The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight




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


President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE on Monday will propose slashing domestic spending by 5 percent, even as he calls for billions of dollars in additional spending for a wall along the southern border, reigniting a border security fight ahead of a key vote in the Senate.

The White House’s fiscal 2020 budget has no chance of being signed into law but will act as a political document that outlines the administration’s priorities.

The Hill: Five things to watch for in Trump’s budget.

The Washington Post: Trump budget to boost defense, slash domestic spending.

In his fiscal 2020 spending blueprint, the president will ask for $8.6 billion for a border wall. That comes after a partial government shutdown driven by Congress’s refusal to give Trump the $5.7 billion he requested for a border wall in 2019.

Reuters pegs the cost of the wall at $25 million per mile.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Houston will send residents checks of up to ,200 for pandemic relief MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden MORE (D-N.Y.), who kept Democrats united throughout the shutdown fight over wall money earlier this year, pounced on Trump’s latest ask in a joint statement on Sunday:

“President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico.  Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government.  The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.”

Washington faces an Oct. 1 deadline to fund the government. But more immediately, the Senate is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution that revokes Trump’s national emergency declaration.

When the president signed a spending bill to reopen the government earlier this year, he simultaneously declared an emergency at the border in an effort to circumvent Congress and obtain additional funding for the border wall.

The House has already passed a resolution revoking the national emergency declaration and enough Republicans in the Senate have announced they’ll vote in favor of it as well, all but ensuring the measure will make it to the president’s desk.

The White House is pressing Senate Republicans not to break with Trump, as a large number of GOP defectors would be an embarrassment for the administration, which is also defending the emergency declaration in court.

Trump has said he’ll veto the national emergency declaration if and when it gets to his desk. The question will then turn to whether enough Republicans in the Senate join Democrats to produce the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber to override a presidential veto (historically rare).

The Hill: Senate GOP goes down to the wire in national emergency fight.

The Hill: Trump’s emergency declaration looms over Pentagon spending fight.

Perspectives and Analysis

Bloomberg News: Visualizing U.S. budget gap that scares everyone except markets.

The Washington Post editorial board: Ballooning budget deficit reflects an unhealthy democracy.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: What we’d like to see in Trump’s budget.

The Wall Street Journal: Trump budget sets high expectations for economic growth.

The Associated Press: Few in Washington seem to care as budget deficit balloons.

The Hill: Funding caps, border wall set stage for defense budget battle.




CONGRESS: Beyond today’s chilly reception for Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget submission, and the Senate’s disapproval of the president’s emergency declaration to fund a border wall, lawmakers will have Trump in their sites in other ways.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE (D-Calif.) will hold court during a reporters’ roundtable Q&A over breakfast Tuesday, and tells journalists Trump should testify under oath as part of the Russia probe stemming from the 2016 campaign (The Hill). Schiff’s panel postponed a planned hearing Tuesday with Trump business associate Felix Sater (The Hill).

Media company consolidations are not sitting well with some lawmakers, and on Tuesday, a House Judiciary subcommittee digs into the Sprint-T-Mobile merger. Meanwhile, Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (D-Md.) asked the Justice Department to investigate the White House’s influence over the review of the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? 'Kamala' and 'Kobe' surge in popularity among baby names MORE (D-Md.), still wants Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossConservative justices seem prepared to let Trump proceed with immigrant census plan for now Supreme Court to hear arguments on Trump administration's attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from census Central Asia is changing: the Biden administration should pay close attention MORE to testify on Thursday about a controversy tied to immigration and the 2020 U.S. census. The panel agreed to narrow the range of questions to try to get Ross to show up (ABC News).

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines MORE will testify Thursday before the House and Senate tax-writing committees, and questions could include the status of trade talks with China, sanctions policy and the president’s budget and forecasts for revenues and debt.

Schiff, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThis week: Congress races to wrap work for the year Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE (D-N.Y.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair Top donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: report Meet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House MORE (D-N.Y.) are closely watching a resistant White House, which faces a Friday deadline to respond to a combined request for records and information about Trump’s personal conversations and contacts with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters).

House Republicans say life in the minority has served up some early openings to score political points — and encourage Democrats to criticize colleagues in their own caucus (The Hill).

Following a damaging week of infighting, House Democrats say they wonder where to draw the line on free speech (The New York Times). Democrats want to move past the outrage and tensions sparked by Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarMeet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' MORE (D-Minn.) about Israel and its U.S. supporters (The Hill). The furor reflects an intensifying national debate over defense of Israel and its influence within Congress and in Washington (The Associated Press).

NBC News: Far from Washington in Omar’s district, constituents see the controversy as overblown.

Off the Hill Don Stewart, long-time communications adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), retired from the Senate last week and will be executive vice president for public affairs at the Association of Global Automakers, effective March 25.


POLITICS: Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' MORE (I) has picked up where he left off in 2016, raising enormous sums of money and attracting thousands of enthusiastic supporters to his campaign events.

This time around, Sanders begins the race as a top contender. So far, liberal challengers, such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on struggling economy Louisville mayor declares racism a public health crisis MORE (D-Mass.), have been unable to gain a foothold in his movement.

The Hill: Warren struggles to gain traction amid Sanders surge.

That Sanders has taken his brand of progressive politics mainstream has unnerved some Democratic centrists, The New York Times writes:

“The sharp left turn in the Democratic Party and the rise of progressive presidential candidates are unnerving moderate Democrats who increasingly fear that the party could fritter away its chances of beating President Trump in 2020 by careening over a liberal cliff.”

Sanders’s early political strength and the rise of another self-described democratic socialist, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezObama: You lose people with 'snappy' slogans like 'defund the police' The left's turn against freedom: Curb speech, ban books, make an 'enemies list' Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' MORE (D-N.Y.), has Democrats debating whether their party should embrace “socialism.”

Most of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, including Warren, are trying to keep their distance from the label (The Hill).

In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Warren said “it’s just wrong” to label her a socialist.

"I believe in markets. Markets that work.” — Warren

But Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are forcing Democrats to pick a side in the debate. Both have positioned themselves as being in conflict with establishment or centrist Democrats who are unnerved by socialism and fear it will be an election loser.

“Capitalism is an ideology of capital the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit … so to me capitalism is irredeemable.”  — Ocasio-Cortez at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas



Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering a campaign for president as an independent, has said he wants to run because he’s afraid Democrats will nominate someone who is too far to the left, opening the door for Trump to get reelected.

"I really believe the spoiler in all of this is going to be a far-left Democratic candidate, if that's who gets the nomination, who is walking the shoes of a socialist.” — Schultz to CBS News

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump Cruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challenge MORE could begin the primary process as the frontrunner among traditional Democratic candidates, if he announces he’s in, as his supporters expect. Biden will address the nation’s largest union of firefighters on Tuesday. The International Association of Fire Fighters has supported Biden for years and wants to be perceived as a powerful ally for the former vice president.

A Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll released over the weekend found Biden at 27 percent, followed closely by Sanders, at 25 percent. No other candidate achieved double-digit support in the poll.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, The Washington Post details the Trump campaign’s reelection strategy, describing it as “a behemoth 2020 campaign operation combining his raw populist message from 2016 with a massive data-gathering and get-out-the-vote push aimed at dwarfing any previous presidential reelection effort.”

Roger Cohen: Socialism and the 2020 election.

Ronald Brownstein: Trump’s 2020 strategy takes shape.

Dictionary definition of socialism: Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

More from campaigns and politics … CNN hosted town hall events last night with Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSix people whose election wins made history Next Congress expected to have record diversity Native Americans elected to Congress in record numbers this year MORE (D-Hawaii) and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose 2020 presidential bid has sparked enthusiasm in some quarters (The Hill) … Some 2020 Dems are reaching out to rural areas (The Associated Press).

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!


Hand Trump an anvil, fellow Democrats: The economy and the electoral math say he’s easy to defeat, by James Carville and Jim Messina, opinion contributors, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/2Ha0UYN

The Dem debate delusion, by Kristin Tate, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2J3HWow


The House meets at noon.

The Senate meets at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Paul B. Matey to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

The president has lunch with Vice President Pence.

Pence dines with Trump and later participates in a bilateral meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchumer meets with Biden national security picks To promote human rights and democracy, Biden should start with China The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE meets with the king at noon.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at 7 p.m. to a conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in Washington. Information HERE.

The Census Bureau releases the monthly retail sales report at 8:30 a.m. It will  be watched closely for signs of ebbing economic momentum in the wake of Friday’s underwhelming jobs report, which caught economists and analysts by surprise.

The Hill has Eyes, a forum about the role of Congress in oversight of intelligence, will welcome Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and CIA, along with panelists including former Georgia Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissFight for Senate majority boils down to Georgia Lobbying world GOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs MORE (R); former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersOvernight Defense: Mike Rogers slated to be top House Armed Services Republican | Defense bill hits another snag | Pentagon dinged for 0M loan to trucking company using COVID funds Mike Rogers set to serve as top House Armed Services Republican Former GOP congressman calls for Biden to receive presidential briefings MORE (R-Mich.); former Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, president of the Woodrow Wilson Center; and former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory Senate Democrats want to avoid Kavanaugh 2.0 MORE (D-Fla.). Moderator is Michael Morrell, former CIA acting director and deputy director. The Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy and International Security organized the discussion, scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Information HERE.


International: Venezuela’s capital has been plunged into darkness as the nation deals with its worst blackout in years, and the country today suspended school and business activities (Reuters). Opposition leader Juan Guaidó urged citizens to travel to Caracas to protest President Nicolas Maduro, in the latest sign of unrest (Reuters).

Boeing Co.: For the second time since October, a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed, expanding scrutiny of the company’s premier commercial airplane as China and airlines in other locations on Monday sought to temporarily ground Boeing’s 737-8 jet (The Washington Post). A weekend crash after takeoff at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport in Ethiopia killed all 157 people aboard, including eight passengers from the United States and 19 United Nations employees (The Wall Street Journal). Thirty-five nations claimed passengers on a flight bound for Kenya. The pilot had asked to return to Addis Ababa because he experienced difficulties. The plane is a workhorse for Boeing and is in the air worldwide: As of the end of January, the company had delivered more than 350 737 Max jets since 2017 (The New York Times).

Media: Local journalism is dying. More than 1,400 cities across the U.S. lost their hometown paper in the past 15 years and have no one covering local government officials (The Associated Press). Meanwhile, media outlets are turning to artificial intelligence and bots to generate written content (AFP).

Girls, In the Know: NBA star Stephen Curry honored International Women's Day last week with a new release of his signature shoes, which he co-designed with 9-year-old Riley Morrison, who rocketed to news media fame months ago when she asked Curry why his namesake sneakers weren’t available in sizes for girls (The Hill). … CNN’s Jake Tapper has an assertive, observant and savvy 11-year-old daughter who believes girls should raise their hands more in class. Young Alice Tapper’s response? An illustrated children’s book and a new patch for Girl Scouts (The Hill).


And finally … Robert Fink, a 71-year-old clinical psychologist and professor of counseling at a university outside Detroit, finally received a Western Union telegram a few weeks ago, one that failed to reach him in 1969.

For those wondering what a telegram was back in the day, it was a little like a text message, but delivered as a paper communication to a recipient’s address by a fast-moving messenger with an aura of importance. Telegrams went the way of the dinosaurs in 2006.

For nearly 50 years, a telegram sat at the bottom of a file cabinet drawer addressed to Fink.

“Sorry we cannot be there to applaud when you get your diploma but our hearts and best wishes are with you. Love Dr. and Mrs. Fischman.”

The message congratulated Fink on his graduation from the University of Michigan. It was sent on May 2, 1969. On May 1, the college senior had moved out of his apartment.

How did the past (and Western Union) catch up with Fink? Read The Washington Post article. A nice stranger from Ann Arbor, Mich., plays a starring role, along with Google, natch.