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Happy Monday morning. The House and Senate are out for the month. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are heading to Puerto Rico and Florida this week to meet with victims and community leaders while viewing damage from deadly Hurricanes Fiona and Ian.
There are 36 days until Election Day.
The Supreme Court begins a new term today, one viewed with dread by Democrats and anticipation from Republicans. After June’s momentous decision striking down Roe v. Wade – and remaking the nation’s political landscape in the process – the conservative-dominated high court will take on affirmative action, minority representation, the way federal elections are held, immigration, EPA’s authority over the Clean Water Act and LGBTQ protections vs. religious rights, among other issues.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a case dealing with Alabama’s congressional map. At stake is whether Alabama’s current map discriminates against Black Alabamans by diluting their voting power, a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Only one of Alabama’s House seats is a majority-minority district, while Black Alabamans make up more than one-quarter of the state residents. A lower federal court – including two Donald Trump-appointed judges – ruled that the state’s map was improper. The Supreme Court let Alabama proceed with this map for the midterm elections while state officials appealed the ruling. With a 6-3 conservative edge on the Supreme Court, civil rights groups are very concerned about the possible outcome here.
Another high-profile case is Moore vs. Harper, which could have far-reaching implications for how federal elections are conducted. North Carolina’s GOP-dominated legislature argues that only it has authority over drawing lines for the state’s 14 congressional districts (N.C. is gaining a seat this year following redistricting.) The North Carolina Supreme Court struck down a proposed map that would have given Republicans control over 10 out of 14 districts (it’s currently eight Republicans against five Democrats.) Some N.C. GOP legislators – and their Republican allies nationally – have argued that under the “independent state legislature theory,” only state legislatures have any role in making laws for federal elections, excluding state courts. Democrats and legal scholars have argued that such a ruling would cause chaos, including in presidential elections. No date has been set for oral arguments yet in this case, but the stakes here for Congress and the executive branch are enormous.
To say this is a difficult time for the Supreme Court is, well, a big understatement. There still hasn’t been any report released publicly on who leaked the internal draft opinion in the Dobbs case. Justices are openly bickering over the court’s direction and public standing following the Dobbs decision, which overturned 50 years of precedent. Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, was interviewed by the Jan. 6 select committee last week over what role she may have had in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Lawmakers and government watchdog groups want to impose tougher ethical requirements on the justices, including disclosure of spousal income. Not surprisingly, approval ratings for the Supreme Court are at historic lows.
We’ll give this to the Supreme Court, however – at least they’re fully back to normal with visitors following the Covid-19 pandemic. Which is something Congress still can’t seem to quite manage. Congress is a lot better on TV cameras, of course.
NYT: “As New Term Starts, Supreme Court Is Poised to Resume Rightward Push,” by Adam Liptak
CNN: “Curtain lifts on another historic Supreme Court term in the new normal,” by Ariane de Vogue
WSJ: “Supreme Court Term Opens With New Justice and Weighty Cases,” by Jess Bravin and Jan Wolfe
Politico: “A shaken Supreme Court returns to chambers,” by Josh Gerstein
– John Bresnahan
Next week: Join us for our first October event! We’re having a virtual one-on-one conversation with Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. ET about issues facing American workers, including health care costs, inflation, and their impact on financial security. RSVP here!
Big Tech antitrust bill isn’t terribly popular
It’s Canvass Week! That means we’ll be rolling out some brand new data from our exclusive survey of top Capitol Hill aides. This is a joint project with the Locust Street Group.
This may be our most interesting datapoint yet.
We asked senior aides if their bosses support the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act,” the Big Tech antitrust bill penned by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The measure – which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a solid bipartisan majority back in January – would bar tech giants from using their vast market power to preference their own products or services.
And ouch. Just 26% of aides say their boss supports the bill. 57% say they don’t know and 17% oppose it.
As you can see here – and what’s surprising – is this has become a partisan issue. Support among Democrats is far higher, even though numerous GOP lawmakers complain constantly about Big Tech censoring conservatives.
The level of undecideds/unsures is also very high, which is again surprising on an issue that has gotten a lot of attention, both in Silicon Valley and D.C. Big Tech has spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying against this legislation, and it looks like their efforts have been effective.
Lawmakers and aides also understand the political reality – Congress has little interest in cracking down on Big Tech companies this late in the cycle.
There is an outside chance that the Senate will take the bill up in the lame duck because of pressure from Klobuchar and other advocates. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has told Klobuchar and Grassley that they need 60 votes before he’ll bring their bill up for a vote.
Yet it will take weeks of floor time to get this through the House and Senate during a lame-duck session. With everything else going on – an omnibus spending package, NDAA, election reform, same-sex marriage and more – this looks like a very tough squeeze even if the political will can somehow be found to take on the tech giants.
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
HAPPY FISCAL NEW YEAR!
On Friday, Punchbowl News co-hosted the annual Fiscal New Year Party at The Admiral in Dupont with the Modern Economy Project. We celebrated the new fiscal year with a champagne toast at midnight!
Thank you to our hosts Brad Howard of the Vogel Group, Lin Whitehouse of AT&T, Jordan Wicker of the ISA Alliance and Adam Shifriss of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Also raising a glass: Ashley Lerner and Reagan Wicker of GM, Suzanne Beall of Amazon, Amy Soenksen of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Ray Salazar and Raymond Rodriguez of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office, Nd Ubezonu of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s office, Dan Hanlon of Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R-S.C.) office, Marjorie Daily of Rep. Jim Banks’ (R-Ind.) office, Katelynn Thorpe and Ryann Kinney of the House Appropriations Committee, and many more. Happy Fiscal New Year to all!
New: Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green’s campaign raised $1.3 million in the third quarter. Green is running against vulnerable Frontline Democrat Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.).
That’s a big number for a challenger in a House seat. Republicans regard Green, a Black Air Force veteran, as one of their strongest recruits of the cycle.
We reached out to Mrvan’s campaign to see if they would share his Q3 numbers. We didn’t hear back.
New: Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) raised more than $2 million in the third quarter, according to her campaign, leaving the Michigan Democrat with “just under” $4 million on hand. Slotkin is a Frontliner running against Republican Tom Barrett.
Here’s a new ad for Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), who is running for re-election against Republican Amanda Adkins. The spot features a Republican mayor endorsing Davids. Interestingly enough, the ad is entitled “RINO for Sharice.” The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter rates the race a tossup.
Oklahoma GOP Rep. Stephanie Bice gave $250,000 to the NRCC last month. That’s a big number for a first-term lawmaker.
— Max Cohen and Jake Sherman
10:10 a.m.: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will leave the White House for Andrews, where they will fly to Puerto Rico. Karine Jean-Pierre will gaggle on Air Force One.
2:30 p.m.: Biden will get a briefing and deliver remarks.
3:30 p.m.: The Bidens will visit Centro Sor Isolina Ferré Aguayo School.
4:50 p.m.: The Bidens will leave Puerto Rico for D.C. They will arrive at the White House at 8:55 p.m.
“They Legitimized the Myth of a Stolen Election — and Reaped the Rewards,” by Steve Eder, David D. Kirkpatrick and Mike McIntire
“The Story Behind DeSantis’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard,” by Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei and J. David Goodman
“Truss, in Reversal, Drops Plan to Cut U.K. Tax Rate on High Earners,” by Mark Landler in London
“Apocalypse now: Democrats embrace a dark midterm message,” by Yasmeen Abutaleb
“Zelensky hails advances as open recriminations intensify in Russian media,” by Missy Ryan in Kyiv, Robyn Dixon in Riga, Latvia, and Serhiy Morgunov in Kyiv
“Americans captured by Russia detail months of beatings, interrogation,” by Dan Lamothe in Trinity, Ala.
“OPEC+ to Weigh Production Cut to Bolster Oil Prices,” by Benoit Faucon and Summer Said
“Brazil Presidential Race Goes to Runoff as Lula Falls Short,” by Andrew Rosati and Simone Preissler Iglesias
“US Eyes Regular Aid Payments to Ukraine, Pushes EU to Do More,” by Alberto Nardelli, Jennifer Jacobs, and Jorge Valero
“Jurors to begin hearing Jan. 6 Oath Keepers sedition case,” by Alanna Durkin Richer, Michael Kunzelman and Lindsay Whitehurst
“‘In panic mode.’ Fear of not enough water, food, gas in Florida’s coastal towns after Ian,” by Michelle Kaufman and Joan Chirssos
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images
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