Ben Sasse (R) swept aside his challengers to take the Republican Senate nomination in Nebraska and Pete Ricketts (R) eked out the gubernatorial nomination, heralding change in the state’s top offices. Another primary result may have foreshadowed more change in the future: Rep. Lee Terry (R) is not looking secure in NE-02.
— Terry took just 53% in the GOP primary Tuesday night, running head-to-head against under-funded, little-noticed challenger Dan Frei (R). It’s the third successive primary Terry’s vote share has dipped. Over the last few terms, his congressional voting scores from a few groups like the Club for Growth and the American Conservative Union have also declined, though Terry’s standing with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, has remained steady.
— Meanwhile, Democrats are closing in on his other side. Terry’s district has gotten more competitive in general elections, as President Obama highlighted by narrowly winning NE-02’s electoral vote in 2008. After winning his first four races with 60% or more, Terry has cleared 55% once in the last four generals, and he won by less than 2 percentage points in 2012.
— Present weakness begets future trouble. Some of the candidates and strategists watching anti-GOP incumbent challenges in ID-02 and TX-04 this year had been eyeing Rep. Mike Simpson‘s (R) and Rep. Ralph Hall‘s (R) primary underperformance for some time before making better-organized challenges in 2014. And while Democrats had some well-publicized recruiting issues in NE-02 last year, the next presidential year could be an enticing draw for a new challenger — assuming Terry’s fortunes don’t continue falling this November.
As Terry said last night, he won, and “that’s the major issue.” But his margins don’t have much more room to decline in victory, and they may be attracting future opponents.
— Scott Bland
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President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.