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Happy Tuesday morning.
Welcome back, Congress. We have a few dynamics to lay out for you as lawmakers prepare to take up the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The U.S. government will default on June 5 if the debt limit isn’t raised by then.
No. 1: Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s team believes they can avoid a disaster at the House Rules Committee at 3 p.m. today. Remember: Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — three conservatives who serve on the panel — are at risk to vote against the rule, which allows the legislation to come to the floor.
All three have expressed serious reservations about the bill, especially Roy. House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) is holding a press conference today, too.
But there’s chatter that Massie may still back the rule, which makes him the key figure in today’s drama. Roy and Norman were part of the anti-McCarthy contingent during the speaker vote, while Massie backed McCarthy from start to finish.
Keep in mind this fascinating exchange Massie had with reporters four months ago. Our friend Erik Wasson of Bloomberg asked the Kentucky Republican if he would be “a firewall” on the Rules Committee to make sure a clean debt-limit increase never made it onto the floor. Here’s Massie:
“Over the past 10 years, I’ve been an advocate of regular order and trying to make things work, try to make this place work right. And I would be reluctant to try to use the Rules Committee to achieve a legislative outcome, particularly if it doesn’t represent a large majority of our caucus.
“So I don’t ever intend to use my position on there to hold somebody hostage or hold legislation hostage.”
There have been no conversations among Democrats about voting for the rule. Republicans, though, believe in this case, Democratic interests align with their own and that of President Joe Biden.
Biden is lobbying Democratic members to back the bill on the floor but aides won’t say who. Senior White House aides and Cabinet officials have also spoken with dozens of rank-and-file House Democrats. Similar calls are being made to Senate Democrats.
No. 2: House Republicans will hold a conference meeting this evening to discuss the Fiscal Responsibility Act. GOP leadership feels as if the preliminary CBO score — $2.1 trillion in savings over the proposed six-year life of the caps agreement — is something they can tout. Only the first two years of the caps can be enforced, while the remaining four can be waived. But it’s something for McCarthy to promote.
The Republican leadership’s game plan is to argue that no other bill can save the federal government as much money as this debt-limit package. Not to mention, Biden never wanted to negotiate and McCarthy forced him to do so.
No. 3: House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik has a new memo laying out party strategy thus far on the debt-limit messaging war. GOP leaders say they had “early and consistent member education” given that most Republicans hadn’t voted for the debt limit before.
No. 4: Senate Democratic communications directors were briefed on messaging strategy by the White House Monday night, we’re told.
The briefing emphasized that “not everyone gets what they want,” according to one readout, a bid to counter progressive ire. A big focus was the White House’s view that Biden’s negotiators successfully blocked the most dangerous GOP provisions from getting into the legislation.
The Senate is in a holding pattern until the House sends the bill over following the Wednesday vote. In the meantime, it’s worth remembering that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer might have to relent to demands to hold amendment votes in order to speed passage of the bill.
Case in point: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is filing an amendment to strip the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline approval from the legislation. A Kaine spokesperson said the provision, sought by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Republicans, “is completely unrelated to the debt ceiling.”
No. 5: Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent lawmakers a “fact sheet” sharply criticizing the permitting reform provisions in the debt-limit bill.
It’s unusual, to say the least, to have a senior member of the president’s own party criticize a package he crafted in such a public way. But as we noted, a lot of progressives don’t like this bill.
No. 6: The centrist New Democrat Coalition is supporting the bill. Here’s Chair Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) on why:
“As we carefully reviewed the provisions and carefully reviewed the language, we, on balance, feel that important programs were protected.
“Most of what we care about was not taken up in this bill. This is a very narrow package. Overall, a small portion of the total budget. This budget, part of the negotiation is something that would be happening in the normal course at this time of year.”
This is a key block of votes for Biden and House Democratic leaders to go after for the floor vote.
— Jake Sherman, Andrew Desiderio and Max Cohen
Next week: On June 8 at 9 a.m. ET, join us as Punchbowl News Founder and CEO Anna Palmer and Senior Congressional Reporter Andrew Desiderio interview Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Susan Collins (R-Maine). They’ll focus on national security and foreign relations. RSVP here to join us in person or on the livestream.
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FAA weighs in on DCA expansion
News: One of the most interesting lobbying fights right now is the Delta-backed push to relax the perimeter restriction at Washington Reagan National Airport. The Capital Access Alliance wants to add more flights beyond the 1,250-mile perimeter at DCA.
Part of the Capital Access Alliance’s argument is that major metropolitan areas — namely San Diego and San Antonio — have no direct flights from DCA.
Well, the FAA doesn’t appear to be a fan of this effort. Here’s what they said in a new report we obtained exclusively:
Based on Annual Service Volume (ASV) delay analysis, we find that an increase of 20 daily round trip operations would increase delay by 25.9%, and an increase of 25 daily round trip operations would increase delay by 33.2% at DCA.
This makes sense, of course. The more flights out of DCA, the more delays there will be. DCA is already “more delay prone than most other airports,” the report says. In addition to delays, northern Virginia residents complain about noise from DCA.
Part of the Capital Access Alliance’s plan is to try to add language to the FAA reauthorization bill to add flights outside of the perimeter. But that looks like a bit of a longshot. The Virginia and Maryland delegations are opposed, as are United and American Airlines. United has a hub at Washington Dulles and American has a mini hub at DCA.
— Jake Sherman
McCaul threatens to revisit Blinken subpoena
The Afghanistan oversight squabble isn’t going away anytime soon.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is threatening to resume enforcement of his subpoena against Secretary of State Antony Blinken over access to critical Afghanistan withdrawal documents.
McCaul, as you’ll remember, subpoenaed the State Department in late March for a 2021 Kabul embassy dissent cable and the department’s response. After weeks of trying to get State to comply, McCaul viewed the documents in person at Foggy Bottom in late May, along with Ranking Member Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.).
It was a victory for the Texas Republican. But McCaul has continued to press State to allow every single member of the Foreign Affairs Committee — not just the panel’s leaders — to get the same access.
McCaul wrote to Blinken on Monday requesting that State arrange a full committee viewing of the documents by June 9.
Here’s a crucial section of McCaul’s letter, where he explains what might happen if State doesn’t agree to his latest request:
While I paused efforts to enforce the Committee’s subpoena pending my review of the documents, I did so with the express stipulations that the subpoena remains in full force and effect, and that acceptance of this accommodation did not waive any of the Committee’s rights.
Should the Department continue to refuse to provide the entire Committee the same opportunity Ranking Member Meeks and I had to review these documents, I will need to revisit my current position.
But McCaul is hinting here that he could resume contempt proceedings if all members aren’t allowed to see the documents.
We reached out to State for comment but didn’t hear back.
— Max Cohen
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— Jake Sherman
THE MONEY GAME
Do you like Los Angeles? Do you want to spend time with Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.)? How about attending the VIBE PAC retreat May 31 at the Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, Calif.? You can do it for between $1,500 and $5,000.
Rep. Judy Chu’s (D-Calif.) ASPIRE PAC has its 2023 San Francisco weekend at The Palace Hotel June 2. Want to attend? Be prepared to part with $2,500 to $5,000.
— Jake Sherman
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10 a.m.: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will leave Delaware for the White House. They are slated to arrive at 11:05 a.m.
Noon: House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) will hold a news conference on the debt-limit deal.
2:45 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre and Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young will brief reporters.
Biden’s week: Wednesday: Biden will travel to El Paso County, Colo. Thursday: Biden will give the commencement address at the Air Force Academy. Friday: Biden will attend the Friday Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks Washington.
“Chris Christie Gets a Super PAC Ahead of His Likely 2024 Bid,” by Maggie Haberman
“Bonds, US Futures Rise as Debt-Deal Lobby Ramps Up,” by Tassia Sipahutar and Robert Brand
“Drones Hit Residential Areas in Moscow for First Time,” by Thomas Grove
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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