But Trump never got his deal — and now he wants to rally Republicans to ensure President Biden doesn't get one, either.
Over the past several days, Trump has tried to turn an emerging bipartisan Senate deal to spend hundreds of billions on infrastructure into a kind of loyalty test for congressional Republicans. So far, his vociferous objections haven’t stalled the roughly $1 trillion package — about $550 billion of that is new money — with lawmakers lining up 67-32 to advance it in a procedural vote late Wednesday.
Trump warned the GOP last night against cutting a deal, in his latest rhetorical barrage against bipartisan cooperation on a proposal to shore up or upgrade the country’s roads, bridges, ports, access to the Internet and clean water.
“This will be a victory for the Biden Administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election,” he warned in a statement. “It is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb.”
The former president also explicitly threatened any Republicans inclined to support the notional deal that “lots of primaries will be coming your way!”
On Tuesday, Trump had thundered “don’t do the infrastructure deal, wait until after we get proper election results in 2022 or otherwise, and regain a strong negotiating stance.” “Republicans, don’t let the Radical Left play you for weak fools and losers!”
Trump trained much of his fire on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, saying a deal “is so important to him that he is agreeing to almost anything.” McConnell is not one of the deal’s five Republican authors, whom the former president dismissed as a “small group of RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only). But the Kentucky lawmaker voted yesterday to advance the legislation.
Trump's denouncement of McConnell came two days before the 10 negotiators announced the outlines of the deal — and they really are just outlines, with legislative text yet to be drafted and the precise details of what is funded and how still to be spelled out.
Trump retains control of his party in ways large and small.
The GOP has largely embraced his falsehood that he was cheated out of a second term, and many in the party have played down the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which rioters temporarily interrupted the certification of President Biden’s victory.
Still, we saw a small but notable hiccup for Trump this week.
“Voters in North Texas rebuked former president Donald Trump on Tuesday, electing state Rep. Jake Ellzey to a vacant seat in Congress after Trump endorsed a rival Republican candidate.
Ellzey, a Navy veteran who ran on border security and stopping the Democrats’ congressional agenda, defeated Susan Wright, the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, whose death this year after contracting the coronavirus created a vacancy in Texas’s 6th Congressional District. Although Ellzey did not criticize Trump during the campaign, his allies suggested that the former president made a mistake by endorsing a first-time candidate who struggled to raise money and held few campaign events.”
When it comes to infrastructure, GOP senators have more to consider than Trump's opinion or his past clout with voters.
Trump’s influence bumps up against the prospects of lawmakers sending piles of cash back to their home states or districts to pay for tangible projects with clear economic and political rewards.
“Several past presidents had called for robust, new public-works spending to replace old pipes and fix cracked bridges, yet only on Wednesday did the Senate actually move toward delivering on those promises. …
The news sparked jubilation at the White House, where Biden this spring put forward a roughly $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan funded largely through tax increases that Republicans swiftly rejected. … Asked about the deal while traveling in Pennsylvania, Biden sounded a hopeful note, telling reporters: ‘I feel confident about it.’
Yet the progress still threatened to prove politically fragile in a debate that is only just beginning. Lawmakers must still draft their legislation, which had not been written Wednesday afternoon, and calibrate it in a way to survive the narrowly divided Senate. The absence of actual legislative text troubled some Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who said in a speech on the chamber floor he could not vote to forge ahead Wednesday because the bill is ‘not ready.’ ”
Uncertainties, in other words, still abound.
And that’s even before noting the emerging deal must attract support from all 50 Democrats and their independent allies plus 10 Republicans to survive in the evenly divided Senate, then clear the House amid progressive gnashing of teeth over what it does not include.
At the New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Jim Tankersley noted:
“[It] appeared to pare spending in a few areas, including reducing money for public transit to $39 billion from $49 billion and eliminating a $20 billion “infrastructure bank” meant to catalyze private investment in large projects.
The new agreement significantly changes how the infrastructure spending will be paid for, after Republicans balked at a pillar of the original framework: increased revenue from an I.R.S. crackdown on tax cheats, which was set to supply nearly one-fifth of the funding for the plan.”
Infrastructure week? If you can keep it.
What’s happening now
The U.S. economy grew 6.5 percent between April and June, marking a full recovery from the pandemic. “The gross domestic product (GDP) report, released Thursday by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, offered a backward-looking snapshot of the months when hiring picked up speed and people felt comfortable booking vacations, eating at restaurants and buying tickets to concerts or movies. Some Americans got $1,400 stimulus checks in the late spring or received extended unemployment benefits, providing a financial cushion that helped households step back into their old routines — and spend,” Rachel Siegel and Andrew Van Dam report.
Biden will announce federal employees must get vaccinated or face repeated testing. “The White House has billed Biden’s late afternoon address from the East Room as an opportunity to lay out ‘the next steps in our effort to get more Americans vaccinated and combat the spread of the Delta variant,’” John Wagner and Tyler Pager report. “The White House is not planning on firing government employees who aren’t vaccinated but will impose a number of restrictions on them as a way to encourage them to receive one of the vaccines that have received emergency-use authorization, said the official, who requested anonymity to preview Biden’s announcement.”
Biden is urging Congress to extend the eviction moratorium, saying his hands are tied by a Supreme Court ruling. “Biden on Thursday called on Congress to act ‘without delay’ to extend a national eviction moratorium that is set to expire Saturday, with the White House saying Biden is not able to act on his own because of a Supreme Court ruling,” John Wagner reports. “White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would have ‘strongly supported’ a move by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to again extend a moratorium that began nearly 11 months ago in response to the pandemic ... [A court ruling from last month] allowed the moratorium to remain in place for another month, but the court signaled that congressional action would be needed to extend it beyond Saturday. Despite that, Biden has faced pressure from some Democrats to act unilaterally.”
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Lunchtime reads from The Post
- “Arizona’s GOP ballot review has raised more than $5.7 million in private donations, organizers say,” by Rosalind Helderman: “A private contractor conducting a Republican-commissioned review of 2020 presidential ballots in Arizona’s largest county announced late Wednesday that it has collected more than $5.7 million in private donations to fund the process. ... [The review] was ordered by the state’s Republican-led Senate, which agreed to spend $150,000 in taxpayer money to fund the audit. But the Senate allowed Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm hired to lead the process, to collect donations as well. ... In a statement, Cyber Ninjas indicated that $3.25 million came from the America Project, a group led by former Overstock chief executive Patrick Byrne. Byrne became a key player in challenging the legitimacy of the election after the November vote, joining former national security adviser Michael Flynn and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell in a raucous December meeting with Trump in the Oval Office.”
- “As Trump pushed for probes of 2020 election, he called acting AG Rosen almost daily,” by Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett: “Trump called his acting attorney general nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud or alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election, according to two people familiar with the conversations. The personal pressure campaign, which has not been previously reported, involved repeated phone calls to acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen in which Trump raised various allegations he had heard about and asked what the Justice Department was doing about the issue. ... Rosen told few people about the phone calls, even in his inner circle. But there are notes of some of the calls that were written by a top aide to Rosen, Richard Donoghue, who was present for some of the conversations."
… and beyond
Sunisa Lee, an 18-year-old from Minnesota, won the Olympic all-around title in women’s gymnastics. “Team USA has won every all-around title at the Games since 2004, and even after Simone Biles withdrew as she continues to work through mental health struggles, the Americans’ streak remains intact,” Emily Giambalvo reports.
On the Hill
The bipartisan infrastructure deal would provide $280 billion for transportation.
- The White House said the deal represents some of the largest spending on bridges, transit and other projects in the nation’s history. Ian Duncan breaks down a detailed summary of the deal circulated to senators:
- Roads, bridges and major projects, the biggest category of transportation spending in the package, “would receive $110 billion in new funding. It includes $37 billion to fund the repair of bridges and $17.5 billion in funds to help cities and states tackle large projects by competing for grants.”
- The transit sector would get “$39 billion in new funding, money that is designed to modernize bus and rail networks. A grant program that agencies can use to build light-rail lines, subways and bus rapid transit routes would get $8 billion, and a program to help them buy electric or low-emissions buses would receive $5.25 billion.”
- The rail system would get $66 billion in new funding, much of which would go to Amtrak to boost its service between Washington and Boston. “Of the total, $8 billion would be split between safety grant programs. Amtrak would get $16 billion to support its long-distance routes, and another $12 billion could be used to jump-start high-speed rail projects.”
- Federal car, truck and safety agencies would get about $4.8 billion.
- The aviation sector would get $25 billion, with $20 billion allocated to airports.
- Seaports, border crossings and inland waterways would receive $17 billion.
- A national network of electric-vehicle charging stations would get $7.5 billion.
Biden wants to turn America’s auto fleet electric. It’s harder than it seems.
- “Next week, the president, major carmakers and the nation’s largest auto union plan to promise to reach at least 40 percent by then — potentially rising to the 50 percent mark with generous federal investment. The voluntary pledge, which is still under negotiation, highlights the challenge the White House faces as it seeks to translate the president’s bold rhetoric into reality,” Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni report.
- “The talks underscore the difficulty of reversing course after four years of environmental rollbacks. While Biden’s team can write new rules, it won’t fully offset the climate-warming pollution caused by the Trump administration’s decision to weaken standards on cars.”
- “Automakers, however, have emphasized that they need a major federal investment in a nationwide network of charging stations for electric vehicles, along with billions more in tax credits and grants to help retool their factories. One of the biggest barriers to selling battery-powered cars is overcoming drivers’ fear of not being able to find spots to plug in and recharge ... It’s unclear if Congress will spend enough on charging stations to assuage automakers.”
Democrats are preparing to release a revised voting rights bill as soon as this week.
- “Several key senators huddled inside Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s office on Wednesday to hash out the details of the bill, which is expected to at least partially incorporate a framework assembled by Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who expressed qualms about the previous bill, known as the For the People Act,” Mike DeBonis reports. “They emerged saying a new product could be released in a matter of days.”
- “Schumer has pledged to make progress on both of those bills before the Senate leaves for its summer recess next month. But he is also facing pressure inside his caucus to maintain momentum on the voting rights issue, particularly on overriding state laws that have rolled back voting access in several Republican states, including Georgia.”
House Republicans refused to follow a new mask mandate, leading House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a “moron.”
- “Many House Republicans refused to wear masks on the House floor during a series of morning votes, before they called for the chamber to adjourn as GOP members rebuffed attempts by staff to get them to put on a mask,” Marianna Sotomayor and John Wagner report. “ ‘This is some serious nanny-state stuff that will only breed resentment. No kidding,’ Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) said on the floor, complaining that the House should be focusing on border security. He added: ‘This institution is a sham. We should adjourn and shut the place down.’ ”
- “Democrats shot back at Republican complaints, noting that the Capitol physician was following the advice of public health officials. ‘We always just follow the guidance of the Capitol physician. There is no discussion about should we do it, should we not for one reason or another,’ Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters.”
- “McCarthy (R-Calif.) joined Republicans in deriding the new mask mandate ... ‘Make no mistake — The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state,’ McCarthy tweeted ... Asked Wednesday morning by NBC News about McCarthy’s comment, Pelosi responded: ‘He’s such a moron.’ ”
Quote of the day
“People think that the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not,” Pelosi said during a news conference Wednesday. “He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”
More on the pandemic
The CDC reversal on indoor masking is prompting experts to ask, ‘Where’s the data?’ ”
- “New recommendations from federal health officials this week on when vaccinated Americans should don face masks came with a startling bolt of news: People who have had their shots and become infected with the delta variant of the coronavirus can harbor large amounts of virus just like unvaccinated people," Joel Achenbach, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Ben Guarino and Carolyn Johnson report. "But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not publish the new research. In the text of the updated masking guidance, the agency merely cited ‘CDC COVID-19 Response Team, unpublished data, 2021.’ Some outside scientists have their own message: Show us the data.
- " ‘They’re making a claim that people with delta who are vaccinated and unvaccinated have similar levels of viral load, but nobody knows what that means,’ said Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health. ‘It’s meaningless unless we see the data.’”
China’s delta outbreak is testing the limits of a zero-tolerance covid approach.
- “Since the start of the pandemic, China has embraced a stringent approach to containing the coronavirus, sealing off entire cities and tightly controlling borders to keep infection rates down,” Rebecca Tan and Alicia Chen report.
- “Officials borrowed from the same playbook when a cluster of cases recently emerged in the eastern city of Nanjing, placing 9.3 million residents in semi-lockdown. Nearly all in-person commercial and social activity was suspended and neighborhoods considered high-risk were cordoned off. Taxis were told not to leave the city, and residents were subject to mass testing. But as coronavirus cases continued to pop up this week in other cities as a result of the highly contagious delta variant, driving new infections in China to a six-month high, some experts have suggested the need for a shift in strategy.”
- “[Infectious-disease specialist Zhang Wenhong, often regarded as China’s Tony Fauci] warned that if the outbreak, which has been linked to 177 cases as of Thursday, worsens significantly, ‘more decisive measures may be needed.’ And he urged people to continue strictly adhering to precautions like mask-wearing and staying at home. But in a break from China’s official tack, Zhang also acknowledged that the country needs eventually to learn how to live with the virus.”
- “Whether we like it or not, there will always be risks ahead,” he said. “Every country is figuring out their own answers for how to live with the virus. China once produced a beautiful answer sheet, and after the Nanjing outbreak, we will have more to learn.”
Japan is set to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo, casting a shadow over the Olympics.
- “Experts in Japan warned of a deepening crisis they said could quickly overwhelm the health-care system if more stringent measures are not imposed,” Erin Cunningham, Bryan Pietsch, Derek Hawkins and Adela Suliman report. “Japan has refrained from enacting hard lockdowns and instead relies on a generally cooperative public to adhere to health protocols such as masking and social distancing.
- “The state of emergency designation mostly generates stricter rules for restaurants and other entertainment venues, including earlier closing times. Central Tokyo, however, has remained crowded during the day, with many residents ignoring the regulations. As a result, hospitalizations are on the rise.”
Hot on the left
The GOP could retake the House in 2022 just by gerrymandering four southern states, writes Mother Jones’s Ari Berman. “Republicans could pick up anywhere from six to 13 seats in the House of Representatives — enough to retake the House in 2022 — through its control of the redistricting process in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas alone, according to a new analysis by the Democratic data firm TargetSmart ... The Republican redistricting advantage goes far beyond those four states: They’ll be able to draw 187 congressional districts, compared to 75 for Democrats. (The rest will be drawn by independent commissions or divided state governments.) But those states are at the highest risk of extreme gerrymandering, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, and they have 94 seats, roughly a fifth of the House. Republicans could draw as many as five new GOP congressional districts in Florida alone, giving them control of the House by redrawing maps in just one state. They’re also likely to gain two to three seats through new maps in Texas, one to three in Georgia, and one to two in North Carolina, according to TargetSmart.”
Hot on the right
A Trump-endorsed candidate’s loss in Texas alarmed the former president’s advisers. “Trump and his advisers are trying to figure out what [Texas Republican Susan ] Wright’s defeat means for them — and how to contain any damage. Her loss Tuesday night sent shockwaves through the former president’s inner circle. Many privately concede the pressure is on them to win another special election next week in Ohio, where a Trump-backed candidate is locked in a close primary,” Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports. “Advisers worry that a second embarrassing loss would raise questions about the power of Trump’s endorsement — his most prized political commodity, which candidates from Ohio to Wyoming are scrambling to earn before next year’s midterms. More broadly, losses could undermine his standing in the Republican Party, where his popularity and influence has protected Trump’s relevance even as a former president barred from his social media megaphones.”
Too hot and too humid world, visualized
When it comes to heat, the human body is remarkably resilient — it’s the humidity that makes it harder to cool down. And humidity, driven in part by climate change, is increasing. Ruby Mellen and William Neff report on how climate change is making parts of the world too hot and humid to survive.
Today in Washington
Biden will sign two bills — the Dispose Unused Medications and Prescription Opioids Act and the Major Medical Facility Authorization Act of 2021 — at 11:45 a.m. At 1 p.m., he and Vice President Harris will receive the weekly economic briefing. At 4 p.m., the president will deliver remarks laying out the next steps to get Americans vaccinated.
- “Simone Biles and the power of ‘no,’” by the New York Times’s Kurt Streeter: “No. What a small and simple word. What transformative power it possesses. Simone Biles used it to ultimate effect at the Tokyo Olympics this week. ‘Today it’s like, you know what, no,’ she said, explaining to reporters her decision to withdraw from the team gymnastics competition to protect her mental and physical health. It was a ‘no’ that shook the Olympics and put the sports world on notice. It also showed that athlete empowerment, a hallmark for this era in sports, continues to develop and grow. Athletes are more than ready to stand up now, not only for social justice but also for themselves.”