1/ Biden suggested that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas could begin as soon as next week, saying talks were “close but not done yet.” Negotiators are nearing an agreement that would halt Israel’s military operations in Gaza in exchange for the release of many of the more than 100 remaining hostages being held by Hamas. Biden also confirmed that Israel had agreed to pause fighting in Gaza during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which begins in two weeks. He added that Israel risks losing “the overwhelming support of the vast majority of nations” if its “incredibly conservative” government continues down its current path. Israel, however, said it was “surprised” by Biden’s optimism of a ceasefire deal. Meanwhile, an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington to protest Israel’s war in Gaza. Aaron Bushnell livestreamed his self-immolation on social media, declaring that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide […] I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all.” Bushnell repeatedly yelled “Free Palestine” until he collapsed to the ground. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / NPR / CNN / Axios / CNN)

  • ✏️ Inside the Democratic rebellion against Biden over the Gaza war. “Biden’s campaign has been surprised by the depth of anger and frustration over Israel. ‘We are getting hurt more than we anticipated’ by Biden’s support for Israel, one senior campaign adviser said.” (Reuters)

  • ✏️ Biden Faces ‘Uncommitted’ Vote in Michigan’s Primary. “A protest vote against President Biden’s policies on Israel will show the extent of Democratic divisions, while Donald Trump is favored to win again as Nikki Haley presses on.” (New York Times)

  • ✏️ Biden’s Stance on Israel-Hamas War Sows Reelection Risks. “Tuesday’s primary in the crucial swing state of Michigan may deliver a symbolic rebuke to the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Much of its sizable Arab-American population blames Biden for siding with Israel and failing to stop the fighting. Many younger voters and Black Americans agree, and there’s a grassroots push to vote ’uncommitted’ instead of endorsing the president, who has no serious challengers for the Democratic nomination.” (Bloomberg)

  • ‌✏️ In Michigan Primary, Voters Vent Anger at Biden Over Gaza. “Michigan is home to the largest percentage of Arab-Americans in the U.S., many concentrated in Dearborn, represented in Congress by Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the lone Palestinian-American member of Congress. She and the city’s Arab-American mayor have backed the ‘uncommitted’ protest.” (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Speaker Mike Johnson was “unequivocally” clear that he wants to avoid a government shutdown during an “intense” private meeting with Biden and other congressional leaders. Biden summoned the top four leaders of Congress to the White House with four days to go until federal funding partially runs out. “I think that it’s Congress’s responsibility to fund the government,” Biden said. “We’ve got to get about doing it. A shutdown would damage the economy significantly. I think we can all agree to that. And we need bipartisan solutions.” Johnson, who is facing pressure from Biden, Democrats, Senate Republicans, and the ultraconservative wing of the House, said he believed they could come to an agreement and that Republicans were working in “good faith” on spending negotiations. “We’re very optimistic,” he added, saying that preventing a shutdown was “our first responsibility.” Aid for Ukraine, however, remains in doubt with Johnson refusing to take up the $95 billion aid package that the Senate passed earlier this month. “The need is urgent,” Biden demanded. “The consequences of inaction every day in Ukraine are dire.” Johnson, nevertheless, claims the Senate’s package “does nothing” to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, saying: “The first priority of the country is our border and making sure it’s secure.” (Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / Axios / ABC News / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The former FBI informant charged with lying about the Bidens will be held in custody indefinitely because he poses a significant flight risk. Federal prosecutors indicted Alexander Smirnov on Feb. 14 for falsely telling the FBI that a Ukrainian energy company had paid bribes to Biden and his son Hunter. The bribery claim was a central part of House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into Biden. House Republicans, meanwhile, subpoenaed Attorney General Merrick Garland for records from special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents. The chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees linked the request directly to their ongoing presidential impeachment inquiry, which centers on allegations that Biden and his family engaged in corrupt business practices. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / CNN / Axios / The Hill)

4/ Democrats in New York unveiled new congressional maps designed to help them retake the House majority this fall after voting down district lines proposed by a bipartisan redistricting committee. The map improves Democrats’ chances of picking up seats in two districts, but leaves the partisan makeup of 24 of the state’s 26 districts largely intact. (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press)

5/ Senate Democrats demanded a vote on a bill to federally protect in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments. The Access to Family Building Act, introduced in January by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who had her two daughters via IVF, would add federal protections for those seeking IVF and other reproductive assistance methods. Duckworth asked the Senate for unanimous consent, effectively daring Republicans to block its passage. Under unanimous consent, any one senator can object to moving the bill forward. In 2022, Duckworth tried to call for unanimous consent to pass the bill, but Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith blocked it without explanation. “Donald Trump suddenly supports IVF after crowing and claiming and taking credit for the fall of Roe v. Wade. You can’t do both,” Duckworth said. “And so let’s find out tomorrow if any Republicans show up to block the unanimous consent […] If you truly care about the sanctity of families, and you’re genuinely, actually, honestly interested in protecting IVF then you need to show it by not blocking this bill on the floor.” (Politico / Axios / CBS News / The Hill / NPR)

6/ Republicans in the Tennessee House passed a bill to ban displaying pride flags in public school classrooms. The legislation on behalf of parents who were concerned about display of the pride flags the classroom. The bill would prohibit public schools from displaying flags other than the U.S. and Tennessee state flag. While the measure would allow schools to display the POW/MIA flag, a flag that represents a city or metropolitan government or an official school flag, among other exceptions, it does not explicitly prohibit display of the Nazi or Confederate flags in schools. The 70-24 vote sends the legislation to the state Senate, where a final vote could happen as early as this week. (The Tennessean / Associated Press / The Hill)