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Wake Up To Politics - April 29, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, April 29, 2019. 280 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 554 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

2020 Central

Former Vice President Joe Biden kicks off his 2020 campaign today, holding his first public event at a Pittsburgh union hall, where he will "lay out his vision for rebuilding America's middle class," according to a spokesman. Biden launched his campaign last Thursday, and quickly asserted himself by announcing the highest Day 1 fundraising total of any of his rivals, although his launch was complicated by his hesitation to apologize to Anita Hill for his handling of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991. Now, Biden is seen as a "wobbly 2020 front-runner" by top Democrats, according to Politico.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Sunday (which asked respondents to name the candidate they supported, without giving them any options to choose from) found that Biden leads the field, supported by 13% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at 9% and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 5%. But the majority of Democrats remain uncommitted to any primary candidate: 54% did not volunteer a candidate when asked.

Biden's first event taking place at a union hall is no coincidence: he is planning to draw on his longtime ties to labor in his campaign. The former VP officially earned the backing of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the first major labor union to make an endorsement in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, this morning.

--- "Biden and Obama’s ‘Odd Couple’ Relationship Aged Into Family Ties" (New York Times)

--- "Beto O’Rourke switches his style and tone as the spotlight dims" (Washington Post)
--- "Nominate a woman? Some Democratic women aren’t so sure" (Associated Press)

--- "In reversal, Pete Buttigieg to refund $30,000 in donations from lobbyists" (CNN)

--- Who's left? The 2020 Democratic presidential field already comprises 21 declared candidates, but there may still be more to come. 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is planning on announcing whether she will run for the Senate today or Tuesday, according to ABC News. If she decides against waging a Senate bid, Abrams has raised the possibility of making a run for the White House. In addition, Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MA) appears to be gearing up for a potential presidential bid, according to Politico Playbook, hiring a series of high-profile staffers (including in Iowa).

The Rundown

--- Congress returns: Both chambers of Congress return to Washington today after a two-week recess. One of the top questions facing lawmakers will center around the dispute between House Democrats and the Trump administration on a variety of oversight matters. Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, as well as before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, although he has threatened to cancel the latter appearance over a disagreement with Democrats about the questioning format for the hearing. Meanwhile, a resolution appears to have been reached in the dispute over former White House personnel security director Carl Kline's testimony before the House Oversight Committee. Kline is now expected to sit for a limited interview with the panel on Wednesday.

--- New this morning: The Washington Post's Fact Checker has updated their database of President Trump's statements. The president has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims since taking office.

--- RIP: "Former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, a foreign policy giant, dies" (USA TODAY)

--- Recommended reads: Two good Washington Post profiles of central figures in the Trump orbit... Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs, the president's immigration whisperer, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, one of the lone Trump Cabinet "survivors."

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White House schedule

--- At 12:45 p.m., President Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence. At 3:45 p.m., the president welcomes the 2019 NCAA Divison 1 women's basketball national champions, the Baylor Lady Bears, to the White House.

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. today. Following Leader remarks, the chamber will resume consideration of the nomination of William Cooper to be General Counsel of the Department of Energy. At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will hold a cloture vote on the Cooper nomination.

--- The House convenes at 2 p.m. today. The chamber is expected to consider three pieces of legislation:

  1. H.R. 1222 – Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act
  2. H.R. 91 – Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act
  3. H.R. 317 – Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Land Affirmation Act of 2019, as amended

Supreme Court schedule

The Supreme Court justices will release orders from their Friday conference at 9:30 a.m. today. There is a possibility that they will also release opinions at 10 a.m.

2020 schedules

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a campaign stop at the Teamsters Local 249 union hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

--- South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg has lunch with Rev. Al Sharpton at the historic Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, New York, joining a long line of politicians to join Sharpton at the establishment.

--- Miramar (FL) Mayor Wayne Messam holds a town hall in Des Moines, Iowa.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) tours the irrigation facilities at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California, and holds a roundtable with Modesto Junior College students.

*All times Eastern