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It’s Thursday morning.
The funeral for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) will be held today in Granger, Ind. Many on Capitol Hill are still wrestling with the shock of her death in a car accident on Aug. 3. Also killed in the tragedy were two staffers, Emma Thomson and Zachery Potts.
Aside from the sudden and deeply tragic loss, one of the toughest things to stomach for the Hill denizens we’ve spoken to is that Walorski and her two aides died performing a familiar ritual to anyone who’s ever worked in a congressional office. The trio was driving from event to event during the August recess when the accident occurred.
This is also a crushing personal blow to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who counted Walorski as a close friend and ally. McCarthy will speak at today’s service. The House Sergeant at Arms has a plane flying this morning to South Bend to ferry members who want to attend the service. We’re told there will be a big crowd traveling from Washington.
Walorski’s funeral begins this morning at 11 a.m. and is expected to last 90 minutes. Here’s more from the South Bend Tribune:
The burial ceremony is open to the public and to be handled by the U.S. Army. It will include a flag folding, a gun volley and the playing of taps. At the cemetery, Walorski’s casket will be transferred to a horse-drawn carriage and taken to the burial site.
The procession, led by a police escort, will make the 15-mile trip by leaving the church and heading east on Cleveland Road, then turning right on Capital Avenue. That road will be taken south to Kern Road, where the vehicles will turn and go west to the cemetery at 61430 U.S. 31. The trip will take at least 30 minutes, with a planned arrival time around 1 p.m.
Walorski, 58, was born and raised in South Bend. After college, Walorski worked as a TV reporter in her hometown. She later spent several years as a Christian missionary in Romania. Following her return to Indiana, Walorski entered politics, eventually winning election to the Indiana House of Representatives. Walorski ran for Congress in 2010 and lost. But she won in 2012. Walorski was given a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. McCarthy tapped her as ranking member on the Ethics Committee at the beginning of this Congress.
Thomson’s funeral was held on Wednesday in Johnstown, Pa. A 28-year-old graduate of George Washington University, Thomson worked for Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign. Thomson also served as an aide to GOP Reps. Michael Burgess (Texas) and John Joyce (Pa.). In July 2021, Thomson moved over to Walorski’s office.
Potts’ funeral will take place this Saturday in Three Oaks, Mich. Potts, 27, first joined Walorski’s staff as a field representative in late 2018. In early 2020, Potts was named district director.
In addition to his duties on Walorski’s staff, Potts served as St. Joseph County GOP chair.
Also: South Bend Tribune: “Jackie Walorski likely to be honored with name on VA building in Mishawaka,” by Ed Semmler
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
Gas dips below $4 per gallon, but housing and food spikes hit hard
The White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill want you to know that the national average cost for gasoline is now under $4 per gallon. That’s a lot lower than it was just a couple months ago, although still high compared to last year.
Yet as with Wednesday’s inflation report, President Joe Biden and the Democratic leadership will take anything they can get.
The House votes tomorrow on the Democrats’ $700-billion plus Inflation Reduction Act. The landmark reconciliation package – 18 months in the making – includes some major tax, health care and climate change initiatives. It’s also projected to cut the deficit by more than $300 billion during the next decade.
But nothing in the Democratic proposals will have a near-term impact on inflation or the U.S. economy. And inflation, while slightly lower in July than June, remains at the highest level in decades. The Federal Reserve is likely to continue to raise interest rates throughout the fall and possibly into 2023. The only question is by how much.
White House officials point to the fact that Biden has ordered the release of one million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve – more than 125 million barrels so far – as one of the reasons for the dramatic downward shift in gas prices. Biden pressured other nations to release a similar amount of oil onto the global market as well.
Much of the decrease, however, is also because gas is so expensive. Americans are simply buying less and driving less because gas prices are that high.
Most alarmingly, food and housing costs continue to rise at a shocking rate.
The cost of eggs has soared 38%, and prices for other goods have also jumped: Flour is up 22.7%, chicken 17.6%, milk 15.6%, ground beef 9.7% and bacon 9.2%. Fruits and vegetables got 9.3% more expensive.
A number of factors have contributed to the rise in food costs: A deadly avian flu has meant fewer eggs in the United States, a severe drought in Brazil slashed coffee crops and the war in Ukraine led to a spike in wheat prices in the spring.
While commodity prices are falling, it will take time before those lower costs pass through to consumers. Plus, plenty of other costs for producers — such as fuel, labor and packaging — have also been high.
The high cost of housing – and especially rent increases – may soon replace high gas prices as the biggest problem facing millions of Americans. Tenant and community groups are calling it a “national emergency” and urging the White House to intervene.
Rental costs in the US are soaring at the fastest pace in more than three decades, surpassing a median of $2,000 a month for the first time ever and pushing rents above pre-pandemic levels in most major cities. Increases are particularly steep in metropolitan areas that saw large influxes of new residents during the pandemic, but the rental market is sparing almost nowhere and no one.
While the affordability crisis in the US is not new, it has snowballed over the past year as people returned to big cities and some areas short on housing supply saw a boom of new residents. Demand for rentals has soared, with many would-be homebuyers backing out of the market after mortgage rates jumped this year as a result of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest-rate hikes.
As Bloomberg notes, there’s a “perfect storm” hitting renters right now, especially in the South and West. While roughly one million new apartments may come on the market during the next year, experts estimate the need is for as many as five million units.
Higher rents means higher inflation, as housing costs make up about one-third of the CPI. Higher inflation will provoke more rate increases by the Fed, even as the U.S. economy teeters on the edge of a recession. The “soft landing” that Fed Chair Jay Powell hopes for gets even harder to achieve. These higher interest rates force more Americans to rent rather than buy. Which drives rents higher. And so on.
– John Bresnahan
Attendance may be light for House reconciliation vote
As we’ve noted for a few days, the House’s vote on the Inflation Reduction Act is scheduled for tomorrow. Thanks to their four-vote cushion, House Democrats can’t lose many members on this $700 billion-plus package.
But we’re in the middle of the August recess, and lawmakers are lining up to vote by proxy.
One-hundred and forty three members have sent letters to the House clerk indicating that they will be voting proxy. Now, some of these members might still show up in person. There’s no way of knowing until tomorrow when the House actually comes into session how many members will attend.
Yet the fact that one-third of members indicated they want to vote from home is a strong indication that the floor could look a bit empty.
The previous proxy voting extension only covered members until Aug. 12. However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended it earlier this week through Sept. 26. Republicans have vowed to do away with proxy voting in the next Congress if they win the House.
This is likely the last major piece of legislation that House Democrats can pass before the midterm elections, and a lot is riding on this vote for Pelosi and the rest of her leadership team.
After tomorrow’s session, the House isn’t due to vote again until Sept. 13. The chamber is only scheduled to be in session for 11 days that entire month. The final vote is set for Sept. 30, giving members a full five weeks back home before Election Day.
– Jake Sherman and Heather Caygle
→ Joe O’Dea, the GOP candidate to take on Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, is out with his first ad. O’Dea says he wouldn’t simply toe the party line when he gets to D.C., but rather will do what’s right for Colorado. A construction company executive making his first run for office, O’Dea notes in the ad that he’s not a career politician. Bennet was chief of staff to then Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and was the superintendent of the Denver school system before being appointed to the Senate in 2009. He’s since twice won reelection. This O’Dea ad is running in Denver.
→ Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), talks a lot about her long career in law enforcement. This new Rubio/NRSC ad features law enforcement officers criticizing Demings. It’s running statewide.
→ Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has called for a special election to fill the seat of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) to be held on Nov. 8. There will also be the election that same day for the full House term beginning in Jan. 2023. Republicans will hold a pair of caucuses Aug. 20 to choose their nominee to serve out the remainder of this term – November until the first day of the next Congress – and next term. Among those eyeing a run are former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and former Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s (R-Ind.) wife Christy, sources told us.
Dean Swihart, Walorski’s husband, has signaled he will endorse in the race. “There was nothing more important to Jackie than public service, and as part of her legacy I know she would want to weigh in on her successor. At this time, I am not ready to engage on this topic, but I do plan to offer my thoughts at a later date,” Swihart said in a statement.
– Jake Sherman
President Joe Biden is in Kiawah Island, S.C., with no public events. Vice President Kamala Harris is in California.
5:05 p.m.: Harris will hold a roundtable with state legislators about reproductive health care. This event will be at the Fairmont in San Francisco.
→ “Russia claims Ukraine used US arms to kill jailed POWs. Evidence tells a different story,” by Tim Lister, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Vasco Cotovio, Benjamin Brown and Kostan Nechyporenko
→ “Clock is ticking for Biden to make key decisions on student loans,” by Maegan Vazquez and Katie Lobosco
→ “Trump, at New Jersey Fund-Raiser, is Buoyed by Supporters,” by Tracey Tully
→ “Historians privately warn Biden that America’s democracy is teetering,” by Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker and Tyler Pager
→ “Amid tumultuous week, Trump takes the Fifth,” by Shayna Jacobs in New York, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett
→ “North Korea claims miraculous win over coronavirus, says Kim suffered a fever,” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Min Joo Kim in Seoul
→ “FBI Quest for Trump Documents Started With Breezy Chats, Tour of a Crowded Closet,” by Alex Leary, Aruna Viswanatha and Sadie Gurman
→ “Meet the GOP’s future king of Biden investigations,” by Olivia Beavers in Fancy Farm, Ky.
→ “These 4 Michigan races could decide whether GOP retakes U.S. House,” by Melissa Nann Burke and Riley Beggin
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