10/10/2017 08:01 AM EDT
By Heather Caygle (firstname.lastname@example.org or @heatherscope)
WAR OF WORDS - The fallout from the very public weekend spat between President Donald Trump and retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) could be enormous in the months ahead, particularly as GOP leaders eye the herculean task of passing a major, and potentially divisive, tax code overhaul with just a slim 52-seat Senate majority. Tax reform "was going to be hard no matter what," Billy Piper, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's former chief of staff, told the New York Times. "And he took the guy who was one of the linchpins of this and incinerated him for no reason."
That's not all folks: Corker is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, meaning he'd be in charge of advancing Trump's nominee for secretary of State should the president oust Rex Tillerson. And Corker will play a key role in the congressional response if Trump backs out of the Iran nuclear deal this week (the president has until Oct. 15 to decide).
The art of the dodge: McConnell notably refused to comment directly on Corker's scathing criticism of Trump when asked by the AP in Kentucky, instead saying multiple times the outgoing Tennessee Republican is "an important part of our team." "Sen. Corker is a valuable member of the Senate Republican caucus and he's also on the Budget committee and a particularly important player as we move to the floor on the budget next week," McConnell added.
Several other GOP senators, back in their states this week for recess, scrambled to respond to Corker's comments in the most delicate way possible, refusing to take a stance on the ongoing spat with Trump. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has sparred with Trump in the past, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) both declined to criticize Corker while not endorsing what he said, the AP reports. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) also refused to take a side, calling Corker's remark that Trump could put the U.S. on the path to World War III "hyperbole," the Post and Courier reports.
ICYMI over the holiday weekend, don't forget to read Corker's interview with the New York Times Sunday where he unloaded on Trump after the president lashed out at him on Twitter. "Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we're dealing with here," Corker said. Jonathan Martin and Mark Landler: http://nyti.ms/2gpY96G
The view from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: "White House aides lean on delays and distraction to manage Trump," via Josh Dawsey. Read: http://politi.co/2gpwxhV
CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - who is already putting out fires on several fronts - is moving quickly to head off a fight with outside conservative groups angry at the Senate's sluggish pace in confirming Trump's judicial nominees. "The influential Judicial Crisis Network had planned on launching a $250,000 ad buy in Washington on Tuesday calling on McConnell to either change the Senate rules to jam through new judges or keep the chamber in session until Democrats relent out of fatigue," Seung Min and Burgess scoop. But the ad buy is now in a "holding pattern" after McConnell aides reached out to try and diffuse the situation. More: http://politi.co/2gqA3J6
PRESSURE PUSHING DOWN ON ME - The White House sees Sen. Rand Paul as the linchpin to its tax reform plan and is urging conservative and business groups to amp up the pressure on the independent-minded Kentucky Republican. At a GOP confab last week, White House legislative liaison Marc Short "advised those in the room to put immense pressure on Paul and make his vote on the Republican budget - required to pass tax reform along party lines - as difficult as possible so he'll fall in line on taxes," Burgess and Josh Dawsey report. But Paul isn't known to easily give in to pressure from GOP leaders, having already helped thwart multiple Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare this year. Paul is expected to vote against the budget, which will likely be on the Senate floor next week, but Trump still thinks he can convince Paul otherwise.
Quote du jour: "He's usually against everything," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said of Paul. Much more from Burgess and Dawsey: http://politi.co/2grdcNo
SO YOU'RE TELLING ME THERE'S A CHANCE? There's growing chatter around the Capitol of an idea that seemed impossible just a few months ago: "Senate Democrats, once all but resigned to staying in the minority until at least 2020, say the door to retaking the chamber in next year's midterms has cracked - just barely - if everything breaks their way," Seung Min and Burgess report. But that means everything would have to go their way. Republicans are defending eight seats compared to Democrats' 25, including 10 in states Trump won.
What to watch in the short term: Do Senate Democrats put their cash behind Doug Jones, the Democratic Senate nominee taking on firebrand Roy Moore in deep-red Alabama? "Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is wary of expending significant party resources on behalf of Jones, according to two Democratic senators," SMK and Burgess report. But DSCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen is pushing hard for the party to pitch in for Jones. More: http://politi.co/2gqXRwb
IT'S TUESDAY BUT IT FEELS LIKE MONDAY. Welcome to Oct. 10 and thanks for tuning in to POLITICO's Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill. Today is supposed to be partly cloudy with a high of 85 degrees, but no rain.
FRIDAY'S MOST CLICKED: The report from Rachael, Jake and Bres detailing what it's really like to work for soon-to-be-former Rep. Tim Murphy was by far the winner.
WH DEMANDS PUT DREAMER DEAL IN JEOPARDY - The White House laid out its long-awaited immigration principles Sunday and the lengthy list of demands threatens to derail a bipartisan deal to protect Dreamers. Several of the provisions run counter to the handshake agreement Democratic leaders struck with Trump last month, including a deal to take the fight over border wall funding off the table. The White House on Sunday called for border wall funding and also said it isn't interested in providing citizenship for DACA recipients, an idea that runs counter to the main Dreamer bills on Capitol Hill.
But: "Two White House officials said the administration sees its immigration principles - which Trump was not deeply involved in writing; they were crafted by domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller - as an opening bid for an eventual DACA deal that may look dramatically different from the demands laid out Sunday evening," Seung Min reports. Much more: http://politi.co/2gpJybh
Trump tweets this A.M.: @realDonaldTrump: The problem with agreeing to a policy on immigration is that the Democrats don't want secure borders, they don't care about safety for U.S.A.
Ivanka weighs in: Ivanka Trump waded into the immigration debate while speaking on a panel Monday night, saying Dreamers are "innocent people" who "deserve a long-term fix," seemingly putting her at odds with Miller, Annie Karni reports.
DISASTER AID ON THE DOCKET THIS WEEK - The House is expected to take up a $29 billion disaster aid request from the White House this week that includes nearly $13 billion to replenish FEMA's coffers and $16 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program. The package, if successful, will then move to the Senate when the upper chamber returns from recess Oct. 16.
UTAH CONSERVATIVE WEIGHS HATCH CHALLENGE - Boyd Matheson, a former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee, is strongly considering a 2018 challenge to veteran GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, Alex Isenstadt reports. Matheson, who traveled to Washington last week to meet with Steve Bannon and Citizens United President David Bossie, said he is considering a bid whether or not Hatch seeks reelection. More: http://politi.co/2gr4Zsy
Bannon told Sean Hannity his insurgent coalition plans to challenge every incumbent Republican senator except Ted Cruz. Republicans are defending eight seats next year, mostly in red states. As Shane Goldmacher points out, Cruz - who famously said to "vote your conscience" instead of endorsing Trump at the GOP convention last year - receives a lot of super PAC money from Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire father-daughter team who also bankrolls Bannon.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: IVANKA'S TAX PUSH - Ivanka Trump will host members of the House and Senate at separate dinners at her Kalorama home this week in an effort to gin up support for her push to expand the child tax credit. As Nancy Cook reports, the first daughter has adopted parts of a proposal introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in 2015, holding phone calls and meeting with everyone from Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-S.C.) to Democratic Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) to sell the plan. More: http://politi.co/2g64OWK
STUCK BETWEEN A TRUMP AND A HARD PLACE - Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones has an outside chance of beating Roy Moore in the general election in December. But to do so, Jones has to win over two key voting blocs: Democratic-leaning African Americans and suburban white voters turned off by Moore's controversial politics. Gabriel Debenedetti explains Jones' strategy: Focusing on Moore's contentious statements rather than Trump's controversies (like the NFL national anthem protests) could be enough to energize the Democratic base without alienating GOP-leaning voters who don't want to vote for Moore. From Birmingham: http://politi.co/2g855Zk
TWEET DU JOUR: @LindseyGrahamSC: Really enjoyed a round of golf with President @realDonaldTrump today. President Trump shot a 73 in windy and wet conditions!
CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP - Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the oldest member of the Senate, said Monday she will run for reelection next year, David Siders reports from L.A. Feinstein's announcement comes amid growing criticism from California progressive activists about the 84-year-old and her political future. "I'm all in," Feinstein tweeted, announcing her reelection bid from a Twitter account she hasn't used since 2013.
Just hours after the news broke, freshman Rep. Ro Khanna called for a primary challenge. Khanna said he has urged both Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the most liberal members of Congress, and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich to challenge Feinstein, Carla Marinucci reports.
TWITTER PULLS BLACKBURN AD - Twitter is blocking Rep. Marsha Blackburn from advertising her Senate campaign launch video on the social media site, saying her line about calls to investigate Planned Parenthood and "the sale of baby body parts" is too inflammatory. "The video is still on Twitter, but the campaign is barred from paying to promote it," Kevin Robillard reports. More: http://politi.co/2g7BkYG
Related: Citizens United, the influential conservative outside group ran by David Bossie, who served as Trump's deputy campaign manager, is endorsing Blackburn, Alex Isenstadt reports this morning.
TODAY IN CONGRESS - The House gavels in at 12 p.m. with votes at 6:30 p.m. The Senate is out until Monday, Oct. 16.
AROUND THE HILL - Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) will participate in a call on the Iran nuclear deal at 11 a.m. RSVP for dial-in information: email@example.com.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) holds his weekly pen and pad at 12:30 p.m. in H-144.
FRIDAY'S TRIVIA WINNER - Brian Alexander was first to guess that the mystery sculpture with the inscription "Am. In. 55" depicts founding father John Jay. Finished in 1831, the inscription is short for "in the 55th year of American independence."
TODAY'S TRIVIA - When the House started considering renovating its side of the Capitol to install elevators, this lawmaker was the only committee chairman opposed, calling it an unnecessary expense. Name the lawmaker and the committee he led. Send your best guess my way: firstname.lastname@example.org. The first person to correctly answer gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle.
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