Tim Scott will not be moved


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On the roster: Tim Scott will not be moved - Dems rebuff GOP plan to spread out wall funding - Trump claims NAFTA win, path in Congress dubious - Hell no, she won’t go: Pelosi nixes departure plan - ‘[We] have verified that New Mexico is a state’

TIM SCOTT WILL NOT BE MOVED

People have written about Tim Scott a lot. Like borderline Beto levels. 

It’s understandable. In a country and political world obsessed with race, Scott arrived in the United States Senate in January 2013 as the first African American senator to represent a southern state since Reconstruction, breaking a 132-year drought. 

(We will point out on behalf of our Southern readers that no northern state sent a black senator to Washington at all until 1967, so it’s not like they were sending them in droves from above the Mason Dixon Line for the previous 178 years.)

When Scott arrived he wasn’t just the only black Republican in the Senate, he was the only African American in the Senate, period. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris would subsequently join him, but his status as a conservative curiosity generated lots of coverage left and right. 

Scott made things more complicated for his admirers and detractors by declining to fit himself into the boxes of their making. 

For example, at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner last year, Scott made Republicans squirm with this joke: “With all that’s going on with law enforcement, I just want to say that I love the po-lice. That’s what I say to the officer each and every time he pulls me over.” 

But lest liberals get the idea that Scott was singing out of their hymnal he had a couple for them too. Talking about his decision not to join the Congressional Black Caucus, Scott called for a picture of the group’s former leader Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C. Butterfield is an African American man of very light complexion. 

Said Scott: “Why would I want to join a black group run by a white dude? In the South, we call that a plantation!” 

You know the saying about how people’s “heads exploded,” well if ever there was a moment where it applied, this was it. Scott managed to break up the entire affair into a mix of roaring laughter, boos and gasps. 

His comedy routine encapsulates Scott’s commitment to challenging our orthodoxies on race. Where Republicans tend to dismiss or minimize the existence of racism in individuals and institutions, Scott calls them to account. Where Democrats tend to be shallow or self-congratulatory on the subject, Scott calls them out. 

Scott was elected to the House in 2010 along with fellow South Carolinian Trey Gowdy. The two have written a pair of books together addressing the subject. The first was a slim volume called “The Friendship Challenge” which is a six-week guide geared toward churches, police and community leaders to bridging the divide between black and white. 

Their follow-up, “Unified,” fleshes out their friendship, their experiences on opposite side of the racial divide in South Carolina and a practical vision for healing. Scott and Gowdy have toured their home state and the country talking about the ideas and leading conversations with local leaders about how to start from a position of mutual respect and understanding.  

Here’s a black Republican unwilling to be a hood ornament for a party that struggles to address racial issues in serious ways. Unlike others in the past willing to be tokens or provide absolution, Scott stays true to himself. 

We got an idea this week of the degree to which his power on this subject has grown and how lonely a walk that can be. 

North Carolina Republicans were eager to install Thomas Farr in a long-vacant federal judgeship in the eastern district of the state. With Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., blockading all judicial nominees until there is a vote on a measure to constrain the president’s power to interfere with an ongoing probe into Russian malfeasance during the 2016 campaign, that meant the GOP only had one vote to spare on Farr’s nomination. 

The lawyer’s detractors and supporters felt so strongly about him for the same reasons. Farr has been a party stalwart for the GOP for decades and helped steer through North Carolina’s voter ID law. That law, struck down in court, is making a comeback during North Carolina’s lame-duck legislative session now that voters in the Tar Heel State approved a constitutional amendment requiring photo identification for voters.

Reasonable people can disagree about the disparate demographic effects and relative value of voter identification laws. It’s not racist to want clean elections but nor is it neglectful of corruption to express concerns about how such laws affect minority voters. 

Farr’s nomination was made more complicated by the fact that Republicans had blockaded two African American women nominated by Barack Obama to the same seat, but even so, if the issue at hand related to current ballot access issues, Farr might have been fine on a party-line vote.

Scott had been initially supportive and voted to advance the nomination to a final vote, but wanted more context before he gave a final decision. That context arrived in the form of a damning 1991 Justice Department memo about efforts by the campaign of Republican Sen. Jesse Helms to suppress African American votes. 

The 1990 race between Helms and Democrat Harvey Gantt, the mayor of Charlotte, is remembered as one of the ugliest, most racially embittering of the modern era. Helms’ notorious ad about affirmative action still stands as one of the most egregious examples of Republican race baiting. 

Attorneys for the Bush Justice Department found that Helms’ campaign had also arranged to send approximately 124,000 postcards to African American voters warning of five-year federal prison sentences for voters who tried to cast ballots in the wrong precincts. 

North Carolina Republicans at the time called it “ballot security,” but it was racist voter suppression, pure and simple. 

Farr told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had been present for some discussions of “ballot security,” but was unaware of the postcard campaign. He said he was distraught to find out about the practice after the fact.

We understand why Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis would want to reward Farr with a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. Farr is certainly a competent and qualified attorney and he has rendered great service to their state party. 

But in his decision to refuse Farr’s nomination, Scott posed this week an important question for Republicans in North Carolina and beyond: Are you ready to start showing some good faith to your black fellow Americans? This is the “friendship challenge” Senate edition. 

There are other qualified lawyers in North Carolina who never attended a single meeting about “ballot security” with any race baiting politicians. There are qualified conservative, Republican lawyers in North Carolina who also happen to be African American. That’s not to say that the seat has to be filled by a black judge, only to say that it needn’t be filled by one who brings this kind of baggage with him.

Good faith efforts like Scott’s will not bring immediate reconciliation. But it is the beginning of an effort for a party that is nearly 90 percent white to show that even when it can ignore the concerns of black voters, it will listen. 

Scott was once called a “rising star” among Republicans largely because of his ethnicity. He’s also very conservative, remarkably telegenic, one of the most quick-witted and thoughtful in either party. 

What we have seen from Scott, including the stand he took this week, shows a senator not content to occupy that lesser firmament of media darling “rising stars” and instead a man who is doing the hard work of shaping the Senate and his party.

THE RULEBOOK: CONSTITUTIONAL VACCINATION
“The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 10

TIME OUT: COULD YOU SHOOT A CANNONABALL INTO ORBIT? 
Wired: “Gravity is pretty complicated if you think about it. The motion of a ball falling on the surface of the Earth is caused by the same interaction as the moon orbiting the Earth. That's crazy. It's even crazier to realize that humans figured out that these two motions (falling ball and moon) are from the same gravitational force. It sure doesn't look the same. Now imagine that you are around during the time of Isaac Newton (let's say early 1700s). How do you make this model of universal gravity? I don't know how he did it, but Newton finally made the connection between the motion of planets (and moons) and the motion of objects on the surface of the Earth. He explains this connection with his famous thought experiment of a cannon firing a ball from a tall mountain.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 40.6 percent
Average disapproval: 55 percent
Net Score: -14.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 2.4 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 38% approve - 60% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; CBS News: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; Monmouth University: 44% approve - 49% disapprove; CNN: 41% approve - 57% disapprove.]

DEMS REBUFF GOP PLAN TO SPREAD OUT WALL FUNDING
WaPo: “Congressional Democrats said they’re prepared to reject a new GOP plan to get President Trump the money he is demanding for his border wall – escalating the chances of a partial government shutdown next week. The new Republican plan would deliver $5 billion for Trump’s long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall by dividing the expenditure over two years – $2.5 billion in 2019 and $2.5 billion in 2020. But Democrats, who have rejected the idea of spending $5 billion on a wall Trump claimed Mexico would pay for, said splitting the money up over two years did not make it more palatable. ‘No matter how many years you spread it over, $5 billion for President Trump’s wasteful wall is too much money,’ said Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.”

In the meantime, Schumer suggests stopgap spending bill - The Hill: “Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday said that Congress should pass a stopgap spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if President Trump won't agree to the proposed $1.6 billion for border security. Schumer said Trump had ‘two good bipartisan options’ to avoid a shutdown — the Senate's DHS bill or a continuing resolution — both of which, he predicted, would get more than the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. … Congress has until Dec. 7 to pass seven of 12 appropriations bills, including DHS, and avoid a partial government shutdown. But talks have been snarled by a months-long fight over Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall.”

Clock running out on $54 billion tax cleanup bill - WSJ: “House Republicans are struggling to advance their year-end tax bill, with just a few legislative days to go until they relinquish the majority to the Democrats. GOP leaders decided late Thursday that the measure, already mired in partisan disagreements and facing a crowded Senate calendar, wouldn’t get scheduled for a House vote on Friday, leaving its fate uncertain. Republicans packed the catch-all legislation with provisions that for the most part enjoy broad support. Those include proposals to encourage retirement savings, extend lapsed tax breaks, improve taxpayer assistance at the Internal Revenue Service and aid disaster victims. But the bill doesn’t contain revenue-raising offsets, and it includes technical corrections to last year’s tax law that most Democrats don’t want to accept for free. The longer the House waits to vote, the harder it becomes to cut a final bipartisan deal before Congress leaves Washington for the year.”

TRUMP CLAIMS NAFTA WIN, PATH IN CONGRESS DUBIOUS
NYT: “President Trump declared victory on Friday at a ceremonial signing of the new North American Free Trade Agreement in Buenos Aires, predicting that gaining congressional approval needed to enact the pact with Mexico and Canada would not be ‘very much of a problem.’ In reality, it is a problem. The trade pact’s political fate — already uncertain given Democrats will soon control the House — has only dimmed since General Motors said this week that it planned to idle five factories in North America and cut nearly 15,000 jobs to trim costs. Congressional Democrats remain open to supporting a revised trade deal. But they — along with business leaders and free-trade Republicans — have become increasingly pessimistic that the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement can win enough votes in the House without significant concessions from Mexico, like mandatory wage increases, to stem the loss of American automobile and other factory jobs.”

HELL NO, SHE WON’T GO: PELOSI NIXES DEPARTURE PLAN
Politico:Nancy Pelosi is refusing to entertain an end date on her leadership, even as more detractors have indicated they would support her speakership if she negotiates with them. Pelosi is still short the votes to reclaim the speaker’s gavel in January but said the request many of her opponents are making – that she provide a clear timeline for when she’ll make way for a new crop of Democratic leaders – is unworkable. ‘Between saying when I’m going to retire or not? … I don’t think so,’ she told reporters Friday when asked if there was middle ground she could strike with her critics. ‘This will be resolved.’ She also criticized the group opposing her, made up primarily of men, for targeting her, given her gender: ‘I don’t think, by the way, they should be putting timelines on a woman speaker.’”

Kennedy to announce gubernatorial run decision by Monday - The [Louisiana] Advocate: “U.S. Sen. John Kennedy won't say if he is running for governor for a few more days, but he's already being hit with negative campaign ads. American Bridge, a Democrat-backing political action committee that has been tracking Kennedy for opposition research for several months, has launched digital ads in Louisiana attacking Kennedy's political ambitions and linking him to former Gov. Bobby Jindal. … Kennedy … during an appearance on Fox News … said he would make an announcement ‘by Monday.’ Kennedy, 67, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2017 after serving for several years as state treasurer. … The only Republican who has announced a challenge to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in the 2019 governor's race is Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, still isn't ruling out a run for governor.”

Curbelo considering 2020 Miami mayoral run - Miami Herald: “Carlos Curbelo may not be out of politics for long. The two-term Republican congressman who lost reelection to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell earlier this month and was mocked by Donald Trump for not tying himself to the president is considering a run for Miami-Dade mayor in 2020, he told the Miami Herald. ‘I have a passion for public service and I’m not discarding any possibility right now,’ Curbelo said from a coffee shop that is doubling as his office during his final weeks in Washington. … Curbelo, 38, said he’s not ready to make a final decision on any future runs for office anytime soon, adding that supporters have also encouraged him to run for Congress again after he lost reelection in the most Democratic-leaning district in the country represented by a Republican. 

For the first time, two women will lead House Appropriations - WaPo: “Two women will lead the powerful House Appropriations Committee next year for the first time ever — a historic advance for female leadership in Congress following a midterm election that saw record numbers of women elected. The House GOP steering committee chose Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.) on Thursday to be the top Republican on the panel, which is one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. She will join Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who has served as the committee’s top Democrat and will assume the chairmanship next year when Democrats take over control of the House.”

N.C. OFFICIALS STILL DOUBTFUL ABOUT GOP HOUSE WIN
Raleigh News & Observer: “North Carolina’s state board of elections again declined to certify Republican Mark Harris’ apparent victory over Democrat Dan McCready in the 9th Congressional District on Friday, instead calling for a hearing to discuss the matter on or before Dec. 21. Harris won the race by 905 votes, but the validity of mail-in absentee ballots from Bladen County have been called into question. The evidentiary hearing is due 'to claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots' and 'to assure that the election is determined without taint,' said Joshua Malcolm, vice chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The vote was 7-2 to hold the hearing. Two of the board’s four Republicans voted yes.”

Pittenger: ‘fully aware’ of misdeeds by ‘unsavory people’ - Roll Call: “As the North Carolina state elections board continues to delay certifying the results of the congressional election in the 9th District over irregularities involving absentee ballots, Rep. Robert Pittenger, the district’s lame-duck congressman, said he was ‘fully aware’ that there were ‘unsavory people’ afoot in one of the counties. ‘We were fully aware of it. There’s some pretty unsavory people out, particularly in Bladen County. And I didn’t have anything to do with them,’ Pittenger said in an interview with Spectrum News in Raleigh. Pittenger, who lost his GOP primary to Baptist minister Mark Harris by 828 votes earlier this year, said he did not know what would happen to the general election results. Harris holds a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready in the election that has now been cast in doubt.”

ZINKE SAYS HOUSE DEM IS A DRUNK 
Fox News: “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ripped into Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva on Friday and accused him of past ‘drunken and hostile behavior’ after the lawmaker called for the Cabinet member’s resignation earlier in the day. In a remarkably scathing Twitter post, Zinke referenced past news reports that Grijalva in 2015 paid a female aide on Capitol Hill nearly $50,000 in a taxpayer-funded settlement after she complained about his drinking and office environment. ‘It is hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,’ Zinke said of Grijalva. ‘This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior. He should resign and pay back the taxpayers for the hush money and the tens of thousands of dollars he forced my department to spend investigating unfounded allegations.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump avoids Putin as G20 summit gets underway WaPo

Rep. Cheri Bustos elected as DCCC’s next boss Politico

Another term for McDaniel as RNC chairwomanThe Detroit News

Virginia could see anti-gerrymandering amendment Richmond Times-Dispatch 

AUDIBLE: THAT’S SHOWBIZ BABY
“I may end up as a screenwriter, who knows — it's time for this guy to go to Hollywood, baby!” – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., told Casey Tolan of the Mercury News, on his post-election plans after losing to Democrat Harley Rouda

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will be live from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Tune in as he sits down with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., retired Gen. Jack Keane and former Under Secretary of Defense, Michele Flournoy. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

‘[WE] HAVE VERIFIED THAT NEW MEXICO IS A STATE’
WRC-TV: “A groom encountered a surprising snag when trying to get a marriage license in D.C. last week: A clerk told him his New Mexico identification wasn't acceptable because it was from outside the United States. ‘She was so sincere. She said, ‘I'm sorry, my supervisor says we can't accept international driver's licenses,’’ recounted Gavin Clarkson, who went to get a license with his now-wife, Marina, at the D.C. Marriage Bureau on Nov. 20. Clarkson said that when he first presented his license to the clerk, she looked at it, went to talk to the supervisor and then asked to see his ‘New Mexico passport,’ he told NBC Washington on a phone call Friday. He said the clerk was embarrassed and apologetic once the matter was straightened out. After he informed her that New Mexico was indeed a state, she again went to speak with her supervisor, then told Clarkson, ‘‘My supervisor and I have verified that New Mexico is a state,’’ he recounted. ‘Basically, they went back and did a Google search,’ he said. At one point, the clerk also complimented him on his English, he said, noting that his now-wife, who is an immigrant, thought it was hilarious.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“It is an old liberal theme that conservative ideas, being red in tooth and claw, cannot possibly emerge from any notion of the public good.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Feb. 5, 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.