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Revenge is a dish best served cold — or in the form of a chamber-wide stalemate, if the House Freedom Caucus is any indication.
The House was paralyzed for a second day Wednesday as GOP leaders were unable to reach a deal with angry conservatives that would allow legislation to move ahead for floor votes.
The paralysis followed a revolt among members of the House Freedom Caucus on Tuesday that led to the failure of a GOP rule for the first time in more than 20 years. On Wednesday, the House floor was thrust into a state of limbo as leaders were forced to delay a second try at advancing a rule GOP rebels shot down one day earlier. Conservatives are still incensed at the debt limit compromise deal Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) struck with President Biden last week that got more votes from Democrats than Republicans, though two-thirds of the GOP conference voted for the bill.
In an effort to break the impasse, McCarthy and his top deputies huddled in the Speaker’s office for long meetings throughout the day. A group of conservatives — including several of those who had orchestrated the blockade — also met with McCarthy. Discussions did not yield any breakthroughs, and leaders kept the House in recess for the bulk of the day before canceling floor votes for the rest of the week altogether, write The Hill’s Emily Brooks and Mike Lillis.
The major hurdle to reaching an agreement: The conservatives haven’t named any demands and are still deciding what they should be.
“I don’t know,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said when asked what he is looking for in order to break the impasse and move legislation on the floor again. “The Speaker formed a coalition with Democrats to get us a $4 trillion national debt. And I continued to be concerned because he hasn’t repudiated that coalition. And my guess is he’s prepared to do that again on the next three must-pass bills: Farm Bill, NDAA, and the budget.”
The conservative firebrands are working to derail senior Republicans’ plans to pass even widely popular party priorities on the floor — and are prepared to go further than just choking floor action. The GOP’s rightmost flank is trying to reassert its control over a large chunk of the party’s agenda, as conservative lawmakers push leadership to ramp up attacks against the administration, and, as Politico reports, advocate for spending cuts during the budgeting process that would essentially reverse last week’s debt deal.
Republican leaders are back in a familiar place, forced to reassure a small, hard-right minority. As Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted Wednesday: “House Leadership couldn’t Hold the Line. Now we Hold the Floor.”
The Washington Post: The House heads home after hard-right Republicans defy McCarthy, block legislation.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and McCarthy met at the Capitol to speak about free trade and other issues Wednesday, a day ahead of Biden’s official meeting at the White House with the prime minister. Sunak emphasized the close relationship between Washington and London, as he aimed to showcase his country’s continued economic strength in the aftermath of its departure from the European Union (Politico).
“Our two nations have such long history and such [a] great combination of not just our beliefs and our freedoms, but our economics, and I want to find every way we can to continue to build on all of this,” McCarthy said at the start of the meeting. “When our bond is stronger the world is safer, and democracy grows further.”
▪ The Independent: Watch Sunak speak with McCarthy.
▪ The New York Times: Biden and Sunak to talk about Ukraine, the U.S. and U.K. economies, and the future of artificial intelligence.
▪ The Hill: How AI raises challenges to protecting creators’ work.
▪ The Hill: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) emerges as a senator to watch in the fight over Julie Su, nominee to be secretary of Labor.
▪ Politico: House Republicans cancel vote to hold FBI director in contempt.
LEADING THE DAY
Former President Trump and his representatives have been told by the Justice Department special counsel that he is a target in the government’s criminal investigation involving classified documents. Indictment is possible. The probe now involves two impaneled grand juries, one in Washington, where activity seems to have paused or ended, and another in Miami, where witnesses continue to answer questions (The New York Times).
Legal analysts and former Justice Department officials consulted by journalists have offered tea-leaf-readings about the general contours of criminal probes, especially evidence focused on Trump’s handling of sensitive materials located by the government after a search of his Florida estate.
Trump, while campaigning for another term as president and leading in polls of GOP likely voters, says he’s innocent.
“No one has told me I’m being indicted, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong,” he wrote on Truth Social, adding that he has “assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI.”
The office of Special Counsel Jack Smith sent Trump and his lawyers a letter “in recent weeks” informing him that he is a target in an ongoing investigation related to materials located at Mar-a-Lago that were sought by the National Archives, then seized by the FBI (ABC News, CNN). In general, a target letter puts recipients on notice they could be indicted. Trump’s lawyers met Monday with Justice Department officials.
Trump’s campaign issued a Wednesday statement accusing “rabid wolves” of going after the former president, a message his supporters have heard many times since 2016.
In addition to the presidential records case, Trump has been accused of attempting to overturn the 2020 election results. His activities before, during and after Jan. 6, 2021, remain part of Smith’s broad probe. Separately, Trump has been criminally charged in Manhattan with 34 felonies for “falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.” Trump says he’s done nothing wrong.
Meanwhile, a Georgia county prosecutor is preparing to bring indictments, perhaps in August, in a separate two-year investigation involving alleged 2020 election interference in her state (The New York Times). A special grand jury that heard evidence in the case for roughly seven months recommended more than a dozen people for indictments, and the jury’s forewoman strongly hinted in an interview with the Times in February that Trump was among them.
A jury in May found the former president guilty of sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll in a civil trial and ordered him to pay $5 million. She alleged he defamed her again on live television and she is seeking to intensify the financial pain. Trump and his lawyers are trying to block the lawsuit.
▪ The Washington Post: Trump special counsel shifts the focus of possible indictment to South Florida.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Smith is moving toward charges in Florida. The government’s probe of Trump and his associates’ handling of sensitive documents may be wrapping up. Meanwhile, questioning involving potential White House involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is broadening, sources told the Journal.
▪ The New York Times: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows testified to a federal grand jury. He could be a key witness in either or both of the special counsel’s investigations involving Trump. It is not clear precisely when Meadows testified or if investigators questioned him about one or both of their lines of inquiry.
▪ The Hill: Former Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich confirmed he testified on Wednesday to a federal grand jury in Miami but did not describe questions he was asked.
If Trump is indicted by the Justice Department, some Republicans in Congress will take aim at appropriations for the FBI and the department, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce a resolution to condemn Trump’s April rallying cry to lawmakers to shrink the bureau’s budget.
More 2024: Former Vice President Mike Pence launched his White House bid on Wednesday with a video, an Iowa speech and town hall broadcast by CNN, telling voters that Trump should be disqualified from another term because of actions he took on Jan. 6, 2021 (The Hill). Pence told CNN Wednesday that he objects to the government’s decision to serve Trump with a subpoena at Mar-a-Lago before seizing hundreds of classified documents that were returned to the National Archives. “We’ve got to find a way to move our country forward and restore confidence in equal treatment under the law in this country,” Pence said on Wednesday. The former vice president himself discovered White House documents in his personal files, returned them, and the Justice Department last week closed the investigation without further action.
More politics: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley this morning will visit a Texas oil rig and hold a press conference near Midland, Texas. … North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum officially became a presidential candidate on Wednesday (Valley News Live). … GOP presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida declined to comment on Wednesday about two flights organized by the Sunshine State to transfer migrants, mostly Venezuelans, from Texas to Sacramento, Calif. (The Hill). Officials in Texas and California are pushing back, threatening legal action against Florida, although officials insist the migrants crossed the country voluntarily (The Hill). … A New York court today will hear arguments in a case in which Democrats are seeking to get congressional district maps redrawn after Republicans flipped a handful of House seats in November (The Hill).
News media: The turmoil surrounding the future of CNN, part of Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., and its political reporting cost a second top executive his job. Jeff Zucker was forced out in 2022, and on Wednesday, his successor, Chris Licht, stepped down after a series of missteps and intense criticism from within and outside CNN (The Hill). Licht’s announcement occurred days after a scathing 15,000-word profile, published by The Atlantic, angered Licht’s colleagues and fueled internal speculation about his job security. The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes that CNN’s recent town hall Q&A with Trump in front of a supportive New Hampshire studio audience played a big part in Licht’s departure, along with the damaging profile article, which asked the question, “How did it all do wrong?”
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
➤ BLOWING IN THE WIND
Parts of the Northeast, Midwest and South are still under air quality alerts this morning, as wildfire-created smoke and pollution lingered over New York and other major American cities for a third straight day. Smoky, throat-choking air from hundreds of Canadian wildfires darkened city skylines and prompted officials to urge residents to remain indoors.
About 98 million people in parts of 18 states from New Hampshire to South Carolina on Wednesday were under air quality alerts for both wildfire smoke and ozone (NBC News). The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that more than 100 million people were impacted by alerts about harmful air quality, including as far west as Chicago and as far south as Atlanta, spokesperson Shayla Powell told The Hill.
Air quality alerts today extend west to Indiana and as far south as the Carolinas. By Friday, the worst pollution is expected to move west, as a stagnant lower pressure system that has been sending the smoke southward this week changes direction, according to the National Weather Service. But as long as the fires in Canada continue, it said, “the smoke may simply be directed towards other areas of the U.S.” (The New York Times).
Schools along the East Coast canceled outdoor activities Wednesday, including recess and sports practices, to protect students from the haze (Reuters).
Powell said that in these locations, air quality is at least code orange — that is unhealthy for sensitive groups — if not worse.
▪ The Hill chart of the worst current air quality across the U.S.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Canada’s wildfires rages as blazes get bigger across the world.
▪ Axios: The U.S. deploys more than 600 firefighters to battle Canada’s wildfires.
More than 400 wildfires are burning in Canada, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fires Centre, and the country is bracing for what forecasters say may be its worst wildfire season on record. It has already seen 2,214 fires this year, and projections suggest the risk of wildfires will only increase this month and remain unusually high with little respite throughout the summer. The Canadian government is studying options for creations of a new national disaster response agency after provincial governments called on the military for assistance (CBC).
▪ The Associated Press: Air pollution cloaks the eastern U.S. for a second day. Here’s why there is so much smoke.
▪ The Washington Post: What to know about the Canadian wildfires affecting parts of the U.S.
▪ The Hill: Canadian province of Quebec looks for international support to fight wildfires.
▪ The New York Times: N95 masks helped protect against COVID-19. They also work against wildfire smoke.
▪ CBC: How to better protect yourself from wildfire smoke.
▪ Time magazine: What wildfire smoke does to the human body.
🌋 Kilauea, the second largest volcano in Hawaii, began erupting Wednesday after a three-month pause, U.S. Geological Survey officials said. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement that a glow was detected in webcam images from Kilauea’s summit early in the morning, indicating that an eruption was occurring within the Halema’uma’u crater in the summit caldera. Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said that this eruption could be one of the largest since the lava has already completely covered the floor of Halema’uma’u (The Hill).
“We don’t expect it to have any impact outside of Halema’uma’u crater at all,” Hon said.
Watch a live feed of the eruption HERE.
As waters continue to rise in southern Ukraine after a catastrophic dam collapse, flooding war-torn neighborhoods and trapping thousands of residents, a humanitarian disaster is unfolding at a pivotal moment of fighting on the front lines of Russia’s 15-month-long war. Nearly 2,000 homes had flooded by Wednesday morning in Ukrainian-controlled parts of the southern Kherson region, the regional administration said, after the destruction of the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power plant Tuesday sent water rushing over the banks of the Dnipro River.
The dam, part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, is 98 feet tall and 2 miles long. The dam bridged the Dnipro River, which forms the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the south of Ukraine, and creates the 832-square-mile Kakhovka reservoir, one of the biggest in the region — it holds 4.3 cubic miles of water, a volume roughly equal to the Great Salt Lake in Utah (Reuters). Carrying chemical pollution, dislodged land mines and assorted debris the Dnipro has tainted drinking water supplies, drowned crops and chased thousands of people from their ruined homes downstream (The New York Times).
“We were getting used to the shelling, but I’ve never seen a situation like this,” Larisa Kharchenko, a retired nurse in Kherson, told The Times. “It just keeps coming.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who visited the affected areas Thursday, described the flooding as an “absolutely deliberate” attack by Moscow caused by an explosion inside the hydroelectric power plant. Meanwhile, the Kremlin, which seized the dam at the start of its invasion, has accused Ukraine of destroying it to cut off water to Crimea, but authorities in Moscow have not explained how Ukraine could have done so with the plant under Russian control (The Associated Press and The Washington Post).
▪ The New York Times: “It just keeps coming”: Rescuers reach an inundated neighborhood to find fetid water and exhausted people.
▪ The Washington Post: What to know about the breach of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Russia attacks Ukraine’s future by forcibly removing its children.
Decades of Chinese threats and intimidation against Taiwan have taken on new urgency in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion against Ukraine and rock-bottom relations between Washington and Beijing. Caught in the middle is the democratically-governed island — a country that operates autonomously from the People’s Republic of China but has strategically held back from demanding global recognition of its full independence. As The Hill’s Colin Meyn and Laura Kelly report, Taiwan’s population is increasingly confronting the possibility of conflict, and is taking steps to prepare. In Taipei, classes provided in person and online through the nonprofit Kuma Academy aim to give civilians the tools and know-how to take care of themselves in the event of war.
“Our goal is to awaken the Taiwanese public to realize that, in Xi Jinping’s third term [as president], with his team not having a correct risk assessment and himself having no limit in his aggression, Taiwan has to be prepared,” said Aaron Huang, who manages communications for the organization.
▪ The New York Times: Hundreds have been killed in the western Darfur region since the nationwide conflict in Sudan began, raising fears of protracted warfare in an area already torn by decades of genocidal violence.
▪ CNN: What Turkey’s new cabinet says about where the country is headed.
▪ The Associated Press: Haitians are dying of thirst and starvation in severely overcrowded jails.
■ Through a smoky haze, there’s a glimpse of the future, by The Washington Post Editorial Board.
■ As smoke darkens the sky, the future becomes clear, by David Wallace-Wells, columnist, The New York Times.
■ Ron DeSantis’s underrated assets, and his Achilles heel, by Frank T. Manheim, opinion contributor, The Hill.
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 meet at 9 a.m.
The Senate will convene at 10 a.m.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. Biden will welcome British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife, venture capitalist Akshata Murty, to the White House this morning for a working visit. Biden and Sunak will meet in the Oval Office at 11:30 a.m. The two leaders will hold a news conference in the East Room at 1:30 p.m. Separately in the evening, Biden will mark Pride Month with a South Lawn event at 7 p.m. featuring performer Betty Who.
Vice President Harris will travel to Nassau, Bahamas, where she will meet with Prime Minister Philip Davis and participate in a U.S.-Caribbean leaders meeting, which she is co-hosting with Davis, who currently leads the Caribbean Community. She will focus her discussions on climate change, firearms and Haiti (The Hill). Gathering this week are representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Saudi Arabia. He is co-hosting a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh. He will host a morning meeting on multilateralism in the Sahel in Riyadh. He’ll meet with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, with Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council President Rashad al-Alimi and in the afternoon with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen. In the afternoon, he’ll hold a press availability with Saudi Foreign Minister bin Farhan as the coalition meetings close. In the evening, Blinken will meet with employees of the U.S. Mission Saudi Arabia and Yemen affairs team and their families in Riyadh.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with the Business Roundtable at 10:30 a.m. An hour later, she will join Biden’s meeting with Sunak in the Oval Office. The secretary will speak at a meeting of the Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity at 2 p.m. She will meet at 4:30 p.m. with the board of the U.S.-China Business Council to discuss the U.S.-China economic relationship.
Housing: The debt ceiling deal dealt another blow to housing affordability last week when the agreement reached by Republicans and the White House put millions of student borrowers on notice for the $1.6 trillion they collectively owe. As The Hill’s Adam Barnes and Lexi Lonas report, a pandemic-era pause on student loan payments added wiggle room to the budgets of house hunters and renters alike while prices on both sides of the housing market soared. But even during the pause, some student debt holders struggled to make mortgage payments and rents. Now the additional monthly costs could be especially hard on debtors hoping to save up enough for a down payment on their first home and those who used extra income to foot necessities and make rent.
Interest rates: The Federal Reserve meets next week and analysts and officials predict the central bank will not hike its benchmark interest rate, but will instead wait until July to see where inflation stands. If that’s the case, observers ask if the Fed sees a “skip” (portending a resumption of interest rate increases) or a “pause” (i.e. the Fed is done)? The Associated Press reports that after 10 consecutive meetings in which the central bank has jacked up its key rate to fight inflation, the Fed may leave well enough alone for a month to assess where prices, and the economy are heading.
Take Our Morning Report Quiz
And finally … ⛳ It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the biggest sports news of the week, we’re eager for some smart guesses about presidents and their bipartisan passion for golf.
Be sure to email your responses to [email protected] and [email protected] — please add “Quiz” to your subject line. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
Former President Woodrow Wilson was so fanatical about golf that he tasked the Secret Service to do what so he could practice his drive in the snow?
Construct a driving range with a special, mechanized tarp roof
Paint his golf balls for better visibility
Monitor weather reports so he could leave meetings for optimal practice time
Train his dog to fetch balls out of the white stuff
Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was crazy about golf, was friendly with which professional golfer — a relationship credited with enlivening a midcentury U.S. golf boom?
Which former president played on the Harvard University golf team and was said to be a gifted, speedy player with perhaps a 14-15 handicap?
John F. Kennedy
A U.S. leader of the free world described his philosophy of golf and how he enjoys even the most familiar golf courses. Q. Who said the following during an interview after leaving office? “If you think about it, until you get to the end of your life — and most of us don’t know when it’s coming — we act like we’re bored because ‘I’m gonna do the same thing as I did yesterday.’ No, you’re not. Different stuff’s going on in your mind, different stuff’s going on in your heart. So, if you’re alive to the possibility of what’s different, it gives you a gift every time you go. Like you can’t lose. You can play bad. You can make a lousy score. But you can’t lose. And I love that.”
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Source : The Hill