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Wake Up To Politics - April 18, 2017




I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Tuesday, April 18, 2017. 567 days until Election Day 2018. 1,295 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

Today is Tax Day, since April 15 (the usual date) fell on a weekend and Monday was Emancipation Day (a holiday in D.C. marking the date that slavery was ended there). File your taxes!

Speaking of taxes... Spicer questioned on White House transparency Just like everyone else, President Donald Trump also has to file his taxes today. But, in a break with tradition, he won't be releasing his returns. Every President since Richard Nixon has released their tax returns, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer made clear on Monday that Trump still did not plan to follow in the tradition, in keeping with his refusal to do so during the campaign.

Why? Spicer cited the same IRS audit that Trump has referred to before, claiming that it precluded the President from releasing his tax returns. However, the IRS has said that individuals under audit are free to release their tax returns. In fact, USA Today pointed out on Monday that all presidents' tax returns are immediately audited, which did not stop Trump's modern predecessors from releasing them regardless. Asked if President Trump would ever release his tax returns, Spicer responded: “We’ll have to get back to you on that."

The press secretary was also hit with questions on the Trump Administration's refusal to release records of the White House visitor logs, which the Obama White House did for eight years. Spicer dismissed the necessity of the visitor logs, saying their release under Obama was "not really an honest attempt" at transparency and that no president before Obama released them. Spicer also defended the Administration's decision due to reasons of national security.

The President's Schedule President Donald Trump heads out of the White House bubble today, departing for Milwaukee, Wisconsin at 12pm Eastern Time. He will touch down in Milwaukee at 1:15pm; at 2pm, the President will tour the headquarters of Snap-On Tools, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, located in House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)'s congressional district. White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday called Snap-On "a prime example of a company that builds American-made tools with American workers for U.S. taxpayer."

At 2:20pm, Trump will deliver remarks on manufacturing at Snap-On Tools, before signing an executive order directing federal agencies to take steps towards implementing his "Buy American, Hire American" initiative at 2:50pm. Most notably, the order will ask for proposals on reforming H-1B visas, which are given to foreign nationals to work in the United States for high-skill jobs, generally in science, technology, or engineering.

The President will depart Milwaukee at 3:45pm Central Time, arriving back at the White House at 6:45pm Eastern Time.

--- According to the New York Times, this will be the eighth state Trump has visited since taking office. By comparison, President Barack Obama had visited nine states and three foreign countries at this point in his term; President George W. Bush had visited 23 states and one foreign country. President Trump will make his first foreign trip next month, for the NATO meeting in Brussels.

--- What POTUS is reading: "Trump spurs small-business optimism in Milwaukee area," a headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday. President Trump tweeted the article, adding, "See you tomorrow Wisconsin!"

High-Stakes Special Election in Georgia Voters in Georgia's 6th congressional district will head to the polls today in a high-stakes special election to pick a replacement for Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price. The race, being held in a district won by President Trump by only 1.5% in 2016 (even as Price won re-election by 23%), is seen as a referendum on the first three months of the Trump Administration and will be closely watched for signs it might provide about the nation's mood and the 2018 elections.

Today's election will use the "blanket primary" system, meaning all candidates from both parties will be on the same ballot. If no candidate gets over 50% of the vote, the top two advance to a runoff election in June. The main Democratic candidate is former congressional aide Jon Ossoff, 30, while Republicans have at least six major candidates. According to RealClearPolitics, Ossoff averages at 43% in polling, followed by former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel at 17%, businessman Bob Gray at 13%, and then the rest of the GOP field.

The race has gotten national attention from both sides, with Democrats itching for a victory after widespread losses in November and Republicans hoping to prove that they can maintain their House majority. If polling is correct, Ossoff will likely end the race somewhere in the 40's, but margin matters: Democrats hope he can get to at least 45%, showing momentum ahead of the runoff (Hillary Clinton received 46.8%). Any percentage below that would show a difficult path ahead for Ossoff. Polls show a razor-thin race between Ossoff and either Handel or Gray. There is a slim chance that Ossoff could clinch the election today, although many disregard that scenario.

Democrats have poured money into the race: Ossoff has reported over $8 million in fundraising, a huge amount for a House election. Although they don't have a candidate yet, national Republicans have also been urging Georgians to vote: President Donald Trump tweeting a number of times about the race and recorded a robocall asking voters to "stop the Washington liberals from taking your Congressional seat and your money and your safety."

--- Polls will be open from 7am to 7pm Eastern Time...WUTP will have full results in tomorrow's newsletter...

Gorsuch Joins Oral Arguments as a Justice Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch joined his first oral arguments from the bench on Monday, hearing three cases a week after being sworn in to the nation's highest court. Gorsuch wasted no time jumping in to the proceedings; according to Supreme Court scholar Adam Feldman, Gorsuch spoke up in the 11th minute of his first oral argument, and asked 22 questions of the lawyers, more than any of the other sitting justices in their first cases. Gorsuch, 49, is no stranger to oral arguments: he comes from the Supreme Court after nearly 11 years on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Today, Gorsuch and his fellow eight justices will hear oral arguments in two cases: Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., which asks whether debt buyers should be regulated as debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; and Kokesh v. SEC, which asks whether a limitation period applies to SEC disgorgement claims.

Shutdown Clock... We are now TEN DAYS away from the expiration of the current government funding package on April 28; if no new funding plan is passed by then, the federal government will shut down. Where are the House and Senate? On a two-week recess: the latter returns on April 24, the former on April 25.

The Republican Party is divided on what changes to make in the temporary spending bill needed to keep the government open: the White House wants funding for the President's proposed border, the House Freedom Caucus is demanding that the measure defund Planned Parenthood, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his allies are threatening a shutdown if military spending is not increased.

Ryan's issue: Planned Parenthood is unlikely to be defunded in the measure, due to opposition to such a provision by a number of moderate GOP senators. If it is not included, much of the House Freedom Caucus would likely defect and vote against a funding plan. If that happens, Speaker Ryan would be forced to rely on Democratic votes to keep the government open - votes he will only get if the border wall is also not funded, making it possible that zero Republican priorities will be achieved in the spending bill.

In the Hopper Interesting bills recently filed in Congress...

From the left: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R.2093 to add to the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives a majority of Cabinet officers the right to declare the President unfit. Under Blumenauer's bill, former presidents and vice presidents would also get a say in the decision, since the President could fire his Cabinet.

From the right: Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced H.R. 2090, which would require photo ID for voting in federal elections, a step many states have already taken.  

Today's Trivia This is the 242nd anniversary of Paul Revere's famous ride. But Revere wasn't the only one who warned Americans of the British army's arrival on this night in 1775...name one of the other colonists who performed the same task alongside him.

Email me at trivia@wakeuptopolitics.com with your answer; correct respondents get their name in tomorrow's newsletter!