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Wake Up To Politics - May 2, 2017




I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Tuesday, May 2, 2017. 553 days until Election Day 2018. 1,281 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!

No school today, so welcome to your late-sleep edition...

Down to the Wire for GOP Health Care Bill "Now is the time to do it," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reportedly told Republican lawmakers behind closed doors in a meeting on health care this morning, adding that they should expect a vote on the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare on Wednesday or Thursday.

Republican leaders hope to pass the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA) by Thursday, the House's last day in session before a nearly two-week recess; by the time the chamber returns, undecided members may be persuaded to oppose the plan at town halls with constituents. Already, the fate of the bill is uncertain: whip counts show 20 or 21 Republicans oppose the AHCA. The bill will fail if 23 Republicans vote "no."

Many in the GOP caucus remain undecided, including at least seven members of the Republican whip team and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Many of the outlying lawmakers are moderates hesitating to support the AHCA's new MacArthur Amendment  allowing states to opt out of Obamacare's protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. That amendment was added last week to gain the support of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who now mostly support the bill.

Supporters of the AHCA suffered a loss on Monday with the defection of Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), a Trump ally in a safe Republican district, over the MacArthur provisions. According to Politico, President Trump tried calling Long after he announced his opposition to persuade him to change his mind; the congressman refused. The Trump Administration has been exerting pressure on members for days, as Vice President Mike Pence has made repeated lobbying trips to Capitol Hill.

Trump has maintained in interviews that the bill may still evolve on pre-existing conditions. "I want it to be good for sick people. It's not in its final form right now," he told Bloomberg on Monday. "It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare." Trump's comments signaling that the measure may change has added even more confusion and frustration among Republicans unsure of whether to vote "yea."

Today will be an important today in the health care fight, with more members expected to announce how they plan to vote, which should paint a clearer picture of the AHCA's fate.

Quote of the Day

"I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said 'There's no reason for this.' People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?" — President Donald Trump in an interview with SiriusXM's Salena Zito

President Trump raised eyebrows on Mondays after asking, "why was there the Civil War?" and insisting that President Andrew Jackson, a slave-owner who died 16 years before the conflict began, was angry about the war and could have ended it.

Trump's comment came in one of many interviews he gave on Monday, all of which produced a number of mini-controversies: from shutting down an interview with CBS when pressed on his claims of being wiretapped by Barack Obama ("I don't stand by anything") to signaling an openness to raise the gas tax ("It’s something that I would certainly consider") and discussing a potential meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ("I would be honored to do it") in an interview with Bloomberg.

The President said he would meet with the dictator "under the right circumstances," although he did not specify, a move that worried human rights advocates, especially in the midst of other comments he has made praising foreign strongmen, from Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Egypt's Abdel ­Fatah al-Sissi. Over the weekend, he invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House; Duterte has authorized the killing of hundreds of drug users.

The President's Schedule At 10:30am, President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.

At 11am, President Trump participates in the departure ceremony for Lt. Col. Wesley Spurlock, the Air Force aide to the President in the White House Military Office, in the Oval Office.

At 11:30am, President Trump awards the Commander-in-Chief trophy presentation to the U.S. Air Force Academy, who triumphed over the whole military academies in their annual football competition, in a Rose Garden ceremony.

At 12:30pm, President Trump speaks over the phone with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, in the midst of investigations into his campaign's ties with the foreign leader.

At 5:30pm, President Trump meets with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster in the Oval Office.

Today in the Senate The upper chamber will meet at 10am.

After any Leader remarks, the Senate will continue debating the nomination of attorney Jay Clayton to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. A confirmation vote on Clayton is expected today; his nomination was advanced on Monday in a 60-36 cloture vote, with ten Democrats voting in Clayton's favor (six of whom face re-election in 2018). Clayton has been criticized by other Democrats, most prominently Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), for representing Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms that he would be policing as SEC chair.

Also today: Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA), President Trump's nominee for Ambassador to China, will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a 10am confirmation hearing.

Today in the House The lower chamber will also convene at 10am.

The House is scheduled to consider five bills today: the Disaster Declaration Improvement Act; the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act; the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act; the Working Families Flexibility Act; and a bill reinstating FEMA grants.

Also today: "in light of recent widely reported incidents involving passengers on major U.S. airlines," the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing to "examine U.S. airlines customer service policies and issues, and what can be done to improve the flying experience for American travelers." The witness list at the 9:30am hearing includes the President and CEO of United Airlines, and vice presidents of American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

Thursday's Answer A trivia question I never answered from last week: who was the only member of the Trump Cabinet to be confirmed unanimously? The answer: Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

GREAT JOB... William Howlett, Steve Gitnik, Dan Filliol, Joseph Ricca, Matt Neufeld, Shelli Netherton, and Rick Isserman!