The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness
The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Prominent Republicans push GOP senators to support same-sex marriage bill

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Good morning, Early Birds. Queen Elizabeth II gave the Brits one final gift: because of her death, the Bank of England is postponing what is expected to be another interest rate increase. Tips: earlytips@washpost.com. Thanks for waking up with us.

Reading this online? Sign up for The Early 202 to get scoops and sharp political analysis in your inbox each morning.

In today's edition … The House is back, but police funding is not expected to be on the agenda … Trail Mix: Marianna Sotomayor talks to Hispanic voters deciding whether to vote for Republicans or Democrats and finds many are choosing neither … Amy Gardner and Patrick Marley report that Trump backers are flooding election offices with requests as the 2022 vote nears, creating chaos in some areas … but first …

On the Hill

Prominent Republicans push GOP senators to support same-sex marriage bill

correction

A previous version of this newsletter incorrectly named former first lady Barbara Bush as a signatory of the letter. It is former president George W. Bush's daughter Barbara Bush. The article has since been corrected.

This is a critical week for the same-sex marriage bill as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) continue to work to win over enough GOP senators.

They’re getting help from some prominent Republicans, including GOP Senate candidates - an indication of the politics of the issue in some states.

More than 400 former and current GOP officials have signed a letter that will be released today backing the bill as part of a campaign led by Ken Mehlman, who managed former president George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign and later served as Republican National Committee chairman. Mehlman came out as gay more than a decade ago and spent years working to convince his fellow Republicans to support gay marriage.

Among the signatories: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker; Mehmet Oz, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania; Joe O’Dea, the Republican Senate nominee in Colorado; National Association of Manufacturers President and Chief Executive Jay Timmons; former president George W. Bush's daughter Barbara Bush; and more than two dozen former GOP senators, representatives, governors and cabinet members.

“As Republicans, Libertarians and independent minded conservatives, we believe strong families and lasting relationships strengthen communities, and civil marriage is a fundamental freedom central to individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the letter reads. “We stand with the 71 percent of Americans today, including a majority of registered Republicans, who support the freedom to marry for all Americans.

The signers include some notable Trumpworld figures — the lobbyist David Urban; the pollster Tony Fabrizio — as well as Republicans who’ve been sharply critical of former president Donald Trump, such as former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2020.

The letter was coordinated by the new nonprofit Centerline Action, which has also mounted a lobbying campaign to convince Senate Republicans to back the bill after 47 Republicans voted for it in the House.

Log Cabin Republicans, which represents LGBTQ Republicans, has been pressing senators the group views as potential yeas, including Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — who said earlier this month that he wouldn’t support the bill in its current form — and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Charles Moran, the president of Log Cabin Republicans, said he thought senators were facing pressure from a vocal minority of Republicans who feel emboldened after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. But he thinks Johnson will come around if the bill is amended to address religious liberty concerns.

“I think Senator Johnson can be persuaded on this as long as the religious freedom issue is addressed in some way, shape or form,” he said.

The House is back, but vote on contentious police funding package is unlikely

The House comes back into town Tuesday after six weeks away from Washington (except for a one-day return in August to pass Democrats' climate, health care and deficit reduction bill). They're scheduled to be in session for only 11 days spread over three weeks ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8.

Still, their workload is relatively light, and if they can get everything done, House aides suggested they could shorten their work session by a week. Members would rather be in their districts campaigning — which is why issues that might normally be contentious are likely to be set aside.

Among those issues is police funding. A package of bills on public safety that would increase funding for police departments is unlikely to be brought up this work session, multiple House aides say. Democratic negotiators continue to work on the issue, but an agreement hasn't yet been reached.

A group of moderate Democrats, led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.), pushed for the police funding bills to show voters that Democrats are addressing rising crime affecting some communities. Crime is one of the top three issue Republicans are using against Democrats.

The bills were pulled from the floor in July after it was clear they would fail. Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus wanted to include language they said would make it easier to hold police accountable.

  • Fewer Democrats are now clamoring to pass the bills as the party's electoral prospects look brighter with inflation appearing to ease and the threat to abortion rights motivating voters, multiple House Democratic aides told The Early.

With no agreement on the accountability measures, which need buy-in from both police groups and civil rights groups, there is little appetite to draw attention to Democratic divisions, aides said.

The must do

The House, like the Senate, must pass a short-term government funding bill before Sept. 30. The measure is still expected to extend government funding to mid-December, but no date has been announced.

A group of House Democrats have been quite vocal in their opposition to attaching the energy project permitting deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) to the funding bill.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) led a letter signed by 71 of his House colleagues Friday that said the permitting changes would “short-circuit or undermine the law” and weaken communities' input on proposed energy projects. They urged Democratic House leaders to ensure that these provisions are kept out of a continuing resolution or any other must-pass legislation this year.

The signatories didn't say, however, they would oppose the government funding bill — which could lead to a shutdown — if the permitting bill is included.

Still, it will be a week of intense negotiations as Democratic leaders attempt to shore up votes for the CR with the permitting language included.

Also on our radar

Jan. 6 committee: The panel strongly suggested there would be more hearings in September. Those hearings won't come this week, our colleague Jacqueline Alemany tells us. But the committee hasn't closed the door on a hearing later this month.

The new new new Contract with America: This month, House Republicans are expected to increase their promotion of the four pillars — economy, security, freedom and accountability — of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) new “Commitment to America” agenda should the GOP take back the House.

The idea to mirror House Speaker Newt Gingrich's (R-Ga.) “Contract with America,” a series of pledges that Republicans signed at the end of September before the 1994 midterm elections. Republicans won the House back that year for the first time since 1954.

Since then, House Republicans have tried to recapture the magic several times with some kind of new commitment to voters — 2010's Pledge to America anyone? And McCarthy unveiled a plan under the same moniker ahead of the 2020 election — that often fall along the same broad policy lines and that have been met with mixed results (Democrats have put forward their own versions in the past.) We'll see what this year's effort yields.

Trail Mix

As Republicans and Democrats battle for Hispanic voters, some in these communities say both parties stink

Marianna Sotomayor has this week's Trail Mix, our new feature where Post reporters share insights and news nuggets from their notebooks as they crisscross the country ahead of the midterm elections.

Republicans and Democrats are battling it out over Hispanic voters — a contest that is growing more fierce as polls and recent elections show the GOP chipping away at Democrats' traditional advantage in these communities.

Florida, a state that often has competitive campaigns, is one area where the GOP gains with Hispanic voters has helped it win statewide elections in recent years.

“What’s the point of voting? Sincerely, does it matter?” Jose Vazquez, 52, said in Spanish outside his condo in Kissimmee, Fla. “Latinos will protest, but what happens? Nothing. Just talk,” by politicians.

Vazquez, who hails from Puerto Rico, used to be deeply engaged in politics as an independent and said he would vote based on which candidate and party was delivering results. But now, like many others I interviewed, he did not vote in the primaries and doesn’t plan to in November because “nothing changes.”

Some also said they didn't feel candidates are paying much attention to them regardless of how focused party leaders say they are on their communities.

“I don’t see many politicians who care about visiting small businesses or Latinos,” Armando Arollo, who is in his 20s, said inside the barbershop he manages on Kissimmee’s main street. “If more of them did that, it would be great.”

  • While these voters expressed concern about rising costs under Biden, they didn't think Republicans had many solutions to the problem. And while Democrats just passed their health, climate and tax bill, many skeptical voters I spoke with were unfamiliar with its contents or how they would benefit.

Voter apathy is not new or unique to Hispanic communities, which also have a diverse set of concerns and backgrounds across the country, but it's another challenge for both parties as they court this growing part of the electorate.

“Politicians just do whatever they want. Why vote when you know the president and those around him won’t be any different from those before them, regardless of party?” said Manuel Ayala, 57, of Las Vegas, who also told me in June he would not vote in local primaries or in November.

(Follow Marianna's work here and follow her on Twitter too.)

What we're watching

Biden returned to Washington from Delaware on Sunday to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary, and he's got a busy week ahead, including a large event celebrating the passage of the Democrats' climate change, health care deficit reduction bill, the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver remarks. Biden held a small signing ceremony in August with plans to hold a more robust celebration when Congress was back in town.

But first, he's heading to Boston this morning to tout the infrastructure law he signed last year and give an update on his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative. (He'll speak at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library on the 60th anniversary of the speech in which Kennedy vowed the United States would “go to the moon in this decade.)

Biden is set to meet with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday before leaving for Britain on Saturday to attend Queen Elizabeth II's funeral.

Here's what else we're watching this week:

Tuesday:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swears in three new House members: Mary Peltola (D-Alaska.), Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) and Joe Sempolinski (R-N.Y.). All three won special elections in August.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on data security with a Twitter whistleblower, who is expected to be announced tomorrow.

Wednesday:

The Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on monkeypox. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky; Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health's director of infectious diseases, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf are scheduled to testify.

And the annual Congressional Women's Softball Game, a fundraiser young women with cancer, is Wednesday night. One of your co-authors plays on the press team and is hoping that congresswomen bring their game so it's at least competitive. Buy tickets here.

The campaign

Trump backers inundate election offices with requests for 2020 voting records

The onslaught: “Supporters of former president Donald Trump have swamped local election offices across the nation in recent weeks with a coordinated campaign of requests for 2020 voting records, in some cases paralyzing preparations for the fall election season,” our colleagues Amy Gardner and Patrick Marley report.

  • “In nearly two dozen states and scores of counties, election officials are fielding what many describe as an unprecedented wave of public records requests in the final weeks of summer, one they say may be intended to hinder their work and weaken an already strained system.”
  • “The avalanche of sometimes identically worded requests has forced some to dedicate days to the process of responding even as they scurry to finalize polling locations, mail out absentee ballots and prepare for early voting in October, officials said.”
  • “In Wisconsin, one recent request asks for 34 different types of documents. In North Carolina, hundreds of requests came in at state and local offices on one day alone. In Kentucky, officials don’t recognize the technical-sounding documents they’re being asked to produce — and when they seek clarification, the requesters say they don’t know, either.”

The Media

Early reeeads

Viral

Thanks for reading. You can also follow us on Twitter: @LACaldwellDC and @theodoricmeyer.

Loading...