Congressional Climate April 12, 2017
Video of the Day
President Trump Leads a Strategic and Policy CEO Discussion
Today’s Hill Action
Senate Floor Schedule
The Senate is not in session.
House Floor Schedule
The House meets in a pro-forma session.
Russia Bashes Trump as Putin Weighs Tillerson Meeting
Russia pushed back against demands that it abandon Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad over a chemical-weapons attack as the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin is likely to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Putin complained that relations with the U.S. are worse than under President Barack Obama, while Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the Trump administration’s “ambiguous and contradictory” foreign policy at the start of talks with Tillerson in Moscow Wednesday.
There’s a “probability” that Putin and Tillerson will meet if the talks between the two top diplomats show a need to “report to the head of state,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. It’s “quite absurd” to demand that Russia abandon Assad as this would mean ending support for his forces that are fighting against Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria, Peskov said.
Trump’s Shift on Russia Brings Geopolitical Whiplash
A week ago, President Trump was accused of being a tool for the Russians, an unwitting agent of influence, so full of admiration that he defended President Vladimir V. Putin against critics who called him a killer.
Now, Mr. Trump is in a diplomatic clash with Mr. Putin’s Russia, his administration accusing Moscow of trying to cover up a Syrian chemical weapons attack on civilians and his secretary of state delivering us-or-them ultimatums.
Even in a presidency marked by unpredictability, the head-spinning shift from coziness to confrontation has left Washington and other capitals with a case of geopolitical whiplash. The prospects of improving Russian-American relations were already slim given the atmosphere of suspicion stemming from Kremlin meddling in last year’s election, but the détente once envisioned by Mr. Trump has instead deteriorated into the latest cold war.
White House to lift federal hiring freeze
The White House will lift President Trump’s federal hiring freeze on Wednesday, following fire from critics who said it hampered the government from carrying out core functions.
The end of the freeze is part of guidance ordering federal departments and agencies to submit restructuring plans to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by the fall.
“It does not mean the agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Tuesday.
“What we’re doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that was put in place on day one and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.”
Trump signed an executive order on his first full work day in the White House that temporarily halted all non-military federal hiring, an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” and reduce the size of government.
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