Welcome to The Hill’s Convention Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.
We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail and the convention front.
LEADING THE DAY:
Democrats on Friday got their first shot at grilling Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice Biden nominates two picks to replace members of US Postal Service board Postal Service loss nearly halved MORE, who has become their public enemy No. 1 in recent weeks as questions swirl around whether the Postal Service will be up to the task of dealing with a surge in mail ballots this November.
DeJoy sought to assure lawmakers at a testy hearing that he’d prioritize delivering mail ballots, as Democrats accused him of scaling back operations to sow chaos and create delays around the election.
In a statement before his testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, DeJoy said the Postal Service is “fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time.”
“This sacred duty is my No. 1 priority between now and Election Day,” he said.
DeJoy has been at the center of a political firestorm in recent weeks amid reports that he’s implemented changes that could slow the delivery of mail.
President TrumpDonald TrumpJury in Jussie Smollett trial begins deliberations Pence says he'll 'evaluate' any requests from Jan. 6 panel Biden's drug overdose strategy pushes treatment for some, prison for others MORE’s own attacks on mail-in voting, and his deep suspicion that Democrats will benefit from it, have fueled Democratic concerns that DeJoy may be working on the president’s behalf to undermine the Postal Service.
DeJoy said he has not spoken to the president about this. He said that the Postal Service will face a net loss of more than $10 billion in 2020 and argued that the changes he implemented are designed to keep the agency afloat amid a sea of red ink. DeJoy has said he won’t implement the planned changes until next year to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
Funding for the Postal Service has emerged as a partisan fight of its own as Congress debates potential stand-alone bills and a new coronavirus relief package. The House is currently scheduled to vote Saturday on legislation to prevent any operational changes at the Postal Service that could affect mail delivery.
“I also urge Congress to enact legislation that would provide the Postal Service with financial relief to account for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our financial condition,” DeJoy said.
Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan MORE (D -Mich.), the ranking member of the committee, blasted DeJoy, saying he’d received thousands of complaints about mail delivery from his constituents in battleground Michigan in recent weeks.
“Your decisions have cost Americans their health, their livelihood, and their peace of mind,” Peters said. “I believe you owe them an apology for the harm you have caused, and you owe all of us some very clear answers today.”
Republicans have accused Democrats of building a "false narrative" about the Postal Service uprooting and removing mail boxes or sorting equipment to create the appearance of election meddling.
The Postal Service has said that reported mailbox removals and machines being taken out of commission are a normal course of attrition for old equipment that has gone on for years.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonFauci calls Ron Johnson's AIDS comment 'preposterous': 'I don't have any clue of what he's talking about' Wisconsin senators ask outsiders not to exploit parade attack 'for their own political purposes' It's time to bury ZombieCare once and for all MORE (R-Wis.) on Friday accused Democrats of trying to carry out a "character assassination" against DeJoy.
"He has already been subjected to character assassination as Democrats have put him in the crosshairs of another hyperbolic false narrative," Johnson said.
DeJoy will be back in front of lawmakers on Monday for a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The Hill’s Maggie Miller and Jordain Carney: Tensions flare as senators grill DeJoy.
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A LOOK AHEAD AT THE RNC:
We still don’t know the exact schedule of next week’s Republican National Convention, but here’s what we’re expecting:
- Trump will visit North Carolina on Monday as the convention’s official business kicks off in Charlotte
- Trump and the Republican National Committee say they will be striking an optimistic tone with their messaging about leading the country out of the coronavirus pandemic and restarting the economy. They’ve argued that Democrats leaned into a dark vision of the U.S. at their own convention. Trump on Friday called it the “gloomiest” in history.
- As The Hill’s Olivia Beavers notes, Trump is banking on a law-and-order strategy.
- The bulk of the celebratory parts of the convention will take place in Washington, D.C., including the White House Lawn and the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
- Speakers include first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpBidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden's message on the 'omicron' variant Jill Biden unveils traditional White House holiday décor MORE, Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottRapper French Montana talks opioid epidemic, immigration on Capitol Hill How expanded credit data can help tackle inequities Dems erupt over GOP 'McCarthyism' as senators vet Biden bank watchdog pick MORE (R-S.C.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense & National Security — Biden: US troops to Ukraine 'not on the table' Gillibrand slams committee leadership, Pentagon for military justice reform cuts Five things to know about Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine MORE (R-Iowa), former U.N. Ambassador Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Ex-chief of staff says Trump won't run because he can't be seen as 'loser' MORE, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyLiberals ramp up pressure on Pelosi to discipline Boebert Cawthorn 'likely' violated rules by bringing candidate on House floor Pressley offering measure condemning Boebert MORE (R-Calif.), South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemHouse passes 8B defense policy bill South Dakota governor proposes spending B on infrastructure, state employee raises Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill MORE, Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump war with GOP seeps into midterms Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Press: GOP freak show: Who's in charge? MORE (R-Fla.), anti-abortion advocate, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, Nick Sandman and Andrew Pollack
Despite the pandemic, Trump and the RNC are reportedly set to include more in-person events than the Democratic National Convention in an effort to have the celebratory, rock star feel of a traditional convention.
Max Greenwood has this startling statistic for you: Trump’s reelection campaign and the RNC have spent more than $1 billion combined since the start of 2017.
Democrats are gearing up to hit back with a counter convention of their own own. The Democrats’ programming next week will paint Trump’s tenure in the White House as a “chaos presidency.” The Biden campaign and DNC officials told reporters in a call on Friday that Democrats will highlight a crisis that has taken place during the administration during each day of the convention, presented by surrogates including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse passes bills to pressure China amid Olympic boycott House passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain Overnight Defense & National Security — Biden: US troops to Ukraine 'not on the table' MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerMaternal and child health legislation must be prioritized now Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (D-N.J.), Rep. Val Demmings (D-Fla.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden's proposals spark phase 2 of supply chain crisis Biden returns restores tradition, returning to Kennedy Center Honors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE and Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerOvernight Health Care: Pfizer booster may be crucial against omicron Whitmer says Biden vaccine mandate 'a problem for all of us' Biden's proposals spark phase 2 of supply chain crisis MORE.
What do Democrats have to look forward to if Biden wins?
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray discusses US's handling of COVID-19 testing Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill MORE (I-Vt.) has some thoughts on the coming progressive-centrist battles:
“The day after Biden is elected, we’re going to have a serious debate about the future of this country.” - Sanders
GOP scrambles to distance from QAnon
A number of high ranking Republicans are denouncing the QAnon conspiracy theory after GOP congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has voiced support for the theory, won her primary earlier this month. The unfounded theory claims that Trump and his allies are working to expose top-ranking Democrats, celebrities and media figures who are operating an international child sex ring. Greene has since said it does not represent her views anymore.
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News this week that “there is no place” for the theory in the GOP
- Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence says he'll 'evaluate' any requests from Jan. 6 panel Harris sets record for most tiebreaking votes in recent history The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Debt limit maneuvers; Biden warns Putin MORE told CBS This Morning that he doesn't "know anything about that conspiracy theory," adding when pressed: "I dismiss it out of hand"
- House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyMeadows suing Pelosi, Jan. 6 committee Roger Stone to plead the Fifth in Jan. 6 investigation Jan. 6 committee moving forward with contempt charges against Meadows MORE called the theory “dangerous lunacy” on Thursday
Why it matters: Republicans are concerned that any connection with theory will taint the party’s image, potentially putting vulnerable House members further at risk in their reelection bids. Trump has said he isn’t familiar with the theory, but appeared to embrace it on Wednesday when he told reporters that the theory’s followers “love our country.”
MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
We’re 3 days from the beginning of the Republican National Convention, 38 days from the first presidential debate and 73 days out from Election Day.