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Washington Report May 18, 2018
18 May 2018

Washington Report May 18, 2018

Sprint Before Recess … Every Day In The Trump Presidency Is A Wild Ride, But Wednesday … Madame Director …. Net Neutrality … Boxed In …. Farm Bill Fails… “If It Happens, It Happens” … Last-Gasp … One Year Anniversary … Gag Me … R’s Election Strategy Bet:  Millennials Don’t Show Up … OGE-OMG …  and other news of the week.


Joyce Rubenstein


Sprint Before Recess

BGov “Congress, in a sprint before a weeklong recess, has set the table with legislation easing Dodd-Frank restrictions on regional and community banks, a $717 billion defense policy bill, and legislation to let terminally ill patients try potentially life-saving experimental drugs.

DEFENSE POLICY: Watch for the House next week to take up legislation setting funding levels and military policy for fiscal 2019, which starts Oct. 1. The Pentagon would be authorized to spend $686 billion, including war funding. The measure also has jurisdiction over national security programs at the Energy Department. Troops would be allowed a 2.6 percent pay raise under the bill. The measure is a magnet for amendments, and so far there are more than 500 for the Rules Committee to consider Monday. The House Rules Committee, however, will likely prevent most of those from reaching the floor.  The full Senate Armed Services Committee will hold its markup of the NDAA Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.


Wild Wednesday

Politico “Every Day in the Trump Presidency is a wild ride, but Wednesday was particularly emblematic of the breakneck pace.

LET’S RECAP: 1. The White House released Trump’s financial disclosure, which showed he paid his attorney, who paid off a porn star — something he has denied. 2. New details emerged on the Trump Tower meeting with Russians, including an effort by Donald Trump Jr. to coordinate statements after the meeting became public. 3. The Senate Intel Committee agreed with the intelligence community that Russians did in fact try to help Trump win the 2016 election. … 4. Trump’s former secretary of state took a veiled shot at his old boss saying lies are a threat to democracy. 5. The Senate, controlled by Republicans, rejected their own president’s approach to net neutrality. 6. House Republican leadership warned its own members they could lose a majority over DACA. 7. Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he has a legal defense fund, allowing others to contribute to pay his attorney bills. 8. The president called some undocumented immigrants “animals.”  THERE ARE FOUR DAYS LEFT IN THE WEEK.  What else can happen?


Madame Director

“The Senate voted [54 to 45, with six Democrats] to confirm Gina Haspel as the [first woman ever to be] CIA director … despite lingering concerns about the role she played in the  [then legal torture] of suspected terrorists captured after 9/11.” (WashPost)


Net Neutrality

theSkimm “Wednesday, the Senate voted to keep net neutrality, weeks before the FCC takes it away. Net neutrality refers to the Obama-era rules that prevent Internet service providers (like Verizon or Comcast) from giving some websites a faster connection than others. Last year, the FCC voted to repeal it. Next month, the changes are supposed to become official. Supporters say getting rid of net neutrality will give providers new opportunities to invest in upgrades to their networks. Critics say the new rules give too much power to providers by allowing them to create “fast lanes” for websites that can afford to pay more for faster service. And could mean extra fees for users. The Senate passed a measure to keep the old net neutrality rules where they are. Now, it heads to the House, where it’s expected to get kicked to the curb. But don’t worry, you’ll hear about this again around midterm elections. Because many voters have opinions about their Internet.



Crossroads Between Tech & Policy

Check out a recent blog written by Capstone CEO John Rogers … Do you know what the Collingridge Dilemma is? Click Here.





Boxed In

Politico “House Republicans are in a box. Twenty GOP lawmakers have signed onto a discharge petition, which would force a series of immigration votes. BUT A NEW STRATEGY has emerged behind the scenes. JUNE is going to be an immigration filled month. Republican leadership — Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise — are quietly promising the figures behind the discharge petition and those who might sign that they will put a bunch of immigration bills on the floor NEXT MONTH for a vote. THEY SAY THIS is a better option then the discharge petition, because this will actually allow the GOP leadership to control the process. Right now, the discharge petition would allow Democrats a vote on whatever they want — probably the DREAM Act. EACH IDEOLOGICAL SEGMENT of the House GOP will get a bill to vote on: there will be a Trumpy bill, there will be something for moderates to vote on and so on and so forth. We got a hint of this strategy Thursday, when McCarthy promised a vote on Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) immigration bill.

OF COURSE, no one believes there’s going to be a deal right now. We’re in the middle of an election year, and the president’s demands do not line up with 218 House Republicans at the moment. There might not be 218 votes for anything at the moment — including the bills in the the GOP leadership strategy. Also, the Senate has no interest in an immigration process, at the moment. This is a member-management move — lawmakers of all ideological stripes want a vote, and their leadership is going to give them that.”


Farm Bill Fails

Politico “The House Freedom Caucus on Friday sank a conservative farm bill over an immigration dispute with GOP leadership. …BGov “The $867 billion farm bill was rejected in the U.S. House after GOP leaders were unable to quell a rebellion by a group of conservatives who were demanding a guarantee of a separate vote on legislation that would restrict legal immigration. The failure to pass the farm legislation, which would have imposed new work requirements for food stamps and extended subsidies, is a blow to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is being pressured by multiple Republican factions as they prepare to face re-election in November. Lawmakers voted 198 to 213 to defeat the measure Friday after about three dozen conservative Republicans, rebuffed an offer from GOP leadership to schedule a June vote on a bill that would eliminate a diversity visa lottery and impose other limits in exchange for temporary protection for young undocumented immigrants.

ONE THING TO NOTE The farm bill that eventually gets signed into law will look a lot more like the Senate version.


“If It Happens, It Happens”

ABOUT THAT NORTH KOREA MEETING … Politico “President Donald Trump on Thursday said he will know ‘very soon’ whether his much-anticipated meeting with Kim Jong Un will take place in Singapore next month, after the North Korean leader threatened to abandon the historic summit. “‘We’ll see what happens. If the meeting happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t, we go on to the next step,’ Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.”


War Report

WSJ “The U.S. has spent as much as $2.8 trillion on the fight against terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a study published Wednesday. “The report from the Washington-based Stimson Center think tank said the figure included spending on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, in addition to homeland-security efforts and overseas programs. Spending on counterterrorism reached a peak of $260 billion in 2008, accounting for more than a fifth of the government’s discretionary budget.”



NYTs “The prospect of rewriting the North American Free Trade Agreement this year appeared to diminish significantly on Thursday, as a deadline set by congressional Republicans passed and the lead American trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, said the countries involved were ‘nowhere near close to a deal.’ … [with] ‘gaping differences’ between the countries on intellectual property, agriculture, energy and other areas. Trade advisers across the political spectrum cautioned that the current Congress could still vote on the deal this year if negotiators wrapped up their talks in the next few weeks. But with significant disagreements remaining among the three countries as well as disparate views among the lawmakers who must approve the deal, the chance of Nafta’s quick resolution is diminishing..”


One Year

The Atlantic “It’s been a year since Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation into Russia’s election interference.

To the president, the investigation may seem like it has dragged on. But the longest special-counsel probe—Iran-Contra under former President Ronald Reagan—lasted nearly seven years. The Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky inquiry involving former President Bill Clinton, lasted four years. And the investigation of the Valerie Plame affair under former President George W. Bush lasted three-and-a-half years. Mueller’s pace has been breakneck, legal experts say, especially for a complicated counterintelligence investigation that involves foreign nationals and the Kremlin, an adversarial government. As the probe wears on, the fundamental legitimacy of Trump’s presidency hangs in the balance: Did his campaign conspire with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton and win the election?”


Senate Intelligence

The Senate Judiciary Committee released nearly 2,000 pages of testimony and exhibits related to a 2016 meeting between Trump aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer. Separately, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s leaders said they agree with an assessment by the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections with the aim of helping then-candidate Donald Trump, contradicting finding House Republicans reached last month. (WaPo)


Gag Me

Politico “The Trump administration plans to announce on Friday a new policy barring Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health organizations from providing or mentioning abortions at any facility that receives federal family planning funds, according to two White House officials and others familiar with the matter.”


Republican Party Bet – Millennials Won’t Vote

The Atlantic “The GOP is doubling down on its older white base—and hoping the more diverse Millennials don’t show up to the polls.”

Representative Martha McSally, the establishment favorite for the Republican Senate nomination in Arizona, took the unusual step this week of removing her name as a co-sponsor of legislation to provide a path to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers,” young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Locked in a tough primary with two anti-immigration hardliners—former state Senator Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio—McSally’s staff said in a statement that she now prefers a competing bill: one that would offer more limited protection to the Dreamers, while funding President Trump’s request for a border wall, toughening immigration enforcement, and slashing legal immigration.

McSally’s rush to embrace that conservative wish list demonstrates how Trump is steadily tugging more of the GOP toward his nativist positions on immigration. But her move, in a state where non-whites will soon represent a majority of the population under age 40, also signaled how much of the GOP strategy for surviving the midterm elections is based on a generational wager. The Republican bet is that the party can mobilize elevated turnout among their older and blue-collar white base without provoking the young and racially diverse voters who personify the emerging next America to show up on Election Day to defend it. Few things are likely to shape November’s outcome more than whether that bet pays off.”

Right now, Republicans have reason for optimism. Historically, turnout among young voters—by far the electorate’s most racially diverse generation—has plummeted in midterm elections compared with the presidential contests that have immediately preceded them. Turnout from presidential to midterm elections has also fallen more modestly among African Americans, and has slipped substantially among Hispanics as well.

Recent polling offers ominous signs for Democrats that this pattern of demobilization could persist in 2018—particularly among young people—despite the Trump administration’s relentless focus on policies that reflect the priorities of his conservative older white base, from ending protection for the Dreamers, to building a border wall, to attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Though surveys show those ideas all face intense resistance among younger adults, Stanley Greenberg, the veteran Democratic pollster, told me there’s a “very real risk” that Millennial turnout could lag again in 2018. WHY THIS MATTERS … Iin recently released surveys from both CNN and Pew Research Center, voters age 35 and older split almost exactly evenly between the two parties on the generic ballot. Among voters ages 18 to 29, by contrast, Democrats held a resounding 27-point advantage in the Pew survey and an 18-point edge in the CNN poll.Those results, in turn, reflect the persistent generation gap over Trump. In the Pew survey, only about 25% of adults under age 30 said they approved of Trump’s performance, far less than in any other age group. Likewise, Pew found that less than one-third of adults ages 18 to 34 said they agreed with Trump on all or many issues. By contrast, nearly half of all adults age 50 and older said they agreed with Trump on most issues, a number that rose to nearly three-fifths among older whites. CLICK FOR MORE DETAILS.

It’s highly possible that Trump will succeed in mobilizing high levels of turnout in November from those anxious voters resistant to the changing America. If the young and diverse voters who not only embrace, but also embody, those changes don’t match that intensity, they may again cede control of the country’s future to those seeking to restore its past.”



Politico “In a new financial disclosure released on Wednesday, the Trump administration delivered an authoritative answer to one question about the president’s payment to Stormy Daniels —and raised a whole set of new ones. The form, released by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), mentions in a footnote that President Trump had made a six-figure payment to his former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen in 2017.  …When the $130,000 payment from Cohen to Daniels was first revealed, Cohen said that he had paid Daniels out of his own pocket, and that neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump Organization had reimbursed him. In March, the White House said it was unaware of any payment. And in April, the president himself said the same. “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said at the time.

The various contradictions in the official story meant Washington was avidly awaiting the disclosure to see whether and how Trump would handle the Cohen payment. The filing resolves one question definitively: The president did, in fact, pay Michael Cohen six figures at zero interest at some point in 2017. Yet it also raises a series of other questions, new and old. SO … what did Trump know about the payment to Daniels, and when did he know it? …That’s still unclear.

Whatever the explanation, the omission may have violated the law. By signing the 2016 disclosure, Trump certified that it was true. But his 2017 disclosure contradicts that. By concluding that Trump ought to have disclosed the payment to Cohen, OGE is showing the limitations of the president’s ability to insulate his personal life from scrutiny.”


Trump Moscow

BuzzFeed “All through the hot summer campaign of 2016, as Donald Trump and his aides dismissed talk of unseemly ties to Moscow, two of his key business partners were working furiously on a secret track: negotiations to build what would have been the tallest building in Europe and an icon of the Trump empire — the Trump World Tower Moscow. … “The documents reveal a detailed and plausible plan, well-connected Russian counterparts, and an effort that extended from spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island to planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for the presidential candidate himself. … Michael Cohen, the president’s embattled personal fixer, and Felix Sater, who helped negotiate deals around the world for Trump, led the effort. Working quietly behind the scenes, they tried to arrange a sit-down between Trump and Putin, the documents show.”


Royally Obsessed

In case you somehow missed it, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married tomorrow. Bright and early. Brilliant. When and where? At St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. It’s about 20 miles west of London. Ceremony starts at 7am ET. You can pre-game by watching the guests show up in their fascinators at 4:30am ET.

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