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Washington Report April 15, 2016
15 Apr 2016

Washington Report April 15, 2016

Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Will Stone, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Kayla Baca)

WHAT BUDGET? Politico: “Not long ago, Congressional Republicans said authoring and passing a budget were the basics of governing. They flew into open rage when Harry Reid’s Senate Democrats took a pass on advancing a fiscal blueprint, and threatened to withhold lawmakers’ pay as a punishment. And they convinced voters to return them to power because they would make Capitol Hill work again. cd49876584b79f083583d117_704x880But here we are, on April 13, with Republicans holding both chambers of Congress, and there isn’t a budget in sight… “In fact, they won’t just miss the mid-April deadline by a day or two. There’s a better-than-even chance that the House and Senate will never pass a budget together, and there’s an even better chance that neither chamber will pass a budget before the election.”
WHAT SPENDING BILLS? N.Y. Times: “House and Senate appropriators were set to barrel ahead with spending bills [this week], even as House Republican leaders seem unable to win passage of a budget resolution because of opposition from hardline conservatives. The appropriations bills, beginning with military construction and energy-water measures (Hot off the presses — SEE CHART), will adhere to top-line budget limits included in a deal reached in the fall between President Obama and John A. Boehner.” To get around the lack of a budget resolution, congressional leaders will be forced to take an alternative procedural route and to adopt a “deeming resolution”(think Keebler elf and magic – h/t Will Stone for that!!) that would uphold the spending deal reached in the fall. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, punted a question on Tuesday about adopting a budget in his chamber — a potentially pointless exercise if the House cannot do the same. “We’re going to wait to see if the House is able to do a budget,” Mr. McConnell said at a news conference, but he noted that the appropriations process would go forward regardless, with bills brought to the Senate floor within days.”
SO ABOUT THAT CR Based on this week, Energy & Water and MilCon-VA are the likely candidates to be the vehicle for the CR (Continuing Resolution).


ENERGY BILL GETS GOING AGAIN … WITHOUT FLINT – Morning Consult “The Senate’s wide-ranging energy bill has a path to final passage after senators agreed to decouple it from a bill on drinking-water in Flint, Mich., breaking a months-long stalemate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a motion to end debate on the energy bill Thursday … Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected to the Flint bill, sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Stabenow relented on Wednesday evening.”


DO-OR-DIE FOR PUERTO RICO Politico: “Speaker Paul Ryan is convening a special conference meeting later this morning for the Puerto Rico bankruptcy bill, now at a critical juncture. “If Republicans can’t muster enough conservative support for the bill, the measure could be dramatically rewritten to win over Democrats, who are currently opposed to the legislation. But it was those kinds of maneuvers that turned Republicans away from his predecessor, John Boehner.” –“Moving too far leftward risks alienating key members of Rep. Rob Bishop’s House Natural Resources Committee and could imperil the bill on the House floor. Both Bishop and GOP leadership believe if this bill goes down, a taxpayer bailout would be practically inevitable.”


NUISANCE CHALLENGERS IRK GOP SENATORS “Republicans don’t appear to have a Dick Lugar problem this year: None of their incumbents is in apparent danger of going down in a primary to a tea party challenger, as the Indiana senator did in 2012, and as Utah’s Bob Bennett in 2010, That’s not to say primary season is going to be pleasant. Some of the GOP’s biggest-name incumbents and front-runners still must beat back nagging challengers from the right who promise to sap energy and money from the party’s efforts to fend off Democrats in the general election even if they’re almost certain to lose Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire will spend their summers under attack by underfinanced tea party opponents. In Nevada, the reemergence of Sharron Angle — who infamously blew a chance to defeat Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid in 2010 — means the GOP’s hand-picked candidate for the open seat, Rep. Joe Heck, has a fight on his hands to get to the general election. And Republicans also are fretting over primaries in Colorado, Indiana and Florida, as well as the fate of a former leader of their campaign arm. It’s a nuisance the party could do without. Republicans already have to defend 24 seats, many in Democratic-leaning states, and anxiety runs high that having Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the top of the ticket could badly damage down-ballot hopefuls.”

KIRK GOES RINO** TO SAVE SEAT Huddle: “Sen. Mark Kirk )R-IL) isn’t just distancing himself from the rest of the GOP – he’s fleeing from it. From the Supreme Court vacancy battle to gay rights to criminal justice reform, the moderate Illinois Republican is sounding more like a Democrat with each passing day as he fights to save his political life in an overwhelmingly blue state this fall. … Kirk’s strategy is dictated by his home state’s leftward bent: His Democratic challenger, Tammy Duckworth, may need to do little more than emphasize her party label to oust him in November. Kirk has long been considered the most endangered GOP incumbent in an awful year for Republican senators trying to get reelected. The party is defending 24 seats, and one of two divisive figures, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, is likely to be leading its ticket.”
** RINO (Republican In Name Only)


READ MY LIPS: PAUL RYAN REALLY, HONESTLY, TRULY, NO KIDDING DOESN’T WANT TO BE PRESIDENT Best headline ever. Buzzfeed… but, let’s face it: This won’t be the last time he has to say it… “Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a direct message Tuesday on the continuous speculation he might make a late entrance to the presidential race and swoop in as an establishment savior to a potentially contested GOP convention: ‘Count me out.’” MEANWHILE, MIRAGE CANDIDATE SPEAKER RYAN NYTs: “Ryan is creating a personality and policy alternative to run alongside the presidential effort – one that provides a foundation to rebuild if Republicans splinter and lose in the fall. … He is shaping an agenda that he plans to roll out right before the convention, a supplement of sorts to the official party platform. … His policy positions on immigration and trade, which have contributed to his mirage candidacy, are in great tension with the views of many Republican primary voters. …

SHOW ME DA MONEY Huddle: “Paul Ryan’s massive $17-million fundraising haul this quarter was fueled by some of the nation’s richest people and large corporate political action committees, which cut five- and six-figure checks to the speaker’s burgeoning political operation, according to an election filing made public Wednesday. More than $9 million of Ryan’s take in the first quarter of 2016 was from donors and PACs who cut checks larger than $50,000. For example, billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, and his wife Elizabeth gave Ryan a total of $488,400 in March alone. Koch Industries PAC chipped in $71,000. Team Ryan says it also transferred over $11 million to the NRCC in the first quarter of 2016 — a record for a GOP speaker. This puts the NRCC in a very strong financial position with Election Day just under seven months away,” one birdie tells Huddle.”


THE NEW GILDED AGE WashPost A small core of super-rich individuals are responsible for the record sums cascading into the coffers of super PACs for the 2016 elections, a dynamic that harks back to the financing of presidential campaigns in the Gilded Age. Close to half of the money — 41 percent — raised by the groups by the end of February came from just 50 mega-donors and their relatives, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance reports. Thirty-six of those are Republican supporters – 14 Democrats.

In all, donors this cycle have given more than $607 million to 2,300 super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations. That means super PAC money is on track to surpass the $828 million that the Center for Responsive Politics found was raised by such groups for the 2012 elections.

The staggering amounts reflect how super PACs are fundraising powerhouses just six years after they came on the scene. The concentration of fundraising power carries echoes of the end of the 19th century, when wealthy interests spent millions helping put former Ohio governor William McKinley in the White House. POPULIST ANGER over how presidential races were financed led to a 1907 ban on corporations donating to federal campaigns. Forty years later, Congress prohibited unions and corporations from making independent expenditures in federal races. BUT THEN CITIZENS UNITED HAPPENED in 2010, when the Supreme Court said in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations and unions could spend unlimited sums on politics as long as they did it independently of campaigns and parties. The decision paved the way for super PACs, which are now a norm in federal races.”


SECRET SERVICE TAKES ON NEW CREDENTIALING ROLE FOR CONVENTIONS Politico: “A new media credentialing process in place for the Republican and Democratic conventions this summer has some journalists sounding the alarm. For the first time this year, the Secret Service has a hand in credentialing the media; during previous conventions only the Congressional press galleries were in charge of credentialing the media. Members of the media began hearing more about the Secret Services’ role in the credentialing process as they began to attend walk-throughs at the convention sites in Philadelphia and Cleveland, leading BuzzFeed Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton to issue a strongly worded letter to fellow journalists, urging them to speak up about the new processes. In his letter Stanton cited concerns about the background checks, the lack of a clear appeals process, and the involvement of a third-party subcontractor, urging his fellow journalists to express their concern over the process. … the Secret Service explained the process, emphasizing that it’s not just for the press covering the conventions — anyone who will be in secure zones will go through such checks. They say it’s the same process a member of the media or public would go through to enter the White House or the recent Nuclear Summit. All press will be checked by Secret Service in order to allow them access to secure areas, they said. That way, the service explained, if a reporter is invited at the last minute to interview a candidate backstage, for example, no further security check is needed.”


FIRST SENATOR TO ENDORSE BERNIE — Jeff Merkley (D-OR) NYTs” “After considering the biggest challenges facing our nation and the future I want for my children and our country, I have decided to become the first member of the Senate to support my colleague Bernie Sanders for president.”

Millennial Women May Not Vote ABC: “In a national poll conducted by ABC News and Refinery 29 of women between the ages of 18 and 35, nearly half said that they were more interested in this election than they were in 2012. … 38% of respondents identified as Democrats and 40% called themselves Independents. Some 16% called themselves Republicans. Sanders was the most popular candidate among those polled … 35%. Women didn’t necessarily stick together … Clinton received only 25%. … The chances that millennial women actually show up … go up with age … 52% of 18-21 year-olds are registered to vote but 72% of those 26 or older are already registered.”


1ff4af1cf22ebd6718e57303_560x372WHO IS THE REAL NEW YORKER? NYTs: For the first time in memory, we have three candidates seeking the presidency who can plausibly call themselves New Yorkers. In the run-up to [next Tuesday’s] all three have been working to highlight their NEW YORK-INESS to voters here. Based on ACCENT, ATTITUDE, RESIDENCY, EATING PATTERNS, CHEERING SECTION, PLANES, TRAINS AND … BROOKLYN BONA FIDES, GOT TICKETS FOR HAMILTON Check out the results here.
BRAWL IN BROOKLYN LAST NIGHT Top Tweets: @ezraklein: “One thing you really see in this debate versus the early ones is Sanders now believes he can win, and he’ll do what it takes” … @joshtpm: “I’m not sure I’ve heard 2 candidates yell at each other at such sustained clip for two full hours. And they’re both over 65. That’s stamina”

Nine Most Interesting Moments:
1. Sanders tries to make nice on qualified comments. Clinton throws it in his face.
2. Clinton and Sanders argue over who’s tougher on Wall Street.
3. Crowd roars when Clinton transcripts comes up.
4. Sanders corners Clinton on minimum wage bill.
5. Clinton apologizes for 1994 crime bill.
6. Sanders rolls out a planned fracking attack.
7. Sanders: Netanyahu isn’t right all the time.
8. Clinton trots out the numbers (to prove she’s winning the Democratic primary).
9. Sanders wins the crowd.


TRUCE “Kelly clears the air with Donald Trump” at Trump tower yesterday “NBC News’ Ayman Mohyeldin spotted Kelly entering Trump Tower … ‘We met for about an hour, just the two of us, and had a chance to clear the air,’ Kelly said. ‘Mr. Trump and I discussed the possibility of an interview. d74942ce410ce04cbc76a432_560x302And I hope we will have news to announce on that soon.'” TRUMP SHUFFLES STRUGGLING CAMPAIGN TEAM “… Donald Trump is quietly setting up a parallel campaign structure, hiring known Republican fixers to professionalize his operation and sidelining his original team. Under the guidance of his new strategist Paul Manafort, Trump on Wednesday brought aboard Rick Wiley, Scott Walker’s former campaign manager and a former senior party official well versed in the rule-making process that might decide the GOP nomination in a contested convention. Wiley’s hiring demonstrates how quickly Manafort is consolidating his own power within Trump’s campaign, gaining influence with the candidate and exerting authority over those who had previously reported to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski …The … power struggle has led to a confusing situation for the staff in which there are essentially parallel organizational structures with separate, and often conflicting, chains of command … ‘There are two campaigns being run in Trump world. And nothing is happening because no one is sure who they’re supposed to be listening to’ … [S]taffers have reported receiving different instructions from Lewandowski and Manafort, or officials loyal to them.”


REPUBLICANS A LOT CLOSER TO “MAYBE TRUMP’ THAN ‘NEVER TRUMP” The Fix: “The goal of the nebulous, sort-of-a-thing “never Trump” campaign is to do whatever is possible to stand between Donald Trump and the 1,237 delegates he needs in order to claim the Republican party’s nomination on the first ballot at the convention. The informal effort has resulted in a lot more anti-Trump ads, and has benefited from the businessman’s own natural inability to organize on-the-ground efforts in critical states. But the overarching idea, that the Republican base would slowly turn against Trump, doesn’t seem to be paying off. In fact, a new CBS News poll suggests that Republicans are pretty comfortable with the idea of Trump as the nominee — or, at least, they are compared to the other two candidates. In CBS’s polling, Trump’s lead over Sen. Ted Cruz has dropped since March. Last month, he led by 20 points. Now he leads by 13.

But that’s where the good news for the never-Trumpers ends.
First of all, Republicans are slightly more likely to say that they would support Trump’s nomination “enthusiastically” than they were last month. Overall, two-thirds of Republicans say they’d support him enthusiastically or with some reservations — a higher percentage than says that about Cruz or Gov. John Kasich. What’s more, the number of people saying “never Trump” literally — that they’d never vote for him — is essentially the same as the number of people who say that about Cruz or Kasich.
None of which means that Trump won’t be stopped before the convention. For the most part, that process will churn on under the force of its own inertia. If this one poll is correct, though, efforts to paint Trump as unacceptable aren’t really working. And with more than three months left until the convention, it suggests that efforts to continue to stand in Trump’s way for the duration may not be embraced by the Republican base.”


GEOGRAPHY MATTERS NYTs: “[T]he gap in life spans between rich and poor widened from 2001 to 2014. The top 1% in income among American men live 15 years longer than the poorest 1%; for women, the gap is 10 years. These rich Americans have gained three years of longevity just in this century. … Poor Americans had very little gain as a whole, with big differences among different places. …

“The affluent seem to live in healthier ways. They exercise more, smoke less, feel less stress and are less likely to be obese. … [I]t may go the other direction as well, because people who are healthy are better able to hold down a demanding job … Life expectancy for the poor is lowest in a large swath that cuts through the middle of the country, and it appears in pockets in the rest of the country, in places like Nevada. “David M. Cutler, a Harvard economist and an author of the paper, calls it the ‘drug overdose belt ‘because the area matches in part a map of where the nation’s opioid epidemic is concentrated.” Article with awesome interactive map.


HAPPENING IN DC “Starbucks is serving booze at 5 D.C. locations.” “Starting at 2 p.m. last Tuesday, five locations [began serving] wine, beer and ‘shareable small plates perfect for the evening hours,’ according to the Seattle-based coffee chain. … Here are the five D.C. locations: Wisconsin and Idaho avenues … NW Grand Hyatt, 11th and H streets NW … 237 Pennsylvania Ave. SE … 1801 Columbia Rd. NW … 815 O St. NW.” (in case you’re interested)

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