POLITICO Huddle: THE SKINNY BUDGET IS HERE – Trump on the Hill for St. Patty’s Day celebration – GOP

03/16/2017 08:03 AM EDT
By Heather Caygle (hcaygle@politico.com or @heatherscope) With assists from Dan Diamond and Daniel Lippman WELCOME to another slow day on Capitol Hill (ha!) where lawmakers will be juggling the Budget Committee markup of the Obamacare repeal, reaction to President Donald Trump's budget blueprint and the annual St. Patrick's Day lunch with the president, VP and the Taoiseach (aka prime minister) of Ireland. Let's get to it! TRUMP'S (SKINNY) BUDGET IS HERE - The White House released its budget blueprint this morning at 7 a.m. and as many expected, the outline includes deep cuts to domestic and diplomacy programs while redirecting those dollars toward the military and law enforcement. The document "represents the most concrete translation of Trump's nationalistic and populist rhetoric on the campaign trail into dollars and cents," Shane Goldmacher reports. "We wrote it using the president's own words," OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said. "We turned those policies into numbers." More from Shane: http://politi.co/2nv0Ohl Bye bye domestic funding: Trump's budget would reduce State Department funding by 28 percent; funding for programs like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports PBS and NPR, would be cut entirely; and federal dollars for the EPA and housing programs would be slashed. The White House would direct $54 billion more to defense and is requesting an additional $30 billion in supplemental funding for national security and the border wall. Jen Scholtes and Sarah Ferris with more on the nitty-gritty details: http://politi.co/2n2x65l -Caveat: Today's document represents only the topline numbers proposed by the White House. A full budget is expected in May. And Congress would have to improve all these cuts -- which is unlikely. View the document here: http://bit.ly/2nuQc22 SCRAMBLING TO SAVE THE REPEAL - The House Budget Committee markup of the Obamacare repeal kicks off this morning. And since every Democrat will vote against the bill, chairwoman Diane Black can only afford to lose four Republicans and still advance the proposal, Rachael, Kyle and Jen Haberkorn report. GOP Rep. Dave Brat has already said he'll vote against the repeal in committee and some other Republicans said they're undecided. But Trump has been calling committee members to urge their support, according to sources, and other members say they'll never get the changes they want if the proposal fails in committee. GOP leaders were working furiously behind the scenes Wednesday night to salvage the repeal plan amid continued intra-party warfare. House Speaker Paul Ryan conceded publicly for the first time that the bill would need to be changed to placate conservatives. And he and his allies floated potential modifications requested by the White House, trying to find a sweet spot that could win over some hard-liners without repelling the conference's moderate wing. Inside the room, Vice President Mike Pence told GOP lawmakers that Trump is "standing shoulder to shoulder" with them and is "spoiling for a fight" with Democrats on the healthcare bill. Coming attractions: The House Freedom Caucus plans to present an amendment to leadership Friday they say could bring both conservatives and moderates on board. "It's up for us, moderates and conservatives, to come together," Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said coming out of a Wednesday evening meeting. Much more on potential changes here: http://politi.co/2nuWezP and more health care news after the jump. Op-Ed: "Three Criteria for Health Reform: The House repeal-and-replace plan doesn't go far enough," from Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Mark Meadows last night in the Wall Street Journal. The whip count: CNN has a count of how many Republicans are leaning against voting for the repeal. So far, the total is 19. GOP leaders can only lose 21 votes. More: http://cnn.it/2n2srjZ SCOOP: GOP REP. TIED TO ALLEGED MARKETING SCAM - Freshman GOP Rep. Brian Mast is linked to a Florida marketing company under investigation by federal regulators for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars in a patent scam. Mast, who was named as a board member to the company in question last year, World Patent Marketing, insisted he has no ties to the company or its president Scott Cooper. "[Cooper] was somebody who was introduced to me," Mast said. "I was aware that I became a member of a board through a press release someone else sent to me. I didn't even know." The company put out a press release last year touting Mast as its newest board member, even printing a quote attributed to the then-candidate. Shortly after, Cooper donated $5,400 to Mast's campaign. And since then, Cooper has frequently posted about Mast on social media, including a photo the two men together taken at a party last month celebrating the freshman lawmaker's victory. "This is stuff taken off social media, and Facebook. I never authorized it," Mast said. Much more from Bres and yours truly: http://politi.co/2nvbgVX WELCOME TO THURSDAY, MARCH 16, where it's St. Patrick's Day on Capitol Hill. Thanks for reading POLITICO's Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill. WEDNESDAY'S MOST CLICKED: Seung Min's story about Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley's hardball moves on the Russia probe got the big clicks. THE BEST LAID PLANS... Sen. Tom Cotton and Speaker Ryan have a lot in common on paper: They're young and ambitious, both floated as potential White House candidates, and see themselves as low-tax and strong-on-defense conservatives. But now, as both men are trying to be top Trump allies, they are pulling the president in different directions, Burgess and Rachael report. Cotton trashed Ryan's three-pronged plan for health care this week, calling it "all talk" and hasn't been shy about criticizing other Ryan proposals, including the border adjustment tax. Battle Royale: "The rivalry is riveting the Capitol, causing senators and House members to take sides between the speaker and the senator: Do they agree that Ryan is rushing the process and could cost House members their seats, as Cotton explicitly warned this week? Or is Cotton just not a team player Republicans can rely on?" Don't miss it: http://politi.co/2nv3OdB TAKING THE FIGHT BACK HOME - American Action Network is launching a massive robocall effort targeting House conservatives who have resisted supporting the Obamacare repeal. The nonprofit aligned with House GOP leadership will run 1 million robocalls in 30 congressional districts represented primarily by House Freedom Caucus members, Kyle reports. The deets: http://politi.co/2nuVVoi PODCAST: HOW DEMS CAN STALL OBAMACARE REPEAL - Joe Kennedy, the Massachusetts congressman who was Democrats' breakout star of last week's 27-hour House Energy & Commerce Committee markup, tells POLITICO's Dan Diamond that the all-night resistance wasn't a stunt - it was to create a megaphone. "We can't stop this bill," he said. "[But] we can help stop this bill by ensuring that, to the best extent we can, the American public understands the consequences." Listen to the podcast: http://bit.ly/2nv2s2k MARK YOUR CALENDARS - FBI Director James Comey was on Capitol Hill Wednesday privately briefing members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The move comes after Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley publicly declared Tuesday that his committee would not move the nomination for DOJ's deputy AG until the FBI responded to a bipartisan request for a Russia briefing. Comey also confirmed he will publicly testify at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia Monday. Lawmakers seem to be zeroing in on two questions: Does the FBI have any evidence to back up Trump's wiretapping claims? And is the FBI conducting a criminal investigation into potential collusion between Russia and Trump campaign aides? "I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower," House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes, a staunch Trump ally, told reporters Wednesday. Austin with more: http://politi.co/2nuYS8E TWEET DU JOUR: @seungminkim: @SenThomTillis is walking around the Hill with a red bow tie because he lost some sort of a bet. @SenatorBurr calls him "Senator Pee Wee" FLAKE: NEW TRAVEL BAN 'NOT A GOOD IDEA' - GOP Sen. Jeff Flake shared his thoughts on Trump's new travel ban after a Hawaii judge issued a worldwide restraining order Wednesday blocking key parts of the order: "Despite today's U.S. District Court ruling against the new travel ban, I do think that it will ultimately be upheld by the courts," Flake wrote on Medium. "This does not, however, make the new travel ban a good idea. I fail to see what national security gains are achieved." Trump vowed to take the fight to the Supreme Court during his Nashville rally Wednesday night: "This is a watered-down version of the first one. ...I think we should go back to the first one and go all the way which is what I wanted to do in the first place." Josh Gerstein: http://politi.co/2nvaNDw McCAIN ACCUSES PAUL OF 'WORKING' FOR RUSSIA - "Sen. John McCain on Wednesday accused fellow Sen. Rand Paul of doing Russian President Vladimir Putin's bidding after Paul blocked an attempt to vote on a treaty for NATO membership for Montenegro," Connor O'Brien reports. "'The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin,' McCain bluntly said of Paul on the Senate floor following the dust-up." More: http://politi.co/2nv4OhG NEW THIS MORNING: YOU'VE GOT MAIL - GOP Sen. James Lankford is sending a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this morning about American citizens detained abroad. Lankford is requesting Tillerson, as he restructures the State Department, revisit the diplomatic strategy for securing the release of Americans unjustly imprisoned by a foreign government. Read it here first: http://bit.ly/2nuZ7jS DEMS REV UP ANTI-GORSUCH FIGHT - Senate Democrats used Wednesday, their last day in session before Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearings next week, to rev up their fight against the SCOTUS nominee amid growing liberal pressure. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren headlined separate anti-Gorsuch events on Wednesday, Seung Min and Elana report, even as Schumer declined to predict Democrats would filibuster Trump's nominee. More: http://politi.co/2nv0gIr SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN? The White House is signaling to Capitol Hill leaders that Trump wants money to beef up the U.S.-Mexico border in a spending bill due by late April, Burgess, Josh Dawsey and Bres report. But the move would almost certainly tee up a showdown with Senate and House Democrats, who have vowed to vote against a short-term spending bill that funds a border wall. More: http://politi.co/2nvjoG8 TODAY IN CONGRESS - The House meets at 10 a.m. with first votes around 1:30 p.m. and last votes around 5:30 p.m. Today's agenda: http://bit.ly/2nv0wHl. The Senate is out until Tuesday (Hmm, we wonder if the NCAA basketball tournament starting today has anything to do with that?) AROUND THE HILL - House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Reps. Frank Pallone, Bobby Scott and Richard Neal hold a hearing on the impacts of the Obamacare repeal bill starting at 9:30 a.m. in HVC-215. Former CBO Director Doug Elmendorf is among the witnesses. Sen. Chris Murphy will give a PowerPoint presentation on the GOP's Obamacare repeal (in response to Paul Ryan's infamous presentation last week) starting at 9:30 a.m. in the LBJ room (S-211). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly press conference at 10 a.m. in HVC Studio A. The House Budget Committee kicks off its markup on the Obamacare repeal at 10 a.m. (Livestream: http://bit.ly/2nuY1on). House Speaker Paul Ryan holds his weekly press briefing at 10:45 a.m. in HVC Studio A. Speaker Ryan, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland will participate in the annual "Friends of Ireland" lunch at 12 p.m. in the Rayburn Room (H-207). Reps. Raúl Labrador, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows lead Conversations with Conservatives starting at 12 p.m. in 2226 Rayburn. Reps. Paul Gosar, Brad Schneider, Martha McSally, Thomas Suozzi, Barbra Comstock and Don Beyer introduce legislation to include parental bereavement in the FMLA during a 12 p.m. press conference in 2456 Rayburn. House Education ranking member Bobby Scott holds a forum on driverless cars at 2 p.m. in 2261 Rayburn. House Foreign Affairs Reps. Eliot Engel, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Lois Frankel, Brendan Boyle and Adriano Espaillat hold a 3 p.m. press conference on Trump's proposed cuts to overseas aid in Rayburn 2172. MOVERS AND SHAKERS - Aaron Smith, digital director for former Sen. Dan Coats, has opened up his own communications firm in Indiana called Monumental Strategy. SPOTTED: Sen. Jean Shaheen having dinner with Secretary Madeleine Albright last night at Charlie Palmer. Shaheen's chief of staff Maura Keefe also joined. WEDNESDAY'S TRIVIA WINNER - Eli Schechner was the first to guess that Pappy O'Daniel, a former senator and governor from Texas, was also the name used for a fictional governor in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou starring George Clooney. (And before y'all email me, Clooney was nominated but did not win a Golden Globe for the Ides of March.) TODAY'S TRIVIA - Eli with today's question: Before Ryan Zinke, who was the last Interior secretary to assume that post directly from the House and when? The first person to correctly answer gets a shout out in tomorrow's Huddle. And don't forget, send suggestions for trivia questions my way: hcaygle@politico.com GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone each morning.
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