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Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

The White House

  • 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.
  • A federal judge in Hawaii loosened Trump’s temporary travel ban by removing a prohibition on grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins. The judge said the Trump administration’s approach to the ban contradicted a recent Supreme Court ruling regarding visitors from six Muslim-majority countries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Trump administration will appeal the Hawaii ruling to the Supreme Court.
  • Trump visited France, at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron. The two discussed trade and security. Trump also attended an event celebrating Bastille Day.
  • A plurality of registered voters (40 percent) in a recent poll said North Korea is the top threat to the United States, while 30 percent said the Islamic State terrorist group is the main threat. Sixteen percent said it’s Russia.

Congress

  • Senate GOP leaders released a revised version of their health care bill, but several Republicans are still skeptical. The legislation includes a proposal from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would allow insurers to sell cheaper plans that do not comply with all of Obamacare’s regulations, in addition to keeping some of the Affordable Care Act’s taxes on the wealthy and providing money for opioid addiction treatment. Timing for Senate consideration of the measure is uncertain, though, after the office of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the lawmaker had surgery on Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye, and that he will spend a week recovering in Arizona. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who had previously said he wanted the Senate to vote on its health care bill the week of July 16, announced that the chamber would hold off on consideration of the measure while McCain recovers.
  • Christopher Wray, Trump’s nominee to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing, where he received bipartisan support. He said he would notify special counsel Robert Mueller if there is any attempt to interfere with the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • The House Appropriations Committee released a government spending bill that includes $1.6 billion to begin construction of Trump’s proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) reiterated the opposition of House Democrats.
  • Most senators have seen negative swings in their approval ratings, according to a new 50-state survey. McConnell is the most unpopular senator, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is the only senator up for re-election next year whose approval rating is under water.

What’s Ahead

  • The Senate will convene Monday and take up the nomination of Patrick Shanahan to be deputy secretary at the Defense Department. The House is also in session on Monday.
  • McConnell said he expects the CBO to publish its cost estimate of the Senate’s revised health care legislation as soon as Monday. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Senate Republicans may rely on cost estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget, instead of the nonpartisan CBO.
  • Senators will remain in session for the first two weeks of August, and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) floated the idea of keeping his chamber in session if the Senate passes its health care bill before the House is scheduled to adjourn.

Calendar Events (All Times Local)

Monday
House convenes 12 p.m.
SEC’s Piwowar speaks at Heritage Foundation event on economic growth 12 p.m.
Brookings Institution’s Municipal Finance Conference 1 p.m.
Senate convenes 3 p.m.
Tuesday
Brookings Institution’s Municipal Finance Conference 7:45 a.m.
Energy Secretary Perry speaks at National Press Club 8:45 a.m.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Callista Gingrich’s nomination to be ambassador to the Vatican 10 a.m.
Rep. Massie speaks at Heritage Foundation event on aviation 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday
Center for American Progress event on voting rights 9 a.m.
Sen. Kaine speaks at Brookings Institution event on foreign policy 9 a.m.
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Foreign Agents Registration Act 10 a.m.
Thursday
Senate Judiciary Committee meets to vote on nominations 9:30 a.m.
J.D. Vance speaks at Brookings Institution event on economic trends 10 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled

 

Morning Consult Washington Top Reads

1) Trump says he does not fault son for meeting Russian lawyer
Steve Holland, Reuters

2) Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said
Jo Becker et al., The New York Times

3) Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton
Jo Becker et al., The New York Times

4) America’s Most and Least Popular Senators  — July 2017
Cameron Easley, Morning Consult

5) Hawaii Judge Orders Loosening of Trump Travel Ban
Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal

6) Former Soviet Counter Intelligence Officer at Meeting With Donald Trump Jr. and Russian Lawyer
Ken Dilanian et al., NBC News

7) Senate Parliamentarian Backs Republicans on Health Law Question
Paul M. Krawzak, Roll Call

8) Comey friend: Flynn memo was not classified
Kyle Cheney and Austin Wright, Politico

9) Trump suggested a cybersecurity pact with Russia. Lawmakers say they were ‘dumbfounded.’
Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Washington Post

10) Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institutions
Pew Research Center