This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Trump's sharp words put CDC director on hot seat MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse GOP slated to unveil agenda ahead of election House panel details 'serious' concerns around Florida, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin elections Scalise hit with ethics complaint over doctored Barkan video MORE (R-La.) are looking to bring a progressive-backed measure to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the House floor in an attempt to force Democrats to show where they really stand on the issue.

Though it would fail, conservatives argue it would force Democrats into a political bind by making them pick between a vocal, progressive base — where the "abolish ICE" movement has gained traction — and the majority of both their party and voters more broadly, who polling shows don't support the effort.

McCarthy said the measure will likely see a vote ahead of the August recess.

"Democrats have been trying to make July 4th about abolishing ICE, which is a radical, extreme position that would lead to open borders and undermine America's national security. ... I think everyone ought to be on record about where they stand on that issue," Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill late last week.

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Scalise first pushed for the move during meetings with the deputy whip team and at the Republican Study Committee steering committee meeting, where members were enthusiastic about the idea, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.

While the No. 2 and No. 3 Republicans in the House are on board with the idea, House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE (R-Wis.) has yet to publicly endorse voting on the legislation.

Meanwhile, other GOP lawmakers are warning that the political ploy could backfire by giving vulnerable Democratic incumbents a chance to distance themselves from progressives.

“Right now the whole Democratic Party is tarred with this abolish ICE thing,” Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeBottom line House approves .3 trillion spending package for 2021 Multiple lawmakers self-quarantine after exposure to Gohmert MORE (R-Okla.) told the Washington Examiner. “Why give people a Get Out of Jail card free?”

Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanClark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race Hillicon Valley: Pentagon reaffirms decision to award JEDI contract to Microsoft | Schiff asks officials for briefing on election security threats Democrats explore new ways to resurrect election security briefings MORE (D-Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Progressive Caucus co-chair: Whistleblower complaint raises questions about 'entire detention system' Buttigieg, former officials added to Biden's transition team MORE (D-Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralOn the Money: Administration to ban TikTok, WeChat | House moves toward bill to avoid government shutdown | Coronavirus relief bills boosted GDP, CBO says Hispanic Caucus members embark on 'virtual bus tour' with Biden campaign On the Money: Pelosi draws line at .2T | Jobless claims dip | Swing-state jobless numbers an issue for Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) — who introduced the legislation — have said they will vote against their bill if it's brought to the floor and accused GOP leaders of exploiting the legislation for political gain.

"If Speaker Ryan puts our bill on the floor, we plan to vote no," they said in a joint statement. We "will instead use the opportunity to force an urgently needed and long-overdue conversation on the House floor.”

Helsinki meeting

Lawmakers are keeping a close eye on Trump’s meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump is scheduled to meet one-one-one with Trump starting at 6:20 a.m. Eastern time, before the two had to a working lunch that will start at 7:50 a.m. Eastern time and, finally, a joint conference that will begin shortly before 10 a.m.

The summit comes three days after 12 Russians were indicted as part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Top Democrats, as well as GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcSally says current Senate should vote on Trump nominee Say what you will about the presidential candidates, as long as it isn't 'They're too old' The electoral reality that the media ignores MORE (Ariz.), floated the idea that Trump should cancel the meeting. Meanwhile, Republicans, generally supportive of the sit-down, are urging Trump to use the one-on-one to take a firm line with Putin on Moscow’s election interference ahead of the 2018 midterm.  

“I would expect the conversation to be about the nature of our relationship and if the Russians want it to be improved we need to have no more interference in our elections in 2018 or 2020,” GOP Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg acknowledges failure to take down Kenosha military group despite warnings | Election officials push back against concerns over mail-in voting, drop boxes MORE (Kan.) — who recently traveled to Russia — told Fox News's “Special Report.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg Ginsburg in statement before her death said she wished not to be replaced until next president is sworn in Democrats call for NRA Foundation to be prohibited from receiving donations from federal employees MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday that he told Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHouse panel halts contempt proceedings against Pompeo after documents turned over Outgoing ambassador to China slams Beijing over coronavirus: 'Could have been contained in Wuhan' Hillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers MORE that, if the meeting was going to take place, Trump must “press Putin hard” on election meddling, demand that the 12 Russians be extradited to the United States for trial and that he must not agree to “weaken, lift, or curtail” sanctions against Russia.

For Trump "to meet with President Putin without expressing the outrage of the American people & securing real progress would be terrible for the US & the security of our election system," Schumer said on Twitter.

Lawmakers are watching closely to see if Trump signals any concessions to Putin on Syria or Ukraine. Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, told “Fox News Sunday” that it was “highly unlikely” that Trump would recognize Russia’s 2014 takeover of Crimea.

But Trump previously criticized the Obama administration for failing to prevent the annexation and said Crimea is "Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian."

Nominations

Brett Kavanaugh, President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE’s Supreme Court nominee, is expected to continue making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week.

So far, Kavanaugh — nominated to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy — has met only with Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

McConnell told reporters in Kentucky late last week that he expects the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Kavanaugh’s nomination in late August or early September. That would set up the Senate to vote on his nomination before the court starts its new term in October.

"The timetable typically for recent Supreme Court justices, if we stuck to that timetable — and I intend to — would give us an opportunity to get this new justice on the court by the first of October," said McConnell.

Because Republicans nixed the 60-vote filibuster for Supreme Court nominees last year, they could confirm Kavanaugh without help from Democrats if they remain united behind his nomination. With their 51 seat majority effectively capped at 50 votes because of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) absence, they would have no room for error if they were forced to go it alone.

Moderate Republican Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg Democratic senator calls for eliminating filibuster, expanding Supreme Court if GOP fills vacancy What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies McConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote MORE (Alaska) are both considered potential swing votes, though they’ve sounded positive about Kavanaugh’s nomination so far. GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSecond GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus GOP senator to quarantine after coronavirus exposure The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill MORE (R-Ky.) is also considered a senator to watch because of Kavanaugh’s work in the George W. Bush administration.

Meanwhile, Schumer is under intense pressure to get his 49-member caucus to come out in unified opposition to Kavanaugh.

Progressive outside groups want Democrats to announce their opposition to Kavanaugh now instead of waiting until closer to his Judiciary Committee hearing, arguing it would help put pressure on the GOP senators they need to win over if they are going to block Trump’s nominee.

Activists argue that Schumer should pressure red-state Democrats to oppose Kavanaugh, including using committee slots or leadership positions to hold them accountable if they support Trump’s pick despite a mountain of pressure from the base.

“If he's a leader who's not going to do that, then we need a different leader,” Heidi Hess, the co-director of Credo Action, told The Hill last week.

But Democratic senators warn that is not Schumer’s style and that it is unrealistic to think leadership can dictate how members vote on such a high-profile fight like a Supreme Court nomination.

“That’s never been the case. I’ve been around here a few years and when it comes to something of this historic importance members make up their own minds,” said Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Senate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden Top GOP senator calls for Biden to release list of possible Supreme Court picks MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat.

Meanwhile, red- and purple-state Democrats are warning that they won’t be swayed by leadership.

“It doesn’t matter what  Mitch McConnell says. It doesn’t matter what Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg Ginsburg in statement before her death said she wished not to be replaced until next president is sworn in Democrats call for NRA Foundation to be prohibited from receiving donations from federal employees MORE says,” Manchin told a West Virginia radio station.

Asked if it was important for Democrats to remain unified, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) — considered a top target despite not being up for reelection — demurred.

“I think it’s important for the country to give an independent review for this guy,” he said. “To make an independent decision.”

Meanwhile, on the Senate floor, McConnell has set up another slate of nominations.

Senators are expected to vote Monday evening on Scott Stump to be the assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education at the Department of Education.

McConnell has also teed up votes on Randal Quarles’s nomination to be a member of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, as well as Andrew Oldham and Ryan Bounds nominations to be appeals judges on 5th and 9th Circuits, respectively.

Farm bill

The House is expected to vote on the motion to go to conference on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 this week.

The lower chamber on June 21 narrowly approved in a 213-211 vote a five-year farm bill that would impose new work requirements on people who receive food stamps. The Senate’s version, which includes language to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity, easily passed in an 86-11 vote on June 28.

The main sticking point during conference is expected to be on the House’s welfare reform language.

Carbon tax vote

The House is slated to vote on a resolution that would condemn the idea of a carbon tax later in the week.

The measure, introduced by Scalise and Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyEnergy secretary says pipeline setbacks pose national security issue MLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill MORE (R-W.Va.) in April, would express the “sense of Congress” that a tax on carbon dioxide emissions “would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.”

The House passed a similar nonbinding measure in 2016.

Timothy Cama contributed