A new Quinnipiac University poll in New Jersey (Jan. 10-13; 1,207 RVs; +/- 2.8%) finds that 55% of New Jersey voters approve of the way Gov. Chris Christie (R) is handling his job, down from 68% last July. When asked if Christie is honest and trustworthy, 51% said he was while 41% said he was not. Of those who were familiar with the bridge controversy, 41% said they think Christie was aware his aides were orchestrating the traffic jam in Fort Lee last September compared to 50 percent who said they believe his aides acted alone. (release)
CHRISTIE: STATE OF THE (OVERSHADOWED) STATE. “With the cloud of the George Washington Bridge lane-closure controversy still looming over him,” Christie “laid out a series of proposals in his State of the State address Tuesday as he worked to show the voters who overwhelmingly supported him last year that he’s not letting a scandal get in the way of his job.”
Christie only briefly addressed the scandal at the top of his 45-minute speech: “I am the governor, and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch - both good and bad… Without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again.” (Bergen Record)
WALKER: DEFENDS CHRISTIE. Following a meeting at the White House with President Obama and other executive members of the National Governors Association Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) praised the way Christie has dealt with the bridge controversy. Walker: “He was completely transparent and gave the public a chance to hear what he understood and what he knew, took action on it — decisive action in terms of removing the people who had not been forthright with him. … And assuming everything stays as he’s announced, I don’t see that being a problem for him.” (USA Today)
BROWN: RULES OUT 2016 BID. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) “said Tuesday that he will not run for president in 2016, dashing political speculation that he might make a fourth bid for the White House.” (Los Angeles Times)
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
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.