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Washington Report April 27, 2018
27 Apr 2018

Washington Report April 27, 2018

Appropriations … Budget … Negligent Nomination … Pinkie Promise Or Starting Line Of A New History … Auf Wiedersehen, Macron. Now It’s The Bad Cop’s Turn. … Arizona Special … Trump Scrap Heap … and other news of the week.


Joyce Rubenstein


This Week

Here’s what happened: the US has a new Secretary of State (hi, Mike Pompeo). But not a Veterans Affairs secretary (bye, Ronny Jackson). EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had an awkward day in Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) requested that the House chaplain resign – which is raising a lot of Qs. President Trump told “Fox & Friends” that his personal lawyer Michael Cohen “represented” him when Cohen paid off porn star Stormy Daniels. Aaaaand a Senate panel wants special counsel Robert Mueller – who’s leading the Trump-Russia investigation – to have some job security. Not likely to happen.  Ask Mitch.





BGov “House Republican leaders are proposing to bring small batches of appropriations bills to the floor, starting with non-controversial measures, rather than relying on a last-minute 12-bill omnibus. The Military Construction-VA, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch spending bills could be among the first measures on the floor. Those are some of the less contentious spending bills, although the plan doesn’t change the usual process of House appropriators moving forward with partisan spending bills that Democrats broadly oppose. The House often passes partisan appropriations bills, even though they’ll need 60 votes in the Senate to advance.

The plan makes sense in the House, but it’s harder to gauge what to expect from the Senate, lawmakers said after a GOP conference meeting in which leaders outlined their appropriations strategy. There was a brief mention of bipartisan negotiations on spending in the House in this morning’s hearing, followed by “a few groans.” Passing partisan bills in the House would leave a gulf between the two chambers.

“The plan is to pass all 12 appropriations bills by Sept. 30 and then pray to God the Senate does something,” Rep. Mo Brooks s(R-AL) said.

Nothing is set in stone, Walker said. The plan on a budget and appropriations is “all over the place,” he said. “It is not finalized.”

WHAT BUDGET RESOLUTION? Members don’t know whether to expect a full budget resolution out of the Budget Committee. Chairman Steve Womack (R-AR) … said the committee will release and mark up a resolution. But some conservatives, including some Budget Committee members who haven’t seen a draft being circulated by the chairman, have doubts on whether the resolution will ever be considered. Both chambers have already missed an April 15 formal deadline to agree on a budget, and neither has released a draft. The House and Senate may struggle to reach consensus on a resolution, particularly one that aligns with the increased discretionary budget caps and still achieves balance within 10 years.

TIGER Grants

BGov “The Trump administration’s requirement that applicants seeking federal TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, grants for infrastructure projects secure non-federal funds has attracted opposition from two key appropriators. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the top-ranking members of the Senate Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee, sent a letter earlier this week to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao saying the requirement “will effectively force states to increase taxes or raise revenue through tolls or other fees.”


Negligent Nomination

Politico “President Donald Trump’s pick for Veterans Affairs Secretary Ronny Jackson finally withdrew from the confirmation process amid escalating allegations of misconduct. … The lack of vetting and Trump’s tendency to name top-level nominees with little scrutiny dates back to the presidential transition in the fall of 2016. It’s a pattern that surprises few insiders, even as it creates headaches for the White House and the nominees. Generally, White House aides are blaming the president from shooting from the hip and without giving it any thought, but this is how every decision he has made has gone,” said the former White House official.”


Pinkie Promise OR Starting Line of A New History

theSkimm “Today, North and South Korea pinky promised to end the Korean War and get rid of all their nukes. Really? Yes. The two countries have technically been at war since the 1950s. Today, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in met for hours as part of a historic summit. It’s the first time the countries’ leaders got together in more than ten years. They agreed to officially end the Korean War sometime this year. And said they’ll work toward getting rid of both sides’ nuclear weapons – which could mean different things to different people. Oh, and they planted a pine tree. Because friendship.

North and South Korea have made similar pledges in the past. They didn’t stick. And this one is short on specifics. TBD if President Trump gets more deets [details] when he meets with Kim sometime in the next couple of weeks.”


Auf Wiedersehen, Macron. Now, It’s The Bad Cop’s Turn.

Politico “After days of pomp, kisses, lavish dinners and a picture-perfect tree planting, U.S. President Donald Trump is about to be confronted with Europe’s sterner side, courtesy of Angela Merkel. When the president sits down opposite the German chancellor in the White House on Friday, the niceties will be kept to a minimum. Unlike French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel will not be rubbing elbows (either literally or figuratively) with Trump. There will be no white hats. Berlin has stressed that the three-hour meeting will be a ‘working session.’ Their previous encounters would suggest Trump and Merkel are more than happy to keep it that way. The pair went five months without even speaking to one another on the phone, a dry spell that only ended in March.”

“Whether the issue is climate, trade, NATO, or the Iran nuclear deal there’s not much the pair can agree on. Nonetheless, Merkel has no choice but to try and make the relationship work.”

ALSO … French President Emmanuel Macron was welcomed with a standing ovation Wednesday during a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress … Macron drew on the shared history and “special bond” of U.S.-French relations, telling Congres, “the American and French people have had a rendezvous with freedom.”


Arizona Special

In a special House election on Tuesday, Debbie Lesko, a Republican, won the conservative Arizona district.  Good News for Republicans, she won.  Bad News for Republicans: she won by less than six points – a much closer outcome compared to the victory margin of Trent Franks, who beat his opponent by 37 points in 2016. In 2016, President Trump won the district in a landslide, but on Tuesday, Republican support dropped in nearly all precincts. While Republican candidates like Ms. Lesko have mostly prevailed in the recent special elections, they have been winning by sharply reduced margins. Congressional seats that Republicans defended easily in 2016 — in Georgia, South Carolina and elsewhere — have barely stayed in Republican hands.”


Trump Scrap Heap

NYTimes “A ride on President Trump’s bullet train can be thrilling, but it is often a brutal journey that leaves some bloodied by the side of the tracks. In only 15 months in office, Mr. Trump has burned through a record number of advisers and associates who have found themselves in legal, professional or personal trouble, or even all three.

“Half of the top aides who came to the White House with Mr. Trump in 2017 are gone, many under painful circumstances, either because they fell out with the boss or came under the harsh scrutiny that comes with him. Some of the president’s longest serving aides have left with bruises. His son and son-in-law have hired lawyers and been interrogated. Even his lawyers now have lawyers as they face inquiries of their own. Proximity to Mr. Trump has been a crushing experience for many who arrived with stellar careers and independent reputations yet ended up losing so much.

Politico “Dr. Ronny Jackson is only the latest to join the ever-growing scrap heap of the Trump administration—people who volunteered or were summoned to serve, only to find themselves discarded and disgraced. The Trump-adjacent damage ranges from blaring-siren legal woes (Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and poor-man’s-Roy-Cohn, fixer-attorney Michael Cohen) to reputational taint (Sean Spicer, Reince Preibus, Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Bannon, global-CEO-turned-spurned-Secretary-of-State Rex Tillerson) to unexpected political collapses (Luther Strange, Roy Moore, Rick Saccone) in which the president’s support proved to be less Midas touch and more kiss of death. Rear Adm. Jackson was the mostly anonymous White House physician. Now, largely as a result of Trump’s decision to put him forth to be to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he’s better known, fairly or not, as an ill-tempered, drunk-driving drug-dispensing “candy man.” Politico Magazine

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