Thursday, February 9, 2017
635 Days until Election Day 2018
1,374 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.
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Capitol Hill News
- Today in Congress The U.S. Senate convenes at 10am today. After Leader remarks, the chamber will resume consideration of the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price's nomination was advanced in a 51-48 vote on Wednesday, along party lines. The George congressman, a doctor by training, is one of the Republican Party's and foremost experts on health care policy experts, as well as a leading Obamacare critic who has offered his own plan to replace the health care law. Price currently chairs the House Budget Committee.
- Some Democrats have called for a delay in confirming Price over revelations published in CNN and the Wall Street Journal that the congressman has traded more than $300,000 in shares of health care companies in the past four years, while introducing legislation that would have benefited the same companies. Regardless, Price is expected to be confirmed as the head of the Health and Human Services Department on Friday afternoon.
- The Georgian would become the ninth Trump Administration appointee to be confirmed by the Senate, after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was approved as Attorney General on Wednesday. The Sessions vote was 52-47, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)' support for the nominee becoming the only deviation in an otherwise party-lines vote.
- The confirmation debate over Sessions was one of the most contentious in recent history, with Democrats holding the floor for 30 hours after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was forced to stop talking by Republicans accusing her of impugning Sessions. The debate centered around allegations of racism, with Democrats pointing to Sessions' failed nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986, which was defeated in the Senate due to testimony that he had made racially-insensitive remarks as a U.S. Attorney. Republicans responded that Democrats were only delaying Sessions due to opposition to President Trump, while citing an NAACP award given to Sessions in 2009. The Alabaman is known for being a hardliner on the issue of immigration, which led to him becoming the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump in the primaries.
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) participated in the confirmation hearings for Sessions' nomination last month, becoming the first sitting senator to testify against the nomination of a fellow sitting senator. The nomination fight became increasingly harsh from there, culminating with the rebuke of Warren and comments by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Fox News on Wednesday calling Democrats the "party of the Ku Klux Klan."
- Sessions resigned from Congress at exactly 11:59pm on Wednesday, ahead of his swearing-in ceremony later today. At 2pm today, the Senate is scheduled to receive the Certificate of Appointment for Sessions' temporary successor, who has not yet been announced. Politico reported on Wednesday that Gov. Robert Bentley (R-AL) will appoint state Attorney General Luther Strange (R-AL) to the seat. Strange is currently investigating Bentley's involvement in a sex scandal that almost got the governor impeached.
- As they did for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Sessions, Democrats are expected to use the full 30 hours of debate on Price's nomination, which could force the chamber into its third all-nighter. A fourth could come on Friday night, keeping the Senate in session to debate hedge fund manager Steve Mnuchin's nomination to be Secretary of the Treasury.
- The team shepherding Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination has also announced that he will continue to meet with senators today, sitting down with Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). Sen. Chris Blumenthal (D-CT) told reporters on Wednesday that in his meeting with Gorsuch, the jurist distanced himself from President Trump's attacks on a federal judge that blocked his executive order. "He certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by the demoralizing and abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary," Blumenthal said.
- Gorsuch spokesman Ron Bonjean confirmed to multiple news organizations that Gorsuch had used the words "disheartened" and "demoralizing" to express that sentiment, but not "abhorrent." Trump, however, tweeted this morning that Gorsuch had not made the comment: "Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?" the President tweeted, citing Blumenthal's exaggeration of his military service when running for Senate. The senator served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, but not in Vietnam, an issue that came up in his 2010 campaign against Republican Linda McMahon, who is now Trump's nominee to lead the Small Business Administration.
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule At 9am, President Donald Trump will start his day with a daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
- At 9:30am, he will hold a breakfast and listening session with leaders of the airline industry in the State Dining Room. According to the Associated Press, the CEOs of Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines will be in attendance, although the leader of American Airlines will not due to a conflict. "Flights to Cuba, an ongoing feud between U.S. and Middle East carriers, the Trump-imposed travel ban and expansion of a Qantas-American Airlines alliance" are expected topics for the meeting, the Dallas Business Journal reported.
- At 10:30am, the President will administer the Oath of Office to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was confirmed on Wednesday,
- Finally, at 12:30pm, Trump will hold a listening session and lunch in the Roosevelt Room to discuss the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch with four moderate Democratic senators: Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Jon Tester (MT). According to CNN, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who is also a Democratic senator running for re-election next year in a state won by President Trump (like the other four), declined an invitation. Gorsuch will need support from eight Democrats to receive a vote on the Senate floor; those five are seen as prime targets to support the nominee.
- Also today...Trump will also speak by phone to four Middle Eastern leaders: President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah of Kuwait, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq. The President's phone calls with foreign leaders have not gone too well so far.
- Politico reported on Tuesday that President Trump "spent much of a recent phone call with French President Francois Hollande veering off into rants about the U.S. getting shaken down by other countries." The Washington Post reported last week that he told the President of Mexico to get rid of "bad hombres down there" in a tense call and angrily hung up on the Prime Minister of Australia after being pressed to uphold an Obama Administration promise to resettle refugees currently being held in Australia.
- Who's In, Who's Out The latest in interesting campaign announcements...
- Robert Kennedy's son running for Illinois Governor Businessman Chris Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy, announced on Wednesday that he is running for Governor of Illinois.
- Kennedy, 53, is a longtime Chicago resident (although he was born in Boston). He currently chairs Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, his family's investment firm, and serves as president of Top Box Foods, a non-profit he founded. Kennedy is also a former trustee of the University of Illinois.
- “I’m running for governor because I believe the state is headed in the wrong direction,” Kennedy said in his announcement. “I believe in working with others, not telling them what to do.”
- Gov. Brue Rauner (R-IL) and the state's Democratic-controlled legislature have spent the past nineteen months locked in a fierce budge battle. Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar and civil engineer Alex Paterakis have also announced plans to challenge Rauner when he is up for re-election in 2018.
- Fiorina Mulls Senate Bid Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is considering a run for U.S. Senate, she said on John Fredericks' radio show on Monday, as CNN reported. "I'm certainly looking at that opportunity," she said, when asked about challenging Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in 2018. "It's a little early to be making that decision, we're two weeks into a new administration."
- Fiorina has previously run for Senate in California, losing to Democrat Barbara Boxer by ten percentage points. Her presidential campaign originally did not receive much attention, but breakout performances in the GOP undercard debates caused a surge in her polling numbers that shot her into the top tier of the primary field. However, after receiving 2% of the vote in Iowa and 4% in New Hampshire, Fiorina dropped out in February and endorsed Ted Cruz in March.
- She returned to the spotlight in April when Cruz announced Fiorina would be his vice-presidential pick if he was chosen as the Republican nominee, a last-ditch effort to defeat Donald Trump. They ran as a "ticket" of sorts for six days, until Cruz suspended his candidacy. Fiorina did not endorse Trump, who mocked her looks in a debate ("Look at that face!"), until September. Fiorina and her husband moved to Virginia in 2011 after her Senate loss.
- Kaine, of course, is also a former vice presidential candidate with a heightened national profile; Reps. Rob Wittman, Dave Brat, and Barbara Comstock, as well as former Gov. Jim Gilmore and conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, are all rumored candidates for the seat.
- Yesterday's Answer On Wednesday, I asked for the first President to have an executive order struck down by the Supreme Court. The answer I was looking for was Harry Truman, whose 1952 executive order seizing control of U.S. steel mills was found unconstitutional. According to a Heritage Foundation paper, that Supreme Court case "helped create a workable understanding regarding when a President’s executive order authority is and is not valid," setting the precedent for future court actions on executive orders
- Justice Robert Jackson's framework of presidential authority, outlined in a concurring opinion in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (the steel mill case), held that there are three categories of presidential actions: when the President is acting with expressed authority from the Constitution, when the Constitution is silent on the President's authority, and when the Constitution implicitly prohibits the action. Jackson's opinion has become the leading framework for legal scholars and judges to assess executive orders.
- However, while that is the most prominent case of a Supreme Court overturning a presidential action, it does not appear to be the first recorded case, as Franklin D. Roosevelt seems to have had multiple orders overturned. However, it should be noted that executive orders did not begin to be recorded until midway through FDR's presidency, futher complicating the issue.
- I'm giving credit to those who answered Truman (Thomas Alpert and Sarah M-M) or FDR (Marlee Millman and Joan Zucker). Great job all!
*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.