But first up today: What we know and don't (and why we don't) about the explosions at a swamped chemical plant north of Houston; Russia warns the US that further sanctions against North Korea would be "dangerous"; US continues diplomatic tit-for-tat with Russia by ordering several more diplomatic facilities closed, and; Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now reportedly working with NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in their criminal probes of Team Trump in what could serve as an end run around Donald Trump's pardon power of his associates at the federal level, and even a hedge against the possibility of the President removing the Special Counsel from his post in some way.
Then, as horrible as August has been on so many levels, TPM Congressional reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN joins us for some breaking news, and to explain why September could be even worse as Congress reconvenes next week following Summer recess, with "a nightmarishly short calendar during which they must pass a host of bills" to, among other things, approve a budget to keep the government from shutting down and avoid a federal default by raising the debt ceiling.
That, along with the need to fund disaster relief for Harvey, reauthorize children's healthcare and the national flood insurance programs by the end of the month, amid ongoing feuds between Trump and GOP Congressional leadership while the President threatens to shutdown the government if Congress fails to fund his border wall, almost assure what Ollstein characterizes as "The September From Hell". Even if we had a "Congress who generally got along, and generally got along with the President," Ollstein tells me, "it would have been so hard to pass all of these bills that are coming up. But we don't have that. We have a President who is attacking members of his own party — leaders in his own party — and the opposing party. We have a lot of bad blood."
Add to it all the Trump/GOP hopes of passing huge tax cuts ("an even heavier lift than health care reform," she says) and today's late breaking news from Ollstein, fresh off a call with the Health and Human Services Dept. announcing the Administration plans to slash the Affordable Care Act's advertising budget by 90% in advance of this year's truncated Open Enrollment period, and it all amounts to not only a September from Hell, but likely a rest-of-the-year from same.
Enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend if possible, but buckle up thereafter, as Ollstein warns: "We thought it couldn't get any crazier than August, but get ready." Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more coverage of the ongoing devastation from Harvey, before we finish up with some actually very good news concerning nuclear power, solar power, and the nation's largest utility company.
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