Morning Report— A government shutdown is looming — again

Congress is once again in a seemingly endless shutdown threat loop.

With the current stopgap spending bill that’s keeping the lights on due to run out on Friday, disputes are threatening to force a shutdown of vast parts of the federal government. Congress and the White House struggled over the weekend to reach a deal on long-term funding legislation, which covers roughly 70 percent of federal agencies — including the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security as well as the Transportation Security Administration and IRS.

As recently as Friday, negotiators were nearing an agreement to complete a spending bill with the goal of voting on it this week. But disagreements over immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border threatened the talks, The Washington Post reports. Negotiators for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) over the weekend appealed to the White House — rather than congressional Democrats — to engage in spending talks. Congressional leaders had also planned for a stopgap measure for the Department of Homeland Security, seen as the toughest funding bill in the bunch, as deep partisan divisions remain in Washington on the border and immigration.

A source familiar with the matter told The Hill part of the dispute is that Democrats are pressing for more funding for pay equity for the TSA, while Republicans want more dollars for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention and enforcement efforts.

JOHNSON’S PLAN B for Ukraine aid has raised as many questions as it’s answered. Johnson told Republican senators last week that he plans to send them legislation providing new military funding for Kyiv, separate of the House’s government funding package. In a subsequent interview with Politico, Johnson indicated that he plans to move that proposal with a procedural tool that will require support from a substantial number of Democrats and floated the idea of splitting Ukraine aid from more military help for Israel.

The vague strategy has left several questions unanswered, write The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell. On Friday, Johnson suggested a number of details remain up in the air. But pressed on the prospect of moving assistance for Kyiv without border policy provisions, Johnson reiterated his long-held talking point that border security must be the top priority.

“I believe, and the American people believe, we have to secure our own border as the top priority, and I think that is a sentiment that the vast majority of the people in the country expect and deserve and we’re gonna continue to press for that,” he told reporters.

The Hill’s Aris Folley breaks down five sticking points in the fight to avert a shutdown.

▪ The Hill: U.S. budget fights threatens funding the Kenyan military’s multinational security mission in Haiti — where gang violence has thrown the country into chaos and resulted in the prime minister’s resignation.

▪ CBS News: Haiti’s long history of crises, and its present unrest.


▪ DHS will be the first in the federal government to roll out a comprehensive plan to integrate artificial intelligence into a variety of uses, from fighting crime to helping disaster survivors.

▪ Apple is in talks to build Google’s Gemini AI engine into the iPhone, setting the stage for a blockbuster agreement that would shake up the industry.

▪ Linda Wenhold absorbed Patriot Academy’s message that America is falling apart as it drifts from its biblical roots. Then she won a seat on her local Pennsylvania school board.

THE RIFT OVER THE WAR IN GAZA between Israel and the U.S. broadened Sunday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on CNN’s “State of the Union” accused Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) of treating his country like a “banana republic.” Netanyahu, who is facing increasing pressure to negotiate a cease-fire, lashed out at Schumer over his call for elections in Israel when the war winds down. On Thursday, Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the U.S., delivered a scathing speech on the Senate floor where he accused Netanyahu of letting his political survival supersede “the best interests of Israel” and of being “too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza.”

More than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since Israel invaded the enclave in October in response to terror attacks by Hamas. The clash comes as Netanyahu is preparing a ground offensive in Rafah, the southern Gaza city where more than a million have taken shelter. Netanyahu said on Sunday he would continue with the military campaign, where aid agencies say famine is looming, while ceasefire talks were set to resume. Israel’s allies — including President Biden — have piled pressure on Netanyahu not to attack Rafah without a plan to protect civilians (Reuters).

“We will operate in Rafah. This will take several weeks, and it will happen,” Netanyahu said, without clarifying if he meant the assault would last for weeks or would begin in weeks.

Programming note: Morning Report’s Alexis Simendinger will be back in your inboxes Wednesday.


Politics Trump v Biden 120923 AP Uncredited

© The Associated Press / Alex Brandon and John Locher | The general election season is heating up the race between President Biden and former President Trump.


DEMOCRATS ARE IN SURVIVAL MODE in trying to rebuild the coalition that helped President Biden win the White House in 2020, working to bring critical voters back to the fold at this point rather than substantially trying to grow the base. The Hill’s Alex Gangitano writes that the president’s travel plans — visiting both critical swing states and Democratic strongholds — and meetings with union representatives mark a broader plan to stitch back together a path for victory in 2024 in a race that has Biden running neck-and-neck with former President Trump.

“It’s a smart focus, it’s a smart strategy,” said former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “In electoral politics, you can’t win by losing and so you start with your critical battlegrounds and then expand your infrastructure and visibility.”

As Biden and Trump visit key battleground states, The Hill’s Niall Stanage looks at the seven states that The Hill and DecisionDesk HQ’s polling categorize as tossups.

SENATE REPUBLICANS ARE TRYING TO BURY Trump’s call for the Republican Party to take another shot at repealing the Affordable Care Act if they regain control of the White House and Senate next year. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports it’s an indication that the GOP nominee for president and Republicans on Congress aren’t on the same page on big issues. Democrats, who are getting pummeled over border security, are looking to elevate the issue of health care in the 2024 election and Trump is giving them plenty of ammunition. Republican senators say while they would support reforms to reduce health care costs, Trump’s call to repeal ObamaCare is tone-deaf.

“People have moved to a different place,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “If you were to walk into the room and say my number one priority is to repeal and replace ObamaCare, I think you’re going to have half the people say, ‘What? Why? Huh?’ It is not the rallying cry it once was. Let’s not walk that plank again.”

Trump’s remarks about “cutting” Social Security have given a major opening to Biden while underscoring how the program has become a third rail in politics. Trump in a CNBC interview said there was “a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting.” Barrett Marson, a GOP strategist in Arizona, said while the ambiguity of Trump’s latest comments might blunt their impact, “in some ways, that doesn’t matter because … it’s on tape, and the Biden campaign will almost assuredly use that tape a lot, and the Trump campaign will have to spend time and money to refute that (The Hill).


▪ Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s consideration of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers as his running mate is sparking backlash and raising fresh scrutiny over the athlete’s past controversial comments. Kennedy’s campaign indicated over the weekend that Nicole Shanahan — a Bay Area lawyer and investor who was once married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin — was among the top picks to be his running mate.

▪ The battle to become the Senate GOP’s nominee in Ohio against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) is getting nastier by the day.

▪ Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) is in a political bind now that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), whose seat she is seeking to fill in November, is leaving Congress early. Boebert, who already nearly lost reelection once in her current district, must now navigate even trickier political terrain in the hopes of remaining in Congress.

▪ In a series of interviews, Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) revealed an ominous philosophy behind his first year in office.

▪ Democrats are hoping to avert another embarrassment in a key Oregon House district that flipped red in the midterms.

▪ This is how Trump’s allies are winning the war against disinformation. Their claims of censorship have successfully stymied the effort to filter election lies online.


The House will meet Tuesday at noon.

The Senate will convene Tuesday at 3 p.m.

The president will speak at the President and First Lady’s Women’s History Month reception at 11:30 a.m. He will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 3:15 p.m.

Vice President Harris will speak at the President and First Lady’s Women’s History Month reception at 11:30 a.m. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend. She will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 3:15 p.m.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in South Korea. He will give the opening remarks at the Third Summit for Democracy in Seoul.

First lady Jill Biden will speak at the President and First Lady’s Women’s History Month reception at 11:30 a.m.

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.


Courts Supreme Court 071123 AP Patrick Semansky

© The Associated Press / Patrick Semansky | The Supreme Court in 2023.


TRUMP’S HUSH MONEY JUDGE in New York has delayed the upcoming trial until mid-April after new evidence was turned over to the parties, aiding the former president’s goal of delaying his criminal trials. Jury selection was scheduled to begin March 25, which would’ve marked Trump’s first criminal trial, but Judge Juan Merchan agreed to push it back after prosecutors consented to the one-month delay. The new curveball came after the parties informed the judge the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has turned over more than 70,000 pages of records in recent days, some of which are relevant to the case (The Hill).

▪ Politico: Which Trump trial will go first, and four other questions after a busy week in court.

▪ The Hill: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) shared concern about delays in legal cases against Trump on Sunday, noting that a delay in the Supreme Court case concerning Trump’s claim of presidential immunity would be a “terrible decision.”

THE ADMINISTRATION’S LEGAL BATTLE over social media content moderation will reach the Supreme Court today, when justices will hear arguments over whether federal officials violated the First Amendment by urging platforms to remove posts they deemed false or misleading. The Hill’s Ella Lee reports two Republican attorneys general brought the case in a challenge to the Whie House’s efforts to curb misinformation online — which they described as a government “campaign of censorship.” The case grew out of concern from conservatives that their views were being suppressed about 2020 election fraud, COVID-19 origins and treatments and other issues (USA Today).

▪ CNN: The Supreme Court ruled Friday that public officials may block people on social media in certain circumstances.

▪ The New York Times: The Supreme Court on Friday narrowly interpreted a provision of a landmark criminal justice law likely to limit the number of federal prisoners who are eligible for reduced sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.

FOR THE FIRST TIME in Georgetown Law’s history, two of its law professors will go head-to-head before the Supreme Court when it hears the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) fight against a former New York regulator today. In interviews with The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld, both attorneys delivered high praise for each other and expressed little hesitation at their rare matchup.


International Putin 031724 AP Ebrahim Noroozi

© The Associated Press / Ebrahim Noroozi | A man with an anti-Putin protest placard joined other voters at the Russian Embassy in Berlin in casting opposition ballots at noon on Sunday during Russia’s elections, where President Vladimir Putin’s victory was guaranteed.


STAGE-MANAGED ELECTION: Russian President Vladimir Putin will tighten his grip on the country he has ruled since the turn of the century, handily winning a predictably large share of votes in Sunday’s predetermined election. The result means Putin will rule until at least 2030, when he will be 77. Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Putin will secure a third full decade of rule (The New York Times and CNN).

Still, thousands of Russians went to the polls on Sunday in protest, organizing an effort to cast ballots at the same time against Putin. The effort had been endorsed by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Opposition to Putin has skyrocketed since Navalny died in a Russian prison last month, which Western governments have denounced as an assassination (The Hill).

RUSSIAN MESSAGING AND MISINFORMATION are escalating their presence in Mexico, a country that’s holding federal elections in June, and whose proximity to the United States makes it an invaluable intelligence target. The Hill’s Rafael Bernal reports Russia’s diplomatic footprint in Mexico is also disproportionately large compared to Mexico’s representation in Moscow, a disparity that’s raising concerns about potential Kremlin espionage and cyber activity in North America.

“The Russian Embassy in Mexico is very active, much more active than it used to be, and in a sometimes surprising activism, to say the least, because it’s critical of some positions and to an extent taking [political] sides, intervening,” said Martha Bárcena, who served as Mexican ambassador to the United States from 2018 to 2021. “I would not attribute to the Russian Embassy or to Russian intelligence services a master plan. I simply think this is framed in the traditional anti-Americanism of a sector of the Mexican population.”


■ The government, big tech and free speech, round two, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

■ Putin isn’t a politician, he’s a gangster, by Yulia Navalnaya, guest essayist, The Washington Post.


Closer St Patricks Day 031624 Chicago Sun Times Pat Nabong

© The Associated Press / Pat Nabong, Chicago Sun-Times | Every year, the Chicago River is dyed green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

And finally … 🍀 It’s the luck of the Irish! Sunday marked St. Patrick’s Day, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Originally a religious holiday, it’s recognized as a public holiday in several countries. Now celebrated around the world, especially among the Irish diaspora, the holiday is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

While in the U.S., you might get pinched for not wearing green on the holiday, St. Patrick is actually tied to the color blue. According to Brian Witt, the cultural exhibits coordinator for Milwaukee Irish Fest, “Irish Americans would wear the green as a reminder that they were nationalists first and foremost. The colors of the Irish flag are green, white and orange, the green symbolizing the Irish nationalism, the orange symbolizing the Orangemen of the north and the white symbolizing peace.”

Check out ten more facts about the holiday here.

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