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Happy Tuesday morning.
News: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will meet today in the speaker’s office on USICA. We reported last week that the leadership in both chambers is trying to pare down the package in order to get a deal by July 4 and pass it through Congress before the August recess. Controversial provisions covering climate, labor and trade may fall by the wayside. Leadership is cognizant that if it doesn’t pass by the August recess, it may not pass this Congress.
Gun bill update
The bipartisan group of senators working on a gun-control bill – led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) – is expected to file the legislative text today. They were expected to file it Monday, however, so we’ll wait and see what happens.
The negotiations got hung up on – interestingly enough — abortion. Republicans are insisting on Hyde language to prevent any federal funding in the proposal from being used for to pay for abortions, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Assuming the Hyde issue gets resolved, the key here – beyond what’s in the bill itself – is timing. If Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gets the Murphy-Cornyn bill before the Senate votes today at 5:30 p.m., he can set a vote on motion to proceed quickly using an existing House bill as a vehicle. If not, Schumer will have to wait until Wednesday.
Senate Democratic leaders are hoping to pass the bill this week, before the Senate leaves town for a planned two-week recess. Without any time agreements to speed up the process, a final vote could slide into the weekend. So the sooner this gets filed, the better for supporters of the bill.
Another point here – if the Senate clears this legislation this week as Democrats hope, the House could stay in session into the weekend to vote on it. The House is currently scheduled to leave town on Friday afternoon, with no floor votes until July 12.
Next week is a “Committee Work Week” for the House, meaning committees meet but there are no floor votes.
But it seems very, very likely that if the Senate passed a gun-control bill after the House left town, House Democrats would alter their schedule to bring members back next week in order to vote on the measure. Then it would be on to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.
Again, all this timing is very fluid right now, so we’ll keep you updated.
One more thing: Schumer could file cloture as early as today on Steven Dettelbach’s nomination to director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). That would set up a final vote on Dettelbach’s nomination later in the week. Like the gun bill, Democrats hope to get this done before leaving town. A one-two punch on guns, so to speak.
An issue for Schumer here is the timing of the gun-control bill. That impacts Senate Democrats’ thinking on timing of the Dettelbach vote. The votes are locked up for Dettlebach, so Schumer can move whenever he wants.
ATF hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed director since 2015. All 50 Democrats plus two Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio – voted to discharge Dettelbach’s nomination last Thursday from the Judiciary Committee, where it had deadlocked. The floor vote was 52-41.
Schumer must now file cloture on the nomination to end a GOP filibuster. That vote could happen as early as Thursday, if Schumer files cloture today. Then the nomination could proceed to final passage.
With so much at stake politically on this high-profile nomination – and as the country faces a wave of gun violence – the U.S. Conference of Mayors has endorsed Dettelbach. Here’s Tom Cochran, the CEO and executive director of the group, calling for Dettelbach’s confirmation in a June 17 letter:
Public safety is the top priority for most mayors, and we are doing everything possible to reduce gun violence in their cities. Having a strong leader at the ATF will assist us greatly in accomplishing this. America’s mayors urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm Steve Dettelbach as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
New: Join us for a virtual Pop-Up Conversation with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday, July 12 at 9 a.m. ET. We’ll be talking to him about how Washington is looking to regulate financial markets. Afterward we’ll be joined by Julie Bell Lindsay, CEO of the Center for Audit Quality, and Mark Baer, CEO of Crowe LLP, for a fireside chat. This conversation is presented by the Center for Audit Quality. RSVP here!
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.
Jan. 6 panel looks at Trump’s pressure on state officials to overturn election
The Jan. 6 select committee is holding its fourth hearing today, with the focus on former President Donald Trump’s “plot” to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 election.
Committee investigators say they have evidence to prove that Trump and his top aides were personally involved in pushing GOP-controlled legislatures to name “fake electors” in several contested states, with the goal of slowing down or derailing President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump exhorted former Vice President Mike Pence to accept the alternate electors on Jan. 6, or send the election back to the states, giving Trump a chance to claim victory in a race he lost pretty decisively. Pence refused, and following the deadly attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, the former vice president moved to officially certify Biden’s win.
The panel will hear from several top GOP state officials who found themselves squarely in the middle of this Trump effort: Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker; Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state; and Gabriel Sterling, COO of the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
Also testifying will be Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election official. Moss, along with her mother Ruby Freeman, was falsely accused by Trump and Rudy Giuliani of “rigging” the presidential election count in Georgia with “suitcases” full of ballots for Biden. Moss and Freeman – who received death threats after Trump publicly named them – are currently suing Giuliani in federal court. An investigation by Georgia officials found no wrongdoing or improper behavior by the pair.
Raffensperger was the target of Trump’s demand during a now infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to “find 11,780 votes” to help him overcome Biden’s lead in Georgia. The Washington Post first released part of the recording of this call. Trump later sought to retaliate against Raffensperger by backing Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) to primary him for secretary of state this year, but Raffensperger won easily.
Bowers will testify that Trump and Giuliani called him in Nov. 2020 “telling him Arizona had a law that would allow the Legislature to pick the slate of presidential electors, overriding the choice made by voters,” according to the Arizona Republic. Bowers declined to try to overturn the election results. Bowers – a self-described Trump supporter – was also contacted by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative activist. She pressured Bowers to decertify Biden’s victory in the state, but he refused to go along with the plan.
Here’s an excerpt from Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) opening statement, provided by his office. Schiff will be lead committee member for today’s hearing:
“When state elections officials refused to stop the count, Donald Trump and his campaign tried to put pressure on them. When state executive officials refused to certify him the winner of states he lost, he applied more pressure. When state legislators refused to go back into session and appoint Trump electors, he amped up the pressure yet again. Anyone who got in the way of Donald Trump’s continued hold on power after he lost the election was the subject of a dangerous and escalating campaign of pressure.
“This pressure campaign brought angry phone calls and texts, armed protests, intimidation, and, all too often, threats of violence and death. State legislators were singled out. So too were statewide elections officials. Even local elections workers, diligently doing their jobs, were accused of being criminals, and had their lives turned upside down.
“As we will show, the president’s supporters heard the former president’s claims of fraud, and the false allegations he made against state and local officials, as a call to action.”
Schiff said this during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” about the fake electors plan:
“Yes, we will show evidence of the president’s involvement in this scheme. We will also again show evidence about what his own lawyers came to think about this scheme. And we will show courageous state officials who stood up and said they wouldn’t go along with this plan to either call legislatures back into session or decertify the results for Joe Biden.
The Jan. 6 committee will hold its fifth hearing on Thursday where the panel is expected to hear from former DOJ officials.
– John Bresnahan
Gas price rebate cards? Nah, those probably won’t happen.
President Joe Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Del., on Monday that he was considering both a gas-tax holiday and gas rebate cards as potential options to help ease the pain at the pump for American drivers.
It’s going to be exceedingly difficult to get either done.
There is hefty skepticism among Democrats on Capitol Hill about the wisdom of a gas-tax holiday, especially after Congress passed a $1 trillion infrastructure package last year that is funded – in part – by gas taxes.
But the reality is there’s no easy answer here, Congress is limited in what it can do in the short term. Not to mention, any bill that passes the House — such as legislation to police fuel price gouging — is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been openly cool to the proposal of a gas tax holiday for months. In March, the speaker said that the savings generated by suspending the gas tax would not necessarily reach consumers.
The Congressional Research Service backs Pelosi up on this. Here’s what they said in a March 2022 report analyzing two bills to suspend the gas tax:
Enforcement may require estimating what the price of gasoline in each locality would have been in the absence of a federal gasoline tax suspension. Over an extended period of time, other factors, such as changes in the prices of crude oil and other inputs, would be likely to affect the hypothetical price of gasoline without a federal gasoline tax holiday.
It is not clear what authorities belonging to the Secretary of the Treasury are intended to be deployed under the bills to ensure that consumers receive the benefit of the tax reduction.
A reduction in the gasoline price from a federal gasoline tax suspension could result in a greater volume of gasoline sales. However, economic research suggests that quantity demanded may not significantly change in response to a relatively small price decline…
Savings for households would depend upon how many gallons of gasoline a household purchases and the extent to which the tax savings are passed through to consumers.
Based on data from the Federal Highway Administration, the average household, which owns slightly fewer than two light-duty vehicles, would have saved roughly $163, or $13.58 per month, had no federal gasoline tax been reflected in the price in 2020.
Pelosi has been more open to the idea of a rebate card, but it seems incredibly unlikely that there would be 60 votes in the Senate to pass such a proposal.
Senior Democratic aides on Capitol Hill tell us Biden cannot suspend the gas tax or send out rebates without congressional approval.
– Jake Sherman and Heather Caygle
Biden administration odds and ends
→ Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – under unrelenting pressure from former Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and his allies – will dissolve his coalition government, setting up elections later in the year. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will take over as interim prime minister.
This would be the fifth Israeli election in just over three years. Israeli media is reporting the elections will take place in late October.
President Joe Biden is still scheduled to head to Israel on July 13, his first trip to Jerusalem since he was elected president. And he’ll arrive against this backdrop of significant political turmoil. Netanyahu, who was the leader of the opposition before the dissolution of Bennett’s government, is widely expected to mount a bid for prime minister. Netanyahu has had two stints as prime minister: from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021.
→ President Joe Biden has appointed Marilynn Malerba as treasurer of the United States. Malerba is the chief of the Mohegan Tribe and the first Native American to be treasurer of the United States. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will visit Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota today with Malerba. Yellen will announce the creation of the Office of Tribal and Native Affairs.
– John Bresnahan 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.
PRIMARY NIGHT IN AMERICA
Primaries to watch today
Here’s what we’re watching today as Virginia holds its primary elections and voters in Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas vote in primary runoffs. In a lower-key Election Day, the biggest race is Alabama’s Republican Senate runoff.
Alabama Republican Senate runoff In deep-red Alabama, today’s election between Katie Britt and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) essentially decides who will succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Former President Donald Trump is now backing Britt — Shelby’s former chief of staff — after previously endorsing and then un-endorsing Brooks. Got all of that?
Britt and Brooks have both campaigned as staunch conservatives, but Britt is more closely aligned with the GOP’s establishment wing. Brooks has vowed to oppose Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, and notably spoke at the Jan. 6 Ellipse rally before the Capitol attack.
Virginia’s 2nd and 7th District Republican primaries Virginia Democratic Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger are two of the most endangered incumbents in the country. Today, Republican voters head to the polls to decide who will face off against the Democratic Frontliners.
In the 2nd District, state Sen. Jen Kiggans is the clear frontrunner to take on Luria. Kiggans is a retired Navy helicopter pilot — an important piece of experience in the Virginia Beach-area district. Luria, of course, is a retired Navy commander.
There isn’t a similar favorite in the GOP primary in the 7th District. According to the Washington Post, the three leading candidates are state Sen. Bryce Reeves, Prince William Board Supervisor Yesli Vega and Derrick Anderson.
Georgia’s 2nd District Republican primary runoff In the race to take on Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Jeremy Hunt and Chris West are competing in today’s primary runoff. Bishop’s seat shifted redder following redistricting and the longtime House member is classified as a Frontliner this cycle.
Hunt, a 28-year-old West Point graduate, has been endorsed by a multitude of leading Republicans, including Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.), former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
— Max Cohen
→ Mark Putnam, the popular Democratic ad man, has a new spot in a race that some Democrats have written off. Deb Baldus McGrath, an Army, State and CIA veteran, is running to replace Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). McGrath’s father, Al Baldus, represented Wisconsin in the House for six years during the 1970s and 1980s. The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter rates the race “lean Republican.” The Putnam ad is a bio spot that has McGrath jumping out of an airplane. This primary is Aug. 9.
→ The DSCC raised $11.9 million in May and ended the month with $52 million cash on hand. It’s the most raised in May in the DSCC’s history and comes on the heels of the leaked Supreme Court draft decision on abortion rights on May 3.
The NRSC raised $8 million in the same month and has $36 million cash on hand.
→ Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has cut an ad for Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.), who is in a member-on-member primary against Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.). The spot is running in Detroit. The primary is Aug. 2.
— Jake Sherman and Max Cohen
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
CMV is a leading infectious cause of pediatric hearing loss. Learn more about CMV.
10:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will get their daily intelligence briefing.
12:45 p.m.: Biden and Harris will have lunch.
1 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
2:30 p.m.: Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will visit a vaccination clinic to highlight the fact that children under 5 can get vaccinated.
3:45 p.m.: Biden will speak about Covid-19..
→ “Pence Navigates a Possible White House Run, and a Fraught Political Moment,” by Maggie Haberman in New York and Reid Epstein in Peoria, Ill.
→ “After a Pivotal Period in Ukraine, U.S. Officials Predict the War’s Path,” by Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes
→ “Russia’s Blockade of Ukraine Is ‘War Crime,’ Top E.U. Official Says,” Matthew Mpoke Bigg in London, Andrew Higgins in Warsaw, Thomas Gibbons-Neff in Druzhkivka, Ukraine, and Rick Gladstone in New York
→ “Israel Confirms Regional Military Project, Showing Its Growing Role,” by Patrick Kinglsey and Ronen Bergman in Jerusalem
→ “Biden team sees climate ‘emergency,’ but powers are limited,” by Dino Grandoni and Anna Phillips
→ “‘The impossible’: Ukraine’s secret, deadly rescue missions,” by John Leicester and Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv
→ “Inside the Democratic strategy sessions planning the post-Roe campaign,” by Elena Schneider
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
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