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Divided Congress Faces Highway Cliff

Highway trust fund goes bust Friday. The Hill: “Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [is] hoping to ship the [six-year] bill across the Capitol to the House by the end of this week [and] force the House’s hand … But if the Senate doesn’t pass its bill before Thursday, the House may adjourn anyway for the recess and leave the upper chamber with no other option but to pass the five-month extension.”

Senate tacks Ex-IM Bank on transportation bill. NYT: “The bipartisan vote, 67 to 26, broke a filibuster … all but one Republican presidential candidate, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, [supports] the bank’s demise … 24 Republicans, nearly half the Senate Republican Conference, voted with Democrats to revive the bank…”

Sen. Barbara Boxer breaks with Senate Democratic leaders on transportation bill: “…they’re irked that she’s signed on to what they privately say is a bad deal with McConnell, one that does more for his endangered incumbents than it does for Democrats … Her party’s leadership has been holding out for a broader spending deal this fall that would chip away at the sequester’s indiscriminate cuts. Democrats are also hoping to get traction for a long-shot idea hatched by Sen. Chuck Schumer … to use international tax reform to pay for a longer, more expensive transportation bill.”

Rail infrastructure crumbling. NYT: “In Maryland, a century-old rail tunnel needed emergency repairs this winter because of soil erosion from leaks … In Connecticut, an aging swing bridge failed to close twice last summer … There were major delays on four days [in New Jersey] because of problems with overhead electrical wires and a power substation … The [Northeast] corridor’s ridership has doubled in the last 30 years even as its old and overloaded infrastructure of tracks, power lines, bridges and tunnels has begun to wear out.”

Hillary Shows Climate Cards

Hillary Clinton unveils climate change initiative. W. Post: “Hillary Rodham Clinton called for harnessing the power of the sun to generate enough renewable energy to run every home in the country within the next decade … Clinton will fight efforts to roll back [Obama’s] Clean Power Plan. And she proposes a Clean Power Challenge, including competitions for grants for renewal energy products, as well as more assistance to states and cities and more choices for consumers.”

Aims to build on Obama’s record. NYT: “The president has pledged to get the United States to produce 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 — essentially tripling renewable power from today. Mrs. Clinton’s plan would arrive at 33 percent, said Heather Zichal, who served as Mr. Obama’s senior climate change adviser until last year.”

But ducks issues that divide Dems: “In addition to [not speaking on] Keystone, Sunday’s announcement doesn’t confront Clinton’s past positions on oil drilling or hydraulic fracturing, which have been among greens’ top gripes with her.”

WH announces corporate partnership to cut emissions. WSJ: “More than a dozen U.S. companies on Monday will pledge to invest more than $140 billion in efforts to cut carbon emissions as part of a new Obama administration initiative leading up to the United Nations climate-change summit later this year. Bank of America Corp., General Motors Co., Cargill Inc. and AlcoaInc. are among the companies set to sign onto [the] pledge…”

Jeb Vs. Medicare

NYT’s Paul Krugman slams Jeb on Medicare: “…the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch … The underlying premise here is that Medicare as we know it is incapable of controlling costs … [But the Affordable Care Act] was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth.”

Donald Trump’s political positions are hard to pin down. Politico: “Trump once endorsed a massive surtax on the rich. But he now wants the top income tax rate cut in half … He’s praised single-payer health care, yet loathes Obamacare. But a decade ago he proposed ‘health marts’ that sound suspiciously like today’s Obamacare exchanges … ‘Unions still have a place in American society,’ he wrote in 2000. ‘In fact, with the globalization craze in full heat, unions are about the only political force reminding us to remember the American working family.'”

Breakfast Sides

America enters grand experiment on minimum wage. NYT: “A number of researchers have found that modestly higher minimum wages can raise incomes for low-wage workers without reducing the number of jobs in an area … But the $15-an-hour proposals go far beyond the experience of the last few decades, and the recommendations of a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to raise the minimum wage for workers at fast-food chains to such a level thrust New York State to the forefront of the current experiment.”

Progressives regroup to fight TPP. The Hill: “…liberal Democrats in the House are teaming up with labor unions and other allies in an effort to thwart the TPP through social media campaigns, protests on and around Capitol Hill, and regular briefings with reporters. Trade ministers from the 12 nations negotiating the proposed accord are seeking to reach a final agreement in Maui, Hawaii by the end of the month…”

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