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Happy Tuesday morning.
If the September funding fight wasn’t complicated enough, hardline Republicans in both the House and Senate are vowing to dig in on border spending as part of the debate, injecting another hot-button issue into the battle to keep the federal government open.
The White House is seeking $4 billion in new funding for border security as migrant crossings soar after several months of relative quiet at the U.S.-Mexico border. Republicans are arguing that amount is nowhere near enough and are demanding even more money as part of the supplemental spending package or the stopgap funding measure needed to avoid a Sept. 30 government shutdown.
The Texas GOP delegation said in its own Aug. 10 letter that Congress should withhold money for the Department of Homeland Security until enhanced border security measures are put in place.
And the House Freedom Caucus declared on Monday that its members wouldn’t back any stopgap funding bill that fails to enact the House GOP-passed border security bill, “address the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI,” and end the Pentagon’s “woke” social policies. None of this will happen, of course.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), the HFC’s policy chair, has been asking colleagues to withhold funding to DHS until more border security measures are put in place or DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is removed from office.
Here’s Roy on “The Chris Salcedo Show” last week:
“Anybody that is optimally moving forward with a three month continuing resolution or a two month continuing solution that would fund government and last year’s bloated level … I will use every tool I have at my disposal to stop a continued resolution structured that way and frankly, to fight any efforts to continue to fund this government without radical reform for border security, at the Department of Justice, at the Department of Defense, at a minimum.”
The Freedom Caucus also took a stance against additional Ukraine funding, an issue that has animated pockets of the GOP. The Biden administration’s supplemental request includes $24 billion for Ukraine, a problem on its own for Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Conservatives are connecting the Ukraine and border funding issues to argue that President Joe Biden cares more about Ukraine’s border than the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the leading GOP candidate for the open Senate seat in Indiana, said at a recent state party dinner that the United States shouldn’t send any “more money to secure Ukraine’s border until we secure our own.”
On the Senate side, border hawks are similarly calling for more resources but aren’t threatening a shutdown. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told us on Monday that any CR should be “as clean as it possibly can be so that there’s not a big debate on it.”
Lankford is trying to build support for his bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing government shutdowns. It would implement rolling 14-day CRs unless Congress passes a short-term spending bill or other appropriations measure. It would also bar lawmakers from considering other measures on the floor until a funding bill is passed.
The White House’s border funding request is problematic for Senate Republicans as well. Lankford argued it gives Mayorkas too much discretion on how to spend the money.
“That’s not going to be something we’re going to sign onto because we don’t know what direction they’re going,” Lankford said. However, the Oklahoma Republican did praise the White House for putting out its supplemental request this early so that lawmakers have time to mull it over before returning from the August recess.
With roughly two weeks left until Congress returns, we’ll continue monitoring the game plan ahead of September.
News: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will travel to China Aug. 27-30 for meetings with senior Chinese officials and U.S. business leaders, according to the Commerce Department. Raimondo’s visit will come after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled to Beijing earlier this summer.
— Jake Sherman, Mica Soellner, Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan
Ready. Set. RSVP! Punchbowl News founder and CEO Anna Palmer will interview Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. ET. about news of the day, 5G leadership and spectrum policy. Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of CTIA, will join Anna afterward for a fireside chat.
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Bankers rev up fresh campaign against credit card reform
News: The banking sector is deploying yet another effort to oppose reforms that would undercut the industry’s profits from credit cards.
Later this week, the Consumer Bankers Association will launch a “Washington Wallet Watch” campaign opposing two separate reforms coming from both Capitol Hill and the Biden administration.
The group will accuse policymakers of undertaking a “misguided political campaign to change how your credit card works, raising costs for consumers and taking away your rewards.”
Credit card policy in the nation’s capital is one of the banking lobby’s top concerns these days. One front traces back to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where regulators proposed limiting most banks’ credit card late fees to about $8. That rule still needs to be finalized before going into effect.
On Capitol Hill, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) are pushing the Credit Card Competition Act. The bill would require card issuers to offer a choice of at least two payment companies in electronic transactions, which would undercut a lucrative duopoly maintained by Visa and Mastercard.
Bankers say the status quo allows them to offer robust credit card rewards to consumers and simultaneously maintain a secure payment system. But the retail-merchant sector has been squeezed for years by credit card transaction fees that are much higher in the United States than they are abroad.
The CBA’s campaign will argue that the fees banks charge are already more transparent than other sectors, thanks to existing laws like the Truth in Lending Act. They’ve chafed heavily at the Biden administration’s push against “junk fees,” which has sometimes lumped in credit card late fees.
The bankers are also appealing to “personal responsibility,” arguing that current customer late fees — which hover between $30 and $40 — are a fair way to fund reward programs and otherwise cover costs.
And when it comes to the Durbin-Marshall bill, the CBA will argue on a soon-to-be-unveiled website that the legislation would “establish an unnecessary and unsafe federally-mandated payment network. Hardworking families will pay the price while big box retailers reap rewards.”
Even though legislative reform here faces long, long odds, the issue has been top of mind this summer. We reported last month on how Marshall threatened to upend proceedings around the Senate’s reauthorization of the NDAA if his bill didn’t receive an amendment vote, though the Kansas Republican ultimately backed down.
We expect an encore this fall. Stay tuned.
— Brendan Pedersen
House GOP steps up Hunter Biden probe
A new crop of subpoenas issued by House Republicans illustrate just how much the party’s congressional investigators are intervening in the Hunter Biden case.
By subpoenaing four top FBI and IRS investigators assigned to the Hunter Biden prosecution, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) are taking unprecedented steps to probe an ongoing criminal case.
The subpoenas follow a number of aggressive actions taken by GOP members to inquire into allegations of political interference in the investigation of President Joe Biden’s son. The latest move seeks to compel testimony from officials who were present at an October 2022 meeting where U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss allegedly spoke of a lack of final authority in the case.
Of course, Weiss’ new status as a special counsel makes it incredibly unlikely any of the individuals subpoenaed will come forward to Congress. The case is likely heading to trial, and the FBI and IRS officials subpoenaed will be loath to discuss the ongoing investigation.
In correspondence to Jordan before Weiss became special counsel, Carlos Uriarte, the DOJ’s legislative affairs chief, resisted attempts by the GOP to force DOJ officials to testify on the Hunter Biden case.
The DOJ’s earlier position was that Weiss alone was best equipped to speak on the case and offered three dates for Weiss to come before the Judiciary Committee. Now that Weiss has a new status, his appearance is off the table.
Smith also filed an amicus brief in the Hunter Biden case in July. The Missouri Republican filed the brief in order to submit the testimony of two IRS whistleblowers.
— Max Cohen
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A leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Bacon shifts his announcement
Last week, we reported that Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) was teasing a “special announcement” on Aug. 26 at an event in Omaha, Neb. Bacon was slated to appear alongside Gov. Jim Pillen and former Gov. Dave Heineman at the “BBQ with Bacon” festivities.
But we have an update: According to a new version of the invite, there’s no longer any mention of the “special announcement.” And the governors are also missing from the billing. Interesting!
— Max Cohen
Poling now leading major GOP donor group
Parker Poling, a top figure in House Republican politics, is now leading the American Opportunity Alliance, a top-flight Republican donor group.
Poling made the move several months ago but kept it mostly under wraps.
AOA, as it is referred to in GOP circles, is a donor collective of sorts that is affiliated with billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer. It helps some of the party’s biggest donors direct their contributions to a constellation of groups.
Poling spent years on Capitol Hill as a top aide to now House Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). She was the North Carolina Republican’s chief of staff when he was chief deputy whip in the last GOP majority. By dint of that posting, Poling became close with then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Poling led the NRCC in the 2020 cycle, when Republicans outperformed expectations. She then went to Harbinger, a lobbying shop led by former senior House Republican aides.
Leading AOA puts Poling back in the top rung of GOP political circles.
— Jake Sherman
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As a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic, Emergent is committed to access and awareness of NARCAN® Nasal Spray – soon available OTC.
2 p.m.: The House and the Senate will each meet in a pro forma session respectively.
President Joe Biden is on vacation in Reno, Nev. He returned from Maui early this morning. Biden has no events scheduled.
Vice President Kamala Harris is in Washington with no events scheduled.
“A Stage of Eight Takes Shape for a Trump-Less First G.O.P. Debate,” by Shane Goldmacher and Lisa Lerer
“Support for Abbott’s Crackdown Is Waning on Texas Border,” by Edgar Sandoval in Eagle Pass, Texas
“In Trump cases, experts say defendant’s rhetoric will be hard to police,” by Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Isaac Arnsdorf
“S&P Joins Moody’s in Cutting US Banks Amid ‘Tough’ Climate,” by David Scheer
“How Hard Should the Fed Squeeze to Reach 2% Inflation?” by Nick Timiraos
“Trump says he will surrender Thursday on Georgia charges tied to efforts to overturn 2020 election,” by Alanna Durkin Richer and Jill Colvin
“Biden says federal government will help Maui ‘for as long as it takes’ to recover from wildfire,” by Seung Min Kim in Lahaina, Hawaii
“Hilary leaves massive flooding, mudslides, upheaval across Southern California,” by Alexandra E. Petri, Grace Toohey and David Zahniser
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
PRESENTED BY EMERGENT
Approximately every eight minutes, on average, someone in America dies from an opioid overdose. Anyone who takes prescription or illicit opioids is potentially at risk of experiencing an accidental life-threatening or fatal opioid overdose.
As a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic, Emergent has been committed to access, and awareness, of NARCAN® Nasal Spray soon to be available over the counter.
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