The Hill's Morning Report — Will Congress do anything on gun control?

The Hill's Morning Report — Will Congress do anything on gun control?
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Nearly a week after the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Democratic lawmakers are pessimistic that gun reform legislation can pass Congress this year, despite pressure from members on both sides of the aisle. 

Lawmakers say they’re dubious because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTwo years after Harvey's devastation, the wake-up call has not been heeded McGrath releases ad blasting McConnell with coal miners in Kentucky: 'Which side are you on?' Prediction: 2020 election is set to be hacked, if we don't act fast MORE’s (R-Ky.) position as gatekeeper and a presidential campaign that grows more polarizing and vitriolic by the month, according to Scott Wong and Mike Lillis

“Nothing is going to happen,” predicted one Democratic senator, whose state has suffered a mass shooting.

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsGOP Oversight report says Interior head met with group tied to former clients Nadler asks other House chairs to provide records that would help panel in making impeachment decision Nikki Haley voices 'complete support' for Pence MORE (D-Md.) echoed that sentiment on Wednesday during a speech to the National Press Club, referring to instances over the past decade when proposed legislation stalled after shootings gripped the nation. 

“After Sandy Hook — remember that? — and nothing happened,” Cummings said. “I think we really need to be careful when listening to politicians talk about what they're going to do. Let me be clear, you have a lot of talk. ... But in the end — in the end — nothing happens.”

The Hill: Pelosi asks Trump to call back Senate on gun control.

Chief among issues complicating momentum and working against consensus is Congress’s recess until Sept. 9. McConnell made clear Thursday he won’t ask senators to return to Washington before then, arguing it would be a political exercise. 

"If we did that, we would just have people scoring points and nothing would happen. There has to be a bipartisan discussion here of what we can agree on,” McConnell told Kentucky radio station WHAS. "If we do it prematurely it will just be another frustrating experience. ... I think this is the best way to get a result." 

The Hill: McConnell rejects calls to bring Senate back early for gun debate.

The Hill: McConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media “war.”

Instead, McConnell has tasked three Senate Republicans to look for possible legislative remedies. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhat would John McCain do? Sunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China White House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts MORE (S.C.), one of the three senators, is drafting “red flag” legislation with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), which would provide federal grants to “assist and encourage” states to adopt laws to allow courts and local law enforcement to remove guns from people “in situations where there is an imminent threat of violence.”

An obstacle is the gun lobby, which has made its opposition clear. Although President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE signaled his openness to legislation expanding background checks, National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre pushed back.  

“I can confirm that the NRA opposes any legislation that unfairly infringes upon the rights of law-abiding citizens,” LaPierre said. “The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton. Worse, they would make millions of law-abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones.” 

The Associated Press: Scandal-ridden NRA leader digs in against gun control.

Nevertheless, House Democrats are still looking at things they can do even if the Senate does not return to town. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPoll: Majority wants Trump out, but not through impeachment Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' MORE (D-N.Y.) is talking about possibly recalling members of the panel to Washington in August to mark up gun violence legislation, according to Olivia Beavers

On the 2020 scene, half a dozen candidates are expected to attend a gun safety forum on Saturday in Des Moines, hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and two other organizations focused on preventing gun violence. Those on the agenda Saturday are Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy Sanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses Rendell: Biden 'baked in' as Democratic nominee MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy Sanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Sanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses MORE (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar knocks Trump: 'This negotiating by tweet hasn't been working' Sunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates MORE (D-Minn.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julían Castro and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE.

 

 



 

 



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Although he has yet to resume his 2020 campaign, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Ohio) is in the public eye as he becomes a vocal proponent for gun control legislation after the mass shooting in Dayton. 

Before traveling to the Iowa State Fair on Friday, Ryan was leading a caravan of gun control activists to Louisville, Ky., to hold a rally in a push to get the attention of McConnell over his decision not to bring Congress back to Washington this month. 

The rally is the penultimate stop after five events in Ohio, starting in the Cleveland suburbs and ending in Cincinnati before traveling to a stop in McConnell’s hometown. The rally was held at a city plaza adjacent to the Muhammad Ali Center.

“These cities are all so similar. Same challenges. Same struggles. Same pride in their communities’ future. And so to have a tragedy like this is devastating,” Ryan said in a text message interview with BuzzFeed News.  

“But then the response is so powerful. The connection of the community comes to the forefront," he said, adding that he is "more inspired than ever to make change."

> Wealth tax: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) continues to gain altitude in her push for the Democratic nod, but her wealth tax proposal, a plan that has been a major talking point during her campaign, has failed to gain traction with many Democrats.   

Warren’s plan to tax the wealth of people with more than $50 million in assets, taking 2 percent a year of their net worth beyond that threshold, has not gained steam among Democratic members of Congress, with many of them keeping their distance from it as they propose traditional forms of raising revenue.

Unlike a traditional income tax, which focuses on money coming in, Warren’s plan focuses on money and assets that have already been accumulated. The tax, she says, could pay for a slew of programs, including student debt relief, universal pre-K, child care and increased pay for child care workers. Nevertheless, lawmakers have given the idea a chilly reception (The Hill). 

The Hill: Monmouth Poll: Warren gains on Biden in Iowa.

The Hill: Andrew YangAndrew YangSanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses Obama reveals his summer playlist Surprise: Andrew Yang's favorite president is a Republican MORE qualifies for fall Democratic debates. 

Politico: John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows If the Democratic debates were pro wrestling, de Blasio is comic relief Hickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives MORE faces buzzsaw if he drops out to run for Senate.

 

 

> 2020 troubles: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Obama reveals his summer playlist Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-N.J.) are coming under scrutiny over recent appearances they made with a Las Vegas pastor who has made controversial remarks about homosexuality. 

As Julia Manchester reports, the two Democratic senators attended services held by the Rev. Robert E. Fowler Sr. last week at his church, Victory Missionary Baptist. While Fowler is an influential figure in Democratic politics in a key primary state, having hosted Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy The ideological divide on vaping has a clear winner: Smokers Biden struggles to hit it off with millennials MORE and Sanders in 2016, his past comments on homosexuality appeared in multiple outlets after visits by Booker and Harris last week. In one 2013 interview with Nevada Public Radio, Fowler compared homosexuality with child molestation.

“Whether you commit adultery, whether you commit fornication, whether you’re a child molester, you gossip, you lie, you cheat on your taxes, you don’t pay your tithes, things of that nature — all of that is wrapped together as sin, along with homosexuality,” Fowler said.   

“Any sin, if you break the law in one area, you’ve broken it in all areas. If you mess up in one area, that’s enough to send you to hell — so any sin is pretty bad for me," he said. 

Booker has now distanced himself from Fowler's views, while Harris affirmed her support for LGTBQ issues in statements to The Hill. Neither campaign responded when asked to clarify if Booker or Harris knew about Fowler's past remarks before appearing at the church.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump, who established a rocky relationship with the intelligence community early in his first year, announced that Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon will resign on Aug. 15, the same date as Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall 11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (The Hill). Trump named retired Adm. Joseph Maguire, director of the National Counterterrorism Center for the last year, as acting director of national intelligence, effective Aug. 15. “I have no doubt he will do a great job!” the president tweeted late on Thursday. Trump also praised Gordon when he announced her departure on Twitter.

 

 

Morgan Chalfant reported last week that some lawmakers were worried in the wake of Coats’s resignation that Trump was prepared to bypass the experienced Gordon, who by law should have succeeded Coats in the event of a top vacancy. The president’s initial nominee to become director, Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHillicon Valley: YouTube disables 200+ accounts over Hong Kong misinformation | Lawmakers sound alarm over Chinese influence efforts | DHS cyber agency details priorities | State AGs get tough on robocalls | DOJ busts online scammers Lawmakers sound alarm on China's disinformation campaign in Hong Kong President Trump is right: Mainstream media 'do a very good job' MORE (R-Texas), a Trump loyalist, withdrew his name from consideration five days into the process when senators raised objections about his lack of national intelligence experience and frowned on embellishments he made to his résumé.

The Washington Post: Trump announces shakeup at top of U.S. intelligence.

Trump’s Cabinet is stocked with officials serving in placeholder capacities, including acting secretaries at the departments of Homeland Security and Labor, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration. 

> Tech: The White House will host an event today with tech companies and senior government officials about eradicating violent behavior online. The president will not participate. The White House is focused on violent behavior rather than hate speech, according to an administration official (The Hill). 

> Central America: The Trump administration’s strategy for the Northern Triangle of Central American countries is under fire, seen as worsening human rights problems in the region, reports Rafael Bernal

> Justice Department: Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeTrump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Conservatives lash out at CNN for hiring Andrew McCabe The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces MORE filed a lawsuit in federal court to reinstate his full retirement benefits, claiming his termination one day before his official retirement was the work of Trump, carried out improperly. McCabe’s decision to sue was anticipated since last year (The Hill). 

> Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Some Mississippi children were forced to sleep in a community gym after their parents were detained by ICE officers on Wednesday in what authorities called the “largest single-state immigration enforcement operation” in the country’s history (The Hill). Initially, ICE rounded up roughly 680 allegedly undocumented migrants working at seven Mississippi poultry processing plants. The raid was coordinated with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Mississippi and was so clandestine, ICE did not inform the White House for fear of leaks (The Washington Post). More than 300 of the workers detained were released on Thursday, sent home with notices to appear before immigration judges (The Associated Press). The raids are having a ripple effect through Mississippi schools, churches, businesses and financial institutions that serve the state’s poultry processing cities (The Associated Press).

More related to the administration … Federal and state governments and schools are beginning to examine ways to fight back against cyberattacks on school districts (The Hill). … If an impeachment inquiry begins against Trump, House general counsel Douglas Letter, a 40-year veteran of the Justice Department, will be the key man behind the House curtain (The Hill).

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

Are the Democrats jumping off the cliff? by Peter Fenn, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2YCutva 

The terrifying link between misogynists and mass shooters, by Toni Van Pelt, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Ticy7m

 

 

 

WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. EDT features J.D. Scholten, Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, to talk about his potential rematch against Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingKing doubles down, says rape, incest should not be factored in to abortion decisions Steve King defends remarks on rape, incest The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters MORE (R-Iowa); Mark de Souza, CEO of Revolution, a multi-state cannabis company based in Illinois, to discuss cannabis legalization; and Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackHill Editor-in-Chief: Why moderate governors are fizzling Hill Editor-in-Chief: Do we now have a top three in the Democratic primary? The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE, editor-in-chief of The Hill, for his weekly segment, “The Debrief.”  Find Hill.TV programming at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m.

The House and Senate continue to meet in pro forma sessions but are not scheduled to return for votes until Sept. 9.

The president will travel to Southampton, N.Y., this morning to address two groups of donors to his reelection campaign, after which he’ll travel to another fundraising event at a private residence in Water Mill, N.Y. The reelection haul today is expected to be $10 million (The Washington Post). From New York, Trump will fly to New Jersey to begin his summer vacation at his residence in Bedminster.   

Vice President Pence has no public events today.

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will report on the producer price index in July at 8:30 a.m.

Politics: Iowa’s traditional Democratic Wing Ding dinner, featuring candidates running for the White House, takes place in Clear Lake from 5-10 p.m. (C-SPAN is covering at 7 p.m.).



ELSEWHERE

Homecoming: Passengers in a packed Southwest Airlines concourse at the Dallas airport fell silent on Thursday as a special incoming flight, bearing the recently identified remains of Col. Roy Knight Jr. of Texas, a fighter pilot shot down during the Vietnam War, landed on a runway to a hero’s welcome. As Knight’s flag-draped coffin was removed from the plane, Jackson Proskow, Washington bureau chief for Canada’s Global News, chronicled on Twitter what he just happened to witness as a Southwest gate agent told a moving story to a gathering crowd. In 1967, Knight’s young son waved good-bye to his dad as he went off to war from the same spot. Now a pilot, Southwest Airlines Captain Bryan Knight flew the plane that brought his father’s remains home after 52 years (The Hill). Read Proskow’s Twitter thread and see photos HERE. Col. Knight’s obituary is HERE.

Wild cat too adorable to miss: A Spanish nature conservation center announced the first baby lynx was born in the Pyrenees in nearly a century. A Eurasian lynx was last seen in the Spanish and French Pyrenees in the 1930s and has been considered extinct there, until the new arrival was born in captivity (The Associated Press).

Look up!:  An asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building is passing by Earth on Saturday. Scientists say we shouldn’t fret, although “Asteroid 2006 QQ23” has an estimated diameter of up to 1,870 feet (CNN). Let’s not forget that a “city killer” asteroid zoomed “uncomfortably close” to Earth last month and most scientists and astronomers were taken by surprise (The Washington Post). 

If you build it, they will come: Major League Baseball announced to great fanfare on Thursday that it will play a game next August at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, the site of the iconic 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta. The Chicago White Sox will play the New York Yankees on Aug. 13, 2020, with the White Sox fittingly serving as the home team. For the game, MLB is building a temporary 8,000-seat stadium adjacent to the field where the cinematic Shoeless Joe Jackson played (ESPN).

 

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … Kudos to this week’s Morning Report quiz winners! With some smart guesses (and perhaps a little deft Googling) about presidential vacations, these readers conquered our puzzle: Ki Harvey, Zev Lewis, Phil Kirstein, Lorraine Lindberg, Scott Wilber, Allyson Foster, Cheryl Gibson, Carol Katz, William Chittam, Anita Bales, John Donato, Rich Gruber, Luther Berg and Noel St. Pre.

They knew that former President Clinton and his family enjoyed vacations in 1995 and 1996 in Wyoming, after being advised by pollster Dick Morris in the run-up to his reelection to get some R&R the way many American families did. During the past week and a half, Chelsea, Hillary and I have been vacationing in two of our nation's most spectacular national treasures, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks,” Clinton said during a radio address in 1995. “We've seen buffalo, moose, elk, eagles, osprey, red hawks. No bears yet, but we're still looking. We've seen breathtaking mountains, lakes, streams and meadows. And all of this belongs to you, the American people, for all time to come.”

Former President George W. Bush reveled in clearing brush, driving his pickup truck and relaxing in the relative isolation of his Prairie Chapel ranch near Crawford, Texas, during his two terms.  

James Madison holds the record for the longest presidential vacation, from June to October 1816.  

President Eisenhower, who played 800 rounds of golf while in office, hit the links at the famed Augusta National Golf Club during his first vacation in office, in 1953 (and many times after).