with Tobi Raji

Good Thursday morning. Thank a nurse today!! And join us for our conversation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at 9:15 a.m. This is the Power Up newsletter – thanks for waking up with us. 

On the Hill

THE DUMP CHENEY MOVEMENT GAINS STEAM: Another day, another news cycle on the GOP civil war that's now threatening to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership — and is raising even bigger questions about the post-Trump future of the Republican Party.

At least in the short term which Cheney explicitly acknowledged on Wednesday in an op-ed she penned for The Post laying out why she's decided to “choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution” over former president Trump: 

  • The question before us now is whether we will join Trump’s crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have,” she argued. 
  • History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be,” Cheney concluded.

Former president Donald Trump and his allies rallied around Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday after Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), the GOP's No. 2 House leader, came out and explicitly endorsed her for Cheney's job as House GOP Conference chair.

McCarthy has yet to back Stefanik publicly but her ascendancy seems all but a done deal as very few in the conference have come to Cheney's defense (House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy [R-Calif.] was caught on a hot mic saying he's “had it with her.”) McCarthy and other GOP leaders are angry Cheney keeps loudly criticizing Trump for his false claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, and her highlighting the role Trump played in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

  • The move to kick Cheney out of leadership will most likely officially occur next week, when the House returns from a recess, my colleagues Marianna Sotomayor, Felicia Sonmez, and I report. 
  • Who will officially call for a vote to oust the Wyoming Republican remains to be seen: Leaders are urging Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), a respected senior member of the conference, to make the request, but other members are also eager to do so, according to people familiar with the discussion.

Allegiance to Trump and backing his brand of nationalist populism has increasingly become the Republican Party's lifeblood. And if Cheney is ousted, that will make her the most high-profile casualty of Trump's hold on the GOP since leaving office. Even those close to Cheney questioned her tactics, and expressed concern she's imperiling her political future: 

  • I wish [Cheney] would not be as voluble as she's been she's made her point but she's now gotten this image of her fist bumping the president,” a senior Republican told us of Cheney's greeting of President Biden at last week's joint address. “She's said what she wanted to say but don't put yourself in a place where you fist bump Biden. He was a friend of your dad's but don't give him an easy shot She's absolutely right and I herald her courage but I want her to be viable for the future. Let's turn the page on [Trump] by turning the page.
  • “Losers don't make policy,” a House GOP aide told Power Up. “So as conservative as you might be she won't be around to make a difference When you swing at every pitch, you swing at too many bad pitches and Cheney is doing that with every anti-Trump pitch.” 
  • Counter: “This moment is about much more than a House leadership fight,” Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler said after Scalise became the first member of the GOP leadership to publicly endorse Stefanik.

Stefanik represents an Upstate New York district that has grown increasingly conservative. She was a onetime ally of then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), presenting herself as a moderate who voted less often with Trump than most members of the conference. She opposed his signature 2017 tax cuts because they limited the state and local tax deductions benefiting homeowners in many Northeast states. But she endeared herself to Trump when she loudly defended him during the impeachment process earlier this year.

  • Still, “over the past 18 months, the congresswoman has morphed into a disciple of former president Donald Trump’s vision for the Republican Party,” our Paul Kane reports. “She has studiously made allies out of the firebrands in the House Freedom Caucus, who spent three years opposing Ryan’s work as speaker, and she now revels in engaging in ‘cancel culture’ wars on cable news and social media.”
  • “Stefanik, 36, who declined to comment, no longer wants to be identified with the traditional conservatives who served as her mentors. Instead, she wants to be placed squarely in Trump’s ‘America First’ movement. Her pivot maps precisely with her constituents in her state’s North Country.”
  • “Yet none of those House Republicans came from such elite traditional conservative roots. Stefanik’s résumé reads like someone who was nurtured to be a younger version of Cheney.” 
  • 👀: Stefanik will appear on Stephen K. Bannon's radio show at 10 a.m. this morning. 

There still could be some speed bumps for the New Yorker. Some House GOP aides and strategists said Stefanik’s bid for the No. 3 spot has long been in the making, and they criticized her aggressive tactics to ascend the ranks.

  • “Elise Stefanik is NOT a good spokesperson for the House Republican Conference. She is a liberal with a 35% CFGF lifetime rating, 4th worst in the House GOP” the Club for Growth tweeted. “House Republicans should find a conservative to lead messaging and win back the House Majority.”
  • Elise is for Elise,” a House GOP aide told us. “She's smart and talented and some day I'll owe her a favor … Elise has had a lot of different positions over time and she has a lot of energy and works very hard but we'll see if it winds up catching up with her at some point.” 

A thread worth reading from NPR's Brian Mann: 

At the White House

BIDEN SAYS HE'S OPEN TO (SOME) INFRASTRUCTURE COMPROMISE: “Biden said Wednesday that he is open to compromise on his $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan but that he stands by his proposal to finance the plan by increasing taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans — an idea Republicans have soundly rejected,” our colleague Eugene Scott reports.

  • “Everything I’m proposing that be done to generate economic growth and employment and put us in a position where we can out-compete any other country in the world with research and development and moving ahead, I pay for,” the president said Wednesday.
  • “Republicans have bristled at Biden’s American Jobs Plan, saying the $2 trillion dollar price tag is too high for Americans, especially those earning more than $400,000.”
  • And “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that he is ‘100 percent focused’ on stopping the Biden administration from moving forward with the president’s agenda.”
  • Biden's response: He said that about the last administration — about Barack, that he was going to stop everything and I was able to get a lot done with him.

But compromise is on the table. “I’m willing to compromise, but I’m not willing to not pay for what we’re talking about. I’m not willing to deficit spend,” he said.

  • “The president’s comments send one of the strongest signals yet that if his economic proposal becomes law, it will likely be with a smaller corporate tax increase.” Bloomberg’s Jordan Fabian and Jennifer Epstein report.
  • “A smaller tax increase means either scaling back Biden’s proposed spending — which progressive Democrats have said is already too small — or finding other revenue-raising measures.”
  • “A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have suggested user fees, such as taxes on gasoline or vehicle miles traveled, to help pay for infrastructure spending, but that could run afoul of the administration’s red line of not raising taxes for those making under $400,000.”

In the agencies

WHITE HOUSE BACKS WAIVING VACCINE PATENTS: “The U.S. will support a proposal to waive intellectual-property protections for coronavirus vaccines, joining an effort to increase global supply and access to the lifesaving shots as the gap between rich and poor nations widens,” Bloomberg’s Jenny Leonard and Eric Martin report.

  • “The waiver has been opposed by drugmakers, who say the plan is ineffective. They argue that few countries have the capacity to produce more vaccines even if they knew the formulas. Also, there’s limited global supply of the materials needed, and building new factories with the necessary technology to produce the vaccines could take years.”
  • “India and South Africa, two nations struggling to contain fresh outbreaks of covid-19, have been urging [World Trade Organization] members to temporarily suspend rules on IP rights, arguing that it would be the most efficient and equitable way to address vaccine shortages in poor countries.”
  • But “support from the White House is not a guarantee that a waiver will be adopted. The European Union has also been standing in the way, and changes to international intellectual property rules require unanimous agreement,” the New York Times’s Thomas Kaplan, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Rebecca Robbins report.

ICE DEPORTATIONS FALL TO LOWEST LEVEL: “The number of deportations carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month fell to the lowest monthly level on record, a drop that comes as illegal border crossings remain at a 20-year high, according to the latest enforcement data,” our colleague Nick Miroff reports

  • ICE deported 2,962 immigrants in April, according to the agency. It is the first time the monthly figure has dipped below 3,000.”
  • The new figures come after “Biden and his Department of Homeland Security team issued new rules to rein in ICE officers, who were afforded wide latitude under the Trump administration to make arrests and were encouraged to boost deportations.”

From the courts

FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES DOWN EVICTION MORATORIUM: “A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its legal authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium, a ruling that could affect millions of struggling Americans,” our colleague Kyle Swenson reports. The Biden administration has appealed the ruling. 

  • “Wednesday’s ruling came as the Biden administration is in the midst of a massive project aimed at alleviating the economic stress pressing both landlords and tenants. As part of the American Rescue Plan enacted in March, the federal government is doling out $21.6 billion to local and state governments for rental and utility relief.”
  • “Tenants’s rights groups said the decision could leave more low-income and working-class tenants vulnerable to eviction in coming weeks even as the Biden administration is beginning to disburse tens of billions of dollars in aid to help them catch up on unpaid rent,” the New York Times’s Glenn Thrush reports.

The campaign

HAPPENING TODAY: Fla. “Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign into law the controversial election reform legislation SB 90 — one in a series of nationwide measures opponents say are aimed at suppressing voting,” the Palm Beach Post's Wendy Rhodes and Antonio Fins report

  • “SB 90 was approved by the Florida Legislature amid a torrent of criticism that the bill was a response to baseless and unsubstantiated allegations by Republicans and Trump that November's election was rigged.”
  • It's not just Florida. “Florida was one of 47 states that have debated at least 361 bills aimed at curbing voting rights. At least 55 of those bills are currently moving through state legislatures.”

CONCERNS MOUNT IN ARIZONA RECOUNT: “Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) on Wednesday sent a letter outlining a string of problems that she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s largest county,” our colleague Rosalind S. Helderman writes

  • “In the six-page letterHobbs wrote that elections are ‘governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency’ but that the procedures governing the ongoing recount in Phoenix ‘ensure none of those things.’”
  • The Justice Department is worried too. “On Wednesday, a top official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote in a letter to state Senate president [Karen Fann] that information reviewed by the department ‘raises concerns,’ asking that the Arizona Senate provide information to ensure federal laws were not being violated.”
  • “She wrote that reports suggested that ballots were ‘not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed.’”

A FIRST STEP: “The Democratic Governors Association welcomed D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser into its ranks, marking the latest effort by Democratic leaders to support making the District the nation’s 51st state,” our colleague Michael Brice-Saddler reports

Viral

THEY'RE COMING …