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.
Happy Thursday morning.
With Title 42 health policy expiring at midnight and a huge new surge of migrants expected at the U.S.-Mexico border, the House is set to vote today on the Republicans’ signature border security and immigration package. It’s taken months for GOP leaders to get it this far.
The House Republican proposal won’t go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate. And more importantly, this moment may be forgotten entirely if the U.S. government defaults in a few short weeks.
Yet slowly — very slowly — Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP leaders have begun advancing their legislative agenda after four months in power.
House Republicans passed their energy package, the Lower Energy Costs Act, in late March. The Limit, Save, Grow Act — the House GOP’s debt-limit measure — was adopted two weeks ago. Republicans have been successful with several Congressional Review Act initiatives, including the high-profile effort to block changes to the D.C. criminal code. The Judiciary Committee is working on a policing package, as well as a bill to overhaul federal regulatory policy. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) are seemingly sending out subpoenas daily as they investigate President Joe Biden’s family and everything else the administration does.
It’s nowhere near the legislative record that Biden, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer amassed under one-party control of Washington during the last Congress, but it does give McCarthy’s rank-and-file members something to tout when they head back home.
After spending hours cajoling wary House Freedom Caucus members and ag-state Republicans, GOP leaders were able to pass a rule on Wednesday setting up a final vote on H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act.
The leadership’s lobbying effort included tweaking the legislation at the last minute on criminal cartels and E-Verify despite telling members for days that wasn’t going to happen. This has become a trend with House Republican leadership. They repeatedly say no to changing legislation, but when under enough pressure, they end up altering the bill.
The 213-page package — a mashup of bills from the Judiciary, Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs panels — calls for resuming construction on former President Donald Trump’s border wall while upgrading security technology at the border and ports of entry. It also mandates expanded collection of DNA and biometric information from migrants and new fees on asylum applicants.
On the floor, McCarthy complained that Biden has no plan for dealing with the end of Title 42. That public health authority was used by the Trump and Biden administrations during the Covid-19 pandemic to quickly expel millions of migrants.
“More than 11,000 migrants were caught yesterday crossing the border illegally, the highest single day total ever,” McCarthy said. “This is President Biden’s record on the border. Record crossings. Record carelessness. Record chaos.”
Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said House Republicans were forced to act due to growing problems at the border.
“Look at what’s happening. I mean thousands and thousands of people are coming here,” Green said. “This thing is going to get so out of hand, [Democrats are] gonna look like idiots if they don’t vote for this bill. You can quote me on that.”
More Green: “They want to look at that, not vote on it in the Senate, sure, we’ll pound the hell out of them in the campaign.”
The White House and Democratic leaders have rejected the House GOP proposal as unworkable and counterproductive. And as we noted, just like the Republicans’ recent debt-limit bill, this measure isn’t going anywhere in the Senate.
“We’re here to send the very clear message that House Democrats are ready — and have been ready — to invest in a secure border and to deliver real immigration reform,” Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar said.
“What Republicans are bringing onto the floor this week is not substantive. It’s extreme and recycles the same failed policies from the prior administration that did nothing to help our situation at the southern border.”
Aguilar, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) joined other Democrats in introducing their own immigration and border bill on Wednesday, the U.S. Citizenship Act.
Yet Biden — aware of the huge political implications for 2024 on this front — has taken a series of steps recently to mitigate a potential migrant surge post Title 42.
Biden ordered an additional 1,500 troops to the border, bringing the total to 4,000. The Department of Homeland Security will go back to using existing legal authority to process and expel migrants with no legal basis for entry. More DHS personnel are being brought in to handle detainees. And “regional processing centers” are being opened up in other countries to deter “irregular migration.”
NYT: “Mexico Allows Tens of Thousands of Migrants to Travel to U.S. Border,” by James Frederick
WaPo: “Texas uses aggressive tactics to arrest migrants as Title 42 ends,” by Arelis R. Hernández in Brackettville, Texas
CBS News: “Deportations in South Florida, hours before pandemic-era Title 42 ends,” by Ivan Taylor in Miami
– John Bresnahan and Mica Soellner
NEW: We’re excited to announce a special panel discussion coming later this month, The Briefing: A Conversation on Permitting Reform, on Wednesday, May 31 at 9 a.m. ET. The event, moderated by Punchbowl News Founder Jake Sherman, will feature industry leaders including Mike Sommers, CEO of American Petroleum Institute, Paula Glover, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, Jason Grumet, CEO of American Clean Power and Sean McGarvey, president of the North America’s Building Trades Unions. The event is presented by the American Petroleum Institute. RSVP now to join us!
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
At Chevron, we’re working to help reduce the carbon intensity of major industries across the world, and we’re looking into some unexpected places to help us get there. In collaboration CalBio Biogas, we’re working to convert the methane from cow manure into renewable natural gas (RNG), that one day, can help fuel trucks across the nation. And we plan to grow our total RNG production 10x by 2025. Find out more.
SENATE X TRUMP
Senate GOP bitterly divided over Trump, 2024
Former President Donald Trump’s most recent legal drama put Senate Republicans in increasingly divergent camps on the former president’s role in the party moving forward.
After Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a federal civil trial in Manhattan this week, Senate Republican leaders went even further than they previously had in declaring that Trump shouldn’t be the party’s 2024 presidential nominee. At the same time, nearly a dozen GOP senators have endorsed Trump and are still standing by him.
It’s becoming a serious point of contention within the Senate GOP conference, according to interviews with several Republican senators. Some GOP senators say it’s about more than just Trump’s merits as a candidate or his record as president; it’s about electability.
“That’s part of the challenge in uniting the party,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told us of the warring factions. “I personally think there will be individuals coming forward that would do a good job of uniting the party and can win the general election, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
That view is shared by those in the upper rung of GOP leadership. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a potential successor to Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader, said flat-out that he doesn’t think Trump can win in 2024, citing in part a lack of an effort to expand his appeal beyond core supporters.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, another possible McConnell successor, said he hopes Republican primary voters will have “other options,” but said the GOP conference will be focused on the Senate’s work in the meantime.
“I think most senators in the end are going to do what they think is right for them and the constituency that they represent,” Thune told us. “For a lot of people, some of the stuff is just something that a lot of [Trump’s] supporters have come to accept.”
McConnell has studiously avoided weighing in on the various Trump legal dramas. McConnell and Trump don’t have a relationship anymore, and the former president routinely criticizes McConnell.
“That’ll all be settled in the primaries,” McConnell said Wednesday in response to a question about whether he views the Manhattan verdict against Trump as legitimate. “I don’t have any observations about it. The American people are going to have to decide… who they want to run for president.”
Of course, senior Republicans believe Trump is the reason their party doesn’t currently control the Senate. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), who ran the NRSC during the 2020 cycle, which saw Democrats win control of the chamber, said he’s going to continue making the case to his colleagues that Trump is a loser when it comes to elections.
“It’ll be a point of disagreement in the conference, though I would be surprised if it became contentious between us,” Young said. “I don’t think there’s any problem with acknowledging that President Trump has habitually lost at the ballot box. And that’s certainly an important view that needs to be vocalized.”
While the 2024 Senate map is promising for Republicans, some are concerned with NRSC Chair Steve Daines’ (R-Mont.) endorsement of Trump and what it might signal about candidate recruitment and quality.
When he made the endorsement, Daines indicated that he wants to have Trump on his — and the NRSC’s — side as they try to retake control of the Senate. But things could just as easily go south for Republicans, as was the case in 2020 – when Republicans lost control of the Senate – and in 2022, when Democrats added to their majority.
“Regardless of what you think about him as an individual, to me electability is the sole criteria,” Cornyn said.
For now, Trump remains in a strong position among GOP voters — though it’s still early in the primary cycle and more candidates are likely to jump into the race in the coming weeks and months.
“I support him because we had record wage growth across the board, we had a secure border, we had jobs. And I think if you look at the recent polling, he is up and his margin continues to grow,” said Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), who has endorsed Trump. “I’ve made my intentions clear. There’s a lot on the line.”
— Andrew Desiderio
Normal rules the day in debt-limit talks
Don’t look now, but normal conversations over the debt limit have broken out.
Negotiators for the Big Four and the White House met for more than two hours on Wednesday. They will meet again today as the White House and Congress try to find a way forward on a debt-limit agreement.
Here’s what went down in the room:
Republicans, Democrats and Biden administration officials discussed dozens of categories of potential spending cuts. The two sides didn’t exchange any paper, but Republicans and Democrats felt each other out on what might be on the table and what is off limits in debt-limit talks.
The group also went through House Republicans’ Limit, Save, Grow Act and discussed where there may be room to maneuver in a potential deal.
The negotiators also didn’t discuss any procedures as to how a debt-limit deal might get through Congress.
– Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
At Chevron, we’re working to help fuel transportation with lower lifecycle carbon emissions, and looking into unexpected sources to help do it…even cow waste.
Schmitt raised $400k with Daines in St. Louis
Freshman Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) hosted NRSC Chair Steve Daines Monday and Tuesday in St. Louis and raised $400,000 for the Senate GOP’s campaign efforts.
Schmitt has always been a strong fundraiser, winning three statewide elections in the Show Me State in six years — he was treasurer and attorney general of Missouri before winning the election to the Senate to replace Roy Blunt. He also recently fundraised with Daines in New York.
– Jake Sherman
AND THERE’S MORE…
News: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) is leading a bipartisan group of 21 House members calling on House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) to hold a markup on a stock trading ban before the August recess.
“It is imperative that we take action — together — to achieve consensus on legislation that would ban the trading of stocks by Members of Congress,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter addressed to Steil and Ranking Member Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.). “We must do more to restore public trust, and we believe this would be an important step in doing so.”
Check out the full letter here. The list of signatories range from Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) to House Freedom Caucus member Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.).
Happening this morning: House Minority Whip Katherine Clark has invited Heather Boushey from the White House Economic Council and David Miller from the Council of Economic Advisers to speak to Democrats about the impact of default.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is also discussing CHIPS Act implementation at the New Democrat Coalition lunch today.
— Max Cohen and Heather Caygle
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
10:15 a.m.: Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) will hold a news conference on Title 42.
11 a.m.: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will get their daily intelligence briefing.
11:30 a.m.: Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) will hold a pen and pad on Title 42.
12:30 p.m.: House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will hold a news conference on the House GOP’s immigration bill.
1 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will brief reporters.
1:30 p.m.: House Minority Whip Katherine Clark will hold a news conference on “Republican policies focusing on women and family issues.”
3 p.m.: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) will hold a news conference on his stock-trading ban bill.
4 p.m.: Biden will speak about conservation.
“Five Takeaways From Trump’s Unruly CNN Town Hall,” by Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman
“Yellen Says Debt Default Would Hurt US International Leadership,” by Christopher Condon
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images.
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
Energy demand in the transportation industry is growing. At Chevron, we believe the future of energy, and transportation, is lower carbon. Renewable natural gas (RNG), developed from unexpected sources like cow manure and landfills, can help us get there. Under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, capturing RNG from landfills to power vehicles represents a decrease of nearly 50% in lifecycle carbon emissions intensity. Find out how renewable natural gas from cow waste can help renew the way we think about fuel.
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 Year-End Report
And what senior aides and downtown figures believe will happen in 2023.Check it out