FROM David Hawkings
House Republicans pass GOP budget The House passed a budget today already approved by the Senate. If the President signs off, it will pave the way to consideration of massive tax cuts. But Speaker Paul Ryan declined to provide any details. Today's budget tally suggests that the tax plan may not have easy sailing, with a margin of just four votes: 216 to 212. David Hawkings, senior editor at CQ Roll Call , says Republicans are hopeful for a bill that can pass and the President will embrace, but he doesn't think they're there yet.
Are Republicans turning their backs on Trump? Republicans control both the White House and Congress, but party unity may be on the decline. Just yesterday, the President tweeted about the passage of sanctions against Russia by "the same people that can't even give us H[ealth]Care," and some Senators are openly creating divisions. Both Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have made it clear that they are not voting for the Republican Party, but for their own constituents. A veteran of Capitol Hill, David Hawkings is senior editor at Roll Call where he writes a column and the blog, "Hawkings Here."
Gun violence strikes Congress: How will lawmakers respond? Yesterday's attack on a Republican baseball practice was one of 155 shootings involving four or more people since the first of this year. That's almost one such incident every day. Congressman Steve Scalise is still in critical condition . Out of "respect" to him, Congress has cancelled a hearing on bills that would ease regulations on firearm silencers and armor-piercing ammunition. Even Democrats who favor gun control aren't pushing it hard. Whatever happened to limitations on the Second Amendment favored by public opinion?
Bipartisan deal struck to fund government through September Congressional leaders of both parties have agreed to a $1.1 trillion spending program. According to Bloomberg, it "largely tracks Democratic priorities and rejects most of President Donald Trump's wish list." David Hawkins, senior editor at Roll Call , has details.
It's now or never for a divided Republican Party The White House says President Trump will "watch and take names" as House Speaker Paul Ryan tries to unite the GOP to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Meantime, polls show more than half the public's opposed to adding some 24 million people to the ranks of the uninsured. The House is scheduled to vote later today, and we look at the consequences one way or the other. Will the President blame the Speaker if the bill fails? If it passes the House, what's its chance in the Senate? There's a lot at stake — including the health of America's healthcare system.
Republicans go home again — keeping their heads down Normally, town halls at home are a staple of Congressional recesses. But this week, with advice from leaders on Capitol Hill, just seven percent of Republican Congress members and Senators are following that practice. Angry constituents make for sound bites on TV and radio, and GOP leaders want to avoid that kind of coverage. Meantime, liberal Democrats hope grassroots Tea-Party tactics will give them more clout in their party. But will the backlash to the assault on Obamacare be strong enough to unify them against Republicans in next year’s elections?
Week in politics: Confirmation hearings to changes for Cuban migrants There were the confirmation hearings, Donald Trump’s first press conference in months, the Senate’s big move to unravel Obamacare, and a big policy change on Cuban migrants.
Congress opts for temporary budget until spring Republicans in Congress threw more uncertainty into America's future today. The lame duck session won't even try to pass any full spending bills, which is especially bad news for the Pentagon. But Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence, who met with the GOP’s House Caucus behind closed doors, emphasized that President-Elect Trump would bring together "a great team" to work with leaders of the House and Senate "to rebuild our military -- revitalize our economy." David Hawkings is senior editor of Roll Call , which keeps track of Capitol Hill.
Death of Justice Scalia Sets up Epic Battle for Power Article II of the US Constitution says the President "shall" nominate judges of the US Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. But it doesn’t say when that process should occur, and it doesn’t provide a timetable for filling vacancies. Even before any official mourning over Saturday’s sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the political debate was already underway. David Hawkings has covered Capitol Hill for 25 years. He’s Senior Editor at Roll Call and author of the blog and column Hawkings Here.
Vintage Political Theater on Capitol Hill A committee of Congress today grilled Hillary Clinton about the deaths of four American officials in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 while she was Secretary of State. Republicans used stacks of emails and charts to bolster their claim that she was lax about security. Democrats used video to accuse Republicans of another partisan witch-hunt that has failed to turn up any new information. All this as the GOP continued to struggle with Paul Ryan’s conditions for taking what could turn out to be the thankless assignment of House Speaker.
Republican Presidential Hopefuls Sing Reagan’s Praises Ronald Reagan is revered among the candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination. On Wednesday, they’ll no doubt pay further homage when they gather at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley for their second debate. But what is Reagan’s true legacy? Would Reagan himself have fit into today’s Republican party?
Key Issues on Tap for GOP Congress Forty nations sent heads of state or foreign ministers to Paris for yesterday's march against terrorism. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Abbas and even the King of Jordan marched. The US sent an Ambassador. We hear what the White House says now — and how Congress might respond in the aftermath of last week's terrorism.
When the Senate Goes GOP, Will They Keep the Nuclear Option? When senators return to work on Capitol Hill next week, Republicans will be in charge for the first time in eight years. That gives them the opportunity to keep a very controversial rule made by the Democratic Senate: the so-called "nuclear option," which makes it easier to approve Presidential appointments. At the time of the change, incoming Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he saw "no rational basis" to change those rules back. David Hawkings writes the "Hawkings Here" blog at Roll Call . He is former managing editor of that publication.
The Federal Budget: What's Important and What's Not? The federal budget is all about priorities, and President Obama says economic inequality is the defining issue for America's next generation. He wants to escalate the War on Poverty by closing tax loopholes. Republicans call that a tax increase that makes poverty worse and rewards refusal to work. Beyond that, the budget's a chance to debate everything from Pentagon spending to how much to pay for the habitats of honeybees. As arguments over the 2015 budget sets the stage for this year's elections, will the parties manage to unify or reveal their internal divisions?
What Does Waxman Resignation Mean for California, Congress? Henry Waxman helped make California a powerhouse in Congress. He infuriated Republicans for 40 years, most recently by pushing the Affordable Care Act. The California Democrat was also a major force for environmental legislation as Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. First elected to Congress in 1974 when Gerald Ford was President, today Waxman announced he won't run for re-election this year. David Hawkings, former managing editor of CQ Weekly, writes the Roll Call blog, Hawkings Here .
The President, Congress and the 'Red Line' in Syria Republican John Boehner and Democrat Nancy Pelosi left the White House today supporting President Obama's plan to punish Syria's use of chemical weapons. But both the parties they lead are sharply divided. So why has the President asked Congress to debate a decision he says he's already made? Without more international backing, does he need time to plead his case to the American people? What if Congress says "no?" What's at stake for American security and international sanctions against weapons of mass destruction?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.