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Wake Up To Politics - December 9, 2016 - Last Newsletter of 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

42 Days until Inauguration Day
697 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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From the Editor's Desk

  • This will be the last edition of Wake Up To Politics of 2016. Next week, I have finals (wish me luck!), and then I'll be going on Winter Break. When Winter Break is over, Wake Up To Politics will return to continue covering the presidential transition and other important stories.
  • 2016 has truly been a banner year here at WUTP. It was an honor to cover the presidential election for you, from the Iowa Republican debate I attended back in January of this year to covering the results exactly a month ago today.
  • The election may be over, but WUTP will continue, and will continue to grow and change, and I am looking forward to navigating the news with all of you in 2017. Wake Up To Politics returns on Tuesday, January 3: the exact day that the 115th Congress will convene for the first time, and just two weeks before the presidential inauguration. In other words: there's going to be plenty of news when I get back, and I am looking forward to writing it up for you.
  • Have a great next few weeks (and a happy New Year)...see you back in your inbox next month!

Gabe Fleisher
Wake Up To Politics

P.S. Just one last time, I'd like to thank you all for reading and trusting my reporting and analysis in this crazy election year. Thank you also to those who subscribed in 2016 and have stuck around (and I hope you will keep reading in 2017 as well!) The WUTP mailing list more than doubled this year, gaining almost 1,000 subscribers. Thank you everyone: I'm sorry to go so soon, but I think I'll need the sleep as I study next week. Trust, me I'd rather by writing Wake Up To Politics.

Transition Central

  • Trump Taps Fast-Food Executive for Labor Secretary President-elect Donald Trump announced another Cabinet pick on Thursday, formally announcing that the reins of the U.S. Labor Department would be held by fast-food executive Andrew Puzder.
  • Since 2000, Puzder has served as president and CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl's Jr., Hardee's, and other brands. “Andy Puzder has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans, and his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate to lead the Department of Labor,” the President-elect said in a statement. “Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve, and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages.”
  • Puzder, 66, is an Ohio native who moved to St. Louis in 1978, where he met Carl's Jr. founder Carl Harcher, who asked Puzder to become his personal attorney. In 1997, Puzder was named Executive Vice President and General Counsel of CKE, and has led the 75,000-empliyee company for 16 years.
  • Puzder could have a difficult time during his confirmation hearings, as he will be asked to answer for a number of past statements and actions. Puzder has been accused of abusing his wife, and also has a string of questionable quotes: to Business Insider, the Labor Secretary-designate said that he welcomed increased automation over human labor; to Entrepreneur, Puzder defended Hardee's ads with scantily clad women eating suggestively, saying that he "like[s] beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis" and "I think it's very American."
  • After has nomination was announced, union leaders criticized the appointment, noting his opposition to raising the federal minimum wage and an Obama Labor Department rule expanding overtime pay. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement that Puzder's "business record is defined by fighting against working people," while incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the appointment "the surest sign yet that the nest cabinet will be looking out for the billionaires and special interests, instead of America's working class."
  • Trump's pick was also criticized by some on the right; conservative website Breitbart, which was very kind to Trump during his candidacy, wrote Thursday that Puzder "stands diametrically opposed to Trump’s signature issues on trade and immigration." Breitbart's former CEO chaired Trump's presidential campaign and is set to become Chief Strategist in the Trump Administration.
  • Puzder, however, was praised by National Retail Foundation senior vice president David French as "someone with the real-world experience to understand workforce issues and how jobs are created." The nominee himself said in a statement: “I am honored to be nominated by President-elect Trump for Secretary of Labor. I look forward to the opportunity to help President-elect Trump restore America’s global economic leadership. The President-elect believes, as do I, that the right government policies can result in more jobs and better wages for the American worker. I’m proud to be offered the chance to serve in his Administration.”
  • Puzder was an early donor to the Trump's presidential bid, and served as a Senior Economic Advisor to the campaign and as Finance Chair for the Republican nominee's California campaign. Puzder was also an economic adviser to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and served as a delegate to the two most recent Republican National Convention.
  • The President-Elect's Schedule President-elect Donald Trump has two stops today: a "thank-you" rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, continuing his post-election tour; and a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he will campaign for Republican Senate candidate John Kennedy.
  • The Louisiana Senate runoff election will be held on Saturday, the final race of the 2016 election. Republican John Kennedy is expected to win over Democrat Foster Campbell, according to polling conducted in the race.

Capitol Hill News

  • Today in Congress The U.S. Senate convenes at 10am today, exactly 14 hours before the government is set to shut down if no funding bill is passed.
  • The House passed a continuing resolution in a 326-96 vote on Thursday, which would keep the government open through April 28 with select few changes to current spending levels (including funding for the Flint, Michigan water crisis, the Louisiana flooding, California drought, and other issues), essentially punting a debate over funding until the spring.
  • However, attempts to pass the bill in the Senate were unexpectedly held up by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other coal-state Democrats, who are threatening to shut down the government if the continuing resolution does not extend an expiring program giving health insurance to retired miners and their families.
  • The Democratic efforts, supported by the leadership and led by Manchin and other Democrats up for re-election in 2018 (including North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and Ohio's Sherrod Brown), have postponed a procedural vote on the stopgap funding solution until Saturday morning, meaning the government will shut down for at least a few hours.
  • It is unclear if Democrats will have enough votes to block the CR from advancing (they will need 41); if they do, both houses of Congress will have to scramble to make some sort of compromise. If any change is made to the continuing resolution, it will have to be passed again by the House, which had been scheduled to go on break for the holidays.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell (R-KY), who also hails from a coal-state, said Thursday that he would prefer the program be extended, but could not ensure that addition to the CR since it was written in the House. The current spending bill includes a four-month extension of the insurance, which Manchin called "inhumane" and a "non-starter."

Smart Reads

  • Before Wake Up To Politics takes off for a few weeks, here is your final roundup of Smart Reads relating to the day's news:
  • "Three times in his Senate career the late John Glenn really had the right stuff" (Washington Post): John Glenn died at age 95 on Thursday. Glenn was best known for his pioneering exploration of space as one of NASA's first seven astronauts and the first American to orbit the Earth. He also served four terms representing Ohio in the U.S. Senate, and here his legislative career is recapped.
  • "You're Hired? Inside the interviews as Trump picks Cabinet" (AP): What's it like to sit across the President-elect for a job interview?
  • "2018 Senate: The Democrats Are Very Exposed (UVA Center for Politics): With the 2016 election a month behind us, Sabato's Crystal Ball turns to 2018. Democrats are facing a difficult year, with 25 seats to defend - compared to just eight Republicans up for re-election. That is the most lopsided year since 1970, when Democrats again had to defend 25 and Republicans eight.
  • "Trump Democrats? 10 Senators Face Voters in 2018 in Red States (Bloomberg): And not only do Democrats have a lot of seats to defend, many of them are in states that voted for Donald Trump in huge majorities last month.

Today's Trivia

  • Answer Yesterday's question, submitted by Dr. Scott Heinzel, was: which former U.S. surgeon general made groundbreaking advances in the separation of conjoined twins?
  • The answer: C. Everett Koop, who served as Surgeon General under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, known for his work to prevent tobacco use, AIDS, and abortion. As surgeon-in-chief at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, before his appointment by Reagan, Koop invented a number of techniques to separate conjoined twins, performing groundbreaking procedures that allowed him to be the first to separate twins conjoined at the pelvis in 1957 and twins conjoined at the spine in 1974.
  • GREAT JOB...Mimi Hirshberg, Rick Isserman, Jon Sky, Brad Chotiner, and Ray Slavin!
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation", St. Louis Public Radio, the Political Junkie podcast, and on StoryCorps; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki"; and read about Gabe in Politico, the Washington Post, Independent Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salon, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.