The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Brawls on Capitol Hill on Barr and COVID-19

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!



Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 146,935. Tuesday, 148,056. Wednesday, 149,258.



Republican and Democratic lawmakers remain far apart on a potential COVID-19 relief deal as President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE dismissed the Republicans’ $1 trillion proposal a day earlier and a top GOP lawmaker floated a possible emergency short-term deal on unemployment benefits as they expire at the end of the month. 

 

Democratic leaders met again on Tuesday with top Trump administration negotiators as the gulf between the two sides was readily apparent. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNews media's sausage-making obsession helps no one Klobuchar confident spending bill will be finished before Christmas Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian MORE (D-N.Y.) charged that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive issues that will define the months until the midterms  Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE (R-Ky.) was uninterested in striking a deal after his opening offer. 

 

“It seems to me Sen. McConnell really does not want to get an agreement made,” Pelosi said, pointing to McConnell’s five-year liability shield as an example, which the GOP leader has described as his lone “red line” in negotiations.

 

Schumer called the proposal a “radical change of all liability law” following a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsSunday shows - Spotlight shifts to omicron variant Schiff: Jan. 6 panel decision on charges for Meadows could come this week Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE. The three, along with Pelosi, are slated to meet again today. 

 

Meanwhile, the divisions among Republicans remained on Tuesday, with McConnell lamenting the lack of weight the Senate GOP conference has behind the proposal. 

 

“I think it’s a statement of the obvious, that I have members who are all over the lot on this," McConnell said. “There are some members who think we’ve already done enough, other members who think we need to do more. This is a complicated problem.”

 

The Senate Republican leader also criticized the inclusion of $1.8 billion for a new FBI headquarters, saying that all non-coronavirus matters should stay out of this package (The Hill).

 

Nebraska Republican Ben SasseBen SasseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay CBO releases cost estimate of Biden plan Real conservatives must make a choice MORE, who is running for reelection as an unabashed Trump critic, assailed Mnuchin and Pelosi as “big government Democrats” who want to “binge-spend” in the “swamp.” Sasse, casting himself as a Washington outsider, did not mince words. 

 

The White House is trying to solve bad polling by agreeing to indefensibly bad debt,” he said in a statement. “This proposal is not targeted to fix precise problems — it’s about Democrats and Trumpers competing to outspend each other.

 

The Hill: GOP under mounting pressure to strike virus deal quickly.

 

The Hill: Republican senators revolt over coronavirus proposal.

 

The Hill: Senate GOP criticizes inclusion of FBI building funding in the bill.

 

Days after the White House floated the idea of a short-term bill to deal with extending unemployment insurance as it expires, John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneParnell exit threatens to hurt Trump's political clout Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama McConnell, Schumer hunt for debt ceiling off-ramp MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, became the first top GOP lawmaker to embrace that option. However, Democrats have leverage in the negotiations and for that reason an interim, slimmed-down bill is unlikely to gain traction. 

 

Pelosi has remained steadfastly against a piecemeal approach to legislating during the talks, but GOP chatter has grown as pressure builds to cut a deal as Americans last weekend began losing $600 weekly unemployment insurance payments in many states. 

 

“If things are, the wheels have come off by then, then I think it would probably argue for doing something skinnier or smaller and then, you know, regrouping,” Thune said. “But again, we’ll know a lot more about that in the next few days.”

 

Adding insult to injury for the GOP, Trump partially dismissed the GOP’s plan during a press conference on Tuesday, calling the package “sort of semi-irrelevant” as the bill involved no Democratic input (The Washington Post).

 

The Hill: House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMaryland Democrats target lone Republican in redistricting scheme GOP leader's marathon speech forces House Democrats to push vote Overnight Energy & Environment — Land agency move hurt diversity: watchdog MORE (D-Md.) says Democrats are flexible on unemployment benefits: “It's not $600 or bust.”

 

The Associated Press: GOP’s jobless benefit plan could mean delays, states warn.

 

The Hill: Lobbyists see wins, losses in GOP coronavirus bill.

 

While some Republicans are busy complaining about what’s in the bill, there are plenty of grievances elsewhere regarding what isn’t. Among those are complaints at the state level that Senate Republicans did not include a funding increase for Medicaid in their bill. The move precludes a likely fight with House lawmakers over the need to allocate funding for the health care program as governors warn that they will need to cut their Medicaid programs without substantial aid from the government (The Hill). 

 

Senate Republicans also did not include funding in the proposal toward the November election to prepare for a deluge of mail-in ballots or early voting. As The Hill’s Maggie Miller reports, officials are concerned that without a new injection of federal funds, state and local officials facing budget shortfalls may struggle to carry out safe and secure elections that ensure every American can vote.

 

> Barr hearing: Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMichael Cohen officially released from prison sentence Incoming NAACP Legal Defense Fund president sees progress against 'revitalized mission to advance white supremacy' Fox's Bartiromo called Bill Barr 'screaming' about election fraud: book MORE was the recipient of heavy criticism from Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee as they argued that a number of his decisions as the nation’s top law enforcement officer have politicized the Department of Justice (DOJ) and that he has become a lackey for the president. 

 

Specifically pointing to the prosecution of Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Jan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and leaders MORE and the use of federal police in U.S. cities, Democrats set out to paint Barr as a loyalist for the president and one of his chief allies in his bid for reelection in November under a “law-and-order” banner, according to The Hill’s Olivia Beavers and Harper Neidig

 

“The job of the attorney general is to defend the best interests of the people and serve as the people's lawyer, but during your time as attorney general you have consistently undermined democracy, undermined the Constitution and undermined the health, safety and well-being of the American people,” said Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesWith Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Will media portrayals of Rittenhouse lead to another day in court? The real 'threat to democracy'? Pols who polarize us with their opinions MORE (D-N.Y.), a member of the leadership. “All to personally benefit Donald Trump.”

 

The Hill: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerUnrequited rage: The demand for mob justice in the Rittenhouse trial Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Democrats prepare to grill oil execs Merkley, Warren and Markey sound alarm over 'dirty' hydrogen provision in climate deal MORE (D-N.Y.), Barr spar over whether DOJ has been politicized.

 

The Hill: Barr on the election: “If the results are clear, I would leave office.”

 

The New York Times: Barr testimony: Highlights of combative hearing on protests, Stone case and more.

 

The Hill: Barr backtracks on question about president accepting foreign assistance in election.

 

The New York Times Fact Check: How violent are the Portland, Ore., protesters? Barr said the demonstrators have used Tasers, lasers, slingshots, pellet guns and fireworks against federal law enforcement personnel.

 

 

 



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LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: Keep your pathogens out of New York state, heed federal guidelines about reopening, get ready for safety-conscious teachers to strike, and Major League Baseball has virus troubles. Those were just a few of Tuesday’s COVID-19 developments. 

 

By evening, there was another: Trump said out loud what everyone already knew: He envies Anthony FauciAnthony FauciAustralia reviewing reopening plans after reporting first omicron cases Biden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Canada reports North America's first cases of omicron COVID-19 variant MORE’s popularity and public trust. 

 

"He's got a very good approval rating, and I like that. It’s good. Because remember, he’s working for this administration. … He’s got this high approval rating. So, why don't I have a high approval rating, and the administration, with respect to the virus?” the president lamented during a 27-minute briefing for reporters. Administration infectious disease experts “are highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It could only be my personality, that’s all," he concluded (The Hill).

 

David Von Drehle, columnist, The Washington Post: America is suffering. Trump offers them a doctor who warns of sex with demons.

 

Trump also offered the kind of advice Fauci has been dispensing for months: “I ask all Americans regardless of background or age to practice social distancing, which people have gotten very used to, but we have to keep doing it; remain vigilant about hygiene; avoid indoor gatherings and large gatherings, but especially indoors, especially where you have crowded bars; and that you wear a mask whenever appropriate,” the president said. 

 

Early in the day, Fauci told ABC News that he concentrates on his work at the National Institutes of Health and does not get tangled up in social media, which he said he does not read. He said he's concerned about the Midwest reopening for business, adding that hard-hit states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, which are still hot spots for the virus, look like "they may be cresting and coming back down."

 

States including Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky are "starting to have" a "very early indication" of rising COVID-19 positivity rates – a "surefire sign that you’ve got to be really careful," Fauci said. His advice: follow the federal guidelines for reopening, temporarily close bars and limit indoor restaurant seating in regions with rising infections, wear masks, distance at least six feet from others and practice hand hygiene.

 

MarketWatch: Trump announces $765 million loan to launch Kodak Pharmaceuticals in Rochester, N.Y., under the Defense Procurement Act to try to compete with China, India in manufacture of generic drug ingredients. Company stock soared.

 

Reuters: Six states — Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas — see record COVID-19 deaths; Latinos hit hardest with infections in California.

 

> New York: The Empire State added Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., to its list of locales from which visitors are required to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving. The list now includes 34 states (Syracuse.com).

 

> Florida: The Sunshine State hit a record for COVID-19 daily deaths (186) on Tuesday, adding to fatalities that now number 6,117 from the coronavirus in the state. Florida also added another 9,240 cases of infection (The Hill). … Coronavirus hospitalizations among children rose 23 percent in Florida over a period of eight days from July 16-24 (The Hill).

 

> Virginia: Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Tuesday tightened coronavirus restrictions in the Hampton Roads area of his state because of a rise in COVID-19 infections. He ordered bars and restaurants in the southeast corner of Virginia near the Atlantic Ocean to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., said restaurants must close by midnight, limited groups to 50 people, and said indoor dining must not exceed 50 percent of capacity, including food courts, breweries and wineries (WJLA). 

 

> Survivors’ maladies: In Spain, more than half of patients who contracted COVID-19 and survived now have neurological problems, according to new studies (El Pais). 

 

> Schools: The American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions with 1.7 million members, said on Tuesday that it will support members who move to strike over coronavirus safety provisions in reopened schools. Calling a strike a “last resort,” the organization’s executive council adopted a resolution that gives educators and their union representatives additional muscle in negotiations over what would constitute adequate protection for teachers and school employees (The Hill and The New York Times). 

 

> Sports: Major League Baseball on Tuesday suspended the Miami Marlins’ season through Sunday, and the Philadelphia Phillies will remain idled by the coronavirus pandemic until Friday, while the rest of baseball plays on. Half the Marlins team has tested positive for COVID-19, but league representatives said on Tuesday that among more than 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, there were no new positives among on-field personnel from any team other than the Marlins (The Associated Press).

 

The Marlins’ experience with at least 17 cases of COVID-19 could jeopardize the viability of MLB’s season just days after the sport returned amid the pandemic. Trump last week embraced the revival in the United States, calling it "a tremendous thing, psychologically, for our country." While many baseball fans celebrated the belated start of the season, sports competition during the pandemic remains unpredictable (The Hill).

 

ESPN: Is their season in jeopardy? What the Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak means for the team, and for MLB.  

 

Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoWill media portrayals of Rittenhouse lead to another day in court? NY Assembly report corroborates Cuomo harassment claims The real 'threat to democracy'? Pols who polarize us with their opinions MORE (D), a diehard sports fan, on Tuesday invited MLB teams to play in stadiums in New York state under certain coronavirus precautions (Deadline).

 

 

 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE said on Tuesday that he will reveal his running mate next week as speculation escalates over who will be selected after months of jockeying for the position. 

 

“I’m going to have a choice the first week in August and I promise I’ll let you know when I do,” Biden told reporters after delivering a speech in Wilmington, Del., on the latest part of his economic plan. 

 

As Bloomberg News notes, the former VP pushed back the deadline to select a vice presidential nominee from Aug. 1 until later that month as the Democratic National Convention is set to start on Aug. 17. 

 

Biden’s remarks come as candidates make their final pitches to nab the spot. As The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports, the candidates are in wait-and-see mode as the vetting process has completed and many of the interviews have wrapped up. However, they are not leaving anything to chance as they make their case to Biden that they are the right person. 

 

It's obvious that there's a fair amount of 'Pick me! Pick me!' happening in the final weeks,” said one Democratic strategist who has worked on recent presidential campaigns. “Every week it seems like there's been a flavor of the week, and the pool of candidates has reacted accordingly." 

 

Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassFor Democrats it should be about votes, not megaphones Proposed California maps put incumbents in jeopardy Bass calls 'Black pastors' comment during Arbery trial 'despicable' MORE (Calif.), whose stock has been on the rise, has made the rounds on television in recent days, appearing on “The View” and “Meet the Press.” She also raised eyebrows among political watchers as she walked alongside Biden at the Capitol on Monday when the presumptive Democratic nominee was there to pay his respects to the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Obama, Dave Chappelle nominated in same Grammy category MORE (D-Ga.). 

 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisEmhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony GOP becoming a cult of know-nothings Stowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami MORE (Calif.), whom some consider the favorite for the post, has been working the phones behind the scenes to underscore her desire to get the job. Elsewhere, former national security adviser Susan Rice tweeted over the weekend to show that she has the moxie to take on Trump, posting a picture of herself tossing out a ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Nationals game, while Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsSununu exit underscores uncertain GOP path to gain Senate majority Democrats brace for flood of retirements after Virginia rout Rep. Brown to run for Maryland attorney general MORE (D-Fla.) says she is “chomping at the bit” to answer questions about the former VP’s running mate search (The Hill). 

 

The Washington Post: Biden’s personal notes on Kamala Harris: No grudges.

 

Nate Cohn, The New York Times: Are the polls missing Republican voters?

 

Meanwhile, Biden detailed the fourth installment of his “Build Back Better” economic plan during his speech Tuesday, focusing on work to combat racial inequity, focusing on improving communities of color that have faced long-standing economic inequality and, more recently, fallout from the coronavirus pandemic (The Hill).

 

Biden also used the opportunity to pan the president for his rhetoric throughout his presidency, saying that he is “horrifyingly and not surprisingly, intentionally stoking the flames of division and racism in this country.”

 

The Associated Press: Biden vows to fight racial inequality with economic agenda.

 

The New York Times: Michigan threatens to slip from Trump as he goes quiet on airwaves.

 

The Washington Post: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s memoir says backlash to Trump era could open the door for GOP moderates — like himself.

 

The Hill: Anti-Semitism charges roil Sen. David Perdue's (R-Ga.) reelection bid as polls tighten.

 

 

 



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

Donald Trump's double-dip recession, by Desmond Lachman, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2X7iCT7

 

Three questions the House should ask about antitrust and Section 230, by Michael Lanza, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2CNfuoI

 

Four of the world’s wealthiest men are preparing for battle, The New York Times editorial board. https://nyti.ms/2BFfLt3



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Facebook launches Global State of Small Business Report

 

Together with the World Bank and the OECD, we surveyed businesses in 50+ countries and regions to understand the challenges they face and how we can support them.

 

Go further: Read the first report.



WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. The chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will testify together for the first time at noon before the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee about their companies’ tech dominance. The Hill: Five things to watch. Hearing information is HERE.

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m.

 

The president travels to Texas today and participates in a roundtable with political supporters in Odessa and speaks at a fundraising committee luncheon. Trump will tour the Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig in Midland and speak about energy policy in the Permian Basin while signing energy permits (MRT).

 

Vice President Pence travels to North Carolina to cheerlead for charter schools. He’ll visit Thales Academy, a K-5 private school in Apex, N.C., and participate in a roundtable discussion with administrators and teachers (WRAL5).

 

The Federal Reserve wraps up a two-day meeting with a statement at 2 p.m. and a 2:30 p.m. press conference conducted by Chairman Jerome Powell.

 

The Hoover Institution and Stanford University host a virtual event at 4:30 p.m. EDT with Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai Biden says he's 'considering' a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics MORE (R-Ark.) titled, “American Challenges Abroad at a Time of Plague, Protest and Panic at Home.” Registration is HERE.

 

INVITATION TODAY: The Hill Virtually Live at 11 a.m. interviews Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and other technologists, policy leaders and business representatives about “The Future of Human Connectivity.” Register HERE.

 

INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live at 1 p.m. on Thursday hosts “American Resilience: The Future of Small Business,” with Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Sununu setback leaves GOP scrambling in New Hampshire MORE (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotFraming our future beyond the climate crisis Liberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Blinken grilled in first hearing since Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, plus small-business leaders and advocates. Register HERE.

 

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report has updates and exclusive video interviews with policymakers emailed each day. Sign up HERE!

 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.



ELSEWHERE

DACA policy: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday issued a memo ordering that all pending and future initial applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and those for advance parole be rejected. 

 

Vanita Gupta, the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called the move by DHS “a naked political ploy to energize the president’s base” and in defiance of a federal court order to accept new DACA applications. 

 

Biden in a written statement called the administration’s action “another cruel step … after failing at the Supreme Court.”   

 

DHS said on Tuesday it would review DACA for roughly 100 days — which would stretch beyond Election Day. Officials said a review is intended to ensure that the legal justifications for rescinding DACA comply with the Administrative Procedures Act (The Hill). Renewals of existing DACA protections are now limited to one year instead of two (CNN).

 

Trump declined to say on Tuesday if he supports a path to citizenship for Dreamers, telling a reporter he wants Congress to send him a “merit-based” immigration reform bill and wants to make DACA recipients “happy.” 

 

International: Spain leveled criticism at Germany and the United Kingdom after the two nations called on its citizens to avoid travel for vacations and holidays to Spanish beaches. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and a top tourism official argued the move is a mistake as Spain looks to restart its economy after losing 1 million jobs from the pandemic (Reuters). … Hackers linked to the Chinese government in May began targeting the Vatican’s computer networks and the Catholic Church’s Hong Kong representative ahead of talks about renewing a 2018 deal that stabilized relations between China and the Church, according to a U.S. cybersecurity firm (Reuters).

 

Environmental Protection Agency: More than 50 facilities across the country that have faced enforcement actions for alleged Clean Water Act violations are among those taking advantage of an EPA policy that allows companies to forgo pollution monitoring during the pandemic crisis, according to an analysis by The Hill. The temporary EPA policy, announced in March, says industrial, municipal and other facilities do not have to report pollution discharges if they can demonstrate their ability to do so has been limited by the coronavirus.

 

Alzheimer’s test: A simple and relatively inexpensive blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease is within reach within a few years, scientists announced on Tuesday. It could speed research for treatments and help dementia patients who want to know if they have Alzheimer’s or another condition (The New York Times). 

 

➔ Entertainment: Former President Obama is the debut guest today on Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson Obama'Car guy' Biden puts his spin on the presidency Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Son gives emotional tribute to Colin Powell at service MORE’s new nine-episode podcast series about health and relationships, heard exclusively on Spotify (The Associated Press). … The prime-time Emmy nominations were released on Tuesday, with “Watchmen,” the popular HBO series, leading the way with 26 nominations in what is expected to be the first major awards show since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Netflix holds the most nominations of any streaming services with 160, headlined by the 18 nominations for “Ozark” (The Associated Press). 



THE CLOSER

And finally … A National Museum of the American Latino is one step closer to being built in Washington after House passage of a bill this week.

 

A vote on Monday for the proposed museum is seen as the culmination of two decades of work. In 1994, a task force issued a 60-page report, “Willful Neglect: The Smithsonian Institution and U.S. Latinos,” asserting that the Smithsonian in its workforce and exhibition halls excluded the presence and contributions of Latino Americans (WTOP and The Washington Post).

 

The nation’s capital is home to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the National Museum of American History.