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April 18, 2021
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Welcome to the new Sunday newsletter. We’ve moved up the What’s Ahead section to help you better plan your week, but we are still recapping the major events from the past week in the Week in Review section. From here on out, we’ll also be starting off the Sunday newsletter with a quiz. If you have a moment, please let us know what you think of the new format. Now, on to the quiz!

 

Major League Baseball – once Republicans’ favorite professional sports league – saw positive views among conservatives plummet after it decided to pull its upcoming All-Star Game and draft out of Atlanta in response to Georgia’s new voting law. The question: Which major sports league do you think is now the most popular among Republicans? 

 

 

A. NFL B. NBA C. NHL

 

 

Find the answer at the bottom of today’s newsletter.

 

What’s Ahead

What’s on deck in the House: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that the House is set this week to take up the “NO BAN Act,” which would prohibit religious discrimination in immigration-related decisions, a rebuke of former President Donald Trump’s order banning nationals from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States; the “Access to Counsel Act,” which would require lawyers to be given to migrants in danger of deportation; and, for the second time in two years, legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state.

 

Why it’s worth watching: D.C. statehood, which likely has no chance of passage in the Senate as long the filibuster remains intact, is a key component of the Democrats’ voting rights agenda, but is among the least popular legislation that Democratic leaders have put on the floor in 2021. A Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted last month found 43 percent of voters would approve of granting DC statehood and 33 percent would disapprove – less public support than for adding Puerto Rico as a state. Other polling we’ve conducted this year also shows that Biden’s order reversing Trump’s immigration ban and other actions concerning migrant rights are among the 46th president’s least popular moves to date. Taken together, it’s clear that House Democrats will spend the week wading into contentious issues that divide Americans along partisan lines.

 

 

What’s on deck in the Senate: The Senate is planning to take up the “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,” a measure sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) targeting the increase of anti-Asian hate amid the pandemic.

 

Why it’s worth watching: Senate Republicans stood down last week to let Hirono’s legislation advance on an agreement that they could add amendments – a potential hiccup for passage this week – but even that move was opposed by six members of the conference including potential 2024 aspirants Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. (The Senate will also vote on the nominations of Lisa Monaco to be deputy attorney general and Gary Gensler to be a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission until 2026 after confirming him for a shorter term this past week.)

 

 

Infrastructure: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan are on deck to testify to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” as House Democrats continue to insist passage of the package could happen by Memorial Day.

 

Why it’s worth watching: As administration officials work to sell the plan, Morning Consult/Politico polling has shown voters generally agree that mostly everything included in Biden’s plan is infrastructure, but time is of the essence in maintaining support from GOP voters to fulfill his definition of “bipartisan.” The findings suggest that Republican messaging against the plan is yet to resonate with the overall electorate, though support for the package dropped by double digits among Republican voters since two week ago.

 

 

Earmarks: The Senate Republican Conference is set to meet Wednesday to discuss its rules, a moment when the lawmakers will likely revisit their self-imposed ban on earmarks.

 

Why it’s worth watching: Democrats in both the House and Senate, as well as House Republicans, have agreed to revive earmarks, which Democrats are calling “community project funding,” leaving the Senate GOP as the last holdout. 

 

 

Chauvin trial set to wrap up: Closing arguments in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, are set to begin on Monday, setting up jury deliberations and a possible verdict.  

 

Why it’s worth watching: The trial’s closing stages come as the Minneapolis area manages the fallout from another police-involved killing of a Black man and as details from other such incidents continue to pop up around the country. Protests have already erupted in response to the recent incidents, and more could be on the horizon depending on what the jury decides.

 

 

Iran deal: Multilateral discussions are still underway in Vienna aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. Talks were on edge last week after Israel was suspected of causing a blackout at Iran’s main nuclear-enrichment plant in an attempt to derail them.

 

Why it’s worth watching: Things are getting more complicated. On Friday, Tehran – which claims it is not seeking to build a nuclear weapon – said it had enriched uranium at its highest level yet, a worrisome sign for the United States and its allies. However, a senior Iranian official offered an upbeat assessment of talks yesterday, saying that talks had entered a new phase and adding that Iran had proposed draft agreements that could be a basis for negotiations.

 

 

Capitol security spending: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she expects the House to advance a supplemental appropriations measure this month for improving security at the Capitol following the Jan. 6 riot.

 

Why it’s worth watching: The path forward is unclear with lawmakers hung up on the size and scope of the legislation. Per Pelosi, the measure will at least include funds to reimburse spending from Jan. 6, harden the Capitol’s windows and doors, expand the police force and training.

 

 

GOP retreat: House Republicans are set to head to Orlando, Fla., later this month for their annual members retreat from April 25-27.

 

Why it’s worth watching: It’s billed as an off-site to discuss legislative strategy, and comes as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s large minority looks to plot its way back into power while managing its relationship with Trump.

 

 

Biden’s joint address: Biden will address a joint session of Congress on April 28 – the night before his 100th day in office.

 

Why it’s worth watching: Biden will enter the House chamber for his first major address since his Jan. 20 inauguration with a significant achievement under his belt following the enactment of his COVID-19 relief legislation. But he faces a tougher road with his infrastructure package and more thorny issues on the horizon. Biden has maintained approval from a majority of the electorate throughout his first 100 days, and the next few months will serve as a test of its endurance.

 

 

Refugee cap: Following widespread Democratic criticism to reports that the historically low refugee cap set by Trump would be kept in place for the remainder of the fiscal year amid optical concerns over the migrant influx at the border, the White House said Biden will announce a new, increased refugee cap for the next few months by May 15.

 

Why it’s worth watching: The White House has taken more flak from Democrats over its handling of the refugee cap than any other issue, and the intraparty strife comes after Morning Consult/Politico polling showed that Biden’s plan to dramatically raise the refugee cap for the 2022 fiscal year was comfortably his least popular action as president.

 

 

Nominations: The White House is said to be vetting Cindy McCain for U.S. ambassador to the U.N. World Food Programme in Rome, according to two sources. 

 

Why it’s worth watching: The 66-year-old widow of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who has worked on world hunger issues as chair of the McCain Institute board of trustees would be Biden’s first Republican nominee for Senate confirmation. (The administration is also reportedly considering Ken Salazar, a former senator and Interior secretary, to serve as U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and career diplomat Nicholas Burns to represent the United States in China.)

 

Events Calendar

 

Week in Review

Vaccine pause

  • Out of an “abundance of caution,” officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for an immediate pause in use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after six U.S. women ages of 18 to 48 developed a disorder involving blood clots after receiving the single-dose drug. Almost 7 million people have received the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, and some 9 million more doses have been shipped to the states, making it a key part of the Biden administration’s mass vaccination campaign.
  • Following the pause, the CDC‘s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said it does not have enough information to assess the risk of the drug’s side effects, and that it expects to meet again in another week or two to revisit the issue. The pause could have ramifications on vaccine hesitancy, as evidenced by an Economist/YouGov survey that found a sharp decline in the share of Americans who felt J&J’s vaccine was safe despite the limited experience of its negative side effects.

Foreign policy

 

  • Biden rolled out a slate of foreign policy measures, crowned by his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the country’s history. The decision – at odds with the Pentagon and bemoaned by many Republicans and members of the foreign policy establishment – will keep forces in the country beyond the May 1 deadline the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban last year. 
  • The Biden administration also imposed sanctions on Russia for its alleged involvement in the SolarWinds hack and efforts to undermine American elections. The move came as his government works to assuage tensions with Moscow as Moscow builds up military troops near Ukraine – a key topic of discussion when spy chiefs testified on Capitol Hill.

 

Nominations

 

 

Campaigns

 

  • Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said he will not run for re-election after serving 13 terms in the chamber. Brady’s exit was expected since he was term-limited in his role as the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, and will likely kick off a competitive primary campaign in a district that is currently drawn as safe for the GOP. 
  • Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory joined former Rep. Mark Walker in the race for the Republican nomination for the state’s open Senate seat next year. It is likely they will not be alone in the contest: Rep. Ted Budd, Lara Trump and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson are all also considering bids – and one poll shows the ex-president’s daughter-in-law as a potential front-runner.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she was taking her time on announcing whether she will seek re-election, even as Alaska independent Al Gross, who challenged Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan last year, is reportedly considering mounting a bid for her seat
  • Strategists point to Govs. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) and Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) as potential star recruits in the GOP’s effort to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats next year. While Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking suggests Sununu is the stronger potential candidate, sources involved in the states believe those dynamics could change as the GOP looks to unseat two relatively popular Democratic incumbents.
  • A few things to keep an eye on: “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance has reportedly told associates he plans to run for Senate as a Republican in Ohio; former Trump ambassadorial appointee Carla Sands is making moves to join the Pennsylvania Senate race; and Democrat Charles Booker, who narrowly lost a Democratic Senate primary last year, has formed an exploratory committee to challenge Republican Sen. Rand Paul in Kentucky.

 

 

Capitol Hill

 

  • An internal report from the inspector general of the Capitol Police found broad missteps in the law enforcement response to the Jan. 6 insurrection, including intelligence shortcomings, a lack of proper storage for riot shields, expired or unavailable non-lethal weapons, a lack of civil unrest training and optical concerns by leaders contributing to a lack of a National Guard presence. The details came as prosecutors announced that the Capitol Police officer fatally shot Ashli Babbitt will not be charged.
  • Pelosi shot down a proposal led by Democrats such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to expand the ­Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, saying she had “no plans” to bring the legislation to the floor, instead backing a presidential commission that is reviewing changes to the court, including expansion and term limits.
Stat of the Week
 

31%

That’s the share of 2020 Trump voters who say they are not enthusiastic about voting in the 2022 midterm elections, compared with 19 percent of Biden voters in a sign of an early motivation gap between the two parties’ supporters.

 
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