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The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - All eyes on Trump after lawmakers reach spending deal
Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and it's Tuesday! 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.
Happy Abraham Lincoln Day! California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York embrace today as a public holiday, thanks to the 16th president.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced late Monday night they had hammered out an agreement "in principle" on a spending deal to fund a quarter of the government and avoid another shutdown ahead of Friday's midnight deadline.
The breakthrough came just moments before President Trump took the stage for his first reelection campaign rally of the 2020 presidential election cycle in El Paso, Texas, a border town the White House has sought to highlight as an example of where a border wall works.
Lawmakers did not disclose official details of a proposal that would cover the fiscal year through Sept. 30, but text is expected later today. Meanwhile, some key elements of the agreement leaked:
- $1.375 billion for 55 new miles of bollard fencing.
- An increase in spending for the Department of Homeland Security.
- A decrease in the number of beds at border detention facilities.
The Hill: Lawmakers reach tentative agreement to avert new shutdown.
The Associated Press: Budget deal allows for less wall money than Trump wanted.
Trump did not signal which way he'd fall on the compromise, but his allies immediately cast the deal as insufficient.
"Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain it." - Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity
"I think he has to declare a national emergency." - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
The president has been holding out for $5.7 billion for a border wall, so the appropriations for fencing will likely be insufficient.
Still, Trump could sign the spending bill to avoid the shutdown and continue with the White House plan to declare a national emergency or some other go-around that would circumvent Congress and reprogram federal money to go toward a wall.
"Maybe progress has been made, and maybe not ... We probably have some good news. But who knows? ... The wall's being built ... at a rapid pace." - Trump
Tuesday night was also notable for being the unofficial start of the 2020 election cycle.
Beneath banners that read "Finish the Wall," Trump ran through his greatest hits, railing against socialism and boasting about his crowd size before thousands of energized supporters in red "Make America Great Again" hats.
Trump leaned into his speech, which was just shy of 90 minutes. He tackled trade, socialism, nominations, the Second Amendment, the Alamo, abortion and much more.
At one point, he entertained the idea of getting a dog. But Trump dismissed the notion, suggesting prior presidents had dogs for political purposes and it would be "phony" for him to bring a canine into the White House.
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), who could enter the presidential race as a top contender for the Democratic nomination by the end of the month, held a competing rally in his hometown just a couple of miles away, providing a nice split-screen for what lies ahead.
"We were all challenged by a young man who lost an election to Ted Cruz...you're supposed to win in order to run ... he's got very little going for him except he's got a great first name." - Trump
"At this moment, if there's any doubt about whether together we can make a stand that generations that follow us will be grateful for, have no doubt, we have done it before. We are made of great stuff. This community produces great people. We are the example that the United States of America needs right now." - O'Rourke, switching between English and Spanish
Trump's crowd repeatedly broke into chants of "USA! USA!" O'Rourke's crowd broke into chants of "Sí se puede! Sí se puede!"
The Hill: Trump, O'Rourke battle over wall at dueling rallies.
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: Freshman Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar's use on Sunday of what some fellow Democrats called "anti-Semitic tropes" on Twitter sparked outrage, demands for apologies and resulted in a carefully worded statement of regret from Omar by Monday afternoon (The Hill).
"We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize." - Omar
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democratic leaders reacted with alarm to Omar's tweets, suggesting that lawmakers who defend Israel are motivated by money and powerful pro-Israel lobby groups. Pelosi urged the new member of her conference to apologize.
Two Jewish House Democrats asked the Speaker to denounce anti-Semitic rhetoric in a move clearly aimed at Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), another freshman who has been critical of Israel. Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish, assailed Omar, calling her tweets "deeply disappointing and disturbing" (The Hill).
The 37-year-old Somali-American lawmaker has clashed with Republicans since her arrival in the Capitol in January, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday weighed whether to try to force a vote on a resolution drafted by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, that would condemn anti-Semitism. The resolution language cites comments by Omar and Tlaib. Democratic leaders were well aware that had Omar not apologized, the Zeldin resolution would pick up a decent amount of Democratic votes.
The New York Times: From celebrated to vilified, House's Muslim women absorb blows over Israel.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS & 2020: The GOP's tax overhaul figures to be a major issue in 2020 and Republicans are scrambling to address early reports from tax filing season that the average refund this year is down more than 8 percent from last year.
The Department of Treasury disputed that reporting on Monday, arguing that refund amounts have been consistent with last year and that reports claiming otherwise are based on a small sample size.
But Niall Stanage reports that some GOP strategists are worried that some fallout from the tax law could be a drag on the party in the upcoming election (The Hill).
Amid that backdrop, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) says he's planning to meet with Trump on Tuesday to discuss the tax law's $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction, which the governor says has created "a preferential tax structure in Republican states."
Gallup: Americans' confidence in their finances keeps growing.
> Amie Parnes writes about how top Democratic donors are speed dating in their search for a winning candidate (The Hill).
CNN's second town hall of the 2020 season tonight features independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz in Houston at 10 p.m. ET. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) will be at The Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters at 8 a.m. at The Liaison Capitol Hill.
And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is eyeing a possible run for president, turning to City Hall staffers with national political experience and scheduling Friday appearances in New Hampshire (Politico).
The New York Times: Do Democrats want a fighter or a healer for 2020?
> Democrats are aiming for full control of the government in 2020, but Reid Wilson reports that the party faces a steep challenge in reclaiming control of the Senate, needing to make inroads in red states to have a chance (The Hill).
> Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) has been placed on leave from his law firm and is losing staffers as he deals with allegations of sexual assault from two women. Fairfax denies the charges and is refusing to resign. There had been some talk about impeaching him, but Democrats in the Virginia legislature are backing off the impeachment drive for now (The Associated Press).
More from the campaign trail ... Iowa Democrats to take caucuses to the virtual world (CBS 2 Iowa) ... At least six women are running in the Democratic presidential primary: How sexism plays out on the trail (The New York Times).
The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley & Alexis Simendinger. We want to hear from you! @firstname.lastname@example.org and @email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill's reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
Lessons from Omar's anti-Semitic tweets, by Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz. http://bit.ly/2TKqw0T
Criminal investigation of Trump's business dealings may overshadow Mueller report, by Kim Wehle, former U.S. attorney and opinion contributor for The Hill. http://bit.ly/2IamSMC
WHERE AND WHEN
The House convenes at 9 a.m. There will be no votes today. The Committee on Foreign Affairs meets at 10 a.m. to discuss the situation in Venezuela and the U.S. role there, and the Committee on Oversight and Reform meets at 10 a.m. for a hearing about the administration's migrant family separation policy and its implementation. The House Financial Services Committee holds a 10 a.m. session on the use of financial sanctions and foreign policy. The House Ways and Means Committee at 10 a.m. examines the rising costs of prescription drugs prices.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m.
The president convenes a meeting of his Cabinet at 11:30 a.m. and will meet with Cuomo at 2:15 p.m.
Vice President Pence departs this evening for Poland and Germany through Saturday. He will hold bilateral meetings in Warsaw, Poland, and be in Munich, Germany, on Saturday for the Munich Security Conference.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling in Slovakia, Poland, Belgium and Iceland through Friday.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks about economic development in high-poverty rural communities at 12:45 p.m. at the Hope Enterprise Corporation Rural Policy Forum in Itta Bena, Miss. His remarks will be live streamed HERE.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' December survey of U.S. job openings and labor turnover will be released at 10 a.m.
CCPArt's "Walls of Demand" art exhibition marking the first anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., shooting will open to the public at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Center for Contemporary Political Art in Washington. More than a half-dozen Democratic lawmakers will be on hand, including Pelosi. More details HERE.
The Wall Street Journal: A year after Parkland, making sure to say "I love you" at morning drop-off.
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> Education: More than half of the nearly 5,000 teachers in Denver's district-run school system went on strike Monday, marching through the streets for the city's first teacher strike in 25 years (The Associated Press).
> Iran: The revolution at 40, from theocracy to "normality" (The New York Times).
> Tech: Trump on Monday signed an executive order promoting U.S. artificial intelligence, a move that comes amid the administration's technology race with China. While tech companies say they are excited to cash in on the opportunity, industry watchers point up the order's silence about funding and sparse specifics (The Hill).
> Election influence: Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow investigate a peculiar plot to influence American elections in 2016, beginning with a hospital board campaign in Tulare, Calif., population 6,000 (The New Yorker).
And finally ... The 2020 presidential race promises to be a novel experience, with at least a dozen Democrats from different parts of the country and different points on the political spectrum vying to take on Trump, who upended the political world in 2016.
So how should Democrats run as they seek to make Trump a one-term president? Here's some recent advice offered by political insiders from both ends of the spectrum, including from the president himself: