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Wake Up To Politics - June 6, 2017




I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Tuesday, June 6, 2017. 518 days until Election Day 2018. 1,246 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!

WHITE HOUSE: Congressional outreach At 11am, President Trump will meet with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster in the Oval Office.

At 3pm, the President will sit down with Republican congressional leadership in the Roosevelt Room. According to Politico, the meeting will be attended by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX).

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing Monday that they will discuss "what's next on the legislative agenda, including repealing and replacing Obamacare and crafting a revolutionary tax reform proposal that will provide relief to hardworking taxpayers."

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters on Monday that the Senate will vote on health care before August recess; negotiations on tax reform will begin after Labor Day. However, Congress also faces two key deadlines around that time: government funding is set to expire on September 30, while OMB director Mick Mulvaney has warned the debt ceiling could be hit by August. In addition, the $1 trillion infrastructure package being rolled out by the White House this week just adds to the long list of legislative priorities for the Trump Administration and Congress.

The Senate GOP has yet to agree on a health care plan acceptable to a majority of the majority, and some are doubtful they ever will. Senate Republican conference chairman John Thune (R-SD) said Monday that "we're going to have a vote one way or the other," even if passage is not assured. Meanwhile, conference vice chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) said "we've got until now and the Fourth of July to decide if the votes are there or not," adding: "I don't think this gets better over time."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters that he doesn't think a health care plan will emerge through the end of the year. "I just don't think we can put it together among ourselves," he said. In his conversation with reporters, Short spoke about the difficulty of furthering the President's priorities amidst multiple investigations of his campaign's ties to Russia. "There's no doubt that keeping members focused on investigations detracts from our legislative agenda," the aide said.

At 4pm, Trump will hold an Oval Office ceremony to sign a bill into law. The Administration has not said which bill that will be, but according to the White House website, three pieces of legislation are currently before the President: the Follow the Rules Act, the DHS Stop Asset and Vehicle Access (SAVE) Act, and a resolution renaming a federal courthouse for the late Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN).

At 6:30pm, he will continue his congressional outreach, hosting six GOP lawmakers for dinner in the Residence. Politico Playbook reported on Monday that Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Tom Young (R-IN), and Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Francis Rooney (R-FL) will be joining Trump for the meal.

Also today... White House press secretary Sean Spicer returns to the Briefing Room podium at 2pm, after his deputy Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin subbed in for him on Monday. Sanders explained her boss' absence, saying that Spicer has "a lot of demands on his schedule," especially in light of White House communications director Michael Dubke's resignation last week. It has been widely reported that President Trump has considered revoking Spicer's briefing duties in favor of a rotating cast of characters, including Sanders and other Administration officials.

SENATE: Nominations advancing The Senate will convene at 10am today; the chamber adopted a resolution on Monday designated its adjournment as a sign of respect for former Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), who died last week. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) paid tribute to his ex-colleague on the Senate floor on Monday, calling the onetime MLB pitcher "truly a hall of famer in life." The chamber adopted a resolution designating its

After the Pledge of Allegiance and any Leader remarks, the upper chamber will resume debate over the nomination of Courtney Simmons Elwood to be General Counsel of the CIA. Elwood served in the Bush-Cheney Administration as Associate Counsel to the President, Deputy Counsel to the Vice President, and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Attorney General. The Senate will hold a confirmation vote on Elwood at 2:15pm, after briefly recessing for weekly caucus meetings (according to Fox News, the GOP will discuss options for the next steps health care at their lunch).

If confirmed, Elwood would be the 40th Trump Administration nominee to be confirmed by the Senate, according to the Washington Post. President Trump expressed his displeasure with the speed of confirmations via Twitter on Monday, tweeting: "Dems are taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors. They are nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS! Want approvals." 63 nominees are currently pending before the Republican-led Senate; while no one has been named to 457 posts. A number of other nominees will be advanced at the committee level today.

The Senate will then hold three hours of debate over the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill to ease the process of firing VA employees in light of scandals that have plagued the agency. The chamber will vote to pass the bill at around 6:15pm in a voice vote, which is reserved for uncontroversial legislation.

HOUSE: condemnation resolutions The lower chamber meets at 12pm today, moves to legislative business at 2pm, and will begin voting at 6:30pm. The House is scheduled to vote on three pieces of legislation:

  • a resolution "condemning the violence against peaceful protestors outside the Turkish Ambassador's residence" on May 16 and "calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future,"
  • the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act, and
  • a resolution on the May 22 terrorist attack in Manchester, England "condemning [the attack] in the strongest terms...expressing heartfelt condolences, and reaffirming unwavering support for the special relationship between our peoples and nations in the wake of these attacks."

Also today: Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte (R-MT) is expected to be sworn in. Gianforte won a special election in late May to fill the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, one day after body-slamming reporter Ben Jacobs. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault for the incident, and was required to appear in court by June 7; he is expected to file for an extension this afternoon.

ELECTIONS: California, New Jersey In the words of NBC's Chuck Todd... if it's Tuesday, somebody's voting somewhere. Today, elections are being held in California's 34th congressional district and the state of New Jersey.

A special election is taking place in California's 34th due to the resignation of former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), who is now the state's Attorney General. California uses the blanket primary system, where candidates of both parties run on the same ballot, and then the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. Two Democrats, State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and former Los Angeles planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn, advanced to today's general election (Hillary Clinton won the district by over 70% in 2016). Both are first-generation Americans: Gomez, 42, the son of Mexican immigrants; Ahn, 41, the son of South Korean immigrants. If elected, Ahn would be the second Korean-American elected to Congress in U.S. history, while Gomez would continue a long string of Latino representatives in the 34th district.

Gomez has been endorsed by the state Democratic Party, as well as Becerra, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. The Bernie Sanders-backed group Our Revolution also supports Gomez, despite his support for Hillary Clinton in 2016 (Ahn backed Sanders, who won the presidential primary in the 34th district.) Gomez is expected to triumph over Ahn today.

Also today: it's primary day in New Jersey, with voters deciding on the candidates for November's gubernatorial election to succeed Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). On the Republican side, the frontrunner is Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R-NJ), who faces off against State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-NJ).

The Democratic field is led by Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive who served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany under President Barack Obama; other candidates include Clinton-era Under Secretary of the Treasury Jim Johnson and State Assemblyman and former state Sanders campaign chair John Wisniewski. Murphy has vast establishment support, counting endorsements from Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and former Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore.

Democrats look to New Jersey as a solid gubernatorial pick-up opportunity; a Quinnipiac poll conducted in late April found Murphy beating Guadagno in the general election, 50% to 25%.

QUOTE OF NOTE: Twitter Talk

"These tweets may make some [people] feel better, but they certainly won't help [the Solicitor General] get 5 votes in [the Supreme Court], which is what actually matters. Sad." — George Conway, the attorney husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who recently turned down a job in the Justice Department, on President Trump's tweets about his travel ban, the fate of which will soon be decided by the Supreme Court

In additional tweets, Conway later added that he still "VERY, VERY STRONGLY" supports President Trump and the executive order on immigration, as well as his "wonderful wife." However, he said "those who support him, as I do, need to reinforce" their opposition to the tweets and "not be shy about it." Conway also said that many lawyers at the White House and DOJ have told him they agree that the "tweets on legal matters seriously undermine [the Administration] agenda."

Conway's tweets came just hours after his wife berated the media on NBC's "TODAY" for "the obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter." He is not the only prominent Republican to criticze the presidential social media use: "Unfortunately the president, I think, created problems for imself by his Twitter habit," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said in an interview on Sunday.

President Trump apparently did not take Conway's advice, tweeting later on Monday: "That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect people," contradicting spokesman Sarah Sanders' insistence earlier that the President doesn't "care what you call" the executive order. Trump also defended his Twitter usage in additional tweets this morning, stating: "The FAKE [mainstream media] is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out." He added: "Sorry folks, but if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH."

DAILY DATA: Paris, Approvals, Twitter A Washington Post/ABC poll released Monday found that 59% of Americans opposed President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, while 28% supported the move. Unsurprisingly, feelings on the decision were split down partisan lines, with 67% of Republicans, 22% of Independents, and just 8% of Democrats in support.

In addition, President Trump's approval ratings continue to dip: Gallup's daily tracking poll on Monday showed 37% of Americans approve of his job performance, while 57% disapprove. As recently as two weeks ago, his Gallup rating was 42% approval vs. 53% disapproval.

Meanwhile, here are the numbers Team Trump is focusing on: White House social media director Dan Scavino tweeted on Monday that in the past year, missives by @realDonaldTrump have received 13 billion "impressions" and 18 million retweets, while 14 million have clicked on links posted by the account and 44 million minutes have been spent watching videos tweeted by the President.