The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths as of this morning: Monday, 581,754; Tuesday, 582,153; Wednesday, 582,848; Thursday, 583,685.
It was a tale of two scenes across the nation’s capital on Wednesday as President Biden expressed optimism following a meeting with congressional leaders that a bipartisan infrastructure deal could come together, at the same time House Republicans swiftly booted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her perch in leadership.
Biden convened with the “Big Four” leaders in the Oval Office for nearly two hours to search for an avenue to pass a massive infrastructure package this summer, a top priority. The president told reporters that he “came away encouraged” by the lengthy discussion with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“But I want to make it clear to you: I’m encouraged not just because of one solid meeting with the Republican leader in the House and with Sen. McConnell … I’ve been meeting with bipartisan leaders for a long time now,” Biden said. “So generically I’m encouraged that there’s room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that’s solid and significant and a means by which to pay for it without dropping all of the burden on middle-class and working-class people.”
Despite his optimism, there was no breakthrough on the issue, according to McConnell and McCarthy, who added that the sit-down was productive. Among the outstanding issues are the size of any package — Biden’s proposal sits at $2.3 trillion, with the GOP offer checking in at $568 billion — and how to pay for any proposal.
McConnell added that one GOP “red line” in talks is raising taxes by changes to the 2017 tax law.
“I think I’m safe in saying there’s certainly a bipartisan desire to get an outcome. … We all agreed to work on that together,” said McConnell, who also expressed optimism to Fox News on Wednesday night that a narrow infrastructure package could get done. “I think we’ve got a good chance of getting there on that issue” (The Hill).
As The Hill’s trio of Sylvan Lane, Morgan Chalfant and Amie Parnes write, in addition to the pay-fors for any package, there are a number of burgeoning factors that could make passage of a massive infrastructure bill and $1.8 trillion jobs plan difficult. Headlining those are the emerging complaints about unemployment insurance that Republicans argue is creating a disincentive for individuals to return to the workforce.
This has forced Democrats to grapple with the situation at hand and how best to advance the American Jobs Plan, with Biden talking to Republicans about a potentially scaled-down proposal — which progressives want no part of. The president later today will host Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), the author of the GOP’s infrastructure proposal, and six other Republican senators in the Oval Office.
The Hill: GOP split on counteroffer to Biden’s spending.
Meanwhile, the Oval Office powwow was not the only major one of the day for McCarthy, who was front-and-center for the House GOP’s weekly gathering to watch his conference oust Cheney from her perch as the No. 3 House Republican. House Republicans booted her in a voice vote after she repeatedly criticized former President Trump’s baseless claim that the November election was rife with fraud (The Hill).
For weeks, Cheney was on the chopping block amid constant complaints that she was not working toward putting House Republicans back in the majority. Now, she’s escalating her fight against the GOP, having told reporters after the vote that “I will do everything I can” to make sure Trump never goes near the White House again.
“We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution,” she said, adding that “the nation needs a strong Republican Party” and a “party based on fundamental principles of conservatism” (The Hill).
By kicking her out of leadership, House Republicans may have a bigger problem on their hands. Cheney, who largely kept her complaints focused on Jan. 6 and Trump’s electoral claims, is now free to speak her mind without having to worry about the effect on the House GOP conference.
“This builds Cheney’s platform,” one GOP member told the Morning Report. “She doesn’t go away. She just spends her time fighting against us getting the majority.”
“She’s focused on Trump … and now McCarthy,” the member added.
The New York Times: Republicans’ overthrow of Cheney risks worsening their headaches.
Aaron Blake, The Washington Post: The GOP just canceled Cheney.
The Hill: GOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a “normal tourist visit.”
The House Republican Conference is now expected to plow ahead with a Friday morning vote to replace Cheney with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who has on multiple occasions questioned the legitimacy of the November election. When pressed about elevating someone who has echoed falsehoods about Trump’s loss, McCarthy bizarrely told reporters that no one in the GOP is questioning the 2020 election’s validity.
“I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election,” McCarthy said outside the White House. “I think that is all over with. We’re sitting here with the president today.”
There are no formal challengers against Stefanik, though some House Freedom Caucus members are grumbling about the lack of an opposition candidate. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) declined to rule out tossing his hat in the ring for the gig, saying that there shouldn’t be a “coronation” (The Hill).
Stefanik remained unfazed by the possibility of a conservative member challenging her, telling reporters that her effort has “great support conference-wide.”
The Hill: Cheney to any Trump-backed challenger: “Bring it on.”
Politico: “Death by a thousand cuts”: How the House GOP took down Cheney.
The Hill: Trump critics push new direction for GOP.
The Washington Post: For GOP, the situation with Cheney was, in a word, unspeakable.
> More in Congress … Democrats are scrambling to unify behind a sweeping election overhaul that’s a top priority for the party’s base. Senate Democrats will meet Thursday to talk about the For the People Act, which Schumer has vowed to bring to the floor. But the bill faces an uphill path to passing even as this week’s committee vote is renewing pressure for Democrats to nix the filibuster (The Hill).
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LEADING THE DAY
ADMINISTRATION & INTERNATIONAL: Biden sought to reassure alarmed drivers in Southeastern states who failed to find gasoline supplies by Wednesday evening that the administration would be “getting that under control” by today.
He’ll reiterate those reassurances in remarks at the White House before noon, following the Department of Homeland Security’s “temporary and targeted” waiver issued late on Wednesday to help transport petroleum products between Gulf Coast and East Coast ports under the law in an effort to ease the fuel crunch as the Colonial Pipeline gets back in operation.
Upshot: With the Memorial Day holiday driving season just ahead, the last thing the administration wants to be blamed for this week are stranded drivers, delayed truck and freight shipments, gasoline price gouging and lingering disruptions pegged to problems transporting fuel to parts of the country (experts say there are no actual fuel shortages in United States at the moment).
Shortly after the president spoke to reporters on Wednesday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor who knows a few things about America’s love affair with automobiles, tweeted that Colonial Pipeline, which had been in regular contact with the administration, had resumed operations on Wednesday evening after spending a week trying to recover from crippling ransomware extortion.
Bloomberg News and The Hill: Gas pipeline restarts after a cyberattack.
Almost 2 in 3 gas stations in North Carolina were out of fuel on Wednesday afternoon, as pumps were drained through the Southeast. Anxious motorists scrambled to fill up their vehicles and reserve containers, creating more shortages. In Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte (pictured below), North Carolina’s two largest metro areas, more than 70 percent of pumps were out of gas on Wednesday morning, according to data from GasBuddy. By afternoon, 65 percent of stations in the Tarheel State were reporting outages. For context, just 7.5 percent of the state’s gas stations reported fuel outages on Tuesday afternoon. In Virginia, 44 percent of the state was reportedly out of gas, closely followed by 43 percent of station outages in Georgia. Governors in North Carolina and Georgia declared states of emergency because of the fuel shortages (Yahoo Money).
In the Atlanta area, Clayton County schools announced on Wednesday that if the gasoline scarcity in the area did not end this week, students will return to remote learning to finish out the academic year, which ends May 25 (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
The Hill: How did gas stations run out of fuel along the Eastern Seaboard so rapidly after the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack? Part of the answer: consumer panic.
The Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with other departments, decided to temporarily waive domestic shipping restrictions to allow foreign tankers to transport fuel to areas with shortages. The 101-year-old Jones Act requires that ships carrying goods between U.S. ports be built and flagged in this country as well as crewed by American workers.
Separately, the administration released a Biden executive order late Wednesday on cybersecurity (The Hill). The order requires baseline standards for all software sold to the federal government, and all software used by the government within nine months; mandates the use of encryption and multifactor authentication by the federal government; establishes a government-wide endpoint detection and response system to help federal agencies share cyber threat information; creates a standardized “playbook” for how agencies should immediately respond to future cyber breaches; and requires information technology providers that do business with the federal government to report data breaches.
Meanwhile, Biden spoke on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about escalating violence since the weekend between Israelis and Palestinians, resulting in deaths, hundreds of injuries, and destruction of buildings and vehicles in the Gaza Strip (seen below) (The Hill).
“My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself,” Biden told reporters at the White House. He did not expand on the reasons for his optimism. He said his national security team had been in frequent contact with counterparts in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to try to bring about a resolution of the conflict (Reuters).
Today, however, Israeli troops were massed along the Gaza border amid continued rocket fire and air attacks (Reuters).
The New York Times: Netanyahu’s foes see an opening, and risks.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, urged a de-escalation of violence and expressed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis “deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity,” according to a department statement.
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines on Wednesday canceled flights between the United States and Tel Aviv because of the escalating conflict (Reuters).
> Afghanistan: Naheed Farid has been a member of Afghanistan’s parliament since 2010 and vows that neither she nor the women of Afghanistan will surrender the rights they have gained in the past 20 years. She is working with an organization called the Afghanistan-U.S. Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council, which is lobbying Congress to ensure the continuation of funding and other support for Afghans after U.S. troops withdraw from the country by September. Interviewed by The Hill via Zoom on Tuesday from Kabul, Farid told reporter Rebecca Kheel, “If you gain something, you will fight for it. You will not give it up easily. No one can take it from you,” she continued. “So, I’m so hopeful that even with this civil war, with this fight, with this level of brutality and bloodshed that is going on in Afghanistan, women of Afghanistan won’t give up.”
> Department of Homeland Security: TIME interviews and profiles Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
> “Havana syndrome”: Mysterious phenomenon that caused brain injuries and illness in U.S. personnel overseas during the past five years number more than 130 people, far more than previously known (The New York Times). The government is investigating, and despite suspicions that Russia might be behind suspected attacks, which have continued in recent weeks, the Biden administration has not determined who or what is responsible.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CORONAVIRUS: An advisory panel with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to recommend that children ages 12 to 15 receive the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 and can do so immediately. The panel cited scientific data on the safety of the vaccine in teens (The Hill).
“I encourage each of them and their parents to get their vaccination shots right away,” Biden said on Wednesday at the White House.
The president said pediatricians and family doctors as well as health centers and clinics would soon be able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to youngsters. “Parents and children can talk to their doctors who they trust about getting the vaccination,” he said.
> Johnson & Johnson: The CDC said on Wednesday it found more cases of potentially life-threatening blood clotting among people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine and sees a “plausible causal association.” The public health agency found 28 cases of rare clotting complications among more than 8 million people who received J&J inoculations. Three people are known to have died (US News).
> States: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Wednesday placed a big bet that a million-dollar incentive can capture the attention of the unvaccinated in his state and sway the hesitant to play a new kind of COVID-19 lottery. Ohioans ages 18 and older who have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine will be entered into a lottery to win $1 million. Beginning May 26, there will be a total of five weekly drawings, with each winner receiving $1 million. Ohioans under the age of 18 who are eligible to receive a vaccine will be entered into a separate drawing for the chance to win a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio’s state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room and board, the governor announced. The winning payouts will be funded by existing federal coronavirus relief funds (The Hill). … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Wednesday that he will lift all remaining coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, entertainment and sporting venues on Saturday (The Hill).
> Surveys: Three in 4 parents say they are comfortable with complete in-person instruction this fall, according to a new Hart Research poll (The Hill). … Americans trust nurses, healthcare workers and doctors they know more than the CDC, state and local health departments, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration, according to a survey released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The findings underscore some of the pandemic challenges faced by federal and state governments.
The survey also found that a majority of the public, unlike experts focused on public health, does not identify three major issues — climate change, gun violence, and racism — as main responsibilities for public health agencies to handle. Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to view affordable housing, reducing homelessness and racism, and preventing violence and death from firearms as key components of public health.
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!
In Donald Trump’s purgatory, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3bkkkI4
Hacking regrets: The Colonial Pipeline and lessons to be learned, by Carolyn Kissane and Pano Yannakogeorgos, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2SNb7l2
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at noon. Pelosi will hold a press conference at 10:45 a.m.
The Senate will convene at 11 a.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Amber McReynolds to be a governor of the U.S. Postal Service.
The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:45 a.m. Biden will speak about the Colonial Pipeline ransomware events from the Roosevelt Room at 11:50 a.m. He will be joined by Harris, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a 1:30 p.m. meeting with Capito, John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) to discuss competing legislative ideas for federal funding for infrastructure.
The vice president at 5:15 p.m. will meet in her ceremonial White House office with members of the task force on worker organizing and empowerment.
First lady Jill Biden will travel to Charleston, W.Va., and tour Arnoldsburg Elementary School at 12:45 p.m., accompanied by actress Jennifer Garner, who is a native of Charleston. The two will visit a vaccination center at Capital High School in Charleston at 3 p.m. Biden will greet the West Virginia National Guard and their families before departing from the city’s Yeager Airport at 5 p.m. to return to Washington.
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. The administration’s COVID-19 briefing for reporters is scheduled at 4 p.m.
Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry will travel today to Rome, followed by London and Berlin through Wednesday to meet with European government officials and business leaders ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Glasgow in November.
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.
➔ JOBS: Analysts will look closely this morning at a new report on claims received last week for jobless benefits. The monthly employment report for April released on Friday was widely perceived as disappointing (Yahoo Money). … Amazon says it will double its workforce in Northern Virginia, hiring 2,000 more employees for its second headquarters. The jobs cover a variety of specialties, including software developers, project managers, engineers and store designers. By 2025, the company expects to employ 25,000 in Arlington, supported by a $2.5 billion investment (The Associated Press). … Cracker Barrel is trying to hire new workers for its metro Atlanta locations, like other employers across Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Wednesday. The homestyle restaurant chain will hold jobs fairs in Gwinnett and Cobb counties on Friday and Saturday, hoping to hire more than 700 full- and part-time workers at all experience levels.
➔ SPORTS: At long last, the NFL on Thursday released its 2021 schedule, marking the league’s first season reveal to feature 18 weeks of games as the new collective bargaining agreement provision kicks in. Per tradition, the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will kick off the season on Thursday Night Football, hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 9. The Bucs will also take part in the most anticipated game of the year as quarterback Tom Brady will return to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots in Week 4, having spent the first 20 years of his career there before moving to Tampa last season. The NFL announced recently that it is expecting that stadiums will be at full capacity this season, meaning that new stadiums in Las Vegas and Los Angeles will host fans for the first time (The Associated Press).
➔ ENTERTAINMENT: “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” one of the longest airing daytime talk shows, will end next year after 19 seasons (Variety). … Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2021 inductees announced on Wednesday include Tina Turner, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Carole King, the Go-Go’s and Todd Rundgren. Dave Grohl, founder of Foo Fighters, will become a two-time inductee. He was inducted with Nirvana in 2014. King, who was previously inducted with Gerry Goffin in 1990, and Turner, who was previously inducted in 1991 to honor her star-making career with Ike Turner, are also two-time inductees (NBC News).
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Jolted by the reappearance of lines of cars at U.S. gas stations, we challenge puzzlers to revisit the 1970s.
Email your responses to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
In April 1977, former President Carter delivered an address to the nation about the U.S. “energy crisis.” Which one of these statements was in that speech?
- “The 1973 gas lines are gone”
- “Americans won’t have to sacrifice”
- “Domestic energy production is booming”
- “Electricity derived from coal harms the planet”
In 1979, the United States experienced an “oil shock.” What was blamed as a cause or contributor?
- Near-disaster at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania
- The Iranian revolution
- Panic gasoline buying by U.S. consumers
- All of the above
As Americans dealt with petroleum supply shortages in the 1970s, what became popular?
- Locks on gas caps
- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
- Vehicles made in Detroit
- S. oil companies
During his first year in office, former President Reagan promoted policies he said would address the energy crisis. Which of these was among the ideas he presented?
- Eliminate the Energy Department
- Shutter U.S. nuclear power plants
- Incentivize wind and alternative energy production
- Place price controls on domestic oil and natural gas
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