Congress Brief: Zika Funding Request Gets First House GOP Supporter

Today’s Washington Brief

  • Rep. Vern Buchanan is the first House Republican to back the Obama administration’s request for $1.9 billion to fight the spread of the Zika virus. Buchanan is the second Florida Republican, after Sen. Marco Rubio, to support the request for emergency funding. (The Hill)
  • Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), urging him to work quickly to resolve “the few outstanding issues” on legislation that would help Puerto Rico manage its $70 billion in debt. The commonwealth yesterday missed nearly $370 million on a bond payment. (The Associated Press)
  • President Obama gave interviews to television stations in the home states of seven Senate Republican incumbents. He made his case for the Senate to hold hearings and a vote on his Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. (Reuters)

Today’s Campaign Brief

  • Fifty-six percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents polled between April 29 and May 2 said they would vote for Trump, an 8-point increase from the previous week (Morning Consult). Twenty-five percent of Republican voters said they were more likely to vote for GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) with former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina as his running mate, while  24 percent said they were less likely and 51 percent said they did not know or had no opinion. (Morning Consult)
  • A majority of Iowa voters disagree with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) vow not to consider Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, according to a Hart Research Associates poll. Fifty-seven percent of Iowans prefer that the Senate hold hearings and a confirmation vote on Garland’s nomination, while 35 percent said the chamber should wait until the next president takes office. (Politico)
  • The DCCC, the campaign arm for House Democrats, reserved almost $32 million in television ads across 14 congressional districts. The group is targeting nine Republican incumbents, defending two Democrats and trying to win three open seats. (Morning Consult)

Today’s Advocacy Brief

  • Several agricultural lobbying groups are pressing Congress to amend the Freedom of Information Act in a way that exempts them from disclosing their lobbying activities. (The Guardian)

Today’s Chart Review

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

Tuesday
Senate is not in session
House convenes for pro forma session 3 p.m.
President Obama is in Washington
Brookings Institution event on foreign tax changes affecting U.S. businesses and tax reform 3 p.m.
Wednesday
Brookings Institution event on climate change and Zika 9 a.m.
Thursday
Brookings Institution event on America’s place in the world 3:30 p.m.
Friday
American Enterprise Institute event on reforming the Army’s organizational structure 9 a.m.

 

General

Puerto Rico skips bond payments, says Congress must help
Maricarmen Rivera, The Associated Press

A spiraling Puerto Rico debt crisis reached a new milestone as the island missed nearly $370 million on a bond payment Monday and officials warned of worse to come if the U.S. Congress doesn’t help it dig out from a mountain of debt. The default was the largest in a series of missed payments by the struggling U.S. territory since last year and Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla warned it was unlikely to be the last.

Puerto Rico Default: More Political Fallout Than Market Impact
Ryan Rainey, Morning Consult 

Officials in Washington, D.C., and San Juan have expected for some time that Puerto Rico would default Monday on debt owed by its Government Development Bank. When it finally happened, the impact on the markets was muted, which means there may be less urgency to resolve a standoff in Congress over debt restructuring legislation.

Defense Secretary Carter: American killed in combat in Iraq
Robert Burns, The Associated Press

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday that an American serviceman has been killed near Irbil in Iraq. “It is a combat death,” Carter said at the outset of a news in Stuttgart, Germany where he has been consulting with European allies this week.

How the U.S. Congress Keeps Getting Paid to Do Nothing
Michelle Cottle, The Atlantic

No Budget, No Pay is exactly the sort of yank-the-scoundrels-into-line reform that plays well with the voting public, which currently holds Congress in slightly lower esteem than Bill Cosby. It is not, however, all that popular with lawmakers—who enjoy railing against legislative dysfunction even as they strive to avoid being held accountable for it.

Most Asia Stocks Fall as Hong Kong Losses Offset Australia Gains
Adam Haigh, Bloomberg News

Futures on the S&P 500 index fell 0.5 percent after the underlying gauge rose 0.8 percent Monday. Halliburton Co. added 1.8 percent and Baker Hughes Inc. fell 2 percent after ditching their $28 billion merger. More than 115 of S&P 500 companies, including Pfizer Inc., Priceline Group Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc. are scheduled to report earnings this week.

Senate

Obama takes Supreme Court fight to Republican senators’ home turf
Roberta Rampton, Reuters

President Barack Obama on Monday took the political battle over his pick for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court to the home states of seven Republican senators up for re-election in November. Obama conducted interviews with local television anchors where he argued that Republican senators should hold confirmation hearings and vote on his nomination of appellate Judge Merrick Garland to the top court.

Senators don’t want veto power over the president’s national security adviser
Karoun Demirjian, The Washington Post

Senators aren’t too keen on a House Republican proposal to give them a say in who the president appoints as the head of the National Security Council, which the GOP and several former Defense secretaries complain has ballooned out of control. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) is expected to propose a measure to winnow the size of the White House’s security apparatus and subject its chief to Senate confirmation when the annual defense authorization bill hits the floor later this month.

House

First GOP rep backs Obama’s Zika funding request
Sarah Ferris, The Hill

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) on Monday became the first House Republican to publicly back President Obama’s nearly $2 billion emergency funding request for combatting the Zika virus. Buchanan, whose home state is at risk of an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus as early as next month, said he is hoping to end months of gridlock between the White House and GOP leadership, who have locked horns on the funding request.

Before Hospital Leaders, Brady Talks Upcoming Medicare Legislation While Hoyer Pushes Zika Funding, Opioid Bills
Mary Ellen McIntire, Morning Consult

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is planning to bring forth legislation that would change how more doctors are reimbursed under Medicare later this year, which would move past the sustainable growth rate fix that was signed into law last year. Repealing the SGR, or doc fix, with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act last year was the first major step to making Medicare solvent for the long-term, Brady told members of the American Hospital Association Monday at the group’s annual members meeting.

Conservatives in Congress urge shutdown of IRS
Susan Cornwell, Reuters

It’s a U.S. taxpayer’s dream: make the Internal Revenue Service go away, and the largest conservative group in Congress is endorsing just that. The Republican Study Committee, which counts over two-thirds of House of Representatives Republicans as its members, called recently for “the complete elimination of the IRS.”

Now, Dennis Hastert Seems an Architect of Dysfunction as Speaker
Carl Hulse, The New York Times

Take those together with the shocking revelations of sexual abuse of youths placed in the trust of Mr. Hastert, a popular and successful coach, and he emerges as a deeply flawed figure who contributed significantly to the dysfunction that defines Congress today. Even his namesake Hastert rule — the informal standard that no legislation should be brought to a vote without the support of a majority of the majority — has come to be seen as a structural barrier to compromise.

Campaign

Poll: Donald Trump Hits New High Among GOP Voters
Cameron Easley, Morning Consult

As front-runner Donald Trump continues his march toward the Republican nomination for president, he is more popular than ever among GOP voters, according to a new Morning Consult survey. Fifty-six percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents polled from April 29 through May 2 said they would vote for Trump if the election were held today. That’s an 8-point increase from our previous poll, taken last week.

Poll: Fiorina Does Little to Change Cruz’s Support Among GOP
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

For most Republican voters, last week’s announcement by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that he would pick former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina as his running mate would do little to move the needle in Cruz’s favor, according to a new Morning Consult poll. The survey, conducted from April 29 through May 2, found that Fiorina’s placement on the ticket with Cruz caused 25 percent of Republican voters to say they are more likely to vote for him, while 24 percent said they are less likely to vote for him.

Poll: Supreme Court blockade eroding support for Grassley
Seung Min Kim, Politico

Democrats are preparing another round of attacks against Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, releasing new poll numbers that show the veteran Iowa senator’s favorability ratings are tumbling as he plays a key role in blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The new poll, commissioned by the White House-aligned Constitutional Responsibility Project and the League of Conservation Voters, shows that more Iowans still have a favorable view of Grassley than not, with 42 percent of voters having positive feelings towards the senator and 30 percent having negative perceptions of him.

House Democrats Target Nine GOP Incumbents
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

The campaign arm for House Democrats on Monday unveiled its first advertising reservations for the fall campaign, targeting nine Republicans incumbents, defending two of their own and making their mark in three open-seat races. While the reservations are not set in stone, they do indicate some optimism by House Democrats as the GOP readies for the likely prospect of Donald Trump as their standard bearer in November.

Poll: Portman, Strickland tied for Ohio Senate
Jonathan Easley, The Hill

Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) are locked in a tie in the race for Ohio Senate, a new poll finds. A survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling released Monday found Portman and Strickland each taking 38 percent support, with 23 percent of voters saying they’re undecided.

GOP looks to buck Trumpmentum in Indiana Senate primary
Kelsey Snell, The Washington Post

Establishment Republicans hope the Tuesday Senate primary to replace a retiring Indiana senator helps prove they can still score victories and retain control of Congress even in the year of Donald Trump. The GOP primary race between establishment-backed Rep. Todd Young and anti-establishment Rep. Marlin Stutzman has turned into a nasty showdown that mirrors the turmoil within the GOP more generally.

‘It’s a King Kong vs. Godzilla kind of race’
Scott Wong, The Hill

Ask outgoing House GOP campaign chief Greg Walden about his next move, and he’ll insist he’s not looking past the November elections. But with no obvious path to move up the leadership ladder, the Oregon Republican made clear to The Hill that he’s seriously considering a bid this fall to succeed retiring Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) as chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

Turnover will hurt Florida’s clout in Congress
Ledyard King, The Tallahassee Democrat

Florida is a political juggernaut, wooed by presidential candidates and often pivotal in deciding who occupies the White House and which party controls Congress. But the nation’s third-largest state punches below its weight in Congress.

Va. Republicans hire lawyer in bid to stop restoration of felons’ voting rights
Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post

Virginia Republicans have hired a high-powered Washington lawyer to challenge Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s authority to give more than 200,000 ex-convicts the right to vote in the fall presidential election and beyond. GOP legislative leaders announced Monday that they have retained Charles J. Cooper, who ran the Office of Legal Counsel under President Ronald Reagan.

Advocacy

Largest US food producers ask Congress to shield lobbying activities
Sam Thielman, The Guardian

Some of America’s largest food producers have successfully petitioned Congress to propose a change to the Freedom of Information Act that would shield their lobbying activities from the scrutiny of the public, the Guardian has learned. The move follows a series of stories that showed the government-backed egg lobby, American Egg Board, had attempted to stifle competition from Silicon Valley food startup Hampton Creek, in direct conflict with its mandate.

Airlines to Congress: Stop Norwegian Air!
Christopher Elliott, The Huffington Post

If there’s any doubt Congress is beholden to the powerful airline lobby, this should settle it: An influential group of representatives has just introduced a bill that would effectively block Norwegian Air from operating between the United States and Europe.

A Message from S-3 Public Affairs:

At S-3 Public Affairs, we’re efficient, nimble, and work to win. S-3 Public Affairs is a team of tested government and public affairs professionals. We keep our clients in front with a comprehensive arsenal of winning tools and strategies. Our firm brings years of accomplished leadership in Washington to every task and our results drive the conversation to our clients’ goals.

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

President Obama: The TPP would let America, not China, lead the way on global trade
Barack Obama, The Washington Post

Over the past six years, America’s businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs. To keep this progress going, we need to pursue every avenue of economic growth.

Congress Shouldn’t Let Justices Make the Rules
Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View

The most dramatic moment of my legal education came when Professor Owen Fiss of Yale Law School threw his paperback copy of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 25 feet across a classroom into a waiting trash can. It wasn’t just the eminent scholar’s aim that impressed me, but his point: that the federal rules of procedure are basically unconstitutional because of the way they’re adopted.

The Third-Party Temptation
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

As Donald Trump gets closer to securing the Republican nomination for President, luminaries of varying illumination are floating the idea of a conservative third-party challenge in November. The thought is more tempting this year than most, but it’s still hard to see how this would accomplish more than electing Hillary Clinton and muddling the message from a Trump defeat.

Bernie Sanders’s Gift to His Party
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

Though some opinion polls on Tuesday’s primary in Indiana show Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in a tight race, the plunge in Mr. Sanders’s latest fund-raising numbers makes clear what he doesn’t yet want to say. His campaign — for the presidency, anyway — is most likely nearing its end.

A Message from S-3 Public Affairs:

At S-3 Public Affairs, we’re efficient, nimble, and work to win. S-3 Public Affairs is a team of tested government and public affairs professionals. We keep our clients in front with a comprehensive arsenal of winning tools and strategies. Our firm brings years of accomplished leadership in Washington to every task and our results drive the conversation to our clients’ goals.

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

Adding Up Secretary Clinton’s Campaign Proposals So Far
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has proposed numerous new policies that would increase spending and expand tax breaks along with other policies that would increase taxes and reduce certain spending. Using independent estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan Tax Policy Center (TPC), and elsewhere, we estimate that Secretary Clinton’s proposals would cost $1.80 trillion over a decade with interest, and they would be nearly fully paid for with $1.60 trillion of offsets – primarily from taxes on high earners.