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Wake Up To Politics - October 20, 2017

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Friday, October 20, 2017. 18 days until Election Day 2017. 382 days until Election Day 2018. 1,110 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!

Friday Roundup

BUDGET: The Senate passed the Republican budget resolution Thursday night, a key step in the party's path to implementing sweeping tax cuts. The budget includes provisions for reconciliation, which will allow the GOP tax reform plan to be approved with 51 votes, skirting a Democratic filibuster. The budget passed, 51-49, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) joining all 48 Democrats in voting "nay."

The House will take up the budget framework next week; once approved by both houses of Congress, the legislature will turn to the GOP's proposed overhaul of the tax system, hoping to pass a bill by the end of the year. The Senate-passed budget included last-minute changes made to mollify House members, which is likely to speed up passage of the blueprint in the lower chamber.

KELLY: White House chief of staff John Kelly delivered an emotional defense of his boss on Thursday, making a rare appearance in the Briefing Room to offer context to the controversy of the President's call to the widow of a fallen soldier. Invoking his own experiences as both a military commander and a Gold Star father, Kelly explained the process of what happens when a member of the Armed Forces is killed, and described what he told President Trump about his predecessors calling families, which led to Trump's accusation earlier this week that former President Barack Obama did not call military families.

The chief of staff also dismissed recent criticism by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who told reporters about Trump comments made to a Gold Star widow that caused the widow to cry. "I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing," Kelly said, adding that he spent an hour-and-a-half collecting his thoughts at Arlington National Cemetery after Wilson spoke to the press.

"I appeal to America, that let's not let this maybe last thing that's held sacred in our society -- a young man, young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country -- let's try to somehow keep that sacred," he pleaded.

PRESIDENTS CLUB: Former Presidents Barak Obama and George W. Bush emerged in separate public appearances on Thursday, both delivering rebukes of the state of politics in America, and without naming him, possibly of the current occupant of the White House as well.

"Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication," Bush said at an event on democracy in New York, continuing later: "We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty... We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America... This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed."

“Folks don't feel good right now about what they see, they don't feel as if our public life reflects our best,” Obama said at a rally with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, echoing his predecessor. “Instead of our politics reflecting our values, we've got politics infecting our communities.” Later, at a rally with New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, Obama added "What we can't have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries. Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back, it’s the 21st century, not the 19th century."

The President's Day

President Donald Trump has a quiet day today, with just two events on his schedule: his daily intelligence briefing and a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Today in Congress

Neither house of Congress is in session.


Thursday, October 19: Rep. Dave Reichert is a retiring Republican congressman from Washington state, not Pennsylvania.

Third times the charm: I misstated a quote from White House deputy chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco on Tuesday, October 17 (and again on Thursday when I attempted to correct it), She said that President Trump's allegation that former President Barack Obama never called families of fallen soldiers was a "f---ing lie."