Washington Brief: Most Voters Say Trump Is Already Delivering on Promises

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump will address a joint session of Congress tonight, and most voters say he is already delivering on his promises, according to a new poll. (Morning Consult) The Morning Consult/POLITICO poll also found that many voters think Trump will cut Medicare and Medicaid spending. (Morning Consult)
  • The Trump administration began to detail its budget proposal, which includes increased defense spending. The framework is already pitting Trump against some congressional Republicans. (The New York Times)
  • Congress’ most conservative Republicans, including members of the House Freedom Caucus, said they are not on board with a leadership-backed bill that would repeal Obamacare. The conservative lawmakers have their own proposal. (Politico)
  • Trump is set to sign bills and executive orders today, including one that would pull back the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule and another that would repeal a regulation that prevents some people with mental health issues from purchasing firearms. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The Senate voted 72-27 to confirm Wilbur Ross as the next secretary of Commerce. (The Associated Press)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
House Judiciary Committee meets on health care, Trump taxes 10 a.m.
Trump addresses joint session of Congress 9 p.m.
Wednesday
Brookings Institution event on the future of the European security order 9 a.m.
Former FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel speaks at Center for American Progress event 12 p.m.
Thursday
No events scheduled
Friday
No events scheduled

 

General

Heritage Introduces Framework for Dodd-Frank Replacement
Tara Jeffries, Morning Consult 

As Republicans prepare to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, the Heritage Foundation is ready to weigh in with a blueprint for financial regulation that calls for transferring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s authorities to the Federal Trade Commission, according to a document reviewed by Morning Consult. The framework, which sets conservative goalposts for the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers, advocates for reducing federal deposit insurance, loosening securities disclosure rules, eliminating a key market structure rule and placing financial regulators under the congressional appropriations process.

Why Democrats picked Beshear to rebut Trump
Alex Roarty, McClatchy DC

Steve Beshear is 72 years old, out of office and on nobody’s shortlist of presidential contenders, making him a seemingly odd choice among all Democrats to respond to President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. But the former Kentucky governor’s allies say no Democrat is better positioned to rebut Trump as the president and a Republican Congress push to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

‘What Do You Think Is the Most Important Problem Facing This Country Today?’
Gregor Aisch and Alicia Parlapiano, The New York Times

Since the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Gallup polling organization has asked Americans an open-ended question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” As Donald J. Trump prepares for his first major address to the nation on Tuesday, he has a unique set of issues to tackle.

Russia Looks to Exploit White House ‘Turbulence,’ Analysts Say
Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times

The Kremlin, increasingly convinced that President Trump will not fundamentally change relations with Russia, is instead seeking to bolster its global influence by exploiting what it considers weakness in Washington, according to political advisers, diplomats, journalists and other analysts. Russia has continued to test the United States on the military front, with fighter jets flying close to an American warship in the Black Sea this month and a Russian naval vessel steaming conspicuously in the Atlantic off the coast of Delaware.

Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence: Officials
Cynthia McFadden et al., NBC News

Last month’s deadly commando raid in Yemen, which cost the lives of a U.S. Navy SEAL and a number of children, has so far yielded no significant intelligence, U.S. officials told NBC News. Although Pentagon officials have said the raid produced “actionable intelligence,” senior officials who spoke to NBC News said they were unaware of any, even as the father of the dead SEAL questioned the premise of the raid in an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday.

Presidential

Trump to Sign Bills Repealing Obama-era Regulations on Firearms, Water
Michael C. Bender, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump on Tuesday will sign one executive order aimed at repealing an Obama-era water regulation and another that would move an initiative to assist historically black colleges and universities from the Education Department into the White House, an administration official said. The president will also sign a bill that would repeal an Obama-era regulation aimed at blocking firearm purchases for some people with mental-health issues.

Trump Concedes Health Law Overhaul Is ‘Unbelievably Complex’
Robert Pear and Kate Kelly, The New York Times

President Trump, meeting with the nation’s governors, conceded Monday that he had not been aware of the complexities of health care policy-making: “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” The president also suggested that the struggle to replace the Affordable Care Act was creating a legislative logjam that could delay other parts of his political agenda.

Trump administration confirms plans to drop key claim against Texas Voter ID
Jim Malewitz, The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed Monday it plans to ditch its longstanding position that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minority voters by passing the nation’s strictest voter identification law in 2011. The move comes one day before a federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments on that high-stakes voting rights question, and it highlights yet another instance in which President Donald Trump has dramatically departed from the path of his predecessor.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in Talks to Be State Department’s No. 2
Felicia Schwartz and Peter Nicholas, The Wall Street Journal

Former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is in talks to be the No. 2 at the State Department, U.S. officials said Monday. The decision isn’t yet final and other candidates may be under consideration, officials said.

Spicer withdraws from fundraiser for Trump critic
Alex Isenstadt, Politico

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has withdrawn as a headliner at a Wednesday fundraiser for an Ohio state senator who in October called Donald Trump’s personal conduct “disgusting ” and said the nominee “hasn’t demonstrated to me that he deserves my vote.” Spicer said he pulled out of the event on Sunday, but neither he nor other administration officials would say why he had agreed to participate in the first place.

Leaked Audio: Trump Cares About Food Safety But Only If the Food Is Foreign
Brendan O’Connor, Gizmodo

President Donald Trump intends to intensify enforcement of food safety regulations as a cudgel in international trade negotiations, according to leaked recordings of a what appears to be a phone conversation between Trump and Wilbur Ross, his nominee for Commerce Secretary. During the conversation, which was recorded in December, the then-president-elect also advocated a 10 percent across-the-board tariff on all foreign imports, an issue on which his administration has adopted numerous different positions and which Speaker Paul Ryan has flatly rejected.

Senate

Senate confirms billionaire investor as commerce secretary
Stephen Ochlemacher, The Associated Press

The Senate on Monday confirmed billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary as President Donald Trump adds to his economic team. The vote was 72-27.

Senate Intelligence Democrats Skittish About Integrity of Russia Probe
Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says reporters should, “stay tuned” to see what action panel Democrats might take to ensure the integrity of an investigation led by Chairman Richard M. Burr after reported contact with the White House. Reports of a conversation between the Trump White House and the North Carolina Republican have cast a chill over the panel’s probe of alleged Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 U.S. election.

House

Trump and Paul Ryan Head for a Clash Over the Budget, and Ideology
Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times

President Trump’s proposal to slash domestic spending in order to preserve the two biggest drains on the federal government — Social Security and Medicare — has set up a battle to determine who now controls the Republican Party’s ideology. The outcome could map the course of major challenges to come, including a revision of the tax code, a huge increase in infrastructure spending and any effort to balance the budget.

GOP conservatives oppose leaked Obamacare plan
Burgess Everett and Rachael Bade, Politico

House and Senate conservatives are rebelling against a leaked draft of an Obamacare replacement bill, potentially stopping the proposal in its tracks before it’s even been officially introduced. On Monday key conservative leaders huddled to discuss how to react to the House GOP’s plan, which would roll back much of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and replace subsidies for Obamacare’s insurance exchanges with tax credits.

Democrats try to force Trump’s tax returns on House floor
Heather Caygle, Politico

House Republicans beat back a Democratic attempt to smoke out President Donald Trump’s tax returns Monday, after the issue was forced on the floor by an obscure parliamentary move. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) filed a privileged resolution Monday night calling on Trump to release his tax returns, saying the detailed documents could aid ongoing investigations into potential links between the president, his associates and Russia.

House probe into Russia ties to Trump off to rocky start
Deb Riechmann and Eileen Sullivan, The Associated Press

A simmering dispute between leaders of the House intelligence committee spilled into the public Monday over an investigation into whether President Donald Trump has ties to Russia, even as they pledged to conduct a bipartisan probe. The Republican committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, said he has heard no evidence so far that anyone in Trump’s orbit was in contact with Russians during the presidential campaign.

States

GOP Tells Governors No Firm Plans Yet on Medicaid Expansion
Jon Reid and Mary Ellen McIntire, Morning Consult 

Governors gathered for a meeting with congressional Republicans were told a summarized plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act “does not reflect current thinking,” a senior Senate Republican said Monday, as lawmakers remain divided over key provisions such as the Medicaid expansion. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said governors were told that a 19-page summary of how House Republicans could overhaul Obamacare was dated.

Chance the Rapper, Rauner to talk Chicago school funding
The Associated Press

Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner plan to meet this week to discuss funding education in Chicago. The hip-hop performer from Chicago, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, said Monday on Twitter that he’ll meet privately with Rauner on Wednesday. He says he’s eager to hear Rauner’s ideas.

California lawmakers demand federal records on Southern California immigrant arrests
Alexei Koseff, The Sacramento Bee

Democratic leaders of the California Legislature are seeking clarification of federal immigration enforcement policy after round-ups of undocumented immigrants earlier this month sparked renewed fears of increased deportation raids under the Trump administration. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon on Monday jointly sent a Freedom of Information Act request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, asking for documents outlining national or California ICE field office policies regarding “sensitive locations” like churches, schools and hospitals; access for detainees to legal counsel and other visitors; and treatment of individuals registered under a federal program temporarily deferring deportation of those brought to the country illegally as children.

Advocacy

Indian Lobbying Group Presses Washington to Preserve H-1B Visas
Brendan Bordelon, Morning Consult

As Congress and the Trump administration consider making changes to a federal program that provides visas to high-skilled foreign workers, the head of India’s top IT trade association is hoping to preserve the program that employs thousands of Indian tech workers in the United States each year. R Chandrashekhar, president of National Association of Software & Service Companies, is in Washington to meet with lawmakers and Trump administration officials who are weighing plans to weaken the H-1B program, which awards 85,000 temporary work visas to foreigners each year.

A Message from the National Black Chamber of Commerce:

Did you know the Durbin Amendment has made big box retailers $42 billion in profit? These corporations promised they would pass on profits made from lower debit transaction fees to consumers. But they have not kept their word and in many cases are charging consumers more.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Remember Railroads When Talking Infrastructure
Edward R. Hamberger, Morning Consult

In a time defined in large part by polarization and rancor, one area of public policy remains remarkably popular among the American electorate: reinvigorating U.S. infrastructure. A February Quinnipiac University poll found a whopping 87 percent of Americans support increased spending towards America’s aging and deteriorating public transportation systems.

Trump’s Unrealistic Budget
The Editors, National Review

Ahead of his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, President Trump has released the first details of his broad budget goals for fiscal year 2018, the headline-grabbing element of which is a proposed 10 percent increase in defense spending. To offset this additional $54 billion for the Pentagon, the president is recommending across-the-board cuts in as-yet-unspecified discretionary-spending programs.

What the G.O.P. Wants Trump to Say Tonight
Tom Cole, The New York Times

When he addresses Congress for the first time on Tuesday night, Donald J. Trump will do so as one of the most untraditional and unexpected presidents in American history. The election, however close, was a decisive statement by the American people against the status quo, an expression of the hope that he would break the stalemate in Washington and lead the country in a new direction.

Trump’s Reality Test
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump’s early weeks in office have been marked by a combination of the insurgent politics of his aide Stephen Bannon and stabs at conventional GOP governance. The paradox is that while Bannonism dominates the media and public debate, the Trump Presidency will rise or fall on whether he can pass a conservative reform agenda through Congress.

Georgia 6 Special: Unreasonably Great Expectations
Stuart Rothenberg, Inside Elections

The hype about the special election in Georgia’s 6th District has already begun even though the runoff, which will choose the next member of Congress, won’t be held until June 20. The Daily 202, James Hohmann’s briefing from the Washington Post, went so far as to assert that the suburban Atlanta district “is the kind of district that Democrats will need to find a way to flip if they are going to seize the House majority in November 2018.”

A Message from the National Black Chamber of Commerce:

Enactment of the Durbin Amendment has led to $42 billion in extra profit for giant retailers. These corporations said they would pass on the profits to consumers in the form of lower prices, but they’ve broken that promise, pocketed the money and in many cases are charging consumers even more.

Research Reports and Polling

Ahead of Joint Address, Most Voters Think Trump Is Delivering on Promises
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

As President Donald Trump prepares to deliver his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, most voters say he has kept his promises to the American people during his first month in office. According to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll, 56 percent of Americans think Trump is keeping the promises he made on the campaign trail.

Voters Want More Money Spent on Medicaid, but Don’t Think Trump Will
Mary Ellen McIntire, Morning Consult

A plurality of voters wants the federal government to spend more on Medicaid, a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll finds. Roughly double the number of voters (40 percent) said they wanted the federal government to increase spending on the program, which provides health coverage for low-income adults and shares that burden with states, than those who said they thought the federal government should pour fewer resources into the program (21 percent).

Maintaining U.S. Leadership on Internet Governance
Megan Stifel, Council on Foreign Relations

After almost two decades of overseeing the internet naming and addressing system, the U.S. government transferred the responsibility to a coalition of industry, civil society, and government stakeholders in October 2016. The United States relinquished its role to demonstrate to emerging countries its commitment to significant private sector involvement in the operation of the internet.

Briefings

Washington Brief: Montana GOP Candidate in Today’s Special Election Charged With Assaulting Journalist

Greg Gianforte, the GOP candidate in a special House election in Montana, was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly assaulting a journalist who was asking him about the recent Congressional Budget Office estimate of the American Health Care Act. Gianforte faces Democrat Rob Quist in today’s election to fill the seat left vacant by Ryan Zinke, who now serves as head of the Interior Department.

Washington Brief: Trump Calls Naming of Special Counsel the ‘Greatest Witch Hunt of a Politician’ in U.S. History

Robert Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, was named special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the FBI’s investigation into Russian connections to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Trump responded on Twitter by saying the naming of a special counsel is “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

Washington Brief: Chaffetz Demands FBI Turn Over All Records of Comey’s Meetings With Trump

A memo written in February by now-former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey says President Donald Trump urged him to abandon an FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) demanded that the FBI turn over all documents related to meetings between Trump and Comey.

Washington Brief: Trump Defends Sharing Intelligence on ISIS With Russian Officials

President Donald Trump revealed classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador during a White House meeting last week, jeopardizing a source of intelligence on the Islamic State and drawing criticism from Republicans such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker. Trump later said on Twitter that he has an “absolute right” to share “facts” with Russia.

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