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Happy Wednesday morning.
It’s been a rough stretch for President Joe Biden and his domestic agenda. And it’s not going to get easier anytime soon.
1) A federal judge in Louisiana — District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee — ruled Tuesday that the Biden administration isn’t permitted to talk to social media networks for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.” This limits agencies such as the FBI, the departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security and others from trying to combat misinformation online. The Justice Department is expected to appeal the ruling.
Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), who sued the Biden administration in 2022 as Missouri attorney general on the issue, called it a “monumental day for freedom of speech” and said he’d be “watching the Biden administration’s compliance with the preliminary injunction very closely.”
2) The Supreme Court scrapped Biden’s student-loan forgiveness program last week, a major blow to the president and progressives on the Hill. Biden has said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will go back to the drawing board and try to restart the effort. But can Biden overcome the legal hurdles that the court put in place?
3) Biden’s nominee to be Labor secretary, Julie Su, is an extreme long shot to be confirmed by the Senate. Su’s nomination faces unified Senate GOP opposition while several moderates on the Democratic side of the aisle won’t say whether they back her. Biden hasn’t given up on the nomination, yet there’s no momentum either — and no sense the White House can do anything to break the months-long deadlock.
4) House Republicans seem like they want to impeach any or all of the following people: Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. None will be removed from office thanks to Senate Democrats, but it’s still a big headache for the administration.
Garland, in particular, has become caught up in the Hunter Biden case, which is both a personal and political dilemma for the president. House Republicans will push very hard over the plea deal on tax and the gun charges that the younger Biden’s lawyers cut with the Justice Department.
5) There have been several horrific mass shootings during the last few days, including in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Fort Worth, Texas. Biden renewed his call for an assault weapons ban on Tuesday, yet there’s no chance that will happen with Republicans running the House. Biden signed the most significant gun-control bill in decades during the last Congress, but that has done little to stem the tide of gun-related violence. Perhaps no issue shows the limits of presidential power more acutely than this one.
6) Cocaine was found in the White House on Sunday. The incident — Biden wasn’t there when it happened — prompted a brief evacuation. We don’t know much right now and the Secret Service is investigating, but it’s never a good thing when an illegal substance is found in the president’s home.
There is good news for Biden. The U.S. economy remains surprisingly resilient and inflation is coming down. Job growth and consumer spending are solid. Gas prices are down. Bidenomics may not be a winner with the American public, at least not in the polls, but Wall Street is feeling good about it.
The number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border also remains lower than last year, and far lower than feared after Title 42 public health authority expired. It’s not a great situation by any stretch, the administration has done a terrible messaging job on the issue throughout Biden’s presidency. But it could be a lot worse.
Biden will head to London this weekend and then onto Lithuania for the NATO summit. Biden continues to drive the Western alliance’s response to the Ukraine war. There’s a potential path toward finalizing Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO, a major step, as Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson visits Biden today. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen heads to China in a bid to ease tensions between the two superpowers, even though the sanctions threats from both sides continue to grow.
Former President Donald Trump continues to dominate the GOP presidential primary, including holding a huge rally in South Carolina on Saturday (Biden heads to the Palmetto State on Thursday, by the way). Trump is the only person as unpopular in the polls as Biden, and their head-to-head matchup is a tossup so far.
However, if there’s anyone the White House wants to run against in 2024, it’s the twice-indicted Trump. Trump supporters will never desert him, but he’s also a known quantity to independent and swing voters who’ll decide the election. Voters may not love Biden, but Trump has lost the popular vote by millions during the last two presidential races, and there’s no reason to think it couldn’t happen again next year.
— Jake Sherman, Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan
Reminder: We’re two weeks away from cocktails and conversation on the quantum revolution with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Tuesday, July 18 at 5 p.m. ET. Join us to learn more about the policy opportunities for quantum computing with the reauthorization of the National Quantum Initiative Act on the horizon. RSVP now. In-person attendance is full, but you can join us on the livestream!
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Schiff hauls in more than $8 million in second quarter
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) raised more than $8.1 million in the second quarter for his Senate bid, his campaign announced Wednesday morning.
Schiff, who is vying for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) seat, has $29.5 million on hand. His campaign said the $8.1 million haul is “the most any Senate campaign nationwide has raised in Q2 of an off-cycle year, ever.”
We don’t have a full picture of the fundraising landscape in the California Senate race, but these numbers likely make Schiff the leader in the money game.
But Schiff is running against some other very prolific fundraisers. Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) is a monster fundraiser and had $9 million in the bank as of the end of last quarter. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has gotten support from a number of key local officials and members of Congress.
— Jake Sherman
Judicial ethics reforms unlikely, say Capitol Hill staffers
Nearly all Capitol Hill staffers (91%) think it’s unlikely that Congress will pass judicial ethics reforms, despite a string of recent Supreme Court-related ethics controversies.
This comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to mark up a SCOTUS-related ethics bill when Congress returns from the July Fourth break. A huge majority of Republican (95%) and Democratic staffers (88%) say reforms are unlikely.
The survey was conducted after a ProPublica story about Clarence Thomas showed that the Supreme Court justice accepted luxury vacations from billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow.
News about Justice Samuel Alito taking a “luxury fishing vacation” with Paul Singer — a Republican billionaire with business before the Supreme Court — came out toward the end of the period during which the survey was conducted.
The two parties are sharply divided over the issue of judicial ethics reforms. Democrats say that reforms are needed, while Republicans say Congress should stay out of it and leave it to the court.
The results of this month’s poll comes from The Canvass Capitol Hill, our survey of senior congressional staffers conducted June 5-26 in partnership with Locust Street Group.
— Robert O’Shaughnessy
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Change the Ref, which supports gun control efforts, has a new spot running in Minnesota, meant to highlight the gun epidemic in this country. The spot suggests people buy bulletproof vests for everyday life.
— Jake Sherman
10 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
2 p.m.: Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
2:15 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
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“The D.N.C. Has a Primary Problem,” by Ross Barkan
“Israel ends West Bank raid calling it a blow to militants. Palestinians grapple with destruction,” by Majdi Mohammed and Imad Isseid in Jenin Refugee Camp, West Bank
“US citizenship test changes are coming, raising concerns for those with low English skills,” by Trisha Ahmed in St. Paul, Minn.
“Biden’s hydrogen bombshell leaves Europe in the dust,” by Gabriel Gavin and Ben Lefebvre
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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