Every issue of the Punchbowl News newsletter, including our special editions, right here at your fingertips.
Join the community, and get the morning edition delivered straight to your inbox.
BY JOHN BRESNAHAN, ANNA PALMER, JAKE SHERMAN AND HEATHER CAYGLE
WITH MAX COHEN AND CHRISTIAN HALL
Happy Tuesday morning.
The White House has a problem with Democrats on immigration. And it’s only going to get worse.
On Monday, Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, became the latest Democrat to break with the Biden administration over its decision to end the use of Title 42 authority to deny asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border by next month.
Peters joins a growing list of Senate Democrats – we’re up to nine now – who have publicly expressed opposition to the administration’s position on Title 42, at least until a more concrete plan to deal with an expected migrant surge at the border.
“Unless we have a well-thought-out plan, I think it is something that should be revisited and perhaps delayed. I’m going to defer judgment on that until I give the administration the opportunity to fully articulate what that plan is. But I share … concerns of some of my colleagues,” Peters told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday, according to Jordain Carney of the Hill.
And our friends Burgess Everett and Holly Otterbein at Politico reported that several high-profile Democratic Senate candidates, including John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, have called for the White House to rethink its decision as well.
The pandemic-era policy was put in place originally by the Trump administration in March 2020. Under the Title 42 process, Customs and Border Protection can expel migrants without asylum screening. The Biden administration plans to rescind the order May 23. More than 1.7 million migrants have been expelled under Title 42 during the last 25 months.
Moderate Democrats – and those seeking reelection this year – are deeply concerned that rescinding the Title 42 order will lead to a surge in migrants crossing the border, dominating the news and handing Republicans a cudgel in the critical months before the midterm elections. .
The group of Democratic critics on this issue includes Sens. Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.), all of whom face voters in November.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) don’t face voters again until 2024. But they joined with Republicans, led by Sen. James Lankford (Okla.), to call for a delay in ending the pandemic-era policy. Kelly and Hassan, who separately visited the border last week, are also cosponsors of that bill.
And then there are Democratic senators such as Peters and Sen. Chris Coons (Del.), probably the closest Biden ally in the Senate, who have delicately criticized the administration’s handling of the situation.
“In the region where I’m from, we’re seeing infections rise. I think Philadelphia, for example, just returned to a mask mandate. So my hope is that that will be reconsidered appropriately,” Coons said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
Yet a number of top Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez (N.J.), and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have all demanded the Biden administration stop the use of the Title 42 authority. Pro-immigration groups also strongly backed the decision as well. So there’s a real split in the Senate Democratic Caucus, which Republicans will exploit.
Now here’s where this becomes even more tricky. The issue of ending the use of Title 42 authority helped derail passage of a $10 billion Covid prep bill before the Senate adjourned for its Easter recess. Schumer and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced they had a deal on the legislation, only to see Democrats postpone action over fears that a Title 42-related amendment could pass. Political developments during the last two weeks haven’t done anything to dampen down that possibility. In fact, it’s probably worse for Democrats.
“It’s one of the many things waiting for us when we get back,” one Democratic aide told us.
One question to ponder is how does the Biden administration back away from repealing Title 42? Is there a face-saving measure?
By the way, one point both Republican and Democratic critics have made often is asking how the Biden administration can use the “ongoing public health emergency” to enforce a mask mandate on public transportation while effectively declaring the pandemic over when deciding to rescind Title 42. Well, that changed on Monday when a federal judge in Florida – appointed by former President Donald Trump – struck down the mask mandate for airplanes and other public transportation.
The Biden administration signaled it wouldn’t move to immediately appeal the decision, with an official saying TSA wouldn’t enforce the mandate while they were “assessing potential next steps.” All major airlines, Amtrak and WMATA quickly moved to lift the mask mandate Monday following the judge’s ruling, although transit agencies in New York and California left the requirement in place.
PRESENTED BY ALIBABA GROUP
Alibaba is partnering with thousands of American companies of all sizes to expand their growth in China. Our ability to connect U.S. businesses with over 900 million consumers in China is truly unique—making Alibaba a powerful growth engine for U.S. businesses.
In fact, U.S. businesses made sales of over $61 billion across Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms last year alone.
Former national security officials raise alarm over tech antitrust bill
A group of prominent former national security officials are raising concerns that Big Tech antitrust legislation in front of Congress could pose a threat to U.S. security.
In a letter obtained by Punchbowl News, former officials from the intelligence, defense and homeland security agencies warn that legislation aimed at reining in Big Tech companies may leave the platforms unprepared to protect against disinformation and cybersecurity risks.
Here’s a segment from the letter, which you can read here. Notably, the effort isn’t being backed by any tech organization or coalition, although several of these former officials have financial ties to Big Tech companies.
“Legislation from both the House and Senate requiring non-discriminatory access for all ‘business users’ (broadly defined to include foreign rivals) on U.S. digital platforms would provide an open door for foreign adversaries to gain access to the software and hardware of American technology companies. Unfettered access to software and hardware could result in major cyber threats, misinformation, access to data of U.S. persons, and intellectual property theft.
Other provisions in this legislation would damage the capability of U.S. technology companies to roll out integrated security tools to adequately screen for nefarious apps and malicious actors, weakening security measures currently embedded in device and platform operating systems.”
Here are the letter’s signatories. There are some big names on this list.
→ James Clapper, former National Intelligence director.
→ Jeh Johnson, former Homeland Security secretary.
→ Leon Panetta, former Defense secretary and former Central Intelligence Agency director. x
→ Admiral Michael Rogers, former commander, U.S. Cyber Command and former National Security Agency director.
→ Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), one-time ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.
→ Frances Townsend, former assistant to President George W. Bush for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security.
→ Michael Morell, former Central Intelligence Agency acting director and deputy director
As we noted, some of these ex-officials have ties to Big Tech companies opposed to the various tech antitrust bills. Townsend and Morrell serve on an advisory board for the American Edge Project, which is funded by Facebook. Townsend is also the executive vice president for corporate affairs of Activision Blizzard; Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Panetta is on the board of Oracle. And Johnson’s law firm has dealings with Amazon and Microsoft.
In January, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on a bipartisan basis to advance S.2992, a major piece of antitrust legislation sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The House Judiciary Committee passed similar legislation last year as well.
The bills’ intent is to prevent a tech platform from preferencing its own services and technology over that of competitors.
But the ex-officials maintain that while the proposal is well intentioned, the legislation didn’t undergo a comprehensive national security review. They cite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the social media battle being waged globally over that conflict, as a reason for an additional review of the legislation by national security committees in Congress. Such a review may end up killing the legislation, however.
The former officials argue the legislation would prohibit U.S. tech companies from running their own software to keep out misinformation. And they assert it would force search engines such as Google to treat all information equally — possibly allowing Russian and Chinese propaganda to flourish.
Concerns over the potential national security implications of the legislation were raised during the markup process in the Senate. As a result, the bill was amended to include language permitting tech companies to take certain actions to protect the integrity of their platforms. But the view of the letter’s authors is that absent a clear definition of what these security measures are, the tweak is meaningless.
The ex-officials are calling on the Armed Services, Intelligence and Homeland Security panel in both the House and Senate to conduct a review of antitrust legislation before it is voted upon.
PRESENTED BY ALIBABA GROUP
Thousands of U.S. companies, like Fender, are partnering with Alibaba to grow their businesses and succeed in China.
→ That was quick. J.D. Vance has an “I’m endorsed by Trump” ad up in Dayton, Cleveland-Akron and Lima, Ohio markets. Vance is seeking the GOP nomination in the race for the open Senate seat in the Buckeye State.
→ Remember that Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is in a runoff for his seat next month against Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar is a moderate Democrat while Cisneros has captured the support of the Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) aligned left. This ad is a great example of what Cisneros thinks is going to win this race: bipartisanship, border security, middle-class tax cuts and health care.
PRESENTED BY ALIBABA GROUP
American businesses are using Alibaba to drive sales in China.
9 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
9:45 a.m.: Biden will speak with allies and partners about the war in Ukraine. The call will be held in the Situation Room.
11:40 a.m.: Biden will leave the White House for Andrews, where he’ll fly to Portsmouth, N.H. Jen Psaki will gaggle on board. He will arrive at 1:25 p.m.
1:55 p.m.: Biden will visit the New Hampshire Port Authority at Portsmouth Harbor.
2:45 p.m.: Biden will speak about the infrastructure law.
3:30 p.m.: Biden will leave Portsmouth for Andrews. He will arrive at the White House at 5:30 p.m.
→ “As the war moves east, Russia and Ukraine still facing off in Kherson,” by Isabelle Khurshudyan in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine
→ “Border numbers jump in March, with striking increase in Ukrainians,” by Maria Sacchetti
→ “Apollo Global Considers Participating in a Bid for Twitter,” by Cara Lombardo, Laura Cooper and Miriam Gottfried
→ “Russia Will Not Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine, Lavrov Says,” by Benjamin Harvey
PRESENTED BY ALIBABA GROUP
Ocean Spray, Stride Rite, Fender, and Bissell. These are just a few of the American companies partnering with Alibaba to drive business growth in China. Our ability to connect these companies—and thousands more like them—to almost one billion consumers in China makes us a powerful growth engine for U.S. businesses.
And it’s not just big companies. Emily’s Chocolates, Antica Farmacista, Nuria Beauty, and other U.S. small businesses also use Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms to enter the Chinese marketplace and increase sales.
In fact, last year, U.S. businesses made sales of over $61 billion while working with Alibaba. That’s $61 billion in sales in 2021 alone!
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
Crucial Capitol Hill news AM, Midday, and PM—5 times a week
Join a community of some of the most powerful people in Washington and beyond. Exclusive newsmaker events, parties, in-person and virtual briefings and more.Subscribe to Premium
The Canvass Special Report
Analysis of how sentiment on Capitol Hill evolved this year. And what senior aides believe will happen in 2022.Check it out
Every single issue of Punchbowl News published, all in one placeVisit the archive
THE PREMIUM COMMUNITY AT
Experience regular online and offline events with Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan, special Premium content and so much more. Check out our full list of benefits for Premium membership!