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Merrick Garland faces contempt vote

House GOP preps for Merrick Garland contempt vote

The House and Senate are in tomorrow. President Joe Biden heads to Italy on Wednesday for the G7 summit in Brindisi.

The G7 leaders are expected to announce a joint plan to tap into Russian sovereign assets that stops short of outright seizure, something Congress authorized with the passage of the REPO Act. The goal is to use those funds to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Crucially, the vast majority of those Russian assets are held in Europe, so G7 coordination is important. Lawmakers who crafted the REPO Act have told us they’re expecting a deliverable on this issue from the summit.

Garland contempt. Now let’s talk about Attorney General Merrick Garland and a possible House contempt resolution vote.

The House Judiciary and Oversight committees are demanding that Garland turn over the audiotapes of Biden’s interviews with Special Counsel Robert Hur as part of the Biden impeachment inquiry. DOJ has handed over transcripts of these interviews but not the audiotapes. Now, the House is preparing for floor votes on contempt resolutions against Garland this week.

Here’s Oversight Committee Republicans in their panel report on the dispute:

A contempt resolution would include a referral to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for criminal prosecution. That isn’t going to happen, of course. So this case will end up in federal court if and when the two panels sue the DOJ. This means that there won’t be a final decision until after the election.

Democrats and the Justice Department are just as adamant about how pointless this whole dispute is. Here’s Oversight Committee Democrats:

Top House Republicans are confident that they can pass the contempt resolution.

They’re also whipping a bill that would allow criminal cases against former presidents to be moved from state court to federal court. This is a reaction to former President Donald Trump’s conviction in the New York hush-money case. Moderate Republicans don’t love this bill, however, and there’s no guarantee it will move forward at this point.

House Republicans are eyeing floor action on the FY2025 defense authorization bill as well.

Senate’s next show vote: Across the Capitol, Senate Democratic leaders are taking their next step to use abortion and related issues to hammer Republicans — this time with a floor vote expected Thursday on IVF.

Democrats have seized on the issue in the aftermath of the Alabama Supreme Court’s February decision that effectively halted the practice in the state. Democrats pointed to the overturning of Roe v. Wade as the catalyst.

Alabama’s legislature passed a measure in response aimed at preserving IVF access, but it didn’t address the biggest issue created by the court’s decision — whether an IVF-created embryo can be considered a human.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is looking to use the issue to put Republicans on the spot while at the same time giving a much-needed boost to his vulnerable incumbents.

The big question here is whether Republicans will deny Democrats the 60 votes needed to advance the bill, as they did with Democrats’ contraception bill last week.

While the vast majority of Republicans voted to block the contraception bill, some argued during a closed-door lunch in favor of advancing the bill as a way to go on offense over the issue. So it’s an open question as to how Republicans will handle the IVF bill, especially since it’s generally an easier issue for them to message on than contraception. However, the anti-abortion group SBA List is urging Republicans to block the Democratic bill.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) recently introduced a bill that would block Medicaid funding from states that ban IVF. Their proposal has faced pushback from some conservatives, most notably the Heritage Foundation.

Then there’s Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) non-binding resolution in support of IVF. This could be another vehicle for Republicans to push back on the Democratic effort.

This is news: Cruz and Britt are expected to go to the floor at some point this week to try to pass their bill via unanimous consent. Scott could do the same for his resolution. Still, senior GOP aides tell us they expect a similar result as last week, with Republicans voting near-unanimously to block the Democratic bill.

As of now, there’s no consensus yet on a floor strategy and no active whip effort.

— John Bresnahan and Andrew Desiderio

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