5 min read

Wake Up To Politics - September 5, 2017

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Tuesday, September 5, 2017. 427 days until Election Day 2018. 1,155 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!

Today in Washington

  • Congress returns: Harvey aid, Debt ceiling increase, Funding bill + more Both houses of Congress will be in session for the first time in over a month today, as lawmakers return from August recess to face a long September to-do list. And time is ticking away for each item to be resolved: the Senate is set to meet for only 15 days this month, and the House only 12 days.
  • The first priority for both chambers is passing an emergency aid package for Hurricane Harvey relief. The House Appropriations Committee will begin debate over the legislation today, discussing a $7.85 billion package introduced by chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) on Sunday. The bill, which funds the exact amount of aid requested by President Donald Trump, is expected to be voted on in the House on Wednesday, before being sent to the Senate.
  • According to Axios, Republican leaders plan to attach another pressing item to the Harvey aid package: legislation raising the debt limit, which must be increased by September 29, or the United States will default on its debt. "The President and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday," arguing that the two must be attached because the emergency aid package will make the need to raise the nation's borrowing limit even more dire, and could push the default deadline up a few days ago.
  • Many congressional Republicans oppose the Trump Administration plan to attach Harvey aid and the debt ceiling raise: conservative Republican Study Committee chairman Mark Walker (R-NC) and hardline House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) lhave both released statements opposing linking the issues, which could force them to approve the debt ceiling increase without the spending cuts they've requested.
  • "Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a joint statement on Sunday, expressing openness to considering the issues together and showing a more united front than their GOP counterparts. "Given the interplay between all the issues Congress must tackle in September, Democrats and Republicans must discuss all the issues together and come up with a bipartisan consensus."
  • Congress also faces a pressing deadline to re-up government funding, which will expire on September 30; if a spending bill isn't passed by the end of the month, the government will shut down. The House Rules Committee begins work on the 2018 fiscal year spending package at a 4pm meeting today.
  • Other end-of-month deadlines threatening lawmakers include the additional September 30 expirations of the Children's Health Insurance Program, National Flood Insurance Program (which has taken on renewed importance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding.
  • And Republican leaders have a long wish-list as well, hoping to fit in tax reform, health care, and/or reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act in the weeks ahead.
  • The House meets at 2pm today; the Senate, at 3pm. The lower chamber is set to vote on a bill granting the Congressional Gold Medal to former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS); the upper chamber is scheduled to hold a confirmation vote on the nomination of Timothy Kelly to be a U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia.
  • Sessions to announce DACA decision After months of deliberating, the Trump Administration will announce its policy on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program today. According to a Politico report, later confirmed by numerous outlets, Trump has decided to end the program, which grants work permits to immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally while they were children.
  • Trump is expected to delay enforcement of his decision for six months, punting the issue to Congress to see if a legislative compromise can emerge in that time. While the President's base will likely support his decision to end DACA, many congressional Republicans urged Trump to continue the program, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate president pro tempore Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
  • But lawmakers are unlikely to act themselves, despite multiple bipartisan efforts in the works to pass legislation with identical aims as DACA. "Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!" President Trump tweeted this morning, clearly pleased to have the issue, which he has struggled with since the campaign, in their hands.
  • Since taking office, Trump has answered questions on DACA by assuring so-called "DREAMers" (as immigrants covered by DACA are known) that he will treat them with "heart." But he has gone back-and-forth on how to actually go forward, forced to make a decision by a group of Republican state attorneys general who were planning to sue the federal government over DACA if Trump did not decide to rescind the Obama executive action by today. According to the New York Times, the six-month solution was a creation of White House chief of staff John Kelly, a result of President Trump's request for "a way out."
  • Trump will not even be the face of his decision: Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make the announcement from the Justice Department at 11am. He will not take questions from reporters, despite many outstanding complications as to the fate of the 800,000 DREAMers already awarded work permits. Sessions, his former communications director-turned White House senior advisor Stephen Miller, and ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon were the fiercest opponents of DACA inside Trump's inner circle. Kelly, the President's son-in-law/senior advisor Jared Kushner, and many business leaders have reportedly urged Trump to allow the program to continue.
  • NOTE: Nearly 800,000 DREAMers have received permits through DACA, not 8,000, as I wrote in Friday's newsletter. This was due to a typo: I apologize for the confusion, and thank the many readers who pointed out the error.
  • The President's Schedule: Tax reform meeting President Trump has no public events today. He receives a National Security Council briefing in the Oval Office at 10am, followed by his daily intelligence briefing at 11am, and a meeting with the National Economic Council at 1:30pm.
  • At 4pm, Trump will meet in the Roosevelt Room with the "Big Six" negotiators on tax reform: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.
  • The group of congressional leaders and Administration officials has been meeting for months to hash out a Republican plan on tax reform. The White House meeting today continues a renewed tax reform push launched last week with Trump's visit to Springfield, Missouri; little detail on the plan has been revealed, although Republicans reportedly hope to release more soon.
  • Also today: at 5:45pm, President Donald Trump will speak with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull by telephone from the Oval Office.
  • Two more things to watch Two more important factors this week...
  • Hurricane Irma A Category 5 storm could make impact in the United States this week, with states of emergency declared already by the Governors of Florida and Puerto Rico.
  • North Korea Kim Jong-un's regime continued its nuclear testing over the weekend, announcing on Sunday that a hydrogen bomb for a long-range Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) has been successfully tested. The latest provocation sparked condemnations by the United States, joined by the United Nations.
  • More to come... "Big week coming up!" President Trump tweeted on Monday night. I'll be covering all these issues as they develop all week, so check your inbox every morning for the latest updates and be sure to tell your friends to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!