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The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain

 

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday! TGIF! 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, 597,628; Tuesday, 597,952; Wednesday, 598,326; Thursday, 598,705; Friday, 598,748.

 

At last, an infrastructure deal — kind of. 

A group of 10 senators — composed of five members from each party — announced that they reached an infrastructure agreement on Thursday, but many questions continue to swirl about key details of the proposal, including the cost of the bill and how it would be paid for.

“Our group … has worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies,” the group, led by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCentrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaCentrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (D-Ariz.), said in a statement. “This investment would be fully paid for and not include tax increases.” 

“We are discussing our approach with our respective colleagues, and the White House, and remain optimistic that this can lay the groundwork to garner broad support from both parties and meet America’s infrastructure needs,” the statement added.

The proposal is expected to total $1.2 trillion over eight years, with $579 billion in new funding for projects, according to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. White House officials said on Thursday that Senate Democrats from the group briefed them on the plan, but added that “questions need to be addressed” on a number of topics, including pay-fors (The Hill). 

Upshot: Thursday’s version of a plan has a long way to go to be viable. President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate have not weighed in, and there are no assurances that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May MORE (D-Calif.) and her caucus would easily back a stripped-down, Senate-devised compromise at this stage.

As Axios notes, the package would be paid for through unspent COVID-19 relief aid, public-private partnerships, indexing the gas tax to account for inflation and allowing states to borrow necessary money through a revolving loan fund. 

“We have a tentative agreement on the pay-fors, yes, but that’s among the five Democrats and the five Republicans. It has not been taken to our respective caucuses or the White House so we’re in the middle of the process. We’re not at the end of the process, not at the beginning but we’re in the middle,” Romney said.

The New York Times: Bipartisan group of senators say they reached agreement on infrastructure plan. 

Politico: Deal or no deal? Confusion rules Senate infrastructure talks.

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal.

The developing agreement comes as Senate Democrats have grown antsy about negotiations while eyeing the legislative calendar. Democrats still expect to begin drafting reconciliation instructions, which would theoretically permit passage of legislation with a simple majority in the Senate.

As The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports, the scramble comes as Democrats privately fret about a possible repeat of their experiences in 2009 and 2010, when they believe Republicans boxed the majority in on stimulus legislation during the financial crisis as well as the narrowly enacted Affordable Care Act — and took advantage of both during the midterm elections. In 2010 under former President Obama and then-Vice President Biden, Democrats lost six Senate seats and 63 seats in the House, costing them the chamber.

The Washington Post: “Time is running out”: Democrats split over Biden’s relentless focus on infrastructure.

The Hill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE (R-Ky.): “Good chance” for infrastructure deal after initial talks with Republicans unravel. 

Bloomberg News: Cities need more than rescue aid to fix their roads. 

The Washington Post: Former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreOn The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax Overnight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale MORE last month called Biden to insist on the inclusion of climate policies in a major bill. Gore also spoke with White House counselor Steve RicchettiSteve RicchettiThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Democratic patience runs out on bipartisan talks Progressives threaten to block bipartisan infrastructure proposal MORE, with whom he worked during the Clinton years, to discuss climate and infrastructure.

> Police reform: Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSen. Manchin paves way for a telehealth revolution Kerry Washington backs For the People Act: 'Black and Brown voters are being specifically targeted' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (S.C.), the lead GOP negotiator on police reform, indicated on Thursday that the two sides are still far apart on a potential accord, raising the prospect that they won’t reach one by the June deadline. 

“No, no, no, no, no,” Scott said when asked if a deal would be announced this week. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do” (The Hill).

The New York Times: Policing reform negotiations sputter in Congress amid partisan bickering.

The Hill: FBI Director Christopher Wray grilled on FBI's handling of Jan. 6. 

 

Sen. Tim Scott

 

More in Congress … Hunting down leaks in 2017 and 2018, Trump officials focused on seizing metadata records on Democratic critics in Congress, including two members of the House Intelligence Committee, California Reps. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffCyber concerns dominate Biden-Putin summit Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin MORE and Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMo Brooks accuses Swalwell attorney who served papers on his wife of trespassing Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe MORE, as well as congressional aides and family members. Schiff, during an MSNBC interview Thursday night, called the actions by the Trump Justice Department, as reported by the Times, “maybe unprecedented” and “an abuse of power” (The New York Times).

 

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LEADING THE DAY

ADMINISTRATION: Biden, appearing in Cornwall, U.K., on Thursday for the Group of Seven (G-7) summit underway today, presented the United States under his leadership as an indispensable nation and a valuable ally in times of need. 

He promised the United States will donate 500 million doses over two years to help speed the pandemic’s end and he encouraged global leaders to join in sharing doses of COVID-19 vaccines with other nations struggling to defeat the virus. The president announced the commitment on top of 80 million doses he previously pledged by the end of the month (The Associated Press).

“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Biden said, adding that the other nations represented in Cornwall would join the United States today in outlining their vaccine donation commitments.

Today, G-7 countries, led by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, are expected to collectively pledge donations of at least 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world, delivered over phased timelines stretching into 2022 (The Associated Press). 

The Associated Press: Celebrations (and questions) greet the U.S. vaccine donation plan. 

Also today, the G-7 nations, which also include Japan, Canada, Italy and Germany, will endorse a global 15 percent minimum corporate tax and a reallocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), according to a White House description of details to be spelled out in the leaders’ upcoming communique.

Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday met for the first time and chose to paper over critical differences while stressing the enduring nature of the alliance between America and Great Britain. They announced a renewal of the 1941 Atlantic Charter, the World War II declaration of cooperation by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former President Franklin Roosevelt (The New York Times).

Biden is popular in Europe, according to a survey released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center, and participates in his first overseas summit as president by explicitly abandoning the “America first” approach to international alliances associated with former President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE.

The Guardian: Johnson calls his talks with Biden a “big breath of fresh air” and played down differences over Brexit and tensions over Northern Ireland.

 

President Biden with Prime Minister Boris Johnson

 

The Wall Street Journal: Europe is preparing legislation that would jolt the rules of international trade by taxing imported goods based on the greenhouse gases emitted to make them, a plan that has sent shudders through the world’s supply chains and unsettled big trading partners such as the United States, Russia and China.

South China Morning Post: G-7 leaders discuss plans to push for green electric cars and a shift away from petroleum by the end of the decade as part of a package of measures to combat climate change. 

The Associated Press: In a world adorned with sartorial billboards, first lady Jill BidenJill BidenEx-Trump doctor turned GOP lawmaker wants Biden to take cognitive test Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president Overnight Health Care: FDA says millions of J&J doses from troubled plant must be thrown out | WHO warns Africa falling far behind in vaccinations | Top CDC official says US not ready for next pandemic MORE brought some “LOVE” with her to Cornwall, showing off a sparkly jacket for a photo op alongside her husband, plus Prime Minister Johnson and his wife, Carrie. … In comments to reporters, the first lady said her jacket, decorated on the back with the word “LOVE,” was intended to offer a “sense of hope” to a world gripped by COVID-19: “I think that we’re bringing love from America” (The New York Times).

In another example of inventive expression and overt messaging in seaside Cornwall, it was hard to miss the beachy likenesses of leaders of the wealthiest nations portrayed in two tones of sand (pictured below). (Cornwall is known for its beach art).

 

Sand portraits of Macron

 

More administration headlines: Environmental activists are celebrating the end of the Keystone XL pipeline project, announced by the pipeline owner on Wednesday following years of controversy. Targeted next by opponents: Minnesota’s Enbridge Line 3 pipeline (The Hill). … The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday approved an Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab, which may not actually work. Three experienced members of an FDA advisory panel quit in protest, one of whom used the phrase “sham process” (The Washington Post and The Hill). … Medicare copays for the new Alzheimer drug — which is not a cure and may not help all patients diagnosed with the disease — could reach $11,500 and could raise Medicare premiums broadly. The drug’s price: $56,000 a year. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision MORE (D-Ore.), called the list price for the new drug “unconscionable” (The Associated Press).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS: The Biden administration on Thursday told federal agencies they no longer have to limit the number of employees allowed in the workplace, but kept in place an expansive telework policy that was instituted during the pandemic, an approach that could slow the return to federal buildings (The Washington Post).

 

HHS reserved seat

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday that heart inflammation side effects in young people after second doses of coronavirus vaccine are rare, but greater in number than agency experts had thought. The agency said 275 reported cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, which are inflammation conditions involving the heart, in people ages 16 to 24 were reported as of May 31 tied to receipt of second doses of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines (CNBC).

At the CDC, 33-year veteran and deputy director Anne Schuchat, 61, a public health physician and former rear admiral, will soon retire from the agency, The Hill’s Reid Wilson and Nathaniel Weixel write. Her decision to leave has been cast by the Biden administration as voluntary. Schuchat said during an interview that the U.S. will not be any better prepared for a future pandemic without consistent, long-term funding of public health.

Elsewhere on the vaccine front, Moderna said on Thursday that it submitted a request to U.S. health regulators seeking approval for its vaccine to be administered to adolescents aged 12 to 17. A green light from officials would give the U.S. a second vaccine eligible for use with children in that age range (The Wall Street Journal). 

The FDA extended the expiration date of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, stretching the shelf life of its doses by six weeks. The extension came amid reports that millions of J&J doses were on the verge of going to waste (The New York Times). 

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. suspends J&J COVID-19 vaccine shipments as states face a surplus of expiring doses.

> Employer mandates: The Biden administration said on Thursday that federal agencies should not mandate that employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a prerequisite for them to return to the office in-person.

According to official guidance from the General Service Administration’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, all federal employees and contractors are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine and should receive paid time off to do so. However, vaccine status should not be required at executive departments and agencies for in-person work (The Hill).

Worth watching: Some U.S. corporations and universities are requiring COVID-19 vaccination or mandating employee reports of vaccination status, but there is confusion, a lack of uniformity, protests and even state legislative momentum to ban vaccination mandates. 

The New York Times: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says companies can mandate vaccines, but few push ahead. 

The Hill: Goldman Sachs began requiring its U.S. employees to report their vaccination status by a Thursday deadline this week.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin legislature steps in to ban vax mandates at state university system.

> Variants: The World Health Organization’s European director said on Thursday that the Delta coronavirus variant originating in India could potentially “take hold” in Europe. In the United Kingdom, the variant is accounting for 91 percent of new cases (ABC News). 

The Hill: U.K. variant made up 66 percent of COVID-19 cases in April, according to the CDC. 

The Hill: Two passengers test positive for COVID-19 on first Celebrity Millennium cruise since 2020. 

**** 

POLITICS: Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarYoung Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE (D-Minn.) found herself in a public feud with a group of House Democrats on Thursday after they issued a joint statement criticizing her. 

A cadre of Jewish Democrats who support Israel pushed back on Omar, a Somali refugee and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, for appearing to compare the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban while discussing war crimes.

“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice,” said the group of a dozen Democrats, led by Rep. Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderDemocrat says he won't introduce resolution to censure Greene Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Pelosi signals no further action against Omar MORE (D-Ill.), a staunch Israel ally (The Hill).

The group also called on Omar to clarify her remarks, which she did shortly after, saying that she was not equating terrorist organizations “with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems” (The Hill). 

The back and forth also resulted in a response from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democratic leaders, who sought to calm the waters within the House majority. 

“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies,” the Democratic leadership team said in its statement.  

“But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all,” the statement continued, adding that it welcomed Omar’s clarification (The Hill).

 

Rep. Ilhan Omar

 

Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek: Welcome to the Trump Coast. 

Roll Call: Rep. Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler launches Missouri Senate bid Biden's self-inflicted crisis MORE (R-Mo.) announces Senate bid. 

Politico: Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Sanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package | Weekly jobless claims rise for first time since April Shelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior MORE (R-Ala.) sides against Trump in Alabama Senate race. 

> Courts: A federal judge on Thursday ruled against an effort by the Job Creators Network (JCN) to move the Major League Baseball All-Star Game back to Atlanta from Denver.

The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of small businesses in the Atlanta area, saying that they will suffer major financial loss due to the decision to move the game out of the city. District Judge Valerie Caproni said that the group did not have standing, adding that while the JCN had an "intense interest" in the location of the game, it was “not at all clear why it cares more about small businesses in Atlanta than small businesses in Denver” (Reuters).

 

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

 

OPINION

Justice Breyer can’t save the court from politics, by Jonathan Bernstein, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3pHe1nD 

The pandemic’s toll on teen mental health, by Monica Gandhi and Jeanne Noble, opinion contributors, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3gbD670

 

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Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations

 

 

2021 is the 25th anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the last major update to internet regulation. It's time for an update to set clear rules for addressing today's toughest challenges. 

See how we're taking action on key issues and why we support updated internet regulations.
 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 11:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. Lawmakers resume legislative work in the Capitol next week. 

The Senate meets on Monday at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The president begins the first of three days of discussions at the annual G-7 summit in Cornwall, U.K.

The vice president will be heard today on the first episode of podcast “Please, Go On” with James Hohmann of The Washington Post. They talk about getting women back into the workforce. Harris will also deliver remarks on child care and families at a child care center in Washington.

First lady Jill Biden will take part in welcoming events in Cornwall, U.K., at the G-7 summit. At midday local time, she will tour a preschool in Cornwall and participate in a roundtable about preschool education with Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge (CNN).  

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

INTERNATIONAL: Russia is preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite system (The Washington Post). … The United States, acting through the Treasury Department, on Thursday lifted sanctions on more than a dozen former Iranian officials and energy companies. Administration officials said the decision signaled a commitment to easing a broader pressure campaign if Tehran changes its malign behavior (The Wall Street Journal). … A French court on Thursday quickly sentenced a man who slapped French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronG-7 summit exposes incoherence of US foreign policy The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Biden's European trip Biden says Queen Elizabeth II reminded him of his mother MORE along a rope line this week to a 4-month prison sentence (The Associated Press). 

ECONOMY: The U.S. rebound from the pandemic is driving the biggest surge in inflation in nearly 13 years, with consumer prices rising in May by 5 percent from a year ago. The question that animates analysts, investors, businesses and economists is whether it’s a fleeting phenomenon or something more serious they need to worry about (The Wall Street Journal and The Hill). 

➔ OLYMPICS (NON-TOKYO EDITION): The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to name Brisbane, Australia (seen below) as the host of the 2032 Summer Olympic Games when it convenes next month in Tokyo. IOC president Thomas Bach said after an executive board meeting Thursday that Brisbane will likely be handed the 2032 games at a July 21 meeting, with the Tokyo games starting two days later. The Queensland, Australia, city was put on the fast track by the committee in February, with no other city formally vying for the quadrennial event (ESPN). 

 

Brisbane, Australia

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … Congratulations to this week’s winners of the Morning Report Quiz!

The puzzle masters who aced four infrastructure questions from history are: Ki Harvey, Patrick Kavanagh, Richard Baznik, Chuck Schoenenberger, Daniel Bachhuber, Quintin Reed, Blair Marasco, Mary Anne McEnery, Terry Pflaumer, Pam Manges, Michel Romage, Amanda Fisher, Mike McGeary, David Wiles, Luther Berg, John Donato, Joan Domingues and Guenter Koehler. 

They knew that Pennsylvania dreamed up the first hard-surfaced turnpike road built by a private company. 

College Park Airport in Maryland is the world’s oldest continually operating airport (it has one runway), established in 1909 when Wilbur Wright arrived at the field to train two U.S. Army officers. 

Railroads primarily brought the U.S. steamboat era to an end. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush earned pilot licenses before their presidencies.

 

Transcontinental railroad