The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Final countdown: Senate inches toward last infrastructure vote

 

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Infrastructure deal looms

 

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 616,829. 

As of this morning, 58.7 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 50.1 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.

The Senate this morning is trying to reinforce an image as the world’s most deliberative body: A $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiated over months will win overwhelming support this week after being rescued from potholes and naysayers more than once and procedurally delayed over the weekend by a single GOP senator. 

By Sunday evening, senators who plodded through time-consuming blockades created by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) (seen below) said his maneuvers would not stop the measure from passing. In a rare Sunday session, the Senate voted 68-29 to wind down debate as lawmakers move toward final passage on the $1.2 trillion blueprint, perhaps by early Tuesday (The Hill). 

“It's been a long day, but we've plowed through as I have intended,” Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Guns Down America's leader says Biden 'has simply not done enough' on gun control The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party MORE (D-N.Y.) said while hailing the “handsome and overwhelming vote” Sunday to shut off debate. 

The New York Times: Senate works on infrastructure “the old-fashioned way”: Painfully slow. 

It is unclear how many Republican senators ultimately plan to back the measure that would upgrade the country’s highways, ports, public transportation and broadband, among other provisions. On Sunday, 18 Republicans voted with every Democrat to cut off debate, including Sens. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Texas), Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Austin, Milley to testify on Afghanistan withdrawal After messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain MORE (Neb.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters GOP senators call on Biden to back down from vaccine mandates Alaska man accused of threatening senators to remain detained ahead of trial MORE (Alaska) and Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation 6 in 10 say Biden policies responsible for increasing inflation: poll Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell MORE (R-Miss.).

Earlier in the day, Wicker labeled the mammoth bill a win for the country, even if some Republicans stridently oppose supporting elements of President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE’s domestic agenda. 

Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation The unseen problems in Afghanistan How to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) MORE (R-Ind.), who is running for reelection next year, said he plans to vote no, pointing to the costs and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats scramble to reach deal on taxes On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters MORE’s (D-Calif.) decision to tether the bill to a separate $3.5 trillion plan for “human infrastructure” that Biden and his party support. Notably, Young was among 22 senators in both parties who helped negotiate the infrastructure plan. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics MORE (R-S.C.), who voted last week to move ahead with infrastructure, was absent after testing positive for COVID-19 last Monday. 

The Associated Press: Senators on left, right hold together to push infrastructure.

Politico: Biden's infrastructure bill on cruise control to Senate passage. 

 

Sen. Hagerty

 

With Senate momentum all but assured this week, calls are louder among moderate House Democrats for Pelosi to hold an infrastructure vote as soon as possible. 

She has said no House vote will happen until Senate Democrats pass a $3.5 trillion reconciliation measure, which requires at least 50 senators. Progressive House members over the weekend kept the pressure on Pelosi to stick with that tactic.

“No deal. Both move together or nothing moves,” Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoSinema advisers resign, calling her an obstacle to progress Sinema's no Manchin, no McCain and no maverick Sinema trails potential primary challengers in progressive poll MORE (D-Ariz.) tweeted on Sunday.

It is unclear how many House conservatives plan to back the bipartisan infrastructure measure now before the Senate. 

“Only a small group of House Republicans [have] bought into the bill,” one GOP member told the Morning Report. “Most of us don’t know what is in it, how it’s paid for, or broader policy concerns and trade-offs in the Senate bill.”

Senators, anxious to begin their summer break, are not expected to take up the next big push, the $3.5 trillion federal support plan for families, until September. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden says expanding Medicare to include hearing, dental and vision a 'reach' Schumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants MORE (I-Vt.) indicated to reporters that he will release text of the budget resolution this morning (The New York Times).

The Hill: Fox's Bret Baier presses Senate GOP campaign arm chairman Rick Scott (Fla.) on GOP’s past support for rising spending under former President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE

More in Congress: Some lawmakers and advocacy groups argue the infrastructure bill’s proposed funding to reduce the country’s lead water pipe contamination problem, backed by the administration, is insufficient, The Hill’s Rachel Frazin reports. It will cost more than the bill’s proposed $15 billion to replace all of the harmful lead service water lines in the country, they believe. “We shouldn’t settle for only some children being protected from lead,” Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoUsing shared principles to guide our global and national energy policy WHIP LIST: How House Democrats, Republicans say they'll vote on infrastructure bill Manchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said last week. 

 

Pipes ready for a pipeline project



 

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LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: The Senate’s bipartisan drive toward infrastructure spending has created an opening for Republicans to move ever so slightly away from Trump, who has opposed the Senate’s efforts.

“This is not an infrastructure bill, this is the beginning of the Green New Deal,” Trump said in a lengthy statement on Sunday. “This will be a big victory for the Democrats and will be used against Republicans in the upcoming elections. ...  Hopefully the House will be much stronger than the Senate.”

Trump also lauded Hagerty for “remaining true” to what he called an “America First” agenda.

The former president’s missives, which have included threats of primary challenges against supporters of the package, have done little to move the needle among senators. Multiple Trump allies, including Sens. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Lobbying world The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-N.D.) and Graham, voted to open debate on the infrastructure bill. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), who rarely voted against Trump during his presidency, seems prepared to do so this week (The New York Times).

Meanwhile, the bill opened fresh divisions in the Senate GOP conference as the likes of Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (Texas) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyState watchdog to launch review of Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal Juan Williams: Trump's toxicity fuels fear of violence Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE (Mo.), among others, argue that their colleagues are making a major political mistake by backing the bill. 

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton notes, even GOP leadership isn’t on the same page. With McConnell and Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntIt's time to make access to quality kidney care accessible and equitable for all Hartzler pulls in 6,000 for Missouri Senate bid with .65M on hand McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (Mo.) likely to support the bill. Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate appears poised to advance first Native American to lead National Park Service Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Wyo.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, has been a vocal opponent of the legislation, having framed the bill as being tied to the reconciliation package that Democrats hope to pass in the coming months. 

The Hill: Biden emboldens establishment Democrats with ballot box wins. 

The New York Times: J.D. Vance converted to Trumpism. Will Ohio Republicans buy it? 

> Virus politics: COVID-19’s resurgence in the United States poses a political threat for the party in power in addition to being a public health crisis, because Biden “owns” a national role of pandemic warrior, Democrats believe. But it’s complicated because so many elected leaders retain starring roles in the coronavirus drama, now well into its second year. Biden’s poll numbers remain above 50 percent and could be boosted further by strong economic news — including Friday’s blockbuster jobs report. One longtime Biden ally said of the president, “The only way this impacts him is if the economy takes a turn” (The Hill). 

Niall Stanage, The Memo: Friday's jobs report with a drop in the unemployment rate, which showed the nation adding almost 1 million jobs in July, underlined how a robust economy could buttress Biden's political fortunes. 

> Congressional districts: The United States may soon feel the full brunt of a Supreme Court decision that partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts is beyond the reach of federal courts. Critics say the 2019 decision amounted to a retreat under the influence of Chief Justice John Roberts. His sway could result in the upcoming once-per-decade redistricting process being more partisan than ever, they insist. “The lawmakers who are drawing these lines right now know very well that they will now be able to get away with the most aggressive maps of their dreams,” said journalist and author David Daley, who has written about gerrymandering and the law (The Hill). 

The New York Times: After Richard Trumka’s death, the AFL-CIO at a crossroads.

The Associated Press: New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Hochul gets early boost as NY gubernatorial race takes shape EMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul MORE (D) digs in, shows no sign of heeding calls to resign.

The Washington Post: Melissa DeRosa, top Cuomo aide, resigns in wake of state attorney general’s report.

Axios: GOP gusher. ​​Daily headlines are boosting Republican arguments as the party seeks to regain control of at least one chamber in 2022. 

CNN: Anita Dunn, Biden’s senior White House adviser and veteran of Democratic congressional and presidential campaigns, talks about her career as she prepares this month to return to her Washington-based consulting firm, SKDK.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS: Vaccine mandates are increasingly in vogue in the United States, but not without complications, public questions and pushback, reports The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel. On the bright side: In the last week, an average of 706,000 vaccine doses per day were administered, a 7 percent jump from the week prior (The Washington Post). 

The Associated Press: Once lagging, Europe catches up to the United States in vaccinations.  

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the United States is “paying a terrible price” during the current surge in infections, despite the fact that widely available and effective vaccines can save lives, including the lives of children 12 and older. 

Collins urged concerned parents to view children’s masks, whether required or recommended by schools this fall, to be a “safety device” that can keep students and others free from harm (The Hill). 

Morning Report reminder: In U.S. public schools, “safety devices” other than masks are routinely accepted by parents and students, including helmets, pads and other sports equipment issued by coaches for play; protective gloves, eyewear and fume hoods in chemistry classes; and seat belts required by law during driver’s education courses.

Comparing some education settings for children to office workplaces for adults, Scott Gottlieb, the former administrator of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, “I can’t think of a business right now that would put 30 unvaccinated people in a confined space without masks and keep them there for the whole day.No business would do that responsibly, and yet that’s what we’re going to be doing in some schools.” 

 

Sign requiring masks

 

The Hill: Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaPresident, first lady honor teachers at White House awards ceremony Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Florida Board of Education approves sanctions on eight school districts over coronavirus mandates MORE on Sunday repeated that vaccinations can keep schools open for in-person learning and extracurricular activities such as sports this fall, priorities for many U.S. school districts and for millions of parents who found virtual learning at home a poor substitute for classroom instruction. “Don't be the reason why schools are interrupted,” Cardona warned officials. “We want our youth to get vaccinated,” he added on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The Hill: The president of the powerful American Federation of Teachers union on Sunday urged teachers to work with employers on vaccine mandates, calling the rise in COVID-19 infections “alarming” ahead of the school season. “As a matter of personal conscience, I think that we need to be working with our employers, not opposing them on vaccine mandates,Randi Weingarten told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

> In Congress, more than a dozen House Democrats who say they are particularly attentive to the risks inside the Capitol from the spread of the delta variant urged Congress’s physician last week to impose vaccine or testing requirements for lawmakers and staff that would be similar to those recently mandated for federal workers. This option is opposed by many House Republicans who champion personal medical freedom rather than mandates and resist the return of a House requirement to wear masks (The Hill). … Over in the Senate, Bill CassidyBill CassidyTrump goes after Cassidy after senator says he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: poll MORE (R-La.), a gastroenterologist, said Sunday he supports local health requirements to battle the spread of COVID-19 and to keep people out of hospital ICUs rather than decisions made by some conservative governors, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters GOP senators call on Biden to back down from vaccine mandates DeSantis to call special session of legislature to fight vaccine mandates MORE (R), to issue blanket bans on mask requirements in local schools. “I don't want to top down from Washington, D.C. I don't want to top down from a governor's office,” the senator told CNN (The Hill). 

> The restaurant industry was devastated by COVID-19 closures and lockdowns, and a new surge in coronavirus cases could undermine business revivals. Many bars and restaurants have decided to require that any customers indoors be vaccinated against the coronavirus as a way to protect workers, clientele who want to be safer when congregating and the survival of struggling commerce (The Hill). 

> Vaccine booster shots: The Biden administration worries that vaccine-hesitant Americans will get the impression that booster shots, which may be recommended for some people in the United States next month, mean vaccines are ineffective, which is not the case, reports The Hill’s Peter Sullivan. Coronavirus vaccine innovators Moderna and Pfizer have said additional doses can strengthen immune systems against the delta variant, while France, Germany and Israel moved ahead to administer third doses to the elderly and other vulnerable people even as much of the developing world has not received initial doses. … Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Webb: Pretzel logic  More than 40 Texas hospitals face ICU bed shortages MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, repeated on Sunday that “sooner or later” people will likely need COVID-19 booster jabs, especially those with compromised immune systems (The Hill).

The Hill: The annual rally in Sturgis, S.D., among motorcycle enthusiasts has kicked off again, one year after the gathering became a COVID-19 superspreader event among unvaccinated, unmasked and incautiously jammed together attendees. “There are more people here than in the 31 years I’ve been doing this,” Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin told the Rapid City Journal over the weekend. 

Tensions are running high in the NFL over COVID-19 vaccinations, with a vocal minority of players and coaches criticizing rules mandated by the league that are intended to raise the vaccination rate of team players and staff. Nineteen teams had more than 90 percent of their players vaccinated as of August, according to the league (The Hill). 

A federal judge on Sunday granted Norwegian Cruise Line’s request for a preliminary injunction, temporarily allowing the company to require proof of vaccination from passengers despite a Florida law that bans businesses from doing so (The New York Times). 

*****

ADMINISTRATION: When it comes to judicial appointments, Biden and Senate Democrats are off to a fast start this year, outpacing Trump's early record in confirming judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench, reports The Hill’s Harper Neidig. Eight of Biden's nominees have been confirmed, seven of whom were sworn in last month, and another 14 await Senate floor votes. 

The Washington Post editorial board: Where are the watchdogs? Biden has some hiring to do.

Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post: Biden needs Senate approval for a total of 1,237 positions — an increase of 59 percent positions in less than a decade, according to a new report from the Partnership for Public Service. “We’ve gone from irrational to just plain crazy,” Hiatt writes. More than an eighth of the way through his term, the president hardly has the beginning of an executive team in place.

Meanwhile, the president is biding his time before naming a permanent head at the FDA, considered an essential role within the Health and Human Services Department, especially during a pandemic. It’s not immediately clear why the post remains empty six months into 2021, but some observers suggest politics are to blame. Some Democratic senators are lukewarm about Janet Woodcock, the acting head, getting the top job permanently (The Hill). 

 

FDA building



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

The quislings of Albany, by Maureen Dowd, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2VzShQ4 

How happy is America? An economist has an answer, by Noah Smith, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3CqKBjI

 

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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session. Members are out of town for the August recess. 

The Senate, which met over the weekend, convenes at noon to resume consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure package. 

The president today will remain in Wilmington, Del. He will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. 

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenNuclear watchdog: US, Iran entering 'decisive' period on resuming talks Sullivan raised normalizing relations with Israel during meeting with Saudi crown prince: report Democrats call for State to lift ban on embassies discussing same-sex marriage MORE participates virtually in the U.N. Security Council meeting at 8 a.m. on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Maritime Security.” He meets with Japanese national security adviser Takeo Akiba at 10 a.m. at the department. Blinken will tour the Advanced Fabrication Lab at the University of Maryland engineering school in College Park at 1:35 p.m. and deliver a speech there at 2:10 p.m. about U.S. foreign policy.

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: Taliban fighters seized government buildings in provincial capitals, including Kunduz and northern Sar-e Pul, on Sunday as fighters continue to push north and plot takeovers of new localities while the U.S. moves ahead with a full withdrawal from Afghanistan. One local lawmaker said that the government is hanging on to control of the airport and other spots amid the onrush (Reuters). … A brutal new chapter unfolds in Afghanistan as cities fall to the Taliban. The seizure of five capitals amplifies fears about the country’s future following the complete U.S. withdrawal of troops this month (The New York Times).

➔ CLIMATE CHANGE: The newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says humans “unequivocally” cause damaging greenhouse gases affecting climate phenomenon. The panel forecasts severe future impacts from a warming planet (The Hill).

 

Glaciers in Norway

 

➔ STATE WATCH: The Dixie wildfire in California has burned more than 463,000 acres and was only 21 percent contained on Sunday, becoming the second largest wildfire in the state’s history. No fatalities have been recorded (The Hill). 

➔ SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Twenty-one percent of Americans say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a 2018 report from Edison Research. Nevertheless, experts say most sexual harassment goes unreported. It’s a pervasive trend despite state and federal laws, corporate and government policies and mammoth legal settlements to some victims as well as increased reporting and complaints by victims and widespread public awareness about workers’ rights, reports The Hill’s Julia Manchester.

THE CLOSER

And finally … The Morning Report’s Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage ends with some final photos and the medal results to mark what The Associated Press called “a nuanced end” to the “erratic pandemic Olympics.” 

The New York Times: Olympics end as they began: strangely. 

Reuters: Olympics organizers reported 26 new games-related COVID-19 infections on Sunday as the competition ended, for a total of 430 confirmed cases recorded beginning on July 1. 

The United States finished with 113 medals, of which 39 were gold, the only nation to top 100. China captured 88 (38 gold), while Russia, competing as the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, piled up 71 medals (20 gold). Great Britain ended the games with 65 medals (22 gold), and host nation Japan took a bow after a tumultuous two weeks with 58 medals total, of which 27 were gold. All the details from the closing ceremony on Sunday, the medals and competitions are at NBC Olympics and The Associated Press.

 

Team USA at the closing ceremonies

 

The Olympic closing ceremonies