Window On Washington - November 26, 2018, Vol. 2, Issue 47
Outlook for This Week in the Nation's Capital
Next Speaker of the House. This week, House Democrats meet in private for a vote nominating Rep. Nancy Pelosi to become speaker in January. Pelosi continues to lock down support despite a small faction of her party opposing her speakership.
Upcoming Votes. On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to hold votes that would pave the way for the tax cut bill to hit the floor. The House will vote on a resolution requiring all members and staff to complete anti-harassment training.
Government Shutdown? Congress is heading towards deadline to prevent a partial government shutdown. Negotiators don’t want to kick the funding fight to next year, but lawmakers will have just 10 scheduled work days to strike a deal by the Dec. 7 deadline. (The Hill)
Last Week in the Nation's Capital
Stalemate on Trump’s Wall Amid Threat of Shutdown: Congress just can't help itself: With a partial government shutdown potentially less than two weeks away, Democrats and Republicans are dug in, each side upping its demands and vowing not to buckle to the other. President Donald Trump is pressuring Republicans to obtain at least $5 billion for his border wall, far more than what Senate Democrats are prepared to give. Democrats in turn are considering pushes for legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and the elimination of a citizenship question from the next census, according to people familiar with the negotiations. (Politico)
Business Groups Brace for Dem Push to Hike Corporate Taxes: The business community is bracing for Democratic proposals to raise the corporate tax rate to pay for infrastructure spending and other priorities. Infrastructure is seen as one of the rare areas where Democrats and President Trump might be able to come to a deal, since both sides have called for improvements to the nation’s roads, railways and bridges. The problem is how to pay for the new spending. Many in Washington expect Democrats to push for a hike in the corporate tax rate, which was slashed under the tax law championed by Trump. (The Hill)
Can House Democrats Really Protect Obamacare?: House Democrats who swept back into power on the promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions face tough legal and political choices as they try to make good on that vow. Those promises galvanized millions of voters. But now, like the Republicans previously elected on promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, they face the formidable challenge of turning campaign rhetoric into reality. (Politico)
Trump and Congress on Collision Course with Military Spending: A recent report ordered by Congress found that the U.S. military is facing a "grave" erosion in superiority. Senate Republicans see the report as evidence of the need for a $733 billion defense budget in the next fiscal year. But Democrats who will control the House starting in January want to cut defense spending. And Trump has already ordered his administration to trim the defense budget to $700 billion for next year. All that combines for what is likely to be a fiery and lengthy debate in the coming budget season. (The Hill)
Producers Await Farm Bill Talks, 2019 Biofuel Mandates: Farm bill negotiators are looking to wrap up talks that have become embroiled in a debate over forest management as well as longstanding issues such as eligibility rules for commodity programs. The Senate returns to work on Monday, and House members on Tuesday, to start the remainder of a lame duck session. The farm bill is high on GOP leaders’ to-do list along with a funding measure to replace the stopgap spending bill that expires Dec. 7. A Democratic member of the farm bill conference committee and former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, slammed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last week for demanding that Democrats agree to include provisions in the bill to make it easier for the government to overcome legal challenges to forest thinning projects. (Agri Pulse)
Senate GOP Chairman Rebuffs Call for Trade Deal Vote This Year: The Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate committee overseeing trade rebuffed a call by a dozen GOP senators to vote on a revised a U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement this year, a move that likely will doom their effort. The senators, in a Nov. 20 letter, urged President Donald Trump to send lawmakers final legislative language for the deal as soon as possible so that it can pass before Democrats take control of the House next year. (Bloomberg)
House Democrats Pile on to Scrutinize DeVos: For two years, Democrats watched with fury as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sought to dismantle nearly every significant Obama administration education policy. Now, they’re gearing up to fight back. Lots of them. As many as five Democratic-led House committees next year could take on DeVos over a range of issues such as her rollback of regulations aimed at predatory for-profit colleges, the stalled processing of student loan forgiveness and a rewrite of campus sexual assault policies. (Politico)
Five Controversial Health Actions on Trump's Agenda: The Trump administration is expected to push ahead with a range of controversial health policies next year despite Democrats retaking the House. Democrats captured the House majority in part on their health-care message. But despite that there are a slew of actions where the administration is moving ahead on its own agenda. Medicaid work requirements and federal funding limits on abortion providers are only a couple of the moves Trump officials are expected to make on health care. (The Hill)
Space, NASA & NOAA
NASA Prepares for InSight Mars Landing: NASA’s InSight spacecraft is on track for a landing on Mars today on a mission to study the planet’s interior. Scientists and project managers, speaking at a pair of briefings Nov. 21 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said there are no issues with the spacecraft, which is on course for a landing at approximately 2:54 p.m. Eastern Nov. 26 in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars just north of the planet’s equator. (Space News)
Department of Energy Announces 32 R&D 100 Award Winners: U.S. Department of Energy researchers have won 32 of the R&D 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine. The annual awards are given in recognition of exceptional new products or processes that were developed and introduced into the marketplace during the previous year. The R&D 100 Awards were presented on Friday, November 16th in Orlando, Florida. (DoE Press Releases)
Space Force Could Cost Fraction of Air Force Estimates: The Pentagon hasn’t released its official cost estimate to stand up a brand-new space service, but a top defense budget analyst has crunched the numbers and believes it may cost $550 million more per year for a Space Force — at most. In order to add the headquarters staffing needed to run a Space Force, the Defense Department would need anywhere from an additional $300 million to $550 million per year on top of the money it already budgets for space personnel, operations and procurement, according to a new report by Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Defense News)
Evolving Military Cyber Training Starts with How Industry Delivers Software: The U.S. Army is the lead agency that will procure a system that will change how all military services train and rehearse for cyber missions. The Army recently posted initial requirements for the Defense-wide system known as the Persistent Cyber Training Environment. PCTE will provide a new training platform and connect cyber ranges across the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, pooling their respective resources. (Fifth Domain)
Breakthrough or Breakdown: G20 Sets Trade War Turning Point: The United States and China have in the coming week what may be their last chance to broker a ceasefire in an increasingly dangerous trade war when their presidents meet in Buenos Aires. With global growth increasingly suffering from frictions between the two biggest economies, tensions will come to a head when Donald Trump and Xi Jingping meet on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina. (Reuters)
New Climate Report Warns of Increasingly Dire Risks to U.S.: The Trump administration released a major new climate science report on Black Friday, warning of "hundreds of billions of dollars" in annual losses to some economic sectors without scaled up actions to adapt to current changes and slash emissions to avoid future warming. The report by scientists from 13 federal agencies constitutes the second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which is a congressionally mandated report. Its conclusion: Lives and property are already at risk in the U.S. due to climate change. (Axios)
Federal Judge Halts Trump Asylum Ban: A federal judge in San Francisco late Monday temporarily halted President Donald Trump's move to restrict asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, dealing another blow to the administration’s immigration agenda. Judge Jon Tigar's ruling suspends implementation of a fast-track regulation and presidential proclamation issued Nov. 9 that barred migrants who cross the border between ports of entry from seeking asylum. The order will remain in effect until Dec. 19, when the court will consider arguments for a permanent ban. (Politico)
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