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Wake Up To Politics - March 11, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, March 11, 2019. 329 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 603 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Trump to seek $8.6 billion in wall funding in 2020 budget request

President Donald Trump will release his 2020 budget request today, a symbolic document outlining the administration's priorities.

According to Reuters, the proposed budget will include a request for $8.6 billion in funding to complete a 722-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — which would add to the $8.1 billion from other funding sources that the Trump administration is already using to finance construction of the wall.

The broader blueprint is titled "A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First," according to Politico. The plan would include a 5 percent reduction in funding the nonmilitary parts of the federal government, a historic $2.7 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years. According to the Washington Post, the cuts include $1.1 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs, as well as "a 12 percent cut at the Education Department, a 12 percent cut at the Department of Health and Human Services, an 11 percent cut at the Interior Department, a 23 percent cut at the State Department, a 32 percent cut at the Environmental Protection Agency and a 22 percent cut at the Transportation Department."

Meanwhile, Trump will also propose to boost the military's budget from $716 billion to $750 billion. The White House proposal would not result in a balanced budget (in which the budget deficit would be eliminated) until the mid-2030s.

The president's budget proposal is a political document: it is annually rejected by Congress, and ignored during the appropriations process. ("The president proposes, Congress disposes," in the words of an old D.C. cliché.) In last year's budget, President Trump requested $5.7 billion for the border wall; he refused to sign a spending bill with less funding for the wall, and the government shut down for 35 days, until the president relented. In a joint statement ahead of the release of Trump's budget request, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said of the president: "Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson."

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" if the new budget request will lead to another prolonged spending fight, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said: "I suppose there will be. I would just say that the whole issue of the wall, of border security, is of paramount importance. We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case very effectively."

The new budget request is for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2019, and ends on October 1, 2020, just over a month before the presidential election. New spending legislation must be passed by Congress and signed into law by the president by October 1 of this year or the government will shut down once again.

2020 Central

--- A female aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who has made fighting sexual misconduct a centerpiece of her Senate career, resigned last year after alleging that one of Gillibrand's closest advisers sexually harassed her, protesting how Gillibrand's office handled her complaint, Politico reports. Gillibrand is now formally exploring a 2020 presidential bid.

--- A "final" decision on a 2020 campaign from former Vice President Joe Biden is "imminent," per Axios. More: Biden eyes fundraising challenge amid "new sense of urgency" (Associated Press)

--- The latest CNN/Des Moines Register poll of the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, released on Saturday, found Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading the Democratic field in the state. Biden led with 27% support, followed by Sanders at 25%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 9%, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 7%, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) at 5%, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) at 3% each. No other candidates in the large field exceed 1% support.

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White House schedule

--- At 12:15 p.m., President Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence. At 1:30 p.m., he receives his daily intelligence briefing.

--- In addition to his lunch with President Trump, Vice President Pence participates in a bilateral meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan at 2 p.m.

--- Also: Today marks 42 days since the last White House press briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders took place on January 28, the new record for the longest period without an on-camera briefing since they regularly began taking place during the Clinton administration. The previous record? The 41-day stretch between that briefing on January 28 and the one on December 18 that preceded it.

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes today at 3 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., the chamber will hold a procedural vote advancing the nomination of Paul Matey to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit. A Newark-based attorney, Matey formerly served as deputy chief counsel in the administration of former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ).

--- The House meets at 12 p.m. today. The chamber is scheduled to vote on four pieces of legislation:

  1. H.R. 1122 – Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act of 2019
  2. H.R. 974 – Federal Reserve Supervision Testimony Clarification Act
  3. H.R. 1414 – FinCEN Improvement Act of 2019
  4. H.R. 758 – Cooperate with Law Enforcement Agencies and Watch Act of 2019

Supreme Court schedule

--- The Supreme Court has no oral arguments or conferences scheduled today.

*All times Eastern