Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

The White House

  • President Donald Trump’s travel ban will remain on hold after a three-judge panel rejected the administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling blocking the order. The administration is not currently planning to take its appeal to the Supreme Court, and is considering issuing a new, tweaked executive order instead, CNN reported Friday.
  • The travel ban is one of his most popular orders among voters, but Trump’s support is dropping, according to a Morning Consult/POLITICO poll.
  • As he worked Capitol Hill, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was said to have told senators he was “disheartened” by the president’s disparagement of the Seattle judge who ruled against him on the travel ban. While Gorsuch’s spokesman initially confirmed those comments, an eventual walkback followed public criticism and denials from Trump and White House officials.
  • National Security Advisor Mike Flynn may have violated a law prohibiting private citizens from engaging in diplomacy. He was said to have talked sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. throughout the past several months, before being appointed to his post.
  • Leaks of internal feuds at the White House have been a consistent feature of Trump’s White House so far, and the president is looking to tighten things up.
  • Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was scrutinized after appearing to violate an Office of Government Ethics rule by advocating for the purchase of Ivanka Trump products in a Fox & Friends interview.
  • Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for their first meeting on Friday. The meeting, which took place just before the leaders headed to Mar-a-Lago with their wives for golf and leisure, was meant to help reassure Asia-Pacific allies of U.S. support.
  • Trump patched things up with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday by saying in a phone call he would honor the “One China” policy. Relations had been frosty since he spoke with Taiwan’s president in December.

Congress

  • During the debate on Sessions, Senate Republicans stopped Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) from participating, invoking the rarely used Rule 19, after they said she impugned the Alabamian’s character.
  • Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed his state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, to replace Sessions in the Senate.
  • Most Democratic voters think their party’s leaders should stick to their principles and block everything, rather than work with Trump to get things done, according to a Morning Consult/POLITICO survey.
  • House Democrats spent a few days in Baltimore for their annual retreat. They discussed their role as an opposition party, and a review led by New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney on the party’s House campaign arm’s 2016 performance.
  • Back home, some Republican lawmakers faced angry crowds at town halls and public events.
  • House Republicans, led by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, are set to work on defanging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

What’s Ahead

  • The House and Senate will convene at 12 p.m. on Monday after they return to Washington for a full work week.
  • Up first in the Senate: A Monday evening vote on Steve Mnuchin’s nomination to be Trump’s Treasury secretary. It will also consider David Shulkin to be secretary of Veterans Affairs. The chamber is planning to consider Linda McMahon to be administrator of the Small Business Administration on Tuesday.
  • Senate committees will hear from two more of Trump’s picks for top administration posts on Thursday, including fast food executive Andy Puzder, tapped to lead the Labor Department, and Seema Verma, his nominee to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • In the House, lawmakers plan to move forward on efforts to overturn Department of Labor rules on drug testing of unemployment compensation applicants, as well as new auto-IRA programs, such as one recently enacted in California.

Calendar Events (All Times Local)

Monday
AEI event on school finance 10:30 a.m.
House and Senate convene 12 p.m.
Senate vote on Steve Mnuchin’s Treasury Secretary nomination 7 p.m.
Tuesday
No events scheduled
Wednesday
Heritage event on conservativism and populism 9 a.m.
Sir John Jenkins at CAP event on Muslim Brotherhood 11 a.m.
Thursday
Confirmation hearing for Andrew Puzder, secretary of Labor nominee 10 a.m.
Confirmation hearing for Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services nominee 10 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled

 

Morning Consult Washington Top Reads

1) Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss
Adam Liptak, The New York Times

2) How one GOP congressman tamed pro-Obamacare protesters
Rachael Bade, Politico

3) Americans See U.S. World Standing as Worst in a Decade
Art Swift, Gallup

4) Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General, Capping Bitter Battle
Eric Lichtblau and Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times

5) House Democrats, in Baltimore, Vow to Fight Trump
John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun

6) Mitch McConnell Sees ‘High Level of Satisfaction’ With Trump Administration
Carl Hulse, The New York Times

7) Warren Blocked From Speaking During Sessions Confirmation Debate
Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call

8) GOP Plan to Overhaul Tax Code Gets Held Up at the Border
Richard Rubin, The Wall Street Journal

9) Democrats Confront Lefty Fake News
Ruby Cramer and Steven Perlberg, BuzzFeed News

10) Rahm Emanuel: Too many Dems care more about being right than winning
Kim Jannsen, The Chicago Tribune

Briefings

Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

President Donald Trump defended his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., after it was revealed that in June 2016 he met with a Russian lawyer who has ties to the Kremlin. The meeting came after he was led to believe the lawyer would provide damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that the information was part of the Russian government’s effort to assist his father’s presidential campaign. The meeting included a Russian-American lawyer who’s a former Russian intelligence officer

Washington Brief: Trump Says He Didn’t Learn of Son’s Meeting With Russian Lawyer Until This Week

President Donald Trump said he did not hear “until a couple of days ago” about a June 2016 meeting between his son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who might have had damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He also said he spent more than 20 minutes of his two-hour meeting last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin pressing him on election meddling.

Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

The Supreme Court allowed part of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to take effect, while saying the temporary restrictions could not be imposed on people who have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. Hawaii brought forth a legal challenge that asked a federal judge to clarify whether the Department of Homeland Security violated the Supreme Court’s instructions regarding which family members qualify as having bona fide relationships.

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