Sunday, February 25

Will Senate move on guns? Most Dems don’t think so.- POLITICO

With help from Marianne LeVine and Andrew Desiderio

WILL CONGRESS BE MOVED? Does the Senate have the will or the votes to take action after a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas Tuesday and one week after another shooter killed 10 people, mostly Black, in Buffalo, New York?

Resignation reigns: Most Democrats don’t see a path to getting the 10 Republican votes they’d need to break a filibuster. And members of their own party stand firm against weakening the 60-vote threshold needed to pass most bills.

“The breakdown of the political process has never been clearer. When we can’t even act to keep our own children safe,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said, her voice breaking with emotion. “ Is it worth taking a vote? Even if you don’t have 10 Republicans? Is it worth taking a vote? That’s the part that’s so frustrating.”

Murphy seeks momentum: But Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says he’ll spend the next few days trying to bring Republicans to come to the table to talk about even the smallest changes to gun policies.”What’s possible is much smaller than what we need to do to protect kids,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, acknowledging the challenge of legislating anything in a 50-50 Senate.

“I don’t understand why people here think we are powerless,” Murphy said. “I am so willing to bend over backwards to find compromise.”

Murphy stands out among Democrats for his continued interest in striking a deal, however small, on a new gun bill. Much of the rest of his caucus expressed resignation and frustration over the filibuster and previous Republican resistance.

“We can’t budge the Republicans an inch on this issue of gun safety,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Working the phones: “I’ve been on the phone with my Republican and Democratic colleagues, all day yesterday, all morning this morning, trying to find that path forward,” Murphy said Wednesday morning. He pointed to the potential to deal on a small expansion of national background checks or possibly raising the age of purchase on assault weapons.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said he wants to reopen talks about gun safety legislation. Conservative Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are willing to talk about red flag laws on the federal level, modeled after their home states’ laws.

But with the Senate leaving Thursday for the Memorial Day recess, any talks Murphy can get started will likely be put on pause until Congress returns. Proximity to tragedies like the slaughter in Texas and New York is seen as a key ingredient and that could be lost as the Senate and news cycles move on.

More from Burgess and your Huddle host: Murphy pleads with GOP for a gun deal as ‘another Sandy Hook’ grips America

Schumer minds the calendar: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) began the Rule 14 process for two gun control bills, allowing the Senate to bypass committee consideration and put a bill directly on the Senate calendar. The two House-passed bills would address the so-called “gun show loophole” and “Charleston loophole” in existing background check policies for firearms purchases. One would require background checks for sales between private individuals and the other would give the FBI 20 days, rather than three, to conduct and communicate background check info to gun dealers.

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But as languishing legislation knows best: Placing a bill on the calendar doesn’t guarantee that the Senate will ever take it up, it just makes it available for floor consideration. (Schumer also began the process to add a restaurant aid bill and an insulin affordability bill to the calendar.)

What to watch: The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing today on Steven Dettelbach’s nomination to be Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms director and FBI Director Christopher Wray will appear before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee this afternoon. Expect both to field questions on the massacres in Uvalde and Buffalo.

GOOD MORNING! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Wednesday, May 25.

PRIMARY RESULTS In Arkansas, Republican Sen. John Boozman handily beat “,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72830000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72830001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>handily beat his billionaire-backed challenger, Jake Bequette.

Britt v. Brooks: The Alabama GOP Senate primary is headed to a runoff“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72830002″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72830003″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>headed to a runoff between Katie Britt, former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Mo Brooks, had and then lost former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. The runoff is June 21, 2022.


Rep. Lucy McBath defeated fellow Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the member-versus-member Democratic primary for Georgia’s newly redrawn 7th District. More from Myah Ward

Too close to call:Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) declared victory over his progressice challenger Jessica Cisneros last night, but less than 200 votes separate the two in their run-off election and Cisneros has refused to concede. The Texas Tribune is keeping a close eye“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72840000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72840001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>is keeping a close eye.

Incumbents defeated this cycle (so far): Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.). Still on the fence are Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) who’s race from last week still remains uncalled.

RELATED:Trump flops in Georgia: 5 takeaways from a big primary night, from David Siders, Adam Wren and Ally Mutnick

SENATE GOP FAVORS EXCEPTIONS — Senate Republicans are celebrating Herschel Walker’s primary win in Georgia, but they are distancing themselves from his embrace of an exception-free ban on abortion. They voiced support for exceptions Tuesday, including for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

“Most of the people I talk to believe there ought to be reasonable restrictions and reasonable exceptions,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chair of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. “But every candidate’s going to decide where they are.” More from Marianne and Burgess: Most in Senate GOP shun total abortion ban“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”″,”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72850000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72850001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Most in Senate GOP shun total abortion ban

GAFFE OR NO GAFFE?This week marked the third time that Biden appeared to upend decades-long U.S. policy toward Taiwan, only to have the White House walk it back. But many of the president’s allies on the Hill are hoping it’s a sign of a much-needed change to the “strategic ambiguity” doctrine that has long governed U.S. posture toward the Pacific island nation. For more than four decades, the U.S. has remained purposely noncommittal about whether it would come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an incursion by China. Biden answered a reporter’s question on Monday with a rather unambiguous “yes.”

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“I think it was a helpful episode in showing the Chinese where his mind and heart were,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said. “The president is taking a lesson from Ukraine that a stronger initial position could be necessary for deterrence.” Indeed, Russia’s war in Ukraine is pushing many in Washington to adopt a more forceful posture to deter an invasion of Taiwan. Republicans, though, saw the mixed messages as a sign of weakness and urged Biden to make it clear, without a subsequent walk-back, that the U.S. will defend Taiwan. Andrew has more: Dem China hawks hope Biden’s Taiwan gaffe was no accident

CASEY PITCHES DEMS AT LUNCH — Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) urged his fellow Democratic colleagues at a caucus lunch Tuesday to include funding to expand care for older people and people with disabilities in any party-line spending package that the caucus agrees to. In a memo distributed to the caucus and obtained by POLITICO, Casey wrote that “the immediate need for a substantial investment in Medicaid home and community-based services is clear” and concluded that “the 2022 reconciliation bill must include this vital investment.” (Casey has been pushing for a $250 billion investment to expand home-and-community based services.)

Democrats are still hoping that they can pull together and pass some type of tax-climate bill before the midterm elections, but right now the prospects are murky. And even if a deal comes together, it’s not clear which priorities will make the cut. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he wants any party-line bill to focus on deficit reduction, reforming the tax code and lowering the price of prescription drugs and funding climate and energy development.

THE TESLA CAUCUS — “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to sell her Tesla. Ted Cruz is considering buying one,” writes Bloomerg’s Steven Dennis (himself a Tesla owner.) As Elon Musk dives into partisan politics, being a Tesla owner on Capitol Hill has gotten more complicated.

Green New Deal sponsor Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is looking to switch to a union-made EV, but bought her Model 3 during the pandemic to get her between New York and D.C. in “like one, or one-and-a-half charges,” she said. “I would love to switch.” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) boasts a “Friends of Coal” license plate on his Model S that he got in January 2013. Never forget Rep. Tom Carper (D-Del.) swapping his iconic mini van for a Tesla (of course our friends at E&E News did a deep dive“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72860000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72860001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>did a deep dive.) Steve Dennis tallied up at least 10 lawmakers who drive a Tesla, and talked to many of them about their rides and thoughts on Musk“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72860002″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb72860003″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>talked to many of them about their rides and thoughts on Musk.

BIG $$ FOR TECH CONGRESS No, not big tech $$ for Congress. That’s different. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $2.25 million in the nonpartisan TechCongress initiative that launched in 2015 to build and expand tech expertise on Capitol Hill. Through its Congressional Innovation Fellowship, TechCongress places early and mid-career data scientists, computer scientists, and engineers with members of Congress in both parties. They advise on tech policy and congressional modernization. The funding influx will expand the fellowship cohorts from 16 to 24 fellows each year and convert one-third of the fellows into full-time Congressional staff.

“Fellows are ensuring that lawmakers are at the forefront of cybersecurity and privacy challenges, while also supporting Congress to leverage new and emerging tech to make government officials more responsive to the needs of their constituents,” Travis Moore, founder and executive director of TechCongress in a statement.

Senate Dining workers approached Senators, one by one, on Tuesday trying to get them to support a call for Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton to restructure the food service contract with Restaurant Associates (allowing a union contract to be enacted) or to put the contract out to bid.

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Where things stand:

“Negotiations are ongoing and we are committed to ensuring that the AOC finds a resolution that supports workers,” a Senate Rules Committee aide told Huddle Tuesday. The panel has oversight over Senate contracts.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) will be co-leading a letter with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in support of Senate Cafeteria Workers to the Architect of the Capitol, Brown’s office told Huddle.


FDA says senior officials didn’t receive infant formula whistleblower report due to ‘mailroom issues’, from Meredith Lee

Supreme Court marshal digs in on Roe opinion leak, from Alexander Ward, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney


Thilee Yost is now scheduling coordinator in the Office of the Vice President. She most recently was deputy director of scheduling for Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

Caitlin Reedy is now press secretary for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). She most recently was press secretary for Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.). Martha Miller is now a senior associate at CGCN. She most recently was scheduler and executive assistant for Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio).

Hannah Pope is now Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s (R-Pa.) press secretary. She previously worked at LEVICK as an Account Coordinator. Clare Dentner is now Fitzpatrick’s staff assistant. She interned for Fitzpatrick last summer and recently graduated from Penn State.

Alex Miller is now director of administration for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) while continuing in her role as Hyde-Smith’s deputy comms director.


The House is out.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. with votes at 11 a.m.


11 a.m. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on formula safety and protecting babies’ health. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf testifies, along with other FDA officials and formula industry executives. (Rayburn 2123)

2 p.m. House Appropriations Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee virtual hearing on the infant formula crisis.

3:45 p.m. Senate Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget for the Capitol Police, Library of Congress and Comptroller General. (S128)

4:30 p.m. Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) along with Sens. Schumer, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.),

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and state officials from Oklahoma, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin hold a virtual roundtable on Roe v. Wade.

TUESDAY’S WINNER: No one correctly answered that then-Rep.-elect Gerry Connolly of Virginia whipped the new members for Henry Waxman to lead Energy and Commerce over longtime chair John Dingell in 2008.

TODAY’S QUESTION: Which president was a classically trained pianist and played 4 other instruments?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answers to [email protected].“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”mailto:[email protected]”,”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb728a0000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-fca3-d3ba-ab85-fceb728a0001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>[email protected]

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