Today’s Washington Brief
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Mark Your Calendars (All Eastern Times)
Immigration hard-liner Sessions could execute crackdown as AG
For two decades in the Senate, Jeff Sessions led an anti-immigration crusade that made him an outlier in GOP politics — raging against illegal immigration and an excess of foreign workers well before Donald Trump tore onto the political scene. But next year, Sessions likely will be the one engineering the immigration crackdown.
Obama’s Castro condolences in line with tradition
Cuban-American lawmakers have denounced President Obama’s tepid statement about the death of Fidel Castro, accusing the White House of whitewashing decades of human rights abuses. But Obama’s reaction fits a modern tradition of American presidents playing down, or entirely ignoring, those sorts of criticisms when responding to a foreign leader’s passing.
The ‘alt-right’ splinters as supporters and critics agree it was white supremacy all along
When people start throwing Nazi salutes in public, it has a way of clarifying where everybody stands. The loosely defined “alt-right” movement has splintered in recent weeks as less hard-core supporters distance themselves from the term.
Trump to leave business to ‘fully focus on running the country’
President-elect Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that he will leave his “great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country” in the White House. The Manhattan billionaire made the announcement on Twitter and said he will hold a formal press conference to discuss it further on Dec. 15.
Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday confirmed that President-elect Donald Trump intends to name him as his Treasury secretary, adding both a key campaign figure and a Wall Street veteran to his administration. Billionaire Wilbur Ross is also expected to be nominated as secretary of commerce. Mnuchin, who served as finance chairman for Trump’s presidential campaign, was last the chairman of Dune Capital Management.
Trump to Announce Carrier Plant Will Keep Jobs in U.S.
From the earliest days of his campaign, Donald J. Trump made keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States his signature economic issue, and the decision by Carrier, the big air-conditioner company, to move over 2,000 of them from Indiana to Mexico was a tailor-made talking point for him on the stump. On Thursday, Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, Indiana’s governor and the vice president-elect, plan to appear at Carrier’s Indianapolis factory to announce a deal with the company to keep roughly 1,000 jobs in the state, according to officials with the transition team as well as Carrier.
Trump Picks Washington Insider Elaine Chao For Transportation Secretary
President-elect Donald Trump ran an insurgent, anti-establishment campaign, but the latest addition to his prospective Cabinet is about as establishment as it gets. Elaine Chao, whom Trump picked Tuesday to head the Department of Transportation, worked in both Bush administrations, has ties to the conservative Heritage Foundation, has sat on numerous corporate boards and spent several years running the United Way of America.
Trump turns to conservative tacticians to run HHS and Medicare, Medicaid
President-elect Donald Trump’s choices for health secretary and administrator of the government’s largest health insurance programs have for years pursued a sharply conservative agenda that includes redefining Medicare, placing “personal responsibility” requirements on low-income recipients of Medicaid, and dismantling the Affordable Care Act. If adopted, this agenda could dramatically alter access to insurance and medical services for more than 100 million Americans covered through the two entitlement programs and the ACA.
From enemies to potential allies: How the Trump-Romney divide began to heal
Shortly after Donald Trump won the presidential election, one of Mitt Romney’s closest friends sent him an urgent plea over email: Move past the campaign hostility and, for the “best interests of the country,” consider joining the new president’s team as his secretary of state. Then the friend, Stephen Pagliuca, who worked with Romney at Bain Capital and has socialized with Trump, urged advisers to the president-elect to press Trump to name Romney for the State Department job.
Duffy Tops List to Take Over Wall Street Subcommittee
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) is atop the list of candidates to replace Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) as chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, according to a senior Republican aide with knowledge of the discussions. Garrett lost his Northern New Jersey congressional seat to Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer earlier this month. The subcommittee he chairs is considered one of the most important gatekeepers between the financial services industry and House lawmakers.
Compromise reached on massive U.S. defense bill
A compromise version of a massive U.S. defense policy bill omits controversial provisions such as a clause Democrats said allowed discrimination against homosexuals and a requirement that women register for the draft. The $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, will likely come up for a vote in the House of Representatives late this week, and the Senate next week, senior committee staff members told reporters at a background briefing on Tuesday.
Schumer Sounds Warning on Price as Democrats Rally Around Medicare
Democrats are rallying against President-elect Trump’s intention to nominate Rep. Tom Price as the secretary of Health and Human Services under the incoming administration, saying the Georgia Republican could damage the Medicare program. “There is a chance his nomination will fail,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the incoming minority leader, said at a Capitol Hill press conference. “This is one of those issues where Democrats have been completely united.”
Black Senate Staffers Push for More Diversity
A group of African-American Senate staffers are pushing lawmakers to increase diversity in their offices as they prepare for the next Congress. The Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus sent a letter and a document of recommendations to Senate leaders and every Senate office Tuesday evening.
Grassley Warns Democrats Not to Attack Sessions’ Character
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley called on his Democratic colleagues Tuesday to resist attacking Sen. Jeff Sessions’ character during the Alabama Republican’s upcoming confirmation hearing on his nomination to serve as the nation’s next attorney general. The Iowa Republican bemoaned the 2001 confirmation process of President George W. Bush’s nominee, John Ashcroft, as a “reckless campaign that snowballed into an avalanche of innuendo, rumor and spin.”
Former Utah Governor Huntsman Considers U.S. Senate Run in 2018
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said he’s weighing a run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, depending in part on whether fellow Republican Orrin Hatch decides to seek an eighth term. “I’ve always said that I’ve got one more run left in our bones. And I don’t know what that will be. But I love this country,” Huntsman said.
More Than A Dozen Pelosi Supporters Consider Turning On Her
With Democrats still reeling from the election, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has launched a long-shot bid to unseat Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a race that several Democrats say could be closer than their longtime leader expects it to be when the votes are counted on Wednesday morning. When Pelosi, who has led House Democrats since 2003, announced she’d run once again for her party’s top leadership post in the House, she said she had secured the support of more than two-thirds of the caucus.
Congressional Black Caucus Furious With Pelosi Over Proposed Leadership Changes
Leaders in the Congressional Black Caucus are furious and disappointed by Leader Nancy Pelosi’s changes to the leadership structure, due to what they believe is a lack of appreciation for the Black caucus as a voting bloc and Black voters’ allegiance to the party. This late, ideological break with Pelosi led more than a dozen black Democrats on the Hill to believe that at least two-thirds of the CBC could possibly vote in the secret ballot election for Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.
House eyes budget stopgap through April
House Republicans may extend a budget stopgap further into next year in order to accommodate the Senate’s busy nomination schedule in early 2017, Republican sources say. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) two weeks ago unveiled plans to extend current government spending levels through March, allowing the President-elect to have a greater say in agencies’ fuller 2017 budgets early next year. The short-term budget bill is expected to pass next week.
Becerra vies for Ways and Means post as Levin steps aside
The battle is on to be the next top Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Both Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.) announced Tuesday they would seek the post, shortly after the long-time ranking member, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), said that he wouldn’t run for the top job again.
GOP leaders set for House vote on medical research bill
Republican leaders are ready to push through the House a compromise medical research bill that’s prompted complaints from Democrats and consumer groups but seems all but certain to sail through Congress with momentum built by victories that it delivers for both parties and the White House. The legislation envisions spending $6.3 billion over the coming decade, including $4.8 billion for National Institutes of Health research.
House Freedom Caucus Elects Board Members, Meadows to Run for Chairman
The House Freedom Caucus elected three new board members Tuesday night, as North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows announced he plans to run for caucus chairman. Current caucus head, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who has led the conservative group since it’s inception in early 2015, told Roll Call he does not plan to seek another term as chairman.
Scott says decision to run for governor will come down to ‘God, my family and Trey Gowdy’
Scott is deeply spiritual, and he remains devoted to his relatives who still live back home in the Palmetto State. Gowdy, a fellow S.C. Republican and ally serving in the U.S. House, is Scott’s closest friend on Capitol Hill.
In North Carolina, No End in Sight to Governor’s Race
The Democratic challenger, Roy Cooper, has declared victory. But the Republican incumbent, Pat McCrory, trailing by thousands of votes in the as-yet-unfinished tally, has refused to concede, as he and his allies charge that the election was marred by numerous irregularities.
Schumerland ascends to new heights in Senate
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will be able to draw upon a network of influencers and former aides when he ascends to Senate Democratic leader in 2017. Former staffers of Schumer’s have prominent positions throughout Washington and New York, exerting their clout at trade associations, corporate offices, public relations shops, and law and lobbying firms.
A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:
Big box retailers promised to return Durbin Amendment savings to customers. Five years later, merchants continue padding their bottom lines. New data shows more than six in ten consumers think the Durbin Amendment should be repealed if merchants aren’t returning the savings to customers. Learn more from EPC.
Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives
It’s Time to Deliver #CuresNow
While bipartisan collaboration has been less than abundant in Washington recently, it has been the driving force for us, a Republican from Michigan and a Democrat from Colorado. We came up with the 21st Century Cures Act, an innovation game-changer providing a way to safely speed the discovery, development and delivery of new treatments and cures.
Tom Price, a Radical Choice for Health Secretary
In picking Representative Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen as his secretary of health and human services a man intent on systematically weakening, if not demolishing, the nation’s health care safety net. Mr. Price, a Republican from Georgia, is a fierce opponent of the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health reform law, and beyond that, supports plans to slash Medicare and Medicaid, which cover tens of millions of elderly, disabled and low-income Americans.
GOP lawmaker: Our party must take back the ‘narrative of hope and inclusion’
In the months leading to Nov. 8, Americans were searching for a path out of the economic malaise dubbed the Great Recession. More importantly, and perhaps more subtly, they were searching for a compelling, unified picture of what our country stands for and where it’s headed.
What a 21st-century safety net should look like
Modern American capitalism is not working for many Americans. That’s why, no matter what your political leanings, fixing an economy that can no longer be counted on to create steady, well-paying jobs for all has to be our top priority.
A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:
Consumers are saying, “Enough is enough.” It is time to repeal the merchant markup that has served the special interests of big box retailers for far too long. Learn more from the Electronic Payments Coalition.
Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies
U.S. Economic Confidence Highest in Nine Years
Americans expressed more positivity about the U.S. economy last week than they have at any other time during the nine years that Gallup has been tracking the U.S. Economic Confidence Index. The latest score of +6 for the week ending Nov. 27 inched past the previous high of +5 recorded in January 2015.