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




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Tuesday! 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!)

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.


President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it's trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can't withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities 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 NielsenThe Seila Law case: Liberty and political firing Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers 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 SasseMeadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Chamber of Commerce endorses Cornyn for reelection 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 ClintonHillicon Valley: Wells Fargo tells employees to delete TikTok from work phones | Google, Facebook join legal challenge to ICE foreign students rule | House Republican introduces bills to bolster federal cybersecurity Biden lets Trump be Trump 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch 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 CruzThe Hill's Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for Tuesday American Airlines reviewing photographs of Sen. Cruz on flight without a mask 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch 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 SchumerChuck SchumerWells Fargo told employees to delete TikTok from work phones Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government 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 RyanBush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump's former chief of staff hits coronavirus efforts: 'We still have a testing problem' Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Chris Christie Trump admin lifts ban on sales of silencers to private foreign buyers 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 KatkoHillicon Valley: Wells Fargo tells employees to delete TikTok from work phones | Google, Facebook join legal challenge to ICE foreign students rule | House Republican introduces bills to bolster federal cybersecurity House Republican introduces legislation to strengthen federal cybersecurity Democrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill MORE (R-N.Y.), who announced Monday he opposes the administration’s policy of separating families ( … The president will swing through Nevada on Saturday to stump for Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play 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 ( Congress would have to legislate a new branch of the military.

Commerce Department: Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOVERNIGHT ENERGY: WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says | Supreme Court rules that large swath of Oklahoma belongs to Native American tribe WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says  OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget 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 PruittOVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet 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 & Alexis Simendinger 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.

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.



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 - Presented by Facebook- Schools weigh reopening options Pence and his wife voted by mail in Indiana GOP primary using old address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate unveils police reform bill as House works on its own bill 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 MerkleyHillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem Democratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed plane MORE (D-Ore.), Rep. Donald NorcrossDonald W. NorcrossNY, NJ lawmakers call for more aid to help fight coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins MORE (D-N.J.), and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down 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.