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Happy Friday morning. There are 60 days until the midterm elections.
The House and Senate are out today. Which gives us a chance to talk about just how large the Jan. 6 select committee has gotten and what’s next for the panel.
First of all, some news: We expect the Jan. 6 committee to hold a hearing this month, sources familiar with the matter tell us. One date being tossed around is Sept. 28. The committee has a retreat next Tuesday to discuss its path forward.
The House recently released its quarterly disbursement records, which shows how lawmakers and committees spent taxpayer dollars through the end of June.
And what stuck out to us is just how extensive the committee’s operation has become and how sprawling the investigation is.
Let’s dig in:
The select committee employs 57 people, according to the disbursement records. This includes everyone from investigators to lawyers to communications staff. The panel paid out $1.6 million in compensation last quarter. Compare that to the House Judiciary Committee, a permanent standing committee which includes staffers from both parties. Judiciary spent $1.8 million on staffing during the same period.
Overall, the select committee has spent more than $3 million in the course of this year.
The Jan. 6 committee has also employed a slew of consultants to help it on what might be the most expansive investigation in congressional history.
Disbursements record show the panel has spent more than $600,000 in each of the last two quarters on outside consultants.
For example, the committee spent nearly $55,600 last quarter on transcription services by Country World Productions. More than $41,000 went to PATCtech, a digital forensics company.
The panel paid a data analyst at the University of Virginia $37,844 to map out telephone call data.
The committee has paid Polar Solutions Inc., more than $267,000 for a variety of consultants, including private investigators.
And the committee has paid Percy Howard, a former Secret Service agent, more than $27,000 to help consult on the agency’s operations.
The committee continues to gather information as it prepares for additional hearings and an eventual report. The panel recently sought information from former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who reportedly was “involved in various other aspects of the scheme to overturn the 2020 election and block the transfer of power, including after the violence of January 6th.”
The select committee is also involved in a number of ongoing legal cases, including some making headlines this week.
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
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THE VALLEY X WASHINGTON
Whither Big Tech bill?
It’s September, and it seems very likely that Congress will be done with its pre-election legislating by the end of the month.
Let’s take stock for a moment on what’s on deck: circuit court judges, which take up to 30 hours per nomination; codifying same-sex marriage into law; and the short-term government funding bill needed to avoid a shutdown. That should be just enough to fill the legislative calendar. While it’s scheduled to do so, we tend to believe that the Senate won’t come back in October.
With that in mind, it seems exceedingly unlikely that Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) antitrust bill targeting Big Tech – the American Innovation and Online Choice Act – will come to the floor before senators head home for the Nov. 8 midterm election.
This would represent a victory for Silicon Valley in its ongoing war with Congress, and a defeat for the unusual alliance of Republicans and Democrats that have sought to crack down on large tech companies.
We caught up with a visibly frustrated Klobuchar Wednesday just after a markup on a separate antitrust bill that blew up.
Here’s what Klobuchar said:
“Sen. Schumer has said we will have a vote on the bill and we will have a vote on the bill. I can’t give you an exact day. …
“At some point, the U.S. Senate is going to have to decide that they want to do something about Big Tech — both sides — and stop just talking about it.”
At a conference earlier this week, Klobuchar complained about “the incredible onslaught of money” that’s helped derail the legislation. “The senators are talking about it, about the ads running in each state.”
The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would ban Big Tech companies from using their dominance in the market to push their own products over any competitors. Silicon Valley and other tech companies – Google, Amazon and Apple – have vociferously lobbied against the bill. Coalitions have run advertising campaigns warning that popular services such as Amazon Prime would be adversely impacted if the bill gets signed into law. In the unlikely event the bill makes it to the Senate floor, it would face an uphill climb in the House. Similar legislation was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last year but has also stalled out.
The tiff over the separate antitrust bill Thursday highlights the challenges that lawmakers face in taking on powerful corporate or institutional interests. Klobuchar was forced to withdraw legislation which would carve out an antitrust exemption for smaller news outlets to collectively negotiate with large tech companies over payment for their content.
Opponents of the bill have argued that it is anticompetitive and won’t actually help small news outlets financially. Klobuchar temporarily withdrew the bill Thursday after an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) passed in committee over her objections. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) wasn’t available to vote on the bill. He’s stuck in quarantine in India after contracting Covid.
– Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman
PUNCHBOWL NEWS EVENTS
What Rep. Buddy Carter told us
Missed our conversation with Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) yesterday? Catch up on the full video.
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New: Republican Jeremy Shaffer says he’s “a problem-solver, not a career politician,” in an ad in his bid to flip a competitive western Pennsylvania House seat red. Shaffer plays up his background as an engineer and entrepreneur in the spot, while pledging to lower costs and cut taxes.
It’s a positive ad that doesn’t mention Shaffer’s Democratic opponent Chris DeLuzio or Shaffer’s Republican Party affiliation. The district, Pennsylvania’s 17th, is an open seat vacated when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) mounted an unsuccessful Senate campaign.
New: In the latest example of Democratic messaging on abortion rights, the DCCC is airing an attack ad against Rep. Jahana Hayes’ (D-Conn.) Republican opponent George Logan.
“Logan would join anti-abortion Republicans who want to dismantle our rights and freedoms,” the ad’s narrator says. “George Logan is too extreme for Connecticut.”
Democrats labeling Republicans “too extreme” on the issue of abortion rights is a constant theme of the midterm cycle. Hayes, who was first elected in 2018, is a Democratic Frontliner who’s running in a seat classified as “Lean Democratic” by the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
— Max Cohen
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8:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
9 a.m.: Biden will leave the White House for Andrews, where he’ll fly to Columbus, Ohio. Karine Jean-Pierre will gaggle on Air Force One.
12:15 p.m. Biden will speak at the groundbreaking of an Intel semiconductor fab in Licking County, Ohio.
1:35 p.m.: Biden will fly from Columbus to Dover, Del. He’ll arrive in Wilmington, Del., at 3:20 p.m.
Vice President Kamala Harris is in Houston and will chair a space council meeting at Johnson Space Center. She’ll head back to D.C. at 4:40 p.m.
“In Orange County, a House Race Is Testing What Asian Americans Want,” by Stephanie Lai in Westminster, Calif.
“Trump Media Merger Gives Itself Another Month to Scramble for Shareholder Votes,” by Matthew Goldstein
“In a Surprise Visit to Ukraine, Blinken Offers Aid and Encouragement,” by Michael Crowley in Rzeszow, Poland
“Ukraine Military Breakthrough in North Threatens Russian Grip,” by Marc Champion
“Biden to tell Ohioans his policies will revive manufacturing,” by Josh Boak and Aamer Madhani in D.C. and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio
“SC Democrats call on their party’s US Senate nominee to quit,” by Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C.
“Rubio walks the Mar-a-Lago line,” by Andrew Desiderio
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