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

Go deeper

Amy Coney Barrett's immediate impact

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In her first week on the job, Amy Coney Barrett may be deciding which votes to count in the presidential election. By her third week, she’ll be deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Where it stands: The Senate votes on Barrett’s nomination tomorrow. If she’s confirmed, Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear her in at the Supreme Court within hours, an administration official tells Axios.

Texas Democrats beg Biden to spend now

Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is rebuffing persistent pleas from Texas Democrats to spend at least $10 million in the Lone Star state, several people familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: If Texas — which has 38 electoral votes and is steadily getting more blue, but hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976 — flipped to the Biden column, it would be game over. But the RealClearPolitics polling average stubbornly hovers at +2.6 for Trump — and Team Biden appears more focused on closer targets.

Election night in Trumpworld

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Chris Carlson-Pool/Getty Images

A luxe election-night watch party at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue is being planned for President Trump's donors, friends and advisers — but Trump's hand in it is minimal because he's "very superstitious" — people familiar with the plans tell Axios.

The big picture: This "mecca for all things MAGA," as one adviser described it, is one of three hubs where they say Trumpworld will watch returns. The others are the war room at campaign HQ in Rosslyn, Virginia, and the White House residence, where Trump and the first lady will gather close family and advisers before heading to the hotel later that night, the sources said.