10 min read

Wake Up To Politics - January 19, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, January 19, 2018. 292 days until Election Day 2018. 1,020 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!

In today's newsletter: The House passed a 28-day continuing resolution, but chances of passage in the Senate seem slim as Congress faces a midnight deadline; Trump addresses the March for Life; Pence flies to the Middle East + more...

Shutdown threat looms as Senate takes up House-passed CR

One year ago tomorrow, Donald Trump was preparing to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, cementing a Republican takeover of the executive and legislative branches. Now, when the clock strikes midnight on the one-year anniversary of his Inauguration, Trump may be presiding over the first government shutdown since 2013. Will the government run out of funding at midnight tonight, and who will shoulder the blame if so? Those questions are yet to be answered, but the clock is ticking...

Congressional Republicans on Thursday night surpassed the first hurdle needed to avert a government shutdown, as the House passed a 28-day continuing resolution (CR) in a 230-197 vote. But the next step, finding 60 votes to avoid a filibuster of the measure in the Senate, is going to be much harder.

The House passed the stopgap measure, which extends government funding through February 16, on a mostlyparty-lines vote, with 11 Republicans voting in opposition and six Democrats voting in favor. Passage of the CR in the lower chamber was far from guaranteed earlier in the day, as the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus threatened to sink the measure. The group eventually voted for the CR in exchange for promises from GOP leadership that two bills would soon receive floor votes: a Pentagon appropriations bill that would bust current defense spending caps and a conservative immigration bill.

The continuing resolution now goes to the Senate, where opposition from both Democrats and Republicans could block the measure, forcing a government shutdown. Senate Democrats have been demanding for months that a spending billbe accompanied by a legislative version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program (rescinded by President Trump) protecting immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors. In recent weeks, multiple attempts at a bipartisan DACA deal have fizzled, and no agreement is likely to emerge before the Senate votes on the CR later today. Negotiations on immigration continue, however, among the number-two leaders in each party and chamber: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). According to Politico, the foursome met on Thursday afternoon, in a meeting Durbin called "a promising beginning"; Cornyn said he was "somewhat encouraged" by the status of the negotiations, although he stressed that the White House would have to sign off on any potential deal.

In addition to extending government funding at the current levels, the continuing resolution also reauthorizes the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and would delay the enforcement of three Obamacare taxes.

A procedural vote to advance the CR in the Senate today will require 60 "yea" votes. Of the chamber's 49 Democrats, 17 voted for a CR last month, despite the lack of a DACA compromise. However, this time, just one Democrat — Joe Manchin (D-WV) — has announced plans to vote for the spending measure. Some Democrats, especially ones who face re-election in 2018 in red-leaning states, remain undecided, but the bulk of the caucus is united in opposition. Meanwhile, two Republicans have announced plans to vote against the CR: Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Rand Paul (KY).

Graham is calling for additional military funding and a legislative fix to DACA; "The American people want us to deal with BOTH issues sooner rather than later," he said in a statement announcing his opposition to a CR "continuing this fiasco for 30 more days." Paul cited deficit concerns in a Fox News interview declaring his plans.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said Thursday that he is "not inclined to vote for a CR" without a vote on an immigration compromise; both Graham and Flake were members of the bipartisan "Gang of Six," which produced a deal on the issue, which was later rejected by President Trump after a contentious, profanity-laden Oval Office meeting last week. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has also signaled that he could join his ally Paul in voting against the CR; they were the sole senators to vote against a motion to proceed to consideration of the measure last night, and the only Republicans to oppose the CR in December.

If Graham, Paul, Flake, and Lee vote "no," and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) remains absent as he undergoes medical treatment, the 60-vote threshold could only be reached if 14 Democrats (more than the number who are undecided) join the remaining 46 Republicans.

Both parties have already begun attempts to pin blame on the other for ashutdown, before the closures even begin. Congressional Republicans have already branded the potential event the "Schumer Shutdown," for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Schumer's counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), tweeted Thursday that he finds it "difficult to believe that Senate Democrats would want to shut down the government for American citizens and vote down a 6 year reauthorization of health insurance for American children, all over illegal immigration." House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters that "whether there is a government shutdown or not is entirely up to" Senate Democrats, calling their threats to block the CR "risky," "feckless," and "wrong."

Democrats, meanwhile, say the majority party is to blame if the government shuts down, arguing that they were not given a seat at the table crafting the continuing resolution. In modern history, a government shutdown has never occurred while one party had control over the House, Senate, and Presidency. Schumer said on Thursday that the shutdown would be the fault of "complete disarray on the Republican side."

Schumer has endorsed an idea, floated by Flake and Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD), to "pass a clean CR for a few days to give us a hard, final deadline & keep both sides at the table," he tweeted, adding: "We’ll reach a deal that fully funds our military & the opioid fight, CHIP, vets, pensions, disaster aid & protects Dreamers." Senate GOP leaders have shot down the plan, but it may be Congress' only hope at averting a shutdown tonight. Cornyn said Thursday that if the CR fails, the Senate will stay in session to continue to hold votes on it; "we will see how many times Democrats will vote to shut down the government," he said.

If the clock strikes midnight and no continuing resolution is on the President's desk, all "non-essential" government personnel will be furloughed and many government programs will cease to operate. "Shutdown coming?" President Trump asked in a tweet this morning, joining the rest of the countryin watching to see if a deal will emerge from Congress, or if much of the federal government will soon be closing its doors.

The Rundown

"The Chaos President vs. His Iron-Fisted Chief of Staff" (New York Times): "The one thing sure to make President Trump angry, as anyone who has ever worked closely with him knows, is any suggestion that his staff is managing him."

"Yet early Wednesday evening, after learning from a White House aide that his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, had described his views about his signature, base-pleasing campaign pledge to build a wall on the Mexico border as 'not informed,' and his thinking as 'evolving,' the president was initially calm."

"It did not last. By Wednesday night, Mr. Trump had become convinced by a string of allies and friends he had talked to on the phone that Mr. Kelly had undermined him, according to people familiar with the conversations. And by Thursday morning, after digesting accounts of Mr. Kelly’s comments on cable news, the president was riled up."

"How Trump's TV habits raised the risk of a shutdown" (Politico): "If the government shuts down on Friday, President Donald Trump’s television habits may be partly to blame, according to two White House aides."

"The president began the day on Thursday by blasting out a tweet that threatened to derail a GOP legislative package designed to keep the government open, arguing that the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known by its acronym, CHIP, “should be part of a long-term solution, not a 30-day, or short-term, extension.” But that is precisely the package House Speaker Paul Ryan was trying to persuade skeptical Republicans to agree to in order to keep the government open."

"House intelligence committee releases Glenn Simpson Trump-dossier testimony" (NBC News): "The House intelligence committee released 184-pages of sworn testimony on Thursday by Glenn Simpson, the former Wall Street Journal reporter whose opposition research into Donald Trump spawned a controversial dossier that ultimately was handed to the FBI."

"It was the second release of Congressional testimony by Simpson, and it contained no Earth-shattering revelations, but Simpson went into much greater detail with the House committeethan he did with the Senate judiciary committee about his research into Trump’s alleged business dealings with Russians and organized crime figures, in passages that at times read like a work of pulp fiction."

"Senate votes to extend key FISA provision, sending bill to Trump's desk (CBS News): "The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 65-34 to reauthorize controversial foreign surveillance powers, sending the bill to President Trump's desk."

"Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was passed under former President George W. Bush in the aftermath of Sept. 11,2001 terrorist attacks, was set to expire Friday night. Some Republicans — such as Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan — along with many Democrats opposed reauthorizing section 702, arguing the executive branch's surveillance powers are too expansive, and should include additional privacy protections."

"U.S. Supreme Court Halts Redrawing of North Carolina Voting Map" (Bloomberg Politics): "The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a ruling that would force North Carolina to redraw its congressional voting map to give Republicans less of a partisan advantage."

"The high court order Thursday keeps intact, for now, district lines that gave Republicans 10 of the 13 House seats in the 2016 election. The party got 53 percent of the overall congressional vote in North Carolina. Democrats say a fairer map would produce something closer to parity."

"Trump administration announces new 'conscience and religious freedom' division at HHS" (ABC News): "The Trump administration announced on Thursday a new division within the Department of Health and Human Services devoted to 'conscience and religious freedom.' "

"Social conservatives and religious liberty leaders have anticipated conscience and religious freedom protections to come out of HHS, and the work of the new division, which will fall under the purview of the Office of Civil Rights, will likely pave the way for health care workers to refuse specific types of care, like birth control or abortion, based on their religious or conscience objections."

"Here's How Congress Wants To Stop Sexual Harassment On Capitol Hill" (BuzzFeed): "The House introduced a major bipartisan bill that would overhaul the way Congress deals with sexual harassment cases on Thursday."

..."Among other changes, the legislation, which is an amendment to the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act, would require members to reimburse any taxpayer money they paid as settlements for sexual harassment complaints against them personally to the US Treasury. Any taxpayer money used for settlements must be paid back within 90 days, or could result in withholding funds from a member’s salary until the amount is paid off."

"Trump Administration Accelerating Israeli Embassy Move" (Wall Street Journal): "The Trump administration is accelerating efforts to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has decided to modify an existing property to accommodate the new mission that will open next year, U.S. officials said."

"Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigns as public face of agency that runs AmeriCorps" (CNN): "Trump administration appointee Carl Higbie resigned Thursday as chief of external affairs for the federal government's volunteer service organization after a CNN KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments he made on the radio."

The President's Schedule: March for Life

At 11am, President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.

At 12:15pm, the President addresses pro-life leaders and participants in the 45th annual March for Life in the Rose Garden. The March for Life is held every year in Washington, D.C. around the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, protesting the legalization of abortion. Trump's speech will be carried via satellite to the marchers at the National Mall, making him the first President to address the march via a live video. Last year, just one week after being sworn in, Mike Pence became the first Vice President to speak to the march. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is also speaking at the program opening this year's march.

At 2pm, Trump meets with his national security team in the Situation Room.

At 4:10pm, President and First Lady Trump depart D.C. for Palm Beach, Florida, where he will spend the weekend at his "Winter White House," Mar-a-Lago. Trump will mark the first anniversary of his presidency with a gala at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, "with tickets starting at $100,000 a pair," according to Bloomberg.

Vice President's Schedule: Off to Egypt

As a government shutdown looms, Vice President Mike Pence — who can cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate — is also leaving D.C. today. Pence departs on a five-day Middle East trip, which will take him to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. The trip was originally scheduled to take place in mid-December before being postponed so Pence could be on hand for a Senate vote on the GOP tax plan. Pence was slated to meet with Palestinian leaders in his original itinerary, but they canceled following President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Today in the Senate

The Senate convenes at 11am today. Following remarks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the chamber will spend the day considering the House-passed continuing resolution extending government funding; the chamber must vote on the measure, and President Trump must sign it, by midnight to avert a government shutdown. A vote on the CR is not currently scheduled.

As Politico reported, the chamber had difficulty last night even agreeing on adjourning for the night. McConnell and Schumer spent the night delivering back-and-forth floor speeches blaming each other for a potential shutdown. The Senate voted 97-2 to advance to a cloture vote on the CR, with Schumer urging the roll call be held on Thursday nights. McConnell objected, and finally was able to adjourn the Senate after 10pm Eastern Time over Sen. Angus King (I-ME)'s objections.

Today in the House

The House convenes at 9am today. As the March for Life assembles in D.C., the chamber is set to vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would "prohibit a health care practitioner from failing to exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion."