Washington Brief: Obamacare Subsidies Likely to Factor Into Year-End Spending Negotiations

Top Stories

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump are scheduled to meet today to discuss legislative priorities for the rest of the calendar year, as lawmakers look to strike a bipartisan deal that would fund key Obamacare payments to insurers. Trump said last week that his administration would no longer make the payments, adding to Congress’ to-do list and providing another potential pressure point on government funding talks before the end of the year. (The Washington Post)
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she was likely to support the Senate GOP’s budget framework for a tax overhaul, which could come to the floor as early as this week. McConnell can afford to lose only two Republican senators in order to adopt the budget resolution on a party-line vote. (Bloomberg)
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) are mulling whether to eliminate state and local tax deductions in their forthcoming tax-overhaul bill. Eliminating the deductions would likely cause political problems for some GOP lawmakers in high-tax states like California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. (Roll Call)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on the U.S. workforce 8 a.m.
Bloomberg Government event on affordable housing 8 a.m.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on prescription drug costs 10 a.m.
National Iranian American Council event on the future of the Iran nuclear deal 12 p.m.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce TecNation event 12:30 p.m.
Georgetown Law event on Trump-Russia investigation 3:30 p.m.
BPC event with former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz 9 a.m.
Sens. Hassan, Portman speak at Washington Post event on opioid epidemic 9 a.m.
Attorney General Sessions testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee 10 a.m.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on health reform 1:30 p.m.
Sens. Cruz, Sanders debate GOP tax plan on CNN 9 p.m.
CSIS event on U.S. energy policy 12:30 p.m.
Heritage Foundation event on North Korea 3 p.m.
Brookings Institution event on Trump’s deregulatory efforts 10:30 a.m.

The NFL Is Now One of the Most Divisive Brands in the U.S.

According to Morning Consult Brand Intelligence data published in The New York Times, the NFL has become one of the most controversial organizations in the country.


Partisan clash on Obamacare raises specter of government shutdown
Paul Kane, The Washington Post

Democrats accused President Trump of trying to sabotage the nation’s health-care system through his decision to halt payments to insurers meant to shore up the system, while Republicans countered Sunday that Trump is just pushing for a hard bargain. Trump’s decision, announced Friday after months of criticizing the payments as an insurance industry bailout, will throw in doubt the private insurance exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act.

At Values Voter Summit, Bannon declares ‘war’ on GOP establishment
Miranda Green, CNN

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon implored conservative activists at a Washington gathering Saturday morning to continue fighting the GOP establishment, attacking a number of Republican members of Congress by name, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bannon told attendees at the Values Voter Summit, an annual social conservative conference, to keep up the fight against the “imperial” political class.

Firefighters Make Progress Against Deadly California Blazes
Erin Ailworth and Jon Kamp, The Wall Street Journal

A week into the battle against the deadly fires scorching Northern California, officials cited some progress early Sunday as they continue trying to hem in the blazes. Containment figures have improved for the major fires, which have killed at least 40 people and forced the evacuation of more than 100,000.

Somalia Truck Bombings Kill Nearly 300, Officials Say
Hussein Mohamed and Mohamed Ibrahim, The New York Times

The death toll from twin truck bombings in Somalia’s capital rose to nearly 300 on Sunday, officials said, as emergency crews pulled more bodies from burned cars and demolished buildings after the Saturday blasts. Officials called the explosions on Saturday one of the deadliest attacks to hit the capital, Mogadishu, since an Islamist insurgency began in 2007.

Philippines: Last leaders of IS-tied siege killed in Marawi
Jim Gomez, The Associated Press

The two final surviving leaders of a deadly siege in the southern Philippines, including a top Asian terror suspect, were killed Monday in one of the final battles by thousands of troops to retake the last area in Marawi city held by pro-Islamic State group militants, security officials said. Four military and police officials told The Associated Press that Isnilon Hapilon, who is listed among the FBI’s most-wanted terror suspects, and Omarkhayam Maute were killed in a gunbattle and their bodies were found Monday in Marawi.

Austria shifts to right as conservative star seals election win
Shadia Nasralla and Kirsti Knolle, Reuters

Young conservative star Sebastian Kurz is on track to become Austria’s next leader after an election on Sunday, but his party is far short of a majority and likely to seek a coalition with the resurgent far right. Foreign Minister Kurz, who is just 31, managed to propel his People’s Party to first place by taking a hard line on immigration that left little space between it and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

The World Once Laughed at North Korean Cyberpower. No More.
David E. Sanger et al., The New York Times

When North Korean hackers tried to steal $1 billion from the New York Federal Reserve last year, only a spelling error stopped them. They were digitally looting an account of the Bangladesh Central Bank, when bankers grew suspicious about a withdrawal request that had misspelled “foundation” as “fandation.”


Mueller’s team interviewed Priebus on Friday
Josh Dawsey and Annie Karni, Politico

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday, according to his lawyer, William Burck. “Mr. Priebus was voluntarily interviewed by Special Counsel Mueller’s team today. He was happy to answer all of their questions,” Burck said.

Trump campaign’s legal spending tops $1 million during third quarter
Maggie Severns, Politico

President Donald Trump’s campaign paid more than $1 million in legal bills in the last three months as investigations continue into Russia’s role in the 2016 election, new disclosures made public on Sunday show. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have now disclosed a total of more than $2 million this year in payments to law firms and to lawyers with a company owned by the president’s family.

U.S. officials try to ease concerns Trump may quit Iran deal
Richard Cowan and David Morgan, Reuters

Senior Trump administration officials said on Sunday that the United States was committed to remaining part of the Iran nuclear accord for now, despite President Donald Trump’s criticisms of the deal and his warnings that he might pull out. Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that Tehran is complying with the 2015 nuclear accord intended to increase Iran’s accountability in return for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

Tillerson on North Korea: Diplomacy will continue ‘until the first bomb drops’
Eli Watkins, CNN

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday his diplomatic efforts will continue as long as they possibly can despite the saber-rattling on both sides of the Pacific. “Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops,” Tillerson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Aiding Transgender Case, Sessions Defies His Image on Civil Rights
Matt Apuzzo, The New York Times

The Justice Department has dispatched an experienced federal hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student last year, a highly unusual move that officials said was personally initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In taking the step, Mr. Sessions, a staunch conservative, is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.

The art of the deal-breaker
Jonathan Swan, Axios

It’s hard to overstate how concerned free-traders on Capitol Hill are about the current state of the Trump administration’s negotiations on two consequential trade deals: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S.-Korean trade deal (KORUS.) “We’re all on collapse-watch,” one knowledgable source told me.

Promise the Moon? Easy for Trump. But Now Comes the Reckoning.
Peter Baker, The New York Times

President Trump leaves little doubt about what he thinks of his predecessor’s top domestic and international legacies. The health care program enacted by President Barack Obama is “outrageous” and “absolutely destroying everything in its wake.”

Donald Trump and the Dawn of the Evangelical-Nationalist Alliance
Tim Alberta, Politico

Donald Trump’s supporters always had diverging interpretations of his campaign mantra, “Make America Great Again,” yet they all centered on returning the country to a better and more comfortable time. To economic nationalists, it meant going back to an era of high tariffs and buying American.


Collins a Likely ‘Yes’ on Senate Resolution Key to Tax Reform
Ros Krasny, Bloomberg

Senator Susan Collins says she’s leaning toward supporting a fiscal 2018 Senate budget resolution that’s key to the Republican effort to pass a major tax overhaul without the need for Democratic votes. “I am likely a yes on that budget,” Collins said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I very much want to see tax reform.”

The Rule That Broke the Senate
Jeff Davis, Politico

This month, as congressional leaders ready their various budget and tax proposals for fiscal year 2018, Republican hopes hinge on the use of budget reconciliation—a way to expedite the lawmaking process for certain bills by immunizing them from the threat of filibuster and limiting the scope of amendments. In short, if the House and Senate can each pass the same budget resolution, it starts a process in which they can reconcile any differences between the two bills in a final proposal both chambers then vote on.

Back Home, a Unanimous Verdict on Corker vs. Trump: That’s Just Bob
Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times

“Liddle” Bob Corker is kind of a big deal around here. They knew it in high school, when he swaggered into the student body presidency without having to campaign.

Florida’s Senate race shaping up as a clash of titans
Marc Caputo and Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico

Sen. Bill Nelson went to Democratic leader Chuck Schumer this summer with an urgent plea. Florida’s Democratic Party was in disarray after the 2016 presidential debacle, the senator said, and he needed help from D.C. to prepare for a likely challenge next year by GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who’s spent at least $86 million of his own fortune on his two gubernatorial campaigns.


Brady and Ryan Mulling Big Gamble on Key Tax Deduction
Lindsey McPherson, Roll Call

House Republican leaders face many decisions regarding details of a tax overhaul but perhaps none more immediately consequential than whether to roll the dice and try to eliminate the state and local tax, or SALT, deduction. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas and Speaker Paul D. Ryan have made it abundantly clear they’d prefer to get rid of the deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct what they pay in state and local property taxes and either state income taxes or sales taxes.

Capitol Hell: Inside Rep. Tim Murphy’s Toxic Congressional Office
Matt Fuller, HuffPost

Constant tension. Occasional screaming. Unreasonable hours. Impossible expectations. Hardly any way out.


De León to Challenge Feinstein in California Senate Race
Bridget Bowman, Roll Call

State Senate Leader Kevin de León announced Sunday this he is challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the California Senate race. De León, 50, is taking on his fellow Democrat for not being liberal enough to represent the solid blue state.

Not on the Ballot, but Dominating the Virginia Governor’s Race: Trump
Jonathan Martin, The New York Times

Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee for Virginia governor, deployed just about every tactical evasion he had learned from a lifetime in politics as he dodged questions about President Trump. Then he finally flashed irritation.


The Drug Industry’s Triumph Over the DEA
Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein, The Washington Post

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets. By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Trump’s Nafta Threat
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump is threatening again to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada and Mexico don’t agree to his ultimatums. If this is a negotiating tactic of making extreme demands only to settle for much less and claim victory, maybe it will work. Otherwise Mr. Trump is playing a game of chicken he can’t win.

Nafta Needs an Update, Not Repeal
George P. Shultz and Pedro Aspe, The New York Times

Canada, Mexico and the United States belong to a North American neighborhood, and all three countries benefit from being strong and prosperous. North America is at a crossroads, with skepticism about the virtues of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the United States’ relationship with its neighbors.

The Supreme Court has a chance to restore faith in democracy
Editorial Board, The Washington Post

The Supreme Court’s term has only just begun, but the justices have already heard arguments in what may be their most important case this year. At stake in Gill v. Whitford is whether the court will intervene against the increasingly sophisticated practice of partisan gerrymandering, in which politicians redraw the lines of legislative districts to cement their hold on power.

McConnell vs Trump is majority leader’s biggest challenge yet
Al Cross, The Courier-Journal

Mitch McConnell has been planning to run for re-election to the Senate from Kentucky in 2020. Now it seems he may be running an earlier campaign, for re-election in 2018 as majority leader.

Research Reports and Polling

How people in Asia-Pacific view China
Laura Silver, Pew Research Center

This week, China convenes its 19th National Congress, a gathering closely watched by those seeking to understand power shifts and policy changes within the world’s most populous country. The meeting will feature a review of the Communist Party’s work over the past five years, including China’s foreign policy and its relations with its neighbors.