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Happy Tuesday morning.
We have some news this morning: The House Judiciary Committee will be holding an emergency hearing on Thursday to mark up a package of gun-control bills as Congress wrestles with the twin massacres in Uvalde and Buffalo, as well as soaring gun violence nationally.
The panel will consider a robust package of eight gun-related bills which Democrats are calling the “Protecting Our Kids Act.”
The omnibus package includes bills to raise the purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21; ban the import, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines, although existing magazines are “grandfathered” in; requires existing bump stocks be registered under the National Firearms Act and bars the manufacture, sale, or possession of new bump stocks for civilian use; amends the definition of “ghost guns” to require background checks on all sales, as ATF is trying to do through rulemaking; beefs up federal criminal penalties for gun trafficking and “straw purchases”; and establishes new requirements for storing guns at home – especially with minors present – while providing tax credits for storage devices.
House Democratic leaders plan to bring the bills to the floor early next week and are confident they have the votes to pass them. There’s still a debate, however, about whether members will vote on the bills individually or as one package. Several members want to vote on the bills individually, we’re told.
Of course, this package doesn’t have the 60 votes it would need to advance in the Senate. But Democratic sources said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team felt they had to do more to act after the horrific massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last week, which came just days after a racist shooting in Buffalo. Nineteen children and two teachers were murdered in Texas by a lone 18-year-old gunman, who was later killed by police. Ten Black people were murdered by a racist gunman in a Buffalo grocery store.
Four top Democratic leaders – Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark – held a call Thursday to discuss how to respond.
Since then, the leadership along with House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), have been working the phones to ensure that various aspects of the package have enough votes to pass both out of committee and on the floor. Some of the bills have been approved by the Judiciary Committee in the past but have never gotten a floor vote.
Deutch, whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was particularly critical in garnering support for the bill to regulate high-capacity magazines over the Memorial Day weekend, we’re told. Seventeen high-school students were murdered in a 2018 mass shooting at that high, with another 17 injured.
Deutch has introduced this bill previously along with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on the Senate side. High-capacity magazines have been used by gunmen in many of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, including Las Vegas, Orlando, Boulder, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood and Virginia Tech, among others.
The House will vote on this package of bills in some form – either together or separately – when it returns next week. The chamber will also vote on red flag law legislation, as Hoyer previously announced.
Again, this package won’t go anywhere in the Senate due to Republican opposition. And it comes as a bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), are trying to cobble together a much more modest bill in response to the Uvalde massacre. That Senate proposal could include a program “incentivizing” states to adopt “red flag” laws, and potentially expanded background checks, although it will be tougher to get GOP support for the latter.
What’s currently not included in the House package? A ban on assault weapons. We’re told House Democratic leaders haven’t ruled that out but they don’t have the votes right now to pass it.
The full list of bills included in the “Protecting Our Kids” package:
→ The Raise the Age Act (H.R. 3015, Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland)
→ Prevent Gun Trafficking Act (H.R. 2280, Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois)
→ The Untraceable Firearms Act (H.R. 3088, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island)
→ Ethan’s Law (H.R. 748, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut)
→ The Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act (H.R. 6370, Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan)
→ The Kimberly Vaughan Firearm Safe Storage Act (H.R. 130, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas)
→ Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act (H.R. 5427, Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada)
→ The Keep Americans Safe Act (H.R. 2510, Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida)
– Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan:
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Biden tries to take on inflation
Faced with soaring inflation – including $8 per gallon gas in some parts of California – President Joe Biden is stepping up his anti-inflation messaging.
Biden will meet today with newly re-confirmed Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell.
And in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Biden lays out “My Plan for Fighting Inflation.” White House officials say there will be a heavy focus on this issue and gun violence throughout June.
Biden’s op-ed lays out a three-point program for dealing with inflation. The problem for this effort, however, is it relies on congressional action for roughly two-thirds of it. And so far, that’s not happening. Talks on a smaller-scale reconciliation package are ongoing in the Senate, but it’s been that way for months with no result until now. And the window for any major legislative action is closing as lawmakers shift into full reelection mode.
Here’s Biden in the WSJ:
With the right policies, the U.S. can transition from recovery to stable, steady growth and bring down inflation without giving up all these historic gains. During this transition, growth will look different. We will likely see fewer record job-creation numbers, but this won’t be cause for concern. Rather, if average monthly job creation shifts in the next year from current levels of 500,000 to something closer to 150,000, it will be a sign that we are successfully moving into the next phase of recovery – as this kind of job growth is consistent with a low unemployment rate and a healthy economy. Things should also look different from the decades before the pandemic, when too often we had low growth, low wage gains, and an economy that worked best for the wealthiest Americans.
Biden’s first priority is for the Fed to fight inflation, and he promises not to mess with Powell or anyone else at the central bank.
My predecessor demeaned the Fed, and past presidents have sought to influence its decisions inappropriately during periods of elevated inflation. I won’t do this. I have appointed highly qualified people from both parties to lead that institution. I agree with their assessment that fighting inflation is our top economic challenge right now.
Biden says Congress can help further “by passing clean energy tax credits and investments that I have proposed.”
The president also calls on Congress to pass tax reform, which would help lower the deficit.
The president says he’s happy to debate anyone on inflation. He also singles out NRSC Chair Rick Scott of Florida, who has his own plan for economic growth, one not endorsed by GOP leaders. Scott has become a frequent target of Biden’s verbal barrages over the last few months.
I welcome debate on my plan to tackle inflation and move the economy to stable and steady growth. I have a very different approach from Congressional Republicans, led by Sen. Rick Scott, whose plan would raise taxes on people making less than $100,000 and require that Congress reauthorize bedrock programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid every five years. That would make American families poorer and more economically insecure.
As we noted, expecting Congress to do something big on inflation is a stretch. Republicans are blaming Biden and Democratic congressional leaders for spurring inflationary pressures by passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and other Covid relief funding.
But like on guns, Biden is clearly laying the blame for inaction on Republicans. Republicans in Congress won’t do anything on inflation, they’re blocking progress. Republicans in Congress won’t do anything on guns, they’re blocking progress.
We’ll see how the American public responds.
→ Bloomberg: “Biden to Meet Powell to Discuss Economy as Inflation Bites,” by Alister Bull
→ WaPo: “U.S. policymakers misjudged inflation threat until it was too late,” by Mike Madden and Rachel Siegel
→ WSJ: “Oil Prices Top $120 as China Eases Lockdowns,” by Joe Wallace
Also: The Congressional Leadership Fund – the Kevin McCarthy-linked super PAC – is running an ad on high gas prices to boost Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.). Here’s the spot.
– John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman
What the Hill thinks about Ukraine, Iran
Here’s some more fascinating data from this month’s edition of The Canvass, our anonymous survey of senior congressional aides that we conduct with the Locust Street Group.
As the Russian-Ukrainian war continues, lawmakers are constantly faced with deciding how to intervene.
We asked senior staffers if their boss would support direct military intervention if Russia were to dramatically increase aggression towards Ukraine.
Here’s what they told us:
→ Less than half of Congress (49%) said they would support direct military intervention if Russia used nuclear weapons.
→ 33% said they would intervene if Russia used chemical weapons.
→ 35% of lawmakers would support direct military intervention if Russia were to use biological weapons
President Joe Biden is eager to revive the Iran nuclear deal, but Congress is not nearly as eager. Members are split on reentering the Iran nuclear accord, but there’s a partisan divide.
→ 37% of senior staffers said their lawmakers would support Biden reentering the Iran deal while 49% opposed it. 14% said they were unsure.
→ Here’s the divide — 72% of Democrats support reentering the Iran deal. 93% of Republicans are opposed.
– Christian Hall
Biden says McConnell is reasonable
President Joe Biden spoke for the first time on the effort to craft a gun control compromise following the twin massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, and what he said caught Democrats by surprise.
Biden, speaking to reporters outside the White House Monday, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) are “rational” Republicans. McConnell blessed Cornyn entering into gun-control negotiations with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). Murphy is also holding discussions with a bipartisan group of eight other Republicans and Democrats. It’s not entirely clear that they will be able to reach a compromise, but these talks seem somewhat serious, based on our reporting.
No gun-control bill can make it through the Senate without McConnell’s approval, and Biden knows this.
But that doesn’t mean other Democrats liked Biden’s comments, even his biggest allies. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said this in response to Biden’s comments.
– Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Every day the 1.5 million members of the National Association of REALTORS® are working to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to achieve homeownership.
→ First in Punchbowl News: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Bold PAC is endorsing Dan Sanchez in the special election for Texas’ 34th District and Patrick Branco in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s 2nd District.
Former Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) has already endorsed Sanchez in the race for his old House seat, which Vela vacated to take a job at Akin Gump. If Sanchez wins the June 14 special election, he’ll only serve in the district until January due to redistricting changes. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), who’s also backing Sanchez, is the Democratic nominee for the redrawn 34th District in November.
National Republicans are eyeing the special election as a pickup opportunity. The GOP is backing Mayra Flores, who traveled to D.C. earlier this month and was hailed by Republican leadership at a NRCC event.
Branco is running to succeed Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii), who’s mounting a run for governor after just one term in Congress. Branco, a state representative, faces former state Sen. Jill Tokuda and Honolulu city councilmember Tommy Waters in the Democratic primary. Hawaii’s primary is August 13.
Read CHC Bold PAC Chair Rep. Ruben Gallego’s (D-Ariz.) statement here.
→ The Tech Oversight Project, an anti-Big tech group, has a new ad airing in New Hampshire, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, some of the key battleground states in 2022. The group asserts the titans of the tech industry, namely Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, have “lied to us” time and time again.
→ Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has a new spot in his campaign for a second full term in the Senate. In the spot, Lankford lists a number of challenges facing the country. He says: “None of these problems are bigger than God. Let’s pray, let’s get to work doing the right thing the right way.” The spot is running statewide.
— Jake Sherman and Max Cohen
9:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
11 a.m.: Biden will meet with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Noon: Biden will have lunch with Vice President Kamala Harris.
1:15 p.m.: Biden will meet with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
2:30 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
3 p.m.: Biden will meet with pop group BTS.
→ “E.U. reaches agreement on a Russian oil import ban,” by Matina Stevis-Gridneff
→ “Peter Navarro, Former Trump Aide, Gets Grand Jury Subpoena in Jan. 6 Inquiry,” by Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer
→ News Analysis: “In the Senate, Chasing an Ever-Elusive Gun Law Deal,” by Jonathan Weisman
→ “Rosaries, bouquets and tiny caskets: Uvalde begins to bury its dead,” by Annie Gowen and Teo Armus
→ “Bombed Bridges, Closed Ports Keep Ukrainian Grain From a World That Needs It,” by Alistair MacDonald, Will Horner and Patrick Thomas in Constana, Romania
→ “Guided U.S. Rockets Could Double Ukraine’s Strike Range,” by Michael Gordon and Nancy Youssef
→ “China Urges UN Rights Chief to Look Into School Shootings in US,” by Philip Glamann
→ “Some Democrats voting in GOP contests to block Trump picks,” by Steve Peoples and Aaron Kessler
→ “Invoking Uvalde, Trudeau out to freeze handgun sales,” by Maura Forrest and Nick Taylor-Vaisey
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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