The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's new controversy
The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate
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 Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @asimendinger and @alweaver22.
The Alabama legislature lit a fuse on abortion Tuesday that could burn its way to the Supreme Court in the next few years. But first, the emotional debate is expected to energize 2020 contests for candidates running in both political parties.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed the Alabama bill, which outlaws almost all abortions in the state, including in cases of incest and rape. The law was written to trigger court challenges, which abortion opponents hope will lead a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Women's rights activists and pro-choice advocates say the decision to approve the nation's strictest abortion measure has emboldened them, and they are gearing up for the fight (The Washington Post).
In the pre-dawn hours today, Missouri's Republican-led Senate passed a measure to ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy with an exception only for cases of medical emergencies, not rape or incest (The Associated Press).
Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia also recently approved bans on abortion at the point that a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks and sometimes before a woman knows she is pregnant. The bill in Alabama bans abortion outright with no exceptions for rape or incest, a head-on challenge to 1973's Roe v. Wade decision and to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Voters who oppose abortion rights are eager to support keeping the White House in Republican hands. For anti-abortion activists, the goal is a ruling in the Supreme Court that would say life, with legal rights, begins at conception.
But there are Republicans who worry that the Alabama law goes too far in a polarized political environment in which only 18 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, according to a Gallup survey released this month.
In the presidential contest, Democrats on Wednesday lost no time condemning the Alabama abortion ban and restrictive "heartbeat" laws approved by other states.
Front-runner Joe Biden, who is Catholic, told supporters via Twitter that "Republicans in AL, FL, GA, and OH are ushering in laws that clearly violate Roe v Wade and they should be declared unconstitutional. Roe v Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor."
In the progressive wing of the party, the perceived threats to reproductive choice mobilize women of all ages, younger voters, and the party's fundraising.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) used her social media and email megaphones to rally supporters to donate to Planned Parenthood and to speak out for abortion rights.
The Alabama law, Ocasio-Cortez's campaign wrote to supporters, "means a child who is raped will be forced to carry that pregnancy by their rapist to term. With a maximum penalty of 99 years in jail, Alabama will officially punish people who seek abortions more harshly than people convicted of rape."
"By jailing women who only seek to exercise their right, Alabama Republicans have taken yet another step towards pushing us back into the past - in their endless quest to return women to second-class citizen status," she added. (The Hill).
The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics sued in Ohio on Wednesday to block the state's latest and most restrictive abortion law.
The Washington Post: Abortion ban reaction: Democrats erupt, Republicans stay quiet as both sides see an impact in the 2020 election.
Reuters: Abortion restrictions carry political risks for Republicans in 2020.
The Hill: The Supreme Court's liberal justices are eyeing the court's conservative majority and abortion challenges in lower courts.
Perspectives and Analysis:
Mary Ziegler: Abortion opponents think they're winning. Have they set themselves up to fail? Alabama, Georgia and the fetal personhood trap.
Cheryl K. Chumley: Alabama abortion fight shines light on wrongful Roe v. Wade.
Adam Liptak, The New York Times: The court led by Chief Justice John Roberts is more likely to chip away at the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 than to overturn it outright. It will have plenty of near-term opportunities to do so.
The Washington Post: In Alabama, all 25 votes cast in favor of the abortion bill came from white Republican men.
The Economist: Alabama's lawmakers want to challenge Roe v. Wade. That seems unlikely to happen until 2021 at the earliest.
LEADING THE DAY
WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump plans to ask Congress to send him legislation that creates a merit-based visa system for legal immigration as a step toward reforms he and Republican candidates could campaign on into next year.
The president's spring speech in the Rose Garden about immigration, an issue that has divided the two parties in Congress for decades, is not expected to go anywhere in the House. Trump's advisers Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner consulted with Senate Republicans on Tuesday but have not sought input on the specifics from House Democratic leaders (The Washington Post).
Bottom line: Whether on health care or immigration, the White House and congressional Republicans believe rallying around proposed legislative reforms draws contrasts with Democrats and showcases what a second Trump term might tackle.
> Immigration: The U.S. military will provide and build six tent cities near the U.S. southern border to house 7,500 migrants, the Defense Department says, noting that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is expected to sign a request from the Department of Homeland Security (NBC News).
> Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): The acting head of the FAA said Wednesday that Boeing should have done more to explain an automated flight-control system on its 737 Max aircraft before two deadly crashes, but he defended his agency's safety certification of the plane and its decision not to ground the jet until other regulators around the world had already done so. The FAA official, Daniel Elwell, said he expects Boeing to submit a fix to the plane's flight-control software "in the next week or so." The FAA will analyze the changes, conduct test flights and determine what additional pilot training is needed before letting the planes fly again, he said (The Associated Press).
> Trump finances: The president's latest financial disclosure report, set for release today by the Office of Government Ethics, is expected to indicate whether his presidency has helped or hurt his hotels, golf resorts and other parts of his business empire compared with 2018 (The Associated Press).
> Hatch Act: Complaints are piling up that Trump administration officials and staff members are campaigning for their boss. In the president's first year in office, formal complaints that staffers violated an 80-year-old law prohibiting them from political activity jumped (Politico).
CONGRESS: Senate Republicans are worried they may have an Iran problem.
Frustration has set in among GOP senators who say the Trump administration has largely kept them in the dark about a possible military confrontation with the Middle East adversary. However, as Alexander Bolton reports, what they know has them on edge already, as Trump has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group, a Patriot missile defense battery and an Air Force bomber task force to the Middle East, while the State Department has ordered a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
A few legislators have received briefings, but many can only guess at the extent of the threat and where a ramp up in combat forces may lead.
The Washington Post: Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack Iran
> Lawmakers are moving quickly to try to notch a bipartisan accomplishment to protect patients from massive, unexpected medical bills, but the efforts have run into problems - namely, industry jockeying and an array of competing plans.
As Peter Sullivan writes, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the committee's ranking member, on Tuesday released a draft bill only days after Trump called for action last week. A bipartisan group of senators is expected to release a bill this week as well. However, the measures use different mechanisms to protect patients from surprise bills, and powerful hospital and insurer groups are fighting each other over which wins out.
ABC News: House seeks to narrow the scope of House Judiciary document requests.
The Wall Street Journal: White House resistance to Budget deal worries Republicans.
The Hill: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signals administration won't comply with subpoena for Trump tax returns.
Carl Hulse: 'Bigger than a party of old white men': GOP women seek to replenish House ranks.
> House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unveiled to members a rebooted version of the "Young Guns" program. Along with it being the House GOP's top recruitment program, it will also be designed to attack vulnerable House Democrats during the 2020 cycle, including running digital ads against those members, a new step for the program.
McCarthy rolled out the announcement Tuesday during a conference meeting. Deputy Chairs for the program include Reps. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.).
Josh Kraushaar: Texas's 7th district may be 2020's foremost bellwether.
More from the Capitol... Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) once again became the fastest members of Congress on Wednesday. Sinema ran a three-mile course at Washington's Anacostia Park in a time of 20:45 to set a new record for a female senator during the 38th ACLI Capital Challenge road race, which benefits Junior Achievement. Gallagher was the fastest congressman for the third straight year, finishing in 18:37. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was the fastest male senator with a time of 30:32. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who ran the Capital Challenge for years when he was an appeals court judge, finished the road race in 22:17.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Another Democrat is entering the 2020 fray.
Despite a rocky trial balloon period that featured negative story after negative story, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is expected to take the 2020 plunge Thursday morning, bringing the total of Democratic candidates to an even two-dozen.
De Blasio is scheduled to appear on "Good Morning America" on Thursday to make the news official before making his inaugural 2020 swing through Iowa and South Carolina, according to NBC News. According to a report, the New York City mayor is expected to make a stop in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday as part of his inaugural swing. A Facebook post for the event was deleted.
De Blasio, who would be the second mayor in the race, will start off as a major underdog in the fight for the nomination as he has not polled higher than 1 percent in any national or early state polls.
Additionally, he is unpopular back in New York City. According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released in early April, he was underwater with voters in the U.S.'s largest city, with 42 percent approving of his job compared to 44 percent who disapprove. Seventy-six percent of New Yorkers also said they did not want him to run for president, while 47 percent said it would be bad for the city if he did so.
News of a possible run in recent months has also sparked a string of unflattering stories, including from The New York Times, The Atlantic and Politico, which quotes one former aide who says a 2020 bid is "f---ing insane."
> Biden has largely tethered himself to former President Obama throughout the opening weeks of his 2020 campaign but has shown that he is willing to break with his former boss on a number of issues.
As Amie Parnes reports, Biden has come out in support of a $15 minimum wage and has publicly backed a public option while many others in the 2020 Democratic field have embraced a "Medicare-for-All" system. Additionally, he has called for undocumented immigrants to be insured, something that is not included in Obamacare.
The New York Times: Biden, campaigning in New Hampshire, straddles past and present.
Politico: Obama ad-maker signs on with Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Karl Rove: Biden faces the front-runner's perils.
Politico: "It's infuriating": Kamala Harris team galled by Biden veep talk.
> Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) is desperately looking to recapture the magic that made him a Democratic star during the 2018 cycle during his close loss to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
As Jonathan Easley reports, O'Rourke, who has been on a blitz of national media in recent days, is looking for a B-12 shot into his campaign as he fades in polling both nationally and in early states and hopes to bump himself back into the top tier of the Democratic field.
> Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is trying to show he is not a one trick pony.
The Democratic governor signed into law a health care bill that would create a public option to compete with private insurance -- an alternative to "Medicare for All" proposals favored by many 2020 candidates. It's also a bid to endear himself to moderate Democratic voters, and potentially some Republicans, who worry about proposals from 2020 contenders that would overhaul the whole industry.
The move also shows that Inslee has a focus on issues outside climate change, the issue he has staked many of his 2020 hopes on in a bid to move up in the polls and snag the nomination.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill's reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
How to stop the march to war with Iran, by former Under Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman, op-ed, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2WHN8Rg
The historic battle between Congress and the White House, by Dan Mahaffee, director of policy at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2W2SfOZ
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV's "Rising" program, starting at 8 a.m., features Courtney Hunter with the Center on Addiction; Joe Pesce with the National Science Foundation; and Wanda Barfield, assistant U.S. surgeon general, talking about pregnancy-related deaths. http://thehill.com/hilltv
The House convenes at 10 a.m. The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations holds a hearing at 2 p.m. about the dangers of reporting on human rights, including testimony from the fiancée of the late Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed last year inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of Wendy Vitter to be a U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The president meets with Ueli Maurer, the president of the Swiss Confederation. He receives his intelligence briefing at 1:30 p.m. Trump will outline a legislative proposal for a merit-based visa system during a speech in the Rose Garden at 2:30 p.m. (The Hill). Trump travels to New York City this evening for a reelection fundraising roundtable and dinner.
Vice President Pence will travel to Wisconsin to promote the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement during a tour and remarks at 1:15 p.m. at J&D Manufacturing in Eau Claire, and he'll visit U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy at 4:45 p.m. before returning to Washington.
The Hill hosts a live event titled Workers & The Innovation Age at 8:30 a.m. at the Newseum, with guests including Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio); Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Future of Work Task Force, and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), ranking member of the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions; and Megan J. Smith, founder and CEO of Shift7 and a former U.S. chief technology officer during the Obama administration. The Hill's editor-in-chief, Bob Cusack, leads the discussion. Information is HERE.
Axios's Mike Allen hosts an infrastructure event at 8 a.m. with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), as well as Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D). Information is HERE.
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➔ Tech: Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk, effectively barring business with China's Huawei telecom giant (The New York Times). ... Andy Purdy, the chief technology officer for Huawei Technologies USA, told The Hill in an interview on Wednesday that the company would "welcome" such a move. ... China, however, voiced its opposition today, saying it will take steps to protect its companies (Reuters).
➔ Congressional Budget Office: Senate and House Budget leaders have chosen Phillip Swagel, a University of Maryland economist and former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration, as the next director of Congress's important budget arbiter, succeeding Keith Hall, whose four-year term officially ended Jan. 3 (Roll Call).
➔ News you can use: William Barr's secret passion is ... the bagpipes! "Throughout the eighties, Barr performed in the City of Washington Pipe Band - one of the top bagpipe ensembles in the world - giving new meaning to the cool-dad line 'I used to be in a band'" (The New Yorker).
And finally ... It's Thursday, which means it's time for this week's Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the recent deaths of celebrities from TV and film, we're eager for some smart guesses about iconic entertainers.
Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com, and please add "Quiz" to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
Actress Peggy Lipton, who died Saturday at age 72, won a Golden Globe Award for best actress for her portrayal of character Julie Barnes in what hit television program?
- "Cagney and Lacey"
- "The Mod Squad"
- "Laverne & Shirley"
- "The Streets of San Francisco"
Zoologist and "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" host Jim Fowler, who did on May 8 at age 87, gained a huge and appreciative following as a guest (with animals) paired with which talk show host?
- Mike Douglas
- Dick Cavett
- Johnny Carson
- David Letterman
Funny man Tim Conway, an actor, writer and director who died Tuesday at age 85, created television gold from 1967 to 1978 with which funny woman?
- Joan Rivers
- Lucille Ball
- Mary Tyler Moore
- Carol Burnett
Movie star Doris Day - a comedic and dramatic actress and singer who won Golden Globe and Grammy awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom - died Tuesday at age 97. Which of these famed actors was NOT one of her cinematic love interests?
- Rock Hudson
- Humphrey Bogart
- Cary Grant
- James Stewart