The Hill's Morning Report — Harris brings her A game to Miami debate

The Hill's Morning Report — Harris brings her A game to Miami debate
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Thursday’s Democratic primary debate put a harsh light on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Can Biden's canceled cancer initiative be salvaged? Biden's health care gaffe shows he's not ready for prime time MOREs vulnerabilities and showcased California Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Biden's health care gaffe shows he's not ready for prime time The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP MORE’s strengths.  

The exchanges in Miami drew the field closer to the center of Democratic platform on some issues than Wednesday’s debate and surfaced candidates’ willingness to gently ding Biden over his age and decades of Senate votes and compromises, which he struggled at times to explain.  

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While Biden was largely untouched throughout the first hour, he was the recipient of incoming attacks from many of his competitors on a series of issues. But no one was as effective as Harris, who relentlessly bashed the former vice president over his past work with segregationist Dixiecrats and against busing. The attack from the California senator was teed up, evidenced by a tweet Harris’s team blasted out shortly after. 

Instead of backing down, Biden defended his record, pointing to his work as a public defender following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Biden continued to defend himself after the debate, telling MSNBC’s Garrett Haake that Harris mischaracterized his position and work on busing. Biden also indicated that it’s frustrating to relitigate the past. 

“It should be about the future,” Biden said, pointing to overcrowding of prisons and voting rights. “We’re going at this backwards.” 

Some Biden supporters also seemed to lament the skirmish with Harris. One Biden backer told The Hill that while he doesn’t think the debate or the back-and-forth will reshape the campaign, it was not the former vice president’s best moment. 

The frustrating thing is that until that exchange with Kamala it was going perfectly fine,” the Biden supporter said. “I’m hanging my hat on the belief/hope that come next week the polling will be largely unchanged.”

“I wish he had answered the question better, but I don’t think this in any way fundamentally changes the race. I think he still is the solid frontrunner,” the supporter said. 

Following the debate, some of the former vice president’s surrogates and supporters came to his defense on Twitter, recognizing that Biden turned in a subpar performance. Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip GOP chairman introduces bill to force 'comprehensive review' of US-Saudi relationship MORE (D-Del.) tweeted that Biden “fought for civil rights his entire career.” and retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey called Biden is “a leader” and policy “expert” who he conceded used some “bone head language” in Miami.

Throughout the night, Biden namechecked President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE and former President Obama, saying at one point that everyone “underestimate[s]” what the former president accomplished on climate change. He also slipped up when he said that the National Rifle Association is not the “enemy,” but rather that gun manufacturers are to blame for the lack of movement on gun control legislation. 

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The battle with Biden wasn’t Harris’s only strong moment of the night. At one point as her fellow Democrats bickered on stage midway through the first hour about generational change in the party, Harris jumped in with the one-liner of the night. 

“Guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight,” Harris said. “They wanna know how we’re gonna put on their table,” she added to loud applause.

The Thursday debate was the second in which a female candidate delivered a break-out performance. Harris prospered when it counted, as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNew CDC overdose estimates are nothing to celebrate 2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Democratic Houston councilwoman announces Senate bid MORE (D-Mass.) did on Wednesday.  

In two hours, four candidates stood out on stage: Biden, Harris, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Cardi B posts message of support for Ilhan Omar #IStandWithIlhan trends after crowd at Trump rally chants 'send her back' MORE (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP 2020 Democrats adapt to changing social media landscape Trump blasts 2020 Dems during campaign rally MORE. They managed to outpace six other aspirants in speaking time and engagement on the questions. Sanders stayed on message most of the night, playing many of the same hits he did during his 2016 bid about special interests and corporate greed.

Buttigieg played a key role in the health care debate in the opening hour, but he took a step back when he received the opening question of the second hour on the racial tensions that have embroiled South Bend in recent weeks after a police officer shot and killed an African American man. When asked why the racial composition of the city’s police force does not equal the percentage of African Americans in the city, he lamented that he “couldn't get it done.” 

The other debaters struggled to gain traction, including former tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew Yang2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally 2020 Democrats adapt to changing social media landscape Bullock makes CNN debate stage MORE; author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson2020 Democrats adapt to changing social media landscape Bullock makes CNN debate stage Williamson defends her views on vaccines MORE who said she could defeat Trump with “love”; Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Moulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage MORE (D-Calif.); former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn Wright HickenlooperMoulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage Sanders draws line as 2020 health care battle heats up MORE of Colorado; Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally First responder calls senators blocking 9/11 victim funding 'a--holes' Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations MORE (D-N.Y.), who repeatedly interrupted and talked over other candidates; and Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetNew CDC overdose estimates are nothing to celebrate Bullock makes CNN debate stage Sanders draws line as 2020 health care battle heats up MORE (D-Colo.), who trained most of his fire on Trump. 

The candidates who qualify under Democratic National Committee rules will next meet in Detroit on July 30 and July 31 for similar jousting to be moderated by CNN

The Hill: Biden falters in Democratic debate.

The Hill: Debate winners and losers.

The Washington Post: Transcript of the Thursday debate.

Dan Balz: Harris upstages Biden and Sanders with dominating performance.

The New York Times: Kamala Harris makes the case that Joe Biden should pass the torch to her.

David Brooks: Dems, please don’t drive me away.

National Review: Kamala’s killer instinct, Biden’s glass jaw, and Williamson’s mesmerizing lunacy.

South Bend Tribune: Buttigieg scores debate points, but eclipsed by Kamala Harris.

 



LEADING THE DAY

SUPREME COURT: Justices dealt an interim blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the census in time for the 2020 survey, ruling as the court’s term ended on Thursday that the government did not provide adequate justification to seek the new data. 

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal wing of the court in sending the controversial matter back to the Commerce Department to come up with a rationale more persuasive than its stated commitment to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Those who oppose asking households about citizenship status maintain the question will have a chilling effect on the number and quality of responses and will wind up skewing a population survey that helps determine federal benefits and political representation over the span of a decade (The Hill). 

Describing a “mismatch” in the administration’s paper trail between the Commerce Department and the Department of Justice, Roberts wrote that “the VRA [Voting Rights Act] enforcement rationale — the sole stated reason — seems to have been contrived.”

President Trump expressed exasperation and tweeted from Japan that his administration is not giving up.

"I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter," Trump wrote, suggesting officials can provide another justification for satisfactory to the courts (The Hill).

"Can anyone really believe that as a great Country, we are not able the ask whether or not someone is a Citizen. Only in America!"

Under federal law, the census must begin next year on April 1. A former director of the Census Bureau told The Associated Press he believes Congress would have to change the law for the population count to be delayed, as the president suggested. 

Gerrymandering: Conservatives were happier about a ruling Thursday in another much-anticipated case about challenges to boundaries for states’ congressional districts. The court’s conservative majority ruled that federal courts have no role to play in the dispute over the practice known as partisan gerrymandering.

Voters and elected officials should be the arbiters of what is a political dispute, Roberts said in his opinion for the court. The decision could embolden political line-drawing for partisan gain when state lawmakers undertake the next round of redistricting following the 2020 census (The Associated Press). 

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), a leading proponent of redistricting reform, said he and his allies on the issue will “continue to fight” what he says is a “national scandal” (The Hill).

Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderFeds will not charge officer who killed Eric Garner The old 'state rights' and the new state power The Hill's Morning Report — Harris brings her A game to Miami debate MORE, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said in a statement that “history will not be kind” to the Roberts court because it “has undermined voting rights and core Democratic principles in America.” 

Richard L. Hasen: The Supreme Court’s green light to partisan gerrymandering will drag it down further into the mud.

Charles Lane: Progressives should be glad they lost the Supreme Court gerrymandering case. 

Leah Litman: The latest chapter in the Gorsuch-Kavanaugh saga is the most revealing yet.

Emily Bazelon: The Supreme Court isn’t as naive as Trump hoped.

Adam Liptak: After 14 years, Roberts takes charge. 

Michael Wines: Why the Supreme Court’s rulings on Thursday have profound implications for American politics. 

> High court vacancies: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime MORE (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he would work with any Democratic president to get a hearing and a vote on a nominee to fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy. But the Senate majority leader said his conference would weigh the circumstances whenever a court seat is vacant. 

“A lot of it depends on the timing of the vacancy. Obviously if you have a vacancy in the first year of a term of a president, you’re not going to fail to fill that vacancy for a very lengthy period of time, no matter what the political composition is,” McConnell told reporters (The Hill). 

McConnell for a year prevented a confirmation hearing and Senate vote on former President Obama’s final nominee Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandDem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors John Legend: Republicans play to win, Biden plays to impress the media Biden says he opposes expanding the Supreme Court MORE, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The majority leader’s decision subsequently opened the door to Trump’s 2017 nomination of a conservative pick, Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchLiberal, conservative Supreme Court justices unite in praising Stevens Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh MORE.

 

 

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CONGRESS: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Al Green calls for additional security for House members after Trump rally #IStandWithPresTrump trends in response to #IStandWithIlhan MORE (D-Calif.) did something Thursday that she hasn’t done much since she retook the gavel in January: She caved.  

Despite drum beats from the progressive wing of her party, Pelosi sided with the moderates and helped pass a clean version of the Senate’s $4.6 billion supplemental to address the crisis at the southern border after weeks of negotiations. 

As Juliegrace Brufke writes, the 305-102 vote marked a blow to Pelosi and liberal lawmakers who had demanded additional protections for migrant children, many of which were included in the House’s legislation. However with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for caring for migrant children, on the verge of running out of funding to take care of migrants at the border and the likelihood that if the House didn’t pass the Senate bill, it would take at least 10 days to pass any bill due to the Fourth of July recess, the House passed the Senate’s version.

“We don’t need anyone, especially the U.S. Senate, to tell us what the needs are at the border,” Pelosi wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter to her conference. “The children come first. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available. Therefore, we will not engage in the same disrespectful behavior that the Senate did in ignoring our priorities. In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”

“As we pass the Senate bill, we will do so with a Battle Cry as to how we go forward to protect children in a way that truly honors their dignity and worth,” Pelosi wrote. 

Democrats voted in favor of the bill 129-95, while all but seven Republicans voted for it as well. Notably, seven members of leadership, six committee chairs and multiple key Pelosi allies all voted against the bill.

Trump is expected to sign the bill into law, something he wasn’t willing to do for the House version that was backed by the progressives. The Senate version passed the upper chamber on Wednesday 84-8.

Bottom line: This is a massive win for McConnell and House moderates, known also as the “front-liners,” who helped Democrats take back the House in November and one of their first opportunities where they’ve shown able to flex their muscle in the conference. It also comes at the expense of boisterous progressives who were on the short end of the stick Thursday and were not pleased about it. 

Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment On The Money: Liberal Dems warn moderates against changes to minimum wage bill | House grapples with Facebook's Libra | Congress, White House inch closer to budget deal | Blue states sue over tax law regulations MORE (D-Wis.), a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, lit into the moderates over the push for the Senate bill and wondered on Twitter when the Problem Solvers Caucus had “become the Child Abuse Caucus.” The tweet was rebuked immediately by the moderates, with Rep. Max RoseMax RoseHouse Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Ocasio-Cortez sued over Twitter blocks The Hill's Morning Report — Harris brings her A game to Miami debate MORE (D-N.Y.) confronting him on the House floor over it and telling reporters that Pocan made the comments “to get retweets.”

 

 

> Iran vote: The Senate is voting today on an amendment from a pair of Democratic senators to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would block the president from using funding to carry out military action against Iran unless he has congressional approval. The amendment would be added to the bill retroactively if it passes. 

According to Jordain Carney, the vote on the amendment, proposed by Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Federal guidance identifying 'go back to where you came from' as discrimination goes viral after Trump comments Trump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing MORE (D-Va.) and Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule MORE (D-N.M.), comes amid heightened tension between the U.S. and Iran and the president’s decision this month to stop a military strike against the Iranians after the country shot down a U.S. drone. Democrats had threatened to block the NDAA bill unless they were granted a vote on the amendment.

Republicans are confident they will be able to beat back the vote given that it will need 60 votes to pass, meaning Democrats will have to pick off 13 Republicans to pass the amendment. 

“I don’t think it will get 60 votes,” Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing Trump says US will not sell Turkey F-35s after Russian missile defense system purchase Warren spars with Trump's top Defense nominee over ethics MORE (R-Okla.) told The Hill. “I think it will have all of the Democrats. Democrats are disciplined, Republicans aren’t, we know that. And we know also that there are going to be a few Republicans that will join.” 

Bottom line: Inhofe is right. There is no chance the amendment gets 60 votes. 

The Senate’s NDAA package provides $750 billion in total spending, including $642.5 billion in base budget for the Pentagon and $23.3 billion for the Department of Energy’s national security programs. It also gives $75.9 billion for the overseas contingency operations fund, an account that does not fall under budget cap restrictions. 

The Senate bill still must be reconciled with the House legislation, which stands at $733 billion. The House will take up their bill in July.  

The Senate opened the vote on the amendment at 5:02 a.m. and it is expected to remain open throughout the day so senators participating in Thursday night’s debate can return to Washington and take part.

> Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE is being represented by Jonathan Yarowsky, a former special counsel for President Clinton and former House Judiciary Committee general counsel, as he readies for his appearance on Capitol Hill on July 17. Yarowsky is a former colleague at WilmerHale, his former law firm, and a registered lobbyist (Politico).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

Group of 20 summit & trade: Trump is eager for the Saturday sit-down planned with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to revive trade negotiations that fell apart in May. The high-stakes discussion, which will take place on the sidelines of the G-20 gathering hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been billed in world capitals as a positive sign, easing pressures in financial markets, although no detailed accord with China is expected anytime soon.

If Trump and Xi reboot negotiations, they could clear a path toward an eventual agreement to lift the tit-for-tat tariffs that raise prices for goods in both countries. But if the president emerges unsatisfied or empty-handed in Osaka after his meeting with Xi, the economic and political costs could be evident heading into an election year (The Hill). 

CNBC: Ahead of the Trump-Xi meeting, China is not budging.

The Wall Street Journal: Investors hope for trade progress.

The Associated Press: “Don’t meddle in the election,” Trump jokingly tells Putin.

 



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Past and current South Bend officials share responsibility for community’s failures, by Randy Kelly, opinion contributor, South Bend Tribune. https://bit.ly/2KGUVfV

Trump should drain the G-20 swamp, by James Roberts, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2X9PmbL

WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Kim Wehle, a former assistant U.S. attorney and professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, to react to the Supreme Court term that ended Thursday, and presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardBullock makes CNN debate stage Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Jack Dorsey maxes out donations to Tulsi Gabbard presidential bid MORE (D-Hawaii) offers a post-debate interview with host Krystal Ball at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.

The House is out of session until July 9.  

The Senate early this morning continued final voting on the defense authorization bill before plans to recess until July 8.

The president is participating in the two-day G-20 summit. On Friday in Japan, the first day of the international gathering, Trump has met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Budowsky: House Democrats are America's team MORE and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

ELSEWHERE

NASA: Administrator Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineA lot has changed since Apollo 11 — how will we experience the next moon landing? The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE announced Thursday that NASA will send a rotorcraft lander to Saturn’s largest moon. “Our next New Frontiers mission, Dragonfly, will explore Saturn’s largest moon, Titan,” he announced in a video posted to Twitter, adding that Titan is the place in the solar system most comparable to early Earth (The Hill).

State Watch: California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomNew York bans discrimination against natural hair California lawmakers pass bill requiring Trump, presidential hopefuls release tax returns to appear on ballot Democratic governors: Exclusion of census citizenship question doesn't mean an end to 'confusion or anxiety' MORE (D) signed legislation on Thursday to suspend horse racing at the controversial Santa Anita Park racetrack where 30 horses have died in the past six months (The Hill). 

Capital gains: The White House is developing a plan to cut taxes by indexing capital gains to inflation in a move that would largely benefit the wealthy and may be done in a way that bypasses Congress. White House officials would like to move quickly to ensure the projected tax benefits take effect while Trump campaigns for reelection (Bloomberg).

Investigations: Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller Top Mueller prosecutor Zainab Ahmad joins law firm Gibson Dunn Russian oligarch's story could spell trouble for Team Mueller MORE pleaded not guilty to state mortgage fraud charges in New York City on Thursday. The former Trump campaign chairman entered the plea at an arraignment in Manhattan while handcuffed and wearing a blue jail uniform. Manafort’s lawyer said that he plans to seek the dismissal of the charges, citing double jeopardy protections (The Associated Press).

 



THE CLOSER

And finally …    High-fives to this week’s Morning Report Quiz Winners! When it comes to trivia about presidential debates, The Hill has some expert readers.

Quiz winners this week are William Mattingly, Donna Nackers, Craig Pyron, Rick Dunham (playing along from his laptop in China), Merrilee Cox, Dolina Millar, Shin Inouye, Manley Glaubitz, Susan Widmer, Peter Delloro, Tim Aiken, Hazel Rosenblum-Sellers, Cam Fine, Heather Ciandella, Itillery, David Bond, William Chittam, Ron Domingues, Jack Barshay, Elizabeth Murphy, John Donato, Mike Purdy, Joe McCluskey, Rick Zimmer, Bob Fowler, Candi Cee, Rich Gruber, Patrick Kavanagh, Rick Mito, David Straney, Randall S. Patrick, Luther Berg, Dara Erinashley, Jerry Kovar, Peter John, Arne Hendry, Rose DeMarco, Rose DeMarco and Buzz Watkins. 

They knew that former President George H.W. Bush caused a stir during a town-hall style debate in 1992 when he checked his watch.

Immediately following the 1960 televised debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, radio listeners thought Nixon had won, but millions of TV viewers reacted unfavorably to Nixon’s five o’clock shadow and thin, sweaty appearance and gave the nod to Kennedy, the tanned, handsome senator.

Former Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen delivered one of the most effective and well-executed debate put-downs in modern politics against Dan Quayle when he said, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” 

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump rally: 'The time has come again' to fight for democracy Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back' The Memo: Democrats debate Trump response – 'Being righteous and losing sucks' MORE wrote in her recent memoir about an uncomfortable debate moment when Donald Trump loomed behind her on stage in 2016: “Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.” 

During a town-hall-style debate with then-President Obama in 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump's no racist — he's an equal opportunity offender Lawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE got everyone’s attention when he boasted about having “binders full of women.”