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 and happy Juneteenth.
Congress is in for one more week before members head off for the July 4th recess. This has been a particularly brutal stretch. The House has been in session for seven straight weeks — practically unheard of nowadays. The Senate has also been in for four straight weeks.
And it’s been busy. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden struck a debt-limit deal that narrowly avoided default. Then McCarthy had to tamp down a conservative rebellion that brought the House to a standstill for a week. Seems like everyone could use a break.
It’s a short week with the holiday today, but there’s still a lot on deck. Here’s what to watch:
Government funding: The Senate Appropriations Committee will take a big step this week that will bring the Senate’s upcoming funding clash with the House into greater focus.
On Thursday, the committee will meet to officially set the toplines for each of the 12 appropriations bills. This comes one week after the House Appropriations Committee, at the urging of hardline conservatives, approved spending caps that were much lower than those outlined in the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act. The Senate panel will also mark up the first two appropriations bills — MilCon-Va and agriculture.
The House panel’s action last week amounts to a spending cut of roughly $120 billion below the debt-limit bill’s cap, in line with FY2022 spending levels. Senate appropriators have said they won’t let this deter them, putting the two chambers on a collision course in the fall as Congress aims to pass all 12 funding bills before an automatic spending cut kicks in at the end of the year.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) told us last week that the Senate will be “responsible” and will adhere to “what we agreed to” in the debt-limit bill.
And in a joint statement, Murray and Appropriations Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-Maine) vowed to continue working in tandem — in stark contrast to the partisan battle playing out on the House Appropriations Committee:
“We have an obligation as members of Congress to work together to write and pass funding bills in a timely way that address key challenges our nation faces, and we are determined to ensure the Senate’s voice is heard in this process.”
NDAA, Tuberville and abortion policy: This is also a big week for the Senate Armed Services Committee’s top annual priority: the defense authorization bill.
The committee — along with its House counterpart — will begin marking up the National Defense Authorization Act, mostly behind closed doors.
The panel is also scheduled to mark up legislation from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) that effectively rescinds the Pentagon’s abortion policy. This will also happen in secret.
Republicans are livid because they see it as a futile attempt by Democrats to lure Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) off his blockade of military promotions. Tuberville is doing this to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policy, which the Ernst bill seeks to roll back.
Of course, the bill is unlikely to get through the Democrat-led Armed Services Committee and even less likely to get a vote on the Senate floor. Plus, Tuberville has said he won’t relent until the policy is rescinded or codified into law. So his blockade will continue for the foreseeable future.
House floor watch: Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) is expected to bring up another resolution to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) this week, this time removing the $16 million fine. Several House Republicans who initially voted to table the motion last week signaled new support after the fine language was removed.
Dan Kranz, a spokesperson for Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), told us the lawmaker, who initially voted to table the notion, now plans to support it.
“I respect the Constitution and the oath we take to it. These revisions address my concerns and I will vote to hold Rep. Schiff accountable,” Molinaro said in a tweet.
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), who also voted against the motion last week, is now a co-sponsor.
Twenty House Republicans voted with Democrats last week to kill the resolution. Aides on both sides tell us the vote this week is much more of a jump ball.
The fallout from Trump’s indictment: Republicans are still fielding questions about former President Donald Trump’s federal indictment and are finding it hard to dodge them.
“I’m certainly not going to defend the behavior listed in that complaint,” House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) told CNN on Sunday.
Of course, Trump’s allies in the House are using their positions to try to stick up for the former president. But House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has been largely stymied in his attempts to probe the DOJ for more information on the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents.
We broke the news on Friday that the DOJ wrote back to a number of Jordan’s queries and predictably declined to share much at all on an ongoing special counsel investigation. We did learn, however, more about the size of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s operation: 26 agents have worked on the probe.
Dobbs anniversary: This Saturday is the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion. We expect a lot of events around this week, particularly from Democrats.
Programming note: We’ll only have one issue today but we’ll be back to our regular schedule Tuesday.
— Andrew Desiderio, Heather Caygle, Max Cohen and Mica Soellner
PRESENTED BY THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION
Why Is Medicare Access Only Restricted for Alzheimer’s?
Breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research have led to new FDA-approved treatments. But, for the first time ever, CMS blocked Medicare coverage to these treatments costing patients with a terminal disease time they will never get back. Now CMS insists on imposing unprecedented, unclear and unnecessary restrictions for coverage that are not required for any other FDA-approved drug. Medicare must be fair to those with Alzheimer’s.
What we’re watching
Tuesday: The House Rules Committee will meet to consider bills dealing with health care plans for small businesses and reversing federal regulatory changes for certain home loan fees. The panel will also consider a resolution disapproving of sheltering migrants in public schools.
The House Intelligence Committee will hold a closed meeting with Special Counsel John Durham.
The House Armed Services Committee will begin marking up the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate Armed Services Committee will start in a closed session as the panel kicks off its NDAA markup.
Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell will testify before the House Financial Services Committee on the Fed’s semi-annual monetary policy report. The House Appropriations Committee will mark up the FY2024 homeland security and legislative branch bills.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will set its 302(b) allocations and mark up the FY2024 MilCon-VA and agriculture bills.
— Heather Caygle
Durham on deck for House Judiciary and Intel
The big event on the investigations calendar this week is former Special Counsel John Durham’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on June 21. Durham will also testify before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on June 20.
Durham, of course, released a report last month detailing abuses in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation of alleged connections between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. Conservatives have seized upon Durham’s report to back up their claims that federal law enforcement is biased against the right.
The backdrop here is fascinating. Republicans have spent the last couple of weeks railing against the FBI and threatening to cut off funding to the bureau. Speaker Kevin McCarthy even endorsed plans to restrict funding for the bureau’s proposed new headquarters.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has also come under fire from House investigators over access to an FBI tip sheet alleging an unverified claim of a bribery scandal invoking President Joe Biden. Wray narrowly avoided being held in contempt of Congress over this dispute.
Oversight Committee updates: We’ll be following any updates from Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) this week on whether the panel will hear from a Hunter Biden business associate who the committee subpoenaed last week.
Comer subpoenaed Devon Archer to appear before the committee by June 16, which didn’t occur.
— Max Cohen
PRESENTED BY THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION
CMS is planning burdensome restrictions of Alzheimer’s treatments, only providing coverage through an unexplained registry — something Medicare has never before done for an FDA-approved drug.
Ben Cline revamps reputation as partisan warrior
Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) is on a mission to raise his profile as House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) “bulldog” against the Biden administration.
Cline chairs the Judiciary panel’s subcommittee on responsiveness and accountability to oversight. The panel’s mission is to help extract responses to subpoena requests for the Judiciary Committee’s sweeping investigations.
The three-term Virginia Republican is pegged by Democrats as a “nice guy” on Capitol Hill. But Cline’s work leading a six-member Judiciary subcommittee has him taking on a new role: partisan warrior.
Cline has already brought in representatives from the FBI, the Justice Department, the Education Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
And this week, Cline’s subcommittee is planning to bring in senior officials from both DHS and the Justice Department. The Thursday hearing comes as Republicans ramp up potential impeachment efforts against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“The creation of the subcommittee with the specific focus on compliance is another tool in the toolbelt for Judiciary to ensure that we get the information that we need and the American people demand,” Cline told us in an interview.
Cline is a member of the House Freedom Caucus but he’s not known for being one of the vocal firebrands. Cline’s subcommittee counterpart, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a top conservative target, even said Cline’s new role is more in line with Jordan’s demands, rather than who he is as a person.
“Ben Cline is a nice guy,” Swalwell said. “The two of us have professional respect for each other. I don’t agree with the nature of the subcommittee, but I don’t think that’s Ben Cline. My issues are with Jim Jordan. Cline has just been asked to do this and he’s going to do what he’s been asked.”
Cline described his goal as exhausting representatives from agencies to get them to comply, even if that means bringing the same people in over and over again.
“There’s a lot of back and forth. One of the witnesses and her team expressed to me after an initial hearing, ‘We hope we don’t have to go through that again,’” Cline said.
Jordan said Cline’s position on the House Appropriations Committee is another reason why he was a good fit for the role, as well as his longtime experience on Capitol Hill. Before he was elected, Cline was chief of staff to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Cline can also try and wield control using the annual funding process.
“It’s all designed to help us,” Jordan said of Cline’s position. “We’re trying to make it go a little quicker and faster and better and we knew Ben would be the right guy for the job,” Jordan told us.
Still, House Republicans have launched numerous investigations into a foray of subjects from the Biden family to claims that the government is targeting conservatives with not much to show so far.
And Democrats argue little evidence has surfaced from the wide-ranging probes to back up GOP claims of corruption.
“They’ve got an agenda and want to message to their base and I get it. But hopefully we can blend in some of these major issues we need to get done for the country as well,” said Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), who sits on the subcommittee. “It’s been kind of a nothingburger.”
— Mica Soellner
PRESENTED BY THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION
Why is Medicare access only restricted for Alzheimer’s drugs?
All times eastern.
8:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
9:50 a.m.: Biden departs Rehoboth Beach, Del., en route to Dover, Del. Biden then travels from Dover to Santa Clara County, Calif. Karine Jean-Pierre will gaggle aboard Air Force One.
3:25 p.m.: Biden arrives in California.
4:15 p.m.: Biden delivers remarks on clean energy and the environment at the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and Preserve in Palo Alto, Calif.
6:30 p.m.: Biden participates in a campaign reception.
9:15 p.m.: Biden participates in a second campaign event.
“G.O.P. Targets Researchers Who Study Disinformation Ahead of 2024 Election,” by Steven Lee Myers and Sheera Frenkel
“Blinken meets China’s Xi Jinping amid effort to ease tensions,” by John Hudson and Meaghan Tobin
“Ukraine’s Offensive Is a Battle of Readiness,” by Daniel Michaels and Isabel Coles
“More than 1 million dropped from Medicaid as states start post-pandemic purge of rolls,” by David A. Lieb and Andrew DeMillo
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
PRESENTED BY THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION
Are Continued Restrictions for FDA-approved Alzheimer’s Treatments the Future of Medicare?
For people living with Alzheimer’s, Medicare hasn’t been the “rock solid guarantee” President Biden has promised. For more than a year, CMS has blocked Medicare coverage to FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments costing patients with a terminal disease time they will never get back. Now the agency is planning to continue unprecedented restrictions, saying they’ll provide coverage only through a registry — something Medicare has never before done for an FDA-approved drug. Yet with a deadline only weeks away, CMS has yet to explain the barriers patients will face or the steps doctors must take to prepare to deliver long-delayed treatment. Each day is crucial to someone living with early stage Alzheimer’s when it comes to slowing the progression of this disease. Medicare must do better for beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s.
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 Year-End Report
And what senior aides and downtown figures believe will happen in 2023.Check it out