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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Former Kansas Congressman and CIA Director Mike Pompeo is being questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today as part of his confirmation process to become the next Secretary of State. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Pompeo is far from a sure thing to get through the confirmation process:
One Republican member of the committee, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, has said he will oppose Pompeo because of his past defense of harsh CIA interrogation tactics that critics called torture.
Unless Pompeo gains the vote of at least one Democrat, his nomination probably would move to the full Senate “without recommendation.” He is likely to win confirmation there, but not without more contentious debate.
Pompeo’s critics point to previous comments that activists describe as anti-Muslim. Many are concerned that unlike former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Pompeo would not challenge the president or offer differing views on foreign policy issues.
► President Trump says a response to a potential chemical attack in Syria could come “soon” or “not at all.” Thanks for clearing that up.
► Congressional Republicans are expressing concern over President Trump’s apparent interest in re-doing the massive federal budget. From Politico:
A regretful President Donald Trump wants to roll back spending in a massive omnibus bill he signed into law, but Republicans who helped craft the legislation are in open revolt.
“My attitude is, your word is your bond,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said, in his first public comments on the Trump plan.
Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) is among more than a half-dozen appropriators who have voiced skepticism about the Trump administration’s proposal to cancel billions in spending. Nearly all said they feared that it could erode the GOP’s bargaining power in future budget talks. Their objections represented another low point in an often-tense relationship between the cost-cutting White House and GOP members of Congress who write spending bills.
The skeptics included the newly appointed Senate Appropriations chief, Richard Shelby, who met with Trump on Wednesday.
Get ready to hear a lot more about the word, “Rescissions.”
► Former gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo says he’ll back Walker Stapleton for the Republican nomination for Governor. Two months ago Tancredo ripped Stapleton as the “ultimate insider” in interviews following his own departure from the race.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► The State of Vermont takes a bipartisan approach in passing some very common-sense laws designed to combat gun violence.
► New Zealand takes a bold step in the battle to address Climate Change. As the New York Times reports:
New Zealand will stop issuing permits for offshore oil and gas exploration as it moves to combat climate change, the government announced Thursday, but it stopped short of halting exploration already underway.
The move provoked bitter responses from the petroleum industry, which said that New Zealand would be forced to rely on more expensive imports.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the move was part of the country’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
“When it comes to climate change, our plan is clear,” said Ms. Ardern, a member of the center-left Labor Party. “We are committed to the goal of becoming a net zero emissions economy by 2050.”
Ms. Ardern said she hoped New Zealand’s electricity system would rely completely on renewable energy sources by 2035.
The oil and gas industry is, predictably, throwing a fit over this decision.
► Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is pushing a plan that he thinks would allow President Trump to squash a special investigation into potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.
► Nobody does infighting quite like Colorado Republicans.
► House Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2018. His legacy, as the Washington Post reports, is not very sunny:
Hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the self-styled deficit warrior, announced his retirement yesterday, the Treasury Department reported collecting nearly $600 billion less than it spent in the first half of the fiscal year — an imbalance that swelled 14 percent over the same period the year before.
The report was the latest in an armada of red flags flying over the country’s troubled fiscal outlook. Just this week, the Congressional Budget Office said trillion-dollar deficits are on course to return as soon as 2020. By 2023, the federal government will shell out more just to service the interest on the national debt than on all military spending — an expense that’s set to triple over the next decade. “Whatever the fix is going to be, it needs to be something that’s pretty big,” CBO Director Keith Hall warned the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday.
This scary math is a cornerstone of Ryan’s legacy. At a time when healthy economic growth and low unemployment suggest policymakers should pay down outstanding bills, Ryan’s GOP instead charged a $1.5 trillion tax cut to the nation’s credit card. In February, the Republican-controlled Congress followed up by approving a $1.3 trillion spending package that busted budget caps Ryan helped engineer seven years ago.
► Fox 31 Denver wonders if Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is in for trouble seeking re-election without help from Paul Ryan.
► Congressman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) got the chance to quiz Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday.
► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) joined other Senate Democrats on Wednesday in calling on EPA Chief Scott Pruitt to resign his position in the wake of multiple scandals.
The owner of the Colorado signature collection firm lambasted Tuesday by Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton and accused of lying about a petition circulator’s position says he was misled by a subcontractor and brushed aside responsibility for Stapleton tossing his ballot petitions.
► 9News hosted the first major gubernatorial debate among Democratic candidates on Wednesday. Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston, and Donna Lynne all participated in the hour-long forum (Rep. Jared Polis was unable to attend because Congress is in session). Here’s a recap from 9News:
The three candidates who agreed to participate in 9NEWS’ Democratic gubernatorial debate Wednesday evening were largely in agreement on issues like gun control, TABOR, healthcare, immigration and the #MeToo movement – and each didn’t provide a definitive answer about whether they would give death row inmate Nathan Dunlap a reprieve…
…All three candidates said they support stricter gun control in wake of the multiple recent mass shootings, however, only Kennedy went as far as to say military-assault weapons should be banned outright.
Republican gubernatorial candidates will meet tonight for a separate 9News debate.
► You can download a report of the information that Facebook has captured about you, or you might want to remain in “ignorance is bliss” mode.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Pueblo County Republicans will host Dinesh D’Souza as their keynote speaker at next month’s annual fundraising dinner. Kara Mason of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman explains why D’Souza is a questionable choice:
Daily Beast writer Andrew Kirell wrote in February that D’Souza has become “more and more unhinged” over the past year:
“Over the past year, D’Souza has: suggested the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally (which led to the murder of an anti-racism protester) was a “staged event” designed to make the right look bad; shared a meme calling former President Barack Obama a “gay Muslim” and suggesting Michelle Obama is a man; started a conspiracy theory that the media covered up Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s background as an anti-Trump activist (he wasn’t); used a photo of a grieving military widow—despite her protests—to attack football players kneeling during the national anthem; and defended Adolf Hitler, who sent thousands of gay people to death camps, as being ‘NOT anti-gay.’”
► President Trump isn’t yet saying anything about departing House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Ryan isn’t saying anything about Trump.