Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. I'd love your tips and feedback: email@example.com. We're all about "smart brevity" at Axios but there's so much news today I hope you'll forgive me serving you 8 items instead of my usual 5.
P.S. You're invited ... to an event Tuesday at 8 a.m. in downtown D.C.: Chuck Todd and Jim VandeHei will host a live, onstage version of their famous mini-roundtable, plus talk infrastructure with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), an avid pilot. Hope to see you — RSVP here.
President Trump's 2018 budget proposal on Tuesday won't reform Social Security or Medicare — in line with his campaign promise — but it will make serious cuts to other entitlement programs. A source with direct knowledge tells me the Trump budget will save $1.7 trillion on the mandatory side over the next ten years.
Expected reaction: In the past couple days I've spoken to a number of White House officials about the budget proposal. The best summary, from one White House source: "Conservatives will love it; moderates will probably hate it." These mandatory cuts — especially to politically-sensitive programs like food stamps — will make some moderate Republicans as nervous as the recent healthcare bill did.
"Good news" budget items the administration will tout:
President Trump gave a measured, disciplined speech to the Muslim world in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, reading almost entirely off TelePrompTer.
What cable TV will focus on: Trump made a profound rhetorical shift from the campaign — and it's a shift we forecasted a few weeks ago after a briefing with senior White House officials. He's now talking about Islam in ways virtually indistinguishable from presidents Obama and George W. Bush.
The key difference: Trump on the campaign said "Islam hates us." Today, Islam is "one of the world's great faiths." And instead of bloviating about how he's the only guy with the courage to say "radical Islamic terrorism," Trump now uses the more PC "combating radicalization."
What really matters: We shouldn't spend too much time obsessing over the rhetorical shift. Trump signaled these substantial breaks from the Obama era:
Sunday highlight reel, with the focus on Trump's first foreign trip:
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, beamed in from Saudi Arabia to talk to George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week." Axios' Dave Lawler has these key takeaways:
Other highlights from today's shows:
Publicly, President Trump didn't seem overjoyed when, earlier this month, he signed a $1 trillion bill to keep the government open. Privately, his mood was much, much worse.
Behind-the-scenes: When the spending bill had been negotiated and finalized, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus phoned the former House Speaker John Boehner and told him the president doesn't like how the negotiation came out and is thinking about vetoing the bill. Boehner has told associates that Priebus asked him if he could talk Trump into signing the spending bill. Boehner said he would.
Ten minutes later, Boehner's phone rang. It was the President. Boehner made a couple different arguments to Trump about why he should sign the spending bill:
Why this matters: I'm not suggesting Boehner's conversation with Trump was determinative. It's telling, however, that the President hated the spending bill so much that his chief of staff felt the need to reach out to the former House Speaker — a guy who captained an implacable conference through plenty of funding battles — to convince Trump to sign the bill.
House GOP leadership expects that on Wednesday the Congressional Budget Office will release its final score — showing the cost and coverage estimates of the American Health Care Act that recently passed the House. Paul Ryan said Friday the House hadn't sent the bill to the Senate because "out of an abundance of caution" they were waiting for the CBO score. House leaders say they don't anticipate any problems in the score that would force them to vote on AHCA all over again.
Polls close Thursday on a House special election in Montana, between Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte. Montana is considered red — Trump won by 20 points — but Quist, a folk singer, has raised a stunning $5 million and is capitalizing on the energy of the progressive "resistance" against Trump.
Still, we expect Gianforte, a multimillionaire businessman, to prevail. Republican sources on the ground in Montana had recent internal polls with Gianforte ahead by around 4 points. And a source pointed out that Gianforte got a boost this week with Montana's largest tribe, the Crow Tribe, endorsing him along with all the state's major newspapers endorsing him including the Billings Gazette, the Missoulian, and the Great Falls Tribune.
Last Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a meeting at the Capitol with Republican leaders from the House and Senate, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.
What everyone can agree on: Two sources with direct knowledge of the meeting tell me Mnuchin made it clear he wants the debt ceiling to be raised ahead of any "deadline," including as early as before the August recess. (Note: It's no secret that Mnuchin views the debt ceiling as non-negotiable — this is money that's already been spent — and doesn't want politicians using the debt ceiling as a tool to negotiate spending cuts.)
Where the accounts differ: One source told me: "it's not like people laughed when he said before the August recess but the mood was clear that this wasn't something that was ever going to happen." But a source close to Mnuchin disputes that account and says the Secretary heard no rejection of that pre-August timeline from anyone in the room and "we believe it's on the table as a viable option."
Current timing: Treasury believes it can keep using emergency cash saving measures to avoid breaking the borrowing limit until the early fall.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman has pushed a core insight about Trump to its logical extreme: the way to this President's heart is through his ego.
Bloomberg TV's Kevin Cirilli has been prolifically tweeting on the foreign trip, and has my favorite picture of all the Saudi attempts to flatter Trump. The Kingdom ensured one of Trump's tweets was screened on a billboard in downtown Riyadh. (As Cirilli notes in his tweet, the poor photo quality is because of the sandy conditions.)