Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — What comes next after failed Senate vote on abortion

Charles Schumer gestures while talking
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., right, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speak to the media about a procedural vote that did not pass on the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

As expected on Wednesday, the Senate defeated a bill to codify Roe v. Wade as federal law, putting a swift end to Democrats’ legislative response to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

The legislation failed 49-51. All 50 Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted to block the measure’s advance (The Hill). The outcome was never in doubt; the upper chamber voted similarly on a nearly-identical bill in late February. Vice President Harris was on hand to preside over the chamber during Wednesday’s Senate vote tally. 

Wednesday’s action was a show vote by Senate Democrats who will use the debate over abortion rights as a rallying cry with supporters. The court’s decision on whether to turn laws governing pregnancy terminations over to the states is expected this summer, well ahead of the fall elections.  

“Elect more pro-choice Democrats if you want to protect a woman’s freedom and right to choose,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer(D-N.Y.)said following the vote. “Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want to see a nationwide ban on abortion, if you want to see doctors and women arrested, if you want to see no exceptions for rape or incest.”

Schumer added that the party is “going to focus on this issue again again and again” through November (Vice News). 

Conservative senators appeared prepared to publicly defend their positions. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told The Hill that he and his fellow Republicans did not see their votes as difficult, noting that the party’s lone pro-choice members — Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — opposed the bill as presented. Collins had proposed narrower legislation but Schumer rejected it, saying the party was not willing to compromise. 

“Our Democratic colleagues want to vote for abortion on demand through all nine months, until the moment before a baby is born. A failed show vote that will only prove their own extremism,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday.

■  The Hill: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes “reprehensible.”

■  The Hill: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) promises quick action on a bill to boost security for justices’ families. 

Now, the question for Democrats is what comes next. It is unlikely abortion legislation can overcome the 60-vote hurdle and the Senate lacks sufficient votes to jettison or alter the filibuster.

“Everybody’s position is pretty locked in,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters hours before the vote. 

Attention is on the states where both parties propose competing bills if a Supreme Court majority ends Roe’s protections (The Hill). That example was on display on Wednesday as California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) revealed plans to add $57 million to his proposed state budget in preparation for a possible influx of out-of-state patients who are seeking abortions (Axios). Pro-choice states including New York are moving in a similar direction. In the United States, 58 percent of women of reproductive age live in states that have demonstrated hostility to abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute (The Guardian).

Related Articles


The Washington Post: Overturn of Roe could make IVF more complicated, costly.

The Hill: Experts warn overturning Roe would hit poor people hardest.

The New York Times: A leaky Supreme Court starts to resemble the other branches.

Emily Brooks, The Hill: Generational battle emerges in GOP caucus leadership contest.


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LEADING THE DAY

  ADMINISTRATION

As the president stood near a tractor on an Illinois farm on Wednesday to help signal his concern about rising food prices, his focus on family farmers and the global impact of war on agricultural trade, the White House described steps it is taking to address food shortages through domestic producers and manufacturers (The Hill).

“We have to keep investing in our farmers to reduce the costs, to reduce prices to consumers and have the most productive, most efficient farmers in the world here in the United States,” Biden said. 

The Hill: America’s descent from peak inflation may prove slow.

Biden, who is keenly aware of his low job approval numbers and what’s riding for his party on the November elections, is using domestic travel to try to underscore the administration’s achievements, aspirations and efforts to counter a GOP agenda he describes as extremist. 

“You know, one of the things that I think we have to do is not just talk about what we’ve done — and we don’t do that enough, and that’s my fault,” he told an audience of donors Wednesday night in Chicago.

© Associated Press / Andrew Harnick | President Biden at Kankakee, Ill., farm on Wednesday.

Education: Experts say there are steps student loan borrowers should take to prepare while there’s still time before the expiration of the administration’s latest extension of a freeze on loan repayments (The Hill). … In a lobbying blitz this week, charter school advocates warned Democrats and Biden officials that a proposed federal rule they oppose would hurt charter schools — and the party’s midterm prospects in November (The Hill). 

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Nominee Alvaro Bedoya narrowly lined up his Senate confirmation on Wednesday to join the FTC, thanks to tie-breaking assistance from the vice president. Democrats with Bedoya in place will have a majority on the regulatory commission that focuses on consumers and antitrust (The Hill).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

  POLITICS

If you listened to the president lately, you might think Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) was his chief counterpart. That’s exactly how Scott wants it as he embraces his burgeoning role as one of Biden’s top boogeymen and attempts to raise his profile.

The Florida Republican in recent months has turned heads on both sides of the aisle with his call to raise income taxes on roughly half of the country and to sunset programs such as Social Security and Medicare, both of which have been disavowed by McConnell. White Scott has dismissed the criticisms, he has embraced his newly minted job as a thorn in the side of Biden, having called on him to resign and challenging him to a debate. 

As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, Scott is known to have White House ambitions if former President Trump sidesteps a third run for the presidency in 2024. Biden’s repeated mentions of his name have certainly escalated his standing, for better or worse. For example, very few Senate Republicans have followed suit and echoed his call for Biden to step down. 

“Well, I don’t even know how to answer that. I think it’s just … an even numbered year. It’s campaign rhetoric, and I’m guessing neither side takes either of those accusations or attacks very seriously,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

© Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in March.

Scott is by no means the only Sunshine State-centric topic in the news this week. On Wednesday, a Florida circuit court judge struck down elements of a new congressional district map pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), ruling that the version greenlighted by the GOP-controlled state legislature diminished the rights of African American voters in the northern part of the state. 

Judge Layne Smith ruled in favor of Democratic plaintiffs, who had sued over map lines that eliminated a historically Black congressional district stretching from Jacksonville west to Tallahassee that is held by Rep. Al Lawson (D). 

“I am finding the enacted map is unconstitutional under the Fair District Amendment because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice,” Smith said (The Hill).

The Hill: Democratic National Committee announced what it says is a new initiative targeting Latino voters. 

The Hill: Judge lifts contempt ruling against Trump, imposes $110,000 fine.


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OPINION

■  Conservative Christians will regret overturning Roe. They’re sacrificing religious liberty to do it, by Sheila Briggs, opinion contributor, Los Angeles Times. https://lat.ms/3M84FvL

■  At least there’s a bull market in death spirals (things are spinning out of control), by Mark Gongloff, opinion editor, Bloomberg News. https://bloom.bg/3MZ3aQy

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 10 a.m. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. Hoyerwill appear at 10 a.m. before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss his bill to address deforestation. 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Mary Boyle to be a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The president and vice president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. Biden at 5:30 p.m. will welcome leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN countries, as part of the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit taking place on Friday. He will host a dinner for them at 6 p.m. in the State Dining Room.

The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending on May 7.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack travels to Germany for a Group of Seven agriculture ministerial meeting that begins today. He will also travel to Warsaw, Poland, on Sunday to meet with his counterparts to discuss the agricultural outlook in Europe and Ukraine before returning to the U.S. next week (Barn Media).

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies at 10 a.m. to the House Financial Services Committee. 

The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki will respond to reporters’ questions during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast at 8:30 a.m. in Washington.

Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) will join Federal Trade Commission member Noah Phillips for an Axios newsmaker event beginning at 8 a.m. in Washington to discuss pending antitrust legislation, the tech industry and consumers. Information HERE.    


🖥  Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.


ELSEWHERE  

UKRAINE CRISIS

Finland‘s leaders today announced they want their country of 5.5 million people bordering Sweden and Russia to join NATO “without delay,” a move that defies the Kremlin’s hostility to NATO, would bolster the Western military alliance and redraw Europe’s security map (NBC News).

Russian forces unleashed airstrikes on the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the besieged port city of Mariupol and pressed their advance on towns across the country’s east, Ukraine’s military said Thursday (The Associated Press).

War up close: The Carpathian battalion in the east of Ukraine gave a reporter and a photographer with The New York Times permission to visit a front-line position on condition that the precise location of their base not be revealed. Most soldiers agreed to identify themselves only by their call signs. In some villages along the front, Ukrainian and Russian soldiers face off at close quarters, sometimes within eyesight of one another.

The staying power of the West is being tested by a war in Ukraine that could last months or even years if Russia’s aim is to slowly enlarge its control of eastern and southern Ukraine, pound much of the rest of Ukraine into rubble, and exploit Europe’s addiction to cheap oil and gas.

European Union ambassadors broke off talks on Wednesday in Brussels, having failed to persuade Hungary to sign on to an oil embargo against Russia, seen as a possible hitch in European unity (The New York Times).

The New York Times: Hungary remains a key spoiler.

The Kremlin signaled on Wednesday it could annex the strategically important southern Ukrainian region of Kherson if “the residents of Kherson should decide” to become part of Russia, The New York Times reported. It was the first major city to fall to invading forces after the war began.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday thanked the U.S. House for passing bipartisan legislation on Tuesday that would send $40 billion in additional weapons and aid to Ukraine. The measure must be approved by the Senate.

The Associated Press: Ukraine will hold its first war crimes trial of captured Russian forces.

  CORONAVIRUS

Many Americans will find the latest headlines unwelcome, but deaths from breakthrough cases of COVID-19 infection in vaccinated patients are rising, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s forecast models show that daily hospital admission levels and new virus-related deaths in the U.S. are projected to continue climbing over the next four weeks (ABC News).

It doesn’t mean vaccines don’t work. The latest data suggest older patients who were vaccinated but not boosted are most vulnerable for hospitalizations and deaths during the latest omicron COVID-19 surge. California, New York and Florida are projected to see the largest death tolls in the weeks to come.

Thinking about getting a first or second booster dose? Federal information to help find an appointment for free vaccines across the U.S. is HERE.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers on Wednesday that scientists and clinicians will know later this year how often Americans should get boosted against COVID-19 (The Hill).

“Well, it’s very clear right now, if you look at the need for vaccination — I mean, if you look at the hospitalizations and deaths of those who are unvaccinated compared to those who are vaccinated and boosted, the data are stunning. They’re striking, the difference,” Fauci said.

The White House today hosts a virtual global COVID-19 summit and the president will order flags flown at half-staff today to mark 1 million U.S. COVID deaths (The Hill). Biden issued a written statement with a message for lawmakers, saying, To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before. It’s critical that Congress sustain these resources in the coming months.  

🦠 Microsoft founder and Gates Foundation philanthropist Bill Gates, 66, said Wednesday on Twitter that he tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms after being vaccinated and boosted. He said he is isolating while working (CNN).

North Korea on Wednesday for the first time reported cases of COVID-19 in the nation’s borders as Kim Jong Un ordered a national lockdown due to omicron variant infections. The Korean Central News Agency, the nation’s state news arm, said that health officials tested individuals in Pyongyang who returned positive results for the BA.2 subvariant, with Kim subsequently calling for the lockdown (The New York Times).

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 998,997. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 326, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  IT REALLY GLITTERS

Described as the size of a medium hen’s egg, “The Rock,” a 228-carat, pear-shaped, white diamond billed as the largest of its kind to go up for auction, sold Wednesday at Christie’s Geneva to an unspecified buyer for more than 21.6 million Swiss francs ($21.75 million), including fees. It’s a lot of money for a carbon deposit pressed and heated deep in the Earth and mined and polished in South Africa more than 20 years ago, but, nevertheless, the price was considered at the low end of the expected range (The Associated Press).

© Associated Press / Vincent Yu | Big diamond: 118.28-carat stone on display in Hong Kong, 2013.

  COULD YOU LAND A PLANE?

That was the question faced by Darren Harrison, a passenger aboard a single-engine Cessna 208 after the pilot had “gone incoherent” on a flight from the Bahamas on Tuesday. The answer was no, but that didn’t stop Harrison who, coached by air traffic controller Robert Morgan, calmly flew the plane to safety at Palm Beach International Airport. Morgan, an experienced flight instructor, said he personally had never flown a Cessna 208, so he pulled up a picture of the instrument panel’s layout while talking Harrison through what became a safe landing (CNN video HERE plus a photo of the two men). Pilots elsewhere were stunned as the news spread. “Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?” an American Airlines pilot said while waiting to take off for Charlotte, N.C. “Oh, my God. Great job” (CNN).

THE CLOSER

Take Our Morning Report Quiz

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by innovations, we’re eager for some smart guesses about what’s new and now in technology, according to recent headlines.

Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

Apple announced it will stop production of the most recent iPod model it sells because ______. 

  1. Consumers get their handheld music elsewhere, such as on iPhones
  2. Battery problems dogged iPod production
  3. Apple has a new iPod model arriving in 2023
  4. Knockoff models overtook Apple’s sales

China says within two years it will build an entire gigantic dam and a hydropower plant on the Yellow River using what technology?   

  1. 3D printing
  2. Artificial Intelligence
  3. Robots and automation
  4. Driverless vehicles
  5. All of the above

Consumers in a survey a few weeks ago said they oppose U.S. car manufacturers’ plans to reap billions of dollars in revenues from which new-vehicle tech add-on? 

  1. Anti-theft security
  2. Subscription fees for vehicle services and features 
  3. Self-repairing tires
  4. Built-in entertainment screens for each passenger

Industry publication Glossy reports that some fashion companies have turned to robotics and 3D to specialize in manufacturing _______. 

  1. Custom fit jeans
  2. Couture wedding gowns
  3. Synthetic clothing fabrics that self-destruct in landfills
  4. Edible, wearable survival gear for outdoor enthusiasts

© Associated Press / Paul Sakuma | The late Steve Jobs with Apple’s iPod in 2014.


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