Is the ‘Deep State’ Out to Get Trump? We’re Not There Yet

Doyle McManus: “In a country controlled by the deep state, members of the armed forces and intelligence agencies can overthrow presidents they don’t like; that’s what happened in Egypt in 2013. They hold veto power over major decisions. They often run large parts of the economy, or at least enough government contracts to make their families rich. And they’re rarely held accountable for their actions. They act with impunity.”

“U.S. intelligence agencies, on the other hand, are restrained by law. Sometimes they overstep, but eventually they are reined in. The officials who leaked the details of Flynn’s conversations knew that Trump would order the FBI to track them down. They put themselves at risk.”

“Trump’s problem isn’t the deep state; it’s the broad state. He’s facing pushback not only from intelligence agencies, but from civilian bureaucracies, too.”

Trump’s Immigration Order Lays Out a Way to Turn the Temporary Ban into a Permanent One

Vox: “The current blacklist is temporary — it’s supposed to last 90 days. But the executive order lays out a process — which, coincidentally, is also supposed to take about 90 days — for replacing the temporary blacklist with a permanent one.”

  • In the next 30 days: The State Department and Department of Homeland Security conduct a review of all procedures for letting people into the US, and determine what information they will need to collect from everyone entering the US to prove an applicant ‘is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public safety threat.’ The departments then submit a report to the White House listing all the information it will need from applicants, as well as the countries that don’t yet provide that information.
  • When the report is submitted: The secretary of state puts all countries that don’t yet provide all needed information about applicants on notice: They have 60 days to start complying, or they’ll get added to the ban list. (Some reports have indicated that new countries will be added within 60 days of the order; this step in the process appears to be what they’re talking about.)
  • 60 days after the report is submitted: Any countries that haven’t yet given the US all the information it wants will be added to the ban list.”

House GOP Begins Rolling Out Agenda

The Hill: “The rollout begins Tuesday when Ryan and other House Republicans will present the first part of their six-part agenda, dubbed ‘A Better Way,’ to offer solutions to combat poverty at a nonprofit in Anacostia. Then on Thursday, GOP leaders will offer their national security platform at the Council on Foreign Relations.”

“Ryan explained that his decision to endorse Trump last week after withholding support for the past month came upon concluding the presumptive GOP nominee would be more likely to help enact the House GOP’s policy platform into law.”

Important issues the GOP-led Congress must address this session include spending bills, the Puerto Rican debt crisis,  defense authorization, and funding Zika aid.

Panel Urges Deep Changes at Secret Service

“An independent panel Thursday recommended sweeping changes at the Secret Service, saying the elite protective agency is ‘starved for leadership’ and calling for a new director, hundreds of new agents and officers and a higher fence around the White House,” the Washington Post reports.

“The panel, created in October after a series of highly publicized security failures, said the fence protecting the executive mansion should be raised at least four feet to make it less vulnerable to jumpers. Panel members were reacting to a Sept. 19 incident in which a man scaled the fence and ran far into the White House through an unlocked front door.”

“The four-person body also urged intensified training for agents, saying they should run crisis response scenarios that could use a mock White House. The report especially targeted the Secret Service’s highly insular culture, calling for a new director from outside the agency, a suggestion sure to rankle some in the service’s old guard.”

How Productive are Lame Duck Congresses?

Pew Research
: “Our analysis found that lame duck sessions are shouldering more of the legislative workload than they used to. The last Congress’ lame duck, which stretched from November 2012 past New Year’s Day 2013, passed only 87 public laws, but that was 30.7% of the Congress’ entire two-year output and 31.3% of its substantive output (that is, excluding post-office renamings, National “fill-in-the-blank” Week designations and other purely ceremonial legislation). In 2010, the 99 public laws passed during the 111th Congress’ lame duck session accounted for 25.8% of all that Congress’ laws (and 29.2% of its substantive laws).”

“Those figures are up compared with recent history. Looking at the eight full lame duck sessions that were held between 1974 and 2008, on average they accounted for about 18% of the legislative output of their respective Congresses. (The sessions themselves averaged 30.25 calendar days, or 4% of a two-year congressional term, though legislative business wasn’t transacted on every day.)”

How Policy is Made in the State of the Union Address

For the latest episode of the Political Wire podcast, we spoke to speechwriters from the last three administrations about how the president’s State of the Union address comes together.

White House policy aides see the speech — often the president’s biggest of the year — as a huge opportunity to push their ideas.

As President George W. Bush’s speechwriter David Frum told us, “Every part of the government is struggling to get its ideas into the presidential address. When the president says something, it becomes policy.”

Michael Waldman says that President Bill Clinton started the process by consulting “outside advisers and thinkers. We would before Christmas compile a thick book of readings for him. He would get memos and advice and drafts from Cabinet members and there would be an ongoing process where the policy staff and policy aides were developing the initiatives that would go into the speech.”

He added: “We would produce draft after draft – it would go up through 10, 15, 20 drafts… And as he was rehearsing at the podium, he would keep writing. So that by the time he delivered it, he knew every inch of his government and every particle of the policies he was putting forward.”

For President Obama, Jon Favreau says the process actually starts “sometime around Thanksgiving. Usually we meet with the President and his top policy and senior advisers and talk about themes for the State of the Union: ‘What is the theme going to be this year?’ … And then what are the big policy initiatives the President is interested in pursuing. From there, all the policy councils in the White House get together and they reach out to the agencies and they come up with a list of various policies and initiatives that the President might pursue in the State of the Union.”

It’s a fascinating process. Listen to the interviews here:

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Lawmakers’ Shift to Constituent Services: Good Politics But Bad Policy

With their ability to legislate stunted by seemingly intractable partisan divisions, many lawmakers are seeking new ways to represent their constituents.

According to the National Journal, “dozens of freshman lawmakers have shifted resources out of the nation’s capital, swapping policy staffers for constituent-facing district office workers who have a better chance of affecting voters than any of their colleagues in Washington.”

“Indeed, at the start of 2014, 46 percent of all House members’ staffers now operate outside the capital [and] 52 percent of [freshman lawmakers’] staff members work back in the district.”

“That means a historically large share of staff aides are dedicated to constituent services, helping district residents navigate federal bureaucracy—stuff like getting new passports, recovering wrongly denied government benefits, advocating in a dispute with the IRS, or contacting endangered family members abroad.”

A decline in substantive legislative activity may not be good policy, but the shift toward the “boots-on-the-ground” focus of constituent services has been politically popular:

“Polling has consistently shown that people are happier with their own representatives than with Congress as a whole, a trend that has held even during the latest public-opinion swoon.”

Lobbyists Minting Money From Surge in Regulations

Thanks to a flood of new government regulations, lobbyists are “minting money,” reports The Hill.

“Top K Street officials say their regulatory work has accelerated in recent years thanks to the sprawling rule-making from the healthcare and financial reform laws.”

“While revenue from traditional lobbying work has flatlined, K Street firms say their regulatory practices are thriving. Several lobbyists said federal agencies are increasingly ‘where all the action is.’”

“With so much money at stake, there has been a realization among lobbyists at law firms that they need to incorporate regulatory expertise into their repertoire.”