CENSUS DATA FOR REDISTRICTING COMING AUG. 16: The U.S. Census Bureau says data needed for Indiana lawmakers to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts will be ready Aug. 16, and legislative leaders are planning to hold hearings across the state that month to receive public input on the once-a-decade task (Columbus Republic). Legislative leadership met last week to hash out some of the details but have yet to decide exactly when to call lawmakers back to the Statehouse to actually draw the new maps. Republicans will control the process because they hold supermajorities in the Indiana House and Senate. House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, told IBJ in a written statement that it is still too early to set confirmed dates, but lawmakers should expect to return sometime in September. “At this time, many details remain uncertain as we await the data from the U.S. Census. We’ve told our members to be ready to come back to session during mid-to-late September, and we will confirm a timeline as soon as possible,” Huston said.

 

PENCE FLATLINES IN IOWA; COMPARED TO TRUMP 'ANTI-CHRIST':  Mike Pence was met by a respectful, even warm, crowd in his first trip back to Iowa since the election. Republicans at a picnic in the northwestern corner of the state stood and clapped for him on Friday. In Des Moines later that afternoon, a ballroom full of Christian conservatives did the same (Politico). He was “honorable,” a “man of faith,” attendees at the annual Family Leadership Summit said. Evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats called him “a very consistent conservative voice in Congress and then as governor, and then as vice president.” What few people said they saw in Pence, however, was the Republican nominee for president in 2024. Many Iowa Republicans had seen the results of the most recent Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, released just days earlier, in which Pence flatlined, drawing no more than 1 percent support. Before that, they’d watched the video of Pence getting heckled and called a “traitor” at a major gathering of conservatives in Florida last month. “I don’t imagine he’d have a whole lot of support,” said Raymond Harre, vice chair of the GOP in eastern Iowa’s Scott County. “There are some Trump supporters who think he’s the anti-Christ.” “Who?” Doug Gross, a Republican operative who was a chief of staff to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, replied flatly when asked about Pence. At the moment, Pence occupies a political no-man’s land.

 

THE RISE OF RON KLAIN: Ron Klain, who after a few near misses finally achieved his career-long goal of becoming the White House chief of staff, will turn 60 this summer. This is, as his boss might say, a big deal (New York Times). Mr. Klain has previously hosted blowouts to celebrate his round-numbered birthdays, notably his 50th in 2011, when hundreds of friends and Obama administration luminaries descended on a Maryland farm for a state fair-themed extravaganza, complete with deep-fried Oreos and tributes to the honoree. Plans for his 60th have become such a source of Beltway status anxiety that a small universe of Washington strivers is angling for details: Some have asked White House contacts whether a celebration is in the works and if invitations have gone out. The commotion makes clear that Mr. Klain is an unquestioned man to see in the current White House, the most influential chief of staff of recent vintage and a marked departure from the four battered and marginalized short-timers who held the position under President Donald J. Trump.

 

KEY WEEK FOR INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL: President Biden’s economic agenda is set to face a major test on Capitol Hill this week, as the Senate barrels toward an early vote on a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the nation’s infrastructure even though negotiators still haven’t agreed on key details (Washington Post). Despite months of frenetic talks, lawmakers are slated to return to the Capitol on Monday in the same political position in which they departed last week: They broadly support new spending to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, yet remain plagued by schisms over how to finance the still-forming package. Seeking to keep their coalition of about two dozen Democrats and Republicans intact, congressional negotiators in recent days said they opted to eliminate one of the key elements that financed their initial infrastructure blueprint. Senators had hoped to raise about $100 billion by empowering the Internal Revenue Service to pursue unpaid federal taxes, but Republicans balked at the idea out of a concern it would give the tax-collection agency too much power to scrutinize families’ and corporations’ finances.

 

UNVAXED FUELING LATEST COVID SURGE: The vast majority of patients driving up Covid-19 hospitalizations in parts of the U.S. are unvaccinated, according to hospitals, some of which are reactivating surge plans used in the peak of the pandemic (Wall Street Journal). As the highly contagious Delta variant spreads nationwide, some hospital and public-health officials said they are preparing for hospitalizations to potentially reach new pandemic peaks where fewer people are vaccinated. AdventHealth, which manages 41 hospitals across seven largely Midwestern and Southern states, said about 97% of roughly 12,700 Covid-19 patients treated this year were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. The data excludes some AdventHealth hospitals managed under joint ventures. Of the fully vaccinated Covid-19 patients who have been or are in AdventHealth hospitals, many have weakened immune systems due to cancer or other conditions, said Jeffrey Kuhlman, chief quality and safety officer for AdventHealth. HCA Healthcare Inc., one of the nation’s largest hospital systems, said its data show fully vaccinated people account for less than 1% of its Covid-19 patients.

 

SURGEON GENERAL DEFENDS CDC LIFTING MASK MANDATE: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday defended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) decision to lift mask guidance for all vaccinated individuals amid criticism from leading health experts that the move may have been premature. During an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Murthy contended that the decision was meant to give flexibility to individuals and localities to make their own decisions regarding mask mandates as the pandemic effort moves “into more of a local and regional response.” “I think the CDC’s guidance around masks was intended actually to give flexibility to individuals and to localities, recognizing that in this next phase of the pandemic, as we move into more of a local and regional response based on people's vaccination rates and communities, that that guidance around what to do with mitigation measures like masks would also be tailored locally,” Murthy said.

 

DR. ADAMS CALLS MASK MANDATE LIFT WRONG: Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said coronavirus mask guidance may be "premature" or "wrong" in the face of potentially dangerous new variants (Fox News). Adams served as surgeon general under former President Donald Trump, taking a prominent role throughout the early phase of the pandemic. He recently took to Twitter to voice his own regrets and concerns over mask mandates since then. "Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks," Adams wrote in a rare admission of a misstep. "I felt it was the best call at the time, but now regret it." "I’m worried the CDC also made a similarly premature, misinterpreted, yet still harmful call on masking in the face of [rising] delta variant." He urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to instead advise people to get vaccinated and wear masks in areas with higher cases of COVID-19 until numbers start to decline.

 

BIDEN'S ANGER AT FACEBOOK FOLLOWED MONTHS OF FRUSTRATION: President Biden’s attack on Facebook Inc. on Friday followed months of mounting private frustration inside his administration over the social-media giant’s handling of vaccine misinformation, according to U.S. officials, bringing into public view tensions that could complicate efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19 (Wall Street Journal). The tough words between the White House and Silicon Valley escalated over the weekend, as Facebook issued a blunt statement accusing the Biden administration of distorting the facts. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows in Washington, countered that social-media companies weren’t doing enough to clamp down on false statements about Covid-19 vaccines.“The reality is that misinformation is still spreading like wildfire in our country, aided and abetted by technology platforms,” Dr. Murthy said on Fox News Sunday. He granted that companies like Facebook had taken steps to address false vaccine information, but he added, “It is not enough.”

 

MULLEN CALLS MILLEY REPORTS 'ACCURATE': Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday on Face the Nation that a reported episode contained in new books about former President Trump and his final months in the White House that described efforts for him to remain in power is "incredibly disturbing" and demonstrates the "chaotic environment" of the Trump administration. In an interview with "Face the Nation," Mullen said he understands the reporting about the final weeks of the Trump administration to be "pretty accurate," and described the time after the presidential election as "chaotic." "The two threats that you talked about, the external one, and whether or not we would commence some kind of combat or conflict with Iran, and then the internal one in terms of where it might go, particularly with respect to how the military would be used by President Trump to somehow validate that the election actually was a fraud and keep the president in power, I think that's all very accurate and obviously incredibly disturbing, literally in every respect," he told "Face the Nation."

 

WIBC FREQUENCY TO GO SILENT AUG. 2: If you grew up listening to WIBC on 1070 AM, or perhaps you listened to 93.5 and 107.5 The Fan, before they transitioned to their FM signals, you will soon hear nothing on that frequency. The familiar crackle of those AM airwaves will go silent indefinitely on Aug. 2 (WIBC). The tower site for the former WIBC towers has been sold, and the towers will be coming down. Emmis Communications, the parent company of WIBC and The Fan, is working to find the best solution for the future of the 1070 signal. “As long time owners of the 1070, we are working diligently on finding the next great use for the signal,” said Jeff Smulyan, founder and chairman of the board of Emmis. “We were offered a wonderful opportunity to monetize the property, and felt it was our obligation to explore that. Ultimately, it made the most sense.”

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Mike Pence is “flatling” in Iowa, eh? Pence for Senate in 2024? - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

INDEMS INVESTMENT TOUR TODAY IN CARROLL COUNTY: At 5 p.m. today at the Carroll County 4-H Fairgrounds, Joe Donnelly, State Reps. Chris Campbell and Renee Pack, and Jon Hooker (President of Central Indiana Building Trades) will continue the Indiana Democratic Party’s American Jobs Plan tour, an effort by the Indiana Democratic Party to show why Indiana needs the Jobs Plan and a revitalized infrastructure system (Howey Politics Indiana). The statewide tour, a sequel to the American Rescue Plan tour, will allow Hoosiers to hear more about a Plan that will create good-paying jobs, dismantle the INGOP’s “right to work” laws (creating Indiana’s “work more for less” economy), and build a better future for Hoosier families.

 

DONNELLY HITTING ROAD FOR INDEMS: Democrats in Indiana have hit the road to rally support for President Joe Biden’s more than $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan. The politicians say they’d like – but don't need – bipartisan support in Congress where it’s expected to get a vote soon (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). The tour officially kicked off last week in South Bend. It was held at a local union hall – a fitting venue since Democrats say Biden’s plan will create good-paying union jobs. The theory is that those jobs would emerge from major investments in infrastructure projects like laying cable for high-speed internet, fixing bridges, and replacing lead water pipes. Former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) spoke at the event. He said things like better roads, bridges and airports are desperately needed in Indiana, and the chance to improve them should entice both parties. “Potholes are not Democratic potholes or Republican potholes,” he said. “We can fix our roads. We can rebuild our country.”

 

Congress

 

THE SENATE will meet at 3 p.m. to take up the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act of 2021. It will vote at 5:30 p.m. on Tiffany Cunningham's nomination as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. THE HOUSE returns after a two-week recess. It will meet at 2 p.m. to take up a variety of bills on everything from grid security to media diversity to desert locust control, with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

 

State

 

EDUCATION: $13M PREP FOR DEAF, BLIND SCHOOL MERGER - The state is preparing to spend $13 million to kick-start the process of combining the campuses of the state’s separate schools for deaf and blind students after the pandemic left the sometimes-controversial debate about consolidation largely at a standstill (Ketterer, IBJ). State officials say no final decisions about a combined campus have been reached, but they are forging ahead for now with the prep work, including the search for as many as 120 acres to house the schools. The Indiana School for the Deaf, on East 42nd Street near the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, located on North College Avenue at East 75th Street, are aging and in dire need of updates and maintenance that would cost the state millions of dollars.

 

ECONOMY: CARTWRIGHT TO HEAD CONEXUS - A longtime auto industry executive is now leading Conexus Indiana, a nonprofit that promotes the advanced manufacturing and logistics industries statewide (Pete, NWI Times). Fred Cartwright, a former executive at General Motors and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, will serve as president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based organization. He succeeds CEO J. Mark Howell, who is retiring after leading Conexus since 2017. "Throughout my career, innovation has always found me," Cartwright said. "I've always had the opportunity to be on the leading edge of something. Innovation is central to building a strong economy and strong workforce. My focus is always on the future and I am energized by the opportunities to partner with industry, the public sector and universities around important issues that drive Indiana's economy and Hoosiers' prosperity."

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: GOP DOING LITTLE TO COUNTER BIDEN - When President Joe Biden unveiled a series of sweeping executive orders to combat monopoly power, the response from Republicans was notable — because there was barely one at all (Politico). Over the last week, few Republicans were warning that Biden’s actions would severely kneecap business or slow the economic recovery. And inside the White House, the relative silence was not just noticed but seen as vindication. “If you're against competition, then what are you for?” said Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council. “Big business charging people whatever they want. You’re for businesses being able to offer workers low wages because there's no other competitor in town to offer something better. I mean, it's very hard to be against competition.” The right’s muted response to Biden’s orders underscores the remarkable ideological shift that’s occurring in Washington, D.C. A Republican Party once closely allied with corporate America finds itself increasingly less so in the Donald Trump era. Indeed, in the aftermath of Biden’s orders, even officials in Trump’s orbit were saying the politics were smart.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SCHEDULE - President Biden's schedule: 10 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. 11:30 a.m.: Biden will deliver remarks on the economy and the BIF in the State Dining Room.  1:45 p.m.: Biden and first lady Jill Biden will welcome King Abdullah and family.  2:15 p.m.: The president and King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein will participate in a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, followed by an expanded bilateral meeting at 2:30 p.m. The first lady will also host a tea for Queen Rania Al Abdullah at the White House. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at 12:30 p.m. Biden's week ahead: Tuesday: The president will welcome the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the White House, and hold a Cabinet meeting. Wednesday: Biden will travel to Cincinnati, where he will visit a local union training center and participate in a CNN town hall. Jill Biden will travel to Anchorage, Alaska. Friday: Biden will participate in a campaign event for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Arlington, Va.

 

OREGON: NYT's KRISTOFF MULLS GOV RUN - N.Y. Times columnist Nick Kristof, known for on-the-ground reporting about humanity around the world, tells two Oregon newspapers that he's considering entering the Democratic primary for governor next year (Axios). Kristof, 62, whose Twitter bio calls himself "Oregon farmboy turned NY Times columnist," told Willamette Week: "I have friends trying to convince me that here in Oregon, we need new leadership from outside the broken political system. ... I'm honestly interested in what my fellow Oregonians have to say about that."

 

MICHIGAN: BOMB THREAT CLOSES MACKINAW BRIDGE FOR 3 HOURS - Authorities say a bomb threat closed the bridge connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas for about three hours on Sunday afternoon (AP). The Mackinac Bridge Authority said law enforcement notified them of the threat. The bridge was closed in both directions around 2:15 p.m. The Michigan State and Mackinaw City police investigated. The bridge authority says nothing was found after an “extensive search.”

 

MLB: RODON, SOX DOMINATE ASTROS 4-0 - Carlos Rodón allowed one hit through seven dominant innings, Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson hit solo homers and the Chicago White Sox topped the Houston Astros 4-0 on Sunday (ESPN). Danny Mendick and Adam Engel added RBI singles, and the White Sox stymied Astros hitters for the second straight game after losing their first five this season to Houston — and being outscored 34-9 in those contests. Chicago has won seven of eight to move to the top of the American League standings. After Lucas Giolito tossed a three-hitter on Saturday for the White Sox, Rodón followed up with a statement of his own. "We needed to take this series and prove that we're just as good as them," Rodón said. "It's something we can build off of."

 

MLB: BREWERS BLANKS REDS 8-0 -  Back from the All-Star Game, Corbin Burnes looked more like an All-Star (ESPN). Burnes returned to form, pitching sharply into the ninth inning Sunday as the Milwaukee Brewers cruised to an 8-0 win and finished a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. The NL Central-leading Brewers won four of the seven games against Cincinnati spanning the All-Star break.

 

MLB: DBACKS DOWN CUBS 6-4 - The Arizona Diamondbacks have been a bad baseball team for a big chunk of this season and own the worst record in the majors to prove it (ESPN). The only exception — at least in recent weeks — is when Merrill Kelly takes the mound. Kelly threw eight efficient innings, Eduardo Escobar hit a two-run homer and the Arizona Diamondbacks avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

 

Sunday Talk

 

SPRINGFIELD MAYOR URGES VAX: The mayor of Springfield, Mo., said on Sunday that the solution to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is for people to get vaccinated. “We know what the solution is. It's vaccination. People need to get it. It's readily available,” Ken McClure (I) told host John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “We have so many sites that can still provide that service. The age groups are now all encompassing down to age 12. So it gets down to the community leaders, the community institutions that people trust saying you have to get vaccination. That's the only way that we are going to emerge from this,” he added.

 

LA SUPERVISOR DEFENDS MASK MANDATE: Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in an interview on Sunday that a reimposed mask mandate in indoor public spaces is “not punishment,” but “prevention.” “We still have 4 million people out of 10 million that haven't been vaccinated. And many of them are young people," Solis, a former House lawmaker from California and Labor secretary in the Obama administration, said on ABC’s “This Week.” "And we're seeing that this transmission is so highly contagious that it will cost more in the long run if we have to see our hospitals being impacted, our ICU units, as well as our health care workers.”

 

GOTTLIEB SAYS COUNTER CASES LIKEY UNDERCOUNTED: Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that the U.S. is likely undercounting the number of COVID-19 cases because some infected younger and healthier people are experiencing mild symptoms and may not think to get tested. “I think at this point we're probably undercounting how many infections there are in the states right now because to the extent that a lot of the infections are occurring in younger and healthier people who might be getting mild illness, they're ... probably not presenting to get tested,” Gottlieb told host John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And to extent that there are some breakthrough cases, either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases in those who've been vaccinated, they're not presenting to get tested because if you've been vaccinated don't think that you have the coronavirus even if you develop a mild illness, and we're not doing a lot of routine screening right now unless you work for the New York Yankees, you're not getting tested on a regular basis,” he added.

 

MURTY SEES 'NO VALUE' IN MARIJUANA INCARCERATIONS: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday said he does not think there is “value” to incarcerating people for marijuana use, as the Senate considers a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. “When it comes to decriminalization, I don't think that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use. I don't think that serves anybody well,” Murthy told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I do think that, in terms of our approach to marijuana, I worry when we don't let science guide our process in policy-making,” he added.

 

PORTMAN DECRIES ARBITRARY DEADLINE: Republican Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) criticized the decision to set a preliminary vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill for Wednesday, calling the date an “arbitrary deadline.” Portman told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the bill should be brought forward “when it’s ready.” “It's actually 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats putting this together. Chuck Schumer, with all due respect, is not writing the bill, nor is [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.], by the way. So that's why we shouldn't have an arbitrary deadline of Wednesday. We should bring the legislation forward when it's ready, and it’s incredibly important legislation,” Portman said.

 

Local

 

SCHERERVILLE: TOWN LOOKS TO REDEVELOP ILLIANA SPEEDWAY — A northwest Indiana community is looking for proposals to redevelop the historic Illiana Motor Speedway site into a business park (AP). The Schererville Town Council voted unanimously last week to work with the Lake County Economic Alliance to request proposals for the 50-acre site off U.S. 30, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. The race track operated in the community located about 20 miles south of Gary from 1945 to 2016. The town of Schererville acquired the property shortly after the speedway held its last race. Previous owners sold off the bleachers, stadium lights and safety netting in the track’s corners, though the track itself remains in place. The town has dismantled a concession stand, press box and a house on the property.

 

MUNCIE: FORMER COP EXPECTED TO PLEAD GUILTY — A former Muncie police officer is expected to plead guilty next month in connection with a federal investigation of excessive force allegations against other officers. The Muncie Star Press reports 31-year-old Dalton Kurtz is set to plead guilty to “misprision of felony” on Aug. 4 in federal court in Indianapolis. He’s accused of failing to report a fellow officer kicked and struck a teenager in the head.