with Tobi Raji

Good Thursday morning. We're chatting with Carly Fiorina at 10 a.m. about the state of the GOP. Please join us 😊 This is the Power Up newsletter – thanks for waking up with us. 

🚨 What my colleague Marianna Sotomayor and I witnessed yesterday after votes outside the House chamber: “Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene aggressively confronted Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday and falsely accused her of supporting ‘terrorists,’ leading the New York congresswoman’s office to call on leadership to ensure that Congress remains “a safe, civil place for all Members and staff,” Marianna writes. 

  • “Two Washington Post reporters witnessed Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) exit the House chamber late Wednesday afternoon ahead of Greene (Ga.), who shouted ‘Hey Alexandria’ twice in an effort to get her attention. When Ocasio-Cortez did not stop walking, Greene picked up her pace and began shouting at her and asking why she supports antifa, a loosely knit group of far-left activists, and Black Lives Matter, falsely labeling them ‘terrorist’ groups. Greene also shouted that Ocasio-Cortez was failing to defend her 'radical socialist; beliefs by declining to publicly debate the freshman from Georgia.”
  • Flashback: Video emerges of Greene harassing a Parkland shooting survivor weeks after the attack.

On the Hill

SCOOP: Maxwell, Babyface, Will Jones, Becky G, and Dionne Warwick are making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week to lobby senators on passing police reform, according to a source with knowledge of the meetings. 

The “Alliance for Criminal Justice Reform supported by Universal Music Group and other prominent players in the music industry held a “lobby day on Wednesday. The artists met with staff for Republican Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). And Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Christopher A. Coons (Del.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Raphael G. Warnock (Ga.), Jon Ossoff (Ga.), and Jeff Merkley (Ore.). 

The star-studded push comes as bipartisan negotiations over the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act have stalled over two key issues: the standard for charging police officers with crimes, and ‘qualified immunity' the legal doctrine shielding individual officers from lawsuits.

  • In the House, Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday “qualified immunity is still very much on the table,” adding that “we’ll see what the final product looks like.”
  • “It’s my view that we are going to land in a place where we will have a bipartisan agreement that is transformational in nature,” Jeffries added. “It will be the most progressive police reform bill ever to pass the United States Congress and to be signed into law. What version of reform in terms of qualified immunity makes it into that bill remains to be seen.”

President Biden called on Congress to pass legislation ahead of the first anniversary of Floyd's dead on May 25 but final language has yet to be agreed upon as lawmakers work on a compromise bill. 

  • “The three key bipartisan negotiators on policing reform met for an hour Wednesday and appeared to have hit a setback over whether officers should continue to be protected from civil lawsuits, after a House Democratic leader said this weekend that so-called qualified immunity could be left out of any compromise,” ABC News's Trish Turner reports.
  • Right now, especially on the House side, it's our position that qualified immunity has to be eliminated,Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) told reporters.
  • “South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the lead GOP negotiator, leaving the hour-long meeting by an exit different from Bass and [Sen. Cory] Booker [D-N.J.], when told of the congresswoman’s position, responded, 'I'm on the exact opposite side.'”
  • Some Democrats have yet to embrace Scott's proposal overhauling the qualified immunity standard so that police departments — but not police officers — can be sued.
  • Negotiators have made some progress: “ … the two sides have found tentative agreement on some matters, such as setting federal standards for no-knock warrants, banning chokeholds except in life threatening situations and placing limits on military equipment the Department of Defense can send to local and state police department, known as the 1033 program, according to a source familiar with the talks,” CNN's Manu Raju, Jessica Dean and Paula Reid report. 

Other celebs are applying pressure to get the policing bill passed: the NBA Players Association launched a microsite this week encouraging people to call senators to tell them to vote for the bill. 

  • “As a Union, we are starting a campaign,” CJ McCollum says in a video posted by the NBPA on Twitter. “Call your senators, we want each of you to get on your phones, call your senators and tell them to vote for the George Floyd Bill.”
  • Reminder: NBA and WNBA players were at the forefront of the protests against police brutality and the killing of Black people last summer in the wake of Floyd's murder.

IN OTHER [GOP FALLING APART] NEWS: House Republicans began Wednesday by quickly ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) as House Republican Conference chair because she continues to challenge former President Donald Trump over his false claim the presidential election was stolen, my colleague Marianna Sotomayor and I report. 

Soon afterwards, several GOP members spoke up to minimize the actions of pro-Trump rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The two things offered the clearest sign yet of how far Republicans are willing to go to support and tolerate Trump’s election falsehoods as well as the degree to which many members are trying to rewrite the history of Jan. 6.

  • What Cheney told her colleagues: “If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person; you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy,” Cheney said, according to a person familiar with her remarks. “But I promise you this, after today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”

Ummm: Then House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) raised quite a few Washington eyebrows after a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House.

  • Key quote: “I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with sitting here with the president today," he said.
  • Flashback: McCarthy voted to contest the certification of Biden’s victory and signed on to a Texas lawsuit seeking unprecedented judicial intervention in it. He supported Cheney's ouster, mainly because she wouldn't sign on to the falsehood the election was stolen from Trump.
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leading member of the  House Freedom Caucus, said while he recognizes Biden as president, he's still skeptical of the vote that landed him the White House: “Under our system and the way it works, he’s the president,” he said. “I do think we should look at the election results, but yeah, he’s the president of the United States. I’ve said that all along."

👀🚨: Shortly after disposing of Cheney, several House Republicans appeared at a hearing examining the events of Jan. 6 and accused Democrats of unfairly blaming Trump. Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) said what took place that day was not an insurrection and compared it to a normal day on Capitol Hill.

  • “There was an undisciplined mob. There were some rioters and some who committed acts of vandalism. But let me be clear, there was no insurrection. And to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a boldfaced lie,” he said. “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the capital and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and robes, taking videos, pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think that was a normal tourist visit.”

Where things stand for Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who is expected to replace Cheney atop the GOP conference.

  • But everyone in the conference is thrilled with the choice. 
    “I think it’s premature to talk about that,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told reporters when asked if he backed Stefanik. “There could be other candidates. We are just getting started.”
  • “I think she’s liberal,” said Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who told us that he won't vote for Stefanik. “I don’t think there will be anybody that wants to risk a future chairmanship or a future role than the party to take on Elise Stefanik, which I think is terribly unfair.”
  • Meanwhile: “Texas Rep. Chip Roy is considering launching a bid … according to multiple Republican sources, as conservatives fret that the party is moving too quickly to anoint a successor to newly deposed Liz Cheney,” Politico's Melanie Zanona reports.
  • “Roy, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, is one of several conservatives to publicly express concern about elevating” Stefanik.
  • “I don’t believe there should be a coronation,” Roy said. “I believe that if the leader wants us to be united, then he should take the time to do this the right way.”

At the White House

THE BIPARTISAN-SHIP IS SINKING: “President Biden, Democratic lawmakers and congressional Republicans all both agree they want to do something — anything — to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. But they don’t agree on much else, including what ‘infrastructure’ actually means,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm report.

  • “When Biden hosts Senate Republicans in a closely watched Oval Office meeting [today], the two sides may not even broach the thorniest issue: how to pay for any package that rebuilds roads, expands broadband access and improves water systems, among other priorities.”
  • “This session comes ahead of a critical Memorial Day deadline the White House set for ‘progress’ — which also has yet to be really defined — on advancing Biden’s jobs and infrastructure plan. Key committees are trying to push forward transportation bills that achieve some of the president’s initiatives by then, although some of those discussions are snarled in partisan disputes.”
  • “While lofty platitudes are being paid to bipartisanship from most of the parties involved, none of them have been able to map out a path toward a deal that will satisfy enough Republicans to give Biden the cross-party achievement he craves without significantly sacrificing Democrats’ ambitions on a transformational jobs plan.”

THE FALLOUT FROM THE PIPELINE HACK IS HERE AND IT’S NOT PRETTY: “Biden has struggled this week to contain an escalating gasoline shortage in the Southeast, prompting Republicans to open a new line of attack against him on an issue that has long been fraught with political peril for the party that controls the White House,” our colleague Sean Sullivan reports.

  • “In Congress, Republicans seized on Biden’s moves to transition away from fossil fuels, suggesting it imperils the country’s energy security. On Fox News, conservative hosts have blamed the president for rising prices at the pump and long lines of cars snaking around gas stations, with one dubbing it ‘Biden’s gas crisis.’”
  • “White House officials — sensitive to how quickly concerns about gas can become full-blown political crises have aggressively sought to showcase their efforts to ease the shortage. They’ve enlisted Cabinet secretaries to explain the response in front of TV cameras and brief local officials; they’ve issued a flurry of written updates throughout the week; and they’ve touted their decisions to relax restrictions to boost gas delivery by ground transportation.”
  • “The public relations battle underlines the strong belief in both major parties about how potent a political issue gas can become. From the BP oil spill during the Obama administration to the oil crisis that derailed the Carter administration, presidents have for decades confronted, with mixed results, catastrophes over a resource that is part of daily life for most Americans.

“The issue is especially resonant right now, Republicans said, with people eager to hit the road after more than a year of pandemic lockdown.”

The campaign

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE 2020 ELECTION'S HIGH TURNOUT: “Turnout in the 2020 election surged to the highest level of any election in 120 years. Recently released census data shows just how broad the surge in turnout was across demographics: The new data confirms an uptick in voting rates among Americans young and old, male and female and of different racial backgrounds and education levels,” our colleagues Scott Clement and Daniela Santamariña write.

  • “Overall, vote tallies show 66.8 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in 2020, up from 60.1 percent in 2016 and the highest turnout rate since 1900. The turnout boost was especially large among groups who have historically voted at lower rates. That suggests the 2020 election not only inspired high turnout overall, but also drew broader participation than previous elections.”
  • Why? “The broad surge in voter participation in 2020 — despite risks from the coronavirus pandemic — likely reflects the extraordinary stakes Americans saw in the presidential election and polarized views of Trump.”
  • “A Pew Research Center poll last summer found a record high 83 percent of registered voters said it ‘really matters who wins the presidential election.’ A September Washington Post-ABC News poll found more than 6 in 10 registered voters saying a Trump or Biden victory would represent ‘a crisis for the country.’”

Here are some highlights from our colleagues’s analysis of Census survey data:

  • “A big breakthrough in youth turnout. For the first time, most Americans under age 30 voted.”

Turnout by age since 2000

  • “Turnout among Asian Americans jumped the most.”

Turnout by race and ethnicity since 2000

The people

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: “As the 2020 presidential election approached, a number of politicians and pundits issued calls to deny Trump’s enablers and collaborators a place in ‘polite society’ once they left Washington,” Slate’s Aaron Mak and Jonathan L. Fischer write. “Bar them from corporate boardrooms and commencement daises! Nix their think tank fellowships! Keep them off the Sunday shows! Shred their book proposals!”

  • “So we wondered: Where are they now? Which alums of this presidency have assimilated back into the rest of the political, academic, and financial classes? And which are banished to the (not necessarily less lucrative) company of the MAGA set forever?”

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “Sanders is running for governor of Arkansas.”
  • White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. “Conway reportedly signed a multimillion-dollar deal to write a tell-all memoir about her time in the Trump administration.”
  • Vice President Mike Pence. “Pence joined the Young America’s Foundation youth group, where he’ll go on a campus lecture circuit and host a podcast. The Heritage Foundation has also brought him on as a distinguished visiting fellow. He recently signed a two-book deal for his memoirs, for which he will receive an advance of between $3 million and $4 million.”
  • White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump. “Ivanka will reportedly serve, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, as an informal adviser to the America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit group featuring Trump administration alumni that will work to preserve the former president’s policies.”