President Biden appears on track to secure major anti-gun violence victories in the coming weeks, but high inflation threatens to overshadow them.
The Senate broke nearly 30 years of gridlock when it advanced a bipartisan gun safety bill Tuesday. It’s also set to confirm what would be the first permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in seven years.
It will give Democrats accomplishments to tout as the midterms get closer, but activists note the president largely remained on the sidelines in public on both the bill and the push for Steve Dettelbach’s confirmation as ATF director.
“As activists, we barely heard from the White House in the week since the shooting, and the president made one prime-time speech and seemed to call it a day,” Zeenat Yahya of March for our Lives told The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Brett Samuels.
Biden’s focus has largely been on solving record levels of inflation and high gas prices, and there are few signs that he will pivot to other issues as the White House continues to take heat over rising prices.
Some Democrats like Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif.) are criticizing Biden for not doing enough to solve inflation, though the president is also facing opposition from key members when attempting to pass measures like a three-month gas tax holiday.
Congress is likely to reject the gas tax suspension as a way to lower costs, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) among those who have previously expressed concerns, The Hill’s Rachel Frazin reports.
The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Amie Parnes report that none of this sounds great for Biden’s potential reelection bid — on top of persistent questions about his age.
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Who is testifying at Thursday’s Jan. 6 hearing
The Jan. 6 committee is set to host its last hearing of the month on Thursday. The panel’s fifth public hearing will focus on former President Trump’s attempts to push the Department of Justice (DOJ) to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Here’s a look at who’s testifying Thursday:
JEFFREY ROSEN — former acting attorney general under then-President Trump
- Rosen previously told the Jan. 6 committee behind closed doors that he refused to sign a letter to state legislatures informing them that the DOJ was investigating claims of irregularities in voting. The letter was pushed by Jeffrey Clark, who served as the acting head of the DOJ’s civil division.
- He also testified behind closed doors to the Senate Judiciary Committee that just days before Jan. 6 he had to meet with Trump to “persuade” him “not to pursue a different path” on election integrity endorsed by his allies.
RICHARD DONOGHUE — former acting deputy attorney general under Rosen
- Donoghue also rejected the letter Clark wanted him and Rosen to sign.
- Some of his testimony behind closed doors has already been shown, debunking the claims Trump made about widespread voter fraud in multiple swing states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan.
STEVEN ENGEL — former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel
- According to Rosen’s testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, Engel threatened to resign if Rosen signed Clark’s drafted letter to the state legislatures.
- Engel testified to the panel privately that Trump’s proposals for Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election was “absurd,” according to Politico.
Programming note: The panel announced Wednesday it will pause its hearings next week and pick them up again in July.
MCCARTHY FACES HEAT FROM TRUMP OVER JAN. 6 PANEL
Former President Trump in a new interview calls out House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over his decision to pull Republicans from the Jan. 6 panel.
- “It was a bad decision not to have representation on this committee. That was a very, very foolish decision,” Trump told radio host Wayne Allyn Root on Sunday.
- “The Republicans don’t have a voice,” Trump told Punchbowl News on Wednesday.
Remember: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected two of McCarthy’s initial nominations — Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jim Banks (Ind.) — since they voted against certifying election results on Jan. 6.
McCarthy then pulled his three other nominees — Reps. Rodney Davis (Ill.), Troy Nehls (Texas) and Kelly Armstrong (N.D.) — in protest of the panel.
Why Trump’s criticism matters: McCarthy is likely to make a bid for Speaker if the GOP takes back the House in November, and Trump’s support will be key.
Read more from The Hill’s Brett Samuels on Trump’s comments.
Threats against lawmakers surge since 2017
Threats against members of Congress surged 144 percent from 2017 to 2021, based on data from U.S. Capitol Police (USCP).
Why it’s important: The trend is not likely to get any better, with a renewed focus on threats to lawmakers serving on the House panel investigating Jan. 6.
USCP does not disclose potential security measures, but The Washington Post reports all lawmakers on the committee are likely to receive a security detail.
- Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) warned of increased violence when he tweeted a photo Sunday of a death threat he received over his role on the Jan. 6 panel.
- The panel’s other Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), has had a security detail since June 2021 after receiving threats, The New York Times reported.
The political context: The increased awareness surrounding threats and potential security measures comes amid a contentious midterm election cycle.
Eric Greitens, a Missouri GOP Senate candidate, posted a video Monday widely panned as inciting violence against Republicans deemed insufficiently conservative.
“I think name-calling is not particularly helpful … If we’re going to have a debate about policy, I am all for that but I am not going to engage in a game of name calling.”
– Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Wednesday after former President Trump called him a “RINO.”
COMMANDERS FACE CONGRESSIONAL SCRUTINY
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is vowing to issue a subpoena to Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder.
- The NFL team owner refused to voluntarily testify before the panel Wednesday about allegations of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.
- “If the NFL is unwilling to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am willing to do so,” Maloney said at the hearing.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testified Wednesday that Snyder ran a “toxic” and “unprofessional workplace” for a long time.
It’s unclear whether Snyder will comply with a subpoena. His spokesperson told The Hill that the committee should focus “on more pressing national matters.”
Read more here.
Getting ready for DC’s new museums
Two new Smithsonian museums that Congress approved in late 2020 are one step closer to being built.
- Locations for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum and National Museum of the American Latino must be finalized by December.
- The board that oversees the existing museums along the National Mall has narrowed the possible locations for the new museums.
The four locations still under consideration:
- Arts and Industries Building—900 Jefferson Dr. S.W., a Smithsonian building on the National Mall next to the Castle
- Northwest Capitol site—undeveloped land located north of the Capitol Reflecting Pool, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Capitol
- South Monument site—undeveloped land across the National Mall from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, on Jefferson Drive S.W., under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service
- Tidal Basin site—undeveloped land bordered by Raoul Wallenberg Place S.W. and Maine Avenue S.W., under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service
Both museums took years of lobbying before Congress quietly tucked their approval into an appropriations bill in December 2020.
No cost estimates have been revealed for the two latest museums, but the money will be an even split of taxpayer dollars and private sources.
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Source: The Hill.