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Happy Monday morning.
Breaking overnight: U.S. and South Korean military forces launched eight short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in a show of force against North Korea, which conducted a similar number of missile launches the day before. There’s growing concern that North Korea may soon conduct another nuclear weapon test.
Also: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face a no-confidence vote this evening in London. Here’s WaPo’s Karla Adam in London.
The Senate is in today. The House returns tomorrow.
Guns and gun violence, chatter over a possible reconciliation deal and the start of public hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection will dominate the headlines as Congress kicks off a busy three-week sprint ahead of the July 4 break.
Let’s start with guns and bipartisan gun-control talks. With the country plagued by an endless wave of mass shootings – including the horrific massacres in Uvalde and Buffalo – this has emerged as the top political issue of the moment. On Thursday, President Joe Biden pleaded with Congress to take action, including removing immunity from gun manufacturers and restoring the assault weapons ban.
“How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” Biden asked. “We can’t fail the American people again.”
The House will vote this week on a series of gun-control measures approved Thursday by the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.
These bills include: Raising the age for buying semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21; banning high-capacity ammunition magazines; prohibiting the sales of “ghost gun” kits without a background check or serial numbers stamped on the parts used in assembling the weapon; boosting penalties for illegal “straw purchases” of guns; and requiring gun owners to store their weapons safely, especially when minors are present.
The House will also vote on the “Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act” penned by Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.). This “red flag” bill would allow “family members and law enforcement officials to file petitions in federal courts requesting extreme risk protection orders” temporarily taking away guns from those considered a threat to themselves or others. CBO estimates that “roughly 10,000 “ such petitions will be filed annually if the bill is enacted into law. Under a short-term order, guns could be taken away for two weeks. A long-term order could last as long as six months.
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have such red flag laws in place, covering roughly half the country. This bill would encourage states without such laws to set up their own programs.
House Republicans have objected to all these gun-control measures, arguing that they’re redundant or – in the case of red flag laws – a violation of Second Amendment rights and due process.
It’s clear, however, that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leaders believe they have the votes to push these bills through the House.
Pelosi has also promised a vote on an assault weapons ban, although it’s not clear right now if there are the votes to pass it.
Let’s be clear here – none of these bills can make it past a guaranteed Senate GOP filibuster, despite broad public support.
For more, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has a lengthy “Dear Colleague” on the chamber’s activity during this upcoming work period. This is the first time the House has been in three straight weeks since March.
But the real action on gun control – and the only possible compromise that could become law – is happening in the Senate. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are holding negotiations on a less sweeping plan than what the House will take up.
Murphy is also involved in parallel discussions with a group that includes Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on the same issue.
A GOP source familiar with the Murphy-Cornyn talks said the two sides are “exchanging paper,” although there’s no text yet. “A deal is still a ways away,” cautioned the aide, although both sides are “feeling positive” and still remaining publicly upbeat.
A compromise package could include a version of a red flag law, some enhanced background checks on gun sales – although not the broad background checks bill passed by the House last year – and funding for mental health programs.
Murphy told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that “I’m more confident than ever that we’re going to get there, but I’m also more anxious about failure this time around.”
Toomey, who drafted a background checks bill with Manchin following the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, said he hopes there can broad GOP support for a gun-control package, which is a key condition in order for Cornyn to sign off anything in his talks with Murphy.
“My hope is we’ll get at least half the Republican conference. You know, that should be the goal here,” Toomey said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
We’re going to have to be realistic about what can do that. Sen. Murphy alluded to the idea that it’s not going to be everything certainly the Democrats would like. We’ll see where it ends up.
What else to watch this week
→ This is new: Reconciliation: There was a lot of chatter over the weekend – and we mean a lot – both on the Hill and on K Street about a potential reconciliation deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Manchin. The two have been engaged in private conversations for weeks, but most Democrats were skeptical anything would come from these discussions after Manchin blew up the Build Back Better bill last December.
We’re hearing there’s no deal, at least not yet. But Schumer and Manchin are closer than they’ve ever been, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations. Again, we are very skeptical Democrats will pass a sweeping party-line package before the election. Manchin continues to insist he wants something that would ease inflation, raise corporate taxes, lower prescription drug prices and address climate change. He’s been saying this for months, however.
One of the outstanding provisions – and it’s a big one – is the climate policies, we’re told. Manchin has said he supports clean energy tax credits to help fight climate change. But progressive Democrats are particularly skeptical that Manchin – who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee – would back anything to meaningfully address the climate crisis.
This is important: We were also told that Democrats plan to use a potential reconciliation package to address a hike in Affordable Care Act premiums. Congress limited premium hikes as part of the American Rescue Plan. If Congress doesn’t act this year, premiums could spike as much as 50%. Republicans have shown no interest in this and are likely to filibuster, so reconciliation may be necessary.
→ Jan. 6 public hearings: The Jan. 6 select committee kicks off its long anticipated public hearings this week, nearly one year after the panel first began its investigation. The panel, led by Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), will lead a prime time hearing on Thursday at 8 p.m. There will be as many as six hearings. The panel has yet to announce any witnesses for the hearings. The hearing is scheduled to last for 90 minutes, although the select committee has some verbose members, so it could go longer.
The next few weeks are critical for the select committee, to say the least. Despite all that it’s uncovered so far, and a string of court victories, the panel remains under constant attack from top Republicans and their allies on and off Capitol Hill, including former President Donald Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and three other GOP lawmakers have refused to comply with its subpoenas. A federal grand jury indicted former Trump adviser Peter Navarro last week for failing to comply with a subpoena, but former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino – another top Trump aide – weren’t charged. That move by DOJ on Meadows and Scavino surprised the select committee, which called it “puzzling.” Former Trump aide Steve Bannon has also been indicted for contempt on Congress after refusing to cooperate with the probe.
Reminder: Join us at the Showroom tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. for our conversation with Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich) about the impact of 5G on manufacturing, and the wide ranging use of 5G technology, especially when it comes to climate change. RSVP Here.
– John Bresnahan, Jake Sherman and Heather Caygle
Who we’re watching
→ House Republican leadership: This is going to be a particularly difficult week for House GOP leaders, especially Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The Jan. 6 select committee’s first public hearing on Thursday night will put on display the evidence that the panel gathered over the last year – and in primetime too. The GOP leadership has shown that it has no good answer for this committee’s work beyond the fact that it considers it to be illegitimate.
→ Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas): As gun violence soars, the two senators are trying to reach a bipartisan deal on new gun-control legislation. The pair failed to reach a deal last summer over background checks. Can they reach a deal this time?
→ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen: The latest inflation data for May will be released on Friday morning, and it’s not likely to make anyone happy. Yellen – who admitted last week that she was wrong “about the path inflation would take” in 2021 – is up before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, and the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. The hearings are nominally about President Joe Biden’s FY 2023, but we think Republicans may have other stuff they want to talk about.
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
What we’re watching
→ Tuesday: The House Oversight and Reform Committee will depose David Pauken, the former COO of the Washington Commanders (yeah, we’re still not used to it either). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will get a briefing on the worldwide threat assessment from Brett Holmgren, the assistant secretary of State for intelligence and research. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will get a briefing on ransom payments enabled by cryptocurrency. Senate Finance will hear from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the president’s FY 2023 budget. Senate Judiciary will have a hearing on domestic extremism in the wake of the shooting in Buffalo. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will be in front of Senate Appropriations.
→ Wednesday: House Armed Services is beginning its markup of the NDAA. House Oversight will hold a hearing on gun violence. New York Mayor Eric Adams and a pediatrician from Uvalde, Texas, are among the witnesses. Senate Foreign Relations has a hearing about the future of U.S.-Syria policy. U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be in front of the House Appropriations Committee. Yellen testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee on the president’s FY 2023 budget.
→ Thursday: House Oversight will hold a hearing on terrorism and cryptocurrency from the industry’s perspective. Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs will hold a hearing on domestic extremism. The Jan. 6 committee will hold its first public hearing at 8 p.m. Senate Budget will hold a hearing on “saving Social Security.”
– Jake Sherman
→ Former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a longtime New Jersey Republican, has registered to lobby for his first client. Frelinghuysen, who is serving as a senior director at Greenberg Traurig, is lobbying for Accolade, which is a healthcare company.
→ The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is running an ad against the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which is meant to crack down on Big Tech. The ad is a bit misleading. It says that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are responsible for it. In reality, it also has the support of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Kennedy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). The spot is running in Austin, Portland, Me., Anchorage, Little Rock, Ark., Bangor, Maine, Louisville, Charleston, W.Va., Sioux Falls, S.D., Casper, Wyo., and Juneau, Alaska.
The WSJ editorial board also blamed Schumer this morning.
– Jake Sherman
9:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
2:30 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
5:25 p.m.: Vice President Kamala Harris will host a roundtable with faith leaders on reproductive care at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
7 p.m.: Harris will “participate in a tour of the Summit of the Americas Civil Society Forum Initiatives Fair and engage with civic leaders from the Western Hemisphere focused on women’s empowerment, democratic governance, and women in government.”
Week ahead: Tuesday: Biden will sign nine bipartisan bills on veterans care into law. Wednesday: Biden will fly to Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas. He will tape an appearance on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” show. Thursday: Biden will be at the Summit of the Americas. Friday: Biden will speak at the Port of Los Angeles and host a luncheon for the Summit of the Americas. Saturday: Biden will travel to Santa Fe, N.M.
→ “Biden hoping to avoid Summit of the Americas flop in LA,” by Elliot Spagat in Los Angeles, Joshua Goodman in Miami and Chris Megerian in Los Angeles
→ “Biden wants to get out more, seething that his standing is now worse than Trump’s,” by Jonathan Lemire
→ “’Beyond devastating’: 6 dead, 25 wounded in Philadelphia, Chattanooga club shootings,” by John Bacon, James McGinnis and Brandon Holveck
→ “Russia ‘creeping advance’ on Donbas region; NATO holds exercises with Finland, Sweden,” Celina Tebor and Jorge L. Ortiz
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