The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: Breaking - Trump reportedly considering military action in Syria | Senate goes ‘nuclear’ | Nunes steps aside on Russia probe | Chinese leader heads to Mar-A-Lago | O'Reilly's ratings rise amid controversy

BREAKING – SENATE NUKES THE FILIBUSTER: Senate Republicans just voted to strip Democrats of the power to filibuster President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, invoking the so-called nuclear option.

Vote count: 52-48 along party lines to change the Senate’s precedent, lowering the threshold for advancing Neil Gorsuch from 60 votes to a simple majority.

How you know it's big: Many senators, who usually walk around the Senate floor or leave after they vote, stayed seated as they cast their votes from their desks -- a move normally reserved for historic votes.

Future trivia question: Fun fact – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted no, a procedural move that will allow him to bring back up Gorsuch's nomination. 

Oh, hello there!: "[Former House Speaker JohnBoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBottom line Cheney battle raises questions about House GOP's future Lott says lobbying firm cut ties to prevent him from taking clients MORE strolls by the Senate chamber, offering a jovial hello, as the nuclear option vote kicks in."

Spotted: "Top White House aide Marc Short is on the Senate floor right now" (From Guardian's Ben Jacobs)

What else could change: Separate from the filibuster vote, Republicans are also considering broader changes to Senate rules. Why: To more quickly confirm President Trump's nominees. What they're considering:

Because knowing the backstory makes it that much more interesting: Check out the newly released episode of The Hill's Historycast with the fascinating history of the filibuster.

It's a dreary Thursday in Washington, D.C. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to and on Facebook.

BREAKING -- POTENTIAL MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA: Via CNN's Dana Bash, "President Trump has told some members of Congress that he's considering military action in Syria."

BACKSTORY -- TO OUST OR NOT TO OUST, THAT IS THE QUESTION: Via The Hill's Niall StanagePresident Trump indicated an abrupt change in his administration's policy toward Syria Wednesday -- but left questions about specifics hanging in the air. The confusion: The administration had signaled as recently as last week that the ouster of the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, was no longer a priority. But Trump's comments yesterday suggest the removal of Assad is once again on the table. But he did not say that explicitly, leaving Washington wondering what will come next.

SURPRISE! -- A BIG "PRE-RECESS" ANNOUNCEMENT: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will "temporarily" (key word!) step aside in the investigation into Russia's meddling with the 2016 presidential election. Reasoning: Nunes said in a statement he thinks it is in the "best interests" of the committee. "Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics. The charges are entirely false and politically motivated." Who takes over: Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas). Keep in mind: Nunes stepping down has come as a big surprise.

Full statement from Nunes:

Top Dem's reaction: House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (Calif.) said that Nunes made the right decision to step down. Statement: "He did so in the best interests of the committee, and I respect that decision. I look forward to my continued work with the chairman on the whole host of other important issues."

Throwback to a fun fact: Via The Dallas Morning News, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), the new leader of the Russia probe, once compared Russian hacking to Mexican singers campaigning for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump vows challenge to Nevada bill expanding mail-in voting Biden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman Juan Williams: The Trump Show grows tired MORE, saying they both showed "foreign influence."

We out: "After Nunes recusal, new healthcare amendment, House raced through last vote before recess. 'One and done' said one Rep. as he ran for elevator." (From BuzzFeed's Alexis Levinson)

Spotted: Reps. Mike Conaway and Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Nunes declines to answer if he received information from Ukraine lawmaker meant to damage Biden MORE were spotted talking in the Dem cloakroom. (From Politico's Jake Sherman)

'LOOK! LOOK RIGHT THERE! SEE THAT SCRIBBLE? YA YA, WE DID THAT!!': House Republicans will move Thursday to add an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill as a way to show progress before recess, despite the lack of a major breakthrough. Details: The amendment to be added would appropriate $15 billion to insurers over 9 years to help pay for the costs of patients with costly medical conditions. Livestream of the markup at 12:30 p.m. EDT:

HEADS UP FOR CONGRESS MEMBERS HEADING OUT OF TOWN: "Departure delays [at Reagan National Airport] running around 50 minutes due to rain." (From ABC7's Molly Cochran)

TALK OF THE MORNING -- JUST A BUNCHA NEW YAWKERS SITTIN' AROUND A TABLE TAWKIN' POLITICS: The New York Times's Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush sat down with President Trump yesterday for a wide-ranging interview. Audio:

TRUMP ON INFRASTRUCTURE: Trump floated tying infrastructure to another bill. "'Infrastructure is so popular that I might want to use it for another bill,' said Trump, who is in need of a legislative win after the humbling defeat of his health care bill last month."

FUNNIEST BACK AND FORTH: The president discussing Susan Rice -- "Trump: Take a look at what's happening. I mean, first of all her performance was horrible yesterday on television even though she was interviewed by Hillary Clinton's P.R. person, Andrea Mitchell [the NBC News journalist]. Course you've been accused of that also.
Haberman: Mostly by you, though.
Trump: No, no, no. Mostly by a lot of people."

INTERESTING EXCHANGE -- SO, WHAT'S THE FIRST?: Trump talked about Democratic priorities when asked if he could count on their support on infrastructure. "Trump: No, because [Democrats] are desperate for infrastructure. That's the thing that they want second to -- that would be their second number -- that would be their second request.
Haberman: What do you think their first is?
Trump: I know it, but I can't tell you it."

WELP, THEY WON'T BE SHARING A CHARCUTERIE BOARD ANYTIME SOON: The Trump administration has escalated its feud with the Obama administration, creating a virtually unprecedented situation in which the current and former U.S. executive branches are openly fighting. What's the issue this time?: Trump's claim, offered without proof, that Obama national security adviser Susan Rice may have committed a crime by requesting the identities of Trump associates who were incidentally swept up in surveillance.

NEW THIS MORNING -- PROOF THAT ALL PRESS IS GOOD PRESS: Via The Hill's Joe Concha, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's ratings have sharply increased since a Saturday report that five women who accused him over the years of sexual harassment were paid a combined $13 million. How much of an increase?: More than 3.76 million people watched "The O'Reilly Factor" at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, a 20 percent jump from the Tuesday edition one week prior, according to Nielsen Research.

MEANWHILE -- THE FALL FROM THE TOP IS A STEEP ONE: Dozens of companies have announced that they are pulling their commercials from "The O'Reilly Factor" following the sexual harassment settlement reports. As of Wednesday afternoon: Thirty companies have pulled ads.

TO OUST OR NOT TO OUST, THAT IS THE QUESTION: Via The Hill's Niall StanagePresident Trump indicated an abrupt change in his administration's policy toward Syria yesterday -- but left questions about specifics hanging in the air. The confusion: The administration had signaled as recently as last week that the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad was no longer a priority. Trump's comments suggest the removal of Assad is once again on the table. But he did not say that explicitly, leaving Washington wondering what will come next.

100th ANNIVERSARY: 100 years ago today, the United States entered World War I.

JOB MOVES: CLS Strategies has a hired former National Security Council senior director under President Obama, Mark Feierstein, to serve as a senior adviser.



The Huffington Post's Matt Fuller
The phrase "doin' tweets" is so on-brand for Jim Jordan, who has a flip phone and does not do tweets. 



The House is in. The Senate is also in, setting up a vote on the nuclear option to push through confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

This morning: Astronaut John Glenn was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Livestream of the ceremony:

This morning: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' Trump lashes out at Reagan Foundation after fundraising request The Memo: Trump's grip on GOP loosens as polls sink MORE (R-Wis.) held his weekly press conference earlier then usual. RECESS!

2:35 p.m. EDT: President Trump arrives in West Palm Beach, Fla.

6:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have dinner with President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan of China at the Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Tomorrow night: The Newseum is hosting an event to celebrate the cherry blossoms and Japanese culture called "Newseum Nights: In Bloom." Details:



Today is National Caramel Popcorn Day!

TRENDING -- SHOW ANY OF THESE PHOTOS TO ANY MOTHER OUT OF CONTEXT FOR AN ENTERTAINING REACTION: Via Mashable's Brian Koerber, a dad photoshopped his baby daughter into dangerous situations. They're incredibly well done -- especially the one walking on a ledge.

And because you read this far, here's a video of Tian Tian, a giant panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo dangling from a tree while trying to climb it. Yiiiikes:


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This story was updated at 12:51 p.m.