Wake Up To Politics - February 15, 2018
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, February 14, 2018. 265 days until Election Day 2018. 993 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
17 dead in Florida school shooitng
A mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday left at least 17 people killed and fourteen others wounded. The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was a former student who had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons. He was taken into custody about an hour after the shooting and booked into the Broward County Jail this morning; he faces 17 counts of premediated murder.
Cruz is believed to have had an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and multiple magazines, Broward County sheriff Scott Israel told reporters Wednesday. AR-15 style rifles were also used in the recent mass shootings at a concert in Las Vegas, a Texas church, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.
The Parkland shooting was the ninth most-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history; it is the third shooting on the top-10 list to occur since October. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, it is the 18th school shooting to take place in the 45 days since 2018 began.
The shooting immediately brought the gun control debate back to the forefront, with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), an outspoken advocate for the issue since Newtown, taking to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to take action. "This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting, it only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction," Murphy said Wednesday. "We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else."
President Donald Trump spoke with Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) on Wednesday "and offered federal assistance," the White House said; he has also been briefed by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and continues to receive updates from state and federal officials. "My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting," the President tweeted on Wednesday. "No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school."
This morning, he also tweeted about Cruz: "So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior," he wrote. "Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!"
Trump has yet to make a public statement on the shooting. The White House canceled Wednesday's press briefing in light of the tragedy, and has not scheduled one for today. Neither the President nor Vice President have any public events scheduled today.
--- NBC's Peter Alexander on Twitter: "NEW: WH advisors discussing whether Trump would visit the area while he’s in Florida this weekend. The Parkland school - site of Wednesday’s shooting - is about 40 miles from Mar-a-Lago."
--- More.. "Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz: Guns, depression and a life in trouble" (Washington Post)... "The FBI Was Warned About A School Shooting Threat From A YouTube User Named Nikolas Cruz In September" (BuzzFeed)...
Senate to vote on four immigration proposals
A group of bipartisan senators calling themselves the "Common Sense Coalition" introduced an immigration compromise plan on Wednesday, ahead of a series of immigration votes today. The Immigration and Security Act would offer a 10-to-12 year pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million "Dreamers," individuals who arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors, while allocating $25 billion for border security. The plan would limit family-based immigration, but not to the extent that President Trump has demanded, and would not touch the diversity visa lottery program that he wants eliminated. The bill would not allow "Dreamers" to sponsor their parents for citizenship.
The plan is expected to receive a vote today; it must gain the support of 60 senators to advance. The legislation's lead sponsors were Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Angus King (I-ME); seven Republicans and seven Democrats also signed on as co-sponsors. Senate Democratic leaders have endorsed the plan, although some Democrats are hesitating because of the limits on legal immigration; if all 49 Democrats vote "yea," 11 Republicans, three more than the plan currently has, would be needed for it to advance.
The Trump Administration has announced its opposition to the deal. The proposal "destroys the ability of the men and women from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remove millions of illegal aliens,” a statement from DHS said. “It would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them.” The White House has yet to issue a formal veto threat, although one is possible.
The DHS also slammed the bipartisan McCain-Coons plan in a statement, saying it "would increase illegal immigration, surge chain migration, continue catch and release, and give a pathway to citizenship to convicted alien felons." The President has praised the Secure and Succeed Act introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and other Republican senators, which would enact the four pillars of his immigration framework: a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million "Dreamers," a $25 billion trust fund for border security (including the border wall), greatly limiting family-based immigration, and ending the diversity visa lottery.
The Senate is expected to hold cloture votes today on the McCain-Coons plan, which only addresses "Dreamers" and border security; a proposal by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to withhold federal funds from "sanctuary cities," jurisdictions that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officers; the bipartisan Rounds-King bill; and the GOP version of the White House framework.
A proposal needs 60 votes to advance; it is unclear if any of those plans could reach that threshold.
Porter fallout: President Trump said he was "totally opposed to domestic violence" on Wednesday... More than 130 White House officials did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, NBC News reports... A top official on the National Economic Council resigned after being informed he would not receive permanent security clearance, Politico reports... the House Oversight Committee has opened an investigation into the White House's security clearance policy and its handling of the Porter allegations...
2018 Central: 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was set to enter the Utah Senate race today, but postponed his announcement "out of respect for the victims"...
Shulkin, Pruitt travel: "Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general has found," according to the Washington Post... Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) says Shulkin "must RESIGN now"... Shulkin is set to testify before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee today... The Environmental Protection Agency is changing its story on Administrator Scott Pruitt's first-class travel...
Gas tax: "President Trump endorsed a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure at a White House meeting this morning with senior administration officials and members of Congress from both parties," Axios reports... the White House declined to confirm or deny the report; GOP lawmakers are largely opposed to an increase in the gas tax...
Priebus speaks: What was it like serving as Trump's chief of staff? "Take everything you've heard and multiply it by 50," Reince Priebus told author Chris Whipple, according to an excerpt published in Vanity Fair from the paperback edition of his book...
Criminal justice reform: Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to lawmakers criticizing Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley's criminal justice overhaul, and Grassley is "incensed"... The Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the bipartisan legislation, which is opposed by Republican leadership, today...
Russia probe: The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled an interview with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon today after three postponements... Bannon "could be held in contempt if he fails to appear"...
The President's Schedule
At 11am, President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing.
At 1:15pm, he meets with Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Today in the Senate
The Senate convenes at 10am today; the chamber is expected to hold procedural votes on four immigration proposals.
Today in the House
The House convenes at 9am. The chamber is set to consider the ADA Education and Reform Act, which would amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 "to promote compliance through education, to clarify the requirements for demand letters, [and] to provide for a notice and cure period before the commencement of a private civil action."