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Wake Up To Politics - May 11, 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
181 Days Until Election Day 2016
75 Days Until the Republican National Convention
68 Days Until the Democratic National ConventionI'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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2016 Central

  • Trump Wins Nebraska, West Virginia; Sanders Prolongs Democratic Race with West Virginia Victory Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) won his third consecutive state primary Tuesday, beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in West Virginia. While Sanders’ victory is unlikely to make up for his massive disadvantage with pledged delegates, it does inject momentum into Sanders’ campaign and ensure that the Democratic race will be prolonged again.
  • Meanwhile, business mogul Donald Trump won both the Nebraska and West Virginia primaries (the former did not held Democratic caucuses in March) – no surprise, seeing as he is the only remaining Republican presidential candidate, although there had been speculation that a last-ditch shadow effort for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could surmount Trump’s inactive campaigning and prove that Republicans would not unite behind the presumptive nominee.
  • Sanders and Trump both win with comfortable margins: the Vermont senator won West Virginia with 51% of the vote to Clinton’s 36%, while Trump won the state with 77% (his closest rival, Ted Cruz, received 9%) and Nebraska with 61% (Cruz won 19%). The delegates tell very different stories, however: due to Democratic proportional delegate rules, Sanders’ 15-point victory only translated into a five-delegate advantage. According to the Associated Press (AP), Sanders has won 16 Nebraska delegates to Clinton’s 11 (with two delegates yet to be allocated). But on the Republican side, Nebraska’s winner-take-all system and West Virginia’s hybrid winner-take-all allocation allowed Trump to win all 36 of the former’s delegates and at least 31 out of 34 West Virginia delegates (three remain unallocated).
  • With his delegate sweep, Trump remains on-track to win the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination before the convention: he now needs just 102 more delegates. “It is a great honor to have won both West Virginia and Nebraska, especially by such massive margins,” Trump wrote in a statement Tuesday night. “My time spent in both states was a wonderful and enlightening experience for me…I look forward to returning to West Virginia and Nebraska soon, and hope to win both states in the general election.”
  • According to AP, Sanders’ win means he needs to win 86% of the remaining pledged delegates and uncommitted superdelegates to capture the 2,383 delegates needed for the Democratic nomination – his rate of winning delegates has been 40% so far. But in a statement Tuesday night, Sanders appeared optimistic. “I want to thank the people of West Virginia for the tremendous victory they gave us today in a state that provided a landslide vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008,” he said.
  • “With this outcome, we now have won primaries and caucuses in 19 states. We are in this campaign to win the Democratic nomination and we’re going to stay in the race until the last vote is cast…We fully acknowledge we have an uphill climb ahead of us, but we’re used to that,” Sanders continued. “We have been fighting uphill from the day this campaign began.”
  • Sanders also spoke about the upcoming primaries remaining in the nomination fight and called for another debate in California to “compare my record and Secretary Clinton’s record.” Although Sanders is unlikely to clinch the Democratic nomination, he reiterated again his plans to stay in the race until the last primary, which could prove problematic for Clinton.
  • Upcoming primaries in Kentucky and Oregon could be favorable terrain for Sanders, and deliver more disappointing losses for Hillary Clinton. Even if she still wins the nomination, it will be after a string of defeats, and months after Donald Trump’s nomination became a foregone conclusion, giving him a large advantage in gearing up for the general election.
  • Trump tweeted to that effect this morning, deploying his favorite nickname for Hillary Clinton – and unveiling new one for her Democratic rival. “Big wins in West Virginia and Nebraska,” the tweet read. “Get ready for November - Crooked Hillary, who is looking very bad against Crazy Bernie, will lose!”
  • Today on the Trail Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders return to the trail today after Tuesday’s primaries, each campaigning in states with June 7 primaries.
  • Clinton will head to New Jersey, for an Organizing Event at Camden County College in Blackwood. According to her campaign, she will “discuss her plans to raise wages and break down all the barriers that hold Americans back.”
  • Sanders, meanwhile, will had to Montana for A Future to Believe In Rallies in Missoula and Billings, where he will “discuss a wide range of issues, including getting big money out of politics, his plan to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, combating climate change and ensuring universal health care,” according to his campaign.
  • And the other presidential candidate? Donald Trump hasn’t held a single public event since Saturday, although he continues to sit for interviews with an array of media outlets.

Capitol Hill News

  • Senate: Today The upper chamber will reconvene at 9:30am to continue consideration of the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016.
  • A third cloture vote on the energy bill failed in a 50-42 vote on Monday, with Senate Democrats again objecting to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)’s amendment forbidding the United States from buying heavy water from Iran. (Heavy water is needed for nuclear reactors; Iran is required by last year’s nuclear agreement to sell down its stock. The U.S. announced plans to buy heavy water from Iran last month.)
  • After three consecutive defeats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has finally given in to Democratic demands, and will hold two cloture votes today. At 10:30am, the Senate will vote on the Cotton amendment. According to a procedure McConnell set up, if the amendment does not receive 60 “yea” votes (as expected), Cotton will withdraw the proposal.
  • At about 12pm, the Senate will vote up-or-down on the energy appropriations bill (without the Cotton amendment), satisfying Cotton’s wing (who got a vote) and the need to pass an energy bill (which is expected to happen soon).
  • McConnell appealed to Democrats to vote for the energy bill, allowing the Senate to move on to the remaining appropriations bills. “The bill before us will support energy innovation and waterways infrastructure,” the Republican leader said Monday. “It will promote commerce and public safety. It will help maintain our nuclear deterrence posture. These are priorities that would be important to all of us so let’s continue to work today and move this bill forward.”
  • Democrats appeared open to this compromise: “[Cotton] said he would withdraw the amendment if he didn’t win the cloture vote,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters Tuesday. “Then we’d move to other pending amendments, and I think there are only a handful left. I think we can get [the energy bill] done by next Monday.”
  • The Energy and Water package, co-sponsored by Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), appropriates $37.5 billion in funding for the Department of Energy and other water development programs in fiscal year 2017, a $255 million increase from fiscal year 2016. The measure will increase funding for the Energy Department’s defense-related programs by $1.163 billion, while decreasing nondefense programs by $808 million.
  • After dispensing with the energy bill, McConnell signaled that the Senate will move on to the transportation/housing spending bill and military/construction spending bill, and then the defense authorization package and defense spending bill.
  • House: Today The House will meet at 10am today, turning to legislative business at 12pm, and voting from about 1:15pm to about 5:15pm.
  • The lower chamber will vote on 12 bills, all focused on combatting the oboid abuse epidemic in the United States. Today’s votes continue a weeklong theme on opoid addiction bills; in all, the chamber will vote on 18 bills related to the issue this week. All 18 bills enjoy bipartisan support, and are expected to be packaged together after approval to be reconciled with the Senate-passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
  • The House package “would reduce opioid prescriptions; enhance treatment for vulnerable groups, such as veterans and babies born to drug-addicted mothers; strengthen protections for those intervening to prevent drug overdoses; and provide more tools to combat drug trafficking,” according to the Washington Post. The Post also noted that the coming House bill “focuses more on drug trafficking than the Senate bill [and] would give states and local governments wider latitude with how they use federal grants.”
  • Also today: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) will re-introduce a bill to assist Puerto Rico with its debt crisis and “further clarify the existing legal and constitutional prioritization of Puerto Rico’s creditors, as well as the fiscal oversight board’s role in preserving that lineup,” according to Morning Consult.
  • Puerto Rico is currently $70 billion in debt, having defaulted on a $422 million payment last week. The island territory is on track to default on $2 billion more in payments on July 1, although lawmakers hope to have a debt restructuring bill passed by then.
  • Duffy’s bill, titled the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), is expected to be voted on in the Natural Resources committee next week.
  • Treasury Secretary Jack Lew traveled to Puerto Rico on Monday, urging Congress to take action on the debt crisis. “It can only get worse,” Lew told reporters.

White House Watch

·        The President’s Schedule President Obama has just two public events today.

·        At 2:30pm, he will meet with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in the Oval Office.

·        At 3:35pm, Obama will hold an Oval Office ceremony for the signing of S.1890 – the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, which “allows federal civil lawsuits for theft of trade secrets,” according to CBS’ Mark Knoller. The bill received near-unanimous support in both houses of Congress, passing the Senate 87-0 and the House 410-2.

Question of the Day

  • ·        Yesterday’s Answer What is the U.S. national tree? The Oak tree, as was voted on by the American public in a 2001 poll by the National Arbor Day Foundation and made official by a 2004 Act of Congress.
  • ·        Other U.S. national symbols: the bald eagle (national bird), the rose (national floral emblem), “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (national march) – and, as of Monday, the American bison.
  • ·        GREAT JOB… Katie Hendrickson, Steve Gitnik, and Amy Sklansky!!!


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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light