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The Hill's Morning Report — Against all odds, gun safety bill set to become law

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It was a significant day for guns in America on Thursday as the Senate broke a years-long stalemate and passed a bipartisan gun violence package and the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law it said infringes upon the Second Amendment.

After weeks of talks, senators passed the most notable piece of gun safety legislation in three decades, bringing a temporary end to the “will they or won’t they” chatter that has consumed Washington after mass shootings in recent years. The bill passed 65-33, with 15 Senate Republicans voting for it (The Hill).

The proposal boosts funding for mental health, bolsters background checks for those younger than 21 who try to purchase firearms and incentivizes states to set up red flag laws. The upper chamber passed it almost a month exactly after the tragic shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers, and seemingly lit a fuse for lawmakers to take action (The Associated Press).

“I don’t believe in doing nothing in the face of what we’ve seen in Uvalde and other communities. Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the lead GOP negotiator, said on the Senate floor.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cornyn’s counterpart in discussions, echoed the sentiment and argued that it should “prove to a weary American public that democracy is not so broken that it is unable to rise to the moment.”

Talks between the two sides started shortly after the Uvalde killings when Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) decided to allow Murphy and Republicans time to come up with a bipartisan offering rather than simply putting partisan pieces of legislation on the floor for messaging votes. Schumer said in an interview that he sensed Senate Republicans could be amenable to something this time around that wasn’t on the table in the past, especially after mass school shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., in 2012 and Parkland, Fla., in 2018 gripped the nation.

“I had talked to a few Republicans and there seemed to be a different mood, they understood how serious this was and how getting something done was important,” Schumer told Politico.

For much of the past month, Cornyn, Murphy and Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) weaved together a proposal that ultimately pulled off the high wire act that saw both sides notch victories. In addition to provisions on red flag laws, mental health and background checks, the bill also closes the “boyfriend” loophole and cracks down on straw purchasers and illegal gun traffickers.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a longtime Second Amendment advocate who voted for it, said the proposal is a political winner for the GOP.

“It’s no secret that we lost ground in suburban areas. We pretty much own rural and small-town America, and I think this is a sensible solution to the problem before us, which is school safety and mental health,” McConnell told reporters shortly before the vote. “I hope it will be viewed favorably by voters in the suburbs we need to regain in order to hopefully be in the majority next year.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said immediately after the vote that the House will intends to pass the blueprint today, sending it to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

Politico: “Unwilling to accept defeat”: How Sinema and Murphy clinched guns deal for Democrats.

NBC News: A momentous day for gun laws in the U.S.

Morning Consult: Cornyn’s approval rating among Texans holds steady amid gun safety push.

Glenn Thrush, The New York Times: In one day, Washington goes in two directions on guns.

The Thursday night vote was the capper on a monumental day for gun reform. Hours earlier, it was the high court that made waves as it ruled that a New York law limited the ability to carry a handgun outside of one’s home. In a 6-3 decision, justices nixed the state’s requirement for concealed carry permit applicants to demonstrate a special need for a license outside of a desire for self-defense.

As The Hill’s John Kruzel writes, the ruling will almost surely have tentacles that extend elsewhere as it will render unconstitutional similar restrictions in more than a half dozen other states that give licensing officials wide discretion over concealed carry permitting.

The court voted along ideological lines, with Justice Clarence Thomas writing in his majority opinion that the Second Amendment protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

Democrats and progressives were quick to criticize the court’s latest action, which represents the most monumental Second Amendment ruling in more than a decade.

“This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all,” Biden said in a statement. “We must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans,”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called that the court’s decision is “particularly painful” following the tragic shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, adding that it sends the nation” backwards.”

The Hill: Five things to know about the Supreme Court’s ruling on concealed carry.

READ: Full text of the Supreme Court’s ruling

The Boston Globe: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer lays bare the reality of gun violence.

The Hill: What states have concealed carry laws?

The Wall Street Journal: Winning lawyers in Supreme Court gun case leave firm.

© Associated Press / Jacquelyn Martin | A police officer outside of the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The Supreme Court also continued to clear its remaining slate of cases. Headlining the other three cases it released, justices ruled that GOP lawmakers in North Carolina can intervene to defend the state’s voter ID law against legal challenges. The 8-1 decision did not deal directly with the lawfulness of the voter law, but rather which government bodies can defend the law in court (The Hill).

The court will continue to release more cases this morning. Nine cases remain outstanding, including one that will determine the future of abortion rights in America. In recent weeks, it has released between four and six cases per day, leaving open the possibility that the justices will add another day to release opinions next week.


Related Articles

The Hill: Democrats toe delicate line on assault weapons ban.

CNN: Biden braces for Supreme Court to overturn Roe after months of planning for next steps.

The Hill: Supreme Court rules in favor of Georgia death row inmate hoping to die by firing squad.

Peter Sullivan, The Hill: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) faces uphill battle to win GOP support for insulin cost bill.


LEADING THE DAY

 CONGRESS

The Jan. 6 select committee capped off its June hearings on Thursday with the revelation that at least a half-dozen GOP lawmakers directly asked for pardons from former President Trump for their roles in voting to overturn election results in certain states on Jan. 6, 2021, a number of former Trump aides testified.

The aides named Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) Mo Brooks (Ala.) Louie Gohmert (Texas), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), and Scott Perry (Pa.) as those who sought pardons. One aide added that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) contacted the White House Counsel’s office seeking one of her own.

The most concrete evidence was presented by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a committee member who headlined Thursday’s hearing — an email from Brooks, dated Jan. 11, 2021, in which the Alabama Republican specifically asked for pardons for himself, Gaetz, and lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College vote for Arizona and Pennsylvania.

“The email request says it all. There was a concern Democrats would abuse the judicial system by prosecuting and jailing Republicans who acted pursuant to their Constitutional or statutory duties under 3 USC 15,” Brooks said in a statement (The Hill). “Fortunately, with time passage, more rational forces took over and no one was persecuted for performing their lawful duties, which means a pardon was unnecessary after all.”

As for Perry, he once again denied that he sought a pardon (The Hill). Greene and Gaetz did not directly deny asking for a pardon (The Hill).

The Washington Post: Perry played key role in promoting false claims of fraud.

Mychael Schnell, The Hill: Kinzinger gets his star turn on Jan. 6 panel.

Aaron Blake, The Washington Post: 5 takeaways from the Jan. 6 hearing on Trump’s Justice Department’s plot.

ABC News: Federal agents search home of Jeffrey Clark, the ex-official tied to Trump’s efforts to overturn election.

The development came as the panel attempted to highlight the pressure campaign waged by Trump and his allies against the Department of Justice. Former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, who was among those who appeared at Thursday’s hearing, told lawmakers about a meeting with Trump on Dec. 31 where the ex-president pressed the acting DOJ head about taking control of voting machines in certain states he believed had fraudulently changed votes.

“We had seen nothing improper with regard to the voting machines, and I told him that the real experts at that had been at [the Department of Homeland Security], and they had briefed us that they had looked at it and there was nothing wrong with the voting machines. So that was not something that was appropriate to do,” Rosen said.

Then-acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue testified Thursday that Trump was “very agitated” by Rosen’s retort (The Hill).

The Hill: Five takeaways about Trump’s pressure campaign at DOJ.

The Washington Post: Trump called Jan. 6 participants “smart,” filmmaker says.

The Hill: GOP lawmakers stick by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) despite Jan. 6 strategy criticism.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

➤ POLITICS

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is relying on a group of voters come August that she has rarely turned to in the past: Democrats.

According to The New York Times, Cheney made her most direct appeal to Wyoming Democrats to change their party affiliation in order to vote for her in the August 16 primary against Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed candidate in the race.

Joseph Barbuto, the Wyoming Democratic Party chairman, told the outlet that he received a mailer from Cheney’s campaign that included detailed instructions regarding how to make the change. He also reported that a number of Wyoming Democrats he has been in touch with have received a similar set of instructions.

“I haven’t had any Republicans share online or tell me that they received it,” Barbuto said.

In February, Cheney told the Times that reaching out to Democrats for support was not on her agenda. However, she defended the move late on Thursday.

“I encourage everyone with principles who loves our country to exercise their right to vote. And, damn right, I will continue to give every voter in Wyoming a list of all the key rules for casting ballots in our state. If any eligible voter living in Wyoming wishes to become a republican, they are free to do so. That is their right,” she said in a statement (The Washington Post).

Cheney is one of five House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol who is seeking reelection. The others are Reps. Dan Newhouse (Wash.), David Valadao (Calif.), Peter Meijer (Mich.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.).

Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) became the first of the 10 pro-impeachment members to lose their reelection last week. He was defeated resoundingly by Russell Fry by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Politico: Republicans launch super PAC to stop former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in Senate primary.

The Wall Street Journal: Greitens’s Senate bid sparks GOP opposition, worry.


📝 Introducing NotedDC, The Hill’s curated commentary on the beat of the Beltway. Click here to subscribe to our latest newsletter.


OPINION

■ The Supreme Court’s gun ruling is a serious misfire, by George F. Will, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3bqx3eR

■ How a recession could weaken the work-from-home revolution, by Derek Thompson, staff writer, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/3bpnKfq

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m.

The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. Senators will return to Washington on July 11 following the July 4 recess.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m.

Vice President Harris will travel to Plainfield, Ill., to discuss maternal health at 12:40 p.m. CST. She will also deliver remarks to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials 39th Annual Conference at 2:40 p.m. CST before returning to Washington.

First lady Jill Biden will travel to Surfside, Fla., to take part in an event to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the condominium collapse that killed 98 people at 10 a.m.

The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 2 p.m.


🖥  Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.


ELSEWHERE  

➤  INTERNATIONAL

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is looking to make some changes. The Ukrainian leader is reportedly looking to replace Ivan Bakanov — a longtime friend and his former campaign manager — from his post atop the nation’s spy agency and replace him with someone more suited for a wartime situation. The leadership at the Security Service of Ukraine is under the microscope as it is receiving blame for the loss of territory, including the city of Kherson (Politico).

➤  HEALTH

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to clear Moderna’s two-shot COVID-19 jab for children ages 6 to 17 after an agency panel gave the vaccine unanimous approval. Pharmacies and doctor’s offices could start administering the shots on Friday assuming CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gives the recommendation her stamp of approval (CNBC). … Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said on Thursday that the administration has shipped more than 4 million doses of vaccine for kids aged 6 months to 5 years (States Newsroom). … A new report conducted by Imperial College London on Thursday projected that the COVID-19 vaccines saved roughly 20 million individuals in their first year of use, including 1.9 million in the U.S. The report was published in the journal Lancet Infectious Disease (The Associated Press).

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,015,342. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 255, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

➤  TITLE IX

The Biden administration on Thursday rolled out a spate of proposed changes to Title IX in commemoration of its 50th anniversary, including new protections for transgender students. The proposal would also alter the rules surrounding how schools handle sexual assault and harassment allegations, which would include giving them the ability to investigate and discipline students over incidents that take place off campus. The administration, however, did not touch on protections for transgender students competing in college athletics (The Hill).


THE CLOSER

Lightyear 112813 AP JohnMinchillo

© Associated Press / John Minchillo | A Buzz Lightyear float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2013.

And finally … 👏👏👏It’s Friday! And that can only mean one thing: It’s time to give a rousing standing ovation to our quiz masters this week for their knowledge of the king of all Pixar kings — Buzz Lightyear.

Here are those who went 4/4 this week: Stanley Wasser, Mary Anne McEnery, Paul Harris, Patrick Kavanagh, Jaina Mehta, Steve James and Steve Delano.

They knew that “Toy Story” producers originally wanted Billy Crystal to voice the Buzz Lightyear character before ultimately settling on Tim Allen.

Buzz was able to escape Sid’s house and return to Andy, his rightful owner, via the help of a revenge plot by Sheriff Woody and Sid’s toys

Bilingual Buzz! Upon being reprogrammed, Buzz speaks Spanish for a portion of “Toy Story 3.”

Finally, it is true — Buzz Lightyear was indeed named after Buzz Aldrin.


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