Washington Brief: Voters Say Storm Aid Should Be Top Priority for Congress

Top Stories

  • Passing an aid package for Hurricane Harvey relief tops other pressing legislative priorities this month in the minds of 67 percent of registered voters, according to a new poll. The House is set to take up a $7.9 billion disaster relief package today. (Morning Consult)
  • Virginia’s two Democratic senators — Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — are planning to join Republican Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.) in introducing a joint resolution condemning violence in Charlottesville, Va., and “rejecting white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.” If adopted by both chambers, President Donald Trump would be required to support or reject the resolution. (Politico)
  • Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is expected to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to discuss contacts with Russia by his father’s presidential campaign. The meeting is an interview with staff, but several senators are planning to attend. (The Washington Post)
  • New excerpts emerged from Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book, which is set to be released next Tuesday. The former Democratic presidential nominee wrote that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign against her caused “lasting damage” and paved the way for Trump’s “‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign.” (CNN)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Atlantic Council discussion on modernizing NAFTA, North American energy sector 9 a.m.
EPA public hearing on mid-term evaluations for greenhouse gas emissions standards 9 a.m.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S.-Turkey relations 10:30 a.m.
Senate Appropriations subcommittee markup of the FY2018 Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bill 11 a.m.
Senate Appropriations subcommittee markup of FY2018 State & Foreign Operations appropriations bill 2 p.m.
CAP event on part-time college students 10 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee hearing on Children’s Health Insurance Program 10 a.m.
House Armed Services Committee hearing on problems with USS Fitzgerald, USS John S. McCain 2 p.m.
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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Voters Say Storm Aid Should Be Top Priority for Congress
Anna Gronewold, Morning Consult

Support for the storm-ravaged parts of Texas and Louisiana should be of crucial importance for lawmakers, according to voters who put relief efforts atop Congress’ challenging to-do list for September. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said funding Harvey relief efforts should be a top priority for lawmakers returning from their August recess, according to a Morning Consult/POLITICO survey of 1,993 voters conducted Aug. 31 through Sept. 3.

Trump approved Florida request for Irma emergency declaration, Gov. Scott says
Kristen M. Clark, Miami Herald

President Donald Trump has approved Florida’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday evening. “This will free up much-needed federal funding and assistance as we prepare for Irma,” Scott said during a 6:15 p.m. briefing with reporters at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

New Clinton book blasts Sanders for ‘lasting damage’ in 2016 race
Dan Merica, CNN

Hillary Clinton casts Bernie Sanders as an unrealistic over-promiser in her new book, according to excerpts posted by a group of Clinton supporters. She said that his attacks against her during the primary caused “lasting damage” and paved the way for “(Donald) Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign.”  


Trump wants one last Senate push on Obamacare repeal
Burgess Everett and Josh Dawsey, Politico

President Donald Trump and some Senate Republicans are refusing to give up on Obamacare repeal, even after this summer’s spectacular failure and with less than a month before a key deadline. The president and White House staff have continued to work with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana over the summer on their proposal to block grant federal health care funding to the states.

Trump cancels Texas fundraisers
Alex Isenstadt, Politico

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has canceled a series of fundraisers it had planned to hold in Texas this fall in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, according to three Republicans familiar with the decision. Trump had been scheduled to host a Dallas fundraising dinner in late September, while Vice President Mike Pence had been slated to headline a dinner in San Antonio followed by a lunch in Houston, both to take place in early October.

A two-decade crusade by conservative charities fueled Trump’s exit from Paris climate accord
Robert O’Harrow Jr., The Washington Post

Myron Ebell stood in bright sunlight as President Trump stepped into the Rose Garden and spoke. “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens,” Trump said to rowdy applause, “the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.”

Former Wisconsin sheriff joins pro-Trump super PAC
Ben Klayman, Reuters 

Former Wisconsin sheriff David Clarke, an African-American who criticized the Black Lives Mater movement and was previously under consideration for a position with the Trump administration, has joined a super political action committee that backs the president, officials said on Tuesday. Clarke, 61, will serve as spokesman and senior advisor for America First Action, his office and the political action committee said in two separate statements.


Senate resolution to force Trump’s hand on condemning Charlottesville hate groups
Seung Min Kim, Politico

The Senate is preparing to force President Donald Trump to go on record to officially condemn the deadly white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville last month. Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, along with Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, plan to formally roll out a Senate resolution later Wednesday that forcefully condemns the violence in Charlottesville while “rejecting white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.”

Senate Judiciary’s meeting with Trump Jr. scheduled for Thursday
Karoun Demirjian, The Washington Post

The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet with Donald Trump Jr. on Thursday to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, according to three Democratic members of the committee. The meeting, which is expected to be comprehensive, is the first opportunity that members of the committee will have to grill someone from President Trump’s inner circle about the campaign’s alleged attempts to engage with Kremlin surrogates, during a period when the intelligence community believes Russia was taking steps to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump’s candidacy.

Once a corruption fighter, Menendez now set to stand trial on bribery charges
Ryan Hutchins, Politico

As a 20-something political upstart in New Jersey, Robert Menendez sat in a witness box in federal court — so fearful of retribution he wore a bullet-proof vest — and pointed a finger at his political mentor: William V. Musto, the mayor of Union City. Thirty-five years later, Menendez, now one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Washington, is returning to federal court in the same city in which he became a government witness.

North Dakota Dem earns some Trump backers by leaning GOP
Thomas Beaumont and James MacPherson, The Associated Press 

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is the only statewide-elected Democrat in heavily Republican North Dakota, where President Donald Trump rolled to a win last year and the GOP is optimistic about knocking out the senator in next year’s midterm elections. Yet Heitkamp hardly resembles many of her hard-charging, Trump-resisting Democratic colleagues in Washington.


MacArthur: Agreement reached with House Freedom Caucus chair on health plan
Peter Sullivan, The Hill

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) says he has reached an agreement with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on the terms for a bill aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets. MacArthur, who is more centrist than Meadows and previously worked with him on a deal for ObamaCare repeal legislation, says he has reached agreement with Meadows on the outline of a proposal, though some details need to be worked out.

House committee subpoenas FBI, Justice over Trump dossier
Byron York, Washington Examiner

In the most significant escalation yet in the wrangling between Congress and the FBI over the Trump dossier, the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed the bureau and the Justice Department for documents relating to the dossier, the FBI’s relationship with dossier author Christopher Steele, and the bureau’s possible role in supporting what began as an opposition research project against candidate Donald Trump in the final months of last year’s presidential campaign. The subpoenas are an indication of growing frustration inside the committee over the FBI and Justice Department’s lack of cooperation in the Trump-Russia investigation.

House panel to take up Trump tax return resolution
Colin Wilhelm, Politico

The House Ways and Means Committee will consider a resolution Thursday to force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. But committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said it’s not because he believes the resolution, offered by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), has merit.

House prepares to take a big step on self-driving cars
David McCabe, Axios

Today the House is expected to pass the first major legislation to speed up the rollout of self-driving cars — an early step to outline standards for artificial intelligence-driven technologies. But there’s still a long way to go before Silicon Valley and Detroit can fill the roads with driverless cars.

GOP Super PAC Expands Field Presence to 17 Districts
Simone Pathé, Roll Call

The Republican super PAC backed by House leadership is expanding its field program by opening new offices in six GOP-held districts. Congressional Leadership Fund now has a 17 field offices across the country.


U.S. appeals court says Texas can implement voter ID law
Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

The state of Texas won at least a temporary victory on Tuesday in its bid to implement a controversial voter identification law when a federal appeals court stayed a ruling by a U.S. district court judge that barred its enforcement. A three-member panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted 2-1 to put the lower court judge’s ruling on hold while it considers the constitutionality of the law, which was passed this year by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.

Democrats launch super PAC to win back statehouses
Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico

Democrats have been throttled by Republicans in the all-important battle for state legislative chambers the past decade. Now they’re trying to turn the tide with the launch of a new super PAC.

Wolf: Pennsylvanians will ‘get hurt’ if budget isn’t funded
Marc Levy, The Associated Press

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf warned Tuesday that Pennsylvanians will “get hurt” if state lawmakers do not pass a revenue package to balance a nearly $32 billion budget bill they approved more than two months ago. Wolf also said his decision day is Sept. 15, when he will have to start freezing some spending to prevent the state’s main bank account from going below zero.

Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost.
Mark Binelli, The New York Times

Free-market boosters, including Betsy DeVos, promised that a radical expansion of charter schools would fix the stark inequalities in the state’s education system. The results in the classrooms are far more complicated.


Business backlash hits Trump’s DACA decision
Megan R. Wilson and Ali Breland, The Hill

The Trump administration’s decision to halt a program for young people illegally brought to the United States as children was met with a furious backlash from the business community on Tuesday, with industry leaders quickly firing back. Business leaders, corporations and universities lined up to condemn Trump’s phased-out termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era administrative program for people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

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Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Confirm Eric Dreiband as Assistant AG for Civil Rights
David Grinberg, Morning Consult

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the nomination of Eric S. Dreiband to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice. I had the privilege of working directly with Dreiband at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when he served as general counsel and I was a long-time media spokesman (career civil servant).

The Dreamer Debacle
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

President Trump is taking flak from all sides for ending his predecessor’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, thus putting some 800,000 young immigrants—so-called Dreamers—in legal limbo. Though the President and Barack Obama share responsibility for instigating the crisis, Mr. Trump and Congress now have an obligation to fix it and spare these productive young adults from harm they don’t deserve.

How we can find common ground on health care
Patty Murray, The Washington Post 

Like so many people across the country, I breathed a sigh of relief when Trumpcare didn’t reach the president’s desk this summer. But legislation isn’t the only way the current administration has tried to undermine families’ health care and raise their costs.

An Incoherent Strategy on North Korea
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

The North Korean nuclear threat is worsening by the day. Tougher economic sanctions have not accomplished much, if anything. Nor has President Trump’s bellicosity.

Research Reports and Polling

Political Divisions in U.S. Are Widening, Long-Lasting, Poll Shows
Janet Hook, The Wall Street Journal

Divisions in America reach far beyond Washington into the nation’s culture, economy and social fabric, and the polarization began long before the rise of President Donald Trump, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey of social trends has found. The findings help explain why political divisions are now especially hard to bridge.

States Have Weakest Tax Revenue Growth Since Recession
Barb Rosewicz and Daniel Newman, The Pew Charitable Trusts 

Despite the nation’s slow but steady economic recovery, combined state tax collections dropped in 2016, after adjusting for inflation. Flat or falling revenue increased budget pressures in many states.