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Washington Report April 22, 2016
22 Apr 2016

Washington Report April 22, 2016

It’s Earth Day.
Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Will Stone, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Kayla Baca)

ONLY 200 DAYS TO ELECTION DAY, NOVEMBER 8TH. The 2016 campaign has already passed a remarkable milestone — more than $1 billion (with a ‘b’) has been raised by candidates, parties and outside groups — actually $1.2 billion through the end of March. (aka math by the WashPost).


RYAN’S HOUSE OF WOES Politico: “Paul Ryan has had a tough couple of months. The House GOP’s response to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is stuck, with a big May 1 deadline looming. The leadership’s 2017 budget plan is stalled. And legislation to overhaul the FAA hasn’t left the runway. With all the attention showered on Ryan’s non-interest in running for president, it’s easy to overlook the new speaker’s troubles running the House these days.”8b20bbced95dcce633e0eb0d_560x372

NO BUDGET, NO BLAME? Roll Call: “House Republicans chose Paul D. Ryan to be speaker last October because they felt he could unify their fractured conference. As divisions over the budget have plagued the party for weeks, Ryan hasn’t repaired the rift. “No House Republican wants to openly criticize Ryan and there’s no question he’s more popular than (former Speaker John) Boehner was at the end of his run leading the House. At least four fifths of the roughly 40-member caucus opposes the budget, which would spend $1.07 trillion for fiscal 2017. Without their support, Ryan and his leadership team don’t have the 218 votes needed to pass the budget resolution and begin the appropriations process. Leadership allies like House Budget Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who sits on both the budget and appropriations committees, remain confident they’ll get there, despite conservatives saying they don’t see a path forward.”


NEWS: SENATE PASSES A BILL WSJ: “The Senate voted 95-3 to approve an FAA reauthorization bill that beefs up airport security, promotes widespread uses of commercial drones and streamlines certification of new safety systems for private planes. … The measure, which from the outset prompted strong bipartisan support, also increases consumer protections for passengers and strengthens cybersecurity safeguards for both airborne and ground systems, while paving the way for tougher mental-health screening of commercial pilots. But as expected, it doesn’t follow the lead of House Republicans who want to shift [control of] the agency’s air-traffic control system and some 38,000 employees to an independent, nonprofit corporation.”

SENATE DEMS BUCK OBAMA ON 9/11 BILL Politico: “A dispute between Senate Democrats and the White House over legislation that would allow Saudi Arabia to be held legally responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks deepened on Tuesday when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he backed the bill despite objections from President Barack Obama. … Separately, top Senate Republicans were trying to untangle objections to the bill on their own side, … Still, other congressional leaders signaled caution on the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acknowledged the White House concerns and noted that the legislation has registered some opposition in the House.”

SENATE MAKES FIRST MOVE ON ZIKA FUNDING Roll Call: “Senate appropriators said Thursday they are preparing a supplemental package to combat the Zika virus that will be offered alongside an early spending bill on the floor, the first real movement toward providing emergency funding in either chamber after months of negotiations. Appropriators didn’t disclose how much money the package would contain (Sens. Nelson (D-FL) and Reid (D-NV) indicated that would intro legislation to fully fund the administration’s $1.9 billion request). That’s the amount rejected by Republicans in Congress after weeks of gridlocked negotiations … until the administration yielded to Republican demands and repurposed nearly $600 million of money originally intended to combat the Ebola virus toward the Zika response.
Even if the Senate forges ahead and is able to pass the Zika aid as part of a regular appropriations bill, the legislation could run into trouble on the other side of the Capitol. House Republicans are already locked in a pitched debate over larger government spending levels and have been unable to approve a budget resolution – not an ideal environment to pass emergency spending that isn’t required to be offset. And lengthy talks between Republican appropriators in the House and the administration have soured, with both sides largely talking past each other for weeks about what sort of response is needed.”


THE NDAA DEFENSE HAWK GAMBIT Politico: “The defense policy bill is the first shot after the GOP budget stalemate in a spending fight that could spill into next year: HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry is starting the new National Defense Authorization Act with a gambit: If you build a bigger budget, the money will come. The NDAA keeps the overall defense budget topline at $610 billion, the same as President Obama’s budget request – while leaving the Overseas Operations Contingency (OCO) war fund shortchanged by $18 billion, rather than the base budget. The idea is to force a supplemental war funding request next spring, when there’s a new administration and potentially more willingness to boost defense spending without an equal increase to domestic funds.

“The $18 billion cut from the war funds includes roughly $15 billion from operations and maintenance accounts and $3 billion from military personnel, according to congressional aides. Those funds then were used to boost war funding procurement accounts by $10 billion, the aides said, along with $3 billion to pay for the additional Army end strength and $5 billion for operations and maintenance.”


DRONES DOMINATE Reuters: “Drones fired more weapons than conventional warplanes for the first time in Afghanistan last year and the ratio is rising, previously unreported U.S. Air Force data show, underlining how reliant the military has become on unmanned aircraft. The trend may give clues to the U.S. military’s strategy as it considers withdrawing more troops from the country, while at the same time shoring up local forces who have struggled to stem a worsening Taliban insurgency.”


AT THE SUPREME COURT THIS WEEK NYTs: “… on Monday, eight justices consider[ed] whether President Obama abused the power of his office by issuing executive actions to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to work in the country legally and protect them from deportation. The ruling is not likely to come until JUNE. A victory in the Supreme Court for Mr. Obama would allow millions of immigrants here illegally to come out of the shadows and stay in the country. OUTCOMES If the court rules against Mr. Obama, or if it splits 4 to 4, it will immediately end the president’s efforts to revamp the nation’s immigration laws. Although a loss in the Supreme Court would be a blow to Mr. Obama, it could also energize Latinos to turn out for Democrats this fall in hopes of seizing control of Congress and preventing the election of a candidate like Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz.”


COULD THIS NORTH CAROLINA DEM BECOME THE NEXT KAY HAGAN? Roll Call: Deborah Ross wasn’t national Democrat’s first choice to take on two-term Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr (R-NC). Yet Ross, a former state House representative with low statewide name recognition, won a resounding victory in Tuesday’s four-way Democratic primary. She carried 62% of the vote — a hair more than two-term Burr carried in his four-way GOP primary. Ross … now embarks on an uphill battle for unaffiliated voters in a deeply purple state, where the governor’s race is the marquee statewide contest and the presidential battle will go a long way toward determining turnout. … For both campaigns, charting a course in an uncertain national climate, the race will come down to the unaffiliated voters, whose influx from out of state has contributed to the state’s purple hue. (FYI, Her rise from the state legislature inspires natural comparisons to Hagan, who served in the state Senate for 10 years before running for the U.S. Senate. No one thought Hagan could upset GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008. What both Hagan in 2008 and Burr in 2004 and 2010 had on their sides were favorable political climates.)


SOMETHING TO KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT The Hill, “In the two contested party nomination processes we are having, a total of about 40 million people will participate in caucuses and primaries, about 20 million on each side … So we now have a system in which it takes just 10 million votes out of 321 million people to seize one of the two coveted nominations – and that’s only if it goes all the way to West Virginia.”


3a7f8b12822d96e67aeef78e_560x372“NEW YORK STATE OF MIND” (Drudge Banner) … Trump – won the New York primary by 35 points (Trump 60.5%, Kasich 25.1%, Cruz 14.5%) … Clinton swamped Sanders by 16 points, 57.9% to 42.1%.

IT WAS SEMI-FUN WHILE IT LASTED. Here are 5 TAKEAWAYS: “1. ‘Momentum’ is for losers. … 2. Trump: The mouth that didn’t roar. … 3. Bernie and Hillary officially hate each other’s guts. … 4. Why is John Kasich still running? … 5. Whiteout – Sanders inability to make inroads with black voters.”
HOW EXIT POLLS WORK For true politico geeks like moi…The Fix: “When polls closed in NY on Tuesday, exit poll estimates showed Sanders trailing Clinton by only four points. It was way off the final result. To figure out why … Click here.
SANDERS SUPPORTERS SUFFER THROUGH STAGES OF GRIEF Politico: “By late in the week, even some of the most ardent Bernie backers had moved to the final stage of processing an emotional loss: depression and acceptance, coupled with a newfound frustration over a beloved campaign they now consider to be in denial of reality.”
THE RISE OF TRUMP STUDIES Politico Magazine As Trump’s surprise candidacy disrupts everything it touches, it is now exploding into the academic realm, launching a yuuuuge new wave of what you might call Trump Studies. From philosophy to law to computer science and history, researchers are finding they can’t look away from Donald J. Trump. For some … his candidacy is like an experiment on a national scale, blowing up conventional wisdom about how American politics and society work.” Click for Article.


GOP HUMBLE PIE Politico: “GOP rivals humble themselves before the party’s elite: Cruz, Kasich and Trump team makes pitches as delegates dangle their support,” in Hollywood, Fla: “The three-day, beachside [RNC] meeting has amounted to a dry run of the kind of aggressive delegate hunting that would define an open convention this summer in Cleveland. The sniping reflects the stakes: the RNC members gathered here in Hollywood are not just a bloc of convention delegates but party leaders who could sway hundreds of other delegates at a contested Republican convention. … ‘It’s the largest gathering of delegates anywhere in America before Cleveland.”


HOW POLITICS AND HIP-HOP SAVED THE HAMILTON $10 … and PUT HARRIET TUBMAN ON THE 40787da976e053cd2f14ff14_560x234$20 The Fix: “Alexander Hamilton seemed destined to share his starring role on paper currency with an American woman, thanks to the immutable forces of bureaucracy. His bill was up next for a redesign right as President Obama decided to finally put a woman on one. But something else Hamilton couldn’t have fathomed — a Pulitzer-prize-winning hip-hop musical of his life becoming a [Broadway] hit — probably played a role in keeping the $10 bill all to himself. Well, that and the fact that a viral campaign and women at the highest levels of political power wanted Hamilton to stay and someone else — specifically President Andrew Jackson — to go. On Wednesday, they got their wish. The Treasury Department announced it would be putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill — an about-face from its original plan to put a woman (just who, specifically, was undetermined before Wednesday) on the $10. In April of this year, Hillary Clinton told a New York Daily News editorial board meeting she’d “keep Hamilton where he is.” He was a New Yorker, an immigrant and one of George Washington’s closest aides, she said, according to the paper. Oh and also, she liked the musical. And that’s the modern-day story of HAMILTON VS. JACKSON. At first, bureaucracy and timing seemed to conspire to kick Hamilton off the $10 bill. But then, 21st-century forces — social media, political pressure and some really great hip-hop songs — appeared to help keep him on and give Jackson the boot instead.”

WHY WAS ANDREW JACKSON ON THE $20 BILL IN THE FIRST PLACE? The Fix: “Ask historians … and it turns out, nobody seems to know for sure why a Treasury Department committee assigned Old Hickory’s portrait to the bill. The Treasury Department, which has the authority to determine who appears on what bills (so long as that individual is already dead), says on its Web site that its own historical records “do not suggest” why certain presidents ended up on certain bills during a blitz of portrait selections in 1928. ODD CHOICE The choice of Jackson for that popular bill has long been a source of controversy. His passionate support of the measure that led to the Trail of Tears (when Native American tribes were forced to relocate to Oklahoma and give their land to white Southerners under the Indian Removal Act) and other anti-Native American policies is first among them. He was a slave owner, and he made his fortune on their labor. There’s also Jackson’s opposition to paper money in the first place (he preferred gold and silver), and his long, ultimately triumphant fight in the Bank Wars during his presidency. In other words, Jackson himself would probably hate the fact that his face is on a paper bill.” ON THE OTHER HAND … When Jackson was placed on the $20 it was unproblematic – he was seen by most Americans as a “champion of the common man, a symbol of democracy” — it’s actually astonishing how completely his public image has changed and how rapidly it changed,” according to historian and “Papers of Andrew Jackson” editor, Daniel Feller.
A VISUAL HISTORY OF THE $20 BILL … check it out. Fascinating.


WHAT’S GOING ON IN BRAZIL? (from theSkimm) On Sunday, Brazil’s lower house voted in favor of impeaching the country’s president. EXPLAIN Brazilian prez Dilma Rousseff has had a rough couple of years. She’s been caught up in a massive bribery scandal involved the country’s state-owned oil company. Add to that the fact that Brazil’s economy has been in a bad way for a while. But the country’s been spending billions on the World Cup and this summer’s Olympics instead of infrastructure and social programs. Cue millions of anti-government protesters hitting the streets asking her to leave. She’s said there’s no way she’s resigning. BUT…? Congress begs to differ. Next, the Senate will vote on whether to hold an impeachments trial. If that happens (and it’s expect to), Rousseff will have to take a forced vacation while the process plays out. This telenovela is nowhere close to over – and the uncertainty will do nothing to help Brazil’s already tanking economy. Which, by the way, is one of the biggest in the world. So what happens in Brazil definitely won’t stay there.”


a602f6ae3dfbe8f0d7fe98c1_560x560@NASA: A purple nebula in honor of Prince.

‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said.
So sad to see another round of obituaries and tributes for yet another music legend this year. This rain-soaked Prince “Purple Rain” performance at Superbowl XLI halftime in 2007 will always be a classic. A must watch. (h/t MorningD )
RIP Prince

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