Barbara Lee looks to seize her moment

Rep. Barbara Lee has long been on the political periphery, but the party may now be coming around to her.

After finishing two votes shy of breaking into House Democratic leadership in 2016, the left-leaning California Democrat is counting on a stronger start — and a liberal base clamoring for hard-edged resistance to President Donald Trump — in her bid to win election as Democratic Caucus chair.

In an interview with POLITICO, Lee touted the “new wave” of progressive energy and noted that Democrats have never had an African-American woman in leadership.

“I want to be a voice at the table that really hasn’t been at the table,” she said.

Whether Lee gets the chance may depend on her ability to win over younger House Democrats calling for generational change in leadership.

The 72-year old Lee has been in Congress for 20 years and praises the caucus’ longtime leaders, including Continue reading “Barbara Lee looks to seize her moment”

Hispanic lawmakers challenge Nielsen over family separations

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told lawmakers that the Trump administration is on track to meet a court deadline to reunify families that were separated at the southern border due to a zero-tolerance enforcement policy, according to members.

“She said — and we questioned her numerous times — she said that she believes that they’re on pace to be unified tomorrow,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) told reporters following a Congressional Hispanic Caucus meeting with Nielsen. “That’s impossible. We all said this to her.”

Nielsen met with CHC members Wednesday morning. Her trip to Capitol Hill came a day ahead of a deadline to reunify families. The Trump administration on Monday told the court it had either reunited or “appropriately discharged” nearly 1,200 of the roughly 2,550 children ages 5 and older who were forcibly separated from their parents.

“It’s impossible. She said that they would all be reunified Continue reading “Hispanic lawmakers challenge Nielsen over family separations”

McConnell to Trump: The filibuster is here to stay

Some things never change.

President Donald Trump continues to plead for the end of the legislative filibuster, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell keeps saying no.

“As I’ve told him repeatedly, the votes aren’t there to change it,” the Republican leader told POLITICO Playbook’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman in an interview Wednesday. “They just aren’t there. It’s not just me.”

The president’s latest call to eliminate the 60-vote threshold to shepherd through legislation came during a private meeting Tuesday with House and Senate Republicans, with Trump telling lawmakers to change the rules before Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) does.

McConnell, however, sees no need.

The Kentucky Republican, who this month became the longest-serving GOP Senate leader, touted Trump’s presidency as the best year and a half for the GOP since he first came to the Senate in 1985 — noting the passage of massive tax Continue reading “McConnell to Trump: The filibuster is here to stay”

Senate far off from deal to fix family separation crisis

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday urged bipartisan negotiators to reach a deal this week to fix the Trump administration’s slapdash policy on migrant family separations — but he’s poised to be disappointed.

Immigration talks that began this week are only in their early stages, according to senators in both parties. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) met on Monday, and their efforts are likely to stretch into next month given that lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington next week for their Fourth of July recess.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week that calls for migrant families to be detained together after illegal entry into the United States, but Border Patrol agents have had to suspend the referrals of family members for prosecution after they cross the border because of strained resources. Continue reading “Senate far off from deal to fix family separation crisis”

Trump says he won’t sign compromise immigration bill

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would not sign the compromise immigration bill House Republicans unveiled on Thursday.

The House is set to vote on two immigration bills next week — a conservative proposal crafted by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and a compromise proposal GOP leaders negotiated with moderates and conservatives.

“I’m looking at both of them,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” in an interview Friday morning from the White House lawn. “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.”

Republican leaders earlier this week staved off an effort from centrist Republicans to force a series of votes on immigration legislation through a so-called discharge petition that required 218 signatures by agreeing to hold votes on two proposals next week. The move prevented a potentially embarrassing vote on a bipartisan immigration bill that would shield from deportation undocumented immigrants who came into the U.S. Continue reading “Trump says he won’t sign compromise immigration bill”

Scalise: GOP ‘moving a lot closer’ to immigration deal

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise expressed cautious optimism Tuesday that GOP leadership, moderates and conservatives could reach an immigration deal and put an end to a weeks-long intra-party impasse.

“We are trying to get to an agreement on a bill that we can bring forward that can get 218 votes,” the Louisiana Republican told POLITICO Playbook’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman in an interview. “We’re not there yet, but I think we’re moving a lot closer. And in exchange we would also make sure there would be no discharge petition.”

A discharge petition led by a group of centrist Republicans is three signatures shy of the 218 needed to force a series of votes on immigration bills. If lawmakers hit their mark later Tuesday — moderates’ latest self-imposed deadline — the House will take up the bills at the end of the month.

House GOP leaders are eager to Continue reading “Scalise: GOP ‘moving a lot closer’ to immigration deal”

Maryland congressman returns after minor stroke, will sign discharge petition

Rep. Anthony Brown is returning to Capitol Hill on Tuesday after suffering a minor stroke earlier this month.

“The congressman plans to speak on the National Defense Authorization Act and sign the discharge petition to force floor votes on proposals to protect DREAMers,” said Matthew Verghese, a spokesman for the Maryland Democrat.

Brown, a colonel in the Army Reserve who is also a member of the Armed Services Committee, is expected to speak about the bipartisan defense authorization bill on the floor for the first time since suffering the stroke on May 11. The legislation advanced out of committee earlier this month in a 60-1 vote.

He will also join more than 200 lawmakers in signing a discharge petition led by a defiant group of centrist Republicans. The petition requires 218 signatures to force a series of votes on immigration legislation.

Brown’s office announced last week that he had a Continue reading “Maryland congressman returns after minor stroke, will sign discharge petition”

Senate confirms Haspel as CIA’s first female director

The Senate on Thursday confirmed acting CIA Director Gina Haspel as the agency’s first female leader.

Four Democrats facing reelection this year in states President Donald Trump won in 2016 helped push the 33-year CIA veteran over the finish line. Haspel faced opposition from most Democrats and Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, who was absent due to his health, over her role in the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation program, which involved using tactics later deemed torture against detained terrorism suspects.

The moderate Democrats up for reelection — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida — were joined by fellow Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire in the 54-45 vote.

Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate, and Haspel needed to sway undecided Democrats in order to be Continue reading “Senate confirms Haspel as CIA’s first female director”

McConnell: White House aide should apologize publicly for McCain crack

A White House aide who made a rude joke about Sen. John McCain’s health last week should apologize, but Republican senators didn’t raise the issue with President Donald Trump at a lunch meeting, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

White House communications aide Kelly Sadler said in a private meeting that the Arizona Republican’s opposition to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel "doesn’t matter" because "he’s dying anyway." Neither Trump nor the White House has apologized for the remark, though a spokesman said Sadler had contacted the McCain family directly.

"The person who said that should apologize and should apologize publicly," McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters.

McConnell visited McCain over the weekend at his home in Sedona, Arizona, where he has been recovering from cancer treatment.

McConnell hits at Trump’s tariffs

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday took aim at President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, marking his first public comments on Trump’s polarizing proposal.

“There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasize into a larger trade war, and many of our members are discussing with the administration just how broad, how sweeping this might be,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters. “And there’s a high level of concern about interfering with what appears to be an economy that’s taking off in every respect.”

The president shocked Republicans on the Hill last week when he announced that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Other nations have threatened to retaliate, and congressional Republicans have warned the president against taking such action. Speaker Paul Ryan had previously expressed concern with new tariffs.

Despite pressure from inside Congress as well as within the Continue reading “McConnell hits at Trump’s tariffs”

‘It’s almost nasty’: Dems seek crackdown on sleeping in the Capitol

A bloc of House Democrats is calling for an ethics investigation into the widespread practice of lawmakers sleeping in their offices, arguing it’s an abuse of taxpayer funds.

More than two dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus signed on to a letter obtained by POLITICO to Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and ranking member Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) asking for a probe into the “legality and propriety” of such conduct by members of Congress.

“There’s something unsanitary about bringing people to your office who are talking about public policy where you spent the night, and that’s unhealthy, unsanitary — and some people would say it’s almost nasty,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee.

The CBC’s push targets a practice popular among conservatives triggered by former Rep. Dick Armey, an architect of the 1994 “Republican Revolution.” Lawmakers often sleep Continue reading “‘It’s almost nasty’: Dems seek crackdown on sleeping in the Capitol”

Dreamers fight comes to Senate cafeteria

Lawmakers have less than a month to meet President Donald Trump’s self-imposed deadline to enshrine protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

What does — or doesn’t — happen over the next few weeks won’t affect only the constituents they serve, though. It will also affect those who serve them.

“We’re ground zero for this debate on immigration,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said in an interview late Wednesday. “Those very people that we’re deciding their fate, they’re serving us. They’re either serving me coffee and my colleagues, or they’re cleaning the tables, or they’re working in the Pentagon doing the same thing.”

The Nevada Democrat met privately for about an hour this week with more than a dozen immigrants who have Temporary Protected Status and work inside the Capitol or Pentagon. She suggested every member of Congress and the president himself do the Continue reading “Dreamers fight comes to Senate cafeteria”

Senators reach preliminary Dreamers deal, but Trump hasn’t signed off

A bipartisan group of six senators has reached a deal that would shield “Dreamers” from deportation and make other changes to immigration laws and border security — but the framework has yet to win over the White House and other key players on Capitol Hill.

As of Wednesday night, multiple sources said the six senators had signed off on an agreement and were waiting for input from the administration on whether President Donald Trump would accept it. So far, they do not have that approval.

“We are, you know, we’re at a deal,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who had been involved in the negotiations, said Thursday. “And so we’ll be talking to the White House about that, and I hope we can move forward with it. It’s the only game in town. There’s no other bill."

The group includes Flake and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham Continue reading “Senators reach preliminary Dreamers deal, but Trump hasn’t signed off”

Scalise to undergo ‘planned surgery’ related to summer shooting

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will undergo surgery on Wednesday as he continues to recover from last summer’s shooting at a congressional baseball practice.

“I have been fortunate to make tremendous progress in my healing from last June’s shooting, and tomorrow I will undergo a planned surgery as part of my ongoing recovery process,” Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement. “I will remain fully engaged in my work as I heal from this procedure, and I look forward to returning to the Capitol as soon as I can within the coming weeks.”

Scalise first returned to Congress in September after being shot in the hip during a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va. The gunshot shattered bone and tore through muscles and organs, leaving the Louisiana lawmaker hospitalized for months after initially being in critical condition. Two police officers, a congressional aide and a lobbyist were also Continue reading “Scalise to undergo ‘planned surgery’ related to summer shooting”

White House: Trump ‘very sad to see’ Hatch retire

President Donald Trump’s reaction to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s retirement announcement on Tuesday: Sad.

“He’s particularly thankful for the senator’s leadership and massive effort that he played and the role that he played in getting the tax cut and reform package passed, and the president certainly praises his service and is very sad to see Senator Hatch leave and knows that he will certainly be missed,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

Hatch (R-Utah), who led the Senate’s tax-writing panel, announced his retirement shortly before Sanders kicked off her first briefing of the new year.

“Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching,” the 83-year-old Senate Finance Committee chairman said in a video announcement. “That’s why, after much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term.”

His departure Continue reading “White House: Trump ‘very sad to see’ Hatch retire”

Trump taunts Vanity Fair over Clinton apology

President Donald Trump mocked Vanity Fair on Thursday for expressing regret over a controversial Hillary Clinton video it posted over the weekend.

“Vanity Fair, which looks like it is on its last legs, is bending over backwards in apologizing for the minor hit they took at Crooked H,” Trump tweeted, referring to his vanquished general election opponent by the moniker he coined on the campaign trail.

Vanity Fair on Saturday tweeted a video of six New Year’s resolutions for Clinton. “Maybe it’s time for Hillary Clinton to take up a new hobby in 2018,” the post said.

The suggestions for Clinton included writing a sequel to her memoir, “What Happened” — and titling it “What the Hell Happened” — and putting away her “voodoo doll” of former FBI Director James Comey because “a handful of other things” were factors in her election loss, more than a year has elapsed, and Continue reading “Trump taunts Vanity Fair over Clinton apology”

Trump falsely claims he broke a legislative record

President Donald Trump falsely claimed on Wednesday that he had signed more legislation than any of his predecessors at this point in their terms.

“You know, one of the things that people don’t understand — we have signed more legislation than anybody,” the president said in remarks to roughly four dozen first responders at a firehouse in West Palm Beach, Florida. “We broke the record of Harry Truman.”

It is true that Trump had signed more bills in his first 100 days than any president since Truman, but as Trump nears the anniversary of his Jan. 20 inauguration, he is far removed from his 100th day. And he has now signed the fewest number of bills into law of any first-year president dating back to Dwight Eisenhower, according to a recent report from the website GovTrack.

The report was published last Thursday, a day before the president signed a Continue reading “Trump falsely claims he broke a legislative record”

Judge grants Project Veritas a victory over Michigan teachers union

A federal judge in Detroit on Wednesday lifted the temporary restraining order a major teachers union won against the conservative group Project Veritas and denied a request for a preliminary injunction.

A Wayne County circuit judge in September blocked Project Veritas, a group run by provocateur James O’Keefe, from disclosing videos of other information it obtained in an undercover operation carried out against the American Federation of Teachers chapter in Detroit.

AFT Michigan alleged that Project Veritas operative Marisa Jorge used the name Marissa Perez and posed as a University of Michigan student to gain access to the chapter as an intern. The group claimed Jorge “unlawfully accessed and transmitted proprietary and confidential information and engaged in unlawful and unauthorized surveillance of” employees.

AFT Michigan had sought an injunction citing a strong likelihood of success with respect to violations of the Michigan Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Michigan Eavesdropping Act Continue reading “Judge grants Project Veritas a victory over Michigan teachers union”

Obama edges out Trump as most-admired man

President Donald Trump is the second-most admired man in the world among Americans, joining a small group of incumbent presidents who failed to win Gallup’s top distinction while in office.

Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and vanquished general election opponent, Hillary Clinton, retain their titles as the man and woman Americans most admire, according to the Gallup poll released Wednesday morning.

Obama edged out Trump, 17 percent to 14 percent, to win his 10th most-admired title. He won the year he was elected president, each year in the White House and his first year out of office. Only former President Dwight Eisenhower has won Gallup’s most-admired more times than Obama (that would be 12).

Clinton narrowly bested former first lady Michelle Obama, 9 percent to 7 percent, retaining her honor for the 16th consecutive year. The former senator, secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee has won 22 times Continue reading “Obama edges out Trump as most-admired man”

Democratic candidate asks for delay in Virginia House seat drawing

A Democratic House of Delegates candidate in Virginia is seeking to delay a Wednesday morning drawing that would determine the winner of the state’s 94th District in Newport News and the balance of power in the chamber.

A three-judge panel last week declared a tie between incumbent Republican Del. David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds, who had won a recount by a single vote one day earlier. The panel had determined that a vote originally not counted because of double markings was intended for Yancey.

Lawyers representing Simonds on Tuesday asked the Virginia State Board of Elections to “delay the determination by lot that is scheduled for tomorrow … until the three-judge recount panel has an opportunity to rule on” a motion for suspension and a motion for reconsideration.

“A decision by the three-judge recount panel to suspend its order and reconsider its determination that the recount between Mrs. Simonds Continue reading “Democratic candidate asks for delay in Virginia House seat drawing”