Congressional Climate May 19th, 2017

Video of the Day
President Trump Meets with President Santos

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Today’s Hill Action
Senate Floor Schedule
The Senate is not is Session.
Committee Hearings
None
House Floor Schedule
The House reconvenes at 9 a.m. for legislative business. The chamber is expected to consider a bill (HR 1039) that would permit federal probation officers to arrest a third party individual without first obtaining a warrant when conducting activities related to an individual on probation or supervised release.
HR 1039 – Probation Officer Protection Act
Committee Hearings
08:00am: National Security Space Enterprise
08:30am: Drinking Water System Improvement
09:00am: International Antitrust Enforcement
09:00am IRS Reform
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Senators told of broadening Russia Investigation
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dropped two bombshells during a hotly-anticipated appearance before the Senate on Thursday, less than 24 hours after he announced the appointment of a special prosecutor in the FBI’s investigation into Russian election meddling.

According to lawmakers, Rosenstein confirmed that the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the election is no longer strictly a counterintelligence investigation – a kind of probe that does not normally result in charges – but also a criminal one.

He also said he was aware President Trump intended to fire Comey prior to penning a memo that the White House later used as its justification for the dismissal.

Lawmakers emerged from the closed-door meeting painting a sober picture of the briefing. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) described the mood in the room as serious and thoughtful.

Across town, as lawmakers descended into a secure facility to receive the briefing, Trump was ripping the appointment of the special counsel as something that “hurts the country.”
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5 Things to watch on Trumps Foreign Trip
President Donald Trump departs today for his first foreign trip, a nine-day voyage that will take him across the Middle East and Western Europe. Although the trip will be shadowed by Trump’s growing problems at home, it could shape his foreign policy in important and lasting ways.

Trump will encounter a slew of thorny foreign policy issues on his trip, which features stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, a G7 meeting in Sicily, a NATO summit in Brussels and a visit to the Vatican.

Here are five things to watch:

1. Will he say “radical Islamic terrorism”?
During his first stop in Saudi Arabia, Trump will give a speech focused on Islam and terrorism. He might come in with rhetorical guns blazing. Trump once said that Saudi Arabia “blew up the World Trade Center” and has accused it and other Gulf Arab states of supporting terrorism. He said in March 2016 that “Islam hates us.”

But fans of Trump’s tough talk may be disappointed. His Saudi hosts, and the Muslim leaders who will gather in Riyadh for a summit while Trump is there, would be infuriated by such rhetoric from their guest. They will be expecting a more temperate message in the vein of Trump’s predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who argued that Islam is a religion of peace and that the United States is not at war with the world’s Muslims. In a briefing last week, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump’s speech would be “respectful.”

One thing to watch is whether Trump’s address uses the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” McMaster has urged Trump to avoid using that phrase, which Trump often repeated as a candidate but which Obama and Bush both avoided because it offends many Muslims. Trump has used the construction publicly at least twice since McMaster took the job in February-though McMaster hinted at a possible compromise during a briefing at the White House last week, when he said Trump would speak about “radical Islamist ideology,” which he said “uses a perverted interpretation of Islam to justify crimes against all humanity.”
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Breaking Up Biggest Banks would be a “Huge Mistake,” Mnuchin Says
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said breaking up the biggest banks would be a “huge mistake,” easing concerns that the Trump administration plans a major revamp of Wall Street.

“We do not support a separation of banks and investment banks,” Mnuchin said Thursday at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, just weeks after President Donald Trump said his administration was reviewing whether a split made sense. “That would have a very significant” impact on financial markets and the economy, the Treasury chief added.

Mnuchin’s remarks appear to put to rest a question that has roiled the industry for months. Some administration officials have suggested they are in favor of Congress passing an updated version of the Depression era Glass-Steagall law that split commercial and investment banking, though they have been vague about what that means. It was repealed in 1999.

While reviving Glass-Steagall would be a drastic step, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have argued it might be the best way to prevent banks from becoming so large that they endanger the financial system. The Republican party supported reinstating the law in the platform they issued in July. One of Wall Street’s loudest critics, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, has also endorsed the move.
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