Morning Consult Washington, Presented by the Electronic Payments Coalition: McConnell Looks to Keep Vulnerable Senate Democrats in Town


Top Stories

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to keep the chamber in session for much of October, according to five Republican officials, a move that could cost a few vulnerable Democrats several days away from the campaign trail. (Politico)
  • Establishment-backed Democrats secured the party’s nomination in New Hampshire’s primary elections, including Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, who beat a large field of candidates that included Sen. Bernie Sanders’ son Levi Sanders, in the state’s open 1st District. In the governor’s race, former state Sen. Molly Kelly beat Sanders supporter Steve Marchand for the Democratic nod to take on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. (NBC News)
  • Lawmakers return to Washington today, with first votes expected tonight in both the House and the Senate. The Senate first turns to a cloture vote on Charles Rettig’s nomination to lead the Internal Revenue Service, and the House is set to take up legislation reauthorizing water infrastructure projects before the end of the week. (Roll Call)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
Reps. Hoyer, Sarbanes participate in in End Citizens United event 9:30 a.m.
Senate Banking Committee holds hearing on new tools to counter Russia 10 a.m.
Reps. Collins, Issa participate in RealClearPolitics event 11:30 a.m.
Speaker Ryan participates in WisPolitics Q&A 4:45 p.m.
Thursday
Reps. Cleaver, Plaskett and Meeks participate in Bloomberg Government event on fintech 8 a.m.
Rep. McNerney participates in The Atlantic’s event on protecting privacy 8:30 a.m.
Tony Blair participates in Council on Foreign Relations event 8:30 a.m.
Reps. Ross, Duncan, Jr., participate in R Street Institute event 9 a.m.
House Foreign Affairs Committee holds hearing on legislation that would request communications between Trump and Putin 12:30 p.m.
Jeff Bezos participates in event hosted by The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. 6 p.m.
Friday
No events scheduled
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General

Manafort in talks with prosecutors about possible plea, according to people familiar with the discussions
Tom Hamburger et al., The Washington Post

Days before in-person jury ­selection is set to begin in his second trial, President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in talks with the special counsel’s office about a possible plea deal, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to ­describe the conversations, cautioned that the negotiations may not result in a deal with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is prosecuting Manafort for alleged money laundering and lobbying violations.

George W. Bush to fundraise for GOP candidates
Alex Isenstadt, Politico

Former President George W. Bush is hitting the fundraising circuit for a handful of Republican House and Senate candidates, joining the party’s push to maintain its congressional majorities. Bush has maintained a low profile since leaving office in 2009.

Canada Pushes Alliance to Buffer WTO Against U.S. Protectionism
Bryce Baschuk, Bloomberg

The Canadian government is poised to release a blueprint to reform the World Trade Organization as countries adjust to a newly protectionist America that has threatened to leave the organization entirely. Canadian trade officials, who spent August working on a draft of the proposal called “Strengthening and Modernizing the WTO,” are seeking to forge an alliance of like-minded countries to “restore confidence in the multilateral trading system and discourage protectionist measures and countermeasures,” according to a copy of the draft obtained by Bloomberg.

America Is Living James Madison’s Nightmare
Jeffrey Rosen, The Atlantic

James madison traveled to Philadelphia in 1787 with Athens on his mind. He had spent the year before the Constitutional Convention reading two trunkfuls of books on the history of failed democracies, sent to him from Paris by Thomas Jefferson. Madison was determined, in drafting the Constitution, to avoid the fate of those “ancient and modern confederacies,” which he believed had succumbed to rule by demagogues and mobs.

He Was the Resistance Inside the Obama Administration
David Dayen, The New Republic

Last week, in an anonymous New York Times op-ed, a senior Trump official attempted to reassure the public that members of the administration were actively impeding their boss’s wishes. One member of the public wasn’t soothed: Trump’s predecessor.

Presidential

Trump administration took nearly $10 million from FEMA’s budget to support ICE, documents show
Christal Hayes, USA Today

The Trump administration took nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s budget this summer to help boost U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to budget documents shared with USA TODAY.The revelation, just ahead of Hurricane Florence’s expected landfall in North and South Carolina, was found by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who first shared the documents live on MSNBC late Tuesday.

Trump administration to triple size of Texas tent camp for migrant children
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post

A tent camp for migrant children in the desert outside El Paso will expand to accommodate a growing number of Central American children crossing the border, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday. HHS, the federal agency tasked with caring for migrant children and teenagers in U.S. custody, said it would more than triple the size of its camp at the Tornillo-Guadalupe Land Port of Entry from 1,200 beds to as many as 3,800.

Trump Leans Toward Emmet Flood as Next White House Counsel
Peter Nicholas and Michael C. Bender, The Wall Street Journal

President Trump is leaning toward Emmet Flood as the next White House counsel, but West Wing officials have urged Mr. Trump not to rush the pick, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump told associates over the weekend that he wants Mr. Flood, currently serving as White House special counsel, to succeed Don McGahn, these people said.

‘Tremendously big’: Trump reaches for superlatives in the face of calamity
Ashley Parker, The Washington Post

Flanked in the Oval Office by charts showing the path of Hurricane Florence, President Trump on Tuesday issued a warning about the potentially catastrophic storm that at times felt strangely exuberant. “Tremendously big and tremendously wet — tremendous amounts of water,” Trump said, expressing something close to admiration at the expected precipitation.

Court hands Trump victory in lawsuit by campaign rally protesters
Josh Gerstein, Politico

A federal appeals court on Tuesday shot down a lawsuit against President Donald Trump over alleged abuse protesters say they received at a campaign rally in 2016 after he repeatedly urged the crowd to “get ’em out of here.” Two of the three judges on the appellate panel said Trump’s call to oust the demonstrators was protected by the First Amendment because he did not explicitly call for anyone to do something illegal.

Trump administration adopts new definition of anti-Semitism in schools
Michael Stratford, Politico

The Trump administration is changing how the Education Department investigates allegations of discrimination against Jewish students, backing an approach that is favored by pro-Israel groups but that critics worry will stifle free speech on campus. The policy change was outlined in a letter last month by Kenneth Marcus, who leads the department’s Office for Civil Rights, in which he re-opened a 2011 investigation into Rutgers University in connection with alleged discrimination against Jewish students.

Trump’s Little-Known Lawyer on the Front Lines Against Mueller
Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg

Standing between Donald Trump and Robert Mueller is a little-known Florida lawyer who is leading high-stakes negotiations over whether the president will confront questioning from the special counsel’s investigators. Jane Raskin, who was hired by Trump in April, spent most of her career prosecuting mobsters and defending accused fraudsters, extortionists and other white-collar criminals.

Senate

‘Shipwreck’: GOP grows fearful about losing Senate as candidates struggle, Trump support tumbles
Sean Sullivan, The Washington Post

Republicans have grown increasingly worried about losing control of the Senate, as President Trump’s approval rating tumbles and Democrats gain steam in key battleground races. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday sounded some of the most doubtful notes of Trump’s presidency that Republicans will keep the upper chamber of Congress, telling reporters, “I hope when the smoke clears, we’ll still have a majority.”

In Texas, Ted Cruz Has ‘a Dogfight on His Hands,’ Some Republicans Admit
Manny Fernandez and Mitchell Ferman, The New York Times

Days after a top adviser to President Trump questioned Senator Ted Cruz’s chances of winning re-election, the Texas lawmaker casually stepped into the pinnacle of his hometown’s energy industry on Tuesday — the lobby of the Petroleum Club of Houston, on the 35th floor of a downtown skyscraper. Mr. Cruz shook hands while holding a cup of McDonald’s coffee.

Interest Groups Turn Up Pressure on Senators Before Kavanaugh Vote
Sheryl Gay Stolberg et al., The New York Times

Pressure is intensifying on undecided senators before a vote to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, with one senator — Susan Collins, Republican of Maine — reporting that she and her staff have been targeted with a barrage of calls, including some using vulgar language and threats to push her to vote against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. With last week’s confirmation hearings behind them, interest groups and advocates are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising to target both Ms. Collins and another undecided Republican who supports abortion rights: Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

House

Democrats irked as Rep. Henry Cuellar helps GOP Rep. John Carter raise cash to fend off MJ Hegar
Todd J. Gillman, The Dallas Morning News

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, had breakfast on Tuesday with an embattled Republican colleague, Rep. John Carter. But this wasn’t just a friendly bipartisan chat over huevos or chorizo at San Antonio’s Mi Tierra Cafe.

Castro Valley man allegedly cursed Trump, tried to stab GOP congressional candidate
Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle

A Castro Valley man shouting profanities about President Trump attacked a Republican congressional candidate who was working an election booth at a town festival, threatening him and trying to stab him with a switchblade, authorities and the candidate said Tuesday. Farzad Vincent Fazeli, 35, was jailed after the alleged Sunday attack on Rudy Peters at the Castro Valley Fall Festival.

States

Big safety testing failure rate for California pot products
Michael R. Blood, The Associated Press

Nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1, a failure rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety. The testing has been especially tough on cannabis-infused cookies, candies and tinctures: About one-third have been blocked from store shelves.

Ahead of the Primary, Cuomo Administration Offered Sweeteners to Get New Bridge Open
Shane Goldmacher, The New York Times

The administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered the contractor building the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge enticements to meet a late August deadline to open, including the possibility of absorbing extra costs and reducing their responsibility for potential traffic accidents, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times. The eastbound span of the bridge in the New York City suburbs was to have opened on Saturday, and the day before, Mr. Cuomo held an elaborate ceremony that included a laudatory speech by Hillary Clinton.

Advocacy

U.S. Businesses Ramp Up Lobbying Against Trump’s Tariffs
Brody Mullins and Andrew Duehren, The Wall Street Journal

From California apple growers to Maine lobstermen, businesses are joining forces to try to persuade President Trump that tariffs are hurting U.S. industries. On Wednesday, organizations representing thousands of companies in industries including retailing, toy manufacturing, farming and technology plan to announce they are cooperating on a lobbying campaign called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland to oppose tariffs on imports.

Businesses urge Trump admin. against Postal Service rate hikes
Jordan Fabian, The Hill

A group of major businesses is warning the Trump’s administration’s against making reforms to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that would inflame tensions with online retailers like Amazon. The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service wrote Wednesday in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that raising package rates and privatization should be off the table in an administration task-force review of the financially strapped USPS.

Koch group loses donor secrecy fight at appeals court
Josh Gerstein, Politico

A nonprofit group founded by conservative political megadonors Charles and David Koch must disclose its largest givers to law enforcement authorities in California, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation had argued that the state’s rules requiring filing of the donor list violate the First Amendment by discouraging individuals from giving and by exposing them to threats and harassment.

GOP redistricting group names executive director
Scott Bland, Politico

Adam Kincaid, a veteran Republican operative who helped his party coordinate redistricting efforts after 2010, will serve as the executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, the GOP’s data and legal hub for the next round of redistricting. The NRRT launched last year with plans to raise $35 million by 2020 and fight Democratic-drawn maps in court and help defend Republican-drawn maps in litigation.

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Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Surprisingly, the Senate Is Now in Play
Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call

I have argued repeatedly that while the House is up for grabs — and indeed likely to flip to the Democrats in November — the Senate is not in play. I now believe that it is, so I must revise and extend my remarks. Only about three weeks ago, I reiterated my view that Democrats didn’t have a path to a net gain of two Senate seats, which they need for a chamber majority.

You Can’t Bribe Susan Collins
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

After the undignified theatrics at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings last week, it was hard to imagine that the opposition to this competent Supreme Court nominee could get any more embarrassing. Well, how about a campaign to trade a Senator’s vote for political donations?

Research Reports and Polling

Racial Diversity Among Top House Staff
Elsie L. Scott et al., Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

This report provides empirical evidence regarding the lack of racial diversity among top staff in the U.S. House of Representatives. This report defines top staff (or “key” or “senior” staff) to include: chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in the Washington, DC personal offices of U.S. House Members; chiefs of staff, policy directors, and communications directors in the top four leadership offices of each political party; and staff directors assigned to full committees.

The Role of Religion in Politics
The Associated Press and National Opinion Research Center

There is little consensus among the public when it comes to the level of influence religion should play in politics and government policies. People who are unaffiliated with a religion tend to see religious influence as excessive, while those who identify with particular faiths are more inclined to regard religion as having either the right amount of influence or too little.