THE BIG IDEA: Corn vs. sugar
Joint SCOOP with Tom Hamburger: The Corn Refiners Association, representing companies that produce high-fructose corn syrup, has just hired 10 outside lobbyists as part of an unorthodox attack on sugar producers and the unusually generous federal support that they receive. Their first target is an agriculture appropriations bill now working its way through a House committee. “While every other farm support program has received multiple rounds of reforms, big sugar has not been touched,” said John Bode, CEO of the Corn Refiners group.
Watch for sugar supports to become the next Big Thing that movement conservatives oppose, even if they supported them in the past: Some on the right predict this issue will play out a lot like the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. The bank’s charter is likely to lapse, at least temporarily, next week after a sustained push by conservatives to cast it as a symbol of corporate welfare. The 2016 presidential contenders continue to seek out issues where they can get to the right of one another.
“Defeating the sugar lobby is the next campaign after Ex-Im,” Grover Norquist, from Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily 202 last night. “Both are cronyism in its undiluted, inexcusable majesty. Both have survived because they perfected the skills to control Congress for their own profit. If they go down, no political subsidy will be safe. The implication of these wins is bigger than the ban on earmarks.”
The Club for Growth’s Andrew Roth added that fighting the sugar subsidy “is high on the list” of priorities after Ex-Im: “If there is more muscle going into anti-sugar subsidy efforts, we welcome it.”
Heritage Action’s Dan Holler argues that the war on sugar is “a whole lot further along” than the push to kill Ex-Im was just a few years ago. Indeed, a 2013 amendment to reduce sugar price supports and enact other reform failed by just 15 House votes. “Using the protectionism that exists around sugar to highlight the dreadful nature of America’s farm policy is very important to us,” he said. (The sugar lobby declined to comment.)
The coming sugar war could become problematic for Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, Republican presidential candidates from Florida who have been supportive of sugar but already have at least one big strike against them in the eyes of activists (immigration). Read more here.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Iran’s Supreme Leader appeared to pull back on the nuclear talks. “With exactly a week left before the deadline for a final agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the country’s supreme leader appeared to undercut several of the central agreements his negotiators have already reached with the West,” the New York Times reports. “In a speech broadcast live on Iran state television, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanded that most sanctions be lifted before Tehran has dismantled part of its nuclear infrastructure and before international inspectors verify that the country is beginning to meet its commitments. He also ruled out any freeze on Iran’s sensitive nuclear enrichment for as long as a decade, as a preliminary understanding announced in April stipulates, and he repeated his refusal to allow inspections of Iranian military sites.” This could also, of course, be a carefully orchestrated way to give his negotiators more leverage and play the United States…
— The U.S. ambassador to France was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry after WikiLeaks cables suggested that the U.S. spied on its president. “President Francois Hollande called the U.S. spying an ‘unacceptable’ security breach,” the AP reports from Paris. “The documents appear to capture top French officials in Paris between 2006 and 2012 talking candidly about Greece’s economy, relations with Germany, and American spying on allies. While there were no huge surprises, the release of the documents late Tuesday angered and embarrassed French officialdom.”
— Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) publicly expressed interest in reviving their failed push to require more background checks for gun purchases. Each senator said he would like to find a new way forward during interviews last night at a reception before a ceremony hosted by Sandy Hook families to honor Toomey. “We want to make sure we have the votes. Pat’s going to have to, and I’ll work with him, to get some of our colleagues on the Republican side,” Manchin told my PowerPost colleague Colby Itkowitz. Toomey told her that he’s “trying to figure out is there something that could get the support of the 60 votes that we would need in the Senate.” He called Manchin “a great partner” and “someone I will continue to work with.”
202 Reality Check: This story will generate tons of buzz (it is already the banner headline on the Drudge Report this morning), but gun control — no matter how incremental — will NEVER, EVER, EVER pass in this Congress. The president himself tacitly acknowledged last week during his post-Charleston press conference, BUT talking about his support for background checks will undeniably assist Toomey’s tough reelection campaign next year in his blue state of Pennsylvania. [That would not be the case if he had a primary…]
- Last night, “the board of the Citadel — the South Carolina military college whose cadets were among the first to fire on Union troops in the Civil War — voted to remove the Confederate flag from the school’s Summerall Chapel to another, undecided location,” Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa report.
- The South Carolina state House voted 103-10 for a bill that allows debate over removing the Confederate flag during a special session later this summer. The state Senate approved the measure by voice vote.
- “Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) pressed his state to quit issuing license plates with the insignia and replace those already on the road. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, both Republicans, also said they wanted to get rid of such license plates in their states.”
- Six major retailers said they will stop selling merchandise featuring the Confederate flag: Wal-Mart, eBay, Sears, Target, Etsy and Amazon (whose chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post).
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Kentucky’s Jefferson Davis statue should be moved to a museum.
But there is also resistance:
- South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright (R), a state co-chairman for the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), called the proposal a “Stalinist purge.”
- One of the “no” votes in the South Carolina House was Eric Bedingfield, a top staffer and political adviser to Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) who represents a Greenville-area district. (Great spot by Phil Rucker.)
— Last night’s D.C. thunderstorms killed a 79-year-old man who was driving a pickup truck in the Poolesville area of Montgomery County. More than 100,000 homes and businesses lost power, Martin Weil reports, and at least two apartment houses were set on fire by lightning strikes, one in Arlington on North 21st Road and the other on Lakeside Drive in Greenbelt, Md.
GET SMART FAST:
- Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) will NOT challenge Republican Sen. Richard Burr next year, a lucky break for the GOP in what could have been a marquee race, Roll Call reports.
- A federal judge in Wyoming issued an injunction last night to block the implementation of the Interior Department’s fracking regulations on federal land, meaning that they will not go into effect today as planned. (The Hill)
- The House canceled Friday votes so a huge delegation of several dozen lawmakers, including Speaker John Boehner, can join the president for a memorial service in Charleston.
- “The computer upgrade that federal officials tout as having detected — although not prevented — a massive breach of information on federal employees is itself at high risk of failure, according to a new internal audit.” (Eric Yoder)
- The U.S. government said it will stop telling families of hostages taken abroad that they could face criminal prosecution if they pay ransom for the release of loved ones. (Steven Mufson and Adam Goldman)
- A bipartisan coalition of senators, led by Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), agreed to a six-year federal highway package that would boost overall spending on U.S. roads and bridges. But it will still be tough to corral the votes in the House and Senate by a July 31 deadline. (Ashley Halsey III)
- After the president’s trade agenda advanced with the 60 votes it needed yesterday, Japan’s Economic Minister said that he thinks the 12 nations involved in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership may reach a broad agreement in the next month, per Bloomberg.
- Ted Cruz flipped on TPA, the only Senate Republican to vote for it the first time and against it on reconsideration. “I cannot vote for TPA unless McConnell and Boehner both commit publicly to allow the Ex-Im Bank to expire—and stay expired,” he wrote in an op-ed for Breitbart, warning of secret backroom deals to allow a vote on the reauthorization of the bank. “And, Congress must also pass the Cruz- Sessions amendments to TPA to ensure that no trade agreement can try to back-door changes to our immigration laws.”
- Data released yesterday shows that, one year after the Veterans Affairs scandal, the number of veterans on wait lists to be treated for everything from Hepatitis C to post-traumatic stress is 50 percent higher than at the same time last year.
- A Suffolk University poll showed Jeb Bush narrowly leading among Republicans in New Hampshire, but with only 14 percent. Donald Trump debuts at 11 percent. Walker is third with 8 percent, and Rubio pulls 7 percent.
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- Lisa Jackson, the former head of the EPA, has been promoted to vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple. She will become the company’s lead on all policy initiatives, including the environment, education and accessibility, CEO Tim Cook announced in a memo to employees.
- Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) will announce his campaign “as soon as next week,” Politico reports in a story that gives itself lots of wiggle room. A July Fourth announcement could get lost, but he might also get a news cycle to himself. Christie’s PAC announced separately that it has brought a New Hampshire political director and deputy state director aboard. (Union Leader)
- Ending Spending Action Fund, the super PAC funded by TD Ameritrade chairman Joseph Ricketts, will unveil a multi-million dollar advertising campaign today against New Hampshire’s Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, ahead of her expected challenge against GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Consultant Dave Carney said the first ads will start right after the July Fourth holiday. (WMUR)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) complains in an op-ed for The Boston Globe that the U.S. government never enforces rules that impose labor or environmental standards in trade agreements, calling out the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
- Guy Cecil, running the pro-Hillary Priorities USA, is replacing the super PAC’s finance director (who was hired in January) with a longtime associate. The previous DSCC executive director also signed Ralston Lapp and re-signed Shorr Johnson Magnus to produce ads, per Politico’s Glenn Thrush.
—“Scott Walker to sign legislation expanding gun rights in Wisconsin,” by Jenna Johnson: He plans to sign two new laws on Wednesday that expand the rights of gun owners by removing a 48-hour waiting period for those looking to purchase a firearm and allowing off-duty or retired police officers to carry concealed weapons at public schools.
— “Recruited by Harvard for the women’s swim team, he’ll jump into the pool as a man,” by Valerie Strauss: “She was the quintessential recruit for the women’s swimming team at Harvard University: a nimble breaststroker with a fierce work ethic and sharp intellect. But when Schuyler Bailar jumps into the school’s Olympic-size pool this fall, he instead will be a member of the men’s team, the first openly transgender collegiate swimmer in U.S. history. Emerging from a tortuous year of self-reckoning and a lifelong quest to feel comfortable in his own skin, Bailar, 19, will be navigating far more than the usual freshman challenges; he also will be a pioneer and role model as society openly grapples with shifting mores about traditional male/female gender lines.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: On the day that he formally kicks off his presidential campaign, to say Bobby Jindal is a media afterthought would be putting it lightly. Our campaign analytics partners at Zignal Labs looks at how few people have mentioned the governor across social and traditional media during the month of June.
Jindal’s busiest day this month, mentionwise, came when he took to Twitter to criticize President Obama for “inject(ing) gun control politics” into the Charleston story. That same day, the alternative media took him to task for a man who is serving ten years in prison over a seemingly minor marijuana possession charge.
Zignal’s algorithms found that sentiment trended negative against Jindal by a 3-to-1 margin that day, meaning there were three critical tweets for every positive one on June 18. This chart shows how folks, particularly on social media, reacted:
Jindal also received a wave of attention earlier this week after IBM cancelled a ribbon-cutting ceremony to protest the governor’s “religious freedom” executive order, which was viewed by many as anti-LGBT. That story was mentioned more than 2,000 times on social, broadcast and online media.
While these numbers look pretty abysmal, they also validate Team Jindal’s theory of the case–which is that he’s “a clean slate” with “a lot of upside.” First, he’s actually pretty unknown, despite being the sitting governor of a major U.S. state. Second, the vitriolic hate from the left could–if used properly–work to his advantage on the right. Insiders tell us that a central part of the governor’s pitch today will be that he is “FEARLESS,” willing and even itching to take on the corporate wing of his party over social issues, especially protecting traditional marriage, in ways that no one else is. This, they hope, will pay dividends with evangelicals in the early states. Read David A. Fahrenthold and I’s curtain-raiser on the speech here.
–WHAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT:
Picture of the day:
A storm hits Washington, D.C.:
Tweets of the day:
Bill Kristol raised eyebrows on Twitter:
And elicited some brutal responses:
Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin slammed Donald Trump:
While Nancy Pelosi met with Malala Yousafzai:
Instagram of the day:
George Pataki revealed himself to be a Taylor Swift fan:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New York Times, “Scott Walker, Set for a Bigger Stage, Faces G.O.P. Revolt in Wisconsin,” by Trip Gabriel: “Leaders of Mr. Walker’s party, which controls the Legislature, are balking at his demands for the state’s budget. Critics say the governor’s spending blueprint is aimed more at appealing to conservatives in early-voting states like Iowa than doing what is best for Wisconsin. Lawmakers are stymied over how to pay for road and bridge repairs without raising taxes or fees, which Mr. Walker has ruled out. The governor’s fellow Republicans rejected his proposal to borrow $1.3 billion for the roadwork, arguing that adding to the state’s debt is irresponsible.”
— Wall Street Journal, “Time Running Out for Ex-Im Bank,” by Nick Timiraos and Kristina Peterson: “A handful of Senate Democrats who had pushed to keep the bank alive voted to advance trade legislation Tuesday without any assurances the bank would win reauthorization before its charter lapses next Tuesday. The move extinguished the already tenuous possibility that a renewal might ride on the back of the trade bill … Both supporters of the bank and many of its critics believe the bank will win back its full powers in July, when Congress must vote to replenish highway funding that runs out at the end of next month.”
BUZZING AT THE CAPITOL:
— National Journal, “Congress finally has a highway bill, but it wouldn’t fix anything,” by Jason Plautz: “With just over a month left before transportation programs are set to expire, the Senate has a bill on the table that would set state spending levels for roads and bridges all the way out to 2021 … [But] it doesn’t do anything to actually provide the dollars that states will have to spend.”
— Politico, “Dems weigh last-ditch move to sink trade bill,” by Lauren French and John Bresnahan: “At this point, it looks as if a number of House Democrats who voted against Trade Adjustment Authority when it was linked to fast-track are now open to backing it. Democrats say some labor officials who gave them a pass on the first round are urging them to support it. They are bowing to the larger reality that the fight over fast-track is over, and they lost.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
Mike Huckabee Facebook Q&A goes hilariously off the rails. From Talking Points Memo: “Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) held a question and answer session on Facebook on Monday to field inquiries about his bid for president, but ultimately he was forced to answer quite a few bizarre questions … about ‘the Illuminist,’ living with bears, and whether he is gay … Eventually, Huckabee gave up and told his supporters he was headed to a radio interview.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
FBI files document communism in Valerie Jarrett’s family. From Judicial Watch: “Federal Bureau of Investigation files obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that the dad, maternal grandpa and father-in-law of President Obama’s trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, were hardcore Communists under investigation by the U.S. government. Jarrett’s dad, pathologist and geneticist Dr. James Bowman, had extensive ties to Communist associations and individuals, his lengthy FBI file shows.”
— On the campaign trail: Bobby Jindal will announce his campaign for president. Ted Cruz will speak at an event at the Heritage Foundation. George Pataki will be in New Hampshire.
— On the Hill: The Senate will resume consideration of several trade bills. The House will vote on a package of bills to repeal EPA coal rules. The House Oversight Committee will hold its second hearing on the OPM data breach. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads will hold a hearing on positive train control implementation.
— At the White House: President Obama will deliver remarks on the completion of a review of how the government responds to overseas hostage cases at 12:20 p.m., then meet with the co-chairs of high-level U.S.-China talks. In the evening, Obama will host a reception observing LGBT Pride Month. Press Secretary Josh Earnest will brief the media at 1 p.m.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We have legacy systems that are very old. It’s an enterprise-wide problem. I don’t believe anyone is personally responsible.” — Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management, defending herself during a Senate hearing on the massive hack of federal employee data
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— Wonderful weather today: “Last evening’s stormy cold front swept away the heat and the humidity (good riddance!), leaving us with a pleasantly warm day today and a comfortable night tonight,” per the Capital Weather Gang. “Shower and storm chances return tomorrow afternoon and especially tomorrow night, and it looks like they’ll stick around through a much cooler weekend.”
— The Nationals beat the Braves 3-1 after a multi-hour rain delay. Stephen Strasburg returned rejuvenated after a three-week stint on the disabled list with neck spasms. James Wagner reports that he looked comfortable as he pitched five scoreless innings.
— Watching yesterday’s NTSB hearing about the fatal January 12 smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza’s Metro station did not inspire confidence about Washington’s public transit system or the people running it. The review board released 6,000 pages of documents which highlighted how problems were exacerbated by the transit agency’s slow emergency response and communications breakdowns.
One of the more alarming nuggets in The Post’s front-page recap: “A key Metro emergency responder was repeatedly rebuffed when trying to communicate with the District’s fire commander at the site of the deadly incident … The Metro police official went to the window of the District fire official’s SUV to speak with him, according to Hercules Ballard, Metro’s managing director for rail transportation. The Metro officer ‘tried to engage the battalion chief. The battalion chief rolled up the window and drove off,’ Ballard said.”
VIDEO OF THE DAY:
Bernie Sanders is not boring (He appeared on “Funny or Die.”)
And here’s an introduction to D.C.’s first cat cafe: