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First Read's Morning Clips: A Busy September

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: The U.S. Capitol building  in Washington, DC, Jan. 19, 2017.
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, Jan. 19, 2017.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

TRUMP AGENDA: A busy September

Leigh Ann Caldwell previews the busy agenda ahead for Congress. “Congress returns to Washington on Tuesday after five weeks away. While the big item on the Republican agenda for the fall is their push for tax reform, they have a long list of must-pass pieces of legislation to tackle, including providing aide to Texas and Louisiana for Hurricane Harvey, which will be the first major thing the House will vote on Wednesday. And they have just 12 legislative days scheduled before a series of deadlines at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, meaning much of the rest of their agenda is likely to be pushed back into November and December.”

The Washington Post looks at what’s next in the DACA fight.

And the New York Times: “Last week, with a key court deadline looming for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Mr. Trump, exasperated, asked his aides for “a way out” of a dilemma he created by promising to roll back the program as a presidential candidate, according to two people familiar with the exchange. Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, who had wrestled with crafting a compromise in his previous job as the president’s homeland security secretary, began consulting with Republican lawmakers and staff members for a quick fix, according to three officials familiar with the situation. He finally arrived at an inelegant solution to an intractable problem: Delaying a decision on the final fate of about 800,000 “Dreamers” covered by President Barack Obama’s executive action for six months, and putting it on Congress to come up with a legislative solution to the problem.”

POLITICO notes that the DACA fight will be a first test of Steve Bannon’s influence outside the White House.

And the AP writes that the conflict is likely to kick off another huge rift in the GOP.

Benjy Sarlin reports on how lawmakers are hoping to keep a health care fix on their to-do list: “On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee kicks off the first of four scheduled hearings this month examining the individual health care market with the goal of producing a bipartisan bill that makes modest fixes… It's a major departure from the Senate leadership's earlier approach, which cut out Democrats and hearings in favor of closed-door negotiations among small working groups of Republicans. That effort flamed out in July when three Republican senators shot down a "skinny repeal" bill designed to advance negotiations with the House.”

NBC’s Martha White has an explainer on what the debt ceiling is all about.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are mulling a basic framework to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts and avert an Oct. 1 shutdown with a short-term spending bill, according to multiple Republican aides. But while top Trump officials like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin back a “clean” debt increase, the president himself is mum on the latest strategy,” POLITICO reports.

The New York Times: “The Trump Administration, warning that North Korea is “begging for war,” is pressing China and other members of the United Nations Security Council to cut off all oil and other fuels to the country. The effort, which senior administration officials described as a last best chance to resolve the standoff with the North using sanctions rather than military means, came as South Korean officials said Monday that they had seen evidence that North Korea may be preparing another test, likely of an intercontinental ballistic missile.”

The Associated Press: “With Seoul expecting another North Korean missile test, South Korean warships conducted live-fire exercises at sea on Tuesday in a second straight day of military swagger from a nation still rattled by the North’s biggest-ever nuclear test.”

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin says that “military hysteria” about North Korea could lead to a “global catastrophe.”

The Wall Street Journal: “There is no good news about North Korea’s nuclear program, only hard truths. In the wake of Pyongyang’s weekend nuclear-weapons test—its biggest ever—here are three of those truths: Ideally, the U.S. would enter this new phase of the confrontation in harmony with its key allies, but that isn’t the case. Tougher economic sanctions on North Korea are a necessary weapon now, but aren’t likely to be sufficient. Ultimately, there probably is no choice except returning to diplomacy to contain this crisis.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience,” writes the Washington Post. “In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for “the double C-word” — climate change — and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Trump vs. Breitbart in Alabama

AL-SEN: POLITICO looks at how Breitbart is working to pressure Trump into stepping away from his endorsement of Luther Strange.

After Roy Moore tripped up on DACA, the Washington Examiner has a new story how Moore was stumped by a question earlier this year on national right-to-work legislation.

FL-GOV: Republican candidates for governor say Congress must act to protect Dreamers.

IN-SEN: Luke Messer says he’s “disappointed by the early tone of the campaign.”

NJ-GOV: has a good primer on where the governors’ race stands today.

NJ-SEN: Pete Williams on what the Bob Menendez trial could mean for Trump’s plans: “The first U.S. senator to face bribery charges in nearly four decades goes on trial Wednesday in a case that could affect the Senate's partisan makeup and the fate of President Donald Trump's legislative agenda … The jury trial in Newark is expected to take up to eight weeks, and Menendez asked for court to be adjourned on days when there's an important Senate vote. But Senior U.S. District Judge William Walls rejected the request in a sharply worded order, saying the court "will not serve as concierge to any party or lawyer.’ … If Menendez is convicted, he would likely resist any calls to resign. If he were to step down this year, his successor would be appointed by New Jersey's current governor, Chris Christie, giving the Republicans an additional Senate seat — which could be key to passing White House-backed Republican health care legislation that failed by one vote. If Menendez were to resign after Jan. 16, the appointment would be made by the state's newly elected governor, likely to be a Democrat. The Senate could also vote to expel Menendez if he were convicted. But that takes a two-thirds vote, and no senator has been expelled in the last 155 years.”

NV-SEN: ICYMI, from Leigh Ann Caldwell: “Why Dean Heller Is the Senate’s Most Endangered Republican”

OH-GOV: “Famed television talk show host Jerry Springer said he is strongly considering running for governor, but doesn't have a timeline or a concrete decision on if he'll jump in just yet. Springer, a Democrat, said he hadn't decided - and wouldn't during his visit to Cleveland on Monday - in an interview with before a rally with the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 outside the Cleveland Clinic. After the rally, he said much of the same when taking questions from reporters.”

VA-GOV: Virginia Democrats are taking heat for skipping a Labor Day parade.