June 15, 2021

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The GOP’s four camps on a Trump 2024 campaign – Politico

10 min read

With Andrew Desiderio.

MAKING THEM DANCE: Republicans with high hopes that their party might be able to ride Donald Trump’s voter base to victory next year without all the chaos that accompanies the former president himself might be out of luck.

Trump is confiding in allies that he intends to run again in 2024 with one contingency: That he still has a clean bill of health, two sources close to the ex-president have told me. Trump is going to dangle his potential bid over the GOP like a water balloon over a freshly styled head of hair.

And despite congressional Republicans mostly praising him in public — apart from the handful of usual suspects — he’s actually facing skepticism from surprising corners of the GOP.

“President Trump did a lot of good. But he squandered a lot of his legacy after what happened after Nov. 3. And I think that’s a shame,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who was the GOP whip for Trump’s first two years in office, told Burgess. “Running for president, you’re under a lot of scrutiny. And all I can say is there’s a lot to talk about.”

Burgess and I found in our interviews with 20 House and Senate Republicans that there were certainly mixed opinions about whether Trump should run again in 2024. They largely fall into four buckets:

  1. Republicans who are burning for Trump to run again. Members like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) or Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), who told me: “Why have a carbon copy?… Why would we not support the original?”

  2. Republicans who pick political viability — they want whoever stands the best chance of winning back the White House. Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) when asked who he wants to run in 2024, replied: “The person that can best save this country — whoever that is.”

  3. Quite a few Republicans want fresh skin in the game. They will privately say that they would prefer that Trump take a back seat and help the party, but not seek to be the GOP nominee again (paging the 400 2024 hopefuls).

  4. Then there are the GOP lawmakers who are essentially thinking: Dear lord, please not again. Members like Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) have already made their position clear, but this is a sentiment shared by some who are keeping quiet about their disapproval — at least for now.

The other headache for Republicans: Trump claiming he is running again helps him stay relevant and influential in the GOP. But some fear that if he is not serious about running again, he is putting the growing field of potential 2024 candidates who want to challenge President Joe Biden at a disadvantage.

Lots more here from yours truly and Burgess: https://politi.co/3hXBu2m

ALMOST GAME TIME: Remember those standardized tests where the teacher would call “time!” and you had to drop your pencils, staring at the sad abyss of multiple choice questions that felt more like guesses than answers? Well no one has officially called “time” on Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), but she appears to be furiously scribbling to get changes made to the Jan. 6 commission bill that seems all but doomed to fail without the needed 10 GOP votes.

She dotted her i’s and crossed her t’s on her revisions to the House-passed commission bill yesterday afternoon. Collins’ biggest change: The chair and vice chair of the committee would “jointly” appoint staff.

Collins is hoping her proposed changes can convince a few more of her GOP colleagues to support the creation of an independent investigative body. But she is still going up against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has publicly and privately come out against the bill.

Collins isn’t the only one making a final push. Gladys Sicknick, the mother of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, has been requesting meetings with every single GOP senator to urge them to support the commission legislation, emphasizing the “importance” of having an independent body to investigate that deadly day, Melanie scooped: https://politi.co/3bXjW2d

The timing of the vote is fluid right now. The Senate is expected to vote on the commission bill today, though timing is unclear and will depend on what happens with the China-focused U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.

If your Huddle host had to make a prediction, the commission bill appears DOA in the Senate. And we are all but likley to see Senate Republicans deploy the filibuster for the first time in the Biden administration. Buckle up. As Burgess highlights: “If Republicans filibustered the bill it would not only sink the chances of a bipartisan commission but also ramp up calls by progressive Democrats who want to ax the filibuster entirely.”

More here from Burgess on Collins’ last-minute push: https://politi.co/3bRPGGb

Related: After skirting filibuster fight for months, Democrats near a first battle, by NYT’s Carl Hulse: https://nyti.ms/2SBwmq0

HAPPY THURSDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill on this May 27, where Jon Stewart clearly appreciates the D.C. summer humidity.

WEDNESDAY’S MOST CLICKED: Cleveland.com’s story on how Rep. Jim Jordan will publish a political memoir in November was the big winner.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Huddle will not publish on Monday, May 31. We’ll be back on our normal schedule on Tuesday, June 1.

THIN ICE: Last-minute drama in the Senate is threatening to derail the bipartisan China competitiveness bill that’s been on the floor for two weeks now. On Wednesday, Republicans hinted that they might block the legislation from advancing as they continue to demand additional amendment votes on the floor.

And Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is looking to deny Democrats the votes to cut off debate on the bill over what he describes as Democrats’ refusal to allow a vote on his bipartisan trade proposal with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Crapo even implored his fellow Republicans to vote “no” on cloture during yesterday’s GOP lunch, we’re told. Democrats see this as an effort by the GOP to extract additional concessions from Schumer, who promised and has largely delivered on his promise for a “robust” amendment process. “It’s too big to fail,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said of the bill.

Just ask Sen. Todd Young, Schumer’s GOP counterpart on the China bill. Young said the majority leader “kept his word.” Young said he’s “on the cusp” of securing 60 votes for final passage. The bill, as we’ve explained before, is dear to Schumer, who has long advocated for a more confrontational posture toward China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions. Senators and aides said they were optimistic that the chamber can finish up its work on the bill on Thursday.

In the meantime, senators have been marveling at the return to the Senate’s institutional traditions — however fleeting that may be. “I just love to see the Senate working,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said. “We’re actually doing a bill on the floor and offering amendments and having debate.” What a concept!

Andrew and Gavin Bade have more: https://politi.co/3uq8t1B

MEANWHILE: Changes to qualified immunity in policing deal face Senate GOP resistance, by CNN’s Manu Raju and Jessica Dean: https://cnn.it/3wA1bKe

PICKING UP STEAM: Democrats are jumping on board with the idea of probing the origins of the pandemic, joining their GOP counterparts in what has become a remarkable bipartisan agreement to attempt to analyze how Covid came about, particularly as the virus to date has killed 3.5 million people across the globe.

There is renewed interest among China hawks that the virus leaked from a Wuhan lab. While it is to be determined what the congressional inquiry would look like, particularly whether the Covid origin question would be part of a broader review of the global crisis and the U.S. response, after the WSJ reported that three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in late 2019 after experiencing symptoms that were consistent with the Covid outbreak.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill led by Hawley and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) that requires the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information it has about the origins of Covid, including the theory that it leaked from a lab. So that gives you a good idea of where the Senate is on this. The House may be another story.

Lots more here from Andrew and Erin Banco: https://politi.co/2ROjZqn

Related: Biden: Intelligence community split on Covid-19 origin, by our Ben Leonard: https://politi.co/3yJizxS

CHA CHA TIMELINE SLIDE: That soft Memorial Day deadline for the Biden administration and Senate Republicans to reach an agreement is sliding — but only just a little. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and a group of other Senate Republicans are slated to unveil their counter proposal this morning at 9:05 a.m. to be specific, but Democrats are basically preparing to plow ahead if this latest offer is not up to snuff.

Per my colleagues: “White House aides and Democrats say they’re giving Republicans ample time to put forward their offers on ‘hard’ infrastructure — money to build roads, repair aging bridges and expand broadband. Barring breakthroughs on a long list of sticking points, Biden advisers and Democrats are preparing to wind down talks within a week or possibly two, three people familiar with the discussions told POLITICO. At that point, they will start shifting their focus to what it will take to pass a bill on a party-line vote.”

More here from Chris Cadelago and Laura Barrón-López: https://politi.co/3hXFG22

Related: White House to face key decisions on climate, elder care if bipartisan deal with GOP emerges, by WaPo’s Jeff Stein and Tony Romm: https://wapo.st/3bYBgE3 | Biden’s infrastructure bill is already moving, per the National Journal’s Brian Dabbs, Zach Cohen and Brendan Bordelon: https://bit.ly/3urC1vI

CAMPAIGN CENTRAL: Demings is taking on Rubio. Now Florida’s other big 2022 races are jumbled, by our Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon: https://politi.co/3uqOnnS

YELLIN’ AT YELLEN: “House Small Business Chair Nydia Velázquez on Wednesday slammed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for declining to appear at a committee hearing, saying the Biden administration’s top economic official was showing “complete disregard” for the law,” Zachary Warmbrodt reports: https://politi.co/3uw9cyA

COMING TO THE TABLE: Biden administration backs Alaska oil project approved under Trump, by Anthony Adragna and Ben Lefebvre: https://politi.co/3i2S8xz | Blinken leaves Middle East with cease-fire intact but aid uncertain, by NYT’s Lara Jakes: https://nyti.ms/3vt7b7x

QUICK CLICKS: Judge rejects public access to search warrant in Richard Burr insider trading probe, by our Josh Gerstein: https://politi.co/3vsQPf8 | Ibuprofen and ulcers: What Rep. Debbie Dingell’s emergency surgery can teach us, by WaPo’s Allyson Chiu: https://wapo.st/3yBQTeB

TRANSITIONS

Mary Owens is now comms director for Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.). She most recently was press secretary for Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.).

TODAY IN CONGRESS

The House is out.

The Senate is in at 10 a.m.

AROUND THE HILL

9:05 a.m.: Senate Republicans will hold a press conference to roll out their latest infrastructure counteroffer.

11 a.m.: Yellen and USAID Administrator Samantha Power are expected to testify before House Appropriations subcommittees today.

12 p.m.: The House Financial Services Committee will have top bank executives like JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan testify.

1 p.m.: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley will testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee.

1 p.m.: Energy Secretary Jennifer Grahholm will testify before the House Science Committee.

TRIVIA

WEDNESDAY’S WINNER: Wilson Golden was the first person to correctly guess that 1996, or Fiscal Year 1997, was the last time all Appropriations bills passed on time.

TODAY’S QUESTION: From Wilson: Former Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) holds the record as the longest serving Member of Congress. Whose House service record did he break and by how many years?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answer to [email protected].

GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone each morning.

Follow Olivia on Twitter: @Olivia_Beavers

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