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Return of the Inauguration Crowd Size Matter
Unnamed complainant alleges Park Service mishandled photos

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer makes a statement to members of the media at a White House briefing on Jan. 21. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

A new Interior Department inspector general report is further muddying the already murky situation surrounding White House claims that the crowd at President Donald Trump’s inauguration was the largest in American history.

The report found “no evidence to substantiate” complaints that National Park Service employees altered records related to crowd-size estimates for Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. The IG also investigated and found no evidence to support the unnamed complainant’s allegation that a Park Service employee mishandled photos of the event and posted political comments on Facebook.

Coons: Senate Can Reassert Foreign Policy Clout
Chance to ‘make the Senate great again’

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., suggests that the Trump Administration’s conflicting statements provide the Senate with an opportunity to reassert its clout on foreign policy matters.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration’s often conflicting statements regarding foreign affairs have provided the Senate an opportunity to reassert its clout in directing U.S. foreign policy, Sen. Chris Coons suggests. 

In a public sit-down conversation with former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright on U.S. global leadership this week, the Delaware Democrat said that “one unexpected outcome of the Trump administration may be to make the Senate great again” by forcing the chamber to draft bipartisan legislation to fill the gaps the Trump administration leaves.

House GOP Still Bickering Over Budget
Defense increase, mandatory spending cuts primary areas of disagreement

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent says Republicans should not waste time arguing over topline levels for nondefense discretionary spending since those will likely be raised in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican squabbling over a defense spending increase and mandatory spending cuts continues to put in danger a fiscal 2018 budget resolution, and subsequently, plans to overhaul the tax code.

After a Friday conference meeting to discuss the budget and appropriations process, their second “family conversation” of the week on the topic, the House GOP appeared no closer to consensus on a budget resolution that could get the 218 needed votes on the floor.

Trump Says He Hopes Dems Don’t Force Pelosi Out
‘That would be very bad for the Republican Party,’ president tweets

President Donald Trump wants Nancy Pelosi to stay on as House Democratic leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that he hopes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stays as leader of the Democrats.

But the presidential tweet was not well-wishing. Rather, Trump said, “That would be very bad for the Republican Party” if Pelosi were forced out.

Karen Handel Proves Third Time’s the Charm
Georgia Republican heads to Congress after 2 losing bids for higher office

Karen Handel gives her victory speech to supporters in Atlanta on Tuesday, as her husband Steve Handel looks on. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Republican Karen Handel comes to Congress after a 28-year career with a diverse portfolio of public- and private-sector jobs ranging from overseeing elections as Georgia’s secretary of state to heading the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to serving as the vice president of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which supports breast cancer research.

Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff 52 percent to 48 percent in Tuesday’s 6th District special election runoff to replace former Rep. Tom Price, who vacated the seat to become secretary of Health and Human Services.

Russia and Iran Sanctions Effort Hits Constitutional Snag
House will not take up Senate bill as written

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says there is a procedural issue with the Senate’s sanctions bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

BY NIELS LESNIEWSKI and LINDSEY McPHERSON, CQ ROLL CALL

What may be a small procedural obstacle has some senior Democrats crying foul over the House’s plans for new sanctions against Iran and Russia.

Opinion: A Don’t-Blame-Us Congress Ducks on Syria
Be bipartisan and authorize a war

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban on May 25, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It is, of course, not nearly as important as the struggle in GA-6 that is testing what happens when you inject more than $50 million into a single House race and batter the voters into submission with attack ads.

And the topic could not possibly compete with the learned analyses of Megyn Kelly’s NBC interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — a TV show that was probably the biggest broadcast since King Edward VIII went on British radio to announce his abdication to marry “the woman I love.”

Prospect of Repeat Budget Failure Puts Pressure on Republicans
Budget needed for GOP to get to tax overhaul, possibly mandatory spending cuts

House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black, seen here at a committee hearing last month with ranking Democrat John Yarmuth, is confident Republicans will pass a budget this year, despite GOP divisions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans face the possibility of failing to pass a full budget resolution for the second year in a row, despite making progress on their goals for a fiscal 2018 budget resolution.

The stakes are much higher than last year as the budget, through the reconciliation process, has become a tool for Republicans to advance legislation without Democratic support, something they lack on nearly all of their top priorities.

Senate Democrats Can’t Slow GOP Health Care Bill Once It’s Written
But minority party will try to slow down proceedings until then

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and his Democratic colleagues want to draw attention to the closed-door nature of the GOP health care talks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer had a warning for his Republican colleagues on Monday.

“If Republicans won’t relent and debate their health care bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate,” the New York Democrat said.

Trump Finds Strange Bedfellows on Cuba Policy
US-Cuba analyst: Given executive powers, president needs little Hill buy-in

Tourists walk near a poster of Cuban President Raul Castro and then-President Barack Obama in Havana last year. On Friday, President Donald Trump announced changes to Cuba policies instituted by Obama. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

By wading into the always-tricky domestic politics of U.S.-Cuba relations, President Donald Trump finds himself working “hand in glove” with some former foes and new allies.

The businessman turned chief executive promised during the campaign to roll back some of President Barack Obama’s policies aimed at warming relations with America’s Caribbean neighbor. In doing so before his 200th day in office, Trump defied the wishes of some lawmakers and corporate titans.