Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

The Trump administration

  • President Donald Trump embraced arming some highly trained teachers as a way to prevent school shootings, a position supported by the National Rifle Association. He also appeared to highlight the possibility of raising the age for purchasing assault-style rifles from 18 to 21, a proposal that the NRA said would deprive law-abiding adults ages 18-20 of “their constitutional right to self-protection.”
  • Trump also said he directed the Justice Department to draft regulations that would ban “bump stocks,” the devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire almost as fast as automatic weapons.
  • Rick Gates, a former top adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, pleaded guilty to participating in a financial conspiracy with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and lying to investigators. The move suggests Gates is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and it could be a sign that Gates is planning to offer incriminating information against Manafort, his longtime associate. Before Gates pleaded guilty, new fraud and money laundering charges were filed against Manafort and Gates in an attempt to ratchet up legal pressure on them. That indictment in Mueller’s prosecution came after separate charges from Mueller against the two men in 2017.
  • The Trump administration announced what Trump called the “heaviest sanctions ever imposed by our country before” against North Korea, targeting the country’s shipping and trading companies and vessels.


  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a supporter of gun rights, said during a CNN town hall event that he supports raising the legal age to purchase a rifle from 18, adding that there might be enough votes in the Senate to increase the age threshold to 21. Rubio also said he is “reconsidering” his position on large capacity magazines and that he disagreed with a proposal to arm teachers.
  • Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said he will not run for re-election this year. Forty-two House Republicans, including Rooney, have announced they will not seek another term in their congressional seat.
  • The House Ethics Committee is investigating a complaint against Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), extending its review of a complaint that was referred to it by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The House committee did not offer details about its probe, but Duncan – who is not seeking re-election this year – came under scrutiny in July following a news report that he paid his son for campaign work in the years after his son pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office.
  • Trump said Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney (R) has his “full support and endorsement.” Romney, a vocal critic of Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, tweeted his gratitude for Trump’s support.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled last month that the state’s congressional map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, imposed a new congressional map that could give a boost to the Democratic Party’s effort to gain U.S. House seats in the midterm elections. Republican officials challenged the map in federal court.
  • Dr. Salomon Melgen, the alleged co-conspirator in the corruption case of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), was sentenced to 17 years in prison in a separate federal health care fraud case. The allegations in that trial were a major component of the corruption case involving Menendez and Melgen in which charges were dismissed last month.

What’s Ahead

  • Both the House and Senate are in session this week.
  • A special primary election will be held Tuesday in Arizona’s 8th District for the House seat that was vacated by Rep. Trent Franks (R), who resigned in December.
  • The body of Rev. Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at age 99, will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda this week, the first time a private citizen has been given the recognition since Rosa Parks in 2005. As a result, the House canceled votes that had been scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. The Senate will remain in session.
  • Texas will hold primary elections on March 6 to nominate candidates for the November elections.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Rep. Gallagher participates in New America event on national security 10 a.m.
Kentucky governor participates in AEI event on reforming foster care systems 12:15 p.m.
Sens. Cornyn, Hatch, governors participate in U.S. Chamber of Commerce Invest in America Summit 8 a.m.
CBO director testifies at House Budget Committee hearing 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on energy infrastructure 10 a.m.
Sens. Carper, Merkley participate in Electric Drive Transportation Association event 12 p.m.
Sen. Coons participates in Hudson Institute event on foreign policy 11:30 a.m.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts aviation summit 7 a.m.
Reps. Fitzpatrick, Guthrie, Kuster participate in U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on opioid crisis 8:30 a.m.
Fed’s Powell testifies at Senate Banking Committee hearing 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on infrastructure framework 10 a.m.
No events scheduled

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