The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Jan. 6 probe, infrastructure to dominate week
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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday in the final week of July (where did it go?). 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 this morning: 610,891.
As of this morning, 56.8 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 49.1 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Sunday the Jan. 6 special committee on the Capitol attacks will include Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) just as lawmakers enter a final stretch to complete work before the August recess. The Senate resumes its focus today on a pending bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Pelosi made the Kinzinger appointment official on Sunday afternoon, having teased the addition to the panel during an interview earlier in the day (The Hill).
“It is imperative that we get to the truth of that day and ensure that such an attack can never again happen. That is why we established the select committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, which is bipartisan,” she said in a statement, noting that Kinzinger (pictured below) is an Air Force veteran and serves in the Air National Guard. “He brings great patriotism to the committee’s mission: to find the facts and protect our democracy.”
In a statement of his own, Kinzinger said that “lies and conspiracy theories have been spread” for months since the deadly attack. He added that while he did not expect to be added to the panel, “When duty calls, I will always answer” (The Hill).
The news comes days after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) yanked all GOP-appointed members from the committee following Pelosi’s veto of the involvement of Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Following Kinzinger’s addition, McCarthy said in a statement that the move was done to “satisfy” Pelosi’s “political objectives.”
Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Pelosi added that other Republicans “have expressed an interest” in joining the panel but did not divulge any further details. Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) has been floated in recent days as a potential adviser to the panel.
The Washington Post: Jan. 6 select committee to open investigation amid political chaos and controversy.
Sunday Shows: Jan. 6 investigation dominates.
The New York Times: Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) called herself a “new voice” for the GOP then she pivoted.
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Senate negotiators indicated on Sunday that they were on the verge of finalizing a deal on a bipartisan infrastructure proposal as they waded through the final provisions on how to pay for the package — an issue that has plagued talks for weeks and kept lawmakers from reaching the finish line.
“We’re about 90 percent of the way there,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told ABC News on Sunday morning.
Axios reported on Sunday that among the items included is $70 billion from COVID-19 packages enacted during the Trump term. A group of 22 senators involved in discussions is preparing to present a bill to the entire Senate for the first time. A second procedural vote in the upper chamber in search of support from at least 60 senators could happen by the end of the week.
“We are and have agreed jointly on about roughly $70 billion of funds that were not spent that will be redeployed to help pay for this infrastructure package,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told “Fox News Sunday” (The Hill).
However, any bill is expected to get held up in the House until the Senate completes work on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, a move that sparked a fury of words between Pelosi and Portman on Sunday (Politico). After the Speaker said that House Democrats are pulling for the bipartisan bill to pass, she maintained that the lower chamber has no plan to bring up the blueprint until the reconciliation bill is advanced by the Senate. That prompted a warning from the Ohio Republican.
“The infrastructure bill has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza that she’s talking about. … So, no, I’m not happy with what she said because it’s inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis,” Portman said.
When pressed on if that means Congress may end up with nothing, Portman said, “Well, if she has her way, we could. I’m not sure what the future is on reconciliation. … We need [the bipartisan bill] badly.”
The Associated Press: Senators race to seal infrastructure deal as pressure mounts.
Dan Balz: Bipartisan infrastructure bill in the Senate is an island in a sea of partisanship.
Naomi Jagoda, The Hill: Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change.
The Hill: House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate.
As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, Democrats still face major headwinds in the effort to pass the reconciliation bill, which will require the support of every Senate Democrat. One Senate Democrat described the bipartisan infrastructure bill as the “easy part” of the duel process, with members also quick to note that Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough could deal a blow to the emerging package.
“I expect to be working all through the summer on this. I was here all last weekend, taking calls from senators and I don’t think anything’s going to change,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told The Hill. “I’m expecting to be working all the time as we go into this. I wouldn’t buy any holiday tickets.”
The Hill: President Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package “remains to be seen.”
The Hill: A court decision on Friday that imperils a program for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children hastens the aim of some in Congress to shore up the program by using the budget as a vehicle.
Alexander Bolton, The Hill: GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden.
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LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: If America’s vaccine holdouts loved virology as much as the movies, they could embrace their inner warriors. With Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shields, they could see themselves as potential superheroes with comic book flourishes: Their mighty decision to use their antibody superpowers could weaken a nemesis called delta and save the world.
Or maybe they could just pocket a gift card incentive, change their minds and save their own lives with a jab.
Whatever the perks, pressures and fears, more Americans are changing their minds and deciding to get vaccinated, White House chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted on Sunday that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over a 24-hour period showed 790,000 additional vaccinations by Sunday, the biggest one-day rise since early this month.
Public health experts would like that inch-by-inch progress to continue, especially in states where vaccination rates are stubbornly low, infection rates are climbing, and the pandemic is again anxiety-producing for hospitals, nursing homes, employers and schools.
The Hill: Confusion abounds over whether children should wear masks in schools and whether their vaccination status should play a role in school guidance this fall. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that children ages 5 to 11 may be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations by mid-winter.
COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending upward in 45 states, although hospitalization levels remain well below peaks experienced early in the pandemic. In parts of the country with relatively low vaccination rates, including Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Nevada, hospitalizations for COVID-19 are rising (The New York Times). In Arkansas and Louisiana, political dynamics affect vaccine decision making (Politico).
“We are, unfortunately, the leading edge of the delta surge,” Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s top health official, told The New York Times. “We lost all the progress we had made.”
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that the delta coronavirus variant is to blame, but the mutation is moving so swiftly and poses a threat because it preys on people who have not been vaccinated, but easily could be (The Associated Press).
Delta’s power, in other words, could be weakened by millions of individual decisions to combat the virus with vaccine-bolstered antibodies.
“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said.
Axios: Why vaccinated America cannot give up on the unvaccinated.
International COVID-19 headlines: German politicians were divided Sunday over a warning by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff that restrictions for unvaccinated people may be necessary if COVID-19 infection numbers rise and the vaccination rate remains low this fall (The Associated Press). … In France, the parliament early Monday approved a law requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel and mandating vaccinations for all health workers. The government’s tough measures have prompted public protests and political tensions (The Associated Press). … Italy, which will require “green passes” beginning on Aug. 6 indicating vaccination status for those who wish to enter public venues (USA Today), on Sunday reported seven coronavirus related deaths compared with five the day before, the health ministry said. Italy has registered 127,949 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported more than 4.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date (Reuters).
More U.S. coronavirus headlines: Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) said on social media on Sunday night that he, his wife and son have COVID-19. He has not disclosed whether he has been vaccinated, but said he contracted COVID-19 for the first time in January 2020 (CNN). … A federal appeals court sided with the cruise ship industry on Friday in a clash over the CDC’s regulatory powers during the pandemic (The Hill). … Homeschooling is surging across the United States, sparked by COVID-19 guidance, mandates and educational policies (The Associated Press). … During the pandemic, Americans spent a lot of time alone (the U.S. birth rate fell), exercised more and watched more TV, according to a recent federal survey (The Hill).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and his pending decision on whether to seek reelection is under intense pressure as Republicans look to hold onto his seat and Democrats try to reverse the struggles of the past decade in the Hawkeye State.
As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, Republicans have publicly and privately encouraged the 87-year-old longtime senator to mount one more campaign, seeing his candidacy as a surefire way to lock down what could become a contested race if he sidesteps a bid for an eighth term.
Partially fueling that pressure are decisions by five incumbent Republicans who have said they will not seek reelection, including in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri. Grassley, who turns 88 in September, has said he will announce his reelection plans in the fall.
Across the aisle, Democrats got a shot in the arm last week when former Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) announced her bid for the seat, handing the party its first high-profile entrant in the race.
On the messaging side of 2022 wars, Democrats believe the evolving rhetoric on vaccines by Republicans is an electoral maneuver ahead of the midterm battles. With a big majority of voters now vaccinated, The Hill’s Hanna Trudo reports that Democrats believe the sudden position shift shows a concern that they may be on the wrong side of an important political and public health issue that currently haunts predominantly red states.
However, the thinking is precarious as Democratic leaders try to figure out how to point out the change in the GOP’s stance while treading carefully so as to not criticize a message that could help more people get vaccinated.
The New York Times: Why top Democrats are listening to Eric Adams right now.
The Hill: Biden walks fine line with Fox News.
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!
Why D.C.’s high-profile shootings are such a huge problem, by Megan McArdle, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3y48N8U
Amy Coney Barrett is trying to tell us something, by Noah Feldman, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3l8hY4P
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at noon.
The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of Todd Kim to be an assistant attorney general.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 10 a.m. Biden and Vice President Harris will deliver remarks to commemorate the Americans with Disabilities Act at 11:10 a.m. in the Rose Garden. The president will meet in the Oval Office with the Iraqi prime minister at the White House at 2 p.m.
The White House press briefing will take place at 12:30 p.m.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman today is scheduled to meet in China with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (The Hill).
INVITATION: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live event on Tuesday at 1 p.m., “Making Medicare Work Better for Patients,” with Ruud Dobber of BioPharmaceuticals; Randall Rutta, National Health Council CEO; and Meena Seshamani, deputy administrator and director, Center for Medicare.
➔ COURTS: Young Dreamers who have applied for deportation protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by the Obama administration are left hanging by a federal court ruling on Friday (NBC News). … Abortion opponents are cheering the Mississippi attorney general’s request last week to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Opponents of the landmark decision believe the conservative majority on the Supreme Court and the nation’s debate about abortion rights at the state level open the door to limiting or abandoning Roe as a constitutional right (The Hill).
➔ STATE WATCH: Are wildfires a deadly combination of nature and human causes? Experts warn environmental factors exacerbate the risks posed by human-initiated fires. “When stuff is dry, it will burn more easily regardless of how it is ignited,” bio climatologist Park Williams, an associate professor at UCLA, told The Hill. “Drought conditions are generally not direct causes of ignitions, but they do greatly enhance the probability that a given ignition leads to a large wildfire.” Data from California’s National Interagency Coordination Center indicated an average of 88 percent of wildfires were ignited by humans from 2016 to 2020. Last week, Pacific Gas & Electric said in a disclosure to the California Public Utilities Commission that it believes its equipment was connected to the ignition of the Dixie Fire, started on July 14 and has charred more than 181,000 acres in Northern California (The Hill).
➔ INTERNATIONAL: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who visits the White House today, said in an interview with The Associated Press that his country will still ask for U.S. training and military intelligence gathering but no longer needs U.S. combat troops.
➔ TECH: Biden’s nomination of Jonathan Kanter to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division completes a sweep of appointees championed by the progressive movement to break up the country’s biggest tech companies (The New York Times). Along with Kanter, the administration successfully installed Lina Khan as chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission and appointed Tim Wu to a White House advisory role. The three picks are a sign of Biden’s intent to revitalize antitrust law and challenge monopolies, report The Hill’s Chris Mills Rodrigo and Rebecca Klar. … The New York Times reports on questions and controversies spawned by what is happening (and what some believe should happen) to our digital identities after we die. The late Anthony Bourdain’s remarks created by artificial intelligence for a recent documentary are but one example. … Facebook wants people to be able to connect with God (or at least partner with faith groups) on its platforms (The New York Times).
And finally … OOOOO Morning Report Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage today includes some great photos and a medal leaderboard.
As of this writing, China has 15 medals (six gold), the United States has 14 (seven gold) and Japan has nine total (six gold). Russians athletes competing as the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo have captured eight medals (one gold). Italy won eight and Great Britain captured six total thus far. Review medals and details at NBC Olympics.
In case readers missed details about the composite materials in Tokyo’s Olympic medals — spoiler alert: no waste (DW.com).