Sun. May 26th, 2024

Morning Report — Foreign aid to get weekend vote; Mayorkas charges dismissed

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May12,2024

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There’s finally an expected date for House votes on aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Bucking conservative criticism, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Wednesday rolled out the text for three bills that would combine military assistance to Ukraine, Israel and allies in the Indo-Pacific with humanitarian aid for Gaza and other global hot spots, teeing up a weekend vote. The legislative package roughly mirrors the $95 billion aid bill the Senate passed two months ago, but is broken into three pieces that would be voted on individually. President Biden said he’d sign it. The Senate, which is out of session next week, must approve it next.

The trio of bills are part of Johnson’s plan for moving foreign aid through the House, a process that has been delayed for months amid other pressing priorities and stalled this week as his initial proposal faced intense backlash from the right flank, write The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell. Additionally, Johnson is proposing a fourth bill that includes other national security provisions, including a TikTok ban and sanctions to confront Russia, China and Iran.

The Hill: Read the text of Johnson’s bills here.

IN A TWIST from the Speaker’s initial plan, Johnson said he will move a border security measure separate from the foreign aid bills — a decision that is meant to appease conservatives who were up in arms that the priority was at first excluded. That legislation will include “core components” from H.R. 2, the border security bill House Republicans approved last year, but it hasn’t stopped conservatives from criticizing the plan. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has promised to invoke a “motion to vacate” to topple Johnson if he puts Ukraine aid on the floor.

“Listen, my philosophy is you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may … If I operated out of fear over a motion to vacate, I would never be able to do my job,” Johnson said at a Wednesday news conference when asked why he had opted to push ahead with the aid package. “This is a critical time right now … I can make a selfish decision and do something that’s different. But I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing.”

Top House Republicans are privately considering using the debate over package to raise the threshold to oust the Speaker, Punchbowl News reports. Currently, just one member is needed to start the process. 

The conservative outcry was not unexpected, but it means Johnson will need Democratic support to clear the foreign assistance legislation — both on procedural and substantive votes. And while some Democrats are bristling that they’re being called upon to help Republicans, they’re willing to support the plan to ensure aid to Ukraine — and Johnson can only afford to lose two GOP votes.

IRAN’S ATTACK ON ISRAEL over the weekend provided Johnson with an increased sense of urgency to deliver aid for U.S. allies abroad, amounting to an estimated $95 billion. But after months of Israel and Ukraine expending resources in their respective defensive wars absent U.S. assistance it’s unclear if the top-line figure will be enough. 

Republicans matched Biden’s original request for aid to Israel, a little more than $14 billion, but they have shaved off about $10 billion in aid for Ukraine, The Hill’s Laura Kelly reports. The Ukrainian government, its supporters and analysts say there is no time to waste for Congress to approve more aid, as the shortage of U.S. assistance has had major, potentially irreversible consequences for Ukraine on the battlefield against Russia.

“There’s now concern that absent assistance arriving very quickly, Russia may actually be able to break through some of the Ukrainian lines and retake territory,” said Michèle Flournoy, who served as undersecretary for defense policy during the Obama administration.

3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:

▪ House Republicans attached legislation that would ban TikTok to the pending international aid measure, boosting odds of passage.

▪ House lawmakers from both parties approved nearly a dozen measures Wednesday that would punish or condemn Iran for its recent attacks on Israel.

▪ Good read: Hundreds of thousands of undersea cables make the internet possible. They’re maintained by a secretive, specialized team floating on standby ships, ready at all times to fix them.

👉 Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will keep his job, as expected, entering the history books Wednesday as the first Cabinet member to be impeached by the House since 1876 while also being rescued by the Senate, which voted along party lines to dismiss charges without a trial. Democrats accused Republicans of staging a months-long political drama about immigration to appeal to their base in an election year. The GOP warned Democrats, who disposed of the matter within hours, that they would regret setting a precedent.

LEADING THE DAY

© The Associated Press / Gene J. Puskar | Biden, campaigning in Pennsylvania this week, spoke Wednesday at the United Steelworkers headquarters in Pittsburgh.

POLITICS

Biden, who is campaigning this week through swing-state Pennsylvania, responded to Trump’s legal troubles and the former president’s broadsides about prosecutors and judges with a shrug. “His lack of ethics has nothing to do with me,” the president told Nexstar journalist Reshad Hudson during a Tuesday interview in Scranton, Pa..

Biden and his campaign are in general election mode, reminding voters of the manufacturing jobs that Trump once promised Pennsylvanians and insisting those jobs never materialized. Biden and his team want to counter Trump’s narrative that Americans would be better off if Trump returned to the White House. They’re wielding examples of Biden’s “Scranton values” along with wonky economic data points about delivering for the middle class.

When asked about high prices for food and consumer goods, Biden told Nexstar Media Group, owner of The Hill, “We’ve brought down inflation considerably by over two-thirds, and it is being stubborn and not going down to 2 percent [the Federal Reserve’s goal]. But it’s significantly different.”

One in seven jobs “in Pennsylvania steel and iron mills” disappeared during the Trump presidency, the incumbent’s campaign said Wednesday in a statement filled with comparative statistics, “while President Biden is bringing steel manufacturing jobs back, with 1,300 jobs added.” 

In Pittsburgh, Biden told union workers at United Steelworkers headquarters Wednesday that China’s subsidized steel companies “are not competing, they’re cheating.” He proposed tripling the tariff rate on steel and aluminum imports from China, a move that echoed Trump’s trade war with Beijing. The powerful union endorsed the president for reelection last month.

Candidate Biden has a theory about how to get under Trump’s skin while trying to appeal to voters who say they’re weary of his predecessor: Mock him, The Hill’s Alex Gangitano reports. A rule in campaigns is to sow doubts about the attributes an opponent holds most dear about themselves. Biden boasts he’s honest; Republicans assert he’s part of a crime family with son Hunter Biden. 

To turn the tables, Trump’s words, deeds and self-regard present an abundance of material, Democratic advisers believe. Belittling an opponent is also a way to assert dominance and present an aura of confidence in a close contest when the candidates are publicly well known and neither is tops with a majority of voters.

2024 ROUNDUP:

▪ America has one president at a time. Trump, however, is campaigning to scramble that perception by meeting and conferring with leaders from other countries. For two-and-a-half hours, the former president hosted Polish President Andrzej Duda at Trump Tower Wednesday. There were photos and a White House-style “readout” of their time together.

▪ The Kennedy family, in the latest rebuke to independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., will endorse Biden today in Philadelphia.

▪ Biden and Trump are tied nationally, according to the latest The Hill/Decision Desk HQ aggregation of surveys. (National polls can reveal the mood of the electorate, but presidential elections are won in the states and in the Electoral College, so keep an eye on state-based polls.) 

▪ The Biden campaign wants to make Trump the face of the anti-abortion movement.

▪ State House Republicans in Arizona on Wednesday scuttled another effort to repeal the state’s 1864 law banning abortion.

▪ Measured in dollars, Trump’s campaign cannot keep pace with Biden’s support from donors, the president’s team says. “Trump … is too lazy to campaign, too toxic to generate enthusiasm or grassroots support, and too obsessed with his own personal revenge and retribution to expand his coalition,” Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer said in a statement exclusively to The Hill.

▪ Megaphone: Trump has thus far transformed a criminal trial in Manhattan into a spectacle in the largest media market in America. “They want to keep me off the campaign trail. But based on what I’m doing, I think there’s more press here than there is if I went out to some nice location,” the former president told a crowd Tuesday.

▪ “Bull—-,” was a retort House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) let fly Wednesday while describing what he said was criticism he received from Americans for Tax Reform anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, who was not present to hear it. Arrington spoke during an event hosted by The Hill and the Bipartisan Policy Center while discussing an ongoing push in Congress to establish a fiscal commission he backs. Arrington quickly apologized for his language but not for his perspective.

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 9 a.m.

The Senate will convene at 11 a.m.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. He will depart the White House for Philadelphia to speak at two afternoon campaign events before returning to the White House.

Vice President Harris will participate in a closed-press conversation about gun violence prevention ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting in Colorado. She will record two radio interviews with outlets her office did not identify. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Capri, Italy, where he met with Ukranian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in the morning. Blinken participated in the morning session of the Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting, followed by a special session dealing with the Red Sea. The secretary at midday will pose for a group G7 photo and attend a working lunch with African Union representatives. This afternoon, Blinken participates in a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting about Russia’s war with Ukraine. He will join his counterparts and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian foreign minister Kuleba for a group photo. The secretary will attend an afternoon G7 session focused on supporting Ukraine, followed by another group photo and a dinner in Capri.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is participating this week in the annual gatherings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) in Washington. This morning she has a meeting with Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors, then an afternoon bilateral meeting at the IMF with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt. Yellen will meet with Italian Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti at 1:15 p.m. before participating at 2 p.m. in a ministerial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force. This afternoon, the secretary will meet with New Zealand Finance Minister Nicola Willis, then host a meeting of the Five Eyes finance ministers with Hunt, Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Willis.

Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. reports on claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending April 12.

ZOOM IN

© The Associated Press / Ohad Zwigenberg | Israeli soldiers on Wednesday sat next to armored personnel carriers near the Israeli-Gaza border in southern Israel.

INTERNATIONAL

Israel’s closest Western allies have pleaded with the country’s government for days not to risk igniting a wider war with its response to Iran’s missile and drone attacks last weekend. Top diplomats from Germany and Britain delivered that message in person to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. But Netanyahu remains resolute that his country will not bow to any outside pressure when choosing its response, declaring before a Cabinet meeting that Israel would “do everything necessary to defend itself” and warned the allies that “we will make our own decisions.”

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron acknowledged just before meeting with the prime minister that Israel was unlikely to heed Western pleas, though no details of the planned response have been made public (The New York Times).

“It is clear that the Israelis are making a decision to act,” Cameron told the BBC. “We hope that they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible.”

The New York Times: A miscalculation led to an escalation in the clash between Israel and Iran. Israeli officials said they didn’t see a strike on a high-level Iranian target in Syria as a provocation and did not give Washington a heads-up about it until right before it happened.

TALKS FOR A NEW CEASE-FIRE and hostage release in Gaza are at a “delicate phase,” Qatar said Wednesday, and a senior Arab diplomat told NBC News that the talks are “almost frozen.”

“We are trying as much as possible to address this stumbling block,” said Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. “We are trying as much as possible to address this stumbling block and to move forward to put an end to this suffering.”

Meanwhile, Qatar is undertaking a “comprehensive evaluation” of its position as a mediator, Al Thani said Wednesday in a statement, reiterating Qatar’s rejection of recent criticism of its role (The Washington Post).

▪ ProPublica: A special State Department panel told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the U.S. should restrict arms sales to Israeli military units that have been credibly accused of human rights abuses. He has not taken any action.

▪ CBS News: Under pressure from the U.S. and other allies to flood Gaza with humanitarian aid, Israel insists it’s doing everything it can, and it blames the United Nations for the starvation of thousands of Palestinians in the war-torn enclave.

▪ CNN: The head of the UN’s main relief agency in Gaza (UNRWA) has said that an “insidious campaign” is underway to end its operations, warning of “serious implications for international peace and security.”

▪ Financial Times: The U.S. and European Union are preparing new sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone program in response to the attack on Israel.

ELSEWHERE

© The Associated Press / Yuki Iwamura | Former President Trump in New York on Tuesday.

TRUMP WORLD

Former President Trump will soon come face-to-face with trial witnesses who could include former White House aides, Trump Organization employees and multiple people allegedly compensated to remain silent. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) team is expected to question key players in Trump’s 2016 orbit and those who knew about hush money, alleged falsification of business records and asserted motivations to try to hide potentially damaging information from voters ahead of an election. The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld looks at the potential trial witness list.

▪ Reuters: Trump’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen will be a key witness. Prosecutors’ reliance on Cohen’s testimony presents risks, given the disbarred lawyer’s history of false statements.

▪ NBC News: Trump complained about the jury selection process and argued he should be entitled to “unlimited” strikes of potential jurors because he’s in one of the “worst” venues in the country.

▪ The Hill: Trump on trial: What we know so far.

▪ The Washington Post analysis: Trump’s outbursts as a criminal defendant come with increasing risks — for all.

OPINION

■ Will America let Ukraine collapse? by The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

■ Roundtable: Three writers dissect the Trump trial, with columnist David French and former federal prosecutors Mary McCord and Ken White, The New York Times.

THE CLOSER

© The Associated Press / Michael Probst | Bumblebees in Germany in 2023.

Take Our Morning Report Quiz

And finally … 🌷🌼🪻 It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the warmer weather, we’re eager for some smart guesses about springtime.

Be sure to email your responses to [email protected] and [email protected] — please add “Quiz” to your subject line. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

Scientists recently discovered what fact about bumblebees, the pollinators that help spring flowers bloom?

They can communicate with humans by flying in specific patterns

Some species can survive underwater for up to a week

Their honey has a surprising amount of protein

The stripes on their backs change as they age

As Washington, D.C., prepares for Tidal Basin updates, Japan will gift the city 250 more of which iconic flowering trees?

Crabapple

Magnolia

Cherry Blossom

Wisteria

Climate change is resulting in a warmer and longer spring season.

True

False

In literature, what does spring not typically represent?

Rebirth

Revival

Solemnity

New beginnings

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Morning Report — Foreign aid to get weekend vote; Mayorkas charges dismissed”
  1. It’s about time they took action on foreign aid. I believe this approach is crucial for supporting global stability and security. Let’s hope this vote brings positive outcomes for all the countries in need.

  2. Is this aid package specifically targeted at Ukraine and Israel, or does it include other countries as well?

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