Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent – US weighs Russia oil ban. Will Europe follow?

Gas prices are seen in front of a billboard advertising HBO's Last Week Tonight in Los Angeles
Associated Press/Jae C. Hong

                                    Presented by Emergent

 

Gas prices are seen in front of a billboard advertising HBO's Last Week Tonight in Los Angeles

 

 

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Russia’s war with Ukraine found no solutions on its 12th day but divisions deepened in world capitals and in Washington about whether a proposed ban on imported Russian petroleum would be wise.

 

The idea on Monday split allied countries and divided House and Senate Democratic leaders trying to find ways to box Russian President Vladimir Putin in and left economists and market analysts unsure of an embargo’s utility as oil prices hovered above $120 per barrel and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 800 points. 

 

European nations remained hesitant to embrace an oil embargo. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Europe’s energy supply “cannot be secured in any other way.” U.S. lawmakers suggested President Biden might proceed with a ban on imported Russian petroleum without NATO partners, a situation the United States initially sought to avoid. The administration is working on a plan to replace the 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products the United States imports from Russia per month.

 

“I’ve talked to the administration and they’re looking closely at it. And they’re working with the Europeans to get them their OK. I think we will hear from them relatively soon,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday. 

 

Biden held a video conference call (pictured below) with Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the Ukraine crisis, including the oil embargo questions, according to the White House. The price of gas in the U.S. soared again Monday, rising to an average of $4.14 per gallon nationwide, according to AAA (CNN).

 

Reuters: European Union leaders at a planned summit this week will phase out imports of Russian gas, oil and coal, according to a draft statement making the rounds.

 

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Politics of Russian oil ban fuels Democratic angst. 

 

The Hill: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob ​​Menendez (D-N.J.) slams Biden administration over reported oil talks with Venezuela.

 

Bloomberg News: Russia threatens to cut natural gas flows to Europe via Nord Stream 1.

 

 

In this image provided by the White House, President Joe Biden listens during a secure video call

 

 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his call for an allied boycott of all Russian exports, including oil (Reuters). 

 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pledged swift action, saying the House will pass “strong legislation that will further isolate Russia” (The Washington Post). A vote on a package is expected by the end of the week (The Hill).

 

According to Schumer on Monday, Congress could pass a Ukraine relief bill as early as this week. The proposal has grown to more than $12 billion, up from $10 billion just days ago (The Associated Press). That package would include humanitarian and military aid for refugees, weapon transfers and infusions, and support for NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

 

The relief aid bill is expected to be moved alongside the omnibus spending bill ahead of Friday’s deadline to fund the government. According to Reuters, negotiators are close to a spending deal that would avert a government shutdown through Sept. 30 and could unveil a bill as early as today, with a vote eyed for Wednesday. The inability to finalize a deal would necessitate the need for another stopgap spending bill. The House will need to pass the bill by Thursday, as House Democrats will migrate to Philadelphia then for their annual retreat. 

 

Jordain Carney, The Hill: Congress faces shutdown crunch time.

 

The New York Times: Congress appeared ready on Monday to bar Russian oil imports and suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus while kicking Moscow out of the World Trade Organization. Bipartisan agreement to cut off oil imports added to growing pressure on Biden to shut the spigot to punish Putin and the Kremlin, although just 7 percent of the U.S. oil supply comes from Russia.

 

The Wall Street Journal: How oil giants’ bets on Russia, years in the making, crumbled in days.

 

Across the Atlantic, a third round of discussions between Ukraine and Russia toward a resolution to nearly two weeks of fighting yielded little. Hours after Russia’s top negotiator said humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee Ukrainian cities would be up and running by Tuesday, Zelensky said in his daily national address that Russia instead mined those locations.

 

Among those locales is Mariupol, which Russian forces have encircled. Roughly 200,000 people — nearly half of the city’s population — are attempting to flee. In total, about 2 million Ukrainians have fled the country, a refugee situation that has startled the United Nations with its size, speed and urgency (The Associated Press).

 

Macron said on Monday that he does not anticipate that an end to the war will be struck for weeks. He recently told Putin in a conversation that a cease-fire is a first step that must happen. Thus far, Putin has rejected that possibility. 

 

“I don’t think that in the days and weeks to come there will be a true negotiated solution,” Macron said at a campaign event (The Associated Press).

 

The New York Times: Most military experts predict Russia will eventually subdue Ukraine’s army, but Western governments that have spoken openly about Russia’s military failings spread the word to help damage Russian morale and bolster the Ukrainians.

 

ABC News: Zelensky says Putin should start a dialogue instead of giving “another ultimatum.”

 

In the meantime, Russian forces remain at a virtual standstill in their attempt to control Kyiv but have made significant advances in southern Ukraine. A top U.S. defense official said on Monday that 100 percent of Russian forces are now within Ukraine, adding that Moscow’s “main advance is still stalled outside” the Ukrainian capital despite nearly two weeks of fighting (Politico). 

 

The Associated Press: China calls Russia its chief “strategic partner” despite war.

 

The Wall Street Journal: South Korea bans transactions with Russia’s central bank.

 

Reuters: Great Britain refuses to drop visa requirement for Ukraine refugees.

 

 

Ukrainian women sit inside a van as artillery echoes nearby, as people flee Irpin

 

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LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 958,621; Tuesday, 960,311. 

 

> Pandemic, what pandemic? Americans say they are way, way less worried about contracting COVID-19, according to a new Gallup survey released on Monday. Thirty-four percent of people polled said they are worried about contracting the coronavirus, compared with 50 percent in January (The Hill).

 

The implications of the survey could reflect changes in attitudes, behaviors and assumptions and could impact U.S. politics, public health policies and economic expectations. ​​Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults said the COVID-19 situation is getting better (compared with 20 percent in January), 46 percent said it is getting worse (58 percent in January) and 25 percent said things are about the same (22 percent in January).

 

The Associated Press: Puerto Rico on Monday eased its mask mandate.

 

> The U.S. has a long way to go to regain normalcy amid the pandemic, according to a 136-page report released Monday from scientists, doctors and public health experts (CNBC). The report warns against complacency, inaction and “premature triumphalism.” In years past, as many as 1,150 people died weekly from pathogens in the lungs, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, without emergency mitigation measures. However, COVID-19’s death toll remains about 10 times higher, with 12,000 people succumbing to the virus some weeks, according to the experts. More than 9,000 people have died in the past week from the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

 

> Damage: COVID-19 can cause physical changes in humans that linger beyond initial infection. One of them, evident in brain scans, can be damage to brain cells that control smell, according to researchers who published a study on Monday in the journal Nature (The New York Times).

 

> Demonstrations: The Pentagon on Monday extended National Guard support in the nation’s capital following the arrival of a trucker-led convoy protesting COVID-19 restrictions, which are now easing nationwide (The Hill).

 

> Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced it signed with Kenya for its first mRNA facility located in Africa (The Associated Press). … In a related announcement, Moderna on Monday said it aims by 2025 to begin testing vaccines against 15 of the world’s most challenging pathogens and will permanently forfeit its patents for COVID-19 vaccines for certain low- and middle-income countries (Reuters).

 

> Elizabeth II hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday for her first in-person audience since news of her mild COVID-19 infection, which briefly kept her out of public circulation at age 95 (The Associated Press).

 

> Friday marks the end of an indoor mask mandate at Washington, D.C.’s famed Smithsonian museums and at the National Zoo. In addition, longer hours! The National Museum of Natural History and the zoo will be open to visitors seven days a week beginning on Monday (The Washington Post). 

 

 

Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, eats breakfast

 

A MESSAGE FROM EMERGENT

 

We Go to protect those who protect us. For more than two decades, Emergent has developed, manufactured, and delivered protections against critical health threats.

 

The vaccines and treatments we manufacture have protected millions, including US service members. Learn more about how our life-enhancing products help create a better, more secure world: www.emergentbiosolutions.com

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has for weeks been running for reelection, giving fellow conservatives pause about his campaign ahead of a potentially unprecedented Democratic onslaught to unseat him. Early Democratic maneuvering has sparked GOP nail-biting and pushed Johnson’s contest to the top of a list of Republican races his party must defend. Johnson’s proclivity to sound off on hot-button issues with outlandish — and at times conspiratorial — outbursts will enliven a reported nine-figure Democratic budget for attack ads in the state, reports The Hill’s Tal Axelrod

 

> The Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed Republicans who had asked the justices to block state court rulings that tossed GOP-drawn voting maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Two rulings left intact state court decisions in which judicially endorsed maps were substituted for those drawn by state legislatures, handing temporary wins to Democrats amid court battles nationwide (The Hill). 

 

The Hill: At the top of Democratic voters’ ballots in 2024 will be Biden and Harris, according to the 79-year-old president. But who are the star national Democratic figures on the 2022 campaign trail? It’s become a tough question to answer.  

 

> New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) on Monday lashed out at former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), labeling him a “sick, pathetic man” following his accusation that she and her investigative team were guilty of “professional misconduct” during a probe that led to his reluctant resignation (The Hill).

 

> Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) on Monday said he is being sued for defamation following comments he made about energy companies by Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren, CEO and owner of Energy Transfer Partners (The Dallas Morning News). 

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

The pandemic crime paradox might have a rational explanation after all, by Megan McArdle, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3CknTu2 

 

Putin doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for a while, by David Wainer, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3KlVN4k

 

Being wrong about Putin, by Alexander J. Motyl, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3ILW0gN

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 10 a.m.

 

The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022. 

 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to visit a Veterans Affairs clinic with military veterans and others about federal responses to harmful health effects of environmental exposures during military service. He will speak at 3:30 p.m. ET at Tarrant County Resource Connection about the health subject he featured in his State of the Union address.  

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Tallinn, Estonia, to meet today with President Alar Karis, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets. The secretary also will fly to Paris to meet with Macron and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian before returning to Washington.

 

First lady Jill Biden will travel to Tucson to focus on uniting Americans around curing cancer. She and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will visit the San Xavier Health Center in the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona at 1 p.m. MT. They will participate in a local celebration of Women’s History Month at 3:30 p.m. MT.

 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.

ELSEWHERE

TECH: Apple holds its first major product event of 2022 at 1 p.m. ET (The Verge). The company may unveil a series of new MacBooks and iMacs as well as a 5G version of its iPhone SE and an updated iPad Air.

 

CRIME & COURTS: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, 84, a decision that effectively overturns his conviction in 2018 of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University staff member. He had been serving a three-to-10-year sentence when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered his release in June (The Associated Press).  … A trial in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Mich., begins today for four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in late 2020 (The Associated Press). 

 

STATE WATCH: Half a dozen states are nearing final passage of legislation to allow anyone to carry a firearm without needing a permit — the next frontier in the gun rights debate. But Republican legislators are advancing those measures over the objection of a surprising group: police (The Hill). 

 

 

This file image provided by the Maryland U.S. District Attorney's Office shows a photo of firearms and ammunition that belonged to Christopher Paul Hasson

 

A MESSAGE FROM EMERGENT

 

We Go to protect those who protect us. For more than two decades, Emergent has developed, manufactured, and delivered protections against critical health threats.

 

The vaccines and treatments we manufacture have protected millions, including US service members. Learn more about how our life-enhancing products help create a better, more secure world: www.emergentbiosolutions.com

THE CLOSER

And finally … Young girl “Amelia,” holed up in a bomb shelter in Ukraine with her family, offered her version of “Let It Go,” a song from the Disney film “Frozen,” and lifted the spirits of a captive audience. “Bravo, bravo!” cheered some of the adults huddled with her during Russian shelling in Ukraine. The video, posted March 3, has been viewed more than 3 million times (Newsweek, The Scotsman). 

 

“Everyone put their business aside and listened to a song by this girl who was just beaming light,” Marta Smekhova wrote in the Facebook post with the video.

 

 

Disney Frozen Feature Fashion Dolls are displayed at the Mattel booth

 

Tags Andrew Cuomo Antony Blinken Boris Johnson Charles Schumer Emmanuel Macron Gretchen Whitmer Jill Biden Joe Biden Justin Trudeau Nancy Pelosi Ron Johnson Vladimir Putin Xavier Becerra
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