1. Shutdown averted.
Congress passed a short-term spending bill yesterday to avoid a government shutdown for the next couple weeks.
- Democrats and Republicans will return to the negotiating table to hammer out a variety of controversial issues between now and Dec. 22. The White House said Trump would sign the bill, and said legislative discussions are expected to resume today.
- Negotiations are expected to focus on military spending, the future of the DACA program and the border wall, among the future of various other programs.
2. Republicans’ Roy Moore dilemma.
After Pres. Trump and the Republican National Committee officially endorsed Roy Moore as the GOP Senate candidate in Alabama, fellow Republicans are further at odds over whether to support the controversial candidate.
- Yesterday North Carolina’s junior senator Thom Tillis echoed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s calls for Moore to be investigated by the ethics committee should he be elected. Both Tillis and N.C. senior senator Richard Burr have called on Moore to drop out of the race, while many of their colleagues have remained silent.
- Meanwhile, Moore continues to deny multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, most recently comparing the women accusing him to the women who falsely accused Duke University lacrosse players of rape in 2006.
Congress was rocked by multiple resignations across both parties amid recent allegations of sexual misconduct.
- Yesterday Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) announced their resignations in light of sexual misconduct allegations against them. The House Ethics Committee also announced its plans to investigate Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) for using taxpayer dollars to pay for an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement to a former aide.
- Earlier this week Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) retired from Congress after facing several accusations of sexual misconduct, and endorsed his son as his replacement.
4. Clean energy & the tax bill.
While the Senate tax bill passed last weekend preserved renewable energy tax credits, it imposed a new measure that would decrease the value of those credits and likely harm the booming industry.
- The Senate tax package imposes a new minimum tax on certain transactions for banks and lenders that could result in a decline in tax equity deals, which are an old and complex financing source for clean energy projects. This provision essentially devalues the tax credits that clean energy companies sell to lending institutions.
- On the other hand, a last-minute amendment allows oil and gas companies to pay lower taxes on their profits. These provisions would help dying coal plants, but wind developers say it would result in the elimination of over half of the new wind projects planned across the country.
5. Mueller’s investigation here to stay.
Conservatives are increasingly frustrated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, calling for investigation into the investigation.
- On Wednesday Rep. Matt Gaetz (R- Fla.) said Republicans plan to investigate the “unprecedented bias” against the president in Mueller’s “witch hunt.”
- Despite plans to investigate the special counsel, however, the Flynn plea deal that developed last week will make it difficult for Congress or the White House to actually oust Mueller, as action to do so could look like a cover-up and potentially trigger a “constitutional crisis.”