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Happy Wednesday morning.
We’re now two weeks into the Jan. 6 select committee’s hearings, and if you talk to Republicans and Democrats across the Capitol, there’s a sense – both in public and private – that the panel is doing a good job.
Most Republicans won’t admit it openly. But the honest ones will say privately that the panel has done well in its quest to reconstruct the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including its blistering portrayal of former President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat following the 2020 elections. And how far he’d be willing to go to overturn those results.
A feeling has sprouted up in the minds of some GOP lawmakers we’ve spoken to. They’ve begun to quietly wonder whether they would’ve been better off with a seat at the table.
Let’s be abundantly clear: The decision to boycott these hearings was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s to make. Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jim Banks (Ind.) from serving on the panel, and McCarthy – in a difficult position – refused to allow any Republicans to take part in response.
By sitting it out, Republicans thought they could make it seem like a one-sided, one-party witch hunt – despite the presence of Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on the panel.
Republicans also argued that Americans carried more about the price of gas and the state of the economy than Trump’s actions. The reality, though, is that Americans can care about the state of the economy and the state of their democracy simultaneously.
One of the most notable critics of McCarthy’s strategy now is Trump, who has both enormous personal interest in the outcome of this probe, as well as outsized sway over the next phase of McCarthy’s career.
Trump complained to a conservative radio host that McCarthy made a “very, very foolish decision.” And CNN’s Melanie Zanona, Gabby Orr and Zachary Cohen catalogued some of this Mar-a-Lago ire in a piece posted yesterday.
We spoke to Trump Tuesday afternoon about how he feels about McCarthy’s call. Trump is definitely unhappy:
“Well, I think in retrospect, I think it would have been very smart to put [Republicans on the committee] and again, I wasn’t involved in it from a standpoint so I never looked at it too closely. But I think it would have been good if we had representation. …
“I think in retrospect [McCarthy should’ve put Republicans on] to just have a voice. The Republicans don’t have a voice. They don’t even have anything to say. …
“I think it would’ve been far better to have Republicans [on the panel]. [Jim Banks and Jim Jordan] were great. They were great and would’ve been great to have them. But when Pelosi wrongfully didn’t allow them, we should’ve picked other people. We have a lot of good people in the Republican Party.”
Trump added there’s “not even a question” that McCarthy should’ve put Republicans on the select committee.
To be absolutely clear, Trump isn’t in Congress and he doesn’t face the daily pressures that McCarthy does of living in the House minority.
But Trump’s viewpoint matters because House Republicans – including McCarthy – continue to elevate him, seek his endorsement and rely on him to raise campaign cash. And Trump’s positions, both on policy and politics, oftentimes drive House Republicans, as they have since 2017. McCarthy, for instance, told us that he spoke to Trump this week.
Trump’s stature in the GOP is at least in part due to McCarthy’s continued embrace of the former president. McCarthy visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago shortly after he left Washington into disgrace over the insurrection. Trump took no responsibility for the attack on the Capitol when we spoke to him, but we’re not going to give that any oxygen.
We were also curious how he rates McCarthy at the moment, as House Republicans are very well positioned to take the majority in just over four months. McCarthy, of course, is the odds on favorite to be speaker if that happens. It’s not clear that Trump could do anything to stop that – even if he wanted to. Here’s what Trump said when we asked him about McCarthy as speaker:
“Well, I’m not going to comment on that now. But I just tell you that – and I like Kevin very much – but in retrospect, it’s not fair when you have, I don’t know how many people they have on the committee in total, but whatever it is, and you have nobody to give the opposing point of view.”
We also wondered if McCarthy’s decision here will play into Trump’s calculation as to whether he will endorse the California Republican for speaker.
“Well, I don’t want to comment on that now. But you and I will talk at some point in the future.”
Let’s rewind a bit to review how Republicans got here with the Jan. 6 panel. McCarthy had two decision points that are worth discussing.
→ McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell worked to block Congress from establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) cut a deal on a commission with Democrats and 35 House Republicans voted for it. That commission would’ve given Republicans a big say in the process, including the ability to veto subpoenas.
→ When that commission proposal was rejected by Senate Republicans, Pelosi announced her intention to create a select committee via a House resolution. After the House approved the resolution, Pelosi rejected the nomination of Jordan and Banks for serving on the panel, a stunning move. Pelosi justified it by saying “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.” At that point, McCarthy decided to pull all of his picks from the panel.
In McCarthy’s view, Pelosi shouldn’t have the ability to decide which of his members should be able to sit on the committee.
“We’re never letting Nancy Pelosi select who’s on our committee,” McCarthy said in an interview Tuesday. “The whole narrative shows it’s all partisan. … This whole thing was about politics.”
McCarthy contends that he first suggested a commission shortly after the Jan. 6 attack – and he did. But McCarthy refused to go along with the select committee following Pelosi’s power play.
“We said we’d participate in this,” McCarthy said. “We put who we wanted up on it. But the only people who can be put on it are people that she’s approved. That’s never going to happen. It’s pure politics.”
Jordan, for his part, backed McCarthy’s decision and blamed Pelosi for the situation, despite Trump’s position.
“I think [Pelosi] knew that the leader would have no choice but to do what Kevin did,” Jordan said. “She knew how this was gonna play and that’s why she did it. Because they wanted to be totally partisan.”
Happening today: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will speak at the New Dem Coalition lunch on inflation and workforce trends. ….
The DCCC will host a briefing on abortion rights messaging during House Democrats’ caucus meeting this morning. Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood and NARAL will present. This comes as DCCC launched a billboard campaign this week in several swing districts focused on abortion rights.
– Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle
Reminder: Join us in Concord, N.H., or on the livestream for the second event in our “Road to Recovery” series! New Hampshire will be a state to watch in the 2024 election. We’ll be talking to Gov. Chris Sununu (R) about this and the issues facing small businesses coming out of the pandemic on Tuesday, June 28 at 9 a.m. ET. RSVP Here.
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Gun bill clears key procedural hurdle and is on path to passage
Let’s state the obvious here – the Senate’s bipartisan gun control bill is going to pass. It will clear the Senate this week, with a House vote possible Friday or into the weekend.
This is the first significant gun control bill to have a real chance of becoming law in nearly three decades. And it signals the extraordinary pressure Congress is under to respond to the horrific wave of gun violence plaguing the nation. The twin massacres in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo last month were the pivotal moments that spurred lawmakers into action on this package, although the pressure has been building for the last few years.
The bill, authored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), passed a key test vote Tuesday night in the Senate. Fourteen Senate Republicans voted to begin debate on the 80-page measure, hammered out during two weeks of bipartisan negotiations. Joining Cornyn in voting to move forward with debate on the bill were GOP Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Todd Young (Ind.).
A 15th Senate Republican, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, missed the vote but announced his support for the measure.
A few notable points:
→ Ten Republicans committed to supporting the framework when it was initially released on June 12. The new Republican yes votes included McConnell, Capito, Ernst, Murkowski and Young. Without McConnell’s support, no deal was possible, of course. Murkowski and Young are up for re-election in November. Capito and Ernst are both in the leadership. Ernst is a conference vice chair, while Capito is a counselor to the leadership. Capito plans to run for a leadership post in the next Congress.
→ Will any other Senate Republicans vote yes? Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has offered his own red flag proposal, opposed the motion to proceed. Rubio said he needed to look at the bill, but he wasn’t going to vote to begin debate on legislation he hadn’t even read yet. Rubio is up for reelection in November.
“They’re asking me to proceed on a bill that I won’t even be able to amend,” Rubio said. “I talked to Cornyn this afternoon right after the text came out, and I had some questions. But I think he felt the text would answer them better.”
Rubio added: “I’m open to it. I filed a red-flag bill of my own that I think is pretty strong, and has pretty strong due-process protections.”
→ The split in the GOP leadership over this issue is fascinating. Cornyn was obviously a yes because he was the author of the bill. As we noted above, McConnell’s support was critical to this package coming together, and he gave vital cover to Cornyn.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (S.D.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) – both McConnell lieutenants – voted no. The “Three Johns” – all of whom want to succeed McConnell whenever he steps aside – made different political calculations here.
Barrasso was pretty clearly going to be a no, but Thune declined to say how he would vote up until he went on the floor
Here’s Cornyn on Thune’s no vote:
“I kind of had my inkling that he would. Again, I respect senators for their own political judgments.”
We also asked Cornyn about Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) opposition to the package, and whether that’s a problem for him. Cornyn insisted it wasn’t.
“I think people have their own political calculus about what it means. And for me, I’m comfortable.”
In an interview, Thune explained his no vote:
“There are several things in any of these bills that you’re for, parts that you support, and parts that you don’t.
“I think the concerns that have been raised with respect to due process, especially on the red flags – our state has taken a very hard stance in the state legislature on red flag laws.
“And, again, there are a number of concerns both with respect to that issue and the ‘boyfriend loophole,’ whether or not there are sufficient, robust due process protections.”
We asked Thune whether he’d spoken to Cornyn on the issue. He said there were “lots of conversations on this.”
Barrasso released a statement outlining his opposition:
“I do not support this legislation and will continue to vote against it. As a senator for Wyoming, I know the meaning of the Second Amendment. I will not vote for any legislation that would jeopardize the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
“My focus has been on mental health, school safety, and better-enforcement of our current laws. This legislation goes beyond that.”
What’s next in the Senate? Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed cloture Tuesday night to break the GOP filibuster on the gun bill. Today is the intervening day, which means that on Thursday after the Senate gavels in, there will be a cloture vote.
Following that cloture vote, there are up to 30 hours of debate then a vote on the underlying bill, which means a vote on final passage would take place Friday night. That 30 hours could shrink if there’s a time agreement between the two sides – which could happen with the bill set to pass and the July 4th recess looming. But remember: Just one senator can scuttle a time agreement and force the chamber to run out the entire 30-hour clock.
What’s next in the House? We caught up with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer separately on the Senate bill last night. They both told us they’re hopeful the House will be able to clear the gun control bill this week without altering its schedule. The House is scheduled to leave town on Friday until July 12.
“We’re optimistic that they will pass it and we look forward to passing it here too,” Pelosi said. “I don’t anticipate that we’ll be staying in but we’ll do what we have to do.”
Hoyer added: “We’ll have to see when the Senate bill moves. But if it moves quickly, I don’t know that we have to change our schedule. But we want to move it.”
– Jake Sherman, Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan
PAIN AT THE PUMP
Dems pan White House call for gas tax ‘holiday’
President Joe Biden will ask Congress to enact a three-month “holiday” for the federal gas tax later today. In addition to urging Congress to temporarily suspend the gas tax during the busy summer travel season, Biden will urge states to do the same with their own fuel taxes.
We scooped this news yesterday so we won’t spend too much time on the proposal details – here’s the White House’s fact sheet. Instead, we asked several key Democrats what they think of the idea. And let’s just say it’s clear this proposal doesn’t have the votes to pass the House or Senate.
The White House has been told this. Aides for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have repeatedly warned the White House in private that there may not be the votes for a gas tax suspension in either chamber. This seems pretty accurate based on our reporting.
Pelosi has repeatedly expressed concerns about the idea, calling the proposal “very showbiz” and saying there’s no guarantee that any of the savings would be passed onto consumers.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is also cool to the idea. Hoyer said it’s clear the White House “wants to be doing something” about the record-high fuel costs affecting most Americans. But this isn’t it.
“I have not been a proponent of the gas tax [holiday],” Hoyer said last night. “There’s no guarantee that the sellers, either wholesale or retail, will reduce their prices. And then, of course, we’ve got to backfill [the Highway Trust Fund]. I just don’t know that it gives much relief.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richie Neal (D-Mass.) told us this:
“We’re just looking at the data now. We want to see where the relief really comes, and whether it’s going to the consumers or to the [oil] companies. There is no guarantee that any sort of suspension of the gas tax will be passed on to consumers.”
More Neal: “I’m not committed to it. I want to talk to the speaker about it, and we’re going to go back and forth. I want some assurance that the money is going to go to the consumer.”
And it’s not just the House, either. Senate Democrats have also shot down the idea, including Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.).
In a tweet, Carper called a gas tax suspension “a shortsighted and inefficient way to provide relief.”
“We should explore other options for lowering energy costs,” Carper added.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the price of gas is the only thing that anyone is talking about back home. But he’s not at all convinced that this is the right way to bring relief to American drivers.
“I am for those measures that are going to get relief to people who are getting mugged at the gas station right now,” Wyden told us. He mentioned restrictions on stock buybacks, tax incentives for more productivity and production, and requiring more accurate accounting of profits. Then Wyden said he would be “open to a variety of approaches.”
– Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan
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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.
Here are our takeaways from yesterday’s elections in Alabama, Virginia and Georgia.
→ Katie Britt handily dispatched Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).
Britt, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) former chief of staff, easily beat Brooks in the Alabama Republican Senate primary runoff. Former President Donald Trump famously endorsed Brooks in 2021, saw Brooks slipping in the polls in 2022, un-endorsed Brooks and ended up endorsing Britt this month.
Britt’s victory isn’t as simple as Trump propelling his favored candidate to the win. Britt was already ascendant in the polls before Trump backed her.
→ State Sen. Jen Kiggans won the Republican primary in Virginia’s 2nd District and will square off against Frontline Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.).
Kiggans, a retired Navy helicopter pilot highly regarded by national Republicans, easily won her primary and cleared 50% of the vote in a four-way contest. Luria is one of the most vulnerable House Democrats up for reelection in 2022, and we’ll be tracking this race closely.
→ Yesli Vega, the chair of Latinos for Glenn Youngkin, will face Frontline Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in November in Virginia’s 7th District.
Vega triumphed over retired Green Beret Derrick Anderson and state Sen. Bryce Reeves in a tight GOP primary featuring six candidates. Spanberger’s central Virginia seat will be one of the most competitive races in the country.
→ Jeremy Hunt was upset by Chris West in the Republican primary runoff in Georgia’s 2nd District.
Hunt was backed by a wide range of prominent national Republicans and outspent West. West now advances to the general election against Frontline Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.).
— Max Cohen
Shaheen, Collins unveil insulin bill
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) unveiled their bill aimed at reducing the cost of insulin. Read the full text here.
Here are some of the bill’s key provisions, according to a fact sheet the senators are circulating:
→ “Ensuring that insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers cannot collect rebates on insulins that limit list price to the 2021 net prices for Medicare Part D or equivalent levels;
→ Making such insulins eligible for cost-sharing protections, including waiver of any applicable deductible and limiting copays or coinsurance to no more than $35 per month or 25% of list price;
→ Supporting patient access to such insulins by ensuring coverage and that prior authorization, step therapy or other medical management requirements cannot be imposed to limit beneficiary use;
→ Ensuring that group and individual market health plans must waive any deductible and limit cost-sharing to no more than $35 per month or 25% of list price, for at least one insulin of each type and dosage form.”
The insulin bill is a piece of legislation that has stalled for months in the Senate. In March, the House passed a bill capping the monthly price of insulin at $35.
— Max Cohen
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CMV is a leading cause of non-genetic hearing loss. Learn more about CMV.
10:15 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing. … House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries and Vice Chair Pete Aguilar will brief reporters after their weekly party meeting.
11 a.m.: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will hold his pen and pad briefing.
2 p.m.: Biden will speak about gas prices. … Senate leadership will hold news conferences after their party lunches.
3 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
→ “Katie Britt Wins in Alabama as Trump Suffers More Losses in Georgia,” by Shane Goldmacher
→ “Ivanka Trump expressed a different view on the election to a filmmaker,” by Maggie Haberman
→ “Alone in Washington, Rusty Bowers tells world what happened in Arizona,” by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
→ “What to expect when Roger Goodell testifies in House probe of Commanders,” by Liz Clarke, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala
→ “Trump’s conditional loyalty, new warning for left,” by Brian Slodysko
→ “Official: Afghanistan earthquake kills at least 920 people,” by Fazel Rahman Faizi
→ “Citigroup Economists See Chance of Global Recession Nearing 50%,” by Simon Kennedy
→ “2024 intrigue: DeSantis declines to ask Trump for reelection endorsement,” by Gary Fineout in Tallahassee
→ “Texas hold’em: Top Republican risks conservative cred for a gun deal,” by Burgess Everett and Olivia Beavers
→ “Exclusive: Want to live in a state that bans abortions? Some Americans say ‘no’ in poll,” by Susan Page and Kenneth Tran
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
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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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