February 05, 2024

πŸ‘‹ Hello, Monday! Smart Brevityβ„’ count: 1,395 words ... 5 mins. Thanks to Erica Pandey for orchestrating. Edited by Bryan McBournie.

1 big thing: Border bill DOA

Razor wire
Razor wire near the Rio Grande at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

It's remarkably strict, but will quickly die:

  • After months of work, senators proudly unveiled a $118 billion package that pairs tougher immigration policy with aid to Ukraine and Israel. President Biden hailed it as a chance "to secure the border."
  • But House Republicans instantly vowed to block it from a vote. One Senate conservative demanded a change in GOP leadership, Axios' Stef Kight and Andrew Solender report.

Why it matters: The House GOP is caving to former President Trump's zeal to use the border as a campaign issue, instead of taking steps to stem a growing crisis.

  • It's a new risk to Republicans' majority in November, if voters decide they can't govern.

Between the lines: House members in both parties have qualms about undermining the Senate deal, especially aid for Ukraine.

  • Some senators tell us that failing to fund Ukraine could be a historic mistake, empowering Vladimir Putin.

What's inside: The $118 billion package includes $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel.

  • An additional $10 billion is earmarked for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine.
  • The border changes include $20 billion for transportation for deportation, shelters, 4,000+ new asylum officers, more border agents, and anti-fentanyl trafficking efforts.

"I've seen enough. This bill is even worse than we expected," House Speaker Mike Johnson tweeted. "If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival."

  • House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) swore the bill "will NOT receive a vote in the House."

πŸ₯Š It's not just the House. Some conservatives in the Senate also strafed it.

  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted: "I cannot understand how any Republican would think this was a good idea β€” or anything other than an unmitigated disaster. WE NEED NEW LEADERSHIP β€” NOW."

πŸ”­ What to watch: The House and Senate will move in opposite directions this week, as the House votes on a standalone $17.6 billion Israel aid package.

πŸ‘“ What we're watching: If the Senate passes the sweeping national security package and the House passes the Israel-only bill, the bills could head to a conference committee in an effort to reconcile them.

2. 🦾 Microsoft milestone

Data: Yahoo Finance. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Yahoo Finance. Chart: Axios Visuals

Satya Nadella just passed the decade mark as Microsoft CEO, pushing the Open AI backer past Apple to become the world's most valuable company.

  • Nadella has sidestepped controversies that have dogged his Big Tech peers. He has leaned hard into tech megatrends, including cloud, gaming and AI, Axios' Dan Primack writes.

A hallmark of Nadella's tenure has been dealmaking β€” including a game-changing partnership with OpenAI and multibillion-dollar acquisitions of Minecraft creator Mojang (2014), LinkedIn (2016), GitHub (2018), ZeniMax (2020), and Activision Blizzard (2023).

3. πŸ’° Charted: Workers are winning

Change in hourly average wage growth and CPI
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chart: Axios Visuals

Hourly wages rose 0.6% in January from the previous month and are up 4.5% from a year earlier β€” outpacing inflation.

  • Why it matters: The pay numbers, part of an absolute banger of a jobs report released Friday, are another sign that the labor market is strong and workers, in some industries, still have leverage, Axios' Emily Peck writes.

4. πŸ“Έ Black history, 50 years ago

Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron's mother, Estella, hugs him after he breaks Babe Ruth's all-time home run record on April 8, 1974. Photo: Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

The year 1974 gave the world monumental moments in Black history, from Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record to the Boston busing riots to big moments in Hollywood, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

  • For Black History Month, Axios is looking back 50 years.
Students sit on a bus.
Photo: William C. Curtis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Above: Students sit on a bus from Columbia Point to Roxbury High School on Sept. 13, 1974, the second day of school under the new busing system to desegregate Boston Public Schools.

  • The system was met with resistance and violence from many Boston residents.
Two people at an awards show
Photo: Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Archive Photos via Getty Images

Above: American actress and singer Pam Grier and her brother, actor Rodney Grier, attend the 7th NAACP Image Awards, held at the Hollywood Palladium in January 1974.

  • "After decades in which black women typically appeared in movies as maids, Grier broke the mold completely," The New Yorker reports.
  • She starred in action films, portraying heroines who fought the bad guys.

More pics.

5. 🧐 Revealed: Leaker of DeSantis debate memo

A campaign bus of Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seen outside a hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire, on January 21, 2024. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was once the leading Republican rival to Donald Trump, ended his election campaign on January 21 and threw his support behind the former president.
Campaign bus of the DeSantis super PAC, parked in Manchester, N.H. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

One of the big mysteries of this GOP primary was who pointed the N.Y. Times to hundreds of pages of debate advice and other sensitive material that Never Back Down, the super PAC backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, had stashed on the web. Insiders could access it, even though the super PAC is barred by law from communicating directly with the campaign.

  • It turns out the dime was dropped by the super PAC supporting Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), another failed contender for the nomination.

The leaker was revealed last night by reporter Marc Caputo in his debut dispatch as a national political reporter for The Bulwark. Caputo was among the casualties of last week's abrupt shutdown of The Messenger.

  • A former official of the Scott-allied group, TIM PAC, confirmed the stealthy move to Axios.

Behind the scenes: Caputo had filed his juicy 6,200-word opus to The Messenger. But the site imploded before the piece could be edited and posted.

🐊 The debate-memo leak "caused major suspicion inside the DeSantis campaign β€” and between it and the super PAC," Caputo reports:

DeSantis's paranoia with Never Back Down staff intensified ... DeSantis was so concerned he was being spied on by Never Back Down staff that he would try to isolate himself in the back of the super PAC's bus during swings through Iowa.

πŸ”ͺ "Never Back Down's toxic implosion offers an unusually candid look at the tensions and skulduggery rife in presidential campaigns," Caputo writes.

  • "High-dollar consultants and Type A personalities knifed each other, often using the media as the blade."

Keep reading.

6. πŸ“ˆ Powell's rare TV moment

Scott Pelley interviews Fed Chair Jerome Powell
Scott Pelley interviews Fed chair Jerome Powell. Photo: CBS News

In a rare TV interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Fed chair Jerome Powell asked Americans to be patient as the effects of high interest rates ripple through the economy. He said he expects multiple interest rate cuts this year.

  • Powell acknowledged that side effects of the Fed's inflation-fighting have caused difficulties for prospective homebuyers, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.

It's important "particularly for younger couples starting out, who may not have great financial means, that we succeed in this effort," Powell told Scott Pelley.

  • "We will do so. But what that means is that interest-sensitive spending like mortgages and buying, you know, durable goods and things like that, that's going to be expensive for a while."

Transcript, video ... Share this story.

7. πŸ† N.J. gets the cup

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New Jersey will host the final match of the 2026 Men's World Cup at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

  • Why it matters: The international soccer tournament is the world's most widely viewed sporting event. Matches can deliver a super-sized economic jolt to the host cities, Axios' Thomas Wheatley and Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi write.

πŸ₯… FIFA revealed the schedule for the tournament, which will be hosted jointly by 16 cities across Mexico, the U.S., and Canada.

  • The first game will be in Mexico City's famed Estadio Azteca.
  • Dallas' AT&T Stadium will host a total of nine matches, including a semifinal, the most of any U.S. city.
  • Miami's Hard Rock Stadium will host one of the quarterfinals and the third-place game.

Share this story.

8. 🎀 1 for the road: Taylor's surprise

Taylor Swift on stage at the Grammys
Taylor Swift accepts the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album last night. Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Taylor Swift broke the internet by teasing a new release as she accepted a Grammy last night.

  • The new album, Swift's 11th β€” not counting her ongoing project of re-recording her previous work β€” is titled "The Tortured Poets Department" and will be out April 19.

Swift also made history: "Midnights" won Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year, making her the first artist to take home the top album award four times.

Killer Mike
Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision via AP

Earlier in the night, Atlanta rapper Killer Mike was escorted from the arena in handcuffs and detained after he won three Grammys.

  • Police spokesperson Officer Mike Lopez said the arrest stemmed from an altercation inside the arena around 4 p.m., AP reports.
  • The rapper, whose real name is Michael Render, was booked on a misdemeanor, then released on his own recognizance. He's scheduled to appear in court in L.A. on Feb. 29.

Mike won Best Rap Album for "Michael." He also was awarded Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

  • Video: Killer Mike in cuffs.

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