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 Tuesday morning.
The August consumer price index data – the primary measure of inflation – will be released at 8:30 a.m. this morning. This is a key moment for President Joe Biden and the Democrats as the midterm elections are less than two months away. Inflation has shown some signs of easing after spiking to the highest levels in four decades, with gas prices declining significantly. If that trend continues, the Federal Reserve may moderate its expected interest-rate increase later this month, which would make the White House and Democrats happy. If today’s CPI report is above estimates, expect Republicans to pounce.
Hill stock trading news
News: The House Administration Committee’s aides have been briefed on the Democrats’ plan to ban stock trading by members of Congress and their spouses.
House Democrats initially planned to release a draft of the legislation in August, but the package isn’t wrapped up yet. For example, Democratic leaders still haven’t decided whether to force Supreme Court justices to file more detailed financial disclosure reports. Congress recently passed the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act that will put the justices’ disclosure reports online, but many lawmakers are pressing for more, including a code of ethics for the high court.
Also still undecided – whether to extend the stock trading ban to senior congressional aides.
But Democrats involved in crafting the bill insist the House will hold a vote later this month, despite being behind schedule on wrapping up legislative text.
→ NYT: “These 97 Members of Congress Reported Trades in Companies Influenced by Their Committee,” by Alicia Parlapiano, Adam Playford and Kate Kelly
Graham eyeing 15-week abortion ban
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is expected to offer a bill today banning abortions after 15 weeks. Graham has a press conference scheduled for noon on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” The South Carolina Republican’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday night.
In January 2021, Graham introduced a 20-week version of this bill, as he has in previous Congresses. If there’s any confusion about what Graham was after with that legislation, here’s the headline from that press release: “Graham Reintroduces 20-Week Abortion Ban.”
There’s no chance Graham’s proposal can become law, but Democrats will seize on it as part of their ongoing efforts to make abortion a key issue in some swing Senate races.
For your awareness: Speaker Nancy Pelosi will swear in three new members this evening: Reps.-elect Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) and Joe Sempolinski (R-N.Y.). After these new members are sworn in, there will be 221 Democrats vs. 212 Republicans, with 2 vacancies in the House. That’s a four-vote cushion for Pelosi.
And today is the last primary day of the year with contests in New Hampshire, Delaware and Rhode Island. We’ll be sending a special edition of the Tally later this morning focused on all things midterms.
– Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman
PUNCHBOWL NEWS EVENT REMINDER
Thursday: Tune-in to the livestream (in-person RSVPs are full) for our interview with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET. We’ll be talking about her role as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce and her priorities for 2023. RSVP here.
Next Week: Join us at The Roost or on the livestream on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. ET for a conversation with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) about the role of private capital in supporting small businesses, jobs, and the economy. RSVP here.
Schumer transferring $15 million from his campaign account to Dems
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is transferring $5 million from his reelection campaign directly to the DSCC, part of a big money move by the New York Democrat, according to sources familiar with the situation.
All told, Schumer is doling out $15 million from his re-election campaign to aid Democratic candidates and incumbents across the country.
On top of the DSCC donation, Schumer will also send $1 million to the victory funds of Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.).
Democratic candidates who will get $1 million checks from Schumer include Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Cheri Beasley in North Carolina, and Reps. Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Val Demings (Fla.).
Schumer is sending $500,000 to Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Patty Murray (Wash.) as well.
“Keeping and growing the Democratic majority in the Senate is my top priority,” Schumer said in a statement about the cash infusion.
Schumer is in cycle, but faces no real competition en route to a fifth Senate term. He had an astounding $37.9 million in his reelection account as of July 15.
The Democratic leader did something similar in the late stages of his 2016 reelection campaign, although this effort is on a far larger scale.
Senate Majority PAC, the Schumer-aligned super PAC, will also spend tens of millions of dollars in the final stages of this cycle.
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
Same-sex marriage, permitting reform caught up in partisan fights
With only a few weeks to go before lawmakers leave town for the midterm elections, Congress is trying to wrap up action on two complicated issues – same-sex marriage and permitting reform. At this point, it’s not clear that either can pass, although senators are scrambling to try to reach bipartisan consensus.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) agreed to attach a proposal to reform the byzantine federal permitting process to a short-term funding bill designed to keep federal agencies open beyond Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Schumer wants to have the Senate vote on that continuing resolution next week.
Republicans, though, have balked at the Manchin-Schumer plan, which hasn’t been formally introduced yet. They’ve instead backed a new permitting proposal by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
This has thrown the whole outcome in doubt. The binary is to either pass the Manchin proposal or permitting reform – which both sides say they want – may be delayed for years, Democrats warn. Here’s Manchin in an interview last night:
“I’m just tickled to death that we have everybody on the same page that we need permitting reform. … .
“The main thing is, we agree that we have to have permitting [reform]. If you want this country to move forward to meet the challenges, whether you’re on the climate side, basically those who want you know, more renewables, you have to have infrastructure, the transmission lines. Myself, I think we need much more clean fossil and we need pipelines and things of that sort. So there’s a balance.”
Capito complains that she hasn’t seen any details from Manchin’s plan, despite her in-state colleague saying for weeks that there’s an agreement with Schumer to add it to the CR.
“Since our calls for action and offers to see legislative text from the permitting ‘deal’ remain unheeded, Republicans are introducing this legislation today to deliver solutions to the roadblocks, delays, and postponements of key infrastructure projects across the country,” Capito said on releasing her plan.
With the two West Virginians clashing on the issue, GOP leaders are backing Capito. There are already some progressives who don’t like Manchin’s plan, and these Democrats definitely don’t want it included on the funding bill. The Republican opposition would guarantee it doesn’t happen.
Here’s Senate Minority Whip John Thune on the Capito proposal:
“That’s the, I think, the landing spot that unites and consolidates support among Republicans. The question is how the Democrats want to process that. And how’s this going to start? I don’t think [Democrats have] made those decisions yet. It’s gonna start the House. It’s going to start here. You know, you hear both things.”
If the Manchin-Schumer permitting proposal can’t pass, then Democratic leaders may rethink their current strategy on the CR and have the House go first on the funding measure, senior aides told us. We’ll try to get some clarity on this today.
→ Backers of the same-sex marriage bill are still hoping for a vote in the Senate early next week, even as try to corral enough Republican support to get to 60 votes.
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), the lead Republican author, is working with Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) to craft a “religious liberty” amendment that can assuage GOP concerns.
Here’s what Collins told us on Monday night:
→ On the religious liberty amendment: “We’re continuing to work on the religious liberty amendment and also include language that makes crystal clear that there’s nothing in this bill that would make polygamous marriages legal. That is not really an issue because there is not a single state that allows for polygamous marriages, but we’ll make it crystal clear.”
→ On vote timing: “I don’t know for certain what Senator Schumer’s plans are. But it’s my expectation that he’ll start the clock ticking this week and the vote would probably be next week on Monday.”
→ On GOP support: “We’re still working on it, you know. I’m hopeful that we will but until the roll is called, you really never know.”
Baldwin said she hopes Schumer can begin the parliamentary process for bringing the measure up for a vote by the end of this week.
“Over the weekend, there was a look at our draft amendment. A little bit of tiny tweaking, we’re going to continue to shop it around [to] the likely Republicans early this week. Hopefully we’ll be proceeding ahead with a cloture filing on Thursday.”
But some top Republicans sounded much more skeptical about the bill and its chances. Thune criticized Schumer for holding the vote this close to the election.
“He’s obviously doing it for political reasons,” Thune said of Schumer. “If he wanted to win the issue, he would do it later. So yeah, his motivations in this are very transparent.”
New today: A bipartisan group of 165 mayors is sending a letter to Senate leaders this morning urging them to pass the same-sex marriage bill before the October recess.
“The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which has supported policies advancing civil rights since the 1960s and LGBTQ rights since 1984, calls on you to protect this fundamental freedom to marry for all our residents,” the group writes in the letter obtained by Punchbowl News. Read the full letter with every mayor who signed it.
— John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle
THE MONEY GAME
Looking for Senate GOP candidates this weekend? They’ll be in Sea Island, Ga.
The NRSC has a big shindig scheduled this weekend for Sea Island, Ga. NRSC Chair Rick Scott will be in attendance, along with several key GOP candidates like North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd, Colorado’s Joe O’Dea, Nevada’s Adam Laxalt, Arizona’s Blake Masters, Pennsylvania’s Mehmet Oz and Georgia’s Herschel Walker.
You may notice that, as of now, Senate GOP incumbents who are up for reelection – Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Tim Scott (S.C.) – do not plan to be in attendance.
– Jake Sherman
Jason Smith hits the pedal in his race for Ways and Means post
The race to be the top Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee is a three-way battle between Reps. Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Adrian Smith (Wash.) and Jason Smith (Mo.). Buchanan is seen as the frontrunner, but not the prohibitive frontrunner.
Jason Smith – not related to Adrian – has relationships throughout the conference and is seen as a close second to Buchanan.
Over the August recess, Smith traveled to 22 states and 28 congressional districts to hold fundraisers and events with candidates and incumbents. Overall, the Missouri Republican has visited 44 districts this cycle. Smith has spent time in states such as Connecticut, Washington and Oregon, places where the GOP has pickup opportunities. This weekend, Smith will be in Rhode Island with Republican candidate Allan Fung, who is running for retiring Rep. Jim Langevin’s (D-R.I.) seat.
Buchanan, of course, is extremely wealthy and has raised piles for the NRCC. But Jason Smith has also raised $2.1 million for the committee, helped candidates raise more than $1 million and is putting in the work for a competitive bid for the Ways and Means post in the next Congress.
– Jake Sherman
→ New: Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) is portraying herself as “moderate and bipartisan” in a reelection ad released today. Wild is locked in a competitive reelection campaign in Pennsylvania’s 7th District — a seat classified as “Lean Republican” by the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
Wild says she’s been fighting for affordable health care, higher wages and a stronger supply chain in Congress. Wild also takes aim at her GOP opponent, Lisa Scheller, for “shipping local jobs to China.”
— Max Cohen
9 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
10:10 a.m.: Vice President Kamala Harris will participate in a conversation at the Congressional Hispanic Institute’s conference at the convention center.
Noon: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will hold a news conference on his abortion bill.
1:25 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
2 p.m.: Senate leadership will hold a media availability after their party lunches.
3 p.m.: Biden will host a large event to celebrate the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
6:50 p.m.: Speaker Nancy Pelosi will swear in three new members: Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) and Joe Sempolinski (R-N.Y.)
→ “Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Its Jan. 6 Inquiry,” by Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer
→ “Justice Dept. Says It’s Open to Trump Pick for Special Master,” by Alan Feuer
→ News Analysis: “This Might Not Be a Cold War, but It Feels Like One,” by Jane Perlez
→ “Largest private-sector nurses strike in U.S. history begins in Minnesota,” by Lauren Kaori Gurley
→ “U.S. Seeks to Bring Mexico on Board With Plans for Chips, Clean Energy,” by Anthony Harrup and Jessica Donati in Mexico City
→ “Ukraine piles pressure on retreating Russian troops,” by Elena Becatoros in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv
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 Special Report
Analysis of how sentiment on Capitol Hill evolved this year. And what senior aides believe will happen in 2022.Check it out
Every single issue of Punchbowl News published, all in one placeVisit the archive
Medicare Advantage helps seniors save money on out-of-pocket costs, premiums, prescriptions and more. It’s no wonder 29 million seniors choose Medicare Advantage. Learn more.