Trump to rally House Republicans before critical tax vote

House Republicans are set to pass their massive tax-cuts plan Thursday, as President Donald Trump heads to Capitol Hill to rally the GOP conference around a sorely needed legislative victory.

Trump will huddle with Republican lawmakers in the basement of the Capitol just before the lunch-time vote. And he’ll impress upon them how important it is to voters that they continue to move the ball forward on tax reform, according to a White House official.

While the president will come with some prepared talking points, he’s largely expected to riff on taxes in typical Trump fashion. Trump will also likely mention that many of the countries he visited on his 12-day trip to Asia have lowered their business tax rates in the past few years, and that the United States needs to change to compete.

House GOP leaders, meanwhile, have remained confident throughout the week that they’ll have the 218 Continue reading “Trump to rally House Republicans before critical tax vote”

Conservative outside groups hold fire on tax bill ahead of first vote

As Congress rushes to pass the biggest tax reform legislation in three decades, high-powered business and conservative groups are holding fire on provisions they don’t like in order to avoid derailing the vote.

The kumbaya attitude emanates in large part from a sense of desperation among Republicans who believe the party needs to show voters and donors a concrete victory ahead of the 2018 midterms or risk losing control of one or both chambers of Congress, say strategists and conservative activists.

“It is kind of unreal,” said one Republican lobbyist. “People know this is a freight train coming, and they are doing everything they can to get their stuff on it rather than stand in front of it.”

Much of the criticism of the House and Senate tax bills has been delivered privately, a change from what happened during the failed Obamacare repeal push, according to lobbyists, conservative activists, Continue reading “Conservative outside groups hold fire on tax bill ahead of first vote”

Ivanka Trump scores win with Senate plan to double child tax credit

Ivanka Trump notched a policy victory late Tuesday night when the latest revisions to the Senate tax bill proposed doubling the child tax credit.

Trump, the president’s older daughter and a top White House adviser, had been advocating for months for such a change — meeting with social conservatives to build a coalition, visiting Capitol Hill to talk with lawmakers and partnering on the issue with Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, who first proposed this type of expansion in 2015.

The Senate bill, with the new changes made public Tuesday night by the Senate Finance Committee, would increase the child tax credit to $2,000 from the current credit of $1,000. The House version of the tax bill would increase it to $1,600.

On Twitter on Wednesday morning, Rubio called the Senate provision a good step. “Good news for working families, the Senate #TaxCut bill now has #ChildTaxCredit at Continue reading “Ivanka Trump scores win with Senate plan to double child tax credit”

Joint U.S.-Russia statement calls for U.N.-supervised elections in Syria

As part of a new joint statement on Syria between the U.S. and Russia, the two countries have agreed that Syria must eventually hold UN-supervised elections to bring new leadership to the country as part of the process of ending its multi-year civil war, according to two senior State Department officials.

That agreement puts into writing the fact that those elections would follow the rules outlined in the U.S. Security Council resolution known as 2254. That resolution says voting will include the ballots of the Syrian diaspora, displaced from the country by years of war, the officials added.

The State Department officials stressed that the joint statement shores up the areas of agreement between the U.S. and Russia as to Syria’s political future, while acknowledging that work still remained — particularly on the de-escalation zones inside Syria.

“Despite our many difference with Russia, we can work together Continue reading “Joint U.S.-Russia statement calls for U.N.-supervised elections in Syria”

How Flynn — and the Russia scandal — landed in the West Wing

Michael Flynn wasn’t even on the shortlist of potential national security advisers.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the early transition chief for a newly elected Donald Trump, and his team had deep reservations about Flynn, fearing the retired three-star Army general who had been ousted from the Obama administration suffered from poor judgment and espoused far-out ideas on foreign policy.

Instead, their list for the NSA slot included marquee military leaders such as now-Secretary of Defense James Mattis; General Peter Pace, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bush; and Admiral William McRaven, who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid, according to two people familiar with the transition.

But when Christie was fired from his transition perch on Nov. 11 — replaced by soon-to-be Vice President Mike Pence — Flynn and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon celebrated by tossing binders full of potential personnel picks, Continue reading “How Flynn — and the Russia scandal — landed in the West Wing”

House tax bill falls short of Ivanka Trump’s ask on child tax credit

Ivanka Trump doesn’t always get what she wants.

The House Republican tax plan unveiled on Thursday includes one of Trump’s pet issues – the child tax credit – but expands it less generously than the White House senior adviser and first daughter had hoped.

Recently, Trump has been lobbying lawmakers on expanding the credit, hosting both Republicans and Democrats for private dinners at her Kalorama home and visiting a handful of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

She’s wooed social conservatives to the cause by finding common ground with stalwarts like Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist in their quest to support families, and she even partnered with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to hammer out the policy details. Indeed, much of her thinking on the expansion of the credit was informed by a proposal that Sens. Rubio and Mike Lee (R-Utah) put forth in 2015.

Yet all of this activity wasn’t enough Continue reading “House tax bill falls short of Ivanka Trump’s ask on child tax credit”

Inside the rise and fall of Gary Cohn’s Fed dreams

When President Donald Trump stands up on Thursday afternoon to nominate Jerome Powell as head of the Federal Reserve — the most powerful economic job in the world — at least one also-ran will be there, clapping and smiling: Gary Cohn.

The former Goldman Sachs president, now Trump’s top economic adviser, was a front-runner for the Fed job until August, when he publicly broke with the president over his handling of fatal neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

As recently as last month, the two still appeared at odds. Guests at a black-tie gala in Washington in mid-October honoring First Lady Melania Trump were treated to an awkward display between the two, as the president stared straight ahead and continued to make small talk with others while Cohn was trying talk to him, said an attendee.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed that description of the interaction, calling it Continue reading “Inside the rise and fall of Gary Cohn’s Fed dreams”