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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.

-- Israel bombed more than 160 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight after Palestinian militants fired rockets as far north as Tel Aviv. Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system blocked 29 of the rockets; no injuries were reported. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to help stop the violence, which has killed 24 people in the Gaza Strip. (Washington Post)

-- The White House on Tuesday formally requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the flood of immigrants crossing the southern border, nearly twice the number expected. Republicans on Capitol Hill expressed doubt the package would be approved as it stands. The administration says the request would fund new detention centers, more immigration judges and more border patrols and surveillance. House Speaker John Boehner's office said the Appropriations Committee and a separate working group of seven Republicans focused on border issues would review the proposal. (Washington Post)

-- House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) on Tuesday proposed transferring $20 billion from the general tax fund to the Highway Trust Fund, which would keep the program shelling out grants until next April. Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said they are nearing a bipartisan agreement to replenish the fund, which administration officials have said will begin running out of cash by the end of the month. (Washington Post)

-- Thinking around the corner, from a smart Democrat involved in talks: Senate Democrats and transportation stakeholder groups are pushing for funding through the end of this year. House Republicans are pushing for funding through the end of next May -- that is, more funding than the Democratic version. That would let them tie next year's transportation bill and Trust Fund debate to the next iteration of the debt ceiling. Democrats are keeping their version short in hopes of forcing action in the lame duck session.

-- The RNC site selection committee voted unanimously to award its 2016 presidential nominating convention to Cleveland. The convention will begin either June 28 or July 18, RNC chairman Reince Priebus said on Fox News. (Washington Post) Reaction from Cleveland: "These guys ain't so f'in' bad." Don't forget to prepare for your trip with these hastily made Cleveland tourism videos. Maybe now Cleveland will finally get that Ikea. We kid because we love, congratulations Cleveland.

-- Cleveland's selection means it won't be in the running for the Democratic National Convention, because Democrats inserted an exclusivity clause in their contract. That leaves the DNC choosing between Birmingham, Columbus, New York City, Philadelphia and Phoenix. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Columbus has to feel good about their chances right now.

-- Front Pages: WaPo, NYT and USA Today lead with airstrikes in Gaza. Here's the Jerusalem Post's front page, with photos of Hamas rockets in flight. WSJ looks at the disputed Afghanistan election. L.A. Times fronts Obama's $3.7 billion border funding request. And the Denver Post leads with a three-column photo of Obama playing pool.

National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.

-- WH'16: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is considering a bid after hearing from insiders including Mitt Romney. Portman attended Romney's retreat in Park City last month; he counts both Stuart Stevens and longtime advisor Joe Hagin, another Bush administration veteran, as close confidants. (Washington Post) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has hired veteran New Hampshire strategists Michael Biundo, Derek Dufresne and Kory Wood as his PAC's chief New England advisors. Biundo ran Rick Santorum's campaign in 2012. (WMUR) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is heading to New Hampshire later this month to raise money for the state GOP -- but strictly in his capacity as RGA chairman, of course. (Politico)

-- Mississippi: Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) campaign said Tuesday it will have to amend its latest FEC report after screwing up the accounting on about $50,000 in get-out-the-vote funding. Cochran's campaign denies it used the money for vote-buying. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger) The Mississippi GOP certified Cochran's 7,667-vote win in the June 24 runoff election, while the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party asked RNC chairman Reince Priebus to investigate what he called "racially divisive ads and robocalls" critical of state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R). (Washington Post, twice) The Senate Conservatives Fund has given $70,000 to a legal fund helping McDaniel contest results of the runoff. (The Hill)

-- Indiana: Former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) says he's considering running for governor in 2016, 20 years after he finished his second term in the governor's mansion. But he won't make a decision until his twin sons settle in at college, which they begin this fall. Bayh still has $10 million in the bank; a 2013 Howey Politics Indiana poll pegged his favorable rating at 60 percent, compared with 52 percent for Gov. Mike Pence (R). (HPI)

-- Virginia: Randolph Macon Professor Dave Brat (R) has hired a new campaign manager, his third since beating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a stunning upset last month. Phil Rapp, an aide to state Sen. William Stanley (R), will take over for Amanda Chase, who was hired in June to succeed 23-year-old Zachary Werrell. Werrell wouldn't say whether it was his decision to leave Brat's campaign. (Washington Post)

-- Tennessee: The head of CMS has given Tennessee ten days to offer a plan to provide health care services required by the Affordable Care Act. A delay in bringing a $35 million state website online and the lack of in-person assistance for those trying to sign up for Medicaid are causing the problems. The state director of TennCare said her agency is hoping for better performance from Northrop Grumman, the company responsible for building the website. (Tennessean)

-- Georgia: Something you don't see every day: State Sen. Jason Carter (D) outraised Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in the second quarter, taking in $2 million compared with $1.27 million for the incumbent. Deal, to his credit, has been fundraising for his state PAC and the RGA; the RGA has already dropped $1.5 million on pro-Deal ads. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.

-- President Obama spent Tuesday night playing pool at the Wynkoop Brewery, the pub in downtown Denver founded by now-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), where the two played pool. Pool reporter Colleen McCain witnessed Obama sink the winning shot, leaving Hickenlooper with five balls on the table. Today, Obama speaks on the economy at Cheesman Park, then attends a DSCC fundraiser in downtown Denver before departing for Dallas. In Texas, he meets with local leaders, including Gov. Rick Perry (R), to discuss the situation on the border before attending a DCCC fundraiser in Dallas, followed by a DNC fundraiser in Austin.

-- Vice President Biden delivers remarks this afternoon at a transportation infrastructure event hosted by the White House Business Council in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. This evening, he travels to Philadelphia to address the Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

-- The House meets at 10 a.m. to begin considering the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, shepherded by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). It's the sixth of 12 appropriations bills the House has taken up this year. First votes expected between 5:30 and 6:30 this evening.

-- The Senate will vote today to confirm San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D) as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. It's a roll call vote, but Castro is expected to sail through.

TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.

-- North Carolina: Keep Conservatives United, an outside group backing Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. (R), is dropping last-minute mail into the race to replace retiring Rep. Howard Coble (R). KCU has spent more than $110,000 for Berger, who faces pastor Mark Walker (R) in next Tuesday's runoff election. (FEC)

-- Kentucky: Senate Majority PAC will kick off a $550,000 ad buy against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) today, running over the next two weeks. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) launched her first negative ad hitting McConnell, too. (Politico) Context: Senate Majority PAC has already spent $790,000 in Kentucky this cycle. Grimes has spent $265,000 on her own spots.

The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.

-- President Obama called German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, unaware that a German intelligence operative had admitted on Wednesday he had passed secrets to the CIA. Merkel didn't raise the issue on the call, but White House officials want to know who in the CIA was aware of the blown operation. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said CIA chief John Brennan had briefed them on the case. (New York Times)

B1: Business, politics and the business of politics

-- Several top gay rights groups withdrew their support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would promote LGBT rights in the workplace, because they worry religious exemptions in the current bill would allow companies to cite objections similar to those that prevailed in the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the ACLU, Lambda Legal and other groups said they didn't want to risk codifying discrimination against gays and lesbians. (Washington Post)

-- Religious groups are pressing President Obama to exclude them from an executive order that would bar discrimination against gays and lesbians by companies that contract with the government. Obama has yet to sign the executive order. (New York Times)

-- Markets are basically flat this morning after dropping on Tuesday, ahead of new Fed minutes being released at 2 p.m. today. Most world markets dropped today; the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 1.5 percent. (CNN)

C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.

-- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has used his veto pen 314 times while in office, far more than his recent predecessors. He's vetoed spending bills, gun control legislation and tax hikes, among other things. Standing athwart his own state legislature could help Christie if he takes the presidential plunge; after all, Mitt Romney bragged about his more than 800 vetoes while he was on the campaign trail in 2008 and 2012. (Washington Post)

-- Big difference between Christie and Romney: Christie's vetoes actually get upheld. Romney's were overturned a shocking 99.6 percent of the time, according to the Boston Globe.

C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work

-- Have you seen that cool viral video of a drone flying around downtown Nashville on the 4th of July, weaving in and out of fireworks? Well, the FAA has, and now it's investigating drone owner Robert Hartline for the flight. (Tennessean)

-- New York gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino (R) wondered aloud when former Rep. Kathy Hochul (D), the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, would show up in public. "Which will be found first: The Malaysian airlines or Kathy Hochul on the campaign trail? Legitimate question." (Huffington Post) Oh but such a bad joke.

Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.

-- Costco will remove conservative author Dinesh D'Souza's latest book from store shelves by July 15, just after D'Souza's film of the same name hit theaters. (World Net Daily) Costco CFO Richard Galanti said the decision came after the book didn't show up on the New York Times best-seller list, and that sales had been slow. (World Net Daily)

Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today

-- The only proof one needs to be convinced that Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) is open-minded on race issues, according to his hometown newspaper, is that he played college basketball. Here's the Laurel Leader-Call's editorial: "It’s been frustrating to see so many people in the black community be convinced that Chris McDaniel was a racist just because someone they trusted told them he was. If they did a little research on their own, they would find out that McDaniel was a basketball standout at South Jones and Jones County Junior College. ... At the risk of stereotyping, what color do you think his buddies were on those teams?" (Talking Points Memo) Well, case closed then.