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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 PelosiHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: I don't have a racist bone in my body Ocasio-Cortez responds to fresh criticism from Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence 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 SchiffThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Trump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify Mueller to give extended testimony after appearance postponed 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 HollenOvernight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment Republicans say they're satisfied with 2020 election security after classified briefings 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 CummingsHouse poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid MORE (D-Md.), still wants Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet House poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Ross in Trump's crosshairs after census loss: report 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 MnuchinDemocrat Sherrod Brown torches Facebook at hearing: 'They broke journalism, helped incite a genocide' Beware the digital tax trap The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet 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 NadlerTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Nadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries Justice Democrats issues 3 new endorsements for progressive candidates 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 OmarScaramucci calls Trump tweets 'racist and unacceptable' House Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Black Caucus leader calls Trump's attacks on minority lawmakers 'despicable' 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 SandersWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Sanders slams decision not to charge officer who killed Eric Garner Cardi B says voters let Bernie Sanders down 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 Ann WarrenWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Trump says administration will 'take a look' after Thiel raises concerns about Google, China Thiel calls Warren the most 'dangerous' Democratic candidate 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-CortezPhiladelphia mayor: Trump would 'go to hell' if he had to go back to where he came from Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout The four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's tweets 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 BidenBiden jokes he's ready for a push-up competition with Trump Biden says his presidency is not 'a third term of Obama' Biden knocks Trump on tweets about 'smart as hell' Ocasio-Cortez 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 GabbardSanders praises Gen Z for being 'profoundly anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic' Next Generation foreign policy: Time for the Democrats to embrace restraint 3 reasons billionaire activist Tom Steyer is running for president 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! and 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.

The Dem debate delusion, by Kristin Tate, opinion contributor, The Hill.


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 PompeoAs tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Trump's Huawei concession is 'the rope that could hang America' 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 ChamblissRepublicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight MORE (R); former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersHillicon Valley: Trump rails against 'terrible bias' at White House social media summit | Twitter hit by hour-long outage | Google admits workers listen to smart device recordings Trump officials defend use of facial recognition amid backlash Republicans say they're satisfied with 2020 election security after classified briefings MORE (R-Mich.); former Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, president of the Woodrow Wilson Center; and former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA 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.