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EAR TICKLER: For the Capitol Weekly Podcast, John Howard and Tim Foster sit down with CALmatters columnist Dan Walters to talk about the legacy of Jerry Brown.
SEEN ON THE TEEVEE: Last night, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) was on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." Schiff takes the reins of House Intelligence in January.
FIRE RELIEF: The list of Mobile Disaster Recovery Team visits has been updated.
The mobile units are a convenience for displaced survivors of the November wildfires who have relocated and are unable to travel to fixed-site Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
MDRCs are jointly operated by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Much like their fixed-site counterparts, mobile DRCs offer information concerning resources available to homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of the wildfires.
The six MDRCs will be located at sites in Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Shasta and Tehama counties
First, thank you to everyone for the social media #CAKEDAY greetings to me and to Mike Madrid for lunch. It was a great day!
There is good holiday news for federal employees as it appears that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will put a continuing resolution bill on the floor that funds government through February 8. Spending authority is otherwise scheduled to sunset on Friday. In preparation for this, President Trump appears to have reduced his demands for border wall funding, tweeting this morning:
"Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!"
How that "indirect" funding gets to Washington is unclear, but it is clear that McConnell is adamantly against a shutdown and has told that to the White House. Prospects for wall funding as part of the normal appropriations drop precipitously after Democrats take control of the House on January 3. It will be interesting to see if presumed Speaker Nancy Pelosi does anything to impede assignment of the military to build the wall, as suggested in the President's tweet.
LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR: Yesterday we recognized honorees of legislators of the year across three categories--most effective, truest to party, and who participants would most like to chat with in a social setting. While I only listed the top 3 per category in each party, 113 of the 120 legislators had votes cast for them by Nooner readers. Thank you to those readers who voted!
FAREWELL TOUR: Governor Jerry Brown stopped by the Sacramento Press Club yesterday and talked about his non-legacy legacy with family biographer Miriam Pawel and the dean of the press corps, George Skelton. He also sat down with the Sacramento Bee. As he leaves office, Brown has over $15 million in leftover campaign funds. For the Bee, Amy Chance and Sophia Bollag look at how he plans to spend it. "Brown, who worked during his second stint as governor to make changes to the state’s criminal justice system that reduced penalties and allowed sooner parole for some crimes, said he anticipates ballot measures that could unravel his efforts. He said his campaign fund could help him defeat them."
Chance and Bollag write:
Brown, 80, told the Press Club he believes two of his most controversial projects, high-speed rail and the Delta tunnels, will be built. “A real leader can push it across the finish line,” he said of the rail project, which is behind schedule and over budget.
He said the recent court decision striking down the Affordable Care Act doesn’t worry him. The ruling out of Texas doesn’t take effect immediately and could be reversed. If it stands, he said the public backlash will usher the Democrats back into power in the Senate and the White House in 2020, paving the way for them to reinstate the law.
To close out the day, Brown hosted current and former staff and appointees for a holiday reception at the Golden 1 Center.
I've had lots of conversations about Jerry's future with several people over the last couple of weeks. The general consensus is that he won't be disappearing to the family ranch in Colusa. He will likely continue to champion the environment on the international stage. If Trump is re-elected, he will be a senior statesman against the President on climate change. While the outgoing and incoming governors are not exactly besties, they can act respectively and synchronistically from a bully pulpit and the desk of the largest economy in the United States.
SETTING THE BAR: Dan Walters looks at the debate over the passage rates of the California Bar Exam, required of California's practicing attorneys. Walters writes:
"California’s minimum score on the test is the nation’s second highest and as the passage rate has declined year after year, critics have called for lowering the “cut score,” as it’s known, thereby allowing more law school graduates to be admitted to the bar. . ."
"One might surmise that those who have passed the test and are practicing law aren’t interested in having even more attorneys competing for legal business."
I don't follow this debate much these days. I passed the bar the first time I took it but was already lobbying. I loved lobbying and community colleges and continued to do so for the five-year window to join the bar. I've never regretted the decision to not practice. Sure, these days I could be living on a man-made lake in a gated community, but I enjoy the conversations with you each day much more.
I do know several people who didn't pass on the first and successive tries who would make a much better lawyer than me. This is particularly true among would-be lawyers who want to serve the underserved. Thank you Dan for raising the issue yet again.
Senator Kamala Harris, Power Rankings, and #CAKEDAY after the jump...
HARRIS WATCH: While it was widely rumored that Senator Kamala Harris had successfully retained her seat on Senate Judiciary, it is now in question. She is the most junior and Democrats are losing a seat because of November election losses. Of course, California currently has two of the 21 members on the committee. Meanwhile, Harris has a new chief of staff after Nathan Barankin left the role to become a senior adviser at Harris's political action committee, Fearless for the People PAC. Ascending to the role of chief of staff is Rohini Kosoglu, who has been deputy. As Sri Lankan-American, the choice of Kosoglu, who has worked for two other senators, is a strong message in a class of chiefs of staff that is dominated by white males.
Harris's Fearless for the People Leadership PAC raised $2,275,559 this cycle and spent $1,850,013. Of the money spent, $637,000 was in contributions to other committees. Data are as of 11/26.
Here is where the PAC sent maximum contributions this cycle, including to many colleagues in the Senate and candidates for both the Senate and the House:
As you can see, she's covered of the four states that vote in February--Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina. All four contributions to those parties were sent on October 16. The PAC also maxed out to party committees in key swing states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Harris plans to announce her intentions after the holiday, but reading the tea leaves, I would guess we have our first California candidate for President on or before January 21--Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
On another note, Harris is known as a tough prosecutor, but has also talked about problems within the criminal justice system with now widely agreed on as draconian and wasteful in the aftermath of the "war on drugs." Last night, the United States Senate approved the largest overhaul of the federal criminal justice system on a vote of 87-12 and has President Trump's support. That's a significant disarmament of what could be areas of attack of Harris from her time as San Francisco District Attorney and Attorney General.
This morning, Harris and fellow senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) were on the floor to successfully pass federal legislation to criminalize lynching. Following the vote, Harris tweeted "HISTORIC NEWS: the anti-lynching bill I introduced with @CoryBooker & @SenatorTimScott just passed the Senate unanimously. Congress has tried and failed nearly 200 times to make lynching a federal crime." If Booker does not make a presidential bid, look for him to be one of Harris's top surrogates on the trail.
The Bee's Katie Glueck looks at Harris's relationship with the Indian-American community:
"If Kamala Devi Harris runs for president, the Democratic senator is poised to be championed by Indian-Americans, a constituency with significant representation in the donor community, growing numbers of political activists and candidates—and a sizable presence in states that will play key roles in the Democratic primary, from California to Texas.
“She will change the game if she runs for president,” said Anurag Varma, a Democratic donor who frequently supports Indian-American candidates and “absolutely” would back Harris. “She will create a new game if she becomes president.”
Harris, of California, is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who was born in India, and Donald Harris, born in Jamaica. The senator identifies as both African-American and South Asian-American, according to her Senate website, which notes that she is the country’s first South Asian-American senator— a background that opens doors with a diverse set of voters."
THE LONG GAME: If Senator Harris were to be elected as President or Vice President, who would Gavin Newsom appoint for the remainder of her term in the Senate, which is up in 2002? The same game applies if Senator Feinstein stepped down before the end of her term in 2024? Just for fun, here are my current power rankings for U.S. Senate. Power rankings is likelihood of appointment. Each has specific assets to their consideration.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Alan Bail and Barbara Inatsugu!
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Senate To Vote On Criminal Justice Overhaul Tuesday Night - Politico
The Senate is slated Tuesday night to pass the biggest overhaul to the criminal justice system in decades, giving a win to President Donald Trump and a bipartisan group of advocates and lawmakers.
Senate Passes Bipartisan Criminal Justice Bill
The Senate passed the most substantial changes in a generation to federal prison and sentencing laws. The House will follow, and President Trump is expected to sign it.
Trump Complains Of 'double Standard' In Lawsuit Targeting His Charity - Politico
President Donald Trump and several of his children have been accused of using the Trump Foundation charity for their personal and political gain. | Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images
Racial Trouble Looms As Snipes Sues Over Suspension
Scott and Galvano deny having any partisan or racial motives in the case and say the suspension was lawful. They say Snipes gave up her rights to a trial in the Florida Senate when she decided to resign. Snipes later rescinded her resignation.
Senate Republicans Introduce Stopgap Bill to Avert Shutdown
Short-term spending legislation, announced by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, would prevent a government shutdown just before Christmas.
Russia and Republicans attempt to suppress black vote, but Russians are slicker
New, detailed reports of Russian efforts to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump generate calls for action by the U.S. government to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
In ways subtle and loud, the presidential contest is already underway in Iowa
As Democratic candidates seek out strategists and volunteers, party leaders ponder allowing absentee ballots or proxy votes for the caucus process.
This Mystery Man Must Solve A Giant Pension Crisis - Politico
Subscribe to POLITICO Money on Apple Podcasts here. | Subscribe via Stitcher here.
How A Swipe At Obamacare In The GOP Tax Law Came Back To Haunt Them - Politico
Republicans appear particularly concerned about being blamed for ending the pre-existing condition requirement. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The Finance 202: Mnuchin won't comment on whether Trump's middle-class tax cut is real or imaginary
The goal is now 'minor technical corrections' to 2017 tax law.
POLITICO Playbook: White House on the sidelines in spending fight
And the Senate approves the criminal justice overhaul bill backed by President Donald Trump.
Senate overwhelmingly backs overhaul of criminal justice system
Passage of the bill was a bipartisan victory for President Trump and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, who had pushed for the measure.
Yes, Sarah Sanders, you are asking U.S. taxpayers to pay for the wall
To save face, the Trump administration is twisting itself in knots trying to explain how Mexico and not U.S. taxpayers will ultimately fund the wall even as it asks for new congressional appropriations or money from other agencies.
D.C. Attorney General Sues Facebook For Failing To Protect User Data - Politico
Facebook is already facing federal scrutiny after reports emerged that Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained information on as many as 87 million Facebook users. | AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File
Ihop Pulls Ads From Tucker Carlson's Show After Immigration Comments Spark Backlash - Politico
MATTHEW CHOI @
IHOP joins more than a dozen companies have stopped advertising on Fox News host Tucker Carlson's show since his controversial immigration comments. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Federal Judge Deals Setback To Buzzfeed In Russia Dossier Lawsuit - Politico
JOSH GERSTEIN @
BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal said the company is advancing several legal arguments about why it was justified in its decision to publish the Russia dossier. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Treasury Rolls Out New Sanctions Hitting Russians, Including Alleged Skripal Poisoners - Politico
MATTHEW CHOI @
Wednesday's sanctions, carried out concurrently by the State and Treasury Departments, focus on Russian hacking in international organizations as well as interference in U.S. elections. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Kraninger Reverses Mulvaney’s Cfpb Name Change In First Move As Director - Politico
Kathy Kraninger's decision to distance herself from Mick Mulvaney, her former boss at the Office of Management and Budget, came just a week after she was sworn in to lead the bureau. | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Cummings Puts Trump On Notice For Wave Of Investigations - Politico
Democrats still have two weeks until they take control of the House, but a top Democratic investigator is already putting President Donald Trump on notice.
Trump lashes out at New York attorney general who sued his foundation
In tweets, the president criticized Barbara Underwood, her predecessor and her successor, complaining that he is being treated unfairly.
Pompeo To Give Cairo Address On U.S. Role In Middle East - Politico
The address, which is still in the planning stages, would come as President Donald Trump struggles to settle on a coherent policy toward the region. Questions about Trump's vision mounted on Wednesday after reports that the president may soon remove U.S. forces from Syria on the questionable grounds that the U.S. has defeated the Islamic State terrorist group there. Some Trump officials are trying to convince him that would be a premature move that could undermine his goal of countering Iran.
Trump Hints That He's Done With U.S. Troops In Syria - Politico
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. has defeated the Islamic State in Syria, amid reports that the administration is planning to pull all 2,000 U.S. troops from the country.
Trump Insists Military Will Build The Border Wall - Politico
President Donald Trump, pictured with Andrew Pollack, sent a flurry of tweets which indicate that the White House has softened its stance on a possible shutdown Friday. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The Cybersecurity 202: Top Democratic senator wants to tighten guards against Russian tech
Government is still an easy target for hackers.
On Politics: The End of the Trump Foundation
Once billed as the charitable arm of the presidentâÂÂs financial empire, the foundation will dissolve, accused of âÂÂa shocking pattern of illegality.âÂÂ