Congress Finally Does Its Job, Sort Of
While Pelosi Protest Sets A Record
2-Year Bipartisan Budget Agreement A Welcome Anomaly After Months Of Budgeting In Bits And Pieces; But It Will Blow Up The Budget Deficit Even More
The package, worth anything from $300-billion to $500-billion depending on who you ask, needs to pass by today. That looks pretty possible in the Senate, and likely in the House, although that’ll involve more of a balancing act between Democrats and Republicans.
Here’s the thing: Democrats are divided on the deal because it doesn’t include a fix for DACA. Republicans are divided on it because it further blows up the budget deficit. That’s right: the same Republicans who brought you the $1.5-trillion dollar tax cut with no way to pay for most of it, are now suddenly up in arms about $250-billion or so in non-military spending. And then of course there’s the $25-billion Trump is demanding for his wall this year, still to come because it isn’t part of this package.
Roll Call has a pretty good summary of how the agreement (and future plans for immigration legislation) are going down with various factions of both parties.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s challenge today is going to be coming up with a formula that works: assuming he loses 30–40 Republican votes, he’ll need to gain more than a handful of Democrats. Assuming Democrats don’t want another shutdown, they’ll figure out a way to deliver those votes from Representatives in “safe” districts, and still should have a big enough pad that Democrats who don’t want to vote for the budget agreement won’t have to in order for it to pass.
Meanwhile, Trump is supporting it even though it doesn’t contain the immigration cutbacks he demanded, because it includes funding for the military he wants.
Everyone Punts On DACA And “The Wall”
Extending DACA protection and funding Trump’s “wall” are not part of the Senate’s 2-year agreement. As part of the deal that ended the last shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged he’d bring that up separately, if necessary.
With a hard decline of March 5th, when DACA protections start running out (although Trump has suggested he’d consider extending it), that’s not disappearing, and could create real hurdles even today.
Business Insider makes a good point that the whole point of the recent government shutdown was to force an agreement on immigration, and yet that topic’s “conspicuously absent from a new bill to avert another one”.
Nancy Pelosi Does Something Amazing
Standing firm and forcing action on DACA were the main points House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was trying to make when she delivered the longest floor speech in history in the House of Representatives. The 77-year old Democrat from California took no breaks and did not yield the floor for more than 8 hours (as she has the right to do as her party’s leader). Her speech served a dual purpose: expressing her opposition to the budget agreement because it doesn’t address immigration reform, and also attempting to coerce House Speaker Paul Ryan into promising to bring an immigration deal to the floor, as Mitch McConnell has already done in the Senate.
Here’s .006% of Pelosi’s speech, her closing statement, in which she thanks “the Dreamers” and defines their place in America. Click on the photo to play:
While we agree with the Washington Post that the speech reflects frustration over promises Democrats made on immigration and haven’t been able to deliver, and the lack of “leverage” Democrats thought they would have in spending showdowns with Republicans, sometimes you just gotta go big anyway.
Top Trump Aide Out After Domestic Abuse Comes To Light
After initially defending White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor”, his boss, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly later revised his statement, saying he was “shocked” at the allegations and “there is no place for domestic violence in our society”.
The Staff Secretary controls the flow of briefing materials, and sometimes access to the President.
Porter denies allegations of domestic violence from both his ex-wives. The story was originally reported by the Daily Mail, and included this photo:
Does This Look Like Steve Bannon To You?
We just wanted to get this photo out there, before you see it someplace else. (It was brought to our attention in a Tweet from the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum):
We Were Wondering Who Trump Was Going To Blame For The Recent Stock Market Dive; Now We Know:
It’s the stock market itself! According to the President, the stock market is making a “big mistake” by going down. Bad, bad stock market. It used to be well-behaved. You know, back in the “old days”…
“I’ll See Your Pence, And Raise You My Sister”
President Trump sent Vice-President Mike Pence to South Korea with a stated mission of not allowing North Korea to “hijack” the Winter Olympics, which start tomorrow. (Ivanka Trump will be showing up later on).
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un may have just one upped him: he’s sending his sister, Kim Yo Jong, to attend the opening ceremonies. According to Vox, it’ll mark the first time a member of the Kim dynasty has set foot in South Korea since the Korean War cease fire. Kim’s sister is also a high-ranking official in North Korea’s government, and is often pictured with him, although usually in the background.
As to the military parade North Korea promised for today, the day before the Olympics? The BBC reports it’s already happened, and was an unexpectedly subdued affair.