The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden renews families plan pitch; Senate prepares to bring infrastructure package to floor
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, 605,567; Wednesday, 605,905; Thursday, 606,218.
President Biden took his show on the road Wednesday to make his latest pitch for the American Families Plan as the Senate continues to haggle over a reconciliation bill that would include many provisions of the proposal and the bipartisan infrastructure package.
With the Senate and House out until next week, Biden took center stage and appeared in suburban Chicago to promote the $1.8 trillion plan —– the genesis of what is expected to be a bill passed later this year via budget reconciliation with only Democratic support (The Hill).
“I’m here to make the case for the second critical part of my domestic agenda,” Biden said in a speech to a group of students and teachers at McHenry County College, pressing for investments in “human infrastructure.” “To truly deal everyone in this time, we need to invest in our people.”
At one point, Biden quipped that his speech was “boring” but “important” (ABC News).
Of course, Biden’s proposal is subject to the whims of those on Capitol Hill, where it has hit early pitfalls on both sides of the Democratic Senate. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has criticized the package as too small, and has instead plotted a blueprint upward of $6 trillion, while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated that he will only back a package worth roughly $2 billion.
The reconciliation bill is expected to be in excess of that price tag and include the families plan as well as provisions of the administration’s infrastructure plan that were not included in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan plan struck in recent weeks.
The Associated Press: Biden: What’s good for families can also be good for the economy.
The Wall Street Journal: Biden pitches child-care, education plan as Democrats debate size.
Biden also used the occasion to tweak Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for pointing out the local benefits of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March that the GOP leader and other Republicans unanimously opposed.
“Mitch McConnell loves our programs,” Biden told reporters in Illinois. “You see what Mitch McConnell said? He told me he wasn’t going to get a single vote in order to allow me to get, with the help of everybody here, that $1.9 trillion … program for economic growth.”
“Look it up, man. He’s bragging about it in Kentucky,” Biden added (The Hill).
The comments also came a day after McConnell vowed that he will wage “a hell of a fight” against the Democratic-only bill, which progressives have maintained must be passed in parallel with the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, though Biden has backed off that thinking (The Hill).
The Washington Post: Conservative groups mount opposition to increase in the IRS budget, threatening the White House infrastructure plan. (IRS’s enforcement staff declined by 30 percent between 2010 and 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office.)
CNBC: Biden’s plans to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy are losing momentum.
Biden’s visit was his third to the Midwest in a matter of weeks. He traveled to Michigan and Wisconsin last week to promote COVID-19 vaccinations and the Senate bipartisan infrastructure plan.
On Capitol Hill, the bipartisan infrastructure plan received a boost on Wednesday as Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) (pictured below) became the 22nd senator to support the bill. Rosen’s office confirmed to The Hill that she is the latest to back the blueprint after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) told an Arizona radio station that the group has expanded by one since mid-June.
“We worked really hard … to build a coalition that is half Democrat, half Republican. We now have 22 senators who are supporting this framework,” Sinema said.
Rosen’s show of support now gives the package an even split, with 11 Democratic senators and 11 Republican senators signing on (The Hill).
In addition, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to bring up the bipartisan proposal for consideration as soon as July 19, a source confirmed to The Hill’s Jordain Carney, as lawmakers hammer out legislative text of the framework. Schumer is expected to move a bipartisan bill alongside the budget resolution that opens the door to the Democratic-only package.
Politico: Democrats race to push bipartisan infrastructure bill through Senate.
The Hill: Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) says colleagues’ “job” is to slow Democratic priorities.
Rafael Bernal, The Hill: Rep. Jesús García (D-Ill.) will not back reconciliation without immigration.
Fox Business: Biden’s $6 trillion budget would cut gross domestic product, but reduce nation’s debt over long term, study shows.
LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: Following a year’s delay and months of agonizing about whether the Tokyo Summer Olympics should be canceled because of COVID-19, the Japanese government decided to declare a fourth state of emergency to begin on Monday ahead of the July 23 start of the games, ending on Aug. 22, after competitions are over. Final decisions have yet to be made, but new restrictions on spectators are possible, as are mitigation orders for restaurants, bars and other businesses in the city (Asia Nikkei).
Tokyo reported 920 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the capital’s highest tally since May 13. The country’s vaccination rate is less than 15 percent. More than 11,000 athletes representing 206 countries are expected at the Olympics.
> Donated doses: The Biden administration on Wednesday announced the United States will share more COVID-19 vaccine doses with Latin America. One million Johnson & Johnson doses will go to Bolivia on Thursday, and a million doses of Pfizer vaccine will be sent to Paraguay, according to the White House.
> Vaccine mandates: The White House on Wednesday reiterated that the government does not mandate that Americans get COVID-19 vaccines. The government provides emergency approval for safe, free supplies of vaccines, coordinates with states and health facilities, and shares public health information and guidance. The government supports industries and employers that choose to require inoculations as a condition of employment.
“There are a number of private sector entities, universities, institutions that are starting to mandate [vaccines], and that’s an innovative step that they will take, and they should take,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re not standing in their way. Those are innovative steps. Go forward and take steps that you feel are appropriate. We’re just talking about what the … role is of the federal government.”
The mandate debate is messy, report The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels, and Biden has been keen to steer clear. Yet, there’s a caveat: The Army is preparing to mandate COVID-19 vaccines in September, pending full licensure rather than emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (Army Times).
The Hill: The delta variant of COVID-19, considered more transmissible, now makes up the majority of confirmed new cases of infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Associated Press: The July 4 weekend brought with it a big jump in air travel, according to traffic data from American Airlines. Most U.S. travelers are taking domestic flights; international travel remains more depressed. A global airline trade group on Wednesday urged governments to relax travel restrictions that were imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
> Flu fighting? The messenger RNA research used to create two of the available COVID-19 vaccines is being tested by Moderna in a flu vaccine, according to the company. Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population is impacted by influenza each year.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Former President Trump on Wednesday announced that he was filing lawsuits against Twitter, Facebook and Google as well as along with their CEOs over allegations of censorship after the companies unilaterally banned or suspended his accounts.
“Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it’s unconstitutional and it’s completely un-American,” Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
Following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Trump was outright banned from Twitter and was ultimately suspended for two years from Facebook, with both companies saying that he incited the deadly riot.
Legal experts who spoke to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar argued that the case is frivolous, predicting that it will likely be dismissed in court, as private companies are not subject to comply with the First Amendment, upending the basis of the complaint’s argument.
“There’s all sorts of issues that you and I may talk about over the years and say, ‘this is a gray area, it could be argued either way’ or ‘it was pretty clear here but you know you never know.’ In this instance, this is one of those basic principles of constitutional law — private entities don’t have to comply with the Constitution,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law.
Adding to the Trump team’s complications, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida despite the terms of service for the companies saying that suits against them must be brought in California, where they are located (Reuters).
Jonathan Allen, NBC News: In Trump’s world, only his speech is free.
Reid Wilson, The Hill: Trump-allied GOP chairs turn on fellow Republicans.
> NYC mayoral fallout: Tuesday’s projected victory by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the Democratic mayoral primary in New York City is laying out a potential playbook for other Democrats looking to tackle growing concerns over crime as the party prepares for the midterms.
As The Hill’s Tal Axelrod writes, Adams mixed his messaging throughout the campaign between a tough-on-crime stance and calls for police reform due to officer misconduct — both of which appeared to resonate with voters concerned with the alarming uptick in crime across the city.
Adams’s victory was further cemented on Wednesday as Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley, his two top rivals for the nomination, both conceded (The Hill).
Amie Parnes and Hanna Trudo, The Hill: Biden, Obama 10 minutes apart but rarely together.
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Biden and Democrats face dilemma on vaccine mandates.
ADMINISTRATION: Biden called the assassination late Tuesday of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse — who had been governing by decree while critics described him as a dictator — a “heinous act.” Moïse was killed during an armed attack at his home, and his wife was shot, throwing the country into new turmoil. Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who had been set to be replaced, said he was in charge and declared a “state of siege” (The Associated Press and The New York Times). The United States is one of the countries that supported Moïse’s disputed position that his term did not end until next year.
“We are shocked and saddened,” Biden said in a statement that also extended condolences to Haiti’s first lady, who is receiving medical treatment in Florida “The United States offers condolences to the people of Haiti, and we stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti.”
On Wednesday night, Leon Charles, Haiti’s chief of police, said four suspected killers were fatally shot by police and two “presumed assassins” were arrested. Three police officers who were taken hostage were freed. Haiti’s Communications Secretary Frantz Exantus provided no additional details about the slayings or how many total suspects were arrested (NBC News and The New York Times). Officials said the men who killed Moïse posed as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Officials in the United States and Haiti deny any actual DEA association.
The United Nations Security Council called for calm and “restraint” in Haiti and scheduled an emergency meeting this afternoon.
The Hill’s Laura Kelly and Rafael Bernal describe how Haiti continues to be jolted by a cascade of crises.
> Biden wants the Federal Trade Commission to adopt rules that curtail the use of non-compete agreements, which the administration asserts stifle workers’ career options (Reuters and The Hill). His order will also call on the commission to adopt rules that ban unnecessary occupational licensing requirements. Unnecessary or overly burdensome licensing can lock people out of jobs, Psaki said on Wednesday.
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A Supreme Court ruling protecting speech astonishes Schumer, by George F. Will, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3jQHI4K
Why we may never know whether the $56,000 Alzheimer’s drug actually works, by Elisabeth Rosenthal, editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News and opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3hmm1Ic
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets Friday at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session.
The Senate convenes a pro forma session at noon.
The president and Vice President Harris will receive an update at 10:15 a.m. about the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden will speak about Afghanistan at 1:45 p.m. in the East Room. The president and Harris will meet at 3:30 p.m. with civil rights organization representatives gathered in the Roosevelt Room to discuss voting rights and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Harris at 1:10 p.m. delivers a speech at Howard University in Washington, D.C., about voting rights.
First lady Jill Biden will travel to Savannah, Ga., and Orlando, Fla., today. In Georgia, she will visit a COVID-19 vaccine site at Alfred Ely Beach High School at 3 p.m. with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D). The three will speak at 4:20 p.m. about the need to get inoculated. The first lady will fly to Orlando to attend the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney Resort at 7:30 p.m.
Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will visit a high school in the nation’s capital and tour a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. He will meet at 12:45 p.m. with a group of COVID-19 Community Corps ambassadors who canvass D.C. neighborhoods to help people arrange their plans to get vaccinated.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on filings for jobless benefits during the week ending on July 3.
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. The administration’s coronavirus response team will brief journalists at 11 a.m.
➔ INTERNATIONAL: Pope Francis is recovering satisfactorily following intestinal surgery, with no signs of cancer following tests, the Vatican said. The 84-year-old pontiff was continuing to eat regularly on Wednesday following Sunday’s surgery to remove half his colon (The Associated Press). … Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, was taken into custody on Wednesday to begin serving a 15-month prison sentence for contempt amid a corruption probe, capping a stunning downfall for a man who battled the apartheid regime alongside Nelson Mandela (The New York Times).
➔ FLORIDA: Search efforts for survivors ended after two weeks on Wednesday and recovery operations began at Surfside, Fla.’s Champlain Towers South, site of a collapse that killed a confirmed 54 people as of Wednesday night. Eighty-six people remained missing. Recovery is expected to take several more weeks (NBC News and The New York Times). … Tropical Storm Elsa blew ashore early Wednesday killing one person in Florida and damaging a Navy base in Georgia (The Hill).
➔ SPORTS: Is it coming home? The (European) football world will find out Sunday as England punched its ticket to the final of the European Championship on Wednesday by defeating Denmark 2-1 in extra time. The Three Lions will take on Italy at Wembley Stadium in London in a bid for the country’s first European title (ESPN). … Across town, Roger Federer, seeking his ninth title, succumbed at Wimbledon on Wednesday to a straight-set “mauling.” He lost 6-0 in the third set to 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, winning only nine games in the defeat in what could be his final appearance at the famed tournament (Reuters).
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by some of this week’s back-page headlines, we’re eager for some smart guesses (and superior Googling) about things lost and found beyond Washington, D.C.
Email your responses to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
The FBI since January has searched and succeeded in finding more than 500 of these, according to a statement from Attorney General Merrick Garland this week. What does the Justice Department continue to locate?
- Fugitives on the Most Wanted list
- FBI recruits
- Participants in the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6
- Ghost guns
U.K. researchers announced this week they plan to launch a 2022 expedition to again try to find explorer Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship named ______ beneath the Weddell Sea near Antarctica.
- Quest II
Researchers said in a study published this week they have found _______ in the Milky Way.
- Oreo-shaped stars
- A new crop of rogue, free-floating planets
- Evidence of a gigantic space station shaped, hmmm, like a chocolate bar
- A portal to neighboring Andromeda
A 33-year-old man on Monday found $10,000 in cash, a silver coin and other items inside a wooden chest buried under a tree in Utah. The money was part of _______.
- A 2020 bank robbery
- An old silver mine
- An abandoned cabin destroyed by fire
- The second annual Utah Treasure Hunt event