Washington Brief: House Slated to Clear Bill Combining Harvey Aid, Stopgap Spending, Debt Limit Increase

Top Stories

  • The House is expected to vote today on a Senate-passed measure that combines a three-month debt hike and stopgap government funding with aid for Hurricane Harvey victims. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the House would postpone work on an eight-bill spending package for fiscal year 2018 so that southeastern lawmakers can return home ahead of Hurricane Irma, which is expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday. (The Hill)
  • Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who co-chairs the moderate Tuesday Group, said he will not seek re-election next year. He joins Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) and Washington Rep. Dave Reichert (R) in giving up seats that Democrats think they can win back during the 2018 midterm elections. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt another blow to President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, ruling that refugees with relationships with a resettlement agency should be exempt from the executive order. (Reuters)
  • Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made an agreement to pursue a plan to repeal the debt ceiling. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was against the change. (The Washington Post)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Govs. Hickenlooper, Kasich discuss health care proposal at AEI 9:15 a.m.
Brookings Institution event on foreign cyber interference in U.S. elections 10:30 a.m.

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DeVos to revamp Obama-era schools sexual assault policy
Benjamin Wermund, Politico 

The Trump administration will replace an Obama-era schools directive on sexual assault in an attempt to balance the rights of victims and the accused, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Thursday. The Obama guidance for the first time pushed school district, college and university leaders to combat sexual harassment, including sexual violence, saying the institutions were required to do so under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination.

Some Democrats Say They’re Freaked Out Their Leadership Is Working With Trump
Tarini Parti, BuzzFeed News 

Democrats have been bashing President Trump’s every move since long before he stepped into the Oval Office. But this week something strange happened: Democratic leadership cut a sweeping deal with the president, spoke openly about their phone conversations with him, and made multiple visits to the White House.

The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election
Scott Shane, The New York Times

Sometimes an international offensive begins with a few shots that draw little notice. So it was last year when Melvin Redick of Harrisburg, Pa., a friendly-looking American with a backward baseball cap and a young daughter, posted on Facebook a link to a brand-new website.


U.S. appeals court rejects Trump’s bid to bar most refugees
Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s effort to temporarily bar most refugees from entering the country, ruling that those who have relationships with a resettlement agency should be exempt from an executive order banning refugees. A three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel also ruled that grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of legal U.S. residents should be exempted from President Donald Trump’s order, which banned travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

Trump, Schumer agree to pursue plan to repeal the debt ceiling
Damian Paletta and Ashley Parker, The Washington Post 

President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have agreed to pursue a deal that would permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt ceiling, three people familiar with the decision said. Trump and Schumer discussed the idea Wednesday during an Oval Office meeting.

Energized Trump Sees Bipartisan Path, at Least for Now
Peter Baker and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times

By the time President Trump woke up on Thursday morning, he was feeling upbeat. And as he watched television news reports about his fiscal agreement with Democrats, he felt like telling someone.

Trump Won’t Rule Out Military Action on North Korea
Eli Stokols and Felicia Schwartz, The Wall Street Journal 

President Donald Trump refused to rule out military action against North Korea on Thursday, but he stopped short of answering a reporter’s question as to whether he would tolerate a nuclearized North Korean state if the threat were contained. “North Korea is behaving badly and it’s got to stop,” Mr. Trump said at a White House news conference.

White House Brushes Off Calls for Updated Authorization of Military Force
John T. Bennett and Lindsey McPherson, Roll Call

Despite calls from members of both parties, President Donald Trump will not propose an updated authorization for use of military force measure to cover ongoing U.S. operations against groups such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State and others, a White House National Security Council official said Thursday. White House officials have concluded they have ample legal authorities to continue conducting such military missions.

Mueller seeks interviews with WH staff over Trump Tower meeting statement
Pamela Brown et al., CNN

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has approached the White House about interviewing staffers who were aboard Air Force One when the initial misleading statement about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower was crafted, three sources familiar with the conversations said. The special counsel’s discussions with the White House are the latest indication that Mueller’s investigators are interested in the response to the Trump Tower meeting.

White House Considering at Least Six for Fed Chair
Craig Torres  and Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg

The White House is considering more than a half-dozen candidates to be the next head of the Federal Reserve, including economists and business people, with a goal of filling out a depleted board with expertise ranging from financial regulation to community banking, according to three people familiar with the matter. The breadth of the search goes against the narrative that has taken hold in Washington and on Wall Street that the Fed chair nomination is a two-horse race between National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, whose term expires in February.

Another thing Trump stripped from ‘Dreamers’: A loophole that helped 40,000 of them get green cards
Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

Last month, California college student Miriam Juan stepped off a plane in Guadalajara, Mexico, and hugged her grandparents for the first time in 17 years. She had no words at first, just smiles and tears.


Closed-Door Process Might Threaten Tax Timeline in Senate
Joe Williams, Roll Call

The closed-door process under which Republican congressional leaders and the Trump administration are crafting an overhaul of the United States tax code could impede the Senate’s timeline for the effort. Lawmakers say they have yet to receive key details, making it difficult to craft a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that will ultimately serve as the vehicle to advance the tax bill.

Senate appropriators rebuke Trump on abortion policy
Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico

Senate appropriators on Thursday dealt a twofold rebuke to the Trump administration on abortion policy, though it is almost certain the changes won’t become law. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal 2018 foreign relations funding bill containing language that would undo a Trump administration prohibition on funding for nongovernment organizations that perform or promote abortion.

Ted Cruz 2.0? Senator Adjusts With Trump in Office and Houston Under Water
Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was just getting going, summoning his down-home artillery from the Senate floor — the faith-flecked tales, the weathered statesman’s gaze, the theatrical pauses deployed not so long ago before caucus-inclined Iowans. “I rise today in support of heroes,” Mr. Cruz said sternly, “in support of unity and in support of love and compassion.”

Chris Murphy’s stealthy single-payer pitch
Elana Schor, Politico

While Bernie Sanders readies a single-payer health care bill that the GOP is itching to attack, one of his Democratic colleagues is proposing a step toward that goal that could give cover to the party’s vulnerable incumbents. Sen. Chris Murphy, a potential presidential contender, is working on legislation expected this fall that would let individuals and businesses buy into Medicare as part of Obamacare’s exchanges.

Bribery case against Sen. Bob Menendez and friend an ‘attack’ on Hispanics, defense says
Andrew Seidman, The Philadelphia Inquirer 

The federal government’s bribery case against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and a Florida doctor is an “attack” on Hispanic-Americans, a defense attorney said Thursday in court here. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen are “part of a fellowship of Hispanic-Americans,” including entrepreneurs, businessmen, doctors, and politicians, whose goal was to “pay it forward, help young Hispanic-Americans improve their lives” and “play a larger role in American society,” Melgen’s defense attorney Kirk Ogrosky told jurors in his opening statement.


House pushes back vote on spending package ahead of Hurricane Irma
Cristina Marcos, The Hill

The House is postponing completion of work on an eight-bill spending package to fund the government in 2018 amid some lawmakers’ eagerness to return home as Hurricane Irma nears the U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced on the floor Thursday night that lawmakers will clear the Senate-passed fiscal deal and then adjourn for the week by early Friday afternoon.

Rep. Charlie Dent, Trump critic and leading voice of centrist GOP, to retire
Jonathan Tamari, The Philadelphia Inquirer  

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, who has led a shrinking group of centrist Republicans and frequently clashed with President Trump, announced Thursday night that he will not seek reelection next year. The decision will end the tenure of one of Pennsylvania’s most visible members of Congress, one regularly sought out by national news outlets to represent the views of more moderate Republicans, such as those from the Philadelphia area.


‘This storm has the potential to catastrophically devastate our state’
Joel Achenbach et al., The Washington Post

Florida officials urged residents in flood-prone coastal communities to get out while they can, ordering evacuations in the face of oncoming Hurricane Irma, which could make landfall Sunday and inflict massive destruction not seen in the state since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Hurricanes have lashed South Florida many times, but officials here at the National Hurricane Center said this is shaping up as a once-in-a-generation storm.

Bill blocking public release of police body camera footage depicting rape victims passes Legislature
Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times

A bill that would block the public release of police body camera footage or other videos that depict victims of rape, incest, sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The measure, AB 459 from Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Arcadia), overwhelmingly passed the Assembly on Thursday with no debate.


Koch Brothers Will Push Congress to Protect DREAMers
Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast 

The political network of libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch is poised to back a bill protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Spokespeople for the Koch network confirmed to The Daily Beast that it will press Congress for a legislative fix to the recently rescinded Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that shielded undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.

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Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Trump’s deal with the Democrats saves us from disaster — but not for long
Editorial Board, The Washington Post

When the best that can be said is that the nation can “breathe a sigh of relief,” as Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) put it Wednesday, that’s better than a dive over the cliff. The deal struck by President Trump and Congress to postpone until December a divisive battle over fiscal matters is hardly an ideal solution.

Trump Finally Pivots—but Will It Last?
Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

And so, the pivot. I thought it would come sooner, on the heels of the inaugural address in which President Trump deliberately declared his distance from the Republicans of George W. Bush’s era and the Democrats of Barack Obama’s.

Why Trump’s Betrayal Won’t Matter
Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review

Even in an administration that is always breaking new ground in terms of unorthodox presidential behavior, Wednesday’s Oval Office ambush was a shocker. At a meeting with congressional leaders that the Republicans thought was merely a photo op, President Trump abandoned his party and sided with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on a deal to temporarily extend the debt-ceiling limit.

Congress keeps holding military funding hostage. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Mac Thornberry, The Washington Post

This summer, the nation mourned the 42 service members who died in accidents related to readiness challenges across our military. The deaths of 17 sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald, along with separate accidents claiming the lives of 19 Marines and six soldiers, grabbed the nation’s attention.

Why Jeff Sessions’ Recycled Crime-Fighting Strategy Is Doomed to Fail
Mark Obbie, Politico

Newly minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in St. Louis, the latest stop on his tour to promote his muscular solution to what he called the “dangerous new trend” of the rising national violent crime rate. Addressing a crowd of more than 200 federal and local law enforcement officials at the city’s towering federal courthouse in late March, he vowed to “use every lawful tool we have to get the most dangerous offenders off America’s streets.”

The First White President
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic 

It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them.

Research Reports and Polling

Democratic voters are increasingly likely to call their views liberal
Samantha Smith, Pew Research Center

Seven months into President Donald Trump’s administration, nearly half of all Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters describe their political views as liberal. The share of Democrats who describe themselves this way has steadily risen and is now 20 percentage points higher than in 2000.

News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017
Elisa Shearer and Jeffrey Gottfried, Pew Research Center

As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media – with two-in-ten doing so often, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. This is a modest increase since early 2016, when (during the height of the presidential primaries) 62% of U.S. adults reported getting news from social media.