POLITICO Playbook PM: Pelosi lands in Taiwan

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Speaker NANCY PELOSI has arrived in Taiwan, becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit the country in more than two decades while defying warnings from both U.S. national security officials and the Chinese government about possible escalations between the two nations.

After being pretty mum about the trip for security reasons for weeks, Pelosi sent out a statement after landing, saying the trip “in no way contradicts” the U.S.’ long-standing recognition of the “One China” policy, but that “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

Pelosi expanded on that statement in a full-blown WaPo op-ed, framing her trip as the natural extension of the Taiwan Relations Act, which was signed 43 years ago by then-President JIMMY CARTER and “set out America’s commitment to a democratic Taiwan.”

“Today, America must remember that vow,” Pelosi wrote. Noting China’s “intensified tensions” and “accelerated aggression” with Taiwan, she said that the U.S. “must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience.”

The reaction …

— From Congressional Republicans: Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL and 25 other Republican senators released a joint statement of support for Pelosi’s trip: “For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have traveled to Taiwan. This travel is consistent with the United States’ One China policy, to which we are committed.”

— From Taiwan: The nation’s tallest skyscraper was lit up with a welcome message for the speaker (h/t William Gallo), and Pelosi was greeted by Taiwan’s foreign minister, JOSEPH WU.

— From China: In a statement, the country’s foreign ministry said the nation “severely condemned” Pelosi’s trip. “We are closely following the itinerary of Speaker Pelosi,” said spox HUA CHUNYING. “And if the U.S. continues down the wrong path, we will take strong and resolute measures to protect our sovereignty and security interests.”

Reporting from Taipei,WaPo’s Lily Kuo writes that “Chinese maritime authorities, meanwhile, announced additional military exercises in the South China Sea and live-fire drills in the Bohai Sea, near the Korean Peninsula, this week. Reuters, citing an unnamed source, reported that Chinese fighter jets on Tuesday flew close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the unofficial military boundary. … Other likely retaliatory measures include more frequent and larger-scale military exercises closer to Taiwan, as well as ramping up gray-zone tactics — coercive actions that stop short of outright conflict. China banned food shipments on Monday from more than 100 Taiwanese exporters.”

Good Tuesday afternoon.


IMMIGRATION FILES — Four hundred children separated from their parents under the Trump administration have now been reunited by Biden officials, NBC’s Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report. As many of the parents were deported, the administration is giving them the opportunity to come to the U.S. and live/work legally here for three years, along with mental health services, paid travel and more. “Lawyers for the families have advocated for legal permanent status on behalf of separated families, but so far the Biden administration has not agreed to that provision.” Advocates guess that more than 1,000 families still have not been made whole.

WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE IS TOUTING — The share of Americans without health insurance hit a record-low 8% in the first quarter of the year, per a new HHS analysis, USA Today’s Maureen Groppe scooped. That includes more than 5 million people who have gotten insurance since 2020. But keeping the rate that low could depend in part on whether Democrats can extend expanded Obamacare subsidies via the reconciliation bill.


AD WARS — The NRSC is officially jumping into Colorado and Washington state with new ads as Republicans’ seek to expand their map of Senate possibilities, Natalie Allison reports. The ads, which total more than $1 million, link Sens. MICHAEL BENNET (D-Colo.) and PATTY MURRAY (D-Wash.) to President JOE BIDEN — literally morphing their faces together — and hit the Democrats on inflation.

— Overall ad spending in the midterms totals almost $3.6 billion so far, on track to become the most expensive midterm cycle ever, Axios’ Sara Fischer reports. Streaming has rapidly emerged as a major new target for ad dollars.

PRIMARY COLORS — Nobody’s having more fun with a campaign they’re probably about to lose than Rep. BILLY LONG (R-Mo.), who took advantage of DONALD TRUMP’s winking double-Eric endorsement in the Missouri GOP Senate primary to wedge himself in with some ballot-placement humor: “I coined the phrase ‘Trump Train.’ I’ve been with him through thick and thin but I was taken aback when he came out with a full throated endorsement of me in #MOSen race! He said to pick BETWEEN the two ERIC’s — that’s ME! [ERIC SCHMITT] line 2 [ERIC GREITENS] line 4 I’m BETWEEN the two on line 3!”

— Sen. ROY BLUNT (R-Mo.), via Jordain Carney: “One way to win the horse race is to bet on all the horses.”

— Though Rep. HALEY STEVENS is in the lead, Rep. ANDY LEVIN has narrowed the gap in their Michigan Democratic primary, the Washington Examiner’s Katherine Doyle reports. Black voters in Oakland County are expected to be a pivotal deciding bloc in the race.

CASH DASH — California Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM has amassed an enormous fundraising advantage over his Republican rival — $24 million on hand vs. $300,000 — thanks in part to big donors from Silicon Valley and Hollywood, reports the S.F. Chronicle’s Sophia Bollag.

DEMOCRACY DIGEST — A former Wisconsin state Supreme Court justice said baselessly this spring that the state should consider throwing out Biden’s 2020 victory — but privately, he called decertification “a practical impossibility,” WaPo’s Patrick Marley reveals from Madison. MICHAEL GABLEMAN wrote the memo to state Assembly Speaker ROBIN VOS even as publicly his report “electrified election skeptics.”

ENDORSEMENT WATCH — Biden and VP KAMALA HARRIS today backed Rep. KAREN BASS (D-Calif.) for L.A. mayor.


RECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES — Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) told Hoppy Kercheval that he intends to talk with Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) about the reconciliation bill this afternoon. “This is everything Kyrsten agreed to in December,” he said, though as Burgess Everett notes, that’s not really true of tightening the carried interest loophole (which she opposes).

MANCHIN GETS BACKUP — More than 125 top economists argue that the Inflation Reduction Act would, in fact, reduce inflation in a new letter today, CNN’s Betsy Klein scooped. The list of supporters includes big names like ROBERT RUBIN, JACK LEW, BETSEY STEVENSON, MARK ZANDI, DOUG ELMENDORF and JOSEPH STIGLITZ. The letter

— Other new analyses project that the legislation “would not cement a giant tax increase or result in profligate federal spending,” as Republicans have warned, NYT’s Jim Tankersley reports.

— And in a new NYT op-ed, STEVEN RATTNER calls the bill “one of the best packages that I can remember Congress giving birth to.”

FOLLOWING THE MONEY — United for Clean Power has been funding digital ads in progressive Democrats’ districts that call on “Squad” members “to demand environmental justice provisions or kill the Reconciliation bill altogether,” report FWIW’s Nick Seymour and Kyle Tharp. They dug into who’s behind the opaque 501(c)(4) and found that on 2018 and 2019 tax forms, “the organization’s only major expenditure was to pay Republican firm Majority Strategies $135,000 for ‘advertising.’”

IT’S THE PITS — Senators haven’t yet struck a deal on amendment votes for the legislation to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, per CNN’s Manu Raju. But Sen. JON TESTER (D-Mont.) said he expects the bill will come up for a vote today.

GUNS IN AMERICA — Smith & Wesson is facing a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for information about its AR-15-style rifles, WaPo’s Jackie Alemany reports. “The letter transmitting notice of the subpoena to Smith … highlighted the incomplete figures provided to the Oversight Committee by Smith & Wesson so far — and key gaps in the company’s metrics.”

RULES AND REGULATIONS — Both Sens. ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio) and CHRIS MURPHY (D-Conn.) said they support some Senate rule changes to encourage bipartisanship going forward, Gabe Fleisher writes for Wake Up To Politics. Following a debate hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday night, Portman said adopting the House’s suspension of the rules would “‘allow more freedom’ for the Senate at large, ‘but it’s going to require us taking back some of those rights that every individual senator’ has to gum things up,” while “Murphy agreed that fixes were needed to stop senators from abusing the ‘enormous negative power’ that they each possess to slow the chamber down.”


PRESIDENTIAL HEALTH UPDATE — Biden is still testing positive with his rebound coronavirus case and mostly feeling well, though a slight “loose cough” has returned, presidential doctor KEVIN O’CONNOR said in his latest memo today.

CLICKER — The White House put out a photo of a July 1 meeting where Biden discussed the plan to kill AYMAN AL-ZAWAHRI with his national security team — including a model of the house where he was staying.

FIRST LADY FILES — In a new Q&A with Real Simple’s Lauren Iannotti, first lady JILL BIDEN talks about keeping her teaching job while in the White House, “the art of the catnap,” top sheets, why motherhood never gets easier and more. “Sometimes it feels like we’re pushing this boulder up the hill, but progress is being made,” Biden says. “Joe’s been in office for, what, 18 months now? And everybody has access to vaccines. We got the schools reopened — thank God we all got off Zoom — we got health care, we got money for broadband so underserved kids can have internet. I don’t want to sound like a political ad, but we have done so much.”


THE EMPLOYMENT PICTURE — Job openings dropped to 10.7 million in June, their lowest level in nine months and a bigger fall than economists had predicted, per new Labor Department data released today. That indicates that the labor market might be finally starting to cool a bit. But the “great resignation” continues apace as the number of workers quitting jobs ticked down only slightly, to 4.2 million. More from MarketWatch The BLS data

AILING AMERICA — “How the housing crunch turned young voters off on the economy,” by Katy O’Donnell: “The combination of record-high home prices and escalating mortgage costs — rates have nearly doubled in the last seven months — threatens to price a generation of would-be buyers out of the market, cratering home sales. Fueling the problem are rapidly rising rents.”


THE END OF THE TRUMP BOOM — CNN’s profits are expected to drop below $1 billion this year for the first time since 2016, NYT’s Benjamin Mullin scooped. The decline follows a ratings dip and the implosion this year of the CNN+ streaming service. “However the numbers are crunched, inside CNN the hunt is on for new revenue. To help solve the financial puzzle, [CHRIS] LICHT has tapped CHRIS MARLIN, a longtime friend who was recently an executive at the Florida homebuilder Lennar.”


IN MEMORIAM — “Joseph Mondello, former U.S. Ambassador and Nassau GOP leader, dies at 84,” by Newsday’s Candice Ferrette: “He served as U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago under former President Donald Trump.”

STAFFING UP — Nadine Nally is now cyber adviser to the director of net assessment at the Defense Department. She most recently was director for defense innovation and cyber policy at the NSC.

MEDIA MOVES — Cristóbal Alex has joined MSNBC as a political analyst. He previously was White House deputy Cabinet secretary. His debut Declan Harty is now a financial services reporter covering U.S. capital market regulation for POLITICO. He most recently covered finance and crypto for Fortune. Sam Sutton is moving over to become a co-author of Morning Money.

TRANSITIONS — Judd Deere is now comms director for Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Arkansas gubernatorial campaign. He most recently was deputy chief of staff for comms for Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and is a Trump White House alum. … Ami Shah is now chief immigration counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She previously was counsel on the House Judiciary Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee.

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