“In the months leading up to the midterm elections, former Democratic officials in transition are finding new ways to be useful, padding their résumés with miscellaneous prep work ahead of November when down-ballot results roll in—and early presidential bids are expected to roll out.
“The “Now what?” phase of post-office politics affects a small but influential crop of national leaders in limbo. No longer in government and with no immediate plans to be, former Cabinet secretaries, governors, and other ambitious Democrats are staying busy by committing to causes that could be useful later on.”
Former officials, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, beltway governors Terry McAuliffe of Virginia and Martin O’Malley of Maryland, and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander are some of the leaders who have been writing books, launching political action committees, and traveling the country on behalf of Democratic candidates and causes—moves that could help them even the playing field if matched against current office holders in 2020. (National Journal)
HEALTH CARE. According to a survey conducted by Civis Analytics, “significant pluralities of American voters, and Democrats specifically, want the Democratic Party to prioritize health care if they retake the White House and Congress in 2021. Asked of likely voters: ‘If there’s a Democratic president and the Democratic Party controls Congress in 2021, which of the following issues would you most like to see the president and Congress address?’ Out of all likely voters, 31 percent said they would want Democrats to focus on health care. Guns were the second most cited issue, at 15 percent, followed by immigration (14 percent), deficit reduction (11 percent), and climate change (only 6 percent).”
“It’s reasonable to ask whether Democrats, if they win the White House and Congress in 2020 (or 2024) and have two years to pass meaningful legislation before they inevitably lose control of Congress in the midterms, should focus on expanding health coverage or pivot instead to immigration, or try to prevent climate apocalypse, or make DC and Puerto Rico states, or end gerrymandering and expand voting rights, or finally take action on gun control.
“But Democratic voters, and voters in general, seem very clear in their preference that health care come first. Civis allowed respondents to offer open-ended responses to the question, and found that even some self-described conservative Republicans wanted Democrats to focus on health care.” (Vox)
GUNS. “Just eight years ago, the National Rifle Association dished out $372,000 in campaign contributions to a record 66 Democratic incumbents. By the 2016 cycle, that number had dwindled to four.” (Roll Call)
BANKS. “Ten years after a financial crisis rocked the nation’s economy, the Senate is poised to pass legislation that would roll back some of the safeguards Congress put into place to prevent a relapse.
“The move to alter some key aspects of the Dodd-Frank law has overwhelming Republican support and enough Democratic backing that it’s expected to gain the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate. Several Democratic lawmakers facing tough re-election races this year have broken ranks with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. The legislation would increase the threshold at which banks are considered too big to fail. Such banks are subject to stricter capital and planning requirements, and lawmakers are intent on providing them relief in hopes that it will boost lending and the economy.” (AP)
WARREN. Warren held a press conference Tuesday on “the Senate’s effort to deregulate the biggest banks in the country.” (release) She “announced her intention Tuesday to cause as much trouble as possible for Republicans and her fellow Democrats who are aiming to advance a bipartisan banking relief bill this week.” Warren: “This bill is all about the big banks.” (Washington Examiner)
DELANEY. Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) “the lone declared Democratic presidential candidate, just wrapped up his sixth visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.” (WMUR)
DNC ON DACA. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Monday “pressed Congress to pass the DREAM Act, as the deadline for lawmakers to craft a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program passes.
“Perez in a statement said Trump’s rescinding of DACA … caused ‘an unnecessary crisis.’” (The Hill)
TARIFFS. “Trump’s victory came in large part because he demolished the ‘blue wall’ comprised of three states—Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—that had not backed a Republican for president since the 1980s.
“Trump won Ohio, traditionally a closely fought battleground and a state President Obama carried twice, by 9 percentage points. Some prominent Democrats from industrial states have backed Trump on the tariffs, including Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.) and Reps. Tim Ryan and Marcy Kaptur, both of Ohio.” (The Hill)
MORE ON RYAN’S STANCE. Ryan urged Trump to place a “steel and aluminum tariff on bad actors, not key allies and calls for exemptions for key allies like Canada. ‘Implemented in a practical and measured approach, these tariffs will help protect our steel and aluminum industries from further decline,’” he wrote. (WFMJ)
Meanwhile, Ryan “criticized the Democratic Party’s fixation with raising the minimum wage as a policy that does not speak to people’s aspirations during remarks to the International Association of Fire Fighters labor union on Monday.
“Ryan, whose district is mainly in Youngstown, Ohio, touched on the declining economy for blue-collar workers in his district during his speech. … Ryan said his constituents see the stock market surging on the news but don’t ‘feel it.’
“‘They drive through communities that have 10 or 12 dilapidated homes on their way to a job that pays a hell of a lot less than the one they had a few years back,’ Ryan said. ‘And I get upset sometimes when my party talks about the minimum wage, the minimum wage, the minimum wage, 10 bucks, 12 bucks, 15 bucks.’ Ryan said he supports raising the minimum wage, but added his district’s residents used to make $40 an hour.” (Washington Free Beacon)
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"Congress is considering attaching a narrow background check bill for gun purchases to a must-pass government funding package before the end of the week, when thousands of high school students are expected to congregate in Washington for the March to End Gun Violence. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday said leadership was talking to its members about adding the background legislation, even as news broke of a new school shooting on Tuesday morning in Maryland."
"The House likely will not vote until Thursday on an omnibus spending bill, according to numerous lawmakers who attended a GOP conference meeting this morning. Some two dozen issues are still outstanding, members were told. The $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 measure must be passed before government funding runs out Friday."
"President Trump is preparing to impose a package of $60 billion in annual tariffs against China, following through on a long-time threat that he says will punish China for intellectual property infringement and create more American jobs. The tariff package, which Trump plans to unveil by Friday, was confirmed by four senior administration officials. Senior aides had presented Trump with a $30 billion tariff package that would apply to a range of products, but Trump directed them to roughly double the scope of the new trade levies."
"President Trump’s attorneys have provided the special counsel’s office with written descriptions that chronicle key moments under investigation in hopes of curtailing the scope of a presidential interview, according to two people familiar with the situation. Trump’s legal team recently shared the documents in an effort to limit any session between the president and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to a few select topics" on order to "minimize his exposure. ... The lawyers are worried that Trump, who has a penchant for making erroneous claims, would be vulnerable in an hours-long interview."