The News Sips Tipsheet: July 17
Here’s for what you need to know before your iced coffee gets warm, the July 17, 2017 tipsheet.
What DC’s Talking About
Healthcare. It looks like the Senate healthcare vote is going to be delayed for at least a few weeks after John McCain underwent a procedure on Friday to clear a blot clot from above his left eye. (Callback: We talked about the uphill Senate numbers game here.) Without McCain, McConnell is going to have to wait for any votes on healthcare (he’s already said he’s waiting).
The Big Question: Will the McCain waiting weeks give Republicans a chance to iron out differences and “get to yes,” or will the swampy Washington summer claim the chance at the largest entitlement reform in a generation?
What’s at Stake: The President’s economic team have been meeting with leaders at the Capitol to be ready for a pivot to talking about tax reform. Without loosening some of the budgetary issues around healthcare, it’s possible tax reform gets punted to 2018.
The Lingering Doubt: According to doctors familiar with McCain’s diagnosis, the procedure he underwent was actually pretty invasive (including cutting into his skull). This, obviously, raises questions about the 80-year-old McCain’s health going froward. His office, as of the time of writing, didn’t comment further. (Callback: When McCain appeared confused while questioning former FBI Director James Comey a month ago and blamed it on not getting enough sleep).
What DC Thinks You’re Talking About
Russians, Russians everywhere and no time to stop and think. Donald Trump’s son, Don Jr., met with a Russian lawyer and some lobbyists with connections to Russia. Of course, Russia is a big country (source), but, basically, nowadays, if you’re not reporting about Kremlin agents hiding under the bed, are you really a journalist?
Jay Sekulow, one of the President’s lawyers handling the Russian stuff, went on the offensive over the weekend against the stories about Don Jr. colluding with Russia, saying that there was nothing “nefarious” in the meeting and that the Secret Service would have had to clear the meeting in advance. It seems like the Secret Service part of that isn’t so true.
What to watch for: Be ready for everyone on television news to become experts on the Magnitsky Act.
What’s coming this week: By all accounts it looks like a slow(ish) news week (we say before breaking news upends everything), so expect Russia stories to get trotted around in order to fill airtime.
Richard Madaleno is running for Governor, adding yet another name to the who’s who of left-leaning politicos who have already jumped in the race targeting Governor Larry Hogan‘s job. Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat, is a State Senator who has been on the left-wing fringe of an already liberal caucus (and if you think we’re being critical here, it’s almost the same language Madaleno would use to describe himself). He’s been in the State Senate for ten years, having previously served in the House of Delegates for one term. If elected, he’d be the first Montgomery County native to become Governor (noting the population shift in the State away from Baltimore) and would be the first openly gay and married Marylander to occupy the Governorship.
What Does This Mean for Maryland? There’s a long way until next November. Hogan’s popular, but Democrats are dumping boatloads of cash into the race to unseat him.
Who’s Running: So far? Rushern Baker (Prince George’s County Executive), Ben Jealous (former NAACP President), and Alec Ross (an author and ex-bureaucrat).
Who’s Going to Run: Kevin Kamenetz (Baltimore County Executive) and Doug Gansler (former Attorney General)
Who We’re Watching: John Sarbanes (Congressman and Son of Senator Paul Sarbanes) and John Delaney (Western Maryland Congressman)
Who We’re Not Watching: Brian Frosh (Current Attorney General of Maryland)– We think his sights are set on the Senate rather than the Governor’s Mansion.
This Week in Gerrymandering
On Friday, while everyone else was enjoying a Summer weekend, a panel of three judges in Baltimore blasted the Maryland Democratic Party for it’s clear use of political gerrymandering in drawing Congressional and legislative districts. The carve-outs, which caused Republicans to lose a Congressional seat in Western Maryland was slammed by the court as “politically motivated.”
What This Doesn’t Mean: The Court didn’t scrap the current maps and the case is still ongoing. Attorney General Brian Frosh is defending the maps ostensibly in favor of the government of Maryland (but, really, so that Governor Larry Hogan doesn’t get a chance to unwind the political gerrymandering). The case still has a long ways to go through the Court– and it’s very unlikely to get resolved in time for the next election.
What This Means: 2020 is the next census and the next opportunity (outside of a court’s mandate) to redraw electoral maps. Especially if Governor Hogan gets re-elected, expect this to be a massive political fight with the chance of Maryland Republicans picking up two or three seats in Congress (as well as several seats in the General Assembly).
The Potential Short-Circuit: The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in a gerrymandering case. This is a national issue that varies state-by-state depending on which Party is in power. There are also racial overtones in map drawing that tinge the debate (see: North Carolina’s map issue). If the Supreme Court nukes political gerrymandering, Maryland’s maps could be in for a massive shakeup.
What We’re Reading
Politico: The White House Squeezes Jeff Flake
ForeignPolicy: The Gathering Storm vs. the Crisis of Confidence
Tips? Suggestions? Matt@GovMatt.com