The Daily 202: DACA reaction shows how immigration has become a litmus test for Democrats

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) enjoys a a cigar at his farm this spring. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)


THE BIG IDEA: The House passed a Dream Act in 2010 that would have allowed illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship if they entered the United States as children, graduated from high school or got an equivalent degree, and had been in the United States for at least five years.

Five moderate Democrats in the Senate voted no. If each of them had supported it, the bill would have become law, DACA would have been unnecessary, and this manufactured political crisis now facing Congress would have been averted.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is the only one of those five Democrats still left in the upper chamber. Two lost reelection in 2014 (Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mark Pryor in Arkansas), and two retired (Ben Nelson in Nebraska and Max Baucus in Montana). West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he would have opposed the bill, but he skipped the vote.

Despite being up for reelection next year in a state that Donald Trump carried by 21 points, Tester spoke out yesterday against the president’s decision to end the DACA program. Compare the news release he sent out after his “no” vote seven years ago to what he said last night:

“Illegal immigration is a critical problem facing our country, but amnesty is not the solution,” he said in Dec. 2010. “I do not support legislation that provides a path to citizenship for anyone in this country illegally.”

Discussing the exact same group of people — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors — Tester said yesterday: “America’s immigration system is badly broken and needs fixing, but breaking a promise to these children — who are here through no fault of their own — is not the solution. Congress must work together, Democrats and Republicans, to secure our borders, crack down on folks illegally entering our country, and provide a way forward for innocent kids.”

Yes, this is a cautious statement. But it’s also a clear change in his position that reflects Tester’s desire to avoid the backlash he faced from his left flank in 2010 after voting no on the Dream Act.

— Understandably, most of the media’s coverage of the Trump administration’s Tuesday announcement has focused on cleavages in the Republican ranks. The president has placed his adopted party in a bind by putting the onus on Congress to protect the 800,000 “dreamers” with a legislative fix in the next six months. Reflecting the fraught politics, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee — backed a bipartisan bill yesterday that would shield young immigrants from deportation and give them a pathway to citizenship.

— The untold story, though, is the degree to which Democrats are now in lockstep on what not long ago was an issue that divided them. Not a single Democrat in either chamber of Congress has expressed support for getting rid of DACA.

— This is part of a larger lurch to the left in the Democratic Party on a host of hot-button issues. No matter where you’re from, it is harder than ever to be a Democratic candidate who is against gun control, abortion rights or single-payer health insurance. That doesn’t mean you cannot be, but one risks losing major donors and drawing the ire of the progressive grass roots – even if you represent a red state.

— Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who voted against the Dream Act as a House member in 2010 and, like Tester, faces a tough race in a red state next year, also reversed course:

— Others “evolved” sooner. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) voted against a 2007 version of the Dream Act, but she decided to vote for the 2010 version. And thanks to Todd Akin’s talk of “legitimate rape,” she got reelected in 2012. “My faith played a big role in my decision,” she said in a statement explaining her flip. “Ezekiel 18:20 reads: ‘The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.’”

Yesterday she unabashedly decried Trump’s announcement. “Taking young people who were brought here through no fault of their own, and have never known another country, and kicking them out of America is as dumb as it is counterproductive,” McCaskill said. “Over 90 percent of them are in school or working and many have proudly served our country in uniform.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) runs to catch a subway train under the Capitol. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

— Fifteen Senate Democrats, plus a democratic socialist named Bernie Sanders, voted against a carefully crafted immigration bill in 2007 that would have created a pathway to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants. Ted Kennedy negotiated with George W. Bush’s White House, but the AFL-CIO mobilized against the hard-won compromise because union leaders believed that more competition in the labor force from guest workers would depress wages for the native-born.

Sanders, who joined with Jeff Sessions to kill what turned out to be the last best hope in a generation for true reform, paid a political price in the 2016 Democratic primaries for siding with organized labor over the Latino community.

“Sanctions against employers who employ illegal immigrants (are) virtually nonexistent,” the Vermont senator complained at a news conference 10 summers ago, as he stood alongside union leader Richard Trumka, now the AFL-CIO’s president. “Our border is very porous. … At a time when the middle class is shrinking, the last thing we need is to bring over, a period of years, millions of people into this country who are prepared to lower wages for American workers.”

Fast forward to this Labor Day. Speaking Monday at a breakfast sponsored by the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, Sanders called Trump’s decision to end DACA “one of the most cruel and ugly decisions ever made in the modern history of this country by a president.” The senator said Trump is “trying to divide our nation up based on the color of our skin (and) based on the country in which we were born.” “Our job as trade unionists, as our job as progressives, is to bring the American people together and to fight any and all attempts to divide us up,” Sanders told the crowd of union members.

— That 2007 vote was only a decade ago, but it feels like an eternity. In the intervening years, there really has been a sea change in Democratic politics. Not a single Senate Democrat, or Sanders, opposed the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 but never got a vote in the GOP-controlled House.

Barack Obama speaks in Indonesia this summer. (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)

— Don’t forget the origins of the DACA order. Barack Obama signed it during the heat of the 2012 campaign in response to intense pressure from Latino leaders, who were angry that he had prioritized health care over immigration when he took office and that he was overseeing large-scale deportations. His strategists believed (correctly) that DACA would help galvanize Latino turnout in battlegrounds like Nevada, Colorado and Florida.

Obama was not always a leader on immigration. In fact, he was often a follower. He dragged his feet for years on taking executive action, concerned about its legality, until it was clear Congress wouldn’t do anything on immigration during his presidency. In 2006, afraid of looking weak, the then-freshman senator voted for the Secure Fence Act, which authorized a barrier along the southern border. This is now the legal mechanism that Trump is using to push forward with his plans for a border wall.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants, said the constellation of outside groups like his were not as organized or powerful 10 years ago. “It’s an underreported story. There really has been a shift,” he said in an interview last night. “Obama is a good example of how the electoral and movement politics underneath him shifted, and they finally adjusted to it. … Progressives generally have become much more supportive of immigration reform, and the public has become more supportive of immigrants.”

— A big part of the story is the degree to which the complexion of the party has changed. Three in four Democrats were white 25 years ago. Now, it’s just 57 percent. A breed of Blue Dogs has become endangered, if not extinct. Conservative Democrats a generation ago, especially whites in the South, are now Republicans.

— Jim Manley, who was a top aide to former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said there might have been a time in the past when Democrats would look seriously at a proposal that tied protecting the “dreamers” to funding for a border wall. “Those kinds of deals are DOA to Democrats in both the House and Senate,” said Manley, now a Washington lobbyist.

“Two things have changed,” he emailed. “Politically, they watched the Hispanic community put Sen. Reid over the goal line in his close 2010 election. And since then, there have been others that have won because of their support. Now every smart Democrat is working hard to build alliances with Hispanic voters. But even more importantly, as they have gotten to know the community better they realize what is at stake and that something needs to be done to protect those that are here in this country.”

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka addresses union members during a rally last year. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

— The big unions, which have also become markedly more diverse, have begun to show far more solidarity with Latinos than they once did. “This indefensible act will make our workplaces less fair and less safe and will undermine our freedom to join together and fight to raise wages and standards,” Trumka said in a statement attacking Trump’s decision yesterday. “This direct attack on union members and union values only strengthens our resolve to overcome racial divisions …”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former member of House Democratic leadership, said the push for an immigration bill during Obama’s second term may represent a breakthrough in hindsight, even though nothing became law, because organized labor was able to successfully negotiate with the business community, represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Rather than trying to fight the last century’s wars, I think people have figured out that we should come together,” Becerra said by phone from Sacramento last night. “Rather than fight, I think labor and the business community — which often times would use immigrants but not defend them — they see the potential. … That’s the kind of compromise you want.”

Becerra, who said he is “ready to sue” to defend DACA, said the program has allowed young immigrants to prove they can make valuable contributions to society if allowed to come out of the shadows. (One in four DACA recipients lives in California.) “What’s come to a head for folks on the Democratic side is that this is not working,” he said. “Now we’re seeing the results of not getting immigration reform done.”

— The Democratic Party platform on immigration has changed rapidly over the last decade. “We cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked,” it said in 2008. “Those who enter our country’s borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of the law.” This was excised by 2016, as were three references to “illegal” immigration.

In 2016, Trump successfully exploited xenophobia among working class whites who feel left behind. Hillary Clinton wrongly banked that the Hispanic share of the electorate was growing quickly enough, and that her opponent’s comments regarding Mexicans were offensive enough, to offset the grievance Trump tapped into. Trying to gin up Latino turnout, she was far less nuanced when discussing immigration than she’d been during her first campaign in 2008.

— A few prominent left-leaning pundits have been arguing this summer that Democrats are becoming too absolutist on immigration. “Look at the Democracy Fund’s voter study done in the wake of the 2016 election,” Fareed Zakaria wrote in a column last month. “If you compare two groups of voters — those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016, and those who voted for Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016 — the single biggest divergence on policy is immigration. In other words, there are many Americans who are otherwise sympathetic to Democratic ideas but on a few key issues — principally immigration — think the party is out of touch. And they are right. Consider the facts. Legal immigration in the United States has expanded dramatically over the last five decades. In 1970, 4.7 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born. Today, it’s 13.4 percent. That’s a large shift, and it’s natural that it has caused some anxiety. The anxiety is about more than jobs. … Democrats should find a middle path on immigration. They can battle President Trump’s drastic solutions but still speak in the language of national unity and identity.”

Peter Beinart wrote that “Democrats lost their way on immigration” in a lengthy piece for last month’s Atlantic magazine: “The myth, which liberals like myself find tempting, is that only the right has changed. In June 2015, we tell ourselves, Donald Trump rode down his golden escalator and pretty soon nativism, long a feature of conservative politics, had engulfed it. But that’s not the full story. If the right has grown more nationalistic, the left has grown less so. A decade ago, liberals publicly questioned immigration in ways that would shock many progressives today. … Liberals must take seriously Americans’ yearning for social cohesion. To promote both mass immigration and greater economic redistribution, they must convince more native-born white Americans that immigrants will not weaken the bonds of national identity. This means dusting off a concept many on the left currently hate: assimilation.” Beinart faults Clinton for not talking at all about cutting down on people entering the U.S. illegally.

“National polls show majorities in support of granting legal status or citizenship to undocumented immigrants,” Thomas B. Edsall observed in the New York Times this February. “The problem for those calling for the enactment of liberal policies, however, is that immigration is a voting issue for a minority of the electorate. And among those who say immigration is their top issue, opponents outnumber supporters by nearly two to one. In this respect, immigration is similar to gun control — both mobilize opponents more than supporters.

— Democratic strategists are hopeful that Republican infighting over DACA will work to their advantage, as primary challengers try to outdo one another in expressing support for Trump’s order. Kelli Ward, who is running against Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona, endorsed the president’s decision to end “Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty program.” Danny Tarkanian, who is running against Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada, called DACA “unconstitutional” and said it should “never have been implemented” in a tweet yesterday. Rep. Lou Barletta, seeking the GOP nomination to run against Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D), commended Trump for “putting America first” and called the announcement “a victory for the forgotten American worker.”

“The decision creates yet another riff for GOP candidates navigating crowded and contentious primaries while Democratic incumbents can do what they do best: work across the aisle to find commonsense solutions that grow our economy and reflect America’s values,” said Lauren Passalacqua, communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

— Happening Friday at 9 a.m. — The Daily 202 Live with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: The start time of our on-stage interview at The Washington Post’s headquarters has moved up to 9 a.m. ET. We’ll discuss the Trump administration’s efforts to reshape the playing field for international trade, including the future of NAFTA, the push to overhaul the tax code, and a host of other pressing issues. (More information here.)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Hurricane Irma continued to gather strength as it hurtled toward the U.S. coast Wednesday, intensifying into a Category 5 storm with winds exceeding 185 mph. It’s the strongest storm on Earth so far in 2017, among the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic — and almost every model predicts the storm hitting Florida in one way or another. The National Hurricane Center has been blunt in its warnings about the storm’s power and said areas in its path could suffer “potentially catastrophic” effects. (Brian McNoldy and Jason Samenow)

— Here’s what you need to know:

  • The eye of the storm made landfall on the Caribbean island of Barbuda this morning. 
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) asked Trump to declare a pre-landfall emergency in Florida, adding the storm could require large-scale evacuations. Earlier Tuesday, he activated 100 members of the Florida National Guard and directed all 7,000 members to report for duty on Friday.
  • Mandatory evacuation orders have already been issued in certain parts of the state, including the Florida Keys.
  • Miami-Dade — the state’s most populous county — is expected to order evacuations today. Emergency officials estimate “hundreds of thousands” of residents will be asked to leave. (Miami Herald)
  • “The uncertainty of Irma’s track and the geography of the Florida peninsula have combined to create an unusually broad, essentially statewide sense of emergency,” Francisco Alvarado, Mark Berman and Sandhya Somashekhar report. Irma’s size alone could be cause for concern: Forecasters have warned that its effects could be felt as far as 200 miles out.
  • The National Hurricane Center warned of “large and destructive waves” along the coasts of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, adding that parts of Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands could be “drenched” by the storm.

From a National Hurricane Center scientist: 

— For those who could be affected, the Capital Weather Gang’s Angela Fritz compiled a handy guide on how to prepare for Irma, while Matthew Cappucci tells us how to read the forecasts as we head into peak hurricane season.

Hillary Clinton with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Hillary Clinton’s new book blames Bernie Sanders for laying the foundation of Trump’s “crooked Hillary” campaign. Clinton argues that Sanders’s primary attacks caused “lasting damage” and made it more difficult for Democrats to unify in the general election. (CNN)
  2. Democrats are launching a super PAC to win back statehouses. A group of Obama alums are starting Forward Majority this week in the hopes of regaining seats in state legislatures before the next round of redistricting. (Politico)

  3. Michigan State University is facing a lawsuit over denying event space to white nationalist Richard Spencer. The lawsuit claims that the university’s decision violates the constitutional rights of Spencer’s supporters. (Susan Svrluga)

  4. A descendant of Robert E. Lee who strongly denounced him as an “idol of white supremacy, racism and hate” has resigned as the pastor of a North Carolina church, citing backlash he received after speaking out at the MTV Video Music Awards. “A faction of church members were concerned about my speech and that I lifted up Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work,” he wrote, adding that his “church’s reaction was deeply hurtful.” (Rachel Siegel
  5. In 10 days, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is slated to crash into Saturn — wrapping a wildly successful mission that has changed the world’s understanding of the planet and discovered other potentially habitable worlds. Fans of the plucky, school bus-sized spacecraft are devastated. (Sarah Kaplan)
  6. The Red Sox have been accused of using Apple watches to steal hand signals from the Yankees. Major League Baseball opened an inquiry into the accusation two weeks ago, after the Yankees’ general manager filed a detailed complaint with the commissioner. (New York Times)

  7. A newspaper photographer from Ohio was shot by a sheriff’s deputy “without warning” on Monday night, after the officer apparently mistook the reporter’s camera and tripod for a gun. (Kristine Phillips)

  8. A teenage girl in California has filed a claim against the police department after officers mistook her for a suspect and punched her in the mouth. Authorities were looking for a 5-foot-10 black man in his mid- to late-20s weighing about 170 pounds and instead apprehended Tatyana Hargrove, who stands at 5 feet 2 and weighs 115 pounds. (Amy B Wang)

DACA FALLOUT:

Opening the door: Late last night, after hours of scorching TV coverage about whether the decision to phase out DACA showed the “great heart” for recipients he claims, Trump suggested he might change his mind if Congress can’t act by March 5, 2018, by tweeting that he might “revisit” the issue should Congress not act.

— Trump left it to his attorney general, immigration hard-liner Jeff Sessions, to announce the DACA rollback at the Justice Department yesterday. Sari Horowitz notes that the presser was a comeback moment of sorts for Sessions after a brutal summer in which he was “left for dead politically: “It was a big moment for Sessions, announcing the end of Obama’s immigration protection, and one that would not have been predicted earlier this summer when he and Trump were not even speaking. For Sessions, a hard-liner on immigration, it was also the culmination of a legislative career in which he earned a reputation as the “anti-immigration warrior.”

— According to the New York Times’s Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Trump’s advisers worried that he did not understand the gravity of the DACA decision: “The blame-averse president told a confidante over the past few days that he realized that he had gotten himself into a politically untenable position. As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind[.]”

— The blowback also came from former presidents. Both Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton spoke out, along with prominent members of the business and religious community:

  • In a rare public statement, Obama wrote a Facebook post defending the program he made possible: “Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”
  • Bill Clinton seconded Obama’s concerns in a statement: “It’s wrong because it’s bad policy that solves no pressing problem and raises new ones. It’s wrong because it’s irresponsible, passing the buck instead of offering sensible solutions for immigration reform. Most of all, it’s wrong because it’s cruel to send these young people to places of them have never lived and do not know. For them this is home. The United States is their home.”
  • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg described the move as “particularly cruel”: “The young people covered by DACA are our friends and neighbors. They contribute to our communities and to the economy. … They don’t deserve to live in fear.”
  • “[I]t makes our beloved immigrants political hockey pucks and they shouldn’t be. We should all be on their side,” said Joseph Tobin, the cardinal archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, on Sirius XM. “It’s certainly not Christian and I would content it’s not American.”

— The onus of protecting the “dreamers” is now on Congress, where consensus is far from guaranteed given the legislative branch’s rocky history on immigration. Robert Costa and Philip Rucker report on the GOP moment: “[T]he president’s punt created chaos at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where it now falls to congressional Republicans to navigate a thicket of political interests and charged emotions amid a busy September as they try to keep the party’s base from revolting and still appeal to Hispanic voters.”

  • “From a Republican Party point of view, this is a defining moment,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Tuesday. Addressing DACA recipients, he added: “We want to find a fair solution because you have done nothing wrong. … Congress is going to have to up its game.”
  • “It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the decision to end DACA but didn’t call on Congress to act.

“The timeline for congressional action is unclear, but top Republicans said addressing DACA could be fodder for legislative negotiations on other fronts,” our colleagues write.

  • “I think there may be a deal to be had,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters when asked about DACA and border security.
  • Thomas M. Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, said: “It’s a great opportunity for this Congress and for Republicans to come together. It’s an opportunity for Trump to say, ‘Okay, I’ll give you DACA, but I need my wall.’ This is how deals can happen. Immigration reform was dead for years, and this reopens the conversation.”

Meanwhile, the conservative media universe largely sided with the president: On “Fox Friends,” conservative radio host Laura Ingraham dismissed coverage of DACA recipients as “sob stories.” And Breitbart, with former Trump advise [Stephen K.] Bannon back at the helm, plastered its homepage with immigration-related stories, featuring headlines such as “14 Things the [Mainstream Media] Won’t Tell You About DACA.” The negative coverage underlines the pushback Trump would receive from his base if he signed a DACA replacement, even if Congress is able to pass one. 

— When faced with reporters’ questions over whether Congress would be able to tackle immigration, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders implied that lawmakers should be voted out of office if they couldn’t: “That’s their job,” Sanders said, “and if they can’t do it, then they need to get out of the way and let somebody else who can take on a heavy lift and get things accomplished.” (Aaron Blake)

— For perspective: Voters overwhelmingly support allowing “dreamers” to remain in the United States, according to a Politico-Morning Consult poll, with just 15 percent saying DACA recipients should be removed or deported from the country. And support spanned party lines, with 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and 69 percent of Republicans saying they think “dreamers” should stay. Two-thirds of self-identified Trump voters also shared that view. 

THE HUMAN SIDE:

— Demonstrators swept through Washington to protest the end of a program that has provided a lifeline to 800,000 immigrants. Maria Sacchetti and Perry Stein report: “‘It’s right now official,’ CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres told a suddenly silent crowd of immigrants and supporters who, moments earlier, had been shouting, singing and banging drums outside the White House in defiance. ‘This administration just ended DACA.’ Monica Camacho Perez burst into sobs. ‘Taking DACA away is taking us back to a really dark time for immigrants,’ said the 23-year-old Maryland resident, who arrived in the United States from Mexico when she was 7. ‘This is our country. We are not going anywhere.’ …

— Advocates became further alarmed when White House talking points obtained by news outlets warned that DACA recipients should prepare for “departure from the United States.” (CNN’s Tal Kopan and Jim Acosta)

— But some local leaders, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, moved to assure “dreamers” they were safe. Emanuel said yesterday, “To all the Dreamers that are here in this room, and in the city of Chicago, you are welcomed in the city of Chicago. This is your home and you have nothing to worry about. … Chicago, our schools, our neighborhoods, our city, as it relates to what President Trump said, will be a Trump-free zone. You have nothing to worry about.” (The Hill’s Mallory Shelbourne)

— “I came to this country 41 years ago. Now Trump is making me feel like I don’t belong here,” by Washington Post contributor Max Boot: “The announced end of DACA hit me particularly hard, because almost half of those affected arrived in the United States before their sixth birthday. In other words, they were about the same age I was when I came here. … I think about those who are affected and I wonder what will happen to them. I wonder what would happen to me if I were one of them, as I so easily could be. What would I do now, at age 48, if I were deported to a country that I have not seen in more than 40 years and whose language I no longer speak? How would I work? How would I survive?”

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to members of the media as he leaves after a vote at the Capitol. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CONGRESS’S JAMPACKED SEPTEMBER:

Under normal circumstances it would be hard to get a DACA fix in place, but this not a normal September. On Congress’s plate is a government funding bill, a debt-ceiling problem, Harvey relief, reauthorizing the FAA, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the National Flood Insurance Program. Then, there’s a tax-code overhaul — not something Trump and GOP leaders have to do, but something they need. And that doesn’t take into account possible catastrophic fallout from Hurricane Irma. Elise Viebeck has a handy guide to the pileup and the deadlines here.

— The biggest problem, as always in the GOP Congress, is raising the debt ceiling by Sept. 29, before the treasury secretary says it will be breached. Senate leaders are pushing for a vote this week tying the hike to Hurricane Harvey relief aid.

Here’s the current strategy from Kelsey Snell and Mike DeBonis: “The decision to combine the two unrelated measures is a potentially risky strategy that could further alienate conservatives who have insisted that any debt-limit increase be paired with corresponding spending cuts. … The House is expected to vote on an initial version of the disaster relief package on Wednesday. If all goes as planned, the Senate would then attach the debt-limit increase and hold a vote before the end of the week. … But conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), want to see the disaster aid approved without the debt limit attached.”

— The White House is expected to try to quell conservative opposition in a meeting today. Politico’s Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Kyle Cheney report: “Administration officials will inform lawmakers that they will not be able to pay FEMA disaster claims for victims without a simultaneous increase of the debt ceiling, [sources] said. House lawmakers are also being told by GOP leaders that Trump will give a full-throated endorsement to their plan to pair the two bills and send them to the Oval Office this week[.] … Such a message from the president himself could change the dynamic for Hill Republicans and save GOP leaders getting pummeled by critics.”

Mark Warner speaks to Richard Burr during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Thursday with Donald Trump Jr. in connection to its Russia investigation. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The meeting, which is expected to be comprehensive, is the first opportunity that members of the committee will have to grill someone from President Trump’s inner circle about the campaign’s alleged attempts to engage with Kremlin surrogates[.] … But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) suggested on Tuesday that Trump Jr. might not be able to tell senators much more than they already know. … On Tuesday, Burr reiterated that it was his ‘aspirational goal’ to conclude the committee’s probe and release its findings by the end of the year — something he said should be possible unless the committee learns ‘something that we don’t know today’ in the meantime.”

— Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed DOJ and FBI documents relating to the infamous Trump dossier. But the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), claimed that the subpoenas were “uncalled for” because his Republican colleagues were more focused on trying to “discredit” the dossier’s author “rather than looking into how many of the allegations he wrote about were true.” (Karoun Demirjian)

— Capitol Hill vs. Mueller? CNN’s Manu Raju and Evan Perez: “Lawyers working with a team led by [Robert Mueller] approached the Senate intelligence committee this summer with a request: They wanted the transcript of an interview Senate staff had conducted with [Paul Manafort]. But they were blocked. Manafort’s lawyers said they had not authorized Mueller’s legal team to access the interview transcript under the agreement with the committee, even though Mueller’s attorneys said they had been given permission. The previously undisclosed fight … underscores the new challenges as congressional committees and Mueller’s operation head into a more intense phase of their parallel — and sometimes, conflicting — investigations into Russian election meddling and any collusion with Trump associates.”

President Trump, joined by coal miners and members of congress including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, holds up H.J. Res. 38. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

THE TRUMP AGENDA:

— Trump’s tax code overhaul event in North Dakota will include a surprising guest appearance. Philip Rucker reports: “[H]e is expected to pull his punches on that state’s Democratic senator, Heidi Heitkamp. That is because Heitkamp will be a special guest in Trump’s traveling delegation, jetting with him from Washington aboard Air Force One in what the White House is trumpeting as the first indication of bipartisan support for overhauling the tax code. … The Democratic senator is expected to face a difficult challenge for reelection next year in a state Trump carried in 2016 by 36 percentage points, one of his biggest margins of victory. So Heitkamp may see a political advantage in being friendly with Trump[.] … In his speech Wednesday, Trump intends to pressure Heitkamp to support his tax-reform agenda[.]”

— Trump is still set on lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, a goal that even his allies dismiss as a pipe dream. (Politico’s Ben White and Nancy Cook)

— The White House is angling for one last shot at Obamacare repeal. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Josh Dawsey report: “The president and White House staff have continued to work with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana over the summer on their proposal to block grant federal health care funding to the states. … Inside the White House, there is little hope that a health care bill can happen quickly, with a stacked legislative agenda. And some close to the president prefer he would focus on tax reform and other immediate fiscal issues.”

— A bipartisan pair of senators are preparing an amendment to challenge Trump’s ban on transgender troops. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that she is drafting the amendment with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to ‘try to protect the transgender troops’ against the order that Trump initially issued via Twitter in July banning them from the military. … The backlash to Trump’s order has been swift and bipartisan — but it is not yet clear what support there will be for Gillibrand’s planned amendment.” The New York senator plans to attach the amendment to a sweeping defense bill, but that legislation has already been held up by a separate proposal from Rand Paul.

— “A two-decade crusade by conservative charities fueled Trump’s exit from Paris climate accord,” by Robert O’Harrow Jr.: “For nearly two decades, [Myron] Ebell has led the Cooler Heads Coalition, an umbrella group of tax-exempt public charities and other nonprofit organizations in the vanguard of efforts to cast doubt on the gravity of climate change and thwart government efforts to address it. Coalition members have called climate science a hoax and denounced environmentalists as ‘global-warming alarmists.’ They have written letters, blasted out emails, pressured lawmakers, sponsored seminars, appeared on television and made a documentary movie. It was all part of a wave that crested with Trump’s rejection on June 1 of the Paris agreement[.]”

— Trump has nominated Oklahoma lawmaker and known climate change skeptic Jim Bridenstine to serve as NASA administrator. If confirmed, Bridenstine would be the first politician to fill the role, an unprecedented move that alarms some senators who will vote on his confirmation. (Ben Guarino)

NEW WORLD ORDER:

— Trump offered further military assistance to Asian allies as the United States faces an uphill battle to secure further U.N. sanctions against North Korea for its latest test. The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng and Farnaz Fassihi report: “North Korea, meanwhile, issued a defiant response on Tuesday to U.S. attempts to impose new sanctions, declaring that it wasn’t cowed by the Trump administration’s warnings and hinting at an unspecified ‘counteroffensive.’ … Mr. Trump needs congressional approval to authorize most weapons transfers. But it wouldn’t be difficult to advance the process due to close ties and pre-existing U.S. accords with South Korea and Japan[.]”

— The international tension, combined with congressional inaction, rattled the markets yesterday. The New York Times’s Tiffany Hsu reports: “The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 234.25 points, or 1.07 percent, to 21,753.31. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index lost 18.7 points, or 0.76 percent, to 2,457.85. The Nasdaq composite sank 59.76 points, or 0.93 percent, to 6,375.57. … The market close on Tuesday represented the steepest fall for each gauge since Aug. 17, when the markets were processing news of a terrorist attack in Barcelona and the dissolution of two of President Trump’s business advisory councils.”

— The South Korean president attempted to warn Vladimir Putin about North Korea’s “uncontrollable” advancement. Moon Jae-in met with the Russian president earlier today. (Bloomberg’s Ilya Arkhipov and Kanga Kong)

— Putin responded by once again criticizing the idea of sanctions against Pyongyang and even claiming that the North Korean crisis may be “impossible” to resolve. (CNN’s Hilary Whiteman)

— And U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley appeared to back away from the Iran nuclear deal in a speech yesterday. Anne Gearan reports: “Haley did not directly champion a U.S. withdrawal, but she asserted that the nuclear restriction deal is a threat to U.S. national security because its structure leaves loopholes and discourages tough enforcement. … In an address to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Haley left little doubt that she would support a presidential finding next month that Iran is not complying with the deal. That would be a first step toward a U.S. withdrawal and would trigger a 60-day congressional review that Haley said would be beneficial. … If Trump did trigger a congressional review this fall, it would come on top of a long list of must-do legislation.”

Luther Strange waves to constituents before a Republican Senate candidate forum in Pelham, Ala. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

ALABAMA’S SENATE RACE HEATS UP:

— Mitch McConnell is slated to fundraise this week for the primary runoff race of Alabama Sen. Luther Strange (R) against former Judge Roy Moore, the candidate championed by the Breitbart crowd. The timing was odd given Luther’s announcement Tuesday that he supported Trump’s call to end the Senate filibuster, a move that McConnell stridently opposes. The runoff for Jeff Sessions’s seat is Sept. 26. (Sean Sullivan)

— THE BREITBART EFFECT IN ALABAMA — “Conservatives led by Breitbart News are waging an all-out campaign to stop a candidate backed by [Trump and McConnell] in the Alabama Senate special election — putting growing pressure on the president to step away from his endorsement,” Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “With just over three weeks until the runoff, far-right forces are starting to close ranks around [evangelical bomb-thrower Roy Moore] …  [and Trump] has been conspicuously silent since [Strange] finished second to Moore in the first round of balloting on Aug. 15. The pro-Moore effort will intensify this week, when the candidate arrives in Washington to hold a procession of meetings with influential conservatives that he hopes will culminate in endorsements. Among those Moore is slated to huddle with: members of the House Freedom Caucus and former diplomat and presidential candidate Alan Keyes, who is hosting a Wednesday evening fundraising reception. Steve Bannon is helping to orchestrate the push …”

MENENDEZ UPDATE:

— Opening arguments begin today in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). Devlin Barrett reports: “The trial is expected to last up to two months, and will likely feature testimony from former Obama administration officials who say they were pressured by Menendez to help [eye doctor Salomon] Melgen. If convicted on some of the dozen charges against him, Menendez faces the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. But exactly how and when he might leave the Senate if he is found guilty could have major ramifications for legislation, in a year when a single Senate vote can tilt the balance on major bills.”

— The outcome could also set a new legal precedent. NBC News’s Pete Williams reports: “The trial will also test what remains of federal corruption law after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened it last year. In throwing out the conviction of Robert McDonnell, a former Virginia governor accused of accepting bribes, the justices narrowed the definition of official bribery.” Williams adds: “The Senate could also vote to expel Menendez if he were convicted. But that takes a two-thirds vote, and no senator has been expelled in the last 155 years.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

The former vice president spoke out against the termination of DACA:

From two House Democrats:

From the mayor of New York:

Sen. John McCain also criticized the move:

From the former president of Mexico:

From the archbishop of Chicago and a key Pope Francis ally: 

Some students walked out of school because of the announcement:

Protesters in D.C. shut down Pennsylvania Avenue:

Business leaders stepped up their defenses of dreamer employees:

NeverTrump GOP strategist Ana Navarro argued that the decision reflected a consistent pattern for Trump:

A Republican strategist warned about the big problem the GOP faces with Latinos:

A valid question from one of The Post’s national reporters:

And Hurricane Irma is already affecting Americans:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— New York Times, “At CNN, Retracted Story Leaves an Elite Reporting Team Bruised,” by Sydney Ember and Michael M. Grynbaum: “[Members] of CNN’s elite investigations team were summoned to a fourth-floor room in the network’s glassy headquarters [in June, where they received startling news]: three of their colleagues, including the team’s executive editor, were leaving the network in the wake of a retracted article about Russia and a close [Trump ally]. It was a chilling moment for a unit that boasted Pulitzer Prize winners and superstar internet sleuths … In the weeks since the story was retracted, the investigative team has been reshaped and redirected. Its members were told they should not report on perhaps the most compelling political story of the year: potential ties between the Trump administration and Russia. Two months later it remains an illuminating chapter in the network’s effort to carry out the meticulous, time-consuming work of investigative journalism within the fast-paced, ratings-driven world of 24-hour cable news.”

— FiveThirtyEight, “2018 Could Be The Year Of The Angry White College Graduate,” by David Wasserman: “Midterms have always skewed toward college-educated voters, but never before has there been such an educational divide, particularly among whites. In 2016, exit polls found that Donald Trump carried white voters with a college degree by just 3 percentage points, but won whites without a college degree by 37 points — a massive 34-point gap. By contrast, this gap was just 14 points in 2008. This leaves Republicans dangerously exposed.”

— USA Today, “Trump gets millions from golf members. CEOs and lobbyists get access to president,” by Brad Heath, Fredreka Schouten, Steve Reilly, Nick Penzenstadler and Aamer Madhani: “Dozens of lobbyists, contractors and others who make their living influencing the government pay President Trump’s companies for membership in his private golf clubs, a status that can put them in close contact with the president, a USA TODAY investigation found. … The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.”

 

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— D.C. residents will likely see showers today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “With a cold front draped across the area, periods of rain are likely today, with a few thunderstorms possible as well. And thanks to the rain, overcast skies, and a cool breeze from the northwest around 10 mph, temperatures are mainly steady in the 60s to near 70.”

— The Nationals beat the Marlins 2-1. (Chelsea Janes)

— The Washington Monument is expected to reopen in 2019, at which point the site will have a modernized elevator and a permanent area for safety checks. The contract for the job was awarded Friday to Rockville’s Grunley Construction and announced yesterday by the National Park Service. (Dana Hedgpeth)

— The police pursuit that ended in a car crash outside the Trump International Hotel Sunday began as a domestic incident. Authorities say that a woman was locked inside the car with her former boyfriend, who was armed with a knife as he sped through traffic. The woman was able to take the knife and escape before police pursued the vehicle for another mile, until it crashed into a car outside the hotel. (Peter Hermann)

Perry Stein talked to a couple marrying next week on the Mall, between a pro-Trump event referred to as “the Mother of All Rallies” and a rally for Insane Clown Posse fans, who are known as Juggalos: “[Kevin] Bobsein and [Christy] Coyne said a National Park Service employee alerted them in June that their wedding coincided with the Juggalo rally and asked them if they wanted to change dates. By then, it was too close to the wedding date and they decided to stay put. They say they don’t expect any issues or interruptions during their short afternoon ceremony, but conceded that all the hubbub on the Mall could make it a little noisy.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a morning call with the Chinese president followed by a meeting with bipartisan congressional leaders. He will later travel to Bismarck, N.D., for an event on overhauling the tax code.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Late-night hosts mocked Trump’s decision to end DACA:

Mountains of trash line Houston streets as Texans attempt to rebuild after Harvey:

Philippine police chief Ronald dela Rosa got emotional during a Senate hearing on President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war:

And a French magazine was fined thousands of euros for publishing topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge in 2012:


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