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The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Thursday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger is doing solo duty this week while Al Weaver enjoys some R&R. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!

The Trump administration turned its attention once again to immigration on Wednesday, unveiling new procedures it says will keep migrant children and relatives together in detention facilities as long as their cases require, and in most cases well beyond a 20-day restriction for holding children, which has been legally binding for decades.


The departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services said a rule change will allow the administration to effectively do away with the “Flores Settlement” that prohibited the government from holding migrant children, in most cases, for more than 20 days.


Critics of the administration’s immigration policies vowed to block the new rule in court, while Trump’s immigration advisers argued that the changes would render obsolete the original court-created “Flores Settlement,” which they called a “loophole.” 


The administration seeks to communicate a warning message to Central American and other migrants with a revised policy: Arrival at the U.S. southern border with undocumented children will not be an automatic “passport” for entry into the United States while cases are processed. Instead, the government seeks to detain migrant families in federal facilities until individual cases can be resolved or deportation carried out rather than release them into the country to await hearings (The Hill). 


The New York Times: Migrant families would face indefinite detention under new Trump rule set to take effect in October.


The Hill: ICE chief says migrant children will not be held “indefinitely,” but suggests time in detention could be nearly two months or longer. 


The Congressional Research Service: Frequently asked questions about the “Flores Settlement.”


President Trump, who believes the administration’s tough approach to legal and illegal immigration is popular with his political base, told reporters on Wednesday he would like to end “birthright citizenship,” which conveys U.S. citizenship to children born on U.S. soil (The Hill). Many legal analysts believe Trump could not end the policy by executive order as he suggests.


“We’re looking at that very seriously,” the president said. “Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen. …It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump spoke under a broiling sun for about 40 minutes outside the White House on Wednesday while describing the U.S. economy as doing “phenomenally well,” adding his view that he deserves credit for instituting a tough line against Beijing on trade and intellectual property.


“I am the chosen one,” he said, referring to presidents before him who he believes were not tough enough with the second-largest world economy. “Somebody had to do it,” he said, “so I’m taking on China” (The Hill).


The president — who a day earlier said he was considering a payroll tax cut and capital gains indexing as attractive forms of economic stimulus — reversed course and said tax changes are unnecessary if a recession is just a theory. Trump’s economic advisers want to encourage consumption and investment through 2020 and beyond, and believe talk of a new stimulus agenda could have the effect of rattling consumers and businesses.


The New York Times: Americans’ confidence in the economy is fragile. 

“I just don’t see any reason to,” Trump said, arguing that if the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates this fall, as he advocates, the central bank “can do the whole thing” to buoy the economy through monetary policy.


China today vowed to retaliate with additional tariffs if the United States imposes new levies on its exports. “Despite the U.S. decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese goods …. if the United States rides roughshod over China’s opposition and imposes any new tariffs, China will be forced to adopt retaliatory actions,” Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng told reporters (Reuters). 


Many economists, including at the Fed, argue the central bank’s mandate is to safeguard employment and keep inflation low. Monetary policy cannot end trade wars. As Niv Elis reports, another complication, as economists survey what should or can be done as the U.S. economy slows, is the political challenge of trying to hike spending or cut taxes while deficits rise and the nation groans beneath a $22 trillion debt load.


New federal deficit projections soared to $12 trillion through 2029, the Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday. For a government operating on a credit card, that kind of red ink would average 4.7 percent of gross domestic product through the next decade, a significant increase from the 2.9 percent average over the past 50 years (The Hill). The CBO explained that the bleaker deficit picture results from the sweeping budget deal passed earlier this month, which erased the caps on federal spending in 2020 and 2021 and is projected to add $1.7 trillion to the U.S. deficit over 10 years (The Hill). 


In other administration news:


The Environmental Protection Agency will represent the administration at a United Nations climate change gathering next month in place of the president. Trump plans to skip the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23, hosted by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will lead the U.S. delegation (The Miami Herald). 


The Education Department will eliminate all federal student loan debt owed by thousands of disabled veterans as a result of a memorandum Trump signed on Wednesday while attending a national conference of veterans in Kentucky (The Hill).


The Interior Department and Congress are at loggerheads over the department’s plans to relocate the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado. The department says it is moving ahead to relocate 27 top officials to new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., while scattering other Washington-based land management employees who agree to be transferred to existing offices across the United States (The Hill). The U.S. Department of Agriculture embarked on something similar with a transition of some of its agencies to the Kansas City area, which resulted in federal workforce shrinkage that was cheered inside the White House (The Kansas City Star).


Denmark and Trump’s interest in buying Greenland continued to dominate news coverage a day after the president canceled a state visit early next month to Copenhagen because the prime minister said the island territory was not for sale. The president on Wednesday aggravated what had already become a diplomatic flashpoint by insisting that the Danish government was “nasty” in the way it rejected his idea of selling the island to the United States (The Hill). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during a call on Wednesday with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, attempted to patch things up with the NATO ally by calling the kerfuffle a “postponement” of a presidential visit.


Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s newest press secretary and communications adviser, maintains a low public profile and has conducted no on-camera White House press briefings. Her perspective: Trump responds to reporters’ questions. The New York Times, in a profile today, writes that the 43-year-old public relations specialist is “the latest example of Mr. Trump’s tendency to value loyalty and an embrace of his unorthodox style ahead of other credentials when filling top jobs.”


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) faces an uphill climb to lock in more support from African American voters, Democratic strategists and political observers say. While Warren has been ascending in recent polls, she has struggled to lure black voters to her campaign, Amie Parnes reports (The Hill).


“We definitely need to do better there,” one Warren ally acknowledged. “We can’t win without support from the black community. Period.”


To date, former Vice President Joe Biden has dominated among black voters, particularly in South Carolina, an early primary state, even with two African-American candidates challenging Biden, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who are neck-and-neck in the top tier of the primary contest. Biden enjoys particularly stable backing among older blacks. 


That demographic tends to be more “pragmatic,” Clemmie Harris, an assistant professor of American history and Africana studies at Utica College, told The Hill. “If [Warren] is going to be successful in the South, she’ll really have to develop an infrastructure that is going to hit those critical areas and get her name and message out there and she’s got to be able to plug into those relationships and build it organically,” Harris added. 





> Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who struggled to climb above low single-digits in national polls and risked being shut out of a debate in Houston next month, dropped out of the 2020 presidential race on Wednesday night with an announcement on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” He’s expected to announce today that he’s running for a third term as governor (The Associated Press). Inslee, who announced his bid for the White House in March, had focused his campaign on tackling climate change, calling it “the most urgent challenge of our time.” He is the third Democratic presidential contender to bow out of a crowded field, following former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and California Rep. Eric Swalwell (NBC News).


> Hickenlooper, 67, who was courted intensively this summer by Democrats who sought his help in Congress, said today in a video message that he’s running for the Senate: “I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot.” His leap into the Senate contest instantly made him the front-runner in a crowded Democratic field vying to challenge incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is seen as vulnerable in a state with rapidly shifting politics and demographics (The Associated Press). Hickenlooper, a two-term governor and former Denver mayor, ended his presidential quest on Aug. 15 (The Hill).


> Trump has turned to a curious strategy to encourage Jewish Democrats to switch their allegiance to the Republican Party: He’s attacking them, report Mike Lillis and Scott Wong (The Hill).


Trump this week suggested Jewish Americans are ill-informed about policy when they throw their support overwhelmingly to Democrats. The president added they’re “disloyal” to Israel for opposing his presidency.


“In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” he said at the White House on Wednesday, amplifying similar remarks a day earlier. “And only weak people would say anything other than that.”


The president and Republicans have their work cut out for them: About 71 percent of Jewish voters sided with Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016, and the Democrats’ advantage among that bloc jumped to 79 percent in last year’s midterms.


In other political headlines … Sanders targets the gig economy in his new workers’ rights plan (The Hill) … Biden has a new campaign video to criticize Trump’s record on guns (HERE) … 2020 candidate and former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) warns that fellow Democrats seem to be cheering the idea of an impending recession (The Hill). Comedian Bill Maher has said a recession would be “very worth” experiencing if it meant tanking Trump’s chances of reelection (The Hill) … Six Democratic presidential candidates signed a letter to urge the inclusion of three arms control provisions in a final version of the annual defense policy measure. The provisions are opposed by Senate Republicans and the White House (The Hill). … And an amusing moment from the campaign trail occurred when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s voice sounded cartoonishly high-pitched during a video hook-up with an Iowa audience in a hotel ballroom (The Hill). 

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Trump is in a unique position to make real change on gun control, by Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen, opinion contributors, The Hill.


Tackling China is the modern Cold War, by Jeff Goodson, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Chuck Rocha, a senior adviser to Sanders’s presidential campaign, who describes the senator’s criminal justice plan; economics professor Richard D. Wolff, who talks about the U.S. economy; and The Intercept politics reporter Akela Lacy, outlining key Senate races next year. Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.


The House is in pro forma sessions until returning to Washington on Sept. 4 to begin consideration of legislation to respond to mass shootings.


The Senate continues to meet pro forma but is not scheduled to return for votes until Sept. 9. 


The president presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy at 4:30 p.m. (Boston Globe).


Vice President Pence, who is in Utah, will visit Merit Medical, a manufacturer of disposable medical devices, to tour the South Jordan facility and deliver remarks about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement at 10 a.m. He arrives back in Washington tonight. 


Pompeo is in Canada today and will meet in Ottawa with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at 9:15 a.m. The secretary meets with Canadian business leaders at 10:05, and joins a wreath-laying ceremony with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at 11:15 a.m. before the two meet at 11:30 a.m. and have lunch together. Freeland and Pompeo will hold a joint news conference at 1 p.m. The secretary then meets U.S. embassy staff and families in Ottawa at 3 p.m. 


State Watch: A recent spree of cyber attacks in Texas underscored mounting and costly ransomware threats faced by city governments. Experts predict such “lucrative” attacks will escalate (The Hill). More than 40 municipalities have been victims this year (The New York Times).


China: Beijing on Wednesday threatened to sanction any company involved in U.S. fighter jet sales to Taiwan worth $8 billion. Any retaliatory actions by China are seen as another complication amid trade discussions with the Trump administration (The Wall Street Journal). … China is harnessing social media platforms to manipulate opinions abroad about the Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations, according to a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Facebook and Twitter closed numerous disinformation accounts tied to the Chinese government, winning plaudits from members of Congress and intelligence experts (The Hill).  


In the Know: Former President Obama and Michelle Obama on Wednesday unveiled “American Factory,” a documentary set in Ohio, now available on Netflix. It’s the first film project from the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground. “We want to be in relationships with people and connect with them and work together with them,” the former president said, tapping social media to release a clip and discussion with the film’s directors (The Hill). Check out The New York Times’s review of the film HERE.





And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by summer events, we’re eager for some smart guesses about islands in the news.


Email responses today to and please add “Quiz” to your subject line. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


Trump this week canceled a state visit to which country when he learned the island of Greenland is not for sale?


1.     Russia

2.     Finland

3.     Iceland

4.     Denmark


Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told NPR that a Liberty Island poem should be rewritten to say “give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” Where is the actual wording of the poem, “The New Colossus,” displayed?


1.  Washington Monument

2.  Monticello

3.   Statue of Liberty

4.   Liberty Bell


Which newsmaker appeared in global headlines this month, in part because of activities involving the islands of Manhattan, Little St. James and St. Thomas?


1.     Bill de Blasio

2.     Jeffrey Epstein

3.     Tiger Woods

4.     Tim Duncan


Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the island of Great Britain on Oct. 31 will separate from what?


1.     European Union

2.     BBC

3.     The monarchy

4.     Channel Tunnel


Sharks — attacking humans and/or sea life — have been big news this summer on what island?


1.     Cape Cod

2.     Hawaii’s Big Island

3.     Rose Island in the Bahamas

4.     All of the above




Tags Andrew Wheeler Bernie Sanders Bill de Blasio Bill Maher Cory Gardner Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Eric Swalwell Hillary Clinton Jay Inslee Joe Biden John Delaney John Hickenlooper Justin Trudeau Michelle Obama Mike Pompeo Rachel Maddow Stephanie Grisham
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