Congressional Climate May 15th, 2017
Video of the Day
President Trump Makes Remarks at Liberty University
Today’s Hill Action
Senate Floor Schedule
House Floor Schedule
The House meets in a pro forma session
Democrats Keep Pressure on Trump Over Comey Firing
U.S. lawmakers from both parties kept up the pressure on Donald Trump over the sudden firing of James Comey, demanding that recordings the president suggestedhe may have made of his meetings with the former FBI director be preserved and handed over to lawmakers.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Sunday in a televised interview that he thinks “our institutions are under assault” both by other nations, such as Russia, and by the president. He said the other branches of the federal government should step up their checks on the White House.
Washington continued to be roiled by Trump’s firing of Comey on May 9, citing frustrations with the FBI director’s conduct. Comey was in charge of the agency’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in that country’s attempts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election last year.
As the Trump administration continued to interview prospective Comey replacements, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said he’d like to see Comey testify at a public session of the panel.
Special Elections offer test for politics of Obamacare Repeal
The GOP’s push to repeal and replace ObamaCare has spilled into the special elections in Montana and Georgia, creating showcases for how the healthcare bill could shape the 2018 midterms.
Democrats hoping that the controversial bill’s passage in the House will help them take the lower chamber next year are now looking for any signs of voter pushback in the special elections.
The GOP nominees in both special elections have taken different positions on the bill, which has repeatedly polled at below 30 percent support. In Montana, Greg Gianforte publicly distanced himself, but in leaked audio of a private call, he was supportive of its passage. Meanwhile in Georgia, Karen Handel came out strongly in favor of the bill, which was embraced by President Trump.
“It’s hard to say how much one vote matters, but the vote in Congress on the American Health Care Act – that crystallizes liberal opposition to the Trump administration,” said Jeremy Johnson, a political science professor at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.
“Certainly with a special election the Thursday before Memorial Day [in Montana], it will hurt Republicans if Democratic-leaning voters are more energized.”
With two weeks until Montana’s race, Gianforte, a millionaire tech entrepreneur who unsuccessfully ran for governor last year, took some heat for sending mixed signals on the bill, which narrowly passed the House last week.
Abortion Politics hound Senators from Both Parties
The politics of abortion are already vexing vulnerable senators from both parties on the 2018 ballot.
Two of the most endangered senators up for reelection next year, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Nevada Republican Dean Heller, are being targeted by their opposition for stumbling over the issue recently. And there’s plenty more in store: If the Senate calls up a bill to repeal Obamacare, controversy over Planned Parenthood funding will come to the fore – ensuring the 2018 campaign won’t lack for that perennial lightning rod.
Manchin told POLITICO that he’s prepared for a politically charged vote, and that he would continue to support federal funding for Planned Parenthood as long as the four-decade-old ban on the use of federal money for abortions remains in place.
“It’s a shame if that’s all they have,” Manchin said of Republicans trying to make an issue of his Planned Parenthood votes conflicting with his personal opposition to abortion. “These are social issues, not political issues. You are what you are – I was born and raised that way. Life is very sacred to me.”
The GOP attacked Manchin after he met last week with David Daleiden, the conservative filmmaker behind undercover videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood representatives discussing potential sales of fetal tissue. The meeting gave anti-abortion activists hope that he would vote to cut off federal funds for the organization, a position he took in 2015 soon after the Daleiden tapes emerged.
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