Marches with abortion-rights advocates near the U.S. Supreme Court

 Marches with abortion-rights advocates near the U.S. Supreme Court
June 30, 2022. (Francis Chung BY KATHERINE TULLY-MCMANUS
Presented by The American Petroleum Institute (API)
With help from Sarah Ferris
SOME LIKE IT HOT — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is dialing up the pressure on Democrats, with an ultimatum about a key priority that was slated for action this month.
McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he is willing to derail economic competitiveness legislation that has been in the works for over a year if Democrats don’t put their big dreams of one final reconciliation budget package on ice.
Democrats want to pass the $52 billion in domestic semiconductor funding before the midterms (a bill you might know as Endless Frontiers or the USA). But they also want to move climate change, social spending, and drug price legislation without the need for Republican votes. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) scuttled the previous effort, but he’s been meeting regularly with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to try to build a new package that he would support.
Then came McConnell’s warning: “Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill,” tweeted McConnell on Thursday.
There were hopes that the (enormous) conference committee could wrap up work on the China competitiveness bill ahead of the August recess. But McConnell’s line in the sand makes July tougher to navigate.
Schumer’s spokesperson said McConnell “is holding American jobs in key U.S. industries hostage to help China and protect his friends in big pharma allowing them to keep screwing over Americans with outrageously high Rx drug prices.” More from Gavin Bade.
There are plenty of other things on Congress’ pre-August recess to-do list. In the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wants to move spending bills (more on that below), while the Senate is eyeing insulin price legislation and approving the first Senate-confirmed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director since the Obama administration.
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DEMS MAKING IT ABOUT MAGA — It seems like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is talking about “MAGA” more than ever, but it isn’t just about former president Donald Trump. DCCC Chief Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) tells Sarah that Democrats will be highlighting the most far-right candidates running as Republicans this fall, in an effort to hang on to suburban voters. Some of those fringe candidates are running in swing districts.
For voters who think the MAGA era is over with Trump out of the White House, Democrats want them to think again. Republican Yesli Vega in VA-7 recently suggested rape victims were less likely to get pregnant (that’s Todd Akin’s theme music) and Frank Pallotta in NJ-7 has defended the Oath Keepers’ far-right militia. Others have shared QAnon conspiracy theories with their supporters, including JR Majewski in OH-9 and Mayra Flores in TX-34.
Democrats’ latest strategy is to unite the toppling of Roe and Jan. 6 — two issues that they know polls in their favor in swing seats — to make the case against the GOP candidates running there.
“There are all these dangerous people running under the new MAGA Republican brand. They’re going to pay a price for it,” Maloney told Sarah.
It’s a slight shift from past cycles, when battleground Democrats haven’t always been so willing to take direct shots at the GOP, noting that many of their voters as well as their allies in Congress are conservative. Things have changed in the Trump years.
The NRCC is shrugging off the play. They say the election will be almost entirely decided on the economy — which, with inflation and gas prices hurting voters, they see as a clear advantage. More from Sarah: Dems unite Jan. 6 and Roe for new battleground target: ‘MAGA’ Republicans
ROE ON THE ROAD: WISCONSIN’S SENATE RACE — Democrats are in a bind, trying to push back on the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, without the votes to legislate. That has them looking even more intently at Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which are the Democrats’ best chances to net two extra Senate seats — which could be enough to change the chamber’s filibuster rules that empower the minority party to block legislation. President Joe Biden boosted their effort Thursday by endorsing an exemption to the 60-vote threshold to preserve nationwide abortion rights. (Dems holding the House is also a key part of this calculation, but is looking like a long shot.)
Burgess dives into the Badger State, where the abortion ruling has “supercharged competition among the leading Democratic contenders” who are throwing elbows to try and take out Republican Sen. Ron Johnson this fall: The Democratic primary that could determine the future of abortion rights
“The race has a decidedly Midwest-nice vibe, with the candidates generally staying publicly trained on Johnson rather than each other — though there’s plenty of trash-talking behind the scenes. And since Democrats need to beat Johnson to have any hope of executing their agenda next year, party leaders are trying to keep it that way,” he writes.
COST WORTH PAYING — As the clock ticks closer to the midterm elections and voters back home struggle with inflation, gas prices, Covid, and gun violence, it is not at all clear that Congress could come together to keep aiding Ukraine in the fight against Russia.
Lawmakers who attended the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain this week said they expect that with the war dragging on, another cash infusion could be necessary for the winter. Can lawmakers convince Americans that, in the words of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “The cost of freedom is always worth paying?” (Some Trump-loyal Republicans are taking an isolationist stance.)
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who co-led the delegation to Madrid, has a message: “I would tell the American people that if we allow Putin to succeed, the costs go up dramatically. Not only the risk to democracy, but the real pocketbook issues that Putin is in part responsible for today,” Tillis said. “And it’s on us to go back to our respective states and back to the American people and explain that.”
Andrew and Paul McLeary have more from the lawmakers who were at NATO this week: Ukraine gets top billing at NATO, but questions mount over the West’s resolve
HEEDING CASSIDY HUTCHINSON — Several members of the Jan. 6 select committee are rallying around Cassidy Hutchinson, who delivered bombshell testimony this week about her experiences with Trump’s inner circle leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol. She’s facing blowback from Trump and his allies who are aiming to discredit her testimony. But lawmakers on the panel say Hutchinson isn’t the one with credibility problems — it’s her doubters. Namely Tony Ornato, a former Trump White House aide who Hutchinson says relayed the scene of Trump lunging towards the steering wheel and fighting his Secret Service detail. Kyle unpacks the facts, criticism, and credibility of the firestorm stirred up by Tuesday’s hearing.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) marches with abortion-rights advocates near the U.S. Supreme Court on June 30, 2022. (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO) | Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO
CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE — Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) was among the more than 180 people arrested by Capitol Police Thursday during an abortion rights protest after they blocked an intersection near the Supreme Court and Senate office buildings. The Chu is the lead sponsor of the Democrats’ signature abortion rights legislation that has stalled out in the 50-50 Senate.
“I am ramping up my calls to abolish the Senate filibuster — and actively exploring every option to ensure we pass my bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which establishes a federal right to abortion care, and have it signed into law. Lives are at stake and this fight is far from over,” Chu said in a statement about her arrest. Nicholas has more.
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IN THE ROUGH — Lawmakers are getting louder about their opposition to a new professional golf series funded by Saudi Arabia as the first U.S. event kicks off — and President Joe Biden plans a visit in a few weeks.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote in a letter to Biden on Thursday that LIV Golf is an “attempt by the Saudi government to ‘sports-wash’ its reputation,” by keeping American’s attention on their support of a popular sport rather than “its government officials’ links to abhorrent acts, such as the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the war in Yemen, support for terrorist activities, including the September 11 attacks.”
The first U.S. LIV event teed off Thursday in Portland, Ore., at a golf club near where Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) lives — and not far from where a Saudi national killed a local teen in a hit-and-run before vanishing from the U.S. and reemerging in Saudi Arabia, where he will escape prosecution.
Wyden voiced support Thursday for Sept. 11 families who spoke out near the Oregon golf club against the Saudi-funded tournament. “Honored to have 9-11 families voicing outrage w/me at Saudi-funded LIV Golf,” he wrote. “Putting this Saudi spectacle 20 miles from where Fallon Smart was killed by a Saudi national whose govt helped him flee hit-and-run charges is a cruel insult to this girl’s family.”
Biden has insisted that his trip to Saudi Arabia is not focused on one-on-one engagement with King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but critics say that the trip could still elevate the regime that intelligence officials revealed last year was responsible for the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
LEAHY IN RECOVERY — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is recovering in the hospital after a successful surgery following a fall that broke his hip Wednesday night. “His doctors chose to do routine hip replacement surgery,” according to an update from his staff.
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN — As of Thursday night, House appropriators cleared all 12 of their spending bills in committee. They are expected to put the fiscal 2023 measures on the floor in July.

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