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The Hill’s Morning Report – After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now?

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Biden in Geneva
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Biden in Geneva



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: Monday, 599,769; Tuesday, 599,945; Wednesday, 600,285; Thursday, 600,680.

“There is no happiness in life. There is only a mirage on the horizon, so cherish that.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin, June 16.


“There’s a value to being realistic and put on an optimistic front, an optimistic face. … You have to figure out what the other guy’s self-interest is, their self-interest.” — President Biden, speaking after Putin.



President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday used a roughly three-hour summit to take each other’s measure and focus on what Biden called “simple assertions” rather than threats. 


“I did what I came to do,” Biden told reporters before departing Geneva to return to the White House after a week of European meetings, photo ops and diplomatic communiques.


Biden and Putin agreed to return their ambassadors to respective posts in Moscow and Washington and said they will let representatives begin work toward replacing the last remaining treaty between the United States and Russia limiting nuclear weapons (The Associated Press).


The Hill: Biden, Putin agree to launch new dialogue on arms control.


The New York Times: Biden and Putin express desire for better relations at summit shaped by disputes.


AFP/Moscow Times: Biden said he and Putin explored working together on a half dozen areas where the former superpower rivals have overlapping interests, including the Arctic, Iran and Syria.



President Biden in Geneva



Responding to Biden’s list of complaints, the Russian leader denied involvement in cyberattacks in the United States, while Biden warned of unspecified cyber consequences for future attacks and touted a specific list of critical infrastructure “entities,” including energy and water, that he proposed should be untouchable by either nation. They agreed to assign experts to talk about “what’s off-limits,” Biden said.


Biden also repeated his assertion that if jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny dies or is killed in prison, there will be a harsh U.S. response. Putin defended Navalny’s imprisonment without using his name, arguing the Kremlin critic knew he was in violation of probation when he returned to Russia after being treated in Germany for near-fatal poisoning.


The presidents offered polite assessments of each other, avoiding the heated rhetoric that has at times strained the bilateral relationship. Both said they hoped their discussions would set the stage for more cooperation over time. Biden added, however, that he is not confident Putin would change his behavior without pressure from the world’s democracies (The Wall Street Journal). 


“They are not able to dictate what happens in the world,” Biden said while describing the international price Russia pays for its aggression and violations of human rights. “But it’s clearly not in anybody’s interest, your country’s or mine, for us to be in a situation where we’re in another Cold War,” Biden said he told Putin.


The Hill: Biden says he got what he wanted from the Putin summit. 


CNBC: Biden vows to keep pressing Russia to release two American prisoners.


ABC News: Biden, Putin describe their meeting as “constructive,” “specific,” without “hostility.”


The Hill’s Niall Stanage: Five takeaways from the Biden-Putin summit.


The Washington Post analysis: “The Biden team faced a situation where the best they can hope for is to stop the bleeding — to put a floor under the relationship,” said Sam Charap, a Rand Corp. Russia analyst.



Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva



CONGRESS: The chances of a bipartisan infrastructure accord received a shot in the arm on Wednesday as a group of 11 additional senators threw its weight behind a nearly $1 trillion proposal as Democrats began a process that could result in passage of a large bill on a party-line vote.


Support for a compromise measure, which has been crafted by a core group of senators, including Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (R-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), has suddenly swelled to more than one-fifth of the upper chamber, giving the effort a boost in hopes of attracting Biden’s backing. 


“We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs without raising taxes,” the group of 20 senators — 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats — said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges.”


The new group of 11 senators is made up of Republicans Richard Burr (N.C.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Todd Young (Ind.); Democrats Chris Coons (Del.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), John Hickenlooper (Colo.) and Mark Kelly (Ariz.); and Independent Angus King (Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats (Graham and Coons are pictured below) (The Hill). 


The news came as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) met with Senate Budget Committee Democrats to lay out the path for a major reconciliation bill. As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, questions remain concerning how much Schumer can fit into the bill and will he be able to get the entire Democratic caucus to get on board for it. 


The new show of support also comes in response to waves of opposition from progressive circles. Left-wing senators panned the developing bill as paltry in size and scope, especially considering the White House’s initial bill checked in at $2.25 trillion.


Senate Democrats involved in crafting the bill also met with the White House on Wednesday. Among the officials briefed on the state of play were Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Louisa Terrell, the White House’s legislative affairs director (The Washington Post). 


“The White House team was grateful for the briefing from the Democratic Senators involved in the infrastructure negotiations, and found it productive and encouraging,” said Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman. “They look forward to briefing the President tomorrow after his return to the White House, and continuing to consult with Senators and Representatives on the path forward.”


The Associated Press: Bipartisan infrastructure group swells to 21 senators.


Politico: “Going home with nothing”: Dems agonize over infrastructure strategy.



Sens. Chris Coons and Lindsey Graham



> Voting rights: Manchin on Wednesday opened the door to supporting a scaled-down version of the For the People Act, a wide-ranging election reform bill that is set to hit the floor next week. 


As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, Manchin said that he has shared a list of demands with Schumer prior to a caucus wide meeting on Wednesday on building support for the bill. Manchin has previously said that he would vote against the For the People Act, also known as S. 1, because it is overly broad and doesn’t have any Republican support. 


“[Schumer] has everything and everybody else has it,” Manchin said of his demands, having said previously that he would support a package that is targeted more narrowly toward protecting voting rights. “I’ve been sharing everything that I support and the things I can support and vote with and things I think’s in the bill that doesn’t need to be in the bill, that doesn’t really interact with what we’re doing in West Virginia, so I’ve shared all that.”


The Hill: Schumer says Senate will vote on repealing 2002 war authorization.


The Associated Press: House poised to repeal 2002 Iraq War authorization.


The Hill: The House votes 415-14 to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Fourteen Republicans voted against it (The Hill). 




MORE ADMINISTRATION: Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday struck down decisions made by former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr that limited asylum for two “particular social groups” of migrant applicants, specifically victims of domestic violence and those with ties to persecuted family members. Garland pointed to a Biden order to his department to review the Trump-era opinions dealing with asylum qualifications for particular groups.


> Judicial nominations: The Hill’s Harper Neidig takes a look at Biden’s efforts over five months to seat judges who bring racial, professional and gender diversity to the bench. 


> Capital punishment: The Biden administration’s request to the Supreme Court this week to reinstate the death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber, has anti-death penalty groups fuming about the president’s apparent breach of a campaign pledge to try to end the federal death penalty, The Hill’s John Kruzel reports.


POLITICS: Former President Trump on Wednesday announced that he will be headlining the first of his trademark campaign rallies on June 26 in Wellington, Ohio. 


According to a press release, the event will mark the former president’s “first of many appearances in support of candidates and causes that further the MAGA agenda and accomplishments of President Trump’s administration.” 


It also noted that the event is in support of Max Miller, a former top Trump aide who is running against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president in January. 


Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic: Who is Trump reaching?


> Haley on the Hill: Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday appeared before a group of House conservatives, warning that China is determined to achieve world domination and that Taiwan is the first step to achieving that. 


Haley, who was speaking behind closed doors with the Republican Study Committee, said that the U.S. must take stronger action against China, arguing in favor of a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with allies.


“The last Olympics that they had [in 2008] was their coming out. That’s how they saw it. They were introducing themselves to the world. This next Olympics, if it goes unscathed, this is their way of showing that they are now the superpower of the world,” Haley told nearly 70 GOP lawmakers in the basement of the Capitol.


Haley was the latest potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate to make an appearance before the group, with former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), and Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) having done so already (The Hill).  



Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley



> 2021 watch: Republicans are looking at the governor’s race in Virginia as a critical test ahead of the midterms as the party grapples with the continued influence of Trump. 


As The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes, GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin is preparing to face off against former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in a state that has trended blue in recent years and that rejected Trump in 2016 and 2020. However, Republicans see a path forward for Youngkin: running up support of the pro-Trump base while also extending his appeal to suburban voters. 


I see this as a test case this fall for ‘Is Virginia competitive again without Donald Trump in the White House?’” said Tucker Martin, a former aide to ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the last Republican to hold the post. “My theory of the case is that it will be more competitive.”


The Hill: Former Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) launches gubernatorial bid in Arizona.




CORONAVIRUS: The U.S. is buying another 200 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the company said Wednesday, with the hope of using the shots to vaccinate children or to address emerging variants of concern. 


As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan writes, the deal will allow the Biden administration to receive different versions of the vaccine, including a modified version to potentially fight a COVID-19 variant.


“Importantly, the agreement gives the United States flexibility to choose which type of vaccine we will receive from Moderna if Moderna adjusts its formulation, for example, for pediatric vaccines or to address variants,” an administration official said.


> Vaccine failure: German company CureVac was dealt a major setback on Wednesday after it announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was only 47 percent effective, due largely to the difficulties posed by new variants. 


The company announced that its trial included 40,000 people across 10 countries in Latin America and Europe, where “at least” 13 different variants were circulating. The 47 percent efficacy result is the lowest reported to date from any COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, though the company noted that the result is not final (The Hill). 


CNBC: International Monetary Fund predicts vaccine policies are the driver of the 2021 and probably 2022 world economies, more than monetary or fiscal policies.


> Long-haulers: A group of COVID-19 long-haulers plans to join a campaign on Thursday to lobby members of Congress to include paid leave in the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.


As The Hill’s Justine Coleman reports, COVID Survivors for Change, a grassroots nonpartisan group, is partnering with groups focused on chronic illnesses and disabilities for the first time, as potentially millions of Americans have endured an ongoing disorder following their infection from COVID-19.

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


The U.S. Senate is fiddling while our democracy burns, by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), opinion contributor, The Post and Courier.


Biden offered Putin the benefit of the doubt. He should know better, by The Washington Post editorial board.


The House meets at 9 a.m. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will hold her weekly press conference from the Capitol at 10:45 a.m.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Tommy Beaudreau to be deputy Interior secretary. The Senate Appropriations Committee will review the president’s fiscal 2022 budget request for the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley at 10 a.m. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. about NCAA student-athletes and their compensation rights.


The president returned from Switzerland last night, winding up a weeklong itinerary in Europe. Today he will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. At 3:30 p.m. he will sign into law legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and he and Vice President Harris will deliver remarks.


Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough will be in Birmingham, Ala., along with second gentleman Doug Emhoff for two events to encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccinations. Emhoff will also visit 16th Street Baptist Church this afternoon. The secretary today will also visit a vaccination clinic in Montgomery, Ala., hosted by the American Legion.


Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending June 12. The number of new claims has declined for six consecutive weeks, and the trend is expected to continue (Yahoo Money).


The administration’s COVID-19 response team will brief reporters at 11 a.m. Participants will include Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.


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


FEDERAL RESERVE: Responding to a swiftly recovering U.S. economy tied to the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine program and rising inflation, even as millions of people are out of work this year, the nation’s central bank expects to begin raising interest rates by late 2023, an earlier timetable than envisioned three months ago, Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday during a news conference (The Wall Street Journal). Fed officials also discussed an eventual reduction or tapering of the central bank’s bond-buying program, according to Powell. The Fed’s statement and the chairman’s remarks suggest the timing of such a move remains uncertain. Powell played down fears of inflation and worries that the Fed will be late in responding (The Hill). Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers on Wednesday that she is confident that rising inflation will not be “permanent” (The Hill).



Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell



INTERNATIONAL: On Thursday, Hong Kong police arrested five Apple Daily editors and executives on national security charges of collusion with foreign powers. Police said they had evidence that more than 30 articles published by the pro-democracy newspaper, owned Jimmy Lai, now imprisoned, played a “crucial part” in a conspiracy with foreign countries to impose sanctions against China and Hong Kong, in response to a crackdown on civil liberties in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Police also froze $2.3 million)worth of assets belonging to three companies linked to Apple Daily (The Associated Press).


SPACE: NASA announced that the Hubble Space Telescope has incurred computer issues, temporarily pausing all astronomical viewing since Sunday. The trouble surrounds a 1980s-era computer that controls the three-decade-old telescope. NASA tried to restart the computer on Monday, but just like Sunday, it shut down. Viewing instruments for the telescope are currently in safe mode until issues are resolved (The Associated Press).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by Wednesday’s summit between Biden and Putin in Geneva, we’re eager for some smart guesses about some U.S.-Russia (and Soviet Union) history.


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 2001, former President George W. Bush infamously remarked of Putin that he was able to “get a sense of his soul.” Where did that meeting take place? 

  1. Ljubljana
  2. Budapest
  3. Bucharest
  4. Prague

For years, the Soviet Union refused to allow its players to sign with the National Hockey League. What year marked the first time a player was allowed to do so?

  1. 1979
  2. 1984
  3. 1989
  4. 1999

How many days did Edward Snowden spend in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport before he was granted asylum in Russia in 2013?

  1. 9
  2. 24
  3. 39
  4. 54

In “Rocky IV,” how much money did Rocky Balboa earn for his fight with Russian boxer Ivan Drago?

  1. $1 million
  2. $500,000
  3. $100,000
  4. $0



President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2001


Tags Angus King Anthony Fauci Anthony Gonzalez Brian Deese Chris Christie Chris Coons Chuck Schumer Denis McDonough Donald Trump Doug Emhoff Janet Yellen Jeff Sessions Jerry Moran Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Hickenlooper Kyrsten Sinema Lindsey Graham Lloyd Austin Louisa Terrell Maggie Hassan Marco Rubio Mark Kelly Mark Milley Matt Salmon Merrick Garland Mike Pence Mike Pompeo Mike Rounds Mitt Romney Nancy Pelosi Nikki Haley Richard Burr Rob Portman Steve Ricchetti Thom Tillis Todd Young Tom Cotton Vivek Murthy Vladimir Putin William Barr

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