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The Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report and it’s Thursday! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!) On Twitter, find us at @joneasley and @asimendinger.

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features interviews with Reps. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Katherine Zimmerman, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, swings by to discuss Yemen and the Gaza Strip. http://thehill.com/hilltv

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New and familiar leaders are ready to step forward in Congress, creating intriguing power dynamics that will shape the rest of President Trump’s first term.

Incoming members of next year’s Congress made their leadership selections on Wednesday, with the exception of House Democrats, who may turn to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to be Speaker later this month, despite intraparty opposition.

The results:

> House Republicans overwhelmingly elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as their new leader to replace retiring Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

McCarthy, who speaks regularly with Trump and forged a relationship with the right flank ahead of the leadership election, will guide Republicans in the House as they adjust to life in the minority for the first time since 2010.

The California Republican defeated Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) 159 – 43 to earn the top spot.

The margin of victory for McCarthy was significant, as a more robust challenge may have required that he cut a deal with House conservatives by giving Jordan the top spot on the House Judiciary Committee.

Now, it seems that decision will be left to the Republican Steering Committee.

Scott Wong has a deep dive here into McCarthy, the GOP conference he’ll oversee and the down-ballot House GOP winners (The Hill).

Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) will become the No. 2 Republican in the House.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will succeed GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who opted not to run for a fourth term in leadership. As the No. 3 Republican in the House, Cheney will be the highest-ranking woman in GOP leadership.

> The leadership elections for Democrats are expected Nov. 28.

Pelosi remains the prohibitive favorite, although rebellious Democrats within the conference say they’ll line up enough votes to prevent the veteran lawmaker from being Speaker for a second time in her House career.

The Hill: Pelosi and opponents voice confidence over Speakership battle.

The Hill: Insurgents seek female challenger to Pelosi for Speaker.

The Washington Post: Pelosi lacks vote for Speaker, for now.

Still, there is no challenger in sight at the moment, although Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) says she’s “thinking about it” (Cleveland.com).

On Wednesday, Pelosi met with Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of lawmakers who have said they will not support any nominee for Speaker unless the candidate commits in writing to changing House rules with the aim of empowering rank-and-file lawmakers and breaking partisan gridlock.

“We had a positive and constructive meeting, and will continue to work together to develop changes to the rules that will break the gridlock in Washington and deliver results for hard-working Americans.” – Pelosi

One other interesting note …

If Californians McCarthy and Pelosi lead their respective caucuses, it will be the first time in history that the House is controlled by leaders from the same state.

This cycle, Democrats have so far flipped four GOP-controlled California House seats and they might add two more to that total – in the GOP stronghold of Orange County, no less – once the vote-counting is complete.

These are grim times for California Republicans but McCarthy’s ascension is a rare bright spot.

The Hill: Democratic gains erasing House GOP in California.

> As expected, Senate Republicans re-elected Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will oversee a 53-47 majority, barring late surprises in Florida and Mississippi.

There were a handful of Senate leadership promotions, showcasing states Republicans bank on within their base. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) was elected to serve as Senate Republican Whip, making him the No. 2 Republican and positioning him to possibly succeed McConnell one day.

Rounding out the top five: Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) will serve as Senate Republican Conference chairman. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) will be the Policy Committee chairman. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has been elected vice chairwoman of the GOP conference, making her the top-ranking Republican woman in the Senate.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was in Washington today for orientation, even as his race against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) remains in recount limbo.

> And Senate Democrats re-elected Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) as leader.

Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who separated herself from Schumer while running for Senate, responded:

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to cut through the dysfunction and deliver results for Arizona. Had there been a challenger for Minority Leader, I would have considered new leadership and a fresh perspective.”

Still, Sinema’s smile was wide seated next to Schumer during a photo op, where she was joined by another newly elected female senator from the southwest, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

 

 

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LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: “Did I hear the word `bipartisan?’” Trump asked Wednesday at the White House while endorsing a long-stalled criminal justice reform compromise titled the First Step Act. Surrounded by lawmakers and cameras, the president offered a brief salute to compromise between the political parties during an afternoon otherwise marked by wary partisan strategizing inside the Capitol.

Trump’s endorsement now sets off a lobbying frenzy, as outside groups and senators work to lock up votes (The Hill).

SENATE:

Appropriations: Shifting to a topic of partisan discord, McConnell promised once again on Wednesday that the rifts and clashes over a wall and other funding decisions won’t prompt a government shutdown before the end of the year (Bloomberg).

However, the White House is urging House Republicans to jam Democrats over government funding by tethering border security and wall appropriations to emergency spending that would address natural disasters, such as the California wildfires (Politico).

Senate Republicans and Trump will meet this afternoon at the White House to discuss pending appropriations and close to $2 billion the Senate would include for the wall at the southern border (The Hill).

Schumer, a veteran of lively debates with Trump over immigration, border security and continuing resolutions, hopes the president can be kept out of lawmakers’ negotiations if anyone wants to complete a bipartisan accord before a Dec. 7 deadline (The Hill).

Senate – special counsel: A measure designed to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe was blocked in the Senate on Wednesday (The Hill). … Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he will withhold his votes on pending judicial nominees — confirmations that are a priority for McConnell and the White House — unless senators can cast votes on the Mueller protection legislation (The Hill).

Senate – Saudis: Saudi Arabia has released findings from its investigation into the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Eleven people have been indicted and prosecutors in Saudi Arabia say they’ll seek the death penalty for five people involved (The Washington Post). Senators are poised to put U.S.-Saudi relations back under the microscope. Outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he is not expecting a sanctions bill to be taken up any time soon. But he wants administration officials to testify about what they know about Khashoggi’s death. … Meanwhile, three senators expect to reintroduce a resolution that would end the current U.S. policy of military support for Saudis fighting in Yemen. (The Hill).

Senate – sexual harassment: Congress may vote on a sexual harassment bill in the lame-duck session, McConnell announced (The Hill). Lawmakers are being lobbied by former congressional staff members, who want to see action this year.

HOUSE:

House oversight – financial institutions: The central bank’s top financial regulatory official on Wednesday defended the Fed’s plans to ease strict Wall Street banking rules adopted after the financial crisis a decade ago. Randal Quarles, the Fed vice chairman of supervision, spoke carefully during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee while describing his efforts to loosen critical capital and leverage rules (The Hill). Quarles downplayed the risk of another financial crisis resulting from the Fed’s newest regulatory flexibility extended to banks (Washington Examiner).

House – Medicare: Progressive Democrats want a vote in the House next year on “Medicare for all” legislation, posing a potential headache for Democratic leaders who want to focus on bolstering the Affordable Care Act as well as continued insurance coverage for patients with preexisting conditions. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), lead sponsor of the House legislation moving forward, told supporters Tuesday night that just expressing support is not enough. The bill’s sponsors want their colleagues on record with their votes. “When we have that majority we need to make sure that we put it to use,” she said (The Hill).

 

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Michael Avenatti, who was preparing to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been arrested for alleged domestic violence (ABC News). He denied the charges in a video posted by KABC.

“I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I have been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career and I’m going to continue to be an advocate. I’m not going to be intimidated from stopping what I’m doing. I am looking forward to a full investigation at which point I am confident that I will be fully exonerated.” – Avenatti

Avenatti became a media sensation while representing Stormy Daniels and while attacking the president on Twitter and cable news. Earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee referred Avenatti and a client, Julie Swetnick, to the Justice Department for investigation after allegations they made false claims of rape against Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court associate justice .

> Florida’s Scott, who leads incumbent Nelson by about 12,500 votes in the Senate race, has recused himself from the ballot recounts in his home state (Tampa Bay Times).

Trump nonetheless continues to insert himself into the Florida situation, making unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and attacking embattled Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, even as it appears the Republicans will prevail in the Senate and governor’s races.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of State has flagged for prosecutors “irregularities” in some ballots tied to the state Democratic Party (Politico).

The New York Times: Sloppy signatures may disqualify thousands of votes. A judge ruled Thursday that voters would have until Saturday to resolve mismatches.

And there is still one other Senate race to be decided.

Lisa Hagen writes that backlash against Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s (R) “public hanging” joke impacted the Senate runoff race in Mississippi, prompting Republican concerns about their chances of retaining the deep-red seat (The Hill).

Trump is reportedly weighing a trip to Mississippi to boost Hyde-Smith (Politico).

More from campaigns and politics … California, New Jersey Republicans concede, Utah representative sues (Reuters) … Prospective 2020 candidates aren’t yet asking donors and fundraisers to write checks for their campaigns —or even asking for their support. Instead, they’re participating in “friend-raisers” (The Hill) … Former first lady Michelle Obama is taking shots at Trump in her newly-published book (The Hill) … Pot legalization advocates are preparing a wave of new ballot measures and legislative pushes after big wins in three purple and red states this year (The Hill) … Democrats picked up hundreds of state legislative seats last Tuesday, but it was hardly a wave — underscoring just how far the party needs to progress before the next round of redistricting begins with the 2020 Census (The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley jeasley@thehill.com & Alexis Simendinger asimendinger@thehill.com. Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

 

OPINION

Time to pass the First Step Act, by Adam Brandon, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2FmnGwl

Politics in Washington will change but Trump never will, by Katrina Pierson, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2PWDBWw

WHERE AND WHEN

The House convenes at 10 a.m., and begins legislative business at noon.

The Senate meets at 10:00 a.m. and later turns to a motion to discharge a joint resolution of disapproval covering certain defense exports to Bahrain. The Senate Finance Committee meets at 10 a.m. to consider the nominations of Andrew M. Saul to be Social Security commissioner; Gail S. Ennis to be Social Security Administration inspector general; and Gordon Hartogensis to be director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

The president will speak at a conference of veterans and military families at the Marine Barracks in Washington also attended by first lady Melania Trump. At 2:45 p.m., the president will meet at the White House with Senate GOP leaders.

Vice President Pence is in Asia, where he delivered remarks at the 6th U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Suntec City, Singapore. He conversed briefly there with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He meets with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and participates in an East Asia Summit lunch. Pence participates in the 13th East Asia Summit plenary session, and then joins Karen Pence in meeting with the U.S. Embassy staff and families in Singapore.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets this morning with Mexican Foreign Secretary-Designate Marcelo Ebrard in Houston.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is in wildfire-ravaged California for a second day (Politico).

The Hill hosts a “Leadership in Action” newsmaker event to discuss the upshot of November’s elections, from 7:45-9:30 a.m., with Reps.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), and Dan Meuser (R-Penn.), as well as co-chairs of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.). Location: Top of the Hill Banquet and Conference Center. Info HERE. Watch the livestream HERE.

Economic reports released at 8:30 a.m.: U.S. retail sales for October; U.S. import prices for October; U.S. jobless claims, expected to remain low.

The Washington Post hosts a live-streamed newsmaker event, from 4:30-6 p.m., to discuss a history-making election year for women. Guests include Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications; Reps.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Texas); Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.); Ilhan Oman (D-Minn.); Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.); and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.). Location: The Washington Post. Info HERE.

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ELSEWHERE

> Wildfires: California’s death toll has risen to 56, with at least 297 people listed by authorities as missing, as searchers continue looking for human remains in northern California, where the town of Paradise was incinerated last week by a fire that broke records for its destructive costs and lethality (NBC News).

> Administration policies: The Department of Justice filled 20 pages in a memo defending the constitutionality of Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker, formerly a senior staff member without Senate confirmation, as acting attorney general following the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions (The Hill). … It’s official — National security adviser John Bolton’s top deputy Mira Ricardel is out after clashing with first lady Melania Trump (The Hill). …Also out: Veterans Affairs official departed the department as members of the House prepare for a hearing about delayed GI Bill benefits (NBC News). … Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency seeks to limit pollution from commercial trucks, targeting the smog-causing pollutant nitrogen oxide (The Wall Street Journal). … An expert panel assembled by Trump voted Wednesday to urge him to elevate cybersecurity as a U.S. priority. The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee recommends the creation of a federal cybersecurity council with staff (The Hill).

> Amazon blowback: Amazon was wooed by cities across the nation as it sought a new home for its headquarters. But now that Jeff Bezos’s company has settled on New York City and the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the blowback over government subsidies for the supremely profitable company has been fierce (The Hill). Amazon is reaping about $2 billion from taxpayers. Opposition to that largesse has made strange bedfellows out of New York City Democrats Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as progressive star and self-described democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, plus the conservative National Review magazine, the Koch network and Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson … Five ways the new Amazon headquarters will impact northern Virginia (The Hill) … How Amazon’s headquarters will stress the housing markets in New York and Washington (The Atlantic).

> Tech: How Facebook leaders delayed, denied, deflected in a crisis (The New York Times). … Employee morale at Facebook has taken a tumble along with the company’s stock price (The Wall Street Journal) … The Department of Justice has subpoenaed Snapchat for information about its initial public offering (Reuters) … Uber posted a $1 billion loss in the latest quarter as growth in bookings slowed (Reuters). Apple’s stock has fallen into bear market territory over concerns it will suffer a decline in iPhone sales (CNBC).

 

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by an art auction headline this week, we’re eager for some smart guesses about paintings and art.

Email your responses to jeasley@thehill.com or asimendinger@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit five correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

On Tuesday night, a 1929 painting sold at auction for nearly $92 million, surprising some art experts with its sky-high price. Which painting was it?

  1. “Chop Suey,” by Edward Hopper
  2. “Woman as Landscape,” by Willem de Kooning
  3. “Le Principe du Plaisir,” by René Magritte
  4. “Composition with Red Strokes,” by Jackson Pollock

Recent presidents have welcomed their predecessors and former first ladies back to the White House for official “hangings” of presidential portraits completed after they left office. Former President Obama and Michelle Obama have not yet appeared at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for that purpose, although popular paintings of the Obamas hang in the National Portrait Gallery. But thinking back to those White House unveiling events of yore, which former first lady quipped with gentle sarcasm in the East Room that “nothing makes a house a home like having portraits of its former occupants staring down at you from the walls”?

  1. Laura Bush
  2. Pat Nixon
  3. Hillary Clinton
  4. Jacqueline Kennedy

Former President George W. Bush surprised many by taking up painting as a hobby after leaving Washington. By 2017, he earned kudos for 98 portraits he painted of wounded veterans, part of a gallery exhibit and published as a fund-raising coffee table book titled “Portraits of Courage.” In 2013, Romanian hacker Guccifer released images of Bush’s earliest work, pulled from family emails. What was the subject matter Bush painted, revealed via those emails, that caught the public’s attention?

  1. Bowls of fruit and flowers
  2. The Washington Monument as seen from the Truman balcony
  3. Portrait of his mother
  4. Self-portrait in a bathtub

In October, we learned that Trump decorated a private space near the Oval Office with a print of a contemporary painting in which his image is featured. In that work, with whom does Trump appear, and what are they all doing?

  1. Members of his Cabinet, meeting at the White House
  2. New York business associates, gathered at Trump Tower
  3. Former Republican U.S. presidents, around a table in a bar scene
  4. His grandchildren, accompanying him in a golf cart

Second lady Karen Pence was in Japan with Vice President Pence this week and championed a $54,000 U.S. grant to a teacher at Tsukuba University for the study of an offshoot of artistic endeavor. For what type of study is the grant designated?

  1. Calligraphy
  2. Art therapy
  3. Flower arranging
  4. Bonsai

 

 

 

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