The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Netanyahu pauses judicial overhaul after protests
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TALK OF THE MORNING
Demonstrations continue in Israel over Netanyahu’s judiciary plan:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly has temporarily paused his controversial effort to overhaul the country’s judicial system amid widespread protests.
Multiple outlets report that the effort will be pushed to the next session of Parliament, just a day after Netanyahu ousted Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday after Gallant called for a pause to Netanyahu’s plans because of threats to Israel’s military.
Netanyahu’s plan led to demonstrations across the country that have grown since Netanyahu fired Gallant.
The Hill’s Julia Mueller reports on the impact so far: “Departing flights have been grounded at Israel’s main international airport, local governments were expected to close preschools, and doctors were expected to walk off the job as part of protests that could debilitate Israel’s economy.”
The Biden administration has expressed concern about Gallant’s firing and Netanyahu’s judicial shake-up, which critics have blasted as being un-democratic because it would allow more government influence in judicial decisions.
“We are deeply concerned by today’s developments out of Israel, which further underscore the urgent need for compromise,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement Sunday.
The Associated Press reports that the demonstrations showed “no signs of slowing.”
Why it matters: The growing strike movement in Israel comes as world leaders gear up for the Summit for Democracy this week. The summit’s five co-hosts — the United States, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Republic of Korea and Zambia — will officially kick off the virtual event on Wednesday.
President Biden is expected to address the group at around 11:20 a.m. that day.
US LAWMAKERS RESPOND:
More than a dozen Jewish House lawmakers wrote a letter calling for the Israeli government to suspend Netanyahu’s plan and work toward a compromise.
But … members also are hesitant to appear critical of Israel.
“I think it’s a lot more complicated than, ‘well here in America that would be bad.’ Yes, it would be bad in America, but their system is different than our system,” said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Meanwhile, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called Netanyahu’s reform plan “alarming” and “appalling.”
“I am in solidarity with all Israelis who are peacefully expressing their outrage. What Bibi is doing is alarming, appalling and perilous for the relationship between our two countries. We stand for democracy,” Schatz wrote on Twitter.
It’s Monday, March 27. I’m Elizabeth Crisp, filling in for Cate, with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.
Hunter Biden probes put GOP under some pressure:
House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said recently that his committee’s investigations into Hunter Biden and his business dealings abroad are just “beginning,” The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Mychael Schnell write in an update on the efforts.
The panel is investigating whether the president’s son’s business dealings abroad were connected to the then-Vice President Biden.
Why it matters: As President Biden gears up to launch his 2024 reelection bid, the House Republicans’ investigations could create a headache and unfavorable headlines. Former President Trump, who Biden defeated in 2020 and has already announced his 2024 campaign, is closely aligned with Comer and other Republicans taking aim at Biden.
Trump, who has begun holding rallies and making the rounds in conservative media, has long sought to raise questions about Biden’s family.
BUT: An NBC News poll in January found 55 percent of respondents — including the majority of independents — said they think GOP lawmakers will spend “too much time investigating (Biden) and not enough time on other priorities.”
Warren wants more action on student debt:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has penned a letter to the Education Department urging new protections for student loan borrowers.
Insider got an early peek at the letter, in which Warren made “recommendations focused on bolstering oversight over for-profit schools and ensuring predatory schools do not have access to the federal financial aid program.”
Insider writes, quoting from the letter, that Warren wrote for-profits “have a long record of engaging in deceptive and manipulative practices and aggressively recruiting vulnerable students into low quality, high-cost education and training programs that leave students with high amounts of student loan debt and a greater likelihood to default on their loans.”
Remember: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month over President Biden’s proposed student debt forgiveness program that would waive up to $20,000 in loans. It’s unclear when the justices will decide whether the Biden plan can proceed.
In the meantime, Senate Republicans have proposed their own path for doing away with Biden’s plan.
🌍 In the White House
VP Harris travels to Africa for diplomatic meetings:
Vice President Harris is in Africa this week for a diplomatic mission aimed at strengthening the nation’s relationships with several countries there.
The Associated Press reports from Ghana that Harris met with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and praised the West African leader for his “democratic principles.” Akufo-Addo is facing backlash over sky-high inflation and concerns about regional security.
“As president of Ghana, you have been very courageous and forward in terms of standing for democratic principles,” Harris said to Akufo-Addo. “I thank you for the friendship you have offered the United States”
Remember: The White House hosted a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington late last year, promising to travel to Africa, which he is expected to do later this year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in your home countries,” Biden told attendees during his address to the group.
Since the summit, first lady Jill Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other Biden officials have all made trips to African countries.
Why it matters: The Biden administration is hoping to repair relationships with countries that were strained during the previous administration. The move comes as Russia and China also have made moves for deeper ties in Africa.
Trump to appear on Fox News after feuding with network
Former President Trump is slated to sit for an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity this evening.
The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo writes that it’s a “significant development in the increasingly complicated relationship between the former president and the country’s top-watched cable network.”
Why it matters: This will be Trump’s first-on air interview with the network since he announced plans to seek the Republican nomination in 2024. He has had a public falling out with the once-cozy Fox News over claims that they are favorable to his possible GOP rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Trump enjoyed a chummy relationship with the conservative cable news channel and its on-air personalities during his past campaigns and while he was in office, but evidence in an ongoing lawsuit Dominion Voting Systems has brought against the network revealed less-than-favorable talk happening behind the scenes.
🔍 In other news
WaPo interactive shows impact of AR-15 shootings:
The Washington Post explored how “bullets from an AR-15 blow the body apart” in an interactive story released this morning. The article includes 3D animations of two children who were killed in shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Parkland, Fla.
“We recognize that this presentation may disturb readers, but we determined the information it contains is critical to the public’s knowledge,” executive editor Sally Buzbee wrote in a column accompanying the piece.
🐥 Notable tweets
‘Scary’ tornadoes touch down in the South:
Storm chaser Zachary Hall describes a deadly tornado that ripped through Mississippi as “different” and “scary.”
“It was loud. It had a growl. It was a terrifying beast in the dark that literally destroyed a town,” he tweeted.
The tornadoes killed at least 25 people in Mississippi and one in Alabama.
⏱ On tap
The House came in at noon, and the Senate convenes at 3 p.m. President Biden is in D.C., and Vice President Harris is on a diplomatic trip to Africa.
- 9:30 a.m.: The president received his Daily Brief.
- 10 a.m.: Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered remarks on the US-Colombia relationship.
- 1 p.m.: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs reporters.
- 2:30 p.m.: President Biden addresses the SBA Women’s Business Summit.
- 3:30 p.m.: Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attend a state banquet hosted by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo.
All times Eastern.
📺 What to watch
- 11 a.m.: The Supreme Court began oral arguments in U.S. v. Hansen, a case on a federal law that prohibits encouraging illegal immigration. (Listen here via C-SPAN)
- 3 p.m.: The Senate continues its debate over legislation to repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq. (Watch here)
- 9 p.m.: Former President Trump sits for an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. (Check local listings for channel)
🍤 In lighter news
Today is National Spanish Paella Day. 🥘 Enjoy!
And because you made it this far, check out this baby elephant learning how to walk.
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