McCarthy gave Dems no choice on the NDAA
And it’s because he really has no choice but to defer to the far-right rebels he emboldened in January in exchange for the speaker’s gavel.
HOUSE DEMS REJECT NDAA EN MASSE
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was hellbent on avoiding a sequel to one of the most embarrassing moments in his short tenure holding the top gavel.
Last month, a gang of House conservatives forced the speaker to shut down the House after they staged a floor rebellion in protest of the deal he cut with President Joe Biden to dodge a first-ever default on the nation’s debt faction.
The far-right faction put the speaker on notice: Prioritize our unpopular agenda over the kind of bipartisan compromise that a slim four-seat majority requires — or we’ll make it impossible for you to govern.
As debate ramped up on the National Defense Authorization Act this week, McCarthy deferred to the whims of the rebels. And they corrupted a bill that passed out of the Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee by a 58-1 vote with a litany of divisive anti-Black, anti-women, and anti-LGBTQ+ amendments, despite warnings from House Democrats that doing so would cost the GOP their support.
Here’s a snapshot of the most controversial poison pills the House adopted on Thursday:
A ban on the Defense Department reimbursing servicemembers who travel out of state for abortion care
A ban on the Defense Department covering gender-affirming care for trans servicemembers
A ban on federal dollars being used to establish positions or offices to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the military
A ban on any federal funding being used to ensure servicemembers receive an accurate portrayal of the role racism, misogyny, and homophobia have played in US history
And below are rebukes to the amendments from a broad cross-section of the House Democratic Caucus:
“The bill we passed out of committee sent a clear, united message to our allies and partners, global competitors, and the American people that democracy still works, and Congress is still functional. [...] That bill no longer exists. What was once an example of compromise and functioning government has become an ode to bigotry and ignorance. [...] For these reasons, we cannot and will not vote for the NDAA as amended on the House floor.” — Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, and the seven subcommittee ranking members
“While there is a lot to be proud of in this legislation, these extremist attacks force us to oppose the bill. We will continue working with our Senate colleagues and reasonable Republicans to get a bill done before the end of the year that truly keeps us safe at home and abroad.” — Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), chair of the center-left New Democrat Coalition, and four members of the NDC’s National Security Task Force
“House Republicans have turned what should be a meaningful investment in our men and women in uniform into an extreme and reckless joyride. [...] We will vote no on final passage of this bill. — House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, and House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar
As your Supercreator Daily author reported on Tuesday, the NDAA is just one of several bills Congress must pass before the end of the year. And McCarthy’s deference to House conservatives has reinforced their hardline positions, most of which never fly in the Senate or reach the president’s desk. Though it’s an unsurprising upshot, it’s still remarkable to cover in real-time.
The House is expected to vote on final passage of the NDAA later this morning.
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ABORTION REMAINS PROMINENT IN IOWA THIS WEEKEND
Days after the Iowa state legislature passed a six-week abortion ban, top Republican presidential hopefuls will descend on Des Moines for the state’s Family Leadership Summit, a cattle call in the Hawkeye state for candidates to promote their anti-abortion bona fides for the event’s evangelical voters.
The moment also underscores the importance of state and local elections in what’s become a fierce national debate on reproductive freedom since the fall of Roe v. Wade last summer.
“Women’s rights are under attack in the states and the federal level,” Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said to Supercreator Daily on Thursday. “And so it’s never been more important that people stand up and make their voices heard and talk about what kind of country and what kind of state they want. And the way to do that is by voting and getting engaged in the process.”
As national Democrats look to defend their Senate majority and retake the House next year, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who serves as the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, told reporters during a press call on Thursday that the party won’t just focus on energizing its base. There’s also an opportunity to tap into the population of Republicans and independent voters who feel the GOP is too extreme on abortion, many of whom she heard from during her Senate re-election campaign last year.
“This is something that will be an issue in 2024,” Duckworth said. “And Republicans are very much out of touch with the American people on this.”
TUBERVILLE SPURNS WH BEFORE TAKING AUSTIN’S CALL
Senate Democrats and the Biden administration have intensified their pressure campaign against Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) for the former football coach to lift his block on all military promotions requiring Senate confirmation.
The first-term senator’s block has prevented hundreds of senior positions from being filled as he protests the Defense Department’s policy to reimburse travel costs servicemembers incur while receiving abortion care.
After complaining to the press about a lack of engagement from the White House on a path ahead, Tuberville’s office declined an effort by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s team to set up a call due to scheduling conflicts.
The senator would change course later and speak with Austin in what Tuberville’s office characterized as a constructive chat.
President Biden was asked in Helsinki on Thursday if he would be open to speaking with Tuberville.
“I’d be willing to talk to him if I thought there was any possibility of him changing this ridiculous position he has,” the president said. “He’s jeopardizing US security by what he’s doing.”
Biden added that Senate Republican leadership should demand Tuberville stand down, a position Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agrees with.
“The responsibility is on [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-KY], [Senate Minority Whip] John Thune [R-SD], and the Republican caucus to dissuade to Tuberville from doing this thing which is hurting our national security in a very real way and every week it gets worse,” Schumer told reporters this week.
The highest profile Tuberville block came on Tuesday as he jammed the confirmation of a new Marine Corps Commandant, which has left the Corps without a leader for the first time in a century.
BLACK REPRESENTATION ON SENATE STAFF HITS ALL-TIME HIGH
Chuck Schumer on Thursday released its annual diversity survey for the seventh year in a row.
The report on racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation/gender identity diversity of Senate Democratic staff is part of a commitment he made to increase transparency and accountability when he became the top House Democrat in 2017.
A few notable data points from Schumer’s office:
More Black Americans (13 percent) now work for Senate Democratic offices than ever before. This percentage has grown four straight years and has resulted in 20 percent more Black staffers than were recorded in the first survey in 2017.
10 percent of staffers identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander, a 50 percent increase from the first survey in 2017.
3 percent of staffers identify as Middle East/North African, a 40 percent increase from the first survey in 2017.
2 percent of staffers identify as Native American, Alaskan, or Hawaiian, a 15 percent increase from the first survey in 2017.
15 percent of staffers identify as Latino, a 67 percent increase from the first survey in 2017.
16 percent of staffers identify as LGBTQ, a number that has grown each year since the question was introduced in 2019.
Despite this progress, there’s still some work to do, especially at the committee level: Five Senate Democratic committees have no Black staff (Aging, Energy and Natural Resources, Indian Affairs, Joint Economic, and Veterans Affairs), according to an analysis by Senior Researcher Dr. LaShonda Brenson and Research Associate Kimberly Victor at the Joint Center For Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank.
The Joint Center has recommended the Senate establish a bipartisan Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Senate Office of Human Capital to advance the caucus’s efforts to hire and retain a diverse workforce.
In Brenson’s analysis, she also advised Senate Democrats to disaggregate data by job title to show how many top staff positions are held by people of color. This would illuminate existing disparities in representation and allow for a closer examination of potential systemic obstacles that might prevent people of color from obtaining higher-ranking positions.
Senate Republicans don’t collect or release staff diversity data.
HARRIS TO EMBARK ON SUMMER SPEAKING SPREE
Looking for Vice President Kamala Harris this summer? She may be coming to a town near you — especially if you’re in the Windy City.
The White House on Thursday announced a summer travel spree of speaking engagements in front of key constituencies, including Black Americans, Latinos, women, young people and students, and faith leaders.
Most notably: Half of her six stops will be in Chicago, the site of next year’s Democratic National Convention.
Here’s the full itinerary:
Chicago (7/16): The Rainbow Push Coalition’s annual convention
Indianapolis (7/20): The Delta Sigma Theta 56th national conference
Chicago (7/24): The UnidosUS annual conference
Boston (7/29): The NAACP national convention
Orlando (8/1): The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) Women’s Missionary Society quadrennial convention
Chicago (8/11): Everytown for Gun Safety’s Gun Sense University 2023
Harris will make these visits in her official government capacity. But the stops will also serve as a down payment for the Biden re-election campaign as it works to connect early and often with the coalitions that made her the first woman to hold her position and will be critical to securing the two leaders a second term.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
All times Eastern
9 a.m. The House will meet with first and last votes expected on final passage of the annual defense policy and programs bill at 10:15 am.
10 a.m President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
1:3o p.m. The president and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Camp David for the weekend.
2:10 p.m. Vice President Harris will travel to Baltimore and receive a briefing on local climate actions and upgrades made with clean energy investments. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will attend.
3:15 p.m. Vice President Harris and EPA Administrator Regan will speak about the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate provisions.
The Senate is out.
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THEY DID THAT
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) had Rep. Eli Crane’s reference to Black people as “colored people” stricken from the record during a floor debate over a proposed amendment to the NDAA. Crane used the racist phrase while defending an amendment that would ban the Defense Department from considering identity as the sole basis for personnel decisions.
Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a bill that would make the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons a Senate-confirmed position to increase oversight in US facilities. Ossoff and McConnell were joined by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Mike Braun (R-IN).
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) reintroduced Jamie’s Law, legislation that would require instant background checks for people with criminal records from illegally purchasing ammunition. The bill is named after Jamie Guttenberg, one of 17 victims in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) announced his campaign to replace Sinema in the Senate raked in $3.1 million in the second quarter from more than 58,000 small-dollar contributors. Sinema hasn’t officially announced if she’ll seek re-election.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), another incumbent who has yet to announce if he’ll candidacy for another term, brought in $1.2 million during the second quarter. Republicans have targeted Manchin’s seat, which Donald Trump won in 2016 and 2020, as a pickup opportunity in next year’s election.
Related: Manchin also announced his opposition to Julie Su, President Biden’s pick to serve as the next Labor Secretary. If one of the two other undecided senators comes out against Su, it will rank the nomination.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) raised $3 million in Q2 as she campaigns to succeed Debbie Stabenow in the Senate.
Meanwhile, actor Hill Harper, who this week announced a challenge to Slotkin for the Democratic primary for Stabenow’s seat, received fresh scrutiny about whether he’s lived in Michigan for the past seven years as he claims.
During a hearing on financial accountability in the Defense Department, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) invited witnesses to play her spin on the popular game show Jeopardy!
Related: Porter’s campaign announced she raised $3.2 million in Q2 as she competes in a competitive primary against two other House colleagues for the chance to succeed the retiring Dianne Feinstein in California.
SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents about 160,000 actors, is on strike against TV shows and movie productions as actors demand for higher pay and fairer residuals when their projects are offered on streaming services. The actors join 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America, who have already been on strike for two months now.
The FDA approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill. Once the manufacturer determines the availability and price of the oral contraceptive, it is expected to be available to consumers to purchase without a prescription at drug stores, convenience stores and grocery stores, and online.
The Secret Service concluded its investigation into the bag of cocaine recently found at the White House. The agency was unable to identify a subject although lawmakers briefed on the investigation say law enforcement said it most likely came from a visitor.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
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