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 McConnellOvernight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Lawmakers race to pass emergency coronavirus funding Trump upends controversial surveillance fight 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 CummingsLawmakers dedicate Oversight room to Cummings, unveil plaque Oversight Committee room to be dedicated to late Rep. Elijah Cummings House wants documents on McEntee's security clearances 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 GrahamTrump upends controversial surveillance fight The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump on US coronavirus risks: 'We're very, very ready for this' Surveillance fight emerges as intelligence flashpoint 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 TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary 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 NadlerThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Trump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify 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 WarrenBloomberg: 'I'm going to stay right to the bitter end' of Democratic primary race The Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Sanders holds 13-point lead in Fox News poll MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBloomberg: 'I'm going to stay right to the bitter end' of Democratic primary race The Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBloomberg: 'I'm going to stay right to the bitter end' of Democratic primary race The Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Delegate count unchanged after Iowa caucus recount completed MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders holds 13-point lead in Fox News poll Centrist Democrats insist Sanders would need delegate majority to win Bloomberg outspends field in Facebook ads ahead of Super Tuesday MORE (D-Minn.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julían Castro and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleePence talks coronavirus with Cuomo, Newsom, other governors Overnight Energy: New Interior rule would limit scientific studies agency can consider | Panel battles over tree-planting bill | Trump to resume coal leases on public lands Andrew Yang ends presidential bid MORE.

 

 



 

 



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Although he has yet to resume his 2020 campaign, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' Democrats walk out of Trump's address: 'It's like watching professional wrestling' Trump set to confront his impeachment foes 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 YangBloomberg campaign lobbied Yang for endorsement, possible VP offer: report 6 ways the primary fight is toughening up Democrats for the fall general election The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday MORE qualifies for fall Democratic debates. 

Politico: John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada Trump seeks to boost vulnerable GOP senator with Colorado rally Nonpartisan election forecaster moves Colorado Senate race to 'leans Democratic' MORE faces buzzsaw if he drops out to run for Senate.

 

 

> 2020 troubles: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Bloomberg campaign lobbied Yang for endorsement, possible VP offer: report Biden looks to shore up lead in SC MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Bloomberg campaign lobbied Yang for endorsement, possible VP offer: report Warren calls for changes to presidential pardon power, pledges to create clemency board 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 ClintonHillary Clinton to start new podcast Centrist Democrats insist Sanders would need delegate majority to win President Trump is weak against Bernie Sanders in foreign affairs 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 CoatsCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Grenell asks top intel official to remain in role amid lawmaker concerns John Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job 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 RatcliffeTrump shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community John Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job Trump's intel moves spark Democratic fury 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 shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community Trump allies assembled lists of officials considered disloyal to president: report Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn 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 KingMother of child in viral meme sends Steve King cease-and-desist for using image in fundraising Nebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response 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) CusackDemocrat: Lawmakers need to approach opioid crisis as 'a chronic situation' The Hill's Editor-in-Chief: Can Michael Bloomberg erase his terrible debate performance? The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine 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).