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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 585,970; Tuesday, 586,359; Wednesday, 587,219.
The House today is expected to approve a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but Republicans on Tuesday urged colleagues to vote against the bipartisan panel.
Despite winning concessions sought in negotiations between the parties, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTrump calls for Jan. 6 commission debate to end ‘immediately’ Problem Solvers Caucus backs Jan. 6 commission Scalise urges House Republicans to vote against Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump calls for Jan. 6 commission debate to end ‘immediately’ Problem Solvers Caucus backs Jan. 6 commission Scalise urges House Republicans to vote against Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-La.) announced their opposition to the formation of a commission. The two leaders complained that the scope of the investigation does not include protests and incidents involving Democrats.
“Given the political misdirections that have marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the Speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation,” McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday morning.
Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoProblem Solvers Caucus backs Jan. 6 commission Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon ‘Instagram for kids’ plan | ‘Homework gap’ likely to persist after pandemic Legislation to secure critical systems against cyberattacks moves forward in the House MORE (R-N.Y.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, negotiated the package for Republicans. It largely mirrors a proposal he and other top House GOP committee leaders authored in January that made no mention of probing other political violence.
As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos and Rebecca Beitsch note, time spent by the commission looking into incidents such as protests last summer in Portland, Ore., or a shooting at a congressional baseball game in 2017 would blur the commission’s focus on the events of Jan. 6 and former President TrumpDonald TrumpNew York prosecutors investigating Trump Organization in a ‘criminal capacity’ Firm behind Arizona audit says no data was destroyed, contradicting GOP allegations Trump calls for Jan. 6 commission debate to end ‘immediately’ MORE’s involvement. That deflection has been a goal among some Republican members who want to put the deadly events in January behind them.
Nevertheless, more than 20 Republican members are expected to vote with Democrats to advance the House bill, according to one GOP lawmaker.
“There aren’t many good Republican objections to the commission, other than resisting Democrats trying to feast on the souls of Republican infighting,” a senior Republican told the Morning Report.
The Hill: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThree GOP lawmakers fined 0 for flouting House floor mask rules Problem Solvers Caucus backs Jan. 6 commission GOP splits open over Jan. 6 commission vote MORE (D-Calif.) slams GOP for “cowardice” over Jan. 6 commission.
The Hill: White House backs bill establishing Jan. 6 commission.
With roughly 10 percent of the House Republican Conference expected to vote for the panel, it raises new questions surrounding whether the Senate will greenlight a potential package. Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGOP splits open over Jan. 6 commission vote Senators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos’s homes MORE (D-N.Y.) promised on Tuesday that the House bill will get a vote in the upper chamber. He heaped criticism on McCarthy for what he called the minority leader’s “eleventh-hour opposition” (The Hill). On Jan. 13, McCarthy blamed Trump for the riot at the Capitol before changing his tune weeks later.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said at the time. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump to accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect BidenJoe BidenFirm behind Arizona audit says no data was destroyed, contradicting GOP allegations Stacey Abrams on not being Biden’s VP: ‘He picked the right person’ Overnight Defense: Top Dem backs off request for Israel arms sale delay | Afghanistan withdrawal up to 20 percent done | Esper returns to defense industry MORE is able to successfully begin his term.”
Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyMichigan judge rejects one of last challenges to 2020 election results What Liz Cheney got wrong — about climate change GOP splits open over Jan. 6 commission vote MORE (R-Wyo.) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma Sunday shows – Cheney removal, CDC guidance reverberate House Republican: ‘Absolutely bogus’ for GOP to downplay Jan. 6 MORE (R-Mich.) have speculated in recent days that McCarthy would likely be subpoenaed by any potential commission to ask him about his Jan. 6 phone conversations with Trump, which Rep. Jamie Herrara Beutler (R-Wash.) revealed after she said McCarthy described them. Republicans have sought an exit door for any potential testimony from McCarthy, as Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryDCCC targets Republicans for touting stimulus bill they voted against Five takeaways on the House’s return to budget earmarks Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program MORE (R-Pa.) filed an amendment that would sidestep subpoenas for some House members.
Sources told CNN that McCarthy is also trying to nix the commission because he is “scared” of what it could mean for his ambition to be Speaker one day.
“There is a lot of drama right now and Kevin is in a perilous position,” a Republican source told CNN. “Whether it’s the January 6th commission, or if the Justice Department comes calling, he has information about the rally, the insurrection and Trump’s words and state of mind.”
According to Senate GOP sources, it will be a steep climb for Democrats to win the requisite 10 Senate Republicans needed to establish a commission (The Hill).
“I wouldn’t think so,” one Senate Republican told the Morning Report, arguing that a detailed account of the Jan. 6 events pending from the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Rules Committee “will be much less partisan.”
One Senate GOP aide added that many in Republican circles are wary of delving more deeply into the Jan. 6 events, arguing that the deadly riot was “litigated for the entire world to see” during the second Trump impeachment trial three months ago.
“I think it’ll be tough,” the aide said. “There is a feeling that Democrats want to keep this issue alive because it will help them in the midterms. … I don’t think it helps Dems electorally other than it distracts from perceived Biden failures. That’s it’s political value.”
“We all know what happened. You don’t need a commission to make those changes,” the aide added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump calls for Jan. 6 commission debate to end ‘immediately’ Republicans defy mask rules on House floor GOP splits open over Jan. 6 commission vote MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that the Senate GOP conference remains “undecided” on whether to support the commission (The Hill). According to Axios, McConnell indicated behind closed doors to Senate Republicans that he does not support the legislation in its current form.
If enacted, a commission would be tasked to publicly report findings and security recommendations by the end of the year.
The Hill: Trump calls for Jan. 6 commission debate to end “immediately.”
More in Congress … Pelosi on Tuesday threw her support behind a “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, calling on Americans to “honor your athletes at home” in a protest of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority (The Hill). … The House on Tuesday passed bipartisan legislation aimed at combating hate crimes against Asian Americans that have seen a sharp increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate last month approved the bill, 94-1. President Biden has vowed to sign the bill into law this month, which is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (The Hill). … Senate Democrats are split on whether a $735 million weapons sale to Israel approved by the Biden administration should move forward, with progressives criticizing the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, which have killed scores of civilians. A potential floor vote would put Senate Democrats on the record regarding the sale (The Hill). … Biden’s aid programs help buttress McCarthy’s district despite GOP leader’s complaints about “socialist” spending (The Washington Post).
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LEADING THE DAY
ADMINISTRATION: Democrats in Congress appear more skeptical of Israel and are pressuring Biden as the administration navigates the diplomatic challenge of a second week of Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza. Progressive Democrats continue to raise concerns about Palestinian human rights, and beyond that outspoken group, other Washington Democrats say they are no longer willing to give Israel a pass for its harsh treatment of the Palestinians and the spasms of violence that have defined the conflict for years (The New York Times).
“That hasn’t worked,” Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanProgressives divided over efforts to repeal SALT cap Left feels empowered after Biden backtracks on refugees NIH reverses Trump administration’s ban on fetal tissue research MORE (D-Wis.) told a top adviser to Biden late last week, referring to Biden’s statecraft playbook of old. The congressman recounted the conversation in an interview with The New York Times on Monday. “We’re going to be advocating for peace in a way that maybe they haven’t traditionally heard,” he said.
Reuters: Today, Israeli forces continue pounding Gaza with air strikes and Hamas militants renewed cross-border rocket attacks. Separately, world powers on Tuesday continued to urge a truce in Gaza (Reuters).
The New York Times and The Washington Post: Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden prays for safety of Tlaib’s family in Michigan speech Republican resolution supporting Israel signals growing divide with Democrats Sunrise Movement endorses Nina Turner in special election for Ohio House seat MORE (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress, confronted Biden on Tuesday on the tarmac in her state, telling him his unconditional support for Israel was not working to bring an immediate end to what she assails as human rights violations against Palestinians.
Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: IEA calls for no new investment in fossil fuels in net-zero plan | Biden frames EV goals as competition with China | US considering carbon import tax, Kerry says Biden waiving sanctions for Nord Stream 2 pipeline firm: report Biden just weakened his China policy and did Xi Jinping a big favor MORE and his envoy on Tuesday reached out to Palestinian and regional Arab leaders as attacks between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers raged on. The administration is practicing what the Biden administration is calling quiet diplomacy while still declining to press for an immediate cease-fire. Blinken, speaking during an unrelated trip focusing on Russia and Nordic countries, also defended the U.S. decision to block what would have been a unanimous United Nations Security Council statement on the fighting and its civilian toll, and the overall U.S. approach to the worst Israeli-Palestinian fighting since 2014 (The Associated Press).
The White House has made the calculation that Israelis will not respond to international resolutions or public demands and that the greatest leverage the United States has is behind-the-scenes pressure, according to an AP source. The Israelis have signaled to the administration that it’s possible their military campaign could end in a matter of days, according to the report.
More administration: Biden unveiled a $1.5 billion plan on Tuesday meant to expand access to counsel and the courts. The Justice Department plan, described in a presidential memorandum, would be financed by a discretionary budget request (Law and Crime).
CORONAVIRUS: Add the nation’s governors to the hordes of Americans offering complaints and voicing confusion about the revised mask guidance last week presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoAndrew Giuliani to run for New York governor CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition New York City Marathon returning with smaller field MORE (D) on Tuesday said that, “we should have been coordinated” when it comes to telling vaccinated Americans they can jettison masks indoors and outdoors because “the messaging was sensitive.” He said governors “had to scramble, and we didn’t really have the same uniformity of message that I think we’ve had up until now.”
Cuomo noted that vaccinations, which already are on the decline in the United States, dropped further after the CDC announcement. The government had hoped the announcement drawn from the latest scientific research would, in part, encourage unvaccinated Americans to weigh the benefits of being inoculated.
Cuomo suggested people misinterpreted the no-mask announcement to mean the pandemic is over. “It has caused confusion,” he said (ABC News and New York Post).
The New York Times: The Empire State today will heed the CDC mask guidance for vaccinated people, while New Jersey will keep its mask restrictions in place.
The Washington Post: School systems in the Washington, D.C., area weigh how to handle guidance for unvaccinated students, indoors and out.
The CDC’s guidance last week caught the White House flat-footed, underscoring how the administration’s commitment to empower the public health agency has at times forced the West Wing and the president to quickly pivot when it comes to public health decisions and the latest science, reports The Hill’s Brett Samuels and Nathaniel Weixel. The resulting controversy forced the CDC to make changes, including creating a reporting chain from the new director of the agency’s vaccine task force up to Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyCDC: At least 600,000 kids 12 to 15 have received first COVID-19 vaccine dose Fauci: COVID-19 vaccines effective against Indian variant Fauci: ‘Perfectly reasonable’ for businesses to keep mask mandates MORE (Politico).
Major companies are shedding their mask requirements for fully vaccinated employees, reports The Hill’s Alex Gangitano, but have no clear policies about how to determine if a worker has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Walensky said on Tuesday that the CDC is still working on guidance applicable to businesses. She has encouraged employers and industries to set their own policies. Business groups have voiced support for vaccination requirements as a term of employment, despite the legal pitfalls that come with enforcement. Companies now face the challenge of setting rules for workplace settings that may include the comingling of vaccinated and unvaccinated personnel.
The Wall Street Journal: The growing divide between rich and poor economies is another major challenge presented by COVID-19.
CNN: Coming back to Chicago’s Grant Park in late July: Lollapalooza music festival. Full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be required to enjoy the festivities, says Mayor Lori LightfootLori LightfootLollapalooza to return at full capacity this summer Chicago Auto Show returning after coronavirus-forced hiatus Chicago mayor mulls ‘vaccination passes’ for events MORE (D).
The administration of COVID-19 vaccines happens in unusual places, such as restaurants, factories, public transportation hubs (as in New York’s subway, below) and sporting venues. Why? It’s an attempt to reach unvaccinated Americans where they work, live and play (The Wall Street Journal).
Agence France Presse: The European Union agrees to reopen borders to fully vaccinated travelers.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor Democrat Nikki Fried teases possible challenge to DeSantis The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent BioSolutions – Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (D-Fla.) will challenge Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioObama: I asked about aliens, was told no Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor Rubio wants ‘UFO sightings’ to be registered, taken seriously MORE (R) for his seat in 2022, foregoing an expected bid for the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee to take on a two-term incumbent who is considered a solid favorite (The Hill).
Rubio, who has been in the Senate for a decade, won reelection in 2016 by 52 percent of the vote months after he dropped out of the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination in March. The Florida Republican subsequently backed Trump as president and voted twice to acquit him during impeachment proceedings.
A Mason-Dixon poll conducted in March, before any Democrat jumped into the Senate race, found that Rubio did not attract majority support for reelection in Florida. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a “Likely Republican” hold. The Hill reported this month that Rubio said he is keeping the door open to another White House run in 2024 or beyond.
Elsewhere on the 2022 scene, a number of GOP governors are being threatened by primary challenges from the right ahead of the midterm elections, exposing the growing rift in the party on issues such as responses to the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s presidential election results.
As The Hill’s Julia Manchester notes, Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia’s GOP lt. governor won’t seek reelection amid election backlash Cheney seen as merely first victim of Trump election attacks Three charged in Arbery killing plead not guilty to federal hate crimes MORE (R), who faced backlash from Trump for certifying Biden’s win in the state, is facing a primary challenge from Vernon Jones, a pro-Trump Republican. In Texas, former state Sen. Don Huffines (R ) is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott (R), hitting Abbott over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Abbott remains the heavy favorite to win reelection.
Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWineMike DeWineOhio reports higher vaccination rate after announcing lottery for shots Retired GOP representative: I won’t miss the circus, but I might miss some of the clowns Sunrise Movement endorses Nina Turner in special election for Ohio House seat MORE’s (R) political difficulties with his party and potential primary opponents have been openly discussed for months. Former Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciOhio businessman Mike Gibbons steps down from super PAC as he weighs Senate bid Democrats face tough odds in race for Ohio Senate seat Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022 MORE (R-Ohio) is reportedly considering launching an intraparty bid.
The Associated Press: Republicans vie for Trump’s blessing in Ohio Senate primary.
The Hill: Abortion rights groups warn of imminent crackdown if Roe v. Wade overturned.
The Atlantic: The inside story of Biden’s most fateful decision.
The Washington Post: Investigation of Trump Organization now exploring possible criminal conduct, N.Y. attorney general’s office says.
Niall Stanage: The Memo: In Democratic divide, two visions of Israel.
> Election fight, 2020 edition (still): Simmering tensions between Republicans over the ongoing audit of election results in Arizona’s largest county are bursting into the open as it nears the one-month mark and the GOP-controlled state Senate pushes it in an increasingly partisan direction.
As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, some Republicans have begun to aggressively push back against the effort, saying that it has only served to further undermine confidence in the county’s elections rather than restore it. The debate over the audit reached a breaking point on Monday when the GOP-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) demanding an end to the audit.
Paul Kane, The Washington Post: House Democrats’ 2020 election autopsy: Bad polling hurt and GOP attacks worked.
The Hill: Pittsburgh mayor concedes to Democratic primary challenger.
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Are the Supreme Court and Biden ready to rumble over Roe? by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/33Soy5o
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WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 10 a.m.
The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m. and resume consideration of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission CRA.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. Biden will deliver the keynote address at 11 a.m. at the Coast Guard Academy’s 140th commencement in New London, Conn. (The Hill). The president will return to the White House in the afternoon.
Vice President Harris will meet virtually at 4:15 p.m. with Guatemalan justice sector leaders. At 6 p.m., she will deliver remarks at an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month event.
Blinken meets this morning with Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau in Reykjavik, Iceland, and this afternoon with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde. The secretary will attend a working dinner with Arctic Council ministers. In the evening, Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Anthony FauciAnthony FauciHillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon ‘Instagram for kids’ plan | ‘Homework gap’ likely to persist after pandemic Overnight Health Care: State vaccine rates fall along red, blue divide | CDC study: Vaccination rates lower in rural counties Fauci wins Webby ‘Person of the Year’ MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will discuss the current COVID-19 situation in the United States, including vaccines and treatments, during a half-hour virtual event hosted by Axios at 12:30 p.m. Information is HERE.
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.
➔ INTERNATIONAL: Pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to address worsening humanitarian conditions in Haiti by re-designating the country for temporary protected status, a move that would give more than 100,000 Haitians the right to live and work in the United States (The Hill).
➔ AN ELECTRIC BEAST?: Aboard Air Force One on Tuesday during a flight to Michigan for an event to celebrate U.S.-manufactured electric vehicles, White House Press Secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Defense: Top Dem backs off request for Israel arms sale delay | Afghanistan withdrawal up to 20 percent done | Esper returns to defense industry Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon ‘Instagram for kids’ plan | ‘Homework gap’ likely to persist after pandemic Biden prays for safety of Tlaib’s family in Michigan speech MORE said a topic of conversation at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is eventually transitioning the White House vehicle fleet away from gasoline to electric vehicles. Reporters asked if that included the presidential stretch limousine known as “The Beast.” “That’s certainly something the president has talked about and is an objective for him,” she replied. The relatively new stretch limousine now ferrying Biden from place to place in fortified fashion weighs more than 15,000 pounds and is constructed on a GMC truck platform. It gets between 3.7 and 8 mpg and can reach about 60 mph. Plug-in electric presidential limos, reliant on batteries, and with all the security considerations involved, pose a tech challenge to run gas-free.
➔ HOLLYWOOD RIP: Charles Grodin, the longtime actor best known for his roles in “The Heartbreak Kid” and opposite Robert De Niro in “Midnight Run,” died on Tuesday at age 86. Grodin died in Wilton, Conn., of bone marrow cancer. Grodin also made his mark in the political sphere, having played a supporting part in “Dave” as Murray Blum, an accountant who (unrealistically) helps Kevin Kline’s character (Dave Kovic as President Bill Mitchell) rewrite the federal budget, and as a left-wing commentator (The Associated Press).
And finally … Do you miss chicken nuggets cut in the shape of little crowns? Apparently thousands of Burger King royalty customers do, and petitioned for the return of the fast food fav, which the company discontinued in 2011.
The chicken morsels will make a nostalgic return in 25 locations around Miami for a limited time at $1.49 for 10 nuggets. The crown shape makes them “perfect for dipping,” the chain says (CNN).
On Twitter, one wise guy said he always thought the nuggets were dinosaur tracks, not crowns. It’s the Rorschach test of fast food: Tell us what you see. Tulips, anyone? (Al Weaver says … maple leaf.)