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Washington’s wasted week

STIMULUS SETBACK The Senate left town for the weekend without the GOP releasing their proposal for a coronavirus recovery package — and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said its introduction will slip to next week. The reason? Well, after a week of internal bickering, the White House and GOP have struggled to coalesce around a broad relief package. And in a sign of how well things are going, lawmakers apparently spent more time talking about alligator soup than the coronavirus negotiations during yesterday’s GOP lunch.

Keep in mind, this is just the GOP’s opening offering — we haven’t even gotten to the tougher negotiations with Democrats yet. So if Republicans can’t even agree on their own proposal, how are they supposed to quickly cut a deal with Democrats? The flailing almost guarantees that the enhanced unemployment benefits will expire next week. Or, as Marianne and Bres write, “Senate Republicans and the White House wasted a week at the worst possible time.” The dispatch:

So, what are the sticking points? From Bres and Marianne: “The main area of dispute was over extension of federal unemployment assistance for workers that have lost their jobs as the United States economy shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. … Beyond the snafu over unemployment payments, there were other differences among Senate Republicans and the White House that took days to iron out. There will be no payroll tax cut sought by Trump in the new plan.” More on what’s in — and not in — the emerging bill:

Another potential hang-up, per WaPo: “Complicating matters, the White House renewed its push for language related to the location of the Federal Bureau of Investigation building in downtown Washington — which is cater-cornered from Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave NW — according to two people with knowledge of the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them. Trump has expressed interest in the location of the FBI’s headquarters for some time.” The deets from Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and Jeff Stein:

Related read: “McConnell’s Stimulus Waiting Game Turns Into Race Against Clock,” by Bloomberg’s Steven T. Dennis:

LEWIS TO LIE IN STATE — The late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will lie in state in the Capitol rotunda next week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced. Lewis — the civil rights icon who served in Congress for over three decades — will first be honored with a private ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday, followed by an unprecedented public viewing on the East Front Steps on Monday night and Tuesday.

Because of the pandemic, Lewis’ family is discouraging people from traveling to D.C. for the public viewing portion. And those who do come to pay their respects are being asked to wear masks, keep their distance from each other in line, and bring water bottles and umbrellas to stay cool in the heat. All the details from Sarah and Bres:

Also, a scheduling note: next week’s high-profile House hearing with tech CEOs — which was supposed to include testimony from the chiefs of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook — will likely be postponed because of the plans to honor Lewis in the Capitol next week, per POLITICO’s Alexandra Levine.

Related read: “John Lewis’ procession to follow Selma to Montgomery route, to be honored at Alabama Capitol,” via Brad Harper of the Montgomery Advertiser:

GIRL POWER — In an extraordinary display on the House floor yesterday, more than a dozen Democrats lined up to rebuke a culture of sexism on Capitol Hill and defend Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) after she was called a vulgar name by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). AOC — who has been vilified on the right — kicked things off with a powerful floor speech, where she talked about the kind of verbal abuse she has faced as a woman of color and said she could not in good conscience accept Yoho’s half-hearted apology.

But then AOC yielded the floor to other Democratic lawmakers — mostly women — who recounted times they also were aggressively confronted by men. “The fact that the behavior of one of the members is such that the whole Democratic Women’s Caucus has gone to the floor — at a time when our floor time is very precious — tells you how important this is,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi later said at a press conference. “It’s a manifestation of attitudes in our society really. I can tell you this first hand, they called me names for at least 20 years of leadership.” Then Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer chimed in: “Oh, more.” Caitlin Oprysko and Sarah with the story:

Meanwhile … Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) defended Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) after she was attacked by Trump on Twitter. “Let’s be clear here. @Liz_Cheney is one of the strongest people I know, isn’t bullied, and deeply loves this country,” he tweeted. “It may bother you, but it certainly frightens America’s enemies.’”

HAPPY FRIDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this July 24, where your host can’t wait to see the Washington Football Team win the Sportsball Championship.

THURSDAY’S MOST CLICKED: Roll Call’s story on the House passing a public lands bill was the big winner.

PROVE TO ME YOU GOT SOME COORDINATION — With November creeping closer, Joe Biden is now coordinating more closely with congressional Democrats — a welcome turnaround from a few months ago. Heather, Sarah and Marianne with the story: “[A]s the coronavirus brought the country to a standstill, Democrats received little guidance from Biden, setting off alarms on Capitol Hill. But now Democrats say there’s been a rush of outreach from Biden’s team over the last month — from weekly calls with House chiefs of staff to a surrogate team that helps set up interviews to seeking out lawmakers about the VP vetting process. …

“It’s the latest sign that the Democratic Party has begun not just to unite to defeat Trump but to assemble a governing coalition amid growing hopes Biden wins the White House this fall — a party-wide cohesion that was absent in 2016 and could bolster Democrats as they prepare for a post-Trump landscape. ‘Obviously, they had a slower start because of everything we’ve been going through,’ said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). ‘I feel much better than I thought I would a few months ago.’” More:

Related read: “Karen Bass doesn’t want her picture taken. Yet she’s suddenly on Biden’s VP shortlist,” via Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki:

CONFEDERACY CLASH IS COMING — Despite Trump’s veto threat, both chambers of Congress defiantly pushed ahead with an annual defense policy bill that includes language to rename military bases that honor Confederate leaders. More from CNN’s Jeremy Herb on the brewing battle: “The Senate overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act Thursday, 86-14, one day after the House passed its defense authorization bill 295-125. Both chambers cleared the two-thirds threshold for a veto-proof majority on the legislation that sets policy for the military and has been signed into law 59 straight years. …

“While the provisions in the House and Senate bills are different — and will have to be reconciled — the inclusion in both bills makes it likely it will be part of the final version of the must-pass defense legislation Congress sends to Trump’s desk later this year. The provisions requiring the names of the bases to be changed — the Senate’s bill gives the Pentagon three years, while the House requires the task be completed within one year — are another sign of the political shift that’s followed nationwide protests of police brutality and racial injustice after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.” More:

Related read: “Fairfax County renames Robert E. Lee High for late congressman John Lewis,” from WaPo’s Hannah Natanson:

BATTLE FOR THE SENATE — Things aren’t looking good for the GOP’s effort to hold on to the Senate. The latest from the Washington Examiner’s Mica Soellner: “Given the current political climate and just over 100 days until Election Day, Republicans are at risk of losing their Senate majority. A newly released analysis by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report showed on Thursday that President Trump’s low polling numbers in comparison to his presumptive Democratic challenger Joe Biden may reflect the performance of other GOP candidates. …

“The Cook Political Report showed several ‘ratings’ changes for the month of July. Republican Sen. Martha McSally’s race in Arizona shifted from ‘Toss Up’ to ‘Lean D.’ Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s contest in Iowa changed from ‘Lean R’ to ‘Toss Up.’ Republican Sen. David Perdue’s race in Georgia changed from ‘Lean R’ to ‘Toss Up.’ Democratic Sen. Tina Smith’s race shifted from ‘Likely D’ to ‘Solid D.’ The open race in New Mexico, where Democratic Sen. Tom Udall is not seeking reelection, has changed from ‘Likely D’ to ‘Solid D.’” The deets:

Related read: “Republicans Struggle To Find A Reelection Message,” by HuffPo’s Matt Fuller and Igor Bobic:

SOUNDING THE ALARM — Scoop from Natasha Bertrand, Andrew and Kyle: “Top congressional Democrats are sounding the alarm about a series of packets mailed to prominent allies of President Donald Trump — material they say is part of a foreign disinformation plot to damage former vice president Joe Biden, according to new details from a letter the lawmakers delivered to the FBI last week.

“The packets, described to POLITICO by two people who have seen the classified portion of the Democrats’ letter, were sent late last year to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and then-White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The packets were sent amid a Democratic push to impeach Trump over his effort to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden and his son Hunter the sources said.” The dispatch:

Related read: “New document shows FBI used Trump’s candidate briefing to advance Russia probe,” from Kyle and Andrew:

NOM NEWS — The first Republican senator has come out against Trump’s Fed nominee. More from The Hill’s Sylvan Lane and Jordain Carney: “Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Thursday he will vote against President Trump’s controversial nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board, impeding her path to confirmation. ‘I’m not going to be endorsing Judy’s Shelton’s nomination to the Fed,’ Romney, one of Trump’s most vocal GOP critics, told reporters at the Capitol. ‘I will be voting against her.’

“Romney is the first Republican senator to announce his opposition to Shelton, who will also likely be opposed by all 47 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, so the opposition of three more Republicans would effectively doom her nomination. Romney, like several GOP senators, had previously expressed concerns about Shelton’s past support for linking the value of the dollar to gold, along with her inconsistent stances on the Fed interest rates.” The story:

Loully Saney will be policy and strategic comms adviser at the Day One Project. She previously was deputy press secretary for Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

The Senate is out.

The House convenes at 9 a.m., with first votes expected to start at 9:30 a.m. Today’s agenda:

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) holds a conference call briefing, beginning at 11 a.m., to discuss the status of COVID-19 relief for agriculture.

Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) hold a conference call briefing, beginning at 11:30 a.m., to call on the Senate “to extend $600 weekly emergency unemployment payments that are due to expire at the end of this month.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) hold a news conference on the need to extend enhanced federal unemployment insurance at 1 p.m. in HVC Studio A.

THURSDAY’S WINNER: Colleen Shogan was the first person to guess that Adlai Stevenson was the one time vice president who shared a name with a descendant who lost the presidency as a major party candidate.

TODAY’S QUESTION: From Colleen: In the nineteenth century, there was a baseball field on White House grounds in the area now known as the Ellipse. What was the name of the field and which President gave federal government workers time off to watch a game there? The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess to [email protected].

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