12:30 Report — Ukraine funding bill faces murky path in House
It’s Tuesday. The mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. are bracing for a powerful nor’easter storm. Stay warm and dry, friends! ☃️ Here’s what’s happening today:
Senators pulled an all-nighter to pass the Ukraine aid package early this morning, with 22 Republicans voting “yes” on the bill.
The bill, which features additional aid for Ukraine and Israel, now heads to the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has been threatening to block it. House lawmakers may have a loophole to sidestep Johnson, though.
Consumer prices rose a little more in the past year than economists had expected. Keep reading for some headlines on what this means for the economy.
I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send tips, commentary, feedback and cookie recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.
✔️ In Congress
Passed, sealed, handed over, it’s yours, (House)!:
After a week of floor debate and four months of battling, the Senate pulled an all-nighter and passed the $95 billion Ukraine and Israel funding bill.
Why it happened overnight: Conservative opponents filibustered through the night but ran out of steam around 5 a.m.
The final vote: The funding bill passed 70-29. Twenty-two Republicans voted to pass the bill, and two Democrats — Sens. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Peter Welch (Vt.) — voted no. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also voted no, citing concerns over supporting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
💰 What’s in the bill?: $60 billion for Ukraine; $14 billion in security assistance for Israel; $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine; $4.8 billion for the Indo-Pacific, and $2.4 billion for U.S. forces to defend against Iranian-backed Houthi attacks.
💡 Why some Senate Republicans opposed the bill: Because it didn’t include policy changes to secure the border. And before you ask the next natural question, *yes* Senate Republicans killed the version of the bill that included border security changes last week. The takeaways here is that the politics have changed the past few months, and passing a border bill seems trickier among Republicans. Funding Ukraine has also become more controversial in the GOP, further complicating the debate.
The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Aris Folley break down Tuesday’s early-morning vote.
The bill heads to the House, where it will have a much harder path. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) declared the bill “dead on arrival” and is threatening not to bring the vote to the House floor for a vote.
However, senators predict the bill would easily pass given the momentum from the Senate.
Johnson said in a statement Monday night: “[In] the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters. America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo.”
If Johnson blocks the bill, is it dead?: Not necessarily. There’s a legislative loophole — called a discharge petition — that could circumvent Johnson. It requires 218 signatures from House lawmakers to bypass Johnson and bring the defense spending bill to a vote.
^ The politics here: It would be a huge blow to Johnson’s leadership if members pushed him aside and brought the bill to the floor without him. But that move would also keep Johnson’s fingerprints off the bill, which could help him among conservatives and former President Trump.
Explainer on how a discharge petition could work, via The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell
➤ TRUMP’S IDEA:
Republican senators said they spoke to former President Trump on Monday about his idea to provide aid to Ukraine as a loan with strings attached. The idea has some support but has also received pushback from Senate Democrats and some Republicans. (The Hill)
📊 News This Morning
Keep it moving. Keep going down. You can do it.:
Consumer prices rose 3.1 percent over the past year, slightly higher than economists had expected, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department.
The numbers: Economists had expected the annual inflation rate to fall to 2.9 percent overall — 0.2 percent for January. Instead, it fell to 3.1 percent overall and 0.3 percent for last month. (The Hill)
➤ HEADLINES ON THE INFLATION NEWS:
🏛️ The Supreme Court
You have one week. GO!:
“The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Special Counsel Jack Smith one week to respond to former President Trump’s request to keep his federal Jan. 6 trial on hold as he appeals his immunity claims.” (The Hill)
The deadline: Feb. 20
It’s not just Trump with ballot issues:
“Former President Trump isn’t the only public official whose disqualification under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban has landed at the Supreme Court,” reports The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld.
A second Supreme Court ballot case: “Just days after the justices heard oral arguments in Trump’s historic case Thursday, they are scheduled this week to consider taking up another official’s disqualification: a New Mexico county commissioner who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.”
Who?: Couy Griffin, who is the founder of Cowboys for Trump and was found guilty of entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6 riot.
Timing: Griffin’s case will be discussed in private Friday. (The Hill)
🗳 On The Campaign Trail
Happening today — some special stuff:
Two special elections are happening today.
In New York: Former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Republican Mazi Pilip are competing for former Rep. George Santos’s (R-N.Y.) seat. This is a pretty purple district.
In the Pennsylvania state House: Democrat Jim Prokopiak and Republican Candace Cabanas are competing in a district that is considered one of the most important state legislative swing districts in the U.S. The results could give us insight for November.
What to expect, via The Hill’s Julia Manchester
🐝 Internet Buzz
🥞 Celebrate: Today is both National Pancake Day and National Tortellini Day! Here’s how to get free pancakes at IHOP today.
🦈 I’m very invested in this story: A female stingray named Charlotte is pregnant at a North Carolina aquarium. But there’s no male stingray nearby, leading to a mystery of how she got pregnant. The first possibility: The stingray reproduced without a mate. The second possibility: A male shark impregnated Charlotte. (USA Today)
🎙️ Guess who’s back, back, back?: Jon Stewart made his return to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” on Monday after a nine-year absence. Highlights from Monday’s episode
📺 I’ve never agreed with something more passionately: Nickelodeon aired the Super Bowl on Sunday with commentary from SpongeBob, explainers from Dora the Explorer and slime. Well, @funnybrad posted a suggestion on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I need Nickelodeon to do a companion broadcast on election night. Patrick from SpongeBob explaining the electoral college and slime being dumped on the losing candidate during their concession speech.”
“We turn now to Reef Kornacki at the big board. What do you got for us, Reef?” @nagy_minaj chimed in with a photoshopped image of Patrick Star anchoring.
🐶 This is brilliant: First graders in Washington, D.C., drew pictures of rescue dogs that are available for adoption. The popular “We Rate Dogs” social media account reviewed the adorable drawings. Watch the 74-second video on X
🗓 On The Agenda
The House is in. The Senate is out. President Biden and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C. (all times Eastern)
12:30 p.m.: Biden and Harris have lunch together.
1 p.m.: Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks on the diplomacy of taking hostages. C-SPAN livestream
2:45 p.m.: Biden and Harris receive the Presidential Daily Briefing.
6:30 p.m.: House votes. 🗓️ Today’s agenda
Monday, Feb. 26: The Senate meets next.
👋 And Finally…
Because you made it this far, watch this pup Tucker learn to be gentle.