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McConnell speeds up police bill, challenging Democrats

DEPT. OF NEW URGENCY … AT 9:30 this morning, Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL and Sen. TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.) will hold a news conference where, barring some last-second, bizarre change of plan, the pair will announce that the Senate will consider police reform legislation next week.

YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT: The Senate is clearing floor space for SCOTT’S police bill 139 DAYS before Election Day.

THIS REPRESENTS a new sense of urgency for the Republican leadership in the Senate, which, as recently as earlier this week, was saying that this would not get done until after July Fourth. The GOP leadership believes it has its membership in line behind the legislation, and we’ve not really heard any significant dissent yet. More from Marianne LeVine about what’s in the GOP bill

SO HERE’S THE QUESTION NOW: What will Democrats do?

MCCONNELL will need 60 votes to bring this bill up, so he needs Senate Minority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER and Democrats to cooperate.

THE DEMOCRATS had leadership and caucus conference calls Tuesday, and they didn’t discuss strategy because they had not seen the bill. That’s the position they are maintaining: that they can’t make a play call until they see legislative text. They’ll see the bill today, and will have to consider what they want to do.

HERE’S WHAT WE KNOW: Democrats have made it clear they believe that President DONALD TRUMP’S executive order is weak, and many have preemptively pegged SCOTT’S bill as not going far enough.

BUT THEIR NEXT STEP is a bit trickier. Can they refuse MCCONNELL the ability to consider SCOTT’S bill, handing the GOP a convenient talking point that it was the Democrats who blocked police reform in the Senate? That seems risky, given the national climate.

DEMOCRATS COULD allow the chamber to debate SCOTT’S bill, and try to amend it. This would be the legislative process working. Democrats could force some tough votes for the GOP, and vice versa. There is a narrow, treacherous and uncertain path to a deal that could move a bill through the Senate.

THE WHITE HOUSE — which oftentimes sees the legislative process as cumbersome, obtuse and unnecessary — will need to be engaged. Expect MARK MEADOWS to be on Capitol Hill throughout this phase.

AND THAT BRINGS US TO …

… THE BIG EVENT TODAY: THE HOUSE will mark up its police bill in Judiciary this morning. The hearing will take place in the CVC at 10 a.m. Unlike the Senate, the bill’s passage is basically a foregone conclusion in the House. But there are landmines here as well. Democrats are under tremendous pressure from their base to produce. Furthermore, Dems are hoping and working to pick up some moderate GOP votes when they bring the bill to the floor.

SOMETHING TO WATCH FOR: HEATHER CAYGLE scooped Tuesday night that the House will require masks in committee hearings. Lots of Republicans are skipping face coverings in the Capitol, so let’s see how they respond to this directive.

WHITE HOUSE MEMO … NYT’S PETER BAKER: “Trump Dismisses Criticism of Law Enforcement (Unless It’s His)”: “Mr. Trump is the ‘president of law and order,’ as he calls himself, except when it comes to himself or his friends. He has little patience for criticism of law enforcement, unless it is his. If the police shove a 75-year-old peaceful protester to the ground, cracking his head, it must be the protester’s fault. If the police prosecute one of his friends for tax fraud or perjury, it must be that the officers are corrupt.”

NEW … Former President GEORGE W. BUSH will be the special guest at a virtual NRSC fundraiser June 30 for Sens. THOM TILLIS (N.C.), CORY GARDNER (Colo.), MARTHA MCSALLY (Ariz.) and SUSAN COLLINS (Maine). For $25,000, you can get a “roundtable” with BUSH and the senators. The invitation

Good Wednesday morning.

FRONTS: NYT, with the administration suing JOHN BOLTON on the lower right-hand side of the page, by Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner WAPO WSJ N.Y. POST

USTR ROBERT LIGHTHIZER is on the Hill today at Senate Finance at 3 p.m. … SEAN HANNITY has an interview with the president that will air tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox News.

WHAT THEY’RE READING IN PALM BEACH — “Trump golf club asks Palm Beach County for rent relief,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Christine Stapleton: “President Donald Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach has asked Palm Beach County to defer some of the $88,338 monthly rent it pays to lease public land for the president’s the private golf club, citing hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In a June 5 letter to the county, the club’s finance director, Ed Raymundo, cited the ‘significant impact’ caused by [the] county’s order shutting parks and golf courses during the pandemic. The March 25 order coincided with the ‘busiest part of our season,’ Raymundo wrote.

“The county and its Department of Airports, which both hold leases on Trump’s 27-hole golf club on airport property, have taken no action on the club’s request for rent relief, according to county officials. The club has paid rent through June.”

MORE FROM BURGESS EVERETT and JOHN BRESNAHAN on MCCONNELL and the GOP LEADERSHIP: “The esteem for McConnell is so high among Republicans that those who could eventually replace him have no issue with him staying on as long as he wants. And that makes McConnell’s hold on leadership rock solid.

“‘Mitch McConnell will be our leader as long as he’s still interested in the job,’ said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). ‘After he leaves that position, I would be interested in succeeding him.’ ‘The leader’s made it clear that he wants to continue to serve and he enjoys great confidence in the conference,’ said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). ‘My expectation is that, irrespective of what happens in November, he’ll continue to lead the Republican Conference.’”

MORE STATUES COMING DOWN … “California to remove Columbus statue from state Capitol after 137 years,” by Colby Bermel in Sacramento

THE LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS …

— NYT: “Florida, Texas and Arizona all set records for the most cases they have reported in a single day”: “The virus continued its steady spread across the Sun Belt on Tuesday, with state officials in Arizona, Florida and Texas all reporting their largest one-day increases in new cases yet. Florida reported 2,783 new cases, Texas 2,622, and Arizona 2,392.

“The new d

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