The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate to vote on infrastructure bill; budget package up next

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The U.S. Capitol at sunset



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, 616,829; Tuesday, 617,321.

The Senate’s years-long infrastructure week will wrap up today with bipartisan passage of a $1.2 trillion bill. That achievement is to be followed by action on a budget resolution that will open the door to a $3.5 trillion collection of spending for centerpieces of President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE's domestic agenda. 


After months of negotiations, the Senate will render its verdict on federal investments in bridges, roads, ports, airports and broadband with a final vote this morning at 11 a.m. Along with every Senate Democrat, roughly 20 Senate Republicans are expected to support the legislation (The Hill and The Associated Press). 


“An overwhelming bipartisan majority of Senators voted to surmount the final few procedural hurdles and put the bill on a glide path for passage tomorrow morning,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act To Win 2022: Go big on reconciliation and invest in Latinx voters MORE (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor on Monday.


The legislation includes $550 billion in new spending, which Biden and Democrats had sought. The remainder of the package is funded by tapping unspent coronavirus relief funds already in law. 


The Senate did have some last-minute business to take care of ahead of today’s vote, with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan Briahna Joy Gray: Proposals favored by Black voters 'first at the chopping block' in spending talks MORE (I-Vt.) blocking an amendment on Monday to limit a proposal to increase federal regulation of cryptocurrencies. Sen. 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.), brought the amendment up for unanimous consent, but after Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE (R-Ala.) tried to attach his untreated proposal to boost military spending by $50 billion, Sanders blocked it (The Hill). 


Politico: Schumer signals final vote for Senate infrastructure package.



President Joe Biden departs the White House



> Curious about what’s included in the Senate’s infrastructure measure?


The Washington Post: A massive effort to make broadband more available and affordable.


The New York Times: Money for cleaner drinking water and greener buses.


The New York Times: Infrastructure bill bolsters funding for effects of climate change and natural disasters. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers would receive an additional $11.6 billion in construction funds for projects such as flood control and river dredging. That’s more than four times the amount Congress gave the Corps last year for construction.


Spectrum News 1: New York airports are in line for $937 million in federal funding in the infrastructure bill.


NBC News: For U.S. transit, $39 billion (less than Democrats sought).


Bloomberg News: $7.5 billion for a network of electric vehicle chargers, $21.5 billion to create an Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, and $16 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy.  


Once senators advance the infrastructure package, attention turns to the budget resolution, which all 50 Senate Democrats are expected to support, teeing up the process for lawmakers to consider a potentially $3.5 trillion blueprint embraced by progressives.


What’s included in the upcoming reconciliation budget bill? In all, it’s a laundry list of Democratic priorities. The Hill details some of the spending provisions and revenue details, including a Democratic proposal to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations, increase Medicare benefits, secure universal pre-kindergarten and provide two years of community college tuition at no cost to eligible students. In addition, Democrats want to use the bill to create a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented migrants in the U.S.


The New York Times: Senate Democrats begin $3.5 trillion push for “big, bold” social change.


The Hill: $3.5 trillion bill includes pathway to citizenship, green cards.


The Hill: Democrats seize on “alarm bell” climate report in spending plan push. 


One major item that won’t be included: a hike sought by the Treasury Department in the nation’s statutory limit to borrow funds to cover U.S. obligations (The Hill). The situation puts lawmakers on a collision course by the fall to either increase the debt ceiling, which Republicans insist they will oppose, or let the United States tumble into default.


“Here’s the comedy: They won’t let Republicans have any say in this monstrosity, but they want our help raising their credit card to make it happen,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights MORE (R-Ky.) said, referring to the Democratic plan. “Democrats want Republicans to help them raise the debt limit so they can keep spending historic sums of money with zero Republican input and zero Republican votes” (The Hill). 


On Monday, Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenBiden's IRS proposal could mark the end of privacy in banking Climate crisis: The house is on fire, will banking regulators break the glass? Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push MORE warned Republicans not to go down a damaging path they’ve explored before, including in 2011, labeling the need to raise the debt ceiling a “shared responsibility” (The Hill). 


Politico: Dems double-dare a dug-in McConnell on debt.


The bottom line: This fight could get very ugly and rattle financial markets.



Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)



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CORONAVIRUS: The Pentagon, as anticipated, will require U.S. forces to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 15. “We are still on a wartime footing, and every American who is eligible should take immediate steps to get vaccinated right away,” Biden said in a statement Monday. “I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe (The Associated Press and The Hill).





The delta variant has pushed U.S. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to a six-month high (Reuters and The Hill). 


Despite the continued surge in virus transmissions, some conservative governors on Monday remain opposed to indoor masks in public schools this fall.


South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Monday urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because the delta variant “does pose a real threat,” but he said school districts should not require masks in the classroom. “Shutting our state down, closing schools and masking children who have no choice — for the government to mask children who have no choice — to protect adults who do have a choice is the wrong thing to do. And we’re not going to do it,” he said during a press conference (WYFF4).


In Texas, the Dallas public schools are prepared to defy Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order and require masks (The Hill).


The spread of COVID-19 is bad enough in the Lone Star State that Abbott on Monday announced that Texas will seek out-of-state health care personnel to help with the latest surge of patients, and he asked hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures to free up clinicians and resources to better handle the hospital caseloads.


In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisChicago sues police union over refusal to comply with vaccine mandate Crist says as Florida governor he would legalize marijuana, expunge criminal records Big businesses are siding against Texas in mandate fight MORE (R) does not want to see his opposition to mask requirements in schools flouted. He announced on Monday that the Florida Board of Education could withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who defy his executive order prohibiting mask mandates (CBS Miami).


Colleges and universities worry about widely available fake COVID-19 vaccine cards as students return to campus (The Associated Press).


> Proof of vaccinations: In France, a special pass for vaccinated individuals is now a requirement for anyone going to restaurants or traveling across the country on public transportation (The Hill). … Canada on Monday lifted restrictions for fully vaccinated U.S. travelers to begin crossing its land border. Travelers will need to submit proof of vaccination and other details to the Canadian government's ArriveCAN platform at least 72 hours before arriving in the country, whether traveling by land or air. The United States has not yet reopened its border to Canadian travelers because of pandemic precautions (USA Today).


> Vaccine research: Individuals who received booster doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine experienced similar side effects to the second dose, including sore arms, according to a small clinical study in Israel (The Hill). ... What full Food and Drug Administration approval could change about COVID-19 vaccination (NBC News).


> Dejá blue: The New Orleans Jazz Fest in Louisiana on Monday canceled this year’s event scheduled in October because of the spread of COVID-19 infections. It did the same last year (CNN).


POLITICS: Time’s Up board co-chair Roberta Kaplan, a practicing lawyer, resigned following a report from the New York attorney general that she privately counseled New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoEMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul Hochul jumps out to early lead in NY governor's primary: poll De Blasio privately says he plans to run for New York governor: report MORE (D) as he faced sexual harassment allegations last year. 


The organization fights for gender equality and advocates on behalf of sexual abuse survivors. Kaplan’s resignation also came a day after Melissa DeRosa, a former top aide to Cuomo, resigned following the release last week of the attorney general’s report, saying in a statement that the last two years had been “emotionally and mentally trying.” DeRosa was represented by Kaplan during the attorney general’s investigation (The Associated Press and NBC News).


Meanwhile, Cuomo’s fight to hang on is getting very little help from the New York Assembly as lawmakers prepare to impeach and potentially remove him from office, with the governor showing few signs that a resignation could be in the cards.


“Our goal is now to bring this matter to a conclusion with all due haste,” Speaker Carl Heastie said during a press conference at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Monday (Politico).


The New York Times: A defiant Cuomo seeks to buy time as lawmakers prepare for impeachment.




ADMINISTRATION: The Justice Department on Monday said it intended to disclose some long-classified documents that may describe links between Saudi Arabia’s government and the 9/11 hijackers. Under pressure from the families of people who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, the administration said in a court filing that the FBI “recently” closed a portion of its investigation into the terrorist attacks and was beginning a review of documents that it had previously said must remain secret with an eye toward disclosing more of them (The New York Times).


> CIA Director William BurnsWilliam BurnsDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' US Embassy in Colombia investigating several Havana syndrome cases MORE will visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority today, with a focus on Iran. In Jerusalem, he will meet with David Barnea, director of the Mossad intelligence agency, and is expected to meet Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other senior defense and intelligence officials. In Ramallah, Burns will meet Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj, Axios reported.


> Student debt: Biden's extension last week of the federal student loan pause raised the political stakes over the issue of debt forgiveness tied to college costs, reports The Hill’s Sylvan Lane. Progressive lawmakers and activists insist Biden has set a behind-the-scenes deadline to unilaterally cancel billions of dollars in student loans when the pause on payments is set to expire for the final time in January. But Democrats are divided ahead of the midterm elections about what position Biden can and should take.  


As a candidate, Biden campaigned on forgiving up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower. Progressive Democrats since then have called on the president to use an executive order to cancel student loan debt. Schumer recently said Biden can “flick his pen” and “use his existing legal authority” to forgive up to $50,000 worth of student loan debt per borrower. In contrast, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan Photos of the Week: Climate protests, Blue Origin and a koala MORE (D-Calif.) has said student loan forgiveness “has to be an act of Congress.”

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Opening schools should be priority No. 1, by Michael BloombergMichael BloombergDemocrats' combative approach to politics is doing more harm than good Battling over Biden's agenda: A tale of two Democratic parties Budget impasses mark a critical turning point in Biden's presidency MORE, opinion contributor, Bloomberg Opinion. 


Why “moderation” doesn’t guarantee electoral success for Biden and the Democrats, by Perry Bacon Jr., columnist, The Washington Post. 




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


The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m. to resume consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure and jobs bill.  


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:15 a.m. He will return to the White House from Wilmington, Del., and at 3:45 p.m. receive a briefing from Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and homeland security and COVID-19 response teams on federal hurricane preparations. 


Vice President Harris will visit a community health center in Washington, D.C., and deliver remarks at 9:20 a.m. 


The White House press briefing will take place at 12:30 p.m.


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


INTERNATIONAL: A rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan weeks before the official end of the U.S. military mission focuses attention on Biden as he withdraws U.S. forces. The Taliban seized a string of provincial capitals, including the strategically important city of Kunduz, the latest grim news in the war-torn nation. Fearing a takeover by the Taliban, opponents of the U.S. troop withdrawal on Monday called on Biden to reverse his decision (The Hill). … ​​The insurgents have captured five out of 34 provincial capitals in the country in less than a week. They are now battling the Western-backed government for control of three others. The United States sent its envoy to Qatar, where the Taliban maintains an office, to warn it will not be recognized internationally if it comes to power in Afghanistan by force (The Associated Press).


SUING A PRINCE: An accuser of Jeffrey Epstein filed suit against British royal Prince Andrew, Duke of York, on Monday. Virginia Giuffre said in a statement that she was sexually abused at age 17 by the prince after she was trafficked to him, adding that the suit was brought under the Child Victims Act. “I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” Giuffre said. Two years ago, Andrew denied having sex with Giuffre (The Associated Press) … The Epstein Victims Compensation Program, a fund designed to give money to victims of Epstein, announced on Monday that it has donated roughly $125 million to 135 individuals as it winds down operations. Jordana Feldman, the administrator of the fund, made the announcement after 14 months of work, adding that 92 percent of 150 eligible applicants accepted what was offered by the fund. The program received 225 claims more than double the expected number. Epstein, a billionaire financier, took his own life in a Manhattan jail cell two years ago after being arrested on sex trafficking charges (The Associated Press). 



Prince Andrew, Duke of York, leaves the headquarters of Crossrail at Canary Wharf in London



SMILES & TEARS: For one night only at Madison Square Garden, a star-studded group of comedians will perform to mark the 20th anniversary of an unforgettable day of tragedies. All proceeds from “NYC Still Rising After 20 Years: A Comedy Celebration” will benefit charities tied to Sept. 11, 2001. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required. Among those scheduled to appear at the Sept. 12 show: Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon and Amy SchumerAmy Beth SchumerWill Hollywood abandon Texas over abortion law? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate to vote on infrastructure bill; budget package up next Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart to headline star-studded 9/11 benefit show MORE. Ticket information is HERE (The Associated Press).


And finally … NASA has a job for four intrepid “paid volunteers” who want to pretend to be astronauts living on Mars for a year (in Houston). To prepare for astronaut expeditions on the red planet, NASA last week began taking applications for four people to live and be studied at Mars Dune Alpha, a 1,700-square-foot Martian habitat created by a 3D printer and erected inside a building at Johnson Space Center.


Perhaps pandemic lockdowns and public health-induced isolation have refined the “right stuff” thinking of applicants who, if chosen, would dine only on ready-to-eat space food (no potato cultivation planned) and may live without windows. 


The requirements are strict, reports The Associated Press, including a master’s degree in a science, engineering or math field or pilot experience. Only American citizens or permanent U.S. residents are eligible. Applicants have to be between 30 and 55, in good physical health with no dietary issues, and not prone to motion sickness. 



Mars is seen in an image taken by the United Arab Emirates Space Agency