The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Senate GOP clash over Yemen, border security




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

*** BREAKING: Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is running for president. There are high hopes for the Texas Democrat, who raised tens of millions of dollars and attracted legions of young supporters to his Senate campaign last year. His message: “I’m running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America.” ***

It’s judgment day for President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE’s national emergency declaration.

The GOP-controlled Senate is poised to part company with Trump over his decision to bypass Congress by declaring an emergency at the southern border as a way to fund a wall. 

The White House had been negotiating with Senate Republicans to find a way around a vote of disapproval rebuking Trump, but talks collapsed last night.

At least five Republican senators — Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMulvaney defends decision to host G-7 at Doral: Trump 'considers himself to be in the hospitality business' Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe MORE (Alaska), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe MORE (Ky.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE (N.C.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (Utah) — have said they’ll join Democrats in approving a resolution intended to challenge Trump’s executive authority.

“We tried to cut a deal, the president didn’t appear interested.” — Lee

The Hill: Senate to rebuke Trump on wall.

The Hill: GOP’s Tillis under pressure for taking on Trump.

The president has already said he’ll veto the resolution and neither chamber has enough support to override a veto, so the matter will likely be decided by the courts.

But the White House will be closely watching the vote, as a full-scale GOP revolt would be embarrassing for the administration and could harm its legal arguments.

These are tense times between the White House and Republicans in the Senate.

Last night, the Senate broke with Trump on the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, passing a resolution requiring the president to withdraw U.S. troops there, unless they’re fighting al Qaeda.

The House would still need to pass that bill for it to reach the president’s desk, but administration officials have already advised the president to veto the resolution. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP lawmaker: Trump administration 'playing checkers' in Syria while others are 'playing chess' Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring White House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week MORE will meet today with Martin Griffiths, the United Nations special envoy for Yemen.

The Hill: Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi-led war in Yemen.

NBC News: Senate Dem, Republican join effort to control how Trump grants, revokes security clearances.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president on Wednesday said the United States opted to ground Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets following two fatal crashes in five months.

Trump’s announcement of an emergency order issued through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took place as the United States appeared isolated globally in arguing Boeing’s 737 Max planes were safe for air travelers and pilots. The causes of crashes in Indonesia in October and in Ethiopia four days ago are under investigation (The Hill).

Explaining a reversal of its position with Boeing on Tuesday, the FAA cited new satellite data and evidence gathered from the scene of Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia, which occurred six minutes after takeoff. It was the second time the FAA has halted flights of a Boeing plane in six years (Reuters). Data recorders from the downed jet were sent by investigators from Ethiopia to France for analysis.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioDemocratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe Democratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill MORE (D-Ore.) said his panel will conduct an investigation of the FAA’s certification of the 737 Max, eager to learn why the aviation regulator did not require more substantial training for 737 pilots who were flying the new aircraft (The New York Times).

Reuters described the cascade of Boeing groundings of the 737 Max 8 as they took place worldwide.



Other administration news

> Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossUS ban on China tech giant faces uncertainty a month out US imposes new sanctions on Cuba over human rights, Venezuela Commerce Department to develop stats on income inequality MORE testifies today before the House Oversight and Reform Committee about his controversial and court-challenged decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census (The Washington Post).

> Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTop economic adviser warned Trump on reelection chances ahead of China truce: report The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE testifies before the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees today, answering questions about Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal and much more.

> At the Food and Drug Administration, cancer researcher Ned Sharpless, named as acting commissioner following the announced resignation of Scott Gottlieb, is tasked to deliver continuity in policy, not retreat, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers (The Hill). Meanwhile in the House, a bipartisan push for legislation to lower drug prices has run into some roadblocks (The Hill).

> At the Pentagon, a directive takes effect to set limits on transgender military personnel (The Hill).

> Trump’s Education Department budget, released Monday, calls for ending a loan forgiveness program and would alter other student loan policies. House Democrats are unlikely to approve the president’s proposed changes (CBS News).


POLITICS: Beto O’Rourke, 46, who lost a Senate race in the Lone Star state in November, launched his candidacy for the White House with a video announcement this morning. Watch HERE.

“This is a defining moment of truth for our country and for every single one of us.” — O’Rourke

His rollout began with a cover interview in Vanity Fair, and he starts a weekend swing through Iowa today (KTSM).

The New York Times: O’Rourke could upend the race.




> Jordan Fabian writes that Trump is seeking to turn an anti-Semitism controversy among Democrats into a wedge issue for Jewish voters heading into the 2020 election (The Hill).

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOcasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders MORE (D-Minn.) is at the center of that controversy, and Reid Wilson writes that some party leaders in Minnesota are disturbed by her remarks and are searching for a primary challenger (The Hill).

More from campaigns and politics … Leadership elections are over, but intra-party squabbles have raised questions about who will lead the GOP conference in the future (The Hill).


INVESTIGATIONS: Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, was sentenced again in federal court on Wednesday, and simultaneously indicted in New York on new charges.

Manafort, who will be 70 on April 1, was sentenced by a federal judge to serve 43 months in prison in addition to the nearly four-year sentence he received last week in a separate criminal conspiracy case (The Hill).

Trump could pardon Manafort on the federal charges or commute his combined sentence of 7-1/2 years, but Manafort cannot be pardoned if he’s found guilty of state charges brought by Manhattan’s district attorney (The Hill).

The president has defended Manafort at times and spoken about his power to pardon when he thinks justice has not been “fair,” but he never stated he would offer his former political adviser presidential mercy (The New York Times). On Wednesday, Trump called Manafort’s reckoning a “sad situation” (The Hill).

Lydia Wheeler and Morgan Chalfant, who are covering the Manafort case and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE’s Russia investigation, outline five things to know from Wednesday’s events (The Hill).

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!


Why a long Democratic primary slugfest might help re-elect Trump, by David Wasserman, The Cook Political Report, opinion contributor to The New York Times.

Biden would make a great president, but can he win?, by Jamal Simmons, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House meets at 9 a.m.

The Senate meets at 10:00 a.m. and begins consideration of a House-passed resolution of disapproval to challenge the appropriations impact of a border-related emergency declared by the president on Feb. 15.

The president meets with Taoiseach of Ireland Leo Varadkar. Trump attends the traditional Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol at noon. He and Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump breaks ground on new White House tennis pavilion Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Buttigieg unveils aggressive plan to lower drug prices | Supreme Court abortion case poses major test for Trump picks | Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown Kroger to stop sales of e-cigarettes at stores MORE participate in Ireland’s annual presentation of a bowl of shamrocks to the U.S. president at 6 p.m.

Vice President Pence at 9 a.m. delivers remarks with guest Varadkar at the vice president’s official residence during a Friends of Ireland breakfast. He joins Trump for meetings with Varadkar at the White House, the official luncheon in the Capitol and the shamrocks presentation this evening at the White House.

Second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — House Dems subpoena Giuliani associates Trump feud with Minneapolis mayor to take center stage at rally Karen Pence launches an Instagram account MORE leads the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics World Games beginning today in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Joining Pence to applaud 7,500 athletes representing a record 192 countries in 24 sports are Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonIvanka Trump urges support for groups that 'uplift' Baltimore amid father's criticism of city Trump campaign describes Corey Stewart super PAC as 'unconscionable' Pro-Trump group plans to spend 0M in six battleground states MORE, administrator of the Small Business Administration; U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams; and former New York Yankees pitcher and Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, co-chairman of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

Larry Kudlow, White House assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the National Economic Council speaks at 6 p.m. about his advisory role with Trump and his years working in the Reagan administration. The Ronald Reagan Institute will host the event at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington.

Economic reports: U.S. weekly jobless claims and U.S. import prices for February will be released at 8:30 a.m., along with data from January on U.S. new-home sales, out at 10 a.m.


Tech: Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies (The New York Times).

Weather : A “bomb cyclone” storm is causing havoc across the central United States, bringing high winds, snow, ice and the potential for flooding to several states (NPR). There are reports of wind damage in West Texas, flooding in Nebraska and blizzards in Colorado. Residents of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota are also bracing for extreme weather.



Capital punishment: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions, granting 737 inmates a reprieve from their death sentences. Newsom also withdrew the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents already have tied up in courts and moved to close a new execution chamber, which has never been used, at San Quentin State Prison. California has not executed an inmate since 2006, and since then, the state’s death row population has grown to house one of every four condemned inmates in the United States (The Associated Press). The president said he is “not thrilled” with the governor’s action (The Hill).

Around town: The 2019 Environmental Film Festival begins today through March 24 in Washington. At least 160 films will be shown in 26 participating venues, including the National Geographic Museum and E Street Cinema. Info HERE. Films include: “The River and the Wall” (environment at the southern border); “The Human Element”  (climate change); “Free Solo” (Oscar-winning documentary about rock climber Alex Honnold) and “Return to Mount Kennedy” (the 1960s climb by former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) and mountaineer Jim Whittaker, later retraced by their sons) (WTOP).

In the Know: Washington’s spring season of press soirees with newsmakers continued Wednesday night with the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual congressional dinner. Judy Kurtz covered headliner and funnyman Texas Republican Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawGeorge Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy The absurdity of President Trump picking the Democratic nominee Missouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers MORE, as well as the Fourth Estate award winners feted for some standout journalism (The Hill).


And finally … ☘ It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, we’re eager for some smart guesses about all things Irish.

Email your responses to or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

Today, the president meets with Taoiseach (pronounced TEE-shock) of Ireland Leo Varadkar. What does “taoiseach” mean?

  1.   Leprechaun
  2.   Seeker
  3.   Prime minister
  4.   Cultural ambassador

New York City hosts the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world. In what year was the city’s parade founded?

  1.   1762
  2.   1884
  3.   1901
  4.   1963

Which of these former presidents could (and did) claim Irish heritage?

  1.   Woodrow Wilson
  2.   John F. Kennedy
  3.   Ronald Reagan
  4.   Barack O’bama
  5.   All of the above

St. Patrick’s Day, or the feast of Saint Patrick, honors the patron saint of Ireland and originally celebrated the arrival of Christianity on the third largest island in Europe.  Here’s our question: Is it true or false that Saint Patrick was not Irish?

  1.   True
  2.   False

This Quincy, Mass., punk rock band plays an annual St. Patrick’s Day show and charted a platinum-selling single “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” after the song was featured in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.”

  1. Dropkick Murphys
  2. The Pogues
  3. U2
  4. Boomtown Rats