FORMULA FUROR — President JOE BIDEN will huddle virtually at 2:30 p.m. with manufacturers of infant formula, a meeting that comes as shelves throughout much of the country remain totally bare of essential baby food.
Ahead of the meeting, the White House announced today that another 3.7 million bottles’ worth from Kendamil will come in on emergency flights via the U.K. The administration this morning was also finalizing a deal for the shipping details of another 1.25 million cans from the producer Bubs Australia (the substance of which was previously announced), as Meredith Lee scooped.
BUT WILL THIS BE ENOUGH? It sure doesn’t look like it. The latest data on the shortage shows that the situation is gettingworse, not better. Case in point: The percentage of powdered formula out of stock ticked up from 21% to 23% the week before last, per WSJ’s Stephanie Stamm and Maureen Linke, who have a story up about the spiraling situation. According to their report, the South and Southwest are particularly struggling; some of the most affected states are Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Tennessee and Texas.
Meanwhile, mothers and expectant mothers (one of your co-authors included), are at a loss over how to deal with the situation.
Ironically, Biden officials had originally thought this situation would be one they could get a firm grasp on quickly. While managing the inflation and supply chain issues killing his poll numbers was always going to be difficult, if not impossible, there was initially a sense in the party that the formula shortage was one Dems could fix in a reasonable amount of time.
As Meredith wrote in a note to Playbook PM, “The White House had hoped it could pull the administration out of the political and logistical quagmire with several high-profile announcements about Biden invoking the Defense Production Act and authorizing federal planes to fly in formula from abroad.”
But given the latest data, that confidence seems to have been misplaced. Indeed, Meredith notes that “industry experts and key Democrats on Capitol Hill know it will take months to restore supplies, especially in isolated, rural communities that are among the hardest hit.” So settle in for a few more months of bad headlines on baby formula.
Good Wednesday afternoon.
THE WHITE HOUSE
KATHLEEN BUHLE SPEAKS — HUNTER BIDEN’s ex-wife has a new memoir coming out, “If We Break,” at which she gave People’s Sandra Sobieraj Westfall a first look. Buhle tells her she’s forgiven Biden, that she isn’t angry at him and that they share a love for their daughters. The memoir, which started to come together via a creative writing class at Politics and Prose, also covers the family’s experiences with Hunter’s addiction, Buhle’s decision to shed the Biden name and the moment she found out he was having an affair with HALLIE BIDEN. As for the investigation into her ex-husband, “whether or not I’m questioned, I couldn’t be of any help,” Buhle tells People. “I kept my head so deeply buried in the sand on our finances.”
FOLLOWING THE MONEY — The liberal dark-money nonprofit North Fund has had its charitable standing suspended or expired in a dozen states, The Washington Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman reports. That includes California, where the group has advocated against ELON MUSK’s Twitter takeover as Accountable Tech, and Wisconsin, where it’s launched an ad campaign against GOP Sen. RON JOHNSON as Opportunity Wisconsin, Goodman writes. “Legal experts said the North Fund could face fines and other penalties if it raises money in those jurisdictions.”
HERE COMES SAM BROWN — The retired Army captain and Nevada GOP Senate underdog appears to be surging just ahead of his primary against frontrunner ADAM LAXALT, NBC’s Natasha Korecki and Adam Edelman report. Powered by grassroots fervor for an outsider pick, Brown’s campaign has polling showing him within the margin of error. Laxalt retains plenty of advantages, including a big (though shrinking) lead in public polls and a DONALD TRUMP endorsement. But Brown’s 4-to-1 advantage in small-dollar donations has allowed him to double Laxalt’s spending on TV ads. A victory would be a major upset — and could change Republicans’ approach against Democratic Sen. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO.
PRIMARY COLORS — There are a whopping four dozen candidates running in Alaska’s special congressional election this month, deluging voters with choice under a complex new runoff/ranked-choice voting system that encompasses all parties, NYT’s Emily Cochrane reports from Anchorage. With only a short period of time to build campaigns, everyone from SARAH PALIN to SANTA CLAUS (yes, really) is hustling across the nation’s largest state. “The broad field has roiled the close-knit political circles here, pitting longtime colleagues and friends against one another.” There are the familiar intra-GOP divides, but also some intrigue on the Democratic side (with the state party opposing independent AL GROSS).
MEGATREND — A new Gallup poll finds Americans’ support for legal same-sex marriage at 71%, an all-time high. The main group still opposed is weekly churchgoers (40% approval).
LATEST IN MICHIGAN — In a setback for the five Republican gubernatorial candidates who have been kicked off the ballot (including frontrunner JAMES CRAIG), the state Court of Appeals today unanimously denied a lawsuit from one of the contenders seeking to be reinstated. It’s probably headed to the state Supreme Court next. More from The Detroit News
RECALL ME MAYBE — San Francisco DA CHESA BOUDIN, a progressive standard-bearer, looks likely to fall to a recall campaign in California’s elections next week, Jeremy White reports from SF. The election, now “a sort of Rorschach test for how San Franciscans — and Americans — interpret rising anxiety about crime,” could have national implications as a backlash to the wave of criminal justice reformers that swept across many cities in the past few years.
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
COMMITTEE LATEST — A new letter from the House Jan. 6 committee to Rep. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) extends his deadline to comply with their subpoena to June 11 but says the panel still expects his cooperation, Breitbart’s Ashley Oliver scooped.
— The committee has made public the memo that prompted a federal judge to conclude Trump and JOHN EASTMAN “likely” committed felonies, Kyle Cheney reports in Congress Minutes. The December 2020 email from KENNETH CHESEBRO to RUDY GIULIANI laid out a strategy for “MIKE PENCE to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021.”
THE JOBS PICTURE — The labor market remains tight as a drum, with new Labor Department data today showing 11.4 million job openings, down from March but still close to an all-time record. And the “Great Resignation” is continuing apace, with about 4.4 million Americans leaving their jobs in April even as layoffs hit a record low. The high hiring demand is an ongoing “bright spot for the U.S. economy,” reports WaPo’s Abha Bhattarai.
INFLATION NATION — WSJ’s J.J. McCorvey has a dispatch from Nashville, where high prices are taking an exceptionally heavy toll, thanks to a fast-growing population, poor transit/high car usage, and high day care and utilities costs. “Many Nashville residents said in interviews that they are cutting back their spending or taking on more work. Nearly all of them are re-evaluating their budgets to determine what is a necessity and what isn’t. Some have had enough and are leaving town.”
THE BRAVE NEW WORLD — Underlying atrocities like the mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., is this reality about our current internet: Once-fringe violent, racist ideas have been mainstreamed by much easier online access, NYT’s Steven Lee Myers and Stuart Thompson report. “More and more outlets, both fringe and mainstream, host bigoted content, often in the name of free speech. And the inability — or unwillingness — of online services to contain violent content threatens to draw more people toward hateful postings.”
WAR IN UKRAINE
ON THE GROUND — Chris Miller has an eye-opening dispatch from the eastern fronts where Russia is hammering Ukrainian forces. In this moment of the war, heavy weaponry plays the biggest role, as troops fire at each other from a distance, usually unseen, with massive artillery. That’s advantage Russia, as Ukraine waits for more heavy weapons from Western allies. And in the Luhansk region, Ukraine is considering making a strategic withdrawal amid Russian advances. “Some soldiers told POLITICO they believed a strategic withdrawal would not have been considered or necessary had Western weapons arrived in the East sooner.”
BIG ADMISSION — Gen. PAUL NAKASONE, the head of U.S. Cyber Command, told Sky News’ Alexander Martin that American military hackers have supported Ukraine with “offensive operations,” the first time the U.S. has acknowledged doing so. Nakasone said all the activities were legal and conducted with appropriate oversight.
THE VIEW FROM MOSCOW — The Kremlin reacted angrily to news of the U.S. plans to send more long-range weapons to Ukraine, with a spokesperson saying they’re “pouring fuel on the fire,” per Bloomberg.
— Meanwhile, the U.K. is asking the U.S. for an okay on their plan to send similar weapons to Ukraine, Alex Ward, Lara Seligman and Paul McLeary scooped. Biden spoke with British PM BORIS JOHNSON this morning.
REALITY CHECK — Despite the sanctions on Russian oil, the country’s producers are still finding ways to get it to market via transfers at sea and trickery on land that hides the oil’s Russian genesis, WSJ’s Anna Hirtenstein and Benoit Faucon scoop. That is believed to include some oil that’s gotten to the U.S.
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
WHAT THEY’RE READING IN MIAMI — As the Biden administration rolls back some Trump-era restrictions on Cuba, island denizens seeking U.S. visas are “still waiting — with a mixture of renewed hope and skepticism,” AP’s Andrea Rodríguez reports from Cienfuegos, Cuba. There’s a backlog of about 20,000 applications for family reunification visas, but the U.S. hasn’t yet laid out its timeline for restarting the program.
PAGING XI JINPING — The U.S. and Taiwan are moving to begin talks on a bilateral trade initiative, officials said today. That follows the American decision not to include Taiwan in the new regional Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, but it still sends a signal as the U.S. seeks closer ties with the island nation China claims. “Like IPEF, the initiative with Taiwan would not need congressional approval because it will not include market access requirements or reduced tariffs,” Reuters’ David Lawder and Michael Martina report.
MEDIA MOVE — Jonathan Nicholson is joining HuffPost as a politics reporter, covering Congress and campaigns. He previously was a congressional reporter for MarketWatch and Bloomberg Government.
WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURE LOUNGE — Amanda Finney is heading to the Department of Energy in a senior comms role, per Bloomberg’s Justin Sink. She currently is chief of staff for the White House press office.
TRANSITIONS — Phillip Thompson will be chief of staff at A—B, a creative agency. He previously was White House liaison at DHS, and is a NASA and Biden campaign alum. … Chad Tanner has joined Monument Advocacy’s cybersecurity and technology policy practice teams. He previously was a longtime Senate Intelligence professional staff member. …
… Caroline Kitchens is now lead for government affairs and policy partnerships at Shopify. She most recently was director of government affairs at R Street Institute. … Adam Tragone is now an attorney at the Institute for Free Speech. He most recently was an attorney at Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky. … Angela Kelley is now chief adviser for policy and partnerships for the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council. She most recently was a senior counselor to the secretary of Homeland Security.
ENGAGED — Steve Pfrang, chief of staff for Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), and Rebecca Shaw, a member of the government relations team at Subject Matter, got engaged Saturday while on a hike in Glacier National Park. The couple met on the Team Ohio campaign trip. Pic … Another pic