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The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Republicans want Biden to get tough on Putin over Ukraine

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.


Good morning, Early Birds. Are you leaving the Hill for K Street? Are you in touch with the Biden administration? Do you take road trips with your cats? We want to hear from you: Thanks for waking up with us.

🚨: “Two months after touring “environmental justice” communities in three southern states, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan [today] announced bold steps to address complaints from residents about tainted drinking water, chemical plants near homes and a school, and breathing toxic air,” our colleague Darryl Fears reports.

  • “Regan said the agency will spend $600,000 to buy ‘mobile air pollution monitoring equipment’ to deploy along an 80-mile stretch of Louisiana along the Mississippi River known as ‘Cancer Alley’ for the many chemical plants, oil and gas refineries, and other industrial facilities located there.”

On the Hill

Republicans want Biden to get tough on Putin over Ukraine

The GOP response: When President Biden last week appeared to play down a hypothetical “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukrainian territory — a remark the White House quickly walked back — Republicans in Congress clambered over each other to denounce him.

Donald Trump piled on Monday. “What’s happening with Russia and Ukraine would never have happened under the Trump administration,” the former president said in a statement. “Not even a possibility!”

As Ukraine braces for a potential Russian invasion, though, Republicans are less united on what Biden should be doing differently.

The party is largely on the same page in urging Biden to get tougher on Russian President Vladimir Putin, with many Republicans pressing the administration to impose harsh economic sanctions sooner rather than later. But there are differences about how far to go.

At least one Republican is urging the president to deploy U.S. troops to Ukraine itself in addition to sending soldiers to NATO member countries in Eastern Europe. Others have questioned why Biden is moving to arm Ukraine at all.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former Marine Corps officer, told The Early on Tuesday he favored sending as many as a battalion of troops to Ukraine.

“I think it puts Russia on the defensive,” he said. “And if nothing else Russia knows that it would be a massive escalation if they are going against U.S. forces on the ground.”

It's not clear how widespread support is for deploying troops to Ukraine, which Biden has repeatedly ruled out.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee doesn’t support such a move, according to an aide. And a few Republican lawmakers have advocated against taking sides in Ukraine at all, much less deploying troops. 

“We have no dog in the Ukraine fight,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) tweeted on Saturday. “Not one American soldier should die there. Not one American bullet should be fired there.”

And “Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force veteran, said he recently ‘unleashed hell’ in a text message chain with fellow Republicans serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee after a colleague shared an article about the United States approving the dispatch of Javelin missiles from the Baltic to Ukraine and asked, ‘Why is Biden being allowed to provoke Russia?’” as our colleagues Ashley Parker and Marianna Sotomayor report.

“Surprised that a Republican would not support mobilizing to protect a fellow democratic nation, Kinzinger said he pushed back. ‘I think the vast majority of Republicans would certainly support Ukraine, but there is a very loud minority’ who do not, he said.”

Rallying around sanctions

Despite the differences, many Republicans have found common ground in pressing Biden to move more aggressively on economic sanctions. Every Republican senator except Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — along with several Democrats — voted in favor of a bill earlier this month to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany.

And more and more Republicans are urging Biden to unleash sanctions on Russia before a potential invasion, not afterward.

“Don’t wait for the invasion,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Tuesday.

“Waiting to sanction Russia until after it invades Ukraine is like buying a smoke detector for your house after it burns down,” McCaul, the said a statement to The Early.

At least one Democrat, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), has said he agrees that sanctions should be put in place before an attack.

The Biden administration has argued the threat of sanctions is meant to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading.

“If they're triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN on Sunday.

Gallagher is among the Republicans pressing to sanction Russia before Putin has the chance to invade.

“Clearly the White House thinks that that would be provocative,” he said. “I don't share that view. I think we've seen that weakness or an absence of action is more provocative.”

Seeking a compromise

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are in the midst of negotiations trying to hammer out a compromise on sanctions. A bill proposed Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee’s chairman, that he’s described as “the mother of all sanctions” legislation wouldn’t impose sanctions until after an invasion as its currently written.

“We all have our own bills that address Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, and we want to see how we can put some of these ideas together and actually try to deter Putin from doing something stupid,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the committee’s ranking member, told us. “For me, all options for sanctions are still on the table, as are options for further arming the Ukrainians.”

On K Street

Longtime Biden adviser Cynthia Hogan returns to NFL

New this morning: Cynthia Hogan, a longtime Biden adviser who helped lead Biden's vice presidential search, is returning to the National Football League. She'll be a senior advisor to Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Hogan worked for Biden while he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and again while he was vice president. She went to work for the NFL afterward as its top lobbyist. Apple hired her in 2016 to run its Washington office.

After securing the nomination in 2020, Biden tapped her along with former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to lead the search that led to him selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate.

At the White House

Biden to host Microsoft, TIAA CEO to promote stalled social spending bill

And we’re bbback! Happening today, Biden will host 10 executives from major corporations such as General Motors Co. and pension giant TIAA to “promote his signature economic legislation that stalled in Congress late last year,” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Epstein reports

The Guest List: 

  • Barbara Humpton, Siemens CEO
  • Brad Smith, Microsoft president and vice chairman
  • Enrique Lores, HP CEO
  • Jim Farley, Ford CEO
  • Josh Silverman, Etsy CEO
  • Marc Benioff, CEO
  • Mary Barra, General Motors CEO
  • Thasunda Brown Duckett, TIAA CEO
  • Tom Linebarger, Cummins CEO
  • Wendell Weeks, Corning CEO

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese are also expected to attend, per Epstein. 

“The event appears to be geared at showcasing an element of the Build Back Better Act that has not received very much attention: What it would do for business,” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie reports

  • “For the White House, highlighting the business side of the legislation could also help Biden move the biggest obstacle standing in the way of the BBB: Conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.”

In the agencies

Investors brace for Federal Reserve policy meeting, potential interest rate hikes

Happening today: “Facing soaring prices and swooning financial markets, the Federal Reserve is poised to reveal new details about interest rate hikes this year, in its quest to combat inflation now at 40-year highs,” our colleague Rachel Seigel reports.

  • “Investors this week have been worried that Fed leaders will signal sharper or more frequent interest rate hikes than the three already expected this year, in what could be a more hawkish sign of even tighter monetary policy than originally expected.”
  • Today, “Fed officials will wrap up their two-day policy meeting. The Federal Reserve will release a policy statement at 2 p.m. followed by a news conference, during which Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell will answer questions about the economy.”
  • “At the news conference, Powell is expected to face questions on a range of pressing economic issues, from inflation to the lingering gaps in the labor market to recent stock trading scandals among top Fed officials.”

The campaign

Federal prosecutors are reviewing 2020 fake elector certifications, deputy attorney general tells CNN

One big thing from NARA: “Federal prosecutors are reviewing fake Electoral College certifications that declared former president Donald Trump the winner of states that he lost,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CNN Tuesday.

  • “The fake certificates falsely declaring Trump’s victory were sent to the National Archives by Trump’s allies in mid-December 2020.”
  • “The certificates contain the signatures of Trump supporters who falsely claimed to be the rightful electors in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico – all states that Biden had won. Some of the certificates were sent by top officials representing the Republican Party in each state.”

The Media

What we’re reading:


Nancy Pelosi: Master tactician or ardent workaholic?

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