The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Wednesday! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

 

Birthday bash: The state of West Virginia is celebrating its birthday today on Capitol Hill with food, beverages and promotional spin galore. Akin to the state motto: Wild, Wonderful, and welcoming ... Dirksen Senate Office Building, 5:30 p.m., room G-50.  

 

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There has been a stampede over the last 24 hours of GOP lawmakers desperate to end the public relations and political crisis thrust on them by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report MORE’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border.

Trump trekked to Capitol Hill last night to visit with House Republicans about immigration, but the key to ending the crisis may lie in the Senate.

The Hill: Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances The Hill's 12:30 Report Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Ky.) says the GOP majority is committed to ending the family separation crisis at the border, which has ignited fierce protests and galvanized Republicans and Democrats in opposition.

“I support, and all of the senators of the Republican conference support, a plan that keeps families together.” – McConnell.

The path to accomplishing this will be tricky.

For instance, Senate Democrats rightly note that the Trump administration could end its recently enacted “zero tolerance” policy today, if the president were to instruct Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Hill.TV poll: 41 percent of Americans want Mueller to wrap up probe before midterms The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) MORE to do so.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Dem lawmaker calls Trump racist in response to 'dog' comment PETA calls out Trump for attacking Omarosa as a 'dog' MORE (R-Utah), who has a good relationship with the president, sent him a letter signed by 11 other GOP senators pleading for a temporary halt to the policy.

            “It’s not American to do this.” – Hatch.

But Trump is digging in, blaming Democrats, “loopholes” in the law and the media and demanding that Congress fix the problem.

    “Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis...Totally open borders or criminal prosecution for law breaking...So what I'm asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year -- the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit.  We have to be able to do this. This is the only solution to the border crisis.” – Trump

Immigration has been an intractable issue on Capitol Hill for a decade, so including a fix on family separations in a broad immigration reform package – like those that will be considered in the House on Thursday – seems hopeless.

That leaves a potential opening for a narrow bill aimed specifically at expediting the processing of those who have been arrested trying to cross into the country illegally and allowing those with children to stay with those kids over the course of that process.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBeto O’Rourke: Term limits can help keep politicians from turning into a--holes Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Former spokeswoman defends Trump calling Omarosa ‘dog’: He’s called men dogs MORE (R-Texas) has released a bill to this effect, and other Republicans appear to be open to it.

 
Takeaway: Republicans are not happy about being dealt this crisis during an election year in which they’re desperately seeking to hold on to their majority in the House. Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNew Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders House Dem: Party's aging leaders is 'a problem' Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Wis.) just beat back a revolt among his caucus on immigration, which produced two bills pertaining to the plight of “Dreamers” that could see a vote this Thursday. Neither is likely to become law and both are unlikely to even pass the House. That means the GOP needs to come up with a specific fix to address the family separations issue – and they need to do it fast, so the party can move on.

The Memo: Religious right hits Trump on border crisis.

Reuters exclusive interview: Pope Francis is critical of Trump administration policy on migrant family separation. “It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” he says.

NBC News: The price tag associated with federal “tent cities” to detain divided migrant families under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy is higher than costs in previous administrations, according to government data.

The Washington Post: Trump didn’t invent family separation but his administration was willing to try it.

The Associated Press: Youngest migrants held in “tender age” shelters. No clear plan yet on how to reunite children with parents.

 

 

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As a Medicare Part D Cliff looms for seniors, the program’s successful structure is also in jeopardy. Congress can act now to protect seniors from the donut hole suddenly increasing by more than $1,200, and secure the program for the future by fixing changes that undermine its successful competitive structure.


LEADING THE DAY

INVESTIGATIONS:  FBI agent Peter Strzok, a key figure in the election year investigations into Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMueller recommends Papadopoulos be sentenced to up to 6 months in prison Poll: Dem opponent leads Scott Walker by 5 points Cuomo fires back at Trump: 'America is great because it rejects your hate-filled agenda' MORE, was escorted out of the FBI last Friday amid an internal review into his conduct (The Hill).

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a scathing report last week about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation. In it, Horowitz revealed numerous anti-Trump messages that Strzok exchanged with then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page. In one text, Strzok said he’d try to stop Trump from getting elected.

Horowitz also questioned whether political bias against Trump led Strzok to ignore new developments in the Clinton case so he could prioritize the Trump-Russia probe.

Strzok has not been fired yet, but FBI Director Christopher Wray has pledged to clean house. Strzok is one of five agents who have been referred to the FBI’s personnel office for discipline over anti-Trump messages. The FBI is refusing to name the other four individuals.

Jonathan Turley: FBI has no excuse to hide future scandals from the public.

For the second consecutive day, Horowitz appeared before a congressional committee to discuss his report, which also found fault with former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report White House drafts docs for Trump to revoke more security clearances: report Strzok firing a needed first step to restoring credibility and fairness to the FBI MORE’s handling of the Clinton investigation.

The Hill: Republicans tear into IG findings on Clinton probe.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyFBI chief: I'm trying to bring 'normalcy' in 'turbulent times' Jim Carrey targets McCarthy, Nunes ahead of midterms House GOP prepares to grill DOJ official linked to Steele dossier MORE (R-S.C.) opened the proceedings with these blistering remarks.

“This inspector general’s report should conjure anger, disappointment and sadness in everyone who reads it. This IG report lays bare the bias, the animus, the prejudging of facts by senior FBI agents and senior attorneys and attempts to minimize and mitigate this bias are so antithetical to what we want and deserve in our law enforcement officers.” - Gowdy.

There are too many fireworks to recount here, so you can read this recap from The Hill’s Katie Bo Williams and Olivia Beavers. The FBI has managed to infuriate Republicans and Democrats alike. The bureau will be dealing with fallout from the Clinton and Trump investigations for some time to come.

Sharyl Attkisson: All the times Horowitz contradicted Wray.

Kendra Arnold: The Democratic scandal that is being ignored.

Elsewhere in investigations … Former Senate Intelligence Committee official James Wolfe appeared in court to ask for a gag order on his case (CNN) … Comey is blasting back at Clinton (The Hill) … Trump’s campaign manager is calling on Attorney General Sessions to be fired (Twitter) …. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is said to be willing to dish on the president (CNN) … Erik Prince says he’s cooperating with the Mueller probe (The Daily Beast).

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CONGRESS: Senate - GOP appropriations: Politico reported that during a private meeting at the White House regarding the border wall on Monday, Trump fumed to two senators and his own staff about the $1.6 billion the Senate is planning to allocate this fall. The president wants $25 billion upfront and questioned why Congress approves funds in a piecemeal fashion (which is customary).

House Budget: The Hill: The House Budget Committee on Tuesday unveiled a belated spending plan that called for drastic reductions in mandatory spending. It will be marked up this week and includes steep cuts in programs for the poor.

Senate Democrats & Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Elizabeth Warren and the new communism Companies report no signs of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump pledge MORE (D-Mass.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s GOP feuds dominate ahead of midterms Dustbin 2020: The best Dems who surely won’t get the nomination Vulnerable Dems side with Warren in battle over consumer bureau MORE (D-Ohio) want Trump’s nominee to head the CFPB, Kathy Kraninger, an official at the Office of Management and Budget, to produce any documents that may deal with her involvement in the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The CFPB, created in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, was Warren’s brainchild before she entered politics. The senator placed a hold on Kraninger’s nomination (The Hill). 

Congressional Democrats – Toys `R’ Us bankruptcy: Progressives in Congress are circulating a letter calling on the private equity firms behind the Toys 'R' Us bankruptcy to provide severance pay to the more than 30,000 workers who will be losing their jobs in coming weeks. More than a dozen lawmakers have signed the letter, including Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersRealClearPolitics editor: Moderate Democrats are losing even when they win Sanders tests his brand in Florida Ocasio-Cortez slammed for banning press from public event MORE (I-Vt.), Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanPelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left Poll: Republicans favor Scalise for Speaker; Dems favor Pelosi Report: 50 Dem House candidates oppose Pelosi for speaker MORE (D-Ohio), and Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice Ellison#BelieveAllWomen, in the Ellison era, looks more like #BelieveTheConvenientWomen Ellison ex-girlfriend details abuse allegations Dem requests DOJ probe on law enforcement use of facial recognition technology MORE (D-Minn.). Lawmakers are interested in the role of private equity firms in a growing number of retail bankruptcies.

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As a Medicare Part D Cliff looms for seniors, the program’s successful structure is also in jeopardy. Congress can act now to protect seniors from the donut hole suddenly increasing by more than $1,200, and secure the program for the future by fixing changes that undermine its successful competitive structure.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS:  Trump will hold a campaign rally in Duluth, Minn. today, the first time the president has held such an event in a state that he lost in 2016.

Trump didn’t lose Minnesota by much – Clinton carried the state by 1.5 points and he won the 8th District, which is presently held by a retiring Democratic House member, by 16 points.

There will also be two Senate races in Minnesota this year, including a special election to replace Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart Franken#BelieveAllWomen, in the Ellison era, looks more like #BelieveTheConvenientWomen The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries MORE (D-Minn.), who resigned amid allegations he mistreated women. Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithOvernight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Companies report no signs of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump pledge Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' MORE (D-Minn.), who was appointed to replace Franken, is running to finish out the remaining two years of his term.

The Cook Political report has Smith’s seat rated as “leans” Democratic and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states Tina Smith defeats former Bush ethics lawyer in Minnesota Dem primary MORE’s (D-Minn.) seat as “solidly” Democratic. The House race to replace retiring Rep. Rick NolanRichard (Rick) Michael NolanElection Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states MORE (D) is rated as a toss-up.

Trump will make his second stop in a state that he lost in 2016 on Saturday, when he stumps for Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThe farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape Battle of the billionaires drives Nevada contest MORE (R) in Nevada. Heller is among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in the Senate.

Around the campaign trail … An interview with GOP Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickSteyer group launching 0,000 digital ad campaign targeting millennials House GOP starts summer break on a note of friction Actress Diane Lane urges lawmakers to ban shark fin trade MORE (Pa.), who is among the most vulnerable lawmakers in the country (The Hill) … Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr.'s business trip to India cost taxpayers more than ,000: report San Francisco ethics official sues Secret Service over Trump Jr. trip to India Spicer slams Omarosa on WH recordings: 'She will do anything to further her own being' MORE is bailing on a fundraiser for George P. Bush after several members of the Bush family criticized the president over the policy of separating children from their families at the border (CNN) … Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyStates are stepping up to end animal testing in cosmetics while federal legislation stalls GOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer Trump signs 7B annual defense policy bill into law MORE (R-Ariz.) has a commanding lead in the GOP Senate primary in Arizona (The Hill).

ADMINISTRATION & WHITE HOUSE: Agencies and departments continue this week to carry out the president’s agenda. Next month, Trump will say goodbye to a much-respected veteran manager at the White House.

State Department: The Hill: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe US must not turn its back on refugees Taiwan is key to US power in Pacific The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) MORE and Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyTreasury retweets Trump, possibly violating campaign law UN human rights chief: Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is ‘very close to incitement to violence’ Who guards the guardians? MORE, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced on Tuesday that the United States pulled out of the U.N. Human Rights Council. The move was expected because of the administration’s view that the council suffers from “chronic anti-Israel bias.”

 

 

Housing and Urban Development Department: HUD would like this summer to evict all union offices from agency facilities, while the Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to “revise” 21 points in its union contract. The actions are part of a coordinated, broad-based push against organizations representing federal employees, and specifically their collective bargaining agreements (The Washington Post).

Environmental Protection Agency: EPA this week approved state regulation of coal ash in Oklahoma, the home state of Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Court orders EPA to enforce chemical safety rule | Dem says Zinke would 'sell' his grandkids for the oil industry | EPA reportedly poised to unveil climate rule replacement Court throws out EPA delay of Obama chemical plant safety rule The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) MORE. Environmentalists fear state control will allow polluters to dump coal ash in ponds and landfills, further polluting nearby groundwater (The Oklahoman & NewsOk).

Oceans executive order: Trump’s executive order released on Tuesday dealing with federal jurisdiction over oceans policies, with an emphasis on the economy and states, washes away the Obama administration’s focus on conservation and climate change,   reports Science magazine.

West Wing Turnstile: As expected, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joe Hagin will leave the White House in a few weeks. Hagin is a veteran manager who worked for three previous GOP administrations before signing up to help Trump. He plans to return to the private sector by July 6 (Reuters).

STATE WATCH: States and communities this week are wrestling with immigration, health care coverage, health insurance and the challenges faced by children whose parents succumb to drug addiction.

Immigration adjudication: The New York Times reports on the challenges for all concerned in the court systems from Texas to California, where Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy has resulted in a one-month surge of 30 percent in federal criminal prosecutions of migrants at the border (March to April). Thousands of new defendants are being funneled into a federal court system in what’s described as “assembly-line justice.”

Foster care & opioid epidemic: The Hill: States grappling with the opioid epidemic are experiencing a massive influx of children into the foster system. The growth in foster and state care is so explosive in some areas that governments are rethinking how they tackle the problem of caring for such children.

Affordable Care Act enrollment grants: The Hill: Local and state groups that work to sign people up for ObamaCare coverage have not received information from the federal government about the upcoming grant year that would cover their operations beginning this fall. The administration has been critical of the program, and slashed funding for it last year. Some recipients believe the administration, which sought to repeal the ACA, could end the grants.

Health insurance associations: The Trump administration issued a sweeping new rule Tuesday that takes a step toward fulfilling the president’s campaign promise to make it easier for companies to sell insurance across state lines. The rule, issued by the Labor Department and touted by the president on Tuesday, invites small businesses to band together and set up health insurance plans that skirt many requirements of the Affordable Care Act, offering lower costs but also fewer benefits (The Washington Post).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley jeasley@thehill.com & Alexis Simendinger asimendinger@thehill.com. Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

OPINION

Trump’s midterm suicide plan: Make children cry and mothers mad, by Brent Budowsky, a former Democratic House and Senate aide and opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2smjPGT

Ignore the naysayers trying to disrupt U.S. diplomacy with North Korea, by Donald Gross, former adviser to the Clinton administration and the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2tsDdlp

WHERE AND WHEN

The House convenes at 9 a.m. The first series of votes will be held at 11:30 a.m. Speaker Ryan will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances New Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders House Dem: Party's aging leaders is 'a problem' MORE (D-Calif.) holds one on immigration at 1 p.m.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds an open hearing this morning to examine policy responses to the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Witnesses will include Victoria Nuland, former assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration, and Michael Daniel, former White House cybersecurity coordinator and special assistant to former President Obama.             

Trump meets with House lawmakers this morning at the White House, then has lunch with Vice President Pence and the secretary of state. The president then  travels to Duluth, Minn., where he’ll hold a roundtable discussion with selected participants to discuss the economy, then he headlines a rally for his reelection. Trump returns to the White House before midnight.

The Hill hosts a newsmaker event at 8:30 a.m. about “America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Role for Technology,” at 1777 F Street N.W., in downtown Washington, D.C. Speakers include Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Tom MacArthurThomas (Tom) Charles MacArthurElection Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Cook Political Report moves 4 GOP seats to 'toss-up' category GOP runs into Trump tax law in New Jersey MORE (R-N.J.). The event, moderated by Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack, is sponsored by Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).   

ELSEWHERE

> City of Exiles: Every month, thousands of deportees from the United States and hundreds of asylum-seekers from around the world arrive in Tijuana. Many never leave, by Daniel Duane, The California Sunday Magazine.

 

> What does it cost to win a House primary these days? Of the 435 victors through June 15, roughly 50 either didn’t file spending reports with the Federal Election Commission or submitted reports showing they had spent $5,000 or less, by Mike Woodel, McClatchy.

 

> How America got hooked on OxyContin, by Fred Schulte, Kaiser Health News.

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … Random acts of kindness … a helping hand … call it what you will. KSAT and KDVR television reported that a Texas man who happened to be listening to a news report last week in San Antonio decided to help more than 50 undocumented immigrants, including minors, found by authorities smuggled in the back of an 18-wheeler nearby. He spent $50 on seven Little Caesars pizzas, drove to where detectives encircled the semi with flashing lights, and worked alongside a fireman at the scene to distribute the food. Tow truck driver Armando Colunga later told reporters he decided to intervene because one thought weighed on him: “Who knows how long they’ve been in there?”