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In today’s edition, U.S. and Israel are rescheduling Rafah talks, Joe Lieberman’s legacy, and the la͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
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March 28, 2024


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Today in D.C.
  1. Rafah talks revived 
  2. Lieberman dies at 82
  3. The Dem win in Alabama
  4. New AI policy
  5. Baltimore bridge fallout
  6. McDermott’s French retirement

PDB: Organization representing Jewish Democrats opposes Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush

Biden to fundraise in New York with Clinton, Obama … Migrant crossings spike in U.K.WaPo: Richard Grenell is Trump’s ‘shadow secretary of state’

— edited by Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann and Morgan Chalfant


The U.S. and Israel might meet on Rafah after all

Miriam Alster/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Israel may end up sending a delegation to the U.S. after all to discuss the planned operation in Rafah. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had agreed to reschedule the talks and that the two sides are “working to set a date,” despite him earlier in the week canceling the planned visit over the U.N. resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The shift notably came after days of meetings between senior U.S. officials and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Netanyahu’s office said he hadn’t signed off on the delegation’s departure, however. One Israeli official who spoke to Axios agreed with U.S. sentiment over the scrapped visit, saying: “Bibi made a mistake.” During a meeting with Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that he canceled the Washington visit to send a “message to Hamas” that they can’t “bet on this pressure.” U.S. officials are hoping to influence plans for the Rafah invasion, but are apparently resigned that they cannot stop the planned Israeli operation.


Joe Lieberman’s political legacy

REUTERS/Yana Paskova/File Photo

Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who died Wednesday at 82, will be remembered both as the first Jew to be nominated for a major party’s presidential ticket and as a man whom American politics left behind. As Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, he served as an upright counterpoint to scandal-plagued President Bill Clinton, whose “disgraceful” behavior he had rebuked in a headline grabbing speech. But his Bush-era support of the Iraq War cost him a Senate primary just six years later. He survived the race as an independent, and further infuriated Democrats by endorsing his close friend Sen. John McCain in 2008. From there, his greatest political impact may have been blocking a public health insurance option from being included in Obamacare, though he helped the bill over the finish line. In his final years, Lieberman was a public face of No Labels, which has struggled to mount a third-party alternative to Joe Biden or Donald Trump. He was, by all accounts, a true believer. His combination of strident hawkishness, devotion to Israel, and economic moderation left Lieberman as out of step with MAGA Republicanism as with the Democrats who’d rejected him.


The Alabama Democrat who flipped a seat in Trump country

Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Image

If you had told us three years ago that running ads about abortion would help a Democrat win a red district in Alabama, we’d have said you were nuts. But here we are. Marilyn Lands became the latest Democrat to notch a post-Dobbs special election win this week with a campaign laser-focused on reproductive rights issues, writes David Weigel. The race was colored both by Alabama’s strict abortion ban, and the state supreme court’s widely criticized ruling giving IVF embryos the rights of children. In one widely-shared campaign video, Lands talked about her personal experience getting a legal abortion after learning that a baby she was carrying “would not survive” and told the story of Alyssa Gonzales, a fellow Alabamian who learned in 2022 that her pregnancy was non-viable, but needed to travel outside the state for an abortion. The final tallies were eye-popping: After narrowly losing the seat in 2022, Lands won by 25 points this time. She attracted more than 1100 donors, for an election with fewer than 6000 voters. “We’ve sent a clear message to Alabama that the people want something different, and a message to the rest of the country that Alabama wants to move in a different direction,” Lands told Semafor in a Wednesday morning interview.


Federal agencies will now have chief AI officers

Carl Court/Getty Images

Every federal agency will soon have its own “chief AI officer” under a new rule the White House issued Thursday, Semafor’s Morgan Chalfant reports. It’s part of a wider Office of Management and Budget order designed to help the entire federal government use artificial intelligence safely and effectively, as the technology becomes more advanced and widespread. Federal departments will be required to publicly disclose a list of AI tools they use and implement “minimum practices” to head off potential harms. One major area of concern? Racial discrimination. “If the Veterans Administration wants to use AI in VA hospitals to help doctors diagnose patients, they would first have to demonstrate that AI does not produce racially-biased diagnoses,” Vice President Kamala Harris said. The new policy grows out of the executive order President Biden signed last October, and comes at a moment when Congress is still wrestling with efforts to regulate the technology.


Key Bridge fallout still murky


How long will the Port of Baltimore stay shut down, following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge? Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said it was “too soon to venture” a guess on Wednesday. But at least the rumors sound optimistic: One transportation executive told Bloomberg he’d heard the port could reopen by May. Companies are still trying to assess just how big an impact the closure could have on their supply chains, and whether it’s time to start worrying about the return of 2021-style snarls; while Baltimore is only the 17th largest port in the country, it’s the top destination for car shipments and a major coal depot. Notably, Ford and General Motors have said they’re already finding shipping workarounds and expect the disruption to be small. During his press conference, Buttigieg also said the Biden administration would “likely” be seeking additional funding from Congress — beyond that was allocated in the infrastructure law — to help rebuild. He wouldn’t say how much, but Maryland officials indicated it could cost $2 billion. Meanwhile, a local union head said it could leave 2,400 people without jobs.


A former congressman is now herding goats in France

Ariel Cohen/CQ Roll Call

A former congressman has figured out the secret to finally living out his health care policy dreams: Move to France. Ex-Rep. Jim McDermott is enjoying a tranquil retirement as a part-time goat farmer in a small cottage outside of Bordeaux. CQ Roll Call’s Ariel Cohen offered a look at the former House Ethics Committee chair, who “barely speaks French” but decamped to the country after visiting for a two-week cooking class. A longtime single-payer advocate, he’s finally experiencing the sort of welfare state he pressed for in Congress. “Coming to France is like a drink of cold water,” the Democrat said. “Once you’ve had this experience, it’s easy to see all the ways in the U.S. you’re getting screwed — well, not screwed per se, but definitely overcharged.” He still regularly visits family in the US and keeps in touch with some friends in D.C. But the US’s domestic turmoil is never far from McDermott’s mind either. “I still vote, I still got my house in Seattle. Just because I don’t live there doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the United States.”

Joseph Zeballos-Roig

Live Journalism

Registration has opened for Semafor’s 2024 World Economy Summit: Hear from the chief executives of Accenture, Bank of America, Intel, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as senior officials from the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the White House National Economic Council, and the European Commission. See all the speakers and RSVP here.


Beltway Newsletters

Punchbowl News: Congress passed over $71 million in earmarks in the recent minibus spending legislation for lawmakers who ultimately voted against the package. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for instance, got $15.3 million for projects like the Community Health Centers of Burlington, Vermont Folklife, and the University of Vermont, but opposed the bill because it banned funding for UNRWA.

Playbook: President Biden’s campaign expects over 5,000 people to attend this evening’s fundraiser in New York and they’re predicting it will break fundraising records by netting a whopping $25 million.

Axios: Kellyanne Conway is considering taking a role with Donald Trump’s 2024 team.

White House

  • President Biden will spend today in New York, where he is taking part in a campaign event with former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton at Radio City Music Hall.
  • The White House announced a new rule to curb so-called “junk health insurance,” rolling back a Trump-era expansion of short-term health insurance plans.
  • First lady Jill Biden is continuing her “EGGucation” theme for the White House Easter Egg Roll this coming Monday.


  • New Democrat Coalition Chair Annie Kuster, D-N.H., announced she won’t run for re-election. She’ll remain in her seat until the end of Congress, according to her office.
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul called on the Biden administration to “take urgent action” to secure the release of Ryan Corbett, an American who has been detained by the Taliban in Afghanistan since August 2022, after his wife raised fresh concerns about his deteriorating condition.
  • The Jewish Democratic Council of America is out with its latest tranche of endorsements, backing the primary opponents of Reps. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., and Cori Bush, D-Mo., who’ve come under fire for their positions on Israel.
  • On his way out, former Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., maintained his decision to leave Congress was due to House dysfunction, rather than an effort to kneecap Rep. Lauren Boebert’s chances of taking over his seat. — Politico


Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that China’s increased production of green tech like batteries and solar panels “distorts global prices.”


  • A federal appeals court continued a pause on Texas’ immigration law.
  • Disney reached a settlement with members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, ending a prolonged fight over Disney’s special tax district.
  • Donald Trump lashed out at the daughter of the judge overseeing his New York criminal trial, Juan Merchan, over an account on X that she apparently does not run. — NYT
  • A judge in California state recommended disbarring Trump-linked lawyer John Eastman.
  • Matt Schlapp paid a $480,000 settlement to the Republican operative who recently decided to drop sexual assault lawsuits against him. — CNN

On the Trail

  • Donald Trump is expected to attend the wake for Officer Jonathan Diller, who was fatally shot earlier this week during a traffic stop, in New York City later today.
  • Chris Christie won’t be running on No Labels’ third party ticket. — WaPo

Inside the Beltway

The Capitals and Wizards are staying put in D.C.

Foreign Policy

  • Russia is increasing its influence operations to try and derail U.S. and European efforts to provide more funding for Ukraine’s defense. — NYT
  • A State Department official working on human rights in the Middle East and North Africa stepped down from her position over the administration’s policy on the Gaza war. “I wasn’t able to really do my job anymore,” the official, Annelle Sheline, said. “Trying to advocate for human rights just became impossible.” — WaPo
  • The Treasury Department sanctioned the site Gaza Now and its founder, claiming they support Hamas.
  • This week marks one year in prison for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is wrongfully detained by Russia.


Axios’ Alex Thompson had his contract withdrawn from Simon and Schuster for a book about Joe Biden’s presidency.

Big Read

Israeli society is split on prioritizing the country’s two aims in the war against Hamas — destroying the militant group and freeing 130 hostages taken nearly six months ago, The Wall Street Journal reports. Those goals are seen as irreconcilable now because most of the hostages are hidden in tunnels and can’t be liberated by force and Hamas is arguing it should be allowed to keep control over Gaza. “The two aims are clashing with each other, and both can’t happen,” one political analyst told the paper. “There is no side that will be happy here.” The divisions have increased during negotiations that could lead to a six-week ceasefire and see 40 Israelis freed. The Israeli cabinet must approve any deal, but some far-right politicians have threatened to quit the governing coalition if a deal they oppose is approved.


Stories that are being largely ignored by either left-leaning or right-leaning outlets, according to data from our partners at Ground News.

What the Left isn’t reading: Mississippi issued a “cease and desist” letter to BlackRock, accusing the company of misleading investors about its climate strategy.

What the Right isn’t reading: A California man who made calls threatening former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was sentenced to almost a year in prison.

Principals Team

Editors: Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann, Morgan Chalfant

Editor-at-Large: Steve Clemons

Reporters: Kadia Goba, Joseph Zeballos-Roig, Shelby Talcott, David Weigel

One Good Text

Annie Kuster is a Democratic congresswoman from New Hampshire and chair of the New Democrat Coalition. She announced Wednesday that she would not seek reelection.

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