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Wake Up To Politics - May 2, 2015

Monday, May 2, 2016
1 Days Until the Indiana Primary
190 Days Until Election Day 2016I'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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White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule President Obama has a quiet day today, with just a single event on the public schedule: interviews live from the White House with TV anchors from Des Moines, Manchester, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Phoenix to pressure Senate Republicans to hold a hearing and vote on Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
  • The interviews are mostly with stations from states represented by a vulnerable Republicans senator up for re-election in November: New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte), Ohio (Rob Portman), Wisconsin (Ron Johnson), Missouri (Roy Blunt), and Arizona (John McCain). In addition, Obama will exert pressure on Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in an interview with a Des Moines station.
  • As senators leave Washington, D.C., the White House and progressive groups are increasing their calls for Senate action on Garland’s nomination. During this break, Americans United for Change (a liberal advocacy group) will unveil its “9-9-9 Tour,” which will include mobile billboards in New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arizona, and Iowa, as well as in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
  • “Trump Could Be A Real Drag On GOP: Here Are The Top 10 Senate Races To Watch”: 1. Illinois (Mark Kirk); 2. Wisconsin (Johnson); 3. New Hampshire (Ayotte); 4. Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey); 5. Ohio (Portman); 6. Florida (Open); 7. Nevada (Open); 8. Missouri (Blunt); 9. North Carolina (Richard Burr); 10. Arizona (McCain)/Colorado (Michael Bennet). NPR posits that just two Democrats seats (Nevada and Colorado) are on that list of eleven for a reason: Donald Trump. (NPR)
  • TV Tonight At 8pm ET tonight, “‘We Got Him’: President Obama, Bin Laden and the Future of the War on Terror” debuts on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°”. The special marks the fifth anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden (which was Sunday), and interviews President Barack Obama from four White House locations: two Situation Room conference rooms (Obama’s first interview in the secure complex), the Colonnade, and the Cross Hall and East Room.
  • Malia to Harvard A rare East Wing statement released early Sunday afternoon unveiled the most-awaited college announcement of the year: First Daughter Malia Obama would be attending Harvard University. The twist: Malia would not begin her college education until the fall of 2017, taking a gap year after graduating high school this spring.
  • The White House gave no word on how Malia would spend her year off, which allows her to begin college after her father has left the White House (unlike the daughters of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton).
  • “Things to Know: the Benefits of Students Taking a Gap Year”: How they work, how many students take them, what the students do, the pros and cons, and more on gap years, an increasingly-used opportunity encouraged by Harvard and other colleges now endorsed by the First Family. (AP)
  • Vide of the Day Neither President Obama or featured comedian Larry Wilmore, of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show,” hesitated to take anyone on in their speeches to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner on Sunday. From Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, RNC chairman Reince Priebus to Joe Biden: no one was safe, until President Obama literally dropped the mic and declared “Obama out”. Watch the President’s speech here and Wilmore’s speech here (via C-SPAN on YouTube).

Capitol Hill News

  • Congress Skips Town with Puerto Rico Debt, Zika Budget Looming Both house of Congress begin their week-long stays away from Washington, D.C today. Technically, Congress is not on “recess”: such a formality requires a joint resolution to be passed by both chambers, which never happened. As such, the Senate leaves for a “State Work Period” (returning on May 9) and the House for a “District Work Week” (returning on May 10).
  • Those separate designations are Congress’ clever way of disguising their time off, as if they are all still working on legislation: just from their state and district offices. The “work period/week” designations make it seem as though Congress is still hard at work, helping their constitutions back home.
  • While this may be true for some members, others are not leaving for their states, or even for any states at all. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), for example, is heading a bipartisan Congressional delegation to Mexico, Peru, and Chile, along with ten other House members (eight Democrats and two Republicans).
  • Since Congress must pass a resolution to formally be on “recess” – and otherwise must meet at least every three days – both chambers fulfill their constitutional obligations by holding “pro forma” sessions every three days. The Senate holds a pro forma session at 2pm today (and another on Thursday), “with no business conducted,” according to the Senate Democratic Caucus. In a normal pro forma session, a small group of senators (but enough to meet a quorum) gather, the presiding offer gavels the session to order, and less than a minute later, announces the meeting’s end.
  • In the Senate, such meetings – especially now – hold dual purposes: it allows the chamber to go on recess without officially declaring one, which blocks the President from making recess appointments (to the Supreme Court or other vacancies), since Congress isn’t really on “recess”.
  • “Recess” or not, Congress is still leaving at a critical time: both chambers failed to work on legislation to assist Puerto Rico with its financial crisis (the territory defaults on its $422 million debt today) or fund a $1.9 billion aid package for the Zika virus.
  • “Senate on pace for lightest work schedule in 60 years”: Despite claims from Senate Republicans that the chamber is “back to work,” the Senate is “on pace this year to be in session for fewer days than any year since 1956.” The chamber was scheduled to meet for 149 days this year, but due to the prolonged summer recess and few Friday sessions, the Senate is on track to spend just 124 days in session. (Politico)

2016 Central

  • Today on the Trail Where are the presidential candidates today?
  • Ahead of Tuesday’s Indiana primary, three out of five candidates are campaigning across the Hoosier State: two with particular ferocity.
  • Ted Cruz is barnstorming Indiana, holding eight retail stops across the state today, at restaurants, cafés, bakeries, grocery stores, pizzerias, and ice cream shops. Cruz will be joined by Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) in Marion, and by Heidi Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) in Fortville, Franklin, Fishers, Brownsburg, and Carmel. The Texas senator will go solo at retail stops in Osceola and Bloomington, and attend a rally with Fiorina and Glenn Beck hosted by Keep the Promise PAC in Indianapolis.
  • The individuals joining Cruz on the trail today represent some of his top surrogates: Lee was the first senator to endorse Cruz, Gohmert was the second congressman to do so, and Pence granted his pivotal endorsement to Congress on Friday. Once can see these being the politicians Cruz surrounds himself with in the White House: a Cruz Administration is already guaranteed First Lady Heidi Cruz and Vice President Carly Fiorina. Perhaps Secretary of State Pence? Or Attorney General Gohmert?  And if a Supreme Court vacancy remains, Justice Mike Lee?
  • In addition, Bernie Sanders holds three events in Indiana: rallies at Old National Events Plaza in Evansville, Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne, and at Monument Circle in Indianapolis. At the Indiana rallies, Sanders 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.
  • Both Cruz and Sanders are fighting for their political lives in Indiana, relaying on victories on the state to block their opponents from clinching their respective nominations. Cruz needs Indiana to ensure that the Republican convention is contested in July, and Sanders needs the state to gain momentum and win more states down the line and persuade superdelegates to join his team.
  • Also today: Donald Trump holds two Indiana rallies, in Carmel and South Bend. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, will not even be in Indiana, instead holding an event at an Italian restaurant in Ashland, Kentucky and touring a health center in Williamson, West Virginia as part of her “Breaking Down Barriers” tour to “meet with voters, hear their stories, and discuss how she will fight to raise incomes and expand opportunities for them and their families as president,” according to her campaign.
  • Meanwhile, John Kasich – who ceded Indiana in a deal with Ted Cruz – has no public events announced Monday.
  • For more on the Indiana primary, read Tuesday’s edition of Wake Up To Politics, including a full pre-primary primer!
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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