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Does McCarthy have the votes?
It’s Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) day of reckoning — maybe.
The House Republican leader is expected to bring a bill that pairs a debt ceiling increase legislation to the floor as soon as today, but it’s unclear this morning whether he has the votes to pass it.
As The Hill’s Emily Brooks and Mike Lillis report, a small number of GOP lawmakers were demanding adjustments. Some Iowa lawmakers don’t want to gut clean energy tax breaks for biofuels, included in the 320-page legislation that had been headed to the floor (The Associated Press). House Republicans need 218 GOP votes and have a margin of four, which means they’ve been adjusting overnight.
McCarthy on Tuesday said, “We’re going to pass the bill on the floor” (Roll Call).
The debt bill is the most consequential policy test yet for McCarthy as he aims to use the sweeping proposal — which is unlikely to be any final debt vote package — to drag President Biden and Senate Democrats to the negotiating table on the debt limit. The United States is facing a $31.4 trillion deficit, and if the country defaults on the debt or doesn’t increase its borrowing capability, experts predict a possible economic crisis. Members of the House Rules Committee on Tuesday discussed the measure, paving the way for a vote in the chamber.
“This is extortion,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said during the meeting. “If Democrats don’t give Speaker McCarthy everything he wants, Republicans want to literally push the entire economy off a cliff.”
The GOP proposal would slash federal spending dramatically and unwind some of the president’s priorities, including student debt cancellation and efforts to address climate change. In exchange, Republicans would agree to increase the debt ceiling — the statutory cap on how much the U.S. government can borrow to pay its bills. Biden on Tuesday threatened to veto the proposal if it makes it to his desk — which is unlikely — calling it “a reckless attempt to extract extreme concessions as a condition for the United States simply paying the bills it has already incurred.” The White House has called for a “clean” debt limit increase not tied to any other legislation (The Washington Post and Axios).
“They’re saying if … Biden doesn’t agree with them and agree to all the cuts … they’re going to let the country default on its debt,” Biden said Tuesday at a conference in Washington of the North America’s Building Trades Unions. “I can’t imagine anyone ever thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge. America is not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills.”
The bill is almost guaranteed to be dead-on-arrival in a Senate controlled by Democrats, but it would serve as an important bargaining chip in the partisan fight over the size and scope of federal spending — and how aggressively to attack deficits during the budget debate later in the year. But GOP leaders only get the chip if they can rally their own troops behind the measure.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said on Tuesday the Republican package could put about $4.8 trillion toward deficit reduction over the next 10 years and estimated the bill would lead to $3.2 trillion in reductions in discretionary outlays in its projection of budget deficits (The Hill).
▪ Slate: McCarthy’s one big play. If he can’t corral House Republicans to pass a debt ceiling bill, he won’t be able to pass much of anything at all.
▪ The New York Times: Don’t call it a “cut”: The GOP tries to rebrand its plan to reduce spending. House Republicans pitched their 2011 debt limit bill aggressively, trumpeting a zeal for deep spending cuts. Their latest fiscal plan tiptoes around them, with a milder slogan to match.
▪ The Washington Post: GOP readies debt ceiling vote as Wall Street braces for a costly standoff.
▪ Roll Call: Biden district Republicans hold their fire on debt ceiling bill.
The federal government, meanwhile, is pulling in less tax revenue than expected, prompting concerns from experts who say the early numbers could mean far less time for Congress to strike a deal to avoid a default on the national debt. As The Hill’s Aris Folley reports, some have warned that a major shortfall in tax revenue means the U.S. government could run out of cash as early as June. “It’s a horserace between tax receipts and the House of Representatives and, ultimately, the Senate,” George Hall, economics professor at Brandeis University, told The Hill.
▪ The Hill: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts declined a Senate Judiciary Committee invitation to testify about justices’ ethics, transparency and potential conflicts of interest, particularly regarding personal financial transactions.
▪ The Hill: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says the Senate will vote on the Equal Rights Amendment this week.
▪ The Hill: Senators will mark up drug pricing bills next week.
▪ Politico: Congress to Pentagon: Don’t go too far in locking down classified information.
▪ The Washington Examiner: Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) attempt to end Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) abortion standoff with the Pentagon fails.
LEADING THE DAY
And so it begins, the 2024 presidential race. We’re so far into it already that Washington pundits have dubbed it a snore.
Biden officially launched his reelection campaign on Tuesday with a video announcement, a speech to organized labor and a White House legislative statement that described Democrats’ central political arguments: Don’t elect former President Trump or back his House GOP lieutenants, accused of favoring what the president calls “the same old trickle-down dressed up in MAGA clothing.”
NBC News: Biden’s final campaign will put his economic vision to the test.
Biden rarely mentions his predecessor’s name, but as president and now as a candidate, his themes are unchanged: “I look at the world through the eyes of Scranton and Claymont, Del., where I grew up. … Through the eyes of the working people I grew up with in this nation, and the eyes of my dad,” Biden said Tuesday, speaking of McCarthy and Trump.
“The Speaker, the former president, and the MAGA extremists are cut from a different cloth. They treat these folks — they think they’re a threat. They think that, somehow, we’re going to go back,” he continued, asking his union audience to help him win a second term. “The threat that MAGA Republicans pose is to take us to a place we’ve never been and where the last guy tried to take us,” he added. “There’s more to do, so let’s finish the job.”
The Hill: Trump is enemy No. 1 as Biden makes it official.
Unite the Country, a pro-Biden super PAC that has been poised since last year for the president’s reelection bid, on Tuesday launched a $1 million ad buy to begin the 2024 election cycle with broadcast messages starting today in battleground states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The ad themes are the president’s success (with Congress) in lowering some prescription drug prices and investing in manufacturing jobs and infrastructure.
The Republican National Committee, reacting to the president’s reelection launch, used an advertisement generated by artificial intelligence to depict dystopian scenarios in a hypothetical second Biden term. The AI twist left Democrats scratching their heads, The Hill’s Brett Samuels reports. But the RNC said the ad punctuated the party’s bleak assessment.
“Biden is so out of touch that after creating crisis after crisis, he thinks he deserves another four years,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. “If voters let Biden ‘finish the job,’ inflation will continue to skyrocket, crime rates will rise, more fentanyl will cross our open borders, children will continue to be left behind and American families will be worse off. Republicans are united to beat Biden and Americans are counting down the days until they can send Biden packing.”
2024 watch: Trump on Tuesday questioned why he should participate in GOP primary debates this year (The Hill). … The White House press secretary stumbled and later clarified on Twitter that if reelected, Biden, 80, “would serve all 8 years” (The Hill). … Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday ruled out a White House bid in 2024 (The Associated Press). … Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential GOP presidential contender, would not have to resign to seek higher office if a state amendment is adopted by the state legislature (NBC News). … The governor, traveling in Japan, recommended a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine (The Hill). … GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley advocated abortion “consensus” in a speech (NBC News). … As a civil trial gets underway this week in New York in which Trump denies accusations of rape (The Atlantic), the former president booked a visit to his golf resort in Scotland next week (BBC).
▪ The Hill: The stage is set on Capitol Hill for a Republican showdown with a teachers’ union president.
▪ The Hill: Michigan’s Republican Party is in disarray ahead of 2024.
▪ The Hill: Data guru Nate Silver, objecting to layoffs, says he will likely depart FiveThirtyEight, the political data-crunching journalism site he founded before selling it initially to Disney’s ESPN before it was acquired by sister company ABC News in 2018.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
Locals and foreigners streamed out of the capital of Khartoum and other battle zones in Sudan as fighting Tuesday threatened a new three-day cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Aid agencies, meanwhile, are raising alarm over the crumbling humanitarian situation in the country. A series of short truces over the past week have either failed outright or brought only intermittent lulls in the fighting that has raged between forces loyal to the country’s two top generals since April 15 (The Associated Press).
The clashes came just hours after the Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the warring parties — the Sudanese Army, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan — had agreed to a 72-hour truce. The U.S. had hoped to use the pause to engage with other countries and facilitate a peace process.
“They don’t respect cease-fires,” said Atiya Abdalla Atiya, a senior figure in the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, a group that monitors casualties. The conflict has upended life in Sudan, with at least 450 people killed and more than 4,000 others wounded, the World Health Organization reports, while foreign nationals and diplomats have made dramatic exits from the country as many locals are left to find their own way to safety (The New York Times and The Washington Post).
▪ CNN: WHO warns of “biological risk” after Sudan fighters seize lab, as violence mars U.S.-brokered ceasefire.
▪ Politico EU: French democracy is in crisis. What else is new?
▪ Reuters: Israelis protest planned judicial overhaul ahead of 75th independence day.
▪ The New York Times: Why the South Korea–Japan détente is crucial to U.S. strategy.
▪ NBC News: Taliban kill mastermind of Kabul airport bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members.
The silence in Ukraine is beginning to be telling, as Kyiv has made extraordinary efforts to conceal the start of its strategically vital spring counteroffensive. Russia, too, is reluctant to speak of Ukrainian momentum, in case it shatters flaky morale among its own troops. But over the past 10 days, Ukraine has been noticeably silent about the whole Zaporizhzhia area where its counteroffensive is largely expected.
Only there can the military separate the occupied peninsula of Crimea from occupied territory in eastern Ukraine and the Russian mainland (CNN). The Biden administration, meanwhile, is quietly preparing for the possibility that if Kyiv’s spring counteroffensive falls short of expectations, critics at home and allies abroad will argue that Washington has come up short, too (Politico).
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Future U.S. aid to Ukraine turns on Kyiv’s success on the battlefield.
▪ The Hill: Pentagon Papers leaker: Department of Defense records show Ukraine at a stalemate, “very similar to Vietnam.”
▪ Politico EU: Russian ships pose threat in Nordic waters as spies take more risks, Norway’s prime minister says.
▪ Yahoo News: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to keep the Baltics in check.
■ Why Biden can win in 2024, by Lis Smith, guest essayist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3Nd4xhI
■ Why Democrats should support a work requirement for welfare, by Merrill Matthews, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3mYpbYv
■ My quandary: Is the U.S. worth visiting anymore? by Andrew Mitrovica, columnist, Al Jazeera. https://bit.ly/3ncWE1b
WHERE AND WHEN
📲 Ask The Hill: Share a news query tied to an expert journalist’s insights: The Hill launched something new and (we hope) engaging via text with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. Learn more and sign up HERE.
The House will convene at 10 a.m.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Joshua Jacobs to be benefits under secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 8 a.m.Biden and first lady Jill Biden will host South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Kim Keon Hee, his wife, for a state visit today beginning at 10 a.m. Biden, the first lady, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will greet their guests during an official South Lawn arrival ceremony. The president will hold a bilateral meeting with Yoon at 10:45 a.m., followed by a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at 12:30 p.m. Biden and the first lady will greet their guests this evening at the White House North Portico for an East Room State Dinner that will begin with an official group photo at 7:45 p.m. and sit-down at 8:30 p.m.
The first lady will host Mrs. Kim at 11 a.m. at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She will speak at 1 p.m. at the 2023 International Summit on the Teaching Profession, which is hosted by the Education Department, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Education International. The first lady, with the president, will host the State Dinner this evening.
The vice president and Emhoff will greet President Yoon and his wife at 10 a.m. and attend the State Dinner at 8:30 p.m.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will attend the 10 a.m. arrival ceremony at the White House for President Yoon and the South Korean delegation. She will participate in Biden’s bilateral meeting with President Yoon in the Oval Office at 10:45 a.m.
➤ HEALTH & WELLBEING
💤 Eight hours of sleep each day is generally recommended, but nearly 40 percent of American adults get fewer than seven. Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on the body, as we know and scientists tell us. But what if you’re in the dark about how bad your sleep debt has become (a popular conversation, by the way, among writers and editors of early morning newsletters).
“Sleep deprivation can affect the body in many different ways, but people tend to feel better than they are actually doing,” said Steven Holfinger, a sleep medicine specialist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. Long-term deprivation is most concerning and can lead to what experts call sleep debt: hours of sleep lost and not made up over time. The more debt accumulated, the higher the risk of long-term health complications. The Washington Post has rounded up signs to look out for — plus expert guidance to get back on track.
▪ The New York Times: A study finds 22 out of 25 melatonin products were mislabeled.
▪ CNN: Potentially dangerous doses of melatonin and CBD found in gummies sold for sleep.
▪ USA Today: Is melatonin safe for kids?
Newly announced limits on visas for foreign nurses — who comprise about 15 percent of the nursing workforce — threatens to further a staffing strain on hospitals, nursing homes and other major health employers. The U.S. is facing a major nursing shortage amid unprecedented burnout and an aging workforce, and federal estimates show the country will need about 200,000 more nurses every year through at least 2030 to fill the gaps.
“Prior to COVID we had a nursing shortage. During COVID, it’s estimated that we lost about 100,000 nurses,” Patty Jeffrey, a registered nurse and president of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment, told The Hill. “If we don’t have a steady flow of these international nurses to enter the country and provide services, this is dire for our hospitals, who have become more dependent on this workforce.”
CNN: Lack of sick days, inflexible schedule among tough job conditions that can seriously affect mental health, report shows.
The first earnings report for First Republic Bank since it was bailed out by its competitors at the behest of the U.S. Treasury was released Monday, writes The Hill’s Tobias Burns. Shares of First Republic fell sharply and hit a record low Tuesday as investors questioned how the bank would stabilize itself after losing about 40 percent of its deposits during the year’s first quarter (CNBC and The Wall Street Journal). In response, the bank is exploring divesting $50 billion to $100 billion of long-dated mortgages and securities as part of a broader rescue plan, Bloomberg News reports, as shares of the company tumbled as much as 48 percent.
Regional bank leaders are working to cast the turmoil in the industry spurred by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank as a moment that has passed. Still, deposits are falling, and the cost of keeping customers is rising, eating into profits (The New York Times).
▪ CNBC: Standard Chartered CEO warns of risks in the banking sector that haven’t “come home to roost.”
▪ CNN: Central banks end crisis-fighting measure as bank tumult recedes.
▪ The Atlantic: The new science of hope. Economists are beginning to understand how aspiration shapes life outcomes.
And finally … The White House State Dinner hosted by the Bidens for South Korean President Yoon and his wife will lean into the history of protocol and diplomatic grandeur intended to deepen ties between nations and their leaders.
The late public relations executive Letitia Baldrige, renowned as former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House social secretary, explained in 1994 on C-SPAN that State Dinners, even in an increasingly casual and unfussy America, were painstakingly prepared events intended to honor guests and encourage good will (not to mention some favorable press coverage).
“We’re talking about supreme power. If it all goes badly, both countries feel disgraced. If it goes well, both countries feel very proud,” Baldridge said. “It’s amazing how important it is to form a good feeling between two countries.”
The Hill’s Jared Gans reports that first lady Jill Biden previewed those intentions for the press corps ahead of tonight’s dinner, which caps bilateral meetings and visits to locales in Washington this week.
“When the president and I have traveled to the Republic of Korea in the past, we have been welcomed with open arms,” she said. “It’s my intention to bring as much warmth and joy to President Yoon and Mrs. Kim Wednesday evening. We hope to honor both the people of their home nation and the generations of Americans who share their roots.”
The White House Historical Association has chronicled State Dinners held for visiting heads of state and government over the years, noting that the State Dining Room is only so large, leaving space for about 40 couples after accommodating the official party and an equal number of administration guests and officials — “not many when you consider people who should be invited as well as people who would make for an interesting and entertaining evening.”
▪ USA Today: State Dinner preview with photos.
▪ Reuters: Crab cakes, beef and banana splits.
▪ CNN: Broadway stars will entertain the dinner guests, including Norm Lewis, who appeared in “Phantom of the Opera” and other productions, Jessica Vosk, who played Elphaba in “Wicked,” and Tony award winner Lea Salonga, who was also the singing voice for Disney’s princesses Jasmine and Mulan. The event has been planned by design firm Fête, a Korean-founded business, in conjunction with the first lady’s staff and White House residence team, plus the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol.