Andrew Desiderio Profile picture
Senior congressional reporter @PunchbowlNews, covering the Senate. Proud Italian-American 🇮🇹 & Philly native.
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Feb 12 4 tweets 1 min read
Sen. Tillis is going off on GOP critics of the supplemental

“I mean really guys? Sending billions of dollars to Ukraine so oligarchs can buy yachts? Is that all you’ve got?”

He also says it’s not a “forever war” in Ukraine because the funding only lasts 10 months Tillis: “This is not a stalemate. This guy [Putin] is on life support… He will not survive if NATO gets stronger.”
Feb 12 5 tweets 1 min read
New — Senate GOP Ukraine hawks dig in

Tillis: “Our base cannot possibly know what’s at stake at the level that any well-briefed U.S. senator should know about what’s at stake if Putin wins”

McConnell slams “dimmest & most shortsighted views” of critics… Tillis says a majority of R’s back the supp & some are voting no bc of politics

“Take a look at filing periods for some states—if we don’t need [their vote], it’s very difficult to explain this to people...The minority of our conference has an outsized volume on the issue”
Feb 7 4 tweets 1 min read
NEWS here — Schumer will force a vote on a clean foreign aid bill after GOP blocks the border supplemental this afternoon. McConnell & other top R’s called for this yesterday.

Package would be Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan + FEND Off Fentanyl Act

Senate likely to stay if this gets 60 Schumer informed Dems & WH last week that this was his backup plan if Republicans killed the border security compromise.

There is a path to 60 here. Several Republicans told me yesterday that they’d vote for the clean foreign aid package w/o border. McConnell endorsed too.
Jan 3 5 tweets 1 min read
Schumer just gaggled outside the Senate chamber. Some highlights.

Schumer dinged Johnson for his border trip: “It’s very nice that you go to the border. But the way to get something done is work, as we are in the Senate, on a bipartisan solution to the border crisis.” “When the House clings to H.R. 2 as the only solution… we’re not going to get a deal,” he added. “If the Senate gets something done in a bipartisan way, it will put enormous pressure on the House to get something done as well, and not just let these hard-right people dictate...”
Oct 9, 2023 5 tweets 1 min read

Top admin officials told senators to prepare their constituents for a long war in Israel & the Gaza Strip, indicating that U.S. support — both tangible & political — will be necessary in the coming weeks

Admin looking to establish domestic political expectations

(1/5) The officials, Acting Deputy SecState Victoria Nuland & Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker, suggested an imminent funding package isn’t necessary

BUT they said new security assistance for Israel should be included in Ukraine-focused supplemental

Apr 25, 2023 4 tweets 1 min read
Warren now asking Senate to approve the promotion for the next U.S. military representative in NATO.

Tuberville objects. Tuberville: “This is not about abortion... This is about a tyrannical executive branch walking all over the United States Senate and doing our jobs.”
Nov 20, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
NEW from Halifax 🇨🇦 — U.S. lawmakers cheer the overwhelming defeat of election-deniers in key midterm races as they seek to promote democracy at home & abroad

GOP Sen. Rounds: “It just was a lesson that the American people are smarter than that”

#HFX2022… Sen. Rounds, who had his own dust-up with Trump over election-denialism, cited “a failure by some candidates to have the courage to publicly say to their supporters that there was no evidence that would have changed the outcome of the [2020] election.”

w/ @connorobrienNH
Oct 20, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
NEW: As GOP divisions on Ukraine aid spill into public view once again, the White House is considering one last big $$$ request before Republicans likely win the House.

“This is no time to slow down, let alone stop,” says GOP Rep Fitzpatrick

w/@JonLemire… Privately, Biden aides think McCarthy will blink. But for many on the Hill, including lots of Republicans, his comments to Punchbowl this week only heightened the urgency to include a big Ukraine aid package in the omnibus in December — right before GOP likely takes over.
Oct 10, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
NEWS—Senate Foreign Relations Chair Menendez is about to call for an immediate freeze of U.S. cooperation w/ Saudi Arabia.

Menendez has veto power over foreign weapons sales.

“I will not green light any cooperation w/Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position” on Ukraine. story TK w/ @connorobrienNH
Aug 27, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
BREAKING — The U.S. intelligence community will assess potential damages to national security stemming from Trump’s handling of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told top lawmakers Friday

Scoop w/ @nicholaswu12… Haines to Maloney/Schiff: ODNI will lead an “assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of the relevant documents.” She says this will not “unduly interfere with DOJ’s ongoing criminal investigation.”
Aug 26, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
Here’s DOJ explaining, in the memorandum of law just unsealed, why releasing the affidavit without redactions would harm the investigation and lead to the harassment/intimidation of witnesses. “For example...”
Aug 12, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
House Intel Republicans start off their press conference by condemning violence against law enforcement & expressing support for FBI rank and file Image “There were many other options available to them,” Rep. Turner says. He also said it’s “disturbing” that there was apparently an informant around Trump.
Aug 9, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
1/ Just got off the phone with Rep. Turner, the top R on House Intel, who made a more nuanced case for seeking info on the Mar-a-Lago search — rather than a knee-jerk defense of Trump w/o knowing the basis for the raid, as we’ve seen from other GOPers.… 2/ Turner argues the only possible justification for this kind of search of an ex-POTUS’ home is if there’s a clear national security threat related to Trump’s possession of WH docs. As of now, he doesn’t know of one.

“This is not like he has 10 library books he hasn’t returned”
Aug 7, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
The saga over Pelosi’s Taiwan visit may be over, but the Biden administration is still trying to cool temperatures on the Hill over Taiwan.

How a bipartisan Senate bill to overhaul U.S.-Taiwan relations was punted to September amid pushback from the WH >>… It authorizes $4.5B in security assistance & designates Taiwan as a major non-NATO ally, deepening U.S. ties to the island. It was supposed to be voted out of committee last week.

But the Biden admin is once again trying to cage the hawks on the Hill & is now suggesting changes
Jun 22, 2022 5 tweets 1 min read
Senate Foreign Relations Committee just gaveled in for its first hearing on Finland’s & Sweden’s accession to NATO. Witnesses include Karen Donfried, Europe chief at State, and Celeste Wallander, a top DoD official.

Senate is expected to take up ratification after recess SFRC Chair Menendez says Turkey’s “eleventh-hour” roadblocks “only serve Putin’s interests.” (Turkey wants Finland/Sweden to take a harder line against the PKK.)
May 20, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
NEW: Inside McConnell’s bid to quash GOP’s Ukraine ‘isolationists’

In interview, McConnell tells me he called Biden before Ukraine trip & said he wanted to blunt Trump’s influence by reassuring allies that “Republicans still believe NATO is important.”… Before the Ukraine trip, McConnell told Biden “I want to reinforce with the Europeans after some loose talk during the Trump years about whether NATO is important, that at least at the moment, the most important Republican we currently have in Congress has a different POV”
May 19, 2022 5 tweets 1 min read
NEW: The Senate is on track to quickly approve Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO bids — and most of the Republicans who voted against the Ukraine aid package told me they will support the defense treaties, setting up an overwhelming vote.… A few wild cards: Lee/Paul, who voted against Montenegro in 2017 & North Macedonia in 2019, are undecided on Finland/Sweden.

Hawley is “not an automatic yes” but seemed amenable to it after meeting with Finland’s amb. (He opposes expanding U.S. security commitments in Europe.)
May 5, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
NEW: A bipartisan supermajority approved a non-binding measure that opponents say undercuts the Biden admin’s efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal & essentially endorses the Trump-era Iran policy.

Why this is an ominous sign for the U.S. negotiators —… Though symbolic, it was the first real test of Hill support for the bid to re-enter JCPOA. Durbin predicted half the Dems who backed the motion would ultimately side w/ Biden. Menendez, who told me the deal would “help fuel [Iran’s] progress,” called the vote a “strong statement”
May 5, 2022 9 tweets 2 min read
The Senate is voting now on a non-binding motion from @SenatorLankford on prohibiting the Biden admin from lifting the terrorist designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. This needs 60 votes to pass.

Will be interesting to see how many Dems vote for this. For context: the IRGC’s designation as a foreign terrorist organization is a key sticking point in the ongoing nuclear talks. Lots of Dems (especially in the House) have said they oppose doing this as part of a nuclear agreement with Iran.
Apr 22, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
NEW: Biden will ask Congress for more Ukraine aid next week, but it won’t be easy to get it to his desk. Here’s why.… No question Ukraine aid would pass overwhelmingly as a standalone. But Schumer has indicated he wants to pair it w/ Covid aid, which was sidelined before the recess when R’s demanded votes on Title 42. With Dem pressure on Title 42 only growing, this puts Schumer in a tough spot.
Apr 20, 2022 7 tweets 3 min read
U.S. Capitol Police alert just now: “The USCP is tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat to the Capitol Complex.”

Immediate evacuations ordered More —