Trump Watch: Day 250 Wrap-Up

Good evening, Trump watchers. Here is the news for Wednesday, September 27, 2017:

— I’ll start of with a story that has been fairly well hidden in the news behind all of the other things going on. According to The Hill, “The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request from several members of Congress to waive shipping restrictions to help get gasoline and other supplies to Puerto Rico as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria.” It’s important to note that the Department of Homeland Security DID waive this restriction for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Republican Senator John McCain wrote a letter to the administration imploring them to lift the restriction or face the consequences of a humanitarian crisis. He wrote in part, “The Department of Homeland Security has been given the ability to waive the Jones Act to accommodate national security concerns, and has done so twice in the last month. These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions. However, I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.” He went on to call the decision “unacceptable”. Trump said today that he is considering issuing a waiver, but nothing has happened yet.

— The Trump-backed Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill is officially dead. Senate Republicans announced on Tuesday that they wouldn’t hold a vote on the bill. This came after three Republican Senators — Susan Collins, John McCain, and Rand Paul — all said they would not vote for the bill, leaving the GOP without enough votes to pass it. The Congressional Budget Office released a report stating that “millions” would lose health insurance under the bill. While the Republicans’ efforts to repeal Obamacare are not likely to end here, they will face an even steeper uphill battle after September 30, at which time at least 60 “yes” votes will be required to pass it. Today Trump tweeted, “We will have the votes for Healthcare but not for the reconciliation deadline of Friday, after which we need 60. Get rid of Filibuster Rule!” We’ll see about that. and

— Today Trump revealed his proposal for taxes, which Reuters called “the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in three decades”. Reuters also said “the plan would lower corporate income tax rates, cut taxes for small businesses, reduce the top income tax rate for individuals and scrap some widely used tax breaks including one that benefits people in high-tax states dominated by Democrats.” Several news outlets have reported that the plan does not include necessary details regarding how this would all be accomplished, and how the government would avoid adding trillions of dollars to its debt. An analysis of the proposal in the New York Times described it as “a potentially huge windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It would not directly benefit the bottom third of the population. As for the middle class, the benefits appear to be modest.” Stay tuned. and

— Trump’s leader of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, “is threatening to reach outside his agency and undermine the Justice Department’s work enforcing antipollution laws” according to the New York Times. Pruitt wants to end funding for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, which seems counter to what you would expect someone to do who is running an agency devoted to protecting the environment. The Times also reported that “no decision will be made until Congress passes an E.P.A. budget for the fiscal year that begins in October”.

— Politico reported today that Trump is “fuming” over Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s pricey private jet flights, which have cost taxpayers over $400,000. Some in the administration are reportedly urging Trump to fire Price. When asked about it by reports, Trump responded, “I was looking into it, and I will look into it. And I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it. I am not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it.”

— Finally, a recent ABC News poll shows 86% of Americans support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that Trump recently ended.

That’s all for tonight! Stay tuned for the next update on Friday evening.