Some in China Disappointed About Response to Pelosi Visit to Taiwan

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Ukrainian president downplaying first shipment of Ukrainian grain

 

                                                In Today’s Digital Newspaper

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged that the U.S. wouldn’t abandon Taiwan, reaffirming American support for the democratically elected government in Taipei despite fresh trade curbs and military actions by Beijing — China suddenly banned shipments from 100 Taiwanese food exporters. Beijing said it is preparing live-fire military exercises this week in areas encircling Taiwan, underscoring China’s fast-growing combat capabilities. Pelosi met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei as part of her controversial visit to the island and has left Taiwan and is scheduled to arrive in Seoul this evening local time.

China responds: "The U.S. will certainly shoulder the responsibility and pay the price for undermining China's sovereignty and security interest," declared Hua Chunying, spokeswoman at China's foreign ministry.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is downplaying the first shipment of Ukrainian grain allowed under the four-way deal, saying it was “nothing” relative to the volume of grain the country needs to export to generate foreign exchange.

USDA daily export sale: 135,000 MT of soybean cake and meal for delivery to Poland during MY 2022-2023.

OPEC+ agrees to modest increase in oil production. The alliance agreed to raise output by 100,000 barrels a day in September, delegates said.

The Cboe Volatility Index, Wall Street’s fear gauge, has been relatively subdued for much of the year, despite the market tumult. Some strategists credit changes in positioning and hedging strategies for the dissonance.

U.S. gas prices have fallen for seven straight weeks and are approaching an average price of $4 a gallon.

Democratic leaders await centrist Sen. Kristen Sinema’s position on the reconciliation measure. We have an update in the Policy section.

USDA will soon update payments under the Emergency Relief Program (ERP).

USDA is accepting applications for 2022 ELAP.

Kansas voters soundly rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have ended protections for abortion, in the first statewide referendum on the issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Separately, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s near total ban on abortion.

Tuesday’s Primaries: In Michigan, Trump-backed conservative commentator Tudor Dixon secured the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. In Missouri, Eric Schmitt, the state’s attorney general, won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Arizona, Kansas and Washington also held elections Tuesday. More under Politics section.

 

MARKET FOCUS

Equities today: Global stock markets were steady to weaker overnight. U.S. Dow opened around 160 points higher and is currently over 200 points higher. In Asia, Japan +0.5%. Hong Kong +0.4%. China -0.7%. India +0.1%. In Europe, at midday, London flat. Paris +0.2%. Frankfurt +0.2%. The S&P 500 enters Wednesday down nearly 1% for the week, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq has declined 0.34%. The Dow is the laggard, falling 1.37% week to date.

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow fell 402.23 points, 1.23%, at 32,396.17. The Nasdaq lost 20.22 points, 0.16%, at 12,348.76. The S&P 500 was down 27.44 points, 0.67%, at 4,091.19.

     The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, Wall Street’s fear gauge, has been relatively subdued for much of the year, even as stocks and bonds have slumped. The index, based on options prices tied to the S&P 500, is hovering at slightly elevated levels. It hasn’t closed above 30, a key level that signifies increased fear, since June and settled Tuesday just below 24. The VVIX, an index measuring the volatility of the VIX itself, has fallen relatively steadily since January and recently hit a three-year low of 80. The last time the VVIX was this low, the VIX was at 12, a level of extreme calm.

     Vix

Agriculture markets yesterday:

  • Corn: December corn futures fell 15 1/2 cents to $5.94 1/4, the lowest closing price since July 25.
  • Soy complex: November soybeans fell 19 1/2 cents to $13.86 1/2, the lowest closing price since July 26. September soymeal rose $4.50 to $434.20. September soyoil fell 176 points to 62.33 cents.
  • Wheat: September SRW wheat fell 25 1/2 cents to $7.74 3/4. September HRW wheat fell 24 1/4 cents to $8.42 1/4. September spring wheat futures tumbled 24 1/4 cents to $8.73 1/4.
  • Cotton: December cotton rose 173 points to 94.81 cents per pound.
  • Cattle: October live cattle fell 50 cents to $142.125, near the middle of the day’s range. September feeder cattle fell $1.65 to $181.45.
  • Hogs: August lean hog futures fell 60 cents to $119.85 and October futures fell 60 cents to $96.225. The CME lean hog Index rose 45 cents to a 14-month high at $121.87.
     

Ag markets today: Grains faced followthrough selling early in the overnight session, but markets are higher this morning amid corrective buying, led by wheat. As of 7:30 a.m. ET, spring wheat futures were trading 17 to 18 cents higher, winter wheat was 11 to 15 cents higher, corn was around 2 cents higher and soybeans were 1 to 3 cents higher. Front-month crude oil futures were modestly lower, while the U.S. dollar index was down around 250 points this morning.

On tap today:

     • S&P Global's U.S. services index for July, due at 9:45 a.m. ET, is expected to hold at 47, unchanged from a preliminary reading.

     • Institute for Supply Management's services index, due at 10 a.m. ET, is expected to fall to 54 in July from 55.3 one month earlier.
     • U.S. factory orders for June, due at 10 a.m., are expected to increase 1.2% from the prior month.
     • Federal Reserve speakers: Philadelphia's Patrick Harker opening remarks at a fintech conference at 10:30 a.m. ET, Richmond's Thomas Barkin on inflation at 11:45 a.m. ET, and Minneapolis's Neel Kashkari in a fireside chat at 2:30 p.m. ET

Several Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday emphasized that the central bank has more work to do to get inflation under control.

     Chicago Fed President Charles Evans: "If we don't see improvement before too long, we might have to rethink the path a little bit higher. We want to see if the real side effects are going to start coming back in line... or if we have a lot more ahead of us."

     St. Louis' James Bullard: "I think that inflation has come in hotter than what I would have expected during the second quarter. Now that that has happened, I think we're going to have to go a little bit higher than what I said before."

     San Francisco's Mary Daly: "[The Fed is] nowhere near almost done. We have made a good start and I feel really pleased with where we've gotten to at this point, [but] people are still struggling with the higher prices. My modal outlook, or the outlook I think is most likely, is really that we raise interest rates and then we hold them there for a while at whatever level we think is appropriate."

     Cleveland's Loretta Mester: "We have more work to do because we have not seen that turn in inflation. It's got to be a sustained, several months of evidence that inflation has first peaked — we haven't even seen that yet — and that it's moving down."

The Eurozone producer price index for June was up 35.8%, year-on-year, due to soaring energy costs in Europe.

U.S. job openings fell in June to their lowest level in nine months and hiring slowed, in new signs of a cooling labor market. The Labor Department on Tuesday said there were a seasonally adjusted 10.7 million job openings in June, down from 11.3 million in May. That was the lowest level since September. Despite the decline, total job openings remained well above the number of people unemployed but looking for work.

     Jobs update

High interest rates and inflation fueled a $312 billion jump in overall American household debt to $16.15 trillion at the end of the second quarter — a new record that pushes balances about $2 trillion higher than at the end of pre-pandemic 2019.

Mortgage applications rose last week, the first time since June 24 that volume increased on a week-to-week basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Total mortgage demand increased 1.2%, helped by the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate recording its biggest weekly drop since 2020. Applications to buy a home increased 1% compared with the previous week, while refinance applications rose 2%, the MBA said.

Turkey reported today that inflation accelerated to a new 24-year high of 79.6% on the back of transportation and food costs.

Market perspectives:

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is slightly lower in early U.S. trading. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note was higher, trading around 2.78%. Crude prices have moved higher as traders focus on the OPEC+ meeting and await U.S. government inventory info. U.S. crude was trading near $96 per barrel with Brent around $101.65 per barrel. Gold and silver futures were under pressure, with gold around $1,780 per troy ounce and silver around $20.01 per troy ounce.

     • OPEC+ agrees to modest increase in oil production. The alliance agreed to raise output by 100,000 barrels a day in September, delegates said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The alliance in June had agreed to boost output by 648,000 barrels a day in July and in August. Before that, OPEC+ rolled out monthly increases of 432,000 barrels a day as part of a plan to raise output to prepandemic levels. That deal ends in August, although many members are producing below their allotted quotas.

        OPEC delegates said the alliance needs more time to assess a possible slowdown in global energy demand before taking a call on boosting oil production by a significant amount. Saudi officials have sought to temper expectations, reiterating that the kingdom would do what is needed to balance the market if there is a shortage of supply.

     • Gas prices have fallen for 49 straight days and are approaching $4 a gallon. The average price of gas sank to $4.19 Tuesday, a 17% decline from the previous high of $5.02 set back on June 14, according to OPIS, an energy-data and analytics provider. That is a 17% decline from the previous high of $5.02 a gallon set back on June 14, according to OPIS. Global demand for oil has fallen in recent weeks as economic growth has slowed around the world, including in China. (Note: AAA has the gas price average at $4.16 this morning.) The average price of gas in California is $5.59, which is tops in the nation according to OPIS. That’s 33% higher than the national average, but is also a 13% decline from the state’s peak on June 14.

        Meanwhile, average diesel prices across the U.S. fell another 13 cents per gallon in the sixth straight weekly decline.

        Avg gas prices

     • A lump of coal is fetching a lot more money. Europe is trying to wean itself off Russian coal and is creating a windfall for coal producers. A commodity that was fetching $134 a metric ton at the start of the year is now selling for up to $400 a ton, leading miners to try to crank up production. With a European Union embargo on Russian coal imports set to start in less than two weeks, the Wall Street Journal reports (link) that importers are racing to buy from family-run mines in Colombia’s mountains, open pit mines in South Africa, the vast Illinois basin, in Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana, and Australia’s Hunter Valley region. The purchasing surge comes despite the pledges of many countries to reduce their coal consumption to combat climate change.

        EU coal

     • StoneX expects slightly smaller corn, bean crops than USDA’s July non-survey projections. Based on customer surveys and other factors, StoneX estimates the U.S. corn and soybean crops at 14.417 billion bu. and 4.490 billion bu., respectively. It estimates yields at 176.0 bu. per acre for corn and 51.3 bu. per acre for soybeans. The firm’s initial crop estimates are lower than USDA’s July projections of 14.505 billion bu. on a yield of 177 bu. per acre for corn and 4.505 billion bu. on a yield of 51.5 bu. per acre for soybeans.

     • Shipping forecasts. The CEO of container giant Maersk expects the U.S. economy to outperform Europe on strong consumption (link). Meanwhile water levels in Germany’s Rhine river are so low to make it barely navigable, endangering huge quantities of goods trade (link).

     • Logistics updates:

  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to start charging a fee for export containers that dwell too long on docks. (Journal of Commerce)
  • Sea-Intelligence says about 10% of the global container fleet remains tied up in port bottlenecks. (ShippingWatch)
  • Congestion at China’s major container ports is easing as volumes bounce back following the loosening of pandemic restrictions. (Lloyd’s List)
  • The U.S. sanctioned the owner of a Turkish port facility for alleged ties to a Russian oligarch. (TradeWinds)

     • Ag trade: Algeria purchased around 720,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat, much of which is expected to be sourced from France. Taiwan purchased 55,000 MMT of corn expected to be sourced from South Africa. Jordan tendered to buy 120,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat. Iran tendered to buy 60,000 MT of milling wheat.

     • NWS weather: Monsoonal Rains to continue across much of the Southwest U.S. as heavy rain and possibly severe thunderstorms move across the Great Lakes/Midwest during the next couple of days... ...Hot temperatures are expected on Thursday across the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Northeast... ...Fire Weather Threat to continue from the Northwest into the northern High Plains.

        NWS 080322

Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:

     • Grains rebound overnight
     • First Ukrainian grain shipment clears inspection (details in next item)
     • Wide range on early cash cattle trade
     • Cash hog index weakens  

 

RUSSIA/UKRAINE

— Summary: Retaking Kherson has become Ukraine’s critical priority in the next phase of the war. The strategic terrain represents Russia’s only foothold on the western bank of the Dnipro River, and a potential avenue of advance onto the ports of Mykolaiv, Odessa and the rest of Ukraine’s remaining Black Sea shoreline. Moscow claims to have captured a strategic Ukrainian position close to the Russian-held city of Donetsk, marking what would be its first notable advance in the country’s east since it began relocating forces ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south.

  • First Ukrainian grain shipment clears inspection. Inspection of the first ship carrying grain to leave Ukrainian ports under the recent deal between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations is completed, and it will pass through the Bosphorus “shortly,” the Turkish defense ministry said on Wednesday. The ship carrying 26,527 MT of corn is headed for its final destination of Tripoli, Lebanon. After the first successful departure, a senior Turkish official said three ships may leave the three approved Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea every day, instead of the previously planned one. U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said more outbound movement was being planned from Ukraine on Wednesday, adding that about 27 ships were covered by the export deal.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is downplaying the first shipment of Ukrainian grain allowed under the four-way deal, saying it was “nothing” relative to the volume of grain the country needs to export to generate foreign exchange. But we hope it’s a tendency that will continue,” Zelenskyy said in remarks to students. The country needs to export at least 10 million tonnes of grain to pare the country’s deficit which is running at about $5 billion per month. "The war...is almost killing the economy. It's in a coma," he lamented.
  • Romanian Black Sea port hopes to keep shipping Ukrainian grain. Exporters have shipped 1.46 MMT of Ukrainian grain through Romania’s port at Constanta during the war. Port authorities said 183,581 MT of grains were currently en route to the port. Comvex, which has handled roughly 70% of Ukrainian grains and other goods to come through Constanta, has invested 4 million euros ($4.09 million) in a second barge offloading platform that became operational at the end of July, and boosted its total processing capacity to 84,000 MT in and 70,000 MT out per day. How much Ukrainian grain continues to move through Constanta “all depends on how the Istanbul agreement works out and on the quantities that Ukrainian ports can ship out,” the ahead of Comvex told Reuters. “With all our hearts we wish they can restore their chain flows. But we are here, ready to help.”

    Hurdles ahead: Convincing bulk-shipping companies to return to the war-torn region, and finding insurance for those willing to do so. An estimated 16 million metric tons of grain has been trapped in Ukraine since war broke out. But silos and barns are fast filling up with this season’s harvests, raising fears that storage space will run out. A United Nations spokeswoman said the goal is to make the flow of ships in and out of the area “routine.” 
  • Damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure from Russia’s war totals $108.3 billion, factoring in devastation to 105,200 cars; 43,700 agricultural machines; 764 kindergartens; and more. Researchers estimate it would cost more than that — $185 billion — to repair the damages. 
  • The U.S. unveiled a fresh raft of sanctions on Russian companies and people around Vladimir Putin, including a famed former Russian Olympic gymnast who the U.S. government believes to be the Russian president’s girlfriend. 
  • Olaf Scholz, Germany’s chancellor, said it could “make sense” to keep the country’s three remaining nuclear power plants open amid concerns over energy supplies from Russia. The plants had been slated for closure by the end of the year. Mr Scholz’s comments came as he visited a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

 

POLICY UPDATE

— Coming soon: update on ERP payouts. USDA this week is expected to update payments for the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) via a dashboard that will be interactive and allow payments to be searched by state and commodity. The ERP provides payments for eligible 2020 and 2021 disasters. A congressional effort is likely for the program to cover 2022 disasters.

     What’s ahead: While most crop insurance customers that may be eligible for ERP Phase 1 received the pre-filed applications in May, there are some who should expect to receive a form in August including:

  • Producers who had an eligible loss in 2020 that had been recorded in the crop insurance records as a 2019 loss (e.g., prevented planting claims); and
  • Producers with policies that required additional information before being able to calculate an indemnity for 2021 losses (producers with 2020 losses would have already received that application).  Policies that required additional information include Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO), Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), Margin Protection Plan (MP) or Area Risk Protection Insurance (ARPI).

     Producers without risk management coverage through crop insurance or NAP and those with shallow losses may be covered by the forthcoming Phase Two of ERP.  

— USDA accepting applications for 2022 ELAP. Producers are now able to file applications with the county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office for payments under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) program for 2022 losses. The program provides emergency assistance to producers for losses because of disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, including losses because of blizzards and wildfires. USDA has updated the payment rates for 2022 eligible livestock grazing, honeybee colonies and feed loss for 2022, livestock and forage hauling mileage and 2022 water handling.

— Update on Senate $740 billion reconciliation measure (Inflation Reduction Act of 2022):

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the bill will not raise taxes for families earning less than $400,000 a year. President Joe Biden promised during his election campaign not to raise taxes for households below that line. “The legislation would either reduce or have no effect on the taxes due or paid by any family with income less than $400,000,” Yellen wrote Tuesday in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “In fact, the clean energy tax credits and the expanded premium tax credit will cut taxes for millions of Americans.” An analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation, an official congressional scorekeeper, found that some middle- and low-income households could pay additional taxes next year under the bill, unveiled last week between West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
  • Manchin discussed the $433 billion tax, climate and health-care plan he’s backing with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday. Manchin and Sinema spoke for about 10 minutes on the Senate floor Tuesday. Manchin made clear that he’s willing to consider changes she might want to make to the deal, which would raise $739 billion in new revenue over the next decade and reduce the deficit by more than $300 billion. Manchin said, “We’re exchanging text back and forth.” Sinema, he added, is “extremely bright. She works hard. She makes good decisions based on facts. I’m reliant on that.”
  • Senators may not know how Sinema will vote until they bring the more than 700-page bill to the floor on Thursday or Friday.  A Democratic senator who attended a virtual meeting of the caucus Tuesday said Sinema didn’t speak up about the bill at the meeting. Republicans think there’s a good chance that Sinema may derail the legislation. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) believes Sinema will stick to her moderate principles.
  • Senators are continuing to wait on the parliamentarian to rule on the reconciliation bill. Staff will meet with the parliamentarian to hash out whether changes to the tax code and climate-related subsidies comport with budget reconciliation rules, according to Senate Finance ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and a spokesperson for Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
  • The Senate could be in session all weekend with a vote-a-rama, which takes two to three days. The House probably will need a day or two to clear this package.
  • Democrats want to include a proposal by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) to cap monthly payments for insulin at $35 per month in the Inflation Reduction Act. The provision could violate the Byrd Rule – if Republicans decide to challenge it. If so, the language could be added to a must-pass continuing resolution measure.

 

PERSONNEL

— Tim Wu, one of the architects of President Biden’s competition executive order, plans to leave the administration and his role of competition adviser, Reuters reports (link). He is set to return to teaching at Columbia University.

 

CHINA UPDATE

— Pelosi says U.S. will ‘not abandon’ Taiwan as China plans military drills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said her now completed visit to Taiwan was intended to make it “unequivocally clear” that the U.S. would “not abandon” the democratically governed island. Pelosi’s trip – the first by a sitting U.S. speaker in 25 years – now is in South Korea. China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party views Taiwan as part of its territory and has long vowed to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.

     China threatened to retaliate to her presence with a series of military exercises the Taiwanese Defense Ministry likened to a “maritime and aerial blockade.” On Tuesday, 21 Chinese warplanes made incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.

     China suspended the import of citrus fruits and some fish products from Taiwan, as well as the export of sand to the island. China also slapped import bans on more than 100 Taiwanese products in retaliation for hosting Pelosi. But adding biscuits, citrus fruits, and more to the list of foodstuffs that China won’t buy from Taiwan is largely symbolic, analysts note. Semiconductors and other electronic components are the biggest contributor by far to last year’s record $189 billion of imports from its neighbor and they won’t be affected. According to Chinese customs data, China's imports from Taiwan reached $122.5 billion in the first half of the year, up 7.3% from a year earlier.

     The People's Liberation Army announced six exclusion zones encircling Taiwan to facilitate live-fire military drills from Thursday to Sunday. While the size and scope of the areas could disrupt traffic and shipping in the Taiwan Strait — one of the world's busiest trade routes — the exercises would come after Pelosi's scheduled departure. Cyber warfare also hit Taiwan before the visit, with the presidential office going dark for 20 minutes due to an alleged distributed denial-of-service attack.

— Pelosi spoke today with Mark Liu, the chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s biggest chip maker. TSMC is building a plant in Arizona, and Pelosi and Liu reportedly discussed the recently passed CHIPS and Science Act, which offers subsidies to companies that open U.S. chip plants.

— Impact of China’s zero-Covid policy. China’s aggressive restrictions and lockdowns to control the disease have meant the consumer and services sectors have been battered, with curbs crippling domestic tourism and slashing incomes. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predict China’s gross domestic product will grow at 4% this year, down from 8.1% in 2021.

     China curbs

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Summary:

  • Global Covid-19 cases at 579,538,655 with 6,405,797 deaths.
  • U.S. case count is at 91,589,610 with 1,030,998 deaths.
  • Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center says there have been 603,693,871 doses administered, 223,245,563 have been fully vaccinated, or 67.75% of the U.S. population.  

 

POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Some initial results of Tuesday elections:

  • Kansas voted to keep abortion protections in the State Constitution, a major victory for abortion rights in a red state. Officials said that turnout was higher than expected. Secretary of state Kris Kobach won the GOP party’s nomination for attorney general, giving him a second political life. Kobach ran for governor in 2018, and he lost to Gov. Laura Kelly (D).

    The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter wrote: “The resounding rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Kansas legislature to further restrict abortion access, suggests the motivating power of the abortion issue for this fall, especially in suburban areas like Kansas City’s Johnson County, which rejected the proposed amendment 68 percent to 32 percent. Poll after poll has shown the unpopularity of the Roe decision; the Kansas amendment vote verified the data.
  • In Arizona, a Donald Trump-backed newcomer, Blake Masters, won the GOP’s nomination for U.S. Senate in Arizona on Tuesday. Mark Finchem, a 2020 election denier, became the party’s choice for secretary of state. While Arizona governor’s GOP primary close, it appears Republican voters chose Kari Lake, another Trump-backed denier of the 2020 election results. Republicans are worried that Masters is too polarizing to overthrow the well-known and well-funded Sen. Mark Kelly (D).
  • In Michigan, Representative Peter Meijer, a Republican who voted to impeach Trump, lost his primary to an extreme far-right candidate, John Gibbs.

Tudor Dixon, a conservative media personality who has questioned the 2020 election results, will face Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in the Michigan governor’s race.

  • Missouri: Eric Greitens, a scandal-ridden former governor, lost Missouri’s Republican Senate primary to State Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Former president Donald Trump, who reportedly liked Greitens, dodged making a decision about who to support, endorsing “ERIC” (no last name) the day of the primary.
  • In Washington state, two House Republicans who voted for impeachment — Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse — appear set to finish in the top two in their primaries, which will allow them to move on to the general election in November against Democratic opponents.

 

CONGRESS

The Senate is on track to sign off on Finland and Sweden joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) today amid heightened Russian aggression in Europe. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he expects the Senate to easily approve the protocols for the two Nordic countries to join NATO after a short debate this afternoon. While some Republican amendments will be considered, Schumer said he doesn’t expect significant changes to the resolution of ratification. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also backs adding the countries to the alliance. Under the Senate’s rules, two-thirds of those present are required to vote in favor on treaty matters.

— A Senate proposal aims to put cryptocurrencies under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee are set to propose legislation that would assign oversight of the two largest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and ether, to the CFTC, as federal agencies and congressional committees compete for jurisdiction over digital assets.

— The Senate passed a bill to expand healthcare coverage for veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits overseas, radiation and the Agent Orange defoliant. The vote was 86-11.

 

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Vin Scully, the legendary baseball broadcaster, died last night at 94. Scully spent 67 years as the broadcaster for the Dodgers, which is the longest period any sports broadcaster has spent with a single team.


 

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