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The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster

 

 

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 542,359; Tuesday, 542,949; Wednesday, 543,843; Thursday, 545,281; Friday, 546,822.

President Biden used his first formal presidential news conference on Thursday to put major players on notice in ways new chief executives with wins under their belts like to do.  

The newsy headlines — he expects to seek a second term; the filibuster needs a major fix (or deep six) — did not quite capture Biden’s equanimity about publicly tangling with adversaries, even those he needs while governing.

Once a smiling, glad-handing creature of the Senate who assured voters he knew how to cut deals and overcome the venom in the Capitol, Biden in the East Room rebuked “my Republican friends” over their lockstep opposition to his $1.9 trillion relief bill, eagerness to “posture for a while” over a surge of migrants at the border, their “un-American” and “sick” moves in some states to try to block voting rights, their “newfound concern” over government spending and what he called the GOP’s tolerance for “feathering the nest of the wealthy.”

“I have not been able to unite the Congress, but I’ve been uniting the country,” Biden said during his hour-long event at which he fielded questions from 10 news outlets.

Riding high on his job approval and the accomplishment of seeing his signature on a mammoth relief law, the president repeated messages that poll well: Americans need help, and if it takes Senate rule changes, executive actions, deficit spending or turning his back on the minority party to deliver that help, it’s worth it. “I got elected to solve problems,” the president said. 

Reuters: Biden next week will roll out an ambitious infrastructure and climate plan that could cost as much as $4 trillion. He’ll detail his ideas during a speech in union-friendly Pittsburgh, where he launched his campaign in 2019. 

“I think my Republican colleagues are going to have to determine whether or not we want to work together or they'll decide that the way in which they want to proceed is to … divide the country, continue the politics of division. But I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to move forward and take these things as they come,” Biden added. “Successful politics is the art of the possible.” 

It’s also the reality of the impossible.  

The president said the recent surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border is not a result of his policies, but rather a continuation of the decades-long flight of Central Americans willing to leave their countries in terror and out of economic desperation. “The truth of the matter is that nothing has changed. It happens every single solitary year,” he said. 

This is counter to recent reporting by Martha Raddatz of ABC News and claims made by the president of Mexico (Newsweek).

The Hill: Biden: Migrants aren’t coming to the United States “because I’m a nice guy.”

Biden may be signaling to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Trump signals he's ready to get back in the game Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization MORE (R-Ky.) that he’s willing to back a vote to abolish the filibuster, but in the 50-50 Senate, Republicans are only part of the story. Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSchumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections DC statehood bill picks up Senate holdout Sweeping election reform bill faces Senate buzz saw MORE (D-Ariz.) say they support the 60-vote threshold and won’t change their minds.  

The Hill: Biden warned Senate GOP he could back gutting the filibuster. “If we have to, if there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about,” he said.

On the global stage, Biden campaigned to bring U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, but now concedes it is logistically impossible to accomplish by a May 1 deadline.  

The Hill: Biden said he “can’t picture” having U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year.

He reminded reporters that he’s known President Xi Jinping of China for years and recently spoke with him for two hours while emphasizing the United States does not want confrontation, but rather competition in which “China (is) accountable to follow the rules” (The Wall Street Journal).

“They have an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world,” Biden said. “That's not going to happen on my watch because the United States is going to continue to grow and expand.” 

How the United States and its allies force China to follow international rules was left unanswered. 

The Hill: Biden says Xi sees autocracy as the wave of the future.

The Hill: Five takeaways from Biden’s news conference.

The Washington Post: Four takeaways from the president’s first formal news conference.

The New York Times: Biden makes clear gun control legislation is not his top priority.

 

President Biden in East Room

 

More administration: The Social Security Administration on Thursday sent the IRS the data necessary to deliver coronavirus stimulus checks to people receiving government assistance after lawmakers expressed alarm that the payments were delayed (The Hill). ... In an obscure but potent bureaucratic step on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegInfrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Colonial pays hackers as service is restored MORE formally rescinded many internal departmental rules and policies put in place under his predecessor, Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoTop Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Gingrich on Trump-McConnell feud: GOP 'better off' focusing on Democrats MORE, that were part of the Trump administration’s push to pare back regulations, and in some cases limit their enforcement (The Washington Post). … The administration said there were nearly 5,000 children in Customs and Border Protection custody as of Tuesday and an additional 11,551 at shelters from the Health and Human Services Department (The Associated Press). … Possible White House executive actions to tackle gun violence could include background checks and other initiatives, The New York Times reports.

 

LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: My plan is to run for reelection. That’s my expectation,” Biden told reporters on Thursday amid speculation he may want to serve a single term. He commended Vice President Harris as “a great partner” when asked about a 2024 Democratic ticket. Biden, 78, who lost his first wife and his daughter in a car accident and his son, Beau, to brain cancer, worded his response with care. “I’ve become a great respecter of fate in my life. … I've never been able to plan four and a half, three and a half years ahead for certain,” he added (The Hill).  

Biden took several sarcastic swipes at former President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE during his news conference, a departure from his studied efforts to avoid calling out the 45th president by name during his campaign and his initial months in office (The Washington Post).

 

Biden/Harris yard sign

 

> GOP in 2022: Sensing a political opening heading into 2022 contests, Republican lawmakers are ramping up efforts to squeeze Biden and congressional Democrats on undocumented migrants at the border and questions of border security. Republicans seek to block immigration bills and target incumbents up for reelection (The Hill). 

Conservative Senate candidates who back Trump are creating early 2022 headaches for Republican leaders amid the battle over the party’s future. Control of the Senate and the tenor of the nation’s politics are at stake (The Washington Post). 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Lawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats GOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending MORE (S.D.), No. 2 in the Senate GOP leadership and among those incumbents targeted for defeat by Trump, is weighing his political future and whether to seek reelection in 2022 (Politico). 

Trump is frustrated with the pace of the ramp-up of a new super PAC intended to further solidify his influence over the GOP, according to two people familiar with the conversations who spoke with The Hill. The former president’s spokesman denied it, reports Brett Samuels.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CONGRESS: Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Sunrise Movement endorses Nina Turner in special election for Ohio House seat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Helping students make informed decisions on college Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (D-Mass.), both outspoken proponents of filibuster reform, on Thursday applauded the president for what they say was a recognition of "fact" that the filibuster has a racist history. Manchin disagreed with Biden's news conference characterization that the 60-vote rule is a relic of the Jim Crow era of segregation. The West Virginia Democrat frequently defends the filibuster’s utility in protecting minority views in the Senate. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that the debate over the filibuster has become increasingly entwined with the national debate about race. 

Biden answered “yes” when asked Thursday if he believes the filibuster, which he supported as a Delaware senator, is a relic of racial segregation laws, but he said it’s important to try to fix the Senate rule before deciding to do away with it. “Let’s deal with the abuse first,” he told reporters. 

Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (D-N.Y.) filled out his party’s agenda in the Senate beginning later this month, presenting a road map on Thursday. We will focus on three areas: One, voting rights, civil rights. Two, economic recovery and jobs with an emphasis on climate change and build back better. And three, health and gun safety," he said from the Senate floor. The Senate returns to work on April 12 and will be in session through May (The Hill).

> Paycheck Protection Program extension: The Senate voted 92-7 on Thursday to pass legislation extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans to businesses impacted by the coronavirus, from March 31 to May 31. The measure now heads to Biden’s desk for his signature. Seven Republicans voted against the bill: Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted MORE (Idaho), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP resistance to campaign finance reforms shows disregard for US voters Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden MORE (Texas), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyNYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force chief: Attacks are 'not new' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan MORE (Mo.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Energy: Colonial Pipeline says it has restored full service | Biden urges people not to panic about gasoline shortages | EPA rescinds Trump-era cost-benefit rule Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick Hillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE (Utah), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Fauci on Rand Paul: 'I just don't understand what the problem is with him' MORE (Ky.), Jim RischJim Elroy RischAny reduction in Energy Department's cybersecurity resources a mistake Biden cancels military-funded border wall projects Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (Idaho) and Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Biden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate MORE (Ala.) (The Hill).

> Voting rights: Manchin, whose views carry weight because of his willingness to buck his party on major legislation, said Thursday that any Senate voting rights measure should be bipartisan, even as some colleagues call for the end of the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold when it comes to elections and the financing of campaigns. “We must work toward a bipartisan solution that protects everyone’s right to vote, secures our elections from foreign interference, and increases transparency in our campaign finance laws,” Manchin said in a statement (The Hill).

> Nominations: The Senate by voice vote on Thursday confirmed Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo as deputy Treasury secretary, making him the department’s first Black deputy secretary. Pictured below, he will serve under Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenEconomist Richard Wolff says higher wages needed to spur faster job growth GOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Judge rejects GOP effort to block tax provision in Biden stimulus bill MORE, the first female to lead the department (The Hill). 

 

Adewale Adeyemo



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

 

OPINION

Biden faces the world’s most dangerous problems in North Korea and Taiwan, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3sqHDWZ

Biden lifts the curtain, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://tinyurl.com/9749aadc

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 2 p.m. for a pro forma session.  

The Senate is out of session until April 12. 

The president and Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:20 a.m. Biden will receive an economic briefing at 2:10 p.m. in the Oval Office. At 3 p.m., he will participate in a virtual fundraiser for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance BottomsKeisha Lance BottomsAtlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says 'it is time to pass the baton on to someone else' Watch live: Atlanta mayor holds briefing after saying she won't run for reelection The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (D), who supported his campaign in a state he narrowly won. The mayor is seeking reelection on Nov. 2 and faces competition (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). The president will depart the White House at 6:15 p.m. to spend the weekend with his family in Delaware. 

The vice president will ceremonially swear in Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraMcDonald's teams up with HHS on pro-vaccination campaign Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections MORE as secretary of Health and Human Services at 9:30 a.m. Harris will ceremonially swear in Shalanda Young as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget at 9:55 a.m. Harris will fly to New Haven, Conn., to hold a listening session at the Boys and Girls Club of New Haven with Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court takes case that could diminish Roe v. Wade | White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time On The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed Nearly all school districts finally offer some in-person instruction: We should not be satisfied MORE and Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Schumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections Sweeping election reform bill faces Senate buzz saw MORE of Connecticut at 2:35 p.m. The discussion will focus on child poverty and education and the impact of the American Rescue Plan Act on both. The vice president at 4:35 p.m. will speak at the West Haven Child Development Center. Harris returns to Washington in the evening.

The White House press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. The administration’s coronavirus update takes place at 10:15 a.m.

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Economic Analysis will report at 8:30 a.m. on U.S. consumer spending in February, expected to show a lull before a rebound in March and April following consumers’ receipt of newly enacted stimulus checks. 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube

ELSEWHERE

CORONAVIRUS: Biden on Thursday announced an updated goal to administer 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, setting a target the White House sees as achievable by the end of April at the current average rate of 2.5 doses of vaccine being administered daily (The Hill). At that pace, about half of the nation’s population would be at least partially vaccinated by mid-May (The New York Times).

The president’s efforts to underpromise and overdeliver are intended to be a contrast with his predecessor in the Oval Office and part of Biden’s mantra that the U.S. government is an effective problem solver.

The administration said Thursday it will spend nearly $10 billion to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines in areas of the country with the highest risks of infection and high caseloads, including communities either hard to reach with health care or those where vaccine hesitancy is evident (CNN).

The New York Times: Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNew York City Marathon returning with smaller field Jeffries endorses Wiley in New York mayor's race NYPD launches investigation after multiple people slashed on subway MORE (D) announced on Thursday that New York City plans to create a coronavirus vaccination site and mobile vaccination unit on Broadway that will be reserved for theater industry workers in an effort to help theaters reopen for live performances in the fall. “It’s time to raise the curtain and bring Broadway back,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times: Long-term side effects of COVID-19 infection frustrate patients and baffle scientists. 

In India, a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks and variants of the coronavirus have been detected. The country with 1.4 billion people reported its largest single-day record of new cases since October. One suspected contributor: population fatigue with recommended precautions (CNN). India plans to widen its vaccination campaign (Reuters)

 

Mass vaccination site

 

TECH: The chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter dueled with lawmakers during a Thursday hearing about online misinformation and whether the powerful social media platforms played a role in the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol. Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergUS billionaire wealth skyrocketed 55 percent during pandemic, accelerating inequality Bipartisan attorneys general urge Facebook to scrap planned Instagram for kids Hillicon Valley: Broadband companies funded fake net neutrality comments, investigation finds | Twitter rolls out tip feature | Google to adopt 'hybrid work week' MORE blamed Trump and a "political and media environment that drives Americans apart" (CNN). 

INTERNATIONAL: North Korea on Friday boasted it tested “new-type tactical guided” missile as the United States vowed consequences if Pyongyang escalates tensions amid stalled nuclear negotiations (The Associated Press).  … Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and his right-wing allies fell short of winning a parliamentary majority in Israel’s fourth election in two years, according to a final vote count released Thursday, leaving a political deadlock that put the long-time leader’s future in question (The Associated Press). … Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is expected to visit the White House on April 9, said Friday he expects to invite Biden to the Tokyo Olympics (The Associated Press).

U.S. ECONOMY: Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell last week to 657,000, a decrease of 100,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It was the lowest weekly level of initial state claims since the pandemic upended the economy a year ago. The trend line is moving in the right direction but the labor market has lagged behind other measures of recovery (The New York Times). 

STATE WATCH: In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia's GOP lt. governor won't seek reelection amid election backlash Cheney seen as merely first victim of Trump election attacks Three charged in Arbery killing plead not guilty to federal hate crimes MORE drew protests as he signed into law behind closed doors a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run (The Associated Press). Georgia state legislator Park Cannon (D) was handcuffed, arrested and removed from the state Capitol in which she works by state troopers after she knocked on Kemp’s closed door during the signing she opposed (NBC News). ... In New York, the state finalized a deal on Thursday to legalize recreational marijuana, paving the way for an estimated $4.2 billion industry and tens of thousands of jobs (The New York Times). … In California, the University of Southern California agreed to pay a staggering $1.1 billion in a combination of three settlements with thousands of victims allegedly abused sexually by a former campus gynecologist (The New York Times).  … Also in the Golden State, the endangered condor will return to the redwoods for the first time in 100 years thanks to a new release facility, the National Park Service said this week (Sacramento Bee). 

 

California Condor



THE CLOSER

And finally …   Congratulations to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners!  

Here’s who aced the news coverage puzzle about March’s madness (including some sidebar headlines): Daniel Bachhuber, Gary Breakfield, Judy Kulczycki, Joseph Webster, Michael Bodaken, Pam Manges, Candi Cee, Patrick Kavanagh, Mary Anne McEnery, Richard Clermont, Chris Bodamer, Lesa Davis, Phil Kirstein, Leon Burzynski, Joe Erdmann and John Donato. 

They knew that Miami Beach (pictured below) imposed an 8 p.m. spring break curfew after too many youthful street fights and arrests last weekend.

Canines Major and Champ Biden and veteran Democratic policy adviser Gene Sperling made ballyhooed returns to the White House (physically and virtually) this month after absences both short and long. Thus, the correct answer was “all of the above.” 

Disgraced lawyer Sidney Powell, in an attempt to get a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit dismissed, presented an unusual defense to the court. She argued that no reasonable person would believe she made factual statements as part of her efforts to overthrow presidential election results last year.  

Finally, in true March Madness fashion, Oral Roberts University became the second 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to reach the Sweet 16, joined only by Florida Gulf Coast in 2013. 

 

Spring Break