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State Senate Leader Drops Carbon Tax Proposal, Unveils New Cap-and-Trade Plan

One of Governor Jerry Brown's more controversial budget proposals has gained new support. The state Senate's top Democrat Darrell Steinberg said on Monday he now favors the idea of using climate pollution fees to help fund high-speed rail.

Should California Lawmakers Be Allowed to Work a Second Job?

The suspension last month of three Democrats from the state Senate for legal problems has put ethics front and center in Sacramento. Lawmakers have proposed scores of new bills, and legislative staffers have tackled extra ethics training. But there's one issue that hardly anyone is talking about: four in 10 lawmakers have some sort of outside job or income.

PBS NewsHour

New poll gives Senate Democrats hope in the South

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina is in a tight race with state House speaker Thom Tillis, one of four southern
         Senate contests that could determine control of Congress next year, according to a New York Times poll. Photo by Mary Knox
         Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina is in a tight race with state House speaker Thom Tillis, one of four southern Senate contests that could determine control of Congress next year, according to a New York Times poll. Photo by Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Southern states could hold fate of Democratic majority in Senate
  • Battle for women voters hits airwaves in Colorado, Michigan
  • In defense of Stu Rothenberg
  • Line items: Clawson wins Florida GOP primary, Dole heads back out on the trail, North Carolina GOP debate recap & more

Battle for control of Senate runs through the South: Wednesday’s New York Times headline that reads “Poll Shows Tight Senate Races in Four Southern States” has to be welcome news for Democrats hoping to hold on to the majority in the chamber next year. The Times’ Jonathan Martin and Megan Thee-Brenan write: “Four Senate races in the South that will most likely determine control of Congress appear very close, with Republicans benefiting from more partisan intensity but a Democratic incumbent, once seen as highly vulnerable, holding a surprising edge, according to a New York Times Upshot/Kaiser Family Foundation poll.” The survey shows Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor with a 10-point lead over his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton. In North Carolina, Democrat Kay Hagan holds a narrow 42 percent to 40 percent advantage over GOP frontrunner Thom Tillis, the state House speaker. Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu has an early lead over a field of Republican candidates that includes GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy. The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is “effectively tied” with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky. Just 40 percent of Bluegrass State voters approve of McConnell, while 52 percent disapprove. Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate. After West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, which appear to be the most likely GOP pick-ups, three of the next four targets for Republicans are in the South (the other being Alaska). If Democrats are able to keep states like Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina competitive through November, and force Republicans to play some defense in Kentucky, then it will be a positive sign for the party’s chances of holding onto the majority in the Senate. The Times’ Upshot forecaster currently has Democrats with a 51 percent chance of holding the Senate, a shift from earlier this month when Republicans had a 54 percent chance of a takeover.

2014 watch — The war over women voters in Colorado & Michigan: A pair of television ads released Tuesday in Senate battlegrounds Colorado and Michigan signal that both parties are looking for an edge when it comes to women voters this year. In the Centennial State, Democrat Mark Udall’s first spot of the cycle attacks GOP Rep. Cory Gardner for his opposition to abortion rights and past support of a so-called “personhood” measure that would have granted an embryo the same legal rights as a person. It’s a familiar game plan for Democrats, who’ve used controversial statements by Republicans in past cycles (such as Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment in 2012) to characterize GOP candidates as extreme when it comes to women’s issues. In the Wolverine State, Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has come up with a playful response to charges from Democratic Rep. Gary Peters that she — as a woman — is waging a war on women. As we’ve noted in this space recently, women voters have acted as a strong indicator of electoral success in recent years.

Elsewhere in the battle for 2014, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich released his latest re-election spot, “Polar Ice”, that again plays up his anti-Washington credentials. As with his previous ad, “Road”, Begich hops off his snowmobile to talk about how he fought his party and the Environmental Protection Agency to open up the Arctic to new oil and gas development. By touting his support of Alaska’s interests and his family’s roots in the state Begich is hoping to create some distance between himself and the Obama/Democratic Party brand in a state that Mitt Romney won by 14 percent in 2012.

Well, if you had to pick an upset: Speaking of Colorado, our colleague Stu Rothenberg wrote about becoming part of the political spin machine for saying that if he had to call an upset, it would be Gardner over Udall. As Rothenberg writes, he still tips the race in Udall’s favor slightly. But his pick of Colorado could have been ours, too, if you had to pick a dark horse. The choices would basically be Colorado and New Hampshire on the Democratic side and Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Iowa, Michigan, and Georgia are open seats, though Michigan (if a Republican wins) and Georgia (if a Democrat wins) would be surprises given the respective bents of the states. Virginia is a longer reach, and Oregon and Minnesota are even further for Republicans, as is Mississippi for Democrats. So in a coin flip between the strength of the candidates in New Hampshire and Colorado, on a gut level, Colorado has seen some conservative backlash that could put Udall in more danger than Jeanne Shaheen or McConnell. It’s just a fun POTENTIAL upset pick. But how silly has our political system gotten? Do fundraising emails and blaring headlines go out if Charles Barkley or Kenny Smith says to watch Mercer over Duke? Not that that would ever happen…

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1789, President George Washington moved into the first executive mansion in New York. What year did the White House become the presidential residence, and during what administration?
Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer @NewsHour, @rachelwellford, @DomenicoPBS, and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. No one guessed Yesterday’s trivia correctly. The answer was: William Ruckelshaus

LINE ITEMS

  • War heads? The U.S. is sending about 600 soldiers to Eastern Europe for NATO exercises as a direct response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

  • Businessman Curt Clawson won the GOP primary in Florida’s solidly Republican 19th district for the seat of former Rep. Trey Radel. After this ad, we’ll see if the former Purdue basketball player is invited for a game at the White House.

  • The Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes that Bob Dole has returned to his home state of Kansas this week and is “running for nothing but is nonetheless running hard.” Dole also tells the Wichita Eagle that he doesn’t think first-term Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have “enough experience yet” to run for president.

  • Arkansas GOP Sen. John Boozman underwent emergency heart surgery on Tuesday. Boozman’s office released a statement saying “he responded well.”

  • Jennifer Steinhauer examines the possibility of an all female presidential ticket in a time when there’s never “been so much rising female talent in the Democratic Party.”

  • Mitt Romney donated $10,000 to former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s legal defense fund.

  • North Carolina state House speaker Thom Tillis emerged from Tuesday’s GOP debate at Davidson College “largely unscathed” from tea party candidate Greg Brannon’s attacks on his conservatism. Early voting for the May 6th primary begins Thursday, and the four candidates will debate again on Wednesday and Monday.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., picked up the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. Politico’s Manu Raju looks at how Graham outmaneuvered the tea party and now appears to be on his way to winning re-election this fall.

  • Conservative lawmakers in South Carolina are taking on public universities, voting to cut funding for the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate for assigning books with themes of homosexuality.

  • Americans for Prosperity is up with their second ad attacking New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on her support for the Affordable Care Act. The group is also releasing ads in Louisiana, Colorado and Michigan Wednesday, Roll Call reports.

  • Matea Gold rounds up the new “max-PACs” Republicans are developing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision. Democrats don’t have immediate plans to create comparable fundraising operations to coordinate among their three party committees.

  • CNN reports the DNC has asked 15 cities to submit proposals to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

  • Massachusetts lawmakers advanced a measure Tuesday that would make the fluffernutter the official sandwich of the Bay State.

  • Wednesday is the 9th anniversary of the first YouTube video.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

TOP TWEETS

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter:

The post New poll gives Senate Democrats hope in the South appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Florida race highlights shadowy role of Super PACs

Republicans Curt Clawson, state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and state Rep. Paige Kreegel are vying for
         a chance to compete for Florida's 19th congressional district left vacant by Rep. Trey Radel.

Republicans Curt Clawson, state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and state Rep. Paige Kreegel are vying for a chance to compete for Florida’s 19th congressional district left vacant by Rep. Trey Radel.

Today in the Morning Line:

The Morning Line

  • Nasty Florida special election highlights super PAC, personal money
  • Obama Asia trip complicated by other events
  • Biden in Ukraine
  • Checking in with the Kentucky Senate primary

Radel replacement — establishment vs. personal wealth: Voters in southwest Florida’s 19th congressional district head to the polls Tuesday to elect candidates to replace resigned Republican Rep. Trey Radel. Radel, the freshman member who was caught buying cocaine in Washington, D.C., the first member of Congress to hold that dubious distinction. The primary, which will likely decide Radel’s replacement because of its heavy Republican tilt, has been called one of the nastiest in the region’s history and has been marred by negative advertising, according to the Naples Daily News. With a whopping $4 million spent on TV ads, the race between state establishment candidates and a moneyed outsider is also shining a light on the shadowy world of super PACs.

The favorite appears to be Curt Clawson, a former auto executive, with state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto second. Clawson has spent almost $3 million of his own money on the race, but super PACs have spent about $2 million supporting Benacquisto and state Rep. Paige Kreegel. Benacquisto has benefited from $667,000 from the patriotic-sounding Liberty and Leadership Fund. Another group, Values Are Vital, has spent $1.3 million for Kreegel. Benacquisto denies any connection to Liberty and Leadership, but as National Journal reports, “it has the same address as her own PAC, Alliance For a Strong Economy.” And Clawson accused Kreegel of illegally coordinating with Values Are Vital, run by a close Kreegel friend, an allegation Kreegel denies and for which Clawson provided no evidence. Neither PAC has spent any money in any other race in the country. It’s something to watch — whether these kinds of candidate-specific PACs crop up, particularly in primaries, as ways around fundraising limits. There hasn’t been a lot of good polling in this race, but two automated polls put Clawson ahead, one by double-digits and an earlier one showing him up by mid-single digits. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee have endorsed Benacquisto. Clawson is backed by Tea Party Express and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Polls close at 7 p.m. EDT.

Obama goes to Asia: After stopping Tuesday in Oso, Wash., where 41 people were killed in a massive landslide last month, President Obama will continue on to Asia for a weeklong, four-country swing through Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. The trip comes as the president attempts to finalize an expansive new free-trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. When it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the president faces hurdles at home and abroad. Action on the trade pact has stalled in Congress due to opposition from Democratic lawmakers, who contend the deal would result in lost jobs for American workers. Politico notes that the U.S. and Japan are “locked in a tough negotiation over longtime Japanese barriers to U.S. agriculture and automotive exports.” Beyond the trade agreement the president also faces questions about his commitment to putting a greater diplomatic focus on Asia. The New York Times’ David Sanger and Mark Landler write that the “rebalancing” effort has been sidetracked by crises elsewhere around the globe.

Biden in Ukraine: While Mr. Obama heads abroad, tensions are running high in Ukraine. Vice President Joe Biden is there to show support for the Kiev government, saying the U.S. would help it in the face of “humiliating threats” from Russia. That comes, as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Ukraine of violating the terms of the fragile peace deal, raising fears that Russia could go further. “Steps are being taken, above all by those who seized power in Kiev, not only that do not fulfill, but that crudely violate the Geneva agreement,” Lavrov said. Biden also warned Ukraine needs to fight corruption, noting the problem of Ukraine being tied to Russia economically for oil and raising the stakes for the May 25 election, saying it “may be the most important election in Ukrainian history.”

McConnell looks strong for primary home stretch: For all that’s been made of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s primary challenge in Kentucky, he’s hitting the home stretch with under a month to go before the primary, in what appears to be pretty good shape. A poll out last month had him up nearly 40 points over conservative challenger Matt Bevin. McConnell outraised Bevin by a lot last quarter ($6.4 million to $514,000) and had a lot more cash on hand ($10.4 million to $455,000). Bevin lost his top spokeswoman, which is never a good sign. And McConnell’s up with an ad for the final month of the primary. There’s a reason he’s smiling. McConnell still appears to be in a tough race for the fall, with polls showing him essentially tied with Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. But Democrats hoping McConnell would be hobbled by a tough primary look like they will be disappointed.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1970, the United States observed the first Earth Day. President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency later that year. Who did Nixon appoint as the first director?
Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer @NewsHour, @rachelwellford, @DomenicoPBS, and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. No one guessed Yesterday’s trivia correctly. The answer was: 9 vice presidents.

LINE ITEMS

  • Sounds like a big deal… National Journal: “The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a case that could shape the future of television and even the Internet.”

  • Neil Eggleston will replace Kathryn Ruemmler as the new White House counsel.

  • Sam Stein of the Huffington Post reports that Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants the White House to support his effort to bring back earmarks.

  • Tribune’s David Lauter writes that Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have improved as the “health care drag eases.” His numbers do appear to have leveled off slightly, but they still are middling in the low to mid 40s.

  • Voters in Alaska will get a chance to vote on a minimum-wage increase and the legalization of marijuana this November.

  • FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten writes that Democrats shouldn’t get too comfortable with the party’s Electoral College advantage in recent cycles.

  • Rep. Tom Cotton highlights his military service in his latest positive spot in the Arkansas senate race. It’s likely the first ad featuring a drill sergeant.

  • The Democratic Governors Association has donated $500,000 — the largest contribution — to Charlie Crist’s political committee, proving, as Marc Cupoto writes in the Tampa Bay Times, that “this is real.”

  • National Journal finds that not a single Republican in Congress has mentioned Earth Day since 2010.

  • Senate Democrats are headed to Silicon Valley this week to raise funds for the midterms.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau is considering dropping some of their questions that some Americans find “nosy”.

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been named Father of the Year by the the Father’s Day-Mother’s Day Council — for the entire country.

  • The Republican National Committee is looking to raise some coin off of former President George H.W. Bush’s socks.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

TOP TWEETS

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

NewsHour Desk Assistant Chelsea Coatney contributed to this report.

Follow the politics team on Twitter:







The post Florida race highlights shadowy role of Super PACs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Was the Supreme Court ruling a setback for voting rights?

U.S. Presidential Election Day Voting And Results Coverage

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

GWEN IFILL: As you just heard, the Supreme Court’s rulings continue to resonate on any number of critical issues. And as the midterm elections approach, we turn our attention tonight to one decision that could have immediate impact.

In the nearly-a-year since the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, five states have tightened access to voting. From Texas to Virginia, state and local governments have taken steps to require voter identification, eliminate same-day registration, and to limit voting hours and locations.

The Obama administration is now pushing back, launching its own investigations into polling place complaints. The president himself has led the charge, speaking earlier this month in New York.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But the stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago.

GWEN IFILL: Former President Bill Clinton suggested the Supreme Court decision was a setback for civil rights during a speech at the LBJ Library two days earlier.

FMR. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: And all of a sudden, there are all new barriers to voting to make it harder to vote. Is this what Martin Luther King gave his life for? Is this what Lyndon Johnson employed his legendary skills for?

GWEN IFILL: Eleven states now have strict voter I.D. laws on the books, while seven others are working to loosen restrictions.

Officials in the affected states long argued that Justice Department scrutiny is no longer needed and a bigger threat is posed by people who abuse the franchise by voting under duplicate names or at incorrect locations.

Part of the backdrop in Senate the debate, who votes. Non-whites make up 37 percent of the U.S. population. But, in 2012, they made up just 28 percent of the electorate. The percentage was even lower, 23 percent, during the 2010 midterm elections. That’s the year Republicans took back control of the House.

We take a closer look now at a state where the fight over voting laws has been gathering steam, North Carolina.

Joining me are Republican State Representative David Lewis and Kareem Crayton, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

So, since the Supreme Court, Professor Crayton, ruled last June, how have things changed in your home state?

KAREEM CRAYTON, University of North Carolina School of Law: Well, a number of things happened fairly quickly after the court adopted its decision.

One thing was, an omnibus voting bill was adopted that essentially undid a lot of the progress that North Carolina had made over the last basically decade or so in making voting more accessible and easier for citizens to cast their ballots. And the omnibus bill did, among other things, it rolled back same-day registration. It limited the number of days that one could access early voting.

And most significant in what is in courts right now being litigated is the effort to impose new requirements on voter I.D.s.

GWEN IFILL: Representative Lewis, as someone who presumably voted for that legislation, explain why.

DAVID LEWIS, R, North Carolina State Representative: Well, thank you so much for the chance to be with you.

And as I have said repeatedly during the debate, it has been our goal to make sure that every person who is eligible to vote is fully able to vote, and encouraged to do so.

We felt like that there were some additional procedures, some commonsense things that needed to be passed to improve the overall integrity of the process, to make sure that everyone who wanted to vote was able to vote and that those votes cumulatively would determine who wins and who loses elections.

GWEN IFILL: As you probably are aware, President Obama and Attorney General Holder and even former President Clinton spoke in the last couple of weeks saying this was a setback for voting rights. What is your response to them?

DAVID LEWIS: I would have to respectfully disagree.

As I have said all along, it is our intent that everyone who is eligible to vote be able to go to the ballot box and exercise their sacred right to participate. But it’s important to point out that if we don’t have logical safeguards — the professor pointed out in his opening remarks that we no longer have same-day registration.

Well, the reason we don’t is because there was no way to have enough time to do the mail verification process to make sure that someone who registers and voted on the same day is, in fact, entitled to vote. So the election would be over, the election results would be in, and then we find out that perhaps this person shouldn’t have been able to vote at all.

So I would respectfully say that I think a lot of the noise out of the left right now on voting rights is more of a political issue meant to energize their base and to agitate, maybe even to scare some folks. Certainly, it has been our intent, as we have said all along, that everyone who is entitled to vote gets to do so.

GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Professor Crayton to respond. There is a lot there to respond to. Take your pick.

KAREEM CRAYTON: Well, I think, to begin with, I think everyone who is entitled to vote is every citizen in the state of North Carolina. It’s an entitlement to have the right to vote. And it shouldn’t be limited, except in circumstances it seems to me — and I think the court decisions have supported this view — unless there are really significant issues or rationales on the other side.

And I think the problem really that is reflected in the legislature’s omnibus bill is, some of it doesn’t really fit the evidence that is on the record as to what the problem is they’re trying to solve. There’s not really a great deal of evidence at all of the kind of corruption or fraud that seemingly is motivating the legislature.

But I think the other thing about common sense that the representative raises, I think everybody likes to encourage decisions that are reflecting commonsense values. But when a voter I.D. bill, for example, says we want you to show valid photo I.D. that they don’t permit, say, at the University of North Carolina, where I work, a student who has voter I.D. that shows his picture and who he is, that is not permitted to be used in the voting polls, it seems to be not really reflective of the common sense that I think most North Carolinians sort of expect.

GWEN IFILL: So what do you think is the motivating force behind these laws?

KAREEM CRAYTON: Well, some of it, of course, is, as, you know, I think most people recognize, the Republicans have taken over the legislature.

And, you know, just as Democrats do in some case, they want to have structural options that make it more likely that their voters come out and others that don’t. But I think the other element of this that is troubling, more troubling to me, frankly, is that when there is evidence that there are disparate levels of access to the ballot by having some of these rules in place, particularly disparate levels with respect to race, where African-Americans are less likely to be able to get access to the ballot because they have used early voting in the past, when you put bills into place that make that less available, it creates problems that I think require greater attention.

And the Voting Rights Act made legislatures pay closer attention to it. Without having Section 5 review in place, we now have to litigate in order to get that attention.

GWEN IFILL: Representative Lewis, that is a lot on your plate now. He talked about race. He talked about fairness. He talked about partisanship. How much do any of those things play a role in this debate?

DAVID LEWIS: Well, as the professor knows, why, yes, citizenship is the threshold that must be met in order to be able to vote.

So the courts have ruled that things like requiring voter registration are in no way an impediment to being able to exercise that right. And, as far as the number of days that are allowed for early voting, I would encourage the professor and all of your viewers to look across the country at the average number of days, and you will find that most states across the country have eight days. North Carolina has 10.

We also passed language in the legislation that said we have the same number of hours in which that the voters could go to the polls and exercise their right. The thoughts were exactly like in my own home county, that more one-stop sites would be opened up in order to meet that, so that the person who wakes up early in the morning and gets their kids ready for school and goes to work and works all day and picks the kids up from day care has just enough time to get home and prepare the meal.

GWEN IFILL: But let me ask you this.

Is it fixing a problem — that you have evidence that fixed a problem that existed?

DAVID LEWIS: Well, we definitely have evidence, as I said, that folks that — some folks that registered to vote on the same day were never able to be verified.

We don’t know if they were actually eligible to vote or not. We think it does make sense to present a photo I.D., that the photo matches the name to say who you say you are. The professor referenced student I.D.s  Doesn’t it not make sense that if are you going attest, as the constitution of North Carolina calls for, that you are a resident of the state, that you would have taken time to have gone to the DMV and to get your driver’s license or to get your non-operator’s license, if this is truly your home, if this is the home in which are you going to exercise that precious right to vote, certainly being able to obtain an I.D. at no direct cost to you can’t be considered an impediment to voting.

GWEN IFILL: Well, this sounds like this is an issue that the administration is certainly not going to give up on.

And we’re going to — the Supreme Court may have just started this argument.

Kareem Crayton from the University of North Carolina and David Lewis with the North Carolina House of Representatives, thank you very much.

DAVID LEWIS: Thank you.

The post Was the Supreme Court ruling a setback for voting rights? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Putin, Ukraine continue to test Obama

An armored personnel carrier with a Russian flag drives outside the regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian
         city of Slavyansk Monday. Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

An armored personnel carrier with a Russian flag drives outside the regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk Monday. Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Ukraine violence threatens peace deal
  • Keystone delay won’t eliminate the pipeline midterm politics
  • The Jeb scrutiny cometh
  • Where money’s spent as important as how much

Ukraine: The fragile peace deal in Ukraine looks to be in serious jeopardy after three more people were killed, this time by pro-Russian separatists. Both sides traded blame with Ukraine’s prime minister accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of wanting to “restore the Soviet Union.” Don’t miss that he also asked for “real support” from the West to build up its military to hold off Russia. With President Barack Obama’s approval of his handling of the situation in Ukraine in the 40s, some in the U.S. continue to use it as a political cudgel. Sen. Bob Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said he believes Russia will take control of Eastern Ukraine and accused the Obama administration of enabling. “I think the administration is basically saying to Russia, look, don’t do anything overt, don’t come across the border with the 40,000 troops, don’t embarrass us in that way, but you can continue to undermine the sovereignty of Ukraine by doing the things that you’ve done,” the Tennessee senator said on Meet the Press. The New York Times, however, reports that President Obama is aiming to isolate Russia and Putin in a similar way to after World War II “by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state.” Vice President Biden will be in Ukraine for the next two days. Mr. Obama Tuesday is set begin travel to Asia, where he would rather focus on trade. It’s yet another Asia trip complicated by other issues. He canceled an Asia trip in October because of the government shutdown.

Keystone politics: The Obama administration’s indefinite extension of the government’s review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline may punt a decision beyond November’s midterm elections, but it’s unlikely to take the issue off the table for the rest of the campaign. Republicans seized on the delay to hammer vulnerable red state Democrats who support construction of the pipeline as “completely powerless” when it comes to their influence with the president. For some Democrats, such as Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, the move provides an opportunity to highlight their differences with Mr. Obama, who holds low approval ratings in their home states. Landrieu called the decision “irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable,” while Begich said he was “appalled” by the delay. Politico notes the decision is more complicated for other Democrats, like Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who’ve yet to take a firm stance on the project. It’s also important to remember that environmental activists provide Democrats with a fair amount of grassroots energy — and MONEY, which will be needed to help mobilize voters this fall. By pushing off a final decision, the administration is hoping it can keep those folks engaged while not causing at-risk members too much political heartache.

2014/2016: House Majority PAC has reserved $6.5 million in fall television advertising in 24 districts, but as the Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan notes, three-quarters of those districts are Democratic-controlled, “underscoring Democrats’ challenge this year: Even as the minority party in the House would like to make gains, it has plenty of vulnerable seats to protect.” The reservations are coming several months earlier than in 2012 — a clear response to GOP outside spending. Some of the biggest buys: AZ-1, AZ-9, CA-52, CO-6, FL-18 and NY-18. … Dan Balz reports that Democrats aim to spend more on field organizing in places like North Carolina than on television buys than in past elections. … And Jeb Bush is attracting a similar level of presidential scrutiny as Hillary Clinton, with the New York Times looking into how he made his money after leaving office.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this date in 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first U.S. Vice President. Adams was later elected to the presidency. How many vice presidents have become presidents by being elected? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer @NewsHour, @rachelwellford, @DomenicoPBS, and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. No one guessed Friday’s trivia correctly. The answer was: the Nixons met doing community theatre.

LINE ITEMS

  • Some 36,000 runners from around the world will compete in the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that this year’s marathon will be “a fun day and a safe one.”

  • A new report from the Government Accountability Office details how the Obama administration solicited private funds to promote the health care law.

  • Ukrainian officials allege covert Russian forces are behind unrest in the East.

  • The Obama administration’s lack of decision on the controversial Keystone Pipeline could create campaign woes from Democrats.

  • In an interview with ABC News, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said politics can dictate when a justice chooses to step down. Judy Woodruff will speak with Justice Stevens on Monday’s NewsHour about his newest book: “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

  • Rick Perry’s political prospects could be in peril, with a grand jury considering whether the Texas governor abused his power by threatening to veto $7.5 million in state funding for the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates public corruption.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., are still trying to salvage an extension of long-term unemployment benefits.

  • The Clinton Presidential Library on Friday released the “conspiracy commerce memo,” which was created by the Clinton administration to detail how Republican conspiracy theories made their way to mainstream media.

  • Jonathan Martin: “Democrats could ultimately see some political benefit from the [health care] law. But in this midterm election, they are confronting a vexing reality: Many of those helped by the health care law — notably young people and minorities — are the least likely to cast votes that could preserve it, even though millions have gained health insurance and millions more will benefit from some of its popular provisions.”

  • White House records from the George W. Bush administration could be available faster than any of his predecessors.

  • In a very atypical race in the current political climate, a moderate Republican is looking to upset a conservative California congressman.

  • House Republicans have proposed legislation that would suspend the pay of federal officials who are found in contempt of Congress.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraised their Republican counterpart by $400,000 in March.

  • Getting back to fundraising after a year off, American Crossroads raised more in March than in the previous 14 months combined, but their fundraising base includes three corporations and just 21 individuals, with the average donation exceeding $218,000.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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