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Happy Thursday morning.
Progressives were already angry with President Joe Biden over Israel’s war in Gaza. Now he’s considering cutting an immigration deal that they hate even more.
House and Senate Democrats are warning the White House that Biden will suffer serious consequences if he caves to GOP demands on immigration policy and border security in order to unlock billions of dollars in new Ukraine aid. That includes alienating the very voters who helped him win office in 2020.
The growing Democratic discord comes at an extraordinarily sensitive moment for Biden. Down in most polls, the 81-year-old Biden is ramping up his reelection campaign just as House Republicans jammed through an impeachment inquiry resolution Wednesday on a party-line vote. Hunter Biden, the president’s son, is under federal criminal indictment and facing a possible contempt resolution for failing to comply with a House GOP subpoena.
Biden’s support for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza following the deadly Oct. 7 terror attacks has angered many progressives, who believe the president has been slow to acknowledge — or respond to — the scale of Palestinian casualties in the conflict.
Yet when he needs party unity more than ever, Biden could soon be signing off on immigration restrictions that a large swath of Democrats abhor.
“It’s always been challenging for us to pay attention to our base,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus:
“The base of the Democratic Party — young people, folks of color, immigrants — that was the coalition that allowed Joe Biden to get elected…
“This coalition is splitting apart. We need the president and his campaign to pay attention to what is happening on the ground.”
Plenty of progressives see flaws in the way their party leadership has handled Ukraine. Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) said it was a mistake for the White House to include border security funding in its original foreign aid request months ago. Other Democrats warn that Biden could face GOP demands for even more concessions in order to avoid a government shutdown starting next month.
“This is just really bad negotiating on the part of Democrats,” Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas) said. “Would Democrats give away abortion rights in exchange for Ukraine money? … Why would Democrats give Trump-style immigration policy in exchange for Ukraine money?”
Negotiations over a border security package continued late Wednesday night and it’s clear the White House is moving in Republicans’ direction (More on that below).
On the table is a potential revival of a temporary expulsion authority used by the Trump and Biden administrations during the pandemic, as well as a crackdown on the parole process that could lead to expanded detentions and deportations of migrants.
This, of course, is necessary if Biden has any chance of moving a major supplemental spending package through the GOP-run House. Democrats don’t really have much of a choice here if their primary objective is to get the Ukraine-Israel-Taiwan aid package to Biden’s desk.
A group of House and Senate Democrats held an extraordinary press conference on Wednesday warning Biden that he’d be selling out progressives if he gave in to these proposals. One of those lawmakers, Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), told us he’s alarmed at the ongoing negotiations in part because of who is — or isn’t — in the room negotiating.
“I do not see any Latino or Latina advocates at that table who are part of this conversation that are shaping this policy,” said Luján, who has also expressed his concerns about Israel’s war in Gaza.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) has been working the phones with White House officials to push them to reject the proposed border policy changes. Padilla said Wednesday night that he didn’t feel like he’d made any inroads with the White House.
We asked Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the lead Democratic negotiator, about progressives’ criticisms. That means the GOP demands on immigration can’t be so extreme that it alienates Democrats, Murphy contended, because there won’t be any Ukraine aid without these votes. And many Republicans, especially in the Senate, still back Ukraine.
“It’s always been clear that you need a lot of Democratic votes to get this passed,” Murphy said. “There’s a package that’s way too hot for Democrats. There’s a package that’s too weak for Republicans. This is the reason we haven’t done immigration reform in a long time.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged that “the immigration system is broken” but noted that Biden had offered reform proposals that were rejected by Republicans.
“Republicans refuse to deal with this issue,” Jean-Pierre said at the White House briefing Wednesday. “It’s been almost three years since [Biden] put forth that legislation.”
Despite progressives’ ire, the reality is that many moderate and vulnerable Democrats are comfortable with some of the GOP’s border proposals. They’ve said what’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border — where illegal crossings have shattered records — is a genuine crisis and will cause serious problems for the party in 2024 unless addressed now.
“The White House should take the pulse of the public. Just take a look at what’s going on. They want border security. We’ve got too many people coming,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told us. “They don’t want to do any of this.”
— John Bresnahan, Andrew Desiderio and Max Cohen
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All eyes on Schumer amid new movement in Senate border talks
A bipartisan group of senators, leadership aides and Biden administration officials met late into the night Wednesday, inching closer to a potential agreement on new border and immigration restrictions that could unlock aid for Ukraine, according to sources familiar with the talks.
At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took procedural steps that would allow him to force senators to remain in Washington just as the GOP-run House looks ready to leave.
The behind-the-scenes progress ups the pressure on Schumer to decide whether to keep senators in town past today, the last scheduled day in session for the year. In order for that to happen, negotiators will need to show over the next 12 hours or so that the trajectory of the talks remains positive.
In the meantime, Schumer filed cloture on a judicial nominee and a Justice Department nominee Wednesday night, setting up possible votes on Friday. This gives him the option to force floor votes to keep senators here for at least an extra day if needed.
But the Senate has plenty of other issues it needs to address before the end of the year that could also serve as pressure points for the border talks, including legislation to reauthorize the FAA until March. This is set to expire Dec. 31.
On top of that, Schumer wants to confirm the dozen or so four-star general promotions that Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) is continuing to block. And there’s likely to be a package of nominations — mostly for ambassadorships and other diplomatic posts — that’ll need to be cleared.
All it takes is one senator to grind the chamber to a halt over any of these. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has already threatened to object to the speedy passage of legislation this week to prevent senators from leaving.
Realistically, Senate leaders will need to determine by mid-day whether the border negotiations are progressing well enough to warrant keeping the chamber in session past this week. That’s a big hurdle to clear. And it means today will be a critical test for the negotiators.
One option for Schumer is to keep the Senate in session and voting throughout the weekend. Schumer could dangle the two nominations he teed up Wednesday night or some of the military promotions that senators want to approve before the year’s end.
Schumer could also break for the weekend and bring the chamber back into session on Monday if he gets indications that a bipartisan deal would be in place by next week. Again, this would be extremely optimistic. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly cast doubt on the prospects for voting on a potential immigration-border security-Ukraine deal before January.
There’s more: The Senate ran a hotline Wednesday night on legislation from Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that would provide back-pay to military officers impacted by Tuberville’s blockade. We’re told the bill now has 37 co-sponsors, including Tuberville. It’s possible this clears the Senate before the holidays.
— Andrew Desiderio
Would the House ever accept a White House-Senate border deal?
Think about this: Let’s say the White House comes to a deal with the Senate on a border security package to pair with Ukraine aid. Would the House Republican Conference ever accept that?
The general consensus in the House GOP leadership is quite simple: No.
Why? Because the White House went around Speaker Mike Johnson and negotiated with Senate Republicans and Democrats. And Johnson, who is quite new to the job, has said that anything short of H.R. 2 — the GOP’s restrictive immigration and border security bill — won’t solve the problem. So the House GOP conference has been conditioned to believe that legislation that could never pass the Senate is the only answer to the serious problems at the U.S.-Mexico border.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said any package needs to include “Remain in Mexico” and a “real asylum process.” Scalise said H.R. 2 is the party’s negotiating position.
Then there are the hardline conservatives. Listen to Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), policy chair for the House Freedom Caucus, on what he thinks of the Senate-White House talks:
“The Senate wants to go around negotiating crap so they can get to Ukraine. That’s what they want to do, by the way. That’s not good enough. …
“The Senate — they’re doing what the Senate likes to do. ‘Oh, let’s put together a gang and have conversations and we’ll come together and we’ll solve the problem.’ They don’t seem to understand it. We want the border to be secured, stop the flow [of migrants.] That’s it. That’s the end of the inquiry. And anything short of that is a failure by House Republicans.”
In fact, Roy said that he needs evidence the border is secured before the House should consider Ukraine aid.
By the way, Roy is clearly getting on Sen. Thom Tillis’ (R-N.C.) nerves. Here’s what Tillis said about Roy’s demands:
“If we spent time being influenced by Chip Roy or anybody else, even people with a more reasonable position than him — this guy, I don’t see him being part of a compromise. I don’t want to get inside his head, but I think it’s unlikely.
“We also recognize it has to have a majority of the [Senate] Republican Conference for this to be a worthwhile effort. It would be a waste of time if we thought we were trying to get 10 or 15 or even 20. We need to get a majority of our conference. That’s what’s important with respect to the House.”
But even then, there are more than 100 House Republicans who have voted against Ukraine aid and will likely do so again.
That’s why Democrats believe Republicans can’t make unreasonable demands on border and immigration restrictions — because Democratic votes will be necessary to make up for the “never Ukraine” crowd.
If the Senate produces a deal — and that’s a big if — the House is going to be the final proving ground. Johnson is going to have to decide whether it’s enough. And House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries will have to decide if it’s too much.
— Jake Sherman and Andrew Desiderio
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Clean energy from hydrogen. Let’s deliver.
What’s next in the GOP impeachment probe
House Republicans have officially authorized their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Now what?
GOP investigators leading the impeachment probe told us they’re intently focused on hearing from Biden’s family members and their business associates from now until the end of January. That’s setting up a timeline for the final decision on impeachment early in 2024.
Here’s what to watch for: Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairs of the Oversight and Judiciary committees, have initiated contempt of Congress proceedings against Hunter Biden after he defied a GOP subpoena for a closed-door deposition Wednesday.
Comer told us on Wednesday that even as contempt proceedings move forward, he believes it’s “imperative” that the Oversight Committee hears from the president’s son.
“We have specific questions about the source and purpose for the $24 million-plus that we’ve identified,” Comer said, referencing money transferred to accounts linked to Hunter Biden and his associates.
But don’t expect a contempt vote targeting the president’s son until early 2024. Both the Oversight and Judiciary committees — which sent the subpoena to Hunter Biden — need time to compile a contempt report and hold markups. Considering the House is slated to leave town today for the year, this won’t happen anytime soon.
Securing James Biden’s testimony is another top target for the House GOP. James Biden is the president’s brother and is also closely connected with Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
Comer said he’s more confident that the panel will hear from James Biden than Hunter Biden. The Oversight chair said committee aides have been in contact with James Biden’s lawyers in order to set up a deposition.
“We’ll have something soon on that,” Comer said. James Biden’s scheduled deposition date was Dec. 6.
Lesley Wolf, the assistant U.S. attorney for Delaware involved in the Hunter Biden case, will appear later today for a deposition before the House Judiciary Committee. Republicans are eager to ask Wolf whether political considerations affected the Hunter Biden probe. It’s a claim that Special Counsel David Weiss fiercely denied that allegation when he testified earlier this fall.
Other figures who Republicans are seeking to depose include Hunter Biden associates Eric Schwerin and Kevin Morris.
In all, Comer, Jordan and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) received a massive boost on Wednesday when every single House Republican voted to open the inquiry.
“Today’s unanimous vote of our conference shows that we are united,” Comer said. “We expect to have people honor our subpoenas.”
— Max Cohen
… AND THERE’S MORE
NRCC Chair Richard Hudson held a party Wednesday night for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose congressional career is coming to a close at the end of this year. Reps. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) and Aaron Bean (R-Fla.) gave McCarthy a boxing robe. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Speaker Mike Johnson were among those who addressed the crowd.
Bully Pulpit Interactive has acquired BOLDT, a European public affairs firm. BPI is rebranding as Bully Pulpit International. BOLDT will keep its brand and operate on its own. The combined firm will have offices in Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, D.C., Düsseldorf, London, New York, Oslo, San Francisco and Zurich.
— Jake Sherman
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Capturing industry’s carbon emissions. Let’s deliver.
9:30 a.m.: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force will hold a press event on the House East Steps marking 11 years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
10 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily briefing.
1 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirby will brief.
2:35 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House for Bethesda, Md.
3:15 p.m.: Biden will deliver remarks on prescription drug prices at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.
4:30 p.m.: Biden will return to the White House.
“Unconventional Trial Judge Could Remove Trump From His N.Y. Empire,” by Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, Kate Christobek and William K. Rashbaum
News Analysis: “For Netanyahu, Gaza Dispute With Biden Offers Risk and Reward,” by Patrick Kingsley in Tel Aviv, Israel
“US’s Sullivan Met With Saudi Crown Prince on Israel-Hamas War,” by Akayla Gardner, Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink
“Russian Court Upholds Detention of WSJ’s Evan Gershkovich,” by Ann M. Simmons
“Putin says some 244,000 Russian troops are fighting in Ukraine, offering a rare detail,” by Harriet Morris in Moscow
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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Heavy industry accounts for nearly 30% of global carbon emissions. For these businesses, setting and achieving meaningful carbon-reduction goals can be complex. At ExxonMobil, we’ve been working on reducing our own carbon emissions. At our Baytown plant, one of the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemical operations, we’re working to deploy hydrogen power and carbon capture to reduce emissions by up to 30%. Now, we’re taking solutions like these to others in heavy industry. Using our technologies, we can help these businesses create a plan to make similar reductions. And together, we can deliver a lower-emissions future.
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