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By EUGENE DANIELS, RACHAEL BADE and RYAN LIZZA
With help from Eli Okun and Garrett Ross
The pressure is on at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit for Biden to do more than just talk, and the U.S. commitments are coming in quick. | Win McNamee/Getty Images
HABEMUS OMNIBUS (ALMOST) — Congressional negotiators announced late Tuesday they had reached agreement on a “framework” for fiscal year 2023 spending, clearing the way for passage of an omnibus appropriations package before Christmas.
Appropriators are not expected to reveal detailed top-line spending levels until a bill is written and filed, but negotiators had largely settled on a $858 billion defense budget while haggling over the nondefense number. The parties had been roughly $26 billion apart, with Republicans refusing to exceed the $1.65 trillion in total discretionary spending in President JOE BIDEN’s budget request.
Notably absent from the statements touting the deal: Any mention of the House GOP, whose leaders have pressed (at least publicly) for a short-term extension, giving their incoming majority more influence. Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris go deep this morning on the “dwindling Republican enthusiasm” for a spending deal.
But with a top-line agreement in hand and the text mostly written, the spending bill appears to be on a glide path toward passage no later than Dec. 23, Caitlin Emma and Marianne LeVine write. Still, “timing is extremely tight and a number of pitfalls could complicate passage in both chambers, including a host of unrelated policy provisions that members will push to include before the start of the next Congress in January.”
As for those unrelated policy provisions …What’s likely in: Tens of billions of dollars of new Ukraine aid and a rewrite of the Electoral Count Act. … What’s likely out: An extension of the enhanced Child Tax Credit and cannabis banking legislation.
INSIDE THE AFRICA SUMMIT — More than eight years ago, President BARACK OBAMA stood before dozens of African leaders and made promises: “We are here not just to talk. We are here to take action,” he said, promising “tangible steps to deliver more prosperity, more security, and more justice to our citizens.”
It was the opening session for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first of its kind. The summit, it was hoped, would be a jumping-off point for stronger ties between the United States and the continent. Fast-forward eight years later: Biden is hosting a sequel, and he is likely to give very similar remarks.
But the situation on the continent has only grown more dire, with global crises such as climate change, Covid-19 and the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine all hitting the continent especially hard. And after four years of DONALD TRUMP at best neglecting and at worst denigrating the continent, this summit is something of a Hail Mary pass to improve relations.
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So the pressure is on for Biden to do more than just talk, and the U.S. commitments are coming in quick. Just one day into the summit, the administration has pledged:
— $55 billion in economic aid to African countries over the next three years;
— the appointment of a new special representative for U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Implementation;
— and U.S. support for a permanent G-20 seat for the African Union.
”This summit can’t be a three-day event, and then we all return back to business,” a senior administration official told us last night. “The summit is a launching pad for our engagement with Africa, and it’s testament to how important the president views the continent.”
Biden is set to deliver remarks to the summit today and Thursday, and he and first lady JILL BIDEN will host the delegation heads for dinner tonight at the White House.
The summit’s undercurrent is the economic and military foothold that China and Russia have been able to gain in Africa, as Phelim Kine previewed earlier this week. In a session with continental leaders Tuesday, Defense Secretary LLOYD AUSTIN called the impacts of cheap Russian arms and Chinese expansionism troubling.
But administration officials have been exceedingly careful not to make African leaders feel like pawns on a geopolitical chess board. “We acknowledge where the world is in terms of heightened rivalries between our country and our competitors,” the SAO said, but “the summit’s about our relationship with the continent.”
Biden still has work to do to change the perceptions of many African leaders, who believe the 2014 summit didn’t make good on its promises. So far Biden has had little one-on-one diplomatic interaction with African leaders, something the administration is hoping to rectify with a “broad based commitment” to future travel to the continent by Biden, VP KAMALA HARRIS and Cabinet secretaries.
DAVID SHINN, a former ambassador to Ethiopia, told us last night that the U.S.-Africa relationship has been missing some “oomph” as issues ranging from food security to climate change to even outer space come to the fore: “This is an effort to try to inject some sort of greater vigor in the relationship and identify some areas where we really can make progress and expand well beyond where we are today.”
Good Wednesday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. What are you tracking in the home stretch of omnibus talks? Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza.
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MAKING IT OFFICIAL — Thousands gathered on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday evening to watch Biden sign the bipartisan bill enshrining protections for same-sex and interracial marriages into law.
“Today is a good day,” Biden said. “A day America takes a vital step toward equality — toward liberty and justice, not just for some, but for everyone. Everyone.”
The bill was ironically made possible by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — in particular, Justice CLARENCE THOMAS’s concurring opinion, which suggested other constitutional rights, including marriage equality, were also at risk. That spurred a bipartisan push to settle the issue in federal law.
The signing was also “a full-circle moment for the nation’s oldest sitting president,” Myah Ward and Eun Kyung Kim write, “a fitting bookend to his decadeslong personal evolution on same-sex marriage.” NBC’s Summer Concepcion and Mike Memoli note that Biden “quoted directly from a 2012 interview on NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press’ in which he came out in public support of same-sex marriage ahead of then-President Barack Obama.” Video
FEDS TARGET SBF’S CAMPAIGN CASH — The political fallout of SAM BANKMAN-FRIED’s arrest on multiple federal charges related to the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange continues to expand. An unsealed indictment accuses the fallen mogul of engaging in rampant violations of campaign finance law, using corporate funds to make tens of millions of dollars in illegal donations.
WaPo’s Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker follow the money: “Two of Bankman-Fried’s biggest beneficiaries in 2022 were the House Majority PAC and the Senate Majority PAC, which help elect Democrats to their respective chambers. Those organizations alone received about $7 million from him over the past two years, federal data shows. Yet neither group — along with a raft of other Democratic and Republican organizations — would say Tuesday whether they planned to return the cash.”
Cause for concern: “‘Anybody who received political contributions from this person ought to be worried about whether everything was aboveboard,’ said NOAH BOOKBINDER, chief executive of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.”
Programming note: The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on FTX at 10 a.m.
9 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
1:20 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, where he will deliver remarks at 1:30 p.m.
2:55 p.m.: Biden will return to the White House.
3:40 p.m.: Biden will host a small group multilateral meeting with leaders.
7 p.m.: The president and first lady will host the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit dinner, with Harris and second gentleman DOUG EMHOFF also in attendance.
THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. to consider a variety of legislation, with first votes predicted between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., and last votes predicted between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. CFPB Director ROHIT CHOPRA will testify before the House Financial Services Committee at 10 a.m.
THE SENATE is in. The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on FTX at 10 a.m., with testimony from KEVIN O’LEARY and BEN McKENZIE.
STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What’s really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who’s up, who’s down, and who really has the president’s ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider’s guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe today.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
President Joe Biden, center seated, hands the pen he used to sign the Respect for Marriage Act to VP Kamala Harris, right, on Tuesday, Dec. 13, during a ceremony at the White House. | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo
THE DUMP-TRUMP TRAIN — “Hutchinson says Trump worst choice for GOP,” by AP’s Andrew DeMillo: “Arkansas Gov. ASA HUTCHINSON, who is considering running for president, on Tuesday called a third Donald Trump White House bid the ‘worst scenario’ for Republicans and said his call for terminating parts of the Constitution hurts the country.” Hutchinson, 72, said he’d make a decision on a presidential run early next year.
DEMOGRAPHIC DATA DIVE — “Despite Modest G.O.P. Gains, Democrats Maintain Grasp on Suburbs,” by NYT’s Trip Gabriel and Ruth Igielnik in Marietta, Ga.
WAKING UP IN NEW YORK — “New York’s Black leaders to convene on crime following midterm losses for Democrats,” by Julia Marsh: “Rev. AL SHARPTON is convening a summit of Black leaders across the state to forge a consensus on tackling crime after New York Democrats clashed on bail reform and the party lost three House seats to Republicans in midterm elections dominated by public safety.”
END OF AN ERA — “Democracy for America, a liberal group founded by former presidential candidate HOWARD DEAN, is planning to shut down unless a last-minute savior comes through,” Holly Otterbein and Daniel Lippman report. Several of the group’s 13 to 15 employees had already been laid off, and others have been told their last day will be Thursday.
THE WHITE HOUSE
STAFFING SHUFFLE — “Wally Adeyemo Is Favored to Become Next Top Biden Economic Aide,” by Bloomberg’s Saleha Mohsin and Nancy Cook: “Deputy Treasury Secretary WALLY ADEYEMO is emerging as the front-runner to succeed BRIAN DEESE as top White House economic adviser, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Biden administration prepares to shuffle its team early next year.”
RIDING THE WAVE — “Biden seeks political boost from slowing inflation,” by WaPo’s Matt Viser: “Biden, perhaps aware of a potential backlash if he appears to be celebrating prematurely, stressed that he was not declaring mission accomplished.”
WHAT WEIGHS ON BIDEN — “Biden still feels ‘a moral obligation’ to Sandy Hook, 10 years later,” by Myah Ward
OH KEVIN, ‘MY KEVIN’ — “Despite Trump’s Lobbying, McCarthy’s Speaker Bid Remains Imperiled on the Right,” by NYT’s Catie Edmondson, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni: “Former President DONALD J. TRUMP has been working the phones, personally pitching right-wing lawmakers on voting to make Representative KEVIN McCARTHY, the Republican leader he has called ‘My Kevin,’ the speaker of the House. …
“Mr. Trump, according to people close to him, is not entirely sold on the notion of Mr. McCarthy as a strong speaker. But he considers Mr. McCarthy better than the alternative, including improbable scenarios in which the job instead might go to a moderate who can draw some votes from Democrats, or in which a handful of Republicans defect and help to elect a Democratic speaker.”
— Related read: “McCarthy and McConnell on collision course as Congress barrels toward messy finish,” by CNN’s Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona
DEMS DIVE IN — “Senate Dems prepare to join the investigative fray,” by Jordain Carney: “Though their target list is still under discussion, Democrats in the upper chamber have made clear that they intend to use their investigative authority — newly acquired thanks to their functional 51st Senate seat — as a counterpoint to House GOP probes of HUNTER BIDEN’s business dealings and the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. They’re also mulling picking up the baton from House Democrats on two fights: scrutinizing the oil industry’s culpability for climate change and obtaining former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, according to senators.”
MAN KICKS DOG — “GOP operative who allegedly kicked a dog hired as top aide to new congressman,” by Daniel Lippman
OK, THEN — “Ralph Norman Only Regrets Misspelling ‘Martial’ In ‘Marshall Law’ Text,” by HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney
TOP-ED — Sen. CHRIS MURPHY (D-Conn.) writes for The Bulwark: “The Politics of Loneliness: Social, economic, and technological trends contribute to widespread feelings of isolation—and there’s a role for policy in making things better.”
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
GET SMART — “Breaking down the Jan. 6 committee’s possible referrals — criminal and beyond,” by Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu: “The Jan. 6 select committee’s final act won’t just include recommendations for criminal charges against allies of Donald Trump. Chair BENNIE THOMPSON indicated on Tuesday that the panel was likely to make ‘five or six’ categories of referrals to outside entities for potential misconduct by figures in the former president’s orbit.” A final decision on those referrals is expected Monday.
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SECRET JUSTICE — “Trump Organization Was Held in Contempt After Secret Trial Last Year,” by NYT’s Jonah Bromwich, William Rashbaum and Ben Protess: “Donald J. Trump’s family business lost a criminal contempt trial that was held in secret last fall, according to a newly unsealed court document and several people with knowledge of the matter. … [P]rosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office requested that the company be punished for ‘willfully disobeying’ four grand jury subpoenas and three court orders enforcing compliance.”
MAR-A-LAGO LATEST — “House committee asks National Archives to review Trump storage unit,” by WaPo’s Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey
Our colleagues have a big new package up this morning with a look at some of the nontraditional threats that are facing the U.S.
— “China Dominates the Rare Earths Market. This U.S. Mine Is Trying to Change That,” by Lara Seligman in Mountain Pass, Calif.
— “The Unconventional China Threats That Could Torment the U.S.,” by Paul McLeary
— “Beyond Nukes: The Lesser-Known Threats to the U.S.,” by Lee Hudson
IMMIGRATION FILES — “U.S. Considers Expanding Asylum Program for Venezuelans to Include Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans,” by WSJ’s Michelle Hackman and Alicia Caldwell: “The new program, the administration plans to argue, would give migrants from those countries an alternative path into the U.S. so they don’t attempt to cross the southern border illegally.”
HAPPENING TODAY — “Fed set to extend inflation fight with 7th rate hike of 2022,” by AP’s Christopher Rugaber
WAR IN UKRAINE
BREAKING OVERNIGHT — “Russian drone strikes damage 5 buildings in Ukraine capital,” AP: “The attacks underline how Ukraine’s biggest city remains vulnerable to the regular Russian attacks that have devastated infrastructure and other population centers, mostly in the country’s east and south in recent weeks.”
FOLLOWING THE MONEY — “From blockchain to photos, a look at America’s struggle to track Ukraine aid,” by Nahal Toosi and Bryan Bender
WHERE THE WAR IS HEADED — “Targeting One Southern City, Ukraine Hints at Next Front in the War,” by NYT’s Marc Santora
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
WILD ONE — “Spies, microchips, and night lights. The story of an alleged Russian smuggling ring in a N.H. town.,” by The Boston Globe’s Dugan Arnett, Hanna Krueger and Brendan McCarthy: “Federal prosecutors say the Braymans’ home has been a clearinghouse for expensive semiconductors, oscilloscopes, and other items bound for Russia — items, experts say, commonly used to build weapons systems, including those used in the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The federal charging documents, obtained by the Globe, outline a plot pulled straight from ‘The Americans’ TV series, about KGB agents raising a family near Washington, D.C.”
THE KREMLIN’S LONG REACH — “Prince Accused of Plot in Germany Is Said to Have Visited Russian Diplomats,” by NYT’s Erika Solomon in Berlin
PLUS OR MINUS — “2022’s Most Under-Reported Media Story: How NBC News Now Succeeded Where CNN+ Failed,” by Forbes’ Mark Joyella: “NBC News Now launched in 2019, and has done what CNN+ only dreamed of doing: turning a profit. This year, NBC News Now saw its average monthly viewership continue to accelerate, hitting 34 million hours—up 55% from 2021.”
INSIDE MUSK’S TWITTER — “Musk Shakes Up Twitter’s Legal Team as He Looks to Cut More Costs,” by NYT’s Ryan Mac, Mike Isaac and Kate Conger in San Francisco: ELONMUSK “and his team have revamped Twitter’s legal department and pushed out one of his closest advisers in the process. They have also instructed employees to not pay vendors in anticipation of potential litigation, the people said.”
BACK AND BLUE — “Twitter’s risky plan to save its ads business,” by Platformer’s Zoë Schiffer and Casey Newton: “Twitter has been working on a plan that executives hope will make Blue profitable – forcing all Twitter users to opt in to personalized ads in order to keep using the app.”
LEFT BEHIND — “Tesla Investors Voice Concern Over Elon Musk’s Focus on Twitter,” by WSJ’s Meghan Bobrowsky: “Tesla shares are down 54.31% this year through Tuesday’s close, putting it on pace for their worst year on record.”
POLITICO’s exclusive interview with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will take place on Thursday, January 19 at 1:30 PM EST – live from the Davos mountaintop. Register today to join us online.
John Lewis will be honored with a commemorative stamp in 2023.
George Kent, who testified in Trump’s 2019 impeachment, was unanimously confirmed as ambassador to Estonia.
Louie Gohmert and Brian Babin jammed at Tim Burchett’s 15-minute holiday party.
Oh, and Burchett wants his Carhartt street cred recognized.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Jim Sciutto has signed a book deal to write “The Return Of Great Powers: Ukraine and the Fall of the Global Order,” a look at the “realities of the new post-post-Cold War era, the increasingly aligned Russian and Chinese governments, and the flashpoint of a new, global nuclear arms race.” The book is a followup to Sciutto’s 2019 bestseller “The Shadow War: Inside Russia’s and China’s Secret Operations to Defeat America” ($14.39).
OUT AND ABOUT — SPOTTED: Katie Couric walking into Bullfeathers midday on Tuesday. She’s in D.C. for a press conference about the Find It Early Act.
— SPOTTED at POLITICO’s holiday party on Tuesday night at Union Station: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen.-elect Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), Sam Feist, Kellyanne Conway, Randi Weingarten, Dafna Linzer, Matt Kaminski, Goli Sheikholeslami, Cally Baute, Jamil Anderlini, Nico Sennegon, Mark Dekan, Brad Dayspring, Rachel Loeffler, Josh Dawsey, Doug Andres, Melanie Zanona, Manu Raju, Garrett Haake, Heidi Przybyla, Wolf Blitzer, Shannon McGahn, Ron Bonjean, Colton Underwood, Ned Price, Alex Conant, Caitlin Conant, Ryan Heath, Sena Fitzmaurice, Heather Podesta, Shari Yost Gold, Heather Foster and Matt Gorman.
— SPOTTED at the Indiana Society of Washington event at 101 Constitution Ave on Tuesday night: Reps. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Larry Buschon (R-Ind.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Joshua Kelley, George Hornedo, Elliot Vice, Joel Reithmiller and Pete Seat.
Overheard from Braun, who announced his Indiana gubernatorial bid Monday: “[Retiring Rep.] TREY [HOLLINGSWORTH] is gonna support me. I had a conversation with him first.” … “Hollingsworth could be involved in a Braun administration.” … “I don’t think TODD ROKITA would go for” a Senate run, Braun said of the sitting Indiana attorney general.
— SPOTTED at a retirement party for outgoing Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) in the House Energy and Commerce Committee room on Tuesday: Sen.-elect Peter Welch (D-Vt.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), David Price (D-N.C.), Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Rep.-elect Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), Yebbie Watkins, Kyle Parker, Paul Brathwaite, Saul Hernandez, Robert Chiappetta, Jamie Gillespie, Wendy Hamilton, Kendra Brown, Alex Silbey, Meaghan Lynch, Joyce Brayboy, Jerome Murray, Reggie McCrimmon, Robert Harris, Lyndon Boozer, Monica Cloud, Craig Link, Willie Lyles, Christina Donovan, Virdina Gibbs, A.J. Malicdem, Anna Beaulieu, Gordon Holzberg and Edward Hill.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — James Sonne is now head of government affairs at PGIM, Prudential’s global investment management business. He most recently was lead government relations adviser at MassMutual and is a SIFMA and Treasury alum.
TRANSITIONS — Austin Metsch is now senior manager of government affairs at Micron Technology. He previously was director of government affairs and public policy at S&P Global. … Giulia Giannangeli Leganski is now a professional staff member for the House Energy & Commerce Committee under Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). She was most recently a professional staff member for the House Committee on Small Business under Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.).
ENGAGED — Pilar Melendez, senior national reporter at The Daily Beast, and Jake Aronson, associate strategy director at Agenda, got engaged Saturday in New York. The couple met waiting in line for the bar Pulqueria in New York, and six years later, on the exact day that they met, they got engaged in the same spot.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jude Barry of Catapult Strategies … former FBI Director James Comey … John Ullyot of Brighton Strategy Group … Rob Placek … Chuck Rocha … Raffi Williams … Henry R. Muñoz …CNN’s Abigail Crutchfield … POLITICO’S Beth Belton and Ilona Chebotareva … Aubrey Quinn … DOD’s Sloane Speakman … Elizabeth Wenk of Burness … Cindy Chetti of the National Multifamily Housing Council … Suzanne Wrasse … American Council of Engineering Companies’ Allison Schneider … Stephanie Allen of the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity and SpringHarbor Financial Group … Pierce Wiegard … Matt Duss of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace … Kirsten Powers … Auston Anderson … Ted Frank … Kyra Jennings … Purple Strategies’ Tom Egan … R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. … BrabenderCox’s Matt Beynon (42) … Kristin King … Nicholas Patterson … Lindy Li … SHRM’s Katie Johnson … Morning Consult’s Ellisa Brown … Jake Schneider of the RNC
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Correction: An earlier version of this newsletter misidentified Shannon McGahn and misstated Andre Carson’s party affiliation.
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