Washington Brief: GOP Sen. Thad Cochran to Resign April 1

Top Stories

  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he will resign from the Senate on April 1 because of ill health. His resignation will allow Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to appoint an interim senator, and it will create two Senate races in Mississippi, where Sen. Roger Wicker (R) faces a primary challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who almost defeated Cochran in a 2014 primary. (The New York Times)
  • Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg said he will likely cooperate with a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller requesting that he testify before a grand jury and turn over thousands of communications with other ex-officials, including his mentor Roger Stone. Nunberg previously told reporters that he would defy Mueller’s subpoena. (The Associated Press)
  • Texas is holding the country’s first primary elections to select candidates for the 2018 midterms. Early voting data indicate a wide enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats: The 15 largest counties have seen a surge in the Democratic vote that significantly exceeds growth on the Republican side. (NBC News)
  • The Trump administration has considered new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of ongoing use of chemical weapons, according to unnamed officials. The officials said President Donald Trump has discussed potential actions with his advisers, but according to one official he did not endorse any military moves. (The Washington Post)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Reps. Roskam, Levin participate in CQ Roll Call event on health care 8 a.m.
DOL’s Acosta testifies before House Appropriations subcommittee 10 a.m.
Treasury’s Mnuchin testifies before House Appropriations subcommittee 10 a.m.
Israeli Prime Minister speaks at The Economic Club of Washington 6:30 a.m.
Rep. Larsen participates in Brookings Institution event on U.S. engagement with China 9 a.m.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein participates in AHIP conference 10:35 a.m.
Council of Economic Advisers chairman testifies before Joint Economic Committee 2 p.m.
Ambassadors participate in Wilson Center event on the Trans-Pacific Partnership 2 p.m.
HHS Secretary Azar participates in AHIP conference 8:30 a.m.
Politico’s Future of Prosperity event 8:30 a.m.
Wilson Center event on women and the 2018 midterms 9 a.m.
Senate HELP Committee hearing on the opioid crisis 10 a.m.
The Federalist Society hosts National Student Symposium 6 p.m.

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North Korea Is Willing to Discuss Giving Up Nuclear Weapons, South Says
Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has told South Korean envoys that his country is willing to begin negotiations with the United States on abandoning its nuclear weapons and that it would suspend all nuclear and missile tests while it is engaged in such talks, South Korean officials said on Tuesday. During the envoys’ two-day visit to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, which ended on Tuesday, the two Koreas also agreed to hold a summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea on the countries’ border in late April, Mr. Moon’s office said in a statement.

Probe finds deadly Niger mission lacked proper approval
Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press

A military investigation into the Niger attack that killed four American service members concludes the team didn’t get required senior command approval for their risky mission to capture a high-level Islamic State militant, several U.S. officials familiar with the report said. It doesn’t point to that failure as a cause of the deadly ambush.

New Training Available for Hill Staffers Who Witness Sexual Harassment
Katherine Tully-McManus, Roll Call

New training is now available for staffers on Capitol Hill on what to do as a bystander or witness to sexual harassment as offices move to comply with the new anti-harassment training requirements implemented by the House and Senate late last year. “If you see something, say something” may work for unattended bags on the Metro, but what to do when you’re witnessing sexual harassment in the workplace is less straightforward.


Ex-Trump aide says he’ll likely cooperate with Mueller
Jill Colvin and Tom LoBianco, The Associated Press

A former Trump campaign aide spent much of Monday promising to defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller, even throwing down the challenge to “arrest me,” then backed off his defiance by saying he would probably cooperate in the end. In an interview with The Associated Press, Sam Nunberg said he was angry over Mueller’s request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of emails and other communications with other ex-officials, among them his mentor Roger Stone.

After reports of chemical attacks, White House considers new military action against Syrian regime
Karen DeYoung et al., The Washington Post

The Trump administration has considered new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of ongoing chemical weapons use, officials said, raising the prospect of a second U.S. strike on President Bashar al-Assad in less than a year. President Trump requested options for punishing the Assad government after reported chlorine gas attacks — at least seven this year — and possibly other chemicals affecting civilians in opposition-controlled areas.

Maryland judge strikes down DACA challenge
Brent D. Griffiths, Politico

A federal judge in Maryland on Monday struck down a challenge to President Donald Trump’s decision to end protections for undocumented immigrants, stating that while he does not agree with Trump’s move, it is not his job to set immigration policy. “This Court does not like the outcome of this case, but is constrained by its constitutionally limited role to the result that it has reached,” Judge Roger Titus wrote in his very revealing opinion.

Frustrated White House free traders mount campaign to weaken Trump tariffs
Andrew Restuccia et al., Politico

Since President Donald Trump announced plans last week to hit steel and aluminum imports with new tariffs, his trade adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have been all over television celebrating their victory and rebutting suggestions that the move would incite a damaging trade war. But economic adviser Gary Cohn and other free-trade advocates inside the White House and the Treasury Department are mounting a last-ditch effort to blunt the impact of Trump’s head-turning decision, even as the president insisted Monday that he wasn’t going to be convinced out of it.

Trump Lawyer’s Payment to Stormy Daniels Was Reported as Suspicious by Bank
Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld, The Wall Street Journal

The bank used by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer to wire $130,000 to a former adult-film actress flagged the transaction as suspicious and reported it to the Treasury Department, according to a person familiar with the matter. The lawyer, Michael Cohen, wired the money to a lawyer for former actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, from an account at First Republic Bank.

A Top Trump Fund-Raiser Says Qatar Hacked His Email
David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

A cyberwar in the Persian Gulf reverberated in the United States this week as a top Republican fund-raiser accused agents for Qatar of hacking into his email to plant damaging articles in the American news media. The fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, 60, a national deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, is the owner of a company with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to provide services to the United Arab Emirates.

Pence to spend the week in campaign mode
Matthew Nussbaum, Politico

Vice President Mike Pence will continue his campaign-style blitz around the country this week as Republicans scramble to stave off what they fear could be a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm elections. Pence has pledged to be a regular presence on the trail, where he is seen as a popular speaker and gifted fundraiser, without President Donald Trump’s flair for controversy.


Senator Thad Cochran Announces Retirement, Opening Another G.O.P. Seat
Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jonathan Martin, The New York Times

Senator Thad Cochran, an octogenarian Republican from Mississippi who serves as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that he is resigning from the Senate on April 1 because of ill health — a decision that will create two Senate races in his home state in November. “I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” Mr. Cochran, 80, said in a statement.

Democrats clash on Dodd-Frank rollback bill
Sylvan Lane, The Hill

Democrats are set for a serious fight over banking regulations this week as Republicans bring a bill to the floor that liberals say is a significant rollback of the Wall Street reform bill signed into law by former President Obama. The battle pits moderate Democrats up for reelection this year in states such as Missouri, West Virginia, North Dakota and Montana against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other progressives, and comes as the party braces for primary fights between the left and center.

Gun Debate Unfolds Outside of Senate Judiciary Panel’s Confines
Todd Ruger, Roll Call

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a White House meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the panel’s role in getting a consensus and moving legislation dealing with gun violence and school shootings. But before the Iowa Republican could finish, Trump pivoted right back to negotiating provisions about age restrictions for gun purchases, a proposal championed by two senators who aren’t on the committee, Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III.

Virginia Republicans haven’t united behind a candidate to take on Tim Kaine, poll show
Jenna Portnoy, The Washington Post

More than three months ahead of the primary for U.S. Senate, about two-thirds of Republicans don’t have a favorite candidate to face Sen. Tim Kaine (D), according to a poll released Monday morning. The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University also found President Trump’s approval rating in Virginia stands at 37 percent, while 52 percent of voters “strongly disapprove” of the job he’s doing as president.


Texas-sized primaries mark official start to crucial midterm elections
Alex Seitz-Wald, NBC News

Texas is firing the starting gun on this year’s midterm elections Tuesday with a slate of primaries that will offer some of the first hard data on the mood of the electorate under President Donald Trump. These aren’t special elections, like the one Alabama last year, or off-year elections, like the ones in Virginia in November, but the first official time voters get a chance to cast ballots in the 2018 midterms.

Steve Israel to Democrats: Don’t Be Distracted by 2018 Midterms
Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman, Roll Call

Steve Israel, former two-time chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, isn’t giving the DCCC his time this year. He’s taking a longer view of House Democratic campaign politics.

GOP sees McCarthy moving up — if GOP loses the House
Scott Wong, The Hill

Republicans say House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has a clear path to succeeding Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) in November — if Republicans lose the House and he runs for minority leader. The California Republican would need just a majority vote of the GOP conference and not 218 votes — a threshold he couldn’t meet during his failed bid for Speaker in 2015 — to become minority leader.

Schiff calls for Sam Nunberg to testify in House Russia investigation
Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday that the House panel needs to interview former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg as part of its Russia investigation. Schiff said Nunberg’s assertion that President Donald Trump may have known about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it occurred is an area that the committee needs to explore.

‘It’s almost nasty’: Dems seek crackdown on sleeping in the Capitol
Nolan D. McCaskill, Politico

A bloc of House Democrats is calling for an ethics investigation into the widespread practice of lawmakers sleeping in their offices, arguing it’s an abuse of taxpayer funds. More than two dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus signed on to a letter obtained by POLITICO to Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and ranking member Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) asking for a probe into the “legality and propriety” of such conduct by members of Congress.


Senate removes ‘vast majority’ of teachers from plan to arm school personnel
Mary Ellen Klas and Emily Mahoney, Miami Herald

After a lengthy and emotional debate, the Florida Senate narrowly approved a bill to put millions of dollars of state money into school safety programs in response to the Parkland shooting, attempting to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill while arming school officials with a first-in-the-nation optional program for school districts. The Senate passed the bill 20-18, with the chamber’s most conservative Republicans joining with the most liberal Democrats to oppose it.

West Virginia legislators eye measures to end teacher strike
John Raand and Michael Virtanen, The Associated Press

West Virginia legislators plan to meet Tuesday to weigh some possible compromise aimed at ending the strike by West Virginia teachers now entering its ninth day. A show of support by thousands of teachers and supporters on Monday didn’t immediately sway the lawmakers, who failed to agree on a 5% pay raise that would end the strike, forcing districts to continue to cancel Tuesday classes.

Washington State Enacts Net Neutrality Law, In Clash With FCC
Klint Finley, Wired

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee Monday signed the nation’s first state law intended to protect net neutrality, setting up a potential legal battle with the Federal Communications Commission. The law bans broadband providers offering service in the state from blocking or throttling legal content, or from offering fast-lane access to companies willing to pay extra.

Work requirement approved for Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion
Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press

The Trump administration on Monday approved Arkansas’ plan to require thousands of people on its Medicaid expansion program to work or volunteer, making Arkansas the third state allowed to impose such restrictions on health care coverage for the poor. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the requirement for Arkansas’ program, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents, had been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


At AIPAC, Bipartisanship As A Strategic Asset
Michael Wilner, The Jerusalem Post

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has enjoyed a relatively slow year, left out of the headlines absent any major policy disagreements with the Trump administration. But quietly, the organization has worked to combat a low-lying threat to its mission and its basis of power – a growing divide among Democrats and Republicans on the issue of Israel.

The Slow Breakup Between Democrats and the NRA
Eric Garcia and Griffin Connolly, Roll Call

Just eight years ago, the National Rifle Association dished out $372,000 in campaign contributions to a record 66 Democratic incumbents. By the 2016 cycle, that number had dwindled to four.

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Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Congress Needs to Improve Access to Cancer Care
Robin Roland Levy, Morning Consult

A diagnosis of multiple myeloma used to be a death sentence. Survival rates for the blood cancer were just two to three years.

Donald Trump’s Tunnel Vision
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

Some actions by political leaders are capricious. Some can be shortsighted.

Professor Ross’s Soup-Can Economics
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Washington is forever looking for common ground, and we may have found some in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s remarks Friday on Fox Business about the Trump Administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs. “You’ve got to look at the job creation and the impact on American employees,” Mr. Ross told Stuart Varney.

Analysis: Why the Gun Issue Has Shifted (It’s Not What You Think)
Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call

The gun debate has shifted dramatically. Suddenly, it looks as if the issue will benefit Democrats in November, not Republicans.

Research Reports and Polling

The impact of federal tax reform on state corporate income taxes
Andrew Phillips and Steve Wlodychak, Ernst & Young LLP

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-97)1 (TCJA) contains the most significant changes to the Internal Revenue Code in 30 years. At the federal level, the TCJA includes various corporate tax provisions which, on net, broaden the tax base while reducing the rate and providing an overall reduction in federal corporate income tax.