The Hill’s Morning Report — Abortion ruling rumbles through states
The Supreme Court’s Friday ruling that 50 states determine whether women may legally terminate pregnancies resulted in immediate new restrictions and raised complex law enforcement, medical and moral questions that will impact millions of Americans for years to come.
The patchwork of state abortion laws took effect soon after the court’s 6-3 opinion was announced (The New York Times), resulting in varied legal results for women, abortion clinics and physicians, based on decisions rendered by state legislatures and governors (The New York Times). Maps tell the story.
For example, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who says he might run for president in 2024, said that abortion service providers should face criminal penalties but not the pregnant women who seek those services. Only doctors who terminate pregnancies in Arkansas to save the life of a pregnant woman would not be prosecuted, he said.
“They have to make those medical judgments, and it’s not the state’s judgment to reconfigure those or rethink those,” Hutchinson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “The decision that has to be made is whether there’s an [illegal] abortion, and then you go after the provider as a criminal penalty, not the woman.”
The changed political dynamics during an important midterm election cycle are impossible to predict, according to Democratic and GOP analysts, because voters in both parties are mobilized by the court’s ruling.
Abortion rights advocates demonstrated their ire over the weekend and urged President Biden to deploy his executive sway to defend women’s health and personal decisionmaking. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), joined by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who once worked for Planned Parenthood, urged Biden on Saturday to declare a federal public health emergency to protect abortion access for all Americans and to increase federal resources for reproductive health services.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she wants to use federal lands for abortion clinics and services for reproductive health and contraception (Insider).
The Hill: Angry Democrats call on Biden to do more on abortion.
The New York Times: What other rights is the Supreme Court willing to rescind?
Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is suing, arguing in court that forced pregnancy would have a “dramatic, negative” impact on families’ financial stability and that in 2021, 45 percent of its abortion patients reported earning less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level (The New York Times).
Around the nation, abortion opponents celebrated the conservative court’s decision to defy nearly 50 years of precedent and erase a constitutional right. Some abortion foes said they want to enshrine constitutional abortion bans, push Congress to pass a national prohibition, block abortion pills and limit opportunities to cross state lines to obtain abortions. Several states will hold special legislative sessions in order to tighten their existing abortion restrictions (The Washington Post).
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who also is eyeing higher office, vowed to ban abortion pills prescribed online and sent to recipients by mail. Most pregnancy terminations involve the use of medication rather than surgical procedures, a fact that has prompted a raft of questions about state enforcement plans aimed at women and at physicians (The Hill).
The New York Times: Abortion pills take the spotlight.
The Supreme Court has not yet announced opinions on all the cases it heard this term. Justices are expected within days to rule on a case that deals with how the Environmental Protection Agency can issue climate rules and its overall authority to regulate. Experts say that if the court rules in favor of those seeking to curb the EPA’s powers, it will stunt the agency’s ability to battle the causes and complications of climate change (The Hill).
▪ The New York Times: Businesses are bracing for the political and social fight post-Roe.
▪ The Washington Post: Around the world, the Supreme Court ruling turns the United States into a cautionary tale about how fundamental rights can be lost.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: The high court abortion ruling poses fresh midterm challenges for Democrats, Republicans.
▪ The Hill: The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a “step backward” for the country, according to a majority of Americans questioned as part of a CBS News-YouGov survey released on Sunday.
▪ The Hill: Five takeaways from the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling.
LEADING THE DAY
➤ SUMMITS, WAR & PEACE
Biden and U.S. allies today continued discussions to back Ukraine as it enters the fourth month of its grueling war against Russia as part of Day 2 of the Group of Seven’s (G-7) summit in the German state of Bavaria.
As the meetings kicked off, the war in Ukraine took a turn as Russia resumed its shelling and attacks on Kyiv after mostly shifting its resources to eastern Ukraine in early April. As The Associated Press notes, the last missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital took place three weeks ago.
Illustrating the issues the war-torn nation faces, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the G-7 leaders on Monday morning. In recent weeks, the Ukrainian leader has worried publicly about the toll the war has taken in the West. Speaking on Sunday night in his nightly address, Zelensky offered a preview of what he likely told the G-7 as the war slogs on (The Associated Press).
“We need a powerful air defense — modern, fully effective. Which can ensure complete protection against these missiles. We talk about this every day with our partners. There are already some agreements. And partners need to move faster if they are really partners, not observers,” Zelensky said. “Delays in the transfer of weapons to our state, any restrictions are actually an invitation for Russia to strike again and again. The occupiers — these terrorists — must be beaten with all our might so that they do not think they can put pressure and outplay someone.”
However, the leaders attempted to quell those concerns. Headlining the G-7’s latest actions, the U.S. said on Monday the nations are moving towards imposing a price cap on Russian oil and a new set of tariffs on Russian goods.
The U.S. rolled out new tariffs on 570 categories of goods, and was on the verge of announcing the U.S. was preparing to announce a new, advanced surface-to-air missile system.
© Associated Press / Nariman El-Mofty | Kyiv residential building on Sunday in Ukraine.
Zelensky’s remarks to the G-7 came a day after the group urged Ukrainians to remain vigilant and not to succumb to fatigue that has set in.
“We have to stay together because [Russian President Vladimir Putin] has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G-7 would splinter, but we haven’t, and we’re not going to,” Biden said during a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The group’s meeting was yet another attempt to further isolate Moscow from the rest of the world as Western leaders rolled out new sanctions, including a ban on Russian gold imports. An administration official described the move as an attempt to target a “key source of revenue” (Barron’s). Another potential action centers on possible price caps on energy in an attempt to cut into Russian oil and gas profits.
The increased sanctions were also unveiled hours before Russia defaulted on its debt, marking the first time that has happened in more than a century dating back to the Bolshevik Revolution.
Moscow missed a pair of payments on foreign currency bonds today after a 30-day grace period expired on a payment of roughly $100 million, having been all but disconnected from the global economy by previous rounds of sanctions (The Wall Street Journal).
▪ CNBC: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns Russian takeover of Ukraine would be “absolutely catastrophic” for the world.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: U.S. and G-7 allies on Sunday detailed an infrastructure plan to challenge China.
▪ The Hill: Biden on Sunday committed $200 billion in U.S. public-private infrastructure spending for a global effort to counter China’s growing influence.
▪ Reuters: Putin to make first foreign trips since launching Ukraine war.
The three-day confab in southern Germany comes ahead of this week’s NATO summit, which is expected to further deal with the Ukrainian crisis. As The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Morgan Chalfant write, the two-day meeting in Madrid will allow leaders to discuss Russian aggression, the ongoing push by Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, and how the nations will boost their presence in the world.
The Hill: How bad actors are using tech platforms to sexually exploit, traffic Ukrainian women.
© Associated Press / Tobias Schwarz/pool photo via AP | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed G-7 leaders remotely on Monday.
➤ MORE POLITICS
The president has maintained that he plans to run for a second White House term, but that has not stopped Democrats from wondering what would happen if Biden — who would be 81 on Election Day in 2024 — ultimately decides against doing so.
The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Hanna Trudo took a deep dive into some under-the-radar figures who could jump into a 2024 Democratic primary if Biden sidesteps a bid outside of the usual suspects (Vice President Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Warren, to name a few).
Headlining the list is Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who declined a 2020 bid but remains an influential Democrat. He appeals to both progressives and moderates in what used to be one of the leading bellwether states.
“When we talk about new faces and fresh blood, and what it means to be a Democrat in the traditional sense, he checks all the boxes,” said one prominent Democratic strategist who has worked on recent presidential elections. “The only thing he really lacks is name recognition.”
However, there is one problem with Brown: He is up for reelection in 2024, and there are very few (if any) Democrats who can win statewide in Ohio.
Others mentioned as possibilities by some Democrats: Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), who is a White House adviser to the president.
Brett Samuels, The Hill: Why Biden has filled his administration with mayors.
On the GOP side, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is meticulously putting together a national network of support as 2024 chatter continues to mount even though he maintains it isn’t on his to-do list.
The rising Republican star has amassed more than $100 million for his reelection campaign, a sum more on par with that of top-tier presidential contenders than a candidate for governor, according to The Hill’s Max Greenwood. On top of that, DeSantis stumped for Adam Laxalt, the GOP’s Senate candidate in Nevada, and met with donors in South Carolina.
However, DeSantis has avoided one of the hallmarks of any politician with ambition: stops in early primary states. Multiple Republican operatives described the Sunshine State governor’s strategy as both brash and calculated, especially as he attempts to avoid agitating former President Trump’s furor.
“It’s like everything else in Republican politics in this country. It all comes down to how you deal with Trump,” Keith Naughton, a veteran Republican strategist, said. “If he was out campaigning, then Trump has more of a license to attack him and to really knock him down directly.”
▪ The New Yorker: Can DeSantis displace Trump as the GOP’s combatant-in-chief?
▪ The Hill: Why Trump’s preferred candidates keep losing in Georgia.
© Associated Press / John Raoux | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in February.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
Leaders in Washington and around the country are studying how a group of senators managed in an election year to respond to mass shootings with the first piece of gun-related legislation in 30 years that became law. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton describes a “perfect storm” of horrific shootings, public alarm and senators who believed incremental legislative progress to address an epidemic of tragedies was preferable to failure.
A key turning point was when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceded it “was time to act” on mass shootings and tapped Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), whose state is still reeling after 19 children and two teachers were murdered inside an Uvalde elementary school, to join other GOP and Democratic senators to back provisions that could attract 60 or more votes. The bill that Cornyn and his colleagues came up with and Biden signed on Saturday includes “nothing that we thought infringed on individuals’ Second Amendment rights,” McConnell said.
The New York Times: Leaving wish lists at the door, senators found consensus on guns.
The House Jan. 6 committee, which has presented extensive evidence and witness testimony alleging that Trump and his allies conspired to thwart the will of the electorate in 2020 and 2021 to falsely retain power, will hold its next hearings in July in order to have enough time to gauge new evidence (The Hill).
The Associated Press: The Jan. 6 committee is trying with each public hearing to break through to audiences using presentational techniques more common in journalism.
Former Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide on Jan. 6, Mark Short, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he had no reason to believe that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a Trump backer now seeking reelection, was personally involved in attempts to hand a list of fake electors to Pence in 2021 with the intention of overturning election results the former vice president was overseeing (The Hill).
Short, who is cooperating with the committee, asserted that slates of fake electors are common to presidential elections but are tossed out by the Senate parliamentarian when they are not certified. “It’s kind of meaningless,” he said.
Short also told CBS that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows did not serve Trump well by peddling different stories about the integrity of the 2020 election results to various audiences.
“Mark would often say to me that he was working to try to get the president to concede and accept the results of the election,” Short said. “And at the same time, it was clear he was bringing in lots of other people into the White House that were feeding the president different conspiracy theories.”
There remains some suspense about whether the House Jan. 6 investigators will call Pence to testify about events of that day. Committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) declined Sunday during a CBS News interview to answer that question.
“I think we clearly laid out the case that the president had no regard for the vice president’s safety, never reached out to him that day at all and was willing to sacrifice his own vice president while stopping a peaceful transfer of power if it meant holding on to power himself,” Aguilar said, referring to video and witness testimony about Pence’s rejection of Trump’s entreaties to adopt an assertive role to not certify the former president’s Electoral College loss.
Pence is weighing a presidential run in 2024.
■ Pro-lifers should hold off on seeking national abortion ban, by Ramesh Ponnuru, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3P0bfFN
■ America the merciless, by Pamela Paul, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3QRs07N
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 9 a.m. on Tuesday for a pro forma session and will not hold votes until July 12.
The Senate convenes on Tuesday 3:30 p.m. for a pro forma session. Senators will return to Washington on July 11 following the July 4 recess.
The president is in Germany to participate in the annual G-7 leaders’ summit beginning at 10 a.m. local time. Biden will join a working lunch with heads of international organizations and others to discuss climate, energy and health issues. The president will join world leaders, guest country leaders and heads of international organizations for an afternoon group photo at the G-7 summit in Germany. Biden at 3:30 p.m. local time will participate in a summit plenary meeting to discuss food security and gender equality.
The vice president will swear in Bridget Brink as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at 5:55 p.m.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is with the president in the Bavarian Alps for the G-7 summit hosted by Germany.
First lady Jill Biden is in Spain, where she will meet today with Queen Letizia at the Palacio de la Zarzuela. The two women will tour the Spanish Association Against Cancer in Madrid. Biden will meet with Begoña Gómez, the wife of the Spanish prime minister, at Moncloa Palace.
Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine that has been tweaked to combat the omicron variant is safe and effective. Pfizer and BioNTech studied two possible updates to shots that could be recommended by the Food and Drug Administration as a booster does in the fall — one shot targeting just omicron and another that targets omicron and the original virus strain. The drug maker noted that both booster possibilities resulted in an increase in omicron-fighting antibodies. CEO Albert Bourla said they have “two very strong omicron-adapted candidates,” adding that the omicron-centric booster garnered the strongest immune response versus the fast-spreading variant (The Associated Press).
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,015,938. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 287, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of today, 77.4 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66.3 percent is “fully vaccinated,” according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker and the government’s definition. The percentage of Americans who have received third or booster doses is 31.3.
Airlines and passengers are complaining about summer air travel — surging demand, high ticket prices and canceled flights. Demand for air transit has surged this summer to levels not seen since before the pandemic. Transportation Security Administration data shows 2.45 million people passed through the nation’s airports on Friday, the highest single-day total since Feb. 11, 2020 (The Hill).
Lord Stanley’s Cup has a new home. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, on Sunday night to take home the cup for the third time in franchise history, and the first time in 21 years. Stud defenseman Cale Makar took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP (ESPN). … The Stanley Cup wasn’t the only hardware handed out on Sunday as the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the University of Oklahoma, 4-2, en route to its first Men’s College World Series championship in school history. The win means college baseball bragging rights will stay in the Magnolia State after Mississippi State University won the 2021 edition (ESPN).
© Associated Press / Lauren Cisneros | Bison in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park in 2021.
And finally … The Morning Report is pro-bison, happy to learn that a herd that lives almost exclusively in the northern reaches of Grand Canyon National Park won’t be culled this fall, largely because the intimidation-then-death method was unsuccessful. Introducing the sound of gunfire and having people close to the bison was meant to nudge the massive animals back to adjacent forest where they legally could be hunted. But the efforts to protect trampled meadows and archaeological sites had little effect (The Associated Press).