Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

Tax Proposals Most Likely to Pass in Washington

November 17, 2017

While the differences between the two versions stand out, the similarities are an indicator of items that could actually pass

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate have separate tax-overhaul bills with a multitude of differences, but the similarities between them are a good indicator of what could actually pass.

Right now, the differences stand out most. Republicans in the House, for example, have voted to shrink the mortgage-interest deduction and end the write-off for large medical expenses and teachers’ expenses. Senate Republicans want to keep the current deductions for mortgage interest and large medical expenses. And they would expand the write-off for teachers’ expenses.

Republicans in both chambers want to cut taxes for pass-through businesses such as partnerships and S corporations, but in very different ways.

There are provisions that appear in both bills, and these are likelier than others to make it to the finish line. There are also a few proposals that were in both bills but have been discarded, and are likely to stay out.


  • The New Tax on Stock Investors Hidden in the Senate Tax Plan November 14, 2017
  • Tax Overhaul Is Planned for 2018, Leaving Just a Few Weeks to Prepare November 10, 2017
  • Concerns Mount Over the Pass-through Tax Cut November 3, 2017
  • Winners and Losers of Republican Tax Plan November 2, 2017

Here are areas of overlap between the House and Senate tax bills for individual taxpayers.

STANDARD DEDUCTION AND PERSONAL EXEMPTION. Both bills would almost double the deduction taxpayers get if they don’t itemize writeoffs on Schedule A. For 2018, this break would rise to $24,400 in the House bill and $24,000 in the Senate bill for married couples, and half that for singles.

Currently about 30% of more than 150 million filers itemize, and the change could reduce the percentage of those who itemize to 10%. This would simplify filing for many people and make enforcement easier for the IRS, but fewer filers could deduct charitable donations.

Both bills would also repeal the personal exemption for each family member, which is $4,150 in 2018.

ESTATE TAX. Both bills would double the current estate-tax exemption of $5 million per person, adjusted for inflation. The change would take effect for 2018, and the exemption would be $11.2 million per individual and $22.4 million per married couple.

ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX. Both bills repeal the AMT, a complex surtax that rescinds or postpones the value of many tax breaks.

STATE AND LOCAL TAXES. Both bills repeal the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes, so expect that to happen.

It is worth noting that they differ on property taxes. The House would allow filers to deduct up to $10,000 of property taxes, while the Senate fully repeals this write-off.

HOME SALES. Both bills make an important change to the popular exemption of profit on the sale of a home, which is $500,000 for married couples and $250,000 for singles.

The new rule would require sellers to live in a house for five of the prior eight years, rather than two out of the prior five years, to get the exemption. The Senate bill also limits deduction for high earners.

RETIREMENT PLANS. Current law allows a saver with a traditional individual retirement account, or IRA, which typically has taxable payouts, to convert some or all assets to a Roth IRA, which typically has tax-free payouts. Taxes are usually due on such transfers.

Current law also allows savers who do this Roth conversion to undo it, as long as the reversal is complete by Oct. 15 in the following year. This option has allowed savers whose assets drop in value after a Roth conversion to get out of owing tax on phantom income.

Both bills would end the ability of savers who do these Roth conversions to reverse them.

Both bills also include a provision that would extend the time for employees who leave a company to repay 401(k) loans. Under current law, workers must repay such loans within 60 days of leaving a firm, or else owe income tax on the loan’s balance.

Under the proposal, borrowers would have until they file their federal return to repay the loan.

STOCK OPTIONS. Both bills originally had provisions that effectively killed the use of so-called nonqualified stock options, which many companies award to valued employees. These provisions have been withdrawn from both bills.

MOVING EXPENSES. Both bills also repeal a deduction by taxpayers for certain moving expenses and another break for moving expenses that are reimbursed by employers. There is an exception for Armed Forces members on active duty.

DONATIONS FOR ATHLETIC SEATING. Both bills prohibit charitable deductions for donations made to colleges and universities for the right to purchase tickets to sporting events beginning in 2018. Current law allows such deductions.

Write to Laura Saunders at


Republicans Take Stock After Election Losses

November 9, 2017

Both parties re-examine plans for 2018 House and Senate campaigns following Democratic victories

Virginia Gov.-elect, Ralph Northam at a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond Wednesday. Photo: Steve Helber/Associated Press

Republicans scrambled Wednesday to prevent a potential Democratic wave in next year’s midterm elections after a political shellacking Tuesday fueled by opposition to President Donald Trump.

The results of elections from Virginia to Washington state produced Democratic victories up and down the ballot, prompting both parties to take fresh looks at their plans for House and Senate campaigns next year.

For Republicans in swing districts, the failed campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie in Virginia was a reminder of the complex landscape ahead of them. Mr. Gillespie tried to walk a line by embracing Mr. Trump’s agenda but not campaigning alongside the GOP president.

He lost to Ralph Northam by 9 percentage points, the largest victory margin for a Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate since 1985. Mr. Northam notched even wider margins among women and suburban voters who will be central to key House battleground districts.

“It was a referendum on the president for many of them,” said Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican who heard that message even in local races in his swing district in suburban Philadelphia. “You had a lot more people, a lot more people vote Democrat than they ever had before.”

Bryan Lanza, who worked for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, said in an interview that the vote should be a wake-up call for Republicans who have not delivered on policy.

“Last night showed the voters are frustrated with the status quo and inaction,” Mr. Lanza said. “Republicans were punished at the polls, and it’s painful.”

House Republicans have long said that passing a tax overhaul was necessary for them to retain their House majority, but after Tuesday’s loss in Virginia some said that even that might not be sufficient.

“This really is a sort of do-or-die moment, in my view, in terms of holding the majority,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), referring to the tax legislation. “It doesn’t guarantee you success, but it’s a precondition for success.”

Democrats were surprised by the magnitude of their electoral wins, which overshadowed for now intraparty disagreements over how to recover from their bitter loss to Mr. Trump last year. Their wins came in both marquee races and more-obscure corners of the U.S. political map, which underscored for them the importance of fielding candidates even in long-shot districts to catch whatever political wave may form next year, strategists said.

In Virginia, Democrats not only swept the governor’s mansion and two other statewide offices, they are tantalizingly close to winning control of the House of Delegates. Democrats flipped at least 15 seats; if they pick up one more of the yet-to-be-settled races, Republicans would lose their majority. The last time Democrats ran the chamber was 1999.

In New Jersey, a Democratic victory in the gubernatorial race means the party will control both chambers of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion, beginning in January.

The election of one new Democratic state senator in Washington state flipped party control of the chamber from Republican to Democratic.



In Georgia, Democrats won three state legislative special elections, including two in districts that were considered safely GOP. That cost Republicans their supermajority in the state Senate.

Political analysts and operatives from both parties caution against over reading the implications of one election for another especially when the next one is a year away.

Mr. Trump sought on Tuesday to pre-empt suggestions that the Virginia loss was a reflection on him, tweeting that Mr. Gillespie “did not embrace me or what I stand for.” The president’s associates continued the damage control Wednesday, with one calling reporters in for a briefing to say the result was “not about the president.”

But the impact of the president’s unpopularity was clear in the bitterly fought Virginia race. According to exit polls, 57% of Virginia voters said they disapproved of the job Mr. Trump was doing. Of those voters, 87% voted for Mr. Northam.

Asked what message they were sending with their vote, 34% said they were voting to express disapproval of the president—twice as many as said they were voting to express support for him.

“The level of intensity, the level of antipathy to Trump is so palpable,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.). “The desire of our base and independents troubled by Trump is just red-hot to do something. So when you offer them something, like an election, they came out in droves.”

There is historical precedent for the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races serving as a bellwether for the first midterm election of a new presidency. In 1994, 2006 and 2010—the last three times control of the House changed parties—the midterm result was foretold by the party that won the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races the year before.

Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House. Key targets are the 23 Republican-held districts where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump in 2016. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has said it aims to put 80 districts in play and has managed to recruit candidates in 75 of them so far.

“That strategy of building a huge battlefield with great candidates, even in really tough districts, is going to be crucial,” said Tyler Law, the committee’s spokesman.

In Virginia, Democrats made a concerted effort to field challengers for Republicans in the House of Delegates who had gone unopposed in the past. The candidate field was notably diverse, including the first openly transgender person to win state legislative office. They ended up winning at least 15 seats —far more than even the most optimistic partisans expected.

“It was beyond imaginable,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of the liberal group As returns rolled in, he said, “it felt like the Fourth of July, with fireworks going off every few minutes.”

Some activists believe the grass-roots campaigns behind the state legislative candidates helped drive turnout statewide, perhaps compensating for the tepid support some progressives felt for Mr. Northam, a soft-spoken former army doctor. Stephanie Taylor, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, called it a “reverse coattail” effect.

“We saw statewide candidates boosted by the energy of inspiring down-ballot candidates,” she said.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the GOP couldn’t afford to run away from a president so popular with the party base. “I will always say to any candidate in our party, the greatest enthusiasm in our party right now is for President Trump,” she said in an interview on Fox.

Many Republicans in swing districts will face the same conundrum that Mr. Gillespie confronted in Virginia. Can they run with Mr. Trump without risking alienating swing voters and can they run without him if they want to hold on to his supporters?

Some vulnerable Republicans said Wednesday that they would seek to brand themselves as independent operators not bound to Mr. Trump’s confrontational style and populism.

“People understand that I’m very much an independent and I’m going to continue being an independent and a moderate,” said Rep. John Katko, a New York Republican whose district Mrs. Clinton won last year.

Mr. Katko noted that one day earlier, he had been elected co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, a coalition of more than 50 centrist Republicans. “My brand, if you will, is well known to my local constituents,” he said.

Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that GOP leaders will do their best to arm incumbents for battle in the face of political winds they already knew were blowing hard against them.

“I don’t think we needed last night’s results to tell us next year was going to be extremely competitive,” Mr. Hunt said. He added that the best way to counter the energy among anti-Trump Democratic voters is to invoke the person who energizes the GOP base: Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader who often figures in Republican campaign ads.

“We are going to make this election about Nancy Pelosi,” Mr. Hunt said.

—Peter Nicholas
and Joshua Jamerson contributed to this article.


GOP faces wrenching call: Running with or away from Trump — “Candidates will determine the outcome.”

November 9, 2017

The election outcome Tuesday exacerbated tensions within the party over how candidates should position themselves vis-à-vis the president.

Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty Images
Candidates tying themselves to President Donald Trump may do little to stem a rising tide of liberal enthusiasm. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sweeping losses in Tuesday’s elections have exacerbated a growing rift inside the GOP over whether the party’s candidates should embrace President Donald Trump in next year’s midterms — or make a clean break.

With Trump’s approval ratings cratering in swing states across the country, some senior party strategists are imploring lawmakers to abandon the president. Others argue that shunning Trump and his populist base is simply out of the question and that anything other than a full embrace of the president would spell electoral disaster.

In the Virginia gubernatorial race, Republican Ed Gillespie tried to have it both ways — with disastrous consequences. Gillespie, who privately agonized about the degree to which Trump should be involved in the contest, refused to campaign with the president. But at the same time, he trumpeted Trump’s culture war issues in ads.

White House advisers spent Wednesday combing through the election results and fuming about Gillespie’s have-it-both-ways approach. By keeping Trump at arm’s length, they said, Gillespie squandered an opportunity to motivate conservatives whose support he needed.

“He wouldn’t embrace the president, so the base that came out to vote for the president and that voted for me, didn’t come out,” said Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, a Trump campaign official who nearly defeated Gillespie in the June GOP primary. “The Trump-Stewart base just didn’t turn out.”

Others, however, said Gillespie — an establishment-minded former Beltway lobbyist who never felt entirely at ease highlighting populist issues — went too far in aligning himself with the president. By vowing to preserve the state’s Confederate monuments and to combat MS-13 gang violence, they argued, the candidate fired up Democrats in the state’s population centers and liberal northern suburbs.

“Be yourself and run your own campaign,” said GOP strategist John Weaver, a veteran of presidential campaigns. “Don’t embrace this nationalist approach.”

Trump, he added, “is a tremendous drag in a general election.”

Republicans running down-ballot have long grappled with how to deal with the president. But as Trump’s poll numbers wane and the midterm season grows closer, the debate has taken on greater urgency. While the president’s approval ratings have plummeted in moderate and liberal areas, his core base of supporters has remained steadfast.

The dilemma is expected to be a major topic of discussion next week at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting in Austin, Texas. And top House GOP campaign strategists, trying to preserve their now-tenuous majority, said they wanted to look more deeply into the Virginia results before drawing conclusions.

“It’s quite a predicament,” said Tony Fabrizio, a longtime GOP pollster who worked on the Trump campaign.

“You can’t be the anti-Trump guy in the primary. But you don’t want to be the 100-percent-for-Trump guy in the general,” he added. “When you go to one extreme or the other, that’s when you fall short.”

Gillespie spent months trying to perform a balancing act. He emerged from the June primary deeply frustrated, after Trump supporters nearly powered Stewart to an upset victory. Gillespie vented about his political operation and even considered a staff shakeup. The former national party chairman sketched out several possible paths forward, including a full-on embrace of the president.

But Gillespie — who in 2006 penned an op-ed in which he warned the GOP against becoming an “anti-immigration party” — never felt truly comfortable running under the Trump banner, people close to the campaign said. So he adopted a moderated approach, airing commercials that spotlighted Trump-centric issues like MS-13 and the Confederate monuments, while avoiding attaching himself to the president personally.

Gillespie’s team deliberated extensively about whether to bring in Trump for a campaign event in conservative southwest Virginia. The candidate ended up having Vice President Mike Pence hold a campaign rally and fundraiser for him. Gillespie never made a hard ask for the commander in chief.

In the end, Gillespie released about $500,000 worth of mailers highlighting the president’s endorsement of him. Trump also sent a batch of tweets highlighting his support. On Monday evening and then on Election Day, Trump released a robocall bashing Democratic candidate Ralph Northam. One wave of the calls was directed to southwestern Virginia.

White House officials were dismayed by Gillespie’s approach, convinced that he ultimately got the worst of both worlds — ginning up liberal turnout without ever fully motivating Trump’s core supporters.

“GOP candidates cannot keep Trump at arm’s length right up until the end and then expect to energize the base,” said conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham, an outspoken Trump backer. “It seems inauthentic because it is.”

Stewart, for his part, said he reached out to Gillespie multiple times after the primary in hopes of persuading him to run a more pro-Trump campaign. But he said Gillespie never expressed much interest.

Tying oneself to Trump, however, may do little to stem a rising tide of liberal enthusiasm. As they pored over voter figures on Wednesday, Gillespie’s strategists conceded they had been caught off guard by the wave of Democratic turnout.

“If you’re in a district or state with a high percentage of college-educated white voters, you should be quaking in your boots right now,” said Phil Cox, a Gillespie adviser and former executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

He noted that Democrats far outperformed turnout expectations in an off-year election.

As to the difficult question of whether Republicans should align themselves with the president, “There will be a political market test,” Cox said. “Candidates will determine the outcome.”

A Tale of Two Republicans

November 3, 2017

Ed Gillespie takes a far more constructive approach to Trump than Jeff Flake does.

Ed Gillespie during a campaign event in Tysons, Va., Oct. 26.
Ed Gillespie during a campaign event in Tysons, Va., Oct. 26. PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Jeff Flake last week took to the Senate floor to proclaim that since he would not be “complicit or silent” in the Trump presidency, he will not seek re-election. The first-term Arizona senator bemoaned that as a “traditional Republican,” he had a “narrower and narrow path” to office in this Trump world.

The speech earned Mr. Flake all the plaudits you’d expect, from all the usual suspects. Conservative Never Trumpers and the media “resistance” believe the president is destroying the Republican Party, the country, democracy and the universe—in that order. Those who join in their daily denouncements of Mr. Trump receive standing ovations. Those who don’t are falsely accused, to quote Mr. Flake in his speech, of “complete and unquestioning loyalty” and duly excommunicated from “moral” conservative society.

Yes, Mr. Trump is a wrecking ball; and yes, conservatives have a right and a duty to worry about the damage he may do to the Republican Party and its principles. Where the Never Trumpers err is in insisting that the only response is full-on resistance, shaming and utter denunciation. Not only is that approach simplistic, it is a proven loser.

Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake on Capitol Hill, Oct. 31.
Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake on Capitol Hill, Oct. 31.PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG

Mr. Flake is a case in point. Among elected officials, he is rivaled perhaps only by Ohio Gov. John Kasich as loudest Never Trumper. The senator doesn’t like the president’s views on trade or immigration (join the club). But like Mr. Kasich, he has rarely bothered to spell out specific areas where he disagreed with Mr. Trump, or to note the significant points of agreement (deregulation, judges, etc.). His is a blanket condemnation. In Mr. Flake’s new book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” he compares Mr. Trump’s politics to a “late-night infomercial.”

This sweeping reproof was a sign to Trump supporters in Arizona that Mr. Flake either didn’t know or didn’t care why they support this president. So they wrote him off—much as he wrote off Mr. Trump. Mr. Flake was never going to get Democratic support, and once he alienated half of his state’s Republican voters, of course his path to re-election was narrow. Mr. Flake blew himself out of office, and he is now in a much poorer position to make any difference in the shape of Washington policies or the future of his party.

Contrast this approach to that of Ed Gillespie, whom the Never Trumpers are branding a sellout. The longtime (traditional) Republican nearly won a Senate seat in Virginia three years ago and now is running for governor in the only Southern state Hillary Clinton carried last year. Virginia is a swing state for Republicans—much tougher than Arizona. Its voters are down on Mr. Trump, and Mr. Gillespie faces a well-funded Democratic candidate in Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

Yet the latest polls suggest Mr. Gillespie could pull this off. He’s broadened his path to office by employing the very different strategy of attempting to navigate—and where possible, unite—the GOP’s Trump and non-Trump factions.

Consider his dual approach to immigration and crime. Mr. Gillespie’s Senate campaign was a model in 2014 for its outreach to immigrants, and he is building on that now with a heavy pitch of inclusivity to minority communities. He’s released ads in Spanish and Korean and is stressing his pro-jobs agenda to the state’s growing Asian-American community. All this is crucial to the GOP’s future, reassuring to moderate voters, and utterly un-Trumpian.

On the flip side, Mr. Gillespie has taken a strong line against illegal and criminal aliens. His ads accusing Mr. Northam of being soft on the international MS-13 crime gang prompted Never Trumpers to accuse him of catering to a nativist Trump base. But MS-13 has engaged in brutal murders, and is of concern to Trump voters and Northern Virginia suburbanites alike. And it is true that Mr. Northam cast a tie-breaking Virginia Senate vote in favor of sanctuary cities.

On both policy and political grounds, this is a smart and reasonable way to straddle the party’s different factions. And the recognition of Trump voter concerns about illegal-alien crime is likely the best means by which (traditional) Republicans give themselves the running room to push for more compassionate immigration reform for folks like the Dreamers. Which is what Mr. Flake claims he wants.

The Never Trumpers are also accusing Mr. Gillespie of cowardice for failing to disown the president. Why should he? Mr. Gillespie has diligently focused his campaign on the local jobs-and-economy issues that matter most to Virginians. Beyond that, he has offered criticism of specific Trump actions and praise of others. Call them as you see them. That’s a fair approach in the age of Trump.

The important part: It gives Mr. Gillespie a fighting chance—and, should he win, a powerful perch from which he can help navigate his party through the Trumpian gales. It all might not be as cathartic as an emotional Senate speech. But it will go a lot further to help conservatism survive this presidency.

Write to

Appeared in the November 3, 2017, print edition.

Parties’ Campaign Chiefs Agree: GOP Tax Bill Key to 2018 Results

November 2, 2017
Sens. Cory Gardner and Chris Van Hollen discussed the tax rollout at a WSJ breakfast on Thursday.Photo: Ralph Alswang for The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON – One year before the midterm elections, the two parties’ campaign chiefs came together Thursday in a rare public bout and agreed on one thing: The fate of the GOP tax bill could make or break both parties political destiny in 2018.

The comments came in a public discussion, hosted by The Wall Street Journal, between Cory Gardner of Colorado, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, facing off for the first time. Also for the first time, Steve Stivers, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, faced off with Ben Ray Luján, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mr. Stivers and Mr. Gardner acknowledged the pressure their party was under to pass the tax bill, after failing to deliver on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib and Janet Hook discuss the 2018 midterms with Sens. Gardner and Van Hollen.Photo: Ralph Alswang for The Wall Street Journal

“We’ve got to show folks that we’ve got to get it done and I think we will,” said Mr. Stivers, of Ohio. The bill will fare better than the GOP’s failed attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act because party lawmakers “have fairly consistent views on taxes.”

The Democratic panelists  hammered the emerging plan, saying it doesn’t do enough to help the middle class, but Mr. Van Hollen left open the possibility that some lawmakers in tough reelection fights could vote for it in the end.

Mr. Luján, who is leading the Democrats’ efforts to retake control of the House in 2018, criticized Republicans for writing the bill behind closed doors. “The only people that they’re not having conversations with is the American people,” the New Mexico lawmaker said of Republicans.

Surveying a political landscape that seems to change by the day, Mr. Van Hollen cited previously unforseen political opportunities in red states like Texas and Tennessee. Mr. Gardner shrugged off concerns about former White House aide Steve Bannon’s rogue efforts to support challengers for GOP incumbents. Mr. Stivers promised to use the liberal reputation of Nancy Pelosi against Democrats in swing districts. And Mr. Lujan countered by saying Democrats energized after the 2016 election losses could make 80 seats competitive.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, left, and Rep. Steve Stivers talk about campaign efforts already kicking into high gear at the WSJ event on Nov. 2, 2017Photo: Ralph Alswang for The Wall Street Journal

“You can’t wish a seat into play,” said Mr. Stivers, who sees 40 House seats as competitive. Democrats need 24 seats to win the majority.

During past periods when a president’s approval rating was below 50%, the weak numbers have often resulted in a double-digit loss for the president’s party in the midterm elections. President Trump’s approval rating currently sits at 38% — his lowest level since taking office, according to The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sunday.  But to take the majority, House Democrats must win districts where Donald Trump won in 2016, and where it will be more difficult for candidates to campaign against the president.

The tumultuous political year has led to moderate Republican lawmakers announcing retirements in the House, and GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona announcing they would not pursue re-election. Asked for where the opportunities were for Democrats, Mr. Van Hollen pointed to Arizona and Nevada, citing GOP Sen. Dean Heller’s low approval rating in the state.

Republicans, by contrast, sees an opportunity in the 10 states that Mr. Trump won in which Democrats are trying to retain Senate seats. Mr. Gardner, noting that the president won five of those states by double-digit margins, named Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia as particular targets. In all those states, he said, Democrats will find it hard to campaign against Mr. Trump regardless of his standing in polls nationally.

WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib and Joshua Jamerson discuss the 2018 midterms with Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Photo: Ralph Alswang for The Wall Street Journal

In the Senate, Democrats must defend 25 lawmakers total in 2018, including the 10 in states that Mr. Trump won, some by double digits. Republicans see the states that Mr. Trump won as their best bet for increasing their 52-48 majority in the Senate. Republicans must defend eight seats, two of which are open.

Mr. Flake’s decision to not pursue re-election could help Republicans retain his seat, with either a conservative candidate aligned with President Trump or one a more moderate candidate who could pull in Democratic voters. Their nominee will likely face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a young centrist, widely considered one of the party’s top recruits for 2018.

Mr. Van Hollen said the tighter-than-usual special election for a Senate seat in Alabama shows that Democrats could have more opportunities, in traditionally red states, such as Texas and Tennessee. In 2016, Mr. Trump beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in Texas by nine points.

In Alabama, Republicans are supporting Roy Moore, an evangelical conservative who has made incendiary comments against Muslims and gay people. He was welcomed to the Capitol by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, a move Mr. Van Hollen called “appalling.”

The person to expect to see in campaign ads against Democrats in 2018: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) who Mr. Stivers said polls lower than the president in swing districts.

“Nancy Pelosi will be speaker if Ben’s successful and I think the people need to understand who’s going to be in charge,” Mr. Stivers said, referring to his Democratic counterpart on stage. “I don’t think we’ll say or do anything that’s unfair.”

Mr. Luján fired back, asking Mr. Stivers “who polls lower?” than Ms. Pelosi. He then answered the question himself, saying House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) polls lower, according to his surveys.

In the recent WSJ poll, more people said they wanted to see Democrats than Republicans control Congress, 48% to 41%.


GOP Sticks With Big, Permanent Corporate Tax Cuts in House Bill

GOP Tax Plan Would Affect Trump and Clinton Voters Differently

November 2, 2017

Image result for IRS, signage, photos

Some of the most popular tax breaks believed to be on the chopping block in the coming Republican tax bills are most heavily used by high-income areas that typically vote for Democrats.

By Max Rust and Richard Rubin

The House Republican tax bill and the changes it will bring to the tax code, if it becomes law, are likely to vary across the country.

A full accounting of the potential impact won’t be possible until the GOP announces tax rates and tax brackets. But some of the most popular breaks believed to be on the chopping block are most heavily used by high-income areas that typically vote for Democrats.

Taxes and the Political DivideThe Wall Street Journal analyzed county-level tax-return data for 2015, the most recent year available, in three types of places: counties that President Donald Trump won convincingly, those that Hillary Clinton won convincingly, and those that voted for Mr. Trump after twice voting for President Barack Obama.

This analysis includes 2,219 of the nation’s 3,111 counties (and doesn’t count Alaska, where county-level election results aren’t available). Solid-Clinton counties, primarily centered around large metro areas, account for about 40 million tax filers, while the more widely spread solid-Trump counties are home to about 32 million. Nearly eight million tax filers live in the Obama counties that flipped to Trump counties. These political divisions reveal numerous contrasts among individual tax returns.

State and Local Tax DeductionsRepublicans have been talking about repealing the deduction for state and local taxes, which tend to be higher in Democratic-controlled places such as New York and California. They have the most to lose. The GOP’s proposal to keep a deduction for property taxes may change this calculation.

Mortgage Interest and Charitable Donation DeductionsNearly doubling the standard deduction would erode the benefit of the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. Use of those breaks is concentrated in coastal areas with high-income households.

Child Tax CreditThe child tax credit is expected to rise—by an undetermined amount—in the GOP plans. That credit is more evenly distributed across the country. But it is most frequently claimed in Trump-friendly pockets of Utah and Arizona, where more than one-quarter of taxpayers use it.

Earned Income CreditAn early draft of the GOP plan provided no details on the fate of this credit, which is claimed by low-income filers at nearly equal rates in Democratic and Republican strongholds.

—Note: Child tax credit figures don’t include the expected higher credit. Sources: Internal Revenue Service (tax returns, rates); David Leip’s Atlas of Presidential Elections (election results).


  • House Tax Plan to Delay Estate-Tax Repeal, Set Corporate Rate at 20%

Write to Max Rustat and Richard Rubin at

Virginia gubernatorial election campaign features an attack ad about a convited child porn criminal voting for the Democrat — Convicted felons retain their right to vote in Virginia

October 26, 2017

A new TV spot in the Virginia gubernatorial election captures an unusual political moment for criminal-justice reform.

OCT 24, 2017


Image may contain: 2 people

Ed Gillespie (right) with opponent Ralph Northam . Credit Steve Helber – AP

Virginians aren’t enjoying a one-year pause in campaign ads like most other Americans in 2017. The commonwealth’s airwaves are saturated by TV spots from Ralph Northam, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, and Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman. Whichever candidate takes the governor’s mansion will also hand their party a morale boost ahead of next year’s midterms.
Into this high-stakes contest Gillespie has dropped one of the most unusual campaign ads of the year, which melds tough-on-crime fear-mongering—long a staple of political persuasion—with establishment-Republican nods to compassionate criminal-justice reform. In doing so, the spot highlights reform’s unpredictable future in the age of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions.

The ad takes aim at current Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s program restoring convicted felons’ right to vote. Virginia is one of four states where a person loses the franchise entirely after they are convicted of a felony-level offense. McAuliffe first tried to use his pardon power to restore the rights of 200,000 Virginians in one blow. Republican lawmakers successfully challenged the en masse order in court, so the governor began signing the orders individually, totaling more than 168,000 to date. McAuliffe’s move stands out as perhaps the boldest concrete step to reverse mass incarceration’s effects on individuals’ agency that the country has seen so far.
At the same time, the policy’s breadth left it open to narrow attacks like the one made by Gillespie. Here’s the first half of the ad’s narration:

Last year, Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam instituted the automatic restoration of rights for violent felons and sex offenders, making it easier for them to obtain firearms and allowing them to serve on juries. One of these felons, John Bowen, had his rights restored two months after being found with one of the largest child-pornography collections in Virginia’s history. Forty-three prosecutors—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—opposed Ralph Northam’s reckless policy. Now, Virginia law enforcement has endorsed Ed Gillespie for governor.

This part of the ad somewhat obscures Bowen’s timeline: The Times-Dispatch says McAuliffe restored the rights he lost from a previous conviction, and that Bowen had only been arrested and not yet convicted of the new offenses when the restoration happened. But the overall aesthetic evokes the tough-on-crime ads that dominated campaigning in the 1980s and 1990s: If you vote for my opponent, your family will be less safe.

In that sense, Gillespie’s new ad isn’t surprising, echoing its predecessors from all levels of American elections, with the infamous Willie Horton ad standing out in that dismal field. While the antagonist in this spot is white—unlike Horton, a black man George H.W. Bush’s campaign spotlighted in 1988—Gillespie’s campaign hasn’t shied away from appeals to racial animus, especially in the context of public safety. He maintained his support for Confederate statues after the white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. And he’s run multiple ads portraying Northam as too soft on MS-13, a Latin American gang and a political specter frequently invoked by the Trump administration.
But what’s truly unusual about the ad is how the message changes in its second half. From the transcript:

Virginians who have paid their debt to society and are living an honest life should have their rights restored. But Ralph Northam’s policy of automatic restoration of rights for unrepentant, unreformed, violent criminals is wrong. As governor, I’ll be both compassionate and protecting of Virginia families. I’m Ed Gillespie, candidate for governor, and I sponsored this ad.

The tonal shift is accompanied by an even more jarring visual one, as the ad cuts away from dark juxtapositions of Northam and an alleged child-pornography collector to a smiling, well-lit Gillespie at home. This is not a traditional closing pitch for tough-on-crime ads, to say the least, with Gillespie modifying the tried-and-true formula and conveying actual nuance in his policy prescription.


The Federal Prosecutors Backing Jeff Sessions on Mandatory Minimums

First, he endorses the general aim of McAuliffe’s policy, even if he says he wouldn’t apply it as universally as the current governor does. Second, he emphasizes that his interest in the issue goes beyond punishing criminals. Gillespie isn’t promising to drop the hammer; he wants to be “compassionate and protecting of Virginia families.”

It’s a cliché that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. But Gillespie appears to be campaigning in Trumpism while aiming to govern in criminal-justice reform. His website has a lengthy page devoted to the subject with testimonials to his “thoughtful and detailed approach” from state lawmakers and law-enforcement officials. Some positions are relatively modest, like reduced enforcement for marijuana laws and a toe-dip into legalizing medical marijuana. Others are more arcane but more substantive, like raising the felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500 and reducing driver’s-license suspensions. With some notable exceptions, many of his criminal-justice proposals match those on Northam’s website.

If he wins and enacts this agenda, Gillespie could be a signal to congressional Republicans north of the Potomac, where reform is slowly returning to the federal agenda after its election-year pause. Conservative proponents say they’re optimistic that Congress will take up the matter next year after dispatching with tax reform (though that’s easier said than done). A bipartisan group of legislators even proposed a new bill last month that aims to reduce mandatory sentences for drug crimes and reform harsher aspects of the current system.

At the same time, would-be reformers could wrestle with the potential opposition of President Trump, who rose to power by anointing himself as a “law and order” candidate, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a criminal-justice hardliner who helped torpedo the reform bill last year. A Gillespie victory could prove that Trump’s presidency isn’t necessarily fatal to modest efforts to rein in mass incarceration. Indeed, the candidate appears to be betting it’ll take a little Trumpism to get there.

This article is part of our project “The Presence of Justice,” which is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.

Why doesn’t Hillary’s ‘dossier’ trick count as treason?

October 26, 2017

By David Harsanyi

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Getty Images

What’s the difference between the infamous Russian dossier on Donald Trump and that random fake-news story you saw on Facebook last year? The latter was never used by America’s intelligence community to bolster its case for spying on American citizens nor was it the foundation for a year’s worth of media coverage.

Then again, you get what you pay for. We now know Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid as much as $9 million for the discredited dossier on Trump.

According to The Washington Post, a lawyer named Marc Elias, who represented both the 2016 Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, had hired Fusion GPS, a DC firm working on behalf of the Russian government to soften sanctions at the time, to provide opposition research for them. The firm then hired a former British spy named Christopher Steele who reportedly purchased salacious rumors about Trump from the Russians.

Now, you might expect that the scandalous revelation of a political campaign using opposition research that was partially obtained from a hostile foreign power during a national election would ignite shrieks of “collusion” from all patriotic citizens. After all, only last summer, when it was reported that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who claimed to be in possession of damaging information about Clinton, there was widespread condemnation.

Finally, we were told, a smoking gun tied the Trump campaign to Vladimir Putin. Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine went as far as to suggest that the independent counsel begin investigating treason.

Tim Kaine

Treason! Trump Jr. didn’t even pay for or accept research.

The Clinton crew, on the other hand, did. They didn’t openly push the contents of the dossier — probably because they knew it was mostly fiction. Instead, Fusion GPS leaked it to their friends in the media.

The dossier ended up in the possession of most major news outlets. Many journalists relied on Fusion GPS to propel coverage. BuzzFeed even posted the entire thing for Americans to read, even though it was more than likely its most scandalous parts were hatched by a foreign government.

The memo dominated newsrooms that were convinced Trump was a Manchurian candidate. No fake-news story came close to having this kind of impact.

Democrats in Washington are now pushing the “Honest Ads Act,” which creates a raft of new regulations and fines for Web sites that don’t do enough to combat fake news. Attempting to control the flow of information into our screens is the hobbyhorse of would-be censors. But since they’re at it, when do we get a bill that fines institutional media organizations that readily embrace bogus foreign dossiers?

Because the dossier didn’t just awaken the Russia-stole-our-democracy narratives in the media. It’s just as likely that the dossier was used by Clinton’s allies in the government.

The Obama administration reportedly relied on the dossier to bolster its spying on US citizens. We know of at least one case where the information was used to justify a FISA warrant on a Trump adviser. And let’s not forget that Steele had reached an agreement to be compensated for his efforts by the FBI.

None of this excuses the actions of Paul Manafort and others who may have benefitted from their relationship with the Russians. Yet, using the very standards Democrats have constructed over the past year, the Fusion GPS story is now the most tangible evidence we possess of Russian interference in the American election.

And at some point, Democrats will have to decide whether it’s wrong for a political campaign to work with foreigners when obtaining opposition research or whether it’s acceptable. We can’t have different standards for Democrats and Republicans.

Otherwise people might start to get the idea that all the histrionics over the past year weren’t really about Russian interference at all, but rather about Hillary losing an election that they assumed she’d win.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and author of the forthcoming book, “First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today.”

Tim Kaine Says The Russia Investigation Is Now Looking At Potential Treason
Over the past few days, The New York Timeshas reported on a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 election, and the details of said meeting concern some lawmakers. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate and junior Virginia senator, told reporters on Tuesday that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia could now include treason.
“The investigation — it’s not, nothing is proven yet, but we’re now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated,” Kaine said. “This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason.”
Congress and the FBI have both been investigating the possibility that the Trump campaign was involved in Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election (for a full recap check out our timeline of the Trump-Russia scandal).
The New York Times reported that Donald Jr. met with a Russian lawyer after he was offered dirt on Clinton, and that Trump’s oldest son knew the information was part of the Russian government’s efforts to help Trump win the election.
On Tuesday, The Times published the email sent to Donald Jr. on June 3, 2016 offering the damaging information about Trump’s 2016 opponent. The email specifically says the documents would “incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” and would be “very useful” to Donald Jr.’s father. It also included a disclaimer that “this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Donald Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
The first son continues to deny any wrongdoing and released the entire email chain the same day The Times published it, writing in a statement that he wants to be transparent.
He wrote: “The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research.
Now, Kaine has suggested Congress will investigate whether members of the Trump campaign committed treason by working with Russia to interfere in the election. President Trump has not commented on Donald Jr.’s 2016 meeting.

White House’s Inconsistent Tax Messages Are Keeping Everyone Guessing

October 24, 2017


By Toluse Olorunnipa

  • Trump officials differ on who benefits, how plan would work
  • Senate’s top tax writer ‘not quite sure’ what president wants
 Image result for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, photos
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin got a swift rebuttal after he went on national television to claim a hypothetical Indiana family would save $1,000 under President Donald Trump’s tax plan.

 Image result for White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, photos
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney

It came from a fellow cabinet member. At virtually the same time on another network, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney dismissed as flawed any attempt to predict the impact of the plan on a particular family because so many essential details had yet to be determined.

“It is impossible to sit down and say, this will be the impact on this wage earner or this family at this particular time,” Mulvaney said on CNN’s State of the Union on Oct. 1, the same day as Mnuchin’s appearance on ABC’s This Week.

Inconsistent communication from the White House about how its tax plan would work and who would benefit risks undermining Trump’s campaign to build public support for his signature initiative. It also leaves lawmakers guessing about what the president wants — or at least is willing to accept — as Congress fills in the broad tax framework Trump and GOP leaders released last month.

 Image result for Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch,, photos

Even Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, whose panel is responsible for drafting tax legislation, said in an interview Monday that he wasn’t certain of Trump’s red lines — hours after the president shot down in a Twitter post a Republican idea to reduce annual limits on 401(k) retirement account contributions.

“We need to know what the president wants to do to try to coordinate it with him,” he said. “So far I’m not quite sure where he’s going.”

Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said the White House should stay out of the overhaul effort altogether, citing recent interventions by Trump that harmed the negotiations.

“Hopefully the White House will step aside and let that occur in a normal process,” he said Tuesday on NBC.

Trump responded on Twitter. “Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts,” Trump said. He alleged Corker, who isn’t seeking re-election, “dropped out of the race in Tennesse when I refused to endorse him” and said he “is only negative on anything Trump.”

Thanksgiving Deadline

House Republicans hope to vote before Thanksgiving on a final plan, which they expect to unveil as soon as next week, said a senior party aide.

By then, contradictory statements from administration officials would threaten to weaken both the White House’s credibility and muddy its argument as Americans form crucial early perceptions.

“The Administration has always been clear and consistent on the top priorities for tax reform: giving middle-income Americans a tax cut and bringing the corporate rate down to 20% or lower,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “We hope Democrats who have supported similar proposals in the past will put aside partisanship and support giving the middle class a major tax cut, American workers a pay raise, and our businesses of all sizes a level playing field to compete.”

The White House starts from behind with the public. Americans oppose the Trump tax plan by 52 percent to 34 percent, according to a CNN poll taken Oct. 12 through Oct. 15. Only 24 percent believe they would be better off under Trump’s plan, according to the poll.

Image result for National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, photos

While Trump has repeatedly promised wealthy Americans wouldn’t benefit from the tax overhaul, Vice President Mike Pence has championed the plan as an “across the board” cut for all income levels. The White House branded the plan a “middle-class miracle” just hours before National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said on ABC he couldn’t guarantee taxes won’t go up for some middle-class Americans.

Republicans have vacillated on how to treat state-and-local taxes and whether to add a higher tax bracket for top earners. Administration officials have made several conflicting statements about the effect on the deficit, ranging from predictions of debt-reducing growth to revenue neutrality to active advocacy for more debt.

“It’s a gong show,” said David Stockman, who served as budget director when President Ronald Reagan passed tax cuts in the 1980s. Stockman blamed “naïve cowboys” in the administration with scant Washington experience for the lack of message discipline.

Cut For Wealthy

Any shifts in messaging reflect the evolving nature of the legislative process, said a senior administration official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The White House has especially struggled to combat claims that the tax proposal is geared toward the wealthy. Despite being one of the most predictable lines of attack, the Trump administration has offered shifting defenses, with officials often contradicting themselves.

Trump unveiled the framework during a Sept. 27 speech in Indianapolis, with bold claims that the benefits of the plan would flow to the middle class, “not the wealthy and well-connected.” He used himself as an example to drive home the point.

“I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me, believe me,” he said.

The claim was rejected by independent analysts and economists, who have said that part of the plan — which would also slash the top tax rate on certain business income to 25 percent to 39.6 percent — does stand to benefit owners of lucrative partnerships and limited liability companies, including Trump himself. Administration officials have since tried to push back.

“Wealthy Americans are not getting a tax cut,” Cohn said Sept. 28 on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.

Mnuchin’s Message

“The objective of the president is that rich people don’t get tax cuts,” Mnuchin said Oct. 1 on ABC’s “This Week” program.

But Mnuchin has since walked back his statement, pointing out that the rich pay most U.S. income taxes.

“When you’re cutting taxes across the board, it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy with tax cuts to the middle class,” he said in an interview that aired Wednesday on Politico’s “Money” podcast.

It wasn’t the first time Mnuchin had undercut the administration’s previous message by acknowledging that the wealthy would benefit from elements in the tax plan. On Oct. 13, he said Trump’s proposed repeal of the estate tax would help the rich.

“The estate tax, I will concede, disproportionately helps rich people,” Mnuchin said during a speech to the Institute for International Finance conference.

‘Wonderful Farms’

The statement came after the administration spent weeks trying to portray the tax–which is currently paid by only a few thousand wealthy estates annually–as the bane of small family-owned businesses and working-class farmers. Cohn insisted to reporters on Sept. 28 that the wealthiest Americans use sophisticated estate planning to avoid paying the tax altogether.

Under current law, a married couple’s estate is exempt from paying inheritance taxes on the first $10.98 million, rising under an inflation index to $11.2 million in 2018.

“The farmers in particular are affected,’’ Trump said on Sept. 27. “They have wonderful farms, but they can’t pay the tax, so they have to sell the farm.”

Trump’s lack of focus and the lack of details on the plan’s benefits for the middle class will make it harder for Republicans to succeed in overhauling the tax code this year, said Stockman, Reagan’s budget director. He predicted the plan will fail.

“There’s not going to be a tax bill. That’s just the reality of the measure,” he said.

— With assistance by Laura Litvan, and John Voskuhl.


Many Senate Republicans Reject Bob Corker, Stick Up for President Trump

October 10, 2017


10 Oct 2017

Sen. Bob Corker claimed to speak for his Republican colleagues in an interview with the New York Times, but some in the Senate are not happy with his decision to pick a fight with President Donald Trump.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker told the Times, claiming Trump was viewed as a threat to U.S. national security and global stability.

But a spokesperson for Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told Breitbart News that the senator did not agree with what the retiring Corker had to say.

“No, he does not agree with Sen. Corker,” the spokesperson revealed in a statement. “Senator Barrasso has worked closely with President Trump and will continue to be a strong ally in Congress.”

Barrasso is facing re-election in 2018 amidst rumblings of a possible Republican primary challenger.

Some Republicans staffers made it clear that Corker’s comments were self-serving and unhelpful — especially after announcing his decision to retire rather than seek re-election.

“Given his severe case of short man syndrome and the fact he would have lost his primary, it’s not surprising Corker is seeking attention and affirmation from the Beltway elites,” a senior Republican aide working for a Senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Breitbart News.

Although many Senate Democrats celebrated Corker’s criticism of the president, Republican staffers viewed Corker’s outburst as a bad strategy.

“Senator Corker should not be picking this fight, he won’t win it,” a senior Republican aide for one of Corker’s Senate colleagues told Breitbart News.

Trump allies in Congress explain that Corker has joined what they describe as the “naysayers caucus” — veteran Republicans like Senator John McCain who vote based on their shared dislike of Trump rather than on principled opposition.

Corker’s critics also view the Senator as in league with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and actively working against some of Trump’s more controversial foreign policy goals.

“Corker is Tillerson’s lapdog on the Foreign Relations Committee,” the aide working for a senator on the Corker’s committee told Breitbart News. “Our staff cheered when Corker announced his retirement.”

One Republican aide explained that although many Senators thought Corker’s comments were ridiculous, his fellow senators were unlikely to publicly criticize the powerful veteran senator as they still had to work with him for the remainder of his term.

Many of Republican senators serving with Corker on the Foreign Relations Committee did not respond to requests for comment from Breitbart News.

Although Paul serves with Corker on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he did not criticize him directly.

“Senator Paul considers President Trump a personal friend and has worked with him on numerous issues,” Rand Paul’s press secretary Sergio Gor replied, when asked about Corker’s comments.

Other conservative Republicans declined to criticize Corker, but signaled their support for Trump.

When asked if Cruz agreed with Corker’s comment a spokesperson for the Texas Senator replied, “No.”

“From day one, Senator Cruz has worked closely with President Trump to honor our promises to the voters to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, rein in job-killing regulations, and confirm strong constitutionalist judges,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Breitbart News.

When asked about Corker’s comments, Sen. Mike Lee spokesman Conn Carroll replied, “Sen Lee speaks for himself.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reverted to his usual non-combative tone, when asked about Corker’s comments.

“Sen. Corker is a valuable member of the Senate Republican caucus and he’s also on the Budget committee and a particularly important player as we move to the floor on the budget next week and he’s an important part of our team,” McConnell said on Monday.