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Morning Consult Congress – Rift Over Syria Divides Admin; Debate-Night Poll Shows Clinton Building Lead

By Kevin Carty and Reid Wilson

Today’s Capital Brief

  • President Obama is being pressured to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of his presidency, after Afghanistan’s unity government has failed to stabilize. The Taliban attack on Kunduz demonstrated the new government’s weaknesses. (Washington Post)
  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) thought process on running for Speaker is freezing out other possible contenders. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), who began formally seeking support on Monday, is telling other members he will drop out of the race if Ryan runs. (Politico)
  • A growing rift between Obama administration officials over Russia’s involvement in Syria has military advisers and Secretary of State John Kerry pushing the president for a stronger response. (Politico). At the same time, American weapons are meeting Russian weapons on the battlefield as observers say the fight starts to look like a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia. (New York Times)

Today’s Campaign Brief

  • As Democratic presidential candidates prepare to take the stage tonight, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintains a healthy 54 percent to 22 percent lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), according to a new Morning Consult poll, up from her 21-point lead last week. If Vice President Joe Biden jumps in, Clinton would maintain a big lead with 47 percent, compared with 20 percent for Sanders and 17 percent for Biden.
  • On the Republican side, real estate magnate Donald Trump leads with 34 percent of the vote, followed by 20 percent for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 9 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and 5 percent each for Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina.
  • Conservative radio host Jason Lewis will run to replace Rep. John Kline (R-Wis.). Lewis will face a three-way primary for the Republican nod to run for this swing district south of the Twin Cities. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
  • Top aides running Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s (R-Ind.) campaign for U.S. Senate are leaving over strategic differences. Stutzman’s campaign manager, Brendon DelToro, political director Joe Knepper and general consultant Brooks Kochvar all resigned last week. (Indianapolis Star)

Today’s Lobbying Brief

  • The daily fantasy sports industry jumped into the lobbying game, hiring new partners in Washington amid a possible Congressional hearing and a potential FTC inquiry. (Morning Consult)

More lobbying news down below. Have the scoop on lobbying moves? Let us know!

Today’s Chart Review

Republican Candidates’ Images Across GOP Segments
James Bird & Frank Newport, Gallup

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

The Senate and the House are both in recess this week.

President Obama will meet with Attorney General Loretta Lunch at 2:45 pm. Vice President Biden will meet with advisers throughout the day.

Mercatus event on the Welfare State vs. the Regulatory State at 4pm

AEI event on labor innovation at noon

Heritage event on America’s relationship to Europe’s cultural decline at noon


Hope fades on Obama’s vow to bring troops home before presidency ends
Greg Jaffe, Washington Post

Obama had come to office with a deep skepticism of the U.S. military’s ability to bring order to broken and chaotic societies. … This is Obama’s mind-set as he weighs a decision on whether to leave troops in Afghanistan past his presidency. … His struggle shows how a president who once described war as an “expression of human folly” has come to wield force on battlefields where America’s interests often seem peripheral to him and where its enemies are brutal and determined.

Rift in Obama administration over Putin
Michael Crowley, Politico

Current and former Obama officials say the president’s reluctance to respond more assertively against Putin is signaling U.S. weakness and indecision. “We’re just so reactive,” said one senior administration official. “There’s just this tendency to wait” and see what steps other actors take.

New ways to hire, pay, promote and fire federal employees considered by Obama administration
Joe Davidson, Washington Post

A far-reaching plan to change the way federal employees are hired, paid, promoted and fired is under review in the government’s largest department. … A controversial point would develop alternatives to the General Schedule (GS), the pay and classification system that covers most federal employees. … [The plan would give] managers power to more quickly recruit, advance and terminate staff members and use pay as a reward for performance.

The Two Parties Aren’t Crazy, Just Changed
Gerald F. Seib, Wall Street Journal

[The parties’] composition—demographically, geographically and ideologically—has changed significantly in the past generation. Seen in this light, the behavior we’re seeing right now isn’t so aberrational at all. … The Republican Party has grown more conservative, more downscale economically, older and more Southern in character. … The Democratic Party has grown more liberal, younger, more urban and demographically diverse, with a bigger overlay of upscale activists from the two coasts.

California Considers Tough Campaign-Finance Rules
Alejandro Lazo, Wall Street Journal

California is considering some of the nation’s strictest campaign-finance rules, aimed at keeping candidates from coordinating with groups able to raise unlimited amounts of money on their behalf. The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposals Thursday. The rules would apply to statewide and local elections.

For-Profit Colleges Accused of Fraud Still Receive U.S. Funds
Patricia Cohen, New York Times

Education Department, despite a crackdown against what it calls “bad actors,” continues to hand over tens of millions of dollars every month to other for-profit schools that have been accused of predatory behavior, substandard practices or illegal activity by its own officials or state attorneys general across the country.

Army leaders vent: We still need ground forces
Kristina Wong, The Hill

Outgoing Army Secretary John McHugh on Monday expressed frustration with a prevalent attitude that ground troops are decreasingly important as the administration tries to avoid again deploying soldiers to the Middle East. … The Army is slated to reduce to 450,000 troops by the end of 2017, from about 490,000 currently, due to Pentagon budget cuts under the 2011 Budget Control Act. … [New Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley] warned that the force cuts were taking place as the world was becoming more unstable.

U.S.-Made Weaponry Is Turning Syrian Conflict Into Proxy War With Russia
Anne Barnard & Karam Shoumali, New York Times

Insurgent commanders say that since Russia began air attacks in support of the Syrian government, they are receiving for the first time bountiful supplies of powerful American-made antitank missiles. With the enhanced insurgent firepower and with Russia steadily raising the number of airstrikes against the government’s opponents, the Syrian conflict is edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia.

ISIL death toll at 20,000, but ‘stalemate’ continues
Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today

The U.S.-led bombing campaign has killed an estimated 20,000 Islamic State fighters, an increase from the 15,000 the Pentagon reported in July, according to a senior military officer. … despite the higher number of casualties and the airstrikes’ erosion of morale among ISIL fighters, the militant group continues to draw new fighters to Iraq and Syria. The overall force, the first official said, remains about where it was when the bombing started: 20,000 to 30,000 fighters.

U.S. Futures Retreat on Weak China Imports; Molson Coors Rallies
Roxana Zega, Bloomberg

U.S. stock-index futures tracked losses in global equities after weaker-than-expected Chinese import data reignited growth concerns.


Denny Hastert’s dilemma
Josh Gerstein, Politico

A federal court deadline Tuesday will be a pivotal turning point in [former Speaker Dennis Hastert’s] felony case, signaling whether the former House speaker will plead guilty to a deal that has been under negotiation since at least late September with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago. A plea deal would give Hastert his best hope of averting a full public reckoning of allegations and rumors about his alleged misconduct as a teacher and coach, stories that Politico found have circulated for decades in political circles in and around Yorkville, Illinois.

Maryland senator pushes police accountability bill
Jordain Carney, The Hill

[Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)] has introduced legislation to increase funding to combat police misconduct, as well as allow for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to provide grants to start pilot programs aimed at improving police management and countering potential misconduct. … The bill would also require Lynch to create a task force to provide oversight to law enforcement and help coordinate investigations and prosecutions of misconduct; establish federal data collection requirements on police practices including the use of deadly force by and against police officers; and recommend across-the-board standards for law enforcement, including on the use of force.


Ryan freezes race for speaker
Jake Sherman, Politico

The Wisconsin Republican has said he doesn’t want to be speaker of the House, but he is considering it. And until he flatly rules it out, the other potential candidates for the chamber’s top job — a list nearly two dozen names long and growing — are forced to proceed gingerly. With one breath they’re gauging support, with the next they’re letting would-be backers know their interest could be temporary if the Ways and Means Committee chairman gets in.

Latest Unease on Right: Ryan Is Too Far Left
Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

Far-right media figures, relatively small in number but potent in their influence, have embarked on a furious Internet expedition to cover Representative Paul D. Ryan in political silt. … He is being criticized on issues ranging from a 2008 vote to bail out large banks to his longstanding interest in immigration reform to his work on a bipartisan budget measure.

Rep. Flores eyeing run for speaker
Jake Sherman, Politico

Texas Rep. Bill Flores is moving toward running for House speaker, and has sent a letter to his colleagues laying out what he sees as his qualifications. But Flores, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, said in the letter that he “will not run for and/or I will withdraw from this race should Chairman [Paul] Ryan elect to run; and, I will give him my full support in this effort.”


“Mr. Right” Jason Lewis is running for the Second District

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Radio show host and conservative commentator Jason Lewis announced in a video that he is running to replace Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District. … Two former state legislators, however, have entered the Republican race — former Sen. John Howe, of Red Wing, and former Rep. Pam Myhra, of Burnsville. … Two Democrats [Angie Craig & Mary Lawrence] have long been running in the Second District, which could swing to either party. Both are newcomers to political runs.

Sheldon Adelson warms to Marco Rubio
Alex Isenstadt, Politico

Sheldon Adelson, one of the Republican Party’s most sought-after contributors, is leaning increasingly toward supporting Marco Rubio — and the Florida senator is racing to win the backing of other uncommitted megadonors who have the potential to direct tens of millions of dollars his way and alter the contours of the Republican primary fight.

Jeb Bush’s health care pitch puts Florida record to the test
Nancy Cook & Christine Sexton, Politico

Jeb Bush will reach back to his own legacy as Florida governor on Tuesday to unveil his vision for replacing Obamacare, showcasing what he calls state-tested ideas for bringing down health care costs and revamping health coverage for the poor. But Democrats are ready to make the case that his record in Florida is nothing to emulate

Reichert to Announce Decision on Governor’s Race Next Week
Associated Press

Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert will announce next week his decision on whether or not he’ll jump into the gubernatorial race in Washington state. … Reichert, who is serving his sixth term in the House representing the 8th Congressional District, was elected to Congress in 2004. He has long been rumored to be a potential challenger to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who is seeking a second term.

Bill Perkins declares himself ‘front-runner’ to replace Rangel
Azi Paybarah, Politico New York

State Sen. Bill Perkins [entered] the crowded field to replace retiring Rep. Charles Rangel on Saturday. … Perkins faces a crowded field to replace Rangel, [including Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright] …Adam Clayton Powell IV …[and] State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

Top aides leaving Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s Senate campaign
Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star

The top aide running Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s Senate campaign is leaving in a disagreement over the direction of the campaign, and two other top aides also are departing. “It comes down to Marlin and I just had different visions for how the direction of the campaign was going,” said campaign manager Brendon DelToro.

Miami-Dade school board member Martin Karp won’t challenge Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2016
Martin Karp, Miami Herald

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz won’t face a challenge from Miami-Dade school board member Martin Karp, a fellow Democrat, next year. Karp had considered a bid based on his opposition to the Iran deal — something that Wasserman Schultz decided to support last month. Karp would have faced an uphill battle challenging Wasserman Schultz who as Democratic National Committee chair has a national profile and strong ability to fundraise.

Portman doubles-up Strickland in Q3 fundraising
Jordain Carney, The Hill

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) raised more than twice as much money in the third quarter than his rival for Senate, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D). Strickland’s campaign announced on Monday that he raised just under $1 million. Strickland ended September with about $1.5 million in cash-on-hand. Portman, meanwhile, raised $2 million in the third quarter, and finished with $11 million.


Have the inside scoop on K-Street movement? Send it our way!

U.S. probes allegations AB InBev seeking to curb craft beer distribution
Diane Bartz, Reuters

The U.S. Justice Department is probing allegations that Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) is seeking to curb competition in the beer market by buying distributors, making it harder for fast-growing craft brewers to get their products on store shelves, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Fantasy Sports Industry Hires First Lobbyists
Kevin Carty, Morning Consult

The billion-dollar fantasy sports industry is new, largely unregulated and primed for a break-out year. But amid accusations of misconduct by employees, the two largest companies are making their first forays into Washington in an expected fashion – by hiring lobbyists.

GE Aviation hired Stapleton and Associates to lobby on aircraft engines for military aircraft.



Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

The Serious Problem with Treating Donald Trump Seriously
Michale Kinsley, Vanity Fair

The trouble with Donald Trump is not, as Jeb Bush and others would have it, that he’s not a true conservative from any perspective. The trouble with Trump is not that his policy positions on immigration, ISIS, health care, Social Security, or whatever don’t stand up to a moment of casual scrutiny.

Out of Afghanistan? Not yet: Our view
Editorial Board, USA Today

As tempting as it might be to declare victory and go home, pulling out before Afghan government forces can reliably stand and fight on their own would be a dangerous mistake. It would risk the same sort of unraveling that occurred after U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011, opening the way for the advance of the Islamic State, which now controls large swaths of Iraq and has as many as 3,000 adherents in Afghanistan.

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families
Elise Gould & Tanyell Cooke, Economic Policy Institute

This paper uses a number of benchmarks to gauge the affordability of child care across the country. Key findings include: Child care costs account for a significant portion of family budgets. … Child care is particularly unaffordable for minimum-wage workers.