APRIL FOOLS … KILL THE LAME DUCK … PUERTO RICO BILL … NEW TECH MANUFACTURING HUB … HOW THE GOP ELITE LOST ITS VOTERS TO TRUMP … THE YEAR MOM AND DAD HAVE THE FIGHT IN FRONT OF THE KIDS … CANARY IN THE COAL MINE OR WISHFUL THINKING? … and other news of the week.
It’s Recess on Capitol Hill.
Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Will Stone, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Kayla Baca)
FOR APRIL FOOLS DAY … AN ELABORATE HOAX? The Fix: “What if Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is one massive piece of performance art? What if it’s all a ruse intended to showcase what Trump can get away with — to draw out the worst that American politics has to offer? And what if Trump is really doing all of this just to throw the election to his now-former(?) friend Hillary Clinton?
Check out this faux Trump ad from Jimmy Kimmel’s show, it imagines what Trump would say as he’s revealing his hoax. OK, it’s really funny. Click Here
KILL THE LAME-DUCK (Deep Dive) The Fix: “Congress has a love-hate relationship with the lame-duck session — that brief, frenzied window after an election but before the new members and/or president are sworn in where much of the work lawmakers have been putting off all year suddenly gets done. It’s basically a month of deal-making lubricated by lawmakers who are either retiring or just lost their election and, accordingly, aren’t worried about political damage. And it’s that very promise of action this year — on everything from a budget deal to the Supreme Court — which is exactly why House conservatives are trying to kill the lame duck for the first time anyone can remember. They say it’s a bad deal for the American people, but the legislation looming this lame-duck session is also shaping up to be a bad deal for them in particular. HuffPo reports that a group of conservatives are calling for Congress to simply not meet at all after Election Day in November. As Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) put it to Fuller: “If you look at these lame ducks, you know, the American public gets screwed.” … Although sometimes ugly, there’s been a tacit agreement among lawmakers that these sessions are necessary. How else would the government get funded in an otherwise deadlocked Congress? Just wait till the election is over, and you’ve got political cover — two full years for people to forget about a bad vote (or forgive one). HOLD YOUR NOSE AND DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE BUT, BUT, BUT it looks like a significant share of conservatives — especially the 40 or so who are members of the House Freedom (Tea Party) Caucus leading the charge to kill the lame-duck session — are done playing by those rules. They’d rather get nothing done than something that they don’t agree with. We saw this dynamic tested in an abortion debate this fall when conservatives’ attempt to cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood opened the possibility of a government shutdown. THIS FALL conservatives would especially like to avoid having to vote on three deals that are looming over the lame duck.
First, it looks increasingly likely that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) won’t be able to pass individual spending bills throughout the year, meaning it’s possible he and Democrats could reach a deal in the lame-duck session that raises spending much more than conservatives want it raised. Just like a spending deal Ryan reached last year with Democrats, conservatives won’t have much of a chance to stop it.
Second, it’s possible Congress could approve President Obama’s trade pact with Pacific nations that many House conservatives oppose.
And third, while a bit more far-fetched, it’s also possible Senate Republicans could confirm President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, after the election — especially if Hillary Clinton is the president-elect.
UNPRECEDENTED BUT LEGAL, according to a former House historian. Congress can set its own schedule, so if both House and Senate leaders agree not to meet, they can simply not meet. It’s another question entirely whether party leaders would agree to do it. If Congress didn’t meet after the election, it would basically be done for the year on Sept. 30. That’s an incredibly tight deadline for Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get everything done they need to by then — not the least of which is passing a spending bill to keep the government open. Plus McConnell has every incentive to keep the Senate in session, if even just to bang the gavel for a few minutes every few days, so that Obama can’t appoint Garland to the Supreme Court or make other judicial appointments. (If the Senate were out of session entirely, Obama could, although it’s unlikely.) And if Clinton wins the White House and Democrats take the Senate — or even the House of Representatives (pretty far-fetched) — in November, Republicans will most certainly want to stay in session to do what they can before relinquishing control of Congress.
BEST WAY TO FRAME LAME-DUCK DEBATE… it’s just one more flashpoint in congressional Republicans’ ongoing quest to jam up Congress and prevent it from doing much of anything — because they assume that anything it does would be bad.”
PUERTO RICO BILL – WSJ: “House Republicans unveiled legislation Tuesday that would allow Puerto Rico to restructure its debt and potentially impose losses on creditors, fast-tracking a debate weeks before the island could begin defaulting on a series of large payments. The proposal would allow the island to restructure some of its $70 billion in debt under the auspices of a federal oversight board, and it would provide for an automatic stay of litigation if the island defaults on certain debts. The legislation will be formally introduced when Congress returns from its Easter recess and advance to votes in mid-April, aides said Tuesday.” PROBLEMS AHEAD? Bloomberg … House conservatives are already balking at the draft version of the legislation unveiled earlier this week: “The leader of a key group of 170 House Republicans Wednesday blasted a committee’s plan to help Puerto Rico with its $70 billion debt as ‘bankruptcy-style involuntary restructuring,’ casting doubt on how soon Congress can reach a deal.” –“The thumbs-down from Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores of Texas echoes complaints from bondholders who oppose any debt restructuring plan for the island that would use the courts to force investors to accept losses. The RSC’s members represent the broadly conservative wing of the party. Already, the House Natural Resources Committee’s draft plan had drawn the ire of House Democrats and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on another aspect of the measure released Tuesday — the amount of power it would give a board to oversee management of the island’s finances.”
ANTI-EMBARGO REPUBLICANS PUSH ON CUBA WashPo: “The Republicans who accompanied President Obama to Havana last week returned as cheerleaders for normalizing relations with Cuba, but with no unified strategy for how to convince their GOP colleagues to join the cause.”
HILL SHOOTER HAD BB GUN AP: “A man who drew what appeared to be a gun at a screening checkpoint at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center earlier this week was charged with two federal offenses Thursday as court paperwork revealed the weapon was a BB gun. Larry R. Dawson, 66, of Tennessee was charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees with a dangerous weapon and assaulting a federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon, prosecutors said in a statement.”
NEW TECH MANUFACTURING HUB: MorningD: “Defense Secretary Ash Carter is in Boston this morning, where he will announce a new $317 million manufacturing and technology initiative. The 89-member consortium will be spearheaded by the MIT, with $75 million in DoD funds along with $250 million from non-federal sources to develop new fibers and textiles technology. SUPER COOL “For example, lightweight sensors, woven into the nylon of parachutes, will be able to catch small tears that otherwise would expand in midair, risking paratroopers lives … Uniforms with electronics embedded in their fibers will be able to detect potential chemical and radioactive threats.”
The new manufacturing initiative is the latest effort in Carter’s push to marry the tech sectors in Silicon Valley and elsewhere with the military and defense industry. It comes after he spent Thursday in Austin, Texas, visiting university labs and getting pitched by local tech startups. His stops in both Austin and Boston this week are an eastward extension of his Silicon Valley outreach, as those cities are considered top tech hotspots after Silicon Valley. After launching an experimental “defense innovation unit” in Silicon Valley last year, Carter told reporters in Austin he’s open to starting a similar outpost there. …They are both part of the Obama administration’s larger National Network for Manufacturing Innovation initiative that began in 2012.”
“I’m afraid this kind of talk in an election year is just bluntly irresponsible and is detrimental to our internal allies security posture.”
– Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz regarding Trump’s comments/stance on nuclear weapons at the Nucelar Security Summit in Washington, DC (this week). Trump said he “would never take any of my cards off the table, including using a nuclear weapon in the Middle East or in Europe.”
NO GUNS AT REPUBLICAN CONVENTION Politico: “The Secret Service on Monday quashed the hopes of gun rights advocates who were pushing for the open carry of firearms to be allowed at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. An online petition in support of the effort rapidly gained signatures and attention in the past week, applying pressure to pro-gun Republican officials and presidential contenders to walk the walk when it comes to guns. But on Monday, the Secret Service said that only law enforcement personnel will be allowed to carry firearms at the event.”
@CapstoneNP Are you up to date on #PresidentialElections2016? Check out this wrap-up of who’s in the lead and what’s left! Click here.
HOW THE GOP ELITE LOST ITS VOTERS TO TRUMP NYTs: Interesting Read.
FAVORITE QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“But, sir, with all due respect, that’s the argument of a 5-year old.”
– CNN’s Anderson Cooper to Trump when he protested that he “didn’t start” last week’s shameful feud with Cruz that involved both candidates wives
ROCK BOTTOM RATINGS WITH WOMEN Politico: “Just how bad are Donald Trump’s problems with women? …The percentages of women who had an unfavorable or negative impression of Trump in recent public polls are staggering: 67% (Fox News), 67% (Quinnipiac University), 70% (NBC News/Wall Street Journal), 73% (CNN/ORC) and 74% (ABC News/Washington Post). And that’s before the news coverage of his threat to “spill the beans” about Ted Cruz’s wife and his talk about punishing women who have abortions.
TRUMP’S RISE THROUGH HILL GOP – Doug Heye, former deputy chief of staff for ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), “… “Watching Republicans spar in conference meetings and other gatherings, I became convinced that 2016 would be a year when Mom and Dad would have the fight in front of the kids. … No one was prepared, however, for the crazy uncle to crash the fight and – as Mom and Dad cowered, afraid to say anything – take over.”
WISCONSIN NEXT TUESDAY According to the well respected Marquette University Poll … Journal Sentinel … Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton by about four points, up three points from February. Since the Democrats allocate their delegates proportionally, Wisconsin is one of a whole lot of states where Sanders needs a giant win to eat into Hillary Clinton’s lead, but apparently won’t get it. … On the Republican side, Ted Cruz leads the Republican contest with 40%, followed by Trump at 30% and Kasich at 21%. The new Wisconsin polling is a very good sign for the NeverTrumpites. The 20% of the vote that Marco Rubio had in the state in February has essentially been handed over to Ted Cruz. That’s not 1-to-1, of course, but Cruz went from 19 points in February to 40 points now. Kasich picked up some of the vote from the other drop-outs, too — while Trump didn’t budge. Thirty percent in February, 30 in March. WHERE CONSOLIDATE-AGAINST-TRUMP THEORY IS WORKING Who knew! Over the long-term, Wisconsin also suggests that having Trump at the top of the Republican ticket may not be the best for the party to win the White House. In head-to-head match-ups, Clinton beats Trump by 10 points and Sanders beats him by 19. Why? In part because people really dislike Trump. More than 70% of Wisconsinites view him unfavorably.”
CANARY IN THE COAL MINE? In fact, a number of Republican insiders across the swing states suggested that Trump’s likely defeat in Wisconsin will be the canary in the coal mine for a candidate finally faltering under the weight of his blusterous missteps. A number of Republicans, however, also acknowledged that might be “wishful thinking.”