Let’s Have a Science Debate

Science Debate is calling for all House, Senate and Gubernatorial candidates running for office across parties to respond to 10 questions related to the greatest science policy challenges facing America.

Topics cover a wide range of issues from scientific integrity in policymaking to health, cyber security medicine and the environment.

Sheril Kirshenbaum: “Until we insist that candidates address science and technology policy when campaigning, we cannot expect them to do so once they’re in office.”

Congress On Track for Another Shutdown Showdown

Vox: “Don’t look now, but it’s becoming a real possibility that the government will shut down in December. Congress has until midnight on December 15 to pass a spending bill or the federal government will run out of money.”

“The tricky thing is that Republicans need at least eight Democrats in the Senate to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to pass a bill, which means they will need to make some serious compromises to get a spending bill through.”

Trump Voting Panel Criticized By Insiders

“President Trump’s advisory commission on election integrity has integrity questions of its own — with some of its own members raising concerns about its openness,” the AP reports.

“This past week, two members fired off letters to commission staff complaining about a lack of information about the panel’s agenda and demanding answers about its activities. That comes as Democratic U.S. senators are requesting a government investigation of the commission for ignoring formal requests from Congress. The criticism from the commissioners was remarkable because it came from insiders — the very people who are supposed to be privy to its internal discussions and plans.”

Vast Majority of Trump Appointees Are White Men

Reuters: “Recently available government data on the ethnic and gender make-up of the broader Trump administration shows that with over 1,000 mid-level political jobs filled by mid-year the appointees look much like the top leadership: mostly white and male. OPM numbers analyzed by Reuters show that 88% of such appointees were non-Hispanic white and 62% were men.”

“By comparison, in the final year of Barack Obama’s Democratic administration, non-Hispanic whites made up 67% of that group and men accounted for 47% – closer to what the U.S. population looks like.”

Widow Has ‘Nothing to Say’ to Trump

“Nineteen days after her husband’s death and two days after his wrenching burial, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson said she has ‘nothing to say’ to President Trump, whose condolence call pulled the grieving widow into the center of a national controversy,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Myeshia Johnson: “Very upset and hurt; it made me cry even worse.”

Making her first public comments, Johnson recalled that the president said her husband “knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways. And it made me cry. I was very angry at the tone of his voice, and how he said it.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I think the Democrats are crazy to not try and deal with him directly. Seven years ago, he was a Democrat. It doesn’t take any brains to realize that he’d be open.”

— Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), quoted by the Washington Post, on negotiating with President Trump.

Many Still Waiting for FEMA

New York Times: “According to interviews with dozens of storm victims, one of the busiest hurricane seasons in years has overwhelmed federal disaster officials. As a result, the government’s response in the two biggest affected states — Texas and Florida — has been scattershot: effective in dealing with immediate needs, but unreliable and at times inadequate in handling the aftermath, as thousands of people face unusually long delays in getting basic disaster assistance.”

“People who call FEMA’s help line at 1-800-621-FEMA have waited on hold for two, three or four hours before they even speak to a FEMA representative.”

Christie Insists Trump Respects Him

Jason Zengerle: “Christie insists that he and Trump have no problems with each other — that, in fact, they’ve been friends for years — and it’s obviously important to him that people know he views himself and the businessman turned president as peers. … Christie says of Trump: ‘He gets mad at me at times, he yells at me at times, but he respects me.’ Christie adds that he often yells back at Trump, although ‘less now that he’s president.’”

“Indeed, it’s conventional wisdom among political insiders that Christie’s problem isn’t so much with Trump as it is with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose father Christie sent to prison when Christie was a federal prosecutor.”

Warren Starts Warming Up to the Media

Boston Globe: “It was a high-profile hearing with a financial bigwig whose firm had wronged millions of consumers, a made-for-You Tube moment, as Senator Elizabeth Warren made him squirm from her perch on the Senate Banking Committee. Then the Massachusetts Democrat made a surprising move. She met with reporters.”

“In what would have been routine for most of her colleagues, she took questions in the hallway outside the hearing room where she’d just been grilling former Equifax CEO Richard Smith. For Warren it was an exceedingly rare event. So rare, in fact, that her office had to announce it was happening by e-mail first. CNBC carried the informal press conference live. Those few minutes in the hallway earlier this month are part of a subtle but noteworthy shift in strategy for the liberal firebrand.”

Sanders Will Run for Re-Election as an Independent

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “has confirmed that he will run for re-election in the Senate as an independent in 2018, despite recent pressure from some Democrats to join the party,” The Hill reports.

Said Sanders: “I am an independent and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Quote of the Day

“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never, ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we’re going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on C-SPAN.

GOP May Include Million Dollar Tax Bracket

“The Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee — engaged in a high-pressure, high-stakes tax policy rewrite — are currently exploring not cutting the income tax rate for people who earn $1 million or more per year,” according to Jonathan Swan.

Playbook: “Multiple Republicans have even suggested to us the tax rate could go from 39.6% to 40% for top earners. It’s tough to separate hyperbole from reality, so take this with a grain of salt. If it happened, it would would strip Democrats of a talking point, and could help with revenue. On the other hand, Republicans would be raising a tax rate. We doubt it will happen, but it does give a sense of where the debate is.”

Democrats’ Early Money Haul Stuns Republicans

“Democratic candidates are reporting historic early fundraising totals, alarming GOP strategists and raising the prospect that 2018 could feature the most expansive House battlefield in years,” Politico reports.

“Animated by opposition to President Trump and the Republican congressional majorities, at least 162 Democratic candidates in 82 GOP-held districts have raised over $100,000 so far this year… That’s about four times as many candidates as House Democrats had at this point before the 2016 or 2014 elections, and it’s more than twice as many as Republicans had running at this point eight years ago, on the eve of capturing the House in the 2010 wave election.”