NotedDC

NotedDC — A looming Supreme Court decision on guns

Democrats have renewed their calls for action on guns after the Buffalo, N.Y., mass shooting, though proponents acknowledge changes to the nation’s laws are unlikely.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pointed to the tough road for lawmakers, noting to The Hill that his bipartisan background checks bill from 2013 failed.

And President Biden acknowledged Tuesday that it would be “very difficult” to convince Congress to take up stronger laws.

But the revamped calls for gun control legislation may only grow louder if the Supreme Court rules against New York’s concealed carry law, which allows people to carry a gun in public only if they prove they need greater protection than others. 

Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts said the court’s decision “could undermine the ability of federal, state and local governments to enact and defend meaningful gun-violence-prevention measures like permitting for decades to come.”

Esther Sanchez Gomez, the senior litigation attorney at fellow gun control group Giffords, said it will be important for state governments and Congress to pass measures like universal background checks and raising the age requirement to purchase a gun if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Second Amendment. 

Welcome to NotedDC: Your guide to politics, policy and people of consequence in D.C. Have some news, juicy gossip, insight or other insider info? Send us tips: Elizabeth Crisp and Kelsey Carolan

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Veteran Washington journalist bids farewell 

Gerald F. Seib has been a staple of D.C. journalism since he joined The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau in 1980. His weekly column, “Capital Journal,” offered an original understanding of domestic and international politics.

He published his final column Monday titled “After Three Stormy Decades, Some Reasons to Still Find Optimism,” culminating his longtime message that bipartisanship needs to make a comeback.

NotedDC asked Seib a few questions about his optimism on politics and journalism: 

What impact do you think the midterms will have on the future of bipartisanship in Congress?

What bothers me is that there are more and more people particularly in the House, but also in the Senate, who seem to think their only responsibility or their only political need is to talk to their own base, not to people in the center, and certainly not to the other side. And it’d be nice if we got some candidates who decided they had a broader view of their role than that, and I think we’ll see how that works out.

I think the Republican primaries are particularly interesting in that regard. But it’s not only on the Republican side, it’s also on the Democratic side. And the 2022 primaries on the Republican side will tell you a lot about Donald Trump’s influence in the party. But they’ll also tell you whether they’re going to be kind of more centrist, conventional Republicans or more populist, nationalist Republicans — and that may go a long way to answer the question, but I don’t think this is a partisan phenomenon.

You say it is important to take “election integrity off the table as a divisive issue” – what impact do you think the House committee investigating Jan. 6 will have on this?

I wonder how many of the people who say that the election was stolen really believe it. And how many of them are actually simply saying something because it’s politically expedient to say it. There’s no way to know that for sure. And that applies, by the way, not just political leaders in Washington, but to voters. How many of the people who say in polls that they think the election was stolen really down deep believe that?

I don’t know, that’s an impossible question to answer. I do think that the Jan. 6 commission, simply by laying out for the record what happened on Jan. 6 and before and after, is going to serve a useful purpose and maybe it will help convince both parties that they need to get beyond this debate about the 2020 election and what happened on Jan. 6.

What do you hope journalists carry on as their biggest responsibility?

I really hope that some of the traditional standards are not being lost in the shuffle here. I’m talking about objectivity, fairness, entering the conversation, entering journalism without an agenda, and being transparent about what you’re doing. So that the credibility of journalism doesn’t slide backwards but is being upheld.


All eyes on Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Senate primaries promise to be the biggest races to watch Tuesday  night as voters make their picks in the latest nominating contests.

  • Republicans Mehmet Oz (endorsed by Trump) and David McCormick (backed by GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas) are duking it out with GOP political newcomer Kathy Barnette, who rose to fame after telling in a campaign ad the emotional story of her mother, who was raped and gave birth to her at age 12.
  • On the Democratic side, frontrunner Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke over the weekend that has largely sidelined him from campaigning, faces off against Conor Lamb, a moderate House Democrat.
  • Candidates are vying for a chance to replace Sen. Pat Toomey (R), who is retiring after more than a decade in office.

What’s at stake: The Pennsylvania battle is especially crucial as Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Harris has had to step in a number of times to cast a tie-breaking vote. Expect both sides to pour significant resources into the state leading up to the November general election.

Rep. Katko on mental health 

Before Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) entered Congress in 2015 he lost his niece to suicide — and he said not a day has gone by when he doesn’t think about her or mental health.

Katko’s mental health mission led him to become co-chair of the Mental Health Caucus and successfully pass legislation to increase funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

During The Hill’s Mental Health Summit on Tuesday, Katko told editor-in-chief Bob Cusack that the federal government’s initiative to reroute text messages and phone calls from a new 988 number to the hotline is critical to expand access, but crisis centers need to be well-funded for it to work. 

“I think it’s going to be incredibly successful because people are going to call,” Katko said about the new three-digit number, which will go live in July. “The trick is to make sure there’s proper funding.”

The Department of Health and Human Services doled out $105 million in April to strengthen centers across the country.  

(And Katko said there’s one thing that has improved his own mental health —  announcing his retirement from the House at the end of his term.) 

Watch the full interview and summit here.

Two years of proxy voting: What’s next?

It’s been two years since the House cleared the way for members to cast “proxy” votes, allowing them to designate a colleague to cast a vote on their behalf.

Republicans initially filed a lawsuit over proxy voting, led by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), but many have since embraced the COVID-19 pandemic measure. Still, leaders vow that’ll change if the GOP reclaims control of the chamber.

“Republicans oppose proxy voting and will eliminate it on day one of our majority,” Lauren Fine, spokeswoman for House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (La.), told The Hill. 

At least 90 members have active proxy vote letters on file, allowing them to cast remote votes, according to the House clerk’s office. More than 4,500 such letters have been filed in the past two years, covering various votes on legislation. 

The chamber’s rule allows members to put their votes on the record by a colleague if they are “unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency.” 

Last year, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) was a vocal opponent of the special COVID rule, but he was one of several Republicans to use it when he went to the U.S. southern border during a voting period to highlight illegal immigration. 

QUOTABLE

“I want to say something pretty harsh. There are too many people in this Congress who promote violence.”

– House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to reporters Tuesday.

RELOCATE THE AGENCIES?

A House Republican has put forward a bill that would move federal agencies outside of D.C., challenging the District’s status as the home of the federal government.

Rep. Bill Johnson‘s (R-Ohio) proposal calls for no more federal buildings, renewed leases or upgrades to go to the District of Columbia. Johnson’s proposal also would set up a system for federal headquarters move out of D.C.

Backlash: D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) blasted the proposal.

“We can have a discussion on ways to make government work better for the American people, but harmful bills introduced for cheap talking points should not be part of that discussion,” Norton said in a statement to The Hill.

“These bills are not about saving taxpayer money or ‘draining the swamp’ – they are solely about generating inaccurate talking points. And I will promise you this: this harmful bill will go nowhere in the House.”  

Norton’s counter: The D.C. delegate is proposing a bill that would prohibit the relocation of any federal agency headquarters from D.C. without congressional approval.

Johnson’s move follows Rep. Warren Davidson‘s (R-Ohio) proposal to require all federal agencies to move their headquarters out of the D.C. area and to only have 10 percent of their employees in the area by 2026.

Finally…Meditation tips

The CEO of Headspace, an online program for mindful meditation, gave The Hill’s Julia Manchester some tips on how to meditate when life gets stressful during The Hill’s Mental Health Summit, marking Mental Health Awareness Month.

“What mindful meditation is really trying to teach us is that those thoughts are natural and OK and as they happen, note them,” Headspace CEO Russell Glass said.

“We’re trying to train our mind to put them aside and acknowledge their existence but continue on the thing we want to focus on.” 

Glass said that even five minutes a day of meditation can “build a pathway in the brain” to improve one’s mental health. 

Hear more by watching Tuesday’s event here.

NUMBER TO KNOW

11

Number of Senate Republicans who voted against advancing aid for Ukraine on Monday night: Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.). The final vote is expected later this week. 

Stay with TheHill.com for the latest and recommend NotedDC to others: thehill.com/noted. See you tomorrow.


VIEW THE FULL EDITION HERE

Tags Biden Joe Manchin Shannon Watts

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