Executive Branch

No Deal on Health Care Bill
Freedom Caucus chairman says talks continue: ‘We’re trying to get creative’

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan walks through Statuary Hall to the House floor in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House conservatives left a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday without a deal on changes to the Republican health care bill that would repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, putting a vote later in the day in doubt.

The apparent offer on the table is something the House Freedom Caucus, the bloc of hard-line conservatives that has held its ground against Republican leadership, has deemed a nonstarter.

Pentagon Leaders Say Soft Power Central to ISIS Strategy
Mattis, Dunford pitch appropriators on supplemental funding proposal

Defense Secretary James Mattis says soft power is key to defeating terrorists abroad. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pentagon leaders on Wednesday stressed the importance of diplomacy in the fight against the Islamic State but sidestepped questions from Senate appropriators about the Trump administration’s proposed 29 percent cut to the State Department and other foreign operations accounts in fiscal 2018.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford pitched lawmakers on the military’s $30 billion request for supplemental funding for fiscal 2017, as well as the planned $54 billion boost to defense accounts proposed for next year, arguing that military readiness has been depleted after 16 years of war.

Cummings: Nunes Should be Investigated for Trump Revelations
Ranking Democrat on Oversight Committee says intel chairman ‘scuttled’ investigation

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., gave President Donald Trump information that should not have been revealed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah Cummings suggested on Thursday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes should be investigated for revealing that President Donald Trump’s campaign associates may have been caught up in a surveillance net.

Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Nunes, R-Calif., acted inappropriately when he revealed publicly Wednesday that he had reviewed intelligence reports that had “nothing to do with” the Trump campaign or Russia but did show intelligence agencies had collected information about the campaign.

Little Agreement Among GOP Members on Health Care Bill Next Steps
Regular conference meeting canceled ahead of Freedom Caucus meeting with Trump

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers said repeal of the so-called essential health benefits provision in the Republican health care plan, which Freedom Caucus members have pushed for, might not be allowed under Senate rules. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans had hoped to vote on a bill to partially repeal and replace the landmark 2010 health care law on Thursday, seven years to the day after President Barack Obama signed it. Instead, they find themselves without the votes to do so and little agreement on their next move.

The House GOP conference’s weekly Thursday planning meeting, at which lawmakers might have decided on next steps, was canceled Thursday morning. Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, which opposed the bill, are scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump at 11:30 a.m., so progress on the bill may not be made until midday Thursday or later.

Senators Working the Ref Already on Health Care Bill
Parliamentarian rulings could make or break GOP legislation

Sen. Bill Cassidy is among the senators looking to make sure any health legislation or amendments will comply with the Senate’s procedural rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As House Republicans struggle to cobble together the votes to pass legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, members are already looking to navigate the Senate’s labyrinth of procedural rules that could make or break the measure. 

Senate Democrats are already setting up for the battle with the parliamentarian about which provisions could run up against the Byrd Rule, which requires budget reconciliation bills that can pass with a simple-majority vote to be primarily about spending and revenues, without extraneous matter.

Indiana Headed for Another Member-on-Member Senate Primary
Messer close to announcing a bid and Rokita expected to follow

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer is assumed to be running for Senate, but he could be joined by another member of the Indiana delegation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hoosier politicos call it the “Wabash mafia.” And now two graduates of the tiny, all-male college in Indiana are likely to face off in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in 2018.

GOP Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita graduated from Wabash College just one year apart. And while neither has officially entered the race, they’re both making moves that suggest this cycle’s primary could again feature member-on-member theatrics.

Nuclear Option Looms as Supreme Court Hearings Wrap Up
Senators ready to blame opposing party for any upending of Senate rules

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings wrapping up, senators will soon confront whether his nomination will upend Senate rules.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet said  whether he would move to change Senate rules that currently require 60 votes to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination. If eight members of the Democratic caucus do not join the 52 Republicans to move the nomination forward, McConnell could move to change the rules, lowering the threshold to a simple majority.

Opinion: Art as Soul Food – A Tough Yet Essential Case to Make
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts are ill-advised

Funding for humanities programs, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, is only a fraction of the federal budget and should not be cut, Curtis writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Most critics expressing outrage at President Donald Trump’s proposed budget have focused on cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program that funnels money to Meals on Wheels. And who can blame them? 

If you’re looking for allies for your cause, that’s the narrative you want — one that sets up clear-cut heroes and villains, especially with budget director Mick Mulvaney, sent from central casting and all but twirling a mustache as he says, “We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” or “There’s no demonstrable evidence” that after-school programs that also feed children are actually “helping kids do better at school.”

Word on the Hill: Staffers Give Back
Athletes and tweetstorms

Senate staffer Annie Humphrey donates blood with the Armed Services Blood Program on Monday. (Giovanni Rodriguez/Armed Services Blood Program)

More than 70 Senate staffers donated 56 units of blood in the first-ever Senate Armed Services Blood Program blood drive.

Staff members from the Armed Services Blood Bank Center at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, hosted a four-hour drive for Senate staffers on Monday.

The Supreme Court Confirmation Battle That Began 30 Years Ago
Three senators on Judiciary panel weathered watershed 1987 fight

Judge Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, is sworn before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing in September 1987. (John Duricka/AP File Photo)

In one of the more striking moments from the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley offered this advice:

Don’t answer every question.