Tuesday, November 29, 2016
52 Days until Inauguration Day
707 Days Until Election Day 2018 I'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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- Trump Taps Georgia Congressman Price for HHS Secretary President-elect Donald Trump announced plans to nominate Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a statement this morning. Trump also announced his intent to tap Seema Verma as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who will be another key figure in the President-elect's health care policy enactment.
- Price has represented the northern suburbs of Atlanta in Congress since 2005, and has chaired the House Budget Committee since 2015. In the past, Price has also chaired the Republican Study Committee (a caucus of conservative House members); before his election to to the House, Price was an orthopedic surgeon and a Georgia state senator.
- The selection of Price as head of HHS is the clearest sign so far that President-elect Trump is serious about repealing and replacing Obamacare: the Georgia congressman is one of Congress' biggest critics of Obama's signature health care law, and has introduced an alternative plan many times. The Empowering Patients First Act, Price's health care bill, "fully repeals Obamacare and starts over with patient-centered solutions," according to his office. The bill is one of the most detailed proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare, and goes even farther than other Republican plans in striking down the expansion of Medicaid and other Obamacare programs.
- "Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare police, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity," the President-elect said in his statement this morning. "He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American."
- Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would "replace Obamacare with a plan to give states more control over the Medicaid health plan for the poor and allow insurers to sell plans nationally," according to Reuters. However, after meeting with President Barack Obama earlier this month, the President-elect seemed to soften on health care, signaling openness to keep provisions such as coverage in their parents' plan for those under age 26. Reuters reports that Price "has long championed a plan of tax credits, expanded health savings accounts, and lawsuit reforms to replace Obamacare."
- In his statement, Trump said Price and Seema Verma were "the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans." If Verma, Trump also said: "she has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems."
- Verma, a health policy consultant, hails from Indiana, and crafted the state's Medicaid expansion plan with Gov. Mike Pence, now the Vice President-elect. A number of Democrats supported the plan Verma helped create with Pence, in which monthly contributions were required for citizens to benefit. As head of CMS, she would have vast authority over Medicare, Medicaid, and implementation of Obamacare. Atop HHS, Price would have authority over a budget larger than $1 trillion and programs insuring over 100 million Americans.
- The choice of Price as HHS chief has already received praise from a number of Republicans. "Tom is a fellow Georgian who understands that we need to stop Washington's takeover of our health care system," Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) said in a statement. "As a doctor, he is seen as a leading voice on health care policy and has a common-sense plan to replace Obamacare that will lower costs and put patients in charge of their health care choices. I've had the opportunity to work closely with Tom, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will do a fantastic job improving our nation's health care system and the lives of all Americans."
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was another to praise Price's nomination, calling him "an exceptional choice." House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) told Politico: “[Price] knows the programs in and out,” Upton said. “He has wonderful respect here and that’s what you need. Particularly for someone who’s going to be president who has never been a legislator.”
- Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), meanwhile, already blasted out a statement criticizing the appointment: “Congressman Price has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and Planned Parenthood,” Schumer said in a statement. “Thanks to those three programs, millions of American seniors, families, people with disabilities and women have access to quality, affordable health care. Nominating Congressman Price to be the HHS secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house.”
- Reccomended Reading "'‘I will give you everything.’ Here are 282 of Donald Trump’s campaign promises," Washington Post
- "Trump's early backers seize power in Congress," Politico
- Trump Continues to Mull Secretary of State Appointment Before leaving Trump Tower after a full day of meetings Monday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters: "We'll be back at it first thing in the morning. There will be a number of very important announcements tomorrow." At least one other Cabinet secretary is expected to be unveiled today, according to news reports; the most likely announcements are for posts like Commerce secretary (billionaire investor Wilbur Ross is the likely choice, with Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts rumored to be in line for deputy secretary) and secretary of Housing and Urban Development (if he accepts, the job will reportedly go to retired neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate Ben Carson).
- However, a post that will almost certainly not be announced today continues to receive much of the attention: Secretary of State, the highest-ranking Cabinet appointment. After a rift between Trump advisers (including Vice President-elect Mike Pence) advocating for 2012 presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to get the spot and aides pulling for former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (including incoming White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway) spilled into the public eye, President-elect Trump has apparently begun considering other options.
- David Petraeus, who served in military and intelligence positions for nearly four decades before resigning in disgrace as Director of the CIA in 2011, showed up for an unannounced meeting at Trump Tower on Monday. Petraeus retired as a four-star general, having commanded the International Security Assistance Force (the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan) and U.S. Central Command (the American presence in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan). However, Petraeus has been criticized as a potential Secretary of State due to the scandal that led to his resignation: the revelation that he shared classified information with his mistress Paula Broadwell.
- "You know, I think the problem they're going to have if they put him forward is there's a lot of similarities to Hillary Clinton as far as revealing classified information," Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on CNN's "The Situation Room on Monday. "I think that's a potential problem." Paul, who ran against Trump in the presidential primaries, has also spoken forcefully against Giuliani and former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, other top State Department possibilities.
- After meeting with Petraeus on Monday, Trump tweeted that the general was "very impressive." Another prospect, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), an early backer of Trump, who is meeting with the President-elect today at Trump Tower.
- Even as Trump explores other options, Mitt Romney appears to still be in the running, as he will meet the President-elect for a private dinner tonight. According to the Washington Post, Trump is the main backer of Romney inside his inner circle, as many loyalists have gone public in their opposition to the 2012 GOP nominee. Most notably, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (now a senior adviser to his transition team) has been vocal in her denunciation of Romney, who was a top critic of Trump during the campaign.
- “I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position,” Conway said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' “We don’t even know if Mitt Romney voted for Donald Trump.” On NBC's "Meet the Press," Conway added: "[Trump supporters] feel a bit betrayed that you can get a Romney back in there after everything he did."
- Conway is not the only Trump ally publicly bashing the potential appointee. "There is an enormous base that wanted to drain the swamp, and they see Romney as the swamp," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Fox News' "Hannity." Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), an early Trump backer and transition team member, called Romney a "self-serving egomanic who puts himself first, who has a chip on his shoulder, that thinks he should be president of the United States," on CNN's "New Day."
- However, Conway is the one seen as having the most direct ties to Trump, leading to questions over whether she has as much influence over the President-elect as previously thought. NBC host Joe Scarborough reported Monday that Trump was "furious" over Conway's comments, which the President-elect refuted in a statement to the New York Times.
- "Kellyanne came to me and asked whether or not she could go public with her thoughts on the matter. I encouraged her to do so," Trump said. "Most importantly she fully acknowledged there is only one person that makes the decision. She has always been a tremendous asset and that will continue."
- However, it seems Conway's openness may signal that she will not take a White House post. Politico reported Monday that she rejected an offer to become White House Communications Director, and it is now more likely that she will lead an outside group supporting Trump's agenda.
- Recommended Reading "Combative, Populist Steve Bannon Found is Man in Donald Trump," New York Times
- "Paul Manfort is Back," Bloomberg
Capitol Hill News
- Congressional Schedule Both houses of Congress are in session today.
- The Senate will convene at 10am for the day; following any Leader remarks, the chamber will hold morning business until 11am. At that time, consideration of the Extending Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act will begin. The ECHO Act "requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration, to study technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models and the ability of those models to improve patient care and provider education," according to the Congressional Research Service.
- At around 11:30am, the Senate will vote on passage of the bill, which is co-sponsored by nine Democratic members.
- Also today: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) begins meeting with his colleagues to shore up support for his planned nomination as Attorney General. As is tradition, Sessions will meet first with Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today. Although he is a former ranking member of the panel, Sessions could run into trouble getting confirmed, with Democrats planning to call witnesses to testify on the Alamaban's hardline positions on immigration, civil rights, voting rights, and other issues.
- Meanwhile, the House will meet at 12pm today for morning hour, moving to legislative business at 2pm. By 6:30pm, the chamber will begin voting on sixteen measures on today's agenda, including two renaming federal buildings, three relating to criminal justice and emergency response, three related to the U.S. relationship with Israel, six relating to veterans, and one "encouraging reunions of divided Korean-American families."
- Congress will continue to pass mostly low-priority bills in the lame-duck session; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that most of the work remaining for his chamber would consist of approving conference reports, for bills such as the National Defense Authorization Act and the Water Resources Development Act. In addition, McConnell said the chamber will likely take up the 21st Century Cures bill and Iran Sanctions Extension Act before the end of the 114th Congress.
- In addition, Congress is facing a Dec. 9 deadline to avert a government shutdown; a continuing resolution to fund the government through March is most likely, to old off making any changes to spending until President-elect Trump has taken office.
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule In addition to his daily intelligence briefing (10am), President Barack Obama has just one event on his public schedule today: a 3:10pm visit with wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
- According to CBS' Mark Knoller, this will be at least the 29th visit Obama has made to a military hospital in his Presidency. Walter Reed is a top military medical center; since merging with the National Naval Medical Center in 2011, the hospital serves hundreds of veterans of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in its acre-large campus.
- Recommended Reading "Obama's Sacred Duty: Visiting the Wounded at Walter Reed," New York Times
- First Lady's Schedule First Lady Michelle Obama will also be spending time with members of the Armed forces today: as part of her Joining Forces initiative, she will welcome military families to the White House to view the mansion's 2016 holiday decorations, as in years past. The First Lady will speak in the East Room at 1:30pm, and will then join the families and the White House kitchen and floral staffs in the State Dining Room to "make holiday crafts and treats with the children."
- Michigan Formally Called for Trump, Recount Likely Nearly four weeks after the election, the Michigan Board of Canvassers certified the state's results Monday, formally awarding 16 more electoral votes to Donald Trump. According to the final results, Trump won the state with 47.5% of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 47.3%, a difference of less than 11,000 votes out of over 4.5 million cast.
- The Monday announcement officially adds Michigan to the group of six states that President Obama won in 2008 and 2012 but were won by Trump in 2016. Michigan was in a trio of Midwestern states, with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that had all voted Democratic for at least the last six presidential elections.
- However, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has raised enough money to request requests in all three states, to ensure election integrity in light of claims of foreign hacking. The recount in Wisconsin will begin Thursday, as long as Stein provides the needed $1.1 million, although the Elections Commission rejected her request for a hand recount; Stein said she will file a legal challenge to ensure machines are not used in the recount.
- Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Stein has filed a legal petition calling for a recount, although the state's election laws make it much more difficult to initiate one. In Michigan, the deadline for a recount is Wednesday, and the price tag is $800,000.
- Barring the highly unlikely scenario where any of the states flip in a recount, Michigan's certification brings Trump's Electoral College total to 306, to Hillary Clinton's 232. "306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic," Kellyanne Conway tweeted Monday.
- While Trump's win was an upset, a landslide may be a stretch: he is currently losing the popular vote by 2.3 million votes, according to the Cook Political Report's tracker. He also received only 56.9% of the Electoral College votes, which places him at the 44th biggest landslide...out of 54 presidential elections. Not exactly "historic."
- By comparison, Obama won 61.7% of the electoral votes in 2012 and 67.8% in 2008.
- Question Who is the only presidential candidate in American history to win the most electoral votes and the most popular votes in the election, but still lose the Presidency?
- Send your guess to firstname.lastname@example.org; correct respondents get their name in tomorrow's newsletter!
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