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Washington Report January 26, 2018
26 Jan 2018

Washington Report January 26, 2018

Open Sesame … Heads Up D.C. … Reauthorizing Higher Ed … Muellering It Over … What Mueller Thinks … Groundhog Headline “Trump Trip Overshadowed By Controversy” … Ain’t No Party Like A Davos Party … Women Getting Justice … and other news of the week.

Again … tragedy in Kentucky, where a 15-year-old opened fire at a high school in Benton, killing two students and injuring more than a dozen people. So sad. Again.


Joyce Rubenstein


Open Sesame

Politico “The government is open for business. Last week, the government shut down after Congress couldn’t agree on a spending deal. Democrats said they’d only pass a bill that included protections for Dreamers. Republicans said they wouldn’t talk about protecting Dreamers until a spending bill passed. You see the problem. Monday, Senate Dems … helped pass a short-term spending bill. In exchange, Senate Republicans agreed to consider an immigration bill in the next month. The House signed off too. The problem for Dems: now any immigration deal won’t be tied to must-pass legislation like a spending bill – meaning it’s less likely to get enough ‘ayes.’ Especially in the more conservative House.

This new deal just reset the countdown clock until next month. Congress will have to have the same fight all over again in T-14 days.


Heads Up DC

BGov “President Trump will travel to Capitol Hill next week to deliver a State of the Union address to a Congress deeply divided over immigration policy and spending priorities. Republicans want to increase defense spending caps under the Budget Control Act and Democrats are insisting on matching boosts for domestic programs. They’re working a short week, with Republicans and Senate Democrats departing Wednesday for annual policy retreats.

Trump said he plans to announce during his State of the Union address a $1.7 trillion infrastructure investment. The devil will be in the details: whether, and how much, federal money is involved.

IMMIGRATION Watch for a preview of Trump’s latest stance on immigration Monday with the release of a White House legislative framework. The president will support a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children, doubling the number of people covered by current protections from deportation. Senate Republicans and Democrats have been meeting in a bipartisan group on ways to resolve the Dreamers’ status. The chamber’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn, said any immigration legislation should include a $25 billion appropriation up front for 10 years to secure the border.

DEFENSE SPENDING House leaders, stymied over efforts to boost defense spending so far this year, plan to bring up Pentagon funding again next week. Up for floor consideration will be a fiscal 2018 defense appropriations bill that’s similar to the fiscal year 2018 defense appropriations bill the House passed in July … and the bill the House passed again on Sept. 14 as part of a larger funding package. The new version would include an additional $1.2 billion in war funds for Afghanistan operations. While the House measure has no future in the Senate as a stand-along bill, it could mollify defense hawks and House Freedom Caucus members who have pushed for a separate Pentagon spending bill to be attached to the various continuing resolutions to fund the government. Congress will need at least one more CR after Feb. 8, so giving defense supporters a vote on the spending bill could buy some good will.

BROADBAND: The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee plans Tuesday to discuss 15 bills aimed at expanding broadband to under-served areas across the U.S. Measures include easing restrictions to building broadband networks over federal lands and updating a map of broadband availability. Such proposals, if they become law, could lower costs and requirements for companies like Comcast Corp., Charter Communications Inc., and AT&T Inc. to install equipment in certain areas.”


Reauthorizing Higher Ed

BGov “The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meets for its third hearing in as many weeks on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, focusing Tuesday on accountability and the taxpayer burden. The 1965 law established federal student financial aid programs. Committee members are discussing simplifying federal grant programs for students as the committee works on updating a 2008 higher education law. While lawmakers generally agree that reducing the complexity of the student loan process will lower barriers to attending college, there’s debate over whether students would be hurt if grants distributed through colleges and subsidized loans are eliminated.”


Immigration Plan DOA?

Axios RE:  White House framework on immigration reform that leaked yesterday, then was released … 1) It’s Dead on Arrival … 2) Have spoken to progressive immigration leaders in close touch with top Democrats. Stephen Miller is dangling out a DACA amnesty — which sounds very generous to the uninitiated.” … 3) “But the price is way too high for Democrats. The wall funding is way, way too high at $25 billion. Closer to $10 billion is more realistic.” … 4) “The larger problems are the increase of ICE agents, faster deportations, stronger interior enforcement and the massive cuts to legal immigration by eliminating extended family migration.” … 5) “Two progressive immigration leaders who’ve analyzed the proposal believe it could lead to reductions of 40-50% in legal immigration — the biggest reductions since the 1920s.”


Muellering It Over

WaPo “President Trump didn’t just consider the most drastic conceivable response to the Russia investigation; he actively tried to do it — until someone stopped him. During a month in which the Russia probe has steadily crept closer to the president and new details about Trump’s attempts to manipulate law enforcement keep coming, we just found out he once tried to remove the man running the show. Yep, all those stories back in June about how Trump might fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III? They weren’t just idle speculation, as the president and his team assured us, but rather the result of serious deliberations and an actual, eventual attempt to do the deed.The only thing that stopped him, according to The Post’s reporting, was White House counsel Donald McGahn declining to carry out Trump’s orders and saying he would rather resign. And the president backed down. (The news was first reported by the New York Times.) All signs since then are that Trump and the White House have made their peace with the idea that Mueller would conclude his investigation. They brought on a lawyer, Ty Cobb, who has known Mueller for decades, and their tone turned to one of mostly cooperation — albeit with law enforcement conspiracy theories increasingly sprinkled into the mix.

WHY IT MATTERS Axios “The White House has denied nearly a dozen times since June that Mr. Trump was considering firing Mr. Mueller.” UNFORCED ERROR Mueller following Trump [is] like a dark cloud: [Trumps] actions were taken in office knowing the whole world is watching for a cover-up. It’s the ultimate unforced error — and reason many around Trump fear him testifying.

WHAT MUELLER THINKS – Politico Magazine “It’s Now Likely Mueller Thinks Trump Obstructed Justice” Thursday’s bombshell news points toward one conclusion: The special counsel has the goods on the president.”  Click Here for Article.


Eat Humble Pie

“Sen. Johnson backs off ‘secret society’ claim’ CNN “The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee acknowledged Thursday that a reference made between two FBI employees of a ‘secret society’ could have been said in jest as opposed to evidence of an anti-Donald Trump plot. ‘It’s a real possibility,’ Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, told CNN. Republicans have seized on the exchange between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok, which was sent after the 2016 presidential election, as potential evidence of an anti-Trump bias at the agency.

FOUND Axios The Department of Justice has informed lawmakers that the missing texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have been recovered, according to CNN’s David Wright.

Why it matters: The lost texts from the five-month span of December 2016 and May 2017 have fueled speculation and conspiracy theories among conservatives about the objectivity of the Russia investigation.


NOT a Surprise

Axios “Mitt Romney will reportedly announce next week that he is running for Senate this year in Utah, sources close to Romney told Why this isn’t surprising: Romney’s name has been floated for months, and Orrin Hatch announcing his retirement opened the way for him.”


Ain’t No Party Like A Davos Party

GROUNDHOG DAY HEADLINE from CNN “Trump Trip Overshadowed By Controversy”

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is in full swing. It’s the world’s most exclusive après-ski. Billionaires, CEOs, heads of state, etc. retreat to the Swiss Alps every year to congratulate themselves on being masters of the universe. They’re talking about everything from the economy and technology to poverty and gender inequality. WHY THIS YEAR IS SO SPECIAL Well, there was too much mansplaining in past years, so women are in charge this time. Also, every world leader and their mother is there, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Indian PM Narendra Modi have already made headlines. And President Trump is going to rep his ‘America First’ agenda with a crowd mostly interested in globalization. Davos is usually a high-profile networking retreat. Now, with EU leaders attending, and Trump being the first sitting US president to join in almost 20 years, it’s expected to be a high-profile clash of world views.”


Trump Turning Davos Into A Globalist Throwdown

Time “Could this be it? Might the American Century actually clock out at just 72 years, from 1945 to 2017? No longer than Louis XIV ruled France? Only 36 months more than the Soviet Union lasted, after all that bother? The question sounds preposterous.

For one, there is the unrivaled U.S. military. For another, there is the U.S. economy, still larger than any other. But then there’s the U.S. President, who in the name of making the country great again has renounced the global architecture that the U.S. designed, championed and dominated for generations. It’s the very international system that did so much to cement American greatness in the first place.  … With the federal government back open for business, [Trump] steered, like St. George toward the dragon’s cave, to Davos, Switzerland, and the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum.

It’s the crowd Trump referred to during his campaign as the “global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” Click for Article


Women Getting Justice

theSkimm 10 seconds. Remind me. Nassar was the team doctor for USA Gymnastics for decades. Back in 2016, a woman filed a criminal complaint against him, saying he sexually abused her as a teenager. Since then, more than 150 women have come forward with similar stories. Many are athletes, including US Olympic gymnasts. Last year, Nassar pleaded guilty to several counts of sexual assault. Over the past week, almost all of his victims let him have it at his sentencing hearing. THE LATEST Judge Aquilina (your new fave) sentenced him to 40 to 175 years in prison. That’s on top of 60 years he already got on child porn charges. And next week he’s up for more sentencing for other charges. NOW WHAT? USA Gymnastics faces a reckoning over how and why Nassar was able to assault so many athletes under its watch for decades. Three board members resigned this week. The US Olympic Committee is calling on the remaining members to clear their desks. Several companies have pulled out as sponsors. And the NCAA said it’s investigating Michigan State, where Nassar also worked and treated athletes. Michigan State’s president resigned. When one man can abuse more than 150 girls for decades, the problem runs very deep.”


Doomsday Clock

Axios “Robert Rosner, chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, moves the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight yesterday. The clock was created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to illustrate how close humans might be to the end of the world. Originally, it only showed nuclear threats, but in recent years, climate change has moved the clock. Why it matters: The last time the clock was this close to midnight was in 1953. The U.S. and Soviet Union had just tested hydrogen bombs. These scientists feel the risk of annihilation is as great today as it was then. ”


Jaw Dropping

NYTs “Scientists on Thursday announced the discovery of a fossilized human jawbone in a collapsed cave in Israel that they said is between 177,000 and 194,000 years old. If confirmed, the find may rewrite the early migration story of our species, pushing back by about 50,000 years the time that Homo sapiens first ventured out of Africa.”

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