Jan 12, 2017

Hot on the Hill: Mattis, intel leaks and Obamacare repeal

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Mattis skipping hearing has House committee up in arms

Gen. James Mattis won't be attending a House Armed Services committee hearing today, despite earlier saying he'd be in attendance. Mattis needs a waiver law passed to allow him to serve at Defense. That requires 60 Senate votes, so he'll need Democratic votes.

Why it matters: If Mattis can get that waiver, he's in.

What to watch today: Senate Democrats could turn his confirmation hearing into a forum on the waiver. The big ticket item is civilian control of the military, so watch Kirsten Gillibrand, who Mattis met with last week. Will the dialogue spill over into the public?

Congress responds to intel leaks against Trump
  • House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes has reached out to the intel community, per Politico.
  • Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr hinted they're also looking into it.

Intel agencies are hard at work tamping down this fire. DNI Director Clapper called Trump last night to express his "profound dismay," but said he doesn't think the leaks came from the intel community.

Obamacare repeal process goes to the House

Where people are already looking ahead to next steps. Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady told Hugh Hewitt yesterday that budget reconciliation will kill Obamacare's medical device tax and the mandate to buy insurance.

What's left: Getting everyone on board. Republicans have the votes to pass a budget resolution on their own... if they can stay united. They'll face pressure to find a way to get some of the Obamacare replacement policy items within reconciliation, but will have to be careful not to trigger the Byrd Rule.

The big picture, via Axios Vitals:

"I think that we're all on the same sheet of music." — Mark Meadows, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, to reporters

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Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.