Morning Report — It’s crunch time on foreign aid

Jamie Roberts By Jamie Roberts Jun15,2024

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As a planned weekend vote on a foreign aid and national security legislation package draws closer, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is rolling the dice.

Johnson, who leads a razor-thin Republican House majority, needs Democratic support to pass a series of bills that would provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. But he also risks losing his gavel, as far-right conservatives have taken steps toward calling a vote to oust him. The Hill’s Mychael Schnell and Mike Lillis report votes are set for tomorrow on the $95 billion, four-bill package, which in addition to aid includes provisions on national security and a TikTok ban.

What was always going to be a heavy political lift is made more difficult by a pair of concessions Johnson inherited from his predecessor — a one-member threshold for calling a motion to vacate the Speakership, and giving conservatives a bloc of seats on the House Rules Committee, which controls what legislation can make it to the House floor. The bills cleared that committee late Thursday as party leaders narrowly avoided a blockade from conservatives — and Democrats had to come to the GOP’s rescue. Reminder: The minority party helping the majority in the Rules Committee is as rare as an eclipse. 

After considering a rule change to raise the threshold for an ouster, Johnson on Thursday announced he would leave the motion-to-vacate rule as it is. Such a move would have infuriated conservatives in the House and would have significantly increased the chances of a challenge to Johnson’s Speakership. 

“Democrats will not be responsible for this bill failing,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said Thursday.

Still, The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in The Memo that Johnson may just pull it off, and earn some goodwill from Democrats and moderate Republicans in the process. Both groups overwhelmingly believe in the need for the aid, especially for Ukraine — where troops risk running out of ammunition against Russia’s attack — and they appear reluctant to put that at risk simply to sow further chaos in the GOP conference.

The foreign aid bills closely mirror a Senate package, and if they pass the House they would be sent to the Senate for a vote. President Biden also supports the bills, and vowed to sign them once they cross his desk.

“You get to a point where you can’t let yourself be held hostage by a fringe wing,” said GOP strategist Alex Conant, who worked on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign. “The vast majority of Republicans don’t want to surrender Ukraine and support giving our allies what they need.”

▪ The Hill: Baltic Parliament leaders issued their support for Johnson ahead of a high-stakes Ukraine vote.

▪ Politico magazine: Sen. JD Vance’s (R-Ohio) push to quash Ukraine aid is part of a larger plan.

▪ The Hill: Republican impeachment efforts against Biden and his Cabinet appear to have hit a brick wall after the Senate this week swiftly dismissed articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

▪ The Hill: These are the 14 lawmakers who voted against condemning Iran’s attack on Israel.

Also factoring into Johnson’s squeeze: The Speaker can only lose two votes to pass anything given the slim GOP majority, which will narrow to one vote once Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) resigns this weekend. Over on the Democratic side of the aisle, Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) remains hospitalized after a “cardiac episode.”

Meanwhile, a bill that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act cleared a procedural hurdle on Thursday, paving the way for its passage ahead of a looming deadline tonight when the intelligence community surveillance tool would expire. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing for swift reauthorization of the law, which comes as Senate critics have had a myriad of complaints about Section 702, notably that the government can get access without a warrant to Americans’ data when they are interacting with foreign targets of the law.

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) are pushing an amendment to require such a warrant, reigniting a battle that failed with a tie vote in the House.

The intelligence community has suggested the provision would be unworkable, and the Biden administration swiftly came out swinging against the amendment, calling it “a reckless policy choice contrary to the key lessons of 9/11 and not grounded in any constitutional requirement or statute.”


▪ 🎼 Taylor Swift. Up today: a breakup album and a music video at 8 p.m. ET. Will it be poetry for her bank account? Absolutely.

▪ Lost that purloined Netflix password? The company gained more than 9 million subscribers after its password-sharing crackdown and scored its best quarter for new subscribers since the pandemic.

▪ Apple is under orders from China to remove some of the world’s most popular chat and messaging apps. WhatsApp, Threads, Signal and Telegram were removed Friday in that country. Beijing’s explanation? National security, according to Apple.

👉 Boeing this week denied assertions by a whistleblower who testified to Senate committees Wednesday that the company compromised safety in its 787 jets. “I have analyzed Boeing’s own data to conclude that the company is taking manufacturing shortcuts on the 787 program that may significantly reduce the airplane safety and the lifecycle,” Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour told senators. Congress is gathering testimony about safety and assembly issues, and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating after a door panel on a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet blew off an Alaska Airlines flight midair in January. Senators want to hear from Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, who has not committed to testify. Calhoun announced in March that he will retire at the end of the year.  


© The Associated Press / Matt Rourke | President Biden on Thursday in Philadelphia was endorsed for reelection by members of the Kennedy family, including siblings of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


More than a dozen members of the Kennedy family appeared Thursday in Philadelphia to endorse President Biden for reelection and thereby rejected independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who wrote on the social platform X, “We are divided in our opinions but united in our love for each other.”

Among relatives backing Biden: RFK Jr.’s siblings. Kennedy family members have voiced anxiety about Kennedy’s promotion of conspiracy theories and concern that his candidacy could siphon votes away from Biden in close states in November, potentially helping Trump to victory, The New York Times reported.

Nearly a year ago, Jack Schlossberg, grandson of President John F. Kennedy and son of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, U.S. ambassador to Australia, publicly rebuked his cousin, who entered the presidential race as a Democrat before switching his affiliation to independent. Schlossberg, in an Instagram video and later on morning TV, urged RFK Jr. to support Biden because of the president’s record on “issues that matter.”

He accused his relative of “trading in on Camelot, celebrity, conspiracy theories, and conflict for personal gain and fame.”

Upshot: Biden team broadsides aimed at RFK Jr. are expected to increase between now and Nov. 5. 

Political trend to watch: Latino congressional representation has expanded into the Pacific Northwest, reports The Hill’s Rafael Bernal, who previews possible expansion next year.


▪ Kennedy has met the threshold to get on Michigan’s ballot, his campaign said Thursday.

▪ Trump scheduled a campaign rally Saturday in Wilmington, N.C. Speaking outside a “freezing” Manhattan courtroom Thursday, he complained about the constraints of being a defendant stuck in New York. “I’m supposed to be in New Hampshire. I’m supposed to be in Georgia. I’m supposed to be in North Carolina and South Carolina,” he said. “I’m supposed to be a hundred different places campaigning. But I’m here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial.”

▪ And speaking of North Carolina, Trump leads Biden in the state, according to the latest poll. The former president narrowly won the state in 2020.

▪ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” will broadcast live from the Democratic National Convention in Chicago Aug. 19-22 on CBS.

▪ Book notes: Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will publish a memoir, “The Art of Power,” out Aug. 6.


The House will meet at 9 a.m.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. He will depart the White House to address a conference hosted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at noon at a Washington hotel. Biden will depart for Wilmington, Del., this evening.

Vice President Harris has no public schedule.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Capri, Italy, for Group of Seven meetings of foreign ministers. He participated in a morning session about the Indo-Pacific, followed by a session on economic development and democratic resilience. The secretary scheduled a press conference at 12:20 p.m. local time.  

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is participating in meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) in Washington, beginning with a working breakfast, a bilateral meeting with Kenya’s finance minister, Njuguna Ndung’u, at the Treasury Department, a gathering of finance ministers for meetings of American Partnership for Economic Prosperity, and a pull-aside meeting with Ecuador’s finance minister, Juan Carlos Vega. In the afternoon, Yellen will join a meeting of the World Bank Development Committee at the World Bank. While there, she will meet with Minister of Finance Elisabeth Svantesson of Sweden, Minister of Finance Riikka Purra of Finland, and Minister of Finance Gintarė Skaistė of Lithuania.

First lady Jill Biden will fly to Bloomington, Minn., to speak at 7:30 p.m. local time at the Education Minnesota Convention. Later, she will fly to Denver and remain overnight to participate at noon on Saturday in a women’s health research discussion at the University of Colorado’s medical campus.

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


© The Associated Press / Jabin Botsford, The Washington Post | Former President Trump on Thursday returned to a Manhattan courthouse where he’s a criminal defendant.


Lawyers completed the process of selecting 12 jurors and one alternate Thursday for the Manhattan criminal trial of former President Trump. Five more alternate jurors have yet to be chosen, and opening arguments could begin Monday.

The former president is accused of falsifying business records to hide payments to cover up a sexual scandal while wooing voters in 2016. Trump says he’s not guilty, denies an affair with adult movie celebrity Stormy Daniels and maintains he’s the victim of a New York political “witch hunt” and “election interference.”

The jury selection this week was swift but filled with hurdles — for the defendant, chafing under a judicial process he does not control — and for jurors, two of whom were excused Thursday. One exited after Fox News reported details of her life and questioned her impartiality. Dozens of prospective jurors were dismissed later in the day after they said they could not be fair and impartial.

▪ The Guardian: The Trump trial jury includes seven men and five women.

▪ The New York Times and The Hill: Frustration for a judge.

▪ Axios: Trump jurors face MAGA’s microscope.

Judge Juan Merchan, laboring to balance New York’s open court system against reporting about jurors’ lives, urged restraint in coverage of the trial. He instructed journalists not to report prospective jurors’ current or past employers, a decision that some media law experts questioned. News organizations said Thursday they would seek to clarify and defend their First Amendment rights (The New York Times). 

On court dockets next week are two other items of interest to the former president and prosecutors. Trump faces a Tuesday hearing about gag order violations, which prosecutors complain are a continuing problem that merits punishment. And on Thursday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether Trump, as he claims, has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions and decisions he made as president. Trump has been ordered to attend his Manhattan trial in compliance with New York law. He will not be in Washington to witness Supreme Court justices’ questioning, Merchan told Trump this week.


© The Associated Press / Yuki Iwamura | Iran’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Ambassador to the United Nations Amir Saeid Iravani at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.


ISRAEL STRIKES IN IRAN AND SYRIA: Israel hit a military air base near the city of Isfahan, in central Iran early this morning local time in response to Tehran’s attack on Israel last weekend, according to Iranian officials said the strike. For nearly a week, world leaders have urged the two countries to avoid sparking a broader war in the region (The New York Times). Early Friday, Israel also carried out a missile strike targeting an air defense unit in southern Syria, causing material damage (The Associated Press).

NEW SANCTIONS: The U.S. and U.K. announced new sanctions against Iran on Thursday. The Biden administration is targeting the country’s missile and drone program in an effort by allies to ramp up economic pressure on the Iranian government (NBC News).

“Let it be clear to all those who enable or support Iran’s attacks: The United States is committed to Israel’s security,” Biden said. “We are committed to the security of our personnel and partners in the region. And we will not hesitate to take all necessary action to hold you accountable.”

SENIOR U.S. AND ISRAELI OFFICIALS held a virtual meeting Thursday to discuss Israel’s plans for the southern Gaza city of Rafah and its consideration of a retaliatory strike against Iran. Biden has urged Israel not to conduct a large-scale offensive in Rafah to avoid more civilian casualties, where Palestinian health authorities say more than 33,000 people have been killed.

Meanwhile, Iran’s strike has refocused attention on the border with Lebanon, where Iran’s ally, Hezbollah, has long been fighting a muted war that could be the target of an Israeli retaliation. Attacks have ebbed and flowed as the war in Gaza drags on, punctuated by U.S. stabs at negotiating a diplomatic solution to resolve long-standing security issues (The Washington Post).

▪ Axios: The U.S. on Thursday voted no and vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution to accept Palestine as a full member of the U.N.

▪ ABC News: Two former senior Israeli military officials said a direct military strike against Iranian territory would not be in Israel’s best interests.

▪ The New York Times: Here is how Israel’s military conflicts could escalate.


■ The West needs to make Ukraine aid sustainable, by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.

■ Democrats’ investments in their multiracial coalition are already paying off, by Democratic Reps. Grace Meng (N.Y.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) and Linda Sánchez (Calif.), opinion contributors, The Hill.


© The Associated Press / Mark Schiefelbein | Cherry blossom trees line the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

And finally … 👏👏👏 Kudos to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! Asked for trivia mastery about springtime, readers delivered.

🌸 Here’s who went 4/4: Patrick Kavanagh, Richard E. Baznik, Stan Wasser, Linda L. Field, Carmine Petracca, Rick Schmidtke, Linda Muse, Jaina Mehta Buck, William Chittam, Joe Atchue, Paul Quillen, John van Santen, Terry Pflaumer, Randall S. Patrick, Robert Bradley, David Newton, Richard O. Fanning, Lou Tisler, Chuck Schoenenberger, Steve James and John Trombetti.

They knew that some bee species can survive underwater for up to a week, according to scientists.

Japan is donating to the nation’s capital 250 additional cherry blossom trees.

It is true that the effects of climate change mean a warmer and longer spring season.

In literature, spring is upbeat and not typically associated with solemnity.

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Jamie Roberts

By Jamie Roberts

Jamie is an award-winning investigative journalist with a focus on uncovering corruption and advocating for social justice. With over a decade of experience in the field, Jamie's work has been instrumental in bringing about positive change in various communities.

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2 thoughts on “Morning Report — It’s crunch time on foreign aid”
  1. Speaker Mike Johnson is definitely in a tough spot now, having to navigate through both party politics and international aid issues. It seems like his leadership skills are being put to the ultimate test in this crucial moment.

  2. Will the foreign aid and national security legislation package have enough bipartisan support to pass? It seems like Speaker Mike Johnson is facing quite a challenge.

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