Border wall funding fight looms larger

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On the roster: Border wall funding fight looms larger - Cummings pleads for unity if Pelosi wins majority - Broward starts recount, Palm Beach soon to follow - Whitaker promises to abide by ethics ruling - If only there was a simple, delicious solution

Roll Call: “Sooner or later, President Donald Trump will have to confront the political reality that Congress is extremely unlikely to provide the $5 billion he wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That realization has to occur in less than a month, with the House and Senate both in session for only 12 legislative days before the current stopgap funding measure expires Dec. 7. And the longer policymakers delay in figuring out how to handle the divisive wall project, the more likely it is Congress will have to punt the remaining seven fiscal 2019 spending bills into the new year, including the Homeland Security measure, which funds Customs and Border Protection construction accounts. The dispute to some extent has to be resolved before appropriators can move forward on outstanding appropriations bills, including a four-bill package that’s been sitting in conference since September.”

Trump expected to axe border security boss - NYT: "President Trump is moving toward major shuffles of his cabinet and his West Wing staff, as members of the Trump family are working to leave a mark on personnel decisions after a bruising midterm election cycle, several people familiar with the discussions said on Tuesday. Mr. Trump is almost certain to fire Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security who has long been a target of the president’s displeasure, three people close to the president said.”

House GOP expected to toe the line in Wednesday leadership vote - The Hill: “House Republicans are showing little appetite for a wholesale change in their leadership team after an anti-Trump wave last week swept them out of power for the first time in eight years. Two of their top three leaders are expected to return as leaders in the new Congress. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is projected to easily defeat conservative House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Wednesday in the race for minority leader of the GOP’s diminished conference. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is slated to become the next minority whip, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) poised to succeed Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) as GOP conference chair — a post Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, held more than three decades earlier. Both Scalise and Cheney are running unopposed. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is retiring from Congress in January and has endorsed McCarthy.”

“Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons, of individuals.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 54

Atlantic: “David Hockney’s 1972 painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures) will be on the block at the upcoming Post-War and Contemporary Art auction at Christie’s in New York on November 15, and there is speculation that it may sell for upwards of $80 million. If it does, the price would shatter the previous world record for a work sold at auction by a living artist—Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog, which went for $58.4 million back in 2013. What do those kinds of prices say about the state of the art world, and of the world in general? The Hockney painting is an unquestionable and probably timeless masterpiece… But what about that predicted price? For starters, it should be noted that when it comes to assigning a fair and just monetary value to a work of art, any and every work is somewhere between worthless and priceless, and any specific numerical assignation beyond that comes under the category of comedy, as in Puck’s insight regarding the eternal folly of mere mortals. Having said that, there is such a thing as a market, and the immediate price of any given work of art depends on what the current market will bear, a number that in turn depends on all sorts of variables.”

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Trump job performance 

Average approval: 41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54 percent
Net Score: -12.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 1.2 points  
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; CNN: 41% approve - 57% disapprove; ABC/WaPo: 44% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 40% approve - 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 41% approve - 53% disapprove.]

Politico: “Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), an influential House Democrat, pleaded Monday with colleagues and incoming House freshmen to reject the efforts of a ‘small group’ of Democrats he said is ‘trying to generate opposition’ to Nancy Pelosi's bid for the speakership. ‘For two years, they asserted that with Nancy Pelosi as our leader, Democrats could never win back the House. They claimed that these relentless Republican attacks made Leader Pelosi appear too divisive, and they argued that she should step aside for the good of the party,’ Cummings wrote in a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to the incoming class of Democrats. ‘But then last Tuesday happened. And the American people obliterated the theory that Nancy Pelosi could not lead House Democrats to victory.’ Cummings … offered a preview of how Pelosi's allies will attempt to counter arguments that she's overstayed her welcome as Democratic leader — she's led the party in the House for 16 years — and has become a divisive figure that has jeopardized Democratic gains in swing House districts.”

Pelosi shores up Dem donor support - CNBC: "A week after election night, top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi quietly traveled to New York for private events with some of the nation's biggest donors, including potential 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, CNBC has learned. The meetings come as Pelosi's allies are preparing to lobby lawmakers to back her for speaker and Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who recently rejoined the Democratic Party, considers a run for president. Pelosi met with Democratic donors and advisors in Manhattan on Monday. Her meeting with Bloomberg is planned for Tuesday.”

Ocasio-Cortez joins protesters in Pelosi’s office - USA Today: “Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday kicked off her first day of new-member orientation by participating in a climate change protest at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office. About 200 people were in Pelosi's office lobby and down the hall, and among them was the 29-year-old New York Democrat. Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, said she wants to show Pelosi that ‘we're here to back her up in pushing for 100 percent renewable energy. ‘This is not about me, this is not about the dynamics of any personalities,’ she told reporters outside Pelosi's office.”

Other new members try to learn the ropes - AP: “Under tight security, new members and their staffs pulled up in front of a hotel about a mile from the Capitol on Tuesday. A bank of cameras and a table marked ‘luggage drop-off’ awaited their arrivals in the morning chill. ‘I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on,’ said Rep.-elect Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., a former member of the state legislature. … They are a younger generation of lawmakers — including a record number of women — arriving flush with victory and optimism. … They are psyched — if not exactly unified. Even among the new Democrats, there’s an uncomfortable vote looming on whether Rep. Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House, should lead them. Rep.-elect Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., on Monday became the latest House Democrat newcomer to say she won’t vote for Pelosi because she wants ‘new leadership.’ Pelosi has said she expects to become speaker again.”

South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Broward County has finally started recounting ballots from last week’s midterm election. Late Tuesday morning, the Supervisor of Elections Office finished the process of separating first page of the ballots — the page that contains the races that need to be recounted — from all the other pages, reports said. … Broward has been the focus of national attention because of the slow pace of the initial round of vote counting from the election and the slow start to the recount, which was ordered by the state on Saturday for the three contests in which the margin was less than .05 percent of the vote. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said her office is ‘close to finishing’ counting in the Senate race. Bucher said she didn’t have any numbers in the contest at midday. The deadline to report results in the statewide recount is 3 p.m. Thursday.”

Embattled Broward elections chief says she may retire - Miami Herald: “After days of enduring heavy criticism, Broward’s controversial supervisor of elections said Tuesday might not seek another term in office. Brenda Snipes told reporters 'it is time to move on' from the position she has held for 15 years as head of Broward County’s elections. Her current term runs through 2020. ‘I think I have served the purpose that I came for, which is to provide a credible election product for Broward,’ she said. The decision isn’t final, she said, because she still has to talk to her family about it.”

Gillum seizes on emailed votes in GOP-heavy district - AP: “Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has expressed outrage that some voters in hurricane-ravaged Bay County had been allowed to vote by email against state rules. Gillum spoke Monday evening at an African-American church in Boynton Beach. Elections Supervisor Mark Andersen in heavily Republican Bay County told the Miami Herald earlier on Monday that he allowed about 150 people to cast ballots by email, which is illegal under state law. ‘These are the stories that we know,’ Gillum said. ‘Imagine the ones that we don’t.’ President Donald Trump tweeted earlier Monday that the election should be called for Gillum’s Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, and Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate.”

Federal judge delays certification of Georgia vote - NYT: “A federal judge on Monday ordered a delay in the certification of Georgia’s election results, citing concerns about the state’s voter registration system and the handling of provisional ballots. The decision effectively deepened the turmoil in Georgia’s campaign for governor, a still unsettled contest that has been among the most acrimonious campaigns in the nation this year. Although the ruling by Judge Amy Totenberg of Federal District Court in Atlanta formally affected every election in Georgia for state and federal office, it reverberated most immediately and powerfully through the governor’s race, in which the Democratic candidate, Stacey Abrams, was within 21,000 votes of forcing a runoff election against Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee. Georgia’s secretary of state, Robyn A. Crittenden, had been preparing to certify the outcome of the election as soon as Wednesday, one day after Georgia’s 159 counties were to complete their tabulations and six days before state law mandated certification. But in a 56-page ruling on Monday night, Judge Totenberg forbade Ms. Crittenden, who assumed office only last week, from certifying the results until at least Friday evening.”

Maine Republican sues to stop ranked choice voting - WGME: “U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and three supporters sued Maine’s secretary of state on Tuesday to stop an ongoing ranked-choice ballot count and declare him the winner in his re-election race against Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden. The 25-page complaint that Poliquin, a two-term Republican from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, filed in U.S. District Court claims that the state’s ranked-choice voting system — enshrined by voters in 2016 — violates the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In a statement, Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, said the office is ‘aware of the pending litigation’ and the count will continue. She said if Dunlap receives a court order to halt the process, ‘we will review it with our legal advisors.’ The race between Poliquin and Golden, a Democrat, went to a ranked-choice ballot count that began on Friday in Augusta after nobody won a majority of votes in the first round. The incumbent won 46.3 percent of votes to Golden’s 45.6 percent, according to unofficial results.”

How Trump’s midterm strategy tore down the red wall in the House - Politico: “For years, some Democrats said gerrymandering was an insurmountable roadblock to the House majority that couldn’t be cleared until after the 2020 census. Then along came President Donald Trump. House Democrats steamrolled Republicans in an array of districts last week, from those drawn by independent commissions or courts, to seats crafted specifically by Republicans with the intention of keeping them in the GOP column. The overriding factor: a Republican president who political mapmakers could not have foreseen at the beginning of the decade. Trump altered the two parties’ coalitions in ways that specifically undermined conventional wisdom about the House map, bringing more rural voters into the GOP tent while driving away college-educated voters. The trade worked in some states. But it was a Republican disaster in the House, where well-off suburbs, once the backbone of many GOP districts, rebelled against Trump in 2016 and then threw out House members in 2018.”

AP: “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will consult with Justice Department ethics officials about ‘matters that may warrant recusal’ amid pressure from Democrats to step aside from overseeing the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Whitaker is ‘fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures,’ including consulting with senior ethics officials about his ‘oversight responsibilities and matter that may warrant recusal,’ Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Monday. Since his appointment last week, Whitaker has faced mounting pressure to step aside from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, due to critical comments Whitaker made about the investigation before joining the Justice Department last year. In an interview with CNN in July 2017, Whitaker suggested the Mueller probe could be starved of its resources by cutting the budget ‘so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt.’”

Filing seeks to remove - WaPo: “Maryland’s top lawyer asked a federal judge Tuesday to block Matthew G. Whitaker from serving as acting U.S. attorney general contending the appointment is illegal. Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) says President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker to the nation’s highest law enforcement post is unconstitutional and that he should be replaced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Senate. … The legal action over Whitaker, first reported by NPR, says his appointment violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause that requires ‘principal’ senior officials, like the attorney general, to be confirmed by the Senate. Maryland also contends it violates a federal statute that lays out the line of succession and gives authority to the deputy attorney general when the top job is vacant.”

New Mueller indictments reportedly imminent - Bloomberg: “New indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are expected as soon as Tuesday, CBS reports, citing multiple people with knowledge of the investigation. Right-wing author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi told viewers of his YouTube live-stream broadcast Monday that he’d been cooperating with the inquiry since receiving a subpoena from FBI agents at his home in August. He said he expects to be indicted by Mueller ‘for some form or other of giving false information’ in the probe despite doing everything he could to cooperate. Corsi said the possible charges arose related to Roger Stone, a friend and longtime Republican operative who was a Trump campaign adviser, and his ties to Russia and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown “thinking about” but “not close” to White House run - Politico

“If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer.” – Monica Lewinsky in an essay for Vanity Fair explaining why she chose to participate in an upcoming documentary series on the scandal surrounding her affair with then-President Bill Clinton.  

“What happens if Nancy Pelosi cannot get 218 votes in favor of her speakership, but no one runs against her, or others run but no one gets to 218? Do they just keep having multiple ballots like in the presidential conventions until someone reaches 218? Since Paul Ryan will be gone, who is technically in charge of the House until a new Speaker has been duly elected? Thank you, always enjoy your on-air appearances on Fox News and also enjoyed your election coverage!” – Dave Wittnebert, Seneca, S.C.

[Ed. note: Good questions, Mr. Wittnebert! Republicans will elect their leadership team for the next Congress on Wednesday while Democrats will hold their vote on Nov. 28. Ryan will remain the speaker until the end of the current Congress on Jan. 3, at which point the first order of business will be to elect a new speaker. Pelosi is unlikely to come up short on the floor since she is unlikely to stand for election without enough votes, and the leadership elections will have already told her where she stands. If she did go to the floor without 218, she could either be counting on a few Republicans to put her over the top or simply to just flush out Democratic holdouts. But I wouldn’t count on it. There hasn’t been a multi-ballot election for speaker since 1923.] 

“Do you know of any reason in the Arizona election that Doug Ducey in the governor’s race received 1,231,682 votes and Martha McSally for senate received 1,051,033 votes? That is a difference of 180,649 votes. These numbers are from Politico from 11/12/18 @ 5:00 PM. Is this common for such a huge difference in the same state? Thank you.” – Phillip H. Nawrocki, Mesa, Ariz.

[Ed. note: Very common, Mr. Nawrocki. Look yonder over to Texas where Gov. Greg Abbott outperformed Sen. Ted Cruz by nearly 400,000 votes. But Texas had 7 million more ballots cast in total than Arizona. So how about something more your size? In Ohio, which had about twice as many ballots cast as Arizona, Sen. Sherrod Brown ran ahead of his fellow Democrat, gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray, by 281,000 votes or so. Or how about tiny Vermont, where there were more than a million fewer votes than in Maricopa County, Ariz. alone? Bernie Sanders outdid the Democrat running for governor by 73,140 votes. Ticket splitting is getting rarer, but it hardly uncommon.]   

“Chris, do you think it's possible that both women end up as Senators? Sinema wins it and McSally replaces [Sen. Jon Kyl] in the [John McCain] seat? I would not rule it out, nor would I rule out the possibility of McSally emerging as the senior senator from Arizona, depending on when the Kyl replacement takes place.” – Lou Banas, Brea, Calif.

[Ed. note: You may be very right, indeed! If that’s the case, it might help explain why McSally appeared so sanguine about her defeat.]

“Chris, I owe you an apology. Several months ago, I sent a caustic email lamenting your placing Texas 7 in the Toss Up category. As a resident since the district was created in 1966, when Bush 41 won, I didn't see how a Democrat could prevail. I simply failed to realize the changing demographics and the extent to which Democrats were able to get their vote out. In 2017, the Republican legislature passed a bill eliminating straight ticket voting. However, in their infinite wisdom, they did not have it go into effect until the 2020 elections. I believe the GOP would not have been decimated in urban Texas counties last week had their legislators been smarter and made the law go into effect this year. That alone, may have been the difference in this race. It certainly made the difference in our County Judge race, and many other contests. I do believe that Republicans, sooner or later, will get this seat back.  However, I do concede, Chris, that you know much more about politics than I do.” – Bill Eubank, Houston

[Ed. note: Don’t be so hard on yourself, Mr. Eubank! We get plenty of caustic emails. Brianna mostly just tosses them. (Though everyone please remember that it’s her, not me, who reads the mailbag first and gauge your language and tone appropriately. She’s a very kind, proprietous young woman and is a great advocate for you, dear readers, when I am feeling curmudgeonly.) We know that a lot of it is just people blowing off steam and we’re here with an open inbox. We don’t want to make a person pay a reputational price for what may be one angry rocket sent off in haste. Abraham Lincoln famously wrote “hot letters,” angry, emotional or cutting epistles that he would set aside, unsigned, until he had cooled off. He would then write “never signed, never sent” on the envelope. My adoptive sister, Dana Perino, has joked that her next book will be called “Tweets I Never Sent.” I occasionally look at my own “drafts” folder with chagrin, chiding myself for ever being so arrogant or selfish as to offer high-handed reprimands, even when they might be merited. There are also some people who are vile – racist, misogynistic, profane or vulgar – but they don’t deserve our attention or the notoriety they seek. What I’m sure was your modestly caustic reply is 100 percent forgiven. As far as your district goes, I suspect you may be right about the future. Rep.-elect Lizzie Fletcher was a helluva good candidate who prospered in a good Democratic year. Like Pete Sessions in metro Dallas, John Culberson just ran out of road. But Fletcher will now face a pretty narrow lane herself as a moderate Democrat in a liberal Congress trying to keep faith with Republican-leaning swing voters back home. Thanks for reading and taking the time to write!]      

“On this observed Veterans Day a quick note of thanks for the Halftime report link to the WaPo article about Dan Crenshaw. He is a remarkable American whose story is shared with an inspired piece of journalism. The U.S. Military and the Fourth Estate are maligned by left and right when their biases are exercised to be detrimental. As an American, veteran, and career public servant I take solace and pride in knowing that men (and women) like newly elected Representative Dan Crenshaw and reporter Dan Zak are leading from the front.” – Dan Burch, Turlock, Calif.

[Ed. note: Heck yeah, Mr. Burch! And as Rep.-elect Crenshaw suggested: Never forget.]

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Canadian Broadcasting Company: “Oh deer, Okotoks has a problem. Since 2015, the Alberta town has noticed a higher deer presence, and residents aren't so happy sharing the urban landscape with the woodsy critters. This year, it's worse, according to Christa Michailuck, the parks manager for the municipality about [12.5 miles] south of Calgary. ‘They've got deer in their yard that don't seem to want to leave,’ she said. ‘Some residents are concerned about their safety in the presence of deer and maybe they have a right to be. There have been a couple aggressive deer encounters.’ While no humans have been harmed by deer so far, Michailuck says there was a report that a dog was hurt. She says most of the aggressive deer encounters she's heard of happened while residents were walking dogs.”

“They could [in a lame duck session] vote for anything … because they would have nothing to lose. They would be unemployed. And playing along with [the president] might even brighten the prospects for, say, an ambassadorship to a sunny Caribbean isle.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 23, 2010.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.