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The Hill’s Morning Report — GOP: ‘Grandstanding’ or branding?

Editor’s note: The Hill’s Morning Report is our daily newsletter that dives deep into Washington’s agenda. To subscribe, click here or fill out the box below.

House Republicans will travel to New York City next week to hold a field hearing about Manhattan crime victims. New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) on Tuesday also focused the news media on crime while showing off high-tech gadgets he said New York City police will soon use, including robotic dogs and GPS tracker darts.

“We are scanning the globe on finding technology that will ensure this city is safe for New Yorkers, visitors and whomever is here in the city,” said Adams, a former police officer (The New York Times).

It’s unclear if the mayor will participate when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appears at the Javits Center on Monday, but the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) will be there to represent his home turf, and Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), whose district includes the hearing’s location, has dismissed the upcoming “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan” event as a “political stunt” (The Hill).

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), the prosecutor whose office recently brought criminal charges against former President Trump, is suing Jordan, calling the chairman’s efforts to question Bragg and the DA’s office about the ongoing prosecution of Trump a “transparent campaign to intimidate and attack” his office’s work (The Hill).

“If Chairman Jordan truly cared about public safety, he would take a short drive to Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Akron or Toledo in his home state instead of using taxpayer dollars to travel hundreds of miles out of his way,” the DA’s spokesperson said in a statement released on Monday.

The Hill: Black prosecutors are pushed into the spotlight with cases dealing with Trump. 

PULL QUOTE HERE IN BOLD 

“The Republicans are doing a really good job of elevating Democrats these days,” Republican political analyst Rick Davis, who managed the late Sen. John McCain’s 2008 GOP presidential campaign, said Tuesdayduring Bloomberg Radio’s “Sound On” program.

Davis dismissed Jordan’s upcoming New York crime hearing as “just grandstanding” and criticized the Tennessee legislature’s headline-grabbing decision to expel two Black Democratic state lawmakers, one of whom was swiftly returned to his seat by a Nashville council on Monday.

The House will be back in session next week faced with budget dilemmas, the threat of national default, consumer economic jitters and decisions about approving more assistance for Ukraine. Republicans are increasingly concerned that Trump’s arrest, actions by red-state legislatures and governors, mass shootings coupled with calls for action on guns, and the GOP’s focus on abortion will weaken the GOP with key voting blocs.

“I think we’ve got some work to do on the young people who think differently on abortion, perhaps, or guns, or climate change,” Trump political adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Monday. “The thing I’m really concerned about with this is that the left becomes a turnout machine with young people,” she added (The Daily Beast).

Following the ruling last week by a federal judge in Texas to ban the abortion pill mifepristone and to second-guess the Food and Drug Administration’s drug approval process, only former Vice President Mike Pence among leading Republicans has voiced support for that decision. Trump and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have steered clear. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is preparing to sign into law a proposed Florida ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, has not weighed in on the ruling. Abortion rights advocates insist that Republicans cannot retreat into silence about a conservative legal ruling to ban a drug that has been safely used by women in the United States for more than two decades (The Hill). 

Can the government ignore the federal ruling to ban mifepristone? Federal officials are not enthusiastic about suggestions to use “enforcement discretion” (The Hill).  

Adam Liptak, who covers the Supreme Court for The New York Times, reported that legal scholars predict that if the Texas decision heads to the high court, as anticipated, it could prompt at least some of the court’s conservative justices to wait for a different case that would allow them to take more measured steps, in part because the court could leave itself open to charges of inconsistency and opportunism. In the context of access to mifepristone, the Supreme Court has affirmed the authority of the FDA. In 2021, the court reinstated a requirement that women seeking to end their pregnancies with the abortion pill pick the drug up in person from a hospital or medical office.

“Unless the court is willing to create abortion-specific rules for administrative law, it has to reject these claims,” Case Western Reserve University professor Jonathan Adler told the Times.


Related Articles

The Post and Courier and The Hill: Republican Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) today will launch a presidential exploratory committee, which under Federal Election Commission rules is a “testing the waters” phase that does not require registration or reporting. Scott is expected to be in Iowa today before heading to New Hampshire Thursday, then return to South Carolina ahead of a Faith in America Summit in Charleston on Friday and Saturday.

The Washington Post and Fox News: Trump, interviewed Tuesday by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, said a criminal conviction would not stop him from continuing his bid as a 2024 presidential candidate. “I’d never drop out, it’s not my thing,” he said.

Bloomberg News and CNN: Former White House aide Stephen Miller appeared Tuesday before a Washington grand jury to testify about Jan. 6 conversations with Trump.

The Washington Post: Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-N.C.) has a TikTok constituency. Jackson doesn’t attempt any viral dance moves for his 1.6 million followers. But he thinks he’s figured out how to get their attention anyway.

The Hill and The New York Times: Chicago will be the site of the Democratic National Convention in 2024. The Republican National Convention will take place next year at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, in battleground Wisconsin, the GOP announced last year

Politico: Inside Chicago’s intense, behind-the-scenes effort to secure the DNC.


LEADING THE DAY

➤ ADMINISTRATION 

© Associated Press / John Locher | The Colorado River near Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona in 2022.

After months of negotiations among California, Arizona and Nevada, all states that depend on the shrinking Colorado River, the Biden administration on Tuesday proposed to set aside legal precedent and save what’s left of the river by evenly cutting water allotments — reducing the water delivered to each state by as much as 25 percent (The New York Times and The Hill). Both the size of the reductions and the prospect of the federal government unilaterally imposing them on states have never occurred in American history. The idea is one of three proposed by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, alongside a “do nothing” option, and additional Lower Colorado River Basin cuts based on the historic system of priority water rights — which favor California, as the most senior user.

The Colorado River — which supplies drinking water to millions of Americans as well as two states in Mexico and irrigates 5.5 million agricultural acres — has suffered from overuse and a 23-year drought made worse by climate change. The electricity generated by dams on the river’s two main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, powers millions of homes and businesses. Put together, these factors threaten to provoke a water and power catastrophe across the West. 

“The Colorado River Basin provides water for more than 40 million Americans,” Interior Department Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau said in a Tuesday statement. “It fuels hydropower resources in eight states, supports agriculture and agricultural communities across the West, and is a crucial resource for 30 Tribal Nations. Failure is not an option.”

The final version of the report is anticipated to be released by this summer.

The Washington Post: Colorado River cities and farms face “dire” tradeoffs with new federal review.

Elsewhere, federal officials’ outlooks were sunnier on Tuesday, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen painted a positive economic picture, telling reporters she believes output remains strong and the U.S. banking system is resilient despite recent turmoil among regional institutions like Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank (CNN).

“I’ve not really seen evidence at this stage suggesting a contraction in credit, although that is a possibility,” Yellen said at a press conference ahead of spring World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings in Washington. “I believe our banking system remains strong and resilient; it has solid capital and liquidity. The U.S. economy is obviously performing exceptionally well.”

The IMF struck a different tone earlier in the day, warning of an “anemic outlook” for the economy due to higher interest rates aimed at taming inflation, the war in Ukraine and geo-economic fragmentation, and deteriorating financial conditions amid banking turmoil. Yellen, however, countered that “the outlook is reasonably bright” (Politico).

CNBC: IMF cuts GDP forecasts, says global economy heading for weakest growth since 1990.

The Hill: Three major risks still facing banks and why you should care.

Bloomberg News: Inflation data will shatter the stock market calm, Goldman Sachs partner warns.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent Tuesday aiming to reassure Ukraine of the Biden administration’s “ironclad” support after damaging leaks of U.S. intelligence and reporting drawn from that information raised questions about the current U.S. assessment of Ukraine’s defenses against Russia. The U.S. military suffered its largest leak in a decade over the past several days, when classified documents that appear to detail information about training and air defense systems were revealed (The Hill). 

But despite reassurances, the leaked Pentagon documents continue to create a sprawling crisis in Washington, writes The Hill’s Brad Dress. Records detail alleged U.S. spying on allies, insights into American thinking on the war in Ukraine and at least two neutral countries mulling plans to support Russia. As Pentagon officials review the documents for validity, the Justice Department is overseeing a criminal investigation of the leak. The leak has already done considerable amounts of damage, forcing crucial U.S. allies to respond in what has become an arguably embarrassing incident for Washington.  

The Washington Post: The key countries and revelations from the Pentagon document leak.

CNN: South Korea claims a “considerable amount” of information in leaked Pentagon documents is fabricated.

Reuters: Leaked U.S. intel document claims Serbia agreed to arm Ukraine.

Time magazine: The mysteries of the biggest intel leak in a decade.

On Tuesday, President Biden phoned the family of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being held by Russia facing trial on espionage charges the U.S. rejects and the newspaper denies. “We’re making it real clear that it’s totally illegal what’s happening, and we declared it so. It changes the dynamic,” Biden told reporters (NBC News). 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INTERNATIONAL 

Northern Ireland police said on Tuesday they recovered four suspected pipe bombs from a cemetery near the city of Londonderry following a public safety operation. The discovery occurred hours before Biden arrived in Belfast (Reuters).

When Russian President Vladimir Putin first announced a troop mobilization to commandeer reinforcements for the war against Ukraine last year, thousands of men fled the country or went into hiding. But new measures approved on Tuesday by Russia’s lower house of parliament will make it almost impossible for them to dodge conscription in the future.

The chaotic mobilization last fall — where military officers were obliged to physically hand out paper notices — saw young men grabbed from the streets and at subway stations, or wrestled to the ground in shopping malls. But under the new rules, electronic summons will be issued to conscripts under Russia’s compulsory military service for men ages 18 to 27 — and also potentially to members of the Russian military reserve and others (The Washington Post).

The New York Times: As Moscow’s troops set booby traps in forests, houses and backyards, finding them has become a dangerous art for Ukrainian soldiers.

The Guardian: “They’re starting to die”: Fears rise that Ukraine’s drone supremacy may soon be over.

Politico EU: Iran in secret talks with China, Russia to acquire sanctioned missile fuel.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments about China and the United States continue to ripple across the continent, leading dismayed central and eastern European officials to plead Tuesday for Macron to stop driving Europe away from Washington. In China last week, Macron cautioned Europe against getting pulled into a U.S.-China dispute over Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own, imploring his neighbors to avoid becoming Washington and Beijing’s “vassals.”

His comments jolted allies, especially in the European Union’s eastern half — where countries have historically favored closer ties with the U.S., especially on defense. 

“We cannot understand [Macron’s] position on transatlantic relations during these very challenging times,” one anonymous diplomat from an Eastern European country told Politico EU. “We, as the EU, should be united. Unfortunately, this visit and French remarks following it are not helpful.”

The New York Times: From the red carpet to the doghouse: Macron returns from China to allied dismay.

NPR: A China expert finds Macron’s remarks “concerning.”

The Associated Press: Domestic unrest interrupts Macron’s European future speech.

© Associated Press / Peter Dejong | French President Emmanuel Macron in The Hague, The Netherlands on Tuesday.

The Washington Post: Myanmar airstrike kills dozens in Sagaing region.

New Scientist, Popular Science and Interesting Engineering: Scientists working on what they call the MetaReef project want to suspend pendulums in oceans. Here’s why.

Reuters: South Korea to lend 500,000 rounds of artillery shells to US, report says.

The Associated Press: Mexican immigration agency chief to be charged in fatal fire.


OPINION

■ Biden salutes a Good Friday Agreement that just isn’t working any more, by Shawn Pogatchnik, contributor, Politico Europe. https://politi.co/3UuFxnV 

■ The threat to democracy behind the farce in Tennessee, by Glenn C. Altschuler, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3KQYE8k

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 hold a pro forma session at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol next week. 

The Senate meets on Thursday at 8:45 a.m. for a pro forma session.  

The president is in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to mark the 25th anniversary since the Good Friday Agreement. Biden will meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 11:15 a.m. local time at a Belfast hotel. He will deliver a speech at 1 p.m. at Ulster University. The presidentwill depart Belfast at 2:20 p.m. for Dublin, Ireland, then travel to County Louth to visit Kilwirra Cemetery at 4:50 p.m. and take a tour at 5:20 p.m. of Carlingford Castle, built around 1190. The president will visit Dundalk, Ireland, at 6:45 p.m., then depart County Louth at 9:05 p.m. to return to Dublin about 25 minutes later.  

Vice President Harris will convene the administration’s task force on reproductive health care access in the Roosevelt Room at 2:45 p.m.

Treasury’s Yellen will host a roundtable about the evolution of multilateral development banks at 8:15 a.m. with finance ministers from borrower and shareholder countries to discuss challenges such as climate change. She will participate at 10:15 a.m. in a roundtable about global sovereign debt. Yellen will participate at 2 p.m. in a roundtable among finance ministers about Ukraine and deliver remarks. The Treasury Department at 2 p.m. will release its monthly statement. The secretary at 4 p.m. will participate in the World Bank Development Committee plenary session about multilateral development banks. Yellen this evening will attend a working dinner of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors. 

First lady Jill Biden will be a talk show guest on “Live with Kelly and Ryan” on Friday, to be taped today. She will return to Washington this afternoon.

These administration officials are scheduled to speak throughout the day today at an event hosted by Semafor: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai; White House senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu; White House National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard; White House Council of Economic Advisers member Heather Boushey and White House deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs Mike Pyle. Schedule and information are HERE. C-SPAN is covering at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. will report the consumer price index for March. 


ELSEWHERE

STATE WATCH

Worry and fear about gun violence are widespread in the United States, where most families have been affected by a gun-related incident, a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows. Nearly 1 in 5 adults have had a family member killed by a gun, including in homicide and suicide, and about as many adults have been personally threatened with a gun. Meanwhile, the survey found about 1 in 6 adults has witnessed an injury from a shooting.

Mass shootings have escalated in recent years, reaching a record pace in 2023. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 146 incidents so far this year, leaving more than 200 people dead and hundreds more injured (CNN and NPR).

A new investigation by The Washington Post and The Trace shows a deadly design flaw in a popular pistol — the P320 SIG Sauer — used by law enforcement and civilians alike. More than 100 people allege that their pistols discharged when they did not pull the trigger, and at least 80 people were wounded in the shootings, which date to 2016. Those injured included both amateur and expert firearm owners whose weapons fired in their homes and offices — and in busy public places. In two cases, the guns went off on school grounds.

“The number and frequency of injuries are strongly suggestive of a design flaw versus a human performance error,” said Bill Lewinski, a behavioral scientist, executive director of the Force Science Institute and one of the nation’s leading experts on accidental shootings. “What we’re seeing is highly unusual.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday said he sees a “paradigm shift” wherein the movement against gun violence is surging to be more powerful than the pro-gun lobby. The senator said on “CNN This Morning” that last year’s bipartisan gun safety legislation signals a stark change from prior years when “the gun industry owned Washington.”

“It also suggests that we have seen a paradigm shift in this country, that now Republicans see the anti-gun violence movement as being more powerful than the gun lobby,” Murphy said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) said he would sign an executive order to strengthen background checks following the mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville where six people were killed (The Tennessean).

© Associated Press / George Walker IV | Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) in Nashville on Tuesday.

The Hill: Black Americans hit hardest by gun violence, survey shows.

Bloomberg News: A quarter of parents say pediatricians have asked about guns, survey shows.

USA Today: Americans call Tennessee legislature expulsions an “abuse of power,” back tougher gun laws.

Two million people fled America’s big cities in 2021 and 2022, new research shows, signaling that the nation’s large urban centers have not recovered from the pandemic-era retreat to suburbs, exurbs and smaller cities. As The Hill’s Daniel de Visé reports, only an influx of immigrants saved the largest U.S. cities from more dramatic population declines. Together with widespread office vacancies and surging crime, the population drain may pose an existential challenge to Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and other metropolises.

New York magazine’s Curbed: No, cities aren’t doomed because of remote work.

HEALTH & WELLBEING

Life expectancy in the U.S. is between three and five years lower than the average in other high-income countries — and the gap comes in part from misinformation, according to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf. Califf said the COVID-19 pandemic is not the only thing contributing to the decline, pointing to the gap with peer nations is widening. A new factor has joined the list of known causes of life expectancy disparities like race, ethnicity, income and education, he said — living in a rural area where people are exposed to different information sources.

“It’s looking worse, not better, over the last several years,” Califf told CNBC. “Why aren’t we using medical products as effectively and efficiently as our peer countries? A lot of it has to do with choices that people make because of the things that influenced their thinking.”

The Hill: Sexually transmitted infections hit record high in 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find.

The Washington Post: To comply with a new sesame allergy law, some businesses add — sesame. 

The New York Times: While researchers are divided over whether more people should have automated external defibrillators at home, those who have used one have no doubts.

Bacteria that are resistant to colistin, a last-resort antibiotic, have for the first time been detected in Los Angeles County wastewater, suggesting that they are circulating more widely in the community than previously thought. The pathogens appeared in samples of untreated water taken from two of Los Angeles County’s largest treatment plants that together serve 7.5 million people (Los Angeles Times).

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), 54, on Tuesday announced she has Parkinson’s disease. The Virginia lawmaker’s announcement coincided with World Parkinson’s Day. Wexton, who confirmed she will continue to serve in the House, said the disease “has primarily affected” her speech, how her mouth moves and how she walks and keeps her balance.

“If there’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s that Parkinson’s disease sucks,” Wexton said in a statement.

Roughly 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, though the condition goes undiagnosed in many people, leading some experts to believe the number is higher (The Hill and CNN).


THE CLOSER

© Associated Press / Christophe Ena | A shop in Carlingford, Ireland, which will welcome President Biden later this week.

And finally … ☘️ Biden has touched down in Northern Ireland ahead of a four-day visit to the island of Ireland designed to underpin his support for peace in the country and to celebrate his Irish roots. While whole towns across Ireland have hung signs and flags to welcome the president, the security and logistical preparations in Belfast ahead of his arrival appeared to leave commuters and shoppers more bemused and curious than excited. 

“There’s enough going on here in local politics without [having] to invest time in this,” Danielle Falkiner, who works for a Belfast manufacturer, told The Guardian

After spending a day in Northern Ireland, Biden will spend the next three in Ireland, including the town of Carlingford where his great-grandfather James Finnegan was born. While there, he is expected to meet extended family, visit a 13th-century castle and walk through Dundalk. On Friday in County Mayo, he’ll tour the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock, a Catholic shrine. He will also visit the North Mayo Heritage Centre’s family history research unit and meet relatives before making a speech that evening outside St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina.

“It’s brilliant,” Laurita Blewitt, a fourth cousin who has met the president several times in Ireland and Washington, told The Guardian. “Ballina is a buzz of excitement — flags, bunting, welcome signs. We’re really looking forward to Friday. It’ll be a historic day for the town.”

NBC News: Biden’s ancestral hometowns prepare Irish welcome.


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