The Hill's Morning Report - GOP balks at Trump border closure




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Wednesday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @asimendinger and @alweaver22.

*** The Nats lost to the Phillies last night, 8-2: Fans booed Bryce Harper a lot, but it didn’t matter as he went 3-5, including a mammoth home run, a double and three RBI’s for the undefeated Phillies. Fans, including plenty of politicians and VIPs, braved some rain and chilly April weather to enjoy the game. ***

President TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey MORE attracted criticism from members of his party and the business community following his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border this week.


Seal the border and economic ruin is a certainty, Trump’s own senior advisers, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection agency limps into 2020 cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration MORE (R-Ky.), major manufacturers and representatives from the U.S. auto industry warned the administration again on Tuesday.


“Closing down the border would have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that kind of thing,” McConnell told reporters.


The president said he had not decided whether to move ahead, appearing to waver between a threat he sees as leverage and his impatience with a surge of migrants at the southern border that he believes warrants drastic intervention.


“I'm ready to close it if I have to close it,” Trump told reporters. “Mexico is now stopping people coming in ... Let's see if they keep doing that. If they don't or if we don't make a deal with Congress, the border's going to be closed. One hundred percent."


The president conceded the economic costs but argued that border security takes precedence over trade and commerce.


“Security is more important to me than trade. So, we're going to have a strong border or we're going to have a closed border,” he repeated.


This was not what the U.S. business community wanted to hear. The Center for Automotive Research told The Washington Post that sealing the border could halt all U.S. automotive manufacturing within a week, impacting at least 1 million jobs.


The Washington Post: White House seeks to minimize economic impacts from Trump’s threatened closure of Mexico border.


Politico: Advisers, business community warn Trump of economic hit if border closed.


The Associated Press: Trump takes a step back from vow to close the southern border.


"Let's regard shutting down the border as a notion. That can't possibly rise to the level of an idea, right?” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDemocrats are playing voters on their fantasies for impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary MORE (D-Calif.) said when asked about Trump’s threat. “Let's hope that there's some level of maturity at the White House that says, 'Cute, but –..."


Trump, who has turned his attention back to border security as his reelection messaging ramps up, also is being pressured in Congress to abandon his decision to cut off aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Trump says the governments in those countries help people trek through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.


Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDems plot aggressive post-Mueller moves, beginning with McGahn Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Cuban negotiator says Trump's efforts to destabilize Cuba's government will fail MORE (R-Fla.) tweeted that reducing U.S. support to Central America and closing the border with Mexico would be "counterproductive."


Two top House Republicans on the Foreign Affairs and Appropriations committees also panned the State Department’s pullback in aid. The complaints from within Republican ranks are a sign that appropriators in Congress will likely try to block Trump from curtailing the assistance (The Hill).


Trump has complained that Central American countries are “taking advantage of the United States.”


“They don’t do anything for us,” the president said. “They arrange these caravans, and they don’t put their best people in those caravans … We’re not going to have it anymore.”


Advocacy organizations such as the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) argue that U.S. assistance to Central America’s Northern Triangle countries helps tackle crime and economic conditions that encourage populations to flee to the United States.


U.S. support has not only worked, but also delivered a return on our investment for the American taxpayer. Homicide rates declined by 42% in El Salvador, 13% in Guatemala and 23% in Honduras from 2015 to 2017. By 2017, American assistance helped improve security and economic conditions throughout the region, and border-crossing apprehensions had fallen to their lowest point since 1971,” the USGLC reports.


Nevertheless, White House admonitions to those countries and Mexico have been obvious since last year.





CONGRESS: A pair of Senate Democrats hope to do their part to pull their party away from the continuous fervor over “Medicare for all” so they rolled out a proposed public option as the party continues to push health care as its primary political issue.


As Alexander Bolton reported, Democratic Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Democratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Dems ask Justice Dept to release findings of Acosta-Epstein investigation MORE (Va.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run License to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (Colo.), a presidential hopeful in his own right, unveiled legislation for “Medicare X” on Tuesday, showing the disconnect between 2020 Democrats — outside of Bennet and Klobuchar (D-Minn.) — and rank-and-file senators.


Republicans, meanwhile, are still confused about where Trump is going on healthcare and trying to shift the focus to more modest proposals to contain costs such as legislation promoting more affordable drugs and association health plans, which McConnell pointed to Tuesday afternoon.


The Associated Press: Trump defers push for health care plan following GOP resistance.


> The never-ending campaign has carried into 2019 for Democrats as they approach their 100th day in power after their successful 2018 election, according to Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong.


House Democrats are almost solely focused on capturing the next big prizes: control of the Senate and the White House in 2020. Messaging tools have taken the place of bipartisan deal-making, at least for now, as bills aimed to stop corruption, curb gun violence, foster pay equality and shore up ObamaCare have been the priorities of the party.


The package of bills fulfills campaign promises that Democrats made last year, but it also represents a preview of what Democrats say they can accomplish if voters hand them control of the White House and Senate next fall.


Elsewhere in congressional news …  The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote today to subpoena special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s full, unredacted report and underlying evidence from his investigation (Reuters) … Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Colorado state senators plan to introduce bill to let NCAA athletes get paid Republicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave MORE (R-N.C.), the No. 4 member in the House GOP, was ensnared in a federal corruption probe, which led to an indictment of the state GOP chairman on public corruption and bribery charges (The Hill) … Rep. TJ Cox (Calif.), one of the most vulnerable House Democrats, failed to disclose several business interests, including a foreign tie, during his 2018 candidacy (The Fresno Bee) … Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is slated to address the House Democratic issues conference next week (The Washington Post). Trump blasted Powell in at least three meetings with GOP lawmakers in the past week (The Wall Street Journal).






POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: With the Democratic field currently sitting at roughly 15 declared candidates — and more waiting in the wings to announce potential bids — Democrats are making early appeals to various factions of the Democratic primary voters exactly 10 months until the Iowa caucuses.


Among those efforts will be a push for African-American support, and nowhere is that more evident than the looming Democratic cattle call as a cadre of high-profile candidates make their appeals before the National Action Network and the Rev. Al Sharpton in New York.


As Niall Stanage writes, Sharpton’s group is drawing most of the top-line Democratic candidates to New York for a three-day conference beginning Wednesday.


Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection analyst says Biden could face uphill battle attracting small-dollar donors Gillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race Biden's sloppy launch may cost him MORE (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe symbol of 'Wakanda' and black political vision Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary Sanders dominates, Buttigieg surges in 2020 social media battle MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenColbert links large 2020 Dem field to Avengers: 'A group of every available person in the universe' Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary Sanders dominates, Buttigieg surges in 2020 social media battle MORE (D-Mass.), former Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeCory Booker releases 10 years of tax returns Buttigieg gets first congressional endorsement O'Rourke to give commencement address at Texas's oldest black college MORE (D-Texas), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker fundraises off Biden announcement The symbol of 'Wakanda' and black political vision The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' MORE (D-N.J.), Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race Cory Booker releases 10 years of tax returns Buttigieg gets first congressional endorsement MORE (D-N.Y.) and Klobuchar will all speak. The turnout underlines yet again the importance of black voters in the Democratic primary — as well as Sharpton's increasingly mainstream image.





Along with the 2020 heavyweights, declared and prospective candidates of all types will make their case before the group, including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegColbert links large 2020 Dem field to Avengers: 'A group of every available person in the universe' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' Buttigieg draws new scrutiny, criticism MORE, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn Wright HickenlooperBiden doesn't match the Democrats' base Where 2020 Democratic candidates stand on impeachment Bernie Sanders claims his Sister Souljah moment MORE, Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellJulián Castro: Trump should be impeached for trying to obstruct justice 'in very concrete ways' Swalwell on impeachment: 'We're on that road' after Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics MORE (D-Calif.), former Rep John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyDelaney slams 2020 rival Sanders for calling Israeli government 'racist' 2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran, say they'd put US back in nuclear deal Where 2020 Democratic candidates stand on impeachment MORE (D-Md.) and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangLiberal survey: Sanders cruising, Buttigieg rising Where 2020 Democratic candidates stand on impeachment Groups, lawmakers use 4/20 to raise awareness about marijuana sentencing reform MORE.


Those not expected include Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeCory Booker releases 10 years of tax returns Five states to allow transgender troops to serve in National Guard despite Trump ban Washington House passes bill to make daylight saving time permanent MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardColbert links large 2020 Dem field to Avengers: 'A group of every available person in the universe' Eight 2020 Dems to meet at 'She the People' forum Gabbard: Trump, Pence 'try to hide the truth' of Saudi-inspired terrorist attacks from Christian supporters MORE (D-Hawaii).


National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar: Recent poll showed black voters overwhelmingly support former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenElection analyst says Biden could face uphill battle attracting small-dollar donors Biden's announcement was a general election message, says political analyst Gillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race MORE’s expected candidacy.


“If I could get the answer to any question about the 2020 presidential primary, it would be this: Will African-American voters throw their support behind Vice President Joe Biden because they view him as an extension of the Obama era? Or will they vote for candidates who look more like them and are running on issues of specific interest to the African-American community?” Kraushaar wrote.


> Problems continued to mount for Biden Tuesday as two more women alleged he inappropriately touched them. Caitlyn Caruso, 22, alleged that the former vice president rested his hand on her thigh at an event on sexual assault when she was 19. The second woman, D.J. Hill, 59, claimed that Biden moved his hand down her back during a photo line in 2012, saying it made her “very uncomfortable” and that only Biden “knows his intent.


A Biden spokesman referred The Hill to a comment Sunday saying that he “offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort."


"And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately," Biden added. "If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully."

Earlier, Trump jabbed at the former vice president during a House GOP fundraising dinner, suggesting that Sanders and his supporters are likely the culprits behind the stories.


"The socialists are really taking care of him," Trump said. "Our former vice president...I was going to say welcome to the world, Joe. You having a good time, Joe?"


Earlier Tuesday, Biden tried to play clean-up Tuesday from the initial two allegations as his team sent out kind words on his behalf from “Women Who Know Joe Biden.”


As Amie Parnes and Jonathan Easley report, the controversy over Biden’s behavior toward women has split Democrats along generational and political lines and is testing the party’s zero tolerance policy on sexual misconduct in the “#MeToo” era. Some liberal Democrats view Biden’s shoulder grabs and kisses as disqualifying, arguing that the party can’t waver in its commitment to protecting women if it’s going to maintain the moral high ground.


Traditional mainstream Democrats with deep ties to the former vice president leaped to his defense, arguing that his behavior was innocent. They say the attacks against Biden are an example of the “#MeToo” movement going too far and creating an atmosphere of panic around interactions between men and women.


> As Reid Wilson reports, liberals are furious with a new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) policy intended to protect incumbents. Veterans of the DCCC and other Dem strategists say it’s an unwritten rule that finally got written down — potentially boxing out challengers at the cost of angering the liberal grassroots, which funds the committee and its candidates.


> The New York Times’s David Brooks: Why you love Mayor Pete.

> CBS News: Pete’s path. The mayor plans to launch his official bid this month.


In other political news … Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who has never held elective office, will succeed Rahm Emanuel, becoming the city’s first black woman and openly gay person to serve as mayor after ballots were counted on Tuesday (The Hill) ...  The Democratic National Committee scheduled the second primary debate on July 30 and July 31 in Detroit. CNN will host the debate (The Hill) … Sanders raked in $18.2 million during the first fundraising quarter, according to his campaign (The Hill) … CNN scheduled five more town halls with 2020 Democratic candidates for next week, including with Gillibrand, Castro and Inslee (CNN).

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We need a public-private collaboration to prevent a cyber Pearl Harbor, by Leon Panetta and James Talent, opinion contributors, The Hill.


Trump fails his duty by backtracking on health care, by Quin Hillyer, The Washington Examiner.


The House meets at 9 a.m. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a joint session of Congress to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance.


The Senate convenes at 12:30 p.m. and resumes consideration of Jeffrey Kessler to be an assistant secretary of Commerce.


The president meets with senior military leaders for a briefing followed by a White House dinner.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Fed pick Moore says he will drop out if he becomes a 'political problem' | Trump vows to fight 'all the subpoenas' | Deutsche Bank reportedly turning Trump records over to NY officials | Average tax refund down 2 percent Poll: About half of voters say Congress should focus on getting Trump's tax returns The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He for trade discussions in Washington.


White House National Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow speaks with a roundtable of reporters at 9 a.m. at the invitation of The Christian Science Monitor.


Brexit: Ask for a delay or crash out of the European Union? Prime Minister Theresa May is aiming for another delay. May said she would ask the EU for more time beyond April 12 to sit down with Great Britain’s opposition Labour Party in a bid to break the impasse over Britain’s withdrawal, called for in a referendum three years ago (Reuters).


Tech: Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Facebook expects up to B FTC fine | DHS face scanning at airports sparks alarm | New Twitter tool targets election misinformation | Lawmakers want answers on Google 'Sensorvault' Facebook expects B-B fine over Cambridge Analytica Hillicon Valley: Trump meets Twitter CEO after slamming company | Kushner calls Russia probes more 'harmful' than election interference | Dem wants FTC to hold Zuckerberg 'liable' for data missteps | Sri Lanka faces tough questions over social media ban MORE raised eyebrows over the weekend with a call for regulating internet giants, but regulators, lawmakers and activists around the world who say they’re wary of Facebook see Zuckerberg's advocacy as his counter to more drastic proposals, including calls to break up Silicon Valley's giants (The Hill).


Fourth Estate: The White House Correspondents’ Association announced annual journalism awards to be handed out on April 27 at its spring dinner saluting the First Amendment. Winners are: McKay Coppins of The Atlantic, who takes home the Aldo Beckman Award for reporting about the White House; Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post, to receive the Merriman Smith Award for his print article “Trump derides protections for immigrants from shithole countries”; Ed Henry of Fox News, recipient of the Merriman Smith Award for broadcast, for his interview with former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Six Interior officials under ethics investigation | EPA chief failed to disclose former lobbying client | Greens ask Wheeler to back up claim that climate change is '50 to 75 years out' EPA head asked to back up claim that climate change is '50 to 75 years out' Overnight Energy: Flint residents can sue EPA over water crisis | Environmentalists see victory with Green New Deal blitz | March global temperatures were second hottest on record | EPA told to make final decision on controversial pesticide MORE; and Edgar A. Poe Award honorees Joshua Schneyer, Michael Pell, Andrea Januta and Deborah Nelson of Reuters for their investigation of military housing titled “Ambushed at Home.”   


Art of commuting: Short-story vending machines have been installed in London for commuters, dispensing recognized authors’ one- to five-minute stories at the touch of a button (The Guardian). (Yep, urban dwellers increasingly have the attention span of gnats …)





And finally …   Is it a sign? Some 200 bald eagles and other opportunistic birds are strafing Seattle suburban neighborhoods with trash and scraps scavenged from a problem landfill. The majesty of the eagles and the ick response to the garbage pose a dilemma for county officials and residents.


One community solution? Harassment, reports The New York Times.


“Drones and scarecrows have been used to frighten the birds. But in Washington State, the eagles also attack the drones. Falconers might be helpful against gulls, but not bald eagles. Netting is used sometimes, but that’s better for small, discrete areas.”