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Wake Up To Politics - January 11, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016
21 Days until the Iowa Caucuses
302 Days Until Election Day 2016 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!!!
To send me questions, comments, tips, new subscribers, and more: email me at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com. To learn more about WUTP and subscribe, visit the site: wakeuptopolitics.com, or like me on Twitter and Facebook. More ways to engage with WUTP at the bottom.    White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule There are no events on President Obama’s public schedule today, as he polishes his State of the Union address and prepares for delivery Tuesday night.
  • Vice President’s Schedule Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden will hold separate meetings with two foreign officials: Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley, who is retiring next month, ahead of Australia’s Prime Minister meeting with President Obama next week; and Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
  • According to the Macedonian Information Agency, Gruevski and Biden will discuss bilateral ties between their two nations, security issues and democratic reforms in Macedonia, and integrating Macedonia into NATO and the European Union.

Capitol Hill News

  • Senate: Today The Senate returns from recess today to hold its first real meeting of 2016 (the chamber formally returned last week, but only held pro forma sessions).  Upon its reconvening, the Senate will hold Morning Business, an opportunity for any senator to speak for up to 10 minutes each, and then a single vote: on U.S. District Judge Luis Restrepo’s nomination to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit. Restrepo, who has served on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since 2013, is a native Colombian naturalized as a U.S. Citizen at age 59.
  • Restrepo was first nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (which covers Delaware, New Jersey, and parts of Pennsylvania) in November 2014, but his nomination died when Congress adjourned at the end of the year. He was renominated in January 2015, with the Senate Judiciary Committee approving him in Jul 2015. Today, Restrepo will become the first judicial nominee confirmed in the new year.
  • House: Today The lower chamber, meanwhile, will vote on nine bills today. Among those bills are three Senate-passed measures:
  • the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act, which requires liquid nicotine containers to be packaged with special packaging difficult for children under five years old to open.
  • the District of Columbia Courts, Public Defender Service, and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency Act, which grants employees D.C. Courts and the D.C. Public Defender the same benefits as their counterparts in federal courts.
  • the Grants Oversight and New Efficiency (GONE) Act, which requires federal agencies to close expired grant accounts.
  • The remaining six bills are:
  • the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, which requires Presidential investigation on “sanctionable activities involving North Korea,” following the nation’s claim of detonating a hydrogen bomb last week.
  • the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act, which reduces pensions for former presidents to $200,000 and increases pensions for widows of former Presidents from $20,000 to $100,000. The bill will also replace additional benefits for travel, staff, and office with an allowance of $200,000 to be used as the former President determines, although the allowance will be decreased by $1 for every dollar above $400,000 the former President earns in a fiscal year.
  • the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act, which requires the fundraising organizing of each presidential library to submit quarterly reports on contributions at least $200.
  • the Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act, which requires federal agencies to produce an annual report with descriptions and costs of all its programs.
  • the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act, which strengthens oversight of FOIA compliance among federal agencies and creates electronic accessibility for some FOIA released information.
  • the Federal Intern Protection Act, which extends workplace protection against discrimination and harassment to unpaid interns at federal agencies, closing loopholes in the Civil Rights Act and other laws to prohibit discrimination of interns by race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

2016 Central

  • Democratic Candidates to Iowa for “Black and Brown” Forum All three candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination will gather at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa (site of their second debate) for the Iowa Black and Brown presidential forum today.
  • The forum, which focuses on “issues that matter to America's growing multicultural population,” will serve as a preview of Thursday’s Democratic debate. The Black and Brown Forum, founded in 1984, is one of the longest-running presidential forums in Iowa; it is hosted by Urban Dreams’ Project V.O.T.E, which will partner with Fusion this year.
  • A Republican Black and Brown Forum, set to be held last month, was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts with many candidates.

Court Report

  • Supreme Court to Hear Unions Case The Supreme Court will hear 80-minute oral arguments in Frederichs v. California Teachers Association today, a lawsuit by 10 California teachers who argue that requiring nonmembers of unions to pay fees conflicts with their First Amendment rights.
  • The case is very controversial, and important – as seen by its isolation by the Court (which normally hears two oral arguments in a day) and its prolonged and arguments (normally they are just 60 minutes, and involve less than the four lawyers in today’s case – one for the teachers, the union, the California government, and the federal government).

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