The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget




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

Lawmakers are juggling a to-do list this week that defies the space-time continuum in any Congress hurtling toward a Memorial Day recess.


White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE met with lawmakers in the Capitol on Monday, urging more progress on “everything,” including the budget. “We’re open to a lot of solutions,” he said.


“There’s a possibility we could work out something on the broader issues, the budget,” Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Collins walks impeachment tightrope The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions MORE (R-Ohio) said with a note of optimism in his voice. “It would be nice to get it done before we go on this break, at least a framework for avoiding another government shutdown, God forbid.”


>     House and Senate leaders will continue talking this week with senior White House officials about how to fund the federal government after Sept. 30. The White House also wants to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments MORE (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE (R-Calif.) to raise the nation’s borrowing authority as a separate must-do measure without the partisan jockeying surrounding potential default (The Hill).


>      Today, the entire Congress will be briefed on the intelligence behind the administration’s warnings that Iran could strike U.S. interests in the Middle East (The Hill). President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE has threatened “the official end of Iran,” while Iran says it has quadrupled its production of enriched uranium. “I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything,” Trump told reporters on Monday evening. “If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will.”


>      On Monday, senators from both parties reached a tentative agreement to send Puerto Rico more disaster aid, just one of the stumbling blocks in a major disaster assistance measure that has been in limbo for months. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight GOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' MORE (R-Ala.), who discussed the topic and the overall budget picture with Trump, isn’t sure the president’s opposition has softened when it comes to Puerto Rico’s disaster travails, but observers think an aid bill could now be on a fast track (The Hill).


>      Trump, Schumer and Pelosi are expected to meet again, as they said they would last month, to discuss ways the government could pay for $2 trillion in infrastructure upgrades (The Hill). House Democrats now say they’re not sure they want to work with Trump on a deal before the 2020 elections, while Republican lawmakers balked at the price tag and Trump, who initially sounded enthusiastic last month, now argues he’s being “played” by the opposition party (The Hill).


>      Vice President Pence on Monday for the first time pressed Congress to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement “this summer,” a brisk schedule before Congress’s August break, particularly for Democrats who want to add provisions to support labor and environmental protections leading into an election year (The Hill).


Also in Congress … McConnell, who is running for re-election in 2020, on Monday announced he’s working across the aisle with Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineIran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner House war powers sponsor expects to take up Senate version of resolution Sens. Kaine, Lee: 'We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it' MORE (D-Va.) to back what advocates call “Tobacco to 21” legislation to raise to 21 the legal age for the purchase of tobacco products (The Hill).





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Whether he likes it or not, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashSanders co-chair: Greenwald charges could cause 'chilling effect on journalism across the world' Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE (R-Mich.) is becoming persona non grata within the Republican Party.


Amash, the libertarian-leaning lawmaker, doubled down on his weekend claim that the president engaged in impeachable conduct and has since been the center of speculation about a possible 2020 challenge to the president on the Libertarian Party ticket.


As Jonathan Easley reported, buzz is building that Amash will leave the Republican Party to launch a bid. Earlier this year, Amash left the door open to a Libertarian Party run and he has repeatedly expressed frustration with the GOP for abandoning its conservative principles to bend for Trump.


His statement over the weekend that he believed Trump committed impeachable offenses energized and united the “Never Trump” Republicans, who have been unable to recruit a candidate of their own, and prominent libertarians.


Since those remarks, Trump and his top allies have gone on the attack on his behalf. Additionally, GOP leaders are poo-pooing the idea that Amash could be a spoiler for the president, particularly in Michigan, which the president won in 2016 by just north of 10,000 votes (The Hill).


McCarthy, who left the door open to supporting a challenger if Amash runs for his House seat again, downplayed impact Amash may have on the 2020 scene and questioned whether anyone there has even heard of him before this past weekend.


“How many people know Justin Amash?” McCarthy asked reporters. “The only people I saw come up and congratulate him [tonight] were Democrats. How well did it play for [former Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Flake: Republicans don't speak out against Trump 'because they want to keep their jobs' GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (R-Ariz.)]? How well did it play for others? … It’s really about attention more than anything else.”


“He wondered ‘Who is this guy?’” McCarthy said when asked if he talked to Trump about the congressman, adding that Amash is an inconsequential member who hardly ever gets legislation passed.


“He does have a post office,” he quipped.  


The friction between the two is no surprise as Amash voted for Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold Massie2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week NY Times's Haberman: Trump 'surprised' Iranian strike wasn't 'more of a unifying event' MORE (R-Ky.) on the House floor for speaker in January while most of the conference supported McCarthy.


The alienation even came from some of his closest colleagues. As Juliegrace Brufke reported, the House Freedom Caucus voted to condemn the impeachment remarks, but decided against expulsion of Amash, a founder of the three-dozen member group.


The Washington Post: Republicans caught between Trump and reluctance to penalize Amash after “impeachable conduct” declaration.





> Trump has a steep mountain to climb 18 months out from his reelection contest, as his approval ratings and polls continue to show him underwater, and a shockingly-high number of voters make it clear they will not vote for him in 2020.


As Niall Stanage writes, Trump also is staring at head-to-head polling that shows him losing heavily to former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE, the Democratic front-runner, and other top 2020 Democrats.


However, the president’s supporters believe he still has the wind at his back, pointing to the strong economy and the fact that his polling numbers have nudged upward since special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s report was released.


Trump made his latest appearance on the campaign trail Monday night in Montoursville, Pa., where he stumped for state Rep. Fred Keller, the GOP candidate for the special election to replace former Rep. Tom MarinoThomas (Tom) Anthony MarinoWhy the North Carolina special election has national implications The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Republican wins special House election in Pennsylvania MORE (R-Pa.) in the state’s 12th congressional district.


Trump told the Pennsylvania crowd that “I’ll be here a lot” as he looks to repeat his 2016 feat and win the state’s 20 electoral votes.


During the appearance, Trump made a point to ding Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., on multiple occasions. At one point, he said that foreign leaders can’t wait to deal with the former vice president. Later on, he argued that Biden deserted the state.


“He's not from Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “I guess he was born here, but he left you folks. He left you for another state. Remember that, please....He left you for another state, and he didn't take care of you, because he didn't take care of your jobs. He let other countries come in and rip off America. That doesn't happen anymore."


Biden was born in Scranton in 1942, although his family moved away 11 years later (Politico).


The Washington Post: The narrator in chief: Trump opines on the 2020 Democrats — and so much more.


Reuters: Trump plans an official launch of his reelection campaign in mid-June, to coincide with the four-year anniversary of his initial White House bid.


The New York Times: As Biden rakes in big money, will there be a political cost?


> Biden isn’t the only Democrat trying to appeal to the middle-of-the-road voter as Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBrent Budowsky: Bloomberg should give billion to Democrats Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far Kamala Harris dropped out, but let's keep her mental health plan alive MORE (D) has staked out a position in the middle to win votes from centrists in his bid for the Democratic nomination.


As Reid Wilson reports, Bullock, who entered the race one week ago, is pushing his red-state credentials having won twice in a deep-red state. This is headlined by his reelection bid when Trump won the state by 20 points in 2016.


The Associated Press: Town hall on enemy turf? Fox News debate divides 2020 Dems.


Elsewhere on the 2020 scene … Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) will take part in a CNN town hall Tuesday night. The network also announced four more town halls in the coming weeks with Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetImpeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary MORE (D-Colo.) and Reps. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonOvernight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Congress reacts to US assassination of Iranian general Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE (D-Mass.), Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanOffice of Technology Assessment: It's time for a second coming Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far GM among partners planning .3B battery plant in Ohio MORE (D-Ohio) and Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Enes Kanter sees political stardom — after NBA and WWE Swalwell pens op-ed comparing Trump impeachment to XYZ Affair MORE (D-Calif.), all of which will take place in Atlanta (CNN) … Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseCommerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems to present case on abuse of power on trial's third day Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (R-Neb.) is expected to launch a bid for reelection to the Senate this summer. A final decision will be reached this summer, but Republicans believe will run despite speculation that he could forgo a bid (Politico).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Former White House Counsel Don McGahn will not appear on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and plans to “respect the president’s instruction” to defy a congressional subpoena, setting off a new round of calls to get the ball rolling on impeachment proceedings against the president.


Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Smaller companies testify against Big Tech's 'monopoly power' Living in limbo may end for Liberians in the US MORE (D-R.I.), a member of House Democratic leadership, said that the “pattern” of obstruction by the White House is the impetus behind the call, adding that Democrats are being left with no choice.


The impeachment question is also pressuring Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who continues to dismiss the possibility. According to Politico, Cicilline and two other Democratic member pressed her to move forward on impeachment proceedings, which she, along with multiple leadership allies, rejected immediately.


“Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse Oversight committee asks DHS for information on family separation Maryland Rep. Raskin endorses Warren ahead of Iowa caucus Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Jayapal endorses Sanders MORE (D-Md.) — a former law professor — said he wasn't advocating impeaching Trump but suggested that opening an impeachment inquiry would strengthen their legal position while allowing Democrats to move forward with their legislative agenda.


“Pelosi dismissed this argument, asking Raskin if he wanted to shut down the other five committees working on Trump investigations in favor of the Judiciary Committee.  


“‘You want to tell Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE to go home?’ Pelosi quipped, referring to the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.”


> U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta blocked Trump’s bid to withhold from House Democratic investigators his financial records held by an accounting firm he retained as a New York businessman, giving House Democrats a victory in their bid to unearth a trove of financial information about the president.


Trump panned the decision, pointing to Mehta being a judge appointed by former President Obama in 2014 and calling it “crazy.”


Trump's attorneys filed a lawsuit last month seeking to block Mazars USA, an accounting firm, from complying with a subpoena for years of documents related to the House Oversight Committee's investigation into claims that Trump inflated or deflated financial statements for potentially improper purposes (NBC News).


The Wall Street Journal: Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham Barr DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence Senators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter Democrats sharpen case on second day of arguments MORE says he is fighting for the presidency, not Trump.


> The Environmental Protection Agency plans to get thousands of deaths off its books by changing its math about air pollution, to the chagrin of scientists and critics who challenge the accuracy and motivation (The New York Times).


> A government watchdog said Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosAmerican Federation of Teachers sues DeVos over repeal of for-profit regulations Pressley says she 'would welcome the opportunity' to educate DeVos after abortion, slavery comparison DeVos compares pro-choice to being pro-slavery MORE used personal email for official purposes in “limited” cases without keeping department copies, an internal investigation disclosed on Monday.


According to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, DeVos sent fewer than 100 emails pertaining to government business from her four known personal email addresses between Jan. 20, 2017, and April 10, 2018, with most coming within the first six months (The Hill).  




The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Don’t recycle another myth to justify a war with Iran, by Dov S. Zakheim, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Democrats should seize the day with a trade agreement, by Luis de la Calle, former Mexican deputy secretary for trade, and Arturo Sarukhan, former Mexican ambassador to the United States, opinion contributors, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Rep. Mark GreenMark GreenPresident Trump's Iran strategy is working Trump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization Trump says he will designate Mexican drug cartels as terror organizations MORE (R-Tenn.) on the situation with Iran; Robert Scott, director of trade and manufacturing for the Economic Policy Institute, on China and the trade war; and New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker, interviewed about his latest book, “Obama: The Call of History.”


The House convenes at 10 a.m. House Democrats will hold a private weekly caucus meeting to be briefed about Iran by former White House national security adviser John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFederal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report FISA court's rebuke of the FBI: It broke or ignored the rules and our rights Where was American counterintelligence? MORE and other former U.S. officials who negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran (The Associated Press).


The Senate will meet at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of Daniel P. Collins to be a United States circuit judge for the 9th Circuit.


The president has lunch with the vice president. Trump holds an expanded bilateral meeting with the leaders of the Freely Associated States, which are three Micronesian nations (Honolulu Civil Beat).


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map Huawei endangers Western values The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge MORE, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall MORE, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, and other officials are briefing lawmakers in the House and Senate about Iran (The Associated Press).  


The National Association of Realtors at 10 a.m. will report on U.S. existing-home sales in April, a closely watched economic indicator during a year in which home sales nationally have been up and down.


Manufacturing: Ford Motor Co. on Monday said it will eliminate about 10 percent of its global salaried workforce, cutting approximately 7,000 jobs by the end of August as part of its larger restructuring in a move that will save the No. 2 automaker $600 million annually (Reuters). … Tesla Inc.’s stock slide intensified on Monday after a once-bullish analyst called the range of financial issues facing the electric-car maker a “code red situation” (Bloomberg).


Abortion: The Supreme Court on Monday took no action on appeals seeking to revive two restrictive Republican-backed abortion laws from Indiana. The court could next announce whether it will hear the cases on May 28. If the court takes up either case, it would give conservative justices an opportunity to chip away at the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling during a period in which states’ adoption of restrictive abortion laws are at the forefront of political debate (Reuters).


Tech: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is recommending approval of a T-Mobile and Sprint merger after the two companies agreed to changes to a proposed $26 billion deal (The Hill). However, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division is leaning toward a thumbs-down on the merger (Bloomberg). … Meanwhile, Chinese telecom giant Huawei continues to be in the middle of a U.S.-China tech cold war (The New York Times). The company got temporary exemptions from a U.S. blacklist in order to keep existing communications systems operating (The Wall Street Journal).


Jeopardy! Contestant James Holzhauer was back at the buzzer on the game show match-up that aired Monday. Guess what? Yep, the professional sports bettor won again. Will he beat Ken Jennings’s all-time Jeopardy record? Ken has been rooting for him (The Washington Post).


Eiffel Tower: Rescuers in Paris eventually persuaded a man who scaled the Eiffel Tower on Monday to give himself up after his actions forced the monument’s evacuation and closure. “The man entered the tower normally and started to climb once he was on the second floor,” a spokeswoman for the tower’s operator told Reuters. The iconic, 1,063-foot tower reopened today and tourists with timed tickets to ascend on Monday said they were désappointé to find themselves still on the ground (The Associated Press).





And finally … Washington commuters and a summer’s supply of visitors to the nation’s capital should prepare this week to get a little hot under the collar. Beginning on Saturday and extending through Sept. 8, Metro system repairs will shut down subway stops in Virginia that are south of Reagan National Airport.


Virginia stations along the blue and yellow Metro lines that will be affected for months are Braddock Road, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington and King Street-Old Town. Express shuttle buses, local shuttle buses and water taxis are planned to help alleviate some of the public transportation gaps (WTOP). More details HERE.