The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Tuesday! This daily email, a successor to The Hill’s Tipsheet, is reported by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger to get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republicans move to block Yemen war-powers votes for rest of Congress Trump says he's considering 10 to 12 contenders for chief of staff Michael Flynn asks judge to spare him from jail time MORE will venture to Capitol Hill today for a rare lunch with Senate Republicans. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that the president will press the GOP to change Senate rules to expedite the consideration of his judicial and executive nominees.

Trump’s second year in office is being shaped more by his use of his executive powers and the decisions of the judicial branch than by Congress. In the president’s mind, the Senate continues to be a frustrating and powerful check on his ambitions.

  • Trump chafes at the narrow 51-49 GOP majority and the heft of a minority that can demand policy changes or halt momentum if 60 like-minded senators cannot be rounded up to break filibusters.
  • On more than one occasion, the president has sided with House conservatives in venting frustration with McConnell via Twitter: “Get back to work, Mitch!” Last fall, Trump complained that McConnell “failed” to repeal ObamaCare. The senator replied that the president had “excessive expectations” about the speed of the democratic process.
  • The president fumes that repealing and entirely replacing ObamaCare, ending illegal immigration, building a border wall and shuttering the Russia investigation might have been achieved by now, if not for the Senate. There is frustration among conservatives that the GOP-controlled Congress is not trying to move more substantial legislation as the clock ticks toward the midterm elections.

Still, one of the president’s most significant accomplishments can be traced back to the Senate. For nearly a year, McConnell blocked former President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandMellman: Enemies of democracy Debate over term limits for Supreme Court gains new life Roberts’ rebuke of Trump rings hollow, given justices’ conduct MORE, paving the way for conservative justice Neil Gorsuch to join the court in 2017.

The bottom line: GOP donors whisper that if forced to choose, they’d rather protect control of the Senate, especially if there is an opening on the Supreme Court. Trump may think McConnell and his Republican Senate colleagues are occasionally a headache for him now, but a GOP-controlled upper chamber will be a major asset for the president if Democrats take control of the House next year.

Bloomberg: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, Democratic leaders go toe-to-toe at White House Overnight Energy — Sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board — Trump moves to ease Obama water rule | EPA document contradicts agency over water rule data| Manchin to be top Dem on Senate Energy panel Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee MORE (D-N.Y.) walks tightrope to help Trump-state Democrats in 2018.

 

 

 

LEADING THE DAY

***FIRST LADY RECOVERING AT WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER***

WHITE HOUSE statement: “First Lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFirst lady, Santa hand out 'Be Best' gear at Toys for Tots event The Hill's Morning Report — Will Trump strike a deal with Chuck and Nancy? John Kelly was always doomed to fail as chief of staff MORE underwent an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney condition. The procedure was successful and there were no complications. Mrs. Trump is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and will likely remain there for the duration of the week.

 

 

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The Trump administration is at a crisis point over internal leaks since The Hill first reported on Thursday that White House aide Kelly Sadler had mocked Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDem: 'Disheartening' that Republicans who 'stepped up' to defend Mueller are leaving Giuliani’s ‘truth isn’t truth’ named most notable quote of 2018 Cohen’s pleas concocted by prosecutors to snare Trump MORE’s (R-Ariz.) cancer diagnosis during a staff meeting.

Many lawmakers and commentators from both parties have expressed outrage and urged public contrition for days now. Sadler has privately called McCain’s family to apologize, but the White House has otherwise been more intent to get to the bottom of who leaked Sadler’s remarks than publicly saying “sorry.”

 

 

Lawmakers were leaving town as the story broke last week, but they’re certain to be asked about it in Washington as they get to work today, dragging the controversy into its second week. At Monday’s press briefing, deputy press secretary Raj Shah, who oversaw the meeting where the incendiary comment was heard, would say only that the matter is being handled “internally.”

The Hill: Senate GOP anger over the McCain insult grows.

The Hill: Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayConway says Ocasio-Cortez is '29-year-old who doesn't seem to know much about anything' George Conway mocks Trump's misspellings Press: Mueller closes in on Trump MORE says heads will roll after latest leaks.

The New York Times: White House will not apologize about McCain (or much else, really).

Education Department: The New York Times reported on the administration’s pull-back on investigating for-profit colleges.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump moves to relax Obama-era water protections Trump will seek to weaken Obama-era wetlands protections: report The Year Ahead: Dems under pressure to deliver on green agenda MORE asked for 24/7 security detail before joining the Cabinet, watchdog says (The Hill).

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INTERNATIONAL: Middle East: The Hill — Deadly protests that broke out along the Gaza border on Monday marred ceremonies opening the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Attending for the White House were Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerIvanka and Jared Kushner could profit from developer tax break they advocated: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump, Dem leaders spar before cameras at meeting over border wall | Senate to vote on criminal justice bill | Google chief gets grilling Jared Kushner: The White House’s results-driven tactician MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpIvanka and Jared Kushner could profit from developer tax break they advocated: report Scaramucci calls Trump's hiring of Kelly a 'mistake,' slams his own firing as 'nonsensical' Kushner: Trump will make chief of staff decision 'when he’s ready' MORE.

Dozens were killed in Gaza as thousands of Palestinians sought to cross the border. Israeli and U.S. officials blamed Palestinian leaders for the violence, saying they were sending people into a situation they knew would result in violence to drive media attention.

The Associated Press: Trump’s Middle East policies fuel global worries for the region.

Reuters: United Nations warns of more Gaza violence, condemns Israel’s use of force.

The Washington Post: Trump administration exclusively blames Hamas after Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians.

NBC News: Dozens of Marines are added to U.S. Embassy security details in Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and may be added in seven other countries.

i24News: Turkey and South Africa pull their ambassadors from Israel to protest Gaza deaths.

The Hill: President Trump delivers prepared video message during U.S. Embassy opening.

The Hill: Kushner at embassy opening: “This president delivered.”

The Hill: Pro-Trump banners hung in Jerusalem.

The Hill: Schumer calls U.S. Embassy shift to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv “a long overdue move,” for which he said he applauded Trump.

The Hill (opinion): The war over Trump’s embassy.

 

 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage explains how challenging it is to categorize President Trump’s foreign policy, let alone describe a Trump doctrine.

There’s a consistency in the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy that’s worth discussing. It’s transactional. It’s unilateral. And it’s risk acceptant.

 – Ian Bremmer, political scientist and founder/president of the Eurasia Group.

Iran: Trump told the departments of State, Treasury and Energy to begin unwinding ties to Iran’s energy made possible through the 2015 nuclear deal. There is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions," the president wrote in a memo.

The Hill (opinion): Obama, not Trump, shattered U.S. credibility over Iran.

China: The Hill — Trump stuns lawmakers with administration’s sudden about-face to help China’s ZTE Corp., which had been sanctioned by the Commerce Department for dealings with Iran.

The Hill: Schumer accuses the president of working to make “China great again.”

***BREAKING*** The fiscally conservative group Freedom Partners, which is part of the network of groups backed by Charles and David Koch, will launch a new digital ad today targeting attendees of the U.S. Trade Representative meeting, asking that they listen to public comments about the impact of tariffs. ... “They raise prices on consumers, harm job creation and introduce great uncertainty into markets,” Freedom Partners executive vice president Nathan Nascimento said.

Trade: Reuters – NAFTA “hot topics” remain unresolved as a deadline looms, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCanada arrests Huawei CFO facing US extradition for allegedly violating Iran sanctions: report Stocks slide after Trump warns China: 'I am a Tariff Man' George H.W. Bush remembered at Kennedy Center Honors MORE says. The lack of progress signals that an agreement among the U.S., Canada and Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement is unlikely before a Thursday cutoff facing the administration and Congress this year.

CONGRESS:  Sports betting: The Hill — Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate confirms Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary Brzezinski: It’s ‘despicable’ for GOP lawmakers to dismiss Cohen memo implicating Trump Hatch suggests 611 for new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline MORE (R-Utah), following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday, took immediate steps to lay the groundwork for congressional action to regulate sports betting directly. “I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena,” he said in a statement.

>The Hill: Lawmakers are now scrambling to come up with legislation to regulate sports gambling.

>The Hill: The Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned sports betting in almost every state, handing former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) a major win to bolster his legacy and delivering to states a potential tax boon.

>The Associated Press: States likely to take up sports betting within two years and five years (graphic map).

John W. Kindt: Supreme Court decision creates a “Wild West” for sports betting.

House Republicans: The Hill — A decade ago, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse Republicans move to block Yemen war-powers votes for rest of Congress Stefanik: GOP leaders need to step up their female recruitment efforts McConnell agrees to vote on Trump-backed criminal justice bill MORE (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOval Office clash ups chances of shutdown Criminal justice reform forgets immigrants Google chief defends company during Capitol Hill grilling MORE (R-Calif.) were known as the young guns. They were a group of up-and-coming lawmakers who, along with former Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorStefanik: GOP leaders need to step up their female recruitment efforts GM lobbyists go into full crisis mode over layoffs Bottom Line MORE (R-Va.), aimed to change the House GOP conference. Now a new generation of Republican lawmakers is pressing their leaders for a fresh approach to policy and messaging.

House Democrats: The Hill — The House Democratic lawmaker leading the impeachment charge against Trump criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday for “trivializing” the effort.

Farm bill: Roll Call — The farm bill gets two days of House Rules Committee consideration.

>The Hill (opinion): Farm bill once again stuffed with food stamps.

Veterans Administration: The Hill (opinion) — This week, the House will vote on the VA Mission Act, a package of reforms meant to be part of this spring’s omnibus spending bill, but left on the cutting room floor.

Immigration: The Washington Post — Five reasons why it’s unlikely the House moves on immigration legislation this year, despite a flurry of recent activity.

Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidManchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives Water wars won’t be won on a battlefield Poll finds most Americans and most women don’t want Pelosi as Speaker MORE: Las Vegas Review-Journal — Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who led Democrats for more than a decade, underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer at Johns Hopkins on Monday and will receive chemotherapy, his family said in a statement. Current and former colleagues from both sides of the aisle, including Sen. McCain, wished the 78-year-old Reid well.

 

 

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IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CAMPAIGNS: Voters head to the polls for primary elections in Idaho, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Oregon today.

The GOP Senate primary race in Pennsylvania will be the most closely watched, as Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyWould-be 2020 Dem candidates head for the exits O’Rourke, Brown shake up volatile Democratic horse race The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) is one of 10 Democrats seeking reelection this cycle in a state Trump carried in 2016.

Casey will face either Trump’s preferred candidate, Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaCasey secures third Senate term over Trump-backed Barletta Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials move to require drug prices in TV ads | 4,000 more people lose Medicaid in Arkansas | New top official for Medicaid Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE (R-Pa.), or state Rep. Jim Christiana (R). Will it be another tough night for House Republicans?

The Hill: Five primary races to watch in the first Pennsylvania election under the state’s new congressional map, from Lisa Hagen and Ben Kamisar.

The New York Times: In remapped districts, Pennsylvania Dems plot their resurgence (see graphics).

The Hill: Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s Senate bid complicated by Gov. Eric Greitens (R) scandal.

Fox News: Former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiDavid Bossie: 'Humbling' to be discussed for Trump's chief of staff Lewandowski, Florida state senators tussle over Trump's influence on midterms: report House Dems planning to send Trump associates’ testimony to Mueller: report MORE joins Pence’s political action committee.

INVESTIGATIONS: A few noteworthy developments and opinion pieces today...

Politico: Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s office opposes hearing on leaks.

John Solomon: Mueller may have a conflict — and it leads directly to a Russian oligarch.

Former Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race Congress must use bipartisan oversight as the gold standard National security leaders: Trump's Iran strategy could spark war MORE (D-Mich.): Congress dangerously wields oversight power in Russia probe.

The Hill: Firms that formed relationships with Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen are facing a public relations nightmare following news of a federal investigation into his private business dealings.

The Hill: Senate Democrats press Novartis, AT&T for answers on Cohen relationship.

The Washington Post: Michael Avenatti using Trump tactics to battle Trump.

OPINION

Liberals can’t have their cake and eat it too in Supreme Court case, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor to The Hill. https://bit.ly/2GgBdkk

Unpaid internships unfairly favor the wealthy, by Liz Wessel, opinion contributor to The Hill. https://bit.ly/2KZ570h

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon for morning hour and 2 p.m. for legislative business.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. There will be roll call votes at noon for 6th and 10th circuit judges. Smokey Robinson and fellow music artists and representatives of the recording and music publishing industries will testify this morning before the Judiciary Committee about protecting and promoting music creation for the 21st century.

The president this morning heads to the Capitol to speak during the 37th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service. In the afternoon, he has lunch in the Capitol with Senate Republicans, then returns to the White House. Trump faces an Office of Government Ethics deadline today to file his annual personal financial disclosure (unless he’s been granted an extension).

ELSEWHERE

SPOTTED last night at a Washington party for Bret Baier’s new book, “Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire”:

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: Mueller closes in on Trump Mueller's findings don't matter The Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe MORE and wife Mary; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Hilary Ross; Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoGeorge H.W. Bush remembered at Kennedy Center Honors Trump, first lady attend special Supreme Court ceremony for Kavanaugh 5 ways Democrats can turn the House win into future success MORE; White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow; Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway; plus Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Jennifer Griffin and Peter Doocy. Also attending: Michigan Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellGM chief meets lawmakers to calm anger over cuts GM lobbyists go into full crisis mode over layoffs GM draws Washington’s anger with new layoffs MORE (D); NPR national political correspondent and Fox News contributor Mara Liasson; Bob Cusack, The Hill’s editor-in-chief; conservative commentator Guy Benson; lobbyist and Democrat Heather Podesta; and Politico’s founder and publisher Robert Albritton and wife Elena.

> The nine minutes that almost changed America, by Kate Nocera and Lissandra Villa, Buzzfeed News. https://bzfd.it/2KmkX3F

> Vice President Pence is trying to control Republican politics. Trump aides aren’t happy, by Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2IlOGt4

> Analysis: Trump’s deregulatory record does not contain much actual deregulation, by Rutgers University Public Policy Program Director Stuart Shapiro, The Conversation. https://bit.ly/2rCGqi3

THE CLOSER

And finally … let’s talk life on other planets, sweeter dreams on this one, and attempts to rescue an arcane, elite sport 

 

 

 

Science: Jupiter’s moon “Europa” produces plumes that suggest it’s a prime candidate to support life, based on recently revealed data (Reuters). The news about Jupiter wows some lawmakers, including Rep. John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonNASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon Texas New Members 2019 Republicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the House subcommittee that funds NASA (Science magazine). 

Lifestyle: We all need to study these seven proven tips to get better sleep (CNET).

Sports: How much would you spend to save cricket? In Ireland and elsewhere, the answer is 'quite a lot' (Bloomberg).

See you Wednesday!