The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict
Presented by Facebook
Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Tuesday! 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 co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 567,217; Tuesday, 567,694.
Democrats in Congress boast they know what they stand for while trying to enact sweeping legislation with President Biden that would reach into much of the U.S. economy and squeeze the wealthiest and corporations to pay higher taxes.
As the debate about infrastructure and jobs moves beyond bridges and roads to definitions of federal responsibility and equitable taxation, House and Senate Republicans sound confident they know what voters are against.
“Americans understand you can’t tax, spend and borrow your way to prosperity,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas), the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, who recently announced he will retire from the chamber (Politico).
Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, now in the headlines, has a second portion waiting in the wings, which he calls the American Families Plan. When it’s unveiled, perhaps this month, it will envision an expanded federal safety net and benefits for low-income and middle-income Americans to help them compete. One ingredient: child care.
The president’s opening bid to pay for an infrastructure plan is higher taxes on corporations, much to the displeasure of big companies and their lobbyists in Washington. What comes next as a proposal to offset the costs will be tax hikes on people earning more than $400,000 a year. That phase of Biden’s pitch to the public is guaranteed to mobilize conservatives, who have plenty of practice opposing higher taxes.
“I am prepared to compromise,” Biden told reporters before sitting down Monday in the Oval Office with a group of House and Senate lawmakers from both parties. It was his second round of such consultations about his infrastructure plan, and it occurred nine days before the president’s scheduled national address to a joint session of Congress. His intended audience next week will be voters. He’s likely to repeat what he said on Monday:
“It’s a big package, but there are a lot of needs.”
There are multiple suggestions in the mix to offset at least some of the proposed new costs. In the conversation: tax hikes on the wealthy, higher taxes for companies, “user fees,” more federal borrowing, and reprogramming of some federal dollars appropriated but not yet spent for other purposes.
The bottom line: While there’s more talk of bipartisanship on infrastructure, it’s unlikely the parties will come together on such a high-profile endeavor.
The Salt Lake Tribune: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told Biden during Monday’s infrastructure meeting that one way to attract GOP support is to drop tax increases in favor of fees levied on the people who would benefit from improvements.
The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports that Republicans are braced to battle about higher spending amid lesser skirmishes over earmarks and whether to offset any increase in the nation’s borrowing authority later this year. The GOP, which under former President Trump (and former President George W. Bush) embraced deficit spending, is splintering into camps. The most senior members of the Senate GOP caucus are at odds with conservative senators eyeing presidential races in 2024.
The Hill: Senate Republicans vow to challenge Biden’s infrastructure plan using a budget rule that determines which legislative provisions are germane and which are out of bounds and have to be set aside. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, says the pending infrastructure and jobs legislation promoted by the president and Democrats offers “a target rich environment.”
Meanwhile, most House Republicans and their leaders find themselves trying to ward off a hardline group of conservative firebrands who sought to form a white nationalist, racist “America First” caucus. The stated purpose: defense of America as “a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” Republicans behind the group — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) — quickly abandoned the project in the face of bipartisan blowback, but their initial interest left Republican leaders queasy (The Hill).
As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos reports, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) backs Greene in her bid to expel from the House Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who is Financial Services Committee chairwoman, because she told liberal activists that “we’ve got to get more confrontational” about addressing police brutality. Marcos writes that McCarthy is trying to avoid outright open warfare in the GOP while attempting to keep the extremist fringe in check.
The drama between the fiery Greene, who is white, and the equally fiery Waters, who is Black, roped in Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She said Waters had remarked on Saturday during a Black Lives Matter gathering in Minneapolis about “confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement” and had no need to apologize to colleagues. Asked if Waters’s comments could incite violence, one of McCarthy’s accusations, the Speaker said, “No, absolutely not.”
The Grio: Waters: “I am nonviolent.”
The Associated Press: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Greene flaunt new paths to power, testing GOP leaders.
> Former Vice President Walter Mondale, a governing partner to former President Jimmy Carter, died on Monday at his Minneapolis home at age 93 (The Hill and The New York Times). Throughout his career, Mondale advocated for an assertive federal role, especially on behalf of the poor, minority groups and women.
“I’m a liberal or a progressive,” he told the Times in 2010. “I didn’t use the ‘liberal’ word much, because I thought it carried too much baggage. But my whole life, I worked on the idea that government can be an instrument for social progress. We need that progress. Fairness requires it.” Mondale lost by a landslide to former President Ronald Reagan. He also made history with his selection of a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, to be his running mate in 1984.
In statements, Carter hailed Mondale as “a friend” and Biden said he had spoken to Mondale and his family over the weekend “to reflect on the years of friendship we shared, and how much we learned from and leaned on each other.” Biden and Mondale served in the Senate together and Biden consulted him before he became vice president.
> Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) said Monday he is resigning from the House effective May 16 to accept a position as president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. His decision is likely to set off a special election, the state’s second of 2021. Voters in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District in November will choose the successor to former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). Fudge is now secretary of Housing and Urban Development (The Hill).
> Ahead of a Wednesday vote on earmarks, 15 Senate Republicans said Monday they oppose returning to the practice of allowing individual lawmakers to insert pet provisions into measure (Politico).
> The House approved a cannabis banking bill on Monday (Reuters).
> Biden’s nighttime address to a joint session of Congress next week is on a Wednesday. Some House Republicans asked Pelosi to reschedule it because they argued they are not in session and they want all lawmakers to be included rather than a limited audience to heed pandemic precautions (The Hill).
> Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died at 42 years of age on Jan. 7, hours after battling rioters during the siege at the Capitol, suffered two strokes and died of natural causes, according to Washington, D.C.’s chief medical examiner. The determination will likely make it difficult for prosecutors to pursue homicide charges against protesters who assaulted Sicknick with bear spray. There was no evidence the officer suffered an allergic reaction to the chemicals before his death, according to the autopsy. “All that transpired played a role in his condition,” the medical examiner said of events on Jan. 6 (The Washington Post).
A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK
It’s time to update internet regulations
The internet has changed a lot in the 25 years since lawmakers last passed comprehensive internet regulations. It’s time for an update.
See how we’re making progress on key issues and why we support updated regulations to set clear rules for addressing today’s toughest challenges.
LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: Federal regulators ordered the embattled Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore to stop producing new doses of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine pending a completed inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company said Monday.
As The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel writes, Emergent said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchanges Commission on Monday that it “agreed not to initiate the manufacturing of any new material” for J&J’s shot “and to quarantine existing material” until the FDA’s inspection is completed. The FDA inspection started on April 12.
“While we await the FDA’s full feedback, we are working with J&J and the FDA on strengthening the supply chain for this vitally important vaccine,” Emergent said in a statement (The Hill).
The Wall Street Journal: COVID-19 cases rise in parts of U.S. even as Vaccinations pick up.
The Associated Press: European Union drug regulator prepares to issue advice on J&J COVID shot.
> Air travel: A World Health Organization (WHO) panel said Monday that it opposes requiring vaccination proof for travel as nations increasingly begin to open up and prepare to allow tourists in the coming months.
The WHO’s Emergency Committee cited “the persistent inequity in global vaccine distribution” and limited scientific evidence that vaccination against COVID-19, which protects people against serious illness and death, reduces inoculated people’s ability to transmit the virus (Reuters).
The recommendation comes as airlines are starting to ramp up flights to countries that are relaxing restrictions and entry rules for travelers who have been fully vaccinated. United Airlines on Monday announced that it is increasing flights to a number of countries, including Iceland, Croatia and Greece, that either have already scaled back their travel dos and don’ts or are set to do so in the coming weeks (The Hill).
CNBC: State Department says it will boost “Do Not Travel” advisories to 80 percent of the world.
> Vaccinations by gender: Women across the country are coming out en masse to receive vaccinations, with increased data showing that women are overcoming any potential hesitancy surrounding immunization in greater numbers than men.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more than 65 million American women (54.4 percent) have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, despite making up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population, according to The Hill’s Justine Coleman. As for men, almost 55 million (or 45.6 percent) have received at least one dose.
The trend has also appeared across most states. As of last week, Kaiser Health News reported that more women had received a jab than men in the 38 states that listed gender breakdowns. Women are overcoming vaccine hesitancy despite data showing that they are more likely to report minor side effects as well as the incredibly rare major side effects, including cases of blood clots that halted the J&J shot.
“Vaxes have side effects and it’s ok. Let’s remember transparency in medicine is better than gaslighting if the goal is reducing vax hesitancy,” Kathryn Clancy, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, wrote this week after launching a survey of women’s possible responses to the shot.
Reuters: J&J COVID-19 vaccine reviewed for links to additional reports of severe side effects.
Derek Thompson, The Atlantic: Are outdoor mask mandates still necessary?
The Associated Press: A jab on the job: Companies, unions offer COVID-19 vaccines.
BBC: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “Only sensible” to cancel India trip.
ADMINISTRATION: The Biden administration continues to defend its handling of migrant and refugee policies (Mexican shelter pictured below) as the president nears 100 days in office next week. The administration shuttered a Houston migrant facility for young girls run by a nonprofit because of deplorable conditions (ABC News). And on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s vow to raise to 62,500 the number of refugees who can enter the United States but said the number was “aspirational.” The Biden administration will exceed Trump’s tight 15,000 cap on refugees, she added, without being more specific (The Hill).
In another immigration development, words matter to the administration. It ordered enforcement agencies on Monday to jettison “alien,” “illegal alien” and “assimilation” when referring to immigrants in the United States (The Washington Post).
Justice Department: Attorney General Merrick Garland, appearing Monday in Oklahoma to mark 25 years since the deadly Oklahoma City bombing, did not mention the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, but made clear that home-grown terrorism continues in 2021 and is of concern to law enforcers (The Oklahoman).
“Although many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us. Just last month, the FBI warned of the ongoing and heightened threat posed by domestic violent extremists,” he said. “The Department of Justice is pouring its resources into stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do and battling the spread of the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like the one we mark today. We must all stand together against them — for the safety of our communities and for the good of our country.”
International: The Hill’s Niall Stanage explores Biden’s challenges with Russia, including pressures if Alexei Navalny, who has been imprisoned in Moscow on a hunger strike to protest President Vladimir Putin, should die after being moved to a hospital east of Moscow while in declining health. … A team of medics, including Navalny’s personal physician, have been denied access to him in prison. On Tuesday morning the team was once again barred from seeing him, but was told to try again later today (Yahoo News). … The Kremlin recommended last week that John Sullivan, U.S. ambassador to Russia, return to Washington to confer with the White House. Sullivan, a holdover diplomat from the Trump administration, says Putin will have to force him to leave Russia (Axios).
Climate: On Earth Day on Thursday, the Biden administration will unveil updated greenhouse gas emission targets for 2030 under the Paris climate accord. The Hill’s Rachel Frazin reports on what to expect.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) announced on Monday that Kimberly Guilfoyle, the lead fundraiser for Trump’s 2020 campaign and girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., will serve as his campaign chairwoman.
“Governor Greitens is a fighter who has stood with President Trump and has a proven record of advancing conservative, America First policies,” Guilfoyle said in a statement issued through Greitens’s campaign on Monday (The Hill).
The move is intended to move the disgraced former governor closer toward nabbing the 45th president’s support, which would give him a significant leg up on what is expected to be a crowded field of candidates for the party nomination to replace Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) (CNN).
The Hill: Missouri Republicans eyeing Senate bids to hold fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago.
> Court challenges, 2020 edition: The Supreme Court on Monday put an end to yet another Republican 2020 election challenge (The Hill). The justices, in a brief order, decided that the dispute was moot. They threw out a Nov. 13 decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that found the candidate, Jim Bognet, and four individual voters did not have legal standing to challenge the ballot deadline extension.
Bognet, who lost his race for a seat in the House against Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), and the voters had filed the suit before the election, challenging a Sept. 17 ruling by Pennsylvania’s top court ordering officials to count mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and received up to three days later. The high court’s action in the lingering dispute was expected. It has previously rejected many others pursued by the former president and his allies related to the presidential election (Reuters).
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
Walter Mondale reinvented the vice presidency. Both Biden and Harris should thank him for it, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2Qa4AQy
Minnesota is armed and ready to defend its investment in whiteness. What exactly does the plywood protect? by Justin Ellis, author and opinion contributor, The New York Times and (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. http://strib.mn/3efvbUi
A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK
Facebook supports updated internet regulations
It’s been 25 years since comprehensive internet regulations passed. But a lot has changed since 1996.
See how we’re taking action and why we support updated regulations to address today’s challenges — protecting privacy, fighting misinformation, reforming Section 230, and more.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 10 a.m.
The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the nominations of Gary Gensler to be a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Lisa Monaco to become deputy attorney general.
The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. The president and vice president will meet with leadership of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at 11:15 a.m. Biden will also take a virtual tour of Proterra electric battery facility in South Carolina and deliver remarks at 2:45 p.m.
The White House press briefing will take place at 12:30 p.m.
INVITATIONS to The Hill’s Virtually Live: TODAY at 1:30 p.m., “Policy Prescriptions for Cost & Coverage.” The Hill Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons is joined by Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Keysha Brooks-Coley to discuss rising medical and drug costs. Information is HERE.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will be interviewed at 4:30 p.m. by Punchbowl News. Information is HERE.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) speaks about trust in U.S. elections during a virtual event at 4:30 p.m. organized by the American Enterprise Institute. Watch HERE.
Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy hosts a virtual conversation with Biden administration officials and other experts at 11 a.m. about “climate resilience strategy.” The event features David Hayes, special assistant to Biden for climate policy; Cecilia Martinez, senior director for environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Michael Connor, partner at WilmerHale with a focus on natural resources, energy development, environmental compliance and Native American law; Karen Diver, director of business development for Native American advancement initiatives at the University of Arizona; and Jainey Bavishi, director of the New York City Mayor’s office of resiliency. Information is HERE.
➔ COURTS & SHOOTINGS: In closing arguments Monday in Minneapolis (pictured below), the defense team at the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin criticized prosecutors for their concentration on Chauvin’s kneeling for 9 minutes and 29 seconds on George Floyd’s neck before his death during an arrest in May (The Hill). … The prosecution told jurors the case against Chauvin, charged with murder and manslaughter, was proved “beyond reasonable doubt.” The prosecutor said the former officer’s actions were “a straight-up felony assault. This was not policing. It was unnecessary. It was gratuitous. It was disproportionate. And he did it on purpose. No question. This was not an accident” (The Hill). The jury deliberated four hours on Monday and continues today. … According to The Hill’s Brett Samuels, the Biden administration is consulting with state and local officials in Minnesota in anticipation of a verdict in the trial. … Minneapolis merchants who suffered severe losses because of looting and vandalism during protests since last year are bracing for the worst when a jury hands down a verdict in the Chauvin trial (The New York Times and The Associated Press). … Washington, D.C., has requested National Guard support to augment the city’s police ahead of a Minneapolis trial verdict that is expected to spark demonstrations in major cities (The Hill). … A Kenosha, Wis., mass shooting suspect who killed three people over the weekend was arrested on Monday (USA Today). … In Austin, Texas, the suspect who fled a mass shooting that took place at an apartment complex, killing three people, was arrested on Monday (The Washington Post).
➔ INTERNATIONAL: Cuba’s ruling Communist Party elected President Miguel Díaz-Canel to succeed Raúl Castro as party first secretary, the most powerful position in the country, on the final day of its congress on Monday (Reuters).
➔ TECH: Apple will allow Parler to return to its App Store after the social media platform improved its content moderation since it was removed in January following the insurrection at the Capitol. In a letter to top Republicans on the House and Senate antitrust subcommittees, Apple wrote that its review team told Parler that its proposed changes were sufficient on Wednesday, paving the way for the updated app to return to its store (The Hill). … Facebook rolled out a new set of audio features and tools Monday that will allow users to communicate verbally in real time. The Live Audio Rooms feature, which appears to be very similar to the audio features offered by the social media platform Clubhouse, will be tested within groups on Facebook to start. The new feature is expected to be available on the Facebook app and Messenger this summer (The Hill).
And finally … Let’s hear it for NASA’s Ingenuity, the teensy helicopter that hovered about 10 feet above the surface of Mars in the cold, thin atmosphere on Monday and set a record for the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
It also sent back pictures of its adventure and will try to keep doing more of the same on a set schedule (CNBC). NASA also received video captured by the rover Perseverance. All in all, Space.com enthused about the astrobiology mission and pronounced the images “unbelievable.”
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.