Washington Brief: Congress Looks to the Exits

Today’s Presidential Brief

  • Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is maintaining her lead over Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, but the race remains close. Many voters are unhappy with their options at the top of the ballot. (Morning Consult)
  • President Obama may not be on the ballot this fall, but speaking with black voters over the weekend, he made clear he expects them to vote like he is. (Politico) His aides say he is not overly flummoxed, but is in disbelief over the national dialogue. (The New York Times)
  • Though Trump is seeing the race tighten in battleground states, Clinton is making moves to block his path to 270 electoral votes. (The Washington Post) Today, she’ll be in Pennsylvania to work on getting support from young voters, some of whom are considering third-party options. (The Morning Call)
  • There are 49 days until Election Day and 7 days until the first presidential debate.

Today’s Congress Brief

  • Heading into its third week back from its extended summer recess, Congress is looking to make a hasty exit. In this election year, lawmakers are hoping to wrap up must-pass legislation to fund the government before returning home to campaign for re-election. (Morning Consult)
  • One thing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid won’t be called as he prepares to leave the Senate is timid. The Nevada Democrat is unloading on Trump, whom he calls a “con artist.”  (Roll Call)
  • In North Carolina, voters may not be paying attention to their Senate race, even as it tightens in a state that has a high-profile gubernatorial contest and is a presidential battleground. (The News & Observer) In Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson and his Democratic rival, former Sen. Russ Feingold, are trading barbs over immigration policy.
    (Associated Press)

Today’s Chart Review

Mark Your Calendars (All Eastern Times)

Heritage Foundation: Scales on War The Future of America’s Military at Risk 12 p.m.
Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia on ‘the Stakes of the Election for Millennials’ 12 p.m.
Speaker Paul Ryan Addresses the Economic Club of New York 12:30 p.m.
Donald Trump Rally in Fort Myers, Fla. 3 p.m.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Assessing the Recent North Korea Nuclear Event, Missile Tests and Regional Dynamics (Closed) 5 p.m.
Brookings: Understanding voters’ angst in the 2016 election 11 a.m.
Heritage Foundation: Will Your Vote Really Count? – Assuring the Integrity of the American Election Process 11 a.m.
Donald Trump Rally in High Point, N.C. 12 p.m.
Heritage Foundation: Supreme Court Preview of the 2016 Term 12 p.m.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee: South Sudan: Options in Crisis 2:45 p.m.
Donald Trump Rally in Kenansville, N.C. 5 p.m.
BuzzFeed Brews with Senator Cory Booker and Senator Mike Lee 7 p.m.
House Foreign Affairs Committee: The Consequences of Cash Payments to Iran 10 a.m.
House Armed Services Committee: The State of The Fight Against Islamic State Terrorism 10 a.m.
House Judiciary Committee: Impeachment Articles Referred on John Koskinen, Part III 10 a.m.
Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee: Terror Financing Risks of America’s $1.7 Billion Cash Payments to Iran 10:30 a.m.
Donald Trump Rally in Toledo, Ohio 12:30 p.m.
House Armed Services Committee: Seapower and Projection Forces in The South China Sea 2 p.m.
Brookings: The 20th anniversary of welfare reform: Lessons and takeaways 8:30 a.m.
AEI: Protectionism and the future of US trade policy: A conversation with US Trade Representative Michael Froman and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) 9:25 a.m.
Chelsea Clinton in Toledo, Ohio 12:30 p.m.
AEI: Big data and the 2016 campaign 5:30 p.m.
Donald Trump in Chester, Penn. 7 p.m.
House Judiciary Committee: The Ultimate Civil Right: Examining the Hyde Amendment and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act 9 a.m.
Brookings: Retirement security in the new economy: Access and guarantees 10 a.m.


Bombs in New York and New Jersey, Stabbing Attacks in Minnesota Stoke Unease
Pervaiz Shallwani, Damian Paletta and Devlin Barrett, The Wall Street Journal 

Three violent attacks over the weekend that left almost 40 people injured remained shrouded in questions, but together they fueled growing fears among authorities about terror assaults by small groups, lone wolves or simply deranged individuals.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Juror Racial Bias
Adam Liptak, The New York Times 

In earlier cases, the Court has said that even egregious misconduct in the jury room cannot be used to challenge a conviction if it would require jurors to testify about what was said there. But the court has never squarely confronted whether racial or ethnic prejudice requires an exception to the general rule.

Coalition Misfire Threatens to Upend Syria Truce
Maria Abi-Habib, Noam Raydan and Nathan Hodge, The Wall Street Journal

Both the Syrian government and rebels accused each other of violating the truce. Rebels said the regime and its Russian allies restarted airstrikes on opposition fighters in the northern city of Aleppo, the epicenter of the war in recent months.

China financial stress indicator hits record high as debt surges
Gabriel Wildau, Financial Times

China’s lending frenzy has seen the country notch up a record debt benchmark that takes it to three times the typical danger level, exacerbating what has become one of the biggest faultlines in the global economy.

Heavy-Equipment Glut Weighs on Machine Makers
Bob Tita, The Wall Street Journal

Used machinery is flooding the secondhand market, piling more pain on equipment makers battling slack demand from any customer that mines, moves or refines commodities amid a global slump in the value of everything from coal to corn.

The Mystery of Being Maureen Dowd
Lloyd Grove, The Daily Beast 

Dowd’s new book, her third, is an often-alarming examination of Trump and the Clintons—plus a meditation on the Bush dynasty and what she describes as her “screwball comedy” relationship with the old man—and her close encounters with each over the decades.


An angry Obama puts himself on the ballot
Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico

Donald Trump is a nasty, hateful charlatan selling a false message to African-Americans and the rest of the country that puts everything President Barack Obama has done in office and stood for at risk, Obama said Saturday night, in a rip-roaring speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington.

Election Noise and ‘Frivolous’ Issues Hinder Obama’s Last Objectives
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times

More frequently than ever, when the president’s aides brief him before appearances about the questions he might face from reporters, they are met with raised eyebrows and rueful shakes of the head. The aides insist that, even as he vents his disbelief about the national conversation, he is not overly angry or frustrated.

Hillary Clinton returns to Temple in Philadelphia to court millennial votes
Scott Kraus, The Morning Call 

Strong support from young voters were a big reason for President Barack Obama’s two wins in Pennsylvania and nationally in 2008 and 2012, but recent polls show Clinton is losing the support of millennial voters.

Among Democrats, deep concern about Clinton’s Hispanic strategy
Abby Phillip and Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

While Clinton holds a significant lead over Republican rival Donald Trump in every poll of Hispanic voters, less clear is whether these voters will turn out in numbers that Democrats are counting on to win.

Missing From 2016 Race: Budget-Deficit Hawks
Janet Hook, The Wall Street Journal 

Trump wants to raise spending for the Pentagon and triple the number of immigration and customs officials; double the amount Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton proposes for infrastructure; allocate $20 billion to expand school choice and $2.5 billion for guaranteed paid maternity leave. And more.

As Trump rises in battleground states, Clinton moves to block his path to 270
Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, The Washington Post 

To many Democrats, the biggest surprise is that Donald Trump has mounted a comeback. Despite being battered all summer by his own missteps as well as a barrage of attack ads from Clinton, the Republican nominee has been surging in the battleground states.

Trump shatters GOP records with small donors
Shane Goldmacher, Politico

Donald Trump has unleashed an unprecedented deluge of small-dollar donations for the GOP, and one that Republican Party elders have dreamed about finding for much of the last decade.

Mike Pence Releases Doctor’s Letter Saying His Health Is ‘Excellent’
Associated Press 

Mr. Pence last had a colonoscopy in 2009, and no polyps were found. The only medication Mr. Pence takes is Claritin for seasonal allergies, Dr. Busk said, and he does not drink alcohol or smoke. The doctor also said that Mr. Pence had “diet-controlled heartburn” and that he exercised four times a week.

Kasich camp bashes Priebus, warns of national GOP ‘wipeout’
Kyle Cheney, Politico 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s war with the national Republican Party exploded into the open Sunday night, when his top adviser thrashed GOP leader Reince Priebus and hinted that the presidential election may be out of reach for Donald Trump.


It’s On Between Harry Reid and Donald Trump
Bridget Bowman, Roll Call 

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has not been quiet about his criticism of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and Trump’s response elicited another fiery statement from Reid Friday morning.

Senate Committee to Discuss Wells Fargo Scandal as Federal Reserve Meets
The New York Times 

Wells Fargo’s chief executive, John Stumpf, will face questions on Tuesday from the Senate Banking Committee over the widespread creation of sham banking accounts and credit cards by bank employees trying to meet strict sales goals.

McCain, Reed Target $29 Billion Littoral Ship for More Changes
Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg 

The Senate’s two top defense policy lawmakers want the U.S. Navy to make additional major changes to the service’s troubled $29 billion Littoral Combat Ship program or risk losing their support for future purchases.

Republicans in California’s delegation largely sitting out the Senate race, but some prefer Sanchez
Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times 

In the contest between Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, about two-thirds of Democrats in the delegation have picked a side, but the first statewide race between two members of the same party has left some Republicans on the sidelines.

Senate’s odd couple forge unlikely alliance on environment
Matthew Daly, Associated Press 

The oddest of Senate odd couples — California Democrat Barbara Boxer and Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe — have accomplished something highly unusual in this bitter election year: significant, bipartisan legislation on the environment that has become law.

In NC’s Senate race, Ross runs close to Burr
Ned Barnett, The News & Observer 

Yet even as this race unfolds in the context of a Democratic push to take back the Senate, it’s not attracting strong notice among voters.

Ron Johnson says to control immigration the United States needs to secure its borders. Russ Feingold says the whole system needs to go.


The Coming Week: Planned Parenthood Is the Sticking Point
Fawn Johnson, Morning Consult

The only barrier standing between senators and a pre-election recess involves Planned Parenthood. Senate negotiators have thus far failed to reach a deal on funding for the Zika virus that is meant to be included in a continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30.

Congress eyes the exit doors
Heather Caygle, Politico

As Congress prepares to wrap up as early as this week leaving the Capitol dark until November, lawmakers are exiting more with a whimper than a bang. The reason? Everybody’s got Election Day on the brain.

First Woman Sworn In As Librarian Of Congress
Michel Martin, NPR 

Carla Hayden was sworn in as our Librarian of Congress. She is only the 14th person to hold the office, and she is the first woman and the first African-American to be appointed to that post.

Ted Poe on Fight Against Leukemia: Attitude as Important as Treatment
Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune 

When Rep. Ted Poe announced his diagnosis, he said had every intention of defeating cancer and continuing to serve in Congress. And after a summer of treatment, Poe is back in Washington for the September round of legislating.


What to Look For as Bridge Scandal Trial Opens
Kate Zernike, The New York Times 

Even in a state accustomed to political corruption trials, this one is expected to be closely watched.

John Hickenlooper’s office concedes error, takes down fundraising video filmed in his office
David Migoya, The Denver Post 

Staged directly in front of the State Seal and flag in Hickenlooper’s Capitol office, the video — since removed — mounts a financial challenge to three other Democrats to donate $20 to a Democratic Senate Campaign Fund campaign to elect women.

Some Republicans Acknowledge Leveraging Voter ID Laws for Political Gain
Michael Wines, The New York Times

Academic studies and election-law experts broadly agree that voter fraud is not a widespread problem in American elections. Rather, it is a widespread political tactic used either to create doubt about an election’s validity or to keep one’s opponents — in most cases, Democratic voters — from casting ballots.

Explosion that injured 29 in New York ‘obviously an act of terrorism,’ governor says
Philip Bump, Mark Berman, Amy B Wang and Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Sunday that there is “no evidence of an international terrorism connection”  in the explosion in Chelsea, though he stopped short of saying whoever caused the incident did not want to incite terror.


Drugmakers fought state opioid limits amid crisis
Geoff Mulvihill, Liz Essley Whyte and Ben Wieder, Associated Press 

The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction.

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

A Loss of Faith in the E.U.
The Editorial Board, The New York Times 

If the European Union is to survive, European leaders must restore people’s faith in its ability to address Europe’s problems.

How Congress is failing on Zika
Ana Santos Rutschman, SFGate.com 

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention close to exhausting available funds for Zika preparedness and response, Congress’ failure is fueling concerns about how Zika will impact the health of U.S. citizens.

Research Reports & Polls

Clinton Maintains Lead Over Trump Despite Health Scare
Cameron Easley, Morning Consult 

In a new Morning Consult survey conducted Sept. 15 and Sept. 16, Clinton leads the Republican nominee, 42 percent to 40 percent — within the margin of error — among likely voters, while 8 percent opted for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and 3 percent chose Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

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