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Wake Up To Politics - September 6, 2017

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Wednesday, September 6, 2017. 426 days until Election Day 2018. 1,154 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!

Trump Rescinds DACA, Pressure to Act Now on Congress

  • In a Justice Department briefing on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump Administration's plan to rescind the Deferred Against for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, an Obama-era program that has granted two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 so-called "DREAMers," illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. under 18 years of age.
  • Sessions called DACA "an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch," criticizing the Obama Administration for enacting immigration legislation via executive action. "DOJ cannot defend this overreach," he added. The Attorney General said that the Department of Homeland Security will now begin "an orderly lawful wind down" of DACA, "including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program."
  • According to ABC News, the Administration will no longer accept any new applications for DACA status submitted after September 5, "although pending applications filed before Tuesday will continue to be processed." Those who currently hold DACA permits that expire in the next six months, until March 5, 2018, may still apply for a two-year renewal of their permit, if they submit an application by October 5. Other "DREAMers" will no longer be protected by the government when DACA is now set to expire on March 6, 2018.
  • President Donald Trump has now placed the ball squarely in Congress' court, declaring that he can do nothing for the "DREAMer" population, and they must act instead; with Sessions' announcement, a six-month clock is already ticking. "Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first," Trump said in a written statement on Tuesday. He added later: "I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to finally address all of these issues in a manner that puts the hardworking citizens of our country first." Lawmakers of both parties criticized Trump after his sudden reversal of DACA on Tuesday.
  • So how likely is Congress to pass a legislative form of DACA? A number of bills are currently circulating in Congress; the most prominent is an updated version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which grants temporary residency (and a path to permanent residency) for immigrants who entered the nation illegally as minors.
  • The DREAM Act was re-introduced in July by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); the bill currently has eight other co-sponsors, including Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).
  • Other legislative proposals include the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) in the House and Graham in the Senate, which would extend DACA for three years. Coffman on Tuesday filed a discharge petition for the bill, which can force a floor vote on legislation if it receives signatures from 218 members of he House, a simple majority.
  • With Congress facing a long to-do list — including health care, tax reform, and the need to avoid a government shutdown and debt default — passing bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform after years of failure will be an uphill battle. Pouring cold water on the hopes of many activists and lawmakers, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) declared on Tuesday that there is "no way" that DACA legislation will be passed this month."

Today in Congress: Harvey aid, Self-driving cars

  • Senate The upper chamber will meet at 10am today; following leader remarks, the Senate will hold morning business until 12:30pm, when senators are allowed to speak for up to 10 minutes each. The chamber will then recess for weekly caucus meetings from 12:30pm to 2:15pm, the first opportunity for the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the Senate to meet individually to discuss Congress' busy month ahead.
  • House The lower chamber meets at 10am today, with one-minute speeches allowed until turning to legislation at around 12pm. The House is set to vote on two pieces of legislation: the Hurricane Harvey emergency aid resolution, and the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act (SAFE DRIVE) Act.
  • The $7.85 billion aid resolution, which includes $7.4 billion for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund and $450 million for the Small Business Administration's disaster loan program, is identical to President Trump's requested relief package.
  • The legislation is expected to pass in the House, and then head to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is planning to attach a debt ceiling increase. Congress must raise the U.S. debt limit by the end of the month to avoid a default on the nation's debt; many lawmakers have argued that the two must go together, since a debt limit increase is needed for appropriation of the aid to Texas and Louisiana. However, many conservatives, including Republican Study Committee chairman Mark Walker (R-NC), House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) oppose this gambit, insisting that a raise in the debt ceiling come with deep spending cuts.
  • Also today: The House is expected to pass the SAFE DRIVE Act, "the first major legislation to speed up the rollout of self-driving cars — an early step to outline standards for artificial intelligence-driven technologies," according to Axios. The bill would grant more exemptions from federal safety standards to manufacturers testing self-driving vehicles and allow the federal government to pre-empt state regulations of self-driving cars.

The President's Schedule: Tax reform

  • President Donald Trump will continue his public push for tax reform today, meeting with congressional leaders and addressing the topic in a North Dakota speech.
  • At 9am, President Trump will speak with President Xi Jinping of China in the Oval Office, likely on the recent escalation in North Korea nuclear testing. At 10:30am, Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
  • At 11am Trump will discuss tax reform with 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).
  • At 12pm, the President will depart the White House for Bismarck, North Dakota, where he arrives at 3:40pm. Trump will be joined in the Air Force One ride by Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).
  • At 4:05pm, Trump will participate in a tax reform event at the Andeaver oil refinery with workers from the energy sector. The President is expected to urge support for tax reform as a boon to the middle class in remarks at the event, although he is unlikely to offer any more details of his plan. He will be joined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.
  • Trump met Tuesday with "the Big Six," the group of Republican congressional leaders and Trump Administration officials leading tax reform negotiations for the party; they are hoping to pass tax reform by the end of the year, a difficult goal.
  • He departs North Dakota at 5:05pm, returning to the White house at 8:20pm.

The Rundown

  • Menendez trial begins Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) goes on trial today, facing 14 counts of bribery, conspiracy, and false statement connected to gifts he received from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen in exchange for using his influence to help the donor. He has maintained claims of innocence since being indicted over two years ago.
  • Menendez is the first sitting U.S. Senator to face a federal bribery trial in 36 years; if he is found guilty, the three-term senator will likely be pressured to resign, which would allow Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) to appoint his successor, handing Republicans another key vote to enact their agenda.
  • TV schedule A TV appearance of note today: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father, two-time presidential candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), will appear on "The View" together at 11am.