Daily Briefing 10-24-17

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 297th day of the year. There are 68 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 14 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 90 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 135 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 378 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,106 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • POLL: Gov. Gary Herbert is still the most popular elected official in Utah. 67% of Utahns say they approve of his job performance, which is a slight downtick from previous polls [Utah Policy].
  • An internal email from the Utah Democratic Party shows leaders are considering a candidate recruitment plan designed to cut down on the number of primary elections the party has in 2018 [Utah Policy].
  • A legislative task force says it’s time for the state to have more control over the Utah Transit Authority, but they’re not sure how to go about accomplishing that objective [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • A federal court has upheld the conviction of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman for riding an ATV into a closed off area in southern Utah [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • 13 Democratic members of Congress are urging President Donald Trump to not change the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments [Tribune].
  • Residents in Big Cottonwood Canyon want to incorporate the town of Brighton and are taking steps to put the question on the ballot [Deseret News].
  • The Weber School District says they’ve taken disciplinary action against five Weber High School students who posted a video to social media showing them shouting racial slurs [Deseret NewsTribune].

National headlines:

  • Congressional Republicans are worried that President Trump’s penchant for freelancing on policy proposals could scuttle their best chance to pass changes to the tax code in decades [New York Times].
  • President Trump on Monday said tax reform would not touch tax benefits for 401(k) plans, which takes an idea that Republicans were considering to pay for a big tax cut off the table [Washington Post].
  • President Donald Trump is heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to try and convince GOP senators to get on board with the administration’s tax reform plan [The Hill].
  • Senior White House aides are working with an outside political group to sell tax reform to Americans [Politico].
  • The four Army Special Forces soldiers ambushed in Niger were possibly lured into an ambush by a terrorist organization seeking to become aligned with ISIS [NBC News].
  • The U.S. Special Forces ambushed in Niger waited more than an hour for nearby French forces to assist them. Four soldiers were killed and two others were injured [Washington Post].
  • The widow of one of the Special Forces soldiers killed in Niger says President Trump struggled to remember her husband’s name during a condolence call that has since sparked controversy [New York Times].
  • Despite protests of ignorance, the Trump administration informed members of the U.S. Senate that troops were operating in Niger months ago [Roll Call].
  • The White House is rushing to send condolence letters to the families who have lost servicemembers after President Trump made the false claim that he has already contacted most of those families [Roll Call].
  • Drain the swamp? #1 A small Montana company with just two employees won a $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure. Whitefish Energy is based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke [Washington Post].
  • Drain the swamp? #2 The Environmental Protection Agency is ramping up the personal security detail for Administrator Scott Pruitt. The agency is increasing the number of people on the security team from 18 to 30, who will provide round-the-clock protection for Pruitt. The increase will cost more than $2 million annually [CNN].
  • Drain the swamp? #3 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has helped conservative groups pull in millions of dollars in donations since 2014, but critics say those groups operate “scam PACs” that raise money from small donors, then spend those funds on overhead and consultants [Politico]. 
  • More than 200 cities submitted proposals to host the new Amazon.com headquarters [Recode].

On this day in history:

  • 1648 – The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years’ War in Europe.
  • 1861 – The first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States is completed.
  • 1901 – Daredevil Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel.
  • 1929 – “Black Thursday” stock market crash on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 1962 – The blockade of Cuba was in effect, with a ring of U.S. warships and planes under orders to block further arms deliveries to Fidel Castro.