Politics

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden talks, Senate balks


 

Presented by Facebook

 

  

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each day this week: Monday, 850,605; Tuesday, 851,730; Wednesday, 854,074; Thursday, 857,778.

As Democrats steeled themselves for Wednesday’s defeat of the party’s voting rights plank in the Senate, President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn’t ‘overpromise’ Finland PM pledges ‘extremely tough’ sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE told reporters he accomplished more than any other president in his first year and vowed to take his legislative wish list, including bits of his moribund Build Back Better agenda, out on the campaign trail this year. 

During a nearly two-hour news conference, the president defended his leadership, said he plans to seek reelection with Vice President Harris on the ticket and assailed Republicans for what he said is their politically motivated fear of compromises that would otherwise benefit the American people. He did not mention that Democrats have blocked his legislative ambitions. 

Asked if he overestimated his ability to unify the country, Biden said the U.S. is “not as unified as it should be.” 

Biden said the United States and NATO allies are prepared to deliver “severe costs and significant harm” in the form of economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, where it has 100,000 troops massed at the border. Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable Biden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions US providing Ukraine with additional 0M in military aid amid tensions with Russia MORE wants to test the United States and NATO, Biden added. “I think he will regret having done it. … My guess is he will move in,” he told reporters. “He has to do something.” 

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenRussia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable US providing Ukraine with additional 0M in military aid amid tensions with Russia Blinken: Russian attack on Ukraine could be launched with ‘very short notice’ MORE will meet Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva to continue diplomatic talks (Reuters), but Biden suggested Moscow’s representatives may not know exactly what Putin is preparing to do to try to block NATO expansion westward. He said he is open to a third summit with the Russian president. 

The New York Times: Biden predicts Russia will invade Ukraine.

The Associated Press: What are U.S. military options to help Ukraine? 

The White House moved swiftly as the news conference concluded to clarify Biden’s confusing suggestion that a “minor incursion” by Russia, by which his advisers said he meant a possible cyberattack, would prompt a different allied response than if Putin orders a military “invasion” of Ukraine (The Hill and The Washington Post). 

The Hill: Biden confers with senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions; Defense Department briefed lawmakers.

The Hill: Biden said he didn’t overpromise voters.

The Hill: Five takeaways from Biden’s news conference. 

White House transcript is HERE.

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On Capitol Hill, the defeat Wednesday of a bill championed by Democrats to protect ballots and elections proved anticlimactic. Two party members — Sens. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Connected Commerce Council – Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Democrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations MORE (Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations Mark Kelly says he’ll back changing filibuster rule for voting rights MORE (W.Va.) — voted to uphold the legislative filibuster. The upper chamber voted to end debate, 49-51, on the package, which would have combined the Freedom to Vote Act and the John LewisJohn LewisMark Kelly says he’ll back changing filibuster rule for voting rights The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote Democrats, poised for filibuster defeat, pick at old wounds  MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act (The Hill). Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown DACA highlights pitfalls of legalization schemes The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE (D-N.Y.), voted no for procedural reasons to allow Democrats to revisit the legislation. 

Hours later and after a lengthy floor debate, the chamber also voted down an attempt to invoke the “nuclear option” to try to alter the filibuster rules, 52-48 (The Hill). 

“The only choice to move forward on these vital issues is to change the rules in the modest way we have proposed. My colleagues, history is watching us. Let us choose in favor of our democracy,” Schumer said in a floor speech before the vote, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Mellman: Voting rights or the filibuster?  Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate MORE (R-Ky.) accusing the Democratic leader of attempting to “break the Senate” with the rule change. 

The legislative failure was anticipated because Sinema and Manchin for months explained their embrace of the current 60-vote threshold needed to take up legislation. Speaking from the Senate chamber during Biden’s appearance at the White House, Manchin parted company with the president, saying a change in the Senate rules would be “a perilous course” for the country. 

“For the last year, my Democratic colleagues have taken to the Senate floor, cable news airwaves, pages of newspapers across the country, and to argue that repealing the filibuster is restoring the vision the founding fathers intended for this deliberate body. My friends, that is simply not true. It’s not true,” Manchin said. “Eliminating the filibuster would be the easy way out. It wasn’t meant to be easy” (The Hill). 

Scott Wong and Mike Lillis, The Hill: Fury over voting rights fight turns personal on Capitol Hill. 

Carl Hulse, The New York Times: After a day of debate, the voting rights bill is blocked in the Senate. 

Politico: Why Schumer picked a filibuster fight he couldn’t win. 

 

 

Where Democrats go on voting rights is unclear. Biden told reporters he is weighing possible executive action, but declined to lay out specifics. He supports the Department of Justice’s efforts to enforce voting rights at the state level and said he would publicly champion voting rights and try again to enact portions of the John Lewis bill during his presidency.  

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates. 

The Arizona Republic: ​​Sen. Mark KellyMark KellyThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Connected Commerce Council – Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Mark Kelly says he’ll back changing filibuster rule for voting rights The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE (D-Ariz.), who is up for reelection this year, backed the proposed filibuster rule change that failed. 

The Hill: Biden says elections might not be legitimate if election reforms do not become law.  

Biden also readily conceded that his multi-trillion-dollar social spending and climate proposal would likely have to be scaled back.  

“It’s clear to me that we’re going to have to probably break it up,” Biden said. “I’m not going to negotiate against myself as to what should and shouldn’t be in it, but I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, come back and fight for the rest later.” 

Biden said provisions unlikely to become law in the near future are permanent expansion of the child tax credit and free community college — both included in the Democrats’ sweeping agenda (The Hill). 

Biden said he wants to travel out of Washington to better communicate the specifics of legislation he’s advocating, meet with voters and confer with outside experts and thinkers. “I’ve not been out in the community nearly enough,” he added, faulting himself and blaming a pileup of priorities. “It’s just going to take a little bit of time.” 

Biden cited surveys and public opinion at the same time he said he doesn’t believe polls. On Wednesday, a new survey found that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of the job he’s doing (The Associated Press). He faulted Republicans, arguing they are more obstructionist now than during former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Biden nominates Jane Hartley as ambassador to UK To boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill MORE’s eight years in office. He challenged his “friends” across the aisle to outline their agenda and propose alternative solutions. “What would be the Republican platform now?” Biden asked rhetorically. 

NBC News: Biden ends first year as president with “bleak, discouraging” marks from the public.

The Upshot: With less than 10 months until the midterm elections, Democrats’ barbs about the agenda-less Republicans will be heard again and again. The president is waiting until March to deliver his first official State of the Union address.

Reminder: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told colleagues there would be no GOP agenda ahead of the November contests, according to Axios last month. 

 

 

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations

 

Rochelle is one of many experts working on privacy at Facebook—to give you more control over your information. 

Hear more from Rochelle on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including federal privacy legislation.

 

LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: During the president’s marathon East Room session, in which he fielded questions from 24 reporters all garbed in masks and tested beforehand for COVID-19, Biden conceded Americans’ exhaustion with the pandemic. ​​“Some people may call what’s happening now ‘the new normal,’″ he said in opening remarks. “I call it a job not yet finished” (The Associated Press). 

Biden defended his White House coronavirus response team, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Overnight Health Care — Biden faces pressure from Democrats on COVID-19 Walensky says she will improve CDC messaging amid criticism MORE, who has been criticized for issuing shifting guidance many Americans and businesses found confusing. 

The president said changes in recommendations about a “brand new virus” result when “scientists are learning more.” He called the pandemic “an unfolding story” while commending the swift development of effective COVID-19 vaccines, which began under his predecessor. 

Biden said he hopes to persuade more of the 30 million Americans still unvaccinated to get shots to protect against infection, to support a promising antiviral pill and other treatments that prevent severe illness from the coronavirus, and to urge developed countries to donate more COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer nations in need.  

The Hill: CDC study shows prior COVID-19 infection and vaccines protected against delta variant. 

> Starbucks Corp. told employees on Tuesday the company will no longer require U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing by next month, after the Supreme Court recently blocked the administration’s mandate for large private employers (The Wall Street Journal). 

The Hill: Supreme Court Associate Justices Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorSotomayor, Gorsuch issue statement denying tensions over masks Supreme Court appears divided over Cruz campaign finance challenge The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE and Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSotomayor, Gorsuch issue statement denying tensions over masks Steve Bannon’s Supreme Court? The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE issued a statement on Wednesday denying tensions over mask-wearing on the bench. Chief Justice John Roberts denies asking colleagues to wear masks.

The Hill: States are investing billions of dollars in grants drawn from federal funds to help child care companies during pandemic pressures.  

> International: British Prime Minister Boris JohnsonBoris JohnsonUK’s Johnson dismisses calls to resign over lockdown party Measures to stem spread of omicron in UK dropped The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE on Wednesday announced that the United Kingdom is set this month to end all COVID-19 restrictions that were aimed at stemming the spread of the omicron variant as it appears the strain has peaked nationally. Johnson cited the success of getting the nation boosted and keeping individuals out of the intensive care unit as their roadmap (The Hill). … Johnson’s baby, Romy, contracted COVID-19 at five weeks old and is recovering, according to The Independent

 

 

> Meanwhile, Japan is moving in the other direction as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that numerous municipalities across his country will be placed under expanded COVID-19 restrictions starting at the end of this week due to an omicron surge. Tokyo headlines dozens of areas will be placed under a three-week set of restrictions, which are due to expire on Feb. 13. Biden meets virtually with the prime minister on Friday (The Hill).  

> In Hong Kong, when the government came to massacre pet hamsters, it was the last straw. Now there’s an underground movement to save pets from a zero-COVID policy that Hong Kong residents say is based on fear rather than science (The Washington Post).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in ‘honor’ of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG’s pursuit of Trump MORE‘s effort to deny the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol from gaining access to documents and records from his administration. 

Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonJan. 6 panel subpoenas phone records associated with Eric Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle: report Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell Trump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee ‘will not be harmed by delay’ MORE (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyKinzinger welcomes baby boy The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE (R-Wyo.) called the court’s decision “a victory for the rule of law and American democracy.”  

The decision came in an unsigned, one-paragraph order and clears the way for the probe to receive a batch of schedules, call logs, emails and other requested documents to help shed light on the Trump White House’s handling of the riot. It also leaves in place a lower federal appeals court ruling that found the ex-president’s assertion of executive privilege unpersuasive. 

“Because the Court of Appeals concluded that President Trump’s claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former President necessarily made no difference to the court’s decision,” the court wrote. 

The committee is seeking roughly 800 pages of documents that also includes speech drafts, handwritten notes and other files held by former senior aides, including chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsLaura Ingraham ‘not saying’ if she’d support Trump in 2024 Tucker Carlson extends influence on GOP  Jan. 6 panel asks McCarthy to cooperate MORE, adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerPennsylvania Republican David McCormick launches Senate campaign McEnany sits down with Jan. 6 investigators Legal aid groups want little to no part of re-upped Remain in Mexico program MORE, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and White House associate counsel Patrick Philbin (Politico). 

> 2022 watch: Can Democrats make a political comeback ahead of the midterm elections? It’s a tall task, but it’s one Democratic insiders are attempting to figure out in the midst of legislative troubles and a struggle to implement Biden’s agenda on Capitol Hill.  

As The Hill’s Hanna Trudo reports, Democratic National Committee insiders are debating how to handle the number of party disappointments, helping to create a mounting sense of despair.  While officials agree on the larger point — keeping Democrats in office — sources indicate there’s a lack of knowledge and consensus around how to do that.  

Among the other troubles is how to conduct the party’s ground game and how to message on the administration’s work thus far.  

“We’ve never been consulted on them, about how to frame them, about what impact we’ve had,” said one DNC member in touch with leadership about how to message around the possibility that the Build Back Better plan and voting rights legislation could both be doomed. “You’ve got people on the DNC — from state chairs to elected national committee people, to union leaders — who ought to be consulted about these things, who aren’t.”

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 

 

OPINION

How Biden can fix his presidency, by The Washington Post editorial board. https://wapo.st/3IkvPgG 

It might be time to consider mandatory voting in America, by Jonah Goldberg, columnist, The Los Angeles Times. https://lat.ms/33L04OJ 

2022 midterms are a no-win for Democrats, by Karl RoveKarl Christian RoveWho will write the history of Jan. 6? Karl Rove: Republicans should not allow ‘soft-pedaling’ of Jan. 6 The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Democrats ask what went wrong on Election Day MORE, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3tQ25E6

 

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations

 

Rochelle is one of many experts working on privacy at Facebook—to give you more control over your information. 

Hear more from Rochelle on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including federal privacy legislation.

 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiJoining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks MORE (D-Calif.) will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. 

The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Holly Thomas to be a U.S. circuit judge for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden and Harris will meet with members of his infrastructure task force at 11:15 a.m. He will meet with his science and technology advisory council at 4:15 p.m. Biden and the vice president will speak during a Democratic National Committee grassroots event in the executive residence at 7 p.m. 

Secretary Blinken will speak about the crisis in Ukraine at 9:45 a.m. EST from Berlin. His speech will be live streamed on www.state.gov, www.YouTube.com/statedept and contentflow.de/atlantik-bruecke/

First lady Jill BidenJill BidenHarris invokes MLK in voting rights push, urges Senate to ‘do its job’ The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE will travel to New Jersey to visit Bergen Community College at 11:30 a.m. with Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaSchool infrastructure is a children’s human rights issue — it’s time the US acknowledges that The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Altria – Jan. 6 Capitol attack back in spotlight CDC to reconsider latest guidance amid backlash, rise in cases MORE to highlight federal funding made available through the American Rescue Plan and to announce additional support from Washington.    

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, meeting in person this week, will hear today from Cabinet leaders, including secretaries Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegAirlines suspend US flights in response to 5G deployment AT&T, Verizon to delay 5G rollout near certain airports Top Democrats call on AT&T and Verizon to delay 5G rollouts near airports MORE (Transportation), Marty WalshMarty WalshQuestions facing Biden at his second solo White House presser Biden endures up-and-down first year on labor issues Biden calls on employers to mandate vaccines despite Supreme Court ruling MORE (Labor), Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeButtigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Black Caucus eager to see BBB cross finish line in House MORE (Housing and Urban Development), Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoThere’s a long road ahead for the infrastructure bill to reach success Biden’s comprehensive Indo-Pacific economic framework isn’t comprehensive at all Let’s be honest: 2021 wasn’t all bad MORE (Commerce), Cardona, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman (Small Business Administration) and Acting Administrator Stephanie Pollack (Federal Highway Administration). Pelosi speaks to the mayors at 4:25 p.m. The conference agenda is HERE

The White House press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.

ELSEWHERE

INTERNATIONAL: Meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi presented a united front against the United States. In televised remarks, Raisi told Putin it was time to take on “the power of the Americans with an increased synergy between our two countries” (The New York Times). 

SEXUAL ASSAULT SETTLEMENT: The University of Michigan agreed to a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 people who say they were sexually assaulted by Robert Anderson, a former athletics doctor, during his 37-year tenure at the school. According to the university, 1,050 people will share in the settlement, with individuals and their attorneys figuring out how to divide the money. An additional $30 million was also set aside for future claims (The Associated Press). 

➜ SCIENCE: Researchers said this week that the Earth’s core is cooling at a faster rate than previously thought. When the planet goes cold in millions or billions of years, it would lose its magnetic field, which shields Earth from harmful cosmic radiation. At that point, it would become a sterile, uninhabitable rock (NBC News). 

 

 

➜ MARK TWAIN PRIZE: Jon Stewart will be feted in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on April 24 as the 23rd recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for humor. The homage created under the banner of author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, made famous under a pen name, has not been given out since 2019 because of the pandemic. “I am truly honored to receive this award. I have long admired and been influenced by the work of Mark Twain, or, as he was known by his given name, Samuel Leibowitz,” the activist and comedian said in a reference to his given last name (The Washington Post).

THE CLOSER

And finally …  It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by new digital services announced this week, we’re eager for some smart guesses about traditional practices with online twists. 

Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday. 

Girl Scouts announced a DoorDash (contactless) purchase option for cookie sales, plus a new sweet treat. The new cookie is called ____?

  1. Fudge Crisps
  2. Choco Gluten Free
  3. Adventurefuls
  4. Tijuana Flats 

As of this week, where can Americans find free COVID-19 test kits for online ordering with postal delivery? 

  1. Amazon.com
  2. COVIDtests.gov
  3. CVS.com
  4. COVIDsafe.usa 

The Internal Revenue Service has unveiled which online tax filing help?

  1. IRS Free File Online
  2. Free File: Do Your Federal Taxes for Free
  3. Free Fillable Forms
  4. All of the above

On Tuesday, General Motors announced plans for which digital option for car buyers?

  1. GM parts-direct store
  2. GM electric vehicle financing and purchase
  3. GM upgrades and subscriptions purchases
  4. All of the above

 




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