Congress misses Biden’s deadline on police reform

With Nicholas Wu and Burgess Everett.

President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a sweeping police reform bill by today, the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. That’s not going to happen.

“I would be shocked if anything happened as soon as tomorrow. I was briefed as soon as last week,” Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Dem, told Burgess.

Durbin said he and other negotiators felt good about the status of the talks until staff dug into the nitty gritty. Then, they realized there’s still a lot of ground to cover. Other senators involved include Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), plus Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) in the House.

“It felt good — there was a conversation on the floor with Cory and Tim and Lindsey Graham and myself. I felt good about it. But no sooner did the staff get together that they found some areas where they still need work,” Durbin added.

Still, members of both parties say they’re making progress. Scott said there was a “conscious effort” to keep both sides at the table negotiating, rather than have both sides just sitting at a table “debating back and forth.”

We need to find areas of compromise. We found some. So I’m optimistic,” Scott told Nick.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Bass are expected to meet with Floyd’s family today, per reports. They will also meet with senators on either side of the aisle, according to NBC News. The family will meet later with Biden in the White House at 1:30 p.m.

With the Senate evenly split, Democrats need 10 GOP votes in order to avoid the threat of a filibuster, which also means they may have to forgo some top priorities that policing reformers would like to see included, including qualified immunity.

Now that they’ve blown past their initial deadline, what’s the new one?

Related: Biden to meet with George Floyd’s family amid uncertain progress on race, by WaPo’s Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: https://wapo.st/3oUCcP9 | What is really holding up the George Floyd policing act from Biden’s desk? By the Grio’s April Ryan: https://on.thegrio.com/3yAgiFp | What George Floyd changed, POLITICO Mag explores: https://politi.co/3oNhl08

WAR OF WORDS: As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hit a flash point this month, so too did the rise of anti-Semitic incidents across the country, leading Democrats and Republicans to stake out their sides over how to best achieve peace in the Middle East.

There were 193 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. last week, according to early reports by the Anti-Defamation League, up from 131 the week prior.

“With more Democrats openly championing the Palestinian cause, Republicans are accusing them of abandoning the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East and playing into the hands of the terror group Hamas, which was firing thousands of rockets into Israel before a ceasefire announced Thursday. Some Republicans have even claimed that Democrats’ rhetoric has inspired the recent anti-Semitic attacks — even as the GOP confronts its own internal problem with incendiary rhetoric about Jews — but most are instead pressing leaders of President Joe Biden’s party to rein in their left when it comes to U.S.-Israel relations,” Nick and Andrew report.

“Obviously, Chuck Schumer is not anti-Semitic. Nancy Pelosi is not anti-Semitic. Steny Hoyer is downright pro-Israel, and pretty strongly. The problem is, they got more comfortable with their party drifting,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) of three top congressional Democratic leaders. “Clearly, they have some policy confusion right now. The Republican Party has never been divided that way.”

More here from Nick and Andrew: https://politi.co/2SomzDB

HAPPY TUESDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill on this May 25, where your Huddle host is all in favor of these types of tweets about redistricting.

MONDAY’S MOST CLICKED: Our story of Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) blasting Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) Holocaust comment was the winner.

DeSANTIS’IZING HIMSELF OF GAETZ: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was once seen as holding significant influence over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But now, as Gaetz faces a federal investigation into allegations of sex trafficking a minor, the governor is giving him the cold shoulder.

Matt Dixon writes: “In interviews, more than half a dozen former DeSantis campaign advisers and early administration staffers say Gaetz had huge influence over DeSantis, who in the run-up to his gubernatorial campaign was an outsider in state-level Florida politics. That was a world where Gaetz had long been an operator. Now, as DeSantis runs for reelection and is likely laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential run, he has all-but turned his back on Gaetz.”

Gaetz was an early supporter of DeSantis’ campaign, helping the little-known GOP congressman in 2018 learn how to navigate Florida’s political landscape — which he knew well because his father, Don Gaetz, previously served as a powerful state senator. He helped with debate prep, including playing DeSantis’ primary opponent. He was on every conference call with advance teams “and generally was often just a key voice in directing the campaign what to do,” one former campaign adviser told Matt.

And even after DeSantis won, Gaetz continued to advise him, including playing a big role in the appointments DeSantis made, including appointments of Gaetz’s friends who are now tied to the federal investigation.

As Matt put it: “DeSantis’ ties to Gaetz could pressure the governor to answer difficult questions about whether he was aware of any alleged wrongdoing as he seeks a second term as governor and possibly the White House.”

More here: https://politi.co/3wt64EX

SPEAKING OF FLORIDA: Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) says she won’t run for Senate — a move that comes after fellow Florida Rep. Val Demings signaled she will likely challenge Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his seat.

“The reality is that Marco Rubio will not be an easy opponent especially if it’s on the heels of a bruising primary where Democrats spend millions attacking each other instead of using those millions to build the infrastructure we desperately need to win,” Murphy said Monday in a written statement.

Demings’ likely decision to jump in crushed Murphy’s early exploratory efforts. She had been on a listening tour of the state, which came as she was gearing up to run for Senate starting in February. Demings seemed noncommittal at the time. Murphy says she will now work to help Dems win statewide.

More here from our Florida man, Marc Caputo: https://politi.co/3vkK52D

LEAD GRAPH FOR THE WIN: “Washington’s bipartisan infrastructure talks may soon look a lot like its cicada population: squashed after staggering around haplessly,” Burgess and Marianne report.

Senate Republicans are sounding downtrodden about the state of negotiations with the White House, which comes as the two sides are some $1.5 trillion apart. Some Republicans are wondering if they even put forward a counteroffer, a consideration that comes as an unofficial deadline for the bipartisan talks looms large next week. Meanwhile, Democrats are amplifying their calls for Biden to ditch his efforts to make his bill bipartisan — they don’t want his agenda to be watered down.

Still, some moderates are signaling they still want to press forward to try to make it bipartisan. Asked about the obviously dire state of the talks between Biden and Republicans, centrist Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said: “It’s always darkest before dawn.

More from Burgess and Marianne: https://politi.co/3fDHASy

PLAGIARISM ALLEGATIONS: It’s not an allegation you see often on Capitol Hill between members – but Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) lobbed the charge at Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.), alleging she had cribbed parts of her resolution condemning anti-Asian hate. Steel, one of two Asian American Republicans in Congress, had published an op-ed lamenting the lack of Democratic outreach to her on the anti-Asian hate crimes bill that Biden signed into law last week. In response, Meng tweeted Democrats had “ALREADY passed a bipartisan resolution last year” along the same lines – and with nearly identical language in sections.

A Steel spokesperson told Nick the language in the highlighted section was not unique to Meng’s bill and had been in other legislation predating last year’s. The nobinding resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination had been introduced with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, though it has so far failed to advance in the House.

NOT ALL ON BOARD: Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the two top senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee, blocked an effort by Sens. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to get their bipartisan bill passed on the floor after asking for unanimous consent.

Reed is on board with a proposal that would strip military commanders of their authority to decide which sexual crimes are prosecuted, but he so far does not support the measure Gillibrand is pushing that would move the authority of prosecuting all major crimes outside the military’s chain of command. A tense back-and-forth between Reed and Gillibrand ensued.

Related: Democrats’ backroom clashes over military justice erupt onto Senate floor, by Roll Call’s John Donnelly: https://bit.ly/3hQc8mJ

WELP THAT IS SCARY: Suspicious package sent to Rand Paul’s home, our Playbook friend Tara Palmeri scooped: https://politi.co/3oM4nje

GHOSTS OF IMPEACHMENTS PAST: Don McGahn, former President Donald Trump’s former White House counsel, is expected to testify behind closed doors sometime next week about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation, NYT’s Charlie Savage scooped.

McGahn’s agreement to testify before the House Judiciary Committee resulted both from Biden granting him permission as well as the lack of an active legal challenge to his participation from Trump. Originally a lawyer for Trump signaled that the former president planned to intervene. But late last week Patrick Philbin, who served as deputy White House counsel in the Trump administration and is helping handle Trump’s post-presidential legal affairs, said the former president would not intervene after all. Now, McGahn is set to appear.

Per the report: “Only lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee may attend. And they may ask Mr. McGahn only about information attributed to him, or events involving him, in the publicly available portions of the Mueller report. The deal also says that the parties will get up to seven days to review the transcript for accuracy before it is made public, suggesting that it would be disclosed sometime in the second week of June.”

More here from Charlie: https://nyti.ms/3yKglP9

Related: Sondland sues Pompeo, U.S. for $1.8M in impeachment legal bills, our Josh Gerstein reports: https://politi.co/3hPjsPs

COMMISSION UPDATES: Top Republicans dig in over January 6 commission bill and plan to filibuster as soon as this week, by CNN’s Manu Raju: https://cnn.it/3vnaVaG | Romney first GOP senator to say he would vote for Jan. 6 commission bill, by The Hill’s Jordain Carney: https://bit.ly/3fKoGtc

FIRST THEY WERE LOUD…: “House Democrats, who led an angry charge against the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant children, have taken a much quieter tack since concerns began emerging about conditions at some of the emergency shelters set up by the Biden administration to deal with minors at the southern border,” NYT’s Eileen Sullivan reports.

You’d see them launch various Twitter attacks against the Trump administration or berate officials in hearings over such treatment. Now, Democrats are privately calling the Biden administration to voice their concerns — an approach they’ll keep up if the problem persists.

Per the report: “Democrats say the contrast is for good reason: former President Donald J. Trump’s immigration policies were deliberately cruel, devised as a deterrent to would-be migrants, while the Biden administration is trying hard to deal with a bad hand.”

More here from Eileen: https://nyti.ms/3fknf5M

TRANSITIONS

Kaitlin Fahey is joining The Win Company as a partner. She previously was chief of staff for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

Former Rep. Joe Crowley (NY-14) was named as musicFIRST’s new chairman, where he will lead the coalition’s Music Fairness campaign on Capitol Hill.

TODAY IN CONGRESS

The House will meet in a pro forma session at noon.

The Senate meets at 10 a.m.

AROUND THE HILL

10 a.m.: Anthony Fauci and NIH Director Francis Collins will testify on the NIH budget before the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

1:30 p.m.: Join our Playbook friends Rachael Bade and Eugene Daniels today as they interview Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a lead member of the Trump opposition. They’ll discuss his efforts to change the direction of the party — and whether it’s even possible. Register here

TRIVIA

MONDAY’S WINNER: John Jones was the first person to correctly guess that Martin Van Buren and Grover Cleveland ascended to the presidency without either serving in the military or having a college education.

TODAY’S QUESTION: From John: Which U.S. President lectured to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle County, Virginia, on the importance of soil management for agriculture and society?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answer to [email protected].

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Follow Olivia on Twitter: @Olivia_Beavers