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Wake Up To Politics - February 7, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, February 7, 2018. 272 days until Election Day 2018. 1,000 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

House approves stopgap funding bill as lawmakers nears budget caps deal

The House on Tuesday passed a six-week continuing resolution (CR) extending government funding through March 23, ahead of a Thursday shutdown deadline. The measure also includes a full year of defense funding, to assuage GOP defense hawks and Freedom Caucus conservatives, as well as two years of funding for community health centers, a bipartisan priority. The stopgap funding fix passed in a 245-182 vote, mostly along party lines except for 17 Democrats voting in favor and eight Republicans voting against.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where it will likely to be attached to a massive "budget caps deal" that is expected to be announced today. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) met on Tuesday about the emerging agreement, which would increase both domestic and defense spending for the next two years.

"I think we're on our way to get in an agreement, and getting an agreement very soon," McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. Schumer echoed his Republican counterpart, saying: "We are closer to an agreement than we have ever been."

According to Bloomberg Politics, the $250 billion deal would raise defense caps between $70 billion to $80 billion over the next two years, while raising non-defense caps by $50 billion to $60 billion. This would be near-parity between defense and domestic spending increases, a top Democratic demand. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) also signaled that the deal could include disaster aid as well as an increase to the debt ceiling; the Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the U.S. will default in early March if the debt limit is not raised until then. If the deal is added into the House-passed CR and sent back to the lower chamber, Democratic votes would likely be needed to make up for conservative opposition.

House Democrats were set to decamp for their three-day annual retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore today; instead, the event will be moved to D.C. to ensure that members are in town if they are needed to vote on government funding. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver the conference's keynote address today.

If the budget deal is passed and a shutdown threat averted until late March, congressional negotiators could then move to hammering out an omnibus spending package, which would fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year and end the cycle of short-term funding solutions. The CR approved by the House on Tuesday will be the sixth to be passed by Congress since September.

Immigration, the driving issue between the government shutdown last month, has largely been disconnected from the spending negotiations. But at a meeting with lawmakers and law enforcement officials to discuss the criminal gang MS-13 on Tuesday, President Donald Trump seemed to reconnect the two issues — and endorse a second shutdown. "I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," Trump said. "If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety, then shut it down." White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later cleared up the President's remarks, insisting: "We are not advocating for a shutdown."

Despite Trump's rhetoric, the immigration debate isn't likely to restart until after the government is safely funded through March. Next week, McConnell has said he will put an immigration bill on the floor, although it remains unclear what that legislation will look like. "That's the $64,000 question," Cornyn, his No. 2 Senate Republican said. "Everybody wants to know, and Senator McConnell hasn't told us."

White House chief of staff John Kelly visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to participate in the continuing immigration talks. Kelly told reporters that Trump is unlikely to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields so-called "Dreamers" from deportation, after it expires on his March 5 deadline. Kelly urged lawmakers to approve the President's immigration proposal, which would offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million "Dreamers," more than the 690,000 official DACA recipients. "The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn't sign up," Kelly said.

--- Full circle: Kelly's DACA comments and Trump's shutdown threat, as well as his labeling of Democratic lawmakers earlier this week as "un-American" and "treasonous," are a far cry from the bipartisanship that the White House was attempting to project just last week. The New York Times reports on Trump's shift from "improbable unifier" back to being "a disrupter."

Trump orders Pentagon to plan military parade

President Donald Trump's "vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving to closer to reality," the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, as officials begin planning for a "grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America's armed forces." Trump has long mused about such a parade, but made his wishes clear at a meeting with his top generals at the Pentagon last month, according to The Post. "The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," a military official told the newspaper, a reference to the Bastille Day celebration in Paris, which Trump attended last July.

Both the White House and the Pentagon confirmed the report after it was published. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the President has "asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation [for U.S. service members]," while a DoD spokesperson said that "we are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details."

Recommended Reading

The Trump Administration:

  • "Ben Carson, or the tale of the disappearing Cabinet secretary" (Washington Post)
  • "White House Official Called Trump a 'Deplorable'" (New York Magazine)
  • "Kellyanne Conway's 'opiod cabinet' sidelines drug czar's experts" (Politico)
  • "'He Wants a Killer': Post-Bannon, Post-Nunes, Post-Kelly Friction, a Frustrated Trump Searches for a West Wing Reset" (Vanity Fair)

The Russia probe:

  • "Trump wants to talk to Mueller despite lawyers' concerns" (CNN)
  • "Hero or hired gun? How a British former spy became a flash point in the Russia investigation" (Washington Post)


  • "'It will be an intraparty war: House Democrats contemplate a post-Nancy Pelosi world." (Politico)

2020 Central: 1,000 days until Election Day 2020...

  • "Julián Castro to test 2020 run with New Hampshire Young Democrats speech" (NBC)
  • "Inside Biden's 2018 — and possibly 2020 — plans" (Politico)

The President's Schedule

At 11am, President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing.

At 11:30am, he meets with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, who was sworn into office last week.

At 1:45pm, the President meets with the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), J. Christopher Giancarlo. The CFTC regulates the commodity futures and option markets.

At 2:15pm, he meets with Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee.

At 6:30pm, Trump hosts a dinner for the organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast Dinner, an annual event that takes place on Thursday.

Today in the Senate

The Senate convenes at 11:30am today. Following Leader remarks, the chamber will resume consideration of the House-passed Defense Department appropriations bill.

Today in the House

The House convenes at 9am today. The chamber is scheduled to vote on the Mortgage Choice Act, "to amend the Truth in Lending Act to improve upon the definitions provided for points and fees in connection with a mortgage transaction." The House will also hold postponed votes on pieces of legislation from earlier in the week, including a bill designating the St. Louis arch grounds as "Gateway Arch National Park," a bill encouraging U.S.-Ukraine cybersecurity cooperation, and a bill providing "for rewards for the arrest or conviction of certain foreign nationals who have committed genocide or war crimes."