By Doug Porter
Congress will return to ‘work’ next week, and the most pressing matter facing legislators is simply keeping the government from shutting down.
As it turns out, Day 100 of the Trump administration will be the first day past the end of Federal funding for most government departments. House and Senate staffers have spent the past two weeks trying to hammer out a bipartisan deal covering the final five months of the fiscal year.
Standing in the way of achieving an agreement are administration demands for border wall funding, cuts in domestic spending, a windfall for the military, and the eight Democratic votes needed to break a Senate filibuster.
Then there are the poison pills tied to the most extreme parts of the Trump agenda: funding for Planned Parenthood, ending federal grants to “sanctuary” cities and states, and money for ACA payments that subsidize health insurance copayments and deductibles for low-income people.
The House Freedom Caucus is likely to demand some or all of those things, meaning Democrats will be needed to move any budget resolution in the lower chamber.
Also on the chopping block are health benefits for 20,000 retired coal miners. The President’s silence on this subject is concerning to voters who supported his candidacy in states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. This particular item has served as a political football in past budget negotiations, and the most recent extension expires along with the current budget resolution.
From the Atlantic:
There’s good reason to be skeptical about the prospects for a deal. The Republican Congress has had a sputtering start to the year, falling short on a health-care bill for which they needed no help from Democrats. Schumer and Trump have spent more time insulting each other than bargaining, and the Democratic leader has little to gain politically from sparing the new president a nightmare on his 100th day in office.
That historical marker may be arbitrary, but the image-conscious Trump is reportedly invested in selling the public on his early, if limited, success. That might be incentive enough for an agreement. Trump isn’t getting a major health-care or tax-reform bill anytime soon. After 100 days in the White House, he might just have to settle for keeping the government open.
From Politico’s Playbook Afternoon Power Briefing:
PLANNING AHEAD — The House Democratic caucus is holding a members-only call tomorrow evening for updates on FY 2017 appropriations, tax and health care reform and foreign policy developments. WHAT’S THAT MEAN?: They’ll talk about government funding, and what they’ll try to extract from House Republicans if, and more likely when, they come to them for votes to avoid a shutdown. House Democratic leadership has focused on cost-sharing reduction payments, which reimburse insurers that help low income people receive medical care. Expect that to be a major focus for Democrats heading into next week.
What the President will need to do to encourage a bipartisan bill will be to keep his mouth shut and his twitter feed focused on other matters. something he hasn’t seemed to be able to do thus far.
Ding, Dong, O’Reilly’s Gone
Sanctimonious son-of-a-bitch and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly
is about to get got the boot from his TV job.
Several weeks ago the New York Times reported about payouts totaling about $13 million to five women involving allegations of inappropriate behavior by him over several years.
Since then, others have come forward, including an African-American woman saying O’Reilly referred to her as “hot chocolate” at one point when they were together alone, made grunting noises and leered at her cleavage and legs.
Protesters have set up picket lines outside Fox News headquarters in recent days and more than 50 advertisers have pulled support from the show.
Gabriel Sherman at New York:
Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.
Symbolism: Unknown individuals spotted laying flowers at Bill O’Reilly’s poster in the Fox News window… pic.twitter.com/5BCLJp1GpD
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) April 19, 2017
Spending More Time With His Family
And, speaking of sanctimonious, Utah’s Congressman Jason ‘Benghazi’ Chaffetz–who won reelection in 2016 with 73.5% of the vote–has announced he won’t be running in 2018.
From Roll Call:
Chaffetz, known as a member of Congress who sleeps in his office, is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
He is notorious for using that chairmanship to publicly call out problems with federal agencies. He also summoned public hearings and filed endless requests to look into the use of a private email server by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state during the 2016 presidential campaign.
He is also among a host of congressional Republicans who got an earful at town halls when they went home to their districts this year. The Salt Lake Tribune called one such event in February “75 minutes of tense exchanges.”
There is already a cottage industry of Twitterati trying to read deeper meaning into Chaffetz’ decision, ranging from allegations he’s part of the #RussiaGate cover up to the fact that if you type jasonforgovernor.com it goes to his Congressional campaign page.
She’s been right more than she’s been wrong, but take it with a grain of salt for now:
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) April 13, 2017
Medicare for All a Hit at Peters Town Hall
— Indivisible SanDiego (@SDIndivisible) April 19, 2017
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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