The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today

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Sprinklers in front of the US Capitol



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday! 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, 610,891; Tuesday, 610,952.  

Monday came and went, and senators were still struggling to reach a deal on a bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of what could become a truncated August recess.


Is a bipartisan accord among 22 senators on life support, or is it making glacial progress toward something that holds up as a bill? Senate negotiators met and sniped at one another anonymously through the press over details woven into a $1.2 trillion outline that includes nearly $600 billion in new federal spending. Lawmakers involved in the talks insisted the process was moving in a positive direction. Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes Overnight On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — GOP senator: It's 'foolish' to buy Treasury bonds Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE (Ohio), the lead GOP negotiator, complained about the media coverage. 


“‘Oh, it’s terrible. Everything is falling apart,’” Portman said in mock-alarm while lampooning the reporting, according to The Hill’s Jordain Carney. “[But] it’s good. We’re making progress. … Somebody be a little positive. I mean, c’mon.”


Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Senate backers of new voting rights bill push for swift passage The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Polls open in California as Newsom fights for job MORE (D-Mont.), who said hours earlier that talks had slowed, appeared more optimistic after Democratic negotiators met with Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.). 


“I feel bullish that it will be done by [Tuesday] morning,” said Tester, who has for weeks been among the most optimistic members involved in negotiations. Are “there still outstanding issues? Yeah. Nobody’s bailed.”


Talks centered around a “global offer” by Democrats over the weekend, which Democratic sources described as offering a solution for all of the points of contention. Up in the air: proposed levels of funding for broadband, highways and bridges; tapping unspent COVID-19 relief funds to help offset new spending; and questions about whether the infrastructure plan would fully fund a water bill previously passed by the Senate, according to The Hill’s sources. 


Negotiators insist bipartisan legislative language will yet emerge for Senate floor consideration.


“Ultimately, yes,” Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (R-Maine) predicted. “But it’s painful” (NBC News).


Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin suggests pausing talks on .5 trillion package until 2022: report Biden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed MORE (D-W.Va.) said if the bipartisan effort on infrastructure goes south, it could doom Democratic efforts to pass a separate but related $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that includes what Democrats call “human infrastructure.” Manchin’s support would be required for that chunk of President BidenJoe BidenCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Biden pushes back at Democrats on taxes MORE’s agenda to become law.


“I would say that if the bipartisan infrastructure bill falls apart then everything would fall apart,” Manchin said (The Hill).


The New York Times: “It’s painful”: Infrastructure talks near either a deal or collapse.


CNN: Biden's infrastructure deal on shaky ground as blame game begins.



Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) walks into the Senate Chamber



Meanwhile, the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol officially kicks off today as House Republicans ratchet up their opposition to the probe.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyWhite House debates vaccines for air travel McCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE (R-Calif.) on Monday made two pointed plays on the eve of the investigation. During an appearance at the White House to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the GOP leader dubbed Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Memo: Never Trumpers sink into gloom as Gonzalez bows out Kinzinger says Trump 'winning' because many Republicans 'have remained silent' 'Justice for J6' rally puts GOP in awkward spot MORE (R-Wyo.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerThe Memo: Never Trumpers sink into gloom as Gonzalez bows out Kinzinger says Trump 'winning' because many Republicans 'have remained silent' 'Justice for J6' rally puts GOP in awkward spot MORE (R-Ill.), the two members of the minority party who are serving on the select committee, as “Pelosi Republicans.” Kinzinger labeled the comment “childish” (The Hill). 


The resolution was tabled, 217-198 on a mostly party line vote. The only Republicans who voted to table it were — surprise, surprise — Cheney and Kinzinger. 


As The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong note, today’s hearing will feature four officers — two representing the U.S. Capitol Police corps and two from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, who will testify on their experiences defending Congress that day. All four have been critical of both former President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE’s actions and those of the Republicans now downplaying the violence of Jan. 6.


Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonJan. 6 committee taps former Bush administration official as top lawyer Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France Jan. 6 panel says it is reviewing Milley actions MORE (D-Miss.), the chairman of the committee, told The Wall Street Journal that the panel could subpoena members of Congress, Trump or other witnesses as part of its investigation, and enforce those subpoenas in court. 


The Hill: Five things to watch as the Jan. 6 panel begins its work.


The Washington Post: Democrats look to move past partisan rancor and set a serious tone for the Jan. 6 investigation.


The Hill: Cheney to get prime speaking slot at first Jan. 6 committee hearing.



House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters



> RIP: Former Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziWhat Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Senate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Biden celebrates monstrous jobs report MORE (R-Wyo.) died on Monday at age 77 after suffering a broken neck and ribs in a bike accident last week. According to a former spokesman, Enzi died peacefully while surrounded by family and friends in Colorado after being airlifted from Wyoming following his accident. Enzi, who began his career as an accountant and left the Senate earlier this year after four terms, was appreciated by his colleagues as a quiet and unfailingly kind workhorse. He served as chairman of the Budget and Health, and Education, Labor and Pensions Committees. Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump seeking challenger to McConnell as Senate GOP leader: report Budget chairman: Debt ceiling fight 'a ridiculous position to be in' Buckle up for more Trump, courtesy of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ky.) said, “Mike’s colleagues on both sides of the aisle were sorry enough to see him depart the chamber and begin his well-earned next chapter just a few months ago” (The Associated Press and The Washington Post).



Former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)



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CORONAVIRUS: Just weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the federal government would steer clear of blanket vaccine mandates, urging employers, industry sectors and communities to make their own decisions about requirements for employees based on the latest COVID-19 infection rates and risks to unvaccinated workers.


Even as the CDC took that approach, the U.S. Army said it was preparing to require COVID-19 inoculations by the fall once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the available vaccines regular rather than experimental drug approval. Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsFormer surgeon general: 'Unconscionable' for states to ban mask mandates Former Trump surgeon general says politicians are 'taking tools' away from public health offices Pence urges young conservatives to get COVID-19 vaccine MORE recently predicted the U.S. military would mandate vaccines following full FDA approval for versions of the shots (Yahoo News).


On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it is moving ahead without that next step from the FDA. Secretary Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughVeteran suicides dropped to lowest level in 12 years Veterans grapple with new Afghanistan: 'Was my service worth it?' VA adds 245K more employees to vaccine mandate MORE announced that VA workers who provide direct patient care, about 115,000 employees, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 over the next two months (The New York Times).


The department is the first in the government to sidestep the Biden administration’s reluctance to call for mandates. New York City, California, many hospital chains and some private employers are deciding that the time has come amid rising transmissions and the delta variant to require public employees to be inoculated. In some cases, employees have the option to submit to regular testing as an alternative.


White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiWhite House debates vaccines for air travel France's Macron to speak to Biden about submarine deal Why does Biden's vaccine mandate not apply to welfare recipients and others? MORE said Monday that vaccine mandates are meant to keep Americans safe, but she once again distanced the federal government’s vaccination efforts from such requirements.


On Monday, leading health care groups, including the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, issued a joint call for employers to require the vaccine for all health workers, The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports.


Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThree arrested for allegedly assaulting NYC hostess who asked for COVID-19 vaccine proof Letitia James holding private talks on running for New York governor: report Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE (D) on Monday said municipal workers including teachers and police must be vaccinated by Sept. 13, the first day of school, or submit to weekly testing. The new requirement will apply to roughly 340,000 city workers. The mayor last week announced a similar requirement for public health care and clinic workers in the city. In New York, a major hurdle is nailing down union support (The New York Times). Earlier this month, the city celebrated health care workers and first responders as the pandemic’s “hometown heroes” (pictured below).


California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomRepublicans trapped in a media prison of their own making Buckle up for more Trump, courtesy of the Democratic Party The Memo: Never Trumpers sink into gloom as Gonzalez bows out MORE (D) on Monday announced the state would require all public and health care workers to either provide proof of vaccination or be tested once a week for COVID-19. “We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous delta variant,” the governor said in a statement (The Hill). Workers in high-risk settings such as hospitals, jails, care homes and homeless shelters will also be subject to the new rules.


Next up in a cascade of vaccine requirements could be federal and state prisons. Why? According to the data, inmates may have been inoculated against COVID-19 but most guards are not (Kaiser Health News).



Health Care workers walk during the "Hometown Heroes" Ticker Tape Parade



The Hill: The Biden administration is on pause as discussions continue about potentially tougher federal mask guidance tied to rising U.S. infections.


The Hill: With less than half of the total U.S. population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, most Americans eligible to be vaccinated remain at risk of infection. 


More coronavirus headlines: The United States, under pressure abroad to open its borders to tourists, will maintain its current travel restrictions for now because of rising COVID-19 infections (The Hill). … How the delta variant upends assumptions about the coronavirus (Reuters). … A study indicates that mixing doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines boosts COVID-19 antibody levels (Reuters). … Transplant patients’ higher rate of breakthrough infections after full vaccination boosts the case for booster inoculations, according to a study (Science magazine).


ADMINISTRATION: What is the “Biden economy” six months into the new administration? Politics and inflation fears are chipping away at Americans’ confidence in the economy, according to a new poll from The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. A majority of respondents see the economy as in poor shape, a warning sign in the nation’s capital, where the 2022 midterms loom large. History suggests Democrats as the party in power will lose seats and possibly their majorities in both chambers next year. 


Political identity shapes public perceptions of the economy, and in the AP-NORC poll, about 6 in 10 Democrats called the economy good, while three-quarters of Republicans said conditions are poor. Biden’s job approval hovers at an average of 53 percent, but his standing in some surveys has dipped to 50 percent, considered a warning sign that public opinion is mixed amid rising prices, the continued impacts of COVID-19 and a Biden agenda described by the president’s critics as heavy on federal spending and light on near-term gains for jobs, wages and growth.


The Wall Street Journal: A key gauge of future inflation is easing.


> U.S.-Iraq: Biden said on Monday in a joint communique issued with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (pictured below) that the United States will end any combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year. “Our role in Iraq will be … it’s just to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS as it arises,” the president told reporters after appraising the situation as “going well” (The Hill).



US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi



> U.S.-China: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in China on Monday to meet with her counterparts to go over a long list of U.S. complaints, called on Beijing to put aside U.S.-China differences and work with the Biden administration on difficult global issues such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Sherman said, “There are some things that rise above specific differences that are the global responsibility of great powers.” She proposed that the two governments could work together on climate, anti-narcotics efforts and regional issues such as North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar. … The New York Times reports that Xie Feng, the vice foreign minister who oversees relations with the United States, told Sherman the Biden administration’s policies are a “thinly veiled attempt to contain and suppress China,” according to a summary of his comments that the Chinese foreign ministry sent to reporters on Monday.


> Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA announced Monday it will set stricter requirements for how coal-fired power plants dispose of wastewater full of arsenic, lead and mercury — a major source of toxic water pollution for rivers and streams near electric generators across the country, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania (The Washington Post). In a new rulemaking process that kicked off Monday, the administration wants to undo one of the Trump administration’s major regulatory rollbacks.


> Holding a mirror up to Washington: “Like, anytime you think you’re just relaxing, you’re working.” In official Washington, Chasten Buttigieg is a stranger in a (very) strange land (The Washington Post). 




POLITICS: Voters in Texas’s 6th Congressional District will head to the polls today to fill the seat vacated by the late Rep. Ron WrightRon WrightPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE (R-Texas) in a race that could help show the impact of Trump’s endorsement early in the 2022 campaign cycle. 


Trump has gone to bat on numerous occasions for Susan Wright, the wife of the late congressman who died of COVID-19 in February. She secured Trump’s endorsement in April over state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R). The two candidates emerged from a 23-candidate primary contest in May, keeping the seat in GOP control no matter who wins tonight. 


The rare mid-summer runoff has sparked work from Trump’s orbit, with his Save America PAC spending $100,000 on campaign ads and Trump himself headlining a virtual event for Wright on Monday to give her a boost ahead of today (The Dallas Morning News). 


As for the implications in the House, the contest will bring the total number of vacancies to three. The Democratic majority will sit at 220 to 212. 


The Texas Tribune: Without Trump’s endorsement, Ellzey pushes for an upset in TX-6 special election runoff against Wright.


The Hill: Trump inauguration chair Tom Barrack pleads not guilty to illegal lobbying.


> 2022 watch: Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee MORE (R) is betting that her independent streak and longtime ties to her state will help lead her to reelection next year over mushrooming fury from the GOP’s right flank over votes bucking the party line and rebukes of the former president. 


As The Hill’s Tal Axelrod writes, anger among conservative Republicans has simmered over Murkowski’s votes against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and to confirm Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandInterior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC Harris in Shanksville honors heroism, courage of Flight 93 passengers Environmental groups call for immediate restoration of national monuments shrunk by Trump MORE. However, more erupted earlier this year over her vote to convict Trump in his second impeachment. 


Nevertheless, Murkowski remains a juggernaut and a brand name in the Last Frontier, and allies boast that she has a path to reelection. Murkowski is expected to run on a playbook highlighting her legislative accomplishments and independence in a state where more voters are registered as nonpartisan or “undeclared” than Democrats or Republicans. And while people close to her admit there are voters she will never get back after her clashes with Trump, they say her prominence in the state can withstand feuds.


Reminder: Murkowski won a rare write-in campaign in 2010 as an independent after losing the GOP primary. This is by no means her first rodeo.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: GOP is trying to shrink the electorate rather than expand the party’s base. 



Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) walks to a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans


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 world needs a heavy hitter on the pandemic. George W. Bush has done it before, by James Harding, opinion contributor, The New York Times. 


How Trump hijacked his party’s best resources, by Jonathan Bernstein, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. 


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The House meets at 10 a.m. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will hear testimony from Washington Metropolitan Police and U.S. Capitol Police witnesses at 9:30 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Todd Kim to be an assistant attorney general.


The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 10:15 a.m. Biden will speak to employees at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about national security and what the White House calls “analysis free from political interference” at 2:20 p.m. in McLean, Va.


Harris will also speak at noon virtually to the National Bar Association. She will host a conversation in her ceremonial office about voting rights at 4:15 p.m. with tribal leaders and other Native leaders from Alaska, accompanied by Haaland


The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m.


INVITATION TODAY: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live event 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.


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


BIG FIERY ROCK: An unusually large meteor was visible on Sunday over large parts of southern Scandinavia and illuminated southeast Norway with a powerful flash of light for a few seconds. Observers reported hearing a roaring sound afterward (The Associated Press). The Norwegian Meteor Network said it analyzed and reviewed several videos of the event and said the meteor first appeared about 55 miles north of the capital, Oslo, and continued its trail in a southwest direction before fragmenting in several flashes of light. The network posted a video on Twitter.


STATE WATCH: Smoke and ash from wildfires burning in the West triggered an air quality alert on Monday in the hazy skies over Massachusetts. Issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, the alert signaled that fine particulates in the air exceeded healthy standards (WCVB 5). … Hundreds of thousands of young salmon are dying in Northern California’s Klamath River as low water levels from drought allow a parasite to thrive, devastating a Native American tribe whose diet and traditions are tied to the fish. And wildlife officials said the Sacramento River is facing a “near-complete loss” of young Chinook salmon due to abnormally warm water. Fishermen and environmental experts are sounding an alarm (The Associated Press).


INTERNATIONAL: Tunisia is in turmoil after President Kais Saied decided late Sunday to dismiss government officials, including the justice and defense ministers in the North African country. Troops surrounded Tunisia’s parliament and blocked its speaker from entering Monday after the president suspended the legislature and fired the prime minister and other top officials. Tunisian police raided the offices of broadcaster Al-Jazeera and ordered it to be shut down. The country’s overseas allies expressed concern that Tunisia, with a population of about 11 million living between Algeria and Libya, might be descending again into autocracy through a power grab (The Associated Press).


And finally … The Morning Report Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage today continues with some great photos and a medal leaderboard.


As of this writing, the United States leads in medals with 22, of which nine are gold. China captured 21 (nine gold) while Japan notched 16 medals (eight gold). Russia, competing as the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, has 16 (five gold), and Great Britain has 10 total so far, of which four are gold. Check out medals, competitions and details at NBC Olympics



Joe Fraser of Team Great Britain competes on the horizontal bar




Tom Daley and Matty Lee of Team Great Britain compete in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Final