by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Monday, April 25, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 197 days away. Election Day 2024 is 925 days away.
Welcome back to another week of waking up to politics. I hope you had a nice weekend!
The bills to watch as Congress returns
The House and Senate are back in Washington this week after a two-week Easter recess.
It only gets harder and harder to legislate as the midterm elections creep closer, so this “work period” — which lasts until May — is one of the last chances for lawmakers to push through their priorities before it’s time to hit the campaign trail.
Here are the top legislative efforts you should be watching:
— Ukraine aid. President Biden has announced that he will be sending Congress a “supplemental budget request” this week to ask for more military and economic assistance for Ukraine.
Past packages of Ukraine aid have passed with bipartisan support, so in theory this one should too — but the big wrinkle is whether it gets tied to anything. As Politico notes, Democrats may try to combine the bill with a Covid relief package (more below) while Republicans could press for amendments related to Title 42, the pandemic-era order restricting immigration that Biden is lifting.
Either of those measures could complicate passage of the Ukraine bill. Beyond the broader aid package, the House is also expected this week to take up the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, which would allow the U.S. to quickly send weapons to Ukraine with the promise of repayment later.
The lend-lease bill, which is the first of its kind since World War II, passed the Senate by voice vote earlier this month.
— Covid aid. As mentioned above, Democrats will also resume their push for a new Covid relief bill this week. Before Congress left for recess, the Biden administration’s $22.5 billion request was trimmed to a $10 billion bipartisan deal negotiated by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).
Biden and his aides say the funding is critical for the government to be able to provide tests, treatments, and therapeutics in the next phase of the pandemic. But the bipartisan deal failed to pass before recess — also because of a GOP push to add a Title 42 amendment — so the path forward now is unclear.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has signaled that he might try to attach the Ukraine and Covid bills together, but that could just have the effect of tanking both measures.
Those are the two major bills that are most likely to see congressional action in the coming weeks. What else are lawmakers hoping to advance between now and the midterms?
- Democrats are (once again) hoping to revive the Build Back Better Act, the party’s social spending bill derailed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Per the Washington Post, Democratic leaders are aiming to finalize a scaled-down version of the package by July 4, but with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) both expressing skepticism about a revival, it’s hard to know if this try will have any more success than previous pushes.
- The House and Senate have both passed versions of the America COMPETES Act, which would boost U.S. manufacturing of semiconductor chips in a bid to compete with China. A conference committee has been appointed with members from both chambers and parties to try to hammer out a compromise.
- There are a few other bipartisan efforts that are currently in negotiations: reforming the Electoral Count Act, capping the price of insulin, curbing the power of Big Tech, even a possible immigration reform bill. So far, none of these negotiations have yielded a compromise, but it’s worth watching whether any of them produce legislation in the months ahead.
What else you should know this morning.
Ukraine. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Kyiv on Sunday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the first senior U.S. officials to visit Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February.
- Afterwards, the pair announced that the U.S. plans to send new aid to Ukraine and that American diplomats will return to Kyiv this week.
- Meanwhile, this morning, President Biden announced that he plans to nominate career diplomat Bridget Brink to be the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The U.S. has not had a permanent ambassador to the country since 2019.
France. French President Emmanuel Macron won a second term on Sunday, fending off a challenge from far-right rival Marine Le Pen. Macron won 58.5% of the vote to Le Pen’s 41.5%, allowing Western allies to breathe a sigh of relief as his pro-Ukraine, pro-NATO agenda won out.
Midterms. Former President Donald Trump’s picks to be Secretary of State and Attorney General in Michigan both won the GOP nods on Saturday; they have both championed Trump’s false claims of 2020 election fraud.
- Plus, the Utah Democratic Party decided not to field a candidate for the state’s Senate race this year, instead opting to endorse independent Evan McMullin (a former Republican who also ran a third-party bid for president in 2016) in hopes of creating a cross-party coalition to unseat Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
Twitter. Remember Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter? It might actually happen. Per the Wall Street Journal, Twitter is in “advanced discussions” with Musk to sell itself for $54.20 a share, and a deal could be finalized as soon as today.
RIP. Former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) died on Saturday at age 88. Hatch served seven terms in the Senate, longer than any other Republican in the chamber’s history. He was known as a conservative brawler who also cut several major bipartisan deals, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
How your leaders in Washington are spending their time today. (All times Eastern)
Biden: Returning to the White House from Delaware, where he spent the weekend (11:15 am). Receiving his daily intelligence briefing (11:30 am). Holding an event celebrating the the Tampa Bay Lightning for their 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup wins (2 pm).
Psaki: Holding the daily White House press briefing (3 pm).
Senate: Voting to advance the nomination of Lael Brainard to be Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (5:30 pm).
- Brainard, who was a top candidate to be Treasury Secretary earlier in the Biden administration, has served on the Fed board since 2014.
House: Briefly convening for a pro forma session (12:30 pm). No legislative business will be conducted.
Supreme Court: Releasing orders (9:30 am). Hearing oral arguments in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (10 am) and Nance v. Ward (11 am).
- Kennedy is a major religious liberty case, in which former high school football coach Joseph Kennedy is suing a Seattle-area school district for not renewing his contract because he led his players in prayer.
- The district and appeals courts sided with the school district, but the Supreme Court’s six-justice conservative majority could not only side with Kennedy but also issue a sweeping ruling on the role of religion in public schools.
- Meanwhile, according to SCOTUSBlog, Nance is “about the procedural vehicle that prisoners must use to challenge execution methods.”
On the trail: The Democratic candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania will face off in a debate (7 pm) ahead of their May 17 primary.
- The Pennsylvania race is one of the most hotly contested this cycle; the Democratic primary field is currently led in the polls by progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, followed by moderate Rep. Conor Lamb.
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