Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday! Happy 4th of July weekend! 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 each morning this week: Monday, 603,967; Tuesday, 604,115; Wednesday, 604,467; Thursday, 604,714; Friday, 605,019.
The Republican effort to move on from the events of Jan. 6 backfired once again on Thursday as Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump-backed challenger to Cheney decried him as 'racist,' 'xenophobic' in 2016: report Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats stare down 'hell' week MORE (R-Wyo.) accepted a spot on a new select committee to investigate the day’s attack from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.), upsetting GOP members in the process.
The Cheney news came Thursday morning when Pelosi unveiled her eight selections for the new panel, which she had teased could include a Republican member. However, her choices were limited as only Cheney (seen below in 2019) and Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerCheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge The Memo: Trump's Arizona embarrassment sharpens questions for GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (R-Ill.) crossed party lines on Wednesday to support the creation of the committee. Pelosi lauded the Wyoming Republican, telling reporters she was “very honored and proud” to include her. Cheney said much the same in a statement of her own.
"I'm honored to have been named to serve on the January 6th select committee. Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814,” the former No. 3 Republican said. “What happened on January 6th can never happen again. … Our oath to the Constitution, our commitment to the rule of law, and the preservation of the peaceful transfer of power must always be above partisan politics” (The Hill).
The move is a blow to Republicans, who want nothing to do with the select committee. It also puts the pressure squarely on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP campaign arm ties vulnerable Democrats to Biden in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (R-Calif.), who reportedly threatened on Wednesday to yank committee assignments from colleagues if they accepted a position on the investigatory panel Pelosi backs.
McCarthy’s reported threat lasted a day. He backtracked on Thursday, telling reporters that while he does not plan to remove Cheney from the House Armed Services Committee, her lone assignment, he remained baffled by her decision.
“I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi,” McCarthy said in the Capitol. “It would seem to me, since I didn't hear from her, maybe she's closer to [Pelosi] than us. I don't know. … I don't know in history where someone would go get their committee assignments from the Speaker and expect to have them from the conference as well” (The Hill).
The Hill: First hearing of Jan. 6 probe to feature Capitol Police testimony.
The Associated Press: A look at eight lawmakers appointed to probe Jan. 6 attack.
The New York Times: Cheney agrees to join Jan. 6 inquiry, drawing threats of GOP retribution.
According to one House Republican speaking on background, party members are tempted to try to nudge McCarthy to punish Cheney. The minority leader, who has ambitions to become Speaker, would have some explaining to do, however. He opposed stripping committee assignments from ultra right-wing lawmakers, including Reps. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarDomestic extremists return to the Capitol Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Washington ramps up security ahead of Sept. 18 rally MORE (R-Ariz.) and Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertRepublicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Security forces under pressure to prevent repeat of Jan. 6 Washington ramps up security ahead of Sept. 18 rally MORE (R-Texas).
“Everyone is all over the map. Most want to go after her — but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do,” the lawmaker told the Morning Report. “If you start bouncing members from committees, it’s a slippery slope.”
The committee came together only weeks after 35 House Republicans and seven GOP senators voted in favor of an independent commission to probe what took place on Jan. 6. Democrats were unable to find the additional three votes to green light that effort. The bipartisan commission would have been required to report findings by the end of 2021. The select committee has no deadline, with Republicans having zero power over subpoenas, as opposed to the initial deal hashed out over a commission.
The scope of the committee’s investigation is not limited or defined. Republicans say they do not regret blocking a probe by an independent commission.
“Of course not! That would take introspection,” the GOP member quipped.
Paul Kane, The Washington Post: So much for “action”: McCarthy dials back early pledge to rein in Republicans who cross the line, resorts to whataboutism.
While the panel is the highest-profile investigative body to date examining the events and aftermath of the Jan. 6 riots, it is another in a string of probes ongoing for months. The FBI, Justice Department, Capitol Police and various congressional oversight committees have been investigating and taking testimony, along with deep reporting by news outlets, some of which filmed the Capitol violence as it was happening. Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandAbbott promises to hire Border Patrol agents punished by Biden administration House passes bill to ensure abortion access in response to Texas law Delta pushes for national 'no fly' list of unruly passengers after banning 1,600 from flights MORE just last week said his department made its 500th arrest related to the day’s events and charged its 100th defendant for violence against a federal law enforcement officer.
Lawfare: Why didn’t the FBI review social media posts announcing plans for the Capitol riot?
> Supreme Court: Justices on Thursday issued their final opinions in argued cases from the 2020-21 term. In the first of two rulings, they determined that a pair of Arizona voting restrictions backed by Republicans do not violate federal law, delivering a key loss to voting rights advocates. The court divided along ideological lines, 6-3, with Associate Justice Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoSupreme Court should revisit its 2006 navigable waters decision The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Biden rips 'extreme' new Texas abortion law MORE writing in the majority opinion that a lower court erred by ruling that the restrictions at hand — requiring provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be discarded and making “ballot harvesting” illegal — violated Section 2 the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which bars racially discriminatory voting policies (The Hill).
The court's decision puts new pressure on Democrats in Congress to move on election reform this year, reports The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. The ruling on the final day of the court’s term sets the stage for the next battle in the Senate over voting rights.
In the second ruling, the Court ruled that a California regulation requiring nonprofits to disclose their donors to state officials is unconstitutional. The court sided with the Americans for Prosperity Foundation — a group created and funded by Charles and David Koch, (who died in 2019) — and the Thomas More Law Center, who challenged, also ruling on the case, 6-3, along ideological lines. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, ruling that the disclosure regulations have a chilling effect on donors' First Amendment rights.
The New York Times: Democrats brace for a narrower path to challenge new voting laws.
The Hill: Supreme Court ruling surprises voting rights activists, academics.
Today’s supreme suspense: Will Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerBarrett: Supreme Court 'not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks' Sunday shows - Manchin says he won't vote for .5 trillion bill Breyer says term limits would 'make life easier for me' MORE opt to retire now that the term has ended? (CNN).
LEADING THE DAY
WHITE HOUSE: President BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE and first lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Biden to host Quad leaders in sign of refocused Asia policy First Lady visits schools to discuss COVID-19 MORE on Thursday in Miami put the weight of a federal commitment behind ongoing efforts to rescue or recover remains of anyone who was inside a 1981 condominium tower more than a week ago during a catastrophic partial collapse. The Bidens also paid a visit to a makeshift memorial in Surfside, Fla., to view photographs and remembrances adorned with flowers posted near the rubble. The chain link barrier displays images of some of the 145 people still missing and the 18 confirmed dead (The Hill and Miami Herald). Biden, reading the thumbnail descriptions as he surveyed the display with his wife, could be seen wiping his eyes.
After meeting privately at a nearby hotel with relatives of some of the victims, Biden described the families as anxious but “very realistic” when they think about the hours that have stretched into a second week of search and rescue. “They know the longer it goes,” he said without finishing the thought. "Local FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] personnel, as well as the local first responders … took all the families to the site to see what it looked like, to see what it looked like up close.”
As he often does when consoling people experiencing stress and grief, the president shared his memories of losing his wife and daughter in an auto accident in 1972 and his uncertainty about whether his injured young sons would pull through. “We’re here for you as one nation, as one nation, and that’s the message we communicated,” Biden said, adding that the White House will continue to be in touch with the families.
Community members and residents described to the president how the Champlain South Towers on the oceanfront experienced rising sea levels, flooding, storms and water problems. A definitive cause of the structure’s dramatic failure, which was captured on security video, is unclear. “I don’t think there is, at this point, any definitive judgment as to why it collapsed and what can be done to prevent it from happening,” added Biden, who supports a thorough investigation.
The president met twice on Thursday with Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisHillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Instagram 'pausing' kid-targeted plan DeSantis orders Florida official to investigate Facebook for 'alleged election interference' America isn't first — it's far behind — and studies point to Republicans MORE (R), who is a potential 2024 presidential candidate, to discuss the ongoing search and rescue operation and the need for a probe of the tragedy’s causes.
POLITICS: Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen WeisselbergAllen Howard WeisselbergJudge aims to hold trial for ex-Trump Org CFO next summer Lawyer says ex-Trump Organization CFO is expecting more indictments Prosecutors considered charging Trump Organization CFO with perjury: report MORE, wearing a mask but no belt or tie, turned himself in and pleaded not guilty on Thursday to all 15 criminal state charges involving tax fraud, conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying business records.
New York prosecutors allege that Weisselberg helped orchestrate a scheme to compensate himself and “other Trump Organization executives” with unreported income, avoiding taxes on $1.7 million of his income. A two-year investigation focused on the Trump Organization is ongoing, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who will retire at the end of the year, and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The Trump Organization has criticized the New York probe as politically driven (The Hill).
As The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo, the new round of charges against the Trump Organization bring a new set of legal and political pitfalls for the former president. Namely, Weisselberg’s knowledge of the ins and outs of the company and the possibility that he could flip and aid prosecutors against the former president.
Although Weisselberg has thus far resisted all overtures to turn on Trump, that could all change if the possibility of prison time or pressure ratchets up on his family.
Politico: “Garden-variety corruption”: The long, underwhelming arm of the law comes down on the Trump Organization.
Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post: Trump seeks to use indictments as a political rallying cry as he tries to survive latest legal threat.
Axios: Liberals sour on Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE (I-Vt.).
More in politics: Author J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican who wrote “Hillbilly Elegy,” is preparing to jump into the Senate vacancy to be created by Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanRepublicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks Anti-Trump Republicans on the line in 2022 too Major US port target of attempted cyber attack MORE’s retirement next year. It’s becoming a crowded Senate contest (The Associated Press).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
ADMINISTRATION: Vice President Harris is on the receiving end of a slew of unwelcome press coverage describing Democratic donors and recently departed White House colleagues who question whether Harris’s chief of staff, Tina FlournoyHartina (Tina) FlournoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Cheney 'honored' to serve on select committee Aides, friends come to Harris chief's defense amid turmoil Time will tell: Kamala Harris's presidential prospects MORE, is too restrictive a gatekeeper. Flournoy has extensive experience with the West Wing, VIPs, organized labor and tender egos. Implicitly the coverage is a knock on Harris, who is learning the ropes of the executive branch, the peculiarities and politics of the vice presidency and the importance of a staff that enlarges her competencies rather than her vulnerabilities.
The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports on some of Flournoy’s (and Harris’s) defenders.
> Coronavirus: As U.S. officials travel nationwide this weekend to encourage Americans to be inoculated against COVID-19, a global focus is on the delta variant and the effectiveness of available vaccines. Johnson & Johnson reported that its one-dose version shows promising preliminary signs in a small laboratory study with evidence it is effective against the coronavirus and the contagious delta mutation for at least eight months (The Hill). The J&J shot is easier to ship, handle and store and is under close scrutiny as a global asset if it holds up under lab testing (The Wall Street Journal).
> Death penalty: Garland on Thursday halted the use of capital punishment in federal cases pending a review. The government under Trump in 2020 carried out the first federal executions in the United States in two decades (The Hill).
> The Interior Department moved Dominion Energy Inc.’s proposed 2.6-gigawatt wind farm off the Virginia coast one step closer to development Thursday by beginning a key environmental study on what would be the biggest offshore wind project in the United States. The department said it will draft an environmental impact statement on the $7.8 billion project, a critical early step in the permitting process. Dominion aims to begin providing power from that site by 2026 (Bloomberg News).
> Surprise medical bills, often amounting to tens of thousands of dollars per patient, have hit millions of Americans who received care from providers outside their insurance networks, often unknowingly and often during emergencies. The Biden administration on Thursday released the first regulations implementing a bipartisan law that takes effect in January that will ban the practice (The Hill).
> The Biden administration wants to secure the release of four Americans detained in Iran. But time is running out for the U.S. and Iran to reach an agreement to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, a failure that could separately scuttle the best chance for the Americans’ freedom (The Hill).
> In Afghanistan, the U.S. military quietly vacated Bagram Airfield for the first time in 20 years, relinquishing the base in its entirety to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force. The withdrawal is the clearest indication that the last of the 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops have left Afghanistan or are nearing a departure, months ahead of Biden’s promise that they would be gone by Sept. 11 (The Associated Press). Fearing the future, many Afghans are trying to leave (The Associated Press).
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!
Let the market fix labor shortages, by Rachel Rosenthal, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3AlGiF9
The Biden Doctrine: Will it work? by Harlan Ullman, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3qJJ17g
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 11:30 a.m. for a pro forma session.
The Senate convenes for a pro forma session on Monday at 11 a.m. Senators are out of Washington through July 9.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. He will deliver remarks at 10:15 a.m. about the government’s June employment report, released this morning. Biden welcomes the Los Angeles Dodgers to the East Room along with Harris at 11:40 a.m. The president and vice president will have lunch at 12:30 p.m. Biden will participate in a naturalization ceremony at 2:30 p.m. to welcome new citizens ahead of Independence Day. The president and first lady at 5 p.m. deliver remarks to the National Education Association’s annual meeting at the Walter Washington Convention Center downtown. On Saturday, Biden will travel to Traverse City, Mich., to tout America’s COVID-19 vaccination rate and the first lady will do the same on Saturday in Portland, Maine, and Portsmouth, N.H.
The vice president will participate in much of the president’s itinerary today and the two will have lunch together. She departs this afternoon for Los Angeles and will remain overnight. On Saturday, Harris will be in Las Vegas to help applaud the nation’s progress in getting COVID-19 inoculations.
Second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffBush calls out domestic extremism in 9/11 speech Bush urges Americans on 9/11 to embrace unity, reject politics of 'fear' Harris in Shanksville honors heroism, courage of Flight 93 passengers MORE today will travel to Bryce Canyon, Utah, as part of the administration’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. reports on U.S. employment in June, which is expected to show improvement.
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m.
➔ STATE WATCH: Recreational marijuana became legal in three more states on Thursday with phase-in requirements: Virginia (the first in the South), Connecticut and South Dakota. The trend across the country is expected to gain more momentum next year, reports The Hill’s Reid Wilson. Eighteen states, plus the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, changes that reflect growing cultural acceptance of the plant and a desire to minimize disparate enforcement against people of color. Pot remains illegal under federal law (The Washington Post).
➔ RECORD SETTLEMENT: The Boy Scouts of America reached a settlement of $850 million with tens of thousands of people who filed claims alleging sexual abuse by organization volunteers and leaders. The settlement is the highest payout in a child sexual abuse case in U.S. history (The Hill).
➔ TAXATION: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development voted on Thursday to support a minimum tax structure for corporations, giving a boost to Biden’s agenda and calls for international tax reform. The announcement includes agreement on taxing tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. China was one of 130 nations to support the reform. Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenOn The Money — GOP blocks spending bill to kick off chaotic week in congress GOP blocks debt limit hike, government funding This week: Democrats hit make-or-break moment for Biden MORE called the agreement “a historic day for economic diplomacy” and said it represented one of the administration’s core foreign policy goals (The Washington Post).
➔ 2021, A SPACE ODYSSEY: Ambition and billionaires know no boundaries. Amazon founder Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosWhy Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Climate change turning US into coffee country Foundations pledge billion in record funding for biodiversity MORE plans to head into space on July 20 accompanied by pioneering American aviator Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, 82, who spent $200,000 in 2010 for a ticket on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s suborbital plane. Having waited for more than a decade for Branson’s ride, Funk wanted to fulfill a long-held goal, and accepted a lift from Bezos (The Washington Post). Funk is one of NASA’s Mercury 13 female astronauts who never made it to the moon (Space.com). But Branson late Thursday said his company will beat Bezos on July 11 with its next test flight. Branson will be on board with a full crew, blasting off from New Mexico (The Associated Press).
And finally … A big round of applause for this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners!
Here’s who aced news trivia questions as the calendar turns to July: Medina Dzaferi, Patrick Kavanagh, John Donato, Terry Pflaumer, Mary Anne McEnery, Lesa Davis and Michael Romage.
They knew that Biden did not visit France during the first overseas trip of his presidency in June.
The Girl Scouts of America reported in June that it had roughly 15 million boxes of unsold cookies, due in large part to circumstances tied to the pandemic.
Brazil in June became the second country in the world to record at least 500,000 COVID-19 related deaths.
Finally, although six starting pitchers have tossed no-hitters this season, zero occurred last month.
Happy Independence Day weekend to all!