This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill
© Getty

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE will head to Capitol Hill this week to meet with Senate Republicans.

Trump is set to attend the closed-door caucus lunch on Tuesday, the first time in months that he’s attended the Senate GOP meeting.

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants Overnight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Senators highlight threat from invasive species MORE (R-Wyo.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, said lawmakers will discuss the economy with Trump, as well as recent developments in North Korea.

“Our conference looks forward to discussing the key accomplishments of tax cuts and historic economic growth here at home, and the opportunity for peace on the Korean Peninsula that lies ahead," he said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT
Trump has had an at times rocky relationship with the Senate GOP caucus.

His first caucus lunch in 2016 went off the rails after he got into a heated spat with GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (Ariz.) and criticized Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears MORE (R-Neb.) and then-Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (R-Ill.).

Trump attended a caucus lunch again in October 2017. A protester threw Russian flags at the president and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions MORE (R-Ky.) as they entered the lunch in a move that ultimately resulted in new restrictions on press access in the Capitol.

The president characterized the meeting as "a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!"

After that October lunch, Flake, who has been a frequent critic of Trump, announced that he was retiring at the end of his current term.

Tuesday’s meeting comes as McConnell is under growing pressure to cancel, or at least delay, the August recess if the Senate isn’t finished passing government funding bills or caught up on nominations.

More than a dozen GOP senators sent a letter to McConnell late last week urging him to cancel the monthlong recess or keep the Senate in for longer work weeks to avoid passing another mammoth omnibus funding bill.

“We stand ready to work Mondays and Fridays, nights as well as weekends, to ensure the funding process is not used to jam the president with a bad spending deal,” they wrote in the letter.

Trump seized on the idea over the weekend and demanded that any government funding bill include money for border security and the controversial U.S.-Mexico border wall.

"The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME,” Trump tweeted. “Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!"

Farm bill

The House is slated to take up a controversial farm bill this week, with lawmakers split over provisions related to sugar subsidies and work requirements for food stamps.

GOP leadership is still working on whipping the measure, with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayAdam Schiff, Glenn Simpson and their Forrest Gump-like encounter in Aspen Schumer hits back at Trump: ‘He’s hostage-taking once again’ Hillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security MORE (R-Texas) telling The Hill Thursday they were just short of the 218 votes needed to send the legislation to the upper chamber.

Passing the bill is a top priority for House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Wis.), as it contains elements to reform the welfare system.

The five-year legislation authorizes multiple farm, agricultural and food programs that expire at the end of September.

But changes in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, have sparked infighting among Republicans. This year’s farm bill would impose tougher work requirements on millions of food stamp recipients and shift the program’s funding toward job training.

Moderates are worried the new work requirements are too tough while conservatives are bristling because they believe they don’t go far enough.

Haspel

Acting CIA Director Gina Haspel is continuing to hunt for votes as Republicans race to confirm her to lead the spy agency before the Memorial Day recess.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which hasn't publicly announced a time, is expected to vote on her nomination as soon as this week.

Every Republican on the panel, as well as Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate MORE (W.Va.), is expected to vote for her in committee, which will give her enough support for her nomination to head to the Senate floor.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSchiff: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign, Russia 'pretty compelling' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the committee, is considered an influential vote and has yet to say if he will support Haspel.

Haspel has homed in on red- and purple-state Democrats as she looks to lock down the vote, as well as bolster what is expected to be a thin margin on the Senate floor.

She met with Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (N.D.) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Kaine asks Shanahan if military families would be hurt by moving .6B for border wall MORE (Va.) last week and is scheduled to meet with Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (D-Fla.) this week.

Haspel is a CIA veteran but her nomination is considered controversial because of her involvement in the Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” — now widely considered torture — program, running a CIA black site and the destruction of videotapes that show the waterboarding of an al Qaeda suspect.

But she appears likely to be confirmed after Donnelly and Manchin, both up for reelection in states Trump won handedly in 2016, said they would support her.

GOP Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration MORE (Ky.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid MORE (Ariz.) have said they will oppose Haspel. McCain has been absent from Washington for months as he battles brain cancer and has not indicated he will return to the Senate to vote against Haspel’s nomination.

Several other key lawmakers, including GOP Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 MORE (Utah) and Flake, remain on the fence.

Judicial nominations

The Senate is continuing to grind through Trump’s appeals court picks at a record pace.

Senators confirmed two judicial nominees last week, with four more circuit nominations teed up for this week.

Senators will vote on Michael Scudder and Amy St. Eve to serve on the 7th Circuit on Monday evening.

They’ll then vote on Joel Carson III to be a judge on the 10th Circuit and John Nalbandian to be judge for the 6th Circuit on Tuesday at noon.

The votes will give Trump a total of 21 circuit picks confirmed so far during his tenure. That’s more than former Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton, Reagan and Carter got confirmed during their first two years.

It also puts Trump on track to break the record for the number of circuit court picks confirmed during a president’s first two years, which is currently held by former President George H.W. Bush, with 22.

Melanie Zanona contributed.