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Chuck Schumer

What the Senate will do for the rest of the summer

President Joe Biden will launch the “I’m-not-going-anywhere-but-I-do-need-more-sleep” tour today in Wisconsin. In addition to appearing in Madison, Biden will do interviews with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and some radio reporters. Biden will be in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Biden used the “I’m not going anywhere” line on Thursday evening at the White House. He and Vice President Kamala Harris joined hands as they watched the July 4th fireworks. There were chants of “Four more years.” The symbolism isn’t lost on anyone.

Biden’s campaign this morning announced a new $50 million paid media buy in battleground states for July, plus $17 million for grassroots organizing. Biden will head to Las Vegas as counter-programming to the RNC convention in mid-July. The campaign says there will be a Southwest swing as well.

But the wave of unrest inside the party continues. Mega donors are openly talking about dumping Biden for Harris or another candidate. While there’s speculation that the majority of Hill Democrats want Biden out, it’s impossible to know that until lawmakers return next week.

Senate summer lookahead: The Senate has just three more in-session weeks before the August recess. Next week, the floor will be jammed up with an abortion messaging vote and some nominations. Several senators will be attending the annual NATO summit taking place in downtown D.C.

But the final two weeks before the summer break are fairly open-ended at this point, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will have some important decisions to make about what hits the floor.

Schumer could choose one of two paths:

A continuation of the Senate’s summer of “show” votes, with nomination votes sprinkled in.

Try to pass one of the many long-stalled bipartisan bills Schumer has been wanting to get done.

There are benefits and drawbacks for each, as well as the obvious political considerations in an election year. These are even more potent now as Democrats fret over Biden’s prospects in November.

The “show” vote strategy: If Schumer chooses this path, the biggest beneficiary would be Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents.

That’s because two of the bills that could get a vote — the Wyden-Smith tax bill and the railway safety bill — have direct Ohio connections.

The expectation is that both would fail, although this strategy would give Brown some much-needed campaign fodder heading into the August recess. The tax bill includes an extension of the child tax credit, which Brown has long championed, as well as R&D tax relief.

While the tax bill passed the House earlier this year with broad GOP support, nearly every Senate Republican opposes it, as do a handful of Democrats.

Meanwhile, the rail safety bill was drafted in direct response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last year. Brown’s fellow Ohioan, GOP Sen. J.D. Vance, is a co-sponsor of the bill, and a handful of other Republicans back it.

But Republican leaders strongly oppose the measure, arguing it creates unnecessary and overly burdensome federal regulations, meaning it’s unlikely to overcome a filibuster.

While Brown would obviously prefer that both of these bills pass, a “show” vote on each is the next best thing when considering his difficult political situation.

Get something done: Schumer’s other option is to use the two weeks of floor time to actually pass something. For the last year-plus, Schumer has been promising floor action on various bills that would easily clear the 60-vote threshold.

Yet Schumer is also hesitant to burn through several days of floor time on legislation that’s overwhelmingly bipartisan. The Kids Online Safety Act, for example, has more than 70 co-sponsors. And the RECOUP Act — which deals with bank executive clawbacks — cleared the Senate Banking Committee, which Brown chairs, with just two dissenters.

Schumer has tried to set up a quick vote on KOSA, although there were still objections prior to the Senate’s recess. Without a unanimous consent agreement, the Senate would need to use about a week of floor time to pass KOSA. The RECOUP Act would require a similar amount of floor time. Both could cut into the time used for nominations.

However, it’s fair to say that social media crackdowns are much more top-of-mind for Americans, so KOSA would likely be the priority here. That bill would require social media platforms to take steps to shield children from harmful content online.

The GOP view: They obviously don’t control what happens on the floor, but Senate Republican leaders have condemned the “show” vote strategy as an effort to divide their party and boost vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

A critical aspect of the GOP pushback has been to call for Schumer to instead use floor time on the annual defense authorization bill. The Armed Services Committee sent it to the floor last month.

Republicans have cited Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to North Korea as a reason to move swiftly on the must-pass bill, which includes a $25 billion topline increase. We wrote last month about why it’ll be difficult for lawmakers to enact this boost as part of the annual appropriations process.

— Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan

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