumer, who said he and his staff were in touch with Ms. Sinema about the measure.

Others avoided even commenting on whether they had spoken to Ms. Sinema.

“Why would I be sharing that with any of you guys at this point?” Senator Mark Warner of Virginia asked, throwing his arms up in the air with a grin as he climbed onto the Senate subway.

Ms. Sinema, 46, has toggled between vexing her party with her refusal to embrace some of its top priorities and playing a key role in negotiating some of its hardest-won bipartisan compromises.

She has drawn ire from her colleagues and some voters for opposing their push to undo the 60-vote filibuster threshold that Republicans have used to block much of the Democratic agenda. Ms. Sinema also joined Mr. Manchin in helping to hammer out the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure law, and played a leading role in forging a compromise on gun safety efforts that yielded the first significant federal law on that issue in decades.

She has previously expressed support for investing in climate change, leaving many Democrats hopeful that she will choose to back the final deal. On the Senate floor on Tuesday, lawmakers in both parties made a point of chatting her up in between votes.

Ms. Sinema, who faces re-election in 2024, is also facing a likely primary opponent as part of the backlash for her resistance to ending the filibuster. The Primary Sinema Project, a political group aimed at ousting her, warned that Ms. Sinema “better not mess this up” after the deal was announced, while Representative Ruben Gallego, a potential challenger and prominent critic, charged she was holding up the measure “to try to protect ultra rich hedge fund managers so they can pay a lower tax.”

Her Republican allies and business groups see Ms. Sinema as a last opportunity to derail a measure they have condemned as harmful to the nation’s economy. Americans For Prosperity, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group with ties to the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers, circulated an online ad against the legislation that pleaded “Come on Kyrsten … Say NO for Arizona.”

But her colleagues conceded that Ms. Sinema has seldom seemed swayed by the heat of public campaigns.

“She’s analyzing it, keeps her own counsel, I think as most of you know, and usually comes to her own decisions, pretty independent of any pressure that she might get from either side,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, told reporters on Monday. “So, you know, I think she’s going through that process right now.”

Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills



The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists



This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’



Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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