SHUTDOWN WATCH — Congressional Republicans have less than a month to persuade President Donald Trump to avoid a government shutdown. GOP leaders have been laying the groundwork for months to avert a Sept. 30 shutdown, but talking the president into postponing a fight over border wall funding could prove to be a tall task. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are quietly pushing the president to delay the looming border wall battle until after the election.
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“Some White House officials are confident that Trump will sign spending bills keeping the government open,” Rachael and Bres report. “A smaller subset of immigration hard-liners inside the White House, however, are encouraging Trump to fight on the border wall issue now, while Republicans still control Congress. These officials think the House majority is already gone — and they have encouraged Trump to hold the line for his border wall and secure a win while he can.”
GOP leaders have passed “minibus” appropriations bills that fund several agencies at one time. The president is expected to sign those small packages, ensuring that at least most agencies will continue operating on a normal schedule. “But GOP leaders know that passing one particular bill — funding for the Department of Homeland Security — is impossible if Trump wants his border wall now,” they write. With Senate Democrats opposed to Trump’s demand for $5 billion in wall funding for fiscal 2019, Republican leaders have decided to extend DHS funding for a few weeks until after the election. “But the question,” they add, “is whether Trump will go along.” More: https://politi.co/2LVOTUW
IT BEGINS — Senate Democrats’ last, best chance to stop Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation begins this morning with a Judiciary Committee hearing. Republicans intend to confirm Kavanaugh to the high court by October, a timeline that will likely win them another vote from the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) appointed successor. “That would mean Democrats have to stay united and pick off two GOP votes in order to defeat Kavanaugh,” Elana notes. Even if they can’t stop the confirmation, Democrats know they’ll need to weaken Kavanaugh in the public eye and force Republicans to approve him before any Democrats back the nominee.
“To help make that happen, they’ve elevated three central arguments against Kavanaugh: abortion rights, casting his past stances as a threat to Roe v. Wade; health care, given a Trump administration-backed challenge to Obamacare that’s expected to reach the Supreme Court; and executive power, focusing on his likelihood of siding with Trump in any future legal showdown with special counsel Robert Mueller,” Elana writes. “But that’s not the only line of attack they’re planning. Democrats are also interested in whether Kavanaugh may have misled the committee during his appeals court confirmation hearing on his involvement in controversial Bush-era detainee policy.”
A senior aide says Democrats plan to run a real-time rapid-response operation throughout the hearings to amplify their message on key issues and help notable exchanges with senators go viral. Top Democrats have also focused on access to Kavanaugh’s records. “Democrats got new cause to protest the exclusion of potentially critical documents from the hearing late Friday, when Bill Burck — who’s leading the team reviewing Kavanaugh’s documents from his time in the George W. Bush administration, where he also formerly worked under Kavanaugh — told senators that the Trump administration had asserted executive privilege to shield more than 100,000 pages of records,” she adds. More: https://politi.co/2wCBH2s
What Kavanaugh will say in his opening remarks: “To me, Justice Kennedy is a mentor, a friend, and a hero. As a Member of the Court, he was a model of civility and collegiality. He fiercely defended the independence of the Judiciary. And he was a champion of liberty.” … “A good judge must be an umpire–a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy. … I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. … I am a pro-law judge.” … “If confirmed to the Court, I would be part of a Team of Nine, committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States. I would always strive to be a team player on the Team of Nine.” More excerpts: https://politi.co/2wDy7nP
Related: “Hours before Kavanaugh nomination hearings, Bush lawyer releases 42,000 pages of documents to Judiciary Committee,” by The Washington Post’s Fred Barbash and Seung Min Kim: https://wapo.st/2oES5e4; and “What to watch for as senators consider Kavanaugh nomination,” from The Associated Press’ Lisa Mascaro: http://bit.ly/2M0WJg4
GOOD MORNING! Thanks for reading Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Tuesday, Sept. 4.
FRIDAY’S MOST CLICKED: The Associated Press’ report on the list of House Republicans the Koch network is backing was the big winner.
PRIMARY DAY — Tonight’s race to watch will be in Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District, where 10-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) will try to fend off a challenge from Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council. “It’s a test of whether a longtime liberal incumbent can withstand the wave of pent-up ambition surging through the Democratic Party, but that’s not all,” Stephanie Murray writes. “Pressley is also pressing another issue … In an increasingly diverse party, who is better suited to represent a majority-minority district — a white male or a woman of color?”
Pressley has been featured in New York magazine, ELLE Magazine and GQ, in addition to winning endorsements from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, state Attorney General Maura Healey and both of Boston’s major daily newspapers. But Capuano has roughly doubled Pressley’s fundraising total: $1.73 million to $890,000. And he’s backed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and the Congressional Black Caucus. Capuano also leads by double digits in some polls and could be bolstered by low turnout, which typically favors incumbents. More: https://politi.co/2LUmZbH
Related read: “Mike Capuano Is in the Political Fight of His Life,” per The New York Times’ Astead Herndon: https://nyti.ms/2MO2suQ
PELOSI PUTS DOWN LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS — If Democrats win the House, will Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have the votes to become speaker? “It is the least important question you could ask,” Pelosi told NPR. “The most important thing is, what does this election mean for the American people?” Pelosi doesn’t know whether the midterms will be a blue “tsunami” or a blue “wave.” But she’s bullish on Democrats regaining control of the House. “I have every confidence that we’ll win,” she said. “Not because I’m taking anything for granted, but because we’re not yielding one grain of sand. This is urgent.”
“The most immediate, high-profile — and perhaps with divided government — most consequential result of Democratic House control would be aggressive oversight of the White House and executive branch,” NPR’s Scott Detrow reports. “Democrats would be able to set the committee schedule and issue subpoenas, and use that power to examine everything from President Trump’s tax returns to former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s countless ethical scandals.” Democrats, Pelosi said, would “use every arrow in our quiver to find the truth about what’s happening in public policy.” Much more: https://n.pr/2MJXsYe
Related: “Democrats, Eyeing a Majority, Prepare an Investigative Onslaught,” via The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos: https://nyti.ms/2NbUz1G; and Morning Consult’s midterm wave watcher, updated this morning: http://bit.ly/2MP4afC
TRUMP COMPLAINS OF ‘EASY WINS’ IN DOUBT — The president blamed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department for jeopardizing “[t]wo easy wins” by indicting “two very popular Republican Congressmen” last month, likely alluding to early Trump backers Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who both pleaded not guilty to chargers of insider trading and misuse of campaign funds, respectively. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time,” he tweeted. “Good job Jeff.” “The tweet indicated that his attorney general should base law enforcement actions on how it could affect the president and the Republican Party’s electoral success,” The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey writes. “It also seemed to indicate that electoral popularity should influence charges.” Much more: https://wapo.st/2NfRDRt
REPLACING MCCAIN — With Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) laid to rest, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is now expected to quickly name his successor. “The governor’s selection will be measured against McCain and considered a reflection of Ducey’s values and priorities,” the Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Maria Polletta report. But as Ducey weighs whether to pick a maverick in the mold of McCain, an outsider like Trump or someone in the middle, the governor has focused on the question, “What would John McCain do in this situation?” The family has given no public indication of who or what type of person they’d want to fill McCain’s seat.
But potential picks include McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain; Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire; state Treasurer Eileen Klein; Ducey chief of staff Kirk Adams; Barbara Barrett, a business executive and the first Republican woman to run for governor in Arizona; Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill; former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); and former Reps. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.). Cindy McCain “could represent the senator’s legacy while pursuing her own priorities, such as fighting human trafficking,” they write, while noting McGuire “has an impressive military background. He is the state’s military commander as the Adjutant General and the Director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.” More: http://bit.ly/2NJhmPi
GRAHAM OK WITH MEGHAN MCCAIN EULOGY — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s “totally OK” with Meghan McCain’s eulogy at her father’s funeral on Saturday. “She is her father’s daughter,” Graham said. “If you say something bad about her dad, you will know it, whether you are the janitor or the president of the United States.” He added that most Americans understand that she spoke as a grieving daughter and said he’s proud of the woman she has become. “So, I’m totally OK with everything.”
Meghan McCain rebuked the president and his politics in her emotional address. “We gather to mourn the passing of American greatness — the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” she said. “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.” ICYMI, more on Saturday’s services from your Huddle host: https://politi.co/2wFwwi6
Related read: “Trump allies fume at McCain memorial addresses, urge counterattack,” by Lorraine Woellert: https://politi.co/2PCLKvw
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Joey Apodaca, a staffer for Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), and Christine Johnson, a small business owner and housing rights activist, recently welcomed Rosalie Wilshire Apodaca. Pic … Another pic
TODAY IN CONGRESS — The House gavels in at 2 p.m. with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m. The Senate meets at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of SEC member nominee Elad L. Roisman. At 5:30 p.m., the chamber will hold a procedural vote on Roisman’s nomination.
AROUND THE HILL — The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination at 9:30 a.m. in 216 Hart.
FRIDAY’S TRIVIA WINNER — Joe Bookman was first to correctly guess that no Arizonan had the honor of lying in state in the U.S. Capitol before former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
TODAY’S TRIVIA — From Joe: Who is the only father and son pair to have lain in state in the U.S. Capitol? The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess my way: [email protected].
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