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Pelosi’s makes a surprise visit to Ukraine
Plus: The first lady will travel to Europe this week in a show of support for the Ukrainian people displaced by Russia’s war.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
FLOTUS TO EUROPE THIS WEEK — The White House announced late Sunday night that First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Slovakia this Thursday through next Monday.
This will be the first lady’s second solo international trip and the first to Europe. In July, she traveled to Japan to attend the opening ceremoies of the Olympics.
While overseas, Biden will meet with US service members, US embassay personell, displaced Ukrainian parents and children, humanitarian aid workers and educators. On Mother’s Day, she’ll meet with Ukrainian mothers and children who have fled their home because of the Russian invasion.
PELOSI’S SURPRISE VISIT — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this past weekend led a six-member congressional delegation to Ukraine to met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian officials in the capital city of Kyiv.
Zelenskyy expressed Ukraine’s need for continued security, economic and humanitarian assistance from the US to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
Pelosi, who was on the ground in Kyiv for about three hours, is now the highest-ranking US official to meet with Zelenskyy since Russian invasion began. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Zelenskyy last weekend.
— Allow me to explain: The unannounced trip comes as the Biden administration faces questions about how much longer the US government can afford to support Ukraine’s defense, the Senate primary season kicks off this week ahead of November’s midterm elections and voters wonder if lawmakers will pass any meaningful domestic priorities on Biden’s stalled economic agenda.
— What they’re saying: “Our distinguished congressional delegation came to Poland to send an unmistakable message to the world: that America stands firmly with our NATO allies in our support for Ukraine,” Pelosi said in a statement.
— In the know: The delegation met also met with President Andrzej Duda of Poland in the capital city of Warsaw to discuss how the two countries to deepen the work of supporting Ukraine.
While in Poland, the delegation visited service members of the 82nd Airborne Divison stationed in the southeastern city of Rzeszów to thank them for their service.
Additionally, members of the delegation met with US senior officials to be briefed on the humanitarian crisis and to discuss the US-Polish partnership and the role of the NATO alliance in countering Russia’s aggression.
A White House official said President Joe Biden spoke with Pelosi following her return to Poland to discuss the visit to Ukraine and her meeting with Zelenskyy.
The White House has said there are no active plans for President Biden to travel to Ukraine.
— What’s next: The delegation will return to Washington to turn a $33 billion funding request from President Biden for additional Ukrainian aid through September into a legislative package.
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IN THE KNOW
— More than 100 civilians were evacuated from a steel plant in Mariupol, an industrial port city on the southern coast of Ukraine. The city has been under intense attack from Russia and there are about 100,000 people still in harm’s way. The evacuation was led by the Red Cross and the United Nations. (Andrew Carey / CNN)
— Total enrollment in coverage related to the Affordable Care Act has reached an all-time high, according to a new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, new estimates project that the uninsured rate in the fourth quarter was at a nearly all-time low.
— Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the release of a report featuring recommendations to Congress on how to further reduce barriers to successful reentry for the people returning from incarceration. The recommendations focus on addressing needs related to housing, food security, health care, education, and employment.
— House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries of New York sent a letter to the House committee responsible for passing government funding bills asking for better congressional staff benefits. Among the requests: Approving the same 4.6-percent automatic cost-of-living adjustment that President Biden proposed for executive-branch employees in 2023, child-care subsidies for those who do not use the House daycare, reimbursing staff for the costs of adoption or fertility treatments not covered by insurance, extending to staff a first-time homebuyer’s assistance benefit, and making staff eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
— Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin of Illinois sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to express concerns about unsafe working conditions for correctional officers who process mail for incarcerated people. The letter follows reports of two workers who were hospitalized after accidental exposure to illegal drugs mailed to a high-security federal prison in the Prairie State. (WQAD)
— More Black people and Native Americans gave birth at home or in birth centers in 2020 instead of hospitals. The decision is attributed to its cost efficiency and the fact that the US has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world with a disproportionate impact on women of color. (Shawna Chen / Axios)
— More than seven in ten Baby Boomers report feeling happy, the highest share of any generation, according to a weekly survey of the emotional state of Americans. Gen X and Millennials were virtually the same percentage (65 and 64 percent, respectively), with 59 percent of Gen Z adults describing their personal mood “very well” or “somewhat well.” (Sarah Green, Peyton Shelburne and Justine Coleman / Morning Consult)
— Summer camp fees are expected to spike 10 to 15 percent this summer over 2021. Some of the price increase is due to demand while on-premise COVID safety and testing protocols have added another expense that was nonexistent pre-pandemic. (Parija Kavilanz / CNN Business)
TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing and then present the Presidential Rank Awards, which honor high-performing senior federal employees, in a virtual ceremony. This afternoon, he and First Lady Jill Biden will host a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival marking the end of the fast of Ramadan. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also attend.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will travel to Alabama to visit a manufacturer of weapon systems the US is providing to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s invasion.
Thursday: The Bidens will host a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House.
The first lady this morning will also speak at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s press launch for the spring Costume Institute exhibition. She then will tour the exhibition with Met Museum interns, chief curator Andrew Bolton and Sylvia Yount, chief curator of the Met’s American Wing.
The House is out.
The Senate is in and will consider a nominee to lead the Treasury Department’s Financial Markets office.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Annie Lowery on why everyone is so mad about the economy:
[N]obody escapes inflation, even if rising prices affect some people far more than others. That includes people on fixed incomes, such as retirees. It also includes lower-income families, who have less room in their budgets to absorb higher prices, as well as fewer opportunities to cut costs by switching from nice goods to bargain-basement ones, than higher-income families do. Indeed, the lower part of the income spectrum has been experiencing higher rates of inflation than the upper part, as well as struggling with it more, dollar-for-dollar.
Today’s inflation comes on top of a long-simmering affordability crisis, too. The price of housing is sapping budgets and forcing families to make awful decisions to keep down costs: living far away from family, commuting long distances, giving up on having a third kid, renting forever instead of ever trying to buy. The costs of child care, elder care, higher education, and medical care remain outrageous as well—affecting families far up the income scale, though of course those at the bottom are the most burdened.
Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui on how the pandemic housing market creates extraordinary wealth:
Over the past two years, Americans who own their homes have gained more than $6 trillion in housing wealth. To be clear, that doesn’t mean homebuilders have transferred to buyers $6 trillion worth of new housing, or that existing homeowners have made $6 trillion in kitchen and bathroom upgrades.
Rather, most of this money has been created by the simple fact that housing, in short supply and high demand across America, has appreciated at record pace during the pandemic. Millions of people — broadly spread among the 65 percent of American households who own their home — have gained a share of this windfall.
It’s a remarkably positive story for Americans who own a home; it’s also inseparable from the housing affordability crisis for those who don’t. For them, rents are rapidly rising. Inflation is whittling away their incomes. And the very thing that has created all this wealth has pushed homeownership as a means of wealth-building further out of reach.
Rani Molla on the shifting democraphics of the Great Resignation:
With prices soaring and analysts predicting a recession on the horizon, it might not seem like the best time to quit your job. But that’s not keeping American workers, especially older, more tenured ones, from doing so.
Higher-paid workers are increasingly quitting their jobs, as the Great Resignation — also known as the Great Reshuffle — enters its second year. Earlier in the pandemic, the trend was led by younger, less-tenured workers in low-paying industries like retail, food service, and health care. Now, the main growth in quit rates is coming from older, more tenured workers in higher-paid industries like finance, tech, and other knowledge worker fields, according to data from two separate human resources and analytics companies. These workers say they are searching for less tangible benefits like meaning and flexibility.
That changing composition of who is quitting paints an increasingly complicated picture of the state of work in America and suggests that while quit rates have decreased slightly from their highs last year, the phenomenon is not going away just yet.
E.J. Dionne Jr. on the Republican Party’s two-faced midterm strategy:
Democrats, being Democrats, are wringing their hands with apprehension. They often blame each other for the party’s troubles — the left goes after the center, the center assails the left, and the congressional and White House wings sometimes seem to be speaking different languages.
But there are signs that Democrats, collectively, have begun to identify the first task in front of them: to call out the stark contradiction inherent in the GOP’s strategy and to force the Republican Party as a whole to own the meanness of its loudest voices.
If Democrats once hoped they could run on delivering tangible benefits to middle-class and lower-income voters, they now know they can’t duck the culture fights, especially after their failure to pass large parts of Biden’s ambitious program.
Even if they salvage some of the president’s climate and social spending this spring, Democrats realize they can’t prevail on accomplishments alone. They need to force voters to confront what a vote for Republicans could lead to.
In the years since, Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful. Though he frequently declares himself an enemy of prejudice — “We don’t judge them by group, and we don’t judge them on their race,” Mr. Carlson explained to an interviewer a few weeks before accusing impoverished immigrants of making America dirty — his show teaches loathing and fear. Night after night, hour by hour, Mr. Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege — by violent Black Lives Matter protesters in American cities, by diseased migrants from south of the border, by refugees importing alien cultures, and by tech companies and cultural elites who will silence them, or label them racist, if they complain. When refugees from Africa, numbering in the hundreds, began crossing into Texas from Mexico during the Trump administration, he warned that the continent’s high birthrates meant the new arrivals might soon “overwhelm our country and change it completely and forever.” Amid nationwide outrage over George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, Mr. Carlson dismissed those protesting the killing as “criminal mobs.” Companies like Angie’s List and Papa John’s dropped their ads. The following month, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” became the highest-rated cable news show in history.
Bridget Read on the working theory for NYC’s one-bedroom apartment shortage:
Of course I had known that my New York apartment search was going to be terrible: The city was in the throes of an unprecedently absurd housing market, with rents rising by double-digit percentages year over year and people outbidding each other for unspeakably degenerate places. But my hunt for a one-bedroom had felt arduous in a way that couldn’t be explained purely by macroeconomics. Rena’s theory made perfect sense: There were twice the amount of sad-sack people looking for the same number of one-bedroom units because so many relationships had bitten the dust during the end-time. I was in one of them. I was moving because I had broken up with my partner in South Slope and was starting over above Prospect Park — or trying to. “I’m sorry that happened,” Rena said when I told her she was a genius and, in fact, talking about me. “At least it means there are a ton of other single people out there now?”
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