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Trump Proposes Immediate Cuts to Fund Wall

Trump proposes $18B cut in social programs in bill to keep government open. AP: “…the proposals have little chance to be enacted [and] were sent to Capitol Hill as a set of ‘options’ for GOP staff aides and lawmakers … The new list of cuts include $1.2 billion in National Institutes of Health research grants. The community development block grant program would be halved, amounting to a cut of $3 billion, and $500 million would be stripped from transportation projects.”

Plus $1B for the border wall. CNN: “The money will fund 14 miles of new border wall in San Diego, 28 miles of new levee wall barriers and six miles of new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley region and 14 miles of replacement fencing in San Diego. The fencing would likely include concrete elements … Estimates for a full wall along the Southern border have ranged from $12 billion to more than $20 billion.”

Prospects for funding the wall dim. Politico: “…Democratic leaders are vowing to block any legislation that includes a single penny for the wall. With the GOP consumed by its own divisions, the White House and Hill Republicans will have to rely on Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown … Republican leaders, wary of this, are considering a plan that would not directly tie the border wall money to the April 28 government funding deadline…”

More from Politico: “Schumer also insists he has the ‘upper hand’ in negotiations to keep the government open, reasoning that Republicans will get blamed for a shutdown even if it’s Democrats who vote down a spending bill because it contains funding for the border wall.”

Medicaid proves difficult to cut. NYT: “…Medicaid has surpassed Medicare in the number of Americans it covers. It has grown gradually into a behemoth that provides for the medical needs of one in five Americans … In the Senate, many Republicans, echoing their states’ governors, had worried about jeopardizing the treatment of people addicted to opioids, depriving the working poor, children and people with disabilities of health care and in the long run reducing funding for the care of elderly people in nursing homes.”

Trump plans outreach to Dems on infrastructure. Axios: “…, the White House is talking about moving to a novel, risky strategy: tackling tax reform and infrastructure at the same time (not necessarily in the same bill) … It’s a major strategic shift — infrastructure was likely to be parked until next year.”

Trump Targets Climate Today

Climate executive order to be signed today. Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump is moving aggressively to undo policies designed to keep the carbon-cutting promises the U.S. made alongside nearly 200 other countries in Paris, while stopping short of a decision to formally withdraw from that landmark climate accord … Some changes will happen immediately … Other policy pivots will take years of work, such as reversing the Clean Power Plan…”

Coal jobs still not coming back. NYT: “The new order would mean that older coal plants that had been marked for closings would probably stay open, said Robert W. Godby, an energy economist at the University of Wyoming. That would extend the market demand for coal for up to a decade. But even so, “’he mines that are staying open are using more mechanization … even if we saw an increase in coal production, we could see a decrease in coal jobs,’ he said.”

Conservatives unhappy with EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s role. Politico: “…Pruitt successfully argued against including language revoking the agency’s 2009 ‘endangerment finding,’ [which] declared that greenhouse gas emissions threaten human health and welfare and made EPA legally responsible for regulating carbon dioxide … [Pruitt] argued in closed-door meetings that the legal hurdles to overturning the finding were massive, and the administration would be setting itself up for a lengthy court battle … They hope the White House, perhaps senior adviser Stephen Bannon, will intervene and encourage the president to overturn the endangerment finding.”

But executive order “worse than you thought” says Mother Jones’ Rebecca Leber: “The president will instruct agencies to rescind a moratorium on coal leasing on public lands; rewrite limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry; and ignore the EPA’s current calculation on the costs of carbon pollution. There are also broad directives reversing an Obama initiative requiring that federal departments consider climate mitigation strategy and the national security risks of global warming.”

Oil in Dakota Access Pipeline. AP: “The Dakota Access pipeline developer said Monday that it has placed oil in the pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota and that it’s preparing to put the pipeline into service … The [court] filing did not say when the company expected the pipeline would be carrying oil from North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois.”

Gorsuch In Trouble?

Gorsuch may not have the votes. Politico: “Senior Democratic sources are now increasingly confident that Gorsuch can’t clear a filibuster, saying his ceiling is likely mid- to upper-50s on the key procedural vote … Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said Monday he’ll oppose Gorsuch on the cloture vote … only one Senate Democrat has firmly said he’s willing to help advance Gorsuch’s nomination to a final confirmation vote: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia … everal other Democrats on Monday were much less definitive.”

“We have leverage” says Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Politico: “Schumer is confident he can block McConnell from filling a Supreme Court vacancy — and that McConnell might not have the votes to gut the filibuster to get Gorsuch through …”

Republicans not offering deals. Bloomberg: “Several Republican senators said they see little chance of a bipartisan deal to avert any move by party leaders to change Senate rules, as happened under President George W. Bush when a compromise by a ‘gang’ of 14 senators ended a similar feud.”

Deregulation Bonanza

Trump signs deregulation bills. USA Today: “The rules canceled by Trump’s pen include: The ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces’ rule, which barred companies from receiving federal contracts if they had a history of violating wage, labor or workplace safety laws … A Bureau of Land Management rule known as ‘Planning 2.0,’ that gave the federal government a bigger role in land use decisions … Two regulations on measuring school performance and teacher training under the Every Student Succeeds Act…”

CEOs steering Trump policies. Politico: “The Trump administration is poised to give the business community even more influence through its new ‘White House Office of American Innovation,’ … career staff at federal agencies are being left out of policy discussions amid simmering distrust between Trump’s advisers and the thousands of bureaucrats stationed across the government … Trump often asks CEOs during private conversations to list the federal regulations they would most like to eliminate…”

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