The Hill's Morning Report — Ryan dodges disaster on immigration




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Wednesday! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)


The Hill TV launches this morning with Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton as co-hosts of a new digital program, “Rising.” @HillTVLive ... Check it out! Today's guests include Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzViral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions MORE (R-Texas), who tips his hand on his ambitions to serve on the Supreme Court, iconic director and liberal activist Rob Reiner on life in Hollywood during the Trump era, and former Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, one of the few Americans ever to negotiate with the North Koreans. The show airs live at 8 a.m. EDT online at

***BREAKING LAST NIGHT*** Shortly after 10 p.m., House Republicans announced they would bring a pair of immigration bills to the floor for a vote next week … The announcement effectively squashes — for now — a rebellion from centrist Republicans who had sought to use a discharge petition to force a vote on four immigration bills against the wishes of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage How does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act MORE (R-Wis.) and GOP leadership.

The Hill (a late-night triple byline from Melanie Zanona, Juliegrace Brufke and Mike Lillis): GOP will vote on immigration next week, sinking discharge petition.

The last-minute agreement between GOP leaders and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsRepublicans threaten to subpoena Nellie Ohr Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Graham to renew call for second special counsel MORE (R-N.C.) came less than two hours before a midnight procedural deadline. If they had missed that deadline, more Republicans likely would have signed on to the discharge petition, forcing what would have been an embarrassing vote for Ryan. As it is, the discharge petition fell a few votes short, although Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal MORE (R-Fla.), who is leading the effort, said he remains committed to it.

What’s next: The House will vote on one immigration bill authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday Rosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ House Judiciary chair: Nellie Ohr is cooperating, will testify MORE (R-Va.), and a separate compromise bill. The Goodlatte bill is almost certain to fail. The compromise bill is the one to watch.


NORTH KOREA: While President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE was flying back to Washington from Singapore, the world analyzed a one-day summit that made history primarily for opening the door to continued talks between the United States and North Korea, as well as with South Korea, Japan and China.

As he landed at Joint Base Andrews this morning, the president offered his own assessment.




Kim Jong Un accepted Trump’s invitation to visit Washington, according to a statement Tuesday night from North Korea’s state media (The Hill). Today, state media played up Trump’s concessions to Kim on military exercises, a potential end to sanctions and the prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula (Reuters).

The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel reports five takeaways from the Trump meeting with Kim, beginning with what Pyongyang gained, and noting that continued meetings are seen as a welcome substitute for months of back-and-forth fears of nuclear annihilation.

The New York Times explained its 10 takeaways drawn from Singapore.

The Hill’s Niall Stanage pulls the whole extraordinary drama together in The Memo, noting that many foreign policy experts think it’s impossible to judge success or failure now.

Instant analyses were everywhere, including in the Capitol on Tuesday. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that Senate Republicans expressed cautious optimism, appraising the Trump-Kim summit as a historic “first step.”

But among puzzles in Washington and Seoul on Tuesday was what Trump actually promised North Korea by offering to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea while negotiations with Pyongyang continue (The Hill). The Pentagon assured journalists that Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Stand with veterans instead of predatory for-profit colleges MORE, who was not in Singapore with Trump, was not surprised by the president’s commitment (The Hill). But South Korean officials indicated they were taken aback.

So were some Republican senators who were interviewed by The Hill. The anxiety prompted some to demand that Congress vote on any U.S. denuclearization deal that may be reached. Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Kavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday McConnell told Trump criticism of Kavanaugh accuser isn't helpful: report MORE (R-Ky.) agreed that any eventual agreement should be submitted to Congress (The Hill).

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation MORE (D-N.Y.) accused the president of lending legitimacy to a “brutal and repressive dictatorship” (The Hill).

Vice President Pence sought to clarify the congressional anxiety about the pause in “war games,” as Trump called them, during discussions Tuesday with conservatives, prompting additional confusion and explanations after lawmakers repeated what they heard to journalists and Pence’s spokeswoman responded via Twitter.




Voters in Virginia, Nevada, Maine and South Carolina went to the polls on Tuesday, and an emerging trend to watch these days: many GOP candidates are appealing to voters with their support for the president, and prospering.

In the Palmetto State, GOP Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordMulvaney: Trump regularly asks why Roy Moore lost Dems vow to grab Trump tax returns upon taking majority Insurgency shakes up Democratic establishment MORE (R), the former governor of South Carolina, lost his primary bid, hours after Trump used his Twitter sway to support the congressman’s challenger, state Rep. Katie Arrington.

Sanford has been a vocal Trump critic, and Arrington made that a campaign issue.




Elsewhere, Republicans in Virginia nominated Corey Stewart, the controversial chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, to face Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSherrod Brown says he's 'not actively considering' running for president The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — GOP again has momentum on Kavanaugh rollercoaster Poll: Kaine leads GOP challenger by 19 points in Va. Senate race MORE (D) in November.

Stewart is a magnet for controversy and despised by many mainstream Republicans, although his self-described “ruthless” campaign style could help turn out conservative voters. Kaine is the heavy favorite, although Trump tweeted this morning that Stewart is being underestimated.



And in Virginia’s 10th District, Democrats nominated State Sen. Jennifer Wexton to run against Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage Millionaires group endorses Dem House candidates opposed to GOP tax law Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls MORE (R), who is among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in the House. Comstock’s district has been in GOP hands for years but Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGraham: There's a 'bureaucratic coup' taking place against Trump Fox News poll shows Dems with edge ahead of midterms Poll: Democrats in position to retake the House MORE carried it by 10 points in 2016, making it a top target for Democrats.

The Hill’s Ben Kamisar and Reid Wilson have five takeaways from this week’s round of primary elections. At the top of their list: Republican voters are making clear that support for Trump is a key litmus test (The Hill).

From the campaign trail … Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillNelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity 'Kavanaugh' chants erupt at Trump rally in Missouri The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify MORE (D-Mo.) said she was touring Missouri in a RV but used her private plane for part of the trip (Politico) … Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), who voted against the GOP’s tax-cut bill and the ObamaCare repeal and replace effort, is hoping Trump’s endorsement propels him to victory over former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) in the GOP primary (The Hill) … Pence headlines a fundraiser tonight for House Republicans (Politico).


CONGRESS:  There was more intraparty strife on the GOP side on Tuesday after Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofePentagon releases report on sexual assault risk Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Okla.) blocked an amendment put forth by Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters MORE (R-Tenn.) to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Corker was trying to attach an amendment that would rein in the president’s authority to levy tariffs.

Inhofe said he’d work to get the amendment attached to a different bill, potentially setting up a showdown between congressional Republicans and Trump. But he argued that the NDAA was not the appropriate spot for it (The Hill).

Corker, who is retiring, unloaded on Republicans for not standing up to Trump on the issue of tariffs.

“ ‘We might poke the bear.’ That’s the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways. ‘The president might get upset.’ ” — Corker.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Coulter mocks Kavanaugh accuser: She'll only testify 'from a ski lift' Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it MORE (R-Ariz.), another retiring GOP Trump critic, similarly lashed out at his colleagues.



Meanwhile, Democrats think they have a winning electoral issue in the Justice Department’s (DOJ) decision not to defend the most popular part of ObamaCare — protections for people with pre-existing conditions (The Hill).

Quote of the day:

"Everybody I know in the Senate — everybody — is in favor of maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions. There is no difference in opinion about that whatsoever.” — McConnell

Elsewhere around Capitol Hill … Two female GOP senators are vying to become the first woman in eight years to be elected by their peers to a Republican leadership position (The Hill) … Democrats are inviting the NBA champion Golden State Warriors to the Capitol after Trump declined to extend an invitation to the White House (The Hill).

INVESTIGATIONS: Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinTrump distances himself from Rosenstein by saying Sessions hired him AP: Trump polled staff on board Air Force One over whether to fire Rosenstein House Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday MORE plans to call on the House to investigate its own committee staff, reports CNN. Rosenstein and Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe MORE (R-Calif.), the embattled House Intelligence panel chairman, are at loggerheads, and not for the first time.

Across the Capitol, former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe, who is accused of lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media, appears in federal court today.

Wolfe’s saga has it all. As part of an investigation into leaks about the “Steele dossier,” the DOJ seized phone and email records between Wolfe and New York Times reporter Ali Watkins. The two were romantically involved for some time, including while Watkins covered the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Elsewhere, The Associated Press reports special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s team has asked a federal judge to impose limits on what they have to share with the targets of a criminal investigation.

Prosecutors say they’re worried that their evidence, which pertains to Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s chef” because his restaurants are known to be a hangout for the Russian president, will be shared with the Kremlin.

And in the case involving Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDem warns Trump: 'Obstruction of justice' to fire Rosenstein Ex-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report Former White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report MORE, a federal judge has given Mueller’s team until the end of the week to identify everyone they believe was involved in Manafort’s Ukrainian lobbying efforts. It’s a rare courtroom win for Manafort, Politico reports.

Finally, the inspector general report on the FBI and DOJ’s election-year criminal investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified material is almost here. It will drop on Thursday, which just so happens to be the president’s birthday.

The Hill’s Katie Bo Williams has the primer (The Hill). The report may be critical of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyRosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation Pompeo on Rosenstein bombshell: Maybe you just ought to find something else to do if you can't be on the team MORE and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Regardless, Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigations have already uncovered what many believe to be politically motivated actions by senior FBI brass, including former Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeHouse Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday Rosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Graham: There's a 'bureaucratic coup' taking place against Trump MORE, agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page.

The Associated Press: McCabe sues DOJ over documents related to his firing.

MERGERS: The Hill: A federal judge approved the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger on Tuesday. The decision will be analyzed closely across multiple industries.

> Following favorable ruling on AT&T -Time Warner merger, a Comcast offer for Fox expected (The Associated Press)

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley & Alexis Simendinger Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


A radical trade prescription from the Federal Reserve: Stop complaining about China, and pay U.S. workers better, by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Michael Hiltzik, The Los Angeles Times

War is too deadly for Congress to keep dodging its duty on declaring it, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor with The Hill.

The world should welcome Trump’s bold move on North Korea, by Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, opinion contributor with The Hill.


The House convenes at 10 a.m. and first votes are expected around 1:30 p.m.

The Senate will debate $716 billion for defense programs and policies for 2019. The Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee begins marking up a 2018 farm bill at 9:30 a.m.

The president arrives back at the White House from his Singapore trip shortly before 6 a.m. There are no public events currently on his schedule.

Pence speaks in Dallas at 11 a.m. to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Federal Reserve this afternoon concludes a two-day meeting; Chairman Jerome Powell holds a press conference.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on producer prices at 8:30 a.m.


> Seattle reverses course on business tax after Amazon pressure, by Reid Wilson, The Hill

> The federal government may still be paying women less than men for the same work, 55 years after the Equal Pay Act became law, by Niv Ellis, the Hill

> Google’s social media platform, Google Plus, is home to white nationalist and neo-Nazi trolls. Objectionable and prohibited posts by groups have remained on the site for months and even years without enforcement, despite Google Plus’s user policy, by Ali Breland, The Hill


And finally … It’s a vibrant season for street art with “Beyond the Streets,” an exhibit in Los Angeles, celebrating “vandalism as contemporary art, or contemporary art as vandalism, depending on how you want to look at it," says curator Roger Gastman, co-author of “The History of American Graffiti” (NPR includes photos and interviews).

The show includes contemporary works by “risk takers,” renegade urban artists from everywhere who have helped shape (and shake up) the art world today — Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, TAKI 183, Jenny Holzer, SWOON, and photographers Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, plus many works by newer artists. The show, which fills 40,000-square feet of warehouse space, is open through July 6.