http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DrudgeReportFeed/~3/7o2INkOhMD8/frontline-members-lean-in-on-earmarks-492716

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With Melanie Zanona.

LEND ME YOUR EARS, AND MONEY: The Cicadas are coming… and so are the earmark requests.

House members had to submit their requests by Friday, which means your Huddle host and Sarah had fun combing through them. The biggest takeaway: Vulnerable House Democrats and Republicans are heeding Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s advice to “take the dough.” At least, they’re trying.

Out of the DCCC’s list of 32 frontline members for this upcoming election cycle, EVERY House Democrat requested an earmark for their district with the exception of Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who previously argued that even the new process of earmarks will inevitably invite “waste, fraud and abuse.”

And while the NRCC has yet to release its Patriot Program list of members for 2022, a good group of Republicans in swing districts sought to take advantage of the practice as well.

Which earmarks get chosen or axed remains a big question mark until the fiscal 2022 bills get marked up – if lawmakers can manage to pass a new budget this year at all. But the requests suggest that frontline members believe earmarks invite more reward than risk.

Their requests go beyond roads and bridges, and would certainly score them political points back home. The non-controversial nature of the requests would also likely undercut future attack ads from opponents who would normally jump to criticize them for using a practice that has a swampy reputation.

Here’s a snapshot:

-Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) wants money for a low-income dental clinic.

-Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) requested money for a hospital-based Violence Intervention Program.

-Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) asked for funds for Habitat for Humanity to help build affordable homes as well as funds for suicide prevention.

-Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) requested funds to help address mental health responses for police departments.

-Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) asked for funding to expand a food bank.

All in all, roughly 320 members requested earmarks out of 430 House members (there are several seats that are vacant from deaths or resignations).

BANKING ON IT?: When sharks smell blood, they start circling. With growing talk among House Republicans about ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as GOP conference chair, it seems the sharks have arrived.

One such shark? Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the head of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), is acting like a shadow chair of the House GOP conference, essentially using his RSC platform to help build out a messaging operation that competes with Cheney’s formal operation, Melanie reports.

Per my colleague: “Banks’ effort to assemble a rival messaging machine is widely viewed by his colleagues as an audition for Cheney’s job, which governs both communications and member services. That position may be available sooner than he expected: Tensions over Cheney’s outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump are once again at a boiling point inside the GOP conference, with some senior Republicans predicting she’ll be pushed out of leadership before month’s end.”

He’s not hiding his interest in the position.

“If there’s a role to play, where I can continue to do what I’m doing as RSC Chairman, I want to do it,” Banks said, when Mel asked him whether he’d run for leadership. “The most natural comparison to RSC chair is conference chair … And that’s something I think I would really enjoy because it’s what I’m doing now.”

More here from Melanie: https://politi.co/3h1m9xc

Your Huddle host and Melanie talked to various members who have skin in the game on Cheney, and here is what we’ve gathered:

-Another vote on her future feels almost inevitable at this point, although a lot of members are waiting for cues from McCarthy. Cheney has been underestimated before — last round, she won in a 145-61 secret ballot vote…but she has lost support since then.

As for timing, senior Republicans seem to think things will come to a head before they break for their Memorial Day recess. The House GOP meets next Wednesday for their weekly conference meeting. McCarthy could call for a vote or a rank-and-file member could force one.

-During the last Cheney vote, there was no agreed upon replacement. Discussions on that are happening now, though they are still in the fledgling stages. Banks is clearly after the role, but other names being floated include Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Mike Johnson (R-La.), vice chair of the House Republican Conference.

-The optics of ousting the only woman in GOP leadership is giving people pause. While some seem eager enough to get rid of Cheney that they might be willing to push the optics aside, others have emphasized that it is important that they have a woman serving at the top.

-Some big GOP donors are adding to the ouster calls by saying that as long as Cheney is in leadership, they won’t be giving any more money, one senior House Republican told me. Some donors, when they realize members are fundraising to pay off their NRCC dues, also say they want commitments that none of their money will make its way to Cheney. “I mean they’re just so frustrated by her,” the member told me, before adding: “She’s writing her own obituary.”

-Some Republicans are speculating that she is trying to make herself into a martyr — it’s more striking to go down for a cause rather than simply fade out. They point to how, as the anger is fomenting, she continues to press her message. Most recently, she tweeted about the “big lie” Monday.

Related: Cheney: What Trump did ‘is a line that cannot be crossed,’ by CNN’s Jamie Gangel and Michael Warren: https://cnn.it/3nI7p7J

HAPPY TUESDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill. May the 4th be with you. And may the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which had to recess a virtual hearing yesterday after the House Recording Studio feed was also playing the sound of the movie Galaxy Quest in the background, please take the following request: Next time, make it Bridesmaids. The plane scene please.

MONDAY’s MOST CLICKED: Ally’s story on Dems getting locked out of Texas special election was the winner.

HIT LIST: The NRCC is adding 10 new names to its list of House Democrats that the GOP campaign arm plans to target in 2022, citing how each of these members come from states that are losing a congressional seat. This includes Reps. Ami Bera (Calif.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Raul Ruiz (Calif.), Marie Newman (Ill.), Dan Kildee (Mich.), Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Joe Morelle (N.Y.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.) and Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.).

There are now 57 Dems on the list. “Republicans are on offense all across the country,” NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer said in a statement.

Related: Democrats confront difficult prospects for midterms, by The Hill’s Max Greenwood: https://bit.ly/2Ri6r5T

A MEMBER YOU SHOULD KNOW: “Are you really making them squeal in Washington, D.C.?a reporter asked Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) about a year after she won her Senate campaign, which became widely known for her campaign ads featuring hogs that said: “Washington is full of big spenders, let’s make them squeal.”

That is the best question freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson (R) recalls asking a politician during her former life as a broadcast reporter. “This is kind of funny because now we work together,” Hinson recalled to me in an interview. “I don’t know if she remembers that or not, but I do remember asking her that question.” The two are close, with Hinson describing Ernst as a big advocate of hers who first asked her if she’d consider running for Congress in 2018.

You can tell she’s a reporter by trade when you talk to her. Her answers are polished and her messaging is disciplined. It doesn’t hurt that she has TV experience — a background that has made her a strong force in the freshman class. Hinson, who is almost always visibly in a rush to some engagement or meeting, is frequently mentioned by more senior House Republicans as someone who has star potential in this freshmen class.

Her path to Congress tracked across screens of local TV news in the Cedar Rapids area for nearly a decade. As she zipped across the state, she became inspired to get into politics. The moment it really clicked for her, she says, was when she saw legislators in the State House rallying to respond to a devastating flood in 2008 that majorly impacted Cedar Rapids. She saw them implementing flood prevention and mitigation programs as well as addressing a previously misspent budget. “I was really inspired by seeing, ironically, the collegiality that happened post-disaster,” she tells me.

In contrast to her start in politics, Jan. 6 kicked off her start in the House. Still, Hinson touts how she has formed relationships across the aisle and has introduced or co-sponsored more than 100 pieces of legislation so far. But her number one priority is access to childcare. The mother of two says access to affordable childcare “goes hand in hand with the workforce in rural Iowa, specifically.”

Members she looks up to?: There were a few, but she says Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), she says “does a really nice job” as well as Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a mentor of hers who she says exhibits “statesmanship.”

The weirdest thing she’d admit to me?: She grew up with her mom putting cottage cheese in ramen noodles as a meal, which she says “still tastes good because I grew up eating it.” Any of you Huddlers willing to give it a go?

NOT NEALING TO BIDEN: President Joe Biden may have ambitious plans to greatly expand the federal government — that doesn’t mean the top Democrat on House Ways and Means is going to be a blank check for all his ideas.

One aspect Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) isn’t sold on? Biden’s plan to tax the rich.

“He isn’t necessarily opposed to requiring the well-to-do to pay more, but he also isn’t convinced that Democrats’ need to fully pay for their plans with tax increases, especially when super-low interest rates mean the government can borrow cheaply,” our Brian Faler reports.

But wait, there’s more: Neal has his own list of priorities that could end up squeezing out what the administration is proposing including “making Democrats’ recent expansions of tax breaks for average Americans permanent; reviving the Obama-era Build America Bonds program; and creating a new payroll tax to subsidize the wages of daycare workers.”

In other words, Dems have some wrinkles to iron out — and it is likely going to take some months until everything is smoothed out.

More here from Brian: https://politi.co/3aZ6YRf

Related: McConnell draws a red line at $600 billion for infrastructure and jobs — and says Trump tax cuts are off-limits, by Business Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig: https://bit.ly/3ujx0WV

REFUGEE REVERSAL: The Biden administration announced yesterday that it will once again set the U.S. refugee cap at 62,500 for this fiscal year, after the White House initially defended sticking to the Trump admin’s cap of 15,000 as they were hit with criticism on the right on immigration and the border.

The White House had faced severe blowback from Democrats in Congress as well as refugee resettlement agencies and immigrant rights advocates who accused the president of breaking a campaign promise after his administration initially declined to adjust the refugee cap upward.Now, this reversal could help repair some of the damage.

“We have a moral obligation to provide safety and security to refugees fleeing violence and humanitarian crises,” freshman Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) tweeted in response. “I’m glad @POTUS lifted the unthinkably low cap set by the previous administration and I look forward to working together to reach 125k refugee admissions next year.”

More here from POLITICO’s Laura Barrón-López, Nahal Toosi, and Natasha Korecki: https://politi.co/3xUE9PQ

WRITING ON THE WALL: Schumer readies plan B to push immigration changes unilaterally, by NYT’s Luke Broadwater: https://nyti.ms/3xKPkdF

ACT OF WAR: Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller is urging the Biden administration to stay on top of the probe into the directed-energy attacks, calling them an “act of war.”

“If this plays out and somebody is attacking Americans [even] with a nonlethal weapon … we owe it to our folks that are out there,” Miller told my colleagues.

Their Miller interview and more: https://politi.co/339YnXF

QUICK CLICKS: GOP lawmakers urge probe of Amazon’s pursuit of Pentagon contract, by WSJ’s Dana Mattioli: https://on.wsj.com/2Rlsmcy

TRANSITIONS

Jonathan Eberle is now press secretary for Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.). He previously was digital director for Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

The House Foreign Affairs GOP announced several new staffers and positions: Yimmi Fontenot as deputy press secretary (previously an intern for Texas Rep. Michael Cloud), Ana Quintana as a professional staff member for the Western Hemisphere (previously at the Heritage Foundation), Cart Weiland as senior counsel (previously at State), Taryn Woody as special assistant to the staff director (previously at the Professional Services Council) and Lauren Gillespie moving up to be director of member services and coalitions.

Matt Gruda is now political director for Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) reelection campaign. He most recently was campaign manager for Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and is a SLF/Crossroads brands alum.

TODAY IN CONGRESS

The House will meet at 10 a.m. in a pro forma session.

The Senate is out.

AROUND THE HILL

10 a.m.: Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee.

TRIVIA

MONDAY’S WINNER: James Casto was the first person to correctly guess that the gas tax was last raised in 1993 from 14.1 cents to 18.4 cents per gallon, where it remains today.

TODAY’S QUESTION: From James: Finding a place to live in D.C. can be a challenge for many members of Congress. Some have resorted to sleeping in their offices. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has come up with a thus-far unique solution. He sleeps – and parties – aboard his houseboat. What’s the name of the houseboat? Bonus credit: What’s the source of the name?

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

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