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Washington Report June 22, 2018
22 Jun 2018

Washington Report June 22, 2018

Before The 4th Break … Farm Bill … Immigration … Punt … Polls … Society’s Soul … Executive Order … Supremes … RIP Charles Krauthammer … and other news of the week.


Before The July 4th Break
BGov “The House next week takes up a $674.6 billion fiscal 2019 Pentagon spending measure and the Senate considers the Farm Bill (legislation that would reauthorize agriculture programs). One issue the House hasn’t been able to resolve is immigration (see “Punt” below).
THE HOUSE FARM BILL … BGov “… includes controversial new rules that would [change] work requirements for food stamps and expand farm subsidies. The massive legislation package, which oversees more than $430 billion of food and agriculture programs, comes up for reauthorization every five years and typically passes on a bipartisan basis. NYTs “According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, if the House Bill becomes law, more than two million people, many of them young children, will lose access to the food stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The farm bill that passed by a two-vote margin on Thursday includes tougher work requirements and new eligibility restrictions that would make it much more difficult for families who need food assistance to get it. [Approximately] 42 million poor and working class American use SNAP benefits to buy groceries. A vast majority of them are elderly, disabled or children. Of the people who are both of working age and able-bodied, most have jobs. They simply don’t earn enough to feed themselves consistently.These working-age adults already face several requirements and restrictions on how much SNAP aid they can receive. For example, they must register with SNAP and accept any job offered to them, or any training program that they are assigned to. Unless they are older than 49 or raising children, they must also verify, on a monthly basis, that they are working or in job training at least part time (after a three-month grace period). The new bill would expand these work requirements to include people up to the age of 59, and those with children older than 6. It would also tighten the rules so that anyone who fails to comply loses coverage for a full year the first time, and for three years each subsequent time. Proponents say the point of such policies is to nudge people into full employment.
THE SENATE FARM BILL … unlike the House’s, has bipartisan support and lacks the controversial SNAP provisions. The Senate measure would allow increased funding for trade programs and dairy farmers, and fold a number of trade programs into one trade assistance program. … it would expand the SNAP pilot programs and streamline existing work requirements so that fewer eligible people are inadvertently denied benefits. It would also increase funding for another farm bill provision known as the Emergency Food Assistance Program.That bill is expected on the Senate floor next week.
DEFENSE … on the defense front, House-Senate negotiators … plan to start ironing out differences between the two versions of FY2019 defense authorization legislation. A flashpoint is whether to penalize Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp. by reimposing sanctions stemming from ZTE’s dealings with Iran and North Korea and concerns that ZTE is a national security threat. The Senate-passed measure would restore the penalties; the House bill doesn’t have similar language. Trump opposes the Senate provision and has been pressing lawmakers to change it.
SENATE MINIBUS: The Senate returns Monday with a scheduled vote on passage of a three-bill spending package that includes Energy and Water Development, Legislative Branch and MilCon-VA appropriations.

BGov “The House canceled a planned vote today on compromise legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants (DREAMERS) who were brought to the U.S. as children. Yesterday, the House rejected a more hard-line proposal on a 193-to-231 vote with all Democrats and 41 Republicans opposed.”
IMMIGRATION VOTE PUNTED TO NEXT WEEK … Politico “THERE IS A THEORY in some corners of GOP leadership that there is no way to craft an immigration bill that will pass with only Republican votes. The party is looking to test that proposition. INSTEAD OF BEING CONTENT with failure, Republicans decided late yesterday to delay a vote on its immigration bill until next week. They will rewrite the bill and add ag visa provisions and e-Verify — two elements that tripped up negotiations over the last few weeks — to mollify concerns and get votes. SPEAKER PAUL RYAN’S goal here was to … vote on a safely Republican bill. Now it seems like the GOP has gotten itself in a full-blown immigration negotiation, in which the conservatives and moderates are in near open war, and the leadership is trying to thread the needle without getting too involved. In the middle of an election year. With the Senate extraordinarily unlikely to act. And the House up for grabs.
ACTUALLY PASSING A BILL will still be a herculean task, and there are plenty of people in the GOP leadership who think pushing this into another week is a massive mistake.
WaPo “President Trump said today that Republicans should put off addressing immigration until after the midterm elections. He suggested that the GOP can use the issue to pick up Senate seats in November and then pass a more hard-line bill next year.”

The Polls
WaPo “A Gallup Poll published Thursday shows that a record-high 75% of Americans, including majorities across all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S., up from 71% last year. Just 19% of the public considers immigration a bad thing. When asked more specifically about “legal” immigration, 84 % said it’s a good thing. Perhaps more significantly, Gallup found a record-low number of Americans – only 29% – think immigration into the U.S. should be decreased, which has been one of Trump’s core demands to congressional negotiators. … These results mark a six-point drop from one year ago in the percentage of those preferring a reduction in immigration.”
Gallup polling has also shown that the public is at odds with Trump over the border wall and strongly favors allowing beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DREAMERS) to remain in the United States and have a path to citizenship.
A Pew Research Center poll published Wednesday found that Democrats have opened a 14-point advantage over Republicans when registered voters are asked which party would better handle immigration, up from just six points last fall. This is the largest-ever Democratic advantage on immigration in Pew’s polling. During Barack Obama’s administration, neither party held a significant advantage in dealing with immigration issues.”
Trump’s focus on the issue has motivated Democrats to care more about immigration than they did in the past and to hold more progressive views. In 2010, only 28% of Democrats said they wanted to hear candidates talking about immigration. Now 48% do. Eight years ago, 35% of Republicans wanted to hear candidates talk about the issue. That number is essentially unchanged now, at 34%.”
NOTE: “What makes these two polls especially striking is that they were both in the field several days before the national furor over Trump’s separation policy reached a fever pitch. The Pew survey was conducted June 5-12. The Gallup poll was conducted June 1-13.

Society’s Soul
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
– Nelson Mandela
WaPo “The chaotic effort to reunite immigrant parents with their separated kids. … Each of the mothers had a different memory of the moment she was separated from her child. For some, it was outside a Border Patrol station just north of the Rio Grande, shortly after being apprehended. For others, it was after an interrogation by federal authorities …. Jodi Goodwin, an attorney in Harlingen, Tex., has heard more than two dozen variations of those stories from Central American mothers who have been detained for days or weeks without their children. So far, she has not been able to locate a single one of their offspring. ‘It’s just a total labyrinth,’ she said.” (Define ‘labyrinth’ – a complicated irregular network of passages or paths in which it is difficult to find one’s way; a maze.)
THE EXECUTIVE ORDER NPR “President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents who were detained as they attempted to enter the U.S. illegally. The action came after a firestorm of protest from administration opponents and allies, reacting to pictures and sounds of young children traumatized by their separation from their parents at the hands of U.S. authorities. He is, in effect, ordering family separation to be replaced with the detention of whole families together, even after previously arguing that “you can’t do it by executive order.” THE DETAILS
The administration has consistently said it was forced to separate families because of the conclusion of a court case known as “the Flores Settlement.” That settlement, reached in 1997, required the government to limit the time it keeps unaccompanied minors in detention and to keep them in the least restrictive setting possible. The settlement was later modified to say that children should not be held longer than 20 days. Trump’s executive order directs the attorney general to promptly file a request with U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in the Central District of California to modify the Flores Settlement and allow detained migrant families to be held together “throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings … or other immigration proceedings.” WHAT ELSE DID TRUMP ORDER? The president directed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to maintain custody of detained families during criminal proceedings and as their asylum claims are adjudicated. Also, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the heads of other agencies are ordered to find or construct facilities to house the detained families. Finally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directed to prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families. SO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN? It is not immediately clear whether, or when, detained children will be reunited with their parents … the [reunification] process would be hampered by the U.S. separation process, which keeps parents in federal custody while moving children into facilities controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services. “The U.S. authorities create different files for the children than for the parents, and it’s very difficult to follow up on those cases.”

“Trump’s executive order ending family separations sparked confusion at the border as officials struggled to understand it.” … After a senior Customs and Border Protection official told The Washington Post that the agency would freeze criminal referrals for migrant parents who cross illegally with children, Justice Department officials insisted that their ‘zero tolerance’ policy remained in force and that U.S. attorneys would continue to prosecute those entering the United States unlawfully. … And despite the ongoing outcry over the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their parents since May 5, Trump administration officials gave no assurances that the families would be swiftly reunited. … “In scenes reminiscent of the … ‘Muslim ban’ in the early days of the Trump presidency, federal agencies Thursday were largely left to interpret the sudden changes ordered by the White House the day before and figure out how to implement them. A family separation system that had been planned and tested over several months vanished at the president’s pen, with no stated plan to reverse its effects. Administration officials held a meeting Thursday evening to grapple with the conflicting understandings of what the executive order was meant to do.”
NOTE: Rolling Stone “In reality, not even an executive order was necessary to prevent families from being separated, as there was no “law” mandating this action in the first place. When Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump could put a stop to it by “picking up the phone,” he wasn’t exaggerating.”

Mayor Mike’s Money
Boston Globe “The lobbying has started for the $80 million [former NYC Mayor & billionaire] Michael Bloomberg plans to spend for House Democrats in the midterms [elections].

TAXING ONLINE SALES Axios “The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday to allow states to collect sales tax from online and out-of-state retailers.Why it matters: As the U.S. tries to catch up with digital companies that operate without a physical presence, the ruling allowing states to tax e-commerce providers outside their state borders has created an extra hurdle for companies handling online transactions. The ruling may prompt Congress to introduce new legislation for an overhaul on unifying e-commerce for all 50 states.
… Online retailers likely will have to pay billions more in taxes each year. Although some large online retailers like Amazon already collect sales taxes, smaller vendors don’t.”
DEFENDING PRIVACY Politico “In a major statement on privacy in the digital age, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the government generally needs a warrant to collect troves of location data about the customers of cellphone companies. ‘We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier’s database of physical location information,’ Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. The 5-to-4 decision has implications for all kinds of personal information held by third parties, including email and text messages, internet searches, and bank and credit card records. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said the ruling was limited. Chief Justice John Roberts joined four Democratic appointees— Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — in the decision, continuing an expansion by the Roberts court of privacy rights in a digital age.”

Charles Krauthammer. Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and conservative died at age 68. You know him from his weekly column in The Washington Post and appearances on Fox. When he was 22, he became paralyzed after getting hurt from diving in a pool. It didn’t stop him from graduating from Harvard Medical School. … He’s the reason you’ve heard the phrase “the Reagan Doctrine” – aka President Reagan’s policies for helping fight off Communism around the world. And was a big advocate for things like the Iraq War. But he never shied away from criticizing both sides of the aisle. RIP.

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