2019年1月31日 星期四

Breaking News: Booker tells lawmakers he is running for president and seeks their support

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Booker tells lawmakers he is running for president and seeks their support
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Thursday began calling members of Congress informing them he is running for president and is quietly making overtures to members for support, three congressional sources told The Hill.
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On The Money: Trump digs in on money for wall | Pelosi open to new border 'infrastructure' but no wall | GOP pushes Trump to stay out of negotiations | Trump optimistic about China trade deal

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Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

See something I missed? Let me know at slane@thehill.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.

Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, vneedham@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @VickofTheHill, @NJagoda and @NivElis.


THE BIG DEAL—Trump insists no shutdown deal without wall money: Here we go again.

President Trump said Thursday he will not accept a deal to avert another government shutdown without money for his long-desired border wall, pushing back on Democrats who stressed their opposition to a wall.

"No. Because if there's no wall, it doesn't work," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he could accept border measures other than a wall.

Trump's comments show he remains at an impasse with Democrats over his demand for a wall with a second shutdown looming in just over two weeks. They also raise the likelihood he may circumvent Congress in a bid to build the wall on his own. The Hill's Jordan Fabian explains why.

  • The president said he would wait to see if Congress can come up with an agreement before the Feb. 15 funding deadline before he decides whether to declare a national emergency at the southern border.
  • But Trump did not sound optimistic negotiators would produce a bill he could support, accusing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of "playing games" and saying "I don't think they're going to make a deal." 


What comes next: Pelosi said earlier Thursday that Democrats remain adamantly opposed to wall funding, but could provide money for new fencing and other barriers in a spending bill.

"There's not going to be any wall money in the legislation," Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. "However, if they have some suggestions about certain localities where technology, some infrastructure [is appropriate] ... that's part of the negotiation."


The snag: While Trump has previously said he would be open to calling structures along the border "steel slats" or a "barrier," he said Thursday he would return to demanding a wall.

"Lets just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!" Trump tweeted.

Trump also warned in a tweet that Republicans on the panel might be "wasting their time."


The bottom line: This all boils down to one fairly semantic but politically crucial test: Whether both sides can strike a deal that allows Trump to say he got his wall and Democrats to say he caved and accepted uncontroversial border security upgrades.

It's hard to say where that middle ground is right now, but it might depend on Trump letting lawmakers work out the finer points.


GOP wants room to talk: Republican senators say Trump should stick to the sidelines and let the bipartisan group of appropriators known for their ability to cut deals get to work.

  • "I think it would be more worthwhile and effective if the president would allow some space for these negotiations to occur and not be doing commentary at this point," said GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
  • Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said he hoped Trump's skepticism was "wrong" and that the president was just "trying to set expectations low."
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), asked about Trump's belief that Republicans are wasting their time, said she was trying to "urge success" and that the conference committee should "be empowered to do their work."

THE HILL EVENT: Join The Hill Events for Boundless: Building a 5G World on Wednesday, Feb. 6th featuring Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and John Curtis (R-Utah). Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack and Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons will sit down with our guests for a series of conversations on the impact of 5G on all aspects of society. RSVP here.



Trump says no talk of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks: President Trump said Thursday there's been no talk of extending a March deadline to reach an agreement with China to avoid imposing increased tariffs on Chinese goods.

However, the president expressed optimism about the chances of reaching a satisfactory deal following talks with a top Beijing representative at the White House.

"I don't think we have to extend it," Trump said of the March 1 deadline while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

"Now, at a certain point... it's the largest transaction ever made, to be perfectly straight. We have to get this put on paper at some point if we agree. There are some points that we don't agree to yet but I think we will agree," he continued.

"I think when [Chinese President] Xi and myself meet, every point will be agreed to." The Hill's Brett Samuels explains here


Weekly jobless claims spike to highest level since September 2017: Jobless claims last week jumped to the highest level since the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, according to Labor Department data released Thursday.

Roughly 253,000 Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits in the week ending Jan. 26, an increase of 53,000 from the previous week.

The spike brought the weekly figures to their highest mark since Sept. 30, 2017 and drove the four-week moving average of unemployment filings to 220,250.

  • U.S. economic activity tends to slow down after the holiday season as consumers cut back on spending and employers shed seasonal workers.
  • But the increase in jobless claims also came near the end of a record-long government shutdown that's projected to cost the economy billions of dollars.



  • Tech companies are increasingly bullish on building a "smart wall," which would incorporate new technologies to beef up security on the southern border. Democrats and Trump have both discussed the idea.
  • President Trump is considering nominating former pizza magnate and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Board, according to Bloomberg News.
  • The United States is investigating whether trade between Venezuela and Turkey violates sanctions against Venezuela and plans to act on any violations, according to a new report.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is mulling a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, offered a bill on Thursday to expand the estate tax as progressive lawmakers discuss ways to increase taxes on the wealthy.
  • Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative who is leading high-level negotiations with China, acknowledged Thursday that President Trump's announcement on Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans was a "surprise."
  • A government watchdog says it is investigating the Trump administration's process for making changes to labor rules.



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Overnight Energy: States press Trump on pollution rules | EPA puts climate skeptic on science board | Senate tees up vote on federal lands bill

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STATES PETITION TRUMP OFFICIALS ON ASBESTOS RULE: The attorneys general from 15 states are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to draft a policy to collect more data on the harm from asbestos.

The Democratic AGs from California and Massachusetts lead the group, which is asking the EPA to create a new reporting rule requiring those who import the cancer-linked mineral fiber or use it domestically to give the EPA more data on its use.

"Each year, tens of thousands die from exposure to asbestos," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D). "We urge Acting Administrator [Andrew] Wheeler to issue a rule that will protect the lives of thousands of workers, families and children in Massachusetts and across the country."

Currently, importers of raw asbestos or articles that contain asbestos are exempt from having to report information about the products to EPA, according to the attorneys general.

The group argues that the information is necessary to protect the public from asbestos exposure. Their petition asks EPA to both eliminate the exemption for "naturally occurring substances" and require all imported articles containing asbestos to be reported to the EPA.

"It is widely known that asbestos is one of the most harmful chemicals known to humankind," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D). "There is no excuse to continue allowing any amounts of toxic asbestos to pass into our community, especially into the lungs of workers and children, when we know the danger it presents. We call on Acting Administrator Wheeler to begin the process of eliminating exemptions that allow this unsafe chemical to continue to harm tens of thousands of people each year."

Asbestos is not banned on the federal level, except for a few specific uses. A 2016 law gave the EPA new authority to prohibit the carcinogen.

Last June EPA introduced a proposal intended to require companies to notify the EPA if they planned to import or manufacture various out-of-date uses of asbestos, like roofing felt and floor tile.

The agency chose to list 15 known uses of asbestos, even though none are currently in use, and proposed companies be required to notify the EPA if they want to use asbestos in those situations, a move that would give the agency time to examine and potentially ban them.

That move led to a firestorm, including well-known figures like Chelsea Clinton and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) charging that the EPA is opening the door to asbestos -- something the agency strongly refutes.

The EPA later pushed back with a PR blitz through interviews, social media and a fact sheet.

Internal EPA emails later reported by the New York Times showed that EPA staff also objected to the reporting change.

Read more on the asbestos controversy here.


And in more AG news…


ATTORNEYS GENERAL SUE TRUMP OVER SMOG DECISION: New York lead a group of six attorneys general in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Trump administration, alleging that officials failed to implement adequate and timely smog regulations. The group argued that the EPA's decision to take no further action to control emissions of ground level ozone pollution stemming from upwind states until 2023 at the earliest is in violation of the Clean Air Act. The AGs said the failure to act was violating the Clean Air Act's "Good Neighbor" provision, which requires the agency to regulate emissions across states.

Read the lawsuit here.


Happy Thursday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.


CLIMATE SKEPTIC PUT ON EPA SCIENCE BOARD: Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler has put eight new members on the agency's main board of external science advisers.

The new members include an outspoken skeptic of climate change science, a scholar at a conservative group funded in part by billionaire businessman Charles Koch and researchers who have received industry funding.

The Science Advisory Board is the main body that advises the EPA on scientific matters, like scrutinizing regulations and directing the agency's actions.

The new members announced Thursday continue former EPA chief Scott Pruitt's controversial policy of banning members who received EPA grants, a move that critics assailed as an attempt to make the committee more industry-friendly.

"In a fair, open, and transparent fashion, EPA reviewed hundreds of qualified applicants nominated for this committee," Wheeler said in a statement.

"Members who will be appointed or reappointed include experts from a wide variety of scientific disciplines who reflect the geographic diversity needed to represent all ten EPA regions."

The EPA noted Wheeler kept on the board everyone who was eligible to remain, including many named by the Obama administration.

The new members include John Christy, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Alabama - Huntsville who is an outspoken climate skeptic and often cited by pundits and politicians opposing climate policies.

Christy's work includes arguing that the climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions than the scientific consensus has found, including the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He argues, therefore, that human activity has a very small impact on the climate.

He told the House Science Committee in 2017 that the climate models that international bodies rely upon have failed in the past and shouldn't be used to set policy.

Another new member is Richard Williams, a scholar at the Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank affiliated with George Mason University. It counts billionaire Republican donor Charles Koch as a board member and has received funding from him and his brother, David.

Read more here.


SENATE LINES UP NATIONAL PARKS AND FEDERAL LANDS BILL FOR VOTE: The Senate on Thursday lined up a major federal lands bill for a potential vote next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) action paves the way for a procedural vote on the measure, which could happen after the upper chamber finishes consideration of the Middle East foreign policy bill.

The legislation would allow the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a key revenue stream for parks and recreation facilities, to operate indefinitely. Its authority expired last October.

It also includes provisions aimed at increasing recreational access to federal land and has dozens of specific local provisions to add to national parks and other land holdings.

The legislation, which has broad bipartisan support, came close to passing through the Senate in December, and was expected to easily pass through the House as well.

But Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held it up, leading to an impassioned late-night exchange on the Senate floor between Lee and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

"While we are disappointed that this package could not pass last year, we remain committed to its provisions and the spirit of our bicameral agreement," Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the lead sponsors of the legislation, said in a statement earlier this month when they reintroduced the lands bill.

"The vast majority of bills in this package have been considered through the regular order process and have strong support from members of both parties. States and communities throughout the west, in particular, are counting on us to work together to pass them into law."

More on the bill here.



Shell acquires Greenlots to lead North American EV charging push, Green Tech Media reports.

Thai officials close schools as toxic air pollution chokes Bangkok, NPR reports

Germany sees surge in new solar power as prices drop, ABC reports.



Check out stories from Thursday ...

-Utility companies asking Midwest customers to lower thermostats due to record cold temperatures

-15 AGs petition Trump administration to draft asbestos rule

-University of Iowa student found frozen to death amid minus 51 degree windchill

-Senate lines up major national parks, federal lands bill for potential vote

-Hole two-thirds size of Manhattan found in Antarctic glacier

-Sales of oil leases proceeding near sacred sites in NM: report

-Ocasio-Cortez, Markey to unveil Green New Deal legislation

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©2019 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc.