Every issue of the Punchbowl News newsletter, including our special editions, right here at your fingertips.
Join the community, and get the morning edition delivered straight to your inbox.
Happy Monday morning.
The House and Senate are out today to mark Juneteenth. Both chambers will be in session tomorrow. It will be a busy four days prior lawmakers leaving town for two weeks for the July 4th recess. So get ready.
We have some news for you on the gun-control talks. It appears that the negotiations are back “on track” following discussions over the weekend between the bipartisan groups of senators trying to hash out the package. These talks are being led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) filling out the rest of the “core” group.
The discussions were hung up over two key issues – the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” and providing funds to states that don’t implement red flag laws but instead have crisis intervention programs.
The “boyfriend loophole” refers to the fact that domestic abusers are prohibited from buying guns, but only if they’re married or have a longtime relationship with the victim, including having a child. Democrats have sought to expand this prohibition to cover dating partners, but Cornyn and Republicans have had concerns about how this is implemented.
However, there appears to have been some concessions by Democrats on both these issues, and the negotiations are moving forward again.
A source familiar with the talks said this about the state of the negotiations: “Staffs went back and forth all weekend. Members also communicated. Moving towards the finish line.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean the Senate will clear the bill by the start of this recess, as Democrats had hoped. But there is some momentum again, which is far different from the mood when the Senate left on Thursday.
The other big pieces of the package remain largely intact despite the dispute over the two outstanding provisions. The legislation will include billions of dollars in new funding for community mental health programs and school security; new restrictions on “straw purchases” for gun trafficking; additional background checks on 18 to 21-year-old gun buyers, including screening of their juvenile records; and new provisions on which sellers must become federal firearms licensees.
The progress on the gun package comes despite pressure on Cornyn from Texas Republican activists, some of whom booed during Cornyn’s speech to the state party on Friday.
The Texas GOP also adopted a resolution that called for a formal “rebuke” of Cornyn and nine other Senate Republicans that backed the gun-control framework. The resolution was passed by a voice vote. Per ABC News:
“‘We reject the so called ‘bipartisan gun agreement,’ and we rebuke Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham 1601 (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.),’ the resolution reads.”
We’ll add that Texas Republicans also approved a resolution stating “we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States,” asserted that “Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice,” backed repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights, and want to get rid of the income tax (16th Amendment) and the direct election of senators (17th Amendment.) So yeah, the Texas Republican Party has some issues.
Also, there’s this from the Texas Tribune, which is just terrible:
“Tensions within the party at times got personal. Video posted online showed far-right activists physically accosting U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, calling the conservative Republican ‘eye-patch McCain’ over his criticism of Russia. The group included self-identified Proud Boys and Alex Stein, a social media activist from North Texas. A Navy SEAL veteran, Crenshaw lost his right eye to a bomb in Afghanistan.”
Anyway, Cornyn has been booed at the Texas Republican convention before, so that’s not totally new. The resolution is clearly an unwelcome development, but it apparently hasn’t prevented Cornyn from moving forward on a gun-control bill in the wake of the Uvalde massacre.
We’ll also note that Cornyn has never lost an election during nearly 40 years in politics. And Cornyn is not up until 2026, when he could potentially be serving in a different Senate leadership post.
– John Bresnahan
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
CMV is the #1 infectious cause of birth defects in the United States. 91% of women have never heard of CMV. Moms can unknowingly pass the infection to their unborn baby, potentially causing long-term defects. Moms-to-be should talk to their doctors about CMV and take precautions. One of the most proactive and effective ways to prevent CMV transmission is to practice simple hygiene practices—the ones which are already a part of our lives. Learn more.
Reconciliation outlook shifts as election looms
There’s lots of buzz about a possible reconciliation deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Discussions are ongoing, although there’s no deal yet, and there won’t be one this week.
What’s in a potential Democratic reconciliation package – and when it could come together – are enormously important. And of course, none of this is decided yet
Yet we want to note this as well – we’re not entirely sure the reconciliation package being discussed on the Senate side could pass the House. Provided it gets through the Senate in the first place.
Ever since Manchin put the kibosh on the $1.5 trillion Build Back Better Act in mid-December, the assumption has been that if there’s a deal in the Senate, it can move through the House.
But that was six months ago, and internal House Democratic Caucus politics aren’t static. Democrats look increasingly likely to lose the House And there have been more retirements, with a race to succeed Nancy Pelosi and the current leadership team – if they leave – happening just below the surface.
The package being discussed by many in the Senate and downtown – full or partial repeal of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, Medicare prescription drug price negotiations and a climate-enegy package, with a portion of the revenue raised going to pay down the deficit – would have problems passing the House, even if it got through the Senate.
Remember, House Democrats will only have a four-seat margin if and when this reconciliation package comes up for a vote there. Frontliners and moderates – already very nervous about November, with good reason – want SALT and other provisions that may not be in there. They have some retiring members who could be a problem. This isn’t an easy vote for anyone.
We’re already hearing Democratic leaders and supporters of a reconciliation package argue that such legislation could stave off a possible recession, which is a slight change in focus. The argument had previously been that a reconciliation package would help boost U.S. economic growth coming out of the pandemic while also fighting inflation. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers mentioned this new angle on “Meet The Press” this Sunday. Summers noted his “best guess is that a recession is ahead.” Summers was out front in warning about the resurgence of inflation as the United States and global economy began to emerge from the pandemic, so he gets props from many in Washington.
Summers called for “some kind of bipartisan budget bill with three elements”: Medicare prescription drug pricing, “the partial repeal, not the full repeal, but the partial repeal of the Trump tax cuts,” and “an all-in more energy supply approach” that includes more fossil fuels in short run, then a government-led shift to renewables.
Now there’ll never be a bipartisan bill to repeal the Trump tax cuts. Never gonna happen. There probably can’t be a bipartisan deal on Medicare prescription drug pricing either. Republicans would do an energy deal, but that won’t be enough for Democrats or the White House. So a bipartisan deal is probably out.
Democrats will have to make a choice on going it alone. But here’s one thought we had – it’s going to be quite tricky for Democrats to find a winning message about why they’re raising taxes with a recession looming. Any moderate or Frontliner would get hammered on it. Republicans are already doing it.
Democrats could go another route. For instance, they could push a narrow bill focused on Medicare prescription drug pricing and extending Obamacare premium support, which expires this fall, right before the election. Up to 13 million Americans could be hit. Manchin hasn’t said where he is on the issue. Yet even with billions of dollars going into ACA subsidies, there would still be an overall savings to the federal government due to the Medicare prescription drug provisions. It may not be enough, however.
Yet just over four months from Election Day, Democrats – especially President Joe Biden – need accomplishments. If they can get a gun deal, pass the USICA package to help high-tech research and manufacturing, and possibly a smaller “Build Back Manchin” reconciliation package, that’s gotta help.
– John Bresnahan
Who We’re Watching
→ Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): The lead negotiators of the bipartisan gun control deal had significant momentum heading into last week after announcing a framework agreement supported by a total of 20 senators. But they ran into several hurdles trying to turn that framework into actual legislative text and went into the weekend without an agreement. Now with the talks back on track, the duo is under significant pressure to finalize bill text this week. What we said last week still stands: This will be a major challenge.
→ Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell: It feels like we’re spending a lot of time talking about Powell. And the reason why is, well, there’s a lot to talk about regarding Powell and the Fed. After last week’s historic interest rate increase, and with the threat of a recession seemingly growing by the day, Powell will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, followed by the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday.
– John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle
What We’re Watching
→ Tuesday: The Jan. 6 committee will hold its fourth hearing with state election officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, slated to testify. The panel will also hear from Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who was pressured by Ginni Thomas to decertify President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
→ Wednesday: USTR Katherine Tai will be in front of Senate Appropriations. Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell will be in front of Senate Banking. House Oversight has a hearing about the workplace culture of the Washington Commanders. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, is expected to testify.
→ Thursday: Powell will testify to the House Financial Services Committee. The Jan. 6 select committee holds its fifth hearing, where lawmakers expect to hear from former Department of Justice officials, per sources familiar with the panel’s plans.
House Oversight will hear from Deborah Birx, the Covid coordinator for the Trump administration. The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on the future of digital asset regulation.
– Heather Caygle and Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
June is National Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. In the US, approximately every 30 minutes, a baby is born with CMV. What exactly is CMV? Get the facts.
→ News: Progressive rising star Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) is endorsing Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in the Wisconsin Senate Democratic primary. Barnes has the most support from national progressives in the closely watched Senate primary; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) backed Barnes in September 2021.
Barnes, who started the campaign as the leading candidate, has seen his support decrease in recent public polls.
Here’s Porter’s statement endorsing Barnes:
“Mandela Barnes knows the struggles of working people because he’s lived them. I look forward to having a partner in Washington who will work with me to bring costs down, create good-paying jobs, and help families get the health care and child care they need.”
Porter, first elected to the House in 2018, serves as deputy chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and is a fundraising juggernaut.
Barnes’ main competitors in the Aug. 9 Wisconsin primary are Milwaukee Bucks EVP Alex Lasry and Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.
→ Here’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) first ad of her re-election bid. The spot has a number of straight-to-camera testimonials about Murkowski. The ad is running in Juneau and Anchorage.
— Max Cohen and Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
CMV is a common virus that spreads between people. Learn more about CMV.
8:15 p.m.: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will depart Rehoboth Beach, Del.
9:10 p.m.: The Bidens will arrive at the White House.
→ “Texas Republicans Approve Far-Right Platform Declaring Biden’s Election Illegitimate,” by Azi Paybarah and David Montgomery
→ “Russian Forces Tighten Noose Around Important Cities in Ukraine’s East,” by Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Vivian Yee, Andrew E. Kramer and Natalia Yermak in Lysychansk, Ukraine
→ “A recession ‘is not inevitable,’ White House says — again,” by Jose A. Del Real
→ “What to watch in Alabama Senate runoff, DC mayor’s race,” by Kimberly Chandler
→ “Unlikely duo: Pennsylvania Democrats aim for united front,” by Marc Levy
→ “Macron Loses Assembly Majority in Setback to Reform Agenda,” by Ania Nussbaum and Samy Adghirni
→ “UK Confronts 1970s-Style Problems With Strikes and Inflation,” by Reed Landberg
→ “Ukraine Intensifies Strikes Against Russian-Controlled Areas,” by Yaroslav Trofimov
→ “What a Roberts compromise on abortion could look like,” by Josh Gerstein
→ “The U.S. marks World Refugee Day, even as it accepts fewer refugees,” by Jeff Gammage
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a viral infection that presents symptoms in adults much like a common cold. For most people, CMV does not pose a health risk. But for some, like people who have a weakened immune system or newborns, CMV could have serious consequences. Learn more about CMV.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images
Crucial Capitol Hill news AM, Midday, and PM—5 times a week
Join a community of some of the most powerful people in Washington and beyond. Exclusive newsmaker events, parties, in-person and virtual briefings and more.Subscribe to Premium
The Canvass Special Report
Analysis of how sentiment on Capitol Hill evolved this year. And what senior aides believe will happen in 2022.Check it out
Every single issue of Punchbowl News published, all in one placeVisit the archive
THE PREMIUM COMMUNITY AT
Experience regular online and offline events with Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan, special Premium content and so much more. Check out our full list of benefits for Premium membership!