Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday! 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 this morning: 605,567.
As of today, 54.9 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 47.4 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.
The highly infectious delta variant is responsible for at least 25 percent of U.S. cases of COVID-19. It has been detected in at least six states: Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada and Utah.
Washington, D.C., is moving at a summer’s pace this week. But politics, as always, doesn’t stop.
Fresh off his second political rally in Sarasota, Fla., former President Trump’s presence is being felt across the political sphere, but perhaps nowhere more acutely than within the nascent 2024 battle for the party’s nomination.
Trump’s standing, along with his continued flirtation with a third White House bid, are forcing potential GOP 2024 entrants to tread carefully amid fears that they could upset the former president. Unlike past cycles, possible candidates have to be more covert and circumspect with their political actions, avoiding the appearance of being too overzealous in an attempt at sidestepping Trump’s ire.
“Donald Trump likes being the center of attention,” one veteran of several Republican presidential campaigns told The Hill’s Max Greenwood. “He likes the idea that the nomination is his if he wants it. … So there’s a real dilemma here if you’re a [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisSurfside mayor: Building demolition to take place ‘as soon as possible’ Trump slams indictment against organization at Florida rally Three people dead in Caribbean as Tropical Storm Elsa makes its way north MORE or a Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyCotton heads to Iowa to launch ‘Veterans to Victory’ program Tim Scott launches reelection bid The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden to review infrastructure deal MORE, because you need to get your name out there and make those connections with donors and voters without stepping on Donald Trump’s toes.”
There are some ways around some pitfalls standing between some candidates and the 2024 scene. A number of possible contenders are running for reelection in 2022, allowing them to make 2024 maneuvers under the shroud of their reelection bids. Headlining that group are DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemArkansas governor: ‘Bad precedent’ to send privately funded guardsmen to border Republicans eyeing White House take hard line on immigration Ohio governor deploys nearly 200 National Guard members to US-Mexico border MORE (R). Others, including Haley — Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations — and former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhen should the president be able to fire a watchdog? Pro-Trump social media app briefly hacked hours after launch House passes bill to strengthen authority of federal watchdogs MORE, have maintained that they are simply helping out key House and Senate candidates ahead of the 2022 midterms.
Despite a straw poll of activists at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver last month saying they prefer DeSantis over Trump, GOP politicos and polls have reiterated that Trump is the Republican standard-bearer, and little is expected to change on that end in the coming months.
The Wall Street Journal: In Iowa county that heavily backed Trump, Republican voters weigh other 2024 hopefuls.
CNN: New Bob Woodward book to cover last days of Trump presidency is set for September release.
Politico: Republicans weigh “cracking” cities to doom Democrats in redistricting.
> 2022: J.D. Vance, the latest entrant in the Ohio Senate race and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” said on Monday that he regrets posting tweets criticizing Trump during the 2016 campaign. Headlining the tweets were posts that called Trump “reprehensible,” and another where he announced he was voting for Evan McMullin.
“Like a lot of people, I criticized Trump back in 2016,” Vance said. “And I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy,” Vance told Fox News. “I think he was a good president, I think he made a lot of good decisions for people, and I think he took a lot of flak.”
Vance is part of the crowded field vying to replace outgoing Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanJD Vance says he regrets past criticism of Trump Sinema emerges as Senate dealmaker amid progressive angst The Hill’s Morning Report – Cheney ‘honored’ to serve on select committee MORE (R-Ohio) (Politico).
The Associated Press: Ex-governor Paul LePage (R) launches another run in Maine.
The Washington Post: In ramp-up to 2022 midterms, Republican candidates center pitches on Trump’s false election claims.
The Hill: Supreme Court ruling opens door to more campaign finance challenges.
> Recall politics: The Hill’s Reid Wilson took a deep dive into the looming California recall election of Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomA wake-up call for water resilience in the West 67 percent of adults have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE (D), set for Sept. 14 as Republicans launch campaigns aimed at unseating the governor who has been criticized for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) certified the signatures needed to launch an election last week, setting off a 10-week sprint to determine Newsom’s political future. As Reid writes, open questions remain whether the tight time frame between now and election day will benefit one side or another, or whether Republicans will coalesce around a singular candidate. The pandemic is also still a key issue, and how the virus cooperates in the coming weeks could play a role.
The Republican field has already grown crowded, with former San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer, former Olympian-turned-reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner, businessman John Cox and former Rep. Doug Ose (Calif.) headlining the current crop of candidates. No Republican has won a statewide campaign in the state since former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) won reelection in 2006 (The Associated Press).
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: The crux of problems surrounding the bipartisan infrastructure package is how to pay for it. That remains the case this week as Democrats worry about provisions to repurpose unspent COVID-19 assistance to fund the proposal.
The $973 billion infrastructure blueprint is set to repurpose $125 billion in unspent funds for unemployment benefits and state and local governments that was passed as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law in March. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBipartisan spending deal meets fresh resistance from key Democrats Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Knowledge is ‘rotting’ silently online Biden announces new steps on wildfires: US must ‘act fast’ MORE (D-Ore.) is leading the charge to oppose the effort, arguing that corporations should shoulder the burden to fund the package.
However, alterations to the 2017 GOP tax law have remained a red line for Republicans in negotiations, forcing Democrats to go back to the drawing board in a push to strike a deal. Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinBipartisan spending deal meets fresh resistance from key Democrats Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is ‘a strong, bold climate bill’ The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden on Putin: ‘a worthy adversary’ MORE (D-Md.), another member of the Senate Finance Committee, said negotiators of the bipartisan framework “used every conceivable thing other than normal increases in fees or taxes to pay for it.”
“It’s not the traditional types of revenues you expect to have,” Cardin added (The Hill).
The Washington Post: With trillions at stake, Democrats hurtle toward key decisions on President BidenJoe BidenFive big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee With Afghanistan left in limbo, can the global South trust the West? When should the president be able to fire a watchdog? MORE’s agenda.
The Associated Press: With Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSinema emerges as Senate dealmaker amid progressive angst Here’s the strong, unapologetic conservative to replace Meghan McCain 7 conservative women who could replace Meghan McCain on ‘The View’ MORE (R-Ariz.) in mind, Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSinema emerges as Senate dealmaker amid progressive angst Biden’s infrastructure balancing act could topple Democrats in the midterms The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Biden takes victory lap after robust jobs report MORE (D-Ariz.) reaches for bipartisanship.
The Wall Street Journal: Democrats hope to pass climate bill after failing a decade ago.
> Jan. 6 probe: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee Clyburn: Trump could be called to testify before Jan. 6 panel What we get wrong about the Founders — and what they might tell us today MORE (D-Calif.) kick-started the House’s special investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, naming the first eight members of the panel and saying that the first hearing will feature Capitol Police officers.
However, multiple aspects of the probe remain up in the air. The 13-member committee has yet to be filled out, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFive big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee Clyburn: Trump could be called to testify before Jan. 6 panel Court ruling sets up ever more bruising fight over tech MORE (R-Calif.) able to name five lawmakers to it. Additionally, its subpoena powers are uncertain and the deadline to produce a report has not been set. The Hill’s Mike Lillis takes a look at five questions that need to be examined in the coming months.
The Associated Press: Hunt for Capitol attackers still on six months after Jan. 6.
The Hill: Military braces for sea change on justice reform.
The Hill: Court ruling sets up ever more bruising fight over tech.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: To many observers, Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffDoug Emhoff carves out path as first second gentleman White House to trumpet return to normalcy despite delta variant The Hill’s Morning Report – Cheney ‘honored’ to serve on select committee MORE appears to be having a blast. The nation’s second gentleman, husband of Vice President Harris, began his career as an entertainment lawyer in California and found himself immersed in politics and governance because of his wife.
As The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Morgan Chalfant report, Emhoff has traveled solo around the country this year to promote coronavirus inoculations and talk up Biden’s domestic agenda while also displaying a valued skill: he’s an astute listener. Observers suggest one sign of Emhoff’s early success is an ability to stay below the media spotlight and keep the focus on the administration’s message.
> Should the administration lift COVID-19-related bans on travel into the United States affecting individuals originating in 33 nations? The Hill’s Laura Kelly reports that public health experts and travel industry advocates believe the time is right to restart international travel. Critics say such bans are largely ineffective from a disease perspective because of rising vaccination rates, forfeit needed revenues and make life difficult for international students trying to study in the United States this fall. … Why can’t Americans visit Canada? (The New York Times).
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!
U.S. cities are at a crossroads, by Noah Smith, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/36ehIZ7
What happens when your rapist dies, by Patti Davis, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3dL3d3f
Everything I know about hope I learned from my dog, by Margaret Renkl, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3dNmeC3
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 12:30 p.m. for a pro forma session.
The Senate convenes for a pro forma session on Thursday at noon.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:30 a.m. Biden will receive a briefing at 1:15 p.m. from the administration’s COVID-19 response team. The president will speak in the South Court Auditorium at 2:45 p.m. to update the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations.
The vice president will depart Los Angeles this morning to return to Washington, D.C.
State Department Secretary Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenPressure grows for Biden to ease pandemic travel bans Pope Francis taken to hospital for scheduled intestine surgery Gender requirements relaxed for US passports MORE will meet virtually at 1 p.m. for a roundtable discussion with survivors from Xinjiang, China, internment camps and advocates for Muslim minorities mistreated by the Chinese government.
The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m.
Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.
➔ FLORIDA: With the confirmed deaths of 28 and 117 people still missing in Surfside, Fla., search teams are back at work atop piles of debris following Sunday night’s demolition of the remaining section of the Champlain Towers condominiums (pictured below) (The Associated Press). They are trying to work ahead of Elsa, the ominous tropical storm bringing damaging winds, heavy rains and a hurricane watch to Florida (WESH and The Associated Press). Biden issued an emergency declaration for the state on Sunday.
➔ INTERNATIONAL: The United Kingdom said on Monday that vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear face masks in public spaces or engage in social distancing starting on July 19, with the government set to make a final decision on Monday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement despite rising cases in Great Britain, noting that the pandemic is “far from over” (The Associated Press). … The Taliban on Monday said it is accelerating peace talks with the government in Afghanistan, with written peace plans possibly coming as soon as next month (The Hill). … OPEC and rising oil prices on Monday exposed a public rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (Reuters). … The Vatican said Pope FrancisPope FrancisPope alert after intestinal surgery, Vatican says Pope Francis taken to hospital for scheduled intestine surgery Vatican judge charges cardinal, nine others with financial crimes MORE was “in good condition” and breathing on his own Monday, after a three-hour operation on Sunday to remove half of his colon because of diverticular stenosis, or narrowing of the sigmoid portion of the large intestine. The pope, 84, is expected to be a patient at a Catholic hospital in Rome for about a week (The Associated Press). … Israel is experiencing a surge in infections from the delta variant of the coronavirus — in more than 40 percent in those fully vaccinated. New data is sparking concern about how the efficacy of Pfizer and other vaccines can be weakened by the delta virus (Haaretz).
➔ TECH & CYBERSECURITY: Did ransomware extortionists let their recent $70 million demand get out of hand after crippling hundreds of small and medium businesses across a dozen countries? People familiar with hacking groups and extortion negotiations suggested on Monday that the group claiming credit, REvil, may budge as a gang affiliate began talking about $5 million (Reuters). … Experts are sounding the alarm about potential international cyber risks to the Tokyo Summer Olympics (The Hill). … If the Hong Kong government proceeds with proposed new data-protection laws, Facebook, Twitter and Google say they could stop offering their services because of opposition to being held liable for malicious online sharing of individuals’ information (The Wall Street Journal). … Twitter under law in India lost immunity to liability over user-generated content (Reuters). … Tesla is heavily invested in autonomous vehicles, but crash victims say the company’s technology that can steer, brake and accelerate a car on its own kills (The New York Times).
And finally … “Alaskans love dogs.” That was the assurance a Montana man heard at an Alaska hospital where he was recently treated after being bitten twice by a brown bear. He had surprised a mother bear with two cubs while hiking and been separated from his companion, a frightened, 14-week-old border collie. Jason Umbriaco made an escape but his puppy, Buckley, disappeared in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. A hospital employee assured Umbriaco that if they posted a picture and a request for help on Facebook, Alaskans would spread the word and the pup might be found. She was right. Umbriaco and Buckley were reunited two days later, thanks to a good Samaritan who stopped at the refuge and scooped up what looked like a stray dog with no tags (The Associated Press).