Good Sunday morning. It's Opening Day for six Major League Baseball clubs: The first pitch of the season is Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays, 1:10 p.m.
On Capitol Hill, the last week of April is already being called Hell Week. That's when Congress returns from Easter break, with just days to prevent a government shutdown on April 29 — Day 100 of the Trump presidency.
This Friday, Trump is expected to get his first big congressional victory — the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court (although it looks it'll follow an ugly confrontation with Democrats that triggers the "nuclear option" to abandon the 60-vote threshold for confirmation).
The celebration will be short-lived. A shutdown is a very real possibility, Republican sources tell me — mainly because Republicans remain as fractured as they were when they tanked health reform:
To avoid a shutdown, Republicans will probably have no choice but to seduce Ds. Steve Elmendorf, a top Democratic lobbyist, told me it's very possible to construct a government-funding bill that'll get Democratic votes (no defunding of Planned Parenthood, no money for a wall, a reasonable position on defense/non-defense spending).
"The only way you get to a shutdown is incompetence, which this group is certainly capable of," Elmendorf said.
And back to Russia ... On ABC's "This Week," Nikki Haley, Trump's ambassador to the U.N., tells Martha Raddatz: "[C]ertainly I think Russia was involved in the election. There's no question about that."
A liberal columnist goes to deep-red Oklahoma and finds discontent with Trump policies but deep and perhaps unshakable loyalty ...
"In Trump Country, Shock at Trump Budget Cuts," by Nick Kristof in Tulsa:
Some of the loyalty seemed to be grounded in resentment at Democrats for mocking Trump voters as dumb bigots, some from a belief that budgets are complicated, and some from a sense that it's too early to abandon their man.
Long-term threat: "They did say that if jobs didn't reappear, they would turn against him."
A bearish view of the fight ahead in "Crucial lessons from the last tax reform," by Jeff Birnbaum (president of BGR Public Relations, and co-author with Alan Murray of "Showdown at Gucci Gulch," about the 1986 tax reform), on the WashPost Sunday Opinion page:
Another reason the border-adjustment tax is in trouble ... N.Y. Times lead story, "Divide in G.O.P. Now Threatens Trump Tax Plan," by Nick Confessore and Alan Rappeport: "Koch has circulated studies indicating that the tax would increase the price of gasoline."
This dispatch by Axios' Alison Snyder is a taste of the science coverage we're launching this month. Alison is a scientist-turned-journalist who joined us from the WashPost. She graduated from MIT with a degree in chemical engineering, and studied botany on a Fulbright at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
Survival rates for cancer patients in the U.S. continue to improve, according to a new report from top government agencies. Pancreatic, liver, brain, lung and other cancers still have low rates of survival but prostate, melanoma and breast cancers topped 90%.
"Ready or not, another Kennedy moment is near," declares the lead story of the Boston Sunday Globe ... "Three family members seem poised to step up on the national stage — with Trump as their foil," by Annie Linskey in Chicago:
"With tight inventory and rising prices and mortgage rates, this season will be the toughest for buyers in a decade," the Wall Street Journal's U.S. housing reporter, Laura Kusisto, reports:
Spending balloons, and competition heats up, in race to deploy self-driving technology ... "Google's Waymo, Tesla and Uber are battling to set the industry standard for consumer-ready autonomous vehicles," by the San Jose Mercury News' Marisa Kendall:
"Snapchat wins April Fools' with its jab at Instagram," by TechCrunch's Greg Kumparak:
Snapchat ripped [Facebook's Instagram] off in return ... They've turned Instagram's interface into a Snapchat filter for the day and just swapped out "Instagram" for "Snapchat" up at the top. It's a filter, rather than a lens, so it's something you apply after taking a photo.
(Bonus points for the little burn implying that the world's collective "mom" is one of the only people looking at your photos there.)
"The Camden Effect: At 25, ballpark's legacy is large in MLB," by AP's Noah Trister:
Not an April Fool's ... From the N.Y. Times wedding pages, "They Capture Your Wedding on Site and on Canvas: Couples are hiring painters and sketch artists to capture a moment of their wedding day," by Alix Strauss:
Ben Keys, a wedding artist who owns Wed on Canvas, ... caps his wedding gigs at 40 a year, and he said he turned down over 100 requests. Inquiries from event planners, anxious brides, even mothers-in-law regarding his availability doubled in 2016 from 2015. ...
Prices can range from $3,500 to $5,000, plus transportation and accommodation expenses for two nights. Each painting can take more than 20 hours to complete and is delivered eight to 10 weeks after the wedding.
P.S. Candace Bushnell objects to "[c]alling the wedding notices in The New York Times 'the women's sports pages' ... [I]t's a hell of a lot more like the mergers and acquisitions page."