First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Why chaos is brewing in Congress — and why John Boehner could lose his job
Yesterday’s House Republican chaos over what to do next on the Iran deal is a reminder how combustible the next month could be in Washington, especially as Congress must pass legislation to keep the government open after Sept. 30. And it’s a reminder just how precarious Speaker John Boehner’s position is right now with his conservative base. Indeed, you have the making for a perfect storm — a conservative electorate angry that President Obama is poised for another win, despite Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress; a 2016 race where the incentive is for the candidates to move to the right; and the Age of Trump where his central argument is: “Why is everyone so weak?” If you add those things up and throw in a fight over Planned Parenthood and abortion, then you get trouble. Big trouble. Remember, both Boehner and Mitch McConnell received loud boos at yesterday’s “Stop the Iran Deal” rally.
Boehner’s problem isn’t ideology; it’s tactics
Here is the irony about Boehner’s predicament: He’s with GOP conservatives on the ideology. He’s against Planned Parenthood. He’s against the Iran deal. He criticizes Obama at every opportunity (see his comments yesterday on the Syrian migrants). But Boehner’s problem isn’t ideology; it’s tactics. House conservatives view Obama as someone who’s willing to do whatever it takes to win — executive action, Dem Senate eliminating the filibuster for executive appointments — and they don’t know why their leaders aren’t doing everything they can do to beat him. And now you have the situation where House GOP leaders can no longer blame Harry Reid and Senate Democrats for their inability to stop Obama since Republicans have the majority in that chamber.
The House GOP’s Plan B (or Plan D) on the Iran deal
Here is the dispatch by NBC’s Luke Russert on the House GOP chaos over the Iran deal: Instead of simply voting on a resolution of disapproval which was the original plan, yesterday the House Republican leadership came under fire from conservatives, who said that the clock for when Congress received the Iran deal from the administration did not start. They said this would make the deal invalid and that they should fight… Conservatives believe that the administration has not been forthcoming enough regarding “side deals” made between Iran and the IAEA regarding inspections. They believe that because the Administration has NOT disclosed these deals, the formal submission process of the deal never began and thus the clock which points to Sept. 17 when the deal takes place — never did not start… The House will now hold a series of three votes instead of a simple resolution of disapproval as intended:
- Vote 1—A non-binding expression of the House saying that the administration wasn’t forthcoming regarding the side deals. Probably Thursday.
- Vote 2—A vote on an actual bill that says the U.S. should NOT give Iran sanctions relief.
- Vote 3—A bill that calls members to vote on whether they APPROVE of the Iran deal (not DISAPPROVE as originally thought).
Trump vs. Carson — and Fiorina
It’s not just Donald Trump versus the establishment anymore. In the last 24 hours, he’s engaged in back-and-forths with the two non-traditional GOP candidates who have been building support throughout August with GOP primary voters — Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. And both are getting nasty. After he appeared to insult Fiorina’s looks in a Rolling Stone interview published late Wednesday (“Look at that face!”), Trump is now denying that his comments had anything to do with Fiorina’s physical appearance. (“I’m talking about persona!” he insisted to Fox News this morning.) Fiorina, for her part, observed that the comment was due to her own boost in primary polls. Also yesterday, Carson said that the biggest difference between him and Trump is his faith. “I’ve realized where my success has come from and I don’t in anyway deny my faith in God,” he told reporters in Anaheim, California. Trump shot back in an interview this morning with a variety of insults, calling Carson an “okay doctor” and taking aim at the former neurosurgeon’s low-key demeanor.
Another day, another bad poll for Hillary
Quinnipiac today is out with a new poll showing Bernie Sanders now leading Hillary in Iowa, 41%-40%. A couple of caveats here: One, our NBC/Marist poll that came out Sunday showed Clinton up by 11 points, and other polling in the state has shown her up either by single digits or by 20 or more points. Two, the Q-poll was conducted partially during the long Labor Day weekend. But what is TRUE is the overall trajectory for Clinton numbers. Whether she’s ahead or behind, her poll numbers have been going down – and that’s why you’ve seen the Clinton campaign take the recent actions it has (more ads, Ellen, apologizing for the emails). Of course, today is a bad day for Hillary to have a bad poll, given that Biden is making a swing through New York and is appearing on Colbert tonight.
CNN poll: Trump still leads the national GOP race
There’s another poll worth noting: Trump is leading in CNN’s national poll at 32% — followed by Carson at 19%, Jeb Bush at 9%, Ted Cruz at 7%, and Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker at 5%.
Walker looks to jumpstart campaign
Per NBC’s Shaquille Brewster, “Amid a backdrop of polls showing declining support, the GOP presidential candidate will head to Ronald Reagan’s alma mater in Illinois on Thursday to discuss how he plans to ‘wreak some havoc on Washington,’ promising his first day in office would be ‘one of the busiest the White House has seen in years.'” More: “‘We cannot expect those from Washington to fix Washington,’ Walker will say at Eureka College, according to excerpts released by his campaign. ‘Some people think you can fix Washington by putting new so-called experts in the same old places.'”