The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Deal or no deal? Biden, Capito continue infrastructure talks

                        Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! 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: Tuesday, 594,568; Wednesday, 595,213; Thursday, 595,833. 

When in doubt, or when a two-night getaway to the beach is on a presidential calendar, punt. 


President Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOfficials warn of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in water systems Graham, Hawley call on Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on US-Mexico border GOP senators urge Biden to keep Trump-era border restrictions MORE (R-W.Va.) met in the Oval Office on Wednesday to discuss a possible compromise on infrastructure spending and decided to continue their discussion on Friday (The Hill). According to the White House, the two negotiators engaged in an hour-long, “constructive and frank conversation in the Oval Office about how we can drive economic growth and benefit America’s middle class through investing in our infrastructure.”


A Capito spokeswoman said in a statement that the senator is “encouraged that negotiations have continued” and would brief other GOP senators on the discussion with Biden before engaging with him again on Friday.


“Senator Capito reiterated to the president her desire to work together to reach an infrastructure agreement that can pass Congress in a bipartisan way. She also stressed the progress that the Senate has already made,” the spokeswoman said.


Last week, the Capito-led group presented a $928 billion counteroffer to the White House, which would largely rely on unspent coronavirus response funds already appropriated by Congress, plus a proposed increase in the gas tax. Prior to that, the White House reduced its plan from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion, but the current state of talks has left lawmakers and congressional aides skeptical that a $700 billion gap between the negotiators can be bridged.


Wednesday’s meeting was always going to be a “discussion” rather than an exchange of new proposals, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada White House blasts China's 'dangerous' rejection of coronavirus origins study MORE said before Biden and Capito announced another meeting on Friday. 


The Associated Press: Biden, GOP senator met again on infrastructure as time drags on.


The Washington Post: Time could be running out for an infrastructure deal.



Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)



On the GOP side, there had been signs of optimism early on Wednesday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellS.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Business groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters in Kentucky that he was “hoping for the best.”


Meanwhile, Senate Democrats were dealt a blow in their hopes of implementing the Biden agenda — including a potential infrastructure bill — with Democratic votes alone. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough effectively ruled that only one more automatic budget reconciliation is permissible this year, meaning that Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE (D-N.Y.) will be able to use only one more reconciliation vehicle to pass key legislative priorities for the party this year. 


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton notes, the ruling means Schumer will not be able to divide up an infrastructure package and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, as well as calls by the White House to expand Medicare and lower the price of prescription drugs, into multiple reconciliation packages as the Democratic leader had hoped. 


The Wall Street Journal: The economic recovery is here. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen.


The New York Times: Stimulus checks substantially reduced hardship, study shows.


More in Congress: Biden, who needs every Democratic vote he can get for his pending agenda, on Tuesday took a veiled swipe in public at Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor CBC honors Black women advocates amid voting rights battle GOP blocks infrastructure debate as negotiators near deal MORE (Ariz.), two centrists who support the filibuster and buck key legislative aims on Biden’s wish list (The Hill)… The New York Times podcast “The Daily” on Wednesday focused on what makes Manchin tick. … Senate Democrats face a heavy lift to pass House-supported voting rights legislation. Schumer is driving his caucus toward a fight this month on a sweeping elections reform bill that observers say faces long odds to make it to Biden's desk, reports The Hill’s Jordain Carney





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ADMINISTRATION: Happy birthday today to first lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Goldman Sachs — House temperature rises over Jan. 6 select committee The Hill's Morning Report - Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics MORE!


Vice President Harris has been handed some of the thorniest, most intractable policy problems in this or previous administrations, tasked by the president to supervise portfolios that include protecting voting rights eroded by state legislatures, getting broadband to rural and underserved U.S. communities, and helping to resolve the “root causes” of migration from Central American countries. Harris is scheduled next week to meet with leaders in Guatemala and Mexico, reminiscent of a problem-solving role Biden played in Central America in 2014 for former President Obama (The Hill).



Vice President Harris



> Employment: Is the U.S. economy bouncing back with robust job creation after more than a year of pandemic layoffs and shuttered businesses? The Labor Department’s latest information from May, to be released Friday, holds considerable suspense for economists and investors. The Hill’s Sylvan Lane previews how the latest data could shift the fate of the Biden agenda in Congress. … The Hill’s Niall Stanage reports that critics on the right, who lambasted the White House and congressional Democrats after April’s employment numbers emerged far below analysts’ expectations, are looking ahead to voters’ perceptions of the U.S. economy (and Republican prospects in the 2022 midterms).  


> Cyber crimes: In less than a month, cyberattacks have crippled a meat packer and a petroleum pipeline, both leaving behind major repercussions for U.S. consumers and downstream businesses. Cyber criminals who are believed to be operating out of Russia have forced the Biden administration to confront nations that harbor malicious hackers, reports The Hill’s Maggie Miller. … ABC News explains why ransomware is so dangerous and hard to stop. … The FBI says a Russia-linked group is tied to the cyberattack on meat producer JBS, a company based in Sao Paulo (The Hill). … The New York subway system was a target in April of hackers linked to China (The New York Times). 


> Interior Department: The New York Times reports on the promise and pressures of Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandWe have a moral obligation to learn Native American history Haaland creates task force on Interior law enforcement after incidents draw scrutiny The Memo: Democrats face vulnerability as crime moves up voters' agenda MORE, entrusted by many Native Americans to address what they see as 150 years of betrayal by a department officially entrusted with ensuring their welfare. 


> Energy: The Biden administration favors offshore wind as part of its proposed transition to clean energy. Advocates and experts praise a 2030 goal of generating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, which the administration says is enough to power more than 10 million homes. In 2019, 28.5 gigawatts were in the works, suggesting the administration can meet and perhaps exceed its current wind energy ambitions (The Hill).  


> Spying on journalists:  the Trump administration secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times journalists, Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt, over a period of four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation to try to uncover their sources, Biden’s Justice Department disclosed on Wednesday. The Trump administration also secretly collected phone and email records of reporters with The Washington Post and CNN, according to separate recent disclosures by the Biden administration. A Justice spokesman said that law enforcement officials obtained the records in 2020, and added that “members of the news media have now been notified in every instance” of leak investigations from the 2019-2020 period in which their records were sought. Biden has said his administration would not seize journalists’ records, calling it “simply, simply wrong” (The New York Times).


POLITICS: Former President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE on Wednesday decided to scrap a blog launched last month, reportedly due to light readership and poor traffic. 


According to The Washington Post, Trump dumped the site after only 29 days over concerns that it could take away from another potential site or social media platform he hopes to get off the ground later this year. On the last day of operation, the “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” blog received only 1,500 shares or comments on Facebook and Twitter, two platforms he is barred from either in perpetuity or for the foreseeable future.


Trump spokesperson Jason Miller told the Post that the blog “was just auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on.”


Politico: Trump’s blog failed, bigly. His next online venture won’t be any easier.


Elsewhere in the GOP universe, the Republican National Committee (RNC) called on the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) to make widespread changes, threatening a  possible boycott of the quadrennial events by the 2024 Republican nominee if modifications are not made. The RNC has complained that the 2020 debates were conducted after some states already began allowing voters to cast ballots.


“After repeated missteps and partisan actions that underscored its biases last cycle, it’s clear that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is no longer providing the fair and impartial forum for presidential debates which the law requires and the American people deserve,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielFormer Detroit police chief takes step toward gubernatorial run Whitmer has raised .5 million so far in 2021 Former Trump campaign adviser leaving GOP in protest MORE said in a statement. 


“The Republican Party needs assurances that the CPD will make meaningful reforms to the debate process by working with stakeholders to restore the faith and legitimacy it has lost,” she continued. “If not, as RNC Chairman, I will have no choice but to advise future Republican candidates against participating in CPD-hosted debates” (NBC News). 


> What’s the message?: With an eye toward 2022, Republicans are pushing to tether Democratic candidates to a rise in violent crime across the country and help propel them to the majority after a four-year hiatus. 


As The Hill’s Max Greenwood notes, there’s no single cause for the spike in violent crime over the past year, and experts say there are several factors at play, including the coronavirus pandemic and the economic anxiety it’s caused. But the GOP attacks have still drawn the attention of prominent Democrats, who say that their party needs to be prepared to fight back.  


However, the initial returns are not great. Republicans heavily messaged on the issue ahead of Tuesday night’s special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District and lost by 25 points to Democrat Melanie Stansbury


The New York Times: Will New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York bans underage marriages, raises age of consent to 18 Former speed skater launches bid for Stefanik seat Don't let the rule of law become a victim of COVID-19 MORE (D) seek a fourth term? A $10,000-a-plate fundraiser says yes.




CORONAVIRUS: Biden on Wednesday designated June as “a national month of action” to get more people vaccinated ahead of July 4. That’s the date he set to represent independence and summer normalcy with a goal to have administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to at least 70 percent of U.S. adults. As of this morning, about 62 percent of U.S. adults have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine (The Washington Post).


The Hill: Biden touts incentives, pleads with Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 


Dangling everything from sports tickets to a free beer, Biden is looking for that extra something — anything — that will get people to roll up their sleeves for shots when the promise of a life-saving vaccine by itself hasn’t been enough (The Associated Press). 


Starting next week, thousands of pharmacies, including Albertsons, CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens will stay open late every Friday in June in order to allow more Americans to get vaccinated.


Harris will lead a nationwide tour to reach millions of Americans who have not gotten their COVID-19 shot and encourage them to do so. The vice president's travel will be anchored in the South, the White House said, and the first lady, second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Bezos completes first all-civilian space trip, deboards in cowboy hat Tom Brady to Biden: '40 percent of the people still don't think we won' The Hill's Morning Report - Will Schumer back down on his deadline? MORE and members of the Cabinet will also travel to communities across the country.


Mayors are launching the "Mayors Challenge," which is a competition to see which city can increase its vaccination rate the most by July 4, the White House said, adding that more than 50 mayors of cities have signed up. 


CNN: The month of action includes a partnership with Anheuser-Busch that could mean free alcohol for every American 21 years of age and older if the United States hits the 70 percent goal described by the president by July 4. The company said, "Anheuser-Busch will buy America's next round of beer, seltzer, non-alcoholic beverage or other A-B product" if those 21 and older upload a picture of themselves at their favorite bar or restaurant and enter to win. Participants can find the company’s sweepstakes instructions at


Children between the ages of 12 and 15 are closing the vaccination gap, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of May 30, almost 2.89 million children in that age bracket had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, compared with nearly 2.73 million teens who are 16 and 17 (Medscape).



President Biden


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Antisemitism isn't a partisan issue. It's a crisis both parties must fight together, by former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer Joe Manchin's secret MORE (D-N.Y.) and Fred Zeidman, opinion contributors, The Hill.


What does full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccines actually mean? by Carlos del Rio, opinion contributor, The Hill.


It's Time to Put a Price on Carbon Pollution


Carbon pricing will make America a clean energy leader. Learn how putting a price on carbon will incentivize innovation, transform our economy and create millions of jobs.


The House meets on Friday at 9:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. Lawmakers resume legislative work in the Capitol on June 14.


The Senate will convene at 11 a.m. for a pro forma session.


The president is in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (celebrating the first lady’s birthday). He has no public events on his schedule.


The vice president at 11:30 a.m. will deliver remarks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building about the importance of federal investments in high-speed broadband in underserved communities and regions. Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Goldman Sachs — House temperature rises over Jan. 6 select committee Watch live: White House holds press briefing Protect women's right to choose how and when they work MORE will also speak.  


Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenHouse bill targets US passport backlog Omar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy Acquiescing to Berlin, emboldening Moscow and squeezing Kyiv: Biden and Nordstream 2 MORE meets at 11:30 a.m. at the State Department with  Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin “Benny” Gantz.


The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. The administration coronavirus response briefing for journalists will be at 11 a.m.


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


INTERNATIONAL: In Israel, opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, announced on Wednesday they reached a deal to form a new governing coalition, paving the way for the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and staving off a possible fifth consecutive election in two years. Under the agreement, which requires approval in the Knesset, Lapid and Bennett will split the job of prime minister in a rotation. Bennett will serve the first two years, while Lapid is to serve the final two years. The historic deal also includes a small Islamist party, the United Arab List, which would make it the first Arab party ever to be part of a governing coalition (The Associated Press). … Netanyahu is fighting back on Thursday (Reuters). ... Isaac Herzog, a veteran politician and the scion of a prominent Israeli family, was elected Israel’s president on Tuesday, a largely ceremonial role that is meant to serve as the nation’s moral compass and promote unity. Herzog succeeds Reuven Rivlin, who leaves office next month at the end of a seven-year term. Biden issued a statement commending both men (The Associated Press).


SPACE: NASA announced on Wednesday that the agency will return to Venus, which is 150 million miles from Earth. The space agency said it will launch both the DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions to the planet between 2028 and 2030. This will mark the first venture to the planet in more than 30 years (Axios).



Newly-Processed Views of Venus from Mariner 10



HORSE RACING: Medina Spirit on Wednesday was on the verge of being stripped of his Kentucky Derby title after a post-race positive drug test was reconfirmed with illegal levels of betamethasone, a drug intended to reduce pain and aid recovery. Medina Spirit may become the second horse in the 147 years of Derby history to be disqualified. If that happens, owner Amr Zedan will be forced to forfeit $1.8 million in winnings from the first leg of the Triple Crown. Bob Baffert, the horse’s trainer, was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs following the confirmed positive test (The New York Times).


REPARATIONS: In private conversations on Tuesday, Biden told lawmakers not to expect much from the White House on a bill pending in the House on reparations because of the narrow Democratic majority in the Senate and competing legislative priorities, according to some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (Politico). But the president is interested in a study of reparations as Congress considers legislation (The Associated Press). … The Virginia Theological Seminary outside Washington, D.C., in Alexandria, Va., is giving cash payments to descendants of Blacks who were forced to work there in the era of slavery and Jim Crow. The program is among the first of its kind. The payments to 15 people this year amount to $2,100 each, and will arrive annually, pulled from a $1.7 million fund, which is set to grow at the rate of the seminary’s large endowment. The number of people compensated could grow by the dozens as genealogists pore through records to find living descendants. John Samuel Thomas Jr., worked at the seminary after World War I as a janitor, and most likely also as a laborer on the seminary’s farm. His granddaughter, Linda Thomas, was the first woman to receive a $2,100 payment from the seminary (The New York Times).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by Major League Baseball’s creation of Lou Gehrig Day (June 2, Wednesday), we’re eager for some smart guesses about the Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman’s legendary career.


Email your responses to and/or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


In 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played. How many MLB players in history have played in at least 1,000 consecutive games? 

  1. 3
  2. 5
  3. 7
  4. 9

Gehrig became the first New York Yankee (and MLB player ever) to have his number retired. How many Yankees have their numbers retired in monument park at Yankee Stadium?

  1. 16
  2. 18
  3. 20
  4. 22

Gehrig’s consecutive games-played streak began when _____.

  1. Babe Ruth had food poisoning and took the day off
  2. Manager benched Wally Pipp
  3. He replaced Paul “Pee Wee” Wanninger as a pinch hitter
  4. Pinch-ran for Archibald “Moonlight” Graham

Gehrig became the first athlete to _____.

  1. Appear on a Cracker Jack prize
  2. Grace a Wheaties box
  3. Take part in a Disney movie
  4. None of the above 



First base, dedicated to the disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" is seen prior to the game between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays