Wake Up To Politics - February 6, 2018
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, February 6, 2018. 273 days until Election Day 2018. 1,001 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!
House to vote on government funding measure
The House is expected to vote today on a six-week stopgap measure extending government funding through March 23. The 515-page continuing resolution (CR), which was released late last night, also includes a full year of funding for the Defense Department as well as two years of funding for community health centers and other public health programs. The CR must pass both chambers of Congress by 12:01am on Friday, when government funding is set to expire. If no measure stopgap fix is passed by then, the U.S. federal government will partially shut down for the second time in three weeks.
The measure is expected to easily pass the House today: the inclusion of defense funding earned the CR an endorsement from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which had previously signaled opposition to another short-term fix. This will be the fifth continuing resolution to pass since September. The Freedom Caucus' support means that the bill will likely not need any Democratic votes, and can pass with solely Republican support.
However, in the Senate, the measure would need 60 votes to overcome a likely Democratic filibuster; if all 51 Republicans support the measure, at least nine Democrats would have to defect. Senate Democrats are opposed to the inclusion of long-term funding for the military, since they are urging for any increase to defense spending be met with an equal increase in domestic spending. Lawmakers are currently negotiating a "caps deal" to agree on the ratio of military and domestic spending. They "appeared to be closing in" on such a pact on Monday, according to the New York Times; if such a deal is struck, a long-term spending package would likely be passed, putting an end to the constant shutdown threat that comes along with governing by continuing resolution.
If the House bill is blocked by the Senate, the upper chamber will likely send the lower chamber a "clean CR," without the military funding, hoping that the nearing shutdown threat will encourage Republicans to still swallow the measure. The House is scheduled to recess for the rest of the week on Wednesday so Democrats can hold their annual retreat; those plans may have to change.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised that if the government is kept open past Friday, he will schedule a vote next week on an immigration package. It remains unclear which legislation he will put to the floor: the White House framework offering a pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers" while setting limits on legal immigration and funding the border wall, or a "base bill" championed by centrist senators that only addresses "Dreamers" and border security.
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a bipartisan immigration bill on Monday; their legislation would give permanent legal status to "Dreamers" and include border security funding, but ignore top GOP priorities such as the border wall, limiting so-called "chain migration," and ending the diversity visa lottery program. President Trump essentially tweeted on Monday that the bill is a non-starter, insisting that "any deal on DACA that does not include...the desperately needed WALL is a waste of time."
Trump was referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently shields "Dreamers" from deportation but is set to expire on March 5.
--- Also... Lawmakers have their eyes trained on the February 8 funding deadline and March 5 DACA deadline, but another clock is ticking: the debt ceiling. The continuing resolution being considered this week will do nothing to raise the debt limit, although the U.S. government is expected to run out of cash reserves to pay its bills by the first half of March. If the debt ceiling isn't increased by then, the U.S. will default on its debt.
Intelligence Committee votes to release Democratic memo
The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Monday to release a Democratic rebuttal to the Republican memo that alleged that the FBI had abused its authority in obtaining a surveillance warrant targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The Democratic counter-memo, drafted by ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA), now follows the same procedure as its Republican counterpart: the document has been sent to the White House, and President Donald Trump has five days to block its release. If Trump does not signal opposition to the memo being made public by Friday, the committee can release the memo.
According to Democratic lawmakers, their 10-page rebuttal accuses Republicans of including misleading language in their memo and "cherry-picking" information from the Justice Department's FISA application targeting Page. The GOP memo claims that the main information cited in the FISA application came from the "Steele dossier," but that the FBI hid from the court with oversight over FISA that the dossier was paid for in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign. The Democratic memo is expected to say that claim is misleading, revealing that the FBI did say the dossier had a political origin.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the primary author of the GOP memo, admitted on "Fox and Friends" on Monday that the application including "a footnote" referring to a political entity's involvement, but he said that was still "a far cry from letting the American people know that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for dirt that the FBI then used to get a warrant on an American citizen to spy on another campaign."
President Trump tweeted his support for Nunes on Monday, calling the lawmaker "a man of tremendous courage and grit" who "may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!" Just hours earlier, the President had gone after Nunes' Democratic counterpart, "Little Adam Schiff," in a tweet, giving him a nickname and calling him "one of the biggest liars andleakers in Washington."
Although the President publicly urged the Intelligence Committee to release the Republican memo, which he later said "vindicated" his claim that the Justice Department's Russia investigation has been unfair and biased, he has been silent on his stance on the Democratic rebuttal. "The Administration will follow the same process and procedure with this memorandum from the minority as it did last week, when it received the memorandum from the majority," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters this morning.
According to the Washington Post, "Nunes has indicated to other committee members that the president might make significant redactions before allowing the Democrats’ memo to be released." The Republican memo was released last week without any redactions.
--- Today in the Intel Committee: Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was scheduled to be interviewed in a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee today, as part of the panel's Russia investigation. However, even after lawmakers said Monday evening that Bannon was expected to comply with a subpoena demanding he appear before the committee, multiple news outlets have now reported that meeting was delayed for a third time.
Bannon appeared before the panel last month, but refused to answer questions about his time on Trump's presidential transition team and White House staff, without invoking executive privilege, even after a subpoena is issued. The delays in his return are reportedly so the White House and the committee can continue negotiating the parameters of what Bannon call tell the panel.
Stock market: The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted nearly 1,600 points on Monday, its largest single-day decline in history. The stock market slide, which began on Friday and is expected to continue today, comes after a year of gains that President Trump has frequently bragged about (including at last week's State of the Union address). Now, Trump and congressional Republicans face the other side of the coin that comes along with taking credit for the stock market's performance... (Washington Post)
Russia probe: President Trump has publicly and privately said that he is eager to meet with special counsel Robert Muller, but the NYT reported on Monday that Trump's lawyers are advising him against sitting for an interview with Mueller. According to the report, "his lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators." If Trump refuses to sit for an interview, Mueller could subpoena Trump to testify before a grand jury, setting up a prolonged court battle that both sides hope to avoid. (New York Times)
- The report also hints at a split between White House special counsel Ty Cobb, who is urging cooperation with Mueller, and Trump's outside legal team, led by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, who are urging the president to decline an interview request. In an emailed statement to Wake Up To Politics, Cobb refused to confirm or deny the report: "The professional and active discussions between the [Office of Special Counsel] and the President’s personal lawyers regarding how and under what terms information will be exchanged are understandably private," he said.
2018 Central - In and Out: In... Greg Pence, the Vice President's brother, formally filed on Monday to run for Congress in Ohio's 6th congressional district. Pence will be running to succeed Rep. Luke Messer (R-OH), who is retiring to run for Senate, in the seat that his brother held until 2013. Out... Former Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) told a radio host on Monday that she has decided not to run for the Senate special election caused by Al Franken's resignation, saying she "wasn't hearing any call from God to do this." The 2012 presidential candidate had previously said she was considering a run for the seat.
Buzz Quote: "Treasonous"
"You're up there, you've got half the room going totally crazy, wild -- they loved everything, they want to do something great for our country. And you have the other side, even on positive news -- really positive news, like that -- they were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, 'treasonous.' I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why nott? I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much." — President Donald Trump in Ohio on Monday, speaking about the Democratic response to his State of the Union address
--- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) responds on Twitter: "You don't have to always agree with those on the other side of the aisle, but all members of congress love their country, and none are treasonous."
The President's Schedule
At 11am, President Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
At 1:45pm, President Trump will host a law enforcement roundtable on MS-13, a criminal gang that he targeted in his State of the Union address last week.
At 3:40pm, President Trump will sign a National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) establishing the National Vetting Center. According to CNN, the memorandum will direct the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to establish the center within six months. The new center will focus on streamlining vetting of "visa applicants, immigrants and others looking to enter the US," as well as "certain individuals who are already in the US, including those subject to deportation proceedings."
Today in the Senate
The Senate will convene at 10am today. Following a period of morning business (when senators are permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes), the chamber may vote at around 12pm on the $659.2 billion fiscal 2018 Defense Department appropriations bill. The measure passed the House in a 250-166 vote last week, with 23 Democrats voting in favor and four Republicans voting against it. GOP leaders promised defense hawks on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees a vote on the bill in exchange for their votes on the most recent continuing resolution (CR) extending government funding.
The Senate will recess from 12:30pm to 2:15pm for weekly caucus meetings.
--- Today on the floor: A group of Democratic senators will take to the floor to push back against the Nunes memo and the government's response to Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) tells CNN that he will "urge his colleagues to sign a pledge vowing not to campaign against other sitting senators."
--- Today in committee: A subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will hold a hearing titled: "Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Ways of Funding Government: Exploring the Cost to Taxpayers of Spending Uncertainty caused by Governing through Continuing Resolutions, Giant Omnibus Spending Bills, and Shutdown Crises." The Senate Banking, House, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on "Virtual Currencies."
Today in the House
The House convenes at 10am for "morning hour," when members can speak for up to five minutes each. The chamber will turn to legislative business at 12pm, with one bill formally scheduled for consideration: the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, which revises "the nutritional information that restaurants and retail food establishments must disclose." The bill will require menus to include "(1) the number of calories contained in the whole menu item; (2) the number of servings and number of calories per serving; or (3) the number of calories per common unit of the item, such as for a multi-serving item that is typically divided before presentation to the consumer."
As reported above, the chamber is also expected to vote on another short-term government funding bill, which will be paired with a full year of defense spending and two years of funding for community health centers.
Floor action is also possible on a bipartisan bill requiring lawmakers to pay for any workplace discrimination or sexual harassment settlements with their own money, prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds (as is the current practice).
--- Today in committee: A subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on "Ensuring Effective and Reliable Alerts and Warnings," following the Hawaii missile alert scare.