POSTED AT 12:27 A.M.: “Senate bid to counter China thrown into chaos amid GOP objections,” by Andrew Desiderio and Gavin Bade: “An 11th-hour bipartisan deal on the Senate’s behemoth bill aimed at confronting China was derailed late Thursday after a group of GOP senators held up final passage of the legislation. … The late-night haggling over the China bill also delayed the Senate’s consideration of a measure to establish a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.”
— CNN’s @manuraju breaks down the timeline, which will keep senators (and reporters) in the Capitol to kick off the holiday weekend: “Key vote on Jan. 6 bill will spill into later Friday AM and potentially afternoon as some GOP senators delay final votes on China bill to raise concerns over the process. (Jan. 6 bill is next up). …
“Once they’re done, there are four votes on the China bill, with the last vote being the final vote to limit debate on that bill. After that final procedural vote, there is up to 30 hours of debate time. Thune said GOP senators want to use eight hours of that debate time. … then after that, the vote will be on whether to break a filibuster and take up the Jan. 6 bill. It’s unclear when that vote will occur, but either later Friday morning or afternoon.”
MEANWHILE, MURKOWSKI HITS MCCONNELL WHERE IT HURTS — HuffPost: “In an extraordinary meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill before an expected vote on the Jan. 6 commission, [Alaska Sen. LISA] MURKOWSKI took direct aim at the Kentucky Republican over his stated rationale for opposing the investigatory panel … ‘To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?’ Murkowski said.”
The author of this story, IGOR BOBIC, calls the Murkowski interview with reporters “one of the most surreal gaggles I’ve been in.” NBC’s JULIE TSIRKIN paints the picture: “Capitol Police Officer EUGENE GOODMAN, who was standing behind Murkowski, shows her his phone. ‘Look, you’re trending.’ Murkowski tells him she had no clue he was right there during the 10 minutes she spoke about the need for a commission. She gave Goodman a hug.”
OH, AND THERE’S ALSO SOME STUFF HAPPENING ON INFRASTRUCTURE — We’ve been skeptical that a bipartisan deal would happen. Thursday night didn’t boost our confidence. But there are three dynamics that keep pushing the infrastructure talks forward:
1) Sens. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) and KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) remain deeply invested in the talks. In public comments all week, Manchin was bullish on a deal and he was highly complimentary of Sen. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO’S (R-W.Va.) proposal put forward Thursday. Sinema has been working closely with Sen. ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio) on backup options if the Capito deal falls apart and Manchin is part of that group, too. While many of their Democratic colleagues want to end these talks and move to reconciliation, Manchin and Sinema don’t. And there’s no moving to reconciliation without their votes.
2) Senate Republicans see an advantage in keeping these talks moving forward. Some Republicans, like the 10 working on this bipartisan deal, are genuinely interested in producing substantive legislation the way they were able to do last year on Covid relief. Others — like Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL, who nudged the talks forward Thursday by saying the GOP might raise the ante on spending even more — like the idea of keeping moderate Democrats away from reconciliation and slowing down the overall Biden-Pelosi-Schumer legislative process. The longer these small-ball talks go on, the less time President JOE BIDEN has to push through what is a very ambitious agenda.
3) Biden himself is still invested in the talks. He called Capito after she released her proposal Thursday and invited her and other Republicans to the White House next week for another discussion.
Looked at one way, this seems like a fruitless exercise for the White House since the two sides are still miles apart. Then again, with every round of offer and counteroffer, they have been inching closer to each other. If the White House wants a bipartisan deal, it’s possible to see the contours of one:
Biden could take Capito’s $257 billion of spending, which is unobjectionable to him other than its size, and they could pay for it with a combination of public-private partnerships and deficit spending — two pay-fors that both sides find amenable. Then Biden could move on to the rest of his agenda, much of it via reconciliation. (Perhaps Biden would agree to indexing the gas tax to inflation, as the Portman-Sinema group wants to do, or Republicans would budge on a modest hike in the corporate tax rate, but those pay-fors seem less likely.)
There are really only two reasons to do such a deal: 1) It would be politically advantageous for Biden to notch a bipartisan victory and, more important, 2) it would unlock Manchin’s and Sinema’s votes for the bigger parts of Biden’s agenda.
Most progressives are hoping that there is a clean exit to these talks in which the GOP is seen as negotiating in bad faith and even Manchin and Sinema give up on them. In that scenario, the 50 Senate Democrats would lock arms to pass Biden’s $4 trillion spending plan.
But as long as the GOP remains at the table — slowly bidding things up and, in turn, receiving encouragement from Manchin and Oval Office invitations from Biden — this could go on for a while.
D.C. PHONE HOME — It used to be talking about UFOs would torpedo your political career. But Sen. MARCO RUBIO (R-Fla.) is picking up the mantle from former Senate Majority Leader HARRY REID — Congress’ granddaddy of the issue and the person responsible for establishing the Pentagon’s $22 million “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program” to study this.
“Anything that enters an airspace that’s not supposed to be there is a threat,” Rubio told “60 Minutes” earlier this month. “Some of my colleagues are very interested in this topic and some kinda, you know, giggle when you bring it up. But I don’t think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to a very fundamental question.” Now, the Pentagon is set to deliver a long-awaited report next month detailing what they know — and what they don’t. Can we expect our first-ever UFO hearings in Congress? Maybe!
For more close encounters of the D.C. kind, check out today’s episode of “Playbook Deep Dive,” where BRYAN BENDER and RACHAEL dissect how unidentified flying objects have crashed into the Washington discourse (PLUS: a POLITICO-exclusive interview with Reid).
— Read Bryan’s big POLITICO Magazine piece: “The Hidden History of How Washington Embraced UFOs: For years, a loose group of enthusiasts—a pop singer, a real-estate magnate, a banking heir, and a terrorist interrogator—have been working to push their pet mystery into the mainstream. This year, it broke through.”
— 9:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
— 10:45 a.m.: Biden and Virginia Gov. RALPH NORTHAM will deliver remarks in Alexandria about Virginia’s progress in the fight against Covid-19. First lady JILL BIDEN will also attend.
— 11:45 a.m.: Joe and Jill Biden will depart for Hampton, Va., where they are scheduled to arrive at 12:30 p.m.
— 1:20 p.m.: The Bidens will deliver remarks at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
— 2:40 p.m.: The Bidens will depart for Wilmington, Del., where they are scheduled to arrive at 3:30 p.m.
— 10 a.m.: VP KAMALA HARRIS will deliver the keynote address for the U.S. Naval Academy graduation and commissioning ceremony held at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.
THE HOUSE will meet in a pro forma session at 10 a.m. SBA Administrator ISABEL GUZMAN will testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee at 10 a.m.
THE SENATE is out.
THE WHITE HOUSE
TANDEN’S RETURN — “Neera Tanden is back. Could she be more powerful?” by Natasha Korecki and Anita Kumar: “As senior adviser, Tanden is now among a small, select circle of advisers in the White House. She’s included in daily briefings. She’s one of a half dozen senior advisers and one of two senior advisers of color. And her close relationship to chief of staff RON KLAIN means she’ll have his ear.
“That proximity to power is a tradeoff from the undoubted influence she would have wielded as Biden’s budget director at the Office of Management and Budget, where she would have had large sway over budget and regulatory policy. But it also means she’s free of the headaches that can come with the responsibilities of acting as a Cabinet secretary, like grillings from oversight committees or sparring with Senate members with whom she had previously clashed.”
DEMOCRATS CHANGE THEIR TUNE — “Renewed focus on Wuhan lab scrambles the politics of the pandemic,” by WaPo’s Annie Linskey, Shane Harris and David Willman: “Republicans, saying they feel vindicated because some pointed to the lab early on, have been pushing the lab-leak theory more aggressively at congressional hearings and in conservative media outlets. And Democrats say the departure of former president DONALD TRUMP, who often talked about the pandemic in racially charged terms, makes it easier to consider the theory without potentially offensive undertones.
“The shifting terrain highlights how much of the early debate on the virus’s origins was colored by America’s tribal politics, as Trump and his supporters insisted on China’s responsibility and many Democrats dismissed the idea out of hand — when the origins of the virus were in fact wrapped in uncertainty.”
— “China’s stonewall of Covid origin probe prompted Biden to reveal latest intel review,” NBC: “Biden’s decision to announce an intensified 90-day review into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic came about in part because of the Chinese government’s refusal participate in an investigation by the World Health Organization, a source familiar with the decision told NBC News.”
FEDS PROBE POTENTIAL UKRAINIAN INTERFERENCE — “Prosecutors Investigating Whether Ukrainians Meddled in 2020 Election,” by NYT’s William Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Ken Vogel and Nicole Hong: “Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have been investigating whether several Ukrainian officials helped orchestrate a wide-ranging plan to meddle in the 2020 presidential campaign, including using RUDY GIULIANI to spread their misleading claims about Biden and tilt the election in Donald Trump’s favor, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
“The criminal investigation, which began during the final months of the Trump administration and has not been previously reported, underscores the federal government’s increasingly aggressive approach toward rooting out foreign interference in American electoral politics. Much of that effort is focused on Russian intelligence, which has suspected ties to at least one of the Ukrainians now under investigation.
GARCIA GAINS IN NYC MAYOR’S RACE — “A Woman Has Never Run New York City. Can Kathryn Garcia Change That?” by Time’s Charlotte Alter with a lede the likes of which we’ve never seen before in the storied news mag: “KATHRYN GARCIA knows her shit. … The prospect of Garcia becoming the first woman mayor of New York City is yet another chapter in America’s ongoing struggle with how to handle female competence in a political world that rarely rewards it. Garcia could follow the trajectory of HILLARY CLINTON or ELIZABETH WARREN, two other accomplished women full of plans and policies who were nonetheless outshone by more politically palatable men when they ran for the top job. Or she could turn out to be the right woman for the moment.
“It’s the Biden era, after all, and Democrats seem to be embracing the idea of electing experienced public servants to lead the nation out of the pandemic. Kathryn Garcia’s campaign could be a test of whether Democrats are ready to actually elect a woman with the experience to get the job done.”
DISTURBING — “QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests,” NYT: “QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public — particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.
“Those are the findings of a poll released [Thursday] by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that ‘American patriots may have to resort to violence’ to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.” The poll results from PRRI
BACK IN THE GAME — “Facebook will give to candidates again — but not Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s win,” by Emily Birnbaum
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
AHEAD OF THE BIDEN-PUTIN SUMMIT — “U.S. tells Russia it won’t rejoin Open Skies arms control pact,” AP: “U.S. officials said Deputy Secretary of State WENDY SHERMAN told the Russians that the administration had decided not to reenter the Open Skies Treaty, which had allowed surveillance flights over military facilities in both countries before President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact. As a presidential candidate, Biden had criticized Trump’s withdrawal as ‘short-sighted.’ Thursday’s decision means only one major arms control treaty between the nuclear powers — the New START treaty — will remain in place.”
REOPENING THE NORTHERN BORDER — “Trudeau’s own MPs demand plan for Canada-U.S. border,” by Andy Blatchford: “As more Canadians are vaccinated the pressure is now coming from within [PM JUSTIN] TRUDEAU’S own Liberal caucus. Longtime Liberal MP WAYNE EASTER, who chairs the House of Commons finance committee, told POLITICO on Thursday that the Trudeau government must lay out a border reopening plan — and soon. Canada-U.S. land crossings have been shuttered to nonessential travel since March 2020. The neighbors agreed last week to keep the restrictions in place through June 21. But as vaccination numbers rise, June 22 could be a different story.”
REPLACING RUSH — “Rush Limbaugh’s Radio Show to Be Taken Over by Clay Travis and Buck Sexton,” WSJ: “CLAY TRAVIS and BUCK SEXTON will take over his three-hour conservative talk radio show time slot, said distributor Premiere Networks. The duo will serve up similar right-wing fare, tackling news stories of the day, politics and current events, peppered with call-ins from listeners and humor. Premiere Networks hopes the younger voices will bring something new to talk radio, while also continuing on in Mr. Limbaugh’s legacy. The program, slated to begin airing June 21, will be called ‘The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show.’ It is expected to air around the country, from noon to 3 p.m. ET, on hundreds of stations.”
TV TONIGHT — PBS’ “Washington Week”: Trymaine Lee, Wesley Lowery, Ayesha Rascoe and Sarah Sinder.
SUNDAY SO FAR …
“Fox News Sunday”: Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Panel: Jason Chaffetz, Kristen Soltis Anderson and Juan Williams.
“Face the Nation”: Scott Gottlieb … Art Acevedo … Kevin Washington … Stephen Kaufer … Paul Gionfriddo.
“The Sunday Show”: Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) … Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) … Matthew Dowd … Jonathan Greenblatt … Stanley Nelson … Jazz Hampton … Marco Williams … Arun Gandhi … Bernice King … Donna Edwards.
“Meet the Press”: Panel: Geoff Bennett, Stephanie Cutter, Sara Fagen and Anne Gearan.
“Inside Politics”: Panel: Seung Min Kim, Jonathan Martin, Catherine Lucey, Brittany Shepherd and Yasmeen Abutaleb.
“This Week”: Panel: Jonathan Karl, Terry Moran, Michel Martin and Laura Barrón-López.
“Full Court Press”: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) … Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.).
BRITS SAVE OUR SOCIAL SCENE: Not so fast, Sally! A party that went on past midnight and drew some of the White House’s most notable staffers? Maybe the D.C. social scene isn’t dead — it’s just on life support and being resuscitated slowly. Our Ryan Heath attended the British ambassador’s latest bash Wednesday night. Here’s his readout:
“If British diplomats woke up with sore heads on Thursday morning, they’re not regretting it. They scored a strong White House turnout at Amb. Karen Pierce’s summer reception, including Symone Sanders, John McCarthy and Emily Horne — topped off by a spontaneous midnight toast from Sanders to the ‘unbreakable bond across the pond.’” Also SPOTTED: Shawn Townsend, Kaitlan Collins, Ryan Williams, Steve Clemons, Mark Dybul, Richard Hudock and Tammy Haddad.
MUST-SEE TV — CNN’s Manu Raju was preparing for an on-camera update inside the Capitol on Thursday when, unbeknownst to him, a cicada crawled up his chest, over his shoulder and onto his neck. Feeling the creature on his bare skin, he reached back and threw the bug off him, shouting obscenities. It would have been even better on live TV, but the clip is pretty great.
MEDIAWATCH — Hanna Trudo is joining The Hill, where she will be a senior political correspondent covering progressive politics in the White House and Congress. She most recently was a politics reporter for The Daily Beast and is a POLITICO alum.
SPOTTED at an exhibit preview Thursday night of a rare George Washington distillery letter at Decatur House, sponsored by the White House Historical Association and the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.: Grover Norquist, Sean Spicer, Kaitlan Collins, Craig Gordon, Francesca Chambers and Michael Moroney, Zeke Miller, Gail West, Nihal Krishan, Daniel Lippman, Martha Joynt Kumar, Jeff Zeleny, John McConnell, Stewart McLaurin, Rhett Wilson, Carl Hulse, Steven Thomma, Steve Portnoy, Frank Coleman, Daniel Roth, Jean Case, Tamara Keith, Leslie Sanchez, Wayne Skinner, Chris and Amy Swonger, and Kevin Walling.
SPOTTED at a party at the home of Jon and Stephanie Allen on Thursday night: George Conway, Lisa Page, Kara Swisher, Molly Jong-Fast, Davis Richardson, Chris Lehmann, Michael Tomasky, Rebecca Sinderbrand, David Mortlock and Karen Tumulty.
BOOKMARK FOR DELAWARE BEACHGOERS — “14 of Joe Biden’s Favorite Places to Go When He Visits Rehoboth,” Washingtonian
IN MEMORIAM — S-3 Group: “It is with great sadness we share that our colleague and friend Jarad Geldner passed away [Thursday] morning after a long and brave battle with cancer. We extend our deepest condolences to his family. Jarad was a great friend and colleague to so many of us in politics, public relations, and philanthropic causes across Washington and beyond. We will miss him greatly. May his memory be a blessing.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Rich Meade and Stefan Bailey are being promoted to lead Prime Policy Group. Meade will be chair and currently is vice chair. Bailey will be president and CEO and currently is COO. Current president/CEO Scott Pastrick and chair Charlie Black will remain as president emeritus and founding chair.
TRANSITIONS — Former DNC Chair Tom Perez is joining Venable as a partner. … Priorities USA announced several new hires and staff moves: Chelsea Bukowski as director of analytics, Eliana Locke as national press secretary, Jacqueline Grimsley as COO and Mark Sheridan as research manager. … Victor Sloan is now associate director/health services at the Peace Corps. He previously was CEO of Sheng Consulting and holds a faculty appointment at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. …
… Michael Kratsios is now a managing director at Scale AI. He most recently was acting undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering and was chief technology officer of the U.S. in the Trump White House. … Eshauna Smith will be director of community mobilization for the Ballmer Group’s philanthropy team. She previously was CEO/president of Urban Alliance.
ENGAGED — Jim Fellinger, director of strategic comms at Stand Together, and Bailey Hamilton, a federal account executive at ServiceNow, got engaged Saturday on the waterfront in Navy Yard and celebrated after with friends and family. The two met in 2014 on the second floor at Jack Rose in Adams Morgan. Pic … Another pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Davey Talbot, EVP at Common Sense Society, and Jenna Schuette Talbot, head of the comms practice at Whiteboard Advisors, welcomed Thomas Archer “Archie” Talbot on Wednesday. He joins big brother Field. Pic
— Chris Cylke, SVP of government relations at the American Gaming Association, and Taylor Cylke welcomed Blake Isabel Cylke on Thursday. Pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (5-0) … Rudy Giuliani … Jessica Anderson of Heritage Action … Diane Dewhirst … Coalter Baker of the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations … Natalie Yezbick of Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) office … Alpine Group’s Keenan Austin Reed … Mark Greenbaum of Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.)’s office … Lauren Mandelker … The 19th’s Emily Ramshaw … POLITICO’s Pradnya Joshi (5-0) … Andy Stone of Facebook … Lisa Wallenda Picard … Founders Bank’s Martin McCarthy … Giulia Melucci … Christopher R. Downing … Uber’s Josh Gold … Julie Hershey Carr … Tamara Draut … Molson Coors’ Adam Collins … Ed Hamberger … Stephanie Shewmon … the Herald Group’s Colin Hensel … Edelman’s Chris Donahoe … Robb Harleston … Christy Felling … Adelle Nazarian … Peter Cobus … former Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.) … Katharine Weymouth … Alex Kozak
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