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Happy Monday morning.
The House and Senate are out today and return Tuesday.
This will be a huge week for President Joe Biden and congressional leaders on the debt-limit crisis, but it’s not clear how much progress will be made.
Biden will meet with the Big Four — Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — at the White House tomorrow afternoon. Amazingly, this is the first time the five of them will sit down together while serving in their current roles.
Both sides spent the weekend digging in even more on their respective positions. Biden, Schumer and Jeffries insist Congress must pass a clean debt-limit hike first, and then there can be negotiations over spending cuts and budget reforms. McCarthy and McConnell refuse to consider any debt-limit hike without spending cuts.
Senior GOP and Democratic sources say this faceoff is likely to continue for the next couple weeks, even with a potential June 1 government default approaching fast. We don’t mean to be alarmist, but the level of confusion and crosstalk here rivals what we saw during the 2011 debt-limit debacle. How this current crisis ends is still unclear.
Over the weekend, a group of 43 Senate Republicans — including McConnell and his entire leadership team — signed onto a Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) letter stating that they won’t vote for cloture on any clean debt-limit hike “without substantive spending and budget reforms.”
This is enough Senate GOP opposition to filibuster a clean debt-limit bill, which is what Schumer and Biden have been calling for these last few months. So there remains no path to a clean debt-limit hike in the Senate.
Jeffries, appearing on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” wouldn’t support a short-term extension of the debt limit. The New York Democrat insisted the “only responsible” move is to pass a clean hike in the nation’s borrowing authority.
“Well, I don’t think the responsible thing to do is to kick the can down the road when President Biden has been saying, for months — the position of leader Schumer, the position of House Democrats — has been we have to avoid a default.”
News here: American Action Network, the group aligned with McCarthy, is spending $250,000 on a nationwide CNN and MSNBC ad buy this week, urging Biden to accept spending reforms. The ad seeks to blame Biden for the debt-limit stalemate. AAN is considering expanding to presidential swing states in coming weeks.
Also: There’ll be a lot of focus this week on the impending end of Title 42, the pandemic-era health authority that made it easier for border agents to quickly expel hundreds of thousands of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. That authority expires Thursday.
A bipartisan Senate group, led by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), introduced a bill last week that would give the Biden administration a two-year temporary expulsion authority.
This would be functionally similar to Title 42 and would alleviate bipartisan concerns about the Biden administration’s preparation — or lack thereof — for a surge of migrants at the southern border.
The House is scheduled to vote this week on H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act. The GOP bill — a product of the Judiciary, Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees — is sponsored by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Mark Green (R-Tenn.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), John Carter (R-Texas), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Nathaniel Moran (R-Texas).
The bill will be marked up Tuesday by the House Rules Committee. The proposal would change U.S. asylum laws while requiring the Biden administration to resume building the border wall, among other things.
The White House is already slamming the GOP bill. Here’s a White House official:
“It would lead to more unlawful migration by blocking off lawful pathways to protection. It would trample on our Nation’s core values and international obligations in a boon to dictators around the world. And instead of providing the needed resources for more border security technology and asylum officers and judges, it would waste taxpayer dollars on an ineffective wall that can’t even withstand heavy winds, let alone sophisticated criminal smuggling networks.”
— John Bresnahan, Andrew Desiderio and Jake Sherman
Tomorrow: Join us Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. ET as Punchbowl News Founder and CEO Anna Palmer and Managing Editor Heather Caygle interview powerful women in Congress who have a seat at the table and are working across the aisle on solutions to America’s greatest challenges. The event will feature conversations with Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.). RSVP!
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Su nomination on hold as Feinstein questions linger
Julie Su’s nomination to be the next Labor secretary remains stalled. Su was cleared by the HELP Committee on April 26, but with unified GOP opposition and several Democratic moderates still refusing to say how they’ll vote, this nomination isn’t going anywhere for the moment.
The continued absence of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) plays into the Su fight as well. With Feinstein out, there’s almost no chance Su can get confirmed (she may not be anyway, to be honest). There’s been enormous speculation about Feinstein’s potential return, but we have no indication right now that Feinstein will be back this week.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who also chairs the Judiciary Committee, was pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on the issue Sunday. Durbin, who can’t move several controversial nominees in his panel nor issue a subpoena over the Supreme Court ethics scandal, urged Feinstein to announce her future plans as soon as possible.
“I hope she does what is best for her and her family and the state of California and makes a decision soon as to whether she is coming back,” Durbin said of the 89-year-old Feinstein. Note the inclusion of “soon” there.
In a statement from her office last week, Feinstein pointed out that the Judiciary Committee has continued to move judicial nominees despite her absence.
– John Bresnahan
House GOP’s Biden investigations ramp up
House Republicans are stepping up the intensity of their investigations into President Joe Biden this week, with top GOP lawmakers promising to provide significant updates in the coming days.
As always, House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) is at the center of it all.
The FBI has until Wednesday to comply with Comer’s subpoena for a June 2020 document that allegedly contains information relating to a Biden bribery scandal.
Comer and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent shockwaves through the political world last week when they claimed to have credible information from a whistleblower alleging that then-Vice President Biden exchanged money for foreign policy decisions.
Remember, the document that Comer is seeking is just the record of an interview conducted by the FBI with a source. It isn’t evidence of wrongdoing.
As we’ve reported, there’s very little chance the FBI will turn over this document. Democrats are already loudly crying foul at the subpoena, arguing Republicans are chasing an unproven conspiracy theory.
Comer will also hold a press conference on Wednesday regarding his panel’s investigation into alleged “influence peddling” by members of Biden’s family. Comer asserts that a sprawling web of Biden family members have benefited from deals that align with the president’s foreign policy decisions over the years.
Comer has been hinting at this event for weeks now, steadily increasing the number of Bidens he claims are involved in the alleged influence peddling ploy. The investigation hinges on bank records and “Suspicious Activity Reports” that Comer has accessed through subpoenas to financial institutions and cooperation with the Treasury Department.
Oversight Democrats have accused Republicans of chasing baseless leads and unfairly implicating private citizens in this probe.
Afghanistan: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has pushed back the subpoena deadline for a crucial Afghanistan withdrawal document until May 11.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has so far repeatedly refused to turn over a dissent cable written by Kabul embassy officials before the 2021 withdrawal.
“The committee is prepared to take the necessary steps to enforce its subpoena, including holding you in contempt of Congress and/or initiating a civil enforcement proceeding,” McCaul wrote in a May 5 letter.
This represents the strongest threat yet by McCaul toward Blinken. Elsewhere in McCaul’s letter to Blinken, the Texas Republican bashes State for alleged obstruction of congressional oversight and for failing to answer lawmaker questions during a classified briefing in late April.
Jim Jordan world: We hope you haven’t forgotten about the House Judiciary Committee chair! Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has a busy week planned.
On Friday, Mark Pomerantz, a former special assistant district attorney at the Manhattan DA’s office, is scheduled to sit for a transcribed interview with the full Judiciary Committee.
Jordan notably won a court battle against Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office in order to secure Pomerantz’s testimony. This is part of Jordan’s investigation into how the Manhattan DA handled the grand jury indictment of former President Donald Trump.
And on Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee’s weaponization panel will conduct a transcribed interview with former CIA Director John Brennan.
Jordan is probing the circumstances surrounding a letter signed by Brennan and dozens other former intelligence officials describing the Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election.
— Max Cohen
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What we’re watching
Tuesday: The House Ways and Means Committee has a hearing in Staten Island, N.Y., on securing supply chains and protecting American workers.
Wednesday: The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on “regulatory gaps in the digital asset markets.” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the conflict in Sudan with Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of State for political affairs. House Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing on the Australian-U.K.-U.S. alliance. The attorneys general of Utah and Alabama will be on Capitol Hill for a House Oversight hearing on ESG.
Senate Agriculture will have a hearing on former Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) to be deputy secretary of Agriculture.
House Financial Services will have a hearing on recent bank failures.
Thursday: Senate ENR will have a hearing on permitting reform.
— Jake Sherman
THE MONEY GAME
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries had a busy weekend of fundraising in Minnesota.
On Sunday, Jeffries headlined a fundraiser for Frontline Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) that also featured Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) as special guests.
Later Sunday, Jeffries held a DCCC fundraiser along with Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.).
Jeffries also headlined the 11th annual Humphrey-Mondale Dinner in Minneapolis, speaking in front of more than 1,700 Minnesota Democrats.
— Max Cohen
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10 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
1:45 p.m.: Biden will speak about “protecting consumers when there are flight delays or cancellations.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will also be there.
2:30 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
3 p.m.: The Pulitzer Prizes will be announced.
7:45 p.m.: Biden will host a screening of “American Born Chinese.”
Biden’s week ahead: Tuesday: Biden will meet with the Big Four. Wednesday: Biden will travel to the Hudson Valley in New York to talk about the debt limit. GOP Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) represents the area. Biden will also fundraise in New York City.
Friday: Biden will host Spanish President Pedro Sanchez to the White House. Saturday: Biden will deliver the commencement at Howard University before heading to Rehoboth Beach, Del.
“After Mass Killings in Texas, Frustration but No Action on Guns,” by J. David Goodman, Adam Goldman, Edgar Sandoval and David Montgomery in Houston
“Iran hid weapons among earthquake aid to target U.S. troops, leak says,” by Alex Horton, Mustafa Salim and Steve Hendrix
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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At Chevron, we’re working to help fuel a lower carbon future. We’re turning to innovative fuel sources, like renewable natural gas sourced from cow waste and renewable diesel sourced from bio feedstocks, to help lower the lifecycle carbon emissions of the heavy-duty transport fuels. While we work to expand our renewable fuel production to 100,000 barrels per day by 2030, our renewable fuels are ready to be put to use in the tanks of trucks, trains, and heavy-duty equipment today. Find out more about our initiatives.
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