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The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix

 

 

 

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!)

 

Birthday bash: The state of West Virginia is celebrating its birthday today on Capitol Hill with food, beverages and promotional spin galore. Akin to the state motto: Wild, Wonderful, and welcoming ... Dirksen Senate Office Building, 5:30 p.m., room G-50.  

 

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There has been a stampede over the last 24 hours of GOP lawmakers desperate to end the public relations and political crisis thrust on them by President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border.

Trump trekked to Capitol Hill last night to visit with House Republicans about immigration, but the key to ending the crisis may lie in the Senate.

The Hill: Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJuan Williams: Trump’s policies on race are more important than his rhetoric It’s Mitch McConnell’s Washington – and we’re just living in it Trump makes new overtures to Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) says the GOP majority is committed to ending the family separation crisis at the border, which has ignited fierce protests and galvanized Republicans and Democrats in opposition.

“I support, and all of the senators of the Republican conference support, a plan that keeps families together.” – McConnell.

The path to accomplishing this will be tricky.

For instance, Senate Democrats rightly note that the Trump administration could end its recently enacted “zero tolerance” policy today, if the president were to instruct Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFBI investigated whether McCabe leaked info about Flynn and Trump to media Ex-Senate Intel staffer pleads guilty to lying to feds over contacts with journalists House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein MORE to do so.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchHatch mocks Warren over DNA test with his own results showing '1/1032 T-Rex' Romney defends Trump’s policies as ‘effective,' disputes he led 'never Trump' movement GOP fractured over filling Supreme Court vacancies in 2020 MORE (R-Utah), who has a good relationship with the president, sent him a letter signed by 11 other GOP senators pleading for a temporary halt to the policy.

            “It’s not American to do this.” – Hatch.

But Trump is digging in, blaming Democrats, “loopholes” in the law and the media and demanding that Congress fix the problem.

    “Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis...Totally open borders or criminal prosecution for law breaking...So what I'm asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year -- the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit.  We have to be able to do this. This is the only solution to the border crisis.” – Trump

Immigration has been an intractable issue on Capitol Hill for a decade, so including a fix on family separations in a broad immigration reform package – like those that will be considered in the House on Thursday – seems hopeless.

That leaves a potential opening for a narrow bill aimed specifically at expediting the processing of those who have been arrested trying to cross into the country illegally and allowing those with children to stay with those kids over the course of that process.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBeto O'Rourke will not share million he raised with other Dem Senate candidates 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 Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE (R-Texas) has released a bill to this effect, and other Republicans appear to be open to it.

 
Takeaway: Republicans are not happy about being dealt this crisis during an election year in which they’re desperately seeking to hold on to their majority in the House. Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection 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 Paul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE (R-Wis.) just beat back a revolt among his caucus on immigration, which produced two bills pertaining to the plight of “Dreamers” that could see a vote this Thursday. Neither is likely to become law and both are unlikely to even pass the House. That means the GOP needs to come up with a specific fix to address the family separations issue – and they need to do it fast, so the party can move on.

The Memo: Religious right hits Trump on border crisis.

Reuters exclusive interview: Pope Francis is critical of Trump administration policy on migrant family separation. “It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” he says.

NBC News: The price tag associated with federal “tent cities” to detain divided migrant families under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy is higher than costs in previous administrations, according to government data.

The Washington Post: Trump didn’t invent family separation but his administration was willing to try it.

The Associated Press: Youngest migrants held in “tender age” shelters. No clear plan yet on how to reunite children with parents.

 

 

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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.


LEADING THE DAY

INVESTIGATIONS:  FBI agent Peter Strzok, a key figure in the election year investigations into Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarter Page files defamation lawsuit against DNC Dems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach 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, was escorted out of the FBI last Friday amid an internal review into his conduct (The Hill).

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a scathing report last week about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation. In it, Horowitz revealed numerous anti-Trump messages that Strzok exchanged with then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page. In one text, Strzok said he’d try to stop Trump from getting elected.

Horowitz also questioned whether political bias against Trump led Strzok to ignore new developments in the Clinton case so he could prioritize the Trump-Russia probe.

Strzok has not been fired yet, but FBI Director Christopher Wray has pledged to clean house. Strzok is one of five agents who have been referred to the FBI’s personnel office for discipline over anti-Trump messages. The FBI is refusing to name the other four individuals.

Jonathan Turley: FBI has no excuse to hide future scandals from the public.

For the second consecutive day, Horowitz appeared before a congressional committee to discuss his report, which also found fault with former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFBI investigated whether McCabe leaked info about Flynn and Trump to media House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein Three reasons Mueller may not charge Trump with obstruction MORE’s handling of the Clinton investigation.

The Hill: Republicans tear into IG findings on Clinton probe.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder Collusion bombshell: DNC lawyers met with FBI on Russia allegations before surveillance warrant Comey rejects request for closed-door interview with House Republicans MORE (R-S.C.) opened the proceedings with these blistering remarks.

“This inspector general’s report should conjure anger, disappointment and sadness in everyone who reads it. This IG report lays bare the bias, the animus, the prejudging of facts by senior FBI agents and senior attorneys and attempts to minimize and mitigate this bias are so antithetical to what we want and deserve in our law enforcement officers.” - Gowdy.

There are too many fireworks to recount here, so you can read this recap from The Hill’s Katie Bo Williams and Olivia Beavers. The FBI has managed to infuriate Republicans and Democrats alike. The bureau will be dealing with fallout from the Clinton and Trump investigations for some time to come.

Sharyl Attkisson: All the times Horowitz contradicted Wray.

Kendra Arnold: The Democratic scandal that is being ignored.

Elsewhere in investigations … Former Senate Intelligence Committee official James Wolfe appeared in court to ask for a gag order on his case (CNN) … Comey is blasting back at Clinton (The Hill) … Trump’s campaign manager is calling on Attorney General Sessions to be fired (Twitter) …. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is said to be willing to dish on the president (CNN) … Erik Prince says he’s cooperating with the Mueller probe (The Daily Beast).

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CONGRESS: Senate - GOP appropriations: Politico reported that during a private meeting at the White House regarding the border wall on Monday, Trump fumed to two senators and his own staff about the $1.6 billion the Senate is planning to allocate this fall. The president wants $25 billion upfront and questioned why Congress approves funds in a piecemeal fashion (which is customary).

House Budget: The Hill: The House Budget Committee on Tuesday unveiled a belated spending plan that called for drastic reductions in mandatory spending. It will be marked up this week and includes steep cuts in programs for the poor.

Senate Democrats & Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHatch mocks Warren over DNA test with his own results showing '1/1032 T-Rex' Warren DNA test reinvigorates fight with Trump On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE (D-Mass.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence MORE (D-Ohio) want Trump’s nominee to head the CFPB, Kathy Kraninger, an official at the Office of Management and Budget, to produce any documents that may deal with her involvement in the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The CFPB, created in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, was Warren’s brainchild before she entered politics. The senator placed a hold on Kraninger’s nomination (The Hill). 

Congressional Democrats – Toys `R’ Us bankruptcy: Progressives in Congress are circulating a letter calling on the private equity firms behind the Toys 'R' Us bankruptcy to provide severance pay to the more than 30,000 workers who will be losing their jobs in coming weeks. More than a dozen lawmakers have signed the letter, including Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump attacks ‘Crazy Bernie’ Sanders over Medicare plans Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports MORE (I-Vt.), Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanSenior Dem says Pelosi will be Speaker for as long as she wants House Dems punt action on rule change for Speaker nominee Hoyer questions feasibility of new threshold for Speaker nomination MORE (D-Ohio), and Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota GOP Senate candidate compared Michelle Obama to a chimp in Facebook post Minnesota Dems worry about Ellison allegations as state AG race tightens Republicans see silver linings in deep-blue states MORE (D-Minn.). Lawmakers are interested in the role of private equity firms in a growing number of retail bankruptcies.

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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.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS:  Trump will hold a campaign rally in Duluth, Minn. today, the first time the president has held such an event in a state that he lost in 2016.

Trump didn’t lose Minnesota by much – Clinton carried the state by 1.5 points and he won the 8th District, which is presently held by a retiring Democratic House member, by 16 points.

There will also be two Senate races in Minnesota this year, including a special election to replace Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMinnesota GOP Senate candidate compared Michelle Obama to a chimp in Facebook post Former campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Prosecutor drops some charges against Harvey Weinstein MORE (D-Minn.), who resigned amid allegations he mistreated women. Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithMinnesota GOP Senate candidate compared Michelle Obama to a chimp in Facebook post Minnesota Dems worry about Ellison allegations as state AG race tightens Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas MORE (D-Minn.), who was appointed to replace Franken, is running to finish out the remaining two years of his term.

The Cook Political report has Smith’s seat rated as “leans” Democratic and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharIs there difference between good and bad online election targeting? Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas Clusters of polio-like illness in the US not a cause for panic MORE’s (D-Minn.) seat as “solidly” Democratic. The House race to replace retiring Rep. Rick NolanRichard (Rick) Michael NolanHow America’s urban-rural divide is changing the Democratic Party Bezos honored for public service at DC gala House battlefield expands as ad wars hit new peak MORE (D) is rated as a toss-up.

Trump will make his second stop in a state that he lost in 2016 on Saturday, when he stumps for Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerObama to speak at campaign rally for Nevada Dems Poll shows Heller with 7-point lead in Nevada The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia MORE (R) in Nevada. Heller is among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in the Senate.

Around the campaign trail … An interview with GOP Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGroup begins 'Nuns on the Bus' tour to protest Trump tax law ahead of midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Historic vote on Kavanaugh to come amid protests, anger Dems announce third-quarter fundraising bonanza MORE (Pa.), who is among the most vulnerable lawmakers in the country (The Hill) … Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Trump Jr. to stump in Indiana for Pence’s brother and governor hopeful Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE is bailing on a fundraiser for George P. Bush after several members of the Bush family criticized the president over the policy of separating children from their families at the border (CNN) … Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Live coverage: McSally clashes with Sinema in Arizona Senate debate Sinema campaign launches effort to target undecided GOP voters MORE (R-Ariz.) has a commanding lead in the GOP Senate primary in Arizona (The Hill).

ADMINISTRATION & WHITE HOUSE: Agencies and departments continue this week to carry out the president’s agenda. Next month, Trump will say goodbye to a much-respected veteran manager at the White House.

State Department: The Hill: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight GOP strategist says Trump is taking 'appropriate stance' with Saudi Arabia Saudi Embassy in DC cancels National Day celebration amid uproar over missing journalist MORE and Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia Trump unsure if Mattis will stay: 'He's sort of a Democrat' Nikki Haley achieved historic accomplishments, just like the many women in Trump's administration MORE, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced on Tuesday that the United States pulled out of the U.N. Human Rights Council. The move was expected because of the administration’s view that the council suffers from “chronic anti-Israel bias.”

 

 

Housing and Urban Development Department: HUD would like this summer to evict all union offices from agency facilities, while the Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to “revise” 21 points in its union contract. The actions are part of a coordinated, broad-based push against organizations representing federal employees, and specifically their collective bargaining agreements (The Washington Post).

Environmental Protection Agency: EPA this week approved state regulation of coal ash in Oklahoma, the home state of Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight 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’ Overnight Energy: Interior reprimands more than 1,500 for misconduct | EPA removes 22 Superfund sites from list | DOJ nominee on environment nears confirmation MORE. Environmentalists fear state control will allow polluters to dump coal ash in ponds and landfills, further polluting nearby groundwater (The Oklahoman & NewsOk).

Oceans executive order: Trump’s executive order released on Tuesday dealing with federal jurisdiction over oceans policies, with an emphasis on the economy and states, washes away the Obama administration’s focus on conservation and climate change,   reports Science magazine.

West Wing Turnstile: As expected, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joe Hagin will leave the White House in a few weeks. Hagin is a veteran manager who worked for three previous GOP administrations before signing up to help Trump. He plans to return to the private sector by July 6 (Reuters).

STATE WATCH: States and communities this week are wrestling with immigration, health care coverage, health insurance and the challenges faced by children whose parents succumb to drug addiction.

Immigration adjudication: The New York Times reports on the challenges for all concerned in the court systems from Texas to California, where Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy has resulted in a one-month surge of 30 percent in federal criminal prosecutions of migrants at the border (March to April). Thousands of new defendants are being funneled into a federal court system in what’s described as “assembly-line justice.”

Foster care & opioid epidemic: The Hill: States grappling with the opioid epidemic are experiencing a massive influx of children into the foster system. The growth in foster and state care is so explosive in some areas that governments are rethinking how they tackle the problem of caring for such children.

Affordable Care Act enrollment grants: The Hill: Local and state groups that work to sign people up for ObamaCare coverage have not received information from the federal government about the upcoming grant year that would cover their operations beginning this fall. The administration has been critical of the program, and slashed funding for it last year. Some recipients believe the administration, which sought to repeal the ACA, could end the grants.

Health insurance associations: The Trump administration issued a sweeping new rule Tuesday that takes a step toward fulfilling the president’s campaign promise to make it easier for companies to sell insurance across state lines. The rule, issued by the Labor Department and touted by the president on Tuesday, invites small businesses to band together and set up health insurance plans that skirt many requirements of the Affordable Care Act, offering lower costs but also fewer benefits (The Washington Post).

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!

OPINION

Trump’s midterm suicide plan: Make children cry and mothers mad, by Brent Budowsky, a former Democratic House and Senate aide and opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2smjPGT

Ignore the naysayers trying to disrupt U.S. diplomacy with North Korea, by Donald Gross, former adviser to the Clinton administration and the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2tsDdlp

WHERE AND WHEN

The House convenes at 9 a.m. The first series of votes will be held at 11:30 a.m. Speaker Ryan will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOn 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 GOP has not done a good job of selling economic achievements, says ex-Trump adviser MORE (D-Calif.) holds one on immigration at 1 p.m.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds an open hearing this morning to examine policy responses to the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Witnesses will include Victoria Nuland, former assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration, and Michael Daniel, former White House cybersecurity coordinator and special assistant to former President Obama.             

Trump meets with House lawmakers this morning at the White House, then has lunch with Vice President Pence and the secretary of state. The president then  travels to Duluth, Minn., where he’ll hold a roundtable discussion with selected participants to discuss the economy, then he headlines a rally for his reelection. Trump returns to the White House before midnight.

The Hill hosts a newsmaker event at 8:30 a.m. about “America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Role for Technology,” at 1777 F Street N.W., in downtown Washington, D.C. Speakers include Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Tom MacArthurThomas (Tom) Charles MacArthurOvernight 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 Dems announce third-quarter fundraising bonanza Midterms put GOP centrists in peril MORE (R-N.J.). The event, moderated by Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack, is sponsored by Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).   

ELSEWHERE

> City of Exiles: Every month, thousands of deportees from the United States and hundreds of asylum-seekers from around the world arrive in Tijuana. Many never leave, by Daniel Duane, The California Sunday Magazine.

 

> What does it cost to win a House primary these days? Of the 435 victors through June 15, roughly 50 either didn’t file spending reports with the Federal Election Commission or submitted reports showing they had spent $5,000 or less, by Mike Woodel, McClatchy.

 

> How America got hooked on OxyContin, by Fred Schulte, Kaiser Health News.

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … Random acts of kindness … a helping hand … call it what you will. KSAT and KDVR television reported that a Texas man who happened to be listening to a news report last week in San Antonio decided to help more than 50 undocumented immigrants, including minors, found by authorities smuggled in the back of an 18-wheeler nearby. He spent $50 on seven Little Caesars pizzas, drove to where detectives encircled the semi with flashing lights, and worked alongside a fireman at the scene to distribute the food. Tow truck driver Armando Colunga later told reporters he decided to intervene because one thought weighed on him: “Who knows how long they’ve been in there?”