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Senate Passes Sweeping Republican Tax Overhaul Bill

Early on Saturday morning, Vice President Mike Pence provided a tiebreaking vote to pass an amendment offered by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, that would allow people to use up to $10,000 a year from tax-advantaged 529 savings accounts to fund tuition at private and religious K-12 schools or certain educational expenses for home-schooled students. […]

Will Congress Ever Limit the Forever-Expanding 9/11 War?

Previous efforts collapsed under disagreements between lawmakers opposed to restricting the executive branch’s interpretation of its current wartime powers and those unwilling to vote for a new blank check for a forever war. Among the disputes: whether a replacement should have an expiration date, constrain the use of ground forces, limit the war’s geographic scope and permit the government to start attacking other militant groups merely associated with the major enemies it would name.Adding to the political headwinds, two of the Republican lawmakers most interested in drafting a new war authorization law are lame ducks and estranged from the White House: Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has proposed a new war authorization bill with Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia. Both Republican senators, who have announced that they will not seek re-election, have publicly denounced Mr. Trump in recent weeks as dangerously unfit to be the commander in chief.PhotoSenator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is interested in drafting a new war authorization law.Credit Al Drago for The New York TimesBut as the 9/11 war enters its 17th year, questions about the scope and limits of presidential war-making powers are taking on new urgency.Mr. Trump is giving the Pentagon and the C.I.A […]

Bob Corker, Often an Ally of Trump, Is Latest Republican to Be Attacked by Him

By contrast, the president has singled out few Democrats, saving his criticism for their leadership.“You can’t make sense of it from any normal political perspective,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “The effect is going to be to have congressional Republicans take off on their own and accomplish as much as they can.”Brian Walsh, a former adviser to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that Mr. Trump’s attacks on his own party were “shortsighted and self-destructive,” but that “unfortunately, he shows no sign of letting up.”“The president’s governing philosophy appears to be ‘if it feels good, do it,’ but when he attacks his Republican allies he’s not only helping Senate Democrats, but he’s hurting his ability to get his agenda through Congress,” Mr. Walsh said.At her briefing on Friday, Ms. Sanders was asked how the president would advance legislation with a slim Republican majority when he attacked his own party. She shifted the blame to Congress, saying: “I think it’s clear that the end game is for Congress to do its job and actually pass legislation. I think the American people are very frustrated with Congress’s lack of action.”Some of Mr. Trump’s closest allies say that he believes he cannot go wrong attacking his own party, having won a presidential race doing just that, or separating himself from an unpopular Congress. […]

A new label could release a flood of organic food.

Senate confirmation hearings began on Wednesday for Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil and Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. Tillerson was pressed on the issue of climate change by several senators, including Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, who asked Tillerson if he believes that human activity is the cause.

“The increase in greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is having an effect,” Tillerson said, demonstrating that he at least knows more about the issue than our future president. But, Tillerson added, “Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.” This is false.

Tillerson had less to say about allegations that Exxon, his employer for 40 years, knew about the effect of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere back in the ’70s and failed to disclose the risks to the public or shareholders. When asked about it by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, Tillerson punted and said he didn’t work there anymore: “You’ll have to ask them.”

The nominee did acknowledge that it’s important for the U.S. to stay involved in international climate negotiations and “maintain its seat at the table in the conversation.” As for what he would do at that table, he’s not saying. If he wanted to do anything constructive, first he’d have to convince his boss.

You can read more about the hearing here.


NYT: Raise the gas tax while gas is cheap

Tax hikes are never popular. But then, neither is crumbling infrastructure or a gigantic carbon bubble. […]