The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure bill poised for Senate weekend vote

The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure bill poised for Senate weekend vote
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 613,228; Tuesday, 613,679; Wednesday, 614,295; Thursday, 614,785; Friday, 615,320.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) set up a vote to end debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Saturday, teeing up final weekend passage for the $1.2 trillion package at the center of President BidenJoe BidenSouth Africa health minister calls travel bans over new COVID variant 'unjustified' Biden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Senior US diplomat visiting Southeast Asia to 'reaffirm' relations MORE’s domestic agenda.

Schumer on Thursday night moved to ready a Saturday vote in which 60 votes will be needed. Lawmakers spent a day of behind-the-scenes haggling on Thursday but proponents expressed optimism that the mammoth measure is headed for Biden’s desk.  

“I believe we’re very close to an agreement and see no reason why we can’t complete this important bipartisan bill,” Schumer said. “So I urge both sides to continue working diligently to make it happen.” 

As The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports, senators concentrated on a number of sticking points on Thursday night, including a push by Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure Trump seeking to oust Republican Alabama governor over canceled rally: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice MORE (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and other Republicans to add roughly $50 billion in defense infrastructure to the legislation. 

Two members of the group of 10 negotiators — Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — DOJ unveils new election hacking charges MORE (R-Ohio) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFive Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future MORE (D-Va.) — were also wrangling with Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats plow ahead as Manchin yo-yos Overnight Energy & Environment — House passes giant climate, social policy bill Senate confirms Park Service director after years of acting heads MORE (D-Ore.) and Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisHoliday season poses major test for Biden economy On The Money — Biden caps off infrastructure week Senate Republicans call on colleagues to reject government spending bills without border wall funding MORE (R-Wyo.) over cryptocurrency policy with competing amendments over who would be exempt from the bill’s tax provisions. Toomey told reporters that the two groups were “at an impasse.”

Schumer also faces a time crunch because some Senate Republicans plan to travel to Wyoming today to attend the funeral of former Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziLobbying world Cheney on same-sex marriage opposition: 'I was wrong' What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling MORE (R-Wyo.), a longtime popular lawmaker who died last week (Politico). 

The Associated Press: Senators struggle to amend, finish $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

The Hill: Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMental health: The power of connecting requires the power of investing Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Cornyn says he 'would be surprised' if GOP tries to unseat Sinema in 2024 MORE (R-Texas) cuts a deal with White House on COVID-19 money for infrastructure. 

Earlier on Thursday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a detailed assessment of the infrastructure bill and its spending and revenue provisions, projecting it would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years. The estimate added fuel to GOP opposition in the face of assertions from some Senate colleagues that the infrastructure bill would not add to the nation’s red ink. 

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, the CBO concluded that the $1.2 trillion bill would raise discretionary spending by $415 billion over 10 years while increasing revenues by $50 billion. Direct spending would be decreased by $110 billion. 

 

CBO

 

The impact of the CBO assessment on senators’ final votes and worries about raising the deficit remain to be seen. Seventeen Senate Republicans joined with Democrats to open debate on the bill.  

“We need to get a score, so we need to see whether the proposal is credibly paid for,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (R-Ky.) said in late June, when he said he was undecided over whether to support the legislation. McConnell was among the 17 GOP senators who voted to open debate.  

Even after receiving the CBO report, members of the infrastructure working group in the Senate said new spending would ultimately be offset in the budget over a decade. Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai MORE (R-Utah), one of the leading GOP proponents of the measure, noted that the budget office did not take into consideration some unspent federal funds enacted this year for COVID-19 relief, which are to be reprogrammed for infrastructure under provisions of the pending bill. 

READ: The full CBO release.

The Hill: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Advocates see pilot program to address inequalities from highways as crucial first step Ted Cruz ribs Newsom over vacation in Mexico: 'Cancun is much nicer than Cabo' MORE (R-Texas) criticized Republican Senate colleagues who will vote to support the infrastructure plan. ​​“I don’t think Republicans should be complicit in the ticking inflation bomb we’re facing,” he said.   

The Wall Street Journal: Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season MORE (D-W.Va.) says the Federal Reserve should reverse its easy-money policies. 

Politico: McConnell vows no GOP Senate help to lift the cap on the nation’s borrowing authority, soon to expire under law.  

The Hill: Biden's embrace of Trump-era border policy frustrates Democrats. 

 

Sen. Mitch McConnell

 

 

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LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: Richard Trumka, the longtime head of the AFL-CIO and Democratic powerbroker, died on Thursday at age 72.   

Biden told reporters that the labor leader, whom he considered a friend, died following a heart attack. Trumka was reportedly on a camping trip with his family. 

"The labor movement, the AFL-CIO and the nation lost a legend today,” AFL-CIO Communications Director Tim Schlittner said in a statement. “Standing on Rich’s shoulders, we will pour everything we have into building an economy, society and democracy that lifts up every working family and community.”

Dating back to the early 1990s, Trumka worked in some capacity with every Democratic White House, having come to power initially with the United Mine Workers in the early 1980s before leaving for the AFL-CIO. He rose to become president in 2009. 

Tributes came in from Democratic leaders far and wide. Biden told reporters that Trumka was “more than head of AFL-CIO.” Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer lauded him as a “fierce warrior” for workers.

“Richard Trumka dedicated his life to the labor movement and the right to organize,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Richard’s leadership transcended a single movement, as he fought with principle and persistence to defend the dignity of every person” (The Hill). 

Obituaries: The Washington Post, The Associated Press

 

Richard Trumka

 

> Playing into GOP hands: Democratic Rep. Cori Bush (Mo.), who describes herself as a progressive activist, gave Republicans more fodder in their quest to retake the House in 2022, defending her decision to spend more than $70,000 on personal security while continuing to call for defunding police departments (The Hill). 

“I’m going to make sure I have security because I know I have had attempts on my life, and I have too much work to do. Too many people that need help right now for me to allow that. If I end up spending $200,000 … You know what? I get to be here to do the work. So suck it up,” Bush told CBS News. “Defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets, because we’re trying to save lives.”

The comments immediately reverberated around Washington. White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiRussian military buildup puts Washington on edge White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Biden: Guilty verdicts in Arbery case 'not enough' MORE reiterated that Biden does not support defunding police departments. The House GOP campaign arm swiftly cut an ad centered around Bush’s comments. 

“Her answer speaks for itself and will be appearing in many Republican midterm ads,” said Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

The comments also dismayed Democrats, who hold a slim 220 to 212 majority in the lower chamber. 

“Every time Cori Bush talks about defunding the police, she sounds more like a Republican in Washington than a Democrat with a functioning head on her shoulders,” one Democratic operative involved in House races told the Morning Report. “She’s done enough damage already.” 

> Empire State: New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoWill media portrayals of Rittenhouse lead to another day in court? NY Assembly report corroborates Cuomo harassment claims The real 'threat to democracy'? Pols who polarize us with their opinions MORE (D), who has lost the support of Democratic elected officials including the president, says voters will be his judge, despite a chorus of advice that he resign based on damning evidence that he sexually harassed at least 11 women in and out of state government (The Hill). Longtime political analysts in New York believe Cuomo imagines he can fight it out, even as impeachment in Albany looms as a real possibility (The New York Times “The Daily” podcast, “The end of Andrew Cuomo?”). … Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David is under fire for the way in which he allegedly tried to help Cuomo and undercut one of the governor’s accusers. The details sent shock waves through the LGBTQ community (The Hill). … Cuomo’s pre-taped apology this week and defense have been panned by Democrats and Republicans. “If he were sorry, he would step down. That’s how accountability works,” said one of the women he allegedly harassed (The Associated Press). .. Adding to Cuomo’s woes, ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising juggernaut, booted the governor from its platform, closing off a key fundraising method used by Democratic candidates (Axios). 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS: Moderna, based in Massachusetts, on Thursday reported that its COVID-19 shot is about 93 percent effective against the virus six months after a second dose, but indicated that a booster shot will likely be needed before the winter. 

The six-month efficacy figure, which was revealed by the company ahead of an earnings call on Thursday, is a positive sign and compares to 84 percent efficacy after that time for the Pfizer vaccine. However, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC on Thursday that the data was collected before the delta variant became widespread in the U.S., meaning the equation could change now that the delta variant is widespread.  

“We are pleased that our COVID-19 vaccine is showing durable efficacy of 93 percent through six months but recognize that the delta variant is a significant new threat, so we must remain vigilant,” Bancel said in a statement.

As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan notes, the company said in a presentation that it believes antibody levels will “continue to wane,” adding that the combination of delta, fatigue with wearing masks and migration indoors due to cold weather will cause an increase of breakthrough infections. At that point, a booster will likely be necessary (The Hill)

The Food and Drug Administration could soon lay out a vaccine booster strategy, according to The Wall Street Journal, while describing internal discussions centered around an early September timeline. … Extra shots will be available as soon as possible for vaccinated Americans with underlying health conditions such as compromised immune systems, says Anthony FauciAnthony FauciUS to restrict travel from eight African nations over new COVID-19 concerns Israel warns of looming emergency after its first case of omicron, new COVID-19 variant Five things to know about omicron, new COVID-19 'variant of concern' MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Reuters).

Axios: The CDC's booster messaging mess.

 

Vaccine vials

 

On the bright side, the United States continued to see an uptick in vaccinations on Thursday as the White House reported that more than 864,000 shots were administered over the previous 24 hours, including 585,000 people who were receiving their first jabs. The seven-day vaccination average reached 699,000, the highest mark reached in nearly a month. 

Sticks, no carrots: The administration is so concerned about rising delta infections that it is considering using federal regulatory powers and the threat of withholding federal funds from institutions to push more Americans to get vaccinated, according to sources interviewed by The Washington Post. Potential targets: long-term-care facilities, cruise ships and universities, potentially impacting millions of Americans. The conversations are in the early phases and no decisions have been made. One outside lawyer in touch with the Biden administration about such options recommended the president use federal powers sparingly, the Post reports. 

The Hill: Maryland, Virginia to require vaccines for state employees.  

The Hill: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R): “Just get the damn vaccine.

The Washington Post: Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaHillicon Valley — Immigrants being put in surveillance programs Senate Democrats urge government to do more to protect K-12 schools against hackers Democrats call on Education secretary to address 'stealthing' at federal level MORE on Thursday sharply urged Republican governors in Florida and Texas to rethink their bans on mask requirements ahead of the fall school season: “Our kids have suffered enough. Let’s do what we know works. … Educators know what to do.” … Meanwhile, four renegade Florida school systems — in Broward, Leon, Duval and Alachua counties — have said they would retain or seek to implement mask requirements (The New York Times).

The Hill: The school board in conservative Orange County, Calif., is suing Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomApple, Nordstrom stores hit in latest smash-and-grab robberies Ted Cruz ribs Newsom over vacation in Mexico: 'Cancun is much nicer than Cabo' San Francisco DA charges 9 involved in organized retail thefts MORE (D) over his mask mandate for K-12 students in the state this academic year, arguing his requirement violates “constitutional and statutory law.”

The Hill: Rep. Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanLawmakers increasingly anxious about US efforts against Russian hackers GOP seeks oversight hearing with Kerry on climate diplomacy  House Freedom Caucus elects Rep. Scott Perry as new chairman MORE (R-S.C.) tests positive for COVID-19 despite vaccination. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.), who was fully vaccinated but recently tested positive for the coronavirus and said he was grateful he felt as well as he does in self-isolation, said he urged former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE to “speak up” about the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines (The Associated Press). The former president, who eschewed mask-wearing in public at the White House, contracted COVID-19 and later got vaccinated in private before leaving office, has been reluctant to openly challenge his GOP allies who dismiss the threat of the coronavirus and have declined to get vaccinated. 

Although Trump has avoided bold public pronouncements to his base to get inoculated, he has endorsed COVID-19 vaccines, which his administration moved aggressively to help create. “I would recommend [the vaccine]. And I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly,” Trump told Fox News in March. “We have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also. It’s a great vaccine and it’s a safe vaccine.”  

> Fatalities: A 45-year-old leader in the Texas Republican Party from Galveston who opposed mask-wearing and was a critic of COVID-19 vaccines on social media died on Wednesday from COVID-19 after a brief hospitalization and intubation. He left behind a wife and young son, both of whom also tested positive for the coronavirus (The Washington Post).  

***** 

ADMINISTRATION: With a South Lawn photo op and a brief spin behind the wheel of a Jeep Wrangler 4ex Rubicon electric SUV, Biden on Thursday announced the administration’s goal of making half of new vehicle sales in this country electric by 2030 and released new details on near-term proposals intended to push the market toward emission-free vehicles. The administration is proposing to increase the stringency of standards for vehicle mileage and greenhouse gas emissions in response to the Trump administration’s pullback of Obama-era standards (The Hill).

 

President Biden with a Jeep

 

Immigration: Detentions are soaring despite Biden’s campaign promises to reverse the Trump administration’s approach to migrants at the U.S. southern border (The Associated Press). The number of detainees has more than doubled since the end of February, to nearly 27,000 as of July 22, according to the most recent data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That’s above the roughly 22,000 detained last July under Trump, though it’s nowhere close to the record in August 2019, when the number of detainees exceeded 55,000, ICE data shows. 

Justice Department & policing: The federal government said Thursday it will investigate police officers in Phoenix accused of using excessive force and abusing the homeless. The probe will also examine whether police have engaged in discriminatory policing practices and will work to determine if officers have retaliated against people engaged in protected First Amendment activities (The Associated Press).

 

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 

 

OPINION

It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote, by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3rXdWNJ 

Nina Turner’s loss in Ohio means Biden doesn’t need to keep caving to the left, by James Hohmann, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3s3IyNJ 

 

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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at noon for a pro forma session. Members are out of town for the August recess. Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10 a.m. 

The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. on Saturday to resume consideration of a bipartisan infrastructure measure. 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. Biden will react to the Labor Department’s July employment report at 10:30 a.m. with remarks in the East Room. The president will depart the White House at 12:30 p.m. for Wilmington, Del. He and Vice President Harris will receive a virtual weekly briefing from economic advisers at 2:15 p.m. 

Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. reports on U.S. employment in July. (Jobless claims during the week ending July 31 fell to 385,000, according to Thursday’s federal report. Layoffs dropped to their lowest level in just over 21 years in July as companies retained workers amid a labor shortage.) 

The White House press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.

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

ELSEWHERE

INTERNATIONAL: Iran's new president Ebrahim Raisi was sworn into office on Thursday after winning the office in June, cementing the rule of hard-liners in the Arab nation. Raisi, a protégé of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave a speech to parliament broadcast on state television and railed against U.S. sanctions. “In the presence of the holy Koran and before the nation, I swear to the omnipotent God to safeguard the official religion of the country and the Islamic Republic as well as the country’s constitution," Raisi said (The Hill). … The International Olympic Committee said on Friday that it canceled and removed the credentials of two coaches — Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich — who tried to send Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the Belarussian sprinter who fled to Poland, back to Belarus, citing the “wellbeing” of athletes in Tokyo (The Associated Press).  

ASHES: Greenville, Calif., a town of about 800 residents, lost its historic center because of the wind-whipped Dixie wildfire early on Thursday. Since the mammoth blaze began last month, at least 45 structures dotted across 322,502 acres have been burned, with no fatalities (The Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times).    

DRINKING & CANCER: Alcohol consumption has been linked to nearly 750,000 cancer cases last year, according to a study published by Lancet Oncology in its recent edition. Three-quarters of alcohol-related cancers were diagnosed in men. Most of those cases were liver and esophageal cancers. Breast cancer was most common among women. “Alcohol is an irritant. It irritates the lining of our mouth, of our throat, of our stomach. As our body tries to heal, sometimes it heals in abnormal ways that can lead to the very beginnings of cancer,” said David Odell, a thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine (CBS News). 

➔ ECONOMY: The Labor Department today will release its July employment report amid increasing concern about the economic impact of the delta COVID-19 variant. Red flags this week appearing in some data suggest a drag on the job market (The Hill). … Nearly three dozen of the nation’s most influential business groups, frustrated at the pace of the administration’s China review, called on Biden to restart trade talks with Beijing (The Wall Street Journal).

THE CLOSER

And finally … The Morning Report’s Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage today continues with some world-class photos and a medal leaderboard. The fortnight’s closing ceremony takes place on Sunday at 7 a.m. ET (Time).  

The United States leads in medals with 92, of which 30 are gold. China has captured 75 (34 gold) while Russia, competing as the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, has piled up 61 medals (16 gold). Great Britain has 53 medals (17 gold), and host nation Japan has 47 total so far, of which 22  are gold. Check out medals, competitions and details at NBC Olympics.  

 

Athlete celebrates after decathlon

 

Volleyball player hammers a serve