The Hill's Morning Report — Lawmakers: We are closing on a deal

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report, and TGIF! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, you can find us at @joneasley and @asimendinger.

*** Former Michigan Rep. John DingellJohn DingellAlaskan becomes longest serving Republican in House history The Hill's 12:30 Report: Cohen back on the hot seat Cummings shows how oversight should be done - and that's bad news for Trump MORE, 92, a giant figure in Congress and its longest serving member, died Thursday. The stalwart Democrat arrived in Congress in 1955 to fill a seat held by his father John Dingell, Sr., and continued to serve for more than 59 years until he announced in 2014 that he would not seek re-election. His wife, Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellOvernight Health Care: Trump poised to roll back transgender health protections | House Dems plan 'Medicare for All' hearing next week | Walgreens, Rite Aid raise tobacco-buying age to 21 | Drug distributor faces charges for role in opioid crisis Conserving tiny forage fish, the heroes of our shared ocean ecosystem House Dems to hold hearing on 'Medicare for All' next week MORE, ran for his House seat and is serving her third term. *** 

The Detroit Free Press: A power couple in Washington and Michigan.

The New York Times: House “Bull” dies at 92.



Lawmakers working on a border deal say they’re getting close and could strike an agreement to avoid a government shutdown as soon as this weekend.

A bipartisan group of negotiators in the House and Senate is working furiously to pull together a funding bill that can pass both chambers and be sent to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE before a Feb. 15 deadline.

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig Shelby20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall Conservatives urge Trump to stick with Moore for Fed Poll: Roy Moore leading Alabama GOP field MORE (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he believes a deal will be reached among House and Senate negotiators in the coming days. Shelby was at the White House on Thursday to brief Trump on the negotiations.

“The president urged me to get to `yes.’ He would like us to conclude our bill in a positive way for the American people.” — Shelby 

The Hill: Lawmakers say they’re closing in on border deal to prevent shutdown.

The primary hang-up is semantics tied to a “wall,” and whether Democratic concessions for some sort of “barrier” or “fencing” will satisfy Trump.

The president has said repeatedly that congressional negotiators are wasting their time if they don’t send him a bill with additional money for a wall. He’s been pushing for $5.7 billion. 

It’s still possible the president could declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and redirect federal dollars toward a border wall, although on Thursday he signaled an openness to examining what negotiators come up with. 

"We'll see what happens, but I certainly hear they're working on something, and both sides are moving along. We'll see what happens. We need border security. We have to have it. It's not an option. Let's see what happens." — Trump

White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyNielsen was warned not to talk to Trump about new Russian election interference: report Oversight chair wants to hold ex-White House official in contempt Consumer bureau to give firms more info about investigations MORE will meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Camp David this weekend for what lawmakers who’ve been invited described as discussions with a separate but related agenda. The president will not be on hand.

More on the negotiations … Bipartisan efforts to end shutdowns for good are losing steam (The Hill) … Border lawmakers are raising privacy concerns amid a bipartisan push to build a "smart wall" (The Hill).


INVESTIGATIONS: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report MORE (D-Calif.) has hired for his investigations at least one former White House aide who served under President Obama and then remained beyond the transition to help the Trump administration. News of the chairman’s move dramatically escalated tensions with the president.

Olivia Beavers reports that Schiff brought on Abigail Grace, an Obama-era holdover and former member of Trump’s National Security Council.

The president is fuming.



Schiff replied:

"We have a long tradition of hiring out of the intelligence community, the National Security Council. And if the president is worried about our hiring any former administration people, maybe he should work on being a better employer."

The Hill: Dems ready to issue subpoena for phone records linked to Trump Tower meeting.



> Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify before the House Judiciary Committee today after a standoff with House Democrats. 

Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) authorized a subpoena to compel Whitaker’s testimony, even though Whitaker had already agreed to attend.

Whitaker promptly withdrew, saying that he would not attend under threat of a subpoena.


Late Thursday, Nadler sought to defuse the situation, saying that if Whitaker shows up there would be no need to subpoena him. Whitaker is now slated to testify, according to Nadler (The Hill).

Democrats are planning to grill him on whether he has sought to influence special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe and whether he’s talked with the president about the investigation’s findings (The Hill). 

Whitaker will soon turn over the keys of the Justice Department to William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general. Barr was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and will be considered by the GOP-controlled Senate sometime later this month (The Hill).

Poll: 90 percent say Mueller’s report should be made public.

> Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote an extraordinary blog post late Thursday in which he accused American Media Inc. (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer, of “extortion and blackmail.” Read the blog post HERE. Bezos said the tabloid threatened to publish embarrassing pictures of him if he did not publicly state that the Enquirer’s coverage of an alleged affair was not politically motivated. Trump is close friends with AMI CEO David Pecker

The Associated Press: Bezos tells of Enquirer threat to publish revealing pictures.

Bloomberg: Trump era’s biggest winner is his nemesis Bezos.




POLITICS & 2020: A new survey of the Democratic presidential field has former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenButtigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election This is the Joe Biden you rarely see Minorities, older adults push Biden to top of 2020 poll MORE in the lead at 25 percent, followed by Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? K Street support to test Buttigieg MORE (D-Calif.) at 17 percent, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Minorities, older adults push Biden to top of 2020 poll The difference between good and bad tax reform MORE (D-Mass.) at 11 percent and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Meghan McCain: Bernie Sanders supporting prisoners being able to vote 'bats**t insane' MORE (I-Vt.) at 10 percent.

Amie Parnes writes that Biden could be haunted by his decades-long political record, and in particular his vote to authorize war in Iraq (The Hill).



> Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke has set an end of the month deadline to decide whether he’s running for president. The Dallas Morning News reports that some Texas Democrats would like to see O’Rourke pass on a presidential run and instead take another shot at the Senate, where Sen. John CornynJohn CornynKushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Cornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid MORE (R-Texas) is up for reelection.

> Five-term Rep. Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallLatino group urges state lawmaker to make primary challenge to Democrat for Georgia House seat House Budget Republican says Dems request of Trump tax returns is attempt 'to weaponize' tax code GOP lawmaker predicts a Reagan-like immigration bill will land on Trump's desk MORE (R-Ga.) will not seek reelection in 2020, making Georgia’s 7th District a prime pick-up opportunity for Democrats (The Atlanta Journal Constitution).

> In Virginia, the scandals that have engulfed the top three Democrats in the state have spread to the GOP side, where state Sen. Tommy Norment was revealed to have edited a yearbook in 1981 with racist and anti-Semitic photos and statements (The Virginian- Pilot).

None of the Democrats embroiled in blackface controversies or accused of sexual assault has stepped down. 

Scott Wong and Mike Lillis write that the assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax puts Democrats in a bind after their zero-tolerance declarations tied to Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump's Fed pick on critics: 'They're pulling a Kavanaugh against me' Conservative justices signal willingness to allow census citizenship question Supreme Court sees more serious divide open on death penalty MORE’s nomination.

The Hill: Dems accused of MeToo hypocrisy.

Virginia’s congressional delegation released a statement late Thursday night. They did not call on Fairfax to resign: 

“We are deeply disturbed by the account detailing the alleged actions of Lieutenant Governor Fairfax. We believe these allegations need to be taken very seriously, and we respect the right of women to come forward and be heard. We will continue in dialogue with one another and our constituents in the coming days, and evaluate additional information as it comes to light.”

The Washington Post: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam reaches out to Fairfax and attorney general Mark Herring, the other men at the center of the scandals.

On your radar: Tune to C-SPAN today for the latest on the Road to the White House. Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery Sherrod Brown asks Trump Fed pick why he referred to Cleveland, Cincinnati as 'armpits of America' Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Ohio) will hold a roundtable on jobs from New Hampshire at 5 p.m. and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) will hold a meet and greet in Iowa at 7:15 p.m.


CONGRESS: The Green New Deal, or the “green dream,” as Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrevor Noah on lack of Pelosi nickname from Trump: 'There is a reverence for her' Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE (D-Calif.) called it, is a six-page, aspirational template designed to showcase the Democratic Party’s climate change and “economic justice” agendas (The Hill). 

It’s also a vehicle for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Pelosi: Dems may get to impeachment, but 'we're not there yet' Maxine Waters is the Wall Street sheriff the people deserve MORE (D-N.Y.), the freshman phenom who introduced the resolution on Thursday with Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? DHS plan for face scanning at airports sparks alarm Amazon hiring alcohol lobbyist MORE (D-Mass.). It’s a contemporary liberal version for Democrats of a polar-opposite doctrine House conservatives drew up in the 1990s, known as the “Contract with America.”

However, unlike that contract, House Democrats are not entirely unified around the specifics in the Green New Deal. There is no single piece of legislation or collection of bills backed by leadership, and there is zero chance that House Democrats will see enactment of a sweeping measure in a GOP-led Senate and with a Republican in the White House (Huffington Post).

“Nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” — Pelosi

“Nancy Pelosi is the leader on climate change, she has always been a leader on climate, and I will not allow our caucus to be divided on silly notions. We are in this together.” — Ocasio-Cortez

Pelosi formed a select committee on climate change, similar to a 2007 version she put together in her first turn as Speaker. Pelosi told Politico in an interview Wednesday that the panel, which does not include Ocasio-Cortez, would not write specific legislation, noting that the Green New Deal is but one “suggestion.”

After initially sounding ho-hum about the resolution, Pelosi dialed up her praise on Thursday, embracing an upswell of Democratic kudos (The Hill).

"Quite frankly I haven’t seen it, but I do know that it’s enthusiastic, and we welcome all the enthusiasms that are out there," she said.

> Senate – filibuster: Senate Democrats are wary of calls to nix the 60-vote legislative filibuster, should they win majority control after 2020 (The Hill). 



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


Federal worker compensation needs drastic overhaul instead of pay raise, by Rachel Greszler, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Democrats are not the party of infanticide, by Jessie Tarlov, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House convenes at 9 a.m. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyWatchdog: Custodial staff alleged sexual harassment in lawmakers' offices John Legend, Chrissy Teigen lash out at Trump at Dem retreat Republicans call for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be referred to DOJ MORE of California will hold a press conference at noon in the Capitol Visitor Center.  

The Senate meets at 3 p.m. on Monday and resumes consideration of the Natural Resources Management Act.

The president will undergo a routine medical examination today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, arriving at 12:35 p.m. and departing four hours later, according to his schedule. The results of the 72-year-old’s exam are unlikely to be briefed to the public immediately at Walter Reed, as has been done for some of his predecessors (CNN). Trump is overweight, indulges in a high-carb diet, takes medication for his high cholesterol and golfs for exercise, according to the briefing last year following his exam. His physician a year ago hailed his “good genes” and “excellent” condition, but recommended healthier nutrition and more workouts (The Hill). A colonoscopy was recommended during this year’s exam, but it’s unclear if the test will be administered today.

Vice President Pence will travel to the Port of Baltimore in Maryland to receive a briefing about port security technology at 1:15 p.m. and to take a tour. He will speak to U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees there at 2 p.m. 


> Manufacturing: The story of Wisconsin’s “disastrous” $4.5 billion deal with Foxconn emerges through interviews with 49 people, including more than a dozen current and former employees, showing “how hollow the boosters’ assurances have been all along”  (Bloomberg Businessweek).

> Health: Scientists believe they’ve achieved the first successful “in body” gene editing procedure, which alters a person’s DNA to correct diseases and disorders from the inside (The Associated Press).

> The Hill’s In the Know: “Team Lawmakers” beat “Team Lobbyists” 4-3 on Wednesday night in Washington to win the 11th annual Congressional Hockey Challenge for the third year in a row.

The event at Capital One Arena brought the National Hockey League and businesses together with at least eight members of Congress, members of the Trump administration and smooth-skaters who lobby — all seeking to raise money for organizations that assist veterans, inner-city children and the disabled. One of the beneficiaries was the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club in Southeast D.C.


And finally … Congratulations to this week’s Morning Report quiz winners! So many people are savvy about the history and trivia surrounding State of the Union addresses. 

Kudos to these readers who aced the puzzle: Cheryl Gibson, David Straney, Jekka Garner, Ian Jackson, Raymond Williams, Carl Hamilton, Anita Bales, Ray Myers, John Catherine, William Chittam, Alan Septimus, Ted Taylor, Jerry LaCamera, Stephen Richard Staronka, Rich Gruber, John Gill, Heather Ciandella, Carolyn Dixon and Sandy Sycafoose

They knew that the U.S. Constitution mandates that presidents report to Congress about the state of the nation.

Woodrow Wilson revived the practice of delivering a State of the Union report to lawmakers in person.

President Ford did something politically rare yet truthful when he told Americans in 1975: I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good. 

President Reagan is credited with rewiring the annual State of the Union format in 1982 by featuring a heroic guest seated in the House gallery, Lenny Skutnik, as part of his address.

President Clinton still holds the record for the longest televised State of the Union speech, at nearly 89 minutes. Trump came close on Tuesday night, speaking for more than 82 minutes.