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Also: This morning’s edition is a hybrid AM edition and special send of The Tally, our election coverage, where we explore trends driving the 2022 midterm elections. Enjoy.
Reminder: The Jan. 6 committee has a hearing today at 1 p.m. Our preview ran in the PM edition last night. We’ll have more in the Midday edition today.
W.H. fumes at McConnell’s USICA threat, but Republicans back him
One of our big questions going into this crucial month was whether Senate Republicans would stand behind Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s threat to tank USICA if Democrats pursued a reconciliation bill.
The answer: Mostly yes.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the chief GOP architects of USICA, took to the floor Monday to back McConnell. And during an interview afterward, Cornyn said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has a “binary choice” right now. “You can do one or the other. I don’t think he can do both,” Cornyn said.
“We all understand politics around here, but there has to be some fundamental, good faith in the way that these things are being handled. And I think the problem here is we don’t have a lot of time. We’ve just got the next three or four weeks to get this done. … If we don’t do the CHIPS funding now, the Intel, Microns, these others are going to make decisions to go elsewhere. And so I just think it’s too important to be playing partisan games with, which is what I view the reconciliation bill to be.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who serves in the GOP leadership, supports McConnell’s stance and put it thusly:
“Nineteen of us voted for [USICA], which means that 31 did not. But none of us are for the tax increases that they’re talking about in the other bill. And all of us think that would have a negative impact – bad impact – on inflation. So let’s see how it works out.”
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind,.), another key Republican on USICA, seemed less enthusiastic about McConnell’s position. Young referred us to this tweet and said he wouldn’t comment further.
“I’m just not saying much right now, because it’s a really dynamic environment. … We haven’t even had a family conversation.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a USICA supporter and a member of leadership, said McConnell’s gripe is that the “costs add up” if Congress were to pass a massive tech bill and reconciliation package. When asked if he supports McConnell’s position, Portman said “I support moving ahead with USICA.” Here’s more from a very tentative Portman.
“I can’t control what the Democrats do. I don’t know what they’re gonna come up with. I’m unlikely to support it, because I think it’s going to have tax increases. We’ve got to do good policy while we can. And I think this is urgent, because if we don’t pass something particularly on the semiconductor side, we’re gonna see investment going overseas. It’s already happening. We had a company that was going to come to Ohio, then it’s gonna go to Texas, now they’re gonna go to Asia.”
Portman’s response gets to one of the problems here for Republicans. U.S. chip giant Intel has announced plans to spend $20 billion on two semiconductor manufacturing facilities outside of Columbus, Ohio, that could lead to as many as 3,000 new jobs. But Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger warned that partisan infighting in Congress may force the company to delay the project. The issue has now become caught up in the Senate race between Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan.
We’ve reported before that there are some potential exit ramps here. Democrats have privately toyed with melding the House and Senate versions of USICA on their own in an attempt to create a “bipartisan” package. Schumer could then try to move this through the Senate in a bid to force Republicans to vote against it. Democratic aides said such an option is under consideration but no decision has been made on whether to move ahead.
Other Democrats have suggested having the House simply take up the Senate’s USICA bill. This would be a major victory for Schumer and McConnell. As one senior Democratic aide told us, USICA couldn’t pass the House this month. But come August, if all other options are exhausted, it becomes a much different conversation.
Another scenario is taking up the $52 billion in financial support for the U.S. semiconductor industry as a stand-alone bill. This is something the Biden administration has privately discussed. Cornyn told us he’d consider voting for it. But it does face opposition among senators in both parties, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Here’s what Sanders told us:
“We’re talking about $52 billion going to highly profitable corporations, many of whom over the years, shut down plants in the United States and went abroad. Do you think we should give them [a] $52 billion blank check with no strings attached? Really?
“So I think we need microchip manufacturing in the United States. But you have to have strings attached. If these guys start making money, should the people who invested in them get a return on that? Yes. Should they do stock buybacks with this money? Obviously not. So we need to get microchip plants built in the United States, but you can do it without giving a blank check to the industry.”
Meanwhile, the White House – which has been pressing for USICA for months – is fuming at McConnell. Here’s Andrew Bates, the White House deputy press secretary, on the Senate minority leader’s threat:
“Senator McConnell is so desperate to block the President’s anti-inflation plan for middle class families – which will lower prescription drug and energy costs while slashing the deficit by having the wealthy pay their fair share – that he is threatening to kill a bipartisan China competitiveness bill widely supported by the business community and thereby deny the American people hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs. It’s no surprise that he would also resort to this distortion.
“President Biden pledged not to raise taxes on any Americans earning under $400,000, and his plan honors that promise. Instead of spreading weak falsehoods and offering China a windfall at our expense if it means protecting big pharma’s capacity to price gouge, Senator McConnell should work with us against the global challenge of inflation.”
By the way: It will be very interesting to see whether Republican senators attend the classified USICA briefing with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleeen Hicks and DNI Avril Haines on Wednesday afternoon.
One more thing: The Senate Democratic lunch will be virtual today with Schumer out with Covid.
– Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Max Cohen
PRESENTED BY COALITION FOR APP FAIRNESS
For too long, Apple & Google have abused their monopoly power to eliminate competition on mobile devices. For consumers, that has meant fewer choices, reduced innovation and higher costs.
And consumers know it. 83% of voters agree that the Open App Markets Act will give them more freedom to decide how and what apps are downloaded on their phones.
It’s time for Congress to pass the Open App Markets Act.
TODAY! We’re excited for our virtual Pop-Up Conversation with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) at 9 a.m. ET. We’ll chat with him about how Washington is looking to regulate capital markets and financial reporting in an effort to maintain trust in a changing economy. RSVP Here.
Next week: Join us on Wednesday, July 20 at 7:45 a.m. ET at Nationals Park! We’ll be interviewing Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) during Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Advocacy Day. We’ll be talking to Rubio and Cardin about the challenges facing small business owners coming out of the pandemic. RSVP Here.
ATTN. 1600 PENN.
Senate Dems mum on W.H. help
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) doesn’t want to talk about White House officials coming to his state — and he’s not alone.
Three of the four most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this year declined to tell us which administration allies — if any – they’d like to appear alongside in their home states.
With President Joe Biden’s poll numbers averaging in the mid-to-high 30s, it’s no surprise endangered Democrats aren’t clamoring for him to visit their states. But we found that the reluctance to associate with the White House runs even deeper. Senate Democrats mired in tough races are cagey about appearing with any Biden administration officials, even those spearheading broadly popular initiatives.
When we caught up with Warnock before the July 4 recess, he deflected on whether there were plans to appear with any Biden officials during the two-week stretch he’d be back in the Peach State. And no administration officials were in Georgia during the recess, at least not publicly with Warnock.
“I don’t plan the administration’s schedule, I’m sorry,” Warnock said. “I’m not focused on that.”
Although Warnock praised Biden for his efforts to try to lower gas prices, he declined to engage about whether he’d like the president to campaign for him in Georgia. Biden narrowly won Georgia in 2020, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do that since Bill Clinton in 1992.
“I’ve answered your question,” Warnock said. “I’m focused on who I’m campaigning for, not who I’m campaigning with.”
Warnock’s wariness was echoed by his fellow vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbents.
“I haven’t thought about it yet,” Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) said when asked what administration officials he wants to show up in his state. “I welcome folks to come to Arizona. We got a lot of issues that we’re facing right now, but you know, I’m focused on getting this CHIPS Act across the finish line. … The schedule in Arizona is not something I’m really focused on.”
“I’m actually really more focused on me and talking with my voters,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) replied. “I’m getting around the state and making sure that they know not only the work that I’ve done, but I’m listening to them and the challenges that they’re still facing so that we can bring their voices here.”
The evasive responses to a simple question might not be that surprising considering Biden’s waning popularity, even among Democratic voters. Yet these same Democratic senators have touted the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and claimed the passage of the Bipartisan Innovation Act would ease supply chains issues.
But none wanted to extend the invitation to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg or Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, two Biden officials intimately involved in both legislative efforts.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) struck a more hospitable tone when asked about White House visits. Hassan quickly pointed to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s recent appearance in the Granite State.
Hassan’s political calculus is different from Warnock, Kelly and Cortez Masto. While Biden’s approval rating is far from rosy in New Hampshire, the president did win the New England state in 2020 by a wider margin than his narrow victories in Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. Biden is also more popular in New Hampshire than he is nationally.
Over in the House, Frontline Democrats were far more likely to embrace the presence of Biden officials. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough was an under-the-radar official who came up frequently in our conversations with lawmakers, as well as Raimondo.
→ Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) called Raimondo “an all-star,” gushed about a visit from Sethuraman Panchanathan, the director of the National Science Foundation, and requested NASA Administrator’s Bill Nelson’s presence.
→ Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.) singled out McDonough for helping rural veterans receive care. Fernandez also said Raimondo has plans to come to her district to discuss the need for broadband expansion. And Labor Secretary Marty Walsh visited New Mexico over the recess, Fernandez volunteered.
→ Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) praised visits by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who discussed nuclear waste disposal, and McDonough, who came to talk on local VA issues.
Localized House races give candidates a better opportunity to emphasize the benefits the Biden administration has delivered at the district level than more nationalized Senate races.
DSCC Chair Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said ultimately it was up to his vulnerable members to conduct their campaigns. But Peters did share this advice on the benefits of an administration visit:
“When I ran a really tough race in ‘14, I had President Obama come in to campaign for me.
“I was the only candidate that asked for him to come in. And I was the only candidate that won. So the president can be very helpful.”
— Max Cohen
How the abortion ruling impacts GOP midterm messaging
Democrats are hanging their midterm fortunes on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, pouring millions of dollars into TV ads and outreach campaigns designed to turn outrage into action. Republicans, meanwhile, are barely acknowledging the monumental ruling while out on the campaign trail.
In interviews with half a dozen GOP strategists, staffers and pollsters on and off Capitol Hill, all said they aren’t dramatically altering their election-year messaging despite abortion now being banned or significantly limited in many states. These GOP insiders insist the election outcome will rest on the state of the U.S. economy and President Joe Biden’s unpopularity, not abortion.
“Independents and even some soft Democratic voters are more concerned about cost of living, and they’re more concerned about education and some public safety,” said Amanda Iovino, a GOP pollster. “With the way the economy looks this year… we’re going to see the same kind of shift of attention back to the issues that people are actually dealing with in their day to day lives.”
A comparison of ad spending by parties tells the story even more clearly.
Democrats have spent around $12.1 million in TV ads hoping to energize voters in battleground states and districts, according to an AdImpact analysis. House and Senate Republican candidates, in comparison, have only spent $79,129 on abortion-related ads since the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision.
For GOP women candidates who are asked about their stance on the Supreme Court’s decision, they’re being told to stick to an abortion-rights playbook many congressional Republicans have used in recent weeks – downplay and pivot. The candidates have homed in on what they believe voters oppose most: “late-term, taxpayer-funded abortions.”
“Our advice – and the polling – shows to pivot to going on offense about national Democrats, and in some specific states like New York, where they are supporting late-term, taxpayer-funded abortion,” said a senior House GOP leadership staffer describing the messaging advice given to Republican women running in swing districts.
Democrats maintain that the Supreme Court ruling will put GOP candidates, especially those running in the suburban areas, on defense as they struggle to justify the party’s support for limiting or banning abortion.
Suburban women in particular are always a key voting bloc. Their votes helped deliver Democrats the House in 2018 and the White House in 2020. The fight to win over this group of voters will undoubtedly intensify in the states where abortion is now banned or at risk of being limited following the Dobbs decision.
For example, abortion has become a key issue in Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s (D-Va.) race against Yesli Vega in the Charlottesville area. Democrats jumped on comments Vega made falsely suggesting women who were raped were less likely to get pregnant, hoping the remarks would turn off voters in the battleground district.
But largely, House Republicans say they aren’t worried about the political ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision, even as a record number of GOP women are running this cycle and could be confronted with the issue in critical swing districts.
There are 33 women in the House GOP conference, the largest number in the party’s history, and party leaders are looking to grow that number. A record 255 female Republican candidates have already filed to run in the House this cycle, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
And even though a majority of Americans identify as pro-abortion rights, Republicans don’t view reproductive rights as an issue that will motivate voters in November. They’re betting heavily on a looming recession, record high gas, food and housing prices and a president whose polling is deeply underwater to convince voters to come out.
Republican strategists pointed to polling that showed economic concerns including inflation and rising gas prices as far more powerful at energizing voters than abortion.
“Top of mind for voters really is inflation, cost of living, those kitchen-table issues. We’re not seeing at the moment a lot of traction or focus on Dobbs,” said one GOP strategist.
“There’s a little bit of a disconnect between, while people disapprove of the Supreme Court ruling, I don’t know who is going out and voting on it,” the strategist added.
– Christian Hall
PRESENTED BY COALITION FOR APP FAIRNESS
68% of voters think Big Tech has too much power – but there is a solution: the Open App Markets Act.
Vulnerable Senate Dems embrace bipartisanship. Republicans? Not so much.
Vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection want voters to know they’re reaching out to Republicans and sometimes even crossing their own party to deliver results. But endangered Senate Republicans aren’t returning the love.
Punchbowl News analyzed the television and digital messaging of the six incumbent senators facing the toughest races this fall — Democrats Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.) and Mark Kelly (Ariz.), and Republicans Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.).
While the Democrats boast about bucking the party line and working across the aisle, Johnson and Rubio only mention the Democratic Party when they slam their political positions. Bipartisanship is a constant in Democrat ads. For Republicans, it’s a dirty word.
The split screen offers a revealing view into how the two parties are centering their campaigns during what’s expected to be a brutal midterm election year for Democrats. For Hassan, Cortez Masto, Warnock and Kelly, showing they are willing to work with Republicans while sometimes distancing themselves from their own party is an effective strategy. And in Johnson and Rubio’s minds, hitting Democrats for the state of the economy is a winning message.
Here’s a look at how their ad messaging differs:
Catherine Cortez Masto
→ One ad that highlights Cortez Masto’s advocacy for Nevada’s mining industry says “she stood up to her own party and blocked the tax, leading the fight to protect our jobs.”
→ A Nevada police officer says in another spot that Cortez Masto has “made supporting law enforcement a top priority, working with Republicans to increase our funding.”
→ And when Cortez Masto hails her work to boost factory jobs, she says “I work with Republicans and Democrats to invest in manufacturing in America, creating jobs and cracking down on prices.”
→ Here’s Kelly attempting to assert his independent streak in an ad on rising prices:
“I’m pushing for solutions today, even if it means taking on my own party, like bringing down gas prices by allowing more domestic oil production, temporarily ending the gas tax and cutting red tape to restock shelves faster.”
→ Here’s Hassan employing her version of the Democratic distancing in an ad on gas prices:
“I’m taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday, and I’m pushing Joe Biden to release more of our oil reserves. That’s how we lower costs and get through these times.”
→ Here’s Warnock’s appeal for bipartisanship:
“My dad was a veteran, a pastor and a small businessman. He used to tell us that if somebody hires you to do a job, do the job they hired you to do… it’s why I work with Democrats and Republicans, if it means helping Georgia.”
Republicans are taking a far different approach when discussing Democrats. Neither Johnson nor Rubio broached the topic of repudiating their own party in their ad messaging. It’s not an altogether surprising strategy considering President Joe Biden is wildly unpopular and voters are unhappy with Democrats’ handling of inflation and the economy.
→ Instead of appeals to bipartisanship, the hardline Johnson goes on the attack against Democrats. One example: “Democratic governance is a disaster for America.”
→ In another ad, here’s how Johnson talks about Democrats: “Even liberal fact checkers say Democrats have repeatedly lied about me.”
→ And here’s another taste of how Johnson’s campaign deals with the opposing party: “The same liberal Democrats and media elite who falsely attacked Sen. Johnson for exposing the truth are laughing it up in Washington while America is dangerously off track.”
→ In one fundraising appeal, Rubio broaches the prospect of potential Democratic election gains this way:
“Can you just imagine what Chuck Schumer would do if he had 51 votes? … We can’t let these radicals take over our country.”
→ Rubio echoes this rhetoric about “radical” Democrat control of the Senate in another fundraising appeal:
“If we lose Florida, Chuck Schumer takes over the Senate. And if Chuck Schumer takes over the Senate, that means that the radical left takes over our country for a generation.”
— Max Cohen
News: Another gigantic haul for McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy raised $19.2 million in the second quarter of this year, bringing his total for this cycle to $124 million.
McCarthy has transferred $49.7 million to the NRCC and $12.6 million to vulnerable candidates and incumbents.
This huge haul helps illustrate an important point. McCarthy is raising much more than any House Republican leader in history. For example, Paul Ryan raised $10 million in the second quarter of 2018. McCarthy raised twice that.
→ News: Winning For Women Action Fund — a leading pro-GOP women organization — and related groups raised more than $2.6 million in the second quarter, bringing the groups’ total for the cycle up to $11 million.
Winning for Women is dedicated to electing Republican women and is backing Senate candidates Katie Britt in Alabama and Tiffany Smiley in Washington, among others. The group was also a major supporter of unsuccessful Ohio Senate candidate Jane Timken.
The amount is less than the $4.6 million the group raised in the first quarter of 2022.
→ News: House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s E-PAC is endorsing four new Republican women candidates: Barbara Kirkmeyer in Colorado’s 8th District, Regan Deering in Illinois’ 13th District, Sue Kiley in New Jersey’s 6th District and Yesli Vega in Virginia’s 7th District.
Kirkmeyer is a Colorado state senator running against Democrat Yadira Caraveo in a newly created toss-up district. Deering is running against Democrat Nikki Budzinski in Rep. Rodney Davis’ (R-Ill.) old seat that shifted bluer in redistricting. Vega is challenging Frontline Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.).
Kiley is mounting a longer-shot bid to unseat House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).
— Max Cohen and Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY COALITION FOR APP FAIRNESS
79% of voters agree 👆
9:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get the daily intelligence briefing. … The Covid-19 team will brief.
11:15 a.m.: Biden will meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
2 p.m.: Senate Republicans will hold their post-lunch stakeout.
4:30 p.m.: The Bidens will host the Congressional Picnic at the White House.
7:10 p.m.: Speaker Nancy Pelosi will swear in Rep.-elect Mike Flood (R-Neb.).
9:30 p.m.: Biden will leave the White House for Andrews, where he will fly to Tel Aviv, Israel. Karine Jean-Pierre and Jake Sullivan will brief on Air Force One.
→ “Half of G.O.P. Voters Ready to Leave Trump Behind, Poll Finds,” by Mike Bender
→ “Biden Administration May Offer Second Coronavirus Boosters to All Adults,” by Sharon LaFraniere
→ “Hutchinson Testimony Jolts Justice Dept. to Discuss Trump’s Conduct More Openly,” by Katie Benner and Glenn Thrush
→ “Global Tax Talks Hit Another Delay,” by Paul Hannon and Rich Rubin
→ “‘Even if it hurts’: Biden’s Middle East trip could bring short-term pain for long-term gain,” by Alexander Ward and Jonathan Lemire
PRESENTED BY COALITION FOR APP FAIRNESS
A recent poll showed that nearly 70% of voters disapprove of the job Congress is doing in regulating Big Tech. And 79% SUPPORT the commonsense, bipartisan Open App Markets Act.
OAMA would bring an end to the anticompetitive practices of mobile gatekeepers. It would open up app stores, giving consumers the freedom to choose where to get apps and how to make purchases inside apps. It would allow developers to communicate directly with their customers, without a middleman. And it would ban app store owners from giving their apps an advantage over others.
The bill has widespread support from developers and consumers alike, along with security experts who say greater competition on mobile devices will increase security and accountability.
It’s time for Congress to bring an end to the anticompetitive practices of Apple and Google and pass the Open App Markets Act.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images.
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