White House’s Sean Spicer uses ‘phenomenal’ to describe controversial Trump initiatives. Report suggests Trump has power to rescind Bears Ears National Monument. Draper mayor pulls two site suggestions for relocated homeless shelter after public meeting.
Happy Thursday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has used the adjective "phenomenal" to describe a slew of topics during President Donald Trump’s first weeks in office, including the controversial travel ban, the short-lived health care bill and the tense relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. On March 23, Spicer said Trump "has done a phenomenal job, there’s no question" while talking about pulling the GOP plan to replace Obamacare. Again on Feb. 23 he said Trump was "doing a phenomenal job of staffing the government." And on Feb. 22, "I think the relationship with Mexico is phenomenal right now." That leaves some questioning: Does his use of the word correlate with the president’s less successful initiatives? [Politico]
Topping the news: A new report from a conservative think tank argues that President Donald Trump has the power to rescind Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah — though that power has never been tested in court. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Draper Mayor Troy Walker pulled the two homeless shelter locations that he’d proposed in his city on Tuesday off the table after hearing from nearly 1,000 angry residents who demanded the rescission during a public meeting Wednesday. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Gov. Gary Herbert gets strong marks from more than two-thirds of Utahns. However, the Legislature can’t quite muster majority approval, despite a big thumbs up from Republicans and "very active" Mormons. [Trib]
Tweets of the day: From @ananavarro: "Convo w/foreign pal- Her: What’s this March Madness I keep hearing of? Me: That’s what we call the 3rd month of the Trump Administration."
-> From @TeaPainUSA: "GOP: We can’t release Trump’s tax returns, but here’s your neighbor’s browser history."
Happy Birthday: To former State Rep. Lorie Fowlke and the Department of Environmental Quality’s Stacee Adams.
In other news: Though Sen. Mike Lee insists it’s too early to give up on attempts to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Orrin Hatch said whether efforts resurface is out of his hands and depends on House Speaker Paul Ryan. [DNews]
-> A group of millionaires delivered a letter to Hatch’s office asking for a tax increase on the wealthy, arguing this would ensure "the opportunity America offers continues on into the future for everyone." [Fox13]
-> Gov. Gary Herbert gave his final approval for bills from the 2017 legislative session yesterday at a Riverton middle school, signing a package of education bills related to bullying prevention, teacher evaluations and a new public education budget that adds roughly $240 million to school spending. [Trib] [DNews] [ABC4] [Fox13]
-> Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski expressed hope that her proposal for 28 new electric vehicle stations that would could charge cars for free for a few months would incentivize eco-friendly drivers to use the outlets. [Trib]
-> The Utah Department of Transportation held an open house meeting to gather public input on proposed construction in Salt Lake County that would add a lane to an area of southbound I-15 and widen a section of 7200 South. [ABC4] [Fox13]
-> Utah Vietnam veterans were honored for their service at the Utah State Capitol yesterday — the 44th anniversary of the day the last American combat unit was pulled out of Vietnam. [Fox13]
-> A Mormon blogger who argues against celebrating racial and ethnic diversity, has raised questions for some about whether a group of alt-right Mormons is growing or shrinking. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley examines what he sees as the not-so-democratic relationship between Sen. Orrin Hatch and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. [Trib]
Nationally: The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said they plan to work across the aisle in their investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia, outlining their plan to interview 20 witnesses and making a point of distancing themselves from the House investigation. [WaPost] [NYTimes] [CNN] [Politico]
-> President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, will join her husband as an official government employee and serve her father as an unpaid assistant in the White House, raising questions about nepotism and conflicts of interest. [NYTimes] [CNN] [BBCNews] [PBSNews]
-> The Trump administration announced Tuesday that the entire White House staff plans to skip next month’s White House Correspondents Dinner in a gesture of "solidarity" with the president. A president has not missed the event since the 1970s, and the absence of the staff may be unprecedented. [TheHill] [NYTimes] [WaPost] [ABCNews]
Where are they?
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz heads to a roundtable discussion on federal shared services, speaks at Judicial Watch and returns to Utah.
- Rep. Chris Stewart attends a House Intelligence Committee briefing, meets with the Association for Utah Community Health, votes and flies to Utah.
- Rep. Mia Love contributes to a planning and strategy meeting with members of the Financial Services Committee, gathers with the Association for Utah Community Health, conducts a legislative planing meeting with staff and heads to Utah.
- State Auditor John Dougall meets with a legislator and a school business administrator and attends the San Juan County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner.
- President Donald Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing, meets with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and hosts a legislative affairs lunch on opioid and drug abuse. Then, he welcomes and meets with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen before leading an expanded bilateral meeting with him.
-- Courtney Tanner and Taylor Stevens