G.O.P. Agrees on Final Tax Bill

Thursday, December 14, 2017Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 9.04.23 AM

Good Thursday morning. 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Republicans in the House and Senate agreed on a consensus tax bill that keeps the party on track for final votes next week. The deal largely retains the structure of the Senate tax bill, but it is not clear if Republican senators will roundly endorse it.

  • Buoyed by an upset win in Alabama, Democrats demanded a delay on the tax vote until Senator-elect Doug Jones is sworn in.

  • With the Republican majority in the Senate down to a single seat, the party’s establishment is uneasy about what the populist wing could do in next year’s primary races.
  • President Trump neither raged nor claimed liability after Democrats took away a prized Senate seat in Alabama. He simply blamed his candidate and Republican leadership and said he saw it coming. Then he conferred with Stephen K. Bannon and pushed forward with his drive for major tax cuts, showing no signs of shifting from his strident, base-oriented politics.
  • Turned off by Roy S. Moore and the Trump administration, African-Americans turned out in Alabama at levels that ensured victory for Mr. Jones, the Democratic candidate.
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein defended Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, as Republicans tried to undermine the Russia inquiry.

— The First Draft Team

How the Tide Turned Against Roy Moore in Alabama

By FORD FESSENDEN AND K.K. REBECCA LAI
Big cities, college towns and black communities sent a wave of energized voters to cast ballots for Doug Jones, the Democratic Senate candidate, in Alabama on Tuesday. At the same time, many white suburbanites deserted President Trump’s choice, Roy S. Moore, and much of the president’s white rural bloc stayed home.
Here are statewide results for the race, compared with the 2016 presidential election »
A graduation ceremony at Juilliard in New York. That the bills proposed eliminating or scaling back certain provisions, including tax-free tuition waivers for graduate students, showed the peril of making decisions based on the tax code.

Republican Tax Bill Overhauls Rules Many Were Counting On

By DEBORAH B. SOLOMON

The tax bills moving through Congress could penalize individuals for financial decisions they made based on longstanding law, affecting the financial situations of millions.

An Alabama voter at a polling station in Dothan on Tuesday. Exit polls suggested that a majority of women backed Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate.

Alabama Women ‘Make a Stand’ in First Election of the #MeToo Era

By JESS BIDGOOD

Black women were critical to Doug Jones’s Senate victory. While most white women supported his conservative opponent, Roy Moore, he had been banking on even more, and a notably smaller share of white women supported him than white men.

Janet L. Yellen on Wednesday at what is expected to be her last news conference as Federal Reserve chairwoman before stepping down early next year.

Fed Predicts Modest Economic Growth From Tax Cut

By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM

The Federal Reserve continued to slowly increase interest rates, and it said the tax bill was unlikely to increase its pace of doing so.

Why the Fed Raised Rates (for a Fifth Time)

By KARL RUSSELL

As expected, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate to a range between 1.25 percent and 1.5 percent. It is the fifth rate increase as the Fed continues to retreat from its economic stimulus campaign. It is almost certainly the last change in monetary policy on Janet Yellen’s watch as chairwoman.

Interest rates on credit card debt are expected to increase as a result of Federal Reserve’s action.

How the Fed Rate Increase Affects Your Mortgage, Car Loan and Credit Card Bill

By TIFFANY HSU

The fifth increase in the Federal Reserve benchmark interest rate since the financial crisis will have a ripple effect on all types of consumer borrowing.

State Representative Dan Johnson, a first-term lawmaker and evangelical pastor, was accused of molesting a 17-year-old parishioner in 2013.

Kentucky Lawmaker, Accused of Assault, Kills Himself, Officials Say

By MAGGIE ASTOR

State Representative Dan Johnson, a first-term Republican, was accused of molesting a 17-year-old parishioner nearly five years ago at the evangelical church he led in Louisville.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith of Minnesota in St. Paul in 2015.

Franken’s Minnesota Seat to Be Filled by Lieutenant Governor, a Democrat

By MITCH SMITH

The appointment of Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, followed weeks of debate over Senator Al Franken’s fate. The seat will be up for grabs in 2018.

White House Corrects Tillerson on Whether U.S. Will Talk to North Korea

Speaking to the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said, “We’re ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk, and we’re ready to have the first meeting without precondition.”

By MARK LANDLER

It was only the latest example of a public rift between the president and his chief diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, over North Korea.

F.C.C. Leader Nears His Biggest Win With Net Neutrality Repeal

By CECILIA KANG

Erasing the Obama-era internet rules on Thursday would help secure Ajit Pai’s reputation as one of the most efficient F.C.C. leaders in decades.

Michael L. Dourson, President Trump’s nominee to oversee the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety division, at his Senate confirmation hearing in October. In recent weeks, two Republican senators came forward to say they would not support him.

Trump’s E.P.A. Chemical Safety Nominee Withdraws

By SHEILA KAPLAN AND ERIC LIPTON

The nominee, Michael L. Dourson, had faced criticism on several fronts for his ties to the chemical industry.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, with his daughter Meghan McCain in August. He announced in July that he had glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of brain cancer.

Biden Comforts McCain’s Daughter in Heartfelt Exchange on ‘The View’

By MAYA SALAM

“One of the things that gave Beau courage, my word, was John,” former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told a tearful Meghan McCain. Her father, Senator John McCain, has the same form of cancer that killed his son Beau.

President Trump and Senator Luther Strange, Republican of Alabama, in September. Mr. Trump repeatedly endorsed Mr. Strange in the Republican primary election.
FACT CHECK

Trump’s Revisionist History of His Role in Alabama Race

By LINDA QIU

The president said he had always predicted Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama — despite campaigning for him and claiming, “He’s going to do very well.”

About 1.4 million new customers have signed up this year, and 3.3 million people returned to HealthCare.gov to select the same plan or a different one for 2018.

Strong Demand for Health Insurance as Deadline Looms

By ROBERT PEAR

Nearly 4.7 million people have signed up for health insurance despite cutbacks in federal efforts to promote enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.

Why Turnout Shifts in Alabama Bode Well for Democrats

By NATE COHN

Turnout of black voters surged, and the president’s less educated version of the Republican coalition has eroded a traditional G.O.P. edge.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Schumer Files Police Report After Fraudulent Document Emerges

By EILEEN SULLIVAN

A document that looks like a court filing suggests Senator Chuck Schumer harassed a staff member, but the staff member said any such claims are false.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, in October. She will leave her position next month.

Presidential Adviser to Leave White House Job Next Month

By MAGGIE HABERMAN AND YAMICHE ALCINDOR

Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former “Apprentice” star, resigned “to pursue other opportunities,” the White House press secretary said.

Ted Crockett, a spokesman for the Alabama senate candidate Roy S. Moore, insisted that elected officials were required to take the oath of office on a Christian Bible. (He was incorrect.)

You Don’t Need to Take an Oath on a Bible, or Any Religious Text

By JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH

A spokesman for Roy Moore, explaining why his candidate believed Muslims should not serve in Congress, said politicians must be sworn in on a Bible. He was wrong.

President Trump and his wife, Melania, at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree near the White House in November.

Is Christmas a Religious Holiday? A Growing Number of Americans Say No

By LIAM STACK

The Pew Research Center said that while most Americans still celebrate Christmas, few of them care that religious elements seem to receive less attention than in the past.