policy

Kelly Admits Missteps With White House Aides’ Clearances
Embattled chief of staff to phase out interim security clearances

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, seen here with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, has altered how the West Wing handles aides’ security clearances after the Rob Porter domestic assault scandal. (AP/Andrew Harnik file photo)

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, under fire after a former staffer’s domestic abuse scandal, has admitted the Trump team mishandled aides’ background investigations, and ordered new steps in how the West Wing handles security clearances.

In a five-page memo to staffers released Friday afternoon by the White House, Kelly alluded to the Rob Porter scandal but also attempted to spread the blame for a process he said was flawed but was one he inherited.

Analysis: Trump’s Hawks Won Senate Immigration Debate (By Not Losing)
White House remains well-positioned for coming rounds as DACA deadline looms

White House aides Stephen Miller, fourth from right, and Marc Short, second from right, were instrumental in preventing bipartisan immigration proposals President Donald Trump opposed from passing the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s immigration hard-liners proved Thursday it is possible to win even when the outcome of a battle is, on paper, a draw.

An immigration overhaul amendment backed by the administration received fewer votes Thursday than three other Senate proposals that also failed to pass the Senate. But the White House emerged from that chamber’s underwhelming and unproductive floor debate in strong shape for future fights on the issue.

Democrats Push Bill They Say Could Have Prevented Parkland Shooting
Measure would provide states grants for passing Gun Violence Restraining Order laws

California Rep. Salud Carbajal and other House Democrats are pushing a bill in the wake of a Florida high school shooting that would reward states that create laws to allow courts to authorize temporary removal of guns when an individual poses a threat to themselves or others. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of House Democrats on Friday highlighted a bill they’ve authored that they say could have prevented Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead.

The bill would authorize a federal grant program for states that enact Gun Violence Restraining Order, or GVRO, laws. These statutes allow law enforcement or family members to petition courts to temporarily remove guns from a person’s possession if they pose a threat to themselves or others. If passed, a separate appropriation measure would be needed to provide the funding for the grants.

House Budget Being Drafted Despite Nearly Insurmountable Obstacles
Topline spending levels, no path to reconciliation among reasons lawmakers to oppose

Budget Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., is writing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution despite major obstacles to passing it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Obstacles to House Republicans passing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution appear insurmountable and have some members questioning why the Budget Committee is even planning to write one. 

Exactly half of the 22 Republicans on the Budget panel — more than enough to block a partisan budget resolution — voted against last week’s budget deal that set fiscal 2019 topline spending levels of $647 billion for defense and $597 billion for nondefense. Under the agreement, House and Senate leaders committed that if their chambers decide to advance fiscal 2019 budget resolutions, they would write them to those topline numbers.

Trump’s Two Personas on Full Display After Shooting
President hints he will visit with families of victims this weekend

Students are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after a shooting there left 17 dead. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The two public personas of Donald Trump were on full display Friday morning, illustrated by a pair of tweets posted just a dozen minutes apart.

In the first social media post, the president flashed the somber side he has shown in the midst of some national tragedies and disasters since he took office. Trump suggested he will be meeting with family members and others affected by the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, over the long Presidents Day weekend.

Democratic, Republican Responses to Parkland School Shooting Vary Wildly
‘Part of it is a love affair with guns,’ New York Republican Peter King says

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., criticized his GOP colleagues for their response to the Parkland shooting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Democrats renewed calls this week for broader background checks and an end to military-grade weapons access, at least a handful of GOP congressmen agreed.

They remained cynical, though, that any substantive measures would pass into law.

‘Dreamers’ in Limbo After Senate Rejects Immigration Plans
It remains unclear when Congress will take up DACA legislation again

Immigration rights advocates demonstrate in favor of “Dreamers” at a protest in Washington on Dec. 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate squandered three opportunities on Thursday to advance legislation that would protect so-called Dreamers from deportation and enhance border security measures.

Lawmakers could not muster the 60 votes needed on any of the three proposals, all of which would have offered a path to citizenship for at least 1.8 million Dreamers in return for some degree of border security. Eight Republicans crossed the aisle to support a last-ditch bipartisan deal announced Wednesday, but even that was not enough.

White House Call on Immigration Plan Gets Personal, Testy
Bipartisan compromise ‘spectacularly poorly drafted,’ official says

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer were among those slammed by a senior White House official over a bipartisan immigration measure they both helped craft. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House is “alarmed” by a bipartisan immigration measure offered by nearly 20 Republican and Democratic senators, a senior administration official said during a testy midday briefing.

The measure is “totally and completely unserious,” the official said during a conference call that would only be attributed to senior officials despite their sharp critiques, by name, of sitting U.S. senators. Other terms and words this official used: “dead on arrival,” “reckless,” and “spectacularly poorly drafted.”

House Passes Bill Critics Say Would Undermine Disability Rights
U.S. Capitol Police remove people in wheelchairs from the gallery

Harriotte Ranvig, 71, of Somerville Mass., is escorted out of the House chamber on February 15, 2018, after she and a group of protesters disrupted the vote on The ADA Education and Reform Act on which makes it harder for disabled people to sue for discrimination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday passed, 225-192, a bill that supporters say would deter predatory lawsuits filed under a landmark disability rights law, over objections from its critics that the bill would undermine decades of progress for access to places like restaurants, theaters and other private establishments.

The bill would require potential plaintiffs to notify businesses who aren’t in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act before filing a lawsuit. As originally written, it would give the businesses six months to demonstrate their intent to comply, but an amendment adopted on Thursday shortened that timeline to four months.

Corker Lifts Blanket Hold on Arms Sales to Gulf States
Still no clear path on Gulf Cooperation Council rift

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker has lifted a months-long hold on weapon sales to Gulf countries after it failed to encourage a resolution to the ongoing diplomatic standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In a letter this week, the Tennessee Republican notified Secretary of State Rex Tillerson he was ending his eight-month blanket hold on lethal defense equipment sales to the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.