Tuesday, February 28, 2017
616 Days until Election Day 2018
1,344 Days until Election Day 2020
Good morning! Reporting from WUTP world HQ (in my bedroom), I'm Gabe Fleisher: this is your wake up call.
White House Watch
- Trump to Lay Out Agenda in Speech to Congress After a chaotic first 40 days in office, President Donald Trump will attempt to refocus his Administration tonight as he lays out his agenda in an address to a joint session of Congress. All three branches of government will gather — the House and Senate, the Supreme Court, and Trump's Cabinet — to hear the new President give his first remarks in this formal setting.
- According to talking points released by the White House, Trump's message today will be a positive and optimistic one, in stark contrast to the other major speech of his young Administration, the Inaugural Address. The President will focus on the actions he has taken so far to fulfill campaign promises, and then pitch Congress on his top priorities for the months ahead: repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and reform to the tax code. Other issues that will likely be discussed in the speech include education reform, border security, and infrastructure.
- The speech has two audiences: millions of Americans watching at home, some of whom may be wavering in their support for President Trump, but also the lawmakers sitting inside the room, who Trump needs for passage of his goals. So far, even his own party has been divided on plans for Obamacare repeal and tax reform. On Monday, the two most conservative groups in Congress (the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee) announced their opposition to the House GOP's leaked draft bill for Obamacare reform, objecting to a provision giving lower-income individuals tax credits for health care.
- Senate and House Republicans have also had difficulty uniting behind a tax plan, divided over Speaker Paul Ryan's "border adjustment tax," which would increase import taxes to cut corporate and personal tax rates. Tonight, the GOP looks to President Trump for guidance and leadership on the issues, as well as assistance in making the case to the nation for those priorities, which have come under fire at town halls with lawmakers across the nation.
- The President is also expected to talk about his budget request to Congress, which was previewed in an outline released to federal agencies on Monday. The outline proposed a $54 billion increase in military spending, matched by cuts in the same amount to almost every other federal agency, especially the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Internal Revenue Service, and programs such as food stamps. For now, in keeping with a campaign promise, Social Security and Medicare remain untouched.
- According to the White House, "a great rebuilding of the American military" will be part of the agenda he pitches to Congress, as well as "making sure every child in America has access to a good education, "making the workplace better for working parents," and "fulfilling our commitments to our veterans and making sure they have access to the care they need," among other priorities.
- As he speaks about a "stronger, brighter future for our nation," Trump will likely repeat his oft-used line of reaching out to "the forgotten men and women." The White House says he will address the speech to "all Americans as Americans," reaching out to those "living in the poorest and most vulnerable communities, and let them know that help is on the way."
- Although this is not technically a "State of the Union address," many of the same traditions will be fulfilled: the President will invite guests to listen with the First Lady, lawmakers will invite guests (many Democrats are inviting immigrants and Muslim-Americans), and a prominent Democrat will deliver the party's response (former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear).
- Donald Trump is not known to be self-critical, but in an interview with "Fox and Friends" that aired this morning, he made one concession: "In terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or a C plus," he said. This is Trump's opportunity to communicate his message to Congress and to the American people: will he succeed? Check your inbox tomorrow for a summary and analysis of the speech in Wake Up To Politics!
- The President's Schedule What will Trump be doing ahead of his big speech, and what time does he address Congress?
- At 10:30am, President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office
- At 11am, he meets with the National Association of Attorneys General in the East Room.
- At 12:30pm, the President will have lunch with members of the press in the State Dining Room, continuing a long-running tradition before State of the Union addresses. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that the top television anchors, representing ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CNN, have been invited, as is the custom.
- Spicer said that a number of other networks have also been invited to participate this year: Telemundo, Univision, the Christian Broadcasting Network, C-SPAN, PBS, TV One, One America News Network, and EWTN.
- At 1:30pm, Trump will sign H.R. 321 and H.R. 255 in the Oval Office, which will bring his number of bills signed into law as President to six. The measures, titled the "Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act" and the "Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act," were passed unanimously by Congress.
- At 1:50pm, Trump will sign an Executive Order in the Roosevelt Room, before signing another at 2:10pm in the Oval Office. The first order will roll back an environmental regulation implemented by former President Barack Obama, known as the "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule, which increases the number of waterways protected under the Clean Water Act. The rule is a top GOP target, but will not be easily repealed: this order merely sets up a review to begin the process.
- The second order aims to strengthen the Education Department's Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, moving it to the White House. Trump met with presidents and chancellors from over sixty HBCUs on Monday.
- At 2:45pm, the President will meet with the guests who will sit in the First Lady's Box during the Joint Address. Three relatives of individuals killed by illegal immigrants were invited to the speech, as well as the widow of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia and others.
- Just after 9pm, the House Sergeant at Arms will loudly announce Trump's arrival in the House chamber: "Mister Speaker, the President of the United States!"
- Finally, at 9:10pm, Trump will address the Joint Session of Congress.
Capitol Hill News
- Today in Congress The Senate convenes at 10am today, immediately launching into consideration of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT)'s nomination to be Secretary of the Interior.
- The chamber has nothing else scheduled until 8:25pm, when members will gather and depart together to the House chamber (lawmakers like to save their seats early, which is why there is low action today). Debate over Zinke will last for hours, resuming after the address and ending with a likely 2am confirmation vote on Wednesday.
- On the committee level: the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on former Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN)'s nomination to be Director of National Intelligence.
- After Zinke, the Senate will consider the nominations of Energy Secretary-designate Rick Perry and HUD Secretary-designate Ben Carson. 15 Cabinet-level nominees have been confirmed in total, with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross being approved by a 72-27 vote on Monday
- Meanwhile, the House will also meet at 10am. After member speeches, the body will consider the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act. The chamber will recess a few hours before the address; members must be seated by 8:25pm.
- On the committee level: the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing today on "Ways to Improve and Strengthen the International Anti-Doping System." Among the witnesses: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
- Today's Question Some State of the Union trivia for you today: Which President delivered the longest State of the Union address (in minutes)?
- Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your answer; correct respondents will be featured in tomorrow's newsletter!
*All Times Eastern
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.