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The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

The gun deal is historic. And it falls short of Biden’s wish-list

The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

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Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law best known as the “GI Bill of Rights.” The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act had sailed through Congress unopposed.

The big idea

The strongest federal response to gun violence since the 1990s is pretty mild

The Senate’s compromise gun bill emerged from asymmetrical negotiations in which the top Democratic negotiator always predicted he wouldn’t get everything he wanted, while the top Republican always promised the bill wouldn’t have anything he didn’t want.

The result of the work led by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is the most sweeping congressional response to gun violence since the 1990s. It’s also pretty modest, falling well short of what President Biden had publicly hoped for just weeks ago — and well short of steps that have the support of a majority of Americans.

  • It’s not clear whether the measures it includes would have prevented the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., which helped knit together the bipartisan will in Congress to do something, anything, to try to stem the tide of mass shootings in America.

A few hours before the Senate compromise came together, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety branded the police response in Uvalde an “abject failure” in which officers dithered while the gunman allegedly killed 19 children and two teachers with an AR-15 rifle.

Political upsides and pitfalls

From a crassly political perspective, the agreement could benefit its supporters in both parties, though there are some pitfalls on both sides as well. The deal seems to be on track to net the 10 GOP senators required to thwart a likely Republican filibuster and reach Biden’s desk. It got 14 GOP ayes Tuesday evening in a procedural vote.

Democrats, who hope it’s a first step, can point to its historic nature and give Biden something to sign into law at a time when voters are clamoring for action. The question is whether it will be seen as too mild and riddled with concessions to GOP opposition that has doomed action to restrict guns for decades.

Republicans who support the deal can tell Americans steeped in gun culture there are no hugely significant new restrictions on gun ownership, while pointing other voters (like suburban women) to the package to say they met the moment ahead of the November midterm elections.

  • But the questions for the GOP are: While an overwhelming majority will vote no (watch the House), how many of them will vote yes? How will those who vote yes face the rage of the small but vocal minority of their party who see any new restrictions as unacceptable attacks on the 2nd Amendment?

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came out in favor of what he called “a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Bill details

So, what’s in the 80-page bill? At the New York Times Emily Cochrane and Annie Karni summarized it Tuesday night:

“The 80-page bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, would enhance background checks, giving authorities up to 10 business days to review the juvenile and mental health records of gun purchasers younger than 21, and direct millions toward helping states implement so-called red flag laws, which allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous [to themselves or others]. The measure would also, for the first time, ensure that serious dating partners are included in a federal law that bars domestic abusers from purchasing firearms.”

“Senators also agreed to provide millions of dollars for expanding mental health resources in communities and schools in addition to the funds devoted to boosting school safety. In addition, the legislation would toughen penalties for those evading licensing requirements or making illegal ‘straw’ purchases, buying and then selling weapons to people barred from purchasing handguns.”

My colleagues Mike DeBonis and Leigh Ann Caldwell had this very interesting bit about the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which applies federal law barring domestic violence offenders from buying guns only if they were spouses, lived together, or had children together — not if they merely dated.

The bipartisan negotiators agreed more than a week ago to add a “continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”

  • Defining precisely what constitutes such a relationship, however, was challenging, as was addressing GOP desires to create a process allowing offenders to have their gun rights restored. The bill released Tuesday would bar a misdemeanor domestic-violence offender who has a ‘current or recent former dating relationship with the victim’ from owning or buying a gun.”

“What constitutes a ‘dating relationship’ is not precisely defined in the draft text, which would instead allow courts to make that determination based on the length and nature of the relationship, as well as ‘the frequency and type of interaction’ between the people involved. The text excludes ‘casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.’”

In addition to being an interesting look at the work of legislating, it’s a good reminder that whatever Congress does, the courts will have their say.

What’s happening now

Daniel Snyder conducted ‘shadow investigation’ of accusers, panel finds

“Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and members of his legal team conducted a ‘shadow investigation’ and compiled a ‘dossier’ targeting former team employees, their attorneys and journalists in an attempt to discredit his accusers and shift blame following allegations of widespread misconduct in the team’s workplace, according to the findings of the investigation conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform,” Mark Maske, Liz Clarke and Nicki Jhabvala report.

Polio virus detected in London sewage samples

“The virus which causes polio has been detected in a concerning number of sewage samples in London, health officials have said. The disease was common in the UK in the 1950s but was eliminated by 2003,” BBC's Jim Reed and Philippa Roxby report.

Former Mayor, candidate for governor Andrew Gillum and adviser arrested on federal charges

Andrew Gillum, former Tallahassee mayor and 2018 Democratic nominee for Florida governor, and a longtime adviser, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, were arrested today on federal campaign-related charges,” the Tallahassee Democrat's Jeff Burlew reports.

  • "The indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2019, Gillum and Lettman-Hicks conspired to commit wire fraud by unlawfully soliciting and obtaining funds from various entities and individuals ‘through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose,’ the government said."

South Dakota AG convicted on impeachment charges, removed from office

“Two months after the South Dakota House of Representatives voted to impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) for fatally running over a man and leaving the scene because he thought he had hit a deer, the state Senate convicted him on two impeachment charges in connection with the 2020 incident,” Andrea Salcedo reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Alone in Washington, Rusty Bowers tells world what happened in Arizona

“Bowers was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection to testify about the events that followed Trump’s 10,457-vote loss in Arizona. Bowers had voted for Trump, campaigned for Trump, but would not violate the law for him — and, as a result, his political future was jeopardized, his character was questioned and his family was harassed as his daughter was dying,” Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reports.

How the Jan. 6 hearings could complicate the upcoming Proud Boys trial

“The committee has highlighted witness testimony and video evidence about what lawmakers say is potentially criminal behavior on the part of former president Donald Trump and others who falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen. The hearings do not include rebuttal arguments or questions. One defense lawyer, John Hull, wrote in a court filing last week that the hearings are tainting the potential jury pool of ‘lovably dorky, wonky, media-attentive Washingtonians,’Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu report.

… and beyond

Intel reveals Putin’s plan to weasel his way into American hearts

“Putin might be betting that he can somehow outlast his detractors as well as the Biden Administration, whose security assistance for Ukraine has been pivotal in keeping a Russian win at bay. And part of Putin’s plot to outlive the Biden administration is likely to include influence operations aimed at securing an American political environment that’s more favorable to his goals, former CIA and Department of Homeland Security officials told The Daily Beast,” Shannon Vavra reports.

Who stops a ‘bad guy with a gun’?

Most attacks captured in the data were already over before law enforcement arrived. People at the scene did intervene, sometimes shooting the attackers, but typically physically subduing them. But in about half of all cases, the attackers committed suicide or simply stopped shooting and fled,” the NYT's Larry Buchanan and Lauren Leatherby report.

“It’s direct, indisputable, empirical evidence that this kind of common claim that ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with the gun is a good guy with the gun’ is wrong,” said Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama, who has studied mass shootings for more than a decade. “It’s demonstrably false, because often they are stopping themselves.”

Takeaways from a Times investigation into China’s expanding surveillance state

“The Chinese government’s goal is clear: designing a system to maximize what the state can find out about a person’s identity, activities and social connections, which could ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule,” the NYT's Isabelle Qian, Muyi Xiao, Paul Mozur and Alexander Cardia report.

The latest on covid

U.S. begins vaccinating young children against coronavirus

“Eighteen months after a New York nurse received the first U.S. coronavirus vaccination, immunizations became available Tuesday for millions of children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, the last group of Americans to be afforded that protection,” Lenny Bernstein and Daniel Wu report.

The Biden agenda

New this morning: Biden to urge Congress to suspend federal gas tax for 3 months

“The announcement, previewed by the White House, will come just days before millions of Americans fill up their tanks in advance of July 4 weekend travel, although drivers are unlikely to see reductions the president hopes for by then. Biden will also ask Congress to suspend the 24.3-cent-per-gallon diesel tax,” Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Tony Romm report.

Biden's Saudi Arabia trip denounced as 'frightening and enraging' by dissidents

“Even if they understand why Biden is going to Saudi Arabia, critics and dissidents fear that the United States will lastingly concede moral authority for temporary relief,” Yahoo News's Alexander Nazaryan reports.

Congress thwarted Biden on unions. Or did it?

“Nearly a year and a half into his presidency and with midterms looming, Biden has yet to even secure a Senate vote on the [Protecting the Right to Organize] Act — let alone enactment. And that’s not to mention the chamber’s eleventh-hour deathblow to his pick to lead the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, David Weil,” Politico's Eleanor Mueller reports.

“Yet, labor experts and union leaders say the administration’s unilateral actions on labor policy have moved the needle on unions more than previously thought possible.”

Families of Americans detained abroad call for urgent action from Biden to free their loved ones

“This mounting anger and distress was underscored this week by the attempted suicide of Matthew Heath, a Marine veteran who has been imprisoned in Venezuela for nearly two years, as well as a ‘logistical error’ that left detained WNBA star Brittney Griner unable to call her wife, with whom she hasn’t spoken in more than 100 days, on their anniversary,” CNN's Jennifer Hansler reports.

How the Electoral Count Act works, visualized

“A year after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Congress has passed precisely zero legislation to prevent it from happening again. The Jan. 6 congressional committee, which will devote one of its upcoming hearings to discussing the Trump campaign’s plot to submit slates of fake electors, may change that by recommending new limits to Congress’s and the vice president’s roles in deciding the presidential winner,” Amber Phillips and Adrian Blanco explain.

Hot on the left

Liberal groups devote millions to blocking GOP election deniers

“Pouring liberal money into the midterms to elect Democrats is hardly novel. What’s different about this new strategy is that a large portion of the 2022 efforts are actually aimed at 2024 — attempting to block Republican 2020 election deniers from gaining power and potentially upending valid results in a presidential election year,” Michael Scherer reports.

Hot on the right

2024 intrigue: DeSantis declines to ask Trump for reelection endorsement

“According to four people connected to the governor and former president, DeSantis has not asked Trump for a formal endorsement and isn’t planning to. It’s a clear sign that DeSantis, who more than four years ago was a little-known congressman from northeast Florida, has risen high in the GOP stratosphere,” Politico's Gary Fineout reports.

Today in Washington

At 2 p.m., Biden will deliver remarks on gas prices.

In closing

Ben Stiller tells Zelensky in Ukraine: ‘You’re my hero’

Actor Ben Stiller met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a tour of Ukraine with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on June 20. (Video: Reuters)

“Stiller marveled to fellow actor Zelensky, who played Ukraine’s president on television before becoming the country’s real-life leader, about ‘the way that you’ve rallied the country — the world,’” Bryan Pietsch reports.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.