Good morning! My sincere apologies for the tardiness the last two days. Spinning too many plates lately, but I’ll try to get back on schedule and have your news on time. Here’s the Daily News for Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
1. Immigration: the policy & the politics
- Congress has been grappling with the immigration issue for about a year. (I mean, a lot longer than that, actually, but in this current context)
- Nobody expected much action on it a few weeks ago. The situation at the border has changed that.
- Immigration proposals are flying around Capitol Hill, and Republicans are eager to act on the issue.
- Last night, President Trump came to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican Members of Congress.
- The goal: boost their confidence on immigration. Let them know where the White House stands and reassure them that he’ll be there to sign a bill and offer support when the time comes.
- That didn’t really happen. The president spent a lot of time talking about North Korea and even took the opportunity to kick Congressman Mark Sanford while he was down.
- He said he was “a thousand percent” supportive of House immigration efforts but, according to people in the room that I talked to, it wasn’t all that reassuring.
- Go inside the room with Politico’s Jake Sherman, who texts with Congressmen as the meeting happens, HERE.
Why it matters
- The House is considering at least two immigration proposals. One is a pretty hard-lined conservative approach, the other is a more measured “compromise” approach.
- Here’s the thing: neither are likely to pass.
- The compromise bill COULD pass if President Trump gave it his full endorsement. But he’s still playing footsie with the hardliners, and that makes rank-and-file congressmen anxious they’ll get labeled as amnesty supporters if they go along with a more moderate approach.
- The Senate is now signaling it will consider standalone legislation that fixes the whole border parent-child separation issue.
- Democrats are saying they won’t support ANY legislative measure.
- That’s kind of amazing, but if Mitch McConnell is serious about putting a bill on the floor, I can’t see Democrats actually filibustering it.
- If and when that happens, the White House will have lost a powerful leverage tool in the immigration debate.
- It’s what happens when your team gets hollowed out.
2. That IG thing still exists.
With so much media focused on the immigration issue, you’d hardly notice that the Department of Justice Inspector General report on the Clinton and Russia investigations is still very much a thing.
The Inspector General himself – Michael Horowitz – is on Capitol Hill answering questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Here’s the news:
- Former FBI Director James Comey is now under investigation for his handling of classified information.
- FBI Agent Peter Strzok – the one who sent all the anti-Trump text messages while involved in the Russia investigation – was escorted from the FBI building by authorities yesterday.
- And as The New York Times reports, FBI agents’ activity is giving President Trump and his GOP allies useful ammunition to claim the Mueller investigation is biased, whether or not that is actually true.
- What kind of ammunition? Here’s a text message sent by Strzok:
“Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart,” Mr. Strzok wrote in August 2016, just a few weeks into the Russia investigation. “I could SMELL the Trump support.”
That ain’t Fox News. That’s The New York Times.
3. More companies leave BCA.
- As predicted, more companies are parting ways with the Business Council of Alabama.
- Regions Bank, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and PowerSouth Electric Cooperative are following Alabama Power’s lead cutting ties with the state’s business lobby over disagreements about leadership.
- The Advertiser’s Brian Lyman has a story about it with a few fresh quotes from those involved.
- The Power Company, and apparently these others, wanted BCA CEO Billy Canary fired. Or replaced, to be more specific.
- The BCA board had planned to transition Canary out as soon as next year, but that timeline was not fast enough.
- Expect a few more companies to trickle out their withdrawals today. BCA’s board was scheduled to meet tomorrow and these withdrawals seem aimed toward that.
4. Skip Tucker
- Skip Tucker is back this week and his column is worth your time, as always.
- I like it when Skip writes about the “good ole days,” and his memories of Robert Kennedy visiting Alabama do not disappoint.
“I wish I could remember some of his exact words, but mostly I remember he said our presence filled him with confidence and hope for the future. He said that so long as people like us responded to messages of confidence and hope, that there is always confidence and hope for the future. He spoke for maybe five minutes, came down and touched hands through the fence… I’ve never seen anything braver than that, or, I guess, that brave.”
- Skip juxtaposes Kennedy’s bravery and inspiration against that of politicians these days. And it’s the Ethics Commission that has especially drawn his ire.
- Read the whole thing HERE.
5. News Briefs.
Alabama balks at Amtrak funding
- Alabama is the only state not to commit any funds for a New Orleans-to-Mobile Amtrak service.
- Louisiana has put up $9.5 million while Mississippi has fronted $3 million and is considering adding much more.
- Funds must be committed by Thursday in order to receive matching federal funds.
- Gov. Kay Ivey supports the project but has yet to commit any state funds to it. If that stands, the railway is projected to run from New Orleans to Pascagoula, Miss.
Lower costs, fewer benefits in new health insurance option
- The Trump Administration unveiled a new health insurance option that offers lower premiums for small businesses and the self employed but also limits coverage benefits.
- If healthy people flock to the “association health plans” as expected, those needing comprehensive coverage will face rising premiums.
- Initial estimates by the Congressional Budget Office forecast modest changes, not a seismic shift.
- About 4 million people are expected to receive coverage under the plans.
- The administration touted that the plans can be offered across state lines, some even nationally, but because of varying prices for healthcare services, this effect will be limited.
The Amazon story
- The effort to woo Amazon’s new headquarters to Birmingham may have come up short.
- But, it might have made just enough of an impression to get our state on the radar for the new logistics center that’s coming to Bessemer.
- Go inside the story on how it all came together in today’s Birmingham Business Journal.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: Two Warriors Roll into Tuscaloosa; Lost Creek Doesn’t Know Diddly.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Companies withdraw from Business Council of Alabama.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama balks at funding for restored coastal Amtrak service.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Authorities: 3 dead in shooting outside Tallassee Walmart.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump, GOP strain for migrant kids solution.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – With eyes on midterms, Trump embraces immigration fight.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Not worthy of its name.’ US pulls out of UN human rights council.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – City to retry recycling program.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Regions Bank withdraws from Business Council of Alabama.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Alabama balks at funding for restored coastal Amtrak service.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Bondholder still trying to recoup $40 million in bond debt from Country Crossing development.
DECATUR DAILY – Incarceration doesn’t come cheap.
ANNISTON STAR – Sessions feels Methodists’ wrath.
AL.COM – Regions Bank, PowerSouth withdraw from Business Council of Alabama.
AL.COM – ‘There’s a better way to do this’: Walt Maddox says he’s against separating families at border.
AL.COM – ADEM drops civil rights complaint policy. It might cost Alabama millions.
AL.COM – Is solitary confinement driving Alabama’s prison suicide crisis?
AL.COM – Condoleezza Rice on Trump immigration policy: ‘We are not that kind of country’.
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: The politics of hate and the sepsis of the soul.
AL.COM – ‘We need governor’s signature’: Amtrak’s restart in Mobile in Ivey’s hands as deadline looms.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump urges House GOP to fix immigration system, expresses no strong preference on rival bills amid uproar over family separations.
WASHINGTON POST – U.S. withdraws from U.N. Human Rights Council over perceived bias against Israel.
WASHINGTON POST – House GOP plan would cut Medicare, Medicaid to balance budget.
WASHINGTON POST – ‘Womp womp’: Corey Lewandowski mocks story of child with Down syndrome separated from parents.
WASHINGTON POST – Q and A: Understanding the controversy over separating families at the border.
NEW YORK TIMES – Microsoft Employees Protest Work With ICE, as Tech Industry Mobilizes Over Immigration