“House and Senate Republicans have reached an agreement, in principle, on a consensus tax bill on Wednesday, keeping the party on track for final votes next week with the aim of delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk by Christmas,” the New York Times reports.
Stan Collender: “The new Democratic senator from Alabama won’t be sworn in until late December at the earliest and perhaps not until the beginning of January, so the lame duck Republican senator from Alabama — Luther Strange — will be part of the 52-48 GOP majority that will exist until then. That should mean the Republican leadership’s effort to enact a tax bill by Christmas is fully on track.”
“But with the GOP margin in the Senate less than three weeks away from going down to 51-49, Republican senators who still want something in the tax bill or in the funding bill that will be needed to keep the government open past December 22 are in a much better negotiating position this morning than they were yesterday. By threatening to withhold their vote if they don’t get what they want, these senators can easily force Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to delay the final on the tax bill. It also gives new leverage to other senators who up to now have been solid tax bill supporters.”
Washington Post: Democrats call for halt to GOP tax bill until Doug Jones is seated in the Senate.
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) December 14, 2017
Charlie Sykes: “With Roy Moore’s humiliating loss in the Alabama Senate race, the Trumpified Republican Party finds itself both defeated and dishonored, with no sign that it has yet hit bottom.”
“At every stage of the run-up to this special election, Republicans could have resisted, pushed back, or drawn lines, but their failure to do so led them inexorably to this moment: the defeat of an unreconstructed bigot and ignorant crank who had the full-throated backing of the president they have embraced and empowered.”
“It may be worthwhile charting the party’s descent to this moment.”
Here are my takeaways from Doug Jones's win. Among them: Black votes matter, the suburbs are for swingers, "welfare reform" is dead, and political parties should probably avoid nominating male candidates. https://t.co/zgpP9KbICQ
— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) December 13, 2017
Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) on Wednesday said he received a “very gracious” call from President Donald Trump congratulating him on his upset victory, but he has not spoken with Republican opponent Roy Moore, who has not conceded yet. “It was a very gracious call. I very much appreciated it,” Jones said at a press conference of his call with Trump. “He congratulated me on the race that we won. He congratulated me and my staff on the way and the manner in which we handled this campaign and went forward.”
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will run for Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) seat in a November 2018 special election after she is appointed to the seat once Franken officially resigns. This is contrary to initial reports that she would just hold it until then to allow for a wide-open Democratic primary, according to reports from the Associated Press and the local Star Tribune.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) will not run in Minnesota’s special U.S. Senate election in 2018, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. “It remains to be seen if Tina Smith’s entry in the ‘18 race will clear the Democratic field in the race to replace Sen. Al Franken, who is resigning soon.”
It’s tempting to downplay the importance of Doug Jones’s victory. But over the past year Democrats have shown again and again that they can compete anywhere in the country. https://t.co/KC4zWbgu5q pic.twitter.com/QT5efxIaHg
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) December 14, 2017
The White House said that Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former “The Apprentice” contestant turned political neophyte, is leaving the administration next month, the New York Daily News reports.
New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor: “I just talked to sources who tell me Omarosa was let go yesterday and that she was escorted off of the White House grounds by security. They say she is now calling friends saying that she left voluntarily because her year anniversary was coming up.”
April Ryan: “I heard there was drama and she was escorted out of the building and off campus.”
First Read: “If you thought Moore’s flaws — and the allegations against him — were the only reason why Republicans lost in Alabama, you haven’t been paying attention to 2017. The seven major races this year have underscored that Democratic voters are fired up, that Republican ones aren’t and that Trump is unpopular, even in red states.”
“This is how a wave happens, and the wave heading in 2018 got bigger and bigger during every contest this year — first in Georgia (which Democrats still lost), then in Virginia last month and then Alabama last night.”
Nate Silver: “Not every race is going to go as badly for Republicans as this Alabama Senate election — but if enough go half as badly, or even a third as badly, they’re still in for a rough time next year.”
This is Patricia Gaines, whose father, a liberal minister, was driven out of Selma in 1961 by Klansmen on horseback. She went back to Selma for the first time today to drive black voters to the polls. pic.twitter.com/A6q8JDtDg9
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) December 13, 2017
Weekly Standard: “Roy Moore wasn’t a generic Republican candidate. If you’ve ready anything about this race, you know that the Washington Post and other news outlets have published credible claims that Moore had improper sexual contact with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. And even before that, Moore was controversial. He was elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court twice, but he was removed from that position in 2003 and suspended from it a few years after winning the seat back in 2012. He won his 2012 election to that position by four points while Romney won the state by 22 points.”
“In other words, Moore was a terrible candidate. And that mattered.”
“No matter how you look at the race, it’s hard to escape the fact that Moore was a truly bad candidate, and that Republicans likely would have performed significantly better if they had nominated a more conventional Republican.”
National Journal: “The practical implication of Jones’s stunner is that Democrats now have a plausible, if challenging, path to a Senate majority — a possibility that seemed impossible even in the most favorable circumstances several months ago. It would require Democrats to defend a roster of vulnerable red-state seats while ousting Dean Heller in swing-state Nevada and picking up an open seat in GOP-leaning Arizona.”
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Democrats now have miraculously added a Senate seat that, truth be told, they have no business having, and it’s one they do not have to defend next year.”
Weekly Standard: “Jones’ win in Alabama changes this calculus. Democrats no longer have to look to Tennessee or Texas (both of which are very red) for their 51st vote in the Senate. They simply need to defend all of their seats while winning Nevada (a purple state) and Arizona (a state that should be in reach for them if Trump’s approval rating stays where it is today). This transforms Tennessee and Texas from states that Democrats must win to get the majority to optional gains that could either pad their majority or make up for potential incumbent losses.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) December 13, 2017
“Everything had to break exactly right for Doug Jones to win the Senate election in deep-red Alabama, and it did. Jones ran a disciplined campaign that hinged on black turnout, and it delivered for him,” The Atlantic reports.
“But everything also had to break the wrong way for the Republicans, and it did: a series of machinations among senior GOP officials led to a runoff between the unpopular Luther Strange and Roy Moore, best known for losing his judgeship over a dramatic battle to keep a 10 Commandments monument in the state supreme court. Moore had a loyal base of support in Alabama despite—or because of—the litany of controversies attached to him, including his inflammatory remarks about homosexuality and Muslims serving in office. But he was unable to reach beyond that base, and barely tried. And in the end he could not survive allegations by nine women that Moore had pursued or sexually abused them when they were teenagers—one as young as 14.”
“President Trump’s legal team believes Attorney General Jeff Session’s Justice Department and the FBI — more than special counsel Robert Mueller himself — are to blame for what they see as a witch hunt,” Mike Allen reports.
“The result: They want an additional special counsel named to investigate the investigators.”
The new demand was prompted by a Fox News article: “Senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier,’ had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed: The official’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.’”
“The president’s advisers were stunned Sunday when one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration broke with the White House line and said the accusers’ voices ‘should be heard,’” the AP reports.
“Haley’s comments infuriated the president… Trump has grown increasingly angry in recent days that the accusations against him have resurfaced, telling associates that the charges are false and drawing parallels to the accusations facing Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.”
Ford Vox: “When President Trump slurred his words during a news conference this week, some Trump watchers speculated that he was having a stroke. I watched the clip and, as a physician who specializes in brain function and disability, I don’t think a stroke was behind the slurred words. But having evaluated the chief executive’s remarkable behavior through my clinical lens for almost a year, I do believe he is displaying signs that could indicate a degenerative brain disorder.”
“As the president’s demeanor and unusual decisions raise the potential for military conflict in two regions of the world, the questions surrounding his mental competence have become urgent and demand investigation.”