Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Russia-Ukraine, US-China hold talks but yield little

Ukrainian soldiers and firefighters search in a destroyed building after a bombing attack in Kyiv
Associated Press/Vadim Ghirda
Ukrainian soldiers and firefighters search in a destroyed building after a bombing attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022.

 

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Ukrainian soldiers and firefighters search in a destroyed building after a bombing attack in Kyiv

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Day 19 of the war between Ukraine and Russia was highlighted by key negotiations as discussions between Kyiv and Moscow are set to continue today amid ongoing fighting across the country and the U.S. tries to talk China out of aiding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts. 

Russian forces on Monday kept up their attacks in Kyiv and Mariupol, a southern port city that has been devastated over the past three weeks, as leading officials on both sides held their fourth series of negotiations. The virtual diplomatic meetings marked the first series of talks in a week, but did not net a breakthrough. 

A top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky added that officials broke for “a technical pause” after several hours and will resume today. 

The Associated Press: Ukraine’s capital under fire; leaders of Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia to visit. 

The talks between the two sides were not the only high profile back-and-forth on Monday as U.S. officials, led by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, met with their Chinese counterparts in Rome to warn them against providing help to Putin’s war as other nations have closed their doors economically to Moscow. 

Sullivan met with Yang Jiechi, a senior Chinese foreign policy adviser, for seven hours as the Biden administration tried to deter the country from engaging further with the Russians, a move the White House argued on Monday would be costly (The Associated Press). 

“If China were to decide to be an economic provider … to Russia, they only make up 15 percent or 15 to 20 percent of the world’s economy. The G-7 (Group of Seven) countries make up more than 50 percent. So there are a range of tools at our disposal,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, describing the meeting as “intense” (ABC News). 

However, the Financial Times reported that China’s response to Russia’s request for military equipment was positive, though it remains unclear whether the country has already provided aid or if it intends to do so in the near future. The outlet also reported that Russia requested five types of military gear from Beijing, including surface-to-air missiles, armored and logistics vehicles, and drones. 

Bloomberg News: China seeks to avoid Russia sanctions sideswipe. 

 

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing

 

Separate talks could also be on the horizon for the White House as President Biden could be set to visit Europe in the coming weeks, a move that would be part of the administration’s response to the Russian invasion. The trip is still in the planning stages, but a visit could include a potential stop in Brussels, the home of NATO. However, an appearance in Ukraine is considered unlikely due to security (The Wall Street Journal). 

The Associated Press: European Union approves fourth set of sanctions on Russia.

Alex Gangitano and Morgan Chalfant, The Hill: Biden finds hands tied on Ukraine. 

The Hill: Biden yet to see boost from voters despite favorable reviews on Ukraine. 

On Capitol Hill this week, Zelensky is set to deliver a virtual address to members of Congress on Wednesday as the war is set to reach its fourth week since Russia began striking its neighbor to the west. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Zelensky’s appearance in a joint letter. The speech is set for 9 a.m. on Wednesday and will be livestreamed for the public (The Associated Press). 

The address will take place less than a week after Congress OK’d nearly $14 billion in humanitarian and military aid for the ravaged nation. Zelensky previously addressed nearly 300 members of both congressional chambers in a Zoom call earlier this month (The Hill). 

Pelosi noted during a press conference in New York on Monday that Zelensky asked to deliver the speech when they spoke at the end of last week, adding that members are “thrilled” to hear his remarks. 

The Wall Street Journal: Zelensky to press Congress for more military gear. 

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Zelensky virtual address raises pressure on Biden. 

As The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Cristina Marcos note, Zelensky’s virtual appearance will take place as lawmakers repeatedly force the hand of the administration and press for more aggressive action against Moscow. The House is set to vote this week on legislation to revoke normal trade relations with Russia, a maneuver that will follow a vote to ban Russian oil imports when the Biden administration had initially stiff-armed the idea. 

The impact has also created a pattern where the White House has moved ahead with certain actions after initially hesitating, with a renewed call for more weapons potentially serving as the next pressure point for the administration. 

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Congress looks for Putin pressure points.

The Hill: Russian war, inflation pinch U.S. economy. 

The New York Times: Hundreds escape besieged Mariupol. Tens of thousands remain trapped. 

The Hill: Australia joins allies, sanctions 33 Russian oligarchs.

 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine

 

DON’T MISS A BEAT

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LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday said that he will oppose the nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to serve as the Federal Reserve’s vice chair of supervision, citing her opposition to the fossil fuel industry and officially putting her nomination on shaky ground. 

Manchin said in a statement that he cannot support Raskin because of his “concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs.” 

“Now more than ever, the United States must have policy leaders and economic experts who are focused on the most pressing issues facing the American people and our nation – specifically rising inflation and energy costs,” Manchin said. “The time has come for the Federal Reserve Board to return to its defining principles and dual mandate of controlling inflation by ensuring stable prices and maximum employment. I will not support any future nominee that does not respect these critical priorities.”  

The news is a boon to Senate Republicans, who have been targeting Raskin’s nomination for weeks. Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee blocked a preliminary vote on all five of Biden’s Fed nominees last month over concerns about Raskin’s previous work with Reserve Trust, a Colorado-based financial services company given access to the Fed’s payment system (The Hill). 

Without Manchin, Raskin seemingly has no path forward to win confirmation. Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the two foremost GOP moderate senators, both said later on Monday that they too are opposed to her nomination (HuffPost). 

“I think it’s evident from Joe Manchin’s statement that there is not a path forward for her,” Collins said. 

Nevertheless, the White House is standing by her and did not give any indication it will pull her nomination in a statement. 

The Hill: Progressive groups target Schumer in climate spending push. 

 

Sarah Bloom Raskin listens during a confirmation hearing

 

> Funding efforts: Pelosi said Monday it is her “hope” to hold a vote on at “at least part” of the White House’s request for funding to combat COVID-19 this week only days after money to do so was stripped from the year-long government spending bill last week. 

The omnibus package to fund the government was expected to include $15.6 billion in COVID-19 dollars, but was stripped at the 11th hour because of an outcry by some House Democrats that the money was paid for by clawing back some state aid that was paid out in the American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021 (The Hill). 

The Wall Street Journal: White House warns of blow to COVID-19 fight as funding stalls. 

CNN: Plan to reopen U.S. Capitol to the public for first time in two years under review.

 

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

We’re making investments in safety and security—and seeing results

 

 

Facebook has invested $13 billion over the last 5 years to help keep you safe. Over the last several months, we’ve taken action on: 

    • 62 million pieces of explicit adult content
    • 51.7 million pieces of violent and graphic content

See how we’re working to help you connect safely.

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: Former President Trump told The Hill’s Bob Cusack on Monday that he is not using campaign funds to build himself a new private plane days after his political action committee directly asked for donations for that purpose. 

During a phone interview, Trump took issue with an article published by The Hill last week that cited a fundraising email his team recently sent out only days after reports surfaced that he had to make an emergency landing after an engine in the jet flying him to Mar-a-Lago failed. In the email, Trump said his team is “building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One,” suggested it was being constructed. 

“The story was incorrect,” Trump said in the interview. “I already have a plane, the same one I used on the 2016 campaign,” adding that the plane is being serviced in Louisiana and should be back in the air in 90 days. 

“It is owned by me and financed by me, with no debt,” Trump continued. When pressed on why the fundraising email that mentioned his plane asked for donations, Trump added, “I don’t know. I never saw the email (before it went out).” 

“Can you imagine me using campaign funds for a plane?” Trump remarked further, adding that the story was “ridiculous.” 

> SCOTUS: The push to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court is also creating an opportunity for Republicans who have an eye toward the looming 2024 GOP presidential nomination battle. 

As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, a fresh round of GOP jockeying will be on full display when Jackson appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, a panel that includes Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). All four senators are believed to harbor some 2024 aspirations and will get time to question Jackson during her hearings. 

It’s a dynamic political observers have seen in recent years, especially in 2018, when then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) all took part in the questioning of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh. 

NBC News: Democratic National Committee to report $14 million fundraising haul in February.

The Hill: Politico demands Hawley stop using Jan. 6 photo on campaign mug. 

Politico: Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) sews up support to lead Senate GOP campaign arm in 2024. 

The Washington Post: Ginni Thomas admits she was at stop the steal rally. 

> Buckeye politics: Buoyed by a massive advertising blitz, Mike Gibbons has started to find some distance between himself and most of the Ohio GOP Senate field less than two months out from the May 3 primary. 

Gibbons, an investment banker, has found himself atop two of the most recent polls taken of the bloody primary fight. The most recent survey by Fox News showed Gibbons with a 2-point advantage over former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, with another conducted by The Hill and Emerson College showing him ahead of Mandel by 7 points. 

As The Hill’s Tal Axelrod writes, his polling success has also put a target on his back as others in the race are expected to make him the subject of late-primary ad buys, betting that Gibbons’s early and consistent screen time has not locked in voters and has, instead, only leased their support. 

The Hill: Wife of late Minnesota Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) launches bid for seat.

 

Signs proclaim support of Ohio senatorial candidate Mike Gibbons

 

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

Trump’s endorsements in South Carolina are showcasing his weakness, by Henry Olsen, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3MPnsMT 

Government is flailing, in part because liberals hobbled it, by Ezra Klein, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3KKqDE0

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon. 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and will resume consideration of Shalanda Young to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. Biden will sign the government funding bill into law at 2:15 p.m. He, along with Harris, First lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, will also take part in an Equal Pay Day event to celebrate Women’s History Month at 5:30 p.m. 

The vice president will also host the White House Equal Pay Day Summit at 3 p.m., and take part in a conversation with current and former members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team as part of the event at 3:25 p.m. 

The White House press briefing is scheduled for 1 p.m. 

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

➜ CORONAVIRUS: Are COVID-19 cases about to tick upward after infections diminished over the past month? They could be if wastewater is any indication, as more than one-third of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s wastewater sample sites showed rising amounts of virus during the first 10 days of this month (Bloomberg News). Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) announced on Monday that she tested positive for COVID-19 and had mild symptoms, likening them to a seasonal cold. Dean is the latest House Democrat to test positive after the party’s retreat in Philadelphia at the end of last week, following Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) (The Hill). None of the three were considered close contacts of Biden during his visit to the retreat (The New York Times). … JPMorgan Chase said on Monday that it will lift its ban on hiring unvaccinated individuals and end mandatory testing for employees who are not vaccinated, with both taking place next month. The bank added that masks will be optional at its offices from now on (Bloomberg News). 

➜ TECH: Meta, the parent company of Facebook, says that it will narrow its guidance on content moderation that currently allows users in some countries to call for violence against Russian aggressors and soldiers within the context of the Ukraine war. Specifically, the updated policy will bar calls for the death of a head of state. “We are now narrowing the focus to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general,” Meta Global Affairs President Nick Clegg wrote in the post (The Hill). 

➜ SPACE: “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson will headline a group of six people who will temporarily go into space with Blue Origin, the rocket company owned by Jeff Bezos, later this month. Davidson, who has been at the center of the entertainment universe for his relationship with Kim Kardashian, will fly on Blue Origin’s 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket alongside five paying customers. The rocket is set to take flight on March 23 (CNN).

 

A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK

We’re making investments in safety and security—and seeing results

 

 

Facebook has invested $13 billion over the last 5 years to help keep you safe. Over the last several months, we’ve taken action on: 

    • 62 million pieces of explicit adult content
    • 51.7 million pieces of violent and graphic content

See how we’re working to help you connect safely.

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … A first for The Met. 

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday announced that Frida Escobedo, a Mexican architect, was selected to become the first woman to design a wing at the museum. In a statement, The Met said that Escobedo was chosen to work on the renovation of its modern and contemporary galleries, which will also contain photographs, drawings and prints. 

The update will cost roughly $500 million but will create 80,000 square feet of galleries and public space at the museum.

Escobedo’s work at The Met is by no means her first high-profile gig, having won widespread praise for her design of the Serpentine Pavilion at Kensington Gardens in London (The Associated Press).

 

A visitor looks at a Van Gogh painting
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