April 18, 2017

Stephen Colbert has returned from Easter break, and he kicked off Monday's Late Show with a brief recap of President Trump's first White House Easter Egg Roll earlier in the day. He cringed at the moment when first lady Melania Trump had to nudge the president during the national anthem. "He forgot to put his hand over his heart," Colbert said. "It happens to everybody. I mean, when I saw that footage I almost forgot to put my hand over my face." And yet, he added, that was "not the most embarrassing thing to happen at the Easter Egg Roll. That honor goes to the official White House Snapchat account, that sent out this snap featuring a bunch of kids gathered around the 'Secretary of Educauon [sic] Betsy DeVos.' Yes, it's like Betsy DeVos always says: There's no 'i' in education, the way I spell it."

But Colbert's vacation left a lot of news on the table, and he started with Trump's decision to bomb Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's air base — and his retelling of that fateful decision, paired with a chocolate cake, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and mixing up the country he bombed. "Hey, South Korea, before the war starts, just to be on the safe side, you might want to break out the spray paint," Colbert said, showing an image of the Korean Peninsula with "The Good Korea (Do Not Bomb)" scrawled in yellow paint across the lower half.

Trump also dropped a massive bomb in Afghanistan, but he really has his sights on North Korea, which tried and failed to fire off a ballistic missile on Sunday. Colbert had a heart-to-heart with Kim Jong Un: "Kim, buddy, it happens to everybody. You get all excited, you want to prove your manhood, and then, blam-o. The next time, think about bombing baseball or something." And he ended with a look at Trump's recent tweets, raising what could be an evergreen question for The Late Show: "Am I high right now, or have I just been huffing pure Trump for too long?" Colbert ended back where he began, showing a Trump tweet about the "Congressioal [sic] race tomorrow" in Georgia. "That's right, 'congressioal.' Someone's being tutored by Betsy DeVos." Watch below. Peter Weber

10:37 a.m. ET

After Monday's news that Seattle's $15 minimum wage experiment is actually lowering low-wage employees' income, restaurant workers in Maine must be feeling pretty prescient. Their minimum wage saga started back in November, when voters approved a referendum raising their minimum wage from $3.75 an hour in 2016 to $12 by 2024.

The intention was to lessen servers' reliance on tips, a plan that only sounded good to people who aren't servers. Since that vote, restaurant workers have lobbied the state legislature to undo the change, arguing it will mean lower income and preferring to maintain the tips system instead. This month, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in their favor, and Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed the bill into law late last week.

The servers' stance has them at odds with labor activists who insist tipped wages expose restaurant workers to exploitation. "I don't need to be 'saved' [by activists], and I’ll be damned if small groups of uninformed people are voting on my livelihood," said Sue Vallenza, a Maine bartender who saw her tips decrease after the referendum. "You can't cut someone off at the knees like that."

Similar wage debates are brewing in other states, including Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New York. There too, tipped workers have begun to organize to oppose changes to their pay. Bonnie Kristian

10:20 a.m. ET

On Monday night, a group of Democratic lawmakers sat down on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to talk about Republicans' plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. The impromptu event started with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) streaming a Facebook Live talk about TrumpCare, and it quickly grew from there.

Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), and Bob Casey (Penn.), among others, joined Booker and Lewis on the Capitol steps, as did a crowd of about 20 people. Ben Wikler, the Washington director of progressive public policy group Move On, estimated that by 11 p.m. ET Monday, "hundreds of people" were outside the U.S. Capitol "promising to show up every day this week to fight TrumpCare."

People shared stories about their life-saving health-care experiences, which Wikler tweeted out:

"I don't know if we beat TrumpCare," Wikler wrote. "But I know that tonight gave me hope for a movement that believes health care is a right."

This week, Senate Republicans are pushing to vote on their health-care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that under the BCRA, an additional 22 million people would be uninsured by 2026 than under the current law, ObamaCare. Becca Stanek

10:12 a.m. ET

After fueling speculation that he might set aside the spray tan forever, Alec Baldwin has confirmed he'll reprise his role as President Trump for Saturday Night Live when the show returns for its 43rd season this fall. "Yeah, we're going to fit that in," he told CNN. "I think people have enjoyed it."

Earlier this year, the actor suggested he might be done with the impression after a single season of SNL. "There's a style the president has to have, and I think the maliciousness of this White House has people very worried," he said in March. "Which is why I'm not going to do it much longer, by the way, the impersonation. I don't know how much more people can take it."

NBC has yet to announce an official SNL premiere date, but in the meantime, here's Baldwin as Trump weighing in on the Russia investigation. Bonnie Kristian

10:08 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court's nine-month term ended Monday, marking a historic period of time for the judicial branch as the justices set a modern record for reaching consensus. Because the court operated with just eight justices for the majority of its term, the breakdown "probably required having a lot more discussion of some things and more compromise and maybe narrower opinions than we would have issued otherwise," said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The term had the highest share of unanimous cases ever after 2013, but it also had the highest share of votes in the majority opinion in at least 70 years, The New York Times reports. Additionally, the share of cases decided by a margin of 5-3 or 5-4 was well below the court's average.

"It has been a quiet term, and that is a good thing for the country," said University of Chicago law professor William Baude. "Overall, this year the court was the least dramatic, and most functional, branch of government."

That could soon change. Notably, the 2016-2017 term did not have the same high-profile cases of terms past, like recent gay rights, health care, and abortion rulings. "We got used to the idea that every year the court decides several of the biggest national political issues — six or seven consecutive 'terms of the century' — but this year saw a regression to the mean," said Cato Institute lawyer Ilya Shapiro.

That won't last, though. The court has agreed to hear cases on "a clash between gay rights and claims of religious freedom, constitutional limits on partisan gerrymandering, cell phone privacy, human rights violations by corporations, and the ability of employees to band together to address workplace issues," The New York Times writes.

And that's not to mention the October arguments on President Trump's travel ban. Jeva Lange

9:51 a.m. ET
Screenshot / Mediaite

Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday slammed Senate Republicans for being willing to jam through the health-care bill just to get to the next legislative battle. "You talk to these jackasses behind closed doors and you go 'what are you doing' and they go 'we've got to get to the tax bill so we've got to do this first,'" Scarborough said, marveling at the fact that some lawmakers were willing to change "one-sixth of the economy so we can get to a tax bill."

Scarborough also took a swipe at President Trump. "There is no attempt to hide the fact that Donald Trump is breaking every promise he made and that they will have a disproportionate — in fact hurting — older, middle-income Americans," he said, referring to the bill's massive cuts to Medicaid.

Trump has promised not to cut Medicaid funding, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that the Senate health-care bill would slash funding for Medicaid by $772 billion over the next decade. "Grandma and grandpa are coming home to live on the couch downstairs," said Morning Joe contributor Mike Barnacle. "Thrown out of the nursing home."

Watch the segment over at Mediaite. Becca Stanek

9:25 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has just days left before he gets to return to his own bed in Utah, leaving his Capitol Hill office cot behind for good. But before he goes, Chaffetz has called for a $2,500 monthly housing stipend to help lawmakers afford living in D.C.

"Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive places in the world, and I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college, and a second place here in Washington, D.C.," Chaffetz told The Hill. "I think a $2,500 housing allowance would be appropriate and a real help to have at least a decent quality of life in Washington if you're going to expect people to spend hundreds of nights a year here."

Chaffetz agreed that $174,000 is a "handsome" salary for a congressman but added that the extra $30,000 a year would "allow the non-millionaires to participate and you would be able to have your spouse join you here. If I wasn't buying as many airline tickets, it would ultimately be less expensive."

A stipend of $2,500 a month would run taxpayers around $16 million a year if all 535 members of Congress received it. As of May 2017, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. was $2,091 a month.

"I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress," Chaffetz said, adding: "There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don't know how healthy that is long term." Jeva Lange

8:39 a.m. ET

A majority of Canadians now dislike the United States, a first since records began being kept 35 years ago. Likely, though, it has been much longer since Canadians felt so negatively about their southerly neighbors: "Maybe it was pretty bad in 1812," Environics Institute executive director Keith Neuman quipped to the Toronto Star, "but there's no data for that."

Under President Trump, only 43 percent of Canadians view the U.S. favorably, with 51 percent holding a negative view. The revelation comes from a Pew study that also found just two countries trust America more under President Trump than under former President Barack Obama. Canadians are especially stung, though: Under Obama, 83 percent of Canadians trusted the American president to do the right thing, while just 22 percent feel the same confidence in Trump.

Historian Jack Granatstein, an expert on Canadian anti-Americanism, offered the Star an explanation. "Most Canadians think, I believe, that the Americans go into periodic episodes of utter craziness, and they're in one now," said Granatstein. "So it's not surprising that Canadians would reach back to their tribal beliefs and assume that. It's a long history." Jeva Lange

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