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Wake Up To Politics - December 5, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

46 Days until Inauguration Day
701 Days until Election Day 2018I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!

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Transition Central

  • Trump to appoint Carson to lead HUD President-elect Donald Trump announced Monday morning that he plans to nominate retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, handing a plum policy post to a former rival turned top ally.
  • Carson, 65, has no government experience. He served as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital from 1984 until retiring in 2013; at the time of his appointment, Carson, then 33, was the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the country. Carson's political career began with his February 2013 keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he criticized President Barack Obama's policies while the President was sitting just feet away.
  • The speech made Carson a celebrity in conservative circles, leading to his invitation to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) later that year, and the beginning of a "Draft Carson" movement. In May 2015, Carson announced his presidential campaign; although he did not win a single primary, and dropped out in March of this year, Carson did have momentum in the race for a time, becoming one of the few candidates to ever overtake Donald Trump in primary polling.
  • Trump and Carson were friendly toward the beginning of the presidential race, the two outsiders in the top tier of polling, but Trump began to criticize Carson as the latter rose in polls, calling him "sleepy" and accusing him of "total fabrication," referencing a story from Carson's childhood. “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?” Trump said of Carson during the primaries.
  • After Trump's attack, Carson's momentum fizzled out; he endorsed Trump a week after withdrawing from the race, becoming a top surrogate and adviser for the GOP nominee. He is the first African-American Cabinet nominee announced by President-elect Trump.
  • "Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within these communities," the President-elect said, announcing the appointment. "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities."
  • "Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans," he continued. "He is a tough competitor and never gives up."
  • With a budget of $47 billion, HUD is one of the largest federal agencies, managing the federal affordable housing program, and also has a hand in education, transportation, and community development. Although he has limited experience in the sector, Carson did reveal some of his thoughts in a op-ed in The Washington Times last year, in which he criticized a fair housing rule proposed by President Obama.
  • "These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse," Carson wrote in the op-ed. "Based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous."
  • In the statement announcing his selection, Carson said he was "honored" by the appointment, adding: "I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation's housing needs are met."
  • Last month, it was widely reported that Carson had declined a post in the Trump Administration, after his business manager Armstrong Williams told The Hill that "Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he's never run a federal agency," adding: "The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency."
  • However, in recent days, it has become clearer that Carson would indeed take the HUD post. Carson explained his qualifications for the job in a Fox News interview last week: ''I grew up in the inner city," he said, "and have dealt with a lot of patients from that area and recognize that we cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities."
  • With the Carson pick, Trump has announced his nominees for seven of the fifteen Cabinet posts, as well as his choices for UN ambassador, CIA director, National Security Adviser, and other top posts. In addition, the President-elect is expected to formally announce retired Marine Corps general James Mattis as Defense Secretary later Monday, after confirming the appointment at a victory rally in Cincinnati last week.
  • Currently, most attention is being occupied by Trump's decision as to how will be Secretary of State in the new administration. Initially, the short list was seen as being narrowed to former New York city mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, and former CIA director David Petraeus. However, as infighting between allies of Giuliani and Romney intensified, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed Sunday that more candidates were now being considered.
  • On ABC's "This Week," Vice President-elect Mike Pence mentioned former UN ambassador John Bolton, who met with Trump on Friday, as a potential candidate. Other new names are: Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who is meeting with Trump on Tuesday, and retired Navy admiral James Stavridis, first reported by Politico; former China ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, first reported by the Associated Press; West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, first reported by the New York Times; and California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, according to the Washington Examiner.

Capitol Hill News

  • Congress Schedule The Senate will begin the day's meeting at 3pm, and (after Leader remarks) will jump into final consideration of the 21st Century Cures Act. Both houses of Congress have passed the measure unanimously; the Senate must merely approve of a simple change from the House, and then will likely vote to pass the measure this afternoon.
  • The $6.3 billion bill includes funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as other programs such as combatting the opioid crisis and Vice President Biden's "cancer moonshot initiative." Biden will take the rare step of presiding over the Senate as the measure is approved.
  • Meanwhile, the House meets at 12pm, and votes on six measures: the  Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act, Creating Financial Prosperity for Businesses and Investors Act, Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act, Prescribed Burn Approval Act, and Department of State Authorities Act, as well as a resolution "to enhance whistleblower protection for contractor and grantee employees."
  • This may be the last week of the 115th Congress before adjourning; before leaving town, a continuing resolution has to be passed to extend government funding, likely through March.

Today's Trivia

  • Today's Trivia Ben Carson is the first and only doctor to perform what operation?
  • Email me (gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com) with your answer; correct respondents get their name in tomorrow's newsletter!
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