President Donald Trump flew aboard Air Force One for the first time on a trip to Philadelphia for the GOP Congressional retreat. As he landed in the city of brotherly love, the President learned Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had decided not to meet with him. But this is the city of Rocky fame, and Trump came out swinging on issues ranging from trade to immigration. His press secretary even proposed a 20% tax on imports from Mexico, but then said it was just one idea.
ACTION PRESIDENT TRUMP & ADMINISTRATION TOOK TODAY …
EXECUTIVE ACTION – Trump was expected to sign some kind of executive action on voting fraud at 4:30 p.m. ET, but spokesman Sean Spicer updated to say that is now likely to happen Friday or Saturday. Will all of these executive actions stick?
IMMIGRATION – The Department of Homeland Security is putting a temporary freeze on staff trips to other countries to interview refugees who want to come to the US, according to a law enforcement source. The action, first reported by Reuters, comes as the agency awaits direction from Trump, who has made clear he plans on making significant changes to the refugee policy. Halting these overseas interviews until further notice means the admissions process will remain in limbo for refugees awaiting their interview with DHS staff. Executive action on a temporary ban on refugees is expected soon.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW ON DAY SEVEN …
- As congressional Republicans consider a bill to pay for the wall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the wall will cost $12-15 billion. There are still plenty of questions about Trump’s immigration plan.
- After a contentious back-and-forth over the past 24 hours, Mexico’s president canceled next week’s meeting with Trump. Speaking to congressional Republicans, Trump said they both agreed to cancel the meeting, which he said would have been “fruitless.”
- Just one day after Trump signed his executive order to build the wall, the chief of US Border Patrol left the agency. It remains unclear whether he resigned or was fired.
- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to use the courts to fight Trump’s executive action defunding sanctuary cities.
- CNN’s Ed Lavandera’s latest piece in his border series focuses on Arizona and the experience of immigrants and border patrol agents there. The aerial shots in the piece give a view of the border you’ve probably never seen.
- Here’s how Trump’s executive action on immigration deals with countries that won’t allow the United States to deport people back to them.
- Spicer said earlier Thursday the President is looking to impose a 20% tax on Mexican imports to help pay for the wall, but then he clarified his comments. Before Spicer clarified, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, tweeted: “Simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila, or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho Sad.” And will it pay for the wall?
IMMIGRATION/ENVIRONMENT – Scientific American and E&E News have a piece about the environmental impact of constructing the wall.
- National Geographic takes a look at the environmental impact of completing the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.
- Time magazine reports on the efforts of environmentalists to protest natural gas development sites in the coming years.
- E&E News reports that the person who led Trump’s now-finished EPA transition team said he, speaking for himself, thinks EPA staffing should be at Nixon-era levels (5,000 vs. today’s 15,000 staff).
- Despite Trump’s boast on Monday that he is a “very big person when it comes to the environment,” his actions regarding the EPA and Interior Departments so far have spoken louder than those words.
- In the wake of now-canceled CDC summit related to climate, former Vice President Al Gore and several climate and health groups announced they will hold their own summit on February 16 in Atlanta.
EVERYTHING – Trump’s latest public appearances and interviews have put Congressional GOP leaders in a bind.
OBAMACARE/TAXES – McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the GOP retreat that their top priority remains repealing and replacing Obamacare as well as tax reform: “Both of those we anticipate having little or no Democratic cooperation,” McConnell said. “That’s why you can anticipate two reconciliation measures in the first six months.”
- Politico reports Trump’s top Hill-backer, Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, said more executive action on Obmacare is coming.
- A Kaiser Health story says an overhaul of Obamacare could lead to a spike in medical debt collections.
- An Urban Institute report looks into what insurers make of the Affordable Care Act’s uncertain future.
- In an op-ed for health care-focused Stat News, Dr. James Rickert, the president of the Society of Patient Centered Orthopedics, argues that if Obamacare is dismantled, Congress still must keep the Sunshine Act, which exposes doctors’ conflicts of interests.
- Trump has cracked down on other federal agency websites, but the HHS website still praises Obamacare and features a link to sign up for the program.
- Forbes reports on a survey from Johns Hopkins showing that a majority of doctors who voted for Trump do not want a full repeal of Obamacare.
- Trump’s tweets Thursday morning sent the Mexican peso plunging down to near record lows, creating more instability in the already rocky Mexican economy. This may not be good for the American economy either.
- Trump decried the North American Free Trade Agreement as a “one-sided deal,” but according to the Commerce Department, 40% of the parts in a typical Mexican product originate in the United States.
- Is Trump missing the mark when he calls out companies for building cars in Mexico? Could a potential border tax on car parts backfire?
- Trump’s withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his general disposition to multilateral trade agreements, could prove risky to US national security interests, trade experts explain.
- Bloomberg reports on how a trade dispute with Japan offers lessons for dealing with China.
LOOKING AHEAD …
FRIDAY – EVERYTHING – House and Senate Republicans finish their retreat in Philadelphia.
FRIDAY – IMMIGRATION – Possible Trump executive action, including visa restrictions from heavily Muslim countries.
FRIDAY – TRADE – U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to discuss a post-Brexit US/UK deal with Trump at their White House meeting. A bilateral deal may be held up until Brexit is complete.
FRIDAY – PROTEST – Less than a week after women took to the streets to protest, among other things, potential cuts to Planned Parenthood, the March for Life is set to have their day in DC. No Madonna for this one, but Vice President Mike Pence will address the crowd.