ADIOS, CONGRESS. And other news of the week.
It’s Friday. We are only 39 days away from Election Day. V.P. Debate is next Tuesday.
ADIOS, CONGRESS Politico “The House and Senate on Wednesday showed how quickly Congress can move when all parties are on the same page to get something done. A spending bill was passed and a veto was overridden Wednesday, and now lawmakers have fled Washington, returning to their states for the campaign homestretch. …The weeks-long funding fight was resolved rapidly after a bipartisan deal was hatched by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to ensure that Flint, Michigan’s water crisis is addressed in the lame-duck session.
“The bill flew through Capitol Hill – first being passed by the Senate, 72-26, and hours later by the House, 342-85. The legislation, which had White House backing, would fund the federal government through Dec. 9, provide $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and send $500 million to Louisiana and other states facing natural disasters.” AND THEN signed by Barack Obama on Thursday … lawmakers are expected to be in Washington for a lame-duck session.” Whew.
ABOUT THAT 9/11 BILL Politico: “The blame game continued for a second day over the veto override of legislation allowing victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, with the White House slamming Congress for passing the law over the president’s objections. “It’s hard to take at face value the suggestion that they were unaware of the consequences of their vote.” CONGRESS AGREED ON SOMETHING Skimm “The 9/11 victims bill would give families of victims the right to sue Saudi Arabia for any role it may have had in the terrorist attacks. Reminder: most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The country has always denied that it was involved. But after a lot of back and forth, Congress passed the 9/11 bill earlier this month. Last week, Obama said ‘nope’ and vetoed it. Then lawmakers said ‘no really,’ and voted to override Obama’s veto … for the first time in his presidency. WHY WOULD OBAMA VETO THIS? Because he and other critics say it puts US officials at risk of being sued in foreign courts in the future. But supporters and victims’ families say the bill is an important win for those seeking justice. Saudi Arabia doesn’t appreciate being called out like this. Problem, since it’s a key US ally in the Mideast – and Obama could use help on minor things like the fight against ISIS. TBD on what the implications of the bill will be. But this was the first veto override of Obama’s presidency. And his team is not taking it well … a White House official called it ‘the single most embarassing thing’ Congress has done in years. That’s saying a lot.”
DEPT. OF YA CAN’T MAKE IT UP — “Congress May Rewrite Saudi 9/11 Law After Veto Override,” by Bloomberg “The two top Republicans in Congress said they’re prepared to rewrite legislation allowing victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia — less than 24 hours after Congress took the extraordinary step of overriding President Barack Obama’s veto of the measure to make it law. Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the measure could have unintended consequences — including the fact that it could leave U.S. soldiers open to retaliation by foreign governments.”
LOOKING AHEAD MorningD “Congress is taking another six-week break until Election Day, as lawmakers return home to campaign this fall for themselves and in some cases for their colleagues. While the race for the White House is, of course, the big prize Nov. 8, the defense world has more to keep an eye on. Here’s what we’ll be watching:
McCAIN’S BID FOR REELECTION: SASC Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) has built up a sizable lead in his run against Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, but he’s taking his reelection seriously, particularly if the national campaign begins to turn against Trump. McCain also has a keen interest in control of the Senate, as his Armed Services gavel depends on Republicans keeping the upper chamber. Could we see McCain trek up to New Hampshire to help Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican on his committee, in the final days of the campaign?
HASC MEMBERS RUNNING FOR THE SENATE: The House Armed Services Committee is losing a number of members to Senate runs, but it’s still uncertain how many of them will still be in the Capitol next year. In Illinois, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth is leading Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. In Nevada, Republican Sen. Joe Heck is ahead in a tight race against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto to replace retiring Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. And in California, Rep. Loretta Sanchez is the clear underdog to a fellow Democrat Kamala Harris in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. All the winners are likely candidates for the Senate Armed Services panel next year.”
NDAA LOOK-AHEAD – THE FUNDING CONUNDRUM Politico “When negotiations on annual defense policy legislation ground to a halt this month, lawmakers blamed the greater sage grouse, a bird found on some military training ranges and the subject of an endangered species dispute. But the bigger hangup is actually how to settle on a final Pentagon dollar figure for the new fiscal year and what programs to slash to get there, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations. … One congressional aide, speaking anonymously to describe the closed-door negotiations, said the debate over the war account was the ‘lead issue’ when conference talks ended two weeks ago and House and Senate Armed Services committee leaders kicked the National Defense Authorization Act until after the election.”
MUSICAL APPROPRIATIONS CHAIRS Politico Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the term-limited Appropriations chairman, is making official what’s been suspected for months: He won’t request a waiver to remain the full committee chairman and will instead seek the Defense Subcommittee gavel. The move sets the stage for current Defense Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) to be the clear frontrunner for the full Appropriations panel next year – and also tees up a showdown between Rogers and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who also wants the defense gavel.”
DEBATE BREAKS RECORD AS MOST WATCHED IN U.S. HISTORY CNN “According to Nielsen, the debate averaged a total of 84 million viewers across 13 of the TV channels that carried it live. Many millions also watched the debate via live streams on the web. … People who watched the debate at parties, bars, restaurants, and offices were not counted. Neither were C-SPAN viewers. … Contrary to some speculation, there was not a big drop-off after the first 30 minutes of the 98-minute debate. The vast majority of viewers kept watching until the very end, a fact that the Clinton campaign celebrated on Tuesday.”
Per Google [S]earch interest in ‘register to vote’ in Spanish surged by 2,200x in the last week.”
CLINTON WAS THE WINNER Politico “This tracks with practically all other reputable public polling: 49% say Clinton won and 26% say Trump won. 18% of Republicans say Clinton won. VOTERS WERE RIVETED. 72% of likely voters watched the debate, and 55% of those viewers watched the whole 95-minute affair. Half of those polled said they would watch the debate again.”
TRUMP LASHES OUT — NYT “Donald J. Trump lashed out on Tuesday [Wednesday, Thursday and Friday] in the aftermath of [the] first debate with Hillary Clinton, scolding the moderator, criticizing a beauty pageant winner for her physique and raising the prospect of an all-out attack on Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities in the final stretch of the campaign.”
EARLY MORNING TWEETS FROM @realDonaldTrump … TRUMP MELTDOWN? 3:20 a.m.: “Anytime you see a story about me or my campaign saying ‘sources said,’ DO NOT believe it. There are no sources, they are just made up lies!” … 5:14 a.m.:”Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an ‘angel’ without checking her past, which is terrible!” …5:19 a.m.: “Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con.” … 5:30 a.m.: “Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?”
IT’S … SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Politico: “SNL, which timed the launch of its 42nd season for the weekend after the first Clinton-Trump clash, made one big reveal on Wednesday: actor Alec Baldwin will debut as Trump. … the biggest drama is how Baldwin and SNL will parody Trump: Will they mock his sniffles? … His supposed microphone malfunction? Or do they cast him in more ominous terms: as a racist hate-monger?”
A HISTORIC ENDORSEMENT FOR CLINTON Arizona Republic “Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles. This year is different. The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.”
AND THEN USA TODAY “DISENDORSED” TRUMP “In its 34-year history USA Today has not endorsed a candidate in a presidential election. Only once have they ‘disendorsed’ a candidate, and that was former KKK leader and white supremacist David Duke in 1991 when he ran for governor of Louisiana. That changed on Thursday when the USA Today editorial board ‘disendorsed’ Donald Trump. The editorial page has criticized Trump in the past, objecting to his appeals to ‘racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic sentiments,’ and his ‘sometimes casual relationship with the Truth.'”
“She [Hillary] alone stands between America and the reign of the most unstable, unfit president in U.S. history.”
– Dorothy Rabinowitz, Member of Wall Street Journal Editorial Board in an Op-Ed “Hillary-Hatred Derangement Syndrome
CASH DASH – Republican Senate super PAC blitz,” WashPost “The Republicans’ central Senate super PAC is plowing $21 million more into six key races in the coming weeks as the fight for control of the chamber moves to states more hospitable to GOP candidates. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that is part of the American Crossroads suite of GOP big-money groups, is expanding its television buys in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada and Pennsylvania, officials told The Washington Post. At the same time, the group is cutting back most of its planned spending in Ohio, where incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman has widened his lead over former governor Ted Strickland.”
POLITICAL ADVERTISING TO FALL THIS ELECTION SEASON WSJ’s “Kantar Media/CMAG, a top ad-tracking agency, is forecasting that political spending on local broadcast television in 2016 will reach $2.8 billion – about $300 million less than what was spent in 2012, and $500 million less than the agency’s initial estimate for 2016. The reason: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hasn’t embraced ads in the way political candidates typically have in the past.”
THE EARLY VOTE AP “More people are seeking or casting early ballots in the critical states of North Carolina and Florida than at this point in 2012, with Hillary Clinton the likely benefactor, as early voting shows signs of surging nationwide. Clinton may also benefit from an increase in ballot requests in Georgia, a traditionally Republican state where Democrats have made inroads. But Donald Trump is showing signs of strength in Iowa and parts of Maine, states won by Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections. The latest snapshot of ballot data offers a glimpse into a key question: How much of a vote advantage can Clinton run up before Nov. 8, when more Republicans tend to vote? … While the ballot sample to date remains small, Clinton so far is hitting guideposts in several battleground states compared to 2008 and 2012. Though preliminary, data compiled by the AP suggest that advance voting could reach 40% of all votes cast nationally – up from 35% in 2012.”
OPEC FEELS YOU Skimm “For the first time in eight years, OPEC agreed to cut oil output. OPEC: group of 14 countries (like Iraq, Qatar, and Venezuela) that together produce more than a third of the world’s crude oil. In recent years, their oil profits have dropped because of things like fracking (controversial way of producing oil and gas), which has pumped too much oil supply into the market. Meanwhile, demand has slowed in some parts of the world. Great for your gas bill, bad for countries that rely on oil revenue. OPEC countries’ have been fighting for years about whether to cut their oil supply to help raise prices. So yesterday’s agreement is a HUGE for countries (like Venezuela) that have been on the financial struggle bus. Oil prices rose a lot after the news broke. Translation: fill up your tank now.”
RIP SHIMON PERES “The 93-year-old former prime minister and president of Israel died after more than 50 years in politics. Politico “Under cloudless blue skies, a horde of world leaders – led by President Obama, former president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry – gathered here Friday morning to celebrate the long life of Shimon Peres, the last member of Israel’s founding generation of political leaders. It was, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told the assemblage, “the end of the era of giants.
“In many ways he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century I’ve had the honor to meet-men like Nelson Mandela, women like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth — leaders who’ve seen so much, whose lives span such momentous epochs that they find no need to posture or traffic in what’s popular in the moment. People who speak with depth and knowledge, not in sound bites. They find no interest in polls or fads, and like these leaders, Shimon could be true to his convictions even if they cut against the grain of current opinion. He knew better than the cynic that if you look out over the arc of history, human beings should be filled not with fear, but with hope.”
-President Obama giving an unusally personal tribute to Peres
MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS FOR A TRIP TO MARS Skimm “… billionaire/entrepreneur /space nerd Elon Musk said his company SpaceX wants to build a permanent city on Mars. NYT “Mr. Musk estimated it would cost $10 billion to develop the rocket, and he said the first passengers to Mars could take off as soon as 2024 if the plans went off without a hitch … Each of the SpaceX vehicles would take 100 passengers on the journey to Mars, with trips planned every 26 months, when Earth and Mars pass close to each other. Tickets per person might cost $500,000 at first, and drop to about a third of that later on … To establish a self-sustaining Mars civilization of a million people would take 10,000 flights, with many more to ferry equipment and supplies.”