Day: February 6, 2017

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Clinton handed the GOP a weed whacker to destroy Obama's legacy


After eight years of Obama, Republicans are about to enjoy sweet payback. And thanks to former President Bill Clinton, Democrats can’t do much about it.

Making straight the way for Trump, Republicans have brushed off the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act to rapidly roll back many of Obama’s accomplishments. Instead of grumbling, though, Democrats should be cheering their colleagues and praising Clinton’s foresight.

When Republicans retook the House, Clinton did something that Obama found odious. He compromised. In March of 1996, Clinton signed then-Speaker Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” praising one provision in particular, the CRA.

Boasting that he “long supported the concept,” Clinton predicted that the parliamentary mechanism would “increase congressional accountability for regulations” and provide “expedited procedures for Congress to review those regulations.”

Essentially, it works like a legislative veto. Under the law, Congress has 60 days to vote up or down on any major administrative rule. Practically though, the CRA is used as Congressional stress relief. In twenty years, lawmakers have introduced 72 motions of disapproval. Only one was actually successful. In 2001, Republicans used the law to repeal regulation that mandated better workplace ergonomics.

Two weeks into Trump’s presidency, it’s clear that Republicans will use the parliamentary mechanism to do more than wage war on lumbar support. They plan on erasing Obama’s regulatory legacy.

Already Republicans have used the CRA to give the coal industry CPR, ease gun purchases, and rollback fiduciary rules. There’s no sign they’ll stop anytime soon. The Congressional Research Service put together an ad-hoc list of more than 50 Obama-era regulations that could get the axe in 2017, ridding the economy of a $42 billion regulatory burden. And it’s all thanks to Clinton.

Watching Obama’s thumbprint get erased from the federal register makes Democrats understandably downcast. But Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should take heart. For every partisan victory brought about by the CRA, there’s a constitutional silver lining.

By limiting the power of administrative agencies, Republicans are checking their own executive. Thanks to the CRA, there’s little chance Trump will appropriate Obama’s governing methods for Republican ends. The threat of a legislative veto makes it almost impossible for him to pick up the pen and phone of his predecessor. Instead, Trump must work with Congress, which requires compromise and that means a seat at the table for Democrats.

Trump's team 'is expected' to endorse NATO alliance expansion

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Montenegro’s accession to NATO has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.

02/06/17 5:43 PM

What’s more, every time Republicans deploy the act, they’re setting a precedent. Democrats can find some comfort knowing that roles will someday be reversed and they’ll be the ones taking an administrative weed whacker to the legacy of a GOP executive. Perhaps that hope could help Democrats finally learn to love a government that governs least.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Secret Service spouses circulate petition calling for agent's firing

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02/06/17 2:19 PM



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Spicer vows to 'provide a list' of underreported terror attacks


White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the administration would “provide a list” of terror attacks that members of the media have failed to cover adequately, just hours after President Trump scolded the “very, very dishonest press” for avoiding stories about radical Islamic terrorism.

“He felt members of the media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered. Protests will get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn’t necessarily get the same coverage,” Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president returned from a weekend in Florida. “He’s doing what he can to protect this nation and protect our people. And that’s why I think sometimes the polls don’t reflect what you see on the media.”

Spicer, a frequent critic of the media’s approach to covering the Trump administration, said the “stories and success” from Trump’s first two weeks in office “aren’t exactly covered to the degree to which they should be.”

Trump had visited MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa earlier Monday, where he spoke to senior commanders about his plans to build up the military and combat terrorism around the world.

But the president raised reporters’ eyebrows when he accused the media of refusing to cover attacks carried out by radical Islamic terrorists for unspecified “reasons.”

“All over Europe, it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported,” Trump said, referring to the “campaign of genocide” that he said Muslim extremists have waged globally.

“[I]n many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it,” Trump added. “They have their reasons, and you understand that.”

Spicer said the president was suggesting the media “underreported,” rather than refused to report, outbreaks of terrorism.

“We’ll provide a list later. There’s several instances … There’s a lot of instances that have occurred where I don’t think they’ve gotten the coverage it deserved,” Spicer said.

Sean Spicer: 'I don't think the president owns a bathrobe'

Also from the Washington Examiner

White House press secretary Sean Spicer disputed the details of an unflattering New York Times story about the Trump administration, telling reporters: “I don’t think the president owns a bathrobe.”

“That story was so riddled with inaccuracies and lies that they owe the president an apology,” Spicer told reporters during a gaggle on Air Force One. He made the comments following the president’s appearance at at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Monday.

Spicer said the weekend New York Times story – titled “Trump and staff rethink tactics after stumbles” – “is literally the epitome of fake news.”

The New York Time story said at one point: “When Mr.

02/06/17 5:20 PM

The Trump administration has cited a desire to protect Americans from the threat of radical Islamic terrorists when defending a controversial executive order that temporarily suspended the flow of individuals from seven Middle Eastern countries.

Trump frequently criticized former President Barack Obama for his reluctance to attribute terrorism to radical Islamic groups, describing it as another example of how his predecessor was weak on terror during the 2016 campaign.

Spicer said the White House would not waver on its travel executive order in the face of a Seattle judge’s efforts to pause its implemetation with an injunction filed on Friday.

“We’re not rethinking our strategy at all,” Spicer said. “What we’re discussing now has nothing to do with the merits of the order … This is just purely on the injunction that the judge issued. And I think we’re going to make that case tonight.”

The Trump Justice Department quickly challenged the Seattle judge’s injunction before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which set a Monday afternoon deadline for the administration and the Washington state attorney general to submit more support for their respective arguments.

Women's March organizers plan woman's strike

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The organizers of the Women’s March On Washington are planning a strike on a date yet to be announced.

02/06/17 5:13 PM

Trump is “absolutely not” thinking about withdrawing the order, Spicer said.

Several polls conducted since Trump signed the order have suggested that roughly half of Americans support temporarily suspending immigration from terror-plagued countries in the Middle East while the administration sets new, stricter standards for entry.

Democrats and pro-immigration groups have accused Trump of discriminating against Muslims by focusing his executive action on majority-Muslim countries. Critics have said the temporary travel restrictions represent a thinly-veiled version of the Muslim ban Trump once floated while campaigning.

Secret Service spouses circulate petition calling for agent's firing

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Kerry O’Grady “has lost all credibility,” Secret Service spouses told the Washington Examiner.

02/06/17 2:19 PM



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Get out of the swamp if you want to drain it



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Oh good: Germany's most influential publication is calling for a German-led alliance against Trump


This is fine.

President Trump is a modern day Nero and it’s up to a German-led alliance to put him in check, argued an editorial published this weekend by Spiegel Online, the Internet arm of the German news magazine Der Spiegel.

America’s new president poses a real threat not just to the U.S., they argued, but also to the whole world. European leaders must therefore unite to resist Trump.

“Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government,” the weekend editorial declared, adding later, “It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar. The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this).”

“He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power. He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of ‘betrayal.’ This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome. It is the way tyrants think,” it added.

This editorial isn’t coming from just any online news group. It’s coming directly from the newsroom with “the most successful online presence” in Europe’s most economically stable and powerful country. Der Spiegel is also the same publication that envisioned Trump recently as a murderous savage:

The editorial’s author, Der Spiegel’s editor-in-chief Klaus Brinkbäumer, continued, writing that the real problem is that the Trump administration is openly hostile towards world organizations, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NATO and the European Union.

“The fact that the United States, a nuclear superpower that has dominated the world economically, militarily and culturally for decades, is now presenting itself as the victim, calling in all seriousness for ‘America first’ and trying to force the rest of the world into humiliating concessions is absurd. But precisely because this nonsense is coming from the world’s most powerful man, it is getting trapped by him,” the editorial reads.

Warren unloads on DeVos: 'This whole process stinks'

Also from the Washington Examiner

“It is difficult to imagine a worse choice to head the Department of Education,” Warren said.

02/06/17 4:15 PM

“This is not a threat that will somehow resolve itself. The German economy has become the target of American trade policy and German democracy is ideologically antithetical to Trump’s vision,” it added.

The response, it added, is clear. It’s time now for European leaders to stand up to Trump in the name of promoting and protecting the principles of “democracy freedom, the West and its alliances.”

But what does that look like, practically speaking?

“This does not mean escalation or that we must abandon our contacts with America and all the working groups between our governments. What is does mean, though, is that Europe must grow stronger and start planning its political and economic defenses. Against America’s dangerous president,” the editorial explains.

That’s much too vague.

Tester 'open' to supporting Gorsuch

Also from the Washington Examiner

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Monday that he remains unsure if he will support Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to replace former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, but is “open” to doing so.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Tester called on his Senate Democratic colleagues to also meet with Gorsuch and give him a “fair shake,” calling it a “good meeting.”

“I have not made a decision on that yet, but I am open,” Tester said.

“I had a good meeting with nominee Gorsuch,” Tester said, noting that the pair discussed issues such as the involvement of corporations in elections and clean air and water.

“I would encourage all of my fellow senators to meet with him, give him a fair

02/06/17 4:09 PM

It doesn’t tell us in clear terms what German-led resistance to Trump looks like. Is it just words and symbolic gestures, or does Der Spiegel have something specific in mind?

Secret Service spouses circulate petition calling for agent's firing

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Kerry O’Grady “has lost all credibility,” Secret Service spouses told the Washington Examiner.

02/06/17 2:19 PM



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Trump promises funding, equipment for troops at CENTCOM


President Trump pledged to provide new “tools, equipment and resources” to U.S. military personnel during his first visit Monday to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

“We’re going to be loading it up with beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment,” he said of MacDill Air Force Base, where he addressed about 300 U.S. troops and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford. “You’ve been lacking a little equipment, we’re going to load it up. You’re going to get a lot of equipment.”

“We will ensure that the men and women of our military have the tools, equipment, resources, training and supplies you need to get the job done,” Trump added later.

The president arrived at MacDill early Monday afternoon for a national security briefing led by Dunford, followed by a lunch with several military officers and a few of his close aides.

“The men and women serving at CENTCOM and SOCOM have poured out their hearts and souls for this country,” the president said in his remarks after lunch. “You’ve sacrificed everything so that we can remain safe and strong and free.”

In addition to pledging an increase in defense spending and improved equipment for military personnel, Trump issued a stern warning to overseas jihadists who have vowed to wage war against the West.

“Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino, and all across Europe,” he said. “So today we deliver a message in one very unified voice to these forces of death and destruction: America and its allies will defeat you. We will defeat them.”

“We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” he continued. “And we will not allow it to take root in our country.”

Trump’s visit to MacDill followed his first weekend outside the White House, which he spent at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Fla. The president is expected to return to Washington late Monday afternoon.

Senators scold UK prime minister for declining Democratic invite

Also from the Washington Examiner

Sens. Chris Murphy and Jeanne Shaheen wrote that Theresa May’s visit “was partisan in nature.”

02/06/17 3:04 PM

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With five vulnerable Democrats, Schumer needs to satisfy his base without jeopardizing his caucus for re-election.

02/06/17 12:01 AM



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Lady Gaga made inclusivity great again


Lady Gaga’s promise to celebrate “inclusion” and “equality” in her Super Bowl halftime show was enough to leave the country bracing for a politically charged performance.

Previewing her act, Gaga told reporters at pre-game presser late last week, “The only statements that I’ll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I’ve been consistently making throughout my career.”

She continued, “I believe in a passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality, and that the spirit of this country is one of love and compassion and kindness. My performance will uphold those philosophies.”

In a normal world, where concepts like “inclusion” and “equality” had not been reappropriated as progressive buzzwords, Gaga’s pledge would have sounded entirely apolitical.

That is not the world in which we live.

Instead, her statement was met with headlines like “Lady Gaga Is Going To Get Political At The Super Bowl After All,” and “FAIL: Lady Gaga to Sing About ‘Equality’ and ‘Inclusion’ at Super Bowl.”

Fair enough. The public understands that words like “inclusion” and “equality,” when deployed by progressives like Lady Gaga, more often than not are meant to be interpreted as political statements.

Take the recent Women’s March on Washington. The official Facebook page for the event advertised the march as an “inclusive” production where “everyone” who “supports women’s rights” was welcome. The organizers then promptly refused to “include” women’s groups that did not support abortion rights.

This happens nearly every day on college campuses where universities embrace diversity and inclusion by excluding anybody to the right of Chomsky.

Senators scold UK prime minister for declining Democratic invite

Also from the Washington Examiner

Sens. Chris Murphy and Jeanne Shaheen wrote that Theresa May’s visit “was partisan in nature.”

02/06/17 3:04 PM

As usual, though, Lady Gaga was different. She took her own pledge literally and delivered a performance that actually honored the definitions of the words she used.

Despite her open disdain for President Trump, Gaga refused to use her platform as a political soapbox and put on a surprisingly patriotic performance centered around her immensely popular catalog of chart-toppers.

At the press conference last week, Gaga remarked, “I don’t know if I will succeed in unifying America. You’ll have to ask America when it’s over.”

It’s over, and while America remains divided on politics, we’re united in thanking her for avoiding them.

Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Democrats will talk all night to oppose DeVos

Also from the Washington Examiner

Senate Democrats plan to stay on the Senate floor all day Monday and into the night to argue against the confirmation of education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, who is expected to win approval at noon on Tuesday.

Senate rules require 30 hours of debate on DeVos unless both parties agree to yield time back. But Democrats are refusing to yield back time and will talk for hours against DeVos, a wealthy GOP donor and school choice advocate.

Democrats took to the Senate floor shortly after noon Monday to condemn the nomination, and accused DeVos of harboring views in opposition to public education and having business interests that will lead to endless conflicts of interest if she takes the helm at the Department of Education.

02/06/17 3:03 PM

President Trump promises funding, equipment for troops at CENTCOM

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“We’re going to be loading it up with beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment,” he said.

02/06/17 1:59 PM



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Trump implores NATO allies to pay their 'fair share'


"We strongly support NATO," the president told military personnel gathered during his visit to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla. "We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Trump on Monday reassured close U.S. allies on Monday that his administration will continue to support NATO, despite his belief that certain members are not carrying their weight in defense spending.

“We strongly support NATO,” the president told military personnel gathered during his visit to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla. “We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing.”

“Many of them have not been even close, and they have to do that,” Trump added, further imploring the United States’ NATO allies to “pay their fair share.”

The president’s critique of lopsided funding within the alliance comes less than 24 hours after he spoke by phone with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The two men discussed “how to encourage all NATO allies to meet their defense spending commitments” and Russia’s ongoing military build-up along Ukraine’s border, according to a readout of the conversation.

Trump also agreed to attend a summit of NATO leaders in May at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, the White House announced Sunday.

According to NATO statistics, the U.S. committed to contributing approximately 3.6 percent of its gross domestic product to NATO in 2015.

President Trump promises funding, equipment for troops at CENTCOM

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“We’re going to be loading it up with beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment,” he said.

02/06/17 1:59 PM

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Thornberry urges Trump to send weapons to Ukraine


House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, wants President Trump to authorize the Pentagon to send weapons to Ukraine in its battle with Russian separatists.

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill believe the U.S. must help the former Soviet state end the conflict on its eastern border by sending Kiev defensive weapons, Thornberry told reporters Monday.

“It was incredibly frustrating that the Obama administration wouldn’t do that,” Thornberry said about President Obama’s rebuffing lawmakers’ and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s request for such weapons.

“I hope that the new administration will do it,” he said.

It is unclear if Trump is willing to deviate from Obama’s precedent. This summer, former campaign manager Paul Manafort successfully fought to remove the issue from the party’s platform ahead of the Republican National Convention.

Both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said they support sending the U.S. ally weapons during their confirmation hearings.

Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, blasted Russia for inciting the recent uptick in violence in Donetsk during her first appearance before the Security Council last week.

She also called on Moscow to return Crimea to Ukraine.

“The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” she said.

CNN slams Kellyanne Conway's 'credibility'

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A source at CNN said “State of the Union” declined to book her as a guest, in part because of “credibility issues.”

02/06/17 1:01 PM

Whether Trump will risk Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ire by demanding he return Crimea or sending Kiev weapons is an open question. Just Saturday, Trump told Fox News: “I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump hinted that if elected he might officially recognize Crimea as belonging to Russia.

Kiev is panicked that Washington is backing away from supporting Ukraine’s efforts to retain its sovereignty. Trump and Poroshenko, an oligarch known as the “Chocolate King,” spoke on Saturday. During the call, Trump told Poroshenko: “We will work with Ukraine, Russia and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border,” according to the White House.

Supreme Court fight over Neil Gorsuch puts Schumer in a bind

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With five vulnerable Democrats, Schumer needs to satisfy his base without jeopardizing his caucus for re-election.

02/06/17 12:01 AM



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House of Commons speaker moves to block Trump from addressing parliament


A leading member of British Parliament delivered an impassioned speech on Monday as he moved to block President Trump from addressing lawmakers in Westminster Hall during his upcoming state visit to the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister Theresa May had invited Trump to visit the UK in the near future during her first meeting with him at the White House last month. The invitation drew immediate backlash from members of Parliament, who have long criticized Trump and grew even more frustrated last week after he issued his executive order suspending immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Commons Speaker John Bercow, one of three leaders who has the power to block Trump from addressing Parliament, said Monday that he is strongly opposed to allowing the president to appear before both chambers.

“Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by Mr. Trump in Westminster Hall,” Bercow told members of Parliament.

He added: “After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump, I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”

During their own state visits to the UK, Presidents Reagan and Clinton did not address Parliament in the centuries-old Westminster Hall. Rather, they both spoke to lawmakers in the Royal Gallery. However, former President Obama delivered remarks from the historic palace during near the end of his first term in 2011.

Supreme Court fight over Neil Gorsuch puts Schumer in a bind

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With five vulnerable Democrats, Schumer needs to satisfy his base without jeopardizing his caucus for re-election.

02/06/17 12:01 AM

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Sen. Bob Casey catches a break


Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is not one of this year’s most vulnerable Democrats. But he will be defending his seat next year in a midterm election, and in a state that just voted for Donald Trump and his conservative colleague, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. So it’s probably welcome news for him that Philadelphia Republican Rep. Pat Meehan, who might have been a strong challenger and would have begun with nearly $2 million in the bank, has decided to seek re-election instead.

The Philly Inquirer reported yesterday morning:

Meehan had been considering a bid against Casey in a state that went to President Trump in November, but on Saturday night a spokesman said the Congressman plans to focus on his work in the House.
“Rep. Meehan’s seat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee enables him to play a critical role in the most important coming legislative debates: health care, tax reform and trade,” wrote spokesman John Elizandro. “He believes, at this time, our region is best served by him remaining in the House of Representatives and focused on the legislative opportunities ahead.”

There were surely many calculations involved in this decision. A run against Casey, whose late father was revered in the state, will be an uphill climb for whoever tries it — although not necessarily an impossible one, as the late Tom Smith showed by holding him under 54 percent in the Democratic presidential year of 2012.

What’s more, Meehan took some political risks last year that didn’t pay off. He declared himself #NeverTrump last summer and cast a write-in vote for Mike Pence in November. That may have made sense in the context of his district, which Hillary Clinton narrowly carried, but in a statewide race there was always the risk (which is part of the new normal for Republicans) that Trump could blow him up with a single vengeful tweet.

What’s more, Speaker Paul Ryan and NRCC chairman Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, had every reason to encourage Meehan to stay in the House. Republicans seem very likely to keep the Senate in 2018 thanks to the Class I map, but the House could become a different story — recall that Democrats lost a significantly larger majority in 2010. If House control does end up being in play, as often happens in midterms when the president’s party controls the House, Meehan’s oddly-shaped district in suburban Philly would likely be a top pickup target for Democrats. It would be a much harder target for Republicans to defend if it were an open seat.

In a previous, less geometrically offensive incarnation, Meehan’s seventh congressional district had been one of the first dominoes to fall in the 2006 Democratic wave, when Democrat Joe Sestak defeated a scandal-plagued (although to this day never charged or indicted) Republican Rep. Curt Weldon.

Supreme Court fight over Neil Gorsuch puts Schumer in a bind

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With five vulnerable Democrats, Schumer needs to satisfy his base without jeopardizing his caucus for re-election.

02/06/17 12:01 AM



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