TRUMP AGENDA: Senate tax bill suffers a setback
The big tax news from last night, via the New York Times: "The Senate Republican tax bill, which had appeared to be cruising to victory, suffered a setback late on Thursday as lawmakers were forced to contemplate significant changes, including future tax increases, to help pay for the legislation. The bill had gained momentum in the morning when it picked up a key swing vote. But it came to a grinding, if temporary, halt, as senators scrambled in the early evening to find ways to raise several hundred billion dollars after some members objected to moving forward without a plan to safeguard against ballooning the deficit."
And from the Washington Post: "Now, Republican leaders may have to brace for an intraparty battle over how far to go to accommodate deficit concerns. Other Republicans are arguing strongly against reducing the size of the bill's tax cut, as may now be necessary to satisfy the deficit hawks… Lawmakers plan to resume efforts to pass the bill Friday morning, but the debate within the party could easily turn testy. Some within the caucus fumed at the holdouts, particularly Corker, who was surrounded by colleagues for a protracted period Thursday afternoon as they discussed next steps."
More, from the Wall Street Journal: "One possible outcome is that the corporate tax rate would start at 20% and rise in stair-step increments in later years. That move could shrink the size of the tax cut by at least $350 billion over a decade, making it about three-quarters of its previous size and potentially dampening some of the economic growth Republicans said they are trying to create."
And/but the New York Times notes that Trump's demand for a 20 percent corporate rate has been putting lawmakers in a box.
NBC's Jane Timm sums up how a new JCT analysis of the tax bill could pour some cold water on the plan.
The Washington Post reports that Trump has told confidants he thinks a government shutdown might be good for him.
The latest on the Kate Steinle case: "The homeless Mexican immigrant who was pilloried by then-candidate Donald Trump after he was accused of fatally shooting a woman on a San Francisco pier was found not guilty of murder on Thursday. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, was acquitted in a case that galvanized anti-immigration forces and forced San Francisco officials to defend their "sanctuary city" policy."
The San Francisco Chronicle has more on the details of the case here: "Steinle, 32, had been walking with her arm around her father on Pier 14 when she was struck in the back by a single bullet. The round had skipped off the concrete ground after being fired from a pistol that had been stolen, four days earlier, from the nearby parked car of a federal ranger. Prosecutors told the jury that Garcia Zarate brought the gun to the pier that day to do harm, aimed it toward Steinle and pulled the trigger. Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia spent much of the trial seeking to prove the pistol that killed Steinle couldn't have fired without a firm pull of the trigger, while establishing that Garcia Zarate tossed the weapon into the bay before fleeing the scene."
And from the AP: "From the outset, the judge barred any mention of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate's immigration status or the five times he was arrested and deported to Mexico before he came back across the border. The judge said the jury should consider only Garcia Zarate's intentions on the July evening when Steinle was shot."
From Ali Vitali and Bob Windrem: "The Trump administration is considering a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, an administration official confirmed to NBC News Thursday. Though that plan has been discussed inside the White House, it's unclear when it will happen — or if it will, the source said. The news was first reported by The New York Times, but Tillerson's fate has been the subject of much speculation for months amid reports of tension with President Donald Trump."
The New York Times, with new revelations about how Trump pressured top Republicans to end the Russia inquiry: "President Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, according to a half dozen lawmakers and aides. Mr. Trump's requests were a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the intelligence committee chairman, said in an interview this week that Mr. Trump told him that he was eager to see an investigation that has overshadowed much of the first year of his presidency come to an end."
Leigh Ann Caldwell and Jonathan Allen report on Nancy Pelosi's quick reversal regarding John Conyers.
"U.S. taxpayers could be on the hook starting next year for operating expenses at the Export-Import Bank, a trade-finance agency that can't generate enough revenue because its leadership is in limbo due to congressional inaction," writes the Wall Street Journal. "C.J. Hall, the government agency's acting chairman, who is stepping down Saturday, said in an interview that the bank will likely become a drain on U.S. taxpayers next year if the Senate doesn't act to fill its board, because it has stopped bringing in enough revenue through the fees it charges to guarantee financing deals for U.S. exporters."
POLITICO: "The revelation that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) secretly settled a sexual harassment claim using his office funds obscured a disturbing fact: The House appears to have no clear rules on whether Conyers' colleagues can do the same thing."
NBC's Jordan Jackson reports: Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and former Sen. Chris Dodd D-Conn., on Thursday defended Leandra English's position as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, despite President Trump's tapping of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. In a media call hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Americans for Financial Reform, the former legislators stressed the intentional rejection of the Vacancies Reform Act during the creation of the CFPB in order to ensure the independency of the agency.
"The notion that it was only a suggestion and that the [resident could pick and choose what he wanted makes no sense," Frank said, adding that Trump strategically placed Mulvaney in the position to "shut the bureau down." According to Dodd, Republicans did not object to leaving out the Vacancies Reform Act at the time of passage. He said that the President should appoint a new director who is able to go through the Senate confirmation process, but stressed that that's unlikely to happen, as "there's no limit on the acting director's term," opening up the possibility that "[Mulvaney] will be there in perpetuity until another president appoints someone else."
OFF TO THE RACES: Roy Moore vs. Jimmy Kimmel
AL-SEN: Moore told supporters: "Christians don't hate people. I want television to know I don't hate homosexuals. I do not hate transgender people, but I do hate sin."
There's also this: "One of the ministers who serves a Theodore church where Roy Moore spoke Wednesday night was federally convicted of trying to block an investigation involving claims his son molested children in Honduras."
And Roy Moore is in a Twitter war with Jimmy Kimmel.
CA-GOV: Via the LA Times: "Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa top the field in California's race for governor, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a dominate lead in her bid for reelection. But a third of likely voters polled in California don't know who they will vote for in either race, meaning there's plenty of room for jockeying among the candidates as the June primary election approaches."
NJ-SEN: "A majority of New Jerseyans say U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez shouldn't be re-elected next year after his mistrial on federal corruption charges, according to a poll released Thursday. By 51 percent to 26 percent, New Jersey adults said Menendez, D-N.J., should not win a new term in 2018, according to the Rutgers-Eagleton poll."
TX-6: After a week of indecision, Joe Barton says he won't run for reelection.