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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 TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report 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 McConnellFive things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs Obama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary Memo to Biden: Go big — use the moment to not only rebuild but to rebuild differently 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 SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE to do so.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line Bottom line 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 CruzTrump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians Former CIA head, Cruz trade jabs over killing of Iranian nuclear scientist: 'You are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas' O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' 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 RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition 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 ClintonCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Groups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's 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 ComeyCarter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon The new marshmallow media in the Biden era 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 GowdyThe Hunter Biden problem won't go away Sunday shows preview: Joe Biden wins the 2020 election Sunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears 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 WarrenInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE (D-Mass.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol 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 SandersBernie SandersBiden announces all-female White House communications team The 'diploma divide' in American politics Bernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or Russia MORE (I-Vt.), Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Now's the time to make 'Social Emotional Learning' a national priority Mourners gather outside Supreme Court after passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE (D-Ohio), and Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonProgressives unveil Biden Cabinet wish list Officers involved with George Floyd killing will stand trial together in Minneapolis, judge decides Trump lashes out at state officials over virus restrictions at Minnesota rally 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 FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory MORE (D-Minn.), who resigned amid allegations he mistreated women. Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls Smith wins reelection in Minnesota Democrats expand Senate map, putting GOP on defense 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 KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE’s (D-Minn.) seat as “solidly” Democratic. The House race to replace retiring Rep. Rick NolanRichard (Rick) Michael NolanMinnesota Rep. Pete Stauber glides to victory in GOP primary Hold off on anti-mining hysteria until the facts are in Minnesota New Members 2019 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 HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play 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. FitzpatrickDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Down ballot races carry environmental implications | US officially exits Paris climate accord  MORE (Pa.), who is among the most vulnerable lawmakers in the country (The Hill) … Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpMost Republicans in new poll say they'd vote for Trump in 2024 President says Trump Jr. doing 'very well' after COVID-19 diagnosis Trump has not prepared a concession speech: report 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 McSallyTrump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol McSally's final floor speech: 'I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field' 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 PompeoBiden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden faces challenges, opportunities in Middle East O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' MORE and Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' New administration, House turnover raise prospects for more diversity on K Street 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 PruittEPA's scientific integrity in question over science rule Major unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight 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 PelosiObama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? 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 MacArthurChamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch Republican David Richter wins NJ primary in race to challenge Rep. Andy Kim What to watch in New Jersey's primaries on Tuesday 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?”