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Happy Tuesday morning.
We’re going to focus on two issues that the House Republican leadership will have to confront this week — whether Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his top lieutenants can pass their debt-limit bill, and what happens if they don’t.
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to begin marking up the Limit, Save, Grow Act at 4 p.m. today. The top members from the Appropriations, Budget and Ways and Means panels will testify.
We expect the markup to last several hours and that it will be pretty contentious, but we don’t believe there will be a lot of amendment votes. Republican leaders don’t want to open the 320-page package up for debate, while Democrats will argue the proposal is so bad it can’t be fixed.
McCarthy and other top Republicans had said privately that they were hoping to go to the floor as early as Wednesday. But they may not be ready by then.
Let’s start with the bill’s prospects. There’s concern inside the GOP leadership right now over whether leadership can even get 218 votes for the $4.5 trillion package. We spent all of Monday talking to GOP members, aides and leadership sources trying to figure that out. Here’s what we know:
No. 1: McCarthy has a big problem with Midwestern Republicans due to their opposition to repealing ethanol credits. And the issue isn’t going away.
We’ve been told that there are as many as eight to 10 House Republicans who could vote against the GOP package because it eliminates Democratic-passed ethanol tax credits.
They’re also rejecting leadership’s argument that House Republicans unanimously voted against the Democratic-authored Inflation Reduction Act last year, meaning they’ve already opposed the credits once.
McCarthy, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) — who the speaker deputized to help craft this proposal — lobbied members throughout Monday on the issue.
In a sign of just how serious the situation is, we couldn’t get a single one of the four Iowa Republicans to comment on the ethanol credit issues.
GOP leaders are closely watching Rep. Ashley Hinson (Iowa), an up-and-coming House Republican, to see whether she’ll offer a statement on the bill. Furthermore, Republican leadership hopes Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) supports their position or stays out of this altogether.
No. 2: We’ve heard a few more names of conservatives who are giving leadership a run for their money on this vote. This includes GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Chip Roy (Texas), Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Matt Rosendale (Mont.).
There are a number of reasons why conservatives are upset with the package. They think the work requirements Republican leaders want to impose on federal social programs like SNAP are too weak. Some of these GOP lawmakers simply don’t want to back a debt-limit increase.
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is unhappy with the work requirements in the bill as well. He filed an amendment with the Rules Committee to boost the number of required work hours per week to qualify for federal social programs from 20 to 30.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said he’d vote against the package unless Republican leadership agrees to enact the stringent work requirements in 2024 instead of 2025. This is something the GOP leadership has rejected as unworkable.
It’s safe to say McCarthy needs to eliminate all of this discontent as quickly as possible. The leadership’s posture — so far — is that they can just barrel ahead and muscle the bill through the House unchanged, despite the criticism.
So what happens if McCarthy fails? It goes without saying that the worst possible outcome for McCarthy is House Republicans failing to pass the proposal. It would completely sap him of any leverage with the White House and Senate Democrats. If McCarthy can’t get this loaded up GOP bill through the chamber, what can he get through?
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been insisting that McCarthy can’t under any circumstances muster the 218 votes necessary for a bill that raises the debt limit.
But what does a “compromise” look like to Schumer?
“It’s what’s been done successfully the last three times — twice under President Trump… and then under Biden. And that is a bipartisan solution with no hostage-taking, no brinkmanship, and we pass a clean debt ceiling.”
The problem for Schumer here is that, as we reported last week, moderate Senate Republicans aren’t itching to help him out on a clean debt-limit hike. That would require support from at least nine Republican senators to break a filibuster. And Senate GOP moderates aren’t there yet.
What if House Republicans pass it? McCarthy hopes passing this bill will give him what he’s wanted all along — a chance to negotiate with President Joe Biden and Schumer over federal debt, the deficit and government spending. It’s not entirely clear he’ll get that right away, but there is increasing pressure on the White House to sit down and talk to McCarthy. And there are those in the West Wing who want Biden to talk to the speaker.
Also consider this: After this week, the House will be out until May 9. The clock is ticking in a very serious way right now.
— Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Andrew Desiderio
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Warren to challenge Tuberville over military promotion holds
News: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is expected to head to the Senate floor this week to try to end Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) unprecedented blockade of military promotions.
This comes as the list of pending promotions has grown to nearly 200. Tuberville is denying swift Senate approval of these promotions as he seeks to reverse the Pentagon’s policy that increases abortion access for service members.
These promotions are normally approved on a rolling basis, unanimously and with little fanfare on the floor. But Tuberville has put a blanket hold on all of them, saying he won’t budge until the DoD policy — which allows for paid leave and travel reimbursements for service members seeking to use abortion services — is rescinded.
Tuberville’s aides insist the Alabama Republican isn’t going to back down, and Democrats are running out of options to shake these promotions free. Of course, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could file cloture on them and go through the laborious processes of clearing them all on the floor, but that’s not going to happen.
Warren’s involvement here is notable. She’s the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on personnel. And earlier this month Warren wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asking for information on how Tuberville’s holds are impacting national security and military readiness. Austin said in recent public testimony that the holds are already having a negative impact, and he’s spoken directly with Tuberville about the issue
Warren’s office declined to comment on the senator’s efforts this week.
So how does this all end? Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) insists Tuberville isn’t going to get his way on the Pentagon’s abortion policy, arguing it would encourage others to use the same tactic.
“It’ll be resolved,” Reed told us. “But we can’t create a precedent that will be used by both sides. That would just be totally dysfunctional.”
We scooped earlier this month that Tuberville’s office had asked the Government Accountability Office whether the Pentagon’s abortion policy is subject to congressional review. But even a Senate vote on rescinding the policy might not get Tuberville to back off.
— Andrew Desiderio
Homeland Security sets Wednesday markup for border package
The second half of the House Republican immigration and border security package is moving along, and it’s much better news for the party’s moderate flank. While moderates such as Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) pushed back strongly against the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration bill, Gonzales is a key architect of the House Homeland Security Committee’s package.
The Homeland Security panel will mark up the 68-page bill on Wednesday. The bill mandates the resumption of wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border and increases funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
This schedule aligns with Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s stated plan of getting a broader immigration and border enforcement package on the House floor in May.
The provisions in the Homeland Security bill are less controversial for House Republicans than the Judiciary package. The measure mainly focuses on efforts to secure the border rather than altering existing immigration law. In particular, the restrictions on asylum seekers in the Judiciary package incensed Gonzales and led to the Texas Republican labeling the bill “unchristian.”
But Gonzales played a crucial part crafting the Homeland product, incorporating sections of his Security First Act into the broader bill. Gonzales successfully inserted language that would move the U.S. government. toward designating Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations, increase funding for local law enforcement in border areas and upgrade U.S. CBP technology.
The future of the overall House Republican effort on immigration and border security is still unclear, however. Some GOP lawmakers representing agricultural districts have concerns over implementing E-Verify in a widespread manner. And South Florida Republicans aren’t yet sold on some asylum restrictions that could limit people fleeing political persecution from Venezuela and Cuba.
Although the proposal is less toxic for House Republicans, there’s plenty in the Homeland Security package that will incense Democrats:
By diverting resources away from processing migrants, Democrats will argue the GOP proposal might undo progress achieved in recent months in reducing migrant encounters at the border.
The package drastically limits the use of the CBP One Mobile Application. The app has been credited by the White House with reducing instances of migrants overwhelming ports of entry along the southern border. In particular, the app is used by migrants from Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela to apply for parole status. The Biden administration has attributed the usage of the CBP One app with major reductions in border encounters with individuals from those nations.
The bill also removes CBP’s parole authority. This is a mechanism by which some asylum seekers seek entry to the United States. So this could play into Democratic claims that Republicans are seeking to restrict asylum claims.
Here’s more from Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee:
“This xenophobic bill does nothing to support the orderly processing of migrants seeking asylum.
“It would politicize border security, generate more chaos at the border, and block funding to CBP’s nonprofit partners that provide support services to migrants.”
— Max Cohen
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… AND THERE’S MORE
An interesting bipartisan quartet will propose new social media regs
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) will unveil a new proposal this week aimed at protecting kids on social media.
Let’s be completely clear: This may be the only issue on which these four lawmakers agree. Seriously.
But each of them has young children and the group will propose a new age minimum for the use of social media. Children under 13 would be barred from using social media, while children aged 13-17 can use it with parental consent. The bill will also further regulate the algorithms that tech companies use to target minors.
The offices of these four senators are treating the details of this bill like it’s a state secret. We’ll report back when we know more.
– Jake Sherman
THE MONEY GAME
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is fundraising off of Tucker Carlson’s abrupt departure from Fox News. It’s a sign of the glee on the left that accompanied Carlson’s shocking exit from Fox on Monday.
“Fox News attacked Alexandria 75 times a day, on average, in 2019,” the fundraising email says. “Alexandria has been open about the serious impact this has had on her safety and mental health — but she has kept fighting because she knows a better world is possible.”
Check out the full donation appeal here.
— Max Cohen
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Noon: President Joe Biden will leave the White House.
12:30 p.m.: Biden will speak at the North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton.
2 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
3:15 p.m.: Biden will get his daily briefing.
7:10 p.m.: The Bidens will greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife at the White House.
7:20 p.m.: Biden and the president of South Korea will visit the Korean War Memorial.
“Trump Is Endorsed by a Senator With Sway on Republican Donors,” by Jonathan Swan, Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman
“Tucker Carlson’s Surprise Exit Stuns People in Donald Trump’s Orbit,” by Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman
“Dr. Fauci Looks Back: ‘Something Clearly Went Wrong,’” by David Wallace-Wells
“Hutchinson’s launch highlights Arkansas city of Bentonville,” by Andrew DeMillo in Bentonville, Ark.
“Secret grand jury has probed post-2020 examination of voting machines in Michigan,” by Robert Snell and Craig Mauger
Kansas City Star
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images.
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