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Washintgon Report September 15, 2017

15 Sep 2017

Washintgon Report September 15, 2017

On the Hill With Will … Chuck & Nancy … Jeff & Don … Endgames & Wargames … 2018 Watch … Well, This is Awkward … Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation … NASA Murders Its Space Probe … Sean & Jimmy .. Cleveland … and other news of the week.

Best,

Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners

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ON THE HILL

From our very own Will Stone … This week the House completed the amendment process for the “mini-bus” appropriations bill that funded the eight remaining bills. This means all twelve bills have passed the house and await action in the Senate. The …12-measure bundle would provide $1.2 trillion in government funding. But House leaders have yet to negotiate a politically feasible compromise with the Senate and – in particular – with Senate Democrats who can block spending bills on procedural votes. That means the legislation will not likely be signed into law by the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.”

The Senate has four bills that haven’t been considered in subcommittee or full committee and the bills that have previously been passed out of committee haven’t been considered by the full chamber. The deal on the debt limit ceiling which prevents a government shutdown at the end of the month is also good news for the appropriations process. There will certainly have to be a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to complete the process however without the threat of a shutdown, the appropriations can proceed after the usual rancorous debate.

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Chuck & Nancy .. and the DACA’accord

Axios “President Trump visited Irma-ravaged Florida yesterday, but the conversation was dominated by the backlash to his DACA conversations with Chuck and Nancy [who] released a statement … saying they’d discussed passing protections for DACA recipients in exchange for more immigration enforcement, but nothing for a wall.”

RANK & FILE NOT FEELING IT Roll Call “Donald Trump and congressional leaders see the most likely path on codifying the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program is pairing it with border security. But rank-and-file members of both parties think that’s a bad idea.

WHERE GOP IS GOING ON DACA Speaker Paul Ryan is impaneling an informal working group of moderate Republicans and immigration hard-liners to find a solution for so-called Dreamers that the House GOP conference can support. … Immigration hard-liners, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), will sit on the panel. So, too, will more centrist members from Hispanic-populated districts who have followed immigration closely, including Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas). DEMS FACING THEIR OWN DACA PROBLEMS “Democratic leaders are facing fresh trouble with their left flank after cutting their latest deal with President Donald Trump to protect Dreamers. Hispanic lawmakers were blindsided by the Wednesday night announcement from Chuck & Nancy that they’d support legislation to help the nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants in exchange for an unspecified boost in border security. And immigration activists were frustrated to see Democrats claim victory only days after calling for a stand-alone vote on a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Pelosi sought to assuage her caucus’ concerns Thursday morning, telling House Democratic whips that despite ‘some misunderstandings in the press about a deal, we made a deal to make a deal. We made a deal to go forward.’

Axios “What Trump is thinking about his latest flirtation with “Chuck and Nancy…”

  • Trump feels liberated, acting like the boss after spending months seething under what he considers the literal and psychic claustrophobia of the West Wing.
  • Trump is loyal to nobody but himself — and certainly no political party, given how frequently he changes party affiliation.
  • He wants deals at any cost and, unburdened by ideological beliefs, will switch sides overnight.
  • He’s so frustrated by Republican leadership that he’s been driven into the arms of the supposed enemy — Democratic leaders.
  • This may be the biggest factor of all: For the first time in his presidency, he’s enjoying positive media coverage and coherent reinforcement from his top aides.

“…The dramatically different information Trump receives daily under Chief of Staff John Kelly is an under-looked factor in Trump’s decision to double down on his partnership with the Democratic leaders.

  • Staff who oppose the moderate immigration turn no longer have unfettered access to Trump.
  • Nor do allies on the outside who, in the first six months of the administration, used to send text messages to Trump’s bodyguard-turned-aide Keith Schiller — and often received a snappy callback from the president.
  • Kelly now has real control over the most important input: the flow of human and paper advice into the Oval Office. For a man as obsessed about his self image as Trump, a new flow of inputs can make the world of difference.

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Jeff & Don

It took less than 10 days for Trump to once again undercut Sessions. WashPost THEN Photographers caught a giddy Jeff Sessions cracking a satisfied smile last week as he prepared to announce that 690,000 undocumented immigrants who had been brought into the United States as minors would no longer be shielded from deportation. NOW The president on Thursday signaled his embrace of granting permanent legal status to these “dreamers” as part of a deal with Democrats that he said is close to being finalized. He also acknowledged that he’s not going to make a deal to save DACA contingent on getting funding for the wall he wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Discussing the exact same group of people that Sessions painted with such a sinister brush one week earlier, Trump tweeted yesterday: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” Trump tweeted yesterday. “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age.”

Adding insult to injury, the NYTs reported last night that Trump …[at] an Oval Office meeting this spring accused Mr. Sessions of ‘disloyalty’ … [and] told Mr. Sessions that choosing him to be attorney general was one of the worst decisions he had made, called him an ‘idiot,’ and said that he should resign. … Ashen and emotional, Mr. Sessions told the president he would quit and sent a resignation letter to the White House … Mr. Sessions would later tell associates that the demeaning way the president addressed him was the most humiliating experience in decades of public life. … In the hours after the Oval Office meeting, however, Mr. Trump’s top advisers intervened to save Mr. Sessions’s job. Mr. Pence; Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist at the time; and Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, all advised that accepting Mr. Sessions’s resignation would only sow more chaos inside the administration and rally Republicans in Congress against the president. … The president relented, and eventually returned the resignation letter to Mr. Sessions.”

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Endgame

MorningD “The Senate is set to vote Monday evening on final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is expected to pass handily. The endgame for the defense policy bill H.R. 2810 (115) comes after negotiations to hold votes on a handful of key amendments stalled, and senators voted to cut short debate on the measure.

SASC Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and ranking Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island have expressed optimism that another manager’s package of amendments could still be adopted. But barring a major breakthrough, a series of key amendments – including proposals to repeal sequestration, bar indefinite detention, authorize new base closures and push back on President Donald Trump’s transgender troop ban – won’t get floor votes.

DELAYING DEFENSE PROCUREMENT The Trump administration requested $125.2 billion in procurement funding for the Pentagon in fiscal 2018, putting off any substantial growth until future years, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) reports. That amount represents an increase of only $819 million more than the amount appropriated in fiscal 2017 and comes in advance of the finalization of a National Defense Strategy that will inform future force structure, the report says.This phased approach to increasing the size of the military means that any substantial growth in procurement funding over prior years’ budgets will occur in the PB 2019 budget request at the earliest, rather than in PB 2018,” the report says.

Wargames

WSJ “Russia kicked off one of its largest military exercises since the Cold War Thursday, moving tanks to its border with Belarus and landing hundreds of paratroopers under the watch of a NATO surveillance plane. The exercise, set to last until Sept. 20, has boosted tensions between Russia and the West, which is increasingly mindful of Moscow’s growing military power. Russia’s multibillion-dollar modernization of its armed forces has been increasingly evident in Syria and Ukraine.”

This is NOT North Korea Coming to the Negotiating Table

North Korea … fired a ballistic missile across Japan [this morning, local time], creating new tension in the region after its nuclear bomb test less than two weeks ago,” the BBC writes Why it matters: “[T]he US Pacific territory of Guam, which North Korea says it has plans to fire missiles towards, is 3,400km [2,100 miles] from Pyongyang, putting it within range of the latest missile.

Cuban Sonic Attack?

theSkimm “Say that again? The feds are still trying to figure out why a bunch of US diplomats in Cuba lost their hearing in the past year. Last month, it came out that at least 10 State Dept employees suffered from sonic attacks while working in Havana. Yes, sonic attacks. That’s when the James Bonds of the world use high-pitched sound to cause some serious damage. The State Dept says the attacks started late last year and happened over several months, leading to everything from nausea to hearing loss. Now, some diplomats reportedly have even more serious health problems, like concussions, which aren’t usually linked to sound. So officials are still scratching their heads over what’s causing all this.

Crowning Achievement

theSkimm “Saudi Arabia’s incoming king – the one who took his cousin’s place on the throne by holding him hostage in a palace – has allegedly spent the last week locking up his critics.”

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2018 Senate Watch

Politico “Senate Democrats are three seats shy of a majority and almost entirely on defense in the 2018 elections, making it all but impossible for them to retake the chamber next year. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and DSCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen are privately refusing to rule out an improbable midterm victory, even though they must first defend 10 incumbents in states President Donald Trump won. Their insistence is primarily to keep donors invested and excited about next year’s Senate races, said a handful of top party operatives. But Democrats also want to be prepared to ride a massive wave next fall should one develop, potentially taking advantage of bloody Republican primaries to spur a red-state surprise and swing the Senate. … Democrats’ path to 51 Senate seats in 2018 is exceedingly narrow. They would have to defend all of their Trump-state incumbents, including five in states the president won by double-digits.”

“9/11 might have been punishment for U.S. turning away from God,” CNN “Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore suggested earlier this year that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have happened because the US had distanced itself from God. Moore, a hardline conservative running against fellow Republican and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a runoff primary race, made the comments in February during a speech at the Open Door Baptist Church, a video reviewed by CNN’s KFile shows.

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Well, This Is Awkward

Bloomberg “Google and Facebook Inc. are opposing a Senate bill that aims to squelch online trafficking of children, a stance that makes the Silicon Valley giants uneasy allies of a website accused of providing an advertising platform for teen prostitution. The companies and tech trade groups say online providers will face greater liability for speech and videos posted by users if U.S. lawmakers move against Backpage.com and its online classified ads. Bill supporters disagree, saying the measure creates a narrow exception needed to vanquish a harmful operator hiding behind current law, and won’t harm the internet.”

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Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation

The Atlantic … just an interesting read. Click Here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corporate Welfare

Bloomberg “President Donald Trump’s quest to open more factories and corporate headquarters in the U.S. scored a major win Thursday as Wisconsin lawmakers approved the biggest corporate subsidy package ever awarded to a foreign company (nearly $3 Billion). … Some analysts foresee a rush of new state-level subsidies and tax breaks as governors compete for any new facilities built by companies suddenly flush with newfound tax savings. Call it tax reform in reverse — a prospect that doesn’t please portions of Trump’s base, or deep-pocketed conservative donors, who equate such sweetheart deals to ‘corporate welfare.'”

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Farewell, Cassini

Time Magazine “NASA flight planners have a long history of murdering their favorite space probes. Today, at 7:55 EDT, Cassini, the NASA spacecraft that’s been hanging out around Saturn for over a decade ended its 20-year mission…by plunging to its end in Saturn’s atmosphere. The NASA spacecraft left Cape Canaveral in Florida in 1997 and has traveled about 4.9 billion miles (7.8 billion km) since then. Since Cassini arrived at Saturn, it has circled the ringed planet nearly 300 times, taking photographs for scientists back on Earth to learn from. Cassini’s been phoning home with data on things like Saturn’s rings and moons. Now, it’s running out of gas and waving goodbye.” (Turns out those rings are translucent. This panoramic was created by combing 165 separate images taken by Cassini’s wide-angle camera ovr a 3-hour period on September 15, 2006. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.)

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Sean & Jimmy

Sean Spicer’s Second Act E “It was always too easy to hate Sean Spicer. From the inauguration onward, he was the most constantly visible representative of Trumpism, a symbol of the administration’s mixed messaging (so is it a travel ban?) and of its Orwellian dumb-plexity (“Sometimes we can disagree with the facts”). Deadline Hollywood “Spicer delivered Kimmel’s highest ratings on any night in six month.”

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The Winning Streak That Will Not Die

“For anyone who may have questioned whether a team could be any better at any given moment — or a single stretch of baseball any more sublime and intoxicating — than the Cleveland Indians and the Winning Streak That Will Not Die had been over the course of three straight weeks without a loss, the answer came in moments small and large Thursday night at Progressive Field. And it amounted to: yes, absolutely. It came crashing in with epic hits and thunderous roars at the end, all of them leading up to the Indians’ 22nd consecutive victory. …The Indians now own sole possession of the longest winning streak in major league history. Signed, Proud Clevelander Always

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