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National Govt & Politics
After health care bill failure, Trump has few legislative victories on the horizon in Congress
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After health care bill failure, Trump has few legislative victories on the horizon in Congress

After health care bill failure, Trump has few legislative victories on the horizon in Congress
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

After health care bill failure, Trump has few legislative victories on the horizon in Congress

After a Republican push in Congress on a GOP health care overhaul bill melted down last Friday, there are not many opportunities for President Donald Trump to turn things around on Capitol Hill right now, as with little of his agenda in the pipeline, it is possible that the President may have to waits months for a significant legislative achievement to make it through the Congress.

Here is where things stand on Capitol Hill for the Trump Administration.

1. Lots of campaign promises, but little ready for action. With the GOP health care bill seemingly now off the agenda in the Congress, where does President Trump go for a much-needed legislative victory? The answer reminds me of what I said about health care and Republicans for the last six years - they have lots of ideas, but there is no GOP consensus on what to do, or how to get it through the House and Senate. That description could apply to a number of big issues, like tax reform, budget cuts, entitlement reform, balancing the budget, building new roads and bridges, and many other issues. For a variety of reasons, there are no bills ready for action on anything major at this point on the Trump Agenda, as Mr. Trump is definitely behind where things stood eight years ago legislatively.

2. The one bright spot for Trump - Neil Gorsuch. Let's not ignore the one possible victory in the short term for the President, his choice for U.S. Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch was untouched in last week's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but his final approval is not a slam dunk, as Democrats are threatening to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination. Still, it's not clear that all Democrats will go along with that, and Gorsuch may get approved after an Easter break on Capitol Hill. That would certainly be a big victory for Mr. Trump and Republicans - but it may be about the only major item they will celebrate on any time soon in the halls of Congress.

3. Tax reform unlikely to produce a quick victory for Trump. While the President has made clear he wants to move on from the GOP health care debacle to tax reform, that is not an item that will fly through Congress. If you think health care reform is tricky, just wait until you get every corporate lobbyist imaginable in Washington, D.C. involved in a major tax reform effort. The last time the Congress approved a tax reform bill, it took a little over a year to get it through the House and Senate and to the President's desk - that was the Tax Reform Act of 1986. There is a reason they call the lobby outside of the House Ways and Means Committee, "Gucci Gulch" - it will be packed with very well paid lobbyists of all stripes.

4. A U.S.-Mexican border wall is no slam dunk. President Trump has asked the Congress to approve $3.1 billion so his administration can jump start work on a wall along the Mexican border, but that's no gimme on Capitol Hill. Mr. Trump wants some of that money approved as part of budget plan for the rest of the current fiscal year; a temporary budget runs out on April 28. While that is just over a month from now, the Congress will soon be gone on a two week Easter break, and there are some fears a mini-budget showdown next month could even lead to a government shutdown. One thing that may rile up some Republicans is the need to use eminent domain to get the land along the border to build the wall. Trump likes eminent domain - many in the GOP do not.

5. What about the Trump Infrastructure plan? Through the campaign, there was a lot of talk by the President about a $1 trillion package for infrastructure spending - not all from the government, but a public-private partnership to deliver construction jobs on news roads, bridges and more. But over two months into his administration, the White House has not yet delivered a plan, and Congress is not ready with any bill as of yet. The odd part of this issue is obvious, as Republicans spent the last eight years resisting much smaller infrastructure plans offered by President Obama, mainly on the grounds of the cost. This is another major issue that's not ready for a vote in either the House or Senate.

6. Trump budget likely to bring even more Capitol Hill intrigue. If you enjoyed the ebb and flow of the internal Republican troubles over health care, just wait until we get to the budget presented by President Trump. That plan is asking for $54 billion more in defense spending next year, offset by $54 billion in budget cuts from non-defense programs. Just as the GOP was divided into different camps on health care, the same is true on the budget. Some Republican lawmakers are aghast at the lack of effort by the White House to deal with the budget deficit. Others want much more in defense spending. There are many ready to resist various cuts put forward by the White House as well. Some of the specific Trump cuts that would be felt in local communities are already drawing fire, with little push back from the White House. Here's a perfect example of budget concern coming from a red state:

7. GOP finger pointing won't help produce legislative wins. President Trump on Sunday used Twitter to lash out at conservative Republicans in Congress and outside conservative groups that were opposed to the health care reform bill that ran aground last week, as he singled out the Freedom Caucus for criticism. "Mark Meadows betrayed Trump and America and supported Pelosi and Democrats to protect Obamacare," said Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), again going after the head of the House Freedom Caucus. Not only is the country divided politically, but so too is the Republican Party in Congress, and that was very obvious in the last week. If the majority party isn't united in Washington, that makes life difficult when it comes to legislating. This tweet shows you some Republicans aren't scared of crossing the President one bit.

8. It's not just the Freedom Caucus that Trump is mad at. As more stories leak out about the President's lobbying efforts on health care, it's becoming apparent that he gave an earful to some Republican moderates as well. On NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) acknowledged that he had been on the receiving end of one Trump jab, as the President reportedly told Dent that he and other opponents of the health care bill were "destroying America," as the New York Times reported that Trump told Dent his position would endanger future efforts in Congress at tax reform. One had Trump wondering aloud, "Why am I even talking to you?" when Dent said he would be a "No" vote.

9. Whither the Freedom Caucus? Whether they've been called the Freedom Caucus or Tea Party Republicans, those more conservative Republicans elected in the GOP since the 2010 elections have been very straightforward in the amount of change that they want to see in Congress and in the federal government - a lot. But the problem is, they've done little more than just be the block of votes that says, "No" - they have not been a group that's bubbling over with legislative ideas, they have not been on the floor leading the charge on budget cuts and other government reform proposals. This latest battle over health care prompted one Republican to quit the Freedom Caucus on Sunday - Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) made clear that he wants to see legislative achievements in the future.

10. So, where does that leave Trump? Don't buy into the stories that say everything is collapsing for President Trump. But don't go whistling by the graveyard either. I wrote five weeks ago that the GOP Congress had nothing really in the legislative pipeline for Trump to sign, other than some bills that repealed individual rules from the Obama Administration. While those certainly fit into what Trump promised during the campaign, most of that is not tip-of-the-tongue kind of stuff for politicians back home. But it's all that Republicans have right now in terms of action in Congress. Trump seemed to understand that, as he made it part of his pitch to reluctant Republicans on health care. And for now, there seem to be few opportunities for legislative success in the near term for Mr. Trump. Momentum is important in sports. And it is important in politics as well.

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News

  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday walked out of a planned meeting to discuss infrastructure issues with Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, amid frustrations over ongoing investigations into his presidential campaign and administration. >> Read more trending news Trump walked out of the meeting after three minutes, opting instead to hold a news conference in the Rose Garden. >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: Trump tells Dems - no legislating until investigations are stopped “I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure, I want to do it more than you want to do it,’” he said. “‘But you know what, you can’t do it under these circumstances, so get these phony investigations over with.’” Democrats said the walkout seemed scripted. Pelosi called it all 'very, very, very strange' and said she was praying for Trump and the nation. The meeting at the White House had been set weeks ago, after Trump and the Democratic leaders agreed to talk further about a possible $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. Trump was due to provide the Democrats his ideas on how to pay for it. Schumer said when Trump 'was forced to say how he would pay for it he had to run away.' >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: Pelosi accuses Trump of being 'engaged in a cover-up' Earlier Wednesday, after a closed-door hearing with Democrats, Pelosi accused Trump of being “engaged in a cover-up” aimed at blocking oversight related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and its possible ties to Trump and his campaign officials.  Mueller completed his probe last month after 22 months of investigation. In a report released earlier this month, Mueller said his team found no evidence that Trump or his campaign officials colluded with Russia to win the election. He did not, however, make a determination around whether Trump obstructed justice in connection to the investigation. >> More on Robert Mueller's investigation Trump has denied all wrongdoing and consistently framed Mueller’s investigation as an expensive and politically motivated “witch hunt” aimed at hurting his presidency.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A man accused of stealing $80,000 from a woman he met on a dating website was arrested Tuesday in Tennessee. John Martin Hill, 34, allegedly told the Alpharetta, Georgia, woman he was a millionaire and convinced her they were in love. Within a week of meeting on Match.com, they agreed to marry, according to officials with the Gwinnett County Police Department. The money was was purportedly going toward the purchase of their first home. Police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said that once the money changed hands, the woman did not hear from him again. Police released a photo of Hill on Tuesday morning and asked for the public’s help to locate him. Before the day was out, he was behind bars in Franklin, Tennessee, Pihera said in a Wednesday news release. Hill faces a charge of theft by deception in Gwinnett County. Since announcing the charge, Pihera said police have heard from a few other women who said they were in a relationship with Hill or knew another woman who was. >> Read more trending news  Police are hoping the Alpharetta woman’s misfortune will be a cautionary tale for others who seek love online. “When meeting someone online, be very cautious sharing personal information, financial information, or cash with someone in the early stages of a relationship,” Pihera said in a statement. “These types of con men are very good at manipulating their victims. They tend to say everything that a woman wants to hear.” According to investigators, the scheme started March 27. Hill and the Alpharetta woman exchanged messages on the dating site and arranged to meet in person later the same day. The proposal came next. “During their short romance, he convinced her that they were in love and wanted to buy a house together,” Pihera said. “They went house hunting and selected a home they were interested in.” Related: Man meets Georgia woman on dating site, defrauds her out of $80K, police say The woman thought her $80,000 contribution would help with a down payment on the home and buy the couple some furniture. Police said she didn’t know Hill was already living in an apartment in Duluth, Georgia, with another woman and a child.  Investigators learned Hill has changed his name more than five times in the past three years and is accused of committing similar acts in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. They did not quantify the number of cases connected to Hill.  According to officials with the Franklin Police Department, officers tracked Hill to a Marriott hotel Tuesday night, acting on a tip. When they confronted him, Hill allegedly darted into a hotel conference room and hid under a table. He came out on officer’s orders and was arrested.  Hill, who also has a listed address in South Carolina, is being held in the Williamson County Jail in Tennessee in lieu of a $500,000 bond, according to Franklin Police Department officials. He is expected to be extradited to Georgia, officials with the department said.  “By sharing this story, it is our hope that he is not able to victimize any other women using this scam,” Pihera said in a statement. “We are thankful that the victim in our case came forward and reported this crime,” she said. “If any other women have been victimized by Hill, we encourage them to contact their local police department.”
  • A Chicago-area high school is reprinting its yearbooks after students appeared to show hand gestures associated with white supremacy in more than a dozen photos. >> Read more trending news  Students made the upside-down “OK” gesture in 18 photos of the Oak Park River Forest High School yearbook, Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said in an email sent after a specially called school board meeting Monday night. The school will pay $53,794 to reprint the yearbooks, The Chicago Tribune reported. The gesture started as part of the “circle game,” a juvenile “made-you-look” game, according to the Tribune. Students making the hand gestures in the yearbook were of “various races, ethnicities, genders and grades,” Pruitt-Adams said. However, the gesture has recently been appropriated by white supremacists. Among those who have publicly flashed the symbol is the suspected gunman in the March 15 New Zealand mosque attack that left 51 people dead, the Tribune reported. School officials worried the gesture will become more closely associated with white supremacy, and could harm students when they’re applying to colleges or jobs. “My understanding is [yearbook staff] followed protocol,” she said. “Things in this country change so rapidly. I don’t want anyone to think we are accusing our students of anything. For us, it was the impact of what the publication could have on the student body.” Options like cutting pages out of the yearbook or placing stickers over the photos were considered, but deemed infeasible, Pruitt-Adams said. It’s expected to take three to four weeks to receive the new yearbooks. In the meantime, the school has ordered 2,200 autograph books for students to collect signatures in.
  • The House Intelligence Committee delayed a potential vote Wednesday over whether to hold U.S. Attorney General William Barr in contempt in the ongoing battle over special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report. >> Read more trending news The House Intelligence Committee had planned to meet Wednesday morning to discuss taking “enforcement action” against Barr in light of his refusal to release documents and materials related to Mueller’s investigation, CNN reported. However, the news network reported the meeting was canceled after the Justice Department agreed to turn over documents to the committee. >> William Barr contempt order: What is contempt of Congress; how does it work? “The Department of Justice has accepted our offer of a first step towards compliance with our subpoena, and this week will begin turning over to the Committee twelve categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials as part of an initial rolling production,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement obtained Wednesday by Politico. “That initial production should be completed by the end of next week.” Schiff issued a subpoena earlier this month to compel Barr to share documents and materials related to the Mueller investigation, including the full, unredacted report. Barr has previously declined to release the full report, citing grand jury information that cannot be released by law among other restrictions. >> Trump: 'We're fighting all the subpoenas' “The law is on our side,” Schiff said in a May 8 statement announcing the subpoena. “The Committee’s efforts to obtain necessary documents to do our constitutionally-mandated oversight work will not be obstructed.” In a statement posted Wednesday on Twitter, Schiff said the subpoena “will remain in effect, and be enforced should DOJ fail to comply with the full document request.” Barr has already been held in contempt by one congressional committee for his refusal to turn over an unredacted version of the report to the House Judiciary Committee. The panel voted May 8 to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. >> House committee votes to hold AG William Barr in contempt of Congress Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told The Wall Street Journal the department appreciates the “continued dialogue with the Committee and look forward to working towards appropriately accommodating their requests.”
  • Officials at a Texas state park posted photographs on social media of a rare snake that mimics a cobra when it feels threatened, the Houston Chronicle reported. >> Read more trending news  The snake, an eastern hognose, was spotted Sunday at Brazos Bend State Park after recent rains flooded areas of the park, the newspaper reported. >> Snake slithers from car hood as woman leaves Texas state park According to a Facebook post by park officials, the snake gets its name from its upturned snout, which is used for digging in sand or dirt. When the reptile believes it is in danger, it raises it head and puffs it out to appear larger. It also flattens out the skin around its neck, making it look like a cobra, park officials wrote. >> Oklahoma man finds 7-foot snake in dryer vent The snake can be found in several colors, including yellow, gray, brown or red. The one spotted Sunday was orange and black, park officials said. Unlike the cobra, the hognose’s venom is not deadly. Park officials called it “mild” and said it was not harmful to humans, the Chronicle reported. >> Snakes alive! Woman scared after finding reptile in golf cart When threatened, the snake can also play dead or spray a “foul, musky smell” to deter predators, the newspaper reported.
  • A senior prank could prevent up to 140 Central Florida high school seniors from walking at graduation. >> Read more trending news  Last week, eight Wekiva High School students were arrested on vandalism charges, and dozens of their classmates might be penalized for the prank, even though they weren't arrested. Deputies said the group broke into the high school May 14. While the Orange County school district will not confirm those students will be banned from graduation, several students said more than 140 seniors will not walk during ceremonies at the Apopka school.  'I just feel it's not right. Nobody's trying to hear our side of the story. They're just going off what they're hearing. Nobody's trying to hear the students' point of view,' student Jakia Dickson said. Investigators said they found graffiti on campus walls and flour, glitter and baby oil throughout the hallways.  Invesitgators said the prank caused $20,000 in damages. 'I'm feeling for these kids because it makes no sense,' student Trinity Bell said. One student who will not be allowed to walk is Wilnes Accius. He said he was playing music while others were using toilet paper and bubble wrap. 'We did a prank -- some of it went too far,' Accius said. '(Some) got inside the school trashing it, but we shouldn't be held accountable for it.' >> High school prank involving chickens runs ‘afowl’ of school administrators Another student has started an online petition in hopes that the district will change its mind. That petition already has 3,300 signatures. Some students said some school employees were aware students intended to carry out a prank at the school and gave them access. The district said the students unlawfully entered the school and the act was vandalism and not a prank.