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Happy Thursday morning.
News: House and Senate leaders have decided to narrow the scope of the USICA negotiations in a bid to pass the package before the August recess.
Here’s why: Party leaders fear that if Congress doesn’t send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk in the next six weeks, it may never get done.
This slimming down of the USICA package, which hasn’t previously been reported, was discussed during a two-hour meeting between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday.
The two top Democrats discussed setting aside issues on which the two chambers and two parties won’t find consensus, and instead focusing on the areas where they can. The two leaders have instructed key negotiators – including committee chairs – to expedite their talks in search of a quick deal.
This is an especially important initiative for Schumer, who made it one of his top priorities after taking over as majority leader in January 2021. He’s put a lot of time and effort into this, and he badly wants to see it happen.
On the chopping block: Labor and climate provisions, as well as high-profile trade language, several sources told us. The House’s trade provisions were tailored to help get it through that chamber and can’t pass the Senate. And the Senate’s language could never pass the House. The expected exclusion – or paring back – of trade language is likely to be a point of contention among Senate Republicans, sources told us.
Negotiators seem to be increasingly focused on billions of dollars in funding to boost chip manufacturing, the National Science Foundation and research security, sources told us. In other words, they are looking to maintain the guts of Endless Frontiers, the Senate version which passed last June. Plus, House negotiators want to add provisions dealing with bolstering supply chains, which they say the Senate bill was silent on.
Negotiators and the leadership are now pushing hard to get agreement by the July 4 break. Leadership feels as if they need a deal by then to get this bill through before August. Remember: At the same time, the Senate is wrestling with gun control legislation. There’s a lot going on for an election year.
We caught up with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who said it’s time for key USICA negotiators to make tough decisions on what can be enacted:
“We need to get to a place where we’re saying these things we can do; these things are debatable; these things we can’t do. Because the weight of this [bicameral] conference — there’s so many people — you’ve got to get to some place where we can work with alternatives…
“The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to get done because time dwindles down to a precious few. So yeah, I want to get it done as soon as possible. I’d like to get the initial step done before we go home.”
The reality is this: If Congress doesn’t send Biden a USICA package before the August recess, it’s unlikely to get done before the election. September will be dominated by wrangling over a short-term funding bill. Any political appetite for a large-scale package such as USICA will dwindle with Election Day looming.
There’s also little hope for the full USICA package to pass in the lame duck session, sources in both parties told us. If Republicans take over the House and/or Senate, the post-election governing period will be dominated by work on a government funding deal, potentially a debt-limit discussion (which the White House should want to handle before January), an extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies – a huge issue for Democrats and the White House, especially if there is no reconciliation deal this fall – and a push to pass Electoral Count Act reform and tax extenders.
We have heard deafening chatter lately that if USICA isn’t passed, Senate Republicans will push for funding to boost high-tech manufacturing as part of any year-end omnibus funding package.
This is quite the dramatic denouement for the chips bill. At the end of the day, after a year of back and forth, the bill is shrinking once again.
→ One other note: Biden huddled with Schumer and Pelosi at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. The readout from the White House sounded very much like a reconciliation-centric type discussion, but we’re told the trio covered a number of other topics as well.
This is from the White House:
“They discussed their plans for fighting the global problem of inflation that is affecting every major economy, such as bringing down prescription drug and energy costs, and adding to the historic deficit reduction we have accomplished.”
– Jake Sherman, Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan
Don’t forget: It’s less than two weeks until we’re in New Hampshire! Join us virtually or in-person if you’re in the Concord area for our conversation with New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday, June 28 at 9 a.m. ET. We’ll be talking to him about the 2024 election and the challenges facing small business owners coming out of the pandemic. RSVP here and stay tuned for July event announcements coming soon!
PRESENTED BY AMERICAN INVESTMENT COUNCIL
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JAN. 6 PROBE
Trump pressure campaign on Pence moves to center stage
The Jan. 6 select committee will focus today on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure then Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, the issue ultimately at the heart of the deadly attack on the Capitol.
It promises to be another dramatic day of testimony on how far Trump and his allies were willing to go in order to overturn the 2020 election results. Conservative lawyer John Eastman, who told Trump that Pence could refuse to certify the Electoral College results, will be a central character in today’s session. Eastman claimed that Pence could send the election back to state legislatures to appoint alternative electors if he refused to certify the results on Jan. 6. That would have given Trump a chance to claim victory despite losing the election by more than seven million votes.
Both White House counsel’s office and Pence’s legal advisers strongly disagreed with Eastman’s legal theory. They repeatedly told Pence that he didn’t have that authority to take this step and must instead certify Biden’s victory. Pence eventually accepted that view, in spite of Trump’s extraordinary pressure campaign.
Greg Jacob, Pence’s former counsel, and J. Michael Luttig, a retired federal appeals court judge who advised Pence that Eastman’s legal theory was “unconstitutional,” will both testify today.
The select committee is also expected to make heavy use of videotaped depositions from other Trump administration officials and lawyers, as it has throughout the first two hearings. This is likely to include Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, who even warned the Secret Service that Trump’s efforts could lead to a “security risk” for Pence on Jan. 6.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) will take the lead role during today’s hearing, according to committee aides.
Eastman, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, declined to testify to the select committee, asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
However, the select committee won a legal ruling giving it access to dozens of Eastman’s emails, which he kept on a server at Chapman University in California, his former employer. A federal judge ruled in March that Trump “more likely than not” committed a crime by trying to put Eastman’s plan into action and ordered the emails turned over to congressional investigators. U.S. District Judge David Carter also said Eastman “likely acted deceitfully and dishonestly each time he pushed an outcome-driven plan that he knew was unsupported by the law.”
There was a lot of news on Eastman from Wednesday, which should make today’s session even more critical to the select committee’s continuing probe.
The New York Times reported late Wednesday night that Eastman “claimed in an email after Election Day 2020 to have insight into a ‘heated fight’ among the Supreme Court justices over whether to hear arguments about the president’s efforts to overturn his defeat at the polls, two people briefed on the email said.”
This Eastman email is in the possession of the select committee, according to the NYT’s Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman. Eastman reportedly made the comment as part of an exchange with another lawyer and “Trump campaign officials” over whether to file an appeal to the high court in support of a Wisconsin election case:
“‘So the odds are not based on the legal merits but an assessment of the justices’ spines, and I understand that there is a heated fight underway,’ Mr. Eastman wrote, according to the people briefed on the contents of the email. Referring to the process by which at least four justices are needed to take up a case, he added, ‘For those willing to do their duty, we should help them by giving them a Wisconsin cert petition to add into the mix.’”
And the Washington Post’s Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Emma Brown reported that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Thomas, was in contact with Eastman. Again, Eastman was a Supreme Court clerk for Thomas. And Thomas was the only justice to vote against efforts by the select committee to obtain Trump’s White House records.
The Washington Post and CBS News previously reported that Ginni Thomas urged former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to “pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election” in a series of text messages.
– John Bresnahan
THE POST-UVALDE PUSH
Gun negotiators try to get to finish line
The top bipartisan Senate negotiators working on a high-profile gun control bill failed to reach an agreement on legislative text Wednesday night. The group of four senators handled the discussions — Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — will meet again this afternoon to try to finalize the legislation.
The senators held an hours-long meeting late into Wednesday night in Murphy’s hideaway in the Senate basement. But crucially, the issues of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and red flag provisions still remain unresolved, senators told us.
Cornyn is pushing to tighten the boyfriend loophole language so that old romantic partners from decades past can’t lodge a complaint that prevents someone from passing a background check needed to buy a gun. And Republicans want to make sure that if a state opts out of creating a red-flag system, they’re still able to use any federal funding approved under this bill for other crisis-prevention programs.
Here’s Cornyn upon exiting the meeting:
“We did make progress, but we’re not there yet. That’s why we agreed to come back at about 1:30 [p.m.] tomorrow. We’re trying to figure out how to vet this with various groups that care about these issues.”
Murphy was slightly testy when reporters prodded him on the deal’s prospects:
“This is a very strict time frame to land, you know, some very, very serious issues. But we are making good progress.”
As the senators acknowledged, the timeline to strike a deal is incredibly tight if the Senate is to vote on a gun package before the July 4th recess. Legislative text needs to be finalized this week in order to give Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer time to move the bill to the floor and deal with a guaranteed GOP filibuster.
Senate Republicans involved in the talks – especially Cornyn – say they aren’t as concerned about “artificial deadlines” as much as making sure they’re comfortable with the final agreement. Cornyn also has internal political considerations to deal with. He has to be seen fighting as hard as possible to include GOP-favored language in the final package.
Democrats, the White House and gun control advocates, however, fear that if the Senate doesn’t vote on a gun bill before it leaves town, the momentum for a compromise will dwindle. That makes the next several days vital if a deal is going to actually come together. It seems nearly certain at this point that the Senate will have to work into the last week of June if it is going to get this package passed.
The continuing push to finalize a gun-control deal comes as the Senate prepares to move forward with the nomination of Steven Dettelbach to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a key post in the debate over federal gun policy.
ATF hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed director since 2015. President Joe Biden’s first pick for the post, David Chipman, had to withdraw in the face of opposition from several moderate Democrats. All 50 Senate Republicans had already made clear they would vote against Chipman as well.
But Dettelbach, a former Justice Department official and U.S. attorney in Ohio, has won the backing of three key moderate senators – Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Angus King (I-Maine). With all 50 Democratic votes and Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Democrats have enough support to confirm Dettelbach.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the Dettelbach nomination this morning. The panel, chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), held a hearing on gun violence affecting children on Wednesday.
Here’s an excerpt from what Durbin will say on Dettelbach:
“ATF is the lead federal law enforcement agency when it comes to responding to the gun violence epidemic our children are growing up in. It is high time for the Senate to confirm an ATF director – not to take guns away from responsible, law-abiding Americans, but to help stop straw purchases, combat gun trafficking, and ensure that families can send their kids to school safely and law enforcement officers can return home each day to their loving families.”
The Judiciary Committee vote on Dettelbach is expected to end in a tie.
Schumer has scheduled a floor vote on a motion to discharge the nomination from the Judiciary Committee this afternoon if that happens. Again, this nomination will pass because Democrats have 50 votes and Harris. The only question is if any Republicans support Dettelbach.
Schumer can then file a cloture motion on Dettelbach’s nomination on Tuesday, setting up another procedural vote on Thursday. Once cloture is invoked, there are up to two hours of debate before a final vote.
So even if there’s no vote on a gun control bill by the end of next week, Dettelbach will still be confirmed. And if there is a deal, the Senate could recess having taken two big gun-related votes.
– Max Cohen and John Bresnahan
PRESENTED BY AMERICAN INVESTMENT COUNCIL
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Private equity invested more than $1 TRILLION into local communities last year.
→ News: The DCCC raised $11.8 million in May. The House Democrats’ campaign committee has no debt and has nearly $118 million cash on hand. That’s $31 million more than they had at this point last cycle.
→ Club for Growth Action raised $4.9 million in May. The bulk of the haul was from two donors – $2 million came from conservative mega donor Richard Uihlein and $1.9 million from Virginia James, another big-time donor from New Jersey. JOSHPAC, the leadership PAC linked to Josh Mandel, gave $500,000.
– Jake Sherman
→ Ian Foley, most recently the legislative director for former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), has landed at Invariant, the bipartisan lobbying and communications firm run by Heather Podesta. Before working for Nunes, Foley was a policy adviser to Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.).
Invariant has a big practice, representing companies like Shopify, Carrier Corp, McDonald’s, Raytheon, H&R Block, Toyota, Home Depot, Charter Communications, Apple, Pepsico, Marriott, the Business Roundtable, Airbus and DraftKings.
– Jake Sherman
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74% of PE investment went to small businesses last year.
10:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
10:45 a.m.: Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold her weekly news conference.
12:15 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
3:10 p.m.: Biden will sign the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.
→ “Nevada Senator Hopes History Repeats as She Faces a Hard-Right Rival,” by Jazmine Ulloa in Las Vegas
→ “In Ukraine, a Minority Group Feels Ambivalence About the War,” by Erika Solomon in Transcarpathia, Ukraine
→ “Russian army ramps up recruitment as steep casualties thin the ranks,” by Mary Ilyushina in Riga, Latvia
→ “Stock Futures Falter as Post-Fed Rally Fades,” by Will Horner
→ “U.S. Retail Sales Declined in May as Inflation Stings Consumers,” by Harriet Torry and Rina Torchinsky
→ “Johnson Incites More Chaos After Wounding Confidence Vote,” by Stuart Biggs, Ellen Milligan, and Kitty Donaldson
→ “French, German, Italian leaders visit Kyiv to show support,” by John Leicester and Sylvie Corbet in Kyiv
→ “McConnell’s gun safety gamble,” by Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett
→ “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott leading Beto O’Rourke in new poll as race tightens,” by Jeremy Wallace
PRESENTED BY AMERICAN INVESTMENT COUNCIL
From big cities to small towns, private equity continues to invest all across America. In 2021, private equity firms invested over $1 TRILLION into local communities to build better businesses and support jobs.
Three-quarters (74%) of private equity investment in 2021 went to companies with fewer than 500 employees. More than half (56%) went to the smallest businesses, those employing fewer than 100 people.
Private equity provides local business leaders with the capital, resources, and expertise to scale their ideas and help their businesses flourish.
Learn more at InvestmentCouncil.Org
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images
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