Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — Abortion tops agenda as lawmakers return

Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer speak privately before an event
Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) speak privately before an event on July 28, 2021.

Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week for a two-week stretch to deal with a potpourri of issues, headlined by the Democratic response to the leaked opinion draft by the Supreme Court that could precipitate the end of Roe v. Wade.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) late last week teed up a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would essentially codify Roe into law. The vote is expected to take place midweek.

There is little drama surrounding the vote, as it will fail, just as the vote on a similar bill did in late February. The only question at this point surrounds what three senators — Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — will do. Collins and Murkowski, the lone Senate Republicans who support abortion rights, have criticized the legislation and argue it does not offer enough protection for Catholic hospitals and other religious entities that decline to perform abortions. Collins has proposed her own narrower bill, but Schumer has declined to bring it up for a vote.

As for Manchin, he was the lone Senate Democrat to side with Republicans in the February vote. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the West Virginia centrist said that he is “looking at everything” but declined to say how he would vote (The Washington Post). 

Nevertheless, Democratic leaders are plowing ahead.

“This is about something so serious and so personal and so disrespectful of women,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “Here we are on Mother’s Day, a week where the court has slapped women in the face in terms of disrespect for their judgments about the size and timing of their families” (CBS News).

Along with the abortion push this week, the House will vote on a resolution granting congressional aides the ability to unionize, while the Jan. 6 select committee is gearing up for a new public phase of its investigation, with public hearings set to take place next month (The Wall Street Journal). 

Jordain Carney, The Hill: This week: Senate heads toward failed abortion vote amid fury.

The Hill: Despite popularity, taxes on the wealthy struggle to find a foothold in Congress.

Politico: Senate Democrats shop revamped child care reconciliation proposal.

The leaked opinion is also spawning renewed calls by Democrats and progressives to add justices to the Supreme Court, fueled by the possibility that the court will not end with Roe v. Wade and could overturn other landmark decisions. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said the change is needed to “restore balance” to the court, according to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. Schumer, however, has not jumped on board, saying in recent days that his focus is on this week’s vote. 

The Hill: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says Roe v. Wade created a “constitutional right that didn’t exist.”

The Hill: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) says Justice Samuel Alito is “taking us back to the 1850s.” 

© Associated Press / Jose Luis Magana | Protestors outside the Supreme Court on Thursday.

On Capitol Hill, inside the Oval Office and among progressive groups, a question posed by Alito’s draft opinion is whether other federal rights assumed to be settled are suddenly more vulnerable to being overturned.

The LGBT community is alarmed for a host of reasons, including that gay marriage is a precedent that could be without federal protection (The New York Times and The Hill).  

“If you tug on the Roe thread, it’s like playing a really horrible game of Jenga,” Melissa Murray, New York University law professor, told The Hill.

Federal versus states: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who may seek the presidency in 2024, on Sunday told ABC’s “This Week” that a national abortion ban floated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during a USA Today interview is “inconsistent with what we’ve been fighting for.” The governor, who last year signed a near total abortion ban into law in Arkansas, said, “If you look at a constitutional or a national standard, that goes against that thrust of the states having prerogative.”

Related Articles


Paul Kane, The Washington Post: In confirming Supreme Court justices, private meetings overtake public confirmation hearings for senators

Politico: Threat to Roe v. Wade puts GOP on defense in 2022 battlegrounds. 

The Washington Post: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) doesn’t rule out banning contraception if Roe falls.


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LEADING THE DAY

  UKRAINE CRISIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Moscow used a Victory Day speech at a military parade on Red Square to mark a World War II triumph over Nazi troops while offering no new clues about Russia’s ongoing strategy in its war with Ukraine (The Associated Press and The New York Times).  

Putin said the campaign in Ukraine was a necessary move to avert what he described as “a threat that was absolutely unacceptable to us (that) has been methodically created next to our borders.” He repeated that his country’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine was, in his view, “forced, timely and the only correct decision by a sovereign, powerful and independent country.

“The danger was rising by the day,” Putin said, adding that “Russia has given a preemptive response to an aggression.

On Sunday, first lady Jill Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became the latest Western figures to meet with Ukrainian officials and the people of the war-torn country in a display of allied support and encouragement.

Nearing the end of a trip to Slovakia and Romania, the first lady, who has often served as eyes and ears for her husband during her travels over the years, made an unannounced side trip on Mother’s Day to western Ukraine, where she met with her counterpart, Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Bidens spoke soon after by phone (The Associated Press). Jill Biden ventured across the border for a visit just as U.S. diplomatic personnel began returning to work at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv after being evacuated at the start of the war (The Hill).

“I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,” the first lady said.

Trudeau made his unannounced trip to Irpin, Ukraine (Reuters).

The first lady made her two-hour swoop into the town of Uzhhorod during Russia’s continued assaults elsewhere in Ukraine, including the bombing of a school in the eastern region where 60 sheltering Ukrainian villagers were feared dead on Sunday (Reuters). Countries allied with Ukraine condemned the shelling of the school in Luhansk on Sunday.  

President Biden and other Group of Seven counterparts spoke virtually Sunday morning about the ongoing situation in Ukraine and agreed to impose sweeping new sanctions on Russia, including additional export controls and a commitment to phase out Russian oil. Hungary refused to sign off on oil sanctions over the weekend and talks continue today (Axios and The New York Times). The U.S. will bar Russia from accounting and consulting services (The Hill) and impose visa restrictions on Russian military officers (The Hill).

© Associated Press / Susan Walsh | First lady Jill Biden and Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, on Sunday in Kyiv. 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

  POLITICS

Sen. John Boozman (Ark.), long one of the quieter members of the Senate GOP, is scrambling to fend off Trump-inspired primary challengers as the under-the-radar race goes down to the wire. 

Boozman, a two-term Senate Republican, has former President Trump’s backing, but that has done little to dissuade his opponents from trying to claim the mantle in what is shaping up to be one of the most expensive primary races for a GOP incumbent. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney details, the incumbent Republican is pushing to avoid a runoff on May 24, but public polling indicates he still has work to do, as 45 percent of voters back him — just shy of the requisite 50 percent. 

Jake Bequette and Jan Morgan, his two main opponents, pull in 19 percent and 16.5 percent support, respectively. Eighteen percent of primary voters are undecided. Boozman expressed confidence that he will ultimately avoid a runoff when all is said and done. 

“I think when the undecideds all settle … we’ll be over 50,” Boozman told The Hill.

© Associated Press / Alex Brandon | Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) in March. 

The Hill: Pro-Trump candidates look to harness populist energy after Ohio. 

The Associated Press: Trump, emboldened after Ohio victory, faces challenges ahead.

The Hill: Five Senate races to watch amid Roe fallout.

Julia Manchester and Max Greenwood, The Hill: Democrats make fate of the Supreme Court a midterm issue after Roe leak.

Elsewhere on the political scene, Florida has long been America’s preeminent swing state, but it looks a lot like Trump country now. 

The Sunshine State, which voted for Trumpin each of the past two elections, has undergone a rightward tilt in recent years despite an influx of new residents hailing often from blue states. As The Hill’s Max Greenwood and Amie Parnes write, a perfect storm has contributed to the GOP lean, including shifting demographics, a poorly organized state Democratic Party and the pandemic, which has driven many to the state.

“There’s one word and it’s COVID,” said Nelson Diaz, a Republican lobbyist and former chairman of the Miami-Dade County GOP. “It made red states redder and blue states bluer. It gave people like [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis [R] a platform to stand for freedom, and it gave Democrats in Democrat states a plan to stand for mandates.”

Between July 2020 and July 2021, Florida’s population grew by more than 211,000, a net migration that tops every other state’s. Adding to that boost, Orlando and Jacksonville were both among the 10 fastest-growing metropolitan areas between 2010 and 2020. 

However, many new Florida residents are from blue states. In 2019 alone, an estimated 28,000 people moved to the state from California, 28,000 more people migrated from New Jersey and an additional 57,000 new Floridians fled New York.

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump, Biden allies crave a 2024 rematch. 

The New York Times: A blood feud in West Virginia involves a familiar figure: Trump.


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OPINION

■  How Roe warped the republic, by Ross Douthat, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3KOEOre 

■  How Alito’s draft opinion on abortion rights could change America, by Amy Davidson Sorkin, commentary, The New Yorker. https://bit.ly/3N0GcbS

■ Nothing beautiful survives the culture war, by Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/3smTHdY 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets Tuesday at 2 p.m.

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Ann Phillips to be administrator of the Maritime Administration, which is part of the Transportation Department.

The president returns to the White House from Delaware at 9:50 a.m. He and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 11:15 a.m. Biden and Harris will speak in the Rose Garden at 1:30 a.m. about federal improvements to high-speed internet access and costs across the country. Biden at 2:45 p.m. in the Oval Office, with Harris in attendance, will sign the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. The president will headline a Democratic National Committee fundraising event in Potomac, Md., at 6 p.m.

The vice president, in addition to her public schedule with the president today, will ceremonially swear in N. Nickolas Perry at 3:20 p.m. to be U.S. ambassador to Jamaica. 

The first lady met this morning in Bratislava with Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova before departing to arrive back in Washington this evening.

The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 3 p.m.


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ELSEWHERE  

  CORONAVIRUS  

COVID-19’s pending surge of infections could impact 100 million Americans this fall and winter, and the government is trying to get ready (The Hill). … At least 1 million Americans are dead because of the coronavirus, now the third-largest killer in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer, based on 2020 statistics. Unvaccinated people were 53.2 times more likely to die thus far during the pandemic than those fully vaccinated and boosted (The Washington Post). Message this fall: Be vaccinated, boosted, risk-aware and ready for the latest science about the spread of sub-subvariants. ​​

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University: 997,528. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 340, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

🦠 New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and is isolating with no symptoms (NBC 4 New York). 

On Thursday, the U.S. will host a virtual COVID-19 global summit, along with current Group of Seven lead country Germany, the Group of 20 host country Indonesia, the African Union chair Senegal and Belize, the current chair of the CARICOM Caribbean grouping. “The summit will redouble our collective efforts to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future health threats,” the countries said in a joint statement (Agence France Presse).

In China, Shanghai authorities were tightening a city-wide COVID-19 lockdown they imposed more than a month ago (Reuters).

 LIGHTS OUT? 

Add another item to America’s long list of critical infrastructure woes: electricity shortages. From California to Texas to Indiana, electric grid operators are warning that power-generating capacity is struggling to keep up with demand, a gap that could lead to rolling blackouts during heat waves or other peak periods as soon as this year (The Wall Street Journal).

  INTERNATIONAL

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, heaped criticism on the Taliban on Sunday over their directive for women to cover their faces while in public. Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the order is “unconscionable,” adding that it sends a “chilling” message. The Taliban rule, which was announced on Saturday, would also punish the father or closest male relative to a woman caught exposing her face (The Hill).

THE CLOSER

And finally …  Lost, found, returned (sort of). 

Once upon the first century B.C. (or first century A.D.), an unknown Roman sculptor created a marble bust believed to be the son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated by Julius Caesar during a civil war. The bust eventually found its way into the possession of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who ruled for three years until 1848 and was a lavish patron of the arts who harbored a fixation about Pompeii. During World War II, an American soldier is believed to have made off with the head, which made its way to the United States. By 2018, the 50-pound marble likeness of Pompey’s son was priced at $34.99 and gathering dust beneath a Texas Goodwill display table. 

As fate would have it, art collector Laura Young rescued the bust from the shop in Austin, did her homework, learned it went missing in Germany and eventually worked out a deal that put the sculpture on temporary display in San Antonio and arranged for the bust’s return to Germany next year (The Associated Press). 

“But it was bittersweet since I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the (bust),” Young said. “Either way, I’m glad I got to be a small part of (its) long and complicated history, and he looked great in the house while I had him.”

© Associated Press / San Antonio Museum of Art | Ancient Roman bust on display in San Antonio after 2018 purchase at Texas Goodwill store.


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