The Hill’s Morning Report — House GOP struggles with border security bill
Editor’s note: The Hill’s Morning Report is our daily newsletter that dives deep into Washington’s agenda. To subscribe, click here or fill out the box below.
The synthetic drug fentanyl, which is manufactured by Mexican cartels using Chinese chemicals and smuggled across the border to a lucrative American market, has strained U.S. ties with Mexico as well as domestic politics.
In the second installment of The Hill’s reporting about the fentanyl crisis, journalists Rebecca Beitsch and Rafael Bernal describe the bonanza pocketed by Mexico’s Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generación cartels. Politicians on both sides of the Rio Grande River feel pressured to respond to a trend that barely registered as a threat a decade ago when fentanyl was known as a powerful anesthetic. The drug is now seen as a recreational poison blamed for more than 70,000 U.S. overdose deaths in the past year.
House Republicans are once again trying to pass legislation to deal with border security and crime issues, report The Hill’s Emily Brooks and Bernal. Moderate members nixed an earlier plan embraced by conservatives and intraparty friction remains. House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said a draft measure remains in the works.
“The first thing that has to be done (is) you have to secure the border before you have any immigration reform,” Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said last month. “Once we are able to secure it, I think we can move forward with immigration reform” (Fresno Bee).
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) said he has “a lot of issues” with the proposed GOP bill. Multiple bipartisan efforts to address border and immigration issues have for decades collapsed in Congress (NBC News timeline).
Getting more bipartisan support on Capitol Hill: TikTok has 150 million U.S. active users, and there’s a move in Congress to ban the popular app while citing national security and privacy violations. The downside? Such a ban could trigger a reckoning with young people. Gen Z, or at least some of those born between 1997 and 2012, made up a large number of the voters who showed up for Democratic candidates in last year’s midterms and remain a sought-after voting bloc next year. Some candidates worry a possible TikTok ban would alienate a younger electorate needed in 2024, The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports.
▪ The Hill: How would the U.S. try to enforce a proposed TikTok ban?
▪ The Hill: U.S. faces questions over a potential TikTok ban.
▪ The Hill: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will testify Wednesday before a Senate committee about company treatment of employees. More than 280 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since 2021, according to Starbucks Workers United. In that period, Starbucks fired nearly 200 union organizers. The National Labor Relations Board has filed more than 75 complaints against Starbucks.
▪ Reuters: U.S. regulators agree to backstop regional lender First Citizens BancShares to acquire failed Silicon Valley Bank, triggering an estimated $20 billion hit to a government-run insurance fund.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: A tale of two housing markets: prices fall in the West while the East booms.
▪ The Hill: Parties point fingers on stalled debt ceiling talks.
LEADING THE DAY
Former President Trump’s legal fate remains a question mark this morning. On Monday, there were no outward signs of Manhattan grand jury activity in the Stormy Daniels-hush money case. Trump, during a Fox News interview and on social media, again denied an affair with Daniels and praised House Republicans who have accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) of mounting a politically driven prosecution (CBS News).
The former president told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that the New York investigation of his and his former lawyer’s alleged actions as he was poised to become a presidential candidate amounted to “a new way of cheating in elections.”
“It’s called election interference,” he said.
The conversation marked Trump’s first interview with Fox News since legal filings in Dominion Voting Systems’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit provided detailed evidence that network leaders and prominent hosts privately condemned Trump and his stolen-2020-election narrative at the same time he was a Fox ratings magnet.
During Monday night’s interview, there was no hint of the acrimony detailed in litigation communications. The former president who is again a presidential candidate, returned to a menu of complaints, including legal challenges, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and issues tied to mail-in voting (NBC News).
▪ Rolling Stone: Ex-National Enquirer publisher testifies before Trump hush money grand jury.
▪ Slate: Mark Meadows grand jury: Trump has a new looming criminal charges headache.
▪ The Washington Post: Trump extends election-rigging myth to his potential criminal charges.
▪ Reuters: Georgia prosecutors ordered to respond to Trump’s effort to quash grand jury report.
In The Memo, The Hill’s Niall Stanage asks five questions to consider if Trump is indicted, from the reaction of his rivals — including DeSantis — to his chances of conviction and how House Republicans plan to fight back.
Top Senate Republicans broke with Trump on Monday over his decision to feature video of Jan. 6, 2021, rioters at his weekend rally in Texas. Some disagreed with his judgment in playing a video that highlights those who took part in the attack, while others said it is an unwise political strategy for Trump to focus on the attempted insurrection as he seeks a comeback bid in 2024.
“People who violated the law should be prosecuted. And they have been,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), told NBC News. “I just frankly don’t understand this, you know, retrospective look. When it comes to running for president or any other office, people don’t want you to re-litigate all your grievances in the past. They want to know what your vision for the future is. And so I don’t think it’s a formula for success.”
▪ Politico: Stormy Daniels and Karl Rove know how to beat Trump: A real strategy for DeSantis.
▪ NPR: Trump has Republican support, but independent voters aren’t sold, poll shows.
▪ Roll Call: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is running for mayor of Houston.
▪ The Hill: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announces her reelection bid.
Biden offered his condolences Monday following news of a mass shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., at which three staff members in their 60s, including the head of the school, and three 9-year-old students were killed. The suspected female shooter, 28, a former student at Covenant School described by authorities as having left behind a detailed plan, was shot and killed by police (WKRN and The Hill).
The president commended the swift law enforcement response and encouraged Congress to send him legislation to ban assault weapons (CBS News). Gun reform legislation is unlikely after the Nashville deaths, according to Senate Republicans (The Hill).
▪ The Washington Post: The Nashville shooter had a handgun and two semi-automatic rifles. At least one was identified as an AR-15-style weapon.
▪ WKRN: What we know about the suspected shooter, Audrey Hale, who had no criminal history, according to police.
▪ Punchbowl News and The Hill: Hours after the school shooting, the House Judiciary Committee postponed a markup of legislation that aims to halt what the GOP calls an “assault on the Second Amendment” by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“We have to do more to stop gun violence,” Biden said at the start of a women’s business summit in the East Room (The Hill). “It’s ripping our communities apart. It’s ripping at the very soul of the nation. We have to do more to protect our schools so they aren’t turned into prisons.”
The Hill: The White House says Biden would veto a “backward” GOP energy bill.
Vice President Harris’s weeklong tour of Africa, which got underway on Monday, continues today in Accra, Ghana. It’s the first stop of a trip intended to show that the U.S. views African nations as hubs of opportunity and creativity, not problems to be solved or pawns in a superpower contest with China and Russia.
“African ingenuity and innovation, I am certain, will shape the future of the world,” Harris said at a news briefing on Monday.
The vice president is the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit the continent. She met with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday, commending him for his “democratic principles” while announcing a U.S. aid package worth $100 million for Ghana and four other West African nations to help battle violent extremism (Reuters).
Her trip will later take her to Tanzania and Zambia, where she will face challenges presenting the U.S. as an ally while fulfilling the administration’s commitment to take action against foreign governments that violate human rights and pass laws restricting the freedoms of LGBTQ people (The New York Times).
▪ BBC: Can the U.S. charm offensive woo the continent from China?
▪ CBS News: Harris kicks off Africa tour with $100 million pledge as U.S. tries to counter China and Russia’s influence.
▪ Vox: There are valid critiques of Harris. They also don’t tell the full story.
Two of President Biden’s nominees for top administration posts have withdrawn their nominations in the last month, both caving to Republican pressure campaigns and failing to get enough support from moderate Democrats. As The Hill’s Alex Gangitano reports, Phillip Washington, Biden’s pick to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), withdrew his nomination this week amid criticism that he doesn’t have enough aviation experience. And earlier this month, Gigi Sohn, Biden’s pick to serve as telecommunications regulator to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), withdrew her name amid criticism over past comments.
Washington and Sohn pulling out of the confirmation process were both blows to the president, who is under pressure to get officials confirmed for these essential posts. The FAA has gone without an administrator while the aviation industry has been struggling with high-profile mishaps and the FCC lacks a regulator to help push through Biden’s internet agenda.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Biden formally nominated Ann Carlson to be administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. She has been serving in that role as acting administrator.
▪ Politico: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is done sitting “idly” amid schools fight. The secretary’s new public exasperation comes as the House approved sweeping “Parents Bill of Rights” legislation.
▪ Roll Call: The White House’s electric vehicle tax credit implementation is in the spotlight.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would delay contentious plans to overhaul the nation’s judiciary, which have set off civil unrest and work stoppages and incited one of the deepest domestic crises in the country’s history. The move came after a right-wing partner in his governing coalition removed his objections to postponement. He called for dialogue as civil unrest and work stoppages reached a crisis point, grinding the country to a halt (The New York Times and Bloomberg News).
Netanyahu’s attempts to push through judicial reforms have U.S. officials increasingly worried about the state of democracy in the country, write The Hill’s Laura Kelly and Brett Samuels. Netanyahu’s firing of his defense minister, who voiced concerns about the judicial reforms, set off widespread protests on Sunday and drew condemnation from U.S. lawmakers and the Biden administration, which said it was “deeply concerned” about the developments.
▪ The New York Times: Netanyahu attempts another juggling act, maybe his toughest yet.
▪ Politico: As crisis engulfs Israel, Biden’s words go only so far.
▪ The Washington Post: What to know about Israel’s protests and judicial overhaul.
▪ Vox: Israelis are revolting against Netanyahu. But a judicial overhaul isn’t the country’s only crisis.
Airports, as well as bus and train stations, were at a standstill Monday across Germany, causing disruption for millions during one of the largest walkouts in decades in Europe’s biggest economy. The 24-hour “warning” strikes called by the Verdi and EVG unions were the latest in months of industrial action which has hit major European economies as higher food and energy prices raise the cost of living (Reuters). Meanwhile, neighboring France is bracing for more chaos today with a day of protests planned against President Emmanuel Macron’s widely criticized pensions reform, with trade unions calling for a general strike. Protests last Thursday descended into turmoil, including clashes between police and protesters, and violence across the country (Politico EU).
▪ Reuters: Macron needs to “hit pause” on French pensions reform, unions say.
▪ Politico: Ottawa hangover: After triumph of Biden visit, reality bites back at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
▪ The Hill: North Korea test-fires two more missiles as U.S. sends carrier.
▪ BBC: North Korea asserts first evidence of tactical nuclear weapons.
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog on Monday spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of a visit this week to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to assess safety and security at the facility, which has been held by Russian forces for more than a year. The talks were held about 35 miles northeast of the nuclear facility, in Zaporizhzhia, which is in Ukrainian hands but has been repeatedly shelled by Russia since the Kremlin launched its invasion last year (The New York Times).
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Ukraine’s allies see a way the war can end but lack a plan to achieve it.
▪ The New York Times: Ukraine, with far more pressing needs, plans to rebuild the colossal Mriya cargo plane, a symbol of pride that was destroyed last year in a battle for its airfield.
▪ The Washington Post: Russia says Western sanctions won’t stop it from moving tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.
➤ SUPREME COURT
During Monday oral arguments, the Supreme Court grappled with whether a federal law that criminalizes language encouraging illegal immigration violates the First Amendment, The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld reports. The Justice Department urged the high court to reverse a lower court decision and uphold the crime as constitutional, arguing the free-speech concerns are misplaced because they assume an erroneous, broader reading of the law as a premise.
The dispute involves the case of Helaman Hansen, who a jury in 2017 found guilty of two counts of encouraging illegal immigration for private financial gain — in addition to 15 fraud charges — for falsely promising hundreds of people a path to citizenship through adult adoption and receiving $1.8 million through the scheme. Press advocates and religious organizations are backing Hansen, contending that the law could criminalize well-intentioned activities like journalism and charity work. But the Biden administration says it reads the statute more narrowly, so those concerns are misplaced.
▪ The New York Times: Supreme Court to hear dispute between Maine hotel and disability activist.
▪ CNN: Supreme Court won’t review contempt conviction of anti-Chevron environmental lawyer.
▪ USA Today: “Racist taint.” Will the Supreme Court review a Jim Crow-era voting ban targeted at Black Mississippians?
▪ CNN: Supreme Court declines to hear Kansas racial gerrymandering case, leaves congressional map in force.
▪ Reuters: What happens if the Supreme Court bans affirmative action?
■ Netanyahu’s unforced error could come with heavy costs, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3JKx1fw
■ Will the White House dump Fed Chair Jerome Powell? by Liz Peek, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3LZryEi
WHERE AND WHEN
📲 Ask The Hill: Share a news query tied to an expert journalist’s insights: The Hill launched something new and (we hope) engaging via text with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. Learn more and sign up HERE.
The House will convene at 10 a.m.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of a bill that would repeal authorizations for use of military force against Iraq. Members of the Senate Banking Committee at 10 a.m. will question federal regulators about recent bank failures, their causes and potential preventative measures (The Hill).
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will depart the White House at 11:25 a.m. and fly to Durham, N.C., to visit a semiconductor manufacturing plant while kicking off the administration’s “Investing in America” tour, which is set for 20 states over the next three weeks. The president will speak at 2:30 p.m. before returning to Washington. Biden and other top officials will tout specifics of new laws that deliver economic impacts, including the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the bipartisan infrastructure law and the American Rescue Plan.
Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are in Accra, Ghana. Harris will deliver remarks today at Black Star Gate in Accra. She and Emhoff will travel to Cape Coast, Ghana, where she will meet with Cape Coast Chief Osabarima Kwesi Atta II. Harris and Emhoff will tour Cape Coast Castle and the vice president will speak. She and Emhoff will then return to Accra.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will deliver opening remarks at an anti-corruption event hosted at the Treasury Department at 10:30 a.m. as part of the 2023 Summit for Democracy.
Secretary Blinken at 9 a.m. will lead a virtual panel session on “A Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine” with Zelensky. At 1 p.m., he will speak at “The Status of Women is the Status of Democracy” event at the State Department.
➤ HEALTH & PANDEMIC
The majority of Senate Democrats on Monday pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to maintain access to abortion care for service members and their dependents, warning that restricting such care could hurt national security. In a letter led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, the 38 lawmakers tell Austin that “it is imperative that the Department of Defense continue to take action to protect the rights of service members and their families to access abortion care” (The Hill).
▪ The Washington Post: How to avoid sticker shock on prescriptions.
▪ The Hill: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) asks the Federal Trade Commission to investigate drug distributor AmeriSourceBergen over abortion pill.
Social media companies are increasingly being blamed for historically high rates of depression, suicidal ideation and other mental health issues in young people, and now states and local governments are increasingly pursuing legislation and legal action. Utah passed a law limiting social media for minors and school districts in Seattle and San Mateo County, California, are suing leading platforms, charging that they deliver harmful content to kids (Axios).
Time magazine: Getting COVID-19 could weaken your immune system.
Information about the availability of COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots can be found at Vaccines.gov.
Current U.S. COVID-19 deaths are 2,060 for the most recent week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Data is reported on Fridays.)
And finally … 🕷️ Morning Report readers who made it this far only to flee at the sight of a black widow spider are probably in the majority. Those eight legs. That red hourglass. Those eight eyes … a face only an arachnologist would thrill to see.
Scientists are abuzz because black widows seem to have a natural predator that is thinning the population. Are we talking about human exterminators? Household poisons? Nope. We’re talking brown widow spiders, likely migrants from South Africa.
In research published this month in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, biologists report that young brown widow spiders seek out and kill their American cousins.
“Brown widows will aggressively go after black widows, chase them down,” Louis Coticchio, a science tutor at St. Petersburg College in Florida and an author of the paper, told The New York Times. “They don’t play well with being neighbors.”
Does this mean brown is the new black? Not quite. The young browns are less venomous. Bolder. They also favor living around people. Shy, retiring black widows, however, fight back only as a last resort. Arachnid Armageddon might end over turf.
Black widows, which nestle in 🕸 crawl spaces and attics, also tiptoe through deserts and woodlands, while brown widows prefer urban and suburban areas, Coticchio said. Black widows might decide to venture into the wild, where their aggressive cousins won’t follow.
New Scientist: Brown widow spiders are killing off black widows in the southern U.S.
We want to hear from you! Email: Alexis Simendinger and Kristina Karisch. Follow us on Twitter (@asimendinger and @kristinakarisch) and suggest this newsletter to friends!
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.