Two New York guys talking
Donald Trump and Chuck Schumer are hardly strangers. After Trump met with Capitol Hill leaders shortly after his inauguration, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quipped, “I enjoyed the president and Sen. Schumer talking about all the people they knew in New York.”
But that was the last time the president spoke with his fellow New Yorker and the Democratic Senate leader for two months, according to Schumer. Trump had already labeled Schumer “head clown,” and tagged him as an “obstructionist” who wasn’t willing to make deals.
Now, Trump’s legislative agenda is stalled. For a lot of it, he would need help from Democrats in the Senate to get it unstuck.
So, Schumer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” they are talking again. We talked as recently as Thursday ... there was that name-calling period where he called me names and stuff. But now he’s calling me on occasion,” the senator said.
Schumer said he spoke to Trump about seeking common ground on trade and infrastructure, but hasn’t gotten very far.
“He’s mainly interested in talking about what he wants to talk about,” Schumer said. Trump’s “idea of compromise,” Schumer said, is to make a proposal and demand: “You support it!” (Video clip here.)
Watch the closing doors
Schumer also extended an invitation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to tour New York City via subway “at 4 a.m.” and see for himself that it is safe, Newsday’s Emily Ngo writes.
Schumer took issue with the U.S. Department of Justice’s criticism last Friday of New York City as “soft on crime” as part of a broader attack on its sanctuary-city policy.
The take-away: Wild card
The last time an impasse caused a federal government shutdown was in 2013, with the Republican-controlled Congress seeking to force Democratic President Barack Obama to make concessions to conservative.
This time, it’s the president who is a wild card, with Trump hungering to score some legislative wins and budget brinkmanship a tactical temptation, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
Trump: Slash business tax
Trump has ordered up a plan from White House aides to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, even if that means a loss of revenue and makes it harder to get a broader tax plan through Congress, The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reported.
There likely aren’t enough business tax breaks that could be repealed to offset the fiscal cost, meaning such a move would increase budget deficits. The plan’s defenders say over the long run, a resulting boost in economic growth would produce more revenue.
Deal without walls
Trump has signaled he could do without funding for the proposed border wall if it means Congress approving a spending plan, Politico reports. He indicated to a group of conservative journalists at a White House reception late Monday that a make-or-break wall debate could wait until September.
Many will be watching to see how House Speaker Paul Ryan pulls his majority caucus together on taxing and spending.
Trump's Tuesday tweets
The president taps: "Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc." Which "fake media" he meant was unclear, given his past shifts on the whole matter.
He also panders today to Wisconsin dairy farmers with a vague vow to stand up to Canada on the matter: "Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!"
He also promotes his daughter / business associate / trade spokeswoman / White House aide: "Proud of @IvankaTrump for her leadership on these important issues. Looking forward to hearing her speak at the W20!"
Slow-motion Russia probe
More than three months into its probe of Russia election meddling and potential ties to the Trump campaign, the Senate Intelligence Committee has gotten off to a slow start, The Daily Beast reports.
The panel hasn’t assigned any staff to devote full time to the job and no interviews have been conducted with key figures, the report said. The committee has been given the green light for $1.2 million in additional funding over two years for the investigation.
No hurry on health
Last week, there was a flurry of exchanges between the White House and House Republicans to try to revive the Obamacare repeal-and-replace. How’d that go?
“We want to make sure that we’ve got the votes and we’re headed in the right direction before putting some kind of artificial deadline,” said Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Trump said on Twitter that under the yet-to-be-revealed plan, “premiums will start tumbling down.”
What else is happening:
- Websites from the State Department and two embassies abroad are carrying a blog post about Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked on Twitter why taxpayers are “promoting the president’s private country club.”
- Trump’s recent interview with The Associated Press included some odd boasts, including this about his appeal for TV viewers: His ratings for a “Face the Nation” appearance were “the highest ... since the World Trade Center came down.”
- Trump told envoys from the UN Security Council in a White House meeting that it “must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions” to punish North Korea for its nuclear weapons program.
- Trump spoke from the Oval Office with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Upon being informed by one of them how they drink water obtained from recycled urine, Trump said: “Better you than me.”
- Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue was confirmed Monday as Agriculture secretary, but Trump’s Cabinet is not yet complete. Still awaiting votes: Alexander Acosta for labor secretary and Robert E. Lighthizer for trade representative.
- Republican worries are growing over how Trump’s faltering start and low popularity could affect the party’s prospects in the 2018 midterm elections, Politico reports.