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Wake Up To Politics - May 1, 2017




I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Monday, May 1, 2017. 554 days until Election Day 2018. 1,282 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!

Happy May! Per presidential proclamation, this is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, National Foster Care Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Older Americans Month, and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. President Trump also declared that today is Loyalty Day, and this week is Small Business Week and National Charter Schools Week. It's the 102nd day of the Trump Administration.

Congress: Bipartisan Spending Deal Reached A group of bipartisan negotiators in Congress released the text of a spending package early Monday, outlining a $1.07 trillion deal that largely ignores President Donald Trump's wish list. The 1,665-page deal will likely be rushed through both chambers and passed this week before the current government funding plan expires at midnight Friday; the package will fund the government through September 30, ending fear of a government shutdown. It is the first spending deal of the Trump era.

Republicans receive a $12.5 billion increase in military spending and a $1.5 billion boost to border security in the new deal. However, no money is allocated for President Trump's proposed border wall, which he initially demanded be included in the funding plan. In addition, Democrats ensured that Planned Parenthood would be funded in the deal and received $61 million to reimburse law enforcement agencies who protect Trump at his private residences. The National Institutes of Health also sees a $2 billion increase to fund former President Barack Obama's "cancer moonshot," despite Trump's request that the agency be stripped of funding.

Bipartisan wins include $295 million allocated to Puerto Rico's Medicaid plan; $81 billion in funding for disaster aid in California, West Virginia, Louisana, and North Carolina; $100 million to combat the opioid epidemic; and extension of a miners health insurance program.

Despite Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats successfully used their leverage to fund a number of their priorities and stave off "poison pills," with the GOP gambling that they would be blamed for a shutdown. Democrats went on a victory lap after the deal was announced on Sunday night, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling the plan "a good agreement for the American people" that "reflects those principles [laid out by Democrats at the beginning of the debate]." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) boasted in a statement that "160 Republican poison pill riders" were taken out of the deal and that "the omnibus is in sharp contrast to President Trump's dangerous plans."

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have remained silent since the deal was announced, issuing no statements. House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing told reporters, however, that “The agreement will move the needle forward on conservative priorities and will ensure that the essential functions of the federal government are maintained."

At least one Republican has already announced opposition: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), one of the 16 Republicans who voted against a one-week government funding extension last week. "Another deal to grow government. Instead of compromising to cut spending, each side agrees to let the other side spend more," he tweeted last night.

BIG WEEK IN CONGRESS... As the omnibus spending deal works its way through Congress (a vote is expected in the House on Wednesday), Republicans are also eyeing this week as an opportunity vote on their new health care repeal. The House leaves town for a one-week recess on Friday, setting a deadline for the spending and health care bills.

The House Freedom Caucus endorsed a new version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week, while the Trump Administration and Republican leadership are still scrambling to gain moderate support. If the bill can't be passed before the recess, momentum might dry out in the repeal-and-replace fight. White House Chief of Staff told CBS' "This Morning" earlier today that he expects a vote this week. However, confusion on the bill persists, with President Trump telling CBS' John Dickerson on "Face the Nation" that protections for pre-existing conditions would be included, despite signs to the contrary.

Moderate Florida GOP Congresswoman Retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced plans to retire in an interview with the Miami Herald on Sunday, handing Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity. Ros-Lehtinen has served in the seat since 1989; she was the first Cuban-American in Congress, as well as the first Hispanic woman. She is also the dean of the Florida congressional delegation and the most senior Republican woman currently serving in Congress.

Although she has been easily re-elected for decades, Ros-Lehtinen's district is heavily Democratic, giving rise to hopes in the party that they can win the seat against a lesser-known candidate. The district is the one that went for Hillary Clinton by the largest margin (59% to 39%) while still being won by a Republican in 2016.  

Ros-Lehtinen has long carried the moderate flame in the Republican Party, most recently with her opposition to President Donald Trump. She told the Miami Herald that "there is no doubt in mind whatsoever" that she could have won again, but another congressional term just no longer held any appeal. “There was no epiphany. There was no moment, nothing that has happened that I've said, “I've got to move on,’” she said. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it's not about getting elected.”

Democrats already appeared optimistic about a 2018 win there. "As one of the most Democratic districts held by a Republican representative, this district was always going to be competitive," a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman said. "Now it is all but guaranteed to be won by a Democrat who will finally provide the hard working people who live there the representation they deserve.

Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, disagreed, saying in a statement that "I am confident we will keep this seat red in 2018."

Reports: Gorka Out A number of news agencies reported Sunday that controversial Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka will be leaving the White House. Gorka, a Deputy Assistant to the President who focuses on counter terrorism and national security, may transfer to a different role in the Administration. A former Breitbart editor and Fox News analyst, Gorka has taken a leading role in the Strategic Initiatives Group, a group of White House aides led by chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Weekend Review Miss the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday? Read what journalist heroes Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein said about press freedom, via Poynter.

MEANWHILE... Also see what White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday... when asked by Jonathan Karl if the President is considering a constitutional amendment to change libel laws, as he has threatened via Twitter, Priebus said: “I think it's something that we've looked at."

The President's Schedule Today, President Trump will sign a proclamation on Law Day. Later, he will drop by a meeting of the Independent Community Bankers Association. In the afternoon, he will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Afterwards, he will meet with Secretary Tillerson.

Today in Congress The Senate will hold a cloture vote today on the nomination of attorney Jay Clayton to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The House will vote on six bills, including a measure authorizing new sanctions against North Korea.