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Wake Up To Politics - March 3, 2015

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015
616 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 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!!!
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Explainer: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Address Congress

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a Joint Session of Congress today, after receiving a controversial invitation from House Speaker John Boehner.
  • Why the controversy? Netanyahu’s invitation was formally extended by Boehner in late January, and was coordinated by the offices of the Speaker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Ambassador Ron Dermer, who represents Israel in the United States. The White House was not notified. And the controversy began.
  • White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the invitation “a departure” from protocol. In an interview with Reuters published Monday, President Obama said, “Ultimately the interaction with foreign governments runs through the executive branch. That’s true whether it’s a Democratic president or a Republican president, and that’s true regardless of how close the ally is.”
  • Historically, diplomacy (and hosting foreign leaders) has been the purview of the President, who is head of state and Commander-in-Chief, while Congress was to stick to domestic affairs.
  • “The House of Representatives is a equal branch of the government, and we have a right to do it, and we did it,’ Boehner fired back, however. “And I’m frankly proud of the fact the prime minister has accepted our invitation, and will be here on March 3 to talk to the members of Congress about the serious threat that Iran poses, and the serious threat of radical Islam.”
  • Has there been much fallout? Well, President Obama will not be meeting with the Prime Minister during his visit, nor will Secretary of State John Kerry.
  • While the Administration is obviously not pleased by the process by which he was invited to the United States, Netanyahu is up for re-election in two weeks, and President Obama’s wish not to appear to be meddling in foreign elections is the official reason for the latter’s refusal to meet with the former.
  • In addition, Vice President Joe Biden, who, as President of the Senate, traditionally sits behind the speaker at Joint Sessions of Congress, will be traveling abroad. Many view the trip as an additional snub to Netanyahu.
  • Biden will be joined in boycotting the address by eight Democratic senators  (Tim Kaine of Virginia, Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Al Franken of Minnesota Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Brian Schatz of Hawaii), as well as 42 House Democrats, including Congressional Black Caucus chair G.K. Butterfield (NC), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Reps. John Lewis (GA), Joaquin Castro (TX), Charlie Rangel (NY), Elijah Cummings (MD), and Lacy Clay (MO).
  • Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus are among those skipping the speech, angered over what they view as Boehner’s insult to Obama by not consulting him. Other congressional Democrats are seeking to distance themselves from interfering in ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Netanyahu’s address will focus on urging Congress to oppose any agreement that “would allow Iran to retain some nuclear capability, and since Israel is within missile range of Iran, that would pose an existential threat to Israel,” according to Politico.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will meet with Netanyahu today, and hold a joint photo-op with the Israeli Prime Minister.
  • Dick Durbin (IL) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) invited Netanyahu to a meeting a larger group of Democratic senators, which was declined by the Israeli Prime Minister, who said, “Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic senators, I believe that doing so could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit.” Durbin responded in a statement, saying, “We offered the Prime Minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong. His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades.”
  • What does the public think? A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 48% of Americans “say that congressional Republicans should not have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on Tuesday without first notifying President Barack Obama."
  • Of those polled, 30% supported the invitation, and 22% didn’t know enough.
  • As you may have guessed, this is very much a partisan issue – 66% of Democrats, and just 28% of Republicans, thought Boehner shouldn’t have invited Netanyahu without notifying Obama.
  • 66% isn’t unanimous support for the president in his own party, as seen by the split between House Democrats in attending the speech.
  • Is there an effect on 2016? Hillary Clinton is in Washington, D.C. EMILY’s List 30th Anniversary Gala today, and the Emergency Committee for Israel, a right-wing PAC, has urged Hillary Clinton to attend Netanyahu’s speech.
  • Clinton, who is expected to utilize her foreign policy credentials as former Secretary of State in her likely presidential campaign, ignored the group’s letter.
  • By contrast, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and other potential 2016 contenders attended the speech – possibly providing openings to hit Clinton as anti-Israel.
  • Trivia? Trivia. Netanyahu’s address today is the 115th of a foreign leader or dignitaries before a Joint Meeting of Congress. The list includes 110 leaders or dignitaries (there are repeats), 11 monarchs, 12 women, two families with multiple speakers, and stretches back to the Marquis de Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolutionary War, who had the distinction of being the first foreign dignitary to address Congress in 1824.

2016 Central

  • ·        Race for the Senate: Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski to Retire Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced plans Monday to retire at the end of 2016, and not run for a sixth Senate term.
     ·        Mikulski, 78, has served in the Senate since 1986, and served in the House for five terms before that, and announced her retirement at a Baltimore new conference.
  • “I have thought long and hard about the next two years, and I had to ask myself this question: Who am I campaigning for? Am I campaigning for me? Or am I campaigning for my constituents?” she asked, choking up. “I had to decide how to spend my time: fighting for my job, or fighting for their job. Do I spend my time raising money, or do I spend my time raising hell? Do I focus on my election, or do I focus on the next generation?”
  • While the announcement will not have a huge impact on the race for control of the Senate in 2016 (Obama won Maryland with 62% of the vote in 2012, and the Democratic nominee is expected to easily take Mikulski’s seat), it does hold meaning for the women of Capitol Hill.
  • Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in congressional history, is known as “The Dean of Senate Women,” and her career is marked with groundbreaking accomplishments, from being the first female chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee to being the first female Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate without having come after a husband or father to being one of the first woman to wear pants on the Senate floor.
  • Names mentioned in the Democratic primary to succeed Mikulski include Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlins-Blake; 2012 gubernatorial candidates Doug Gansler, former state Attorney General, and former Del. Heath Mizeur; and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, whose political career started in Montgomery County, Maryland.
  • In addition, many members of Maryland’s Democratic U.S. House delegation are considering Senate bids, Reps. Donna Edwards; Dutch Ruppersberger; Elijah Cummings; John Sarbanes; John Delaney; and Chris Van Hollen, who is seen as a potential successor to Nancy Pelosi once she steps down as leader of the House Democrats.
  • Republicans have not won a Senate seat in the state since 1980, but, bolstered by a 2012 gubernatorial win, the party still says the race will be competitive and feature a “top recruit” from the GOP. Those floated include Rep. Andy Harris, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Jr., former RNC chairman Michael Steele, and 2012 Senate nominee Daniel Bongino.
  • Mikulski is the second senator to announce plans to step down in the 2016 cycle, California’s Barbara Boxer is the other, also a Democratic woman.
  • Race to 45: Hillary Clinton Used Only Private Email as Secretary of State The New York Times reported Monday that Hillary Clinton conducted government business only from her private email account while at the State Department, which may get around federal requirements that all emails be recorded.
  • “Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act,” the Times wrote.
  • While many government officials use personal email addresses, Clinton did not even have a government address, which is unusual. Further, the National Archives and Records Administration requires all personal emails also be preserved, but Clinton’s aides only sent over some of them.
  • This development paints Clinton as trying to hide something – and plays right into Jeb Bush’s hands. The Florida governor and Clinton’s potential presidential opponent has been talking a lot about transparency recently, and a Bush spokesman immediately released this statement: “Hillary Clinton should release her emails. Hopefully she hasn’t already destroyed them. Governor Bush believes transparency is a critical part of public service and governing. That’s why he recently launched www.jebemails.com.”
  • The website the spokesman is referring to has 250,000 emails Bush released from his time as governor – from both personal and government accounts.
  • ---LINK: Without a campaign, Hillary has no rapid response to fire back at these stories: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/hillary-clintons-thin-shield-115678.html?ml=tl_3
  • But that may end soon – as she eyes a launch next month: http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clinton-seen-launching-presidential-bid-in-april-1425254392

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule At 1:30 PM, President Obama will meet with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
  • At 2:50 PM, the President and First Lady will speak at a White House event about expanding US efforts to help adolescent girls worldwide attend and stay in school.
  • Finally, at 4 PM, Obama will meet with his senior advisors.

Capitol Hill News

  • Committee Watch: ISIS The U.S. campaign against the Islamic State group, and President Obama’s proposed war resolution against the group, is the focus of two congressional committee hearings today.
  • The first, a House Armed Services Committee, is on the President’s requested Authorization of Military Force against the Islamic State. The two witnesses are Christine Wormuth, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and Gen. Lloyd Austin, the Commander of U.S. Central Command.
  • Also today, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a closed-door hearing to receive an updated briefing on the U.S. campaign against ISIS. Michael Dempsey, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration; Ambassador Brett McGurk, the Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL; and others will testify.

Question of the Day

  • Today’s Question Hillary Clinton will attend the EMILY's List 30th Anniversary National Conference and Gala Dinner in Washington, D.C. today to receive the We Are EMILY Award, which "honors women who have made a significant impact on our nation through their consistent leadership and inspiration and Hillary embodies that leadership as a fighter for women and families,” EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock said.
  • EMILY’s List is a PAC to elect pro-choice female Democratic candidates. What is EMILY an acronym for in the PAC’s name?
  • Email me to wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com or tweet me @WakeUp2Politics to answer the question and get your name in tomorrow's Wake Up!