January, 2018

Bipartisan Group Suggests Deal Close on Shutdown

“A bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators are signaling they are nearing an agreement to reopen the government,” The Hill reports.

“The bipartisan group isn’t crafting separate legislation. Senators say the bulk of their talks were about how to get 60 votes for the bill to fund the government through Feb. 8 paired with a commitment that will satisfy Democrats on bringing up an immigration bill.”

“Senators predicted that Schumer and McConnell, who did not speak on Saturday, would be meeting shortly.”

Duckworth Rips Trump as a Draft Dodger

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who lost both of her legs during an explosion in Iraq while serving in the U.S. Army, blasted President Trump as a “five-deferment draft dodger” during her remarks on the Senate floor, WTVR reports.

Said Duckworth: “I spent my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible. I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.”

She added: “I have a message for Cadet Bone Spurs: If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong-un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops — and millions of innocent civilians — in danger.”

Trump Stays on the Sidelines

New York Times: “Inside the White House, Mr. Trump, the neophyte president who has styled himself the ultimate dealmaker, remained remarkably disengaged from the complex process of hammering out a politically palatable deal that could provide a way out of the morass.”

“Senior advisers counseled him to do less, not more, negotiating, arguing that the shutdown was a political problem that Democrats had created for themselves, and had to find their own way to resolve. But Mr. Trump, a highly reactive personality who detests headlines questioning his leadership — like those that dominated cable TV throughout Saturday, during coverage of the shutdown and women’s marches throughout the country denouncing his presidency — felt stymied and wanted somehow to intervene.”

“Irritated to have missed his big event in Florida, Mr. Trump spent much of his day watching old TV clips of him berating President Barack Obama for a lack of leadership during the 2013 government shutdown, a White House aide said, seeming content to sit back and watch the show.”

Kushner Given Access to Classified Intelligence

Jared Kushner was granted access to classified intelligence reports despite not having a security clearance, the New Yorker reports.

Kushner was added to a list of recipients for the President’s Daily Brief, which contains some of the federal government’s most highly classified intelligence reports.

“By the end of the Obama Administration, seven White House officials were authorized to receive the same version of the P.D.B. that appeared on the President’s iPad. The Trump Administration expanded the number to as many as fourteen people.”

McConnell Calls for 1 a.m. Vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  has called for a vote to end the government shutdown at 1 a.m. on Monday, the Washington Post reports.

McConnell’s plan would keep the government open through February 8 but is unlikely to include any of the concessions Democrats are seeking on immigration.

Politico: “Both sides dug in on Saturday, signaling they were prepared for a longer impasse. Both sides tried to hammer each other on their political messaging. And it was clear that the respective party leaders believed the other had badly misjudged the mood of the country.”

Eric Trump Says Shutdown Is Good for Republicans

Eric Trump told Fox News that he doesn’t believe the government shutdown is all that bad.

Said Trump: “Honestly, I think it’s a good thing for us, because people see through it.”

He added: “I mean, people have seen a year that’s incredible. It’s been filled with nothing but the best for our country, ‘America First’ policies, and they’re happy with where we are as a nation … It has the Democrats worried.”

Shutdown Could Hurt Democrats In Trump States

Washington Post: “As the blame game launched following the shutdown of the U.S. government at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, it quickly and ferociously began playing out on perhaps the most contentious battlefield of the 2018 midterms: the Senate races where Democrats are seeking reelection in states that Trump won.”

“Six such Democrats voted against the spending bill in the Senate late Friday. But the vote divided the party, with five Senate Democrats, all from Trump states, voting to avoid a government shutdown — and setting up a fight over what Republicans have tried to brand “the Schumer Shutdown,” after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).”

McConnell and Schumer Hit Rock Bottom

“Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer were supposed to bring a new, more productive relationship to the Senate after years of bitterness and dysfunction at the helm of the chamber,” Politico reports.

“Instead, it’s been a year of slights and one-upmanship between the two men. While there may not be the level of vitriol that marked McConnell’s dealings with former Democratic leader Harry Reid, a new era of bipartisan comity this is not.”

Why Democrats Keep Winning Special Elections

Reid Wilson: “Pollsters routinely measure how enthusiastic voters are about upcoming elections. This year, those surveys have found a gap between an energized Democratic base and a comparatively demoralized Republican electorate.”

“The dozens of special elections that have occurred since Trump took office indicate the enthusiasm gap is real: Compared with prior elections, Democratic voters have shown up at higher rates in ordinarily low-turnout special elections than Republicans have.”

“In the last year, states have conducted 98 special elections for legislative seats, ranging from a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama to state House races in New Hampshire. Democrats have flipped 16 of those seats… Republicans have won only three formerly Democratic-held seats, in Louisiana, Mississippi and Massachusetts.”