The Hill's Morning Report — Emergency declaration to test GOP loyalty to Trump

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Friday! 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.

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House Democrats will introduce a joint resolution today to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE’s emergency declaration, kicking off round two of the border wall fight that has consumed Washington for months. 

The resolution will be introduced by Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroThe exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Juan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts Texas Democrats tap Joaquin Castro to deliver key address MORE, a Democrat from Texas. At only one page long, the resolution gets straight to the point:

“The national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019 … is hereby terminated.”

It will take several weeks to move the resolution through committee and several days after that to get it to the House floor for a vote. There is no rush for Democrats, who are united on this front and happy to allow additional time for GOP divisions to spill into the open.

On Thursday, GOP Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherBipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year Overnight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border House votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (Wis.), who hails from a Trump friendly district, said he doesn’t believe that the emergency declaration is the right course of action.

“The problem is the president came to Congress asking for something. Congress said no. Our system doesn't then allow the president to say, 'Ok 'I'm just going do it anyway through some sort of cheat code’.” - Gallagher 

Once the resolution passes the Democratic-controlled House, the GOP-controlled Senate will be required to vote on it. Senate Democrats could introduce an identical resolution as early as today.

Democrats need to pick up at least four Republicans in the Senate for it to pass. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsAn ode to Joe Manchin's patriotism on his birthday Susan Collins challenger hit with ethics complaints over reimbursements Overnight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost MORE (R-Maine) this week became the first GOP senator to say she would vote in favor of the resolution. Several others have publicly criticized Trump’s emergency declaration.

The GOP senators to watch: Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE (Alaska), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Gun reform groups to pressure GOP senators with rallies in all 50 states To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (N.C.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (Tenn.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerHickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit MORE (Colo.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE (Fla.), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' A US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE (Utah), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeA cash advance to consider McConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing MORE (Utah), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (Ky.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Olympic athletes in response to abuse scandals Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sale MORE (Kan.).

If the resolution passes the Senate, it could lead to Trump’s first veto.

If Congress can’t override the veto, there are about a half-dozen lawsuits working their way through the courts at the moment. If Congress votes overwhelmingly to rebuke Trump, it could damage the administration’s arguments in court.

Poll: Most Americans believe Trump’s emergency declaration will be struck down.

The Hill’s editor-in-chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackHill Editor-in-Chief: Why moderate governors are fizzling Hill Editor-in-Chief: Do we now have a top three in the Democratic primary? The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE handicaps the potential outcomes:

Chances House passes resolution of disapproval: 99 percent.

Chances Senate passes resolution of disapproval: 60 percent.

Chances Congress overrides Trump veto: 3 percent. 

If that’s not enough drama for you, the federal debt surpassed $22 trillion this month.

The U.S. will hit the debt ceiling on March 1. Republicans and Democrats are contemplating how to use the borrowing limit to extract concessions from one another, so another brutal fiscal fight is on the horizon.

More from Congress … Don’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall (The Hill) … Senators are hoping to get the government funding process back on track after the months-long fight over the border wall (The Hill).

LEADING THE DAY

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump-Kim summit: The United States hopes to make rapid progress with North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korea: Kim supervised test of 'super-large multiple rocket launcher' Trump 'not happy' with North Korea missile tests, but denies they violate agreement Japan must keep America engaged MORE at the upcoming summit with Trump next week in Vietnam. The U.S. aim is to nail down agreement with Pyongyang to forfeit its nuclear arsenal, rather than more prolonged discussions about incremental steps. The Trump administration wants a full accounting of North Korea’s nuclear forces and facilities, which the United States was unable to get in the past year and a half, but a marker of progress seen by analysts as necessary in order to verify any steps the country takes to disarm (Bloomberg). … Meanwhile, North Korea has warned it faces food shortages (Reuters).

Venezuela: The Trump administration next week will send Vice President Pence to Colombia, across the border from Venezuela, to reinforce the international call for Nicolás Maduro to step down from the presidency in Caracas. The vice president’s trip on Monday will be his fifth to Latin America to represent the administration (McClatchy). On Thursday, Maduro, whose authoritarian grip on power helped spark a mass exodus from a nation in economic crisis, shut Venezuela’s vast border with Brazil to prevent international food and other humanitarian aid from entering. He says he may do the same with Venezuela’s border with Colombia (NBC News).

China trade: Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He meet today at the White House for an Oval Office meeting analysts believe is a sign of momentum for ongoing trade talks between the two countries. U.S. and Chinese negotiators in Washington are discussing Beijing’s proposal to purchase $30 billion more in U.S. agricultural imports, including soybeans, corn and wheat, as part of a broader deal to avert escalating tariffs threatened by Trump (Bloomberg).   

Labor secretary: A U.S. district court judge ruled Thursday that former federal prosecutors — among them Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaOur farmers need a better labor program Three more Epstein accusers sue estate Barr removes prisons chief after Epstein death MORE, who at the time was the U.S. attorney in Miami and is now secretary of Labor — broke federal law by approving a plea agreement with a wealthy, politically connected sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein, and concealed the agreement from more than 30 of his underage victims (The Miami Herald). The decision follows the newspaper’s series, “Perversion of Justice,’’ which in November detailed how federal prosecutors worked in concert with Epstein’s lawyers to arrange the deal. Epstein was released from prison in 2009. … Reacting to the judge’s ruling, Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseIt's time to empower military families with education freedom Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lauds tariffs on China while backtracking from more MORE, a key overseer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on the Justice Department “to reopen its non-prosecution agreement so that Epstein and anyone else who abused these children are held accountable.”

Immigration: In 2017, the Trump administration vowed to end a federal program that provided work permits to spouses of certain immigrants. That change now appears imminent. The policy of granting permits to the spouses of some H-1B skilled guest workers is to be eliminated under a proposed rule sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review Wednesday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (Bloomberg).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INVESTIGATIONS: Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE could turn over his report to Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFeds charge five in international ID theft ring targeting military members, veterans The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Correctional officers subpoenaed in Epstein investigation: report MORE any day now, bringing an end to the two-year investigation into Russia’s election interference.

The Hill: White House braces for Mueller report.

Following that, an entirely new fight will begin to make Mueller’s full findings public.

Barr has said he expects to summarize the report he gets from Mueller and submit the summary to Congress.

That’s not going to cut it for many lawmakers. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is already threatening to subpoena the full Mueller report if Barr does not hand it over to Congress.

The Associated Press: Mueller report may be short on details.

More from the investigations front … Judge imposes full gag order on Roger StoneRoger Jason Stone3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Judge rejects Stone's request to dismiss charges Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference MORE (The Hill) … IRS analyst charged with leaking Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenCapitol Police advised Gaetz against holding open events I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Wyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations MORE’s financial records to Michael Avenatti (The Hill) … Trump’s inaugural staff scrambled to defend staff and record haul (Bloomberg) … Five takeaways from Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeTrump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Conservatives lash out at CNN for hiring Andrew McCabe The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces MORE’s allegations against Trump (The Hill). 

 

 

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CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Obama reveals his summer playlist Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy Sanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses Rendell: Biden 'baked in' as Democratic nominee MORE (D-Mass.) have come out in support of reparations for African-Americans. Former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy The ideological divide on vaping has a clear winner: Smokers Biden struggles to hit it off with millennials MORE did not support reparations as presidential candidates, underscoring how in 2020 the Democratic presidential field is gravitating toward more race-conscious policies (The New York Times).

Democrats are also embracing a tax-the-rich ethos after years of ducking it, Bloomberg reports.

Max Greenwood writes that Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy Sanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Sanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses MORE (I-Vt.) will face an early test in the crucial early primary state of New Hampshire. Both senators hail from New England and will be viewed as having the home-field advantage. Adding to the pressure on Sanders — he defeated Clinton there in 2016 (The Hill).

Meanwhile, Amie Parnes reports that Sanders’s Democratic critics are already warning that he’ll be a weak general election candidate because of his affinity for policies grounded in socialism (The Hill).

Time: Biggest field yet. A divided base. Welcome to the Dem primary.

More from campaigns and politics … In a startling decision, North Carolina board calls for new election in contested House race (The Hill) … Calling it a “kamikaze mission,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he won’t launch a primary challenge against Trump unless something dramatic happens (The Associated Press) … Hogan also blasted the Republican National Committee for shielding Trump from a primary challenger (The Washington Post) … Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBill Maher says he's 'glad' David Koch is dead Trump spurs new wave of economic angst by escalating China fight Trump on North Korean projectile launches: Kim 'likes testing missiles' MORE has ruled out a run for Senate in Kansas (The Hill).

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

 

OPINION

What the Jussie Smollett story reveals, by John McWhorter, The Atlantic. http://bit.ly/2Elmo27

Hillary Clinton looms over the 2020 race, by Joel Payne, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2SiHDFN

WHERE AND WHEN

The House and Senate are not scheduled to vote during recess this week.

The president meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office at 2:30 p.m. Trump speaks to the Republican Governors Association this evening in Washington 

Secretary Pompeo meets Didier Reynders, Belgian deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and European affairs, at 10 a.m. at the State Department. Pompeo meets with Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek at 3 p.m.

The National Governors Association’s annual winter meeting begins this weekend in Washington, Feb. 22-25. Today, the vice president and Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceFormer sheriff's deputy files lawsuit claiming he was fired for not wanting to be alone with a woman Pence on battling critics: 'Spend more time on your knees than on the internet' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Acosta resigns amid controversy over Epstein plea deal MORE plan to host a luncheon for invited governors at their residence.

The Hill will hold a Leadership in Action: Criminal Justice Reform panel on Tuesday featuring Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinAmerica is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction Financial aid fraud is wrong — but overcorrection could hurt more students Democrats denounce Trump's attack on Cummings: 'These are not the words of a patriot' MORE (D-Md.) and Reps. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondHouse Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Democratic lawmakers support Bustos after DCCC resignations MORE (D-La.) and Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDOJ: Epstein was removed from suicide watch after being cleared by psychologist The United States broken patent system is getting worse Democratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal MORE (R-Ga.). Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack and Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons will moderate the panel on the future of criminal justice reform and what comes next after the passage of the First Step Act. RSVP here

The Attorney Poker Tour is having its first charity poker tournament at MGM National Harbor on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the poker room. The event benefits the charity Protect Our Defenders, which advocates against sexual violence in the military. Although this is an event for the Washington legal community, anyone can play, and all are invited. Details are on the site: www.attorneypokertour.com

ELSEWHERE

Jussie Smollett: The Chicago Police Department held a press conference on Thursday detailing how the “Empire” actor allegedly staged a hate crime against himself. Smollett, who is accused of paying two men to pretend to attack him and mailed a racist letter with white powder to himself because he was unhappy with his compensation, is charged with one felony count of filing a false police report. The actor had claimed Trump supporters attacked him and tied a noose around his neck (The Associated Press). 

Trump on Thursday said Smollett insulted “tens of millions of people” with his “dangerous” claims. Democratic Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushCongress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries The Hill's Morning Report - Harris, Warren rise and Biden tumbles after debates MORE, an African-American representing a district in Chicago, called Smollett’s behavior “brazen, devious and disgraceful.” Several Democrats who initially stood by Smollett are deleting or revisiting their initial tweets about the attack.

 

 

 

The New York Times: How top Democrats initially reacted to the Smollett case.

The Hill’s In The Know: Smollett controversy roils political world.

The Associated Press: Smollett reactions epitomize polarized state of U.S. politics.

Catholic Church: Pope Francis proposed a 21-point plan for punishing sexual predators and protecting children at a landmark summit of church leaders to address sexual abuse among the clergy (The Associated Press). Victims of abuse also testified at the conference (Reuters).

Sports: A panel is considering adding breakdancing, surfing, climbing and skateboarding to the roster of Olympic sports in 2024 (CNN).

THE CLOSER

And finally … Kudos to this week’s Morning Report movie buffs and quiz masters!: David Bond, William Chittam, Heather Ciandella, Milt Mungo, Mary Vita P. Treano, Joel Brill, J.D. Piro, Peter Smith, Peter J. Sprofera, Carol Katz, David Straney, Jekka Garner, Jim Sanders, Faye Rees, Stephen Richard Staronka, Carolyn Dixon, Sandy Sycafoose, Jim Beech, John Gill, Laura Van Duyn, Rosemarie M. Soriano, Dave Evans and Kevin Dent.

They knew that Katharine Hepburn won more “Best Actress” awards than anyone, edging out Meryl Streep, who has the most nominations.

“Titanic,” “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “Ben Hur” tied for capturing the most Oscars in an awards year, at 11. “Forrest Gump” won six, including for “Best Picture.”

Tatum O’Neal is the youngest person to win an Oscar, honored as “Best Supporting Actress” for her performance in “Paper Moon” at age 10. Editor’s Note: Some eagle-eyed readers noted that Shirley Temple was given an honorary Academy Award when she was 6, so we accepted that answer, too.

Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win “Best Director” in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker.”

The last actor to win back-to-back Oscars was Tom Hanks in 1993 and 1994 for his roles in “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump.”

*** More movie trivia this week … The most memorable Oscar speeches in Academy history (Variety) ***