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The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to take stock, revive push for big government

 

A joint session of Congress

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today 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 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 each morning this week: Monday, 572,200; Tuesday, 572,674; Wednesday, 573,381.



President BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE waited until he could take stock of achievements before delivering his first address to Congress tonight. 

 

The pandemic is not over, made clear by the trimmed invitation list for what used to be a packed setting for any joint congressional gathering (pictured above). Biden’s audience for the 9 p.m. speech seated in the House chamber will heed COVID-19 precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing (The Hill). 

 

Biden, flanked by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Pelosi: House Democrats want to make child tax credit expansion permanent Pelosi announces change to House floor mask rules MORE (D-Calif.) and Vice President Harris, will remind listeners that in a span of 100 days, the U.S. distribution and administration of vaccines saved lives, helped the elderly hug their loved ones again, put millions of students in classrooms along with help from governors and mayors, and made it possible for families to recover some financial equilibrium with direct payments from Uncle Sam.

 

Next up on the president’s to-do list: enactment of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure and green jobs plan in the next few months, and progress this year on a separate proposal that Biden calls the American Families Plan. 

 

White House fact sheet for the plan is HERE.

 

The Hill: Here’s what’s in the American Families Plan.

 

The American Families’ Plan would cost about $1.5 trillion, offset by half a dozen proposed tax hikes on high-income Americans and investors, according to early reports and White House information. 

 

Biden wants Congress to approve federal funding for national child care to cap family expenditures to 7 percent of income, $200 billion for universal prekindergarten for two- and three-year-olds, paid family leave and $109 billion for two years of tuition-free community college, among other domestic priorities, as part of a Democratic vision of a more prosperous, competitive and innovative America. 

 

The president’s plan also proposes investing $225 billion over a decade for “comprehensive” paid family and medical leave with partial wage replacement, rising to a guaranteed 12 weeks by the end of an envisioned 10-year phase-in. Biden backs the Healthy Families Act, which would allow all workers to accrue at least seven days of paid sick leave per year. 

 

The president will call for “tax reform that rewards work and not wealth,” raising about $1.5 billion over 10 years from high-income individuals to pay for spending and tax breaks to benefit lower-income and middle-class families. “All of the investments would be fully paid for over the next 15 years,” the White House says.

 

Axios reported on Tuesday that Biden would seek to offset the package rather than look to deficit spending, which occurred with the COVID-19 relief law. 

 

The president’s overall vision polls well among majorities of Americans but guarantees pitched battles ahead in Congress.

 

To claim the infrastructure and families plans are offset, the White House will count increased revenue over a 15-year window to pay for the $4 trillion in spending, most of which would occur over eight years, Axios reported.

 

Biden’s proposed tax increases include raising the top income tax rate to 39.6 percent from 37 percent enacted in 2017, applied to the top 1 percent of wealthy filers; treating capital gains on investments as regular income for those earning more than $1 million; and eliminating the inheritance tax “loophole” that allows the practice of “stepping-up” the basis for gains in excess of $1 million ($2.5 million per couple when combined with existing real estate exemptions) and making sure the gains are taxed if the property is not donated to charity, according to the White House. Taking aim at hedge fund partners, Biden also wants to treat carried interest as ordinary income to remove what he calls a “loophole” in the law. 

 

The Hill: Provisions of the American Families Plan, including proposals left out of the blueprint, challenge Biden’s ties with progressives in Congress.

 

Amie Parnes and Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Biden’s job approval is above 50 percent, but his major initiatives have thus far been largely rejected by Republicans in Congress, defying his vow of bipartisanship. Does it matter? It matters to the president, says William Galston, who served in the White House under former President Clinton. “It turns out that as of now, the partisan divisions under Biden are more pronounced than they have ever been,” he says.

 

The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis, who cover the House beat, outline five things the president aims to do in his remarks: encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccinations to get back to normal, improve support in both parties for a compromise infrastructure bill, describe how his administration is juggling a border crisis and immigration policy, use the bully pulpit to support racial justice, and explain how his administration’s policies reduce security risks posed by China and Russia. 

 

The Hill: Biden on Tuesday moved to nominate Ed Gonzalez, a Houston-area sheriff, to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

 

The Hill: Biden is testing his clout with corporate America with his calls for higher taxes on major corporations and wealthy individuals.

 

The president will travel to Atlanta on Thursday to emphasize key messages and keep them in the headlines. Harris and members of the Cabinet will do the same (The Hill).

 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottRepublicans can win back control in 2022 — if they don't 'cancel' themselves first Cruz outspending other senators on Facebook ads: report Juan Williams: Tim Scott should become a Democrat MORE (S.C.), will deliver the Republican response to the president’s address tonight. As The Hill’s Niall Stanage reports, it is a high-profile and often humbling assignment. Scott is the sole Black GOP senator and just the second Black Republican elected since Reconstruction. The other was Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), who left office more than 40 years ago. Scott is credited with understanding issues of race and working across the aisle and appears on Washington’s “talked-about” list of possible 2024 contenders.

 

Politico: There will be no designated survivor for Biden’s first joint address to Congress because the coronavirus means many Cabinet officials will not be present.

 

Fox News: Former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE called on John KerryJohn KerryChina emitted more greenhouse gasses than US, developed world combined in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process| EPA official directs agency to ramp up enforcement in overburdened communities | Meet Flint prosecutor Kym Worthy Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process MORE, Biden’s climate envoy and former secretary of state, to explain alleged past information-sharing with Iran’s foreign minister about Israeli operations in Syria. Kerry has denied allegations drawn from leaked Iran tapes (The Hill). “This never happened - either when I was Secretary of State or since,” Kerry tweeted on Monday.

 

 

President Biden

 

 

More in Congress: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Republican governor of Arkansas says 'Trump is dividing our party' MORE (R-Ky.) suggested that any immigration reform deal with Republicans would have to address the U.S. southern border (The Hill). … The Hill’s Jordain Carney chronicles a narrowly Democratic Senate that is trying to shake off a reputation as a legislative graveyard. … Wyoming Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoBiden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push Republican seeks to use Obama energy policies to criticize Biden  EPA proposes major rule to reduce certain greenhouse gases MORE, a member of the GOP leadership, on Tuesday called for an investigation of Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmOvernight Energy: Southeast sees gas shortages amid pipeline shutdown | Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack | Biden administration approves major offshore wind project Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack South Carolina enacts price gouging law in wake of pipeline shutdown MORE’s financial ties to a company that makes electric buses, batteries and chargers (The Hill). Barrasso voted against the nomination to the Biden Cabinet of the former Michigan governor. … Arizona progressives are doing everything they can think of to convince Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten Sinema Biden to host Sinema for meeting on infrastructure proposal Senate Republicans attack Democratic bill as 'politically motivated ... takeover' of election system Senate poised for all-day brawl over sweeping elections bill MORE (D-Ariz.) to shelve her support for keeping the Senate filibuster (The Hill). … House Democrats are concerned they could be down a seat for many more months than expected as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOvernight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections DeSantis to hold Newsmax town hall DeSantis signs bill banning gun regulations by local governments MORE (R) intends to leave the seat held by the late Rep. Alcee HastingsAlcee (Judge) Lamar HastingsCarter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority Democrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal MORE (D) vacant for the foreseeable future. As The Hill’s Max Greenwood notes, Florida law gives the governor broad authority to set a date for the special election to replace him, but DeSantis has been mum about his intentions. With a 218-212 margin, Pelosi has little room for error to pass bills along party lines. 

 

 

Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ)

 



LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance on Tuesday rolling back the use of masks in outdoor settings for fully vaccinated individuals in small groups. 

 

CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyUS reaching turning point in pandemic amid vaccination concerns Watch live: Fauci, Walensky testify on COVID-19 response efforts Top CDC official who warned of pandemic disruption will resign MORE announced the new guidelines and explained what vaccinated people are officially able to do without masks according to the agency’s recommendations. Those activities include dining outdoors with friends from other households and gatherings outdoors with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

 

“Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before. Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do,” Walensky said. “Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.” 

 

Walensky added that fully vaccinated people are at “low risk” to themselves while taking part in those activities. The update comes a month after the CDC said it was safe for fully vaccinated individuals to safely gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people while maskless.

 

According to the CDC, more than 42 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose. Nearly 30 percent has been fully vaccinated (The Hill).

 

The Associated Press: Outdoor mask guidance echoes what many Americans already do.

 

Biden on Tuesday used the new guidance as part of a sales pitch to young adults for them to receive the vaccine.

 

“The bottom line is clear: If you're vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors. So for those who haven't gotten the vaccination yet — especially if you're younger or thinking you don't need it — this is another great reason to go get vaccinated,” Biden said from the White House’s North Lawn (The Hill).

 

Biden’s comments come amid a decline in case totals across the country. According to The Washington Post’s latest tracking data, the U.S. is averaging slightly north of 55,000 new infections per day, a total that has not been recorded in more than a month. Walensky told reporters on Tuesday that the trendline of cases is “a really hopeful decline” (NBC News).

 

The Hill: Novavax preparing to request U.S. authorization on new COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Bloomberg News: CDC investigating two new clotting cases ties to Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

 

The Wall Street Journal: Indian COVID-19 variant found in U.S., across globe as foreign help arrives.

 

 

A discarded mask

 

 

Amid the focus on vaccines, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla indicated on Tuesday that the company’s antiviral drug to treat COVID-19 could be ready as early as next year. Bourla told CNBC that the drug would stop the virus from replicating, adding that it could be ready for 2022 “if all goes right” (Axios).

 

The Associated Press: Prince HarryPrince HarryPrince Harry, Oprah Winfrey to debut special on mental health on Apple TV Queen's cousin and associate accused of 'secretly trading on their links' to Putin, monarchy for profit Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as White House continues to push vaccination effort MORE and Meghan MarkleMeghan MarkleMeghan wins last copyright claim over letter to father Meghan announces children's book inspired by Prince Harry and Archie The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to take stock, revive push for big government MORE to lead “Vax Live” fundraising concert. 

 

ESPN: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: 70 percent of players, on-field staff began vaccination.

 

> International: Brazil’s health regulator on Tuesday rejected a request by multiple Brazilian states to use the Russian Sputnik V vaccine due to inadequate data provided for approval. The states were pushing for the approval to use 30 million doses of the shot. 

 

According to Anvisa, the board of Brazilian health experts, the clinical studies of the vaccine were faulty and did not include the requisite amount of data for approval, adding that the adenovirus on which the vaccine is based is able to replicate and potentially could cause health problems or deaths. The Russian fund overseeing the vaccine’s marketing vehemently denied that claim (The Associated Press).

 

The United States on Tuesday said it will ease coronavirus restrictions this fall on Chinese and other international students studying here. It’s an administration change that could provide financial help to some colleges and universities whose enrollments declined during the coronavirus pandemic (Reuters and The Hill).

 

The New York Times: How Europe sealed a Pfizer vaccine deal with texts and calls.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: The House Republican Conference is preaching unity but is exhibiting very little as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE (R-Calif.) and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE (R-Wyo.) continued to snipe at one another on Tuesday. 

 

When pressed on Tuesday by a reporter at a House Republican retreat in Florida about whether Cheney is a “good fit” for the GOP’s leadership team, McCarthy declined to respond, fueling questions about internal tumult at the top of the conference. 

 

“That's a question for the conference,” McCarthy told reporters gathered in Orlando, Fla., for the final day of the retreat. When asked for his personal opinion, the top House Republican argued that anyone at the three-day confab who wasn’t focused on policy wasn’t being “productive.” He did not mention Cheney by name. 

 

“I think from a perspective if you're sitting here at a retreat that's focused on policy, focused on the future of making America’s next century, and you're talking about something else, you're not being productive,” McCarthy said (The Hill). 

 

McCarthy could have noted that his conference less than two months ago voted to keep Cheney in leadership. But he opted not to go that route (CBS News).

 

The comments come on the heels of multiple comments that raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill from Cheney, including her saying that McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are the leaders of the GOP, not former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE

 

Politico: McCarthy and Cheney worlds apart after Florida retreat.

 

The Hill: Trump swipes at Cheney amid House GOP spat.

 

Fox News: New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCNN's Lemon, Cuomo to host new podcast 'Hamilton,' 'Wicked' among Broadway shows reopening Sept. 14 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (D) says state looking at legal options after losing House seat in 2020 Census.

 

The Hill: Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate.

 

The New York Times: How Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomPoll finds little support for Jenner, other Republicans challenging Newsom Jenner says she didn't vote in 2020: 'I just couldn't get excited about it' California drought emergency expanded to most of the state MORE (D) landed in a California jam.

 

 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

 



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! 



OPINIONS

Biden’s first 100 Days — and the next 100, by William A. Galston, weekly columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3vgmHDc 

 

The Senate must reform the filibuster to achieve bipartisan compromise, by Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2QtsM0t



WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 6 p.m., ahead of Biden’s planned address to Congress. 

 

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Samantha PowerSamantha PowerUSAID chief Samantha Power: Getting shots 'into arms' can restore US global leadership The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Trump, Cheney trade jabs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Biden sales pitch heads to Virginia and Louisiana MORE to be administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. He will address a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. 

 

The vice president will attend the president’s address at the Capitol.

 

The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting with release of a 2 p.m. statement, followed by a press briefing by Chairman Jerome Powell.

 

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in what is described by some as a “momentous” student speech case, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., involving Brandi Levy of Pennsylvania, who was 14 when she used Snapchat to vent her expletive-laden displeasure with her school when she was relegated to junior varsity cheerleading for another year. After circulation of the off-campus snap, coaches suspended Levy, now a college student, from the cheerleading squad for a year. “The case could determine how the First Amendment’s protection of free speech applies to the off-campus activities of the nation’s 50 million public school students,reports The Washington Post.           

                                  

INVITATIONS: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live “The Future of Jobs” TODAY at 12:30 p.m. featuring a top-tier roster of lawmakers, economists, public policy veterans, workforce experts, union representatives, CEOs and more. Information is HERE. … On Thursday, don’t miss The Hill’s Virtually LiveSmall Business Recovery Tour ~ Philadelphia” at 1 p.m. with Rep. Madeleine DeanMadeleine DeanHouse fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions Pennsylvania lawmakers say PPP funds proved valuable despite rocky start The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' MORE (D-Pa.), House Financial Services Committee member; Rep. Dan MeuserDaniel (Dan) MeuserREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Pa.), House Small Business Committee member; VestedIn CEO Jim Burnett; Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke; Urban League of Philadelphia President and CEO Andrea Custis; and Sunny Phanthavong, chef and owner of Vientiane Bistro. Registration is 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

COURTS: Sentencing for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, was pushed from June 16 until June 25. According to a Hennepin County court spokesperson, the sentencing was pushed back due to a scheduling conflict. Chauvin is facing a maximum of 40 years behind bars, as Minnesota statute allows him to be sentenced only for his second-degree murder conviction (The Associated Press). … America First Legal, a conservative group led by former Trump White House adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerYang's tweet in support of Israel draws praise from conservatives Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires Sunday shows preview: Biden hits the road to promote infrastructure proposals; US begins withdrawal from Afghanistan MORE, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to stop the Biden administration from implementing a program enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that the group alleges discriminates against white farmers and ranchers by specifically benefiting Black farmers (Washington Examiner and Bloomberg News).  

 

TECH: Parler rose in popularity after the 2020 election, boosted by high-profile conservative figures who railed against mainstream platforms' content moderation policies. But as the social media company plots its return to the Apple app store after making approved changes, the future of its position with its core user base remains uncertain (The Hill).

 

SPACE: Scientists said Tuesday they are using a new telescope at the European Southern Observatory as part of an effort to create an automated network for spotting asteroids that might pose a risk to Earth. A pair of telescopes in Chile and Spain are the new asteroid hunters (The Associated Press).



THE CLOSER

And finally …  We’re pretty sure that Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyRepublicans' 'marriage bonus' is social engineering at its worst Cruz outspending other senators on Facebook ads: report Press: Let us now praise Liz Cheney MORE (R-Mo.) and Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerPolice reform talks ramp up amid pressure from Biden, families The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to take stock, revive push for big government As Americans struggle, Biden's tax plan helps blue states and foreign nations MORE (D-N.J.) were not in Nebraska this weekend for a massive pool noodle brawl in a park. But they would have been welcome, and Gottheimer even tweeted about the event: “Never underestimate a Josh.”

 

In case you missed Saturday’s event featuring only attendees named Josh, here’s your chance to catch up alá CBS News video. It all started a year ago when pandemic boredom set in and Josh Swain, a 22-year-old college student from Tucson, Ariz., messaged others who shared his name on social media and challenged them to a duel. Hundreds showed up at Air Park in Lincoln, Neb. — a location chosen at random — to participate in the silliness (The Associated Press).

 

 

People named Josh battle