Get ready for a big two weeks from the Biden administration: bipartisan infrastructure talks today, a major Covid and vaccine update speech from President JOE BIDEN on Wednesday, and a two-day climate summit starting on Earth Day this Thursday when Biden will announce America’s 2030 emissions target.
Next Wednesday is Biden’s address to Congress, and next Thursday marks his 100th day in office. Somewhere along the way we expect Biden to roll out the American Families Plan, which will likely include some $2 trillion more in spending and major tax changes for individuals.
Today at 1:15 p.m. the president will meet with his second bipartisan group in the Oval Office to discuss his jobs and infrastructure package. These sessions are a hot ticket. While certain congressional factions are getting time with senior Biden staff — the Problem Solvers Caucus last week and, per the WaPo, the New Democrats Coalition this week — the Biden meetings are naturally considered the bigger prize. We’ve heard griping from some Senate offices who haven’t yet received an invitation.
Here’s today’s guest list:
- Sen. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (Colo.)
- Sen. ANGUS KING (I-Maine)
- Sen. JEANNE SHAHEEN (N.H.)
- Rep. EMANUEL CLEAVER (Mo.)
- Rep. CHARLIE CRIST (Fla.)
- Rep. NORMA TORRES (Calif.)
- Sen. MITT ROMNEY (Utah)
- Sen. JOHN HOEVEN (N.D.)
- Rep. CARLOS GIMÉNEZ (Fla.)
- Rep. KAY GRANGER (Texas)
The White House is billing the group as notable because they all are former mayors and governors who “understand firsthand the impact of a federal investment in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure on their communities.”
But perhaps more important is that Romney is one of the leaders of the group of 10 Republicans who have promised to put forward an infrastructure counteroffer, and Hickenlooper, King and Shaheen are part of the larger G-20 bipartisan group.
On Friday, press secretary JEN PSAKI said that as far as the White House is concerned, the forthcoming G-10 proposal is the next step in the process. “What we’re waiting for is a counterproposal from Republicans in Congress,” said Psaki.
But then Psaki did something that didn’t sit well with the Republicans working on the plan. She described “the two major options” to pay for infrastructure in a way that seemed to rule out the GOP alternative. Biden wanted “corporations” to “pay their fair share,” she said, while his opponents “think that it should be paid for by putting the burden on the backs of Americans.”
Add this to the list of reasons why we remain highly skeptical that a bipartisan deal will materialize.
THIS WEEK IN THE SENATE — As Biden meets with Republicans, Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER will devote his week to trying to unite his caucus around Biden’s infrastructure plan, according to a Democratic source familiar with his plans. On Wednesday, the Senate Democratic Steering Committee will virtually host Commerce Secretary GINA RAIMONDO and Transportation Secretary PETE BUTTIGIEG, and on Thursday the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee will meet virtually with top White House aides ANITA DUNN and BRIAN DEESE.
Schumer’s focus on corralling Democrats is notable given that he once fashioned himself more as a deal-cutting centrist. But if there are Schumer-brokered bipartisan talks afoot, they are a closely guarded secret.
HOT ON THE RIGHT — KEVIN MCCARTHY (@GOPLeader): “MAXINE WATERS is inciting violence in Minneapolis — just as she has incited it in the past. If Speaker [NANCY] PELOSI doesn’t act against this dangerous rhetoric, I will bring action this week.” McCarthy is not alone among Republicans blasting the California Democrat for telling demonstrators in Minnesota over the weekend to become “more confrontational” if DEREK CHAUVIN is acquitted.
Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) said Sunday she would introduce a resolution to expel Waters from Congress. We know, we know — you’re all thinking this is a little hypocritical given what DONALD TRUMP did on Jan. 6? But for Republicans, it’s good politics to put centrist Democrats on record defending Waters.
— Flashback from 2018: “Maxine Waters encourages supporters to harass Trump administration officials”
BIDEN’S MONDAY — Before the afternoon meeting with lawmakers, the president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:50 a.m.
— VP KAMALA HARRIS will head to Greensboro and High Point, N.C., at 9:25 a.m. She’ll speak about the American Jobs Plan at Guilford Technical Community College at 11:50 a.m. and tour electric school bus manufacturer Thomas Built Buses at 2:30 p.m. She’ll leave at 5:05 p.m. to return to D.C.
— The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 10:30 a.m. Psaki will brief at 12:15 p.m.
THE SENATE will meet at 3 p.m. to take up the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. It will take up LISA MONACO’S nomination as deputy A.G. at 5:30 p.m.
THE HOUSE will meet at noon.
TV TODAY — A.G. MERRICK GARLAND will sit down with ABC’s PIERRE THOMAS for his first TV interview in office, airing across the channel’s programs. Today marks the anniversary of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, of which Garland oversaw the investigation and prosecution, and he’s making his first trip out of D.C. in office to deliver remarks in the city this morning. More from The Oklahoman
THE WEEK AHEAD — Biden and Harris will meet with Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders Tuesday, and Biden will take a virtual tour of a South Carolina electric battery facility. He’ll speak about the pandemic and vaccinations Wednesday. And he’ll take part in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on Thursday and Friday.
It’s a big week for the VP, starting today in North Carolina … “Kamala Harris set to showcase policy chops by touting Biden infrastructure plan,” WaPo: “Vice President Harris will deliver her first major speech on the economy on Monday in North Carolina as she continues her push to tout the Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
“In doing so, she is highlighting at least one piece of the infrastructure plan stemming directly from a 2019 bill she introduced as a former California senator to electrify the nation’s school buses, which make up 90 percent of the nation’s total bus fleet, according to three senior administration officials.”
Harris played a similar salesperson role two weeks ago in her hometown in Oakland, where she touted the administration’s proposal for billions of dollars in investments for water infrastructure, an issue she worked on in the Senate. The administration is expanding her role, and these two trips connect her expertise from the Senate with what the administration is working on now.
… And ending in the first-in-the-nation primary state: “VP Kamala Harris planning to visit NH on Friday,” WMUR: “[I]t would be her first visit to the Granite State since September 2019, when she appeared as a presidential candidate to address the New Hampshire Democratic Party state convention…” The story goes on to recall how Harris effectively pulled out of the state during her presidential bid. Per Democratic Party Chair RAY BUCKLEY, she’ll be there this week “to discuss the critical work the Biden-Harris administration is doing for New Hampshire families.”
MEANWHILE — “In Q&A, Vice President Harris calls for urgent action on the Black maternal health crisis,” Stat: “Harris emphasized that health care is profoundly affected by implicit bias. The vice president spoke about the need to address that bias, the broader Black maternal health crisis in America, and how the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial inequities in health care.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — The Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service is hosting a keynote conversation with White House chief of staff RON KLAIN and VP chief of staff TINA FLOURNOY on Thursday at 7 p.m. They’ll discuss the Biden administration’s first 100 days, as well as “how their time at Georgetown shaped their vocation, the importance of public service and why young people should get involved.” RSVP
RUBBER, MEET ROAD — “On infrastructure, lofty ideas are colliding with congressional reality,” WaPo: “‘The home-care provisions have been heavily attacked and are just vulnerable right now,’ admitted one White House adviser … Even before pen has been put to legislative paper, some Democrats in the narrowly divided House are noisily raising demands, sensing a fleeting moment of leverage. … And the American Jobs Plan could merge with other ongoing efforts to craft a wide-ranging transportation bill, a process with its own set of competing agendas. …
“House leaders are waiting for more definitive cues from the Senate parliamentarian … [W]hile the jockeying unfolds, congressional committees are quietly preparing measures addressing parts of the nation’s infrastructure … that will help gauge Capitol Hill’s appetite for bipartisanship. The first test comes this week, when the Senate expects to turn to a roughly $35 billion water infrastructure bill.”
MORE REALITY — “Senate Democrats settling on 25% corporate tax rate,” Axios: “The universe of Democratic senators concerned about raising the corporate tax rate to 28% is broader than Sen. JOE MANCHIN … While increasing the rate from 21% to 25% would raise about $600 billion over 15 years, it would leave President Biden well short of paying for his proposed $2.25 trillion, eight-year infrastructure package. … Democrats close to the White House expect Biden will accept 25% and pocket it as a political win.”
THE NEXT FIGHT — “Republicans lean into uphill battle against 2 little-known Biden nominees,” by Marianne LeVine: “The GOP almost certainly can’t stop Joe Biden from getting a lineup of leading progressives confirmed to senior Justice Department posts. But Republicans — especially those eyeing the White House — are eager to make the president’s party pay a political price.
“Senate Republicans have spent weeks on a messaging binge portraying VANITA GUPTA and KRISTEN CLARKE, tapped for high-ranking DOJ positions, as ‘extreme’ and ‘radical’ nominees who will weaken law enforcement. The GOP base is soaking it up, with Fox News host TUCKER CARLSON showing a keen interest in typically humdrum sub-Cabinet confirmations and focusing several segments on Clarke. … Republicans are betting that their voters are paying attention, despite the high likelihood that both women eventually will be confirmed to Biden’s DOJ.”
KNOWING MAZIE HIRONO — “Quiet No More: Sen. Hirono’s Immigrant Journey Fuels Her Fire In Congress,” NPR: “[I]n recent years, Sen. Hirono, D-Hawaii — the only immigrant serving in the U.S. Senate — has turned heads for her increasingly tough, no-B.S. style and a willingness to challenge not just Republicans but her own Democratic party. The turning point, she said in an interview with NPR, was catalyzed by the Trump administration and the conduct of the former president himself. …
“In a new memoir, titled Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story, Sen. Hirono — now one of the most outspoken Democrats in Congress — describes the journey that’s brought her to this moment. She reflects on the difficult decision her mother had to make to remove herself from an abusive relationship by fleeing to Hawaii from Japan, leaving her youngest son — Hirono’s little brother — behind.”
THE TWO ERICS IN MISSOURI — “As Greitens attempts comeback, Schmitt is crowd-pleaser at Jackson County GOP event,” Kansas City Star: “ERIC GREITENS drew scattered applause from the mostly maskless audience as he rattled off a list of endorsements from attorney RUDY GIULIANI and others connected to the former president. But it was [Missouri A.G. ERIC] SCHMITT who was able to describe how he was using his office to take the fight to Biden. …
“The most popular of Schmitt’s recent actions appeared to be his challenge of the 2020 election results. … In interviews afterward, attendees declined to disavow Greitens. But the unmentioned scandal did not go unnoticed.”
LEADING DRUDGE LAST NIGHT — Dallas Morning News: “Matthew McConaughey may be a viable candidate for Texas governor; poll shows actor ahead of Abbott”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
TOP-ED — “What Joe Biden and I Saw After the U.S. Invaded Afghanistan,” by NYT’s Tom Friedman: “Our leaving may be a short-term disaster, and in the longer run, who knows, maybe Afghanistan will find balance on its own, like Vietnam. Or not. I don’t know. I am as humbled and ambivalent about it today as I was 20 years ago, and I am sure that Biden is too.
“All I know for sure are: 1) We need to offer asylum to every Afghan who worked closely with us and may now be in danger. 2) Afghans are going to author their own future. 3) It is American democracy that is being eroded today by our own divisiveness, by our own hands, and unless we get that fixed we can’t help anyone — including ourselves.”
AND GRAHAM GOES NUTS — Biden probably wasn’t expecting an endorsement from Trump on his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. But that’s exactly what he got Sunday, when the former president called his successor’s decision “a wonderful and positive thing” (while adding that he should have stuck to Trump’s May 1 withdrawal deadline).
Cue Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), a top Trump ally: “With all due respect to former President Trump,” the GOP senator said in a statement Sunday, “there is nothing ‘wonderful’ or ‘positive’ about allowing safe havens and sanctuary for terrorists to reemerge in Afghanistan or see Afghanistan be drawn back into another civil war.”
— NYT reporter Annie Karni points out on Twitter that Biden is following the same advice he gave to former President BARACK OBAMA, according to the former president’s memoir, “A Promised Land.” “Listen to me boss,” Obama said Biden told him following his first national security meeting, coming within a few inches from his face. “Maybe I’ve been around this town for too long, but one thing I know is when these generals are trying to box in a new president … don’t let them jam you.”
IN MINNESOTA — “CNN Producer Reportedly Was Asked ‘Do You Speak English’ After Being Thrown to the Ground, Arrested While Covering MN Protests,” Mediaite: “CAROLYN SUNG was among the CNN personnel on the ground in Brooklyn Center, MN last week to cover the protests as they grew increasingly heated. … LEITA WALKER, an attorney representing several news outlets, sent a letter to Minnesota Governor TIM WALZ (D) on Saturday with several accusations of unjust actions taken against members of the media.
“One of the most serious claims revolves around an incident where state troopers reportedly grabbed Sung ‘by her backpack, threw her to the ground, [zip-tying] her hands behind her back’ while she was trying to leave the area in compliance with a dispersal order. According to the letter, Sung ‘did not resist’ during the encounter, and she repeatedly tried to identify herself as a CNN journalist.” The letter
SUSAN ZIRINSKY EXIT INTERVIEW — “CBS News Will Try to Reinvent Itself, Again,” NYT: “‘The morale was at an all-time low, the shows were messy,’ Ms. Zirinsky said in an interview on Saturday, shortly after she had finished overseeing live coverage of PRINCE PHILIP’S funeral. ‘What I feel like I’ve achieved in these two years is something that for me, philosophically, journalistically, feels like I righted the ship.’
“‘I feel I have given my entire soul into rebuilding this organization,’ she said. Ms. Zirinsky is also leaving the network’s morning and evening news shows as she had inherited them: in third place, behind ABC and NBC.”
UNEXPECTED GOOD NEWS FOR DIGITAL MEDIA — “In the Roaring Twenties, Ads Make a Comeback,” Ben Smith’s NYT column: “Digital media executives scrambled last year to tell their boards about their new subscription products, but something strange happened: Their old, unfashionable advertising businesses exploded as consumers stayed home and shopped online.
“And now, travel companies, liquor companies and basically everyone else hoping to capitalize on a wide open summer and the marketing dream of a post-pandemic Roaring Twenties economic boom have begun pouring money into advertising on virtually every platform, but digital media most of all.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — LANNY DAVIS has registered as a foreign agent to represent DMYTRO FIRTASH, the Ukrainian billionaire who played a key role in Trump’s first impeachment saga and is facing federal bribery charges in Chicago. Davis, a partner at Davis Goldberg & Galper, was previously part of Firtash’s legal team in 2019, but he was dropped in favor of JOSEPH DIGENOVA and VICTORIA TOENSING, the Trump-aligned conservative lawyers who reportedly met with BILL BARR about the Firtash case. With Trump gone, Davis is back — at $50,000 per month, according to his FARA registration, which was submitted to the Department of Justice last night.
“I am pleased to rejoin the legal defense team led by DAN WEBB of Winston & Strawn to prove that Mr. Firtash is innocent of the charges filed against him by U.S. prosecutors in Chicago,” Davis told Playbook. “I hope that the Chicago federal prosecutors and U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. will re-evaluate the case as I believe it will be determined that there are no facts to support any of the charges against Mr. Firtash.”
Webb added, “We have long believed, based on the facts and the law, that the indictment lacks sufficient alleged facts supporting any criminal offense by Mr. Firtash and Mr. Davis will assist us in correcting the public record in media reports that suggest otherwise.”
BOOK CLUB — “Bill Barr, Amy Coney Barrett land book deals,” by Daniel Lippman: “BILL BARR … recently sold a book about his time at the Justice Department, according to three people familiar with the deal. This will be Barr’s first book and he started writing it within the last two months, according to one of the people.
“Justice AMY CONEY BARRETT, Trump’s last pick for the Supreme Court, has also sold a book — garnering a $2 million advance for a tome about how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule, according to three publishing industry sources.”
SINEMA TO EVERYONE: ‘FUCK OFF.’ Our Mel Zanona noticed that Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA, the centrist Arizona Democrat bucking her own party on nuking the filibuster, posted a photo on her Insta over the weekend of herself in a hot pink flat cap, drinking a sangria and wearing a ring that reads: “Fuck off.” How very Sinema.
MEDIAWATCH — Stephen Gutowski is launching The Reload, a new publication focused on gun policy and politics. He previously was the firearms policy reporter at The Washington Free Beacon.
TRANSITIONS — Michelle Moreno-Silva is now comms director for the Democratic Women’s Caucus. She previously led Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Hispanic media operation. … Meg Schwenzfeier is joining progressive data utility Catalist as chief analytics officer. She previously was data science director for the Biden campaign, and is a Hillary for America alum. … Andrea Hechavarria is joining the digital health company Butterfly Network as VP of government affairs. She most recently was on 3M’s federal affairs team, and is a Capitol Hill veteran. …
… Caroline Canfield is now president of GuidePost Strategies’ government relations practice. She previously was Senate Veterans Affairs majority staff director to Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Michael Bain, John Davis, John Gray and Chris Pair are also joining the government affairs practice, making the firm bipartisan.
ENGAGED — Caroline Celley, director of operations for Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), and Blake Tonn, who’s about to graduate from Georgetown with a master’s in public policy, got engaged Saturday by the Capitol. Despite growing up a few miles from each other in Phoenix, they didn’t meet until they were working together as staff assistants for Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Jennifer Myers, senior director of comms at the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and her husband welcomed Jack Everett on April 5. He joins big sister Kate. Pic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Alleigh Marré of Hickory Strategies … NBC’s Sheinelle Jones … Joanne Ochsman … Chad Pittman … Claire Murray … Mark Rusthoven … James Littlefair … CNN’s Emily Kuhn … Jon Dominic Garcia … Jim Kelly … POLITICO’s Kareem Payne … Seth Solomonow … Jonathan Levy of EVgo … Sarah Flaim … Louis Agnello … Jonathan Battaglia … Ally Schmeiser … Bloomberg’s Felix Gillette … Peter Tarnoff … MPA’s Kathy Grant (6-0) … Lori Yates …Katie Delzell of the Scalise Leadership Fund (3-0) … Asana Creative Strategy’s Courtney Sieloff … Caitlin Hayden of BAE Systems … Ron Pearson … Tory Brown … Paul Blest … Stateline’s Sophie Quinton … Ron Kaufman of Dentons … Linden Zakula … Laura Lee Burkett … Ryan Nabil … Vic Beck of Northrop Grumman … Anya van Wagtendonk … Luke Swarthout … AARP’s Mary Liz Burns … Peter Giangreco … Staci Appel … William Carter … Orde Kittrie … Prime Transatlantic’s John P. Schmitz
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