The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback




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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., today kicks off an occasional feature called “The Contenders.” Hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton talk with candidates seeking seats in Congress for the first time. West Virginia Democrat Richard Ojeda, a House candidate, joins the program today. Ojeda is a member of the West Virginia state legislature and a decorated retired Army veteran. http://thehill.com/hilltv


President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE heads to Capitol Hill today to discuss immigration reform with Republicans as controversy explodes around his administration’s policy of separating families that have crossed into the country illegally.

The images and audio of children crying and being kept behind chain-link fencing has outraged Republicans and Democrats alike, with some likening the practice to Japanese internment camps and Holocaust trains used by the Nazis.

Trump is digging in, saying, “the United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”

On Monday, the president sent Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Top Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem path to a Senate majority narrows MORE into the White House briefing room to defend the practice.

How the administration explains its policy separating families at the border

  • A “crisis”: The administration is arguing that immediate action had to be taken to deter illegal immigration because the U.S. is operating with a “functionally open” border.
  • Blaming Congress: The administration is arguing that Democrats in Congress created “loopholes” that have incentivized illegal immigrants to try to sneak into the country with small children. “Congress needs to fix it,” Nielsen said. But the administration is choosing to enforce the laws in a way that prior administrations never did.
  • Claiming rule of law: The administration is going with a “tough love” defense, saying that previous administrations ignored laws and statutes that require those crossing the border illegally be arrested and separated from their children. “We no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law,” Nielsen said.
  • Blaming the media: The administration says children are being treated properly, despite media reports to the contrary. And Nielsen said the press is ignoring key facts, like that 10,000 of the 12,000 children in question arrived at the border with people who were not their parents.

None of this will quell the bipartisan outrage over what is widely viewed as a cruel and inhumane practice. The issue has galvanized Republicans and Democrats, advocacy groups, religious leaders, the first lady and four former first ladies.



Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseGOP lawmaker on Trump's 'Horseface' comment: 'That's not the way men act' GOP senator rips Sean Hannity in new book: report GOP senators praise Haley as 'powerful' and 'unafraid' MORE (R-Neb.) is calling the practice “wicked.” Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) says it’s heartless. The states are revolting, with governors saying they’ll refuse to send national guard troops to the border. Catholic cardinals say it’s immoral. Potential Democratic presidential candidates are calling on Nielsen to resign, and Democratic House and Senate candidates are leading protests or spending time at the migrant detention centers. There will be congressional hearings. Women, from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Closing message for Democrats Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP mocks Clinton after minor vehicle collision outside Mendendez campaign event MORE to Laura Bush, are leading the charge.

Poll: Two-thirds of Americans say separating children from their families is “unacceptable.” And the watchdog group Equity Forward commissioned polling over the weekend in districts of three vulnerable GOP House members that found Republicans there oppose the policy.

How does this end?

   A congressional fix: The White House is demanding Congress provide a legislative fix but that seems like a long shot. Republicans in the House have two immigration bills they’re considering. Both would address the separation of families, but neither is likely to become law. On Monday, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown O'Rourke's mom discusses past Dem votes after labeled 'lifelong Republican' by son Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown MORE (R-Texas) released a bill that would end the separation of families. Cruz is up for reelection in 2018 and his opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), has been leading protests on the matter.



From The Hill’s Rafael Bernal and Mike Lillis: “The political problem facing the White House is that pressure will mount on Republican leaders to pass a narrow immigration bill that will reverse the administration's policy at the border.”

  • A judicial fix: Lawsuits are certain to be in the works and it’s possible that the courts could intervene.
  • Nothing changes: The president and his allies believe immigration was a winning issue for them in 2016 and are rolling the dice that they can overcome the horrific optics of this political firestorm in another election year. In fact, Politico reports that White House officials are planning new ways to harden immigration laws ahead of Election Day. And The New York Times reports that the president is eager to rally his base around immigration for the midterm elections.

The Hill: Trump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy.

The Memo: Child separation crisis risks “Katrina moment” for Trump.


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As a Medicare Part D Cliff looms for seniors, the program’s successful structure is also in jeopardy. Congress can act now to protect seniors from the donut hole suddenly increasing by more than $1,200, and secure the program for the future by fixing changes that undermine its successful competitive structure. 



***BREAKING THIS MORNING*** Read The Hill’s Megan Wilson’s report on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the lobbying industry … personal stories from the dark side of K Street (The Hill).


CONGRESS: Immigration was already expected to be the main legislative event on the House floor this week before the controversy about separating migrant families mushroomed. It’s unclear if the GOP in both chambers will recalculate this week. Trump’s message to the House GOP today may provide clear direction or scramble his party’s agenda anew.

House GOP - immigration: The Hill: House Republicans who are weighing separate immigration measures – one favored by conservatives and one aimed at GOP centrists – received some unsolicited political advice from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers Senate Dems race to save Menendez in deep-blue New Jersey MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday. He urged them to reject the centrist version of immigration legislation as a strain on their “credibility,” with the anticipation that the conservative version is unlikely to gain sufficient House support. House floor votes this week, promised by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms MORE (R-Wis.), have not been scheduled.

>The House GOP compromise immigration measure does not ban the policy of separating migrant families and detaining children at the border, as some lawmakers have suggested. The language:



Senate - ZTE: The Hill: Defying Trump, the Senate voted on Monday to block the administration’s rescue deal with Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE. The provisions cleared the Senate as part of the defense policy bill.

House – budget: The Hill: The House Budget Committee will move Wednesday and Thursday to mark up a budget for the 2019 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, despite some expectations it would not proceed this year.

Senate - spending: The Hill: The president’s proposed plan to cancel spending he already signed into law has not picked up traction in the Senate as lawmakers eye a vote this week. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion: Treasury Trump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race MORE met with the GOP senators to try to build more support for the effort.


INVESTIGATIONS:  Breaking last night … a former CIA engineer has been charged with leaking classified information to Wikileaks … 29-year-old Joshua Schulte is accused of being behind what appears to be the largest leak of top secret information in CIA history (Politico).

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared before Congress on Monday for the first time since the bombshell report on the FBI’s handling of the election year criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was light on fireworks – those could come today, when Horowitz and Wray appear before a joint hearing convened by the House Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees.

The Hill: House GOP headed for showdown with DOJ over key documents.

But there were a few new nuggets:

Who still needs to be worried?

FBI agent Peter Strzok: Strzok and four other FBI officials have been referred to the personnel office for discipline over anti-Trump private messages they exchanged. Some, if not all, will be fired. “We will not hesitate to hold people accountable,” Wray said.


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As a Medicare Part D Cliff looms for seniors, the program’s successful structure is also in jeopardy. Congress can act now to protect seniors from the donut hole suddenly increasing by more than $1,200, and secure the program for the future by fixing changes that undermine its successful competitive structure. 


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS:  Voters head to the polls today for the primary elections in Washington, D.C.

Also, today marks 20 weeks until the 2018 midterm elections. So is a blue wave building or is there a Republican-friendly undertow? The Hill’s Reid Wilson makes sense of the conflicting metrics at play as Democrats seek to flip the 23 seats they need to take back the House (The Hill).

Elsewhere on the campaign trail … The Supreme Court ruled against Wisconsin Democrats in a key gerrymandering case (The Hill) … Two long-serving New York Democrats are facing upstart primary challenges from liberal millennials (The Hill) … Pence will stump for Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoCook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems Midterms put GOP centrists in peril Cyberattacks are a constant fear 17 years after 9/11 MORE (R-N.Y.), who announced Monday he opposes the administration’s policy of separating families (Syracuse.com) … The president will swing through Nevada on Saturday to stump for Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Pollsters: White college-educated women to decide if Dems capture House Obama to speak at campaign rally for Nevada Dems MORE, who is among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2018 (The Associated Press) … A judge struck down Kansas’s voter ID law and rebuked Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (The Hill).

➔ WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Tariffs Redux - China: The president threatened on Monday to hit China with a new 10 percent tariff on $200 billion in goods (Reuters). If China increases its tariffs yet again, we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods,” Trump said in a statement. “The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable.”

> Addendum: China will host Kim Jong Un today and Wednesday, according to Chinese state media (The Associated Press).

Presidential job approval: Gallup’s weekly tracking poll finds Trump’s job approval at 45 percent, a high he has not seen since Jan. 29, 2017, shortly after his inauguration. The percentage of Americans who disapprove of the job he’s doing is 50 percent (Gallup Organization).

Pentagon - South Korea: The Hill: Joint military exercises with South Korea will be suspended in August, to lessen provocations during ongoing negotiations with North Korea seeking to halt its nuclear program.

Pentagon - outer space: The president on Monday directed the Defense Department and other government experts to create a new “Space Force” to become part of the U.S. military. “We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council (Space.com). Congress would have to legislate a new branch of the military.

Commerce Department: Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossSessions attacks judge who ordered officials to sit for depositions in challenges to Census citizenship question Harris accuses GOP of ‘weaponizing’ 2020 Census DOJ: Commerce chief spoke with Bannon, Sessions about census citizenship question MORE kept stakes in firms co-owned with the Chinese government while working for the U.S. government, failing to divest his holdings upon entering the Trump Cabinet, according to an investigation by Forbes.  

EPA: The Hill: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Suspended EPA health official: Administration’s actions mean ‘kids are disposable’ MORE’s future in the Cabinet appears to be in increasing political jeopardy within the Republican Party as investigations continue to pile up and conservative commentators call for his exit, according to some Republican senators.

Drug Enforcement Administration: The acting head of the drug agency announced he is retiring, citing the increasing challenges of managing in a temporary role. Robert W. Patterson, who worked at the DEA for 30 years, announced he will retire from government in about two weeks (The Washington Post).  

Treasury Department - tax: The Hill: The Treasury Department and IRS are preparing to issue formal guidance on a major part of the GOP tax law enacted last year. Soon to be released: compliance information on the tax law’s 20 percent deduction for income from noncorporate businesses, known as “pass-through.” Stakeholders await necessary clarifications.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: The Hill: Washington is scrambling to learn more about a little-known budget official, Kathy Kraninger, nominated by Trump to lead the CFPB, the agency targeted by Republican critics and the financial industry as too powerful and independent.  

Justice Department - sanctuary cities: The Trump administration, escalating its fight with so-called sanctuary cities, asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to narrow a lower court’s nationwide order preventing the federal government from denying public safety grants to municipalities that limit cooperation on immigration enforcement (Reuters).


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



Our border crisis worsens as Washington sits on the sidelines, by Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2t8fAz6

Military families can teach us about the cost of family separations, by Tova Walsh, assistant professor of Social Work at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Katherine Rosenblum of the Women and Infants Mental Health Program at the University of Michigan, opinion contributors with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2tilQ6t



The House is back to work at noon. House Republicans meets with Trump in the Capitol. Justice Department Inspector General Horowitz testifies before a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees, discussing the inspector general’s report last week describing FBI and department decisionmaking in 2016.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. With immigration, border security and Trump’s wall in the headlines, we’re watching the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Homeland Security, which will mark up the fiscal 2019 appropriations measure covering the department. And Cambridge Analytica and other Facebook partners will be center stage this afternoon talking about data privacy risks, at a hearing convened by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security.

The president speaks today at the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Later he welcomes Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia to the White House for about an hour. Separately, Trump will sign U.S. patent number 10 million. In the evening, he visits House Republicans in the Capitol to discuss pending legislative issues, including immigration. And later, the president speaks at a political dinner with supporters.

The vice president and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump, Stormy Daniels trade fire on Twitter | Three weeks to midterms | Pompeo meets Saudi king The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Pollsters: White college-educated women to decide if Dems capture House New book: Pence’s wife refused to say hello to Trump on election night MORE fly to Syracuse, N.Y., to help Republican Rep. John Katko raise money for his reelection. In the afternoon, the vice president tours Nucor Steel Auburn Inc. and gives a speech about taxes and the economy. Later, the Pences fly to Philadelphia and participate in a Republican Governors Association political event, and then return to Washington.


> The good-news story of America today: Upbeat trends chronicled nationwide and in smaller communities, by Tom Geoghegan, BBC News.Indicators far more subtle than job numbers suggest a flourishing of entrepreneurship, collaboration and problem-solving, away from the gaze of national media.”

> In the battle against Lyme disease, the ticks are winning, by Mary Beth Pfeiffer, Scientific American blog network. In America, 300,000 people a year are infected.

> Facebook’s screening for political ads nabs news sites instead of politicians, by Jeremy B. Merrill and Ariana Tobin, ProPublica. Examples: Political ads from Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyPoll: Dem incumbent holds 5-point lead in Oregon governor's race Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees EPA chief calls racist Facebook post he liked ‘absolutely offensive’ MORE (D-Ore.), Rep. Donald NorcrossDonald W. NorcrossDems demand answers on Pentagon not recognizing Pride Month The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback Overnight Health Care: GOP in retreat on ObamaCare | Drug pricing fight heads to the states | PhRMA spends record amount on lobbying MORE (D-N.J.), and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalElection Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas Dems look to women to take back the House after Kavanaugh fight Wrong for Democrats to call for more Kavanaugh investigations MORE (D-Wash.), all ran without disclaimers last week.


And finally … Adopt Us!  As everyone knows, plenty of pets were displaced last year in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. People magazine features nine adoptable dogs (and there are many more out there) that survived the storms, but still need forever homes as of this month. Enjoy a few online minutes with Papi, Mario, Cindy, Brodie, Fema, Roscoe, Robins, Sasha, and Tapioca. Information about adoption appears with each pooch, and in many cases these pets traveled long distances, thanks to generous animal rescuers.