The Hill’s Morning Report – Senate GOP in a bind over same-sex marriage

·14 min read

Senate Republicans found themselves in yet another game of “Will they or won’t they?” on Wednesday as Democrats indicated they will move ahead with an effort to codify same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, 47 House Republicans voted alongside every Democrat to advance a bill cementing marriage rights for same-sex and interracial couples. The situation shifted a day later to the upper chamber, where Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) opened the door to a floor vote and tasked Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly gay senator, with pulling together the 10 Senate Republicans to put it across the finish line.

Now, the hard work starts for Baldwin and Democrats.

When asked on Wednesday where they stand on the bill, answers by Senate Republicans ran the gamut. Although some indicated one way or another, most did not and shied away from saying what they would do if the legislation hits the floor.

To help, the Morning Report is here with a handy guide to where Senate Republicans stand. At the moment, most fit into one of five pods:

1) The “aye” or “likely aye” foursome representing the starting point for Democrats to find the needed 10 votes: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Rob Portman (Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Thom Tillis (N.C.).

2) The “I support same-sex marriage (and even have gay friends!), but don’t want to reveal my stance yet” crowd. Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) headline that group.

3) The “This bill is unnecessary at this time, but I really don’t want to reveal where I stand” pot. Sens. John Thune (S.D.), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) are included in that one.

4) The “Eh, check back tomorrow — I haven’t read the bill yet” grouping. Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.), two retiring members, headline that cadre.

5) And finally, the “This is a waste. I’m a hard ‘no’” crowd. Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) lead that group.

HuffPost: Republicans squeezed over same-sex marriage protections.

The Hill: The House will vote today on a measure that would codify access to contraception.

In summation, it is possible the only way Democrats will be able to find out if there are truly 10 Senate GOP members on board is by gambling with some valuable floor time. Collins, the lead GOP co-sponsor of the bill, argued that a sprint to a vote is not needed (Politico).

Notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) held his fire when pressed on the subject, saying that he is “going to wait to address that issue when it comes up in the Senate” (Punchbowl News).

The GOP’s reticence is also political calculus with midterm contests four months away. Republicans readily acknowledge that it would have been unthinkable for 47 GOP members to vote for a gay marriage protection measure a decade ago.

“Republicans want to talk about inflation, gas prices, crime and immigration. Injecting a social issue like gay marriage just doesn’t help,” said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist who helped spearhead Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential bid. “It’s potentially a divisive issue for some Republicans within their own base and just wildly off message from what we want to be talking about.”

The New York Times: Same-sex marriage bill, considered dead on arrival, gains new life.

CNN: Senators expect GOP support to grow for same-sex marriage bill in bid to overcome filibuster.

Daily Beast: Senate Republicans hem, haw and even back gay marriage bill.

In the House, the Jan. 6 committee’s work will return to primetime tonight with what members describe as a “minute-by-minute” account of former President Trump’s actions (or lack thereof) while the Capitol was under attack.

As The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch and Mike Lillis write, investigators will press their case that the ex-president’s refusal to intervene more quickly is further evidence that he was on the side of the protestors.

“The story we’re going to tell tomorrow is that in that time, President Trump refused to act to defend the Capitol as a violent mob stormed the Capitol with the aim of stopping the counting of electoral votes and blocking the transfer of power,” a select committee aide said on a preview call with reporters.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) is expected to lead the questioning for the panel (The Washington Post).

Related Articles

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Jan. 6 committee hopes to go out, for now, with a bang.

The Associated Press: Jan. 6 panel probes Trump’s 187 minutes as Capitol attacked. 

The Hill: Secret Service turns over a single message to Jan. 6 panel. Committee member: “I smell a rat.”

CBS News: Jan. 6 committee says Secret Service may have violated Federal Records Act. 

The New York Times: Rudy Giuliani ordered to testify in Georgia criminal investigation. 

Axios and The New York Times: Senators on Wednesday unveiled bipartisan legislation to rewrite the Electoral Count Act. 

The Hill: The House on Wednesday approved by a vote of 220-207 more than $400 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. The package encompasses six spending bills.

LEADING THE DAY

ADMINISTRATION

President Biden, frustrated that the Senate will not back his legislative agenda to battle climate change, on Wednesday stopped short of issuing an executive declaration to assert federal authority over climate as a national emergency, a proposal backed by environmental activists and some members of his party but assailed as overreach by conservatives. The idea remains under review.

In a speech at a former coal plant in Somerset, Mass., Biden pledged to act if lawmakers will not — a policy fallback also employed by many of his predecessors when new law proved outside their political grasp.

“As president, I have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger. And that is what climate change is about,” Biden said. “This is an emergency.”

The president flew to New England and back on fuel-guzzling Air Force One to announce a proposal to generate offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico and to try to mitigate the impact of extreme heat on vulnerable communities. In the “coming days,” he added, the administration plans to announce other executive policies focused on climate (The Hill).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov John Fetterman (D), who suffered a stroke in May and checked himself into a hospital on his way to a campaign event, won the Democratic Senate primary four days later and has been working to recover his health and stamina since then. Surgeons put a defibrillator in his heart and he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy at age 52.

During a remote video interview on Wednesday with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette during which the candidate used closed captioning, Fetterman said he works with a speech therapist on occasional slurred words and has some hearing deficit but has no cognitive or memory impairment and “no physical limits.” In a May statement, he wrote that he “almost died.”

Fetterman said he hopes to get back on the campaign trail “very soon.” The Post-Gazette reported that some Democratic insiders have privately described concerns that Fetterman’s absence could impact the party’s chances of flipping the open seat held by Toomey. The GOP’s Senate candidate this fall is physician Mehmet Oz.

“I feel like we are ready to run, and that’s the only issues I have,” Fetterman said during his first media interview since his stroke, limited by his staff to 20 minutes. “That’s the absolute truth, 100 percent.” 

NBC News: Oz counters carpetbagger attacks from sidelined but not offline Fetterman.

Term-limited Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will not support or vote for Trump-backed state Del. Dan Cox, Tuesday’s GOP primary winner in the governor’s race, according to Hogan’s spokesman (Baltimore Banner). … Cox defeated former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, a moderate backed by Hogan. Cox could face Democrat Wes Moore, a political newcomer and bestselling author backed by Oprah Winfrey, in the general election (mail-in ballots are still being counted). Hogan, who has served two terms, remains popular among voters in a blue state. A recent poll from Goucher College showed that 84 percent of Democrats would not consider supporting Cox during the general election (Politico).

The Hill: Trump’s anger with former Vice President Mike Pence has not deterred congressional Republicans from embracing Pence, a former Indiana congressman and former governor. Members of the House Republican Study Committee welcomed him on Wednesday during a private meeting at the Capitol. … Members thanked him for his actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and some encouraged him to run for president. “People said they hope he’s going to be a big voice in 2024. … He was being encouraged: ‘We need more of you in 2024,’” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). “And I would agree” (CNN).

The Hill: During a South Carolina speech on Wednesday, Pence outlined a vision for “post-Roe America.”

The Hill: Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign in Georgia to try to oust Democrat Raphael Warnock has fellow Republicans worried.

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

OPINION

■ Attorney General Merrick Garland doesn’t have forever, by Richard Ben-Veniste, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3PJuXpC

■ The Fed shouldn’t raise interest rates too quickly, by Alan S. Blinder, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3PJHuZW

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 9 a.m.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the CHIPS-Plus Act.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will travel to Wilkes Barre, Pa., to speak at 3:15 p.m. about the newly enacted gun safety law. He will propose to spend roughly $37 billion for fighting and preventing crime, including $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years (The Associated Press). The president will fly to Philadelphia to headline a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at 6:40 p.m. Biden will remain overnight at his home in New Castle, Del.

Vice President Harris will travel to Charlotte this morning and tour a community computer lab at Carole Hoefener Center at 11:50 a.m. with remarks at 1:30 p.m. highlighting the government’s support for affordable and accessible high-speed internet. An hour later, she will hold a roundtable discussion about reproductive rights with a group of North Carolina state legislators. The vice president will return to Washington this afternoon.

Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending July 16.

First lady Jill Biden will travel to Detroit to visit a public school summer learning program held at Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts at 10 a.m. She will be accompanied by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. This afternoon, they will head to Athens, Ga., to visit a Horizons National summer learning program at the University of Georgia for an event at 1:45 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

In Italy today, a teetering 17-month government of national unity imploded as Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned after key coalition allies boycotted a confidence vote, signaling the likelihood of an early election and a renewed period of uncertainty for Italy and Europe at a critical time. Draghi tendered his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella during a morning meeting at the Quirinale Palace in Rome (The Associated Press).

In the United Kingdom, either former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss, who has led Britain’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as foreign secretary, will be chosen in a ballot of 180,000 Conservative members to be the party’s new leader. The winner will be announced Sept. 5 and will automatically become Britain’s new prime minister. At 42, Sunak would be the youngest prime minister in more than 200 years and the country’s first South Asian leader. Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his allies are opposed to Sunak, seeing him as a turncoat who led the stampede for Johnson’s resignation (The Associated Press).

Ukraine wants additional weaponry from the West, including air defense systems. Officials in Kyiv say the numbers are still too small to turn the tide of the war (The Associated Press). Russian President Vladimir Putin is making an effort to absorb Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine by September. The Kremlin is pushing to hold referendums in those regions (Bloomberg News).

War crimes: Russia may face the first war crimes case in the Hague by the winter (Bloomberg News). … The Sydney Morning Herald published a four-part investigation by journalists Anthony Galloway and Kate Geraghty with video and photographs from inside Ukraine describing how prosecutors will build a war crimes case. The series begins with “The Missing,” followed by “Torture Cells” and “The Resistance,” and concludes with “The Destruction.”

Energy: The European Union on Wednesday told members to cut natural gas use by 15 percent amid a new supply warning from Russia (Reuters). The call came a day after a key gas pipeline from Russia to Europe restarted after a 10 day shutdown due to maintenance (The Associated Press).

The Hill: Biden said Wednesday that he expects to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping “within the next 10 days.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Biden appeared to cast doubt on a trip reportedly planned by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to visit Taiwan next month. “I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now, but I don’t know what the status of it is,” Biden said. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it noted Biden’s remarks, and that Taiwan and the United States have good mutual trust and smooth communication channels. However, the ministry added that it has not received “exact information” about a visit by Pelosi to Taiwan, and has no further comment (Reuters).

PANDEMIC, POX & HEALTH

To handle future pandemic responses, the administration created a new agency within the Health and Human Services Department (The Washington Post and The New York Times). The existing Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, known as ASPR, has become its own operating division, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, according to a Wednesday change announced at HHS. The decision appeared to catch some top federal health officials by surprise, including at the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior officials said. Dawn O’Connell, the assistant Health and Human Services secretary for preparedness and response, would lead the new division.

The new federal agency — on par with the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration — will be responsible for crucial health logistics, including oversight of the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation’s emergency medical reserve, and contracting for and distributing emergency vaccines.

HIV: Fears about undiagnosed or untreated HIV cases in Black and Latino communities are growing in the health care community after the coronavirus pandemic led to plummeting numbers of tests for HIV and prescriptions for HIV drugs (The Hill). The medical community worries that thousands of people simply put off getting tested or getting care during the pandemic.

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,025,549. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 353, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NEITHER RAIN, NOR SNOW, NOR PLUG-IN PROBLEMS …  

The U.S. Postal Service will order more than twice the number of electric vehicles initially projected for its new fleet, the agency announced on Wednesday. The move means the Postal Service’s fleet will be at least 40 percent composed of electric vehicles and is targeting a purchase of roughly 25,000 electric vehicles (The Hill).

THE CLOSER

Take Our Morning Report Quiz

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by alliances in the headlines, we’re eager for some smart guesses about new friends, old friends, strained friendships and unlikely boosters.

Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a show this week of strengthening ties with a leader who has called the United States his nation’s “No. 1 enemy.” With whom did Putin meet?

  1. Chinese President Xi Jinping

  2. Syrian President Bashar Assad

  3. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

  4. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Elon Musk initially wooed Twitter’s executives and is now in court after walking away from an agreement to buy the company for how much?

  1. $989 million

  2. $13 billion

  3. $24 billion

  4. $44 billion

In the House, which critic of the 45th president on Tuesday said, “Run, Donald, run” when asked during an interview about the 2024 presidential contest?

  1. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

  2. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Democratic caucus chairman

  3. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

  4. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chairwoman, House Jan. 6 committee

Which former romantic partner of Jennifer Lopez said during a podcast interview that she is “the most talented human being I’ve ever been around” days before she tied the knot with Ben Affleck in Las Vegas last weekend?

  1. Marc Anthony

  2. Alex Rodriguez

  3. Cris Judd

  4. Sean “Diddy” Combs

Stay Engaged

We want to hear from you! Email: Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. Follow us on Twitter (@alweaver22 & @asimendinger) and suggest this newsletter to friends!

Take Our Morning Report Quiz

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by alliances in the headlines, we’re eager for some smart guesses about new friends, old friends, strained friendships and unlikely boosters.

Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a show this week of strengthening ties with a leader who has called the United States his nation’s “No. 1 enemy.” With whom did Putin meet?

  1. Chinese President Xi Jinping

  2. Syrian President Bashar Assad

  3. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

  4. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Elon Musk initially wooed Twitter’s executives and is now in court after walking away from an agreement to buy the company for how much?

  1. $989 million

  2. $13 billion

  3. $24 billion

  4. $44 billion

In the House, which critic of the 45th president on Tuesday said, “Run, Donald, run” when asked during an interview about the 2024 presidential contest?

  1. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

  2. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Democratic caucus chairman

  3. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

  4. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chairwoman, House Jan. 6 committee

Which former romantic partner of Jennifer Lopez said during a podcast interview that she is “the most talented human being I’ve ever been around” days before she tied the knot with Ben Affleck in Las Vegas last weekend?

  1. Marc Anthony

  2. Alex Rodriguez

  3. Cris Judd

  4. Sean “Diddy” Combs

Stay Engaged

We want to hear from you! Email: Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. Follow us on Twitter (@alweaver22 & @asimendinger) and suggest this newsletter to friends!

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.