The Hill’s Morning Report – Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 599,769; Tuesday, 599,945; Wednesday, 600,285.
About half the U.S. adult population remains unvaccinated. Want to help someone in the United States locate COVID-19 vaccine doses nearby? Search vaccines.gov, or text a ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 for information.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is set to kickstart the reconciliation process today, paving the way for Senate Democrats to pass a massive infrastructure package without Republican support as bipartisan negotiations sputter.
Schumer told reporters on Tuesday that he will convene a meeting today with all 11 Democratic members of the Senate Budget Committee to start the process of passing a budget resolution, kicking off the formal steps needed to move toward the reconciliation tool that would allow President Biden’s spending and tax proposals to pass with 50 rather than 60 votes.
Schumer added that the move would allow lawmakers to approve elements of Biden’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan with simple majority votes after the August recess.
“As you know, a budget resolution will outline how we go forward and includes issues that are affecting, that are part of reconciliation,” he said (The Hill).
Earlier in the day, White House officials told House Democrats that they were giving a bipartisan group of 10 senators another seven to 10 days to reach an agreement. If no deal is struck, officials indicated that they would gauge the progress of talks and decide whether to hit the gas on the reconciliation process.
“They’re giving it a week or 10 days more, and that’s about it,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said as he emerged from the meeting. “And then we move along with reconciliation — for everything” (The Hill).
The Associated Press: Impatient Democrats prepare to go it alone on infrastructure.
The New York Times: Democrats vow to push their own infrastructure plan as talks drag on.
The latest steps and chatter come amid stumbles for the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan laid out by the group of senators, with most of the trouble this week coming from the left. While the group tries to sell the package, progressive lawmakers have panned the blueprint, arguing that it does far too little to merit consideration.
“I’m confident that there’s only one deal that’s out there, and that’s one deal that covers all the pieces we need in infrastructure. There’s no half a deal or a quarter of a deal that I can support, and I think I have a lot of Democratic colleagues who feel the same,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) before a Tuesday caucus meeting (The Hill).
Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) signaled they would not support any scaled-down bipartisan infrastructure deal that does not earn the support of the entirety of the Democratic caucus to also move a larger bill under budget reconciliation and that the details of the bigger package are spelled out in advance (The Hill).
Alexander Bolton and Mike Lillis, The Hill: Democratic patience runs out on bipartisan talks.
The Associated Press: White House: Markets showing little worry about inflation.
The Hill: Congress tiptoes back to normality post-pandemic.
> Committee threats: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to boot Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her recent comments about Israel and warned that if the GOP retakes the House in the 2022 midterms, it will move ahead with a vote to do so.
“I will promise you this,” McCarthy said. “If we are fortunate enough to have the majority, Omar would not be serving on Foreign Affairs or anybody that has an anti-Semitic, anti-American view. That is not productive, and that is not right” (Politico).
Omar was condemned by Republicans and Democrats for her tweet regarding Hamas, the Taliban, the U.S. and Israel last week. Pelosi said on Friday that no further action would be taken against Omar for her tweet since she issued a follow-up statement to clarify her position (The Hill).
Bloomberg News: Lina Khan confirmed to the Federal Trade Commission in victory for Big Tech’s critics. Biden immediately named her as chairwoman.
The Hill: Tech privacy practices under scrutiny after DOJ subpoenas.
> The House Oversight and Reform Committee would like to hear from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows (pictured below), who is also a former House member from North Carolina. The committee on Tuesday disclosed emails that it says show former President Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department to step in to overturn the 2020 election, including a legal brief Trump sought to file with the Supreme Court. Among information flagged by the committee: five instances when Meadows emailed top Justice colleagues about internet conspiracy theories about alleged voting irregularities for which there was no supporting evidence. “Pure insanity,” Richard Donoghue, who was the acting deputy attorney general, wrote to then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in response to Meadows’s email at the time promoting a purported conspiracy involving Italy (NBC News).
Jordain Carney, The Hill: Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas.
The Hill: The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Like a House bill, the Senate version attracted bipartisan support.
The Washington Post: 21 House Republicans vote against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to all police officers who responded on Jan. 6.
LEADING THE DAY
ADMINISTRATION: Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a meeting arranged at Biden’s invitation, is the showstopper at the end of a long week in Europe for Biden. It takes place amid a tonnage of international analysis and conjecture, as well as practice sessions and pomp configured for a stately Geneva mansion.
Each president will spin their conversations during solo press conferences following their discussions today, and Biden will fly back to the White House to focus anew on rescuing his domestic agenda.
CNN: Biden’s meeting with Putin carries historic echoes.
The Associated Press: What do Biden and Putin each want out of today’s summit?
For this summit, Putin, 68, is emerging from a coronavirus cocoon of sorts. He has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid contracting COVID-19 and has not publicly traveled abroad since early last year, preferring to host foreign leaders in Moscow or Sochi and holding most of his meetings with government ministers and regional governors over videoconference (The Guardian). He was reportedly vaccinated in March but still insists those with whom he meets or comes near must first undergo two-week quarantines. Top business representatives, regional governors, his pilots and medical staff, volunteers at an economic conference, and even World War II veterans have shut themselves away in order to meet the Kremlin leader, The Guardian reports.
Biden has done no such thing, and the physical distance between the two leaders and their body language will be a diplomatic story unto itself.
> Trade frictions between the United States and the European Union (EU) eased on Tuesday with an agreement to eliminate a long-running dispute about government subsidies for America’s Boeing and Europe’s Airbus, but other Trump-era tariffs remain in place and are under negotiation. Biden met with EU leaders before flying to Switzerland and meeting there with Swiss President Guy Parmelin (pictured below) (The Washington Post).
> Federal lands: A federal district court judge on Tuesday issued a nationwide temporary injunction on the Biden administration’s pause on oil and gas leases on federal lands (The Hill).
> U.S. ambassadors: Following months of deliberations, Biden on Tuesday announced his first slate of political ambassadors, naming five political allies and donors, as well as four career foreign service officers. So far, Biden has announced a total of 18 ambassadors, with 13 hailing from the career ranks. The list, as noted by Axios: ambassador nominee to Israel, Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of State; Mexico, former Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.); NATO ambassador, Julie Smith, a longtime Biden aide and foreign policy expert; Costa Rica, Cynthia Telles, a prominent Latina donor and professor at UCLA; ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (The Hill). Career foreign service nominees: Julie Chung for Sri Lanka, Sharon Cromer for Gambia, Troy Damian Fitrell to Guinea and Marc Ostfield to Paraguay.
> White House domestic terror plan: The National Security Council on Tuesday released a strategy to combat domestic terrorism, a threat that U.S. intelligence agencies have warned is on the rise this year (The Associated Press). The blueprint calls on the government to upgrade analysis of domestic terrorism and improve the information that is shared among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Administration officials said the Justice Department had also implemented a new system to “methodically track” such cases within the FBI.
The Justice Department is also evaluating whether the administration should recommend Congress pass a specific domestic terrorism law, which does not currently exist. In the absence of such a statute, the department relies on other laws to prosecute ideologically motivated violence by people who have no international ties.
The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes that Biden’s domestic terror plan is filled with unsurprising, common sense proposals that provide little in the way of a preventative road map to the radicalization and polarization in domestic politics that factual news and information dissemination, election cycles and law enforcement have not subdued.
> Immigration: The administration wants to address the immigration backlog in the courts, where more than 1.3 million people are waiting to have their cases decided. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced earlier this month that it was giving its attorneys more discretion to drop cases. It’s a reversal of a Trump-era push to widely seek deportation, instead directing the agency’s lawyers to weigh how long someone had been in the country and their ties to the community along with other humanitarian factors (The Hill).
More administration news: The Government Accountability Office ruled that the Biden administration’s freeze on federal funds for construction of the border wall is legal (The Hill). … The White House will host a July Fourth “independence from the virus” bash for first responders, essential workers, and military service members and their families on the South Lawn amid fireworks over the National Mall. More than 1,000 guests are expected (The Associated Press).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary for mayor of New York City, progressives are coalescing around civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley in an attempt to blunt the momentum of a string of centrist candidates. Wiley, a former lawyer for Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), spent months fighting for the liberal mantle in an eight-candidate primary field and snagged the influential backing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (The Hill).
At the national level, progressives and activists are being courted by Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Jaime Harrison, whose internal outreach has surprised and impressed some of the party’s loudest critics on the left. For the first time in years, liberals within the DNC infrastructure say they are feeling appreciated by their party’s top brass (The Hill).
In the Republican Party, everyone with ambition for higher office, it seems, wants to be an influencer. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday launched a political group ahead of what many believe will be a White House bid in 2024 if Trump sits it out (Politico and The Hill). A staunch Trump backer while at the same time promoting his bona fides, Pompeo says he wants to help midterm candidates in 2022, and he is stepping out in public with a honed script about the GOP’s future. Pompeo this month will appear at Republican National Committee’s summer donor retreat in Dana Point, Calif., according to Politico (former Vice President Mike Pence is touting his appearance there, too). In July, Pompeo is scheduled to speak at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., as part of a series on the future of the Republican Party. He is also expected to host an upcoming event for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year.
Meanwhile, Republican primary candidates are scouring social media and appeals to the grassroots to figure out what kind of midterm messaging is most effective (and also most injurious), reports The Hill’s Reid Wilson. One technique: Did a candidate tweet, write or say anything critical about Trump? Anything other than total loyalty can be used to persuade primary voters that a candidate is out of touch with their hero, and the hero himself is watching. A source with direct knowledge tells Wilson that Trump was made aware of past negative comments from Pat McCrory and Mark Walker before he decided to endorse Ted Budd in North Carolina’s Senate GOP primary.
More politics: Political recall campaigns are like snowballs picking up momentum as they roll through the country at a faster pace, with plenty of voter anger behind them (The Hill). … In Pennsylvania’s open-seat Senate contest next year, Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean says she is not a candidate and will focus her energies in the House (The Philadelphia Inquirer). … Trump later this month will visit the U.S. southern border with Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott as a way to criticize the immigration policies of the Biden administration and Democrats (The Hill).
CORONAVIRUS: The European Union is set to allow individuals from the U.S. to travel into any of its 27 member countries for non-essential purposes for the first time since last March.
The U.S. and five other nations (Albania, Lebanon, North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan) are expected to be added to the list of approved countries later today (Reuters). The change is likely to take effect in the coming days.
> Restrictions: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Tuesday that the state has reached its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults, and has now lifted all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including capacity restrictions and social-distancing rules for vaccinated residents.
“We’re no longer just surviving. … We can get back to living,” Cuomo said. “The fact is that New York was the victim of COVID. On the facts, what New York has done is extraordinary.”
However, unvaccinated individuals still need to practice social distancing and wear masks, with schools still having to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (The Wall Street Journal).
The Wall Street Journal: Regeneron’s antibody drug cuts risk of death in some COVID-19 patients.
> Mandates: In Pennsylvania, the state House’s Labor and Industry Committee advanced legislation that would bar employers from mandating that workers receive vaccines, including one against COVID-19. All Republicans voted for the measure, while all Democrats voted against it (The Associated Press).
The Associated Press: Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 emergency declaration formally ends.
In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) formally blocked Arizona State University (ASU) from implementing a plan to require unvaccinated students to wear masks and undergo COVID-19 testing.
Ducey signed an order on Tuesday blocking the state’s three public universities and community colleges from requiring students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, submit vaccination documents, be tested or wear masks. ASU argued that Ducey misinterpreted the school’s directive.
“We’re allowing freedom of choice,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “So we expect vaccinations, but if you don’t get vaccinated, then you’ve got to follow CDC guidelines for institutions of higher education, which are quite clear” (The Associated Press).
The Associated Press: Massachusetts offers $1 million prizes, scholarships for vaccinated.
Los Angeles Times: More evidence suggests the coronavirus was circulating in this country by Christmas 2019.
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!
Biden may be walking into a Putin trap in Geneva, by Mark Gongloff, editor, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3cIfzsi
Why we need to vaccinate young children, too, by Leana S. Wen, contributing columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2TYj0Vd
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 10 a.m.
The Senate meets at 10:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Radhika Fox to be an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on Biden’s proposed fiscal 2022 budget, with testimony from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a 2:15 p.m. oversight hearing about the U.S. Capitol Police on Jan. 6 during the Capitol siege, with testimony from Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton.
The president is in Geneva to meet with Putin beginning at 1:35 p.m. local time and continuing for several expanded bilateral sessions. Biden will hold a solo press conference this evening after the U.S.-Russia discussions. He will depart Switzerland tonight to return to Washington.
Vice President Harris, as part of her portfolio dealing with U.S. voting rights, will meet at the White House at 11:15 a.m. with members of the Texas state Senate and Texas state House who in May blocked passage of legislation affecting the voting process in the state.
The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting with the release of a policy statement at 2 p.m. and a press conference at 2:30 p.m. conducted by Chairman Jerome Powell.
Second gentleman Doug Emhoff travels to Memphis, Tenn., for two events this afternoon to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
➔ MIDDLE EAST: Israeli planes bombed Gaza early Wednesday, just days after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was sworn in. Officials said the airstrikes were a response to incendiary balloons sent by the militant group Hamas into southern Israel from Gaza (The New York Times).
➔ CATHOLIC CHURCH: U.S. bishops are expected to debate beginning today at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops whether Catholic politicians should be denied communion based on their break with the church on abortion, a controversial issue that could affect Biden. The Vatican is cautioning American bishops about using communion as a political weapon (The Hill). “The concern in the Vatican is not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon,” Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest and ally of the pope, told The New York Times.
➔ TECH: FedEx has partnered with a robotics company to test a driverless delivery service in Houston. Fedex and Nuro, a robotics company, agreed on a multi-year contract to kick off a pilot program. Dave Ferguson, Nuro’s co-founder, said that the company’s goal is to help communities and ease the burden on FedEx employees (The Hill). … Southwest Airlines on Tuesday continued to experience technical glitches for a second day. The issues came after the airline dealt with an issue on Monday surrounding its weather data provider, which kept shutting down, making it unsafe for planes to fly. “We are aware of system issues and are working quickly to resolve [it.] We will share more info soon,” the airline tweeted on Tuesday (The Hill).
And finally … Kudos to The Washington Post’s Kevin Ambrose, a storm chaser, photographer and author who made sure he was in the right place at the right time during a furious Monday night downpour in Washington, D.C.
“I checked both of my cameras, and they confirmed the lightning flash struck the tip of the Washington Monument. I captured a direct strike to the monument. I have not photographed a lightning strike at the Washington Monument since July of 2005,” he wrote.
Read how he did it HERE and view some electrifying photos.
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