The Hill's 12:30 Report: Surfside search continues as Tropical Storm Elsa hits

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.



Read the room, ELSA:



Via The New York Times’s Sophie Kasakove, Giulia Heyward and Heather Murphy, The death toll of the partial building collapse in Surfside, Fla., jumped to 32 over the weekend as search efforts continue.

How many people are still missing: More than 100 people

Complicating efforts: “The approach of Tropical Storm Elsa, whose strongest effects were expected to be felt in South Florida by midday on Tuesday, complicated search efforts, forcing crews to pause their efforts for 30 minutes at some points because of lightning strikes near the site. The wind also hampered the cranes removing heavy debris, officials said.”  

The latest updates:



Via The Weather Channel:

It’s Tuesday — welcome back from the long weekend! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to  — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and  Facebook.

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Happening today — ‘now please pretend to focus on the shiny object over here’:

Via The Hill’s Brett Samuels, “President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE on Tuesday will lay out the path forward for getting more of the country vaccinated against the coronavirus after failing to meet his goal for the Fourth of July and as some communities see an uptick in cases amid the spread of the delta variant of the virus.”

This afternoon: “Biden will meet with his COVID-19 response team at the White House before addressing the public on his administration's efforts to boost vaccinations. The president will highlight five steps the White House is taking to get more Americans vaccinated, a White House official said.”

Watch Biden’s 2:45 p.m. EDT remarks: Here’s the livestream:

A scavenger hunt to find deported veterans:

Via The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch, “The Biden administration plans to track down veterans who have been deported as part of an effort to provide a pathway to citizenship along with access to Veterans Affairs benefits.”

Details: “A late Friday announcement from the Department of Homeland Security said the move is part of a broader plan to ‘avoid future unjust removals’ of noncitizen military service members, many of whom are eligible to naturalize due to their military service.” 

Back story: “A 2019 Government Accountability Office report found more than 44,000 noncitizens served in the military between 2013 and 2018. While the government can initiate removal proceedings for veterans that were convicted of a crime, the report found ICE didn’t consistently adhere to its policies for dealing with veterans or track how many veterans are ultimately deported.” 

Tidbit — Saaaame here, Joe.:  




An especially tricky line to walk:

Via The Hill’s Max Greenwood, “Ambitious Republicans with eyes on their party’s 2024 presidential nomination are treading cautiously in their political pursuits, wary of upsetting former President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE.”

The tricky balance: “With early auditions for the GOP’s presidential nod already underway, would-be candidates are grappling with just how aggressive they should be in their overtures. They are aware that appearing too eager or garnering too much attention risks upsetting a former president who has openly floated the possibility of a 2024 comeback campaign.” 

Specifically some names that come to mind: “For some potential 2024 contenders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida coronavirus cases jump 50 percent in one week Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' Publix will require employees to wear masks MORE (R) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemSouth Dakota Gov. Noem says she doesn't plan to increase vaccine messaging Republican governors revolt against CDC mask guidance Western US airports face jet fuel shortage MORE (R), the political jockeying can be chalked up to the fact that they are running for reelection in 2022. Other prospective candidates — former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE, for example — say that they are merely working to boost Republicans ahead of next year’s midterms.” 

How this could play out:

Interesting read — how do Republican candidates handle Trump’s false election claims?:

Via The Washington Posts’ Amy Gardner, “Across the country, as campaigns gear up for a handful of key races this year and the pivotal 2022 midterms, Republican candidates for state and federal offices are increasingly focused on the last election — running on the falsehood spread by Trump and his allies that the 2020 race was stolen from him.”

What’s happening so far: “While most of these campaigns are in their early stages, the embrace of Trump’s claims is already widespread on the trail and in candidates’ messages to voters. The trend provides fresh evidence of Trump’s continued grip on the GOP, reflecting how a movement inspired by his claims and centered on overturning a democratic election has gained currency in the party since the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.” 


So, what’s the deal with the Jan. 6 investigation?:

Via The Hill’s Mike Lillis, “Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) last week kicked off Congress's special investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, naming eight members to a newly formed select committee and announcing that the first hearing will feature Capitol Police officers.”


  1.     Will Republicans participate?
  2.     Will Pelosi accept McCarthy's picks?
  3.     Will Trump be called to testify?
  4.     Will the committee have the power to subpoena lawmakers?
  5.     How long will it take?

Context and details for each:


To ease the bans or to not ease the bans:

Via The Hill’s Laura Kelly, “The Biden administration is coming under pressure to ease travel bans for international tourists that were originally put in place to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Looking at Europe, for example: “With Europe opening its borders to American tourists and vaccination rates increasing in the U.S., public health experts and travel industry groups are saying the time is right to restart international travel.”

The pressures from both perspectives:


Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 33,724,002

U.S. death toll: 505,570

Breakdown of the numbers:


Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 331 million shots have been given.

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 974,798 million doses

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.

Breakdown of the numbers:


From the National Mall — we are healing!:






The House and Senate are out. President Biden is in Washington, D.C.. Vice President Harris is leaving Los Angeles shortly and will be returning to Washington.

10:30 a.m. EDT: President Biden received the President’s Daily Brief.

1 p.m. EDT: Vice President Harris leaves Los Angeles.

1:15 p.m. EDT: President Biden receives a briefing from members of the White House’s COVID Response Team.


12:30 p.m. EDT: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Hunter Biden blasts those criticizing price of his art: 'F--- 'em' MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream:

2:45 p.m. EDT: President Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Livestream:



Today is National Fried Chicken Day! Cheers to that! It’s also National Handroll Day.

Tidbit — James Gandolfini’s son is playing Tony Soprano as a kid!:

Via CNN, “Fourteen years after the final episode of "The Sopranos," James Gandolfini's son will take over the role of Tony Soprano in a new movie about the mob boss' backstory.”

Watch the trailer for the new movie:

When the film will be released: Oct. 1, 2021

And because you made it this far, I would like for you to meet Winston, a pup who takes care of his toys: