March 15, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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March 15, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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03/15/2023 | 56m 44s | Video has closed captioning.
March 15, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Global markets tumble, as a large Swiss bank acknowledges signs of instability in the wake of two U.S. bank failures.
GEOFF BENNETT: A federal judge hears a case that could force a major abortion pill off the market.
AMNA NAWAZ: And the contentious fight over LGBTQ rights in Tennessee threatens access to HIV care.
JOSH HALL, OUTMemphis: We're talking about lifesaving drugs.
To turn that into a political issue just feels below human.
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening, and welcome to the "NewsHour."
Trouble at a major European bank today has injected fresh turmoil into global financial markets.
Shares in Credit Suisse plunged here and abroad after its largest shareholder ruled out a rescue.
GEOFF BENNETT: That sent key European markets down sharply.
On Wall Street, stocks sold off early, then rallied late.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 725 points at one point, but ended with a loss of 280 points, less than 1 percent.
The Nasdaq ended with a tiny gain of six points.
The S&P 500 dropped 27.
William Brangham picks it up from here.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, does the turmoil in the markets mean that the banking sector hasn't escaped this recent turbulence?
For a better understanding, we turn to Peter Conti-Brown.
He is co-director of the Wharton Initiative on Financial Policy and Regulation at the University of Pennsylvania.
Peter, thank you so much for being here.
This was a yo-yo of a day on the markets, seemingly people spooked by what's happening with Credit Suisse.
But help me understand something.
The Fed earlier this week made this massive intervention to calm the waters, but the waters do not seem to have calmed.
What is going on here?
PETER CONTI-BROWN, University of Pennsylvania: We have different parts of the pond, so to speak.
The -- there is no doubt that the waters for investors in banks is very choppy.
And this matters for banks because, as their values plummet, all kinds of other financial consequences can arise as well.
What the Fed did was focus in more in a different part, which is, what about those banks that are at the very brink of destruction or even past it?
And that's where the Fed was seeking to intervene.
And that's what makes this a banking crisis, is that we have had banks, very large ones, that have failed.
We have banks, very large ones, that have come near to failure.
And the question now for us to ponder is, does the choppy markets for shareholders mean that we have a lot more of those banks that are teetering on that edge, where the Fed has sought to intervene?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And what is your sense about that?
Is this potentially you know, what we're seeing in Europe now, part of a larger contagion or not?
PETER CONTI-BROWN: I don't think so.
I think this is an example of someone who got a very serious cold while also breaking their leg at the same time.
The problems with Credit Suisse have been going on for a very long time.
What we're seeing right now in -- from the Silicon Valley Bank and some of the other banks similarly situated, that looks pretty different.
What they have in common is that it is very hard to be in the business of banking when central banks are raising interest rates.
That's a challenge.
A lot of banks, the overwhelming majority of them, are navigating this beautifully.
Some, like Credit Suisse, like Silicon Valley Bank, like others, have done quite poorly, by comparison.
That's what they have in common.
But the differences are important, because that means that this isn't the beginning of a financial crisis, a long run of dominoes that starts with Silicon Valley Bank, leads to Credit Suisse, and then, all of a sudden, it's 2008 all over again.
I don't think we're there.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, given that, what's your take on the -- this massive federal intervention that happened earlier this week?
Was that warranted?
PETER CONTI-BROWN: You know, it's one of two things.
Neither is good.
Either it was not warranted, and this is a dramatic overreaction, in which case, a lot of quite-well-off, some very large companies, some small companies, were bailed out through the FDIC and the Fed's intervention, being made whole, even though they didn't have that legal entitlement.
never mind the bailouts that have followed with banks that should have gone bankrupt, but didn't because of the Fed support.
That's not good for our politics.
It's not good for our economy.
But that's only if the Fed overreacted.
If the Fed reacted as a crisis fighter should, that we really do have a banking system that's on the brink of collapse, that's not a good place for us to be either.
I'm more inclined to the view that the Fed overreacted, that the Fed overreacted, because having been trained in 2008 and 2020, they see any kind of bank failure as a kind of bank crisis.
But I don't think that's correct.
I think we want to, in a healthy economy, from time to time have bank failures that we can handle just in the usual course of things, as we would with other kinds of business failures.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Some people, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, have argued that recent rollbacks to the Dodd-Frank reforms -- these were the reforms that were put in place after the '08 crisis -- contributed to this crisis we're in right now.
Do they have a point?
PETER CONTI-BROWN: They do.
The key word is contributed.
If they had said that the 2018 rollbacks had caused the crisis, that would be overclaiming.
So it's important to tease out how that contribution occurred.
In 2018, Congress told the Fed in this law - - they gave them very few specifics.
They basically said, pull back.
And the Fed said, we will, and then pulled back, according to the law, and then pulled back further.
The dust is still settling.
Whether that caused the crisis in Silicon Valley Bank, there are good arguments on both sides.
But the best issue at stake is not what happened in the legislation or the regulation, but bank supervision.
Bank supervision is the place where the government and the banks are in constant dialogue with each other.
And, there, the signal sent to supervisors was to do the same, pull back even further.
Now, this is not one of those crises where the red flags were missed.
The bank supervisors were not asleep at the switch.
They would have seen all of this.
What they didn't do is put their hand on the switch to divert the crisis.
And we don't know why.
So I think it's appropriate to say 2018 and the signal from Congress through the Fed to the bank supervisors to the banks was that risk management will be the affair of the banks only.
And the banks, at least in Silicon Valley, have not done a great job of that.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Peter Conti-Brown at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, thank you so much.
PETER CONTI-BROWN: What a pleasure.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other headlines: The state of Texas announced it's taking over public schools in the city of Houston.
It's the nation's eight largest system, with nearly 200,000 students.
The state's Republican education commissioner claimed the school board was rife with infighting and had failed for years to deal with low academic scores.
Democrats argued the move is purely political.
Parts of the Northeast and New England spent today digging out from a powerful winter storm.
Snow totals reached three feet in higher elevations, and some 113,000 households and businesses waited for the power to come back on.
For many, shoveling was the order of the day.
MICHAEL BARBIERI, Massachusetts Resident: After setting the clocks ahead this past weekend, we were all ready for springtime.
This is not what we wanted to do in the middle of March, but it's New England.
We will deal with that.
Hopefully, the ski areas get a few more days of good skiing in.
AMNA NAWAZ: In California, the 11th atmospheric river of this winter moved on today.
It left widespread power outages affecting thousands of people.
And flooding closed several miles of the Pacific Coast Highway south of Los Angeles.
The EPA has issued a final rule to curb smokestack emissions that bring smog to downwind areas.
The new regulation, issued today, will force nearly two dozen states to cut harmful emissions from power plants and other industrial sites.
The EPA says the rule will save thousands of lives.
The mining industry calls it part of a campaign to shut down coal-fired power plants.
Russia and the U.S. had high-level discussions today on the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea.
It happened Tuesday off Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which Russia controls.
The U.S. says a Russian warplane struck the drone.
Moscow denies it.
This afternoon at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he spoke with his Russian counterpart, but gave no details.
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. Secretary of Defense: It's important that great powers be models of transparency and communication.
The United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.
And it is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.
AMNA NAWAZ: The U.S. says the drone was in international airspace over international waters.
The Russians say they have declared parts of the Black Sea off-limits to air traffic during the Ukraine war.
In economic news, the rate of U.S. inflation at the wholesale level slowed last month, a further sign that price pressures may be easing.
The Labor Department reports wholesale prices were up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, but that was far less than the jump in January.
A separate report says retail sales dropped slightly last month after a surge in spending during January.
Federal regulators have approved the first major railroad merger in the U.S. in more than 20 years.
Today's announcement green-lights Canadian Pacific to buy Kansas City Southern for $31 billion.
They are the smallest of the seven major railroads operating in the U.S., but their merger creates the only rail link from Canada to Mexico.
And Americans have a new top dog, for the first time in three decades, the French bulldog.
The American Kennel Club says Frenchies took over the top spot among purebreds last year.
Labrador retrievers had held that position for a record 31 years.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": U.S. support for Ukraine becomes an increasingly divisive issue among Republicans; we examine the most competitive House seats as the 2024 campaign takes shape; Syrians mark 12 years of civil war, as they rebuild from a devastating earthquake; plus much more.
GEOFF BENNETT: Today, a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, heard arguments in a court case that could force the FDA to revoke its approval of mifepristone, which is used as one part of a two-pill regimen for medication abortions.
The lawsuit is being watched closely because medication abortions account for more than half of all abortions in the U.S. and has been relied on heavily since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Sarah Varney is a senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, and has been reporting on all of this.
So, Sarah, take us through the major players in today's hearing.
Who did the court hear from?
SARAH VARNEY, Kaiser Health News: So, in the court today were lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom -- they're a Christian legal advocacy organization -- and lawyers from the Department of Justice that was representing the Food and Drug Administration, and lawyers representing Danco Laboratories, which is one of the manufacturers of mifepristone.
GEOFF BENNETT: Sarah, abortion rights advocates have accused the plaintiff in this case of forum-shopping, of intentionally filing the case in Amarillo, Texas, knowing that it would end up before Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.
Tell us more about him.
SARAH VARNEY: Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk was appointed to the bench in 2019 by former President Trump.
Prior to his appointment, he was a lawyer for a conservative Christian legal organization.
And he's been somebody who's issued opinion after opinion in support of conservative causes, including denying teens access to birth control at federal clinics, which is a story that we reported just about a week or two ago.
GEOFF BENNETT: Which arguments to the judge see most interested in today.
SARAH VARNEY: So, the judge seemed to not be too interested in these objections that the government has over whether or not this organization can even bring this lawsuit, what's called standing, or whether or not they had allowed the time period in which they would have to bring these concerns before the court, that they had said that this long expired.
You have to remember that mifepristone was approved in 2000.
So it's been 23 years that this pill has been on the market.
It's been used by about 5.6 million women in the United States.
It has a very long safety record.
It's very effective at terminating early pregnancies.
But the judge today seemed to focus many of his questions on what the remedy should be and really how quickly and how broadly he could institute a remedy, whether or not that was essentially ordering the FDA to revoke approval of mifepristone, which would require the manufacturer, one of the manufacturers, at least, Danco, to no longer distribute mifepristone around the entire country, not just in states that have banned abortion, but in states like California, Massachusetts, Illinois, that have broad support for abortion rights.
GEOFF BENNETT: Sarah, the judge, as I understand it, took the unusual step of telling lawyers involved in this case to not publicize the date of this hearing.
That's not normal protocol.
And he faced criticism that he was trying to keep the proceedings secret.
Tell us more about that.
SARAH VARNEY: That's correct.
So, there was a pre -- there was a meeting on Friday of the lawyers that are involved in the case that were going to be at the hearing today.
Normally, a judge would put something like this on the public docket.
Journalists and other public members of the public would be alerted that this case was going to be heard on Wednesday.
And it would give us all time to get there and be there in person.
Many judges often even go to the extent where they will video -- they will broadcast, of course, these hearings as well.
But this judge said that he had gotten threats, did not want to have a circus-like atmosphere around the hearing today.
And so, when other reporters found out about this and called it out, he did actually put it on the public docket on Monday.
GEOFF BENNETT: Abortion rights advocates have said that this case could be bigger than Dobbs.
That, of course, is the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Why is that?
SARAH VARNEY: Well, in part from what you said in the introduction, which is that medication abortion has become vital to women in the United States who are seeking to terminate early pregnancy.
So, as you mentioned, about 53 percent of all abortions in the United States are done through medication abortion.
We know that, obviously, it's something that women in states where abortion is legal are getting access to, but even in states like Texas, women there are getting access to some of these drugs.
So it's really become an important avenue for women to access health care in places where they have been unable to go to clinics to get procedural abortions.
But one thing to note is that there is -- you mentioned this -- sort of two-part regimen.
So, mifepristone is taken at first, and then it's followed by misoprostol.
In many places in the world, people do misoprostol-only abortion.
So that is something that clinics around the country are preparing for.
They're starting to put protocols in place to ensure that women have access to misoprostol-only abortions.
GEOFF BENNETT: And lastly, Sarah, when might we get a ruling in this case?
SARAH VARNEY: The judge said today that he would rule as soon as possible.
We have no idea what that means exactly.
But this is a judge that most likely has done a lot of thinking and writing already about this case, and was using today's hearing to bolster some of his arguments and thinking about what the remedy might be that he wants to deliver to these plaintiffs if he rules in their favor.
So it could come as early as this evening or it could come within the next couple of weeks.
GEOFF BENNETT: Sarah Varney is senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News.
Sarah, thanks so much.
SARAH VARNEY: Thanks, Geoff.
AMNA NAWAZ: In Tennessee, a fight has been brewing over another public health issue, HIV.
It comes as several Republican-led states move to restrict the rights of LGBTQ people.
Our White House correspondent, Laura Barron-Lopez, recently went to Memphis, where advocates have sounded the alarm about the looming impact of those efforts.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: On a rainy afternoon, dozens of people crowded onto a sidewalk in the Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis.
WOMAN: We have a right to love, to live, to laugh, to openly be ourselves in the ways we weren't allowed to be as children.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: They stood in front of OUTMemphis, a local LGBTQ rights group, to protest new Tennessee laws that restrict drag shows in public and ban gender-affirming care for minors.
But there was another reason for the gathering.
WOMAN: There are over 20,000 folks infected with HIV, and they deserve our attention.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Demonstrators condemned a move by Governor Bill Lee to reject more than $8 million in federal funding for HIV prevention.
He argues the state should cover those costs, and have more say in who gets the money.
For years, the federal dollars, which come through grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have trickled down to community organizations.
They use it for services like HIV testing, condom distribution, and access to the HIV prevention drug PrEP.
One such group is the Partnership to End AIDS Status, or PEAS.
How much of that CDC funding accounts for your organization?
ROSA BARBER, Partnership to End AIDS Status: Ninety percent of our funding comes from the CDC.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Rosa Barber, the chief operating officer for PEAS, says the organization had to let go of its permanent space due to the funding uncertainty.
On the day we met, they had set up in a small room at a Memphis beauty shop.
ROSA BARBER: We have spent so many years drilling and making people feel good about testing and taking care of themselves.
We built the trust within the community.
So all of this is just going down the drain quickly.
And it's affecting people who look like myself, people who -- like my co-workers, and that's what is heartbreaking about the entire situation.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Emmitte James, who lives just across the river in Arkansas, visits PEAS every few months for condoms.
He's also received testing through the organization.
EMMITTE JAMES, Tennessee: They actually help some people that's not fortunate enough to be able to go to a regular doctor.
We need the prevention and that lets you know it's all safe, that you have people on your side, that you can get health -- health care that you need.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: The Memphis area has one of the highest rates of new HIV cases in the country.
And officials here worry that prevention efforts will be crippled by the governor's decision.
In January, the Tennessee Department of Health sent a letter to community organizations saying the CDC grants would end on May 31.
It said the Lee administration was examining areas where it can decrease its reliance on federal funding and assume increased independence.
Governor Lee declined an interview with the "NewsHour," but his spokesperson said: "The state is committed to maintaining at least the same level of funding and any claim that we are cutting funding is inaccurate."
DR. MICHELLE TAYLOR, Shelby County Health Department: That's not true.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Dr. Michelle Taylor directs the Health Department in Shelby County, home to Memphis.
DR. MICHELLE TAYLOR: This is a loss of funding, because these are federal funds that are earmarked for HIV for testing and surveillance and prevention.
And now populations in Tennessee are going to go without these additional resources.
Even if they are replaced by state resources, they pay for these additional resources that are supposed to come from the federal government.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: In Memphis, like the rest of the country, the people at highest risk for HIV include men who have sex with men, heterosexual women and injection drug users.
People of color are also at higher risk.
But in statements about his funding plan, Governor Lee has emphasized other populations.
BILL LEE (R-TN): Human trafficking victims, on the transmission to first responders, on the transmission from mothers to their babies.
Those are populations that we want to focus on.
And in order to do so, those funds will then be directed at whatever organizations are serving those populations the best.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: According to the AIDS research organization amfAR, in Tennessee those groups make up about 2 percent of the people at risk for HIV.
Lee's administration later said that those groups were -- quote -- "additional vulnerable populations" that the state will serve with its funds.
DR. MICHELLE TAYLOR: If you replace the word HIV with any other condition, if you replace it with diabetes, and you said, OK, the state of Tennessee is about to send back funding for diabetes care, testing, treatment for the population that is most at risk for having this condition, there would be so much outrage, people would say, how dare you send back funding for a health condition that we know people need additional support for?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: HIV advocates here accuse the governor of playing politics, reacting to growing anti-LGBTQ pressure from national conservative figures.
Before rejecting the CDC grants entirely, advocates say, Lee tried to block the money from going to the state's Planned Parenthood chapter, which uses it for condom distribution and training HIV testers.
Francie Hunt is the advocacy and organizing director for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi.
FRANCIE HUNT, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi: After the Tennessee abortion ban, I think that these lawmakers had to turn their attention now to the LGBTQ community and to attack their rights.
What's alarming is that they're not only trying to punish Planned Parenthood politically, but several different community organizations as well.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: When asked, Governor Lee's office didn't say whether the same organizations who currently receive federal funding will now get money from the state.
So where will people access services?
STATE REP. CAMERON SEXTON (R-TN): I would say different associations, different areas of the state, not like Planned Parenthoods, but maybe free health clinics or whatever else may be out there that's a network.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Cameron Sexton is the Republican speaker of the Tennessee House.
STATE REP. CAMERON SEXTON: In Tennessee and in other red states, I think you look, and if you can fund things yourself without the restrictions or the stipulations that the federal government wants to put on you, and you can do it yourself, you're better off funding it with Tennessee dollars, not federal dollars.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Will the groups that are most high-risk, according to health experts in your state, still receive these services?
STATE REP. CAMERON SEXTON: Look, the population that needs HIV prevention with these medications or services will still be able to get it.
Whether they go through this organization or that organization, they will still have the capability of getting it.
Whether you prioritize a certain number or certain locations, you can put that up for debate.
But at the end of the day, I'm confident that, if you're funding HIV prevention, those who need it will get it.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: This change would have impacted you go years ago?
JOSH HALL, OUTMemphis: Yes.
that's immediately what I thought about.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: But people like Josh Hall aren't so confident.
He tested positive for HIV in 2019 and now works for OUTMemphis, which also receives federal funding.
JOSH HALL: It kind of felt like a gut punch, to be honest.
I want to say I'm shocked, but it felt like a little inhumane.
Like, we're talking about lifesaving drugs.
To turn that into a political issue just feels below human.
I find myself at the intersection of a lot of these issues, just being a gay Black man living in a Southern state.
So, it is becoming increasingly hard to live in a state that seems to be directly attacking me.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Organizations like OUTMemphis have asked the CDC if they can bypass the state to continue receiving federal funding.
And while some advocates still hope the governor changes his mind, they worry, if he doesn't, more Republican-led states will follow Tennessee's lead.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Laura Barron-Lopez in Memphis.
AMNA NAWAZ: There is a growing rift within the Republican Party over how, and if to assist Ukraine as its war against Russia enters its second year.
Lisa Desjardins takes a deeper look.
LISA DESJARDINS: In Ukraine today, life, death, and explosions on repeat in the battle for the eastern front.
But the future of this war and the people here now may depend on something new, a fast-rising political conflict.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): No money to Ukraine, and that country needs to find peace, not war.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) STEVE BANNON, Former White House Chief Strategist: We are not a European power.
We are a Pacific power.
LISA DESJARDINS: Republicans, once defined as Cold War hawks distrustful of Russia, are quickly and sharply splitting over U.S. support of Ukraine.
And they're doing it in prime time.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX News Anchor: Last week, we sent a questionnaire to every Republican presidential candidate, announced and potential, asking about Ukraine.
LISA DESJARDINS: FOX News host Tucker Carlson aiming to put Ukraine at the center of the 2024 GOP race.
Former President Donald Trump responded, saying: "Ukraine should expect little money, unless Russia keeps prosecuting or pushing the war."
Trump has long questioned the amount of funding for Ukraine and four Ukraine and how much Europe is contributing, as evidenced this week in Iowa.
DONALD TRUMP, Former President of the United States: If you look at the war, if you look at what's going on, we're spending about $150 billion, and they're at about $25 billion.
I would say that's not right.
LISA DESJARDINS: But now it appears Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, an expected presidential candidate, is staking out an isolationist position.
In his response to Tucker Carlson, DeSantis wrote: "While the U.S. has many vital national interests, becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them."
That elicited this from Carlson.
TUCKER CARLSON: DeSantis is not a neocon.
LISA DESJARDINS: That's a shot at others, like former Vice President Dick Cheney or South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who have seen a U.S. role replacing adversaries, in changing regimes.
This firmly places the two Republicans leading 2024 polls on the isolationist spectrum.
But others see opportunity for contrast, like former Vice President Mike Pence directly taking on DeSantis' words in a radio interview today.
MIKE PENCE, Former Vice President of the United States: The war going on in Ukraine right now is not a territorial dispute.
It is the result of an unprovoked war of aggression by Russia.
LISA DESJARDINS: Also loudly breaking with Trump and DeSantis on this is former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
Last week in Iowa, an audience member interrupted her... NIKKI HALEY (R), Presidential Candidate: Look at how... MAN: Ukraine is not our ally.
Why are we... NIKKI HALEY: Oh, hang on.
LISA DESJARDINS: ... saying Ukraine is not an ally.
Haley responded that Ukraine is a staunch ally and: NIKKI HALEY: This isn't about starting war.
This is about preventing a war.
We need to make sure we prevent a bigger war from happening.
LISA DESJARDINS: As for other potential Republican presidential candidates, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott said that degrading Russia's military is of vital interest to the U.S. And Secretary of State -- former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not respond to Tucker Carlson's questions -- Amna.
AMNA NAWAZ: Our Lisa Desjardins reporting on this important topic.
Also joining us for more here in the studio is our Nick Schifrin.
But, Lisa, back to you for a moment.
When you look at this division among Republicans, what is driving this right now?
LISA DESJARDINS: I spent a good time talking to some ambitious Republicans who are out on the stump and who also are working with donors.
And that gave me an answer, that there really is a split between voters and donors in the Republican Party.
Let's look at where voters are.
In our latest "PBS NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll, we asked, what about support levels for Ukraine?
You can see, among Republicans, 47 percent in that poll said, there's too much support, too much U.S. support.
And then you see the rest of Republican voters, somewhere between not enough and about right.
Now, that indicates there's a split among Republicans.
But what Republicans I talk to, Amna, are seeing is the trend here.
That 47 percent that don't want as much support for Ukraine, that's a huge leap, and the number keeps growing.
Why is that?
Well, some of the suspicions here, some of the -- talking to voters also today, they tell me that they just have a problem after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in trusting the current military leadership and that, overall, there is a sense that the U.S. has problems here at home that it needs to take care of, rather than dealing with things overseas.
Other Republicans, however, as you heard in that story, say, no, Ukraine is a critical battle line, it is about American values and about U.S. interests going forward.
AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, obviously, any future funding to support Ukraine would have to go through members of Congress.
Is this debate, are these divisions influencing that decision, potentially?
LISA DESJARDINS: We're entering an absolutely critical few months in terms of us funding for everything ahead.
I think it's fair to say that the funding debate ahead of us for, let's say, for next four months is going to be potentially one of the most incendiary and unpredictable that we have seen in some time.
And key in that, key in deciding whether Ukraine will get more critical support, as they view it, from the U.S. or not will be the U.S. Senate.
Today, the number two Senate Republican, John Thune, was asked about Ukraine, and I want to play what he said.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): There are lots of different opinions on the U.S. involvement in Ukraine.
But I think the majority opinion among Senate Republicans is that the United States has a vital national security interest there in stopping Russian aggression.
And that certainly the view I have.
LISA DESJARDINS: This will be a real test for Senate Republicans, because a lot of them represent red states.
They are under pressure.
Some lawmakers telling me today that, when they are out talking to voters, the greatest applause lines they get are talking about getting the U.S. out of involvement overseas.
So Senate Republicans, who generally do believe that Ukraine should be supported, will be tested, because, in order for Ukraine to get any money, they're going to need that support in the U.S. Senate.
Overall, Amna, I think you could say this is a real test about how you view Ukraine in the world, how you view Russia's role in the world, the U.S. role in the world, but also how Republicans view their own voters.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, let's talk more about that here in the studio with Nick Schifrin.
Nick, these divisions on how to view Ukraine are clearly emerging among the Republican candidates.
How does all of this align with the Republican foreign policy experts you speak with?
NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes.
No, we spoke to quite a few today and over the last few days.
And, as Lisa is reflecting, there is a split.
First of all, on the establishment, they not only argue that the war is worth it, but they argue that President Biden isn't waging enough war.
They want Biden to send more weapons, F-16, long-range rockets, so that Ukraine can win, avoiding, by the way, a longer war that would, of course, cost even more money.
And as you heard Senator Thune just there, they make these bigger ideological arguments.
Autocracy should not be allowed to steamroll democracy.
Stopping Russia protects NATO and also sends a message to China over Taiwan.
That is the same argument.
you hear from the administration, even today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, when asked about some of this Republican criticism.
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. Secretary of Defense: Ukraine matters.
It matters not to just Ukraine or to the United States.
It matters to the world.
This is about the rules-based international order.
It's about one country's ability to wake up one day and change the borders of its neighbor and annex its neighbor's sovereign territory.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And if that is the establishment argument, then there is the other one.
And that is the Republican base described to me from MAGA to Main Street to Wall Street to the working class.
They do not want to hear about another long war from the establishment, a war that cannot obviously be won, a war whose burdens these people think that they have to pay over these elite.
Number two, Ukraine is corrupt and in Russia's backyard.
Number three, why risk an escalation with a nuclear-powered Russia, who, by the way, was associated, of course, with President Trump's claim of a political hoax, when the real threat is, in fact, China, and we can't do both at the same time?
And what's interesting, going back to Ron DeSantis' statement, because DeSantis is multiple strands of this, right?
The part of this that Lisa highlighted, he started with this ultimate statement: "While the U.S. has many vital national interests, becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them."
But he doesn't end there.
He adds this: "The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders.
These moves would risk explicitly drawing the U.S. into the conflict and drawing us closer to a hot war between the world's two largest nuclear powers.
That risk is unacceptable."
That is an endorsement of President Biden's policy on long-range weapons and escalation.
It is also a rejection of the Republican establishment argument's against President Biden.
AMNA NAWAZ: Continuing to cover every angle of this important story.
Nick Schifrin and Lisa Desjardins, thank you to you both.
GEOFF BENNETT: As the potential 2024 presidential matchups gain attention, the battle lines for the House of Representatives are also emerging.
Both the Republican and Democratic campaign organizations are figuring out their key vulnerabilities and potential districts to win back.
Here with a look at the key House races, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter.
Hello, Amy Walter.
It's good to see you.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: How are you?
GEOFF BENNETT: So control of the House has flipped several times in recent history.
Republicans just picked up the House in this last go-round.
And here we are talking about a potential flip.
So, set the scene for us.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: That's right.
In 51 years, from the 1950s until about 2005, the House only flipped twice.
In the last 16 years, it's flipped four times.
So there's every reason to think that, boy, it will be likely be as volatile in this next election as it has been in that previous 16, in large part because, once again, it's a very narrow majority that Republicans have.
It's a five-seat majority.
And they have a number of districts that are pretty difficult for them in terms of holding onto.
Take the five-seat majority, but you have 18 Republicans who sit in districts that Biden carried.
Now, Democrats have their own vulnerabilities to worry about, but only five of their members sit in districts that Trump carried.
So that initial 23, that's where the parties are focusing right now.
But it's easy to understand why this concept of the House flipping one more time is certainly in -- not only just a possibility, but why the House is considered a toss-up in 2024.
GEOFF BENNETT: Let's talk about the Republicans specifically.
Where, looking at the map, are they most vulnerable?
AMY WALTER: So those 18 districts that I mentioned where you have a Republican sitting in a district that Joe Biden carried, they are in -- roughly concentrated in two states, California and New York.
In fact, for all the good that Democrats had on election night in 2022, for as well as they did, they did so in battleground states.
They did in red states like Ohio.
Pennsylvania also did particularly well.
And yet they came up short in places like New York and California.
What Democrats believe is, we get to a presidential year, presidential turnout will bring out their voters who stayed home, weren't as inspired to come out in the election, where the issues like abortion weren't as hot button as they were in a place like Michigan, for example, those bluer states feeling more comfortable and confident about the state of abortion access in their states.
Come the presidential election, those folks turn out, and those 11 districts are going to be their top targets.
GEOFF BENNETT: Got it.
So, Democrats, what are their political hurdles?
AMY WALTER: Democrats, right.
Their political hurdles not only are those five who sit in districts that Trump carried, but there's this redistricting.
Now, redistricting, we think, ends at the - - once the census comes out at the beginning of a decade, everybody draws their lines, and it's over.
GEOFF BENNETT: Yes.
AMY WALTER: Well, it hasn't been over for a long time.
Actually, we have been seeing in these last couple of redistricting cycles, the courts have gotten involved multiple times.
States have redrawn their lines multiple times.
For Democrats, their biggest hurdle right now is North Carolina, which is legally required to redraw their lines.
But there's a Republican majority now on the Supreme Court.
The thinking is, the map that will pass muster with those justices could put at least three or four Democrats in some trouble.
The other thing, the other hurdle, history.
It has been more than 70 years that the House flipped in a presidential year.
You have to go back to the 1950s since the House has actually changed hands during a presidential cycle.
But going back to what I said before about how volatile things are, part of the reason, though, that history may not repeat is that our turnout has gotten so dramatic, so many people coming out and voting in midterms and in presidential years, that the outcomes now very narrow, but also could be more unpredictable than ever.
GEOFF BENNETT: Yes.
Maps count for a lot.
Messaging accounts for a lot too.
AMY WALTER: That's right.
GEOFF BENNETT: In the 30 seconds or so we have left, how are the parties thinking about that moving forward?
AMY WALTER: Right.
For Democrats, it's, Joe Biden did what he said he was going to do.
Things are back track.
Talk a lot about implementing things like the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
For Republicans, focus on inflation, and trying to make this race once again about failures of the Biden administration to bring the economy back to where they would like to see it.
GEOFF BENNETT: Amy Walter following it all very closely.
Amy, it's good to see you.
AMY WALTER: Thanks, Geoff.
AMNA NAWAZ: Today marks 12 years since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.
What began as civilian protests amid the Arab spring uprisings of 2011 now, by some estimates, has killed at least half-a-million people, displaced millions more and destabilize the region.
Adding calamity on top of disaster, last month's earthquakes laid waste to land already pummeled by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian patron, Vladimir Putin.
In a moment, I will speak with a long time Syria analyst, but, first, a look at what 12 years of war has wrought.
In Northwest Syria, a generation born into conflict, children who've only known life at these refugee camps in a war that began before they were born, 12 years ago.
For families like Um Mohammed's, those years have meant loss after loss.
UM MOHAMMED, Syrian Refugee (through translator): Since 2011, we have suffered at all levels.
My house was destroyed.
My son was killed.
And my second son was arrested 11 years ago.
He is in the prisons of the Assad regime, and I do not have any information about him.
AMNA NAWAZ: Her family is from Ghouta, near Damascus, under a severe siege, and where Assad's regime used chemical weapons in 2013, killing more than 1,000 people.
UM MOHAMMED (through translator): In Eastern Ghouta, we were subjected to a lot of bombardment, hunger and shortages of bread.
We were living in famine because of the siege imposed by the forces of the Assad regime.
AMNA NAWAZ: She lives at this camp with her daughter-in-law, Um Omar, who has also lost most of her family to Assad's airstrikes.
UM OMAR, Syrian Refugee (through translator): Twelve years ago, we were at home.
A missile from a warplane fell on our house and was destroyed.
My father, my brother and my cousin were killed.
AMNA NAWAZ: Her children survived the siege and the earthquake, but their home was destroyed, forcing them here.
UM OMAR (through translator): We are on another journey of displacement.
Look at the mud and dirt in this camp.
My children don't have enough winter clothes, and there is no source of income to buy for them.
AMNA NAWAZ: Mona Zahrawi is raising five children at this camp.
MONA ZAHRAWI, Syrian Refugee (through translator): Life here is hard.
We are here, two families living in one tent.
Children have no clothes or shoes.
I have children of my own, and I am taking care of my deceased sister's orphans.
AMNA NAWAZ: Aya was born in Saraqib City in the northwest, as it was bombed by Assad.
Her parents were killed.
She is now as old as the war itself.
AYA ZAHRAWI, Syrian Refugee (through translator): When the earthquake happened, I thought we were being bombed by airplanes.
I know all about bombing, and I am afraid of its sound.
AMNA NAWAZ: But the man behind that bombing is still in charge.
Today, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with his strongest ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, offering support for his war in Ukraine.
In rebel-held Northwest Syria, thousands of Syrians also marked this day, chanting slogans against the regime and waving the revolutionary flags.
It all began in 2011, when pro-democracy protests swept Syria in the wake of the Arab Spring.
But Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown triggered a civil war that has left a trail of destruction, a country in ruins, and forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes, many on boats to Europe and further afield.
Tens of thousands of people disappeared, many of them presumed tortured and killed in government prisons.
The tragic twin earthquakes that struck Northern Syria on February 6 further tormented a people already ravaged by war, and have also opened diplomatic doors for Bashar al-Assad, after years of international isolation.
Arab countries are slowly restoring ties with Damascus.
But Syrians continue to struggle.
Over 12 million people, more than half the population, are food-insecure.
JONATHAN DUMONT, World Food Program: People there are really tired of the war, and now the earthquake, of having to live on a razor's edge.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan Dumont leads emergency communications at the World Food Program.
He visited Syria this week and found people in dire need.
JONATHAN DUMONT: The situation is pretty, pretty drastic.
And, as you can imagine, with schools and playgrounds being used to shelter people, there's not much -- not many prospects for the next generation to develop as they should.
Syria needs the continued support of the international community.
It needs resources.
It needs infrastructure.
It needs a lot of help.
AMNA NAWAZ: There are some signs that help on the way, but nowhere near enough.
In the meantime, Bashar al-Assad and his regime continue to hold power, continue the killing, and, all these years later, there's still no end in sight.
Murhaf Jouejati is a distinguished visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy.
A native of Syria, he's written widely on Assad and this decade-plus of war.
Murhaf Jouejati, thank you for joining us.
Those earthquakes last month, as we just saw, were absolutely devastating, on top of 12 years of war.
Help us understand the extent of the devastation, the extent of the crisis that Syrians face today.
MURHAF JOUEJATI, United States Naval Academy: It is earthquake upon earthquake.
The latest earthquake, of course, was a disaster, a catastrophe, a natural catastrophe.
But this follows, as you said, 12 years of war, in which half of the Syrian population has been made either refugee or internally displaced, over a million Syrian civilians killed.
Roughly 90 percent of the infrastructure has been destroyed.
So, it has been truly, for Syria, for -- in the past 12 years a calamity after another.
AMNA NAWAZ: Do we know today if the disaster aid, the emergency aid that has been making its way in, is it going to the people who need it most?
MURHAF JOUEJATI: It is really too little and too late.
Whatever assistance has gone in was for the most part taken by pro-Iranian militias at the airports of Aleppo, and either used by them and/or sold on the market.
And so those who are most deserving of this international assistance have not gotten much.
They are relying on their own very, very thin resources.
AMNA NAWAZ: What does this moment mean for Bashar al-Assad?
I mean, we have seen he's been largely isolated, right, over the last several years because of his brutal response to the opposition.
Is he now using this moment to reemerge onto the world stage?
MURHAF JOUEJATI: He has moved from a distance of having Syria suspended from the Arab League for his brutality, of being a pariah state and shunned by the international community to take advantage of this earthquake.
And there have been Arab delegations that have visited Damascus after the earthquake, trying to get Syria back into the Arab fold.
So, Assad is the dictator, the brutal dictator that he is, is fully taking advantage of the earthquake in order to rehabilitate himself before the international community.
AMNA NAWAZ: It's difficult to see a brutal dictator like Assad use this moment, this natural disaster, to, as you said, rehabilitate himself on the world stage.
I'm curious what you think the United States and the international community, what more they could say or do at this moment and how they should be responding.
MURHAF JOUEJATI: I think the U.S. has taken a wise policy, using sanctions as an instrument, as a diplomatic instrument, in order to punish the Assad regime.
The United States and the E.U.
have taken, I think, wise positions vis-a-vis Assad.
It is some of the Arab states that are trying to get him back into the fold, under the illusion that he will diminish Iranian influence in Syria.
I don't think that has happened -- going to happen.
Iran is a conspirator in the mass murder of Syrians with Russia.
So, I think a continuation of the isolation of the Assad regime has to be done.
The Assad regime is truly a rotten apple.
It's about to fall from the tree.
There is no need, no sense in propping it up.
AMNA NAWAZ: What about the people of Syria, Murhaf?
We began our report with these children who have only ever known a life in which their country is at war.
It began before they were even born.
What does their future look like?
MURHAF JOUEJATI: Very bleak.
For the past 10 years, they have not been to school.
So imagine what a generation is going to follow this one.
They have known nothing but brutality and war.
When Assad says that he will leave the moment he feels his people don't want him anymore, well, when you have half the population that has been made refugee, I don't know what kind of legitimacy he thinks he has.
I think he has zero legitimacy.
And, in that sense, I think the international community should continue isolating him until his regime goes away, because his regime, we have to say, has been a major source of instability, not only in Syria, but also in the Middle East.
AMNA NAWAZ: Murhaf Jouejati, distinguished visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy, thank you for joining us.
MURHAF JOUEJATI: Thank you.
Thank for having me.
GEOFF BENNETT: Marc Freedman is the founder and co-CEO of CoGenerate, a company seeking to bridge the divides between people of different ages.
Here, he shares his Brief But Spectacular take on age diversity.
MARC FREEDMAN, Founder and Co-CEO, CoGenerate: One of the most inaccurate and pernicious stereotypes about older people is that their best work is behind them.
There's a mismatch between the life course that we have inherited, which is you jam all the education into the first part of life, all the work into the middle and all the leisure into the end.
That model might have worked when life expectancy was 60 or 65.
But it's not designed for the new longer lives that people are already living and that will be extended even further in the future.
You can't simply work for 30 or 40 years and then live off it for another 30 or 40 years.
It's just not financially possible.
But it's also not psychologically viable.
Older people need what we all need, what Freud described as love and work, a sense of connection, of bonds that matter deeply, and a reason to get up in the morning.
But, for so many decades, older people have been consigned to a world that's both isolated and cut off from that sense of purpose.
We have consciously and systematically separated people by age.
After the turn of the century in the United States, we outlawed child labor.
We created high schools, and, all of a sudden, young people were in settings with other young people.
We created Social Security during the heart of the Depression.
So, each one of these measures had tremendous value.
But when you combine these policies and these innovations, the net effect is a grievous wound.
We have created a society where people of different ages have relatively little contact.
We're living in the most age-diverse society in history.
Half the children born in the developed world since the year 2000 are projected to see their 100th birthday.
That's twice the projection of a century ago.
And we're seeing already four, five, six generations living and working at the same time.
How do you learn to cooperate with someone of a different age if you don't have any contact with them?
So I think we need to hone our skills in working across generations.
And then we also need to develop opportunities for older, younger and people in the middle to mix in the context of daily life.
I think the key is proximity and purpose.
We need to rethink the institutions that have been designed for older people, and do it in a way which bring generations together for mutual benefit and for a greater sense of joy.
Society grows great when older people plant trees under whose shade they shall never sit.
My name is Marc Freedman, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on how we can make the most of the multigenerational moment.
GEOFF BENNETT: And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.