Legislative / Policy Update
Congressional Activity. With the House and Senate in recess until Oct. 15, the main activity on Capitol Hill involves the House inquiry on Ukraine. This morning, three House committees – Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight – had planned to depose George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the European and Eurasian Bureau. However, last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo objected to the committees’ plans, and this morning Kent did not show up to testify. Tomorrow, the three committees are planning to hear from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl. It is uncertain whether Brechbuhl will testify. Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from the post in May, two months before her term was scheduled to end, is scheduled to testify.
USMCA. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and four of his House colleagues are in Mexico for meetings today and tomorrow to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement with government officials. The lawmakers will meet tomorrow with Mexican President Lopez Obrador. Joining Neal on the trip are Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.).
China Trade Policy. Deputy-level U.S. and Chinese officials are meeting today and tomorrow in Washington, followed by higher level talks Thursday and Friday involving U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. On Oct. 15, U.S. tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods are scheduled to increase from 25% to 30%.
More Tariffs. In addition to the increased tariffs on Chinese goods, the U.S. is planning to impose $7.5 billion in tariffs on goods from the European Union on Oct. 18. The tariffs are authorized by a World Trade Organization ruling on Oct. 2, after nearly 15 years of litigation, that the EU and four of its Member States had illegally subsidized Airbus. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has selected goods that will most heavily impact the four countries that provided the Airbus subsidies – France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Consequently, the U.S. plans to impose an additional 10% duty on airplanes from those countries and an additional 25% tariff on a range of agricultural and industrial goods, including French wine and olives, coffee from Germany, Spanish olive oil, and cheeses from several countries.
Third Quarter Fundraising. President Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $125 million this past quarter, setting a new presidential fundraising record, with more than $156 million cash on hand. President Obama and the DNC raised $70 million for his re-election campaign in 2011's third quarter. Among the Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders led for the third quarter, having raised $25.3 million, followed closely by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who brought in $24.6 million. Sanders averaged $18 per donation from 1.4 million donors, while Warren’s average donation was $26, from over 940,000 individual donors. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised $19.1 million, former Vice President Joe Biden raised $15.2 million, and Sen. Kamala Harris raised $11.6 million.
Louisiana's Gubernatorial Election. Six candidates [incumbent John Bel Edwards (D), Ralph Abraham (R), Oscar Dantzler (D), Gary Landrieu (independent), Patrick Landry (R), and Eddie Rispone (R)] are running to serve as Louisiana’s governor in a jungle-style primary on Oct. 12. Any of the six candidates can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote in the primary. Of the five gubernatorial elections between 1999 and 2015, three were won outright in the primary and two (in 2003 and 2015) proceeded to general elections. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a general election between the top two vote-getters will be held Nov. 16. The Republican Governors’ Association has called Louisiana a top pick-up opportunity for Republicans, while Edwards looks to defend the only Democratic governorship in the Deep South. Vice President Mike Pence was in the state for a rally over the weekend, Donald Trump Jr. will be in the state today, and the President plans to visit on Friday after a campaign rally in Minneapolis.
Arizona Senate Race. The race for Arizona’s “toss-up” Senate seat is gearing up to be an expensive one. Former astronaut Mark Kelly (D) announced he raised more than $5.5 million in his challenge to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R), who was appointed to the Senate after the death of John McCain. Kelly, who has $9.5 million sitting in his campaign war chest, garnered over 150,000 donations averaging $36 each. Sen. McSally, meanwhile, raised $3 million during the third quarter, from more than 47,000 contributions with an average donation of $64. She has $5.6 million on hand, which she will have to dip into during a tough primary fight as she will be challenged from the right by businessman Daniel McCarthy. The 2018 Senate race between McSally and eventual winner Kyrsten Sinema saw $118.7 million spent by the candidates and by political action committees on their behalf, and the race was the fourth-most expensive in the country that year, according to opensecrets.