Texas GOP weighs trading speaker votes for key chairmanship

Texas Republicans, the largest GOP delegation in the House, are debating whether to use their leverage in a speakership race to plant one of their own atop the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Several Texas Republicans — well aware that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy needs their support to succeed Speaker Paul Ryan — have discussed pushing Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) to lead the spending panel in return for their votes for speaker. The idea, which has been closely guarded, came up at a recent Texas delegation lunch.

Some members of the group are more supportive of the idea than others, according to interviews with nine Texas Republicans. Though many support Granger for the chairmanship, two Texas Republicans said they don’t need to formally make the demand because they believe McCarthy will back Granger for the position.

Others, however, worry that McCarthy will throw his support to another candidate. Rep. Robert Aderholt Continue reading “Texas GOP weighs trading speaker votes for key chairmanship”

Trump allies weigh last-ditch bid to punish Rosenstein

President Donald Trump’s top allies in the House are considering a last-ditch attempt to circumvent Republican leaders and punish Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a regular Trump confidant, said Tuesday he’s weighing the introduction of a resolution to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress. That move that could force a vote — even without Speaker Paul Ryan’s blessing — before the House leaves town for a five-week recess on Thursday.

Under House rules, lawmakers can force a vote on such a “privileged” motion two days after filing it. If Meadows were to file his resolution before the end of the day Tuesday, he’d be empowered to seek a vote before the House departs on Thursday. Meadows described his thinking on whether to file the resolution "fluid."

The move would Continue reading “Trump allies weigh last-ditch bid to punish Rosenstein”

Garrett targeted in two ethics probes

Rep. Tom Garrett is the subject of two separate investigations by the House Ethics Committee and Office of Congressional Ethics, including questions over whether his drinking impacted the Virginia Republican’s ability to do his job, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Investigators are looking into allegations that Garrett and his wife improperly ordered congressional aides to conduct personal errands for them while on official time. These errands allegedly included picking up groceries, chauffeuring Garrett’s daughters to and from his Virginia district, fetching clothes that the congressman forgot at his Washington apartment, or even cleaning up after his dog. House ethics rules prohibit lawmakers from using staff for anything other than official congressional duties.

Garrett’s use of alcohol or other substances is a focus of both probes as well, said the sources. Investigators are trying to determine if Garrett’s alcohol use interfered with his work as a lawmaker.

Neither the Continue reading “Garrett targeted in two ethics probes”

Jordan interviewed in Ohio State University sex abuse investigation

Rep. Jim Jordan has been interviewed as part of an ongoing internal investigation into a sex abuse scandal at Ohio State University, the Ohio Republican said on Wednesday.

Jordan — who has gained a national following as the leader of the hardline House Freedom Caucus — told an Ohio radio program that he spoke with lawyers conducting the inquiry. That session took place on Monday.

Jordan has repeatedly denied knowledge of sexual abuse allegations tied to the late Dr. Richard Strauss, who killed himself in 2005.

Strauss was a team doctor for a number of OSU sports programs from the 1970s into the 1990s, including the wrestling team. Jordan, an elite college wrestler, was an assistant coach on the OSU wrestling team from 1986 to 1994.

"The interview took place Monday morning in Ohio," said Ian Fury, Jordan’s spokesman, in a statement. "Congressman Jordan told the investigators the same thing Continue reading “Jordan interviewed in Ohio State University sex abuse investigation”

Crowley lies low after crushing defeat

Rep. Joe Crowley has kept an uncharacteristically low profile since his shocking June primary loss as his colleagues have begun openly plotting to succeed him.

Rep. Linda Sánchez of California, the No. 5 Democrat behind Crowley, brought that battle to the forefront Tuesday by officially announcing her bid for Democratic Caucus chair. Rep. Barbara Lee, also of California and Sánchez’s opponent for vice-chair in 2016, has also said she’s strongly considering jumping into the race.

With several other members also eyeing the post and Crowley planning to stay put until the election, Sánchez’s announcement tees up the caucus for a months-long leadership race that likely won’t end until after Thanksgiving.

But this could be just the start of a full-scale scramble for Democratic leadership slots. While Crowley’s job is the only one guaranteed to be open right now, the race to succeed him could be the first salvo in a Continue reading “Crowley lies low after crushing defeat”

Collins and Murkowski could decide balance of the Supreme Court

Sen. Susan Collins took a notable phone call Thursday as she enters the eye of the Supreme Court confirmation storm: It was White House counsel Don McGahn, sounding out the moderate Maine Republican in what she called a “preliminary discussion” of the high court vacancy.

Republicans control the Senate by a single seat and Arizona Sen. John McCain has been absent for months. That means any single GOP senator has enormous sway over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

None matter more than Collins and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

A year ago, the two moderate Republicans, along with McCain, stopped Obamacare repeal in its tracks while helping to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Now, as they weigh how to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the two are about to be squeezed more than ever — by liberals seeking a Republican to stop the court from outlawing abortion rights, Continue reading “Collins and Murkowski could decide balance of the Supreme Court”

Ethics Committee launches full-scale probe into Schweikert and top aide

The House Ethics Committee has launched a wide-ranging investigation into GOP Rep. David Schweikert and his chief of staff, Oliver Schwab, including over allegations the Arizona Republican misspent official funds and received illegal campaign contributions from Schwab and other employees, according to a statement from the secretive panel.

The probe follows a recommendation from the Office of Congressional Ethics — the independent ethics watchdog — that the Ethics Committee further explore Schweikert and Schwab’s activities.

Schweikert said in an interview that he welcomed the investigation, calling the issue a matter of “clerical mistakes” rather than an intentional violation of House ethics rules. Schweikert has repeatedly downplayed the issue since the scandal broke last year.

“It’s wonderful, because we have been asking to have a formal review so we can present our information since almost December,” Schweikert said of the Ethics Committee investigation. Schweikert said he plans to meet with ethics Continue reading “Ethics Committee launches full-scale probe into Schweikert and top aide”

Dems under the gun with Supreme Court and Senate in the balance

Senate Democrats are about to face their toughest political test yet of the Trump era: a Supreme Court confirmation battle that will play out as they scrap with the GOP for control of the chamber.

The stakes are difficult to overstate. The confirmation itself could reshape the court for a generation, with Democrats warning of the rollback of abortion rights. And the corresponding political fight may well determine the outcome of key Senate races, where at-risk Democrats will be besieged with pressure to support President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Democrats are unable to stop the GOP from confirming Trump’s nominee because Senate Republicans killed the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees. But they may be able to sway a handful of pro-abortion rights Republicans — if they can stick together. At the least, Democrats could present a united front that energizes their liberal base going into the Continue reading “Dems under the gun with Supreme Court and Senate in the balance”

Pelosi’s path to speakership gets even harder

Rep. Joe Crowley’s stunning loss on Tuesday night to a first-time candidate makes this crystal clear: Nancy Pelosi’s path back to the speaker’s chair is getting more narrow by the day.

But it may not ease the route for the leaders directly below her either.

As the party grows younger and more diverse, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — an older white male centrist — may be left without a chair in any leadership scramble.

And for Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), the number three House Democrat, the Crowley earthquake cuts both ways. Clyburn could be in line to become the first African-American to serve as speaker of the House or he may find himself pushing another black Democrat for that post.

The septuagenarian troika that has run the House Democratic Caucus since the early 2000s reacted to Crowley’s defeat in different ways, but the stakes for Continue reading “Pelosi’s path to speakership gets even harder”

House panel pushes resolution for DOJ to hand over Russia probe documents

The House Rules Committee is preparing to advance a resolution demanding that the Justice Department turn over reams of documents connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, a move that would put the measure on the cusp of consideration by the House as soon as this week.

The committee is slated to consider the proposal on Wednesday afternoon, a day after it was approved by the Judiciary Committee. The proposal, offered by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), demands that the Justice Department turn over a broad slate of documents by July 6.

The measure, a so-called resolution of inquiry, is unenforceable but would, for the first time, put the Republican-led House on record demanding sensitive documents, escalating a confrontation that has so far been relegated to a handful of powerful House committees.

Democrats opposed the measure, calling it a partisan attempt to undermine Mueller’s ongoing investigation and to squeeze top Continue reading “House panel pushes resolution for DOJ to hand over Russia probe documents”

GOP flails ahead of immigration vote

A last-minute effort to salvage a House GOP immigration bill appeared to flounder Tuesday, amid unyielding opposition from the far right.

Desperate to flip conservative votes, centrist House Republicans offered to add a controversial provision requiring the use of E-Verify, which mandates all companies certify the legal status of their workers.

But it doesn’t look like it will be enough.

“Without E-Verify in the bill, [some members] couldn’t get to ‘yes,’” said Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, one Freedom Caucus member who pushed for the mandate’s addition.

However, asked if conservatives would back the bill if it’s added, he demurred. “We’ll see,” he said, adding that he also didn’t know yet how he would vote.

Other Freedom Caucus members, including Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.), said they would still oppose the measure if E-Verify was included. Continue reading “GOP flails ahead of immigration vote”

GOP flails ahead of immigration vote

A last-minute effort to salvage a House GOP immigration bill appeared to flounder Tuesday, amid unyielding opposition from the far right.

Desperate to flip conservative votes, centrist House Republicans offered to add a controversial provision requiring the use of E-Verify, which mandates all companies certify the legal status of their workers.

But it doesn’t look like it will be enough.

“Without E-Verify in the bill, [some members] couldn’t get to ‘yes,’” said Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, one Freedom Caucus member who pushed for the mandate’s addition.

However, asked if conservatives would back the bill if it’s added, he demurred. “We’ll see,” he said, adding that he also didn’t know yet how he would vote.

Other Freedom Caucus members, including Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.), said they would still oppose the measure if E-Verify was included. Continue reading “GOP flails ahead of immigration vote”

Goodlatte offers E-Verify mandate, farm worker fix for immigration bill

With the House set to vote Wednesday on a GOP immigration reform package, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has offered a proposal to mandate that all new employees in the United States are eligible to work in this country using the E-Verify system.

Goodlatte’s proposal would also create a new visa program for foreign workers in the farming and food-processing industries. American companies would be allowed to hire 450,000 foreign workers for three years under this plan, provided no U.S. workers could be found who would do those jobs.

Late Monday night, the Virginian Republican filed a 116-page amendment with the Rules Committee to the underlying “compromise” immigration bill. That legislation is slated to be voted on by the full House on Wednesday.

The compromise immigration bill was the product of weeks of discussions among GOP moderates, conservatives and party leaders. It was scheduled to have been voted on Continue reading “Goodlatte offers E-Verify mandate, farm worker fix for immigration bill”

Senate GOP fires another warning shot at Trump over Chinese telecom giant

The Senate has a message for President Donald Trump on the embattled Chinese tech giant ZTE: We’re watching.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly inserted language in must-pass spending bills that would limit U.S. ties to the Chinese company by banning federal agencies from buying its products.

The Senate’s provision sets up a clash with the Trump administration because, unlike harsher rebukes of ZTE that have been tucked into legislation this year, this one could make it to Trump’s desk.

The Senate GOP’s spending chief, Richard Shelby of Alabama, said he agreed to add the language into several bills because the Senate was interested in taking “multiple approaches” to restricting the United States’ ties to ZTE.

“You never know what bills are going to become law,” Shelby said Monday. “You don’t ever know what bills are actually going to go to conference and come out of conference.”

The Senate approved Continue reading “Senate GOP fires another warning shot at Trump over Chinese telecom giant”

Senate GOP fires another warning shot at Trump over Chinese telecom giant

The Senate has a message for President Donald Trump on the embattled Chinese tech giant ZTE: We’re watching.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly inserted language in must-pass spending bills that would limit U.S. ties to the Chinese company by banning federal agencies from buying its products.

The Senate’s provision sets up a clash with the Trump administration because, unlike harsher rebukes of ZTE that have been tucked into legislation this year, this one could make it to Trump’s desk.

The Senate GOP’s spending chief, Richard Shelby of Alabama, said he agreed to add the language into several bills because the Senate was interested in taking “multiple approaches” to restricting the United States’ ties to ZTE.

“You never know what bills are going to become law,” Shelby said Monday. “You don’t ever know what bills are actually going to go to conference and come out of conference.”

The Senate approved Continue reading “Senate GOP fires another warning shot at Trump over Chinese telecom giant”

Sweeping Trump proposal seeks to shrink government, merge agencies

The Trump administration issued a proposal Thursday that touches on nearly every corner of American life by calling for shrinking federal agencies, selling assets and reorganizing the way the government delivers services to its citizens.

The 132-page report would merge the departments of Education and Labor, move welfare and food aid programs into the newly named Department of Health and Public Welfare, and shift rural housing assistance to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“This effort, along with the recent executive orders on federal unions, are the biggest pieces so far of our plan to drain the swamp. The federal government is bloated, opaque, bureaucratic, and inefficient. President Trump understands the frustration felt by hard-working Americans,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement. “I am eager to work with my colleagues across the Executive branch and in Congress to deliver a more Continue reading “Sweeping Trump proposal seeks to shrink government, merge agencies”

GOP immigration push set to flop in embarrassment for Trump

House Republicans spent weeks crafting a “compromise” immigration bill slated to hit the House floor Thursday — one that tracks with President Donald Trump’s call to beef up border security and shield Dreamers from deportation.

But the only question going into the big vote is how badly it fails.

After laboring to strike a deal between moderate Republicans from swing districts and immigration hawks wary of being accused of supporting “amnesty,” GOP leaders say they still don’t have the votes.

It’s a damaging blow to an already weakened lame-duck speaker, Paul Ryan. His team has downplayed the possibility of passing anything, and the Wisconsin Republican has long maintained that any solution for Dreamers would likely have to be bipartisan.

Some Republicans are predicting that a rival bill authored by immigration hard-liners could garner as many votes as the compromise package, a result that would embarrass leaders who‘ve dismissed the proposal.

Continue reading “GOP immigration push set to flop in embarrassment for Trump”

Trump to House GOP: Send me an immigration bill

President Donald Trump told House Republicans to send him an immigration bill dealing with Dreamers and migrant families being separated at the border in a freewheeling address Tuesday — giving GOP leadership what they hope was the greenlight they needed to pass legislation that’s infuriated the far-right.

Trump told the GOP conference during a closed-door meeting that he would accept either of two competing immigration bills slated for a vote this week. Many Republicans said they interpreted his words as support for a measure negotiated between GOP leaders, moderate Republicans and conservatives. Leaders will whip votes for the carefully crafted package on Tuesday night.

"I’m with you 100 percent!" Trump told them, later adding, “I will not leave you in the wilderness.”

Trump also said that his daughter, Ivanka, had approached him about his policy of splitting kids from their parents at the border, telling him the images Continue reading “Trump to House GOP: Send me an immigration bill”

Congress may snub Trump on wall, risking shutdown

The first clues over whether President Donald Trump will risk a shutdown fight this fall over his border wall will come Monday in a private meeting with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

Trump is increasingly frustrated with Congress’ failure to fund the wall — his No. 1 campaign promise — and has threatened a shutdown in September if he doesn’t get his way.

But the West Virginia Republican, who chairs the Homeland Security spending panel, may have some tough news to deliver.

Though Trump wants as much wall money he can squeeze out of Congress, Capito needs to get 60 votes in the Senate, and there’s no way Democrats will go along with a major budget boost. She‘s also got to cut a deal with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the ranking member of the panel whom Trump loathes for helping to derail Ronny Jackson’s nomination to be secretary of veterans Continue reading “Congress may snub Trump on wall, risking shutdown”

Grimm lobs grenade into GOP primary with Trump pardon claim

During a debate on Monday, former Rep. Michael Grimm leveled a stunning charge against his primary opponent and successor in office, fellow Republican Dan Donovan — one that would be a potential ethical violation if true.

Grimm, who pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges in 2014 and spent seven months in prison, claimed Donovan offered to seek a presidential pardon for him if he would forgo a challenge to Donovan in the Republican primary this year. Donovan has acknowledged raising the issue of a pardon for Grimm with President Donald Trump during a trip on Air Force One last summer.

“You were offering pardons because you didn’t want me to run against you. You offered to help,” Grimm claimed at one point in the contentious debate in Manhattan.

The accusation landed like a grenade in the middle of one of the most heated Republican primaries of 2018. Grimm, the Continue reading “Grimm lobs grenade into GOP primary with Trump pardon claim”