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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 610,891; Tuesday, 610,952; Wednesday, 611,288; Thursday, 611,801.
The Senate on Wednesday evening voted to open debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal hours after negotiators and President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE announced they reached a deal following months of up-and-down discussions.
Senators voted 67-32 to officially begin work on the bill with the hope of passing it through the upper chamber before the August recess, with 17 Senate Republicans voting with every Democrat. The agreement on the bill, which is worth roughly $1.2 trillion over eight years and includes $550 billion in new spending, was lauded by Biden as the “most significant long-term investment” in infrastructure “in nearly a century.”
“This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function, deliver, and do big things,” Biden said in a statement. “Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal. But that’s what it means to compromise and forge consensus—the heart of democracy.”
“The bipartisan infrastructure deal is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America that will help make our historic economic recovery a historic long-term boom,” Biden added.
As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, there were changes made to the agreement after a framework was agreed to last month. The total spending dropped to $550 billion from $579 billion, as the new blueprint cuts an “infrastructure bank” that was meant to help spur private investment in large projects. The accord includes funding for roads, bridges, public transit, electric buses, clean drinking water and broadband.
List of 17 Senate Republicans who voted to open debate: Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMissouri official asks court to suspend McCloskeys' law licenses GOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate MORE (Mo.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes NC Republican primary key test of Trump's sway The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill MORE (N.C.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (W.Va.), Bill CassidyBill CassidySunday shows - Boosters in the spotlight GOP senator: Republicans will lose if they relitigate the past Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant MORE (La.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Welcome to ground zero of climate chaos MORE (Maine), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerThe Memo: Biden beats Trump again — this time in the Senate The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Republicans unveil bill to ban federal funding of critical race theory MORE (N.D.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act is an industry game-changer The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Wyden asks White House for details on jet fuel shortage amid wildfire season MORE (Idaho), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRep. Tim Ryan becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress Graham found Trump election fraud arguments suitable for 'third grade': Woodward book Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan MORE (S.C.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing MORE (Iowa), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenThe 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (N.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear Emboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration MORE (Alaska), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname Centrist state lawmaker enters Ohio GOP Senate primary Emboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes MORE (Ohio), James Risch (Idaho), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (Utah), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime How to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) MORE (N.C.) Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungHow to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) Senate Democrats try to defuse GOP budget drama The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill MORE (Ind.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE (Ky.) (The Hill).
The Washington Post: Bipartisan infrastructure pact clears key Senate vote after breakthrough in talks.
The Associated Press: Infrastructure deal: Senate suddenly acts to take up bill.
There are many tough votes ahead for the bill to pass the Senate, but if it does, it will likely become law. While some on the left may vote no in the House, there appear to be enough centrist Republicans in the lower chamber who want the deal to pass. And Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE (D-Calif.), who is a great vote counter, will need to deliver for the president.
While McConnell voted yes on Wednesday, House Minority Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyThompson says he hopes Jan 6. committee can complete work by 'early spring' Juan Williams: Shame on the anti-mandate Republicans White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE (R-Calif.) is unlikely to be supportive — especially in the wake of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE's public opposition this week.
No GOP lawmaker voted yes while three Democrats — Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions McCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda MORE (N.Y.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibProgressive foreign policy should not be pro-autocracy Democratic bill would force Fed to defund fossil fuels Democrats brace for battle on Biden's .5 trillion spending plan MORE (Mich.) — voted no.
The New York Times: The roughly $550 billion infrastructure plan: What’s in and what’s out.
For weeks, an agreement proved elusive for the group of 22 senators who led the discussions. Various provisions, including mass transit and water, threatened to derail the process at any moment. The offsets to cover the budgetary costs of the package now appear to include repurposed and unspent COVID-19 relief funds and unemployment aid.
“We now have an agreement on the major issues. We are prepared to move forward,” Portman, the lead GOP negotiator, told reporters earlier on Wednesday. “We look forward to moving ahead. And having the opportunity to have a healthy debate here.”
Politico: Trump tries to sabotage the Biden infrastructure deal.
The bill also was the first of a two-track process to move in the Senate as Democrats prepare to advance a budget resolution that will tee up a $3.5 trillion reconciliation blueprint, launching a months-long process that will almost certainly involve headaches for the majority party.
One of those headaches cropped up on Wednesday when Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaDemocrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (Ariz.), the lead negotiator for Democrats on the bipartisan bill, said that while she will vote to proceed on the budget resolution, the $3.5 trillion price-tag is too high for her to throw her weight behind and will need to be altered.
“While I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration,” Sinema told the Arizona Republic.
Sinema and Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior —Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine safe for young kids MORE (D-W.Va.) and 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.) have said they will support advancing the budget resolution but will need to see a final reconciliation product before deciding how they will vote. Her comments also sparked a fury among progressives, with Ocasio-Cortez panning the remarks immediately after they became public (Politico).
Axios: Biden meeting with Democrats on immigration today.
The Hill: “Good Trouble”: Black caucus embraces civil disobedience.
More in Congress: The House passed a spending bill on Wednesday that would boost the pay for Capitol Police and House staff members (The Hill). … House Democrats on Wednesday passed for the first time in more than 50 years a State Department and foreign assistance appropriations bill that does not include the Helms Amendment, a provision that blocks U.S. funding for women’s health services related to abortions. The state, foreign operations and related programs bill — which passed 217-212, with three Democrats voting no — an annual package that lays out U.S. foreign funding priorities, excludes text from the amendment for the first time since it was introduced in 1973 (The Hill).
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LEADING THE DAY
CORONAVIRUS: This week brought home the difference between carrots and sticks when it comes to federal, state, municipal and business decisions during a pandemic in which three effective vaccines are available, too many people remain unvaccinated and a clear and present danger to everyone — the delta virus — is being allowed to spread.
A day after New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNew York to start weekly COVID-19 testing in schools Three 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 MORE (D) cracked down on health care and other municipal workers, mandating they be vaccinated or tested regularly, the city dangled a gentler incentive, offering New Yorkers $100 beginning on Friday if they get vaccinated at a city-run site.
Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoZeldin says he's in remission after treatment for leukemia Letitia James holding private talks on running for New York governor: report Governors brace for 2022 after year in pandemic spotlight MORE (D), who found himself boxed in by de Blasio, spun around on Wednesday and announced that state workers must get vaccinated or face weekly COVID-19 tests, and all patient-facing health care employees at state-run hospitals will be required to be vaccinated without the option to use testing to avoid being jabbed (The New York Times).
The White House used Cuomo’s announcement and actions in New York City and California to argue that Biden is following other leaders’ examples as he announces today that federal civilian employees and contractors will be required to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.
WTOP: The government of Fairfax County, Va., outside the nation’s capital is exploring whether to adopt a vaccine mandate for its 12,500 county employees.
Just as the vaccine requirements roll out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is being skewered this week for seemingly punishing most of the nation’s vaccinated individuals with new guidance to wear masks indoors in public spaces because of those who ignore, resist or procrastinate official advice to get vaccinated.
The Hill: Retailers that are eyeing the latest CDC guidelines anticipate tightening mask requirements indoors, but which retailers will act and when remain questions.
Frustrated Americans argue the CDC has not revealed the compelling new scientific data that reverses earlier guidance that masks were not needed indoors among people who were fully vaccinated. The CDC also reversed another bit of its earlier advice: It now says people should get tested if fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19, even without developing symptoms (The New York Times). The CDC insists the delta variant changed the science, which forced changes in its advice as infections have spiked.
Some who watched Biden on Wednesday were confused to see him without a mask during an indoor event in Pennsylvania, glad-handing well-wishers as he finished speaking at a manufacturing plant. But while landing in Washington aboard Marine One hours later and making his way into the Oval Office, Biden’s face was covered both outdoors and as he entered the Oval Office (pictures below). Masks are mandated as of Tuesday for officials and staff inside the White House, but the Pennsylvania county Biden visited on Wednesday was not deemed by the CDC to be a location of high COVID-19 spread.
The Hill: Biden and his administration are entering a difficult stretch as they try to get the delta variant under control.
The Hill: Masks are a flash point on Capitol Hill. They are again a requirement in the House but a recommendation in the Senate. Surging coronavirus cases and the debates about vaccination and mask mandates are among issues that have Democratic and Republican lawmakers at each other’s throats, report The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis.
> In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt says he will sue Kansas City over the reinstatement of a mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Schmitt is going up against a Wednesday order by Mayor Quinton Lucas tied to CDC guidance (KMBC). In addition to Missouri’s Republican Gov. Mike Parson, other GOP governors who say they’re opposed to the CDC’s mask guidance are Greg Abbott of Texas, Doug DuceyDoug DuceyDozens of Republican governors call for meeting with Biden on border surge White House debates vaccines for air travel OSHA faces big challenge with Biden vaccine mandate MORE of Arizona, Brian KempBrian KempRepublican politicians: Let OSHA do its job Dozens of Republican governors call for meeting with Biden on border surge President Biden's vaccination plan is constitutional — and necessary MORE of Georgia and Pete RickettsPete RickettsOvernight Health Care — Nicki Minaj stokes uproar over vaccines Biden vaccine mandate puts McConnell, GOP leaders in a tough spot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink MORE of Nebraska (The New York Times).
> Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are considering reducing proposed new funding for pandemic preparedness included in a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” blueprint. The lawmakers wielding the scissors want to trim $30 billion down to $5 billion, The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports.
> In news from the United Kingdom, coronavirus limits imposed on vaccinated U.S. and European travelers will be lifted in Great Britain on Aug. 2 (The Washington Post).
> The Wall Street Journal: According to a study, Pfizer’s vaccine effectiveness drops from 96 percent to 84 percent within two months of inoculation, showing a weakening over the first six months but a high level of protection against the coronavirus.
> NPR: In rare cases, vaccinated people who are infected with COVID-19 are vulnerable to “long COVID,” or symptoms that linger, according to a small study of fully vaccinated health care workers in Israel.
> At the Tokyo Summer Olympics, American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, 28, a U.S. Army reservist who won bronze in Rio de Janeiro at the Olympics in 2016, dropped out of competition after he tested positive for COVID-19, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee confirmed on Thursday. Kenricks remains in isolation in a hotel in Japan in accordance with protocol (CNN).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Rep.-elect Jake Ellzey’s (R-Texas) victory in Tuesday night’s special election runoff in Texas’s 6th Congressional District is putting the impact of Trump’s endorsement under the microscope after his support for Susan Wright did not put her over the top.
Speaking to Axios on Wednesday, Trump accidentally let slip that his side “lost” on Tuesday before quickly pulling a 180 and saying that it was a win because a Republican still won.
“I think this is the only race we've lost together,” Trump said of David McIntosh and the Club for Growth, the conservative outside group that is getting the lion’s share of the blame for Wright’s loss. Axios’s Jonathan Swan wrote that Trump suddenly caught himself mid sentence on the word “lost.” “This is the only race we've ... this is not a loss, again, I don't want to claim it is a loss, this was a win. … The big thing is, we had two very good people running that were both Republicans. That was the win.”
However, the GOP universe is viewing the Texas contest as a clear Trump loss. After years of Trump serving as a GOP primary kingmaker, Republicans are now questioning whether the former president’s endorsement is still the weapon it once was ahead of the 2022 GOP primary season as they look for clues out of Tuesday night’s contest.
“Anybody wondering the answer to that question should simply look at the result of the election,” one GOP strategist who worked on Trump’s reelection told the Morning Report. “It’s never been an issue before. Trump’s name used to be everything.”
Luckily for Trump and other Republicans, they get another chance to answer that question next week in the special election to replace former Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversTrump asks if Rand Paul has 'learned lesson' on endorsements Five takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE (R) in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. Mike Carey, the Trump-backed candidate, is considered the front-runner, but he is squaring off against multiple opponents with a fighting chance heading into Tuesday’s election. Among them are former state legislator Ron Hood, who is backed by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment MORE (R-Ky.), and state Rep. Jeff LaRe, whom Stivers is supporting.
In an interview with the Morning Report, Stivers said that there are similar issues at work in next week’s race, noting that the contest will be one of incredibly low turnout. Thus far, roughly 2,000 people have voted early, with more taking advantage of early voting in the special election in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District to replace Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeBiden administration launches new national initiative to fight homelessness Sanders goes back to 2016 playbook to sell .5T budget Activists detail legal fight against HUD for Philadelphia housing MORE. The two contests will both be held on Tuesday.
“It's just like last night,” Stivers, a former chairman of the House GOP campaign arm, said of Trump’s endorsement “It's helpful. Trump's still popular. But I don't think his endorsement still delivers a victory. It does not guarantee a victory. People like him, but it's not enough in and of itself.”
Alex Isenstadt, Politico: Texas loss alarms Trump advisers worried about party clout.
However, alarm bells did not go off for everyone in the GOP universe, with some maintaining that Tuesday night was the exception rather than the rule. One GOP operative, in particular, let loose on Wright and her campaign for their lackluster performance.
“She may have been the worst candidate and campaign in history,” the operative said, noting expectations of a Carey win on Tuesday night.
Amie Parnes and Hanna Trudo, The Hill: Vice President Harris’s bad polls trigger Democratic worries.
The Hill: “Blue wave” Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
The Second Amendment is the latest issue to be reframed (wrongly) as racist, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3zNDQGE
A Saudi official’s harrowing account of torture reveals the regime’s brutality, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2TLxvMA
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 10 a.m.
The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure package.
The president and the vice president will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 10 a.m. Biden will sign into law at 11:45 a.m. the Dispose Unused Medications and Prescription Opioids Act and the Major Medical Facility Authorization Act of 2021. Biden and Harris will receive an economic briefing from their advisers at 1 p.m. The president at 4 p.m. will describe in an East Room speech the next steps in the federal push to get more Americans vaccinated, including a vaccination requirement for the civilian workforce.
Harris and administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman of the Small Business Administration at 2 p.m. will participate in a virtual meeting with small business owners.
Economic indicator: The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports at 8:30 a.m. on U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter (GDP in the first quarter was 6.4 percent). … The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on filings for unemployment benefits in the week ending July 24 (claims rose in the prior week, surprising many analysts).
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.
INVITATION TODAY: Join The Hill’s Virtually Live event “Energy Efficiency, Climate and Justice” at 1 p.m. Speakers include Brenda MalloryBrenda MalloryWhite House official discusses environmental justice efforts The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE, White House Council on Environmental Quality chair; Kim Foreman, Environmental Health Watch executive director; Ben Passer of Fresh Energy; Jacqueline Patterson, The Chisholm Legacy Project founder and executive director; and Adrianna Quintero of the Energy Foundation. Information is HERE.
➔ WINGED VICTORY: A stunning gold and green bird in Hawaii that was believed to be dead last week was found alive and well, which researchers are gushing is "an amazing sign." The five to six-inch kiwikiu, or the Maui parrotbill, is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a critically endangered species. According to the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, the creature was once found all over Maui and the neighboring Moloka’i, but because of humans, feral pigs, wildcats and mosquito-induced disease, its numbers dwindled to fewer than 150 birds. Surprised researcher Zach Pezzillo said he found a male kiwikiu a week ago, apparently a survivor of a failed relocation project among seven birds inadvertently exposed to malaria through mosquitoes. Pezzillo heard the little bird’s distinct song at the Nakula Natural Area Reserve in Maui, located on the slopes of the Haleakalā volcano, and snagged proof of his sighting (SFGate and MauiForestBirds.org).
➔ ECONOMY: After weeks of national hand-wringing about rising COVID-19 infections, hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans, supply chain and computer chip issues and price hikes seen in housing, gasoline and food, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday took a brighter, longer view. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economy has made progress toward the central bank’s employment and inflation goals, and officials offered a hint they could begin to reduce Fed asset purchases later this year (The Wall Street Journal). The economy still has “some ground to cover” in the labor market before the central bank could begin easing off stimulus despite rising inflation, Powell told reporters (The Hill). The chairman spoke shortly after the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee announced it would keep interest rates at a 0 to 0.25 percent baseline range and continue its monthly purchases of at least $80 billion in Treasury bonds and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities, as widely expected. Analysts say they are now focused on the Fed’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Aug. 22-24.
➔ INTERNATIONAL: Russian authorities raided the home of Roman Dobrokhotov, the chief editor of The Insider, an investigative news site, which was recently designated by the Kremlin as a “foreign agent.” A legal aid group said that police seized cell phones, laptops, tablets and Dobrokhotov’s international passport during the Moscow raid. The editor was slated to travel outside Russia later in the day. Dobrokhotov was subsequently questioned at a police precinct and released. The move comes amid a pressure campaign by the government against independent media outlets ahead of September’s parliamentary election (The Associated Press).
And finally … The Morning Report Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage today continues with some great photos and a medal leaderboard. (Our weekly Morning Report quiz, usually found here on Thursdays, is on hiatus until after the Olympics wrap up next month.)
The United States leads in medals with 37, of which 13 are gold. China has captured 29 (14 gold) while Japan piled up 23 medals (14 gold). Russia, competing as the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, has 25 (seven gold), and Australia has 20 total so far, of which eight are gold. Check out medals, competitions and details at NBC Olympics.