The Hill's Morning Report — Trump to address nation as shutdown hits day 18




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*** The Clemson Tigers trounced the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16 last night behind freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. ***

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' MORE will deliver his first prime-time address from the Oval Office tonight amid a partial government shutdown provoked by his demand that Congress allocate $5.7 billion for a wall along the southern border.

Democrats, who control the House and have repeatedly rejected the president’s funding demand, asked networks for equal airtime to counter the president’s speech.

On Thursday, Trump will travel to a spot along the U.S.-Mexico divide, where he’ll repeat his belief that conditions there represent a “humanitarian and national security crisis” that require immediate attention.

The president is turning to the bully pulpit, as Republicans grow increasingly worried that they’ll bear the blame for the shutdown, which is entering its 18th day. The longest-ever federal appropriations lapse extended 21 days, beginning in 1995 and ending in 1996.

The Hill: Trump to address nation on wall.

Here’s the latest as Washington seeks a way out…

The White House

The president’s use of the term “national security crisis” is intentional.



The White House has been discussing how it could circumvent Congress and direct money toward the wall. One option being considered is to declare a national emergency at the border, although that’s legally questionable and would be challenged in court.

The New York Times: Primer on the powers triggered through a presidential declaration of national emergency. As a matter of legal procedure, facts [to support an emergency] may be irrelevant.”

The Atlantic: What the president could do if he declares a state of emergency. “Entirely within his discretion, more than 100 special provisions become available to him.”

Brennan Center for Justice: A guide to emergency powers and their use, and the center’s list of 58 national emergencies declared from 1978-2018 under the National Emergencies Act.

The House

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Pelosi on Baltimore's Columbus statue: 'If the community doesn't want the statue, the statue shouldn't be there' Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections MORE (D-Calif.) and Democrats believe they have the president cornered because of the public’s rising impatience with the impasse. The House has already passed legislation that fully funds the government, although the GOP-controlled Senate has refused to take it up because it didn’t have additional funds for a wall.

This week, Pelosi envisions taking a piecemeal approach — putting up a series of noncontroversial bills that would individually fund the agencies impacted by the shutdown. The votes are intended to raise the temperature under Trump and Senate Republicans to budge or come up with a solution.

The Hill: Pelosi cranks up shutdown pressure on Trump, GOP

The Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse chairman asks CDC director to testify on reopening schools during pandemic Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections MORE (R-Ky.) has so far remained steadfast in his demand that the House send the Senate a spending bill that includes additional money for the wall.

But the number of GOP senators in his caucus urging a vote to fund the government is growing, an indication that vulnerable lawmakers up for reelection are feeling the heat.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have a plan to try to strong-arm Republicans into a vote to end the partial shutdown. Senate Democrats are saying they’ll create paralysis by filibustering everything unless there’s a vote on the House-passed spending package. There are 47 Democrats in the Senate and they’d only need 40 to unite to gum up the works in the upper chamber.

The Hill: Democrats have a plan to jam up Senate over shutdown fight.

The agencies

The pain is about to become real.

If there’s no deal reached by midnight tonight, federal employees will miss their next paychecks, which are due on Friday.

The effects are being felt everywhere from the U.S. Coast Guard, to airports and national parks, as well as across from the U.S. Capitol at the Supreme Court.

The Memo: Absent paychecks may put Trump in a bind.

The Hill: Shutdown’s impact shows signs of growing.

The Hill: Government shutdown closes in on high court.

The White House appears to have averted one shutdown-related crisis, saying that the IRS will issue tax refunds, irrespective of whether the Treasury Department and IRS are fully funded when tax filings pile up (The Hill).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The Trump administration moved through a second day of trade talks in Beijing, eager to try to push China to follow through on its trade promises before a March 2 deadline (The Wall Street Journal). President Xi Jinping’s top trade negotiator appeared unexpectedly at the talks (Bloomberg). On Tuesday, China announced it approved the import of five genetically modified U.S. crops, the first such opening in 18 months (Reuters).

> Meanwhile, adding yet another twist, Xi arranged a meeting in China with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un only days after Kim warned he may take an alternative path — a “new way” — if the United States does not ease sanctions and pressures on North Korea (Reuters). Kim, who is celebrating his 36th birthday today, arrived in Beijing by train after U.S. and North Korean officials are believed to have met in Vietnam to discuss the location of a pending second summit between Kim and Trump (The Associated Press).

> In the United States, Apple’s projection last week of lower earnings blamed on a shrinking Chinese economy raised the stakes for U.S. negotiators to find a way to end the ratcheting up of tariffs between the two governments (The Hill).

Syria: Trump on Monday denied backtracking on his order to the Pentagon last month to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria within 30 days, even as his advisers at the White House and the Pentagon said a timeline is dependent on new conditions on the ground and could stretch to four to six months and perhaps longer (The Hill).



> The U.S. military is executing a conditions-based troop withdrawal plan in Syria with no timetable, the Pentagon said Monday (The Hill).

> President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said today in Ankara that Turkey cannot accept Trump’s condition of protection of Kurdish forces fighting in Syria (Reuters). He said White House national security adviser John Bolton made a “serious mistake” in making it a condition for U.S. withdrawal of troops from neighboring Syria in the battle to defeat the Islamic State there. Any Erdoğan-Bolton meeting was predicted to be contentious even before Trump’s adviser arrived in Turkey (The Associated Press and The Guardian).




POLITICS: Everyone wants to be president. So far, more than 400 people have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Of course, most of those who have filed won’t leave an impact on the race. But the big question is – how many Democrats will seek the party’s nomination? Twenty? Thirty? More?

One of the hottest Democratic names out there is former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who has captivated the imagination of liberals with thoughts of turning Texas blue.

A “draft Beto” movement is underway and O’Rourke is planning a cross-country trip as he seeks to connect with voters outside of his home state (The Wall Street Journal).



Amie Parnes reports that Republicans are taking the Texan seriously. GOP operatives are feverishly combing through the archives looking for opposition research on O’Rourke, giving a fresh look to everything from his voting record to his DWI in 1998 (The Hill).



More from campaigns and politics … 2020 Democratic contenders face a tough decision on whether to accept money from special interests, corporations and lobbyists (The Hill)Crucial legislative elections in Virginia this year will offer the latest window into Trump’s chances at winning reelection (The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley & Alexis Simendinger Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Reasons to be wary in 2019, by Joseph R. DeTrani, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Get used to market volatility, it’s here to stay, by Anik Sen, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features guest interviewer and actor Richard Schiff with Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuMilley confirms soldiers deployed to DC amid unrest were given bayonets Trump campaign touts 4M online viewers for Tulsa rally Trump mocked for low attendance at rally MORE (D-Calif.); Paul Shearon of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, talking about how NASA engineers are affected by the partial federal shutdown; and Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the grassroots progressive group Indivisible, discussing the Democrats’ agenda in the 116th Congress.

The House convenes at noon and begins legislative business at 2 p.m. The House Rules Committee meets at 5 p.m. to organize and to craft a rule on four appropriations acts.

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act.

The president will deliver an eight-minute address about border security at 9 p.m. Eastern from the White House.

White House adviser Bolton is in Turkey.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIn Russian bounty debate, once again this administration lacks intelligence Trump administration sanctions Chinese officials over human rights abuses WHO sets up independent panel to assess global coronavirus response MORE is visiting Arab capitals in Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait through Jan. 15. While in Cairo, Pompeo is expected to deliver a speech critical of former President Obama’s policies, including the previous administration’s engagement with Iran, which was ended by Trump (Politico).


> Supreme Court: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, continues to recover at home from surgery performed Dec. 21 to remove cancerous nodules from her left lung. On Monday, she missed oral arguments for the first time since joining the court but will participate in cases using briefs, filings and transcripts of oral arguments, a court spokeswoman said (The Hill).

> Mueller report update: Trump and his legal team are weighing possible options to try to suppress some of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s eventual report to the Justice Department from going to Congress and to the public (Bloomberg). Senators will reintroduce a bill to protect Mueller’s investigation this week (The Hill).

> Tech: The largest technology expo is underway in Las Vegas. For consumers who love gadgets and innovations, toothbrushes using artificial intelligence are in, and driverless cars are fading at CES 2019 (The Associated Press).


And finally …   Major air and subway carriers on Monday launched new policies saying travelers should take more bikes and fewer animals on trips.

On Monday, D.C.’s Metro system began letting commuters bring bicycles on subway trains during rush hour, hoping the invitation might boost ridership (WJLA).

Also on Monday, United Airlines joined Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines to impose new restrictions on passengers who fly with emotional support animals, now limited to dogs and cats on flights of certain durations (USA Today).

Perhaps the most memorable “emotional support” animal story last year involved Dexter, a peacock barred by United from winging his way with his human from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Los Angeles. Photos HERE and video HERE. BTW, Dexter died unexpectedly in July in New York, reportedly in the arms of his owner.