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

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHarris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires McCarthy says views on impeachment won't change even if Taylor's testimony is confirmed House Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump rips 'nasty' and 'obnoxious' Chris Wallace after he presses Scalise about impeachment Scalise: Louisiana defeat doesn't make Trump 'look bad' Scalise: Trump pardons will improve military morale 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 Ryan Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan California Governor Newsom and family dress as 2020 Democrats for Halloween DC's liaison to rock 'n' roll 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 ColeNew hemp trade group presses lawmakers on immigration reform, regs Bottom Line Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump MORE (R-Okla.) told the Washington Examiner. “Why give people a Get Out of Jail card free?”

Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanGOP senator rips into Pelosi at Trump rally: 'It must suck to be that dumb' House progressives to push for floor amendments on Pelosi drug price bill How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse MORE (D-Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalProgressive House Democrat unveils bill to allow state-based 'Medicare for All' Progressives press Democrats to rethink Israel policy Democratic lawmakers call on Judiciary Committee to advance 'revenge porn' law MORE (D-Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense 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) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Top Democrats, as well as GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDonald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary 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) MoranMicrosoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate It's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number Overnight Defense: Top diplomat changes testimony to indicate quid pro quo | Dem offers measure on Turkish human rights abuses in Syria | Warren offers plan to address veteran suicide rates MORE (Kan.) — who recently traveled to Russia — told Fox News's “Special Report.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday that he told Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoImpeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill Five takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong 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 TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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 McConnellLawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill 'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBooker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens 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 CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiImpeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Senators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban 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 PaulGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Trump: 'Everybody knows who the whistleblower is' Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens 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 DurbinGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Democratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement Pentagon watchdog declines to investigate hold on Ukraine aid 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action 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 McKinleyBipartisan former EPA chiefs say Trump administration has abandoned agency's mission Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Divisions emerge over House drug price bills 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