The Hill's Morning Report - Dems look to rebuild 'blue wall'




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Democratic soul-searching over their shocking 2016 presidential election loss will take them to Wisconsin, a fixture of the “blue wall” until President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE drove a bulldozer through it on his way to the White House.

Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. That narrow loss has haunted Democrats all the more because Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report MORE never campaigned there.

On Monday, the Democratic National Committee ensured the next nominee would not make the same mistake: The DNC announced that Milwaukee beat out Houston and Miami to host the party’s 2020 convention.

The DNC noted that the Milwaukee convention will be the first time since 1916 that the party has held its nominating event in a Midwestern city outside of Chicago.

For Democrats, it’s the first step in winning back working class voters in the Rust Belt and Midwest states that were once fixtures of the liberal coalition.

Trump’s victories in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania reset the map. Before he came along, Ronald Reagan had been the last GOP presidential candidate to win Wisconsin, and no Republican candidate had carried Michigan or Pennsylvania since 1992.

Reconnecting with voters in those states may represent the best path back to the White House for Democrats, especially if economic anxieties persist and voters believe after nearly four years that Trump’s policies have not helped them.

Early in the campaign cycle, the crop of 2020 Democratic candidates has prioritized reaching out to rural areas and blue collar voters who may have felt ignored in the last go round.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) made Wisconsin the first stop for her campaign, despite it not being an early-voting state. The Associated Press reports that Democrats have also been reaching out to rural voters who traditionally vote Republican.

But they have work to do, according to this AP analysis:

“AP VoteCast, a national survey of more than 115,000 voters, found rural and small-town residents cast 35 percent of midterm ballots; 56 percent of those voted for Republican House candidates, compared to 41 percent for Democrats. The advantage was wider among small-town and rural whites: 30 percent of the electorate, tilting 63-35 for Republicans. Correspondingly, Democrats’ net 40-seat gain in the House was driven mostly by previously GOP-leaning suburban districts, while Democratic nominees fell short in more rural areas.”

Still, the early returns in Wisconsin are promising for Democrats.

In 2018, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers toppled former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and Democrats won several other statewide offices, including for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Democratic Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOn The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Dems offer bill to end tax break for investment-fund managers Bipartisan think tank to honor lawmakers who offer 'a positive tenor' MORE won reelection, and Democratic candidates for Congress won 14 of the 23 counties that voted for both Trump and former President Obama.

"The Democratic Party is the party of working people, and Milwaukee is a city of working people. We saw in this last election what we can accomplish when we come together, invest, and fight for working people, and that was proven right here in Wisconsin." — DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE

Back in Washington, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi, Dems plot strategy after end of Mueller probe Coons after Russia probe: House Dems need to use power in 'focused and responsible way' Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings MORE (D-Calif.) is doing her best to keep the House Democratic caucus from impeaching the president.

During an interview with The Washington Post Magazine, Pelosi cast impeachment proceedings as a grave electoral error that could cost the party the White House. She warned that impeachment proceedings would be “divisive” and encouraged Democrats to win the next election on merits.

"Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it."

However, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars 'Washington Monthly' editor says diversity on Capitol Hill starts with interns Why is my party prioritizing an extreme environmental agenda? MORE (D-N.Y.) told Juliegrace Brufke she doesn’t believe Pelosi is completely closing the door on impeachment (The Hill).

Bill Press: Which way will Democrats go in 2020?

More from campaigns and politics … Democrats chase elusive statewide victory in Texas (The Wall Street Journal) … Is former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) a frontrunner or a flop? (The Atlantic) … Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE’s (D-Mass.) proposal to break up the big tech companies is setting the tone for 2020 Democrats (The Hill) … South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg turned heads with his CNN town hall performance (The Hill) … Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Former Georgia candidate asks Abrams be given 'space' amid 2020 buzz Biden team denies 'pre-cooked plan' of Abrams as early running-mate pick MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (I-Vt.) lead the Democratic field of contenders (Monmouth University) … Stacey Abrams (D) of Georgia is considering a presidential run (Politico) … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who may decide to primary Trump, will visit New Hampshire next month.


CONGRESS:  Trump will have some skin in the game when the Senate votes this week on a resolution to revoke his national emergency declaration.

Alexander Bolton reports that the president is personally phoning GOP senators as part of a last-ditch effort to keep as many Republicans from voting to rebuke him as possible (The Hill).



So far four GOP senators have broken publicly with the president. That’s enough to get the resolution through the Senate, but the White House is looking to avoid an embarrassing full-scale revolt. The White House is worried about the political damage to the president if a dozen or more Republicans join the Democrats in that vote, which is expected on Thursday.

In the meantime, Senate Republicans are scouring the rulebooks in search of way to neutralize the situation.

Many Republican senators support the president on border security, but oppose Trump’s national emergency declaration as a means of obtaining additional funds for a border wall.

They’re looking for a way to amend the House-passed resolution, or to find a way to allow the president to reprogram funds without declaring a national emergency.

Still, the result at the end of this week will likely be the same either way – the Senate is expected to pass the resolution revoking the national emergency declaration. Trump has said he’ll veto the resolution and there is not enough support in Congress at the moment to override the presidential veto.

> Jordain Carney reports that Senate Republicans are also ramping up their efforts to confirm Trump’s judicial nominations. The GOP is expected to advance three circuit court picks this week as debate rages over whether Republicans will change the rules to clear a path for confirming hundreds of outstanding judicial nominees (The Hill).

More from Capitol Hill … Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems look to rebuild 'blue wall' Funding caps, border wall set stage for defense budget battle Trump's claims of defeating ISIS roil Congress MORE (R-Okla.) and Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingMan arrested for allegedly throwing glass of water at Steve King House Dem renews call for censuring Steve King Louisiana rep calls Steve King a 'white supremacist' after Katrina comment MORE (R-Iowa) have introduced legislation to make English the U.S. national language (Tulsa World) … How House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Liberal groups pressure Dems over Trump's tax returns | Top Trump economist says tax cuts powering economy | Trump Jr. slams Theresa May over Brexit delay | Watchdog warns of 'rosy' assumptions in Trump budget Liberal groups step up pressure on Dems to request Trump's tax returns The retirement crisis is real MORE (D-Mass.) will go after Trump’s tax returns (The Boston Globe) … House lawmakers clash over GOP allegations that Dems coached Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump, Congress brace for Mueller findings Mueller delivers report to Justice, ending investigation Kushner to cooperate with Judiciary document requests MORE (The Hill).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: As predicted, Trump’s $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget request became a door stop on Capitol Hill as soon as it was released on Monday morning.

The Hill’s Niv Elis reports the president believes his fight over a border wall, embedded in his spending blueprint, is a political winner, and Trump assures his supporters that rising deficits and debt will subside because of his predictions of stronger U.S. growth (The Hill).

Many economists, including at the Federal Reserve, believe the administration’s forecast for 3.2 percent growth this year is folly.

The Trump administration’s latest budget proposal is a gut-punch to the American middle class and a handout to the wealthiest few and powerful special interests that would worsen income inequality.” — Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (D-N.Y.)

Advocacy groups critical of Trump’s policies clogged inboxes with statements condemning the administration’s proposed budget cuts, arguing the mix with proposed hikes in military spending would do “harm to students,” “slashes environmental protections,” presents “blunt cuts to Medicare,” and is “divorced from reality.”

The Associated Press: Trump’s campaign agenda found in his new budget proposal.

Politico: Trump’s budget sets up another shutdown battle.

> House Democrats banded together to assail Trump’s budget ideas, but that unity may elude progressives as they prepare their own spending plan this spring (The Hill).

> Did the White House influence the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger? Democrats are investigating, which has reawakened tensions about whether Trump sought to block the merger because he’s swayed by his longtime feud with CNN, which is under that umbrella (The Hill).

> Labor Department: The White House declined to back Labor Secretary Alex AcostaRene (Alex) Alexander AcostaUS Attorney's Office in Miami recuses itself from Epstein case Trump should fire Labor Secretary Acosta for cowardice in child sex abuse case Dems call on Trump to fire Acosta MORE, who is embroiled in a federal investigation examining the circumstances that allowed alleged serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to secure a favorable plea deal in 2007 with Acosta’s legal help (The Washington Post).

A federal judge ruled late last month that prosecutors in that case, including Acosta, violated the rights of Epstein's accusers by failing to notify them that there was a non-prosecution agreement in place for the billionaire.

“We’re certainly looking at it.” — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during her first televised press briefing since January.

Sanders’ tepid comment signaled Acosta’s tenure in the Cabinet could be short.



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The trouble with Biden: Defeating Trump isn’t the same as defeating Trumpism, by Jamelle Bouie, The New York Times.

If liberals won’t enforce the borders, fascists will, by David Frum, The Atlantic.


The House meets at 10 a.m.

The Senate meets at 10 a.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 receives the Report to the Nation by the Boy Scouts of America, required to be sent to the House Speaker annually as a summary of the organization’s accomplishments. Trump at 1:45 p.m. will sign the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, a bipartisan public lands bill.

Vice President Pence speaks to a governmental affairs conference of the Credit Union National Association at 10 a.m. at the Washington Convention Center.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the consumer price index for February, a key yardstick of inflation, and a report on real earnings, both at 8:30 a.m.



Transportation: Investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder and digital data from an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed as it pulled out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over the weekend, killing all 157 people aboard. Several countries have grounded the plane since the crash, but Boeing insists it is safe to fly. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has joined the investigation (The Associated Press) … The president of the United Auto Workers union is threatening to raise strike pay ahead of negotiations with car manufacturers, some of which are considering closing plants in the U.S. (The Associated Press).

International: Ahead of a Tuesday parliamentary vote on her embattled Brexit deal, British Prime Minister Theresa May met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg, France, and said she won some key assurances. The two sides discussed the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and a possible unilateral statement from Britain (Reuters). The Brexit deadline is March 29, and many observers believe lawmakers in the United Kingdom want to delay crashing out of the European Union (The Washington Post). … Meanwhile, in turbulent Venezuela, all U.S. diplomatic personnel are being withdrawn from the country, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE announced.

Politics is a zoo: A 3-year-old Nubian goat named Lincoln was chosen this week by residents of tiny Fair Haven, Vt., to become the first honorary pet mayor. The nanny goat was chosen for a one-year post and takes office today. The ballot of 16 pets was open to all town residents, and Mayor Lincoln triumphed with 13 votes (The Associated Press).




And finally … The unique 1.5 acre sunken outdoor sculpture garden surrounding Washington’s modernist Hirshhorn Museum, part of the Smithsonian, is slated for a redesign to welcome more visitors and become a new “front door” to the National Mall (The Washington Post). The museum and sculpture garden first opened in 1974 and the garden was last overhauled in 1981.

“We wanted to look carefully at the garden and make it just as active as the museum and fully draw visitors.” — Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu