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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each day this week: Monday, 607,156; Tuesday, 607,400; Wednesday, 607,771; Thursday, 608,115.
President Biden on Wednesday appeared on Capitol Hill in an attempt to rally Senate Democrats behind his push to pass a multi-trillion-dollar spending plan aimed at infrastructure, climate change and health care that requires unanimous support from all 50 members.
Biden’s visit marked his first before the entire Senate Democratic Caucus, with the goal to preach unity as he and Democratic leaders plow forward on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package and a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure framework, with the hope of action next week.
“We’re going to get this done,” Biden told reporters as he walked through corridors that had been part of his Senate home base for 36 years (The Hill).
Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Democrats confident their plans are coming together.
The Associated Press: Biden pitches huge budget, predicts Democrats will “get a lot done.”
Multiple Senate Democrats told reporters following the presidential pep rally that Biden’s message was positive and upbeat behind the two packages as they look to retain the support of a crucial group of centrist members. For now, that seems to be the case as those members have continued to keep their powder dry.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money: Democrats reach deal on .5T target | Biden rallies Democrats: ‘We’re going to get this done’ Democrats confident their plans are coming together Senate budget deal to provide new funding for Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare MORE (D-W.Va.), the most vocal critic within the conference of a potential $3 trillion-plus package, told reporters that he is “open” to supporting the $3.5 trillion framework, but indicated that he still wants to see how it’s paid for (The Hill).
“They’ve worked hard on it. We want to see it, and…I’ve been very clear that I want to see the pay-fors,” Manchin said. When asked if the price tag is too high for his taste, he responded, “Depends on how you pay for it.”
“No comments,” Manchin told reporters regarding how he plans to vote on a budget resolution procedural vote. “Let’s see what unfolds.”
Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOn The Money: Democrats reach deal on .5T target | Biden rallies Democrats: ‘We’re going to get this done’ Democrats confident their plans are coming together Biden rallies Democrats: ‘We’re going to get this done’ MORE (D-Mont.), another centrist member, said he will vote on the motion to proceed to the bill shortly after labeling the $3.5 trillion price point a “shit-pile of dough (The Hill).
“The price tag is a lot of money but it doesn’t scare me, it’s just how it’s being spent. There are plenty of needs out there, we just have to figure out how it’s being spent,” Tester said.
Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaKey centrist Tester will vote to proceed to .5T budget deal The Memo: On voting, public has a more nuanced view than partisans Democrats reach deal on .5T price tag for infrastructure bill MORE (D-Ariz.) is the other centrist to watch. She plans to review it based on what’s best for Arizona rather than the potential $3.5 trillion figure, according to her staff.
The Wall Street Journal: Centrist Democrats take wait-and-see stance on $3.5 Trillion plan.
As The Hill’s Brett Samuels writes, the proposed deal would cover the cost of the package through tax reforms to the corporate and international tax codes, as well as through more intensive enforcement. The administration has maintained that individuals earning less than $400,000 annually would not face any tax increases. The coming legislation would implement a tax on imports from nations that do not abide by aggressive climate change policies (The New York Times).
Upshot: Democrats’ optimism on Wednesday overrode the gauzy details about the $3.5 trillion budget plan. The road to potential enactment is long and unpredictable.
Naomi Jagoda, The Hill: What we know so far about the $3.5 trillion budget deal.
The Wall Street Journal: What’s in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget plan — and how they plan to pay for it.
The Hill: Manchin raises concerns over inflation, climate agenda at Biden lunch.
The Hill: Manchin signals support for immigration in budget deal.
While Wednesday was a big day, it was equally as important for Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerModerate Democrats call for 9/11-style panel to probe COVID-19 origins Democratic senator: Reconciliation package to include clean electricity standard Number of nonwhite Democratic Senate staffers ticks up from 2020 MORE (D-N.Y.), who is commanding the effort to pass the gargantuan reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure blueprint along parallel tracks. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the push represents the biggest test of Schumer’s tenure ahead of the 2022 midterm elections to keep everyone under the same tent and not let anyone escape and derail the process.
While the centrists remain question marks, Biden and Schumer seem to have nailed down the progressive wing behind the bill. Outside of the support from Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersLiberal lawmakers praise Senate Democratic budget deal Democrats confident their plans are coming together What we know so far about the .5 trillion budget deal MORE (I-Vt.), Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyInitial hospital costs for gun injuries tops B per year: GAO report Biden rallies Democrats: ‘We’re going to get this done’ Nina Turner surrogate calls influx of outside money ‘very upsetting’ MORE (D-Mass.) told reporters that the $3.5 trillion figure is “a good start.” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Democrats reach deal on .5T target | Biden rallies Democrats: ‘We’re going to get this done’ Democrats confident their plans are coming together Initial hospital costs for gun injuries tops B per year: GAO report MORE (D-Mass.) added that the package is a “strong step forward” (HuffPost).
Jonathan Allen, NBC News: Bernie Sanders lost the presidency. But he’s shaping the agenda.
Axios: The infrastructure drug deal.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board: The Sanders Democrats go for broke.
Amie Parnes, The Hill: Biden shifts from Obama when it comes to Senate.
Across the aisle, Republicans unsurprisingly panned the reconciliation effort as too expensive and unnecessary, especially one day after the new consumer price index showed that inflation is at its highest level in more than a decade. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Democrats reach deal on .5T target | Biden rallies Democrats: ‘We’re going to get this done’ McConnell: Biden voting rights speech ‘utter nonsense’ McConnell blasts .5T budget deal MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters that the budget resolution price is “wildly out of proportion to what the country needs now,” adding that inflation is “raging” (The Hill).
The reconciliation bill’s price tag also has Republicans questioning whether it could have a negative impact on the bipartisan infrastructure framework. Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP’s Thune warns .5T deal ‘complicates’ bipartisan infrastructure bill Bipartisan Senate group to finalize infrastructure bill this week Trump getting tougher for Senate GOP to ignore MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said that the burgeoning bill could “put downward pressure on Republican votes” for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure effort.
“I don’t think it helps. We have members who truly do want to get an infrastructure bill,” Thune said (The Hill).
Politico: Pigs fly: McConnell weighs giving Biden a bipartisan win.
LEADING THE DAY
ADMINISTRATION: Biden will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House for her 19th and likely final official visit today to the United States as she engages with her fourth U.S. president before leaving office later this year. After 16 years in office, no leader has matched her dominance in Europe (The Associated Press). She has seen it all, from former President George W. Bush’s friendly neck and shoulder rub, to friction over U.S. eavesdropping on her phone during the Obama years, to former President TrumpDonald TrumpTop generals feared Trump would attempt coup after election and had informal plan to stop it: book Arizona’s Maricopa County approves M for new vote-counting machines On The Money: Democrats reach deal on .5T target | Biden rallies Democrats: ‘We’re going to get this done’ MORE’s snub in 2017 when he chose not to shake her hand (The Associated Press).
Biden’s election has meant warmer personal relations between the two countries even as the two governments are unlikely to reverse the long-term divergence of interests in the transatlantic relationship, reports The Wall Street Journal. No deal between the two countries is expected today on the Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, despite speculation that an agreement could be close (Axios).
> U.S.-China: The Biden administration is hinting at Trump-style pain for China as the president continues to describe the nation of 1.4 billion people as a threat to national security, human rights, U.S. economic competitiveness and greenhouse gas emissions (Yahoo News). … Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will visit China next week, sparking speculation about a potential bilateral summit between Biden and President Xi Jinping (South China Morning Post). … Red phone? The Biden administration wants to develop a rapid communication tool that could be folded into a broader effort to reduce the risk of conflict between the US and China (CNN). … Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenThe national debt limit is a greater threat than the debt itself China knocks Yellen over call for ‘unified front’ between US, Europe EU delaying work on digital tax proposal amid global talks MORE has no plans to resurrect the once regular economic dialogue that governed relations between the United States and China during the Bush and Obama administrations (The Wall Street Journal). … The Senate passed legislation on Wednesday that would ban the import of products from China’s Xinjiang region, the latest effort in Congress to punish Beijing for what U.S. officials say is an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups (Reuters).
> Afghanistan: Biden and Western leaders continue to field prominent criticism over the decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan. Former President George W. Bush, who deployed 1,300 U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2001, told Washington bureau chief Ines Pohl of Germany’s public news service DW during an interview from his summer home in Maine that he believes the U.S. exit is a mistake that will lead to “unspeakable harm” for Afghan women and girls (The Associated Press). … The United States has begun to evacuate some of the Afghan interpreters and other contractors who helped the U.S. military during the past two decades (The Associated Press). … Without firing a shot, the Taliban seized a strategic border crossing with Pakistan on Wednesday — the latest in a series of key border posts to come under their control as U.S. and allied forces depart (The Associated Press).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Democrats are seeking to flip the script on the GOP’s non-stop attacks against the “defund the police” mantra and instead are looking to go on offense ahead of the 2022 midterm contests on an issue that harmed them last year in some House races.
As The Hill’s Tal Axelrod writes, the party is discussing ways to turn the attacks around, including by highlighting GOP opposition to Biden’s coronavirus relief package earlier this year that included funds that state and local governments could opt to use for local law enforcement, and Republicans’ response to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The strategy is just getting off the ground, and the attacks have yet to be widely publicized in ad campaigns, with the economy, COVID-19 pandemic and infrastructure as leading messages. However, the renewed law enforcement talk is expected to be a tool in the Democratic box to beat back the messages that plagued them last cycle.
The Hill: Former Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election Democrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency MORE dodges CNBC questions on whether former President Trump lied about the election.
Detroit Free Press: Michigan GOP executive, who blamed Trump for election loss, resigns leadership post.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
“Lean into it. Lean into the culture war,” by Thomas B. Edsall, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3z3jN6L
Bad cops don’t deserve protection from unions, local laws, USA Today editorial board. https://bit.ly/3xKwanR
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 9 a.m. on Friday for a pro forma session. Members return for legislative business on Monday. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFormer Oklahoma City Thunder employee pleads guilty to illegal demonstration during Capitol riot Moderate Democrats call for 9/11-style panel to probe COVID-19 origins Select committee on Capitol attack to hear police testimony July 27 MORE (D-Calif.) will headline a news conference with other House Democratic lawmakers at 9:30 a.m. PT at the Los Angeles Barrio Action Youth and Family Center to raise awareness about monthly federal relief payments, which begin today under law enacted this year for eligible families with children.
The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Nellie Liang to be an under secretary of Treasury.
The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden and Harris will speak at 1:45 p.m. about expanded federal benefits for families with children, which involve direct monthly payments by the IRS that begin today for eligible children ages 6 to 17. The president at 2 p.m. will welcome Merkel for a working visit and bilateral meetings. The two leaders will hold a joint press conference at 4:15 p.m. in the East Room. Biden and first lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Voting rights will be on ’22, ’24 ballots Tokyo governor says medical system ready, vows ‘safe and secure’ Olympics The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Texas Dems flee to Washington MORE will host Merkel and husband Joachim Sauer for a dinner in the State Dining Room at 6:30 p.m. with guests including Harris, husband Douglas EmhoffDoug EmhoffHarris’s stepdaughter makes Paris Fashion Week debut The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden renews families plan pitch; Senate prepares to bring infrastructure package to floor The Hill’s Morning Report – 2024 GOPers goal: Tread carefully, don’t upset Trump MORE and Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenMiniature Statue of Liberty replica unveiled in DC Watch live: Blinken delivers Bastille Day remarks from DC Biden administration inviting UN racism, human rights envoys to visit US MORE.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at 9:30 a.m. testifies to the Senate Banking Committee about the central bank’s semiannual monetary report to Congress. During his House testimony on Wednesday, Powell said inflation is elevated but transitory. He signaled no imminent change in the Fed’s ultra-low-interest rate policies (The Associated Press).
Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report filings for unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending July 10. A gradual downward trend unexpectedly reversed last week, indicating that recovery in U.S. employment had slowed (CNBC).
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. and will include U.S. Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyMurthy: COVID-19 vaccine development could bring ‘cures and treatments for other illnesses much, much closer’ Do you need a vaccine booster and other questions swirling around COVID Pfizer to brief US health officials on coronavirus booster shot: report MORE.
INVITATION: The Hill’s Virtually Live event, “Revitalizing America’s Cities,” TODAY at 1 p.m., with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D); Montgomery, Ala., Mayor Steven Reed (D); Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D); Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley (D); and more for a conversation about how microbusinesses could reenergize cities. Information is HERE.
➔ CORONAVIRUS: Today’s headlines are filled with rising U.S. COVID-19 infections, the persistent lag in vaccination rates in Southern and Midwestern states and struggles abroad as decisions to lift pandemic restrictions crash headlong into the rampaging delta variant.
In the United States, politicization of COVID-19 vaccines alarms doctors and public health advisers and pushes elected officials to take political sides. Tennessee is ending its outreach to adolescents to get all vaccines, including COVID-19 inoculations. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) criticized the administration’s support for door-to-door vaccination outreach (The Hill), which is a technique Arkansas Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonArkansas sees biggest increase in COVID-19 cases in five months COVID-19 case count spikes hit almost every state Sunday shows preview: Biden defends troop withdrawal in Afghanistan; COVID-19 impacting unvaccinated pockets MORE, another conservative, argued Sunday is effective because he said many people in his state can’t go online to make vaccination appointments or to obtain reliable medical information about why COVID-19 inoculations could save lives.
The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports on the confusing rise of the anti-vaccine movement, including in Tennessee. The Hill’s Niall Stanage explores whether a resurgence of COVID-19 cases could spark a backlash against U.S. vaccine skepticism and less tolerance for pandemic malarkey peddled by conservative media personalities and politicians.
The New York Times: COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are rising swiftly in some states that have low vaccination rates, such as Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Nevada. U.S. communities are splintering along vaccination fault lines and the reasons are complex.
Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg Opinion: Why Republicans are turning against vaccines.
➔ TECH: Twitter announced on Wednesday that it is ending “Fleets,” a feature that allows users to post content for 24 hours before it disappears. The decision came only 16 months after the company rolled out the addition, which mirrored Snapchat and Instagram stories. Snapchat and Instagram rolled out their version of the feature in 2013 and 2016, respectively, leaving Twitter in the dust. Fleets will be officially phased out in August (The New York Times).
➔ U.S. MAIL: The postal district surrounding Washington, D.C., had the third-worst on-time delivery record for U.S. mail in the country, and the Baltimore district had the worst in the nation, according to a service performance dashboard created by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Senators held a hearing on Tuesday and continued to press the Postal Service for improvements after receiving thousands of complaints from unhappy constituents (WTOP).
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by Friday’s 80th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio hitting safely in his 56th consecutive game, we’re eager for some smart guesses about (likely) unbreakable records in a variety of sports.
Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
In 1978, Pete Rose came the closest of any ballplayer to DiMaggio’s record. How many games did his hitting streak last?
Tennis great Rafael Nadal has won a record 13 French Open singles titles. How many matches has Nadal lost at the famed tournament at Roland Garros?
Which of the following records does hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky not hold?
- Most points in a career
- Most goals in a season
- Most assist in a season
- None of the above
Lastly, Henry Aaron, who was honored at this week’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Denver, holds the record for playing __ All-Star Games during his 23-year career.