👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ The House passed its budget blueprint, which maps out the recommended spending and revenue levels for the 2018 fiscal year. No Democrats voted for the budget, which passed 216 to 212. The legislation will also allow Republicans to now pass tax reform and add as much as $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade without any Democratic votes. The deficit for the 2017 fiscal year totaled $666 billion (New York Times / Washington Post)
2/ After months of promises, Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency today – not a national emergency, which would have unlocked federal funding through FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund. Under the Public Health Services Act designation, no federal funding will be automatically directed to the crisis. Federal agencies will, however, be directed to devote more grant money to the problem. Jeff Sessions said that people should just “say no” to opioids while Trump suggested that “really great advertising” will keep kids off drugs. (ABC News / CNN)
3/ Premiums for the most popular Affordable Care Act plan have risen 34% due to the marketplace instability caused by the Trump administration’s actions, a report by Avalere Health concluded. Market instability has been driven by Trump’s decision to end subsidy payments to insurers, the continued debate over repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, and an executive order allowing for lower cost plans outside of the Obama-era law. (Associated Press)
4/ Congress will investigate the $300 million government contract awarded to a Trump donor. Members of the Natural Resources Committee said “the size and unknown details of this contract raise numerous questions” about how a two-person Montana utility company linked to the Trump administration won the contract to repair Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure. Whitefish Energy is also located in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Associated Press)
5/ The Government Accountability Office will investigate Trump’s voter fraud commission. Three Democratic senators asked the government watchdog to look how the federal funds are being used, what information and methodology the commission is using for its conclusions, how it is protecting any voter information, and how it is following regulations. (CNN)
- Georgia election servers and backups were deleted four days after a lawsuit asked the court to annul the results of the June 20 special election for Congress and to prevent Georgia’s existing computer-based voting system from being used again. The data was destroyed July 7th by technicians. (Ars Technica / Associated Press / NBC News)
6/ It’s been more than three weeks since the October 1st deadline passed for the White House to imposed new sanctions on Russia. The administration still has not implemented the sanctions that Congress passed with veto-proof majorities in July. The State Department issued guidance on how to implement sanctions shortly after Bob Corker and other Senate Republicans pledged to find out if the White House was intentionally delaying them. Trump signed the bill in early August, imposing new sanctions and limiting his authority to lift them. He called the bill “seriously flawed,” but signed it anyway. (The Daily Beast / CNN)
7/ Trump said the soldier’s widow must be wrong because he has “one of the greatest memories of all time.” Trump suggested that there was no way he could have stumbled on Sgt. La David Johnson’s name during his condolence call with Myeshia Johnson, because he has “one of the great memories of all time.” That and his staff gave him a chart with the Green Berets name on it. (Slate)
"One of the great memories of all time. " pic.twitter.com/OGddw0EEYr— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 25, 2017
Department of Presidential Quotes:
I “really started this whole fake news thing.” He went on to say that “if you look at the level of approval of the media, of general media—if you look at it from the day I started running, to now, I’m so proud I have been able to convince people how fake it is, because it has taken a nosedive.” (CNN)
“I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don’t understand. I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person. You know, the fact is I think — I really believe — I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.” (Washington Post)
“Your show is fantastic,” Trump to Lou Dobbs. He added that he watches the program “absolutely almost all the time.” Dobbs returned the compliment, calling Trump “one of the most loved and respected” presidents “in history.” (Newsweek)
Trump has given Fox News 19 interviews since his inauguration. No other media outlet comes close to Fox’s level of access. Here’s the current score: Fox (19), New York Times (4), NBC News (3), Reuters (3), Wall Street Journal (2), Christian Broadcasting Network (2), ABC News (1), CBS News (1), Washington Post (1), Associated Press (1), Time (1), Forbes (1). (CNN / Politico)
8/ Trump delayed the release of classified documents related to John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but approved the immediate release of 2,800 of the 35,000 documents by the National Archives. The rest will remain secret, due to national security concerns by the CIA, FBI and other federal agencies. The intelligence agencies have 180-days to re-review their reasons for keeping the records redacted. The files are the final batch to be released under a 1992 law that ordered the government to make all remaining documents related to the assassination public. While flying to Dallas’s Love Field, Trump tweeted that the “long anticipated release” of the files will take place today – the same airport where Kennedy landed just before he was shot. Trump described the files as “so interesting!” (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post)
- How to Read the JFK Assassination Files. The government is releasing thousands of long-secret files on Kennedy’s murder. Here are some tips for making sense of all the code names, redactions and confusing jargon. (Politico)
poll/ Democratic candidates lead by 15 points in a hypothetical matchup for the 2018 midterm elections. 50 percent of respondents said that if the election for Congress were held today, they would vote for the Democratic candidate. Only 35 percent said they would vote for a Republican. (The Hill)
poll/ 53% of military officers said they have an unfavorable view of Trump. 40% of all troops have an unfavorable view of Trump. (Military Times)
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