Y’ALL READY FOR THIS? Alabama voters head to the polls today to pick between Sen. Luther Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (or “Ray Moore” as President Trump repeatedly called himMonday). The election is about much more than who will represent Republicans in the general election in December. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “have put their political muscle on the line in Alabama’s Senate race — and they’ve done it for the clear underdog in Tuesday’s primary,” Daniel Strauss reports. Not a single poll has shown Strange beating Moore in the runoff, despite a McConnell-aligned super PAC spending millions to boost the incumbent and Trump traveling to the state over the weekend.
-Five things to watch when the polls close tonight: http://politi.co/2hsU6K7
‘PACK OF MORONS’ — Former White House strategist Steve Bannon stole the show at a rally for Moore Monday, repeatedly ripping into McConnell and declaring war against the GOP establishment, Alex Isenstadt reports from Alabama. “For Mitch McConnell and Ward Baker and Karl Rove and Steven Law — all the instruments that tried to destroy Judge Moore and his family — your day of reckoning is coming,” Bannon said, referring to the Republican Senate leader and a trio of prominent GOP strategists backing Strange. Bannon said mainstream Republicans behind Strange's campaign regard Alabama voters as “a pack of morons.” More: http://politi.co/2htCTAj
JUST CAN’T QUIT YA — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed to keep up the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare Monday night, even though his bill with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) seems all but dead amid firm opposition from Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and, as of Monday, Susan Collins (R-Maine). “It’s OK to vote. It’s OK to fall short,” Graham said during a CNN debate Monday with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elana reports.
Don’t stop believing: Republicans are already eyeing future ways to repeal Obamacare using a 50-vote majority, Seung Min, Jen Haberkorn and Burgess report. One option would be to combine reconciliation instructions for both tax reform and health care in the fiscal 2018 budget resolution. Graham and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who both sit on the Budget Committee -- where Republicans have just a one-seat majority -- are already promising to tank any resolution that doesn’t address both tax reform and health care.
But McConnell is skeptical of a plan to combine repealing Obamacare and tax reform in next year’s budget, they report. “The Senate GOP has already proved unable to find the votes to repeal Obamacare, at least for now. Adding health care into the mix could end up sinking the Republicans' tax bill.” The latest: http://politi.co/2hwqID2
Meanwhile, 181 protesters, many of them in wheelchairs, were arrested by Capitol Police on Monday for interrupting a Senate Finance hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill, ABC News reports. "If you want a hearing -- if you want a hearing, you better shut up," Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, adjourning the meeting until the protesters could be physically removed by police.
OH HEY TUESDAY, I SEE YOU. Welcome to Sept. 26 and thanks for tuning in toPOLITICO’s Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill.
MONDAY’S MOST CLICKED: The list of Democratic House candidates NewDem Pac is keeping an eye on – and might endorse – was the big winner.
IT’S SHOWTIME — Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, will meet behind closed doors with House investigators today in what he promises will be “epic” testimony. "Never pass up a chance to have sex, be on television or testify before a House Congressional Committee,” Stone tweeted. “Stone faces questions from federal investigators about his ties to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose website dumped troves of emails last year hacked from the Gmail account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta,” Kyle reports. “Stone indicated in August 2016 that he had communicated with Assange through backchannels and later that month seemed to foreshadow the email dump.” More: http://politi.co/2husQev
JUDICIARY TALKS MUELLER PROTECTION BILLS — The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing this morning to examine proposals to shield special counsel Robert Mueller from any presidential attempt to fire him before his Russia probe is complete. The four law professors testifying are expected to address the constitutional questions surrounding two bipartisan proposals -- one from Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), and the other from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) -- that would open a path to judicial review of any attempted Mueller firing. Livestream starting at 10 a.m.: http://bit.ly/2fmrQ7D
Related Russia news: The batch of 3,000 Russia-bought ads Facebook is turning over to congressional investigators reveal a targeted campaign to sow racial and religious discord in the U.S., the Washington Post reports. Meanwhile, congressional investigators are getting frustrated as the White House and DOJ continue to withhold Russia-related documents on everything from Jared Kushner’s security clearance to details of Trump’s conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, CNN reports.
TAX REFORM TUESDAY — Trump will meet with a bipartisan group of Ways and Means lawmakers this morning, one day before his big tax reform speech in Indiana. On the invite list: Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), George Holding (R-N.C.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), W&M ranking member Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), John Larson (D-Conn.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).
GOP UNVEILS DREAMERS BILL — Senate Republicans on Monday released their own bill to protect Dreamers but the plan is far more conservative than other measures aimed at helping the young undocumented immigrants, Seung Min reports. The GOP’s Dreamer blueprint, sponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), creates a pathway to legalization for Dreamers, but it won’t allow them to sponsor family members to the United States. More: http://politi.co/2wh6Whn
Meanwhile, House Democrats filed a discharge petition Monday night in an effort to force a vote on their bipartisan Dream Act. The effort is a long shot – it would require two dozen Republicans to buck their leadership and sign on in support before a vote is forced. The legislative jockeying comes as more than 150,000 DACA enrollees face a looming Oct. 5 deadline to renew their permits. On Monday, more than three dozen Senate Democrats sent a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke urging her to extend that deadline in light of the hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
UH, NOT SO FAST — House Oversight leaders Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) want a list of White House aides who used their private emails or sent encrypted cell phone messages related to official government business by Oct. 9, Kyle and Rachael report. The probe comes after a POLITICO report Sunday that Jared Kushner created a private domain and used his personal email account to conduct White House business in early 2017, an issue Republicans continue to hammer former secretary of State Hillary Clinton about, even now.
Since the Kushner news, it’s been revealed that five of Trump’s other top advisers have at least occasionally done the same thing, the New York Times reports. In addition to Kushner, his wife Ivanka Trump, former strategist Steve Bannon, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and advisers Gary Cohn and Stephen Miller all sent or received work emails from their personal accounts. Priebus tried to discourage the practice while in the White House but the request was largely ignored, including by himself, Josh Dawsey reports.
THE LATEST FROM PUERTO RICO — “After Maria, the territory’s leaders are hoping their strongest leverage to get long-term aid from Washington will be the sizable populations of Puerto Ricans who reside on the mainland and constitute a powerful voting bloc, especially in places like New York and Florida,” Jacqueline Klimas reports from San Juan. “They are focused on building a coalition of lawmakers to gain support for a new federal aid bill. Congress has already passed a $15 billion package to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, but House Speaker Paul Ryan has signaled that more aid is on the way.” More: http://politi.co/2yqEGtl
Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted Monday: Returning from #PuertoRico now. Tremendous damage. Potential for serious crisis in areas outside of #SanJuan MUST get power crews in ASAP
TURBULENT TAKEOFF FOR FAA EXTENSION — House Democrats on Monday blocked a Republican push to fast-track an FAA extension, with just days to go until current law expires Sept. 30. Top Democrats announced plans to vote against the six-month extension earlier in the day, citing opposition to unrelated Republican add-ons dealing with flood insurance, tax credits for victims of recent hurricanes and expiring health care programs. House Republicans are expected to bring up the bill again under a rule — which requires only a simple majority for passage — later this week. But Senate Democrats are also uneasy with the extension, and it's unclear whether they would try to block the bill in the upper chamber. Your Huddle host and Lauren Gardner with more: http://politi.co/2hvg2El
WANT TO HAVE THE BEST TUESDAY OF YOUR LIFE? Our very own Seung Min Kim is participating in the annual National Press Club spelling bee tonight! She’s one of several reporters facing off against lawmakers including Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:15 p.m. More details: http://bit.ly/2yoYhtE
WEINER GETS JAIL TIME — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Monday after pleading guilty earlier this year to a felony for exchanging sexual text messages with an underage girl. Weiner was also fined $10,000, has to register as a sex offender and must surrender to jail by Nov. 6. The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/2fnRCsq
TODAY IN CONGRESS — The Senate meets at 10 a.m. with policy lunches starting at 12:30 p.m. The House gavels in at 10 a.m. with first votes at 1 p.m. and last votes at 4 p.m. Today’s agenda: http://bit.ly/2hsTDre
AROUND THE HILL — Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) take questions from reporters after the GOP weekly meeting at 10 a.m. in the RNC lobby.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) will take questions from reporters after the weekly caucus meeting at 10:15 a.m. in HVC Studio B. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will hold his weekly pen and pad at 11 a.m. in H-144.
Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) will hold a press conference on the Graham-Cassidy bill at 11:30 a.m. in the Senate swamp.
Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Kevin Brady (R-Texas) hold a press conference on the Republican Study Committee’s fall agenda at 12:30 p.m. in the House triangle.
McCarthy, House Budget Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) hold a press conference starting at 2 p.m. in the House triangle on a pro-life bill the House will consider.
Senate Republican and Democratic leaders will hold separate press conference starting around 2 p.m. in the Ohio Clock Corridor after their weekly caucus lunches. Vice President Mike Pence will join Republicans.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) will join health care advocates for a rally outside the Capitol against the Graham-Cassidy bill starting at 3 p.m.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), James Risch (R-Idaho) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) participate in a briefing on the 2017 forest fire season with a press availability after starting at 3 p.m. at the USDA Forest Service Headquarters, 201 14th Street SW.