Thursday, January 5, 2017
15 Days until Inauguration Day
670 Days until Election Day 2018I'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!!!
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Capitol Hill News
- Today in Congress The House will meet at 10am today, turning to legislative business at 12pm, with votes lasting from as early as 1:15pm to as late as 6:45pm.
- Reading of the Constitution At 10am, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) will lead a reading of the U.S. Constitution from the House floor. All members will be allowed to participate and read a section on a first come, first served basis. House Republicans created the tradition of reading the Constitution in full in the first days of a new Congress after regaining a majority in the chamber in 2011; this is the fourth time it will occur.
- "There is no better way to start the 115th Congress than by reflecting on and recommitting ourselves to the fundamental founding principles enshrined in the Constitution," Goodlatte said in a statement.
- Regulations and Resolutions After the reading (which will take between one and two hours), the House will continue its early push to roll back presidential regulations, voting on the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. The REINS Act would require congressional approval for all major executive-branch agency regulatory initiatives.
- "I will sign the REINS Act should it reach my desk as President and more importantly I will work hard to get it passed," President-elect Donald Trump told American Commitment during the primaries, event hough the bill limits the power of his incoming administration." The monstrosity that is the Federal Government with its pages and pages of rules and regulations has been a disaster for the American economy and job growth. The REINS Act is one major step toward getting our government under control.”
- The House will then vote on a resolution objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as "an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace" and "one-sided and anti-Israel." The Security Council resolution passed two weeks ago in a 14-0 vote, with the United States abstaining, despite pressure from both President-elect Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
- The REINS Act and the resolution condemning the UN Security Council are expected to be among the first pieces of legislation passed by the Republican majorities of the 115th Congress and signed into law by Donald Trump.
- Obamacare Meanwhile, the Senate will meet at 10am to continue consideration of a budget resolution to allow fast-tracked repeal of major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans are using the process of budget reconciliation to speed debate over repeal legislation; under this process, Democrats can not block the resolution with a filibuster (only a simple majority is required). The first step in that process is the budget resolution, essentially a blueprint, which will be debated today.
- The Senate agreed to take up the resolution in a 51-48 vote on Wednesday, with all Senate Democrats objecting, joined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who says the resolution would add $9 trillion to the federal debt over the next 10 years. Even as the Obamacare repeal process begins, Republicans remain divided on a replacement for the health care legislation
- Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with congressional Republicans on the issue on Tuesday, and told reporters: "The American people voted decisively for a better future for health care in this country and we are determined to give them that." He did not comment on the party's plan for a replacement. As Pence met with the GOP, President Barack Obama also traveled to Capitol Hill to huddle with congressional Democrats on health care; afterwards, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) debuted a new slogan, that Obamacare repeal would "make America sick again."
- The messages of each party, which will probably be repeated a number of times in the coming weeks and months, were clear: as paraphrased by NBC's Benjy Sarlin on Twitter, "[Republicans] thinks [Democrats] take blame if insurance collapses, [Democrats] think collapse will send [Republicans] crawling back to fix ACA."
- Russian Hacking Lastly, the congressional investigation into allegations that Russian hacking interfered in the U.S. election will open today with a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing at 9:30am titled "Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States." Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper; Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre II; and Admiral Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, will testify before the panel, which is chaired by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
- The Armed Services hearing will focus on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia hacked into Democratic email systems during the 2016 campaign. Led by Republicans, the session conflicts with their party's new leader, President-elect Trump, who has repeatedly showered blame on the 16 intelligence agency's determination. In a Wednesday tweet, Trump spread WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's claim that his site did not receive the Democratic email documents from Russia. "Julian Assange said a '14 year old could have hacked Podesta" - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" the President-elect tweeted, referencing Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee, both of whom had hacked emails posted on WikiLeaks during the campaign.
- The tweeted caused rebuke from both sides of aisle. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a McCain ally who also serves on the Armed Services Committee, called Trump's touting Assange "disturbing," telling CNN: "This was done by the Russians. "I hope by Friday [after a briefing by top intelligence agencies], President-elect Trump will come to that realization and ignore Mr. Assange." House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA) had a similar message: "Today, Trump sided with Julian Assange...rather than our country's own intelligence professionals."
- In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan refused to go that far, although he did distance himself from Trump's comments. Ryan called Assange "a sycophant for Russia...[who] leaks...steals data, and compromises national security." Ryan said that he hoped the President-elect will "get up to speed on what has been happening and what Russia has or has not done. He'll be better informed on that."
- Also today: at 10am, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) will hold a press conference to outline their recommendations to the President-elect for "strengthing the nation's cyber security," unveiling a 34-page report by the Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) Cyber Policy Task Force, which Whitehouse and McCaul co-chair. In addition, at 3pm, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a closed briefing for senators titled "Recent Administration Actions in Response to Russian Hacking and Harassment of U.S. Diplomats," with two State Department officials and a Homeland Security department official testifying on the Obama Administration's economic sanctions against Russian intelligence agencies.
- The path forward for the Russian investigation in Congress is unclear, with McCain and Graham leading a bipartisan push for a select committee to investigate the issue. Republican leaders favor separate investigations by existing House and Senate committees, which would give them more control over the process.
- Trump Announces White House Staff A number of senior White House staffers were announced by President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, a mix of longtime Trump aides, Republican National Committee (RNC) staffers, and veteran Washington hands.
- The most notable appointments including elevating RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh, a top ally of RNC chairman and incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, to the post of White House Deputy Chief of Staff, overseeing the senior staff. Trump also tapped two other Deputy Chiefs of Staff: Rick Dearborn, who has grown close to Trump as executive director of the transition team and chief of staff to his early endorser and Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions, who will focus on legislative, intergovernmental, and Cabinet affairs; and Joe Hagin, a White House veteran who served under President Reagan and both Presidents Bush, who will oversee administrative, advance, and security matters.
- A second list of appointees announced on Wednesday also included a number of Trump associates: former "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault as director of the Office of Public Liasion, longtime Trump security director Keith Schiller as director of Oval Office Operations, and early Trump campaign aide Geroge Gigicos as director of advance.
- In addition, Marc Short, a former chief of staff to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, was appointed director of legislative affairs, giving Pence another ally in the senior staff; and Bill Stepien, a former aide to Gov. Chris Christe (R-NJ) implicated in the Bridgegate scandal, was tapped as political director; among other appointments.
- The President-elect also announced his intent to nominate Jay Clayton, a leading Wall Street lawyer, as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Clayton is yet another Trump appointee with ties to Goldman Sachs: he advised the bank during the government bailout, and his wife currently works there.
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule At 10am, President Obama will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office.
- At 2:20pm, the President will be interviewed by a number of local television and radio hosts from Chicago, to preview the Farewell Address he will deliver in the city next week.
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