5 min read

Two more days

The latest on the Israel-Hamas war and the Senate border negotiations.
Two more days
CIA Director Bill Burns has arrived in Qatar. (CISS)

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Israel and Hamas agreed Monday to extend their ceasefire for two more days, with Hamas set to release 10 more hostages and Israel set to release 30 more Palestinian prisoners both today and tomorrow.

President Biden is reportedly hoping to use the extended pause to “alter the trajectory of the war,” pushing Israel to take a more surgical approach to avoid civilian casualties when fighting resumes. CIA Director Bill Burns landed today in Qatar, where he will meet with his Israeli counterpart and the Qatari foreign minister in hopes of “brokering an expansive deal between Israel and Hamas,” per the Washington Post.

Burns, who has played a key behind-the-scenes role during the conflict, is encouraging both Israel and Hamas to consider a longer truce that will allow for the release of some of the male hostages, not just women and children. The CIA chief is also pushing for the Americans being held hostage to be released; around eight or nine Americans are currently believed to be in captivity in Gaza.

The Biden administration is also taking advantage of the ceasefire to deliver more humanitarian aid to Gaza. The first of three U.S. military flights bringing medical supplies, food, and winter weather gear into Gaza is set to arrive today through Egypt. Humanitarian groups have warned that the strip has fallen into “absolute chaos,” with more than 1.7 million people internally displaced and many at risk of disease.

On the Hill.

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. (Gage Skidmore)

A bipartisan group of senators appears to be making headway on a border security deal. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) told reporters Monday that he and his fellow negotiators have “made progress” on raising the bar for migrants to claim asylum in the U.S., one of the main issues in the talks, although they have yet to find consensus on reforming the parole process.

Parole allows a migrant to temporarily enter the U.S. during a humanitarian emergency, while asylum is a more formal legal status granted to refugees fleeing persecution. Congressional Republicans are seeking to make both processes stricter; GOP leaders in both chambers have said a Ukraine aid package can only advance with a border security deal attached to it.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) made some of his most expansive comments yet in support of Ukraine aid. “Of course, we can’t allow Vladimir Putin to march through Europe,” Johnson said at an event on Monday. “And we understand the necessity of assisting there.”

The speaker said he was “confident and optimistic” that a combined Israel-Ukraine-border security package will be approved by Congress.

More headlines.

The day ahead.

A tribute to Rosalynn Carter yesterday. (Carter Center)

All times Eastern.

President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Biden, and Second Gentleman Emhoff will travel to Atlanta to attend a tribute ceremony for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who died last week at age 96.

Every living former first lady — Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, and Melania Trump — will attend the ceremony, which will begin at 1 p.m. and take place on the Emory University campus. Former President Jimmy Carter, 99, will also attend the service for his wife of 77 years, one of his few public appearances since entering hospice care in February.

Later in the day, Biden will travel to Denver, Colorado, where he will attend a campaign fundraiser.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Belgium, on a trip that will also take him to Israel for his fourth visit since the war began. CIA Director Bill Burns is in Qatar for talks with Israel. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will meet with President-elect Javier Millei of Argentina, a right-wing populist elected last week.

The Senate will hold confirmation votes on two U.S. district judge nominees and a procedural vote on the nomination of Jose Javier Rodriguez to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training.

The House is expected to vote on a pair of bills to combat Covid relief fraud. Fraudsters are believed to have stolen more than $280 billion in Covid relief funding. The chamber may also vote on resolutions reaffirming Israel’s right to exist and calling for the immediate release of the Israeli hostages.

Speaker Johnson will also swear in Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-UT), who won a special election last week. When Maloy is sworn in, the House will have a full 435 members — 222 Republicans, 213 Democrats — for the first time since March.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in McElrath v. Georgia, which concerns double jeopardy, and Wilkinson v. Garland, which concerns deportation waivers.

Before I go...

Here’s something interesting: Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) has used a wheelchair for four decades, ever since an oak tree fell on him while he was jogging in 1984 and paralyzed him from the waist down.

But that didn’t stop him from skydiving on Monday, jumping out of a plane from about 8,000 feet.

Abbott was joined by Al Blaschke, a 106-year-old World War II veteran, who is the oldest person ever to complete a tandem skydive. Blaschke’s family said they expect his Monday skydive to be his last.

“The most shocking sensation is when you immediately exit the plane, and you’re just in freefall,” Abbott said.

Read more from the Texas Tribune. Click above to watch video.

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