Washington Brief: Georgia Voters Cast Ballots Today in Special Election

Washington Brief

  • Voters in Georgia head to the polls today in a special election to replace former Rep. Tom Price (R), who’s now serving as head of the Department of Health and Human Services. If one candidate doesn’t capture more than 50 percent of the vote, a June run-off will be scheduled. (Roll Call)
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin poured cold water on the idea pushed by some in the Trump administration, including himself, that tax reform could be completed before the August congressional recess. He said failed efforts to replace Obamacare is the cause of the setback. (Financial Times)
  • President Donald Trump today will travel to Kenosha, Wis., where he is expected to sign a “buy American, hire American” executive order dealing with federal procurement and H-1B visas. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The conservative Club for Growth is hitting four Republicans with a $500,000 advertising campaign regarding the House GOP’s border adjustment tax plan. The targeted lawmakers include House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (Tenn.) and Rep. John Culberson (Texas), an appropriations subcommittee chairman. (Morning Consult)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
NAACP vice chair speaks at National Press Club 2 p.m.
Trump gives remarks and signs executive order in Kenosha, Wis. 2:20 p.m.
Wednesday
Heritage Foundation event on U.S.-U.K. trade after Brexit 10 a.m.
Brookings Institution event on carbon pricing and climate cooperation 2 p.m.
Thursday
No events scheduled
Friday
No events scheduled

 

General

US admits Trump tax reforms will be hit by healthcare setback
Sam Fleming et al., Financial Times

The US Treasury secretary has conceded that the administration’s timetable for ambitious tax reforms is set to slip following setbacks in negotiations with Congress over healthcare. Steven Mnuchin said the target to get tax reforms through Congress and on President Donald Trump’s desk before August was “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point”.

Theresa May seeks snap election to take UK through Brexit
Henry Mance and Jim Pickard, Financial Times

Theresa May said she would ask Parliament to hold a general election so she can win a direct mandate to take the UK through the Brexit divorce with the EU. The decision, which comes just three weeks after the prime minister began the formal Brexit process, stunned many British politicians as they returned from their Easter break.

Hearing first arguments as member of the Supreme Court, Gorsuch jumps right in
Robert Barnes, The Washington Post

New Justice Neil M. Gorsuch was an active, aggressive and somewhat long-winded questioner in his debut Monday at the Supreme Court, making his presence known during a series of complicated cases about legal procedures. Gorsuch waited barely 10 minutes into the first of three hour-long cases before kicking off what became a long chain of questions.

Susan Rice Did Nothing Wrong, Say Both Dems and Republicans
Ken Dilanian, NBC News 

A review of the surveillance material flagged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes shows no inappropriate action by Susan Rice or any other Obama administration official, Republican and Democratic Congressional aides who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News. President Donald Trump told the New York Times he believed former National Security Adviser Rice broke the law by asking for the identities of Trump aides who were mentioned in transcripts of U.S. surveillance of foreign targets.

Presidential

Trump Expected to Bolster ‘Buy American’ and ‘Hire American’ Directives
Eli Stokols, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order in Wisconsin on Tuesday directing a government-wide review aimed at putting new teeth back into decades-old “Buy American” and “Hire American” directives. The 220-day review process, which could lead to additional executive orders and possibly legislation, will focus on preventing foreign workers with H-1B visas from, as one senior administration official put it, “undercutting American labor at less cost,” which the official labeled as “an abuse” of the current system.

Trump’s Unreleased Taxes Threaten Yet Another Campaign Promise
Alan Rappeport, The New York Times

President Trump’s promise to enact a sweeping overhaul of the tax code is in serious jeopardy nearly 100 days into his tenure, and his refusal to release his own tax returns is emerging as a central hurdle to another faltering campaign promise. As procrastinators rushed to file their tax returns by Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, emphasized again on Monday that Mr. Trump had no intention of making his public.

U.S. Trade Deal With South Korea Falling Short, Pence Warns
Justin Sink and Kanga Kong Bloomberg News

The U.S. trade relationship with South Korea is “falling short,” with the free-trade deal between the countries under review, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday. “We’ll pursue trade that is both free and fair,” Pence said during remarks at a U.S. business chamber gathering in Seoul.

Trump calls Erdogan to congratulate him on contested referendum, Turkey says
Carol Morello, The Washington Post

President Trump called to congratulate Turkish President ­Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday after a referendum greatly expanding his powers, despite a more circumspect State Department response to Sunday’s vote, which international election observers declared unfair. According to accounts by both Trump and Erdogan, the two also discussed the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to the April 4 chemical weapons attack on civilians in Idlib province.

Donald Trump’s Presidency Slows His Business’s Growth
Peter Grant, The Wall Street Journal 

In the decade leading up to Donald Trump’s election as president, his company added 15 golf courses and 13 hotels. Keeping up such a rate of expansion won’t be easy, according to Eric Trump, the president’s son, who with brother Donald Trump Jr. took over running the Trump Organization after the inauguration in January.

Senate

Senate Democrats in Trump States Double Their Fundraising Pace
John McCormick and Bill Allison, Bloomberg News 

Senate Democrats who may face the most challenging 2018 re-election contests are building robust campaign bank accounts as they benefit from an outpouring generated by the party’s desire to challenge President Donald Trump. The 10 Democrats expected to defend seats in states that Trump won in November collectively raised about $18.8 million during the first three months of the year, based on information from the campaigns and public records.

Noisy Reno crowd greets Heller, Amodei at town hall
Seth A. Richardson, Reno Gazette-Journal 

The trend of Republicans facing raucous town halls continued on Monday in Reno as U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei faced a swath of angry Nevadans who demanded answers. Republican town halls have been anything but hospitable, with lawmakers frequently being shouted down akin to the 2010 rise of the conservative Tea Party against Democrats.

Cotton blitzed by constituents at rowdy town hall
Kelsey Sutton and Elana Schor, Politico

Sen. Tom Cotton came under fire at a raucous town hall Monday, as constituents pelted the Arkansas Republican on topics ranging from Donald Trump’s tax returns and possible ties to Russia to the GOP push to repeal Obamacare. It was the latest in a string of confrontations between GOP lawmakers and voters during Congress’ two-week spring recess, coming on the heels of the party’s failed bid to overturn the Democratic health care law.

Conservative group targets Sen. Elizabeth Warren
AOL News 

A conservative group says their mission is to damage Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 prospects for the presidency, and they want to “make her life difficult.” America Rising PAC is the group behind the reported memo that recently leaked. They’re timing their mission to the release of Warren’s new book.

House

All Eyes on Turnout in Georgia Special Election
Simone Pathé, Roll Call

Morning rain showers with scattered afternoon thunderstorms. That’s the forecast for Election Day in the House district that’s set for one of the most closely-watched special elections ever.

Georgia Election: Expect the Early Vote Count to Be Misleading
Nate Cohn, The New York Times

It’s hard to remember a House race that has earned more national attention than the one to replace Secretary Tom Price in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Republicans have dominated the district for a generation, but the leading Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, has an outside shot to win outright on Tuesday by winning more than 50 percent of the vote.

Club for Growth Hits Four Republicans Over Border Adjustment Tax
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult 

The Club for Growth is putting pressure on four House Republican lawmakers, warning them not to support a key portion of the House GOP leaders’ tax reform plan. On Tuesday, the conservative group launched ads against lawmakers such as House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (Tenn.) and Rep. John Culberson (Texas), an appropriations subcommittee chairman.

The Democrat challenging Steve King in Iowa used to be an internet psychic
Jason Noble, The Des Moines Register 

Before she got into politics, congressional hopeful Kim Weaver was a professional psychic. Weaver, a Democrat from Sheldon who lost to Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve King in 2016 and plans to challenge him again in 2018, operated an array of psychic services websites, hosted an internet radio show and participated in online discussions of the supernatural, records reviewed by The Des Moines Register show.

States

The Latest: Arkansas governor ‘disappointed’ in delay
The Associated Press

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s disappointed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift a stay that would have allowed the state’s first execution in 12 years. But the Republican governor says he was heartened by other court rulings Monday that could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.

Texas House to wade into debate over bathroom regulations
Alexa Ura, The Texas Tribune 

After largely avoiding discussions so far on proposals to regulate bathrooms, the Texas House will wade into the debate this week with a measure some are hoping will serve as an alternative to the Senate’s “bathroom bill.” Setting aside the Senate’s proposal, the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday will take up House Bill 2899, which will be revised during the hearing to ban municipalities and school districts from enacting or enforcing local policies that regulate bathroom use.

Federal judge orders Kobach to share documents from his meeting with Trump
Bryan Lowry, The Kansas City Star 

A federal magistrate judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to disclose documents he shared with President Donald Trump in a meeting before his inauguration. Kobach, who served on Trump’s transition team, was photographed in November holding a stack of papers labeled as a strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Advocacy

Exxon, Shell Join Ivanka Trump to Defend Paris Climate Pact
Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg News 

As President Donald Trump contemplates whether to make good on his campaign promise to yank the United States out of the Paris climate accord, an unlikely lobbying force is hoping to talk him out of it: oil and coal producers. A pro-Paris bloc within the administration has recruited energy companies to lend their support ahead of a high-level White House meeting on the subject taking place as soon as Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the effort who asked not to be identified.

Telecom lobbying muscle kills privacy rules
Tali Arbel, The Associated Press 

The telecom industry’s lobbying muscle pushed a consumer privacy measure to a swift death in Congress. Republicans struck down Obama-era rules that would have imposed tight restrictions on what broadband companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast could do with their customers’ personal data.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

NEW REPORT: 66% of small merchants are satisfied with what they pay for debit card acceptance. When it comes to interchange, small merchants want value, not price caps. So who is putting small merchants’ choice and flexibility at risk? Get the facts from EPC.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Trump’s Deregulation Project
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Health reform may be on life support and tax reform uncertain, but one part of the Donald Trump economic growth project is succeeding: deregulation. The question is whether the President will now rev up the effort.

Meet the new Trump . . . same as the old Trump?
Richard Cohen, The Washington Post

In the past week or so, Donald Trump has decided not to be totally Donald Trump. He has changed his positions on many issues, often by simply contradicting himself and sometimes by repudiating what he once said.

No, Trump Is Not a Neocon
Rich Lowry, National Review 

With U.S. missiles flying in Syria, the “mother of all bombs” exploding in Afghanistan, and an aircraft-carrier strike group heading toward North Korea, has there been a revolution in President Trump’s foreign policy? His most fervent supporters shouldn’t get overly exercised and his interventionist critics shouldn’t get too excited.

What Happens When Women Legislate
Brittany Bronson, The New York Times

Cheaper tampons. Office breaks to pump breast milk. No co-pay on birth control. These are not the talking points of a ladies’ happy hour. They are among the State Senate and Assembly bills being considered in the Nevada Legislature.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Don’t be fooled by big box retailers’ claims about the Durbin amendment. A new Javelin study found small merchants choose their card processor based on value, not cost. In fact, despite price controls applying only to debit transactions, more merchants prefer credit card payments than debit card payments. Learn the truth about the interchange system from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Research Reports and Polling

Study: 1 in 5 US House Seats Flipped in Special Elections Since 1941
Dr. Eric Ostermeier, University of Minnesota

A outright win by Jon Ossoff on Tuesday will end a pick-up drought of 19 specials in a row – tied for the largest streak since WWII James Thompson’s near-miss for the Democrats in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District last week adds to a long and growing list of special elections in which control of the vacated seat has remained with the party of the exiting U.S. Representative.

Weed and the American Family
Yahoo News/Marist Poll 

This survey of 1,122 adults was conducted March 1st through March 7th, 2017 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with Yahoo News. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers.

Briefings

Washington Brief: Trump Tax Plan to Slash Business Rates, Boost Deductions for Individuals

President Donald Trump today is scheduled to outline the pillars of his plan to rewrite the U.S. tax code, with provisions such as lowering the rate for pass-through businesses to 15 percent from 39.6 percent and cutting the corporate rate. He’s not expected to endorse the border adjustment tax sought by House GOP leaders, but he plans to include a tax break for child-care expenses, viewed as a possible sweetener for Democrats.

Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Congress has until midnight on April 28 to pass a spending bill that would keep the government open. While many lawmakers are hoping the funding measure will extend through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, there is also talk of passing a short-term extension in order to buy more time to negotiate a deal that extends through September.

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