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Opinion: The Grand Old Patsies
Few Republicans dare to criticize Trump over his behavior toward Putin

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was among the Republican lawmakers who did not criticize the president directly after the Helsinki summit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Commenting after President Donald Trump’s performance in Helsinki, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell observed, “I have said a number of times, I’ll say it again: The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.”

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a release, “There is no doubt that Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election.”

In Mop-Up Mode, Trump Says He Accepts That Russia Meddled
President contends he has faith in U.S. intelligence agencies

President Donald Trump waves whilst playing a round of golf at Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort during his first official visit to the United Kingdom on Sunday. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he accepts the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 American election, but it is unclear if his mea culpa will be enough to assuage frustrated lawmakers.

He told reporters he has “full faith” in America’s intel apparatus a day after he sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials that his country interfered in the 2016 election that Trump won in a major upset. The president also claimed he misspoke in Finland when he said he saw no reason to believe Moscow meddled in the election.

Lawmakers Across the Aisle Fight Canadian Newsprint Tariffs
Import tax on paper is hurting local news, members tell International Trade Commission

Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., speaks with Roll Call in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nineteen members of Congress spoke Tuesday against the Commerce Department’s tariffs on Canadian newsprint, telling the U.S. International Trade Commission the import tax hurt local newspapers.

The bipartisan group of legislators asked the ITC to reverse tariffs the Commerce Department imposed on Canadian newsprint imports. Opponents of the tariffs say they would deal a major blow to local newspapers, which already struggle to stay afloat, by increasing the cost of newsprint.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Say They Don't Censor Conservatives

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., and other Republicans are accusing social media companies of censoring conservatives, even as the firms have sought to crack down on fake accounts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Executives from the world’s top social media companies tried to reassure Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday that their platforms do not censor or control conservative content and commentary, contrary to assertions by some lawmakers about the companies’ practices.

While social media companies such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have been removing false accounts, fake ads, and banning foreign government-owned propaganda outlets, lawmakers said some of them also have been restricting conservative content.

Freedom Caucus Finds Silver Lining From Helsinki: At Least It Happened
“We support the fact that the president was there on the stage,” Rep. Warren Davidson says

Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson and other Freedom Caucus members defended President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and media personalities from both parties roundly criticized President Donald Trump’s performance at a joint press conference Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But some House conservatives, who remained mostly silent immediately after that meeting, have managed to extract at least one silver lining from the Helsinki summit: At least there was one.

“The good news is there was a summit,” Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio said Tuesday at a panel on Capitol Hill with other House Republicans, including members of the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus.

IRS Ruling on Political Donation Reporting Sets Off Campaign Finance Fight
McConnell cheers, but Democrats blast decision, arguing it reduces transparency

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the new IRS policy in a Tuesday morning speech. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Monday’s announcement by the Treasury Department that it will no longer collect information about donors to some political nonprofits was met with applause from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, perhaps the leading advocate for unrestricted campaign donations, even as it ignited a campaign finance fight in the middle of the midterm elections.

“It’s bad enough to wield government power to chill political speech and invite harassment of citizens — based on what an angry mob might assume their opinions are, based on their private financial records,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor. “It’s even more egregious to pursue that nakedly political goal while calling it ‘good government.’ In this country, good government means protecting citizens’ First Amendment rights to participate in the competition of ideas — not trying to shut down that competition.”

Senators Eye New Russia Sanctions as Trump Defends Putin Summit
Corker on GOP unity with Trump: 'It feels like the dam is breaking'

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker says a few senators are crafting a resolution to call out President Donald Trump’s Helsinki performance, but he acknowledged such measures “don’t do anything.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As some senators discuss slapping new sanctions on Moscow, President Donald Trump is defending his widely panned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, tweeting he had a “great” meeting with NATO allies but an “even better” one with the Russian president.

While Trump and his team recover from a turbulent weeklong European swing in which the president attacked longtime American allies and dismissed the consensus findings of the U.S. intelligence community, one Republican senator said he senses GOP lawmakers’ insistence on standing by Trump no matter what could be weakening.

Budget Chairmen Weigh in on Veterans Funding Fight
‘Proponents of the effort argue that it is needed to ensure adequate care for our veterans. We disagree.’

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., wrote to top appropriators in both chambers Tuesday insisting that funding for veterans private medical care be kept within the topline $597 billion nondefense spending cap for fiscal 2019. 

That’s a direct shot at the Senate Appropriations leadership on both sides, who want to exempt from budget limits additional funds for the so-called Veterans Choice Program, enacted after the 2014 wait-time scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Louie Gohmert Says Russian Interference Caused Truman’s 1948 Win
Election meddling has been going on for 70 years, Texas Republican says

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said Russia has tried to interfere in elections since 1948. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert admitted Russian interference in presidential elections is a problem, but it has been happening before the election of President Donald Trump.

The Texas Rep. said he appreciated Democrats’ concerns about Russian interference in elections.

Pension Plan Rescue Legislation Getting Tough to Price
Congressional Budget Office walking back previous estimates of cost

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is co-sponsoring legislation to shore up pension plans, but it faces an uncertain price tag. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An effort to shore up troubled pension plans for many middle-class workers comes with a squishy price tag.

A bill (S 2147) by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would create a Pension Rehabilitation Administration within the Treasury Department that could make loans to multiemployer pension plans for union workers. Those plans have been estimated to be underfunded by about $65 billion, endangering the retirements of about 1.5 million residents nationwide.