I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, November 29, 2017. 343 days until Election Day 2018. 1,071 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
Senate Budget Committee to Vote on Tax Reform Legislation as GOP Holdouts Remain
The Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to vote on the Republican tax reform plan today, the final step before the bill can head to the Senate floor. The GOP hopes to have the Senate plan passed by the end of the week, and have its differences with the House-passed plan reconciled in a conference committee by Christmas, but a number of senators still pose challenges to the legislation.
Two Republicans on the Budget panel, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Bob Corker (R-TN), said Monday raised the possibility of voting against the bill today in committee. The Senate Budget Committee is made up of 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats, meaning opposition from any GOPer would prevent the bill from gaining a favorable report, as no Democrats are expected to vote "yea."
Johnson told reporters on Monday that he planned to oppose the tax bill in committee and on the floor unless major changes are made "beforehand." He is one of two Republicans, along with Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who has said they will vote "no" on the legislation without changes that level the playing field for smaller "pass-through" businesses, which are given less benefits than larger corporations. Meanwhile, Corker also signaled that it was "very possible" he would vote against the bill today due to concerns about the bill's impact on the deficit.
The Trump Administration and Republican leadership are exerting pressure on Johnson, Daines, and Corker — as well as other GOP senators who may oppose the legislation later this week. President Donald Trump makes the trip to Capitol Hill today to address the Senate Republican Conference ahead of the Budget Committee vote. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that Trump would "rally [the] Senate to simplify & lower taxes for families, small businesses" in his speech to the caucus.
Trump also turned to Twitter to urge support for tax reform on Monday. "The Tax Cut Bill is coming along very well, great support," he wrote. "With just a few changes, some mathematical, the middle class and job producers can get even more in actual dollars and savings and the pass through provision becomes simpler and really works well!" The day before, he tweeted: "Senate Republicans will hopefully come through for all of us."
If persuasion tactics don't work, the GOP may be forced to add last-minute changes to the bill to gain support from Johnson and Corker. "We're gonna make them happy," Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said of the dissenters. If the Budget Committee approves the plan today, it will head to the Senate floor for debate and a marathon "vote-a-rama" on amendments before a potential voe on Thursday.
Before that time, even more modifications may be needed to attract Sens. Corker, James Lankford (R-OK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who are concerned about the deficit; Sens. Johnson and Daines, who are opposed due to the disparity in impact on small and large businesses; Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who is hoping to restore the popular state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which is eliminated in the Senate bill; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has called for "regular order"; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who supports an increase in the child tax credit; and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who has offered little reasoning but so far refused to give her support.
With no Democrats expected to support the bill, SenateGOP leaders can only afford to lose two Republican senators to still ensure passage.
Buzz Quote: "Pocahontas"
Standing in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson (known for signing the Indian Removal Act, which triggered the forced relocation and death of tens of thousands of Native Americans), President Trump invoked "Pocahontas" — his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — at an event honoring the Native American Code Talkers, who played an important role in both World Wars, at the White House on Monday. Here's what he said:
"And I just want to thank you because you're very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her 'Pocahontas.' "
Warren responded in an interview on MSNBC, calling the nickname "a racial slur"...
"It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur."
...which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said was "ridiculous," preferring to focus on the nickname's origin, Warren's repeated claims of unproven Native American ancestry:
"I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career...I think that's a ridiculous response."
The Navajo Nation also responded, in a statement by president Russell Begaye:
"In this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy...The Navajo Nation does not want to engage in this dialogue between Sen. Warren and President Trump."
2018 Central: Gutierrez to retire
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) is expected to announce today that he will not seek a 13th House term, a number of news outlets have reported. Gutierrez has represented his Chicago district since 1993; as a top member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he is known as a prominent advocate for immigration reform.
Gutierrez has been harshly critical of President Trump and was arrested earlier this year at a protest on the President's immigration policy outside Trump Tower; he was also a frequent critic of former President Barack Obama from the left, terming him "deporter in chief," urging Obama to take up immigration reform and halt deportations of undocumented immigrants.
His retirement announcement comes as a surprise: according to the Washington Post, he said he was planning to run for re-election just before Thanksgiving. Politico, which was first to report the news of his retirement, has also reported that Gutierrez will formally endorse Cook County Board of Commissioners member Chuy Garcia at his Chicago news conference today. Garcia was previously expected to make a second bid for Chicago's mayorship in 2019, after forcing mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff election in 2015. Chicago City Councilmember Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is also a potential canidate for Gutierrez's seat.
CFPB Showdown: What Happened on Monday
In Monday's newsletter, I provided context for the showdown between two individuals claiming to be in charge at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) after former director Richard Cordray's resignation: White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who President Trump tapped to serve as acting director, and CFPB deputy director Leandra English, who is suing the Trump Administration after Cordray appointed her acting director in his final act. Here's what happened at the CFPB later Monday, per the Washington Post:
"Mulvaney showed up at the agency’s Washington headquarters early in the morning bearing a bag of doughnuts and then firing off an email ordering the staff to disregard any orders from English. His office tweeted photos of Mulvaney taking part in office meetings and he invited in the press to announce that he had declared a temporary freeze on hiring and rulemaking."
"Trump 'wants me to get it [the agency] back to the point where it can protect people without trampling on capitalism,' Mulvaney said."
"English, meanwhile, came to the office and sent an early morning email [signed as "Acting Director"] welcoming the staff of 1,600 back from the Thanksgiving holiday and then headed to Capitol Hill, where she met with several Democratic lawmakers. She held her first public appearance before a barrage of cameras and reporters sitting alongside Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Barely audible, English said the lawmakers had been 'very helpful.' "
"The confusion promised to continue for at least another day after a federal judge — a recent Trump appointee — declined to rule immediately on English’s request for a temporary restraining order barring Mulvaney from taking over."
The President's Schedule
At 12:40pm, President Trump departs the White House for Capitol Hill. At 1pm, he addresses the Senate Republican Conference, in a key speech to rally GOPers on tax reform ahead of a critical week for the legislation. At 2:05pm, Trump returns to the White House.
At 3pm, the President meets with the "Big Four" congressional leaders in the Oval Office: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). They have a lot to talk about: in addition to tax reform, Congress faces a December 8 deadline to pass legislation to fund the government and avert a shutdown. Pelosi and Schumer are expected to press for a legislative version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump ended but has expressed support for, in exchange for the support of a funding bill.
Note: For the second day in a row, receiving the daily intelligence briefing is not on President Trump's public schedule.
Today in Congress
The Senate holds one roll call vote today: on confirmation of Gregory Katsas to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second-most-powerful court in the nation.
Meanwhile, the House is scheduled to vote on six bills, mainly related to national park land.
All times Eastern