Daily Digest: Republican tax bill hits a snag

Good morning, and welcome to Friday. Here's your Daily Digest.

1.) The Republican tax bill, which appeared to be on a glide path to passage in the Senate, hit a snag late Thursday, thanks to concerns over how to pay for it. It was an abrupt halt that came after significant momentum Thursday morning, when it appeared as though the bill would sail through to passage. It came after the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation determined that the tax cuts included in the bill would not generate enough economic growth to offset themselves, which has been a primary selling point for lawmakers touting the bill. (See the New York Times' "How Many People in Your Income Group Would Get a Tax Cut?") Instead, the committee found, it would add $1 trillion in budget deficits over the next 10 years. The New York Times reports that a final vote is expected today, but not before lawmakers consider alternate approaches to making the bill sustainable.    (The New York Times)

2.) The Washington Post reports that President Donald Trump has suggested a government shutdown would be good for him. According to the paper, the president has confided in a number of people that such a move would help him politically. He also said he will continue to drill down on his hard-line stance on immigration, as a way to win back supporters who were frustrated by his overtures to Democrats in the fall. But White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short told reporters late Thursday that the president is “not advocating for a shutdown in any way. We want to make sure our military is funded. We want to make sure our priorities are funded. That’s why we invited [Democrats] over to have a conversation about a deal." House Republican leaders are facing a looming Dec. 8 spending deadline. The Post reports they are expected today to share a plan that would extend funding into December. (The Washington Post)

3.)  Attorney Sophia Vuelo  will become the state’s first judge of Hmong descent and only the second in the country with that distinction. Gov. Mark Dayton announced Vuelo's appointment to the Ramsey County District Court bench Thursday. Dayton has made diversifying state courts a hallmark of his two terms. Vuelo's appointment will fill a vacancy on the bench left by a retirement. She runs a solo practice, handling cases in juvenile protection, family and criminal matters, and has worked in various prosecuting roles.  (MPR News)

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4.) The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday that could pave the way for mining near the Boundary Waters. The bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, whose 6th Congressional District covers the area northwest of Minneapolis and through St. Cloud and Sartell, Minn. The bill would allow mining company Twin Metals to continue developing a potential copper-nickel mine near Ely, on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, by restoring the company's mineral leases and by halting a two-year study into the effects of mining within the watershed that flows into the Boundary Waters. The vote created unusual political alliances among Minnesota's congressional delegation: Two Democrats supported Emmer's bill, including Rick Nolan, who represents Minnesota's 8th District, where the mining activity is located. But Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen opposed the legislation, saying it unnecessarily stops an ongoing scientific, environmental review of the potential risks of copper-nickel mining within the watershed of the Boundary Waters. The bill passed 216-204, with 23 Republicans opposing it. It will now move to the Senate. (MPR News)

5.) The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics has opened a preliminary inquiry into accusations against DFL Sen. Al Franken. It's the first official step in an ethics investigation into multiple claims he groped or kissed women without their consent. The committee -- which is made up of three Republicans and three Democrats -- has not offered a timeline for the investigation. And, while the committee's work is typically kept quite, its members said in a joint statement Thursday that they were publicly confirming the misconduct inquiry. The announcement came hours after CNN published a story of an additional allegation, this one brought by an Army veteran who said she was stationed in the Middle East during a USO tour. She said that when Franken put his arm around her, "he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast." She's the fifth woman in the last two weeks to accuse the Democratic senator of misconduct. Last week, Franken broke his silence on the matter, speaking with MPR News' Cathy Wurzer. "This has been a shock to me," he said.  (MPR News)