Wake Up To Politics - April 24, 2018
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, April 25, 2018. 196 days until Election Day 2018. 924 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to approve President Trump's nominee to be Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, on Monday. Just before the vote, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who had previously announced his opposition to Pompeo, decided to support Pompeo and guarantee him the votes needed to advance out of committee. Paul said that his change of heart came because he had "received confirmation" that Pompeo believes "that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan."
"Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State," Paul tweeted.
With Paul's opposition, Pompeo had been expected to fail his committee vote, and likely become the first Cabinet nominee since 1945 to receive confirmation despite an unfavorable committee recommendation. Trump had exerted public pressure on Paul to support the nomination; the president spoke "several times" with the Kentucky senator on Monday, and Paul also met and spoke with Pompeo in recent days. "I will say this about Rand Paul: He's never let me down," Trump said last week. After the vote on Monday, Trump told reporters: "I said he'd never let us down."
Pompeo now heads to the Senate floor, where he is expected to be confirmed with bipartisan support later this week. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) have all announced plans to support the nomination.
The committee vote was 11 to 9, with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) voting "present" to allow Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) to miss the vote; Isakson was delivering a eulogy at the funeral of a close friend.
--- Meanwhile, Trump's nominee to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs, presidential physician Ronny Jackson, is facing an uphill confirmation battle. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has "indefinitely delayed" Jackson's confirmation hearing, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, due to "questions about his background." The hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday.
According to CNN, lawmakers are reviewing "allegations related to improper conduct in various stages of [Jackson's] career" that have came to their attention. Per CBS News, the allegations are related to Jackson creating a "hostile work environment," including "excessive drinking on the job" and "improperly dispensing meds."
Jackson's nomination was already met with skepticism from both sides of the aisle due to questions about his ability to manage the Veterans Affairs Department, the second-largest agency in the federal government. Jackson has served in the White House Medical Unit since 2006, and developed a close relationship with President Trump since he took office.
PRUITT: White House officials are "cautioning Republican lawmakers and other conservative allies to temper their defense" of Pruitt, according to Bloomberg, "a sign that administration support for the embattled EPA chief may be waning." Republican senators have increased calls for hearings into Pruitt's controversies, according to Politico. Pruitt has faced scrutiny over a number of ethical practices, including renting a condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist for $50 a night. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) became the fourth GOP lawmaker to call for Pruitt to resign on Monday.
MIDTERMS: The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) did not have enough valid signatures on his petitions to be added to the June 26 primary ballot, since some had been collected by people who lived outside of his district. Lamborn plans to pursue legal action in federal court.
BUSH: Former President George H.W. Bush, 93, has been admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital "after contracting an infection that spread to his blood," a spokesperson announced Monday. Bush was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, one day after the funeral was held for Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years.
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Voters head to the polls in Arizona's 8th congressional district today, where former Republican state senator Debbie Lesko and Democratic physician Hiral Tiperneni are facing off to succeed former Rep. Trent Franks. Lesko is heavily favored to win the district, which backed President Trump by 21 percentage points in 2016, although the margin is expected to be much closer amid heightened Democratic enthusiasm.
Today is the second day of French President Emmanuel Macron's state visit to the U.S. President Trump and President Macron will hold a number of meetings this morning, and participate in a "joint press availability" at 11:45am. Later tonight, President and First Lady Trump will host the Macrons for a State Dinner, the first they have held in their fifteen months in the White House.
The Senate convenes at 10am today. The chamber will debate the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit. Duncan's nomination was advanced by a 50-44 vote on Monday. The Senate will recess from 12:30pm to 2:15pm during weekly caucus meetings.
The House meets at 12pm today. The chamber is scheduled to consider six pieces of legislation, including the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act, and the No Assistance for Assad Act.
Two political books are coming out today: "Chasing Hillary" by Amy Chozick, a memoir by the New York Times reporter on her decade covering Hillary Clinton, and "The Hellfire Club," a novel about 1950's D.C. by CNN's Jake Tapper.
*All times Eastern