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Negotiators expected to release gun bill text today

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 6/21/2022 Leigh Ann Caldwell, Theodoric Meyer, Tobi Raji

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In today’s edition … Everything you need to know ahead of today's 1 p.m. Jan. 6 committee hearingFirst in The Early: Michigan makes its case to be an early Democratic primary state … What we're watching: The Supreme Court and Alabama GOP Senate primary runoff … but first …

On the Hill

Senate gun legislation expected today

Flowers, balloons, toys and other items left by mourners on May 31 for the students and teachers killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Tex. © Joshua Lott/The Washington Post Flowers, balloons, toys and other items left by mourners on May 31 for the students and teachers killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Tex.

The Senate's gun legislation is expected to be released today in what could be the most significant advancement of the issue in three decades in Congress. 

The group of four senators writing text of the legislation — Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Republican Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and Thom Tillis (N.C) — have been working through the weekend. They had hoped it would have been done yesterday but the process, as it usually does, has taken longer. 

Gun safety groups as well as the gun rights lobby have been waiting anxiously to see the legislation as every comma matters in the drafters' intent. 

The provisions that had caused negotiators trouble late last week, including the domestic violence so-called “boyfriend” loophole that was at threat of being dropped, have been worked out and are part of the legislation, sources familiar with the negotiation tell The Early. The provisions of the framework also include expanded background checks for people aged 18-21, funding for states to implement red flag laws or other crisis intervention mechanisms, funding for mental health, school safety and telehealth as well as criminal penalties for third party gun sales, known as straw purchases. 

Does it give the Senate enough time to pass it before they leave for the two-week July Fourth holiday? Senate Majority Leader Schumer's office says it does, but it depends on Republican cooperation. To expedite the process in the Senate, the consent of all 100 senators is needed. But the big question that remains is if the 10 Republicans who supported the framework are comfortable with how the legislation was written. The legal counsels in the group of the original 20 co-signers received a briefing yesterday on the measure. 

Jan 6. hearing today to focus on ‘fake electors,' pressure campaign on states


Happening today: The fourth Jan. 6, 2021, hearing will explore the plot to put forward a slate of fake electors in seven swing states, including Georgia and Arizona, and the ways former president Donald Trump pressured state officials “to go along with his false claims that Biden had lost,” per our colleague Rosalind S. Helderman.

  • The point of today’s hearing: To show that Trump, his attorney John Eastman and many others knew “that the fake electors they designated in seven states were invalid because they weren’t certified by state legislatures and/or didn’t comply with state law,” our colleague Aaron Blake writes.

The witness list:

  • Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State
  • Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office
  • Rusty Bowers (R), Arizona House Speaker
  • Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former election worker from Fulton County, Ga.

All eyes on Ginni Thomas: The Jan. 6 committee has set its sights on Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. They requested an interview with Thomas, following the revelation that she was in contact with Eastman, our colleagues Emma Brown, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rosalind S. Helderman report.

  • But in addition to corresponding with Eastman, Thomas also “attended a gathering of right-wing activists where a speaker declared to roaring applause that Trump was still the ‘legitimate president.’”
  • Why it matters: “While text messages and emails unearthed in recent weeks have shown that Thomas was involved in those efforts before Jan. 6, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Biden was inaugurated.”

🔎 Another scheduling shake-up: The Jan. 6 committee “will have at least one more hearing than the six originally planned, and committee members are considering holding even more hearings beyond that,” multiple sources familiar with the matter told Times’ Eric Cortellessa.  The reason? The number of tips they’ve received. 

The campaign

Michigan makes its case to be an early Democratic primary state

First in the Early: Michigan Democrats are kicking off their campaign to become one of the first handful of states to hold a primary in 2024 with a video boasting that the state is “the best place to pick a president.”

Michigan is facing off against a dozen other states vying to become “early states” this week as they make their cases to the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee. Each of the traditional four early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — are also fighting to retain their places at the start of the nominating process.

The DNC has signaled that it's committed to keeping at least one of the early nominating contests in the Midwest, and Michigan’s video takes implicit shots against rivals Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. (The committee has said it could also add a fifth early state, so two Midwestern states could be make it through the process.)

The roughly two-minute video, narrated by former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas, makes the case that Michigan checks several boxes that Democratic officials have said they’re looking for. (Politico reported last week that such a video was in the works.)

“Unlike other states, there’s no singularly dominant, hyper-expensive media market that holds back campaigns with fewer resources,” Thomas says in the ad. 

That’s not true of Illinois, which is dominated by the expensive Chicago media market.

'Diversity of diversity'

Thomas also boasts that Michigan is “the most diverse battleground state in America” — an apparent shot at Iowa, which some Democrats have criticized for playing an outsized role in the nominating process as one of the Whitest states in the country.

Michigan isn’t the most diverse presidential battleground state based on racial diversity. But Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who’s been leading Michigan’s push to move up the primary calendar, said she takes a broader view of diversity.

Dingell cited Michigan’s agricultural diversity — “We are the most diverse state in the country when it comes to crops,” she said in an interview — as well as its ethnic diversity and its place as the home of Motown, Zingerman’s Delicatessen and the actor Jeff Daniels as evidence to back up the claim.

“We really do reflect all of the different stakeholders that determine elections in November,” she said.

Michigan’s Midwestern rivals have also sought to play up their diversity.

Minnesota Democrats boast in a pitch document that the state “has a diversity of diversity,” noting its high percentages of LGBTQ people, union members, rural residents who vote Democratic and Somali, Liberian, Karen and Hmong Americans. (The Karen and the Hmong are Southeast Asian ethnic groups.)

Need for Republican buy-in

Unlike Michigan and Minnesota, Illinois isn’t a battleground state in the general election. But in addition to its racial diversity, Illinois can tout something its Midwestern rivals can’t: the ability to change to its primary date with relative ease.

Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois all have Democratic governors, but only Illinois has a legislature under full Democratic control — meaning Republicans would need to sign off on moving the primary date if the DNC awarded Michigan or Minnesota early state status.

Dingell said she’s “been having the appropriate discussions with Republican leaders,” and would continue to talk with them this week.

“We’ll make our presentation, and then as the rules committee meets, they’re gonna have to see that there’s a doable pathway to making this happen,” she said.

At the White House

Happening today: President Biden will appoint Lynn Malerba, chief of Connecticut's Mohegan Tribe, as treasurer of the United States. Malerba, the first Native American treasurer, will also lead the Treasury Department's new office of tribal and native affairs.

The announcement coincides with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's visit today to an Indian reservation in South Dakota.

Biden, meanwhile, will speak from the Roosevelt Room this afternoon on a long-awaited milestone for many parents: the rollout of covid vaccines for children under 5.

What we're watching

It’s Election Day in three Southern states today. 

In Georgia, we’ll be watching to see whether Republicans endorsed by former president Donald Trump prevail in the primary runoffs in two open House seats. Both seats are deep red, so whoever wins today is heading to Congress.

In Alabama, Katie Britt, whom Trump has endorsed, will face Rep. Mo Brooks, whom Trump endorsed last year before un-endorsing him earlier this year, in the primary runoff to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R). Shelby is backing Britt, his former chief of staff.

And in Virginia, we’ll be watching to see who Republicans nominate in two newly redrawn swing districts to take on Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria.

Finally, the Supreme Court is expected to release at least five of its 18 remaining decisions today as it nears the end of a bruising term typified by the leak of a draft opinion and an apparent plot to assassinate one of its members. Highly anticipated rulings on gun control, climate regulation, religious rights and the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade could come down as early as tomorrow — but the court will likely keep us waiting until next week or even early July.

The Data

Why gas is so expensive in some U.S. states, visualized: “The East Coast benefits from a vast network of pipelines that carries gasoline and jet fuel; the largest is Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from Houston to New York,” per our colleagues Aaron Gregg, Laris Karklis and Adrian Blanco. “But that setup cannot be replicated on the West Coast because the Rocky Mountains prevent similar access to Gulf Coast refineries.” 

  • The result: Californians paid more than $5 a gallon months before the national average reached it on June 11.

The Media

Early reeeads 🐣 📖


🎶 What we’re dancing to

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


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