Day 463: "Last chance."
1/ The White House is attempting to cobble together a narrower version of Biden’s Build Back Better bill that would win Joe Manchin’s support ahead of November’s elections. “There’s real fear inside the building that Manchin’s stonewalling will run out the clock on Biden’s legislative agenda throughout the rest of the year, leading the administration and congressional Democrats into November without anything else to offer voters,” one White House adviser said. Lawmakers in Congress view July 4 as the deadline for action – even if leaves out most of what Biden had initially hoped to accomplish. Manchin, meanwhile, hasn’t told the White House what, exactly, he would support in a final agreement, but privately told lawmakers recently that he wants Congress to approve a bipartisan energy deal in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and wants Biden to restart new offshore oil and gas lease sales to boost domestic fossil fuel production. Manchin also met with Chuck Schumer to discuss a party-line package focused on raising taxes and reducing the budget deficit to combat inflation. Climate advocates, meanwhile, have scaled back their expectations, saying “this is the last chance” for legislation that speeds the growth of clean energy – even if it requires a short-term boost in fossil fuels – fearing that any chance for climate action will be blocked if Republicans win control of Congress in the midterm elections. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Bloomberg)
2/ Biden expressed openness to forgiving some student loan debt, which could affect more than 43 million borrowers who hold more than $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt – the second-largest debt held by Americans, behind mortgages. During a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Biden signaled multiple times that he was prepared not only to extend the current moratorium that lasts until Aug. 31, but to take executive action to forgive federal student loan debt outright. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, introduced legislation – called the Stop Reckless Student Loan Actions Act of 2022 – to stop Biden from “abusing” his authority to extend the federal student loan payment pause. (CBS News / Washington Post / NBC News)
3/ Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. is “out of the full-blown explosive pandemic phase,” but made clear that the pandemic is not over and the U.S. could still see new waves of infections from highly transmissible variants. “We are in a different moment of the pandemic,” Fauci said, adding: “we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.” The Biden administration, meanwhile, renewed its push for $10 billion in Covid-19 supplemental funding, noting that without funding, the U.S. would not be able to secure enough second booster shots for every American if they’re needed this fall. (Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN)
4/ New York’s highest court rejected the state’s new congressional map as unconstitutional. New York Democrats drew a new congressional map that could have gained their party as many as three new seats. The Court of Appeals, however, found that the Democratic-led Legislature lacked the authority to redraw maps and that those they created “were drawn with an unconstitutional partisan intent.” Meanwhile, a state court in Kansas threw out a newly drawn map of congressional districts by Republicans in the State Legislature. The Republican plan divided Kansas City along both racial and partisan lines and would have threatened the only House seat held by a Democrat. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico)
5/ Biden reversed a Trump-era policy that relaxed requirements for energy efficient light bulbs. The new energy efficiency regulations will phase out old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs and require lightbulbs to emit 45 lumens. The new standards will save consumers $3 billion each year in utility costs. In 2019, Trump complained that energy efficient light bulbs make him “always look orange.” (CNBC / Axios)
🐊 Dept. of Swamp Things.
The New York grand jury hearing evidence in the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances expires this week. The six-month special grand jury will not be extended and last heard evidence last year. (CNN)
Text messages show that Rep. Scott Perry urged Mark Meadows to have the then-Director of National Intelligence investigate baseless conspiracy theories of election fraud. After top Justice Department officials refused to intervene in the election process on Trump’s behalf in late December, Perry repeatedly pushed Meadows to give Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Clark the “authority to enforce what needs to be done.” (CNN / New York Times)
Text messages between Mark Meadows and dozens of congressional Republicans, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, cast a renewed spotlight the Trump White House and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The newly revealed text messages have prompted calls for the Jan. 6 committee to issue subpoenas or other punitive measures against lawmakers involved. (Washington Post)
Text messages show that Fox News host Sean Hannity promised Mark Meadows he would push an Election Day get-out-the-vote message as part of the broader pro-Trump campaign. Meadows asked for Hannity’s help with messaging and offered a slogan. Hannity responded: “Yes sir. On it,” before adding, “any place in particular we need a push.” Meadows suggested Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada. Hannity replied: “Got it. Everywhere.” (Washington Post / CNN)
Kevin McCarthy defended his recently leaked comments saying Trump was to blame for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and pledge to urge him to resign. McCarthy suggested that the leak was all part of an attempt to divide the Republican conference ahead of the midterms. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)
Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited for bringing a loaded handgun through a TSA checkpoint at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. It’s the second time that Cawthorn has been stopped at an airport in his home state for carrying a weapon. (CNN / CNBC)
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