Analysis | House GOP leaders’ debt ceiling pitch

Analysis | House GOP leaders’ debt ceiling pitch

Good morning, Early Birds. President George W. Bush pledged 22 years ago today to do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan if China attacked the island. A few days later, Bush was chided in a Washington Post op-ed for damaging U.S. credibility and sowing “confusion throughout the Pacific Rim” by the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Joe Biden.

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In today’s edition  … President Biden’s reelection announcement … What we’re watching: Nikki Haley’s abortion speech … A rough Monday for Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon …  How perceptions of U.S. leadership around the world changed last year …  but first …

🚨 President Biden officially announced his reelection campaign in a video this morning. “The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer,” Biden said in the video. “I know what I want the answer to be. This is not a time to be complacent. That’s why I’m running for reelection.”

Our colleagues Tyler Pager and Michael Scherer report that Biden will buy television ad time later this week to push his reelection message.

Julie Chávez Rodríguez, a top White House aide, will be Biden’s campaign manager. Quentin Fulks, who managed the reelection campaign of Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) and is a veteran of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) 2018 campaign, will be her deputy. The pairing marks the first time a sitting president has chosen a Latina woman and an African American man to run his campaign, Tyler and Michael write.

Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks this afternoon at a North America’s Building Trades Unions meeting.

House GOP leaders’ debt ceiling pitch

The House comes back today and passing Republicans’ debt limit bill is the party’s top priority, with the window to avoid a potentially catastrophic debt default getting smaller and smaller each day. 

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) is projecting confidence that GOP leaders will have the votes to pass their proposal this week.

  • “We’re going to pass this bill,” Emmer said in an interview in his office Monday. “The sooner the better.”

The legislative package put together by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), based on conversations among members and his leadership team, would raise the debt limit until the end of March 2024; repeal green energy tax credits; impose stricter work requirements on social safety net programs; reduce nondefense, discretionary spending by about $130 billion and cap future government spending.

But Emmer and Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), who worked through the weekend to pin down fellow Republicans, still have work to do. Republicans can only lose four votes, because no Democrats are voting for the GOP proposal.

A number of lawmakers have said publicly that they are undecided or leaning against supporting leadership’s plan, including Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who represents a Republican district that’s potentially competitive. 

She told us Monday that the bill “doesn’t do anything to balance the budget,” and repealing the green energy tax credits will make it more expensive to build solar and wind power in her state.

  • Reps. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) and Elijah Crane (R-Ariz.) are leaning toward voting no, too, their spokespeople told us Monday. 

Burchett, who represents a deep-red district, is wary of voting to raise the debt limit at all and wants the work requirements in the bill, for programs like Medicaid, to take effect sooner. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted Monday evening that he would vote against the bill unless “work requirements starting in fiscal year 2024 — NOT 2025 as the legislation is currently written.”

Crane, a freshman who was one of the final holdouts in the vote for McCarthy for House speaker in January, did not specify his concerns.

Rep. Jen A. Kiggans (R-Va.), a freshman who represents a district that Biden narrowly carried in 2020, is undecided because of concerns about the bill’s rollback of wind energy tax credits. She spoke with leadership over the weekend and they were “very responsive to her concerns,” a Kiggans aide said.

But the bill will not be changed to address people’s concerns, Emmer said. 

  • For those who want to increase the work requirements for social programs? Nope. For those uncomfortable with repealing the ethanol tax credit? Too bad. For those who want deeper spending cuts? Not now. 

Emmer said he’s telling members there will be a point in subsequent rounds of negotiations for potential input — an implicit acknowledgment that the bill being put to a vote will never become law. “At that point,” he said, “you definitely want to weigh in with the speaker.”

Unable to offer policy tweaks, Emmer says he is reminding members that the bill is an “intersection” of all the ideas from House Republicans after months of meetings.

Deciding how to vote is a Hobson’s — or false — choice, he tells members. 

  • “If you don’t pass it, you’re literally giving a blank check to Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer to continue their incompetent leadership,” Emmer said, referring to the president and Senate majority leader. “Republicans are not going to default on the nation’s debt. Once we send that over, you have done your job.”

If Republicans vote against it, Emmer said, “You’re literally giving up what your voters sent you here to do, which was fix this problem.”

For members worried about campaign attacks ads for voting to repeal the green energy and ethanol tax credits, Emmer said it shouldn’t be a concern because every Republican voted against the tax credits in the last year when they opposed Democrats major domestic policy bill. “Commercials have already been written,” he said, “because everybody has voted against it when it was in the Inflation Reduction Act.”

Investors on Wall Street are bracing for the prospect of a protracted, costly standoff in Washington, our colleague Tony Romm reports.

In recent weeks, two key developments — including a drop in yields on government bonds set to mature imminently — have suggested a growing panic that the GOP’s demands could cause the country to default, touching off what analysts widely believe would be another U.S. recession.

The House Rules Committee will mark up the bill this afternoon. Emmer says amendments to alter the bill won’t be allowed. 

“Based on what the speaker’s office and the speaker personally have told me … he’s not opening this up,” Emmer said. 

The bill could come to the floor as early as Wednesday without an official score from the Congressional Budget Office on how much the bill would reduce deficits and slow debt growth, a possibility Emmer brushed off. 

“CBO has lost a lot of their credibility and they’re losing credibility every day with our members,” Emmer said.

Haley on the trail: Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley will give a speech today in an attempt to establish herself as a leader in the party on how to talk about opposition to abortion without alienating voters, our colleague Michael Sherer and Dylan Wells report

She isn’t expected to endorse any specific policies when she speaks from the headquarters of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America in Virginia. But her goal, Michael and Dylan write, “is to change the way abortion is discussed.”

We’ll be watching to see how antiabortion advocates respond to the speech after several Republicans, including some of Haley’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, have recently struggled with how to discuss the issue.

Trump’s legal woes: As Donald Trump’s 2024 competitors gird themselves for a fierce campaign fight, the former president is about to be the subject of yet another trial. 

The civil trial over allegations that Trump raped writer and former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s gets underway today with jury selection in Manhattan.

And there was more news on the Trump legal front Monday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) said she would announce this summer whether charges will be filed in a case investigating Trump’s attempt to overturn his election loss in Georgia.

The Senate: Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) could move today on the nomination of Anthony Devos Johnstone of Montana to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, a sign that Democrats believe some judicial nominees can be confirmed even with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) still out while she recovers from shingles.

Get the Fox out of here/ I Don believe it

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and CNN’s Don Lemon were ousted Monday from their influential roles on cable news, sending shock waves throughout the media. 

The abrupt announcement of Carlson’s departure was underscored by the revelation that he only learned of his firing by phone about 10 minutes before the network’s announcement, per the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint, Isabella Simonetti and Keach Hagey.

Both Lemon and Carlson have retained heavyweight entertainment lawyer Bryan Freedman to represent them.

The thinking at Fox: Carlson’s termination comes less than a week after Fox reached a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems — the largest publicly disclosed defamation settlement in U.S. history — and follows former Fox producer Abby Grossberg’s lawsuit against the network alleging gender discrimination.

  • Throughout his career, Carlson has used his power “to flout journalistic standards and operate in ways that created demonstrable problems for Fox — and could create problems in a future environment created by the Dominion v. Fox suit,” our colleague Aaron Blake writes.

The thinking at CNN: “Lemon’s demise followed weeks of speculation about his status at CNN,” per our colleagues Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi

  • “As the co-anchor and leading face of CNN’s new morning program, ‘CNN This Morning,’ he was under increasing pressure within CNN over the show’s poor ratings. At the same time, advertisers were balking about sponsoring the show, and some would-be guests, such as White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, were expressing reluctance to be interviewed.”

The future: While Lemon’s ouster is mostly a media story, Carlson’s is wrapped up far more in all the issues that currently make American politics so divisive.

Carlson has become an influential voice in Republican politics because of his nationalistic musings on issues such as immigration, transgender rights and race. 

His next move will be closely watched by GOP leaders who have not been shy about courting his support even as Democrats decry many of Carlson’s positions as racist or bigoted.

Gallup is out this morning with its annual global leadership report ranking the United States, Germany, China and Russia. The report, “Rating World Leaders 2023,” which surveyed 137 countries in 2022, shows that global approval ratings for the four countries fell across the board. 

Here are some interesting findings, per Gallup:

  • U.S. leadership ratings rebounded in 2021 — the first year of Biden’s presidency — but fell in his second year. 
  • U.S. approval ratings fell in Canada and Brazil by 22 percentage points in 2022. 
  • Russia’s approval ratings fell sharply after its invasion of Ukraine. “Approval of Russia dropped in virtually every region of the world, providing evidence that the rebuke of its actions extended much more broadly,” per the report. For example, Lithuania’s disapproval of Russia rose from 44 percent in 2021 to 91 percent in 2022. 
  • U.S. approval ratings skyrocketed in areas under threat from Russia, including Ukraine, Poland and Finland. Meanwhile, only 4 percent of Russians approve of American leadership. 

Diplomacy on a plate: Our colleague Emily Heil takes us inside Wednesday’s state dinner menu for South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. The menu, which was designed by Korean American chef Edward Lee, blends American and South Korean cuisines as a way of honoring the 70-year alliance between the two nations, Emily writes.  

  • The main course: For example, “beef short ribs, called galbi in Korean, are taken on a trip through the southern U.S. with sides of butter bean grits and carrots glazed with sorghum,” Emily writes. And for dessert? Ice cream.

Thanks for reading. You can also follow us on Twitter: @LACaldwellDC and @theodoricmeyer.

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