By Seung Min Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org or @seungminkim)
CLASSIC REID: MCCONNELL ‘CUDDLED UP’ WITH TRUMP – POLITICO’s Burgess Everett sits down with the outgoing Senate Democratic leader in North Las Vegas: “Harry Reid says the public knows plenty about Donald Trump, and there’s nothing he could do to make the presumptive GOP nominee more unpopular than he already is. So rather than becoming the Trump attack dog, like he was with Mitt Romney four years ago, Reid sees his charge as something different this time: to make Mitch McConnell and Senate GOP incumbents eat Trump’s endless stream of divisive statements.”
Story Continued Below
–“It’s the key, the outgoing Democratic leader said in an extensive interview with POLITICO here Wednesday, to returning the Senate to his party’s control …‘It’s easy to do: The Senate leadership is enthralled by Trump. ‘He’s the guy. He’s going to carry on the standards of the Republican Party.’ Wow,” Reid said in the dingy campaign headquarters of House candidate Ruben Kihuen … McConnell and Trump are ‘cuddled up together,’ Reid added, citing the Republican leader’s comment this week that Trump would be ‘just fine’ as president.” http://goo.gl/iyueSC
–Reid sure is a man who knows how to make headlines. Here’s another from AP’s Erica Werner, where he calls on Bernie Sanders to “do a little mathing” and realize he can’t win the Democratic nomination: http://goo.gl/oqNCpI
VEEP WATCH: @jeneps – Asked about Cory Booker for VP, Clinton opens her mouth really big. Booker: “I’m already her VP. Her vegan pal.”
MUST-READ PASSAGES FROM MCCONNELL’S BOOK – Huddle read Mitch McConnell’s new memoir so you don’t have to (although it’s pretty good, we would recommend it). The highlights: “Almost calling it quits … A ‘particularly annoying’ meeting with Obama … When the president insulted his aide … McConnell vs. DeMint … That ‘one-term president’ quip … How he won the (student council) presidency … On Harry Reid: ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’” http://goo.gl/7Bfll2
–Burgess reports that Reid has no plans to read the book: “Why should I? No, I know enough about him.”
GOP SENATORS OPPOSE TRUMP ABROAD – From Yonhap News Agency in Seoul, a notable departure by three Senate Republicans from their standard-bearer’s foreign policy: “Three Republican senators have voiced opposition to their presidential candidate Donald Trump’s argument that South Korea should pay more for the upkeep of American troops on its soil. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) also told Yonhap News Agency in an exclusive interview Tuesday that there will be no renegotiation of the allies’ free trade agreement despite Trump’s apparent wish to reexamine the deal.”
–“Trump has also accused South Korea of getting a free ride on defense, saying Seoul should pay more to keep 28,500 American troops stationed on its soil to help defend against North Korean aggression. ‘Already the Republic of Korea bears the large brunt of what goes on in the Korean Peninsula,” Ernst said. ‘As we look at Europe and NATO, there are countries there that, yes, need to do more. They have not stepped up to that challenge yet. However, when you take a look at the Korean Peninsula, it’s a very different situation.’” http://goo.gl/3XPj55
ALWAYS CHECK YOUR WORK – Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a NARAL ad attacking Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) accidentally calls him “Rob”: http://goo.gl/1Nal0H
TPP FANS AIM FOR LAME-DUCK VOTE – Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: The same harsh politics that have spawned obituaries for President Obama’s signature trade agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations could actually help win its ratification in Congress in a lame-duck vote late this year, advocates are hoping.”
–“The cause of free and open trade has not faced such political toxicity in decades, with Donald J. Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders all openly hostile to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest regional trade accord in history. But supporters’ seemingly perverse calculation is this: The certainty that Mr. Obama’s successor would abandon the agreement gives new impetus for advocates to begin maneuvering toward a vote before 2017.” http://goo.gl/cWi7JS
SANDERS DIGS IN ON PUERTO RICO – AP’s Mary Clare Jalonick: “Three days before Puerto Rico’s primary, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is digging in on his opposition to a House deal to rescue the U.S. territory from $70 billion in debt … His bill would allow the Federal Reserve to give the territory emergency loans and provide broad bankruptcy protections, unlike legislation approved by a House committee last week that would create a control board to oversee limited debt restructuring.”
–“Sanders’ bill would also boost Medicaid and Medicare payments to the island and designate $10.8 billion to rebuild the territory’s crumbling infrastructure. The Vermont senator has said the existing House bill would make ‘a terrible situation even worse’ and that it serves Wall Street bondholders over ordinary Puerto Ricans.” http://goo.gl/bPY38c. A section-by-section of Sanders’ bill: http://goo.gl/9B7XHP
TRANSITIONS – Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has brought on Sarah Dolan to serve as his press secretary. Dolan was most recently rapid response director for Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. “Sarah thrives in a high-paced environment and is a perfect match for our team,” Kirk said in a statement.
And POLITICO’s own Liz Breckenridge, the executive director of administration, is headed off to Capitol Hill: “I’m incredibly grateful for my time here and it’s been such an amazing, amazing privilege to work with all of you. … On June 9 I start my next adventure in Senator Bob Casey’s office.”
HAPPY THURSDAY, June 2, 2016 and welcome to the Huddle, where we’re marking the 30th anniversary of live TV coverage of the Senate on C-SPAN2. Where would we be without all those quorum calls? More about the anniversary here: http://goo.gl/8Uq5JB. As always, I’m at email@example.com and on Twitter at @seungminkim.
My new followers include @AmesCG and @anaeazpurua.
TODAY IN CONGRESS – Nothing.
AROUND THE HILL – Nothing!
DAN SULLIVAN VS. MURKOWSKI FOR SENATE – Yep, you read that right. Erica Martinson explains for the Alaska Dispatch News: “Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan filed to face U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary moments before the candidate deadline Wednesday. Sullivan … was a surprise candidate when he showed up at the state elections office about 10 minutes before the doors closed at 5 p.m, wearing jeans, a polo and blazer.”
–“If he wins, Alaska would have the odd distinction of having two Dan Sullivans serving in the U.S. Senate … Ex-Mayor Sullivan finished filling out his paperwork at the office counter while joking with reporters about lifting Sen. Dan Sullivan’s old campaign signs.” http://goo.gl/6EKIHM
@Nat_Herz: “Our signs will be Dan Sullivan squared.” #AKsen
HOUSE GOP FURIOUS OVER FIRED VA CHIEF — Tom LoBianco, Nelli Black and Deirdre Walsh for CNN: “The former head of the Veterans Affairs office in Phoenix, who was fired in the wake of the VA wait-time scandal, could find an easier path back to her old job because of a decision by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Sharon Helman … is arguing that a key portion of the reforms passed in the wake of the scandal is unconstitutional and denies her an important step to appeal her firing.”
–“Lynch alerted House Republican leaders Tuesday that the Justice Department will continue fighting against Helman’s reinstatement but is ceding that important argument to her … House Republicans were outraged Wednesday, saying the Obama administration had effectively cleared a path for one of the most important people at the center of the VA scandal to regain her job — essentially undoing months of work to clean up the VA.” http://goo.gl/vnUF4p
MCCONNELL OPPOSES VRA UPDATE – USA Today’s Mary Troyan and Susan Page: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose new memoir reverently recalls the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, said there’s no need for Congress to restore part of the law struck down three years ago … ‘What was struck down were the provisions that absurdly treated the South differently,’ McConnell told USA TODAY. ‘They don’t apply anymore. It’s 50 years later.’” http://goo.gl/7rdQ0Z
REPUBLICANS FOR LORETTA SANCHEZ? Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson takes a look into the unusual dynamics shaping the California Senate race: “For the California GOP, which hasn’t won a statewide race since Arnold Schwarzenegger was reelected governor in 2006, the prospect of a faceoff between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez in the fall is an invitation to play kingmaker. ‘You will see Republican operatives and business organizations working aggressively to support Loretta Sanchez,’ says strategist Mike Madrid, a former state GOP political director … In the House, Sanchez has joined Republicans on some issues, including shielding gun manufacturers from liability and curbing regulations on for-profit colleges.” http://goo.gl/rkTNVp
POLICE PROBING THEFT AT RANGEL’S HOME – The New York Daily News: “Police are investigating the disappearance of high-priced jewelry and a heavy bag of coins from the Harlem apartment of Rep. Charlie Rangel … Rangel’s wife, Alma, called police Wednesday morning after she noticed a diamond ring valued at $9,000, a gold ring, and a string of pearls missing from the bedroom of their apartment, sources said … The items — which included a bag of between $300 and $400 in change in the kitchen — were last seen on Thursday, sources said.” http://goo.gl/1g8vbq
PAUL RYAN ON BEING A DAD – His weekends are packed with sporting events, a strict no-sweets rule and Marvel superhero comics. From People magazine: “So Ryan is home in Janesville, Wisconsin, every week for a three-day weekend jammed with the track meets and volleyball and basketball games of his ‘Irish triplets’ — Liza, 14; Charlie, 13 and Sam, 11 — with wife Janna … ‘They get nervous when I focus on their athletics. It pushes them, but they also get a little nervous,’ Ryan says. ‘I’m not one of those yell-from-the-stands type of dads, but we’ll always talk after the game. Like a talking-to.’”
–People disclosed that one condition of securing the phoner with Ryan was that they not talk about Donald Trump: “At a closing joking reference to Trump, Ryan says with a chuckle, ‘I’m hanging up now!’ And then does.” http://goo.gl/e4iruu
WEDNESDAY’S TRIVIA WINNER – Brennan Georgianni was the first person to correctly answer that in 1960, John F. Kennedy (running against Richard Nixon) had the closest margin of victory in which the winner got both the popular and the Electoral College vote. Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote to Nixon’s 49.6 percent, and 303 Electoral College votes to Nixon’s 219.
TODAY’S TRIVIA – I’ll take this one: What is the fifth state in history to produce two Senate majority leaders, and what were the previous four states? The first person to correctly answer will get a mention in the next day’s Huddle. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
GET HUDDLE emailed to your Blackberry, iPhone or other mobile device each morning. Just enter your email address where it says “Sign Up.” http://www.politico.com/huddle/.