GOP to release spending bill ahead of Friday shutdown

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On the roster: GOP to release spending bill ahead of Friday shutdown - Dem lawmakers offer McCabe jobs to secure his pension - Trump touts opioid plan in New Hampshire - DCCC breaks February fundraising record - D’oh!

USA Today: “After two shutdowns and five stop-gap spending bills, House Republican leaders are expected to release a $1.3 trillion spending bill in the coming days that would fund the government through Sept. 30, the end of the this fiscal year. The bill must be passed by both the House and Senate and signed by President Trump before Saturday, or there will be another partial shutdown of federal agencies. Democrats and Republicans agreed on top-line spending levels in February, when they approved a sweeping budget deal and a short-term funding measure to keep the government open until midnight March 23. But lawmakers are still quibbling over a bevy of specific provisions that could be jammed into the $1.3 trillion spending bill. The flashpoints include everything from funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, which President Trump wants, to de-funding Planned Parenthood, which House conservatives want. Democrats have said they want a ‘clean’ spending bill that does not include such controversial add-ons. House Republicans are meeting Monday evening to discuss the massive spending bill before releasing the text publicly.”

Trump supports proposals for federal subsidies to insurers - AP: “President Donald Trump has told two Republican senators that he supports adding proposals to a huge spending bill that would provide billions in federal subsidies to insurers to help curb health care premium increases. Two congressional sources said Trump offered that support in a Saturday call with GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Maine's Susan Collins. Alexander and Collins are among Republicans who want to restore federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last fall that reimburse them for reducing out-of-pocket costs for lower-earning customers. They'd also create a $30 billion, three-year program to help carriers afford to cover their sickest, most expensive clients. Both proposals are in peril. Democrats oppose GOP language forbidding the federal money from being used to finance abortions. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the call publicly.”

And offers on DREAMers, border wall occurred too - Politico: “The White House and congressional Democrats traded immigration offers futilely over the weekend, according to three sources familiar with the talks, leaving little chance of an immediate deal to protect Dreamers. The White House on Sunday made an 11th-hour push to include billions of dollars in border wall funding in a massive congressional spending bill due this week, but it clashed with congressional Democrats over how far to go in protecting young immigrants who face deportation, the sources said. White House officials asked Democrats to approve $25 billion for President Donald Trump’s border wall in exchange for extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through fall of 2020, those sources said. That would give Trump his full wall funding request in the must-pass spending bill and still give him leverage over the DACA program heading into his 2020 reelection campaign.”

“In order to ascertain the real character of the government, it may be considered in relation to the foundation on which it is to be established; to the sources from which its ordinary powers are to be drawn; to the operation of those powers; to the extent of them; and to the authority by which future changes in the government are to be introduced.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 39

Atlantic: “There’s a lot of losing in sports. Only one team can win at a time, and only one champion escapes the season without tears. But that doesn’t stop Americans from spending nearly $56 billion a year on sporting events, while dropping many billions more on jerseys, cable packages, buffalo wings—to say nothing of the substantial emotional costs incurred. … Is fandom worth it? At first glance, the evidence isn’t encouraging. Following a loss, fans are more likely than usual to eat unhealthy food, be unproductive at work, and—in the case of the Super Bowl—die from heart disease. … Yet a substantial volume of research shows that being a fan can also have positive effects. It can ward off depression and alienation and build a sense of belonging and self-worth… Much of this is due to social bonds among fans, but not all—sports worship also provides individual fans with a number of strategies for navigating life’s emotional challenges.”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41 percent 
Average disapproval: 54.8 percent 
Net Score: 
-13.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 1 point
[Average includes: NBC News/WSJ: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 40% approve - 56% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; CBS News: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; George Washington University: 42% approve - 55% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 38.2 percent
Democratic average: 48.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 10.6 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 0.8 points 
[Average includes: NBC News/WSJ: 50% Dems - 40% GOP; George Washington University: 49% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 38% GOP; Monmouth University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk: 47% Dems - 32% GOP.]

Fox News: “A growing number of Democratic lawmakers are offering temporary jobs to ousted FBI official Andrew McCabe in an attempt to help him secure a full government pension after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him just two days shy of his retirement. It’s not clear if the Democratic offers could even work or be accepted by McCabe. Asked by Fox News about the possibility, a source close to McCabe would only say the former FBI deputy director is ‘looking at all options.’ … McCabe was fired just days before he would have been eligible for a lifetime pension, meaning those benefits could now be in jeopardy -- something Democrats are trying to prevent. Sessions said the DOJ’s inspector general determined McCabe was not truthful during his review of the Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended his firing. Since then, at least four Democratic lawmakers have publicly offered jobs in their congressional offices.”

Trump goes after Mueller - AP: “President Donald Trump on Sunday took out his frustrations over the intensifying Russia investigation by lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller, signaling a possible shift away from a strategy of cooperating with a probe he believes is biased against him. In a series of weekend tweets naming Mueller for the first time, Trump criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and raised fresh concerns about the objectivity and political leanings of the members of Mueller’s team. Trump also challenged the honesty of Andrew McCabe, the newly fired FBI deputy director, and James Comey, the bureau’s former director whom Trump fired last year over the Russia probe. The president’s aggressive stance followed a call Saturday by his personal lawyer for Rod Rosenstein, whom Trump appointed as deputy attorney general and who now oversees Mueller’s inquiry, to ‘bring an end’ to that investigation.”

But Trump’s attorney says Mueller won’t be fired - Fox News: “An attorney for President Trump said Sunday evening that the president ‘is not considering or discussing’ firing special counsel Robert Mueller after Trump fired off a series of tweets criticizing the investigation into Russian actions during the 2016 presidential election. ‘In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,’ read the statement from Ty Cobb. Cobb’s remarks came one day after Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to ‘bring an end’ to the Mueller inquiry.”

Reuters: “President Donald Trump, targeting the U.S. opioid epidemic, called again on Monday for the execution of drug dealers, a proposal that so far has gained little support in Congress, amid criticism from some drug abuse and criminal justice experts. At an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump unveiled an anti-opioid abuse plan, including his death penalty recommendation and one for tougher sentencing laws for drug dealers. For Trump, the visit to New Hampshire returns him to a state that gave him a key Republican primary election win when he was a political newcomer in 2016. Back then, he promised to tackle the opioid crisis, which is particularly severe in the New England state. Since then, he has taken only modest steps. He declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October, but without providing more money to fight the epidemic. Some critics, including Democratic lawmakers, said then that the declaration was meaningless without additional funds.”

Roll Call: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised nearly $10.6 million in February. That’s the most the committee has ever raised during the second month of the year, according to figures obtained first by Roll Call. The DCCC raised $3.38 million from online donations in February, with an average online gift of $18. So far this cycle, the group has raised more than $50 million online, which includes 300,000 first-time online donors, and a total of $125 million this cycle. It ended February with $49 million in the bank. ‘It’s been clear all cycle long that the grassroots are energized and unified around the goal of taking back the House,’ DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. ‘The DCCC’s historic fundraising combined with incredible candidate fundraising will ensure that Democratic candidates have the resources to tell their powerful stories and connect with voters,’ he added.”

Senate GOP to use Trump as main political strategy - Politico: “But Senate Republicans are nevertheless making a counterintuitive, all-in bet that President Donald Trump will save their 51-49 majority — and perhaps even help them pick up a few seats. Even as fears grow within the GOP that Trump will cost Republicans the House, Senate Republicans say the president will play a starring role in the closely contested campaigns that will decide control of the chamber. Trump will be front and center in every state that helped elect the president, according to GOP senators and strategists, making the case that Democrats are hindering his agenda. ‘If you look at a race in a state like Missouri or North Dakota — or any of these states — he’ll be very involved,’ said Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, chairman of the GOP’s campaign arm, who speaks with Trump about political strategy regularly.”

Dems begin getting their 2020 teams ready - Politico: “The hiring stage of the 2020 shadow primary is underway. At least a dozen possible Democratic presidential candidates have begun bolstering their teams by adding aides with campaign experience to their Senate staffs, personal offices or 2018 reelection payrolls. The hires are never explicitly advertised or designed to be about 2020. But the behind-the-scenes shuffle is a long-overdue stage in the traditional precampaign scramble. Potential candidates who have run before — like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden — largely have their core teams in place. Yet in many other cases, chiefs of staff and senior strategists are now actively looking for new talent after receiving clear instructions from their bosses…”

Judges dismiss GOP lawsuit over new congressional map in Pennsylvania - Roll Call

Kelly taps Chris Liddell to be his deputy - Politico

Hillary Clinton tries to explain her comments on Trump voters after backlash - Fox News


“He dresses like a hobo, but he’s an elitist.” – Anthony Scaramucci speaking about Steve Bannon in the most recent episode of Recode Decode, a podcast hosted by Kara Swisher.

[Ed. note: Chris Stirewalt is away – by which we mean he is holed up in his garret, hiding from his publisher and trying to finish the book he loves but that may be trying to kill him. He will return, Lord and the Louisiana Historical Society willing, on March 21. In lieu of flowers, please send coffee and bacon.]  

UPI: “A driver in England presented a fake driver’s license featuring a character form The Simpsons at a traffic stop, police said. Thames Valley Police shared a photo of the driver’s license featuring the name ‘Homer Simpson’ along with an image of the cartoon patriarch delivering his iconic catch phrase ‘D’oh.’ … Twitter users pointed out the unidentified male driver made several mistakes when crafting the spoof license, printing the incorrect address and date of birth for the well-known cartoon character. ‘Everyone knows that Homer Simpson lives at 742 Evergreen Terrace! Amateur...’ one user wrote. Police weren’t amused by the man’s stunt and he faced another charge after the officer learned he had no insurance.”

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.