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Thursday, February 5, 2015
642 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Thursday, February 5, 2015 - World Nutella Day - I'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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- Vaccinations Briefly Capture Political World It’s flu season, and the issue of vaccinations is captivating not just the halls of doctor offices, but the halls of Congress, and the entire political world as well. Everyone is weighing in, from Hillary Clinton (“The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”) to John Boehner (“I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated”) to my school nurse (pro-vaccination).
- The debate started with comments by President Obama made Sunday, so naturally by Monday, every potential Republican presidential candidate was asked if they agree. “There is every reason to get vaccinated — there aren’t reasons to not,” Obama had said.
- And the potential 2016ers did not disappoint, with two serving up minor controversies when they disagreed with President Obama. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called for “balance” when it came to requiring vaccinations, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, not only a potential presidential candidate as well but also a physician, said "I think there are times in which there can be some rules but for the most part it ought to be voluntary.”
- Up until this point, the debate – which had now reached all corners of the Republican Party – was mostly focused on whether vaccines should be required. Later Monday, Paul took it a step further, questioning whether vaccines should be taken, saying he knew of “many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”
- But, by Tuesday, both had walked back their comments. A Christie spokesman said, “The governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection, and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”
- And Rand Paul had brought a reporter along to take a picture of the senator himself getting vaccinated, which he tweeted Wednesday. The brief vaccination debate had captivated the political world, and now ended.
- ---Ben Franklin’s stance on vaccinations: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/04/ben-franklin-lost-a-son-to-smallpox-heres-his-sobering-advice-to-parents-on-immunization/
- ---Past presidents on vaccines: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-02-02/presidents-have-rarely-wavered-in-enthusiasm-for-vaccines
- -- And Obama’s views (circa 2008): http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/obama-vaccines-views-suspicious-114837.html?ml=tl_48
- ---Anti-vax or Pro-vax? The views of every GOP 2016er: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/ted-cruz-vaccinations-114862.html?ml=tl_24Capitol Hill News
- Senate: Status Update The U.S. Senate will hold a cloture vote on the bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security today, the chamber’s third cloture vote on the measure in as many days.
- Senate Democrats, angered by the bill’s defunding of President Obama’s immigration executive order, have been continually blocking the bill. Both votes Monday and Tuesday resulted in 53-47 splits, with 60 “yea” votes require for the bill to advance. There is no reason to expect today’s vote to be any different.
- This is part of the Senate Republican strategy to hold the same vote again and again, hoping that Democrats will fold as the February 27 deadline ticks closer (when the DHS will run out of funding).
- GOP Senators Introduce Bill Ending Supreme Court Filibusters Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a bill Wednesday abolishing filibusters for Supreme Court nominees, building on the “nuclear option” enacted by Senate Democrats when they were in the majority – which allowed all presidential nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority, except for nominees to the Supreme Court.
- When Democrats enacted this rules change, it was met with near-universal opposition on the Republican side. Now, both parties will have to consider their stances, changing their calculus based on who they believe will win the White House (and do the nominating) in 2016 and who will win the Senate (and do the confirming).
White House Watch
- Obama’s Message Architects Leave White House Two longtime Obama advisors announced plans to leave the White House Wednesday – senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer and communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
- The two, along with counselor John Podesta (also leaving this month), mark an exodus of main architects of President Obama’s message. Pfeiffer is one of Obama’s longest-serving aides, and Palmieri and Podesta are both political veterans as well, both having served in the Clinton White House.
- But it is not that they are going, but where they are going, that is most striking. While Pfeiffer’s future is unknown, both Plamieri and Podesta are rumored to be leaving to join the prospective Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. The former is expected to serve as communications director, and the latter as chairman of the Clinton 2016 effort. So begins the lame-duck White House staff exodus to the campaigns of presidential candidates.
- The President’s Schedule At 8 AM, President Obama will speak at the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual D.C. event held on the first Monday in February since 1953. No president has missed a year speaking at the breakfast since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 (every year of the breakfast).
- The breakfast is hosted by members of Congress, but organized by The Fellowship Foundation, a Christian organization. The event has been criticized because of the Christ-centered organization’s “intolerance”.
- The Dalai Lama will also be in attendance, making this the first joint public appearance for him and President Obama (every meeting of the two has been closed to the press). The two will not, however, share a dais: His Holiness will not speak at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Question of the Day
- Today’s Question Who is the only Supreme Court nominee to be filibustered by the Senate?