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The Early 202

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

First House office will hold union vote today

The Early 202

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

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In today's edition … The House will vote on a package of public safety bills today …  Another day of big legal news for former president Donald Trump …  but first …

🚨SCOOP: For the first time in congressional history, a Hill office will vote on forming a union, Tobi Raji reports.

Rep. Andy Levin’s (D-Mich.) Capitol Hill and district offices will hold the vote today and the results will be tallied Monday. The move follows the emergence of a viral Instagram account earlier this year that posted accounts of toxic working conditions in Hill offices and months of organizing by the Congressional Workers Union and its president, Philip Bennett.

If Levin's staffers do vote to form a union, it will be short-lived. Levin lost his August primary to Rep. Haley Stevens (D) after redistricting led the two to faceoff in the 11th District. But members of the CWU are celebrating the milestone nonetheless.

“As long as there are workers, there’s a need for a union,” Taylor Doggett, the CWU’s vice president of communications, told Tobi. “Rep. Levin will still represent Michigan’s 9th Congressional District until January 3, 2022, and staff will be employed up until that date.”

On the Hill

In a last-minute breakthrough, House to vote on public safety bills

After weeks of tension between moderates and progressives, Democrats have struck an agreement on legislation to provide more support for police departments. The House will vote today on four separate public safety bills.

Some members of leadership and moderate Democrats in competitive races have been pushing for a vote on police aid to show voters they support law enforcement as Republicans make the charge that Democrats are soft on crime a major part of their midterm message.

But that push angered progressives still smarting from Congress' inability to pass legislation to require police departments to follow new policies intended to make them more accountable following killings of Black Americans including George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

Amid worries the issue was dividing the party ahead of the midterms, progressives, who were not central to the negotiations in the previous months, engaged with their moderate colleagues in recent days.

Ultimately a deal was reached on a bill from Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), called Invest to Protect, that would provide additional funding to police departments with fewer than 125 members. Under the agreement, the new funding can be used toward mental health programs, training, data collection and signing bonuses, but not to directly hire new officers.

“It’s critical for policing — that we have the backs of law enforcement because every day they have ours,” Gottheimer said.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who helped to negotiate the bill alongside Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), said it won't be an easy vote for progressives.

“It doesn't take away the call for real accountability of the George Floyd nature,” she said.

Jayapal acknowledges the legislation won't get the support of all progressives, but leadership is still planning to bring it to the floor today.

The bills have the support of two major police unions, the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations.

“While they’re not perfect from our standpoint, that’s how the making of legislation works,” said Jim Pasco, the FOP's executive director. “We’re going to be supportive of the final product unless there’s some material change."

Our colleague Marianna Sotomayor and Leigh Ann report: “Democrats will also vote on legislation proposed by Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) and Val Demings (D-Fla.) [today] that prioritizes sending unarmed first responders into situations involving people experiencing a mental health crisis; provides federal grants for communities practicing violence intervention and prevention; and offers assistance to law enforcement in solving gun crimes and supporting shooting victims.” 

  • Negotiators decided to pull from the package a bipartisan bill proposed by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) that would have doubled funding for a Justice Department grant given to local police stations. Spanberger said accountability measures sought by progressives were difficult to include in her proposal because it is a long-standing program and not a new one that can more easily be molded, like the Gottheimer bill for small police departments.
In other Hill news

Ready to commit: House Republicans will convene this morning to run through legislative priorities they hope will motivate voters to elect them to the majority — a package they are calling The Commitment to America. Members are expected to receive a one-page messaging memo that distills the work seven issue-specific task forces have produced ahead of a public rollout Friday outside of Pittsburgh, per Marianna.

The Commitment to America is meant to serve as a set of policies members across all factions of the conference can support and sell to voters. But the rollout has already not gone according to plan: A website listing the House GOP's policy priorities was briefly launched Wednesday before it was password protected to keep away prying eyes before Friday's reveal.

Our colleague Azi Paybarah caught some screenshots of what's on offer:

ECA action: The House passed its version of legislation to overhaul the Electoral Count Act, which was drafted by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). Nine Republicans voted for bill that seeks to prevent efforts to overturn an election like those undertaken by Donald Trump following his loss in 2020. Eight of them were among the 10 who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection; the ninth, Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.), isn't running for reelection. The Senate has its own version of the bill and whether Congress can come to a deal on the legislation will have to wait for the “lame duck” session.

Campaign finance: The Senate will take a procedural vote today on the DISCLOSE Act, which seeks to increase transparency in funding political campaigns. The measure by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is not expected to receive the 60 votes necessary to advance.

Permitting pressure: Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday unveiled the long-awaited text of legislation to speed up the nation's permitting process for energy infrastructure, including polluting fossil fuel projects and the clean energy projects crucial to President Biden's climate goals,” our colleague Maxine Joselow reports. (Subscribe to her ace climate newsletter, the Climate 202.)

The most controversial part of the bill — which Democratic leaders have said they'll try to pass next week as part of a government funding bill — would “expedite the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would transport natural gas about 300 miles from West Virginia to Virginia and is a key priority of Manchin's." The bill directs agencies to “take all necessary actions” to issue new permits for the pipeline, which has been delayed by legal setbacks.

But the big question is if there are 60 senators who support it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he'd attach the permitting bill to the short-term government funding bill, which must pass by next Friday. 

  • Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) on Wednesday became the latest Democrat to oppose the bill, citing the Mountain Valley Pipeline provisions. “Allowing a corporation that is unhappy about losing a case to strip jurisdiction away from the entire court that has handled the case? Unprecedented,” Kaine told reporters Wednesday evening. “It would open the door for massive abuse and corruption.”

From the courts

Trump's terrible week gets worse with two new lawsuits, appeals court rejecting Mar-a-Lago ruling

Trump’s no good, very bad day week: This week is shaping up to be a bad one for former president Donald Trump and those in his orbit. He faces legal scrutiny from all angles regarding his business conduct, finances, the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago. It all came to a head yesterday and Tuesday with the announcement of two new lawsuits and an appeals court ruling regarding the Mar-a-Lago search.

Here’s a breakdown of what happened:

  • An appeals court sided with the Justice Department over Trump, greenlighting the use of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation. “In the ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta found fault with Trump’s rationale that the classified documents in particular might be his property, rather than the government’s,” our colleague Devlin Barrett writes. “The appeals court also disagreed with the rationale used by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon.”
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit accusing Trump and three of his children – Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump – of business fraud. “The 222-page civil complaint asks the New York Supreme Court to bar Trump [and his children] from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring any commercial real estate or receiving loans from any New York-registered financial institution for five years,” per our colleagues Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell.
    • “It seeks to recover more than $250 million in what James’s office says are ill-gotten gains received through the alleged deceptive practices. While the lawsuit itself is not a criminal prosecution, James said she has referred possible violations of federal law to the Justice Department and the IRS.”
  • “It seeks to recover more than $250 million in what James’s office says are ill-gotten gains received through the alleged deceptive practices. While the lawsuit itself is not a criminal prosecution, James said she has referred possible violations of federal law to the Justice Department and the IRS.”
  • Writer E. Jean Carroll announced her intent to sue Trump under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law that gives sexual assault survivors up to a year to file a lawsuit. “Carroll, who has maintained that Trump sexually assaulted her once during the 1990s … intends to file a lawsuit against Trump ‘as soon as that statute authorizes us to do so,’” per our colleague Andrea Salcedo. “Carroll can sue under the Adult Survivors Act as of Nov. 24.”

The campaign

Republican women hope to make big gains this year

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) predicts that House Republicans will win 35 seats this fall and that many of those pick-ups will be women. 

Stefanik, who launched her campaign last week to run for Republican conference chair for the next Congress, a position she currently holds in GOP leadership responsible for Republican messaging, is reminding her party — and the public — that she has been instrumental in electing a record-number of Republican women to Congress. Through fundraising, mentorship and support, it will continue to be a priority of hers this election and beyond. 

Stefanik and her political action committee, Elevate PAC, or E-PAC, which is focused on electing Republican women, is backing 23 females candidates who have won their primaries. Seven of them are Latina, potentially leading to a record number of Hispanic Republican women in the House. 

Stefanik founded E-PAC in 2018 when just 13 House Republicans were women as a way to boost women representation in the party at a time when many (male) Republicans dismissed gender diversity as irrelevant. 

“I think when we went down to the number of 13, it really became important to have a process at work,” Stefanik said Wednesday at a press briefing touting her endorsed candidates. 

Just two-years later in 2020, a record number of Republican women won House seats. Currently 32 Republican women serve in the House. It's still far fewer than the 90 Democratic women serving, according to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Stefanik says, dismissed abortion as a top issues and says her endorsed candidates are focusing on inflation and the economy. 

“I still believe that when voters are making their choice, they're going to vote on the issue of inflation, on the issue of gas prices, which is what we're seeing in the polling,” she said, but added that Democrats need to be “exposed” for their position on abortion. 

On K Street

A new group will fight narrative that “patents kill”

Advocates for protecting intellectual property rights are standing up a new coalition today meant to fight back against calls to weaken patent protections.

The group, the Council for Innovation Promotion, is run by Frank Cullen, a former lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center. It was started, in part, to counter the push to waive patent protections for covid vaccines in an effort to speed their distribution in lower-income countries, which pharmaceutical companies have opposed.

“Unfortunately, members of Congress and policymakers, including the administration, have taken on the narrative that intellectual property — patents — was somehow preventing covid vaccines from reaching less developed and developing countries,” said David Kappos, a former under secretary of commerce for intellectual property in the Obama administration who is on the group’s board. “Well, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Another board member, Andrei Iancu, who held Kappos’ job in the Trump administration, cited a recent ad campaign by a vaccination advocacy group that read “Patents Kill.” “That’s a very negative message, and it does great harm to the innovation economy,” he said.

The group declined to disclose its members or reveal who’s funding it.

The Media

Early reads


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