The Hill’s Morning Report — Can Dems pass Manchin-Schumer bill this week?
The Joe Manchin Show was on full display on Sunday as the West Virginia senator defended the deal he struck on a reconciliation package, but stayed mum on whether Democrats should remain in power past November or if he supports a second term for President Biden.
Just as he has been much of the past year, Manchin was the ever-present Democrat on Sunday as he took part in five television interviews days after he and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) shocked all with the deal heard ‘round the Hill. He did so in support of the $670 billion climate, health care and tax package, hailing it as an inflation-fighting tool despite reports indicating that it could be the opposite.
“How in the world can it be inflammatory?” Manchin told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “How can it add flames to the inflation fires right now if you’re paying down debt, you’re increasing more production from fossil industry in energy, and we’re doing it cleaner [than] anywhere in the world?”
“This is not a green deal. It’s not a Republican deal. It’s not a Democrat deal. It is a red, white and blue deal. And this is what the American people want, solutions and a balanced energy approach,” Manchin continued.
▪ The Hill: Manchin defends climate, tax deal with Schumer in multishow blitz.
▪ CNN: Manchin says Republicans in “normal times” would be supporting energy, health care bill.
The centrist Democrat noted that the blueprint would invest in reliable energy and new technologies, focusing on domestic production to “aggressively produce” in the U.S. and lower costs for Americans. However, “But to all of this, they’re not factoring any of that in,” he claimed (The Hill).
As for the tax increases included in the bill — a new 15 percent minimum tax on large profitable corporations — Manchin claimed that they actually aren’t tax hikes. Instead he defended them as closing loopholes (The Wall Street Journal).
However, the tax hike issue could be a problem for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The Arizona Democrat has made it known over the past year that she opposes an item in the legislation that would pare back the carried-interest loophole. She has declined to weigh in on the bill since it was released.
The bottom line: Sinema is one of the last hopes for Republicans as they hope to derail this bill.
“She has a spine of steel. She’s not going to easily be twisted,” Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), a member of GOP leadership, told Fox News on Sunday. “In terms of, will this pass, they need all 50 Democrats on board and in the room. … They haven’t had 50 senators show up for work in well over a month. So, this is far from done.”
Barrasso is referring to the effect COVID-19 has had on the chamber in recent weeks as at least a handful of Democrats have tested positive for the virus, including Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), who will miss the opening of this week while in quarantine.
Everything is expected to come to a head this week. Schumer and top Democrats will attempt to shepherd the bill through the upper chamber before senators break for the August recess.
▪ The Hill: Manchin says Sinema is not involved in bill talks because he “didn’t think it would come to fruition.”
▪ Politico: Manchin to Sinema: Believe in this bill.
▪ The Hill: This week: Senate Democrats race to finish tax and climate package — if Sinema signs on.
▪ Bloomberg News: Manchin spending deal includes billions in taxes on oil sector.
While Manchin defended the package, one thing he notably did not defend was the Democratic Party’s prospects for success in the midterm elections, as he refused to say whether his party should remain in control after November.
“I think the Democrats have great candidates that are running. They’re good people I’ve worked with. And I have a tremendous amount of respect and friendship with my Republican colleagues. … So I can work on either side very easily.” Manchin told “Meet the Press.” He declined to comment, however, on any hopes he has for the midterms.
“I don’t play the politics that way. I don’t like it that way. That’s not who I am,” he said (The Hill).
He also sidestepped whether he hopes Biden seeks a second term.
“I’m not getting into 2022 or 2024,” he said, adding “whoever is my president, that’s my president” (The Associated Press).
Amid Manchin’s comments, the White House had a different agenda on Sunday: pan Republicans for blocking a bill last week aimed at aiding veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough argued that proposed amendments by GOP senators to the proposal would result in “rationing of care for vets.”
The bill fell short by five votes after only eight Republicans joined all 47 voting Democrats. GOP senators have accused Democrats of including a “budgetary trick” in the bill’s funding (The Hill).
The Hill: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is retiring this year, defends burn pit vote, citing “false accusations” by Jon Stewart.
🌏 Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is in Singapore today where she is expected to meet with President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as well as a number of Cabinet Ministers. There is no media access to her visit (The Associated Press). She announced on Sunday that she also plans to travel to Malaysia, South Korea and Japan on the congressional trip to “reaffirm America’s strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region.” Taiwan was left off her itinerary, possibly for security reasons. Her plans for the island nation, which, if she visits, would rile China, have not been disclosed. “It is my privilege as Speaker to lead this distinguished group of Members, which includes Chairs of Committees and Subcommittees of jurisdiction and champions of a strong U.S.-Asia Pacific partnership,” Pelosi said in a press release. “We look forward to productive meetings that will continue to inform Congress’s work to advance our values and interests and strengthen our partnerships in the region” (Axios).
▪ The Hill: Manchin-Schumer bill could bring down the deficit. Inflation — that’s debatable, experts say.
▪ The New York Times: Biden savors much-needed victories. But will the highs overshadow the lows?
▪ The Hill: A bipartisan bill on antibiotics faces a crucial stretch.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Senate tax-and-climate plan hinges on streamlining energy projects.
LEADING THE DAY
Sunday marked 100 days until the midterm elections, and Republicans find themselves firmly in the driver’s seat to retake at least one chamber of Congress in an attempt to claw back some of the Democratic Party’s power.
A new estimate released by CBS News on Sunday predicted that Republicans will take home a net of 16 seats in November, handing them 230 overall to just 205 for the party in power. Either party needs 218 seats to gain the majority.
According to the network, the main reason voters are leaning in the GOP’s direction is “the way things are in the country,” headlined by rising costs and inflation that is forcing families to pinch pennies and make tough financial decisions. Among those voters saying they are basing their vote on it a lot, Republicans are leading by 16 points.
Adding to the issues, key portions of the Democratic electorate might stay on the sidelines in just over three months. Of those expected to turn out, 38 percent are expected to be Republicans, 34 percent Democrats and 27 percent independent, marking a four-point swing from 2018, when Democrats took back the House majority.
Another key factor heading into November is how primary contests play out over the next two months, including in five states that will vote on Tuesday: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.
▪ Mike Lillis, The Hill: Democrats battle each other over help for pro-Trump GOP candidates.
▪ Josh Kraushaar, Axios: The left loses momentum.
▪ The Hill: 11 races we’re watching in Tuesday’s primaries.
▪ The Associated Press: What to watch in primaries in Arizona, Michigan, elsewhere.
© Associated Press / Sue Ogrocki | “I Voted” stickers at an early voting location in Oklahoma, June 23.
In the Show Me State, Republicans are in the midst of their final push to slam the door shut on former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) and his chances of winning the GOP nomination for Senate on Tuesday.
Taking center stage in that effort is an airwave barrage by an anti-Greitens super PAC that is highlighting allegations of domestic violence against the disgraced former governor. As The Hill’s Max Greenwood notes, top GOP donors — including Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) — are dumping dough into the effort, hoping to deal one final blow to his bid.
According to recent polls, it’s working. Multiple surveys show that state Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) has jumped to the top of the heap in the race, with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) trailing in second.
▪ The Hill: Why Texas Democrats are feeling a sense of déjà vu.
▪ Hanna Trudo, The Hill: How Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is taking on Mehmet Oz with an “irreverent,” extremely online campaign.
On the 2024 scene, former President Trump continues to openly flirt with a third White House bid. However, there are skeptics in the Senate GOP ranks over whether the ex-president can win the party’s nomination for a third cycle in a row for two reasons: the damage from the Jan. 6 investigation and how formidable the 2024 Republican field is shaping up to be.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is no fan of the former commander in chief, predicted that Trump would face an intense primary from corners of the party. The remark signaled broader confidence among the party that Trump’s grip on the GOP is growing more tenuous (The Hill).
The Hill: These Republicans who impeached Trump face tough primaries on Tuesday.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
Biden, who had plans to visit Hemlock, Mich., on Tuesday, is homebound anew this week after testing positive again for COVID-19 using antigen tests on Saturday and Sunday. The president “continues to feel well” without symptoms, his doctor said on Sunday, and he will continue to isolate until he tests negative.
Some patients taking the antiviral treatment Paxlovid for five days have reported “rebound” cases after their initial positive and then negative test results. Medical experts are debating such cases, and who benefits from Paxlovid, especially if already vaccinated and boosted (The Washington Post and The Atlantic).
A rebound case of COVID-19 put a damper on what the White House hoped would be a good-news focus on potential legislative breakthroughs last week for Democrats, even after a gloomy report describing a shrunken second-quarter economy. Can passage of a China competition bill and an evolving Democratic alliance behind a budget reconciliation package help Biden? (The Hill).
▪ The Hill: Why Democrats were excited after a big week.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Consumers have powered through the pandemic and inflation — until now. Household budgets are strained and consumers are pulling back on spending.
© Associated Press / Susan Walsh | President Biden practiced COVID-19 precautions at the White House on Thursday before testing positive again for the coronavirus on Saturday.
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■ Democrats need more Joe Manchins, by Matthew Yglesias, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3PQa24D
■ Monkeypox is about to become the next public health failure, by Scott Gottlieb, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3BvjPJ5
■ The genius of Bill Russell, by Bill Simmons, founder, The Ringer. https://bit.ly/3OMq526
WHERE AND WHEN
The House is out for the August recess and will return to Washington on Sept. 13.
The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of Elizabeth Hanes to be a district judge for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. He is isolating at the White House because of COVID-19.
The vice president heads to Miami where she will receive a briefing at 1:55 p.m. and then speak at the National Hurricane Center. She will also speak at 4:05 p.m. at Florida International University about climate resilience. Harris will return to Washington tonight.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in New York to participate at 10:15 a.m. in meetings on the sidelines of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations. He will deliver an address to conferees at 11:45 a.m. Blinken will take questions from the press at 2:15 p.m. at the U.N.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will travel to Wilmington, Del., to visit Nemours Children’s Health at 11 a.m. for a discussion about the mental and behavioral health crisis impacting children and teachers across the nation as they prepare to return to school in the fall.
The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 1:45 p.m.
🖥 Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.
Today in Odessa, Ukraine, the first ship to carry Ukrainian grain left the port bound for Lebanon following a negotiated agreement brokered with the United Nations and Turkey amid war and global clamoring for Ukraine’s agricultural exports (The Associated Press).
In Sevastopol, Ukraine, on Sunday, a small explosive device carried by a makeshift drone blew up at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean Peninsula, wounding six people and prompting the cancellation of ceremonies there honoring Russia’s navy, authorities said. Meanwhile, one of Ukraine’s richest men, a grain merchant, was killed in what Ukrainian authorities said was a carefully targeted Russian missile strike on his home (The Associated Press).
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on hundreds of thousands of residents in the Donbas region to evacuate as months of shelling by Russian forces have left much of the area unable to receive heat or electricity. Zelensky made the announcement, the first of its kind, in an effort to move individuals before winter. “The sooner it is done, the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian Army will have time to kill,” Zelensky said (The New York Times).
The Hill: Biden takes a big gamble to try to secure Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan’s release from Russia.
A major, four-week United Nations Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty meeting begins today (The Associated Press). More than a dozen nations’ foreign ministers are among attendees expected from at least 116 countries.
In Great Britain, Prince Charles is under fire after The Sunday Times reported that the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund received a $1.2 million donation from two half-brothers of Osama bin Laden (Bakr and Shafiq bin Laden). The 2013 donation was confirmed by Charles’ Clarence House office. The charity’s trustees — not the prince — made the decision to receive it, saying “thorough due diligence was undertaken in accepting this donation” (The Associated Press).
➤ PANDEMIC, POX & HEALTH
The administration and some local health authorities and lawmakers are at odds about who needs to take more of the lead in the bureaucratic, slow response to U.S. outbreaks of monkeypox. Mayors and state officials have publicly urged the federal government (the Health and Human Services Department and the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response are in charge of monkeypox vaccine distribution) to provide more doses, tests and treatments, although the administration said nearly 800,000 additional doses of vaccine were distributed at the end of July for distribution at the state and local levels (The Hill).
CNN: New York and San Francisco have declared monkeypox public health emergencies.
Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, analysis: “The count of people eligible for the two-dose Jynneos vaccine has now expanded to an estimated 1.5 million. We are woefully behind in getting those doses to people who want them. At this time, only 336,710 doses have been shipped to states. Ordering only just began for about 800,000 more doses. This scarcity has created long lines in monkeypox hotspots like New York City, which has the highest number of cases in the country.”
▪ The Wall Street Journal: How COVID-19 changed Americans’ health for the worse.
▪ The Washington Post: D.C. schools expand COVID-19 vaccine mandate, unlike most other districts.
▪ Reuters: New Zealand’s borders on Monday fully re-opened to visitors from around the world after closing as the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,029,926. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 373, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of today, 77.8 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66.4 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 31.8.
➤ STATE WATCH
A handful of conservative states with so-called abortion “trigger laws” on the books moved closer to enacting new bans as a result of the circuitous domino effect that began with the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade, The Hill’s John Kruzel reports. Abortion is now banned in at least eight states. Thirteen states had trigger bans on the books, three of which were set to take effect immediately upon Roe’s toppling. Trigger laws in seven other states required some additional action by officials before the bans kicked in. And three states — Texas, Tennessee and Idaho — had laws with a 30-day clock that started when the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe was issued.
The Washington Post: States may revive abortion laws from a time when women couldn’t vote. In Arizona, for example, the Republican state attorney general is trying to immediately enforce a strict 1901 law.
In Kentucky, at least 28 people are dead, including four children, and others remain missing following catastrophic flooding that began last week, according to state emergency officials and Gov. Andy Beshear (D). It could take weeks for the full magnitude of the human toll and physical devastation to become clear and National Guard and emergency responders are laboring to provide assistance. Water and power are out throughout the state, and storms had not let up as of Sunday (The Hill and The New York Times). “We still can’t get into some areas to check on people. We’re doubling our National Guard. We’re going to work to go door to door, work to find, again, as many people as we can. We’re even going to work through the rain. But the weather is complicating it,” Beshear said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The American Red Cross is supporting flood victims in parts of the state, according to Fox56.
Bill Russell, an NBA legend known for being the winningest player in U.S. team sport history, died on Sunday at age 88. Russell, the longtime Boston Celtics center who led them to 11 NBA titles as a player, including two as coach, died “peacefully,” his family said in a lengthy statement. The résumé for the basketball icon is lengthy on top of the 11 titles, including five NBA MVP awards, a two-time NCAA champion, an Olympic gold medal, a member of the NBA’s 25th, 50th and 75th anniversary teams and the first Black head coach in North American sports history. In addition, Russell was a leading civil rights advocate throughout his life. Former President Obama honored the basketball great in 2011 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (ESPN).
Actress, singer and dancer Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura on the original “Star Trek” series in 1966 and became a groundbreaking Black woman star on television and later expanded into movies, died of natural causes at 89, her family confirmed on Sunday (NBC News).
© Associated Press / Matt York | NBA legend Bill Russell in 2009.
© Associated Press / Thibault Camus | Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre museum in 2019.
And finally … Paris has an underground semi-secret that keeps Mona Lisa smiling, as well as politicians in the National Assembly, despite record heat in the City of Light and much of Europe this summer.
With renewable energy efficiency, a little-known “urban cold” network snakes deep below ground, pumping out icy water through 55 miles of labyrinthine pipes in Paris used to chill the air in over 700 sites. When the river Seine’s water is cold enough, a machine captures it and uses it to chill the system’s water. The heat created as a byproduct is sent back into the Seine where it is absorbed. Paris’s cooling sites all use renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.
The city is extending the cooling network to hospitals, schools and metro stations over the next two decades, a massively expensive undertaking that France believes will promote its goals for energy independence (The Associated Press).
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