Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

The White House

  • President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint. Along with proposed cuts to foreign aid and the Department of Energy, the proposal would roll back funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, cut funding for the National Institutes of Health and implement large cuts across the government to fund defense and security increases.
  • Two federal judges blocked implementation of Trump’s new travel ban, basing their decisions, in part, on the administration’s rhetoric on the issue.
  • Since Trump was elected, his approval rating and voters’ optimism have increased. A recent Morning Consult/POLITICO poll found that 52 percent of registered voters approve of his job performance, and 46 percent said the country is headed in the right direction.
  • After months of Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, a client copy of his taxes from 2005 obtained by DC Report show that he paid $36.6 million in federal taxes on $153 million of income. The White House confirmed the authenticity of the document.
  • Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said they have seen no evidence to support Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016. Despite a lack of evidence, Trump stood by his claim during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Congress

  • The proposed continuous-coverage provision of the American Health Care Act is among the least popular parts of the GOP’s plan. The most popular parts are ones that came from Obamacare.
  • Trump’s budget proposal was not generally well received on Capitol Hill. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the proposal could not pass the Senate, and many House Republicans also cast doubt on its viability. Democrats are already messaging against it, with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) saying the proposal should be a “wake-up call” for Trump’s supporters.
  • Democrats in the Senate drew a bright red line on funding negotiations, threatening to shut down the government if money for Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico is included in must-pass spending legislation next month.
  • The Senate confirmed former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), 85-12, to be director of national intelligence. Senators also cleared the way for Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, to remain on active duty in the Army while serving in the administration.

What’s Ahead

  • The House and Senate are both back for a big day on Monday that will drive the rest of the week.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet for Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. It remains to be seen whether Democrats will attempt to block his nomination on the Senate floor.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday. The public hearing comes as congressional committees continue investigations into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on the Republican health care bill, but it’s unclear whether GOP leaders have the votes to pass it. Some Senate Republicans have already spoken out against the measure.
  • The Trump administration is expected to issue an executive order rolling back parts of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Trump’s budget calls for significant cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Calendar Events (All Times Local)

Monday
House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI’s Comey, NSA’s Rogers 10 a.m.
Confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Gorsuch 11 a.m.
Senate convenes 12 p.m.
AEI event with Bret Baier 12:30 p.m.
House convenes 2 p.m.
House Rules Committee meets on GOP health care plan 5 p.m.
Tuesday
Brookings event with Rep. Schiff on protecting liberal democracy 10 a.m.
Wednesday
Confirmation hearing for Labor secretary nominee Alex Acosta 9 a.m.
Heritage event on school choice 12:30 p.m.
Thursday
Confirmation hearing for SEC nominee Jay Clayton 9:30 a.m.
Pfizer CEO speaks at the National Press Club 12:30 p.m.
Friday
No events scheduled

 

Morning Consult Washington Top Reads

1) Trump’s Steep Cuts Face Rebuff in Congress Even With GOP Control
Laura Litvan and Steven T. Dennis, Bloomberg News

2) Freedom Caucus aligns with Bannon in risky Obamacare gambit
Rachael Bade et al., Politico

3) Poll: Trump Approval, Voter Optimism on the Rise
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

4) Reacting to Trump Budget, Van Hollen Previews 2018 Message
Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call

5) America’s Empty-Church Problem
Peter Beinart, The Atlantic

6) How the GOP Crackup Happens
Rich Lowry, Politico

7) Republicans More Likely to Back CIA Leaks Published by WikiLeaks
Cameron Easley, Morning Consult

8) Democrats paralyzed as Gorsuch skates
Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, Politico

9) Trump voters would be among the biggest losers in Republicans’ Obamacare replacement plan
Noam N. Levey, The Los Angeles Times

10) The New Party of No
Charles Homans, The New York Times

Briefings

Washington Brief: Gorsuch Stresses Independence From Trump; Schumer Calls for Delaying Confirmation Vote

On his second day of confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch stressed his independence from President Donald Trump. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Gorsuch’s confirmation vote should be delayed because of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of alleged ties between the Russian government and Trump’s presidential campaign.

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